Wednesday, 16 March 2016

RESEARCH ON FRATERNALISM: Early Roots of Fraternal Orders prior to the 1700's

By Louie Blake S. Sarmiento, M.A.
Juris Doctor - II

The roots of the Order of Free Gardeners
can be traced back in 1345 (14th Century).

Like  most English fraternal orders, they also

use a collar and an apron as regalia.

There are still lodges of Free Gardeners

although not as widespread.
Contrary to popular misconception, numerous historians and scholars today agree that it was not only the Masons who protected their trade secrets from others. During the middle ages, other craftsmen too formed their own fraternities commonly known as "guilds" or “journeymen associations”. In fact, records in England show that there were hundreds of trade-based fraternities in London prior to the 17th Century. Here are some few examples:
  • Fraternity of Butchers: owned a meeting Hall as early as 975 and has charters dating 1605 and 1637.
  • Fraternity of Cooks: first cook’s shop was described in 1170. Thereafter till 1438, there are reference to the “Masters of the mysteries” of Cooks, Pastelers and Piebakers. "Mysteries" suggest that they also have mystical initiation rites.
  • Fraternity of Fishmongers: possesses twenty-two surviving charters, the first one granted around 1272.
  • Fraternity of Gardeners: a record dating 1345 showed that they petitioned the Lord Mayor to sell produce in front of the church of St. Austin. They have charters dated 1605 and 1659 and few other surviving documents in Scotland too.
  • Fraternity of Armorers and Brasiers: principal charters dating 1453, 1559, 1685 and 1708.
  • Fraternity of Barbers: Earliest charter granted in 1462.
  • Fraternity of Carpenters: charters dating 1477, 1558, 1560, 1607, and 1868.
  • Fraternity of Brouderers: has reference dating back from 1418.
  • Fraternity of Blacksmiths: charters dated 1571, 1604 and 1639.
  • Fraternity of Apothecaries: received first charter in 1617.
  • Fraternity of Masons: formed around 1472 to control and regulate stone trade. Received company charters in 1677, 1688, and 1702 and still exist today as an operative society. The company's book of accounts mentioned a lodge of "Acception" of Free Masons in 1620 and 1621. This is the earliest reference to the Masons accepting people not practicing their trade or craft.
Other trade fraternities also admitted noblemen and people who did not practice their trade. The Fraternity of Weavers, for example, originally consisted of members of the trade when they were founded in 1155 but admitted sons of members and noblemen. The guild of Merchant Taylors, on the other hand, admitted King Edward III as a member after they had lent him money to pay his wars. It was advantageous for guilds to admit noblemen because they would increase the social prestige of their society.

An ancient journeyman or fellow walks on foot from
one town to another to search for employment in
his trade.
As early as the 1600's, fellows from various crafts and guilds also formed their own fraternities called "compagnonnages" or journeymen associations to defend their collective interests against the monopoly of the guild "Masters" and to provide food, lodging, and guidance for one another when they travel in search for work. As compared with the guilds, these associations usually consisted of "fellows and some apprentices" representing numerous or "odd" trades. They also have an elaborate initiation rite in which a young journeyman who joins the association will go through a system of degrees intended to test courage and loyalty and to ascend into hierarchy within the association. It is from these associations that the roots of Odd Fellowship can be traced. Many of the early practices of the Order of Odd Fellows bear a much closer resemblance with these journeymen associations than with the craft guilds.

When King Henry VIII broke-off from the Roman Catholic Church, he confiscated the properties of the guilds because he believed they supported the Pope because of their link with the church. And during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the Statute of Apprentices was passed which took the responsibility for apprenticeship away from the guilds. The nature and scope of work was also changing, thus, the role of the guilds eventually went into decline. This removed an important form of social and financial support among ordinary workers.

