History of the Society
A Brief History
A Brief History and Description of The 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.
One man’s dream
Extract from the Adelaide Register, 1925
“Who’s this chap Ruff?” someone from Australia asked me once in London. “He’s the man who brings out the standard guide to the turf.” I told him. “What has he got to do with St. George? Is big game hunting for dragons another of his sports?” persisted the enquirer. Then I saw through it all. In common with a good many of us, he had been receiving communications from Howard Ruff on the subject of joining the Royal Society of St. George if English blood happened to run in his veins. Howard Ruff landed in Melbourne yesterday, and for the guidance of the ruling spirits of Australia it may be necessary to mention that he doesn’t bring out the book which tells you the name of the horse that won the Cesarewitsch or Melbourne’s Cup fifty years ago.
Although in poor health our founder travelled to Australia in 1925 to further the interests of his greatest cause where he received an enthusiastic welcome from fellow members of his Society and leading public figures of the Commonwealth.
With the foresight of this man the Royal Society of St George was founded on the 23rd April 1894. He was born on the 12th February 1851 near Wraysbury in Buckinghamshire, where his family had been associated for many generations. He spent his early life in country pursuits and was a keen sportsman and progressive agriculturist.
As a young man in his mid-thirties he was struck by the neglect of English patriotism and on each recurring St. Georges Day – England’s Day – he wrote to the press on this subject and was the first to adopt the custom of wearing an English rose on that day.
The year 1894 witnessed the beginnings of the Royal Society of St. George to which he devoted himself with unflagging zeal and enthusiasm. All his considerable energy was given to the Society in an honorary capacity at great sacrifice to his other interests.
In 1900 he gave up farming so that he could spend his time exclusively in the advancement and encouragement of his beloved Society and the reward for his efforts was undoubtly the acceptance of Their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Patrons. President was HRH The Prince of Wales and Vice Patrons TRH The Princess of Wales; The Duke of Connaught and Prince Arthur of Connaught.
“The English Race”, the official magazine of the Society first appeared in February 1908 and it was due mainly to the efforts and growing strength of our Society that those serving in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force now wear their national emblems on their respective saint’s days.
Howard Ruff was presented with an illuminated address and a cheque from his many friends and members within the Society in recognition of his valuable services. The cheque, with characteristic placed at the disposal of the Society. He was a man of strong generosity placed at the disposal of the Society. He was a man of strong personality and great strength of character but at the same time was kindly, generous and broadminded in his outlook.
The Memorial Cross in Wraysbury Churchyard which bears the following inscription:
“In loving remembrance of Howard Ruff, Born 12th February, 1851; Died 29th October, 1928. Founder of the Royal Society of St George – ‘He fought a good fight and being dead yet speaketh’.”
Mr Ruff was a Past Master of the Eastern Star Masonic Lodge and a member of London Rank. A staunch Protestant, he was also a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of London and a supporter of other evangelical societies. He was a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute and the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Royal Societies Club.
He took a keen interest in the small holdings movement and in all efforts for the revival of rural life and would often write on antiquarian subjects, more particularly those associated with the City of London. He was also a member of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society and served as a member of the Holborn Borough Council.
He died at his home in West Kensington, London on Monday 29th October, 1928. At that time the Society boasted a membership of over 25,000 with more than 100 branches worldwide. He was buried in Wraysbury Churchyard where a Memorial Cross was erected by members of the Royal Society of St George.
We will remember with affection our Founder, Howard Ruff, without whom, the strength of the Royal Society of St George worldwide, bringing together a brotherhood of English patriotism, would not have survived the first one hundred years.
From The English Standard
A Grant of Arms is a Charter; The Societies is personally named to John Minshul Fogg, as the then Chairman of the Society and the current custodian is the Chairman of the Society. The ruling governing usage was given at the time of the presentation of the Arms, to the then Chairman and accepted by him in accordance with the laws of the College of Arms and the authority of Council. The Armorial Bearings may be used only by or on behalf of the Council of the Society. This Shield of Arms may not be used by the Branches. The Charter of the Society makes the Council responsible for ensuring that the Statute is enacted properly.
The Arms may be used and displayed by a Branch at a function when the President or Chairman, or Vice-Chairman or Vice-President of the Royal Society of St George is present in an official capacity.
The Society operates under revised Bye Laws given by order of the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council dated 27th day of August 2003.
The Society’s Badge may be used by Branches in good standing, which have previously been founded and approved by the Council. It may be used on communications, newsletters and other publications of the Branch. It should be used on the official letter heading of a Branch.
The General Logo is not the sole property of the Society and does not attract its patent. Its use, especially when accompanied by the words ‘The Royal Society of St George’ has not been correct since 1990, although used as the Society’s emblem since the foundation of the Society in 1894.
Motto, Badge and Regalia
The Motto is “St George for England.”
The badges of The Society are St. George and the Dragon and the Cross of St. George.
Officers’ badges, other insignia and mementos are available from the Society