Newtownhamilton District covers a wide rural area centred on the market town of Newtownhamilton. A large part of the District runs alongside the Border with the Republic of Ireland and many minor roads provide crossing points.

Although no register exists detailing the issue of District Warrants, the earliest knowledge of Newtownhamilton working as a District Lodge comes from the 'Memorials of Orangeism' by Edward Rodgers. On the 5 June 1820 John Simpson, District Master of Newtownhamilton had added his name to a proclamation supporting the original Orange Institution Regulations as formed in 1795 and disapproved of the new regulation book of 5 June 1820.

John Simpson was supported in his disapproval by the addition of signatures from Thomas Seaver, DM, Camlough, Henry Sling, DM, Armagh, Robert Maxwell, DM, Keady and Richard Warmington, DDM, Newtownhamilton. Incidentally, Edward Rodgers informs us that a warrant first issued in 1795 by James Sloan cost £1-2s-9d. Another issued in 1799 by J Verner, Grand Secretary, cost 5s 5d.

The next information is from the 1823 register where the following private Lodges were listed under Newtownhamilton District, Co Armagh.

Lodge   Date of Issue              To whom Issued

 117    10 November 1823         Robert Cornett, Newtownhamilton

 153    10 November 1823         James Crozier, Lisceenan, Newtownhamilton

 305    10 November 1823         Robert Hunter, Newtownhamilton

 363    10 November 1823         Nevin McConnell, Tullyvallen

 687    10 November 1823         Richard Warmington, Cavemakill,

1157   10 Novcmbcr 1823         Tommy Heaslip, Corkley, Newtownhamilton

1437    8 March 1824               John Boyce, Tullyvalin

1703   10 November 1823        John Jackson, Newtownhamilton

1710    12 February 1824         James Jackson, Lurganearly,

It is noted that Lodge numbers 153 and 305 were at this time issued to two different Counties at the same time although the 1798 minute book does give the earlier credence of 153 being issued to Co Down but does not state where.

The next information on the District may be gained from W H Wolsey's (Editor of the Portadown Times), booklet publishcd in 1919, entitled ' Story of the Battle of the Diamond' .This booklet also contains a list of Orange Lodges in Co Armagh in 1825 at the time the Order was 'proscribed'.

From Newtownhamilton we are told that Henry Barker Esq was District Master (perhaps he that gave his name to Barkers Road), Robert Hunter was Secretary, Robert Cornett, Treasurer and Thomas McCosh, Deputy Master.

In 1834 a Select Committee was appointed to report to the House of Commons for enquiring into the state of Ireland so as to develop the true nature of the Orange Institution.

Marcus Synott of Ballymoyre Lodge represented Newtownhamilton District on this Select Committee. In the appendix to the Report he confirmed that Nevin McConnell was then District Master and that Warrant numbers 117, 153, 363, 687, 1157, 1158, 1159 and 1160 were held by the Newtownhamilton District but the Master's name and place of meeting were not disclosed.

The next register of 1856 begins by giving some detail on two distinguished gentlemen from Newtownhamilton District who held held office.

John R Irwin of Carnagh House, Keady, WM of Carnagh LOL 898 was a Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and Deputy Grand Master of Co Armagh. He also sat on the General Central Committee representing Co Armagh.

Parker George Synott of Ballymoyer, Newtownhamilton was Grand Treasurer for Co Armagh. Newtownhamilton District at this time was comprised of the following private Lodges: 117, 153, 305, 363, 630, 670, 687, 898,1033,1151, 1157,1158,1159, 1160, 1162,1206,1212 and 1650 for whom the WDM was still Nevin McConnell.

Parker George Synnot (sometimes spelt Sinnot) was to become County Grand Master in 1885, following the death in office of Colonel Sir William Verner. P.G. Synnot was to serve as CGM until his own death in 1901. He was also the District Master of Newtownhamilton and W.M. of his private Lodge of Ballymoyer.


