Kincora, TARA, Robin Bryans & the British Israelites

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The Kincora Scandal: Political Cover-Up and Intrigue in Northern Ireland, Chris Moore, 1996

“The key to the activities of this particular group lies with Robin Bryans, a Northern Ireland born author who wrote prolifically under the pseudonym Robin Harbinson. He is a cousin of John Bryans, the leading figure in the Orange Order who became the Grand Master of Ireland, who was McGrath’s bible study teacher at the North Belfast Mission in the York Street area and who later attended prayer meetings and British Israelite meetings in McGrath’s home.”

Chris Moore, p.88

Chris Moore, p.88

The role of John Bryans Justice of the Peace, Grand Master of Ireland’s Heritage Lodge of the Orangemen 1970 is  key to explaining why William McGrath, a sadistic abuser at Kincora chooses the name TARA for his paramilitary Loyalist organisation in 1966.

Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace? p.117





As noted by Paul Foot in his 1989 book ‘Who framed Colin Wallace?’ TARA was “an unusual choice of title for a Loyalist paramilitary group.” Unusual because the Hill of Tara was a symbol traditionally associated with Celtic pre-Christian Ireland and the Kings of Ireland, not for example, King William of Orange as inspiration to the loyalty of the Orangemen.

The choice of name becomes even more strange when you learn the Hill of Tara had traditionally been a symbol and place of protest and rebellion AGAINST British rule:

“In more recent history, Tara has been the site of important political events, indicating its continuing significance for the Irish people. In 1798, rebels of the Irish revolution fought British troops on the Hill of Tara, and in 1843, a peaceful demonstration of some 750,000 people protested against Ireland’s union with Britain.” [http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ireland/hill-of-tara]

However, Chris Moore identified 18 years ago this was actually a very apposite name in the context of a deep heritage provided by the British Israelite belief system/myth McGrath which subscribed to with a specific twist for Protestant Evangelism that had grown up in the Orange Lodges of the time. This is just one of the many subjects Robin Bryans/Harbinson tries to address in The Dust Has Never Settled as relevant to understanding some of the reasons for why the abuse and prostitution of boys at Kincora and Lisburn locations was taking place. Chris Moore interviewed Robin Bryans in 1990 to discover Anthony Blunt’s association with the man he called ‘Hellfire Jack’  –  the same Rev. John Bryans Justice of the Peace, who later became International Head of the Orangemen and someone who could be said to be one of McGrath’s mentors.

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Chris Moore, Kincora Scandal, p47

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British Israelite meetings at McGrath’s Wellington Park address were attended by John Bryans, p. ?


On 28 June 1970 Ireland’s Heritage Orange Lodge was formed.

“The Grand Master of the Orange Order, the Rev. John Bryans, who was also a British Israelite…helped to inaugurate the lodge.” (Paul Foot, p.121)

Four years previously McGrath had siezed control of a group and renamed it ‘Tara’ with the slogan “We hold Ulster that Ireland might be saved and Britain reborn.” He’d been holding British Israelite meetings at his house at Wellington Park where Rev. John Bryans would attend.

 “Tara was to be the vehicle by which the undercover elements of the British establishment would lift McGrath’s star into the political ascendancy.” (Chris Moore)

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Paul Foot, Who Framed Colin Wallace? (1989) p.121

Past Grand Master John Bryans, 1974 http://www.sneps.net/research-interests/orangeism/orange-photos

Past Grand Master John Bryans, 1974

Bryans relates that John Bryans turned 100 in 1985 and there was a little ceremony with the Superintendent of the North Belfast Mission and appears to wish to draw attention to the fact that John Bryans had taken his mother’s surname and the fact that John Bryans fiery dedication to the British Israelite cause had in part crystallised when he said as a 12 year old he made 2,000 bricks a day. This enabled Bryans to preach with conviction when comparing himself with the Children of Israel in Egyptian bondage.

“I’m sure that as your knowledge of the Old Testament grew it must have struck a chord with you to note that the Israelites for whom you have a special admiration had to make bricks when they were under the heel of the Pharoah, and yet they came through.” (Robin Bryans, p.139)

Robin Bryans, p.139

Robin Bryans, p.139


Robin Bryans, The Dust Has Never Settled  (1992) p.55

Robin Bryans, The Dust Has Never Settled (1992) p.55


In 1992 Robin Bryans (1928 – 2005) published his autobiography The Dust Has Never Settled. The excerpt to the left details the history of the Belfast Central Mission (1889-1989) a Methodist Church founded in 1889 by Rev Crawford Johnson.

He wrote : “Others have linked my name with the cover-up of sex scandals at Kincora Boys’ Home and my appeals for action about the abuses which were ignored by Cabinet Ministers.”

From robinbryans.net a biography:

“Robin Bryans was born on 24 April 1928, into a Protestant working-class family in the east of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He had an adventurous and colourful life which included working as a cabin boy on a Belfast Lough dredger, shepherding in the Western Highlands of Scotland, studying at Barry Religious College in South Wales, teaching in north Devon, working as a missionary in Canada, diamond prospecting in Canada and South America, hunting and trapping with the Blackfoot and Stony tribes in Canada, working in the theatre, lecturing in Venezuela, travelling to the Windward Islands, Copenhagen, Zurich and Asia, and being chased from Grenada by a hurricane.

As explained in Bryans’ fourth autobiography, The Protégé, the aristocracy took him under their wing. This new role suited him admirably, transforming him from a Belfast backstreet boy into a ‘lifelike toff’.