Some of these guilds and trade societies survived while some had to adapt to changing times and evolved into fraternal lodges or clubs with a combination of social, moral and charitable or mutual-benefit functions. By the 1700's, there seems to be a number of such groups in  England. Some lodges of the  Masons, for example, evolved to become the Free and Accepted Masons. Several lodges under the Guild of Gardeners eventually evolved to become the Order of Free Gardeners. Soon, other fraternal lodges and clubs with a guild-like name such as the United Order of Cabinet Makers and the Order of Odd Fellows, also came into the picture. In the book, Discovering London's Guilds and Liveries, historian John Kennedy Melling mentioned the Odd Fellows as an interesting deviation from the London guild model. 
Numerous Odd Fellows' tokens dating back 1795 survives today. Above shows on obverse the head of King George III’s entwined with a head of an ass or donkey. In reverse shows a common man being harassed by an aristocrat and the text “British Liberty Displayed”. This suggests radical protest by the Odd Fellows against government regulations aimed at suppressing fraternal orders, friendly societies and trade unions during the late 18th Century which was indeed a violation of people’s right to association if based on laws of today.

The year 1700's in England was actually full of Lodge-based activities and social clubs until a series of political shocks panicked the English government. The French Revolution was greeted with great approval by many Englishmen of radical thinking that many joined the London Corresponding Society and so-called "Jacobin clubs" to promote revolution against the English monarchy. As a response, the English government passed several laws that made many fraternal orders, friendly societies, trade unions and social clubs illegal such as the Unlawful Oaths Act of 1797 and Unlawful Societies Act of 1799. The Freemasons were lucky because they were exempted from this ban through lobbying with royal dukes and aristocrats who were members. All other fraternal orders, friendly societies, social clubs and trade unions had to intentionally destroy many of their early records to avoid identification and arrest. This is one of the reasons very few of the early records of other fraternal orders survived today.


  1. Melling, J.K. (2003). Discovering London's Guilds and Liveries. UK: Shire Publications.
  2. Smith, T. (1870). English Gilds. London: Early English Text Society
  3. Dennis, V. (2005). Discovering Friendly and Fraternal Societies: Their badges and Regalia. UK: Shire Book publications
  4. Ridley,J. (2011). The Freemasons. New York: Arcade Publishing


Title: ODD FELLOWS - Rediscovering its history, principles and traditions

Target publication year: 2019

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


August 28, 2013

DUMAGUETE CITY, PHILIPPINES - The Odd Fellows of Dumaguete City, Philippines, celebrates the 2013 Hibalag Booth Festival of Silliman University as the "Most Outstanding Organization" (TOP 1) among 71 organizations recognized by Silliman University, during the year 2012-2013. Ranking top 3 last year, the fraternity is consistent in being one of the outstanding organizations recognized by Silliman University.

Once looked-down upon by some people because of its down-to-earth character during its early revival, the fraternity now has gained a credible status. Older members still remind its members to stay humble and just focus on doing good deeds and just avoid competition with other organizations for the sake of ranking. Members were surprised to find out that their lodge was ranked number 1 in the list of organizations because none of them really aimed for it. The rank was simply achieved because of the vast humanitarian projects that the lodges organized at that year.  
Members of Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3 gathered for a fellowship dinner at the booth.

Within four years after the revival of the fraternity in the Philippines, the Odd Fellows now have 5 lodges in the Philippines and over 300 members. Membership is composed of a mixture of college students, professionals and some retirees. Since 2009, the fraternity has also spent over 3 million from donations across the world for charitable and relief efforts to relieve victims of natural disasters that hit the country through the years. As of 2013, the fraternity is also raising enough funds to build the first "Odd Fellows Hall and Community Center" in Dumaguete to cater to the needs of the community as well as venue for fund-raising efforts to support the progress and charitable efforts of the organization in the following years.



August 28, 2012

DUMAGUETE CITY, PHILIPPINES – Just three years after the revival of the Odd Fellows fraternity in the country, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Dumaguete City ranked Top 3 organization among more than 60 organizations recognized by Silliman University.

