Chapter II.


We will now turn our attention to the Sixth Language, the Scottish portion of which survived the main body. As already stated, the Sixth Nation of Language was England, including Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It consisted of three priories, and was governed by a Chapter composed of representative officers of the Chapter being the Lord Grand Prior, who was Lord Lieutenant of England, and sat in the English Parliament as Premier Baron of the Realm; the Lord Prior of Torphichen, who was Bailiff of Scotland, and sat in the Scottish Parliament as Lord St. John; the Lord Prior of Kilmainham, who was Bailiff of Ireland; the Turcopolier, the Conservator, the Procurator, the Grand Crosser, the Grand Chaplain, the Grand Secretary &c.

The Grand Priory was situated in the Parish of Clerkenwell, London, and contained a church, an hospital, and an inn. A magnificent edifice, founded by Lord Briset and consecrated to the services of the Order in 1185, by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was set on fire by the rebels under Wat Tyler, in 1830, and burned for seven days. In its widely varied decorations, both internally and externally, it is said to have contained specimens of the arts of both Europe and Asia, together with collections of books and rarities, the loss of which is a less turbulent age would have been a subject of national regret. The building was finally repaired by the Lord Grand Prior Docwra in 1504, and is still rich in the monumental grandeur of the Knights of Malta.

When the Knight Templars were suppressed in 1312, the whole of their extensive possessions in the British Isles were bestowed to the Knights of St. John, thus enriching the Order very considerably. They thereafter held estates in almost every county of the three kingdoms.

The English and Irish branches were suppressed in 1540, by act of Parliament (statute 32, Henry VIII, chap. 24) intituled--

"An act concerning the lands and goods of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, in England and Ireland, to be hereafter in the King's hand and disposition. . . . . That the lords, spiritual and temporal, in this present parliament assembled, having credible knowledge that divers and sundry of the King's subjects, Knights of Rhodes, otherwise called knights of St. John, otherwise called Friars of the Religion of St. John of Jerusalem, in England, and of a like house in Ireland . . . . . have unnaturally, and contrary to the duty of their allegiance, sustained and maintained the usurped power and authority of the Bishop of Rome, lately used and practised within this realm, and have not only adhered themselves to the said bishop, being a common enemy of the King our Sovereign Lord, and this realm, untruly upholding and affirming, maliciously and traitorously, the same bishop to be Supreme and Chief head of Christ's Church, . . . . It should be most dangerous to be suffered or permitted within this realm, or in any other of the King's dominions, any religion being sparks, leaves, and imps of the said root of iniquity. . . . That it were and is much better that the possessions in this realm, and in other of the King's dominions appertaining to the said religion, should rather be employed and spent within this realm for the defence and surity of the same, than converted to and among such unnatural subjects, which have declined from their natural duty of obedience; daily doing, and attempting privily and craftily, all they can to subvert the good and godly policy in which this realm and all other of the King's dominions now stand, &c."

It is then enacted--

"That the corporation of the said religion, as well within this realm, as within the King's dominions and land of Ireland, by whatso- ever name or names they be founded, incorporated, or known, shall be utterly dissolved and void to all intents and purposes, and that Sir William Weston, Knight, now being Prior of the said religion within this realm of England and land of Ireland, shall not be named or called from henceforth Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, in England, but shall be called by his proper name of William Weston, knight, without further addition touching the said religion. And that likewise John Rauson, now Prior of Kilmainham in Ireland, shall not be called or named from henceforth Prior of Kilmainham in Ireland, but only by his proper name John Rauson, knight, without further addition touching the said religion, nor any of the brethren or confreres of the said religion, in this realm of England and land of Ireland shall be called Knights of Rhodes, nor Knights of St. John, but shall be called by their own proper Christian names and surnames of their parents, without any additions touching the same. . . . . It is furthermore enacted that if the said William Weston, Knight, or any of his brethren or confreres of the hospital or House of St. John of Jerusalem in England, &c.; and if the said John Rauson, Knight, or any of his brethren or confreres of the said hospital or House of Kilmainham in Ireland, &c. do use or wear within this realm, or within the said land of Ireland, or elsewhere, in or upon any apparel of their bodies, any sign, mark, or token heretofore used and accustomed, or hereafter to be devised, for the knowledge of the said religion, or make any congregations, chapters or assemblies, touching the said religion; or maintain, support, use, or defend any manner of liberties, franchises, or privileges heretofore granted, &c, the parties so offending shall incur, &c."

Here follows a list of penalties incurred.

So far as England and Ireland were concerned this act gave an abrupt ending to the Order, but, fortunately the Order existed where King Henry had no jurisdiction. We must not, however, overlook the magnanimity of "old King Hal." The act from which we have just quoted was sufficiently magnanimous to leave the two Priors the dignity of knighthood, and to grant a pension to each of the then officers of the Order to continue during their lifetime. This kind of magnanimity may not be considered wholesome, but the late Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M. P., acted on the same principle when, in 1869, he despoiled the Protestant Church of Ireland, and--doubtful as the honesty of the principle may be--he found a majority of the British House of Commons could sufficiently stultify their consciences to permit of their voting for the Church-Plunder Bill, and believe that they were really magnanimous in doing so. Truly, in point of honesty we are not much better than "old King Hal" and we should therefore be sparing in our denunciations of his policy.

Although this statute never was repealed, an attempt was made by Queen Mary of England to revive the Order, in the hope that the Priests of the Order would aid her in her bloody work of undoing the Reformation by the extermination of Protestants. Cardinal Pole was her adviser, and she (rather they, for the Cardinal had a greater hand in it than the Queen) appointed Sir P. Tresham, Prior; Sir R. Shelly, Turcopoliler; Sir peter Felix de la Nuca; Baili de Aguila, and others of the knights into a corporation or Priory of the confraternity of St. John of Jerusalem in England. In the reign of James II we again find the Order existing in England under the Duke of Berwick as Grand Prior. It is scarcely necessary to point out that on both occasions the order was popish.

Early in the nineteenth century the Order was again resuscitated in England, this time on a legal footing, and by virtue of powers granted in 1827 by the Commander de Dieune, and others, forming a capitulary commission delegated to act by a chapter general of the Languages of Provence, Auvergue, France, Arragon, and Castile, being a majority of the eight Languages, held at Paris under the presidentship of Prince Camille de Rohan (Grand Prior of Aquitane in 1814), whose proceedings were sanctioned and afterwards confirmed by the Lieutenant of the magistery and the sacred council at Catania. Under these powers Sir Robert Peat, D. D., chaplain to King George IV., was installed as Grand Prior in 1831, and as such took the oath de fideli, but it was found necessary to revive the corporation before the court of King's Bench, which was accordingly done on the 24th February, 1834. These formalities were gone through at the instance of Sir Lancelot Shadwell, Vice Chancellor of England, who was soon after elected a Knight of the Order. Sir Henry Dymoke, of Scrivelsby, succeeded Sir Robert peat, D. D., as Grand Prior in 1837.

The Order thus resuscitated was strictly Protestant, and was understood to be so by the conference of five out of the eight Languages, at which the order of resuscitation was granted, and by whose authority a Protestant clergyman who was chaplain to a protestant king, was ordained as Grand Prior. Even in those latter days of the Order's infirmity, when it was slowly be surely dying out on the Continent, the Pope had no authority and Protestantism was no crime. That the Order still lives in England, although confined to a select few, is shown by the following extract from the Daily Record, Glasgow, 12th July, 1900.

Lady Doctor's Gallantry.--The Prince of Wales (now King Edward), Grand Prior of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

Last page missing (page 48).

Table of Contents