A Brief History
A Brief History
A Brief History and Description of The Royal Society of St. George
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Patron of The Royal Society of St. George, which is the Premier Patriotic Society of England, with branches throughout the world. It is independent of all politics and is non-sectarian.
Before the American war of Independence, Societies of St George had been founded in the then North American colonies for the relief of British immigrants and to give them general assistance in the new country.
The earliest Branches of which there are any records are those of New York (1770), Philadelphia (1772) and Charleston (1773). Subsequently Branches were formed in all the great cities of the North American Continents and celebrations were always held on St Georges Day. At the time of the Civil war many Loyalist moved there.
In Australia a branch was formed in 1890.
It was not until the 23rd April, 1894 that the Society was formed in London by Mr Howard Ruff. He was struck by the neglect of English patriotism and on each recurring St George’s day – England’s Day – he wrote to the press on this subject.
First known as the Society of St George, it was through Howard Ruff’s enthusiasm that Queen Victoria consented to become the first Royal Patron.
King Edward VII granted the prefix “Royal” in 1902 and along with Queen Alexandra were Patrons of the Society. Another notable achievement was having the Prince of Wales as President. Each successive Monarch has been the Patron of the Society and in 1963 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted the Royal Charter of Incorporation.
(A Royal Charter is a charter granted by the Sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council to legitimize an incorporated body, such as a city, company, university or such. A Royal Charter is a kind of letters patent. At one time a Royal Charter was the only way in which an incorporated body could be formed. Once incorporated by Royal Charter, amendments to the Charter and by-laws require government approval.)
In 1990 The Royal Society of St. George were granted a coat of arms. The suggestion to apply to the College of Arms for a grant of armorial bearings was first mooted at a Branch conference and then enthusiastically pursued by the Chairman and Council. A formal petition, called a ‘memorial’ was addressed to the Earl Marshal of England, His Grace the Duke of Norfolk who issued a warrant to the Kings of Arms, enabling them to make the grant.
Today the Royal Society of St George in my opinion fit into three distinct divisions:
- The 53 odd branches in England vary considerably in their approach but at the end of the day are about protecting the traditions and ideals, promoting public celebrations of St Georges Day, other notable important occasions Trafalgar Day, Battle of Britain, Church Services etc. The Society decline to identify directly with any Political Party or agenda.
- Overseas branches in alien lands like Hong Kong, Dar Es Salaam, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi etc comprise of true ex-patriot members. They take pride in being English and enjoy the camaraderie membership brings.
- This group is the Society Branches in Australia, New Zealand, America and a few other countries. These indigenous citizens are not going to suddenly owe allegiance to the English State nor should they. In Australia, we share the same Head of State in the body of the Queen and it must be remembered the Queen operates separately when in the position of being Queen of Australia. For Americans no such connection exists but they still wish to be identified with the aims of our Society. This can be seen in the sudden surge in new Branches in that great country.
I feel our past Chairman Mr John Clemence said it all when he wrote the following
in The English Standard about his Australian visit.
“The continuing success and longevity of Branches in Australia formed before Australia would consider itself a Sovereign Nation had me thinking as to our relationship. The Branches I visited, whilst having Members who still retain British Passports, also had many indigenous Australian Members who could claim several generations of Australian born ancestry. They were indeed proud patriotic Australians who met to celebrate their English origins. This desire to identify with England brought home clearly to me the ancient Greek definition of a barbarian race.
For most of us in jest or sport refer, if we are permitted in these days of political correctness, to some adjacent nation or sporting rival as barbarians or vice versa. For the ancient Greeks, however, barbarians were “those people who had no history.” A very significant description, for my wife and I were being generously entertained by loyal enthusiastic Australians who identified with their own personal history. This is a lesson for those of us in England who worries about the inadequate teaching of English History.”
We cannot forget of course the Affiliated Organisations who bring a richness all of their own. These comprise of Associations like the St. George’s Society of New York, The Society of the Sons of Philadelphia, The St George’s Society of Toronto, Victoria Cross and George Cross Association and the Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth just to name a few.
Today, more than a century after its birth, the Society is still the standard bearer of traditional English values both at home and abroad in promoting the common cultural heritage of people throughout the English-speaking world.