THE ANTIENT AND NOBLE ORDER OF BUCKS

THE DOUGLAS LODGE, 1764-1818

W. CUBBON, M.A.

UNTIL a few years ago there was practically nothing known of the existence in the Island of the 'Ancient and Noble Order of Bucks ' which had for over 50 years - from 1764 to 1818 - a prosperous Lodge in Douglas.

It is strange too that in the whole realm of contemporary printed literature there is, as far as I know, very little if any reference to the Order. The Encyclopędia Britannica does not mention it.

I find, however, in a letter written by the Rev. Philip Moore to Bishop Hildesley, dated 1763, a reference to a 'feast of turtle ' which took place in the 'Bucks Room' in Douglas.'

Quite recently, Mrs. Winifred Heywood Christie, of Westham Cottage, Castletown, came across three old MS. vols. relating to the Bucks, and she has kindly given them to the Museum.

It is from these that we have learned all about the Order in the Island that is known.

The three vols. are of quarto size, uniformly bound in contemporary rough calf by a local binder, the labels being skilfully lettered and tooled in gold on red leather.

Volume I is entitled 'The Approbation Book.' It has a list of 195 names submitted for approval from 1764 to 1818. From this it appears that only two names of candidates were blackballed.

The Founders of the Douglas Lodge

There is unfortunately in these books no account of how the Lodge came to be established. One can only surmise. There are, however, the names of four men who, at the first meeting on 6th March, 1764, take upon themselves to propose new members.

The names of the four are: Peter John Heywood, Roger Haydock, Thomas Arthur and James Oates of Oatland.

Peter John Heywood became a prominent figure in the life of the Island, and on the death of his father inherited the Nunnery estates. 1 There were published for the first time in the Journal of the Manx Museum, Vol. III, June, 1939, illustrations of two Bucks' medals in the Manx Museum, and also some interesting but meagre particulars of the Order gleamed from old local newspapers.

Thomas Arthur was an active merchant in foreign goods, and was engaged in contraband activities. He was a Scot, but in 1757, he became a naturalised Manxman and took his ' oath of allegiance,' paying a fee of £3. 17s. 9d. We know little about Haydock and Oates.

The Register

During the 54 years of the Order there were 191 persons registered. Those accepted at the first meeting on 6th March, 1764, were: I. Hugh Cosnahan, Douglas, merchant.

2. William Crebbin, Douglas, merchant. 3. Willm Bridson, Douglas, merchant. 4. Robert Heywood, Douglas, officer. 5. Mungo Smith, Loch Mark, esq.

The Constitution Book

The third volume is labelled ' The Constitution Book,' and contains what is termed ' The Plan of the Order,' a description of some of the ritual, and an historical account of its original institution.

It starts by saying that the Council was elected each year and consisted of The Grand Buck, Two Deputy Grand Bucks, The Chaplain, The Secretary, Four Rangers, Eight Foresters, Two Keepers and An Auditor to collect the fees.

The Council in 1765
Deputy Grand Buck
The Grand Buck
Deputy Grand Buck
Charles Killey
Peter John Heywood
Wm. Bridson
Chaplain
Secretary
Rev. Henry Corlett
John Christian
Four Rangers
Thomas Arthur
Hugh Cosnahan
Robert Heywood
Philip Finch
Eight Foresters
William Callow
John Stevenson
Mungo Smith
Edward Gawne
James Oates
Captain Bacon
Wm. Qualtrough
Lewis Geneste
Two Keepers
Daniel Mylrea
Thomas Stowell
Auditor:
Richard Yerbury

The Regalia

As one might expect, the Regalia of the Officers were impressive and picturesque. The Grand Buck himself wore a star of silver, on which was figured ' a Buck en passant, pendant to a gold ribbon, with the motto: Freedom with Innocence,' being, so it was said, ' the emblem of the State of Early Days, and the most valuable jewel of Civil Society.'

The two Deputy Grand Bucks each wore a silver medal, ' a Buck pendant to a blue ribbon: the Deputies' faces looking towards the Grand Buck, as if receiving orders from him, betokening their readiness to execute his pleasure. Their medal had this motto We Obey.'