His twelve travel books included Gateway to the Khyber and Summer Saga: A Journey In Iceland, works full of detail, humour and fascinating anecdotes. For his later travel writing, he specialised in destinations influenced by Portuguese culture, as in Madeira, Pearl of the Atlantic, The Azores and Fanfare for Brazil.

In the sixties his attention turned to his native Northern Ireland and Ulster: A Journey Through The Six Counties revels in the local art and architecture, great country houses with their landscaped gardens, all of which he also pursued in many television programmes, for instance with Ulster Television, which became very popular.

Bryans’ view on life was refreshingly different from that of any other author, and, combined with his wide-ranging geographic knowledge, and skill at drawing out the characters of the people he met, made his work a treasure trove of human documentary.

Classical musicians featured in Bryans’ later life – he worked as an opera librettist and created a music school to encourage the work of composers, conductors and instrumentalists.

Bryans died on 11 June 2005, after a long illness, but in 2006, his writing was celebrated by no less than seventeen entries in The Ulster Anthology (Blackstaff Press, Belfast).”

Robin Harbinson, The Dust Has Never Settled, p.21

Robin Harbinson, The Dust Has Never Settled, p.21

Bryans grew up  at 130, Donegall Avenue (“the house was an evangelical stronghold” until his family had moved in), in 1930s Belfast from a family of well-connected staunch Orangemen.  From his grandfather Dick Bryans who was a staunch Orangeman to his father Richard, a committed bandsman for the parades to  father’s cousin John Bryans, or ‘Hellfire Jack’ as he became known, (later reaching the heights of Head of the International Order of Orangemen before his death in 1988), Robin was always keenly aware of his heritage rich in British Israelite infused evangelical protestanism.

Robin called himself Harbinson as a nom de plume due to his closeness to the Harbinson family whose place backed onto his father’s window cleaning business on the Lisburn Road.

At the North Belfast Mission on York Road John Bryans or ‘Hellfire Jack’ (Blunt’s nickname according to Robin Bryans as reported by Chris Moore) had managed to carve himself a niche as a powerful fire and brimstone style proselytiser by taking his place outside the old Custom House in Belfast every Sunday afternoon and letting rip.

20 – 30 years prior to Robin Bryans’ recollections of growing up knowing his father’s cousin Hellfire Jack as a rising force in Belfast’s Orange Ulster community and a rousing example of evaangelical British Israelism to be reckoned with, a 1908 translation of Geoffrey Keating’s account of the History of Ireland (c. 1570-1644) tracing the lineage of the Irish as a lost tribe of Israel via Scythia had added further fuel to the maturing British-israelite theory and a fervent interest in tracing Irish genealogies, specifically of those who could show they had “colonised Ulster”:

“By the nineteenth century, with the development of British-Israel theory, Ireland came to have a significant role. According to some, the royal house of Ireland could be traced back to King David. One British-Israel writer opined, ‘There is evidence that the tribe of Dan fled by the sea from their captors and colonised Ulster in Ireland and Denmark…'” (Parfitt, The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of the Myth, 2002, p. 43-44)

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Paul Foot, Who framed Colin Wallace? (1989) p. 117

The Hill of Tara in Northern Ireland is currently being threatened by an extension of the M3 running close by here, possibly requiring some excavations nearby – see http://www.sacred-sites.org for further info on the sacredness of the site and protests about the M3 extension.  The last time any digging took place on or near this ancient ceremonial mound in  Northern Ireland was during a period of four years at the end of the previous century, 2-3 years before Queen Victoria’s death and slightly into the reign of Edward VII and reading the book review for sounds like a very bizarre episode indeed. Presumably this time around any excavations will involve planning permission as opposed to a lone man wielding a rifle.

In 2002 Tudor Parfitt published his Lost Tribes of Israel: the History of a Myth, more on which here. His theme is that the creation of Israelite and Jewish identities throughout the world, from the Americas to Papua New Guinea, was an innate feature of colonial discourse. At a public lecture at Harvard in 2011, he modified this perspective, suggesting that the creation of such identities was also the result of what he called racialised religious manifestations. These were based on nineteenth-century racial theory.

The frenzy of speculation amongst the British-Israelites (Parfitt gives a figure of 2 million strong in 1900) by the end of the century may have been fuelled by millennial prophecies attached to various interpretations of the myth. By this point in time those British Israelites of the Celtic-Druidic-Hebraic strand are convinced Tara Hill as the pre-Celtic coronation spot of the old Kings of Ireland held the Ark of the Covenant and so they started digging despite protests by WB Yeats, George Moore and interestingly Douglas Hyde (not the author, an Irish scholar of the Irish language who later became the first President of Ireland and a leader of the Gaelic revival in Ireland).

In 2003, Mairead Carew wrote a book on ‘Tara and the  Ark of the Covenant’    describing the dig:

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“This book covers a search for the Ark of the Covenant by British-Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). A group known as the British-Israelites dug the Hill of Tara in their quest to find the Ark of the Covenant between the years 1899 and 1902. What were their reasons for doing so, and were they successful? And what was the “Great Irish-Hebraic-cryptogramic hieroglyph” and the Freemason connection?

Arthur Griffith campaigned against the British-Israelite explorations and what he saw as the destruction of a national monument (the first of its kind). He protested on Tara in the company of William Butler Yeats, George Moore and Douglas Hyde, despite being ordered off the site by a man wielding a rifle. Maud Gonne made her colourful protest against the explorations by lighting a bonfire on Tara and singing “A nation once again”, much to the consternation of the landlord and the police.