1820 John Simpson

1825 Henry Barker

1828 Nevin McConnell

1867 Parker George Synnot

1902 James McKee

1908 P.G. Shaw

1913 Andrew Bailie

1924 Rev. R.B. White

1941 John Cooke

1956 James Hughes

1962 Joseph Hawthorne

1979 John Ardis

1981 Samuel Shanks

1984 Hamilton Mills

1993 James Copeland

Over the years the Protestant population of the area has declined. There are now 10 active Lodges in the District, as compared to 18 Lodges in 1856. Rural de-population has had a part to play, but the role of terrorist activity should not be under-estimated, since the District is part of the South Armagh so-called "Bandit Country."

Since the present period of terrorist violence started in 1969, there have been 9 members of this District murdered, 7 members wounded and there have been 14 separate attacks on Orange Halls.

The Brethren of the District who were murdered are listed below:

Bro Sidney Watt, LOL 106,
member of the UDR, shot outside his house in 1973.

Bro Robert McConnell. LOL 305,
member of the UDR, shot in his own yard in 1976.

In September 1975 the IRA carried out an attack on Orangemen during a Lodge meeting in their own hall,

5 members of Tullyvallen, LOL 630, were shot dead.
Wor Bro James McKee, the then W.M.,
Bro Ronnie McKee,
Bro William Herron,
Bro John Johnston,
Bro Nevin McConnell.

5 members of Tullyvallen Lodge were also injured and hospitalised in the attack

Also in 1975 Bro William Meeklim, LOL 630,
was kidnapped, tortured and killed by the IRA.

Bro Joseph McCullough. LOL 630
was killed by terrorists (never claimed by the IRA )

There have been 14 separate attacks on Orange Halls in this District. The first record of cars having to be guarded when parked at the District meetings was in 1971. This was a precaution against the planting of bombs and booby-traps. Carrickawilkin Orange Hall was destroyed in 1972. Carnagh Orange Hall has suffered 4 attacks, damaged by a bomb in 1971 and another bomb in 1972; an arson attack in July 1991 and a second arson attack in Sept 1995. Ballymoyer Orange Hall, Outlacken, was destroyed in 1973 by a pipe-bomb and their new Hall damaged by petrol-bomb in 1994. Cladybeg Orange Hall has had 4 arson attacks, one in 1996 and three in 1997. Tullyvallen Orange Hall suffered an arson attack in 1995. Aughnagurgan Orange Hall was partly destroyed by fire in 1995. Knockavannin Orange Hall had an arson attack in 1995.

Carnagh LOL 898 was forced to hold it's annual Divine service in a car park at Keady Orange Hall in 1997 because Republicans had blocked the Main street in Keady and refused to let the parade pass.

Also in 1997 the District parade on the Twelfth evening in Newtownhamilton had to be called off because of the threat of a rocket attack and an actual attack the night previous.

In recent years Newtownhamilton District has hosted the full County Demonstration on the Twelfth in 1960, 1970, 1979, 1990 and in 2002.

The following extract from the Armagh Guardian of July 14th 1960 gives a flavour of the occasion:


"I cannot understand why members and sympathisers of the IRA continue to live in Northern Ireland", said Bro. J.A. Anderson, County Grand Treasurer, speaking at the Twelfth Demonstration in Newtownhamilton.

It is estimated that 20,000 people packed the narrow streets of Newtownhamilton on Tuesday for the town's first ever County Twelfth Demonstration. The thousands of visitors to the town were mainly transported by the Ulster Transport Authority and it was the first time that double-decker buses had been seen in the town.

Visiting brethren included Bro. T. Finlay, Past Supreme Grand Master of Chicago, and late of Drumhillery, and Bro. Robert McCarten, a member of Enniskillen LOL, Toronto, and late of Crosskeys. Both men emigrated 49 years ago.








(formerly holders of warrant No.670)






(formerly Cavemakill and Corclea)










County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge 2008


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