History of Hillsborough District No. 19

The formation of Hillsborough District is somewhat shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Formerly, the original 11 Orange Lodges that comprised Hillsborough District were part of Lower Iveagh District No. 1, County Down .

However, in or around 1919, moves were afoot to form a breakaway District of 11 Lodges, with the then Worshipful District Master of Lower Iveagh, Bro. Graham, noting his concerns. The exact reasons for the split are not known.

It is recorded that at meeting of the County Down Grand Orange Lodge on 13 th May 1920, Bro. Dr. R. McCandless proposed the formation of Hillsborough District LOL No. 19 and this was seconded by Bro. J. McGifford. The election of the new District Officers was held later that year and on 5 th February 1921, The Leader newspaper, reported that

“A deputation from the County Down Grand Orange Lodge, consisting of Bro. Robt Brown, DGM; Bro. Major Gardiner (representing the County Grand Secretary, Bro. Alex McDowell who was unavoidably prevented from attending owing to a sudden illness); and Bro. John Graham, JP, ADGS, District Master of No. 1, met the representatives of the following lodges:- 130, 144, 288, 345, 423, 504, 602, 752, 792, 823, 1090, in Anahilt for the purpose of constituting a new district to be known as Hillsborough District No. 19 Co. Down and installing newly-elected officers. The chair was occupied by Bro. Robt Brown, DGM, and the vice-chair by Bro. John Graham, DM, No. 1. The Grand Lodge was opened by prayer, and a portion of Scripture read by Bro. Rev. F. Matchett, Bro. Rev. J. McCracken officiating. On the lodge being declared open, the roll was called by the district secretary, Bro. Thomas Blythe, and the list of newly elected officers read, viz:-


• Bro. Dr. McCandless District Master (LOL 1090)

• Bro. Robt. McBride Deputy District Master (LOL 792)

• Bro. Rev. F. Matchett District Chaplain (LOL 1090)

• Bro. Rev. John McCracken District Chaplain

• Bro. Thos. Blythe District Secretary (LOL 1090)

• Bro. W. J. Dillon District Treasurer (LOL 504)

• Bro. J. C. McGifford Co. Comm.


The officers present were installed in their respective office, the installation ceremony being carried out by the County Grand Master and Bro. Major Gardiner.

The Grand Master, in delivering the charge to the newly installed District Master, congratulated him on the position he had attained, and wished him every success during his term of office. In conclusion, he referred to the coming elections for the new Ulster Parliament, and urged upon the brethren the necessity of sinking of every minor difference. Bro. Dr. McCandless having replied, the lodge was closed, Bro. Rev. J. McCracken officiating.

Afterwards those present were hospitably entertained by the WM and officers of Lodge 752. On the cloth being removed. Bro. Dr. McCandless, in the chair, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given and responded to. Bro. Rev. J. McCracken proposed the health of the County Officers , which was received with musical honours and responded to by Bro. Robert Brown, DGM; Bro. Major Gardiner, and Bro. John Graham, ADGS. Bro Robt Brown proposed “Success to the New District and the health of the new District Master,” which was suitably honoured. Bro. McCandless having replied, Bro. Jas. C. McGifford moved a hearty vote of thanks to the members of 752 for their hospitality. At intervals an enjoyable musical programme wasgone through.”

Of those original eleven lodges, ten now remain – LOL 1090 unfortunately having handed back its warrant. The District Lodge meets quarterly, meeting in each of the Private Lodge's Orange halls on a rotational basis. The main annual events are usually the Harry Ferguson Memorial Vintage Road Run, which is run in conjunction with Halliday's Bridge Cultural Society, and which has raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research NI since 2003, the Opening of the Arch Ceremony, and District Devine Service.

The District also decided at some point to join with the County Antrim Districts of Aghalee, Ballinderry, Derriaghy, Glenavy, Lisburn and Magheragall in forming the South Antrim Combine and parade together each 12 th July. This remains to this day where each District assumes responsibility for the 12 th July celebrations on a seven year rotation.

In 1990, under the tutelage of Wor. Bro. Charles Maguire, the District organised a number of events to mark the Tercentenary of the Battle of the Boyne, culminating in a parade on Friday 1 st June to Hillsborough Fort and a drumming match and sports day on 2 nd June.

The District has had many noteable characters through its ranks since its formation. However noteably one stands out for me namely Bro. George Swain of my own private lodge - Star of Kilwarlin 504. There is unlikely ever to have been before or to be ever again such a loyal servant to Hillsborough District that Bro. George. Having occupied various offices within the district including District Master George served as District Secretary for well over 20 years stepping into the breach on a number of occasions when others of fewer years failed to do so. Sadly George passed away in March 2010 and as a district and personally is very sadly missed.



Orange History

Here you can read about Orange History:

• King William - An Overview - view

• King William In Ulster - view

• King William - The Legacy - view

• The Battle of The Boyne - view

• The Twelfth - A Brief History - view