This book describes the story of the British-Israelite excavations on Tara and places them in their archaelogical, historical, cultural and political context.”

For more on the Savile family’s preoccupation with Egyptian mythology, (Savile being persuaded to buy his elder sister Marjorie a house in Cairo) and Robin Bryan’s description of the Belfast Mission’s expansion sending British Israelite missionaries to Egypt to establish Shebeen Hospital at the turn of the 20th century.

















Savile: British Israelite, Loyal & Ancient Shepherd of the Empire, Messianic OddFellow?

God'll Fix It, published 1979

“I’m a sort of left-handed, lay, priest without any desire for recognition”,

says Savile on p.49 of God’ll Fix It, the front cover of his 1978 penned, 1979 published pamphlet of self-asked and answered questions focusing on his left-hand looming large in the foreground

Savile enjoyed calculating risk and beating the odds. He came from parents already conducting dual careers – his father an illegal bookies’ clerk, (who required protection and lookouts?) and his mother a devout carer at the elderly care home opposite their home in Woodhouse. Both his parents were involved in fundraising such as dance events and whist drives, his father counting the money and keeping the books and takings while his mother was the great organiser and could play the piano.

Savile worked his way through his career collecting awards and the highest accolades he could, from all corners of the British Isles and all varieties of organisations. However, if he was also hopping  – or attempting to ingratiate and hop – from ‘friendly society’ or even from cult to cult, scrabbling ruthlessly to attain kingpin position by whatever name in each people-power hierarchy or institution he came across, using his standard combination of methods such as copious charity work or fundraising ‘lovebombing’ along with blackmail and cementing any links with fellow child abuse enthusiasts as he went – then Savile’s relentless “symbol-dropping” takes on a more cohesive underpinning ideology and an implicit threat to reveal the secret he believed he held, as a perhaps self-appointed Defender of the Empire.

Do I believe Savile believed the claims he insinuated for himself or his burgeoning self-created own mythological origins? Possibly by the end, when he’s blethering on about ‘absolute freedom’ and being tricky enough to handle ‘absolute freedom’ presumably as no longer being a subject of anyone, including the Crown. However, earlier on in his career he realised he’d come from a background rich in the British-Israelite heritage of beliefs and thought many others were gullible enough to be manipulated through this belief and he set about doing this once he worked out how. Which all raises the question as to what extent Savile’s corruption has infiltrated a variety of hidden institutions existing beneath the surface of British society and power structures, and whether it’s a question that can ever be realistically addressed. If not, Savile has achieved the biggest, most brazen, most audacious ‘Protection Racket’ any criminal has ever pulled off, all based on the Emperor’s New/Old Ideology and the additional shield of secrecy this afforded in terms of preventing people  as assorted ‘brethren’ from speaking out against him.

“The best business in the world is to own a government”, (Jimmy Savile, God’ll Fix It, 1978 p.51)

The growth of the British Israelite Myth

British Israelism is the belief that the Anglo-Saxons as descended from Sycthians who were descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, lost during the exodus, are the inheritors of God’s Covenant with Abraham and are therefore the “real” “Chosen People”. Through interpretations of the bible, biblical archaeology and what can be loosely termed philology the British-Israelism movement arrived at conclusions such as an indubitably  Hebraic origin for British as ‘Brit’ in Hebrew meaning covenant and ‘isher’ meaning son. The Britisher was the name of the chosen people, sons of the covenant with God. BadArchaeology.com – a website run by two Angry Archaeologists does a much better job of explaining the myth here including the spawning of Pyramidology and a frenzied digging up of the Hill of Tara at the turn of the last century (significant in the context of Kincora’s McGrath choosing to name his Loyalist paramilitary group Tara and Chris Moore’s book on Kincora?)

Tudor Parfitt, an Emeritus Professor in Modern Jewish Studies at SOAS and Director of its Centre for Jewish Studies, gives an excellent and broad overview of the growth of the British-Israelite movement in The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth (2004) and in each chapter he focuses on another country or continent where the myth touches, travelling fast as it fires the imagination of an Empire-building nation such as ‘Great’ Britain. British Israelism,

“which may be termed loosely an interdenominational Protestant fellowship, brought Ten Tribes back into a properly Anglo-Saxon and orthodox Christian fold. The theory in essence posits that the Anglo-Saxons are the blood descendants of the Israelites and that Great Britain and its empire, along with her offspring – America – have inherited the covenant blessings given to Abraham. The general notion of the Lost Tribes’ descent for the Anglo-Saxons, unblessed with even a scintilla of evidence, found adherents in every corner of the globe – even, bizarrely, among the French, as may be seen from Roger Lambeline’s Le regne d’Israel chex les Anglo-Saxons (Paris, 1921)”

Having accelerated as an idea perhaps in response to British society’s shock at the execution and beheading of Charles I and the theological and constitutional consequences of regicide in revolutionary times, various interpretations of the myth and a yearning or harking back to ancient times when God’s relationship with a prelapsarian nation were already circulating widely during the 1800s. The ability for lay biblical interpretation and a rise in millenarianism and an obsession with doom-laden prophecies in Revelations, (which when you reflect on impact of the Great London Fire and the plague during 1660s is hardly unexpected), all infused the plethora of Friendly Societies that spring up at the time such as the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds and The Odd Fellows with a strand of the British-Israelite tradition, becoming formalised with masonic inspired initiation rites and rituals. The Friendly Societies all appear to be heavy on pomp, circumstance and pageantry with a convivial and social welfare/precursor to national insurance as a sickness and burial mutual assurance society.

