Ladies of the lodge : a history of Scottish Orangewomen, c. 1909-2013

Butcher, Deborah (2014) Ladies of the lodge : a history of Scottish Orangewomen, c. 1909-2013. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis focuses upon the under-researched history of the Ladies’ Orange Association of Scotland from 1909-2013. Challenging prevalent assumptions that Orangewomen are overwhelmingly working-class, it demonstrates a small - yet significant - core of female luminaries to be occupationally middle-class. The desire to articulate dual Scottish and British patriotic - rather than diasporic Irish Protestant - identities is also acknowledged as an emergent subjective shift in women’s motivations for joining. The sisters' apparent complicity with their unequal institutional standing is accounted for chiefly in terms of their desire to promote a unified public image of Orangeism as a ‘family’ institution. Orangewomen however, also actively resisted gendered ‘equal but different’ organisational discourses by using familial networks to sway male voting, appropriation of charitable work to showcase their abilities, subversive contributions to organisational literature and mobilisation of national press to lobby for the reversal of their subordinate status. This thesis represents a rare academic exploration of gendered Orange ritual symbolism, interpreting female rites as both spiritual legitimation of patriarchal subordination and, conversely, as a celebration of sisterly love. Additionally, this study exposes the one-dimensionality of media representations of Orangewomen which obscure, rather than divulge, individual subjectivities. It is argued that Orangewomen adaptively prioritised their class, gender, and ethno-religious identities, according to the differing contexts in which they operated, to support a disparate profile of benevolent causes and political campaigns. Appropriating oral history testimony and archival sources, this work not only updates findings of existing research, but also engages unexplored aspects of female Orangeism to illustrate Orangewomen’s considerable diversity.

Redacted version
Butcher,Deborah_Final-PhD-Thesis_Redacted.pdf - Published Version

Download (2MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item