Miss P Wilson (b.1918-): The Order Of The Buffalo – Writing Lives

Miss P Wilson (b.1918-): The Order Of The Buffalo

When choosing an author, the opportunity to read about and research the order of the buffalo was one of the main reason I chose Miss Wilson. The Royal Order of Buffaloes (ROAB) is one of- if not the- largest fraternal organisations still active within the United Kingdom, having been created in 1822.

The ROAB was focused around the aid and charity work for its’ members and their respective families. The order’s has its’ own motto, “No man is at all times wise” and the maxim of “Justice, Truth and Philanthropy”. In many veins, the ROAB acted in very similar ways to the freemasons, they even adopted the lodge reference directly from them. Just like the masons, they had a rulebook, a manual of instruction and ceremonial lectures issued and revised by the Grand Lodge of England.

The beginnings to this group are surprisingly more humble than you would initially expect. According to certain sources, the genesis of this order can be linked back to the Harp Tavern, opposite the Drury Lane Theatre by artist Joseph Lisle and William Sinnett, a comedian. These two- along with a group of stage hands and backstage technicians- drew the inspiration for the name from the song “we’ll chase the Buffalos”. This is historically seen as the first due to as they stage hands and performers spread across the country, so did the order and soon lodges began to spring open wherever these shows would visit. By the end of the nineteenth century, the order had managed to spread itself throughout the British Commonwealth, to countries like Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and countless more .

War did not affect Miss Wilson in many of ways, the most blatant demonstrations seem to take the form of how the war had affected people she cared about. Although not directly mentioned. Her father was part of the order after the First World War. His ceremonial clothes were tattered, not pristine ready to be used in rituals. The First World War led to the permanent closure to many lodges around the British Commonwealth, due to the enlistment of its member’s. Unlike the masons, many of the men who comprise this organisation were working class men, because of this fact many were killed during the conscription. The group would support the allied war effort by supplying medical attention and ambulances to save soldiers perishing on the front lines. sIX ambulances were purchased by the organisation and following the conclusion to the conflict, these ambulances were brought back to England and became used as the first ever ambulance service in England.

The First Ambulance bought by the order of the Buffalo.

The groups philanthropic endeavours never ceased, in the early 1920’s the group made in mandatory for every member to contribute a penny towards purchasing a place to look after orphans. This ended up being Grove House in Harrogate. This place stayed as an orphanage up until the second world war where again the order focused on trying to help injured soldiers. Harrogate house was turned into a military hospital.  Even from beyond the grave, it seems as though Miss Wilson’s father had a plan following his demise. The boarding school that she was sent to at ten was actually partially funded from the Order of The Buffalo. Even after his passing, the order made sure to look after his young girl, even if they did not overtly let her know they were.

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