The record states that the Four Rangers wore the emblem of the Plough, pendant to a green ribbon with this motto: ' Industry Produceth Wealth,' betokening the vast advantage of Agriculture and Commerce, for, it goes on to state, ' after the lands were parcelled out to the Bucks and cultivated by them, Agriculture and Commerce immediately followed.-

' The Eight Foresters wore the emblem of the Old Man teaching his sons the virtue of Unanimity, by the Fable of the Bundle of Sticks, which was pendant to a green ribbon, and with the motto Unanimity is the Strength of Society.' The picture of the Old Man with his sons is graphically engraved on the medal.

The Secretary wore what was called ' the Cross Pins ' pendant to a blue ribbon.

The Two Keepers wore small ' Bugle Horns ' over their shoulders from the right to the left, with green silk twist with this motto Be Merry and Wise.

The Chaplain had no distinguishing regalia.

The Manner of Admitting a Buck

The volume dealing with the Constitution gives a graphic descrip tion of the ritual observed in the initiation ceremony.

The Grand Buck, the Deputies, Rangers, and Foresters being seated, two Keepers introduce the candidate. They bow all together three times as they come up to the Grand Buck.

After satisfactorily answering a number of pertinent questions as to the candidate's sincerity, the Grand Buck declares that the candidate shall be made a Buck ' according to the Antient Rites of our Great Founder Buck Nimrod.'

The Initiation Ceremony

The Secretary now takes the candidate in hand, and in the presence of the whole company, administers the oath, while the candidate has his right hand upon his sword.

Addressing the candidate, the Secretary proceeds: 'Sir, observe there is a Sign and a Word belonging to our Order.

'The Sign is this: Clap your left hand to your right elbow, and at the same time the first Finger of your right hand to your Forehead, as seriously considering on some weighty matter. Then easily letting down your left hand to your Sword, and your Right Hand to your Heart: betokening that the Head and the Heart and the Hand should ever be Ready to maintain those Virtues which you have been here solemnly engaged to observe.'

The Secretary continues: 'The Word is: Here's to You. The Answer is: With all my Heart.'

The consummation is reached when the Grand Buck takes his silver cup, and drinks saying 'Here's to You,' and the Novice's response 'With all my Heart, most Noble Grand.'

The Secretary now takes what is called The Crest of the Order, and places it on the head of the novitiate. It seems to have been a Cap surmounted by the Head of a Buck. And there were other formalities.

Traditional Records of the Bucks

There is also in the Constitution Book what is entitled 'a Brief Historical Account of the Most Noble Order of Bucks, as it has been Collected from Traditional Records of Antiquity now remaining . . . in Antient Babylon, the original and once-flourishing seat of the Noble Order, and transmitted from thence by a Brittish Buck resident in those parts to the Grand Buck of the Babylonian Lodge.'

In a list of twelve lodges formed in Britain there is one called 'The Babilonian Lodge,' in London, 'held at the Fox, in Brewers Street, every Tuesday.'

All the other Lodges were in London also, with the exception of two, namely one in Cambridge and one in Liverpool. It was prob ably the Liverpool one that gave the founders of the Douglas Lodge their inspiration. It was called 'The Brittish,' and met every Tuesday fortnight at the Golden Fleece.

Where was the Douglas Lodge?

In Vol. III there is also a record of the 'Bye-Laws ' passed from the date of the initial meeting on 6th March, 1764. The minutes are recorded in excellent form, and show that the members had good business sense. They met fortnightly as a rule, but there were occasions when the sessions were separated by months and even years. Some of these Bye-laws rouse our curiosity. Here are a few:-

(4) 'That for the sake of Decency and Decorum no Brother be admitted, on a Lodge Night, unless he be Decently Apparelled.'

(5) 'That for the same reason, if any Brother shall attempt to enter the Lodge disguised in Liquor, the Porter is likewise to refuse him admittance.'

The Regalia were precious, and were kept in a locked chest in the care of the Grand Buck.

Bye-Law 13 is of more than ordinary interest. 'It is agreed,' it says, 'that this Lodge be held every Tuesday fortnight at the Anchor in Bucks Row, to commence from this day ' (6th March, 1764).

We have only a slender pointer to guide us in locating 'The Anchor.' 'Bucks Row ' does not appear in any printed, or in any MS. record as far as we know. It had nothing to do with what we now know as Buck's Road, which name is of comparatively recent. origin and is derived from the family name Buck.

This absence of accurate knowledge is tantalising: but there is a record in Pigot's Directory for 1837 of a Tavern in Fairy Ground called 'The Anchor,' kept by one John Skillicorn.