The British Israeli Movement appears to have reached ideological and organisational ascendancy in 1919 with the establishment of the British-Israeli Worldwide Movement. Having gained considerable traction with all manner of people from Oliver Cromwell, as a tool to throw off the papacy, by the time Savile was born in 1926, Prince Albert (later George VI – the current Queen’s father) was already absorbed in reading up on his father’s subjects as ‘the Chosen People’:

”I am sure the British Israelite business is true. I have read a lot about it lately and everything no matter how large or small points to our being ’the chosen race’.” (The Independent, 6th April 1996)

To the more cunning and grasping lower ranking members of Royalty, especially those with tenuous or morganatic claims to royal blood, the confused twisting of geneaologies to fit ‘historic truths’ or ‘biblical prophecies’ must have been a been a blessing in disguise. Here was their opportunity to lay claim to increased privileges and jump a few rungs up the ladder. But more on Mountbatten later.

A letter to The Independent 8th May 1996 provides a good summary of the effects of the adoption of the myth, particularly in Protestant circles on stoking anti-Jewish feeling, although it can also be said to incorporate what can be viewed outwardly as philosemitism but is really at the cost of manipulating Jewish race into conforming with “pre-destined” roles in various prophecies arising from the British Israelite Myth.

Sir: I read with interest the Rev Keith C Blackburn’s letter on the “Jerusalem” debate (4 May).

Further to his point that the answer to the first verse is an emphatic “no”, it should be pointed out that the reason for that is that the whole of the first verse of this “hymn” is based on the British Israelite myth. According to this myth all the (Protestant) British are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel (who according to the Bible weren’t lost anyway) and the Queen and Royal Family are the descendants of King David via Jesus Christ. Likewise according to this myth those professing the faith of Judaism are not really biblical Jews but are crypto-Jews of East European origin.

So not only is “Jerusalem” xenophobic by omission of the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh; it is blatantly anti-Semitic, based on “no warrant of Holy Scripture” and totally loony.

James Samuel Cole

London SE18


Did Savile consider himself to be a Loyal and Ancient Shepherd?

“As the Chaldean shepherds on their lonely vigil wondered about the night stars, so, after several weeks of staring into the darkness, did I wonder about the nature of things. About people I knew, or sensed, plenty. But about things I was as empty as the darkness. Smuggling books into my exclusive world provided the answers and also a necessary diversion. So engrossed did I become in my learning that the twinkling lights which heralded my returning mates came as an interruption instead of a relief. After three years of six shifts a week living like a walled-up Tibetan monk I was fully conversant with the wonders of astronomy, physics, maths, ancient and modern religions and a variety of languages. ‘One off’ subjects like politics, economics and world history I treated as light entertainment. This was learning at its most happy. If the mine managers were staggered to find a lad who so took to a terrifying task, I wanted no more than to be left alone.” (As it Happens, Jimmy Savile, pp 14 – 15)

What’s a specifically Chaldean shepherd? Anyone from Abraham whom God Covenants with, to Nebuchadnezzar who took control of Babylon to establish the Chaldean dynasty during which he built many amazing structures, no doubt much admired by the architects, engineers and draughtsmen of the Freemasonry traditions

From Wikipedia on Chaldea: In the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Abraham is stated to have originally been from “Ur of the Chaldees” (Ur Kaśdim); if this city is to be identified with the Sumerian Ur, it would be within the original Chaldean homeland south of the Euphrates, although it must be pointed out that the Chaldeans certainly did not exist in Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham (believed to be circa 1700 BC), which casts doubt on the historicity of the Abrahamic story.

Savile’s autobiography ‘As it Happens’ penned after the death of The Duchess (October 1972), and published in 1974 has a fair few references which could be viewed as unsubtle hints at a variety of different belief systems he was attempting to climb to the top of, perhaps as a means of advertising his rank therein or merely as rallying support from those groups – some of which awoke my curiousity in terms of if, how and when the British Israelite Myth also made its way into the Roman Catholic tradition which Savile also ostensibly subscribed to.

“Maybe he has learned a few secrets in the magic forest of living because he has been down paths which few of us have followed – could ever follow. To talk to Jimmy is sometimes like talking to a wizard; you never know what kind of answer you’re going to get. Usually the answers are off-beat, they can sound crazy but I have come to think it could be a brave and glorious madness.” (Colin Semper BBC Religion, God’ll Fix It, 1978 Preface)

Savile also liked to ponder on mysteries he thought only shepherds knew. And in a remarkable comment in the context of those groups of people he abused at both ends of the spectrum of life, children and even the dead, he states not quite only shepherds know the secret, since

“Only the very young, the very old, and the shepherds, have the secret.” (As it Happens, p.156 )

and while he modestly defers opinion on his own gifts and powers (clairvoyance? As well as the claim to Hypnotism training with Josef Karma? More on Savile’s wish to be associated with ‘gypsy’ or ‘gyptian lore another time) Savile also tells us:

“It has been put to me by an eminent man of wisdom that my mixture of clairvoyance, instinct and intuition is because, having been over the rim of death as I told you at the start of this book, one always brings something extra back. I don’t know if he’s right or wrong, but whatever it is, it’s worked for me a good life.” (ibid, p.165)