The certificate and plaque was received by Sister Sheema B. Bajana, Noble Grand of Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3, during the founder’s week celebration. Nearly 40 members of the Lodge gathered for a fellowship dinner at the booth.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Odd Fellows Kapatirang Marilag Lodge no.5 successful Instituted

April 28-30, 2012

LOS BAŇOS, LAGUNA, PHILIPPINES – Kapatirang Marilag Lodge no.5 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was successfully instituted with 20 charter members.
Representatives from Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 of Dumaguete City, Kapatirang Midnanaon Lodge no.2 of Cagayan de Oro City, Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3 of Silliman University in Dumaguete City and Kapatirang Marilag Lodge no.4 of Caloocan City were there to help institute the lodge and attend the Odd Fellows membership educational seminar.

It was a successful event. In Friendship, Love and Truth!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Odd Fellows Kapatirang Golden Luzon Lodge no.4 successful Instituted

January 29, 2012

CALOOCAN CITY, MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Kapatirang Golden Luzon Lodge no.4 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was successfully instituted with 36 charter members.

Sovereign Grand Master Delmar Burns, Deputy Sovereign Grand Master Charles Renninger, Past Sovereign Grand Master Paul Cuminale and Past Sovereign Grand Master George Glover III from the United States was in attendance as well as George Poon, Marie Poon and Virginia Menguito of Golden West Lodge no. 232 in San Francisco, California and brothers and sisters representing Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 and Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3 in Dumaguete City and Kapatirang Mindanaon Lodge no.2 in Cagayan de Oro City.

The initiatory degree and first degree was conferred by the degree team representing the 3 existing Lodges composed of Brother Rex Boyson Olpoc, Brother Louie Blake Sarmiento, Brother Armel Cabale, Brother Paulo Pocholo Grande, Brother Antonio Torres, Brother Michael Veloso and Brother Jose Carlo Macapayag. Overall, the degrees were efficiently conferred and the charge of the conductor was delivered in memory by Brother Louie Blake Sarmiento. The degree team, as well as Brother George Poon and Sister Marie Poon, received an award of recognition from the Sovereign Grand Lodge.

Let the Friendship, Love and Truth spread!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Odd Fellows in Dumaguete Installs New Officers and Forms New Lodge

September 17, 2011

DUMAGUETE CITY, PHILIPPINES – The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 and Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3, held a joint-installation of officers at Café Antonio Function Hall.

A total of 45 members attended the event. The installing officers were Brother Joseph Ian Parreno (Installing Past Grand), Louie Blake Sarmiento (Installing Noble Grand), Sister Maria Katrina Mercado (Installing Marshall), Sister Karmen Amparo Arenas (Installing Warden), Sister Frencille Tabaloc (Installing Secretary), Sister Christyriz Tolosa (Installing Treasurer) and Sister Rena Vey Flores (Installing Chaplain).

The officers installed for Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 were Brother Rex Boyson Olpoc (Noble Grand), Brother John Carlo Buhia (Vice Grand), Brother Anatoly Karpov Buss (Immediate Past Grand), Brother Kennith Misamis (Secretary), Brother Hener John Limbaga (Financial Secretary), Brother Eric Sanchez (Treasurer), Brother Answer Arquio (Warden), Brother Antonio Torres (Conductor), Brother Jesse Emmanuel Garcia (RSNG), Sister Christyriz Marietchen Tolosa (LSNG), Brother Rolando Martinez, Jr. (RSVG), Brother Joseph Ceriales (LSVG), Brother Armel Cabale (Chaplain), Brother Lemeul Culminas (Left Scene Supporter), Brother Willand Joe Uy (Right Scene Supporter), Brother Reiden Lopez (Color Bearer), Brother Adrian Mark Bonocan (Inside Guardian), Brother Matthew Guevara (Outside Guardian).

