Fraternal Druid Orders

Fraternal Druid Orders

The first significant fraternal order of druids to be founded was the Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) formed in London in 1781. This still claims the title of the "parent order" and still has about 10 Lodges left in England, the USA and possibly in the West Indies. This order in turn spawned the two largest druidic friendly societies, the United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD) in 1833 and the Order of Druids (OOD) in the 1850's after internal splits. All three of these societies achieved national and indeed international success. To these can be added numerous examples of more local druidic societes, many of them friendly societies in the North and Midlands of England e.g The Loyal Order of Druids in Bolton; the Ancient and Venerable Order of Druids in Birmingham and the Sheffield (Equalised) Order of Druids.

The relative strength of each order can be gauged from the 1858 Register of Friendly Societies which has been researched by the historian John Goodchild and is reproduced below. This shows that the UAOD and the Order of Druids were numerically superior to the other druid friendly societies who probably all originated from spilts from these societies or from the parent AOD. The Order of Druid Friendly Societies became the largest Druid organisation in terms of number of lodges and members by the end of the 19th Century which was in many ways the 'golden age' of the friendly society movement. All of the orders spread their membership outside of the UK most notably in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Indeed the UAOD, which appears to have achieved the most succesfull overseas expansion, was spread to Germany and Northern Europe by American emigrants returning to Europe and bringing their druidism back with them. Over 100 years ago the International Grand Lodge of Druidism was formed to promote co-operation between the fraternal druid orders worldwide.  

Druid Membership in Numerical Strength Order from 1858 Register of Friendly Societies (UK)

 1

United Ancient Order of Druids - UK/Australia 14,848 USA 8,000 members                           

 
 2  Grand Modern Order of Druids - Oldham 12,000 members  
 3  Loyal Order of Druids (Manchester Unity)  
 4  Loyal Order of Druids (Wigan Unity)  
 5  Independent Order of Druids (Manchester Unity)  
 6  Independent Order of Druids (Yorkshire Unity)  
 7  Independent Order of Druids (Oldham Unity)  
 8  Independent Order of Druids (Leigh Unity)  
 9  United Ancient Order under the Grove - Leigh/Bolton  
 10  Original Ancient Druids or Grand Lodge Order  
 11  Imperial Order of Druids  
 12  Amalgamated Order of Druids  
     

The history and inter-relationships between these individual orders is complex and the lack of source material makes unravelling it an almost impossible task. We have attempted to  record what history we have found for some of the more prominent Orders. We are hoping that this will be expanded considerable if more material becomes available.