Savile’s frequent mention of shepherds is interesting in the context of more detail from Colin Semper:

“He is a travelling man. Nothing gives him so much pleasure as to sit in the quietness of the countryside. He sleeps in the van, or at one of the ‘castles’ – places he owns or rents or is given. An attic room in Broadmoor hospital, or a trophy-littered flat in London. Everything he collects on his travels is carefully preserved, from shepherd’s crooks to Variety Club awards” (p.xii Colin Semper, Preface, God’ll Fix It, Jimmy Savile)

“Sometimes I think there’s nothing else for me to do or win but something crops up. In 1973 I wont the world’s top award, the Variety Club of Great Britain Showbiz Personality Award. That’s it, thought I, it’s impossible to top that. And felt a bit sad” (As it Happens, p.160)

The Legion of Mary and the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel

 “I have a friend in Tangier who lives in a palace. Seventy-five candles burn in his entrance hall. Guests arrive by jet, and yacht and when I’m there my thoughts, some of the time, stray back to the Morning Star Hostel for Destitute Men in Manchester. It’s a strange world all right, and seeing as we’ll never quite straighten it out in our lifetime, there’s not much harm in enjoying it. As long as it’s not at the expense of others.” [As it Happens, Jimmy Savile O.B.E, 1974, p.151]

Asides from wondering who the friend in Tangiers was, knowing who was living there such as Sir Ian Horobin in self-imposed exile , as well as a ‘retired’ Billy Hill, I was intrigued to read the Handbook of the Legion of Mary  states “there should be no depths to which the Legion will not penetrate in its search for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” A figure of speech, and obviously shepherd imagery is going to be rich in any Christian context.

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“Called upon to open a sale of work at a hostel for destitute men in Manchester, I went along some weeks before to reconnoitre the place. But I couldn’t find it. The Morning Star Hostel for Destitute Men it was, in Nelson Street. After knocking on several doors I eventually got the right one. The obvious thing was that if I couldn’t find it, our hoped-for customers would also search, tire and probably turn away. So I came up with a good idea, A pamphlet was printed which read ‘Do you know where the Morning Star Hostel for Destitute Men is? No well neither does Jimmy Savile but he will be sleeping there on Friday night to open a super sale of work there on the Saturday.’ (p.134)

There Savile makes the acquaintance of Ginger, the former Coldstream Guard, 6ft 5 and later when Savile was going into a disco called Rails in Manchester at 3 am in the morning, Ginger’s appearance scares off some would-be attackers.

The Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds (LOAS) ‘Ashton Unity’: Savile is keen for the first disco to be acknowledged as having taken place at “a room above the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds friendly society, off Belle Vue Road, in Woodhouse, up the road from his Leeds home.”

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During the 1800s a number of Friendly Societies grew up, each with their own masonic infused initiation rites and increasingly bizarre claims to longevity (Group for Regional Studies in Museums – No 10 October 1982, Friendly Societies and their Symbols and Ritual, Sherri Brown).








Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 20.04.30Frank Broughton, writing for GQ in November 2012 recalls:

“After the interview, keen to give me a “scoop”, Savile took me to a nearby street to show me where his very first event had taken place, the blueprint for his dance hall revolution. Here, an electrically minded pal had helped him connect a gramophone to some tiny speakers and Savile had charged six couples to dance to 78s. The night was a failure since the equipment fused, charring the top of the piano it rested on and leaving his mother to fill in on the ivories. If, as he claimed, this experiment took place in 1943, he was the first person to take money for a night of dancing to records (jukeboxes excepted), making this, as he framed it – “The world’s very first disco”.”


John Henry Savile, Savile’s paternal grandfather had been an estate agent in Leeds before becoming a superintendent in an assurance agent’s office. It is possible Savile’s parents had close associations with the friendly society LOAS Savile insists on signposting the beginning of ‘The Legend’ of ‘The Man’ , also known as Ashton Unity, perhaps in particular this Lodge since it was so close to their home, encompassing both his mother Agnes’ fundraising and his father’s skill with numbers and odds and risk, a boon for any local Friendly Society requiring actuarial expertise. The Friendly Societies operated at a functional level as a mutual assurance body, taking a few pence every week off the working classes to enable sick pay, funerals, payments on death etc and became very prevalent from 1750 onwards, reaching their hey days before the 1911 Act came in and the 1948 Welfare system. In introducing National Insurance the government used the Friendly Societies actuarial tables to start them off, and one wonders what happened to the jobs of those employed by the Friendly Societies as their actuaries?

By 1871, according to The Friendly Societies in England 1815 – 1875 by PHJH Gosden (1961) Lancashire and Yorkshire were the two most popular places for LOAS Lodges to spring up, with 101 of them dotted around Yorkshire 55 years before Savile was born, with a combined membership of just over 7,000 members in Savile’s home county. It was quite a network then, one has to wonder whether it grew between 1871 – 1943 beyond 101 lodges or shrunk in power?

“According to Savile, Vince’s chief gift in life was a flair for arithmetic. He rose at 11 each day because the horse racing didn’t start until 12, meaning the children had to tiptoe around the house before school.” (Loc 655 Dan Davies, In plain sight)

“Savile’s father, Vince, held down regular if poorly paid employment with Jim Windsor, a bookmaker who took a certain pride in defying the law by accepting wagers from the working men of Leeds – off-course betting was illegal up until 1960. Operating out of a ‘blower room’ above a parade of shops on Vicar Lane, Vince Savile took such bets and issued handwritten slips through a small hole in the door. Outside, a lookout kept watch for the Black Marias that would periodically cart off those caught in the act.” (Loc 583 In Plain Sight, Dan Davies)

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It appears that as they grew, so did each Friendly Societies desire to develop it’s own little versions of masonic rites, just to be different.

