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Members of the Orange Order, an organization of Protestants, originating in Ireland,* with lodges also in England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Africa. The order derives its name from its attachment to the memory and achievements of William III,* Prince of Orange, whose victories over the Roman Catholic forces of James II, particularly at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, are commemorated in annual processions.

The Orange Order was founded in 1795, at a time when there was considerable guerrilla warfare between Roman Catholic bodies such as the “Ribbonmen” and the “Defenders,” and Protestant organizations such as the “Peep o' Day Boys,” particularly in County Armagh. After a pitched battle at a place called “the Diamond,” in which the Roman Catholics were defeated, the surviving Protestant victors formed an organization in Loughgall to pledge themselves to mutual protection and in defense of Protestantism. The movement grew rapidly both in Ireland and England in the early years of the nineteenth century, but its influence in England at that time waned when it was suspected of political intrigues involving the duke of Cumberland, uncle of Queen Victoria. Beginning as a largely defensive organization, with a decisively evangelical Protestant constitution, the Orange Order, with the passing of the years and particularly in opposition to Roman Catholic sympathies with Irish Republican politics, became itself increasingly a political movement and has wielded considerable influence on the political situation in Northern Ireland.