The R A O B History

The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes

Antediluvian ?

Indeed, as the title suggests " before the flood " just how old is the RAOB?

The first recorded mention of the RAOB was back in 1822, however it was not known as the RAOB then, from evidence gathered the order was formed by Stage Hands and Theatre technicians who had been deigned a privilege extended to them by the actors and artists of the day. To further explain, they were refused entry into another society and decided to take their ball elsewhere.

 

" An Order known as the City of Lushington existed in the late 1700's to the 1800's which consisted almost exclusively of actors or variety artists and held its meetings, mostly for entertainment and social recreation in the Inns and Taverns close to the well populated theatres of the day. In order to be members of the Lushington's one was required to be either an actor or artist who actually earned their living 'treading the boards'. Selected guests of members were invited to attend these gatherings, and many stage hands obviously availed themselves of this privilege for a number of years. At some point in time not easily identified the Lushington's became a 'closed shop' presumably because meeting rooms in the Inn or Tavern were not big enough to accommodate everyone (member and visitor alike). Whatever the reason the Lushington's would only allow members to attend their meetings.

The meeting room was organised in the form of a City with four or more wards and so the Master or chief officer was referred to as Mayor, and the senior officers were Aldermen. Lesser officers carried the prefix 'City' in their title, for example City Taster, City Barber, City Physician. The City Taster had a most important roll in the evening's proceedings. It was his duty before the Lodge opened to ceremoniously taste the ale on sale at the Inn . If it was found to be 'wanting' the host or landlord was 'fined' two gallons of ale which was consumed by all in attendance at the meeting without payment. I'm sure that there would be few occasions when the ale was not found wanting.

Being prevented from attending meetings of the Lushington's after a number of years enjoyment of that privilege, the stage hands and theatre staff starting holding their own exclusive meetings that had 'nuffin to do wit them acter fellas'.

As the theatre staff moved around the country in pursuance of their profession, Lodges would have been founded in the various cities, towns and villages.

Pearce Egan, a well known London Theatre critic of the period attributes the founders as being Joseph Lisle, a well known eccentric and William Sinnett. In his book 'The History of Tom and Jerry' he cites one of the aims as being the promotion of an hitherto neglected ballad 'We'll chase the Buffalo '.

It is a matter of pure conjecture as to what remarks may have been made by patrons in the public rooms of the Tavern upon hearing the song being sung by members in the club or concert room. Certainly the ballad was sung with a considerable amount of enthusiasm at R.A.O.B Lodge meetings as recently as the mid 1950's by many of our more long serving members. "

- Excerpt from Conceptions and misconceptions / WAC Hartmann

So, the Order was not founded 'before the flood' although during ceremonies acted out by the members of the order, many references were made to antediluvian events and Christian occasions to impress the unenlightened. Essentially, Antediluvian sounds a whole lot better than Ancient!

Royal, now there's a title that implies nobility, we are the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, however it is believed this was added to our title by a mere 'slip of the tongue'. The Seditious and Riotous Assembly Acts of the late 1800's had a big effect on Buffalo meetings and in order to show the authorities we were not subversive to interests of state, the word Loyal was added. to note,

" A Royal Charter has never been issued to the Buffaloes. Indeed, under the current regulations it is unlikely that one will. Over the years there have been a number of internal differences of opinion leading to break away formations operating under the same principles and still using the name of the Buffaloes. These groups or 'constitutions' are generally referred to as Banners. The Royal Warrants Act requires the applicant to be the one and only representative body. "

- Excerpt from Conceptions and misconceptions / WAC Hartmann

In the early days, the first lodge to be opened in an area became known as the Mother Lodge, from which subsequent Lodges would be opened. Advice was frequently sought from the 'Mother' Lodge in the interpretation of rule or other matters, although it would continue to be a private or Minor Lodge in its own right. From these Mother Lodges the concept was developed for a body responsible for administration and organisation, alone. Thus we acquired Governing Authorities which became District Grand Lodges and latter Provincial Grand Lodges.

1n April 1866 the then known Lodges formulated a Grand Primo Lodge to control the movement, to set laws, to establish procedures and administration. This body later became known as the Grand Lodge of England.

The R.A.O.B. has four degrees of membership. First Degree, known as a Kangaroo (don't ask why), Second Degree or Certified Primo, Third Degree or Knight Order of Merit and Fourth Degree or Roll of Honour. The Second Degree is awarded as result of a mixture of time, attendance and an examination on the ability to take the chair of a Lodge while third and fourth degrees based on length of membership and a proven attendance record. Provincial and Grand Lodge honours are not the gift of the Chief Officer of the Province or Grand Lodge. To gain such honour the member must have represented his Lodge as delegate to P.G.L. or represented his Province as a delegate to Grand Lodge, and again after length of service and attendance qualifications, he must have been elected by popular vote to the Office.

In the early days of the R.A.O.B. it is clear that there must have been members who were also members of the various Masonic Orders since there is much in R.A.O.B. ritual and regalia which can be identified as being Masonic in origin as well as from other societies.

Today there are many who enjoy membership both as a Mason and as a Buffalo . Some holding quite senior and important positions of Office in both Orders

The R.A.O.B. is a Philanthropic and Charitable body, Lodges and Provinces are at liberty to undertake whatever activity they consider appropriate for the needs of the community in which they work and live.

Charitable funds exist at Lodge, Province and Grand Lodge levels to assist members of the Order and/or their dependants who are in necessitous circumstances.

My thanks to WAC Hartmann for writing a most excellent document.