By all accounts Vincent Savile Senior was a shrewd calculator of odds, whether it be in the game of what would become formalised as ‘turf accountancy’, betting on horse racing being the only legal form of gambling until the law changed in 1960 and took London by storm with the Clermont Club opening, or possibly in addition keeping the numbers for a LOAS lodge or two.

Did Savile consider himself ‘An Odd Fellow’ ?

Savile often refers to himself as ‘odd’ or not very ‘odd’, either way he encourages speculation on his ‘oddness’ and associates himself closely with the word in a conspicuous manner:

“It was important to him to present his triumphs as unprompted eureka moments. “I didn’t have an outside inspiration,” he insisted. “I was recognising an opportunity.” He worked hard to perpetuate his image of messianic oddness, whose successes grew from ignoring any and all conventions. “I was always odd. They could never understand why I was odd.”

Let’s not underestimate his oddness: in an era when the Beatles got stick for having hair slightly longer than their dads’, Savile was going round with a tartan mullet. When briefly a conscript coalminer he worked a shift completely naked so he could surprise his workmates by walking out in a spotless suit and tie. (Or so he says – Savile biographer Dan Davies’ dogged research casts doubt about his tales as a “Bevin Boy”.)”

 “Oddly enough, almost the only person to get a good word from Tebbit (apart from Boris Johnson, who he loves, but doesn’t see as PM material) is Jimmy Savile, with whom the couple became friends through charitable work at Stoke Mandeville hospital.

“I’ve got no doubt Jimmy Savile was a very odd fellow, and I’m pretty sure he was in breach of the law on a number of matters. But I do not know that it’s possible, 40 years on, to do justice in the sense of knowing just how many of those allegations are complete and true.”

His wife is nodding as he goes on: “Jimmy did a great deal of good, as well as wrong. And in anybody’s life, you have to look at both sides of the ledger.”

I ask if the revelations have changed his feelings towards Savile. “Well, I always had my worries about Jimmy, because he was a very odd fellow.” What did he fear he might be up to? “I would not have been surprised to find he was having homosexual relationships with young people.” But he wasn’t homosexual, was he? “Not in general, no, as I understand it.”

Some Friendly Society members referred to themselves as oddfellows, but not all, according to a 2010 article in The Independent ‘Minor British Institutions: The Oddfellows’. One wonders if it’s possible that Savile’s own and/or family connections to the Ashton Unity LOAS at Belle Vue Woodhouse made Savile particularly repetitive with the phrase ‘odd fellow’ due to family pride in Savile Senior’s role as ‘insurance agent’ or book keeper to the Lodge(s) or profitable fundraising activities?

The people who call themselves oddfellows are members of various friendly societies, but not all friendly societies call themselves oddfellows.

Friendly societies, by the way, were all that working people had to fall back on in the days before the NHS and the welfare state. They evolved out of the old medieval guilds and remain free associations of folk who band together to pay contributions to a fund that will cover them in times of sickness, unemployment and when they get to old age.

The benefits are modest by modern standards. The nation’s largest group of Oddfellows is the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, with 120,000 members and 151 branches. This giant among friendlies was founded in 1810 (it celebrates its 200th anniversary tomorrow) and can trace its origins back to the exile of the Israelites from Babylon in 587BC, so they say.

Nowadays the “social” side of the society is more important than the benefits. No one knows where the name “oddfellow” comes from.

So either from inception or somewhere between 1810 – 1945 Manchester Unity of Oddfellows swelled in ranks and became suffused with a version of the Lost Tribes of Israel Myth. Judging by the alternative name of Ashton Unity as the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds, they too presumably adopted some form of mythic origin direct from Abraham, the ancient loyal Chaldean Shepherd with whom God first covenants and would according to Savile “know the secret”.

Did Savile consider himself a Druid?

In 1993 The Independent reported that Margaret Thatcher had visited an Arch Druid’s playground in Cornwall while on a golfing holiday with Dennis. As it Happens, the garden contained a stone from the Governor of the Falkland Islands and the Arch Druid owner named Savile and Billy Graham as his spiritual mentors. The friendly society the Ancient Order of the Druids put forward a descendancy from Noah via Japeth and allied themselves with a revealed antediluvian belief linking Great Briton to the ancient celtic Britons.

Tudor Parfitt, in The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth writes of The Invisible Hebrews – A Myth of Albion, the title of Chapter Three, commences with a quote from William Blake (p.36)

“Jerusalem was, and is, the Emanation of the Giant Albion…Your ancestors derived their origin from Abraham, Heber, Shem, and Noah, who were Druids.”

Blake used the name Albion in its traditional meaning, as an ancient synonym for Britain.

The Independent (London) May 13, 1996, Monday, Letter: Blake’s druids


The Church of Scotland is dropping “Jerusalem” from its new hymnal because Blake said “England” when he should have said “Britain”, not because it is saying “no” in answer to the first verse. Although it cannot be proved, there is absolutely no reason why Jesus should not have come to Britain during his “silent” years. James Samuel Cole (letter, 8 May) is wrong to claim that Blake’s hymn is based on the British Israelite myth. His ideas were the opposite and came from the 18th-century Celtic revival. He believed the patriarchs of the Old Testament were descended from the druids of Britain. Before we pronounce Blake “loony” we should keep an open mind. The great strength of his question “And did those feet . . .?” is that nobody knows the answer.

