RBP No. 4 – Ulster’s Chosen Few – Bush

Although details of the preceptory’s early years are sketchy, its origins can be clearly traced to 14 January 1846 when a warrant was issued to Sir Knight James Hadden, who became the first Worshipful Master of the Preceptory. RBP No 4 did not at first hold their meetings in Bush, encamping in Killyman and Coalisland before settling on the Bush as its base early in the 19th Century. The title of Ulster’s Chosen Few was not taken up until 1924.

Prior to the formation of the County Tyrone Grand Black Chapter in 1865, Bush No 4 was not connected to any District. However, members of Bush RBP No 4 played a major part in the first years of the County Chapter. Three of its members held inaugural County positions in 1865, namely Sir Knight Rev W J M Young, who was elected County Grand Chaplain, Sir Knight William Allen, County Deputy Grand Treasurer and Sir Knight Richard Clements, County 1st Grand Committee Member. Sir Knight William Allen became County Deputy Grand Lecturer in 1870 and subsequently County Grand Lecturer. Sir Knight Rev W J M Young was again appointed County Grand Chaplain in 1871 while Sir Knight Robert Watson followed his fellow Preceptory member Sir Knight William Allen by becoming County Deputy Grand Treasurer in 1875.

It is interesting to note that Rev William J M Young was one of three clergymen members of Bush RBP No 4, the others being Rev Simeon Gaden and Canon R G Douglas, uncle of 1st Lecturer Sir Knight Douglas Moore.

As stated earlier, preceptory records are incomplete or insufficient for a full history, but on the evidence available it is clear that Sir Knight George Falloon was its longest serving Worshipful Master, his 26 year tenure surpassing the 20 year stint of Sir Knight Wingfield Espey.

RBP No 4’s first banner was unfurled in 1924 at Bush Orange Hall by local lady Mrs Thomas McClean. The banner was decorated with the appropriate scene of Moses at the Burning Bush, and also Joshua crossing the Jordan. At this time the preceptory took on the title of Ulster’s Chosen Few, which was inscribed on the new banner.
This banner was replaced in 1939 when Mrs McClean again had the pleasure of performing the unfurling, at Dungannon Orange Hall on this occasion. The scenes on this replacement were The Return of the Dove and, in a throwback to the early days, David and Goliath.

In 1981 the members of Ulster’s Chosen Few, R.B.P. No. 4 decided to purchase a new banner. The then Worshipful Master was Sir Knight Isaac Boyd and the Deputy Master was Sir Knight Frank Clayton. The order for the new banner was placed with Mr Thomas Strain, Omagh. It was passed in the Preceptory to retain the original scenes of the previous banner were David at the Brook and the Return of the Dove and also the name of the Preceptory, Ulster’s Chosen Few. The banner was unfurled at Bush Orange Hall on 22nd August 1981 by Mrs. George Falloon, wife of the previous Worshipful Master. The scissors were presented to her by Master Graham Moore. The Chairman for the ceremony was Sir Knight Ivan M. Symington, Worshipful District Master of Killyman Royal Black District Chapter No. 1.

In 1947 a tablet was erected in the Bush Orange Hall in memory of Sir Knight and Brother Robert G. White who was killed in action at Arnheim in September 1944. A further tablet was erected in 1981 in memory of Sir Knight and Brother George Samuel Gibson who was murdered at Edendork on 29th April 1979, and Sir Knight and Brother David Graham, ambushed at Gortgonis and died of his wounds 25th March 1977.

The list of Worshipful Masters of Bush RBP No 4 which can be derived from the records is as follows:-

  • 1892 Sir Knight Robert Knox Lyttle
  • 1896 Sir Knight Rev Simeon Gaden
  • 1897 Sir Knight William McMinn
  • 1898 Sir Knight Edward Irwin
  • 1903 Sir Knight Wingfield Espey
  • 1923 Sir Knight Thomas Neill
  • 1925 Sir Knight Henry McClean
  • 1936 Sir Knight Isaac Carter
  • 1938 Sir Knight William Anderson
  • 1941 Sir Knight Robert Anderson
  • 1943 Sir Knight Henry McClean
  • 1947 Sir Knight Richard Stewart
  • 1949 Sir Knight Thomas Leaney
  • 1951 Sir Knight Sandy White
  • 1954 Sir Knight George Falloon
  • 1980 Sir Knight Isaac Boyd
  • 1982 Sir Knight Frank Clayton
  • 1984 Sir Knight Fred Archer
  • 1987 Sir Knight Thomas Abernethy
  • 1990 Sir Knight Alan Kempton
  • 1993 Sir Knight Douglas Moore
  • 1996 Sir Knight Jim Martin
  • 2000 Sir Knight Sam Kirk
  • 2004 Sir Knight Derek Graham

The Preceptory is lead by the Sergeant White Memorial Flute Band.On the 3rd of May 1912 Bro Wingfield Espey proposed that the Bush Orange Lodge Scott Memorial LOL 163 start a flute band and it was decided to invite Mr William Simpson to teach the band. The band was inactive during the war years 1939 to 1945. Over the years the band has had a number of teachers, including Mr Watson Campbell who introduced Part Time Music, Mr Robert Scott, Mr Robert Lucas, Mr William Copeland, Mr John Robinson, Mr James Bradley, a band member who served in the R.A.F during the war, and Mr Albert Falloon. Sadly Mr Samuel Gibson a valued member of the band was murdered by the I.R.A in 1979. Over the years the members of the band have come and gone, but the band remains in a flourishing condition and is still marching on. It has taken part in Orange and Royal Black Preceptory parades each year and was honoured to lead the Royal Black Preceptory Demonstration in Dungannon in 1998, also the Apprentice Boys parades in Londonderry and in countless band parades throughout N. Ireland. In the early days the only uniform worn was band caps, then they progressed to white shirts and finally to full uniform. The original name of the band was
Bush Flute Band until the end of the Second World War, when the name was changed to Sgt White Memorial in memory of Sir Knight and Brother Sgt Robert G. White, who was killed in action at Arnheim in 1944.