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Artefact of the month: Memorial of Sebastopol

As part of our efforts to highlight different aspects of our collection, this month we are displaying a document relating to the participation of Orangemen in the Crimean War (1853-1856).



Crimea was annexed by Russia from 1783 to 1954. From October 1853 to February 1856 it was the focus of the Crimean War, as some of the Nations of Europe attempted to maintain a balance of power against the back drop of a declining Ottoman Empire.

During this period, at least one Orange warrant, that of LOL No. 1162, travelled to the region and the lodge met under the mighty walls of Sevastapol, the Capital City of Crimea. As the main city, Sevastapol became the major goal of the British, French, and Ottoman Alliance, whose armies besieged the port city from 17 October 1854 to 11 September 1855.

Thousands of Orangemen served in the British Army and Navy during this period, many serving in the Crimean War.

This document accompanied the warrant of LOL No. 1162 home from Sevastapol and gives some idea of the conditions in which the lodge met. It describes how the warrant was buried underground for safe keeping, during periods of fighting, and names some of the characters involved in both the Orange Lodge and the war itself. The Russian Prince referred to in the text was one Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, one of the commanders of the Russian forces in Crimea.

“Under this Warrant, The non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers of the Royal Artillery, being Members of the Orange Association, Held their Meetings in the Crimea, in a lane under the Walls of Sebastapol – Where the men were likely to be called into Action. The Master of the Lodge Buried the Warrant in the Ground for safety – and to prevent its falling into improper hands. The warrant is very old and was originally in the name of Serjt. Willey’s Father, who was Master of the Lodge in Ireland, supposed in the County Armagh, Where Serjt. Willey joined the Artillery of Woolwich. He took the Warrant with him, His Father being Dead, and placed it in the hands of the District Master, by whom Serjt. Willey was appointed Master, in the Woolwich District – His name being substituted for his fathers, and the number and date having been changed.

John Gibson, whose name appears to the Warrant was there and is still District Master. He had been formerly in the Irish Artillery, and when removed to Woolwich – assisted in Establishing the Society there. Serjt. Willey became possessed of the Cloak, which was taken from the Carriage of the Russian Prince, Menchicoff who, narrowly, escaped being made Prisoner at Sebastapol, and which he allowed to be presented in the name of the Orange Men of Woolwich to Bro. Sir Wm. Verner. The Warrant was also given to Bro. Sir W. Verner, who now, presents it to the Orangemen of Armagh to be Hung up in their Room of Assembly at Armagh – as the most suitable place to be deposited and where He Hopes it may long remain, as Evidence of the Heroic Conduct of all Brave Orange Brethern in Defence of Their Country, in a Foreign Land and in token of their affectionate regard of their Grand Master.

Given under my hand this 23rd day of March 1858. William M Verner M.P.”

LOL No. 1162 continues to operate in Newtownhamilton, Co.

Armagh.

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