The Rev Gordon Strachan Edinburgh”

Despite William Blake existing over 500 years ago, his influence as a prophet or seer amongst those who are persuaded they are descended from the Chosen People, or even God’s holy lineage, remains extremely strong. Re-reading earlier responses to Ovenden’s arrest in 1994 (and the Ruralist Brotherhood which is very similar to the Shoreham Ancients formed around William Blake during the 1820s towards the end of his life) we later see people like Graham Ovenden alluding to Blake and “the state of grace” in his trial, and subsequently convicted for sexual offences against children including forcing his penis into the mouth of blindfolded children who had come to sit for paintings. Presumably by taking on the task of ‘corrupting’ children personally Ovenden was better able to paint their state of grace and subsequent enforced fall from that state at his own instigation? It was certainly convenient in encouraging others to ignore his ‘eccentricities’ behind describing his Barley Splatt house as a prelapsarian, pagan, pre-Judeo-Christian, Edenic idyll where naked children could run free, both unashamed and unafraid of predators or voyeurs.

“Referring to one of his subjects, an alleged victim in the case who cannot be named for legal reasons, he said: “(She) was a beautiful child – not only as she was, as you see her in front of a camera, but also as a person.

“It think it is important that someone pays homage to that and place her in a state of grace.

“I think holding those things, by photography or painting, is a moral obligation.”

Referencing esteemed English poet William Blake, Ovenden described the “state of grace” as “a thing of wondrous beauty”.

In one of several references to Christianity in court today, Ovenden said: “Imagine Adam and Eve before the serpent – there’s no shame.

“We’re not born with trousers, skirts, shirts and shoes. One of the great qualities of art is to go back to the great point, the Garden of Eden.”

He described the “Christian guilt complex” as being responsible for the addition of fig leaves in artwork from the 17th century on, to prevent figures from being completely nude.

Ovenden told the court how he had photographed children both clothed and partially clothed, in the presence of others, including the alleged victim’s relatives.

He also told the court how he was also asked to take pictures of his subjects, including nude children.

He told the court: “I have to say the absolute witch-hunt which is going on at the moment – and the idea of a child naked is something to be frowned upon – is absolutely abhorrent.” (Graham Ovenden Trial: I have a moral obligation to paint children, The Telegraph, 21 March 2013)

Songs of Experience
A Little Boy Lost
‘NOUGHT 1 loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to Thought
A greater than itself to know:
‘And, Father, how can I love you         5
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door.’
The Priest sat by and heard the child,
In trembling zeal he seiz’d his hair:         10
He led him by his little coat,
And all admir’d the priestly care.
And standing on the altar high,
Lo! what a fiend is here,’ said he,
‘One who sets reason up for judge         15
Of our most holy Mystery.’
The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain;
They stripp’d him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain;         20
And burn’d him in a holy place,
Where many had been burn’d before:
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such things done on Albion’s shore?

Savile: Defender of the Empire?

While the British Israeli movement would produce many leaders, all who liked to write at length, Parfitt notes:

“From the final decades of the nineteenth century until the present day, thousands of books have been devoted to the British-Israelite idea, not one of which makes the slightest sense in purely historical terms.” (my emphasis)

As the British Empire swelled under Queen Victoria, John Wilson was to popularise the Lost Tribes myth far and wide, publishing between 1840 – 1844 Our Israelitish Origin, producing 5 editions by 1876. His key idea was the at the European ‘race’, specifically Anglo-Saxons, were descended from the Scythian tribes, who were descended from the Lost Tribes.

By 1885, the British-Israelism movement had become a ‘sanctification and validation of the British Empire.‘ H.W.J. Senior wrote in The British Israelites p.16,

“We have many faults yet for all that it will be admitted that we are a great nation. What is the secret of Britain’s greatness? If it is proved that the British are Israelites, the whole History of England will be understood with a right point of view; and that is, that God’s dealing with her, being Israel, show forth that He is true, faithful, and “Covenant” keeping: this is the true secret of England’s greatness.”


Royalty indulging in Seven Degrees of Separation…from Kevin Bacon  the Royal House of David?

By the turn of the century the British-Israelite craze had reached frenzied proportions amongst certain groups, not least amongst the powerful or wealthy who had the time, notion or could afford to employ geneaologists to support any claims they may wish to make to divine origin.

By 1902, C. L. Totten, a retired resident of Milford, New Haven in Conneticut, USA and a former military science and tactics Professor at Yale, had engaged in a genealogical exercise, attempting to prove the Davidic ancestry of the British royal family. Julia Field King, a student of Mary Eddy Baker of the Christian Scientist movement,

“put extensive research into trying to prove this; she went even further into trying to prove that Mary Baker Eddy herself was a descendant of King David. Mrs Eddy came to be a believer in British Israelism; Eddy was also attracted to this notion because she believed that it could boost the Christian Science movement in England.[16] In 1898, Mary Baker Eddy wrote a poem titled “The United States To Great Britain” In this poem, Mrs. Eddy refers to the United States and Great Britain as “Anglo-Israel,” and our “brother,” Great Britain, as “Judah’s sceptred race”.[17]

