Protestants First: Orangeism in Nineteenth Century Scotland

Protestants First: Orangeism in Nineteenth Century Scotland

Protestants First: Orangeism in Nineteenth Century Scotland

Protestants First: Orangeism in Nineteenth Century Scotland

Excerpt

Orangeism is a major form of working class organisation in Lowlands Scotland, and estimates of its current membership range from 50,000 to 80,000. Yet, despite its high profile on Scotland's streets during the summer marching season, the Loyal Orange Institution (LOI) remains for most a shadowy and perplexing body. Much has been assumed about the movement, and it has proved fertile ground for myths, anecdotes and general hysteria.

This book examines the LOI's formative period of development in the nineteenth century, using actual manuscript and archival material. It is not a polemic against, and even less an apology for Orangeism. Adequate supplies of both already exist. I have instead tried to understand the movement from a sociological standpoint.

The opening chapters deal with the organisational structure and belief system of Orangeism. Previous theoretical approaches to the movement are critically assessed, and its relevance to debates on the nature of class domination and working class sectionalism underlined. This is followed by an overview of the Order's development outside Scotland.

A central aim of chapters four to ten is to explain why the ideological power of Orangeism was not fully mobilised as a mass social force in nineteenth century Scotland. For this we analyse the internal characteristics which lay behind its numerical strength, such as a high Ulster Protestant membership and rank and file tensions, and consider how these interacted with certain unique features of Scottish society and politics. Orange relations with the Scottish Churches and the Conservative Party are featured in detail.

Finally, the present role of Orangeism in modern Scotland is examined, identifying potential lines of development, particularly in terms of political involvement.

The book began life as a doctoral thesis at Glasgow University and thanks are due to my supervisors Bridget Fowler and H. F. Moorehouse, and also to John Foster, Henry Patterson, Jim Whiston, John McFarland . . .

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