There is no record in the minutes, which go on to 18o1, of a change of quarters. From 18o1 to the date of the Directory is only 37 years. I think there is reasonably good ground for assuming that Bucks Row was in Fairy Ground, close to the Old St. Matthew's Church, and now covered by what is known as the Car-parking site, near the Quay.

The 'Buck Room,' according to the Manks Mercury of the 13th August, 1794, was at Clague's Hotel, which may have been the original 'Anchor.'

I have a note, taken from a source now forgotten, that there was, about 1814, a 'Bucks Tavern ' in Douglas; that is four years before the records of the Bucks cease.

The Toast List

Although I am firmly convinced that the prime cause of the found ing of the Order in Douglas was the protection of Manx Trade and Commerce, the convivial side was always present.

Our volume states that 'the following are the usual Publick Toasts that are drunk.' They number eleven.

You will see that Trade and Industry have an important place; but what 'The Revival of the Manks Society ' means I cannot tell. 'The King and the Bucks,' ' The Grand Buck,' ' To All Noble Bucks,' 'Freedom with Innocence,' 'Trade and Navigation,' 'Unanimity among the Bucks,' ' The Isle of Man and its Trade,' ' The Herring Fishery,' ' Revival of the Monks Society,' ' The Mason Society,' ' All Absent Bucks.'

Who were the Bucks?

In the course of the first few years a large number were set down as 'Merchants,' and a considerable number as ' Gents ' with local family associations. I look on Peter John Heywood and Hugh Cosnahan as having been the founders.

Heywood was only 24 years at the time, a young advocate with a future. He afterwards became Deemster.

Hugh Cosnahan was one of the foremost Douglas merchants and was a patriotic Manxman. He had dealings in many Continental ports. He was a member of the Keys for 35 years and on one occasion represented the Island at the bar of the House of Commons in defence of Manx Trade.

A glance at the names in the Register indicate that certain families predominated. I find no less than ten members of the Heywood family, and those who intermarried with it, in the list. And the Cosnahan family with its connections had even a larger proportion. The same remark applies to the Stowells, the Leeces and the Drinkwaters, all connected with the maritime trade.

I have indicated that there is evidence in the list of members that certain families and their connections predominated. Take, for instance, the Heywoods.

The Heywood Group

It is not generally known that the Manx Heywoods are descended from the last Prioress of the Nunnery, which was dissolved in 1540. The Prioress married Receiver-General Calcot, and the Nunnery estates, through the Cannells, came to the Heywoods in 1732.

The leading spirit in founding the Bucks, as I have said, was Peter John Heywood. He was the son of Thomas Heywood, Speaker of the Keys and Captain of Douglas Fort. Peter John, when only 25 years, became Noble Grand in 1765.

The next prominent Heywood is Robert, who is No. 4 in the Register, and became Noble Grand Buck three years after his initia tion. He was Water-Bailiff for 15 years, and there is a tablet in Kirk Conchan to his memory.

The Browns and the Stowells

Captain Robert Brown, whom I call the first, great grandfather of T. E. Brown, married Margaret Cosnahan, sister of Hugh Cosnahan (Buck No. 1) of whom I have just been speaking.

The second son of Thomas Stowell of Ballastowell, Thomas (77) was one of the very active members of the Bucks. He was Deputy Grand in 1787, with his brother-in-law Lewis Geneste. He was the foremost lawyer of the day, and, when Clerk of the Rolls, published the first volume of the Statutes in 1792.

Doubtful Bucks

The Bucks, although in the main from influential families, chary of admitting doubtful characters, could not always keep out adventurers.

I find that one of several of these was George Heeslop, Buck 139, set down as 'of Douglas, gent.', afterwards occupied a cell in the debtors' prison at Castle Rushen.

This remark also applies to William Kelly, Buck No. 181.

Of course it would in those times be impossible to exclude all adventurers. Of the 191 members 130 were native, and the rest came from England, Ireland and Scotland.

Sir John Tobin, Buck 90

The story of Sir John Tobin is a romantic one. His grandfather, also John, was a periwig maker in Douglas in 1730. In a contemporary record he is credited with having a wife, two children and three servants. For certain offences he was excommunicated in 1721 and 1725.

There is no space to make reference to all the numerous other Bucks who excite our curiosity.


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