In a letter in 1902 to Julia Field titled “King of a work tracing the lineage of Queen Victoria back to King David,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote:

“Your work, ‘The Royal House of Britain an Enduring Dynasty,’ is indeed masterful: one of the most remarkable Biblical researches in that direction ever accomplished. Its data and the logic of its events sustain its authenticity, and its grandeur sparkles in the words, ‘King Jesus.'” In the words of Jeremiah, quoted in the book: “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the House of Israel.” (Jer. 33:17)

“Invited one day to tea with the Queen Mother at St James’s Palace, it was all very nice and chatty and fun. After Queen Mum had gone the guests trickled away. We were in the throne room at the time and the Most Important Seat was roped off with golden cords. As it happens the ropes were only eighteen inches from the ground and offered no barrier. Having done most things yet but not say on the Throne of England, the temptation was too much. All had gone save a handful. No one was looking. Treason or not, it was too good to miss. A quick step over the rope and gentle sit down. There may have been other short-lived occupants of that throne but none with such an eyes-close and blissful smile as mine. I thought of knighting myself while I was there but I didn’t have the sword.” (AIH, Savile, p.150)

Jeremiah pops up a lot in British Israelite prophecy, perhaps related to the belief that it was his curse on the King Solomon’s line that consequently forces the last king of Judea’s daughter to flee and end up in Ancient Britain see here

In 1883, at the height of British-Israelism ideological support for the Empire and Monarchy, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, also known as the Princess Alice of Albany (25 February 1883 – 3 January 1981) was born at Windsor Castle to V&A’s youngest son, Prince Leopold of Albany. From wikipedia below:

She was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the longest-lived Princess of the Blood Royal of the British Royal Family and the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria. She also held the titles of Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess in Saxony from birth, as well as a Princess of Teck by marriage, until 1917 when she was commanded to relinquish them by theLetters Patent of George V. She was godmother to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who is the granddaughter of her first cousin, QueenWilhelmina of the Netherlands.

Aged 46, perhaps persuaded of her own divine lineage Countess Athlone becomes Patron-in-Chief to the newly formed British Israel World Federation in 1919. As Vicereine of South Africa during the 1930s and then Canada, while travelling with her husband the Earl of Athlone as Governor General of Canada helping to build up morale during 1940-46, the news the Britishers are the Chosen People has already spread to the further corners of the British Empire, even as it is crumbling. From Wikipedia on British Israelism:

In 1919 the British-Israel-World Federation was founded in London. During this time, several prominent figures patronized the organisation: Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, was Patron-in-chief in pre-World War II days. One of the most notable members was William Massey, then Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Due to the expansive nature of the British Empire, believers in British Israelism spread worldwide. It became most prevalent in the United StatesEngland, and various Commonwealthnations. The theory was widely promoted in the United States during the 20th century.

Howard Rand promoted the theory and became National Commissioner of the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America in 1928. He published The Bulletin, later renamed The Messenger of the Covenant. More recently, it has been renamed Destiny. It is issued by Destiny Publishers.[10]

Three years after the formation of the World Federation, the Queen’s father, Prince Albert, then 27 years old and fourth in line to the throne and Countess Athlone’s nephew was heartily belonging to the royal family of the ‘Chosen Race’. In The Independent, 6 April, 1996 there appeared a facsimile of a letter written by George VI in 1922, when he was Albert, the Duke of York. In the letter, the future father of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, wrote:

”I am sure the British Israelite business is true. I have read a lot about it lately and everything no matter how large or small points to our being ’the chosen race’.”


In 1936 the BIWF moved into illustrious offices at No 6 Buckingham Gate, next door to their Biblical Teaching College at No 4.

And finally…Savile as King Solomon ‘of Pop’?

Savile liked to be known as King Solomon. He particularly liked it to be known that John Lennon addressed him as ‘King Solomon’ and in later interviews during the ‘Noughties he kept coming back to his love of young women as no different to that of King Solomon’s 1,000 woman and child concubines.

In his last interview with Alex Belfield he said:

“I’m a rare breed in so far as I’m a single fella. My aim was not to have one wife but to have 1,000, like King Solomon.

“It was terrific, like those sheiks who have harems”

The Irish Independent’s obituary to Savile also mentions Savile’s fondness for being likened to King Solomon ‘of pop’:

“His trademark mixture of gurning and garrulity, pioneered on ‘Top of the Pops’, inspired an entirely new genre of television presentation — what one observer called the “attention-seeking, nutty-prankster school” — but Savile also saw himself in a more serious role as the King Solomon of pop, dispensing words of wisdom and advice to young musicians. “I never forgot they were the talent and we were just presenters,” he explained.” [The Irish Independent, October 2011]

It’s a label Savile likes to repeatedly self-apply in the strangest of circumstances:

“Quietly moving the enormous wooden seat a few yards meant I could sit, like King Solomon, in the silent, sleeping hall wearing the portable hairdryer.” (AIH, p.108)

“At 2am one morning there came a small knock on my door in Manchester. Standing there was a young, super-shape girl. About seventeen or eighteen I estimated. Manchester is a big city and such things can happen.

‘I saw your light on,’ she said and stood there waiting for her chemistry to take effect on me,

Normally such manna would be consumed but my guardian angel works, thank goodness, a twenty-four hour shift.

‘I’m just going out,’ says I with great effort and cursing myself for being chicken, ‘but I’ll be back in an hour.’

Such King Solomon decision gave me an each-way bet.” (p.144)