The officers installed for Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3 were Brother Paulo Pocholo Grande (Noble Grand), Sister Ivana Mae Canlas (Vice Grand), Brother Kahlil Reu Reyes (Past Grand), Sister Rochelle Cepe (Recording Secretary), Sister Sheila Lyn Francisco (Financial Secretary), Sister Maelene Bastillada (Treasurer), Brother Deo Somoza (Warden), Brother Genesis Ege ( RSNG), Sister Abigail Mendoza (LSNG), Sister Fionna Mae Chuang (RSVG), Sister Cherry Mae Gumapac (LSVG), Brother Gil Earl Galileo Bation (Chaplain), Brother Sheema Bajana (Conductor), Brother Jerzon Cañolas (Color Bearer), Brother Don Carlo Olpoc (Right Scene Supporter) and Brother Raymund Fabillar (Left Scene Supporter. The first one year and several months since Odd Fellowship was revived in the Philippines was not just all about success. There were several challenges and obstacles outside and inside the Order. There were some misunderstandings and even conflict of ideas in terms of how to run the organization but it is a good news that the organization is now in a state of harmony and working towards sustainable development. The formation of the third lodge within the city is a vision by the past leaders of Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 to be able to maximize what the Order can do in the City. 

The first one year and several months since Odd Fellowship was revived in the Philippines was not just all about success. There were several challenges and obstacles outside and inside the Order. There were some misunderstandings and even conflict of ideas in terms of how to run the organization but it is a good news that the organization is now in a state of harmony and working towards sustainable development. The formation of the third lodge within the city is a vision by the past leaders of Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 to be able to maximize what the Order can do in the City.

“The aim here is not to tear apart the Odd Fellows in our City but to maximize what we can do as an Order. We have approximately 86 members within the city. With one lodge, not all are working for the Order. With distributed and delegated leadership, we can accomplish more. Usually groups that have about 30 members will no longer be that effective because some people will feel useless because they hold no responsibilities in the lodge. As a result, these members will either stop attending meetings or even leave the organization. It is very important that we imply to our members that they are important and they are needed. Kapatirang Watchdog Lodge no.1 will focus on the activities of the Dumaguete City community while Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3 will focus on answering the needs and attending activities in Silliman University community. We will soon open another lodge in Negros Oriental State University community so that there will also Odd Fellows there who can make a difference. But these lodges will also conduct joint activities every year so everyone from different lodges in the City will still know each other” said Brother Louie Sarmiento.

The opening of Samahang Lodge no.3 is also an answer to the time differences of members who are already professionals and graduates who do not have that much free time and those who are still college students and have more free time. With more than one lodge, professional and graduate members can set a mutually-convenient meeting date while college student members will also have their own mutually-convenient meeting date.

After the public installing ceremony and institution of Samahang Sillimanian Lodge no.3, the members viewed a re-arranged version of an Odd Fellows video that contains clips gathered from various Odd Fellow videos found on the internet. Afterwards, brothers and sisters enjoyed a small dinner fellowship. “The event is full of enthusiasm and excitement. The brothers and sisters are willing to continue the search for lifelong friendship, love and truth” said brother Anatoly Karpov Buss.

It was a success!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Kapatirang Mindanaon Lodge no.2 celebrated first lodge anniversary

May 30, 2011

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, PHILIPPINES - Brothers and sisters of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Kapatirang Mindanaon Lodge no.2, celebrated their first lodge anniversary with an act of making a difference.

They started the day by going to church to express their faith and to thank God for the friendship and fraternity. Afterwards, they traveled to the mountains of Cagayan de Oro and hiked for 2 hours and crossed 8 rivers while carrying several kilos of food items and used clothing to reach out and help an indigenous Filipino group, the Higaonons, who reside in the remote parts of the province and thought they were a 'Nobody'. The goal of Kapatirang Mindanaon lodge no.2 was to show that they are cared and their fellow Filipinos from the City are willing to help them in ways possible.

The Lodge distributed grocery items and also donated used clothing. Afterwards, they had a fellowship meal with the native Higaonons. The day was concluded saying "Tiring but it was all worth it..everyone gave their time and effort for our 1st anniversary charity event. Another Mindanaon lodge original..." A job well done brothers and sisters!