Bro. Booth Mason of Ashton-under-Lyne

1814 - 1888


The Crest of The Orange Association


One of the leading Orangemen of the nineteenth century was Booth Mason of Ashton-under-Lyne, who was the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen and a partner in his father’s business, Messrs Thomas Mason and Sons, Oxford Cotton Mills, Ashton-under-Lyne.  He was born in 1814.  His younger brother Hugh Mason was a Liberal and became Mayor of Ashton in 1857.

At the anniversary dinner of the Ashton-under-Lyne Conservative Association held on 30 December 1842, Booth Mason gave the toast ‘Our Glorious Constitution in Church and State’.  When in 1847 Ashton petitioned Queen Victoria for a charter of incorporation, Booth and Hugh Mason were both among the petitioners.  In the ensuing election for the inaugural council, Booth Mason of Henry Square, a cotton manufacturer, was elected for St Peter’s ward.

At the annual dinner of the Ashton-under-Lyne Protestant Association in 1850, Booth Mason who was described as ‘a sterling Orangeman’, was in the chair.  He gave ‘the usual loyal toasts, accompanying them with some pertinent remarks on the present position of the country, especially with reference to the audacious Papal aggression’.

In the early 1850s at a meeting of Enniskillen LOL 319 at the Ashton Hotel, Ashton-under-Lyne: ‘during the evening a large handsome and splendid silver medal was presented to Bro Booth Mason Esq. by the members of his lodge, as a token of respect and esteem, for his noble exertions for a number of years past, in the good old orange cause.  Bro Mason returned thanks in a very pleasing manner, urging the brethren to stick fast and firm to their never dying loyal, constitutional, Protestant and Orange principles.  The remainder of the evening was spent in the usual manner, every brother of the lodge been delighted at having had an opportunity of showing their respect to Brother Mason, for his unwearied exertions in the good old cause.  We cannot close this short account of the above proceedings without adding our testimony to the exertions of Brother Mason, in the cause of Orangeism ever since we knew what it was to belong to that institution.  The first grand lodge meeting we ever attended was held at that good Old House at Home, the Pitt and Nelson Inn, Ashton-under-Lyne; and we have ever remembered Bro Mason from that time, and witnessed his exertions in the cause of our Glorious Institution.  We have only to add, that the gift is well bestowed, and no one in the whole body of Orangemen deserves this token of respect better than the recipient of it, Bro Mason’.   

On the death of the sitting Liberal MP, Charles Hindley in December 1857, Booth Mason stood as a Conservative in the election but was defeated.  At his wedding at Ashton Parish Church on 13 August 1861 to Margaret Howard, the ‘Orangemen of the district turned up in considerable numbers to honour the event.  They kept the road clear from the carriage doors to the church, and heartily cheered the happy couple as they left the sacred edifice.  Many members of the Orange lodges were sumptuously regaled by Mr Mason’.

In October 1862 he spoke at a ‘Grand Protestant Demonstration’ held at the Market Square, Ashton-under-Lyne, where he referred to the ‘beastly Popish rabble goaded on by that Antichrist, that old woman, the Pope, and the supports of it those infernal things called priests’.

In December 1867, William Murphy of the Protestant Electoral Union visited Ashton and Stalybridge where he lectured against Roman Catholicism.  Booth Mason and the local Orange leadership supported his visit.  Protestantism had also been strengthened in the region by the appointment of a number of mainly Ulster Evangelical Anglican clergymen such as Rev William Heffill at Duckinfield, Thomas Floyd at Stalybridge and Thomas Eager at Audenshaw; whose energy created new Anglican parishes and who were actively concerned about the plight of the poor.  Many of these clergymen appeared on Orange platforms.


On 10 January 1868 Booth Mason presided at a lecture in the Ashton Town Hall in connection with the ‘National Protestant Institute’.  In his speech he disclaimed that the meeting was got up to give expression against Fenianism, ‘although no doubt it was time that the country should speak out against that infernal and atrocious conspiracy’.  The lecture was intended to be a Protestant one to expose the errors of Popery.  The main speaker was Edward Harper of the National Protestant Institute, who was also the Grand Master of the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain.  Rev T T Eagar proposed a vote of thanks and Rev T N Farthing of Denton seconded.  Councillor Wilson was on the platform. 

On 9 May there was an Orange demonstration at Ashton Town Hall attended by a thousand people with Booth Mason in the chair and the Rev Heffill spoke on ‘papal aggression’.  

In 1888 Booth Mason died and the Ashton Reporter wrote:

‘Since he took residence at Leamington he has rarely appeared publicly in Ashton, but when he has done so it has usually been in connection with some Orange demonstrations, at which his speeches have been characterised by extraordinary vigour of statement and by a recklessness seldom equalled even in the oratory of that brotherhood.  From early manhood Mr Booth Mason was associated with this organisation, and he allowed the sentiments of the Order to carry him to great lengths in partisanship’.

Manchester Orange

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