Peep o' Day Boys was an agrarian Protestant association in
18th-century Ireland. Originally noted as being an agrarian society
around 1779–80, from 1785 it became the Protestant component of the
sectarian conflict that emerged in County Armagh, their rivals being
the Catholic Defenders. After the
Battle of the Diamond
Battle of the Diamond in 1795,
where an offshoot of the
Peep o' Day Boys known as the Orange Boys
defeated a force of Defenders, the
Orange Order was instituted, and
whilst repudiating the activities of the Peep o' Day Boys, they
quickly superseded them. The
Orange Order would blame the Peep
o' Day Boys for "the Armagh outrages" that followed the battle.
1 Origins and activities
2 Orange Boys
3 The Armagh outrages
5 See also
Origins and activities
Armagh disturbances and Armagh disturbances
§ Peep o' Day Boys
In 1792 in Dyan, County Tyrone, just across the River Blackwater that
separates it from County Armagh,
James Wilson organised an offshoot of
Peep o' Day Boys called the Orange Boys. They were so called after
the Protestant King William of Orange, who had defeated his uncle
James II at the
Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The News Letter in its 1
February 1793 edition reported that a meeting of the Orange Boys had
been held on 22 January 1793 consisting of 138 members.
The Armagh outrages
The winter of 1795–6, immediately following the formation of the
Orange Order, saw Protestants drive around 7,000 Catholics out of
County Armagh. In a sign that tension over the linen trade was
still a burning issue, 'Wreckers' continued the Peep o' Day Boys
strategy of smashing looms and tearing webs in Catholic homes to
eliminate competition. This resulted in a reduction in the hotly
competitive linen trade which had been in a brief slump. A
consequence of this scattering of highly-political Catholics, however,
was a spread of Defenderism throughout Ireland.
In the Irish House of Commons, 20 February 1796, Henry Grattan
observed: "...that of these outrages he had received the most dreadful
accounts. Their object was, the extermination of all the Catholics of
that county". He described it as "a persecution conceived in the
bitterness of bigotry—carried on with the most ferocious barbarity
by a banditti, who, being of the religion of the state, had committed,
with greater audacity and confidence the most horrid murders, and had
proceeded from robbery and massacre to extermination! They had
repealed by their own authority all the laws lately passed in favour
of the Catholics had established in the place of those laws the
inquisition of a mob, resembling Lord George Gordon's
fanatics—equalling them in outrage, and surpassing them far in
perseverance and success. These insurgents call themselves Orange Boys
or Protestant Boys, that is, a banditti of murderers, committing
massacre in the name of God, and exercising despotic power in the name
Orange Order repudiated the activities of the Peep o' Day Boys,
and blamed them for what became known as "the Armagh outrages".
Blacker, one of the very few landed gentry to join the farmer-weaver
dominated Order at the onset, and later its first Grand Master of
County Armagh, would suggest that no 'wrecker' or Peep o' Day Boy was
ever admitted into the Orange Institution. R.H. Wallace states that
the first Orangemen did not sympathise with the Peep-of-Day Boys or
wreckers and never allowed them to join the Orange Institution.
Mervyn Jess, however, notes that some
Peep o' Day Boys might have
"slipped through the net" but if so they found themselves in a vastly
different organisation. Some historians have attributed the
outrages to the Order.
It is possible that some members of the
Orange Order were involved,
for in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of the Diamond, Blacker
described his disapproval of the outcome of the battle: "Unhappily...
A determination was expressed to driving from this quarter of the
county the entire of its Roman Catholic population... A written notice
was thrown into or posted upon the door of a house warning the
inmates, in the words of Oliver Cromwell, to betake themselves 'to
Hell or Connaught'". 
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Peep-of-Day Boys". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ a b S. J. Connolly (2008). Divided Kingdom, Ireland 1630–1800.
Oxford University Press. p. 453–5.
^ a b c d S. J. Connolly (2007). Oxford Companion to Irish History.
Oxford University Press. p. 461.
^ a b c S. J. Connolly (2007). Oxford Companion to Irish History.
Oxford University Press. p. 434.
^ a b c d e f g Jackson, Steven: The Irish Ancestry of Stonewall
Jackson, pg 62–64
^ a b c d e f g Bardon, Jonathan (2005). A History of Ulster: New
Updated Edition (2 ed.). Blackstaff Press. p. 226.
^ The United Irishmen: Their Lives and Times Vol 1, Richard R. Madden,
James Duffy (Dublin 1857), Pg.101
^ a b William Blacker, Robert Hugh Wallace, The formation of the
Orange Order, 1795–1798: Education Committee of the Grand Orange
Lodge of Ireland, 1994 ISBN 0-9501444-3-6,
ISBN 978-0-9501444-3-6 Pg 19–20 and 126.
^ a b Col. R.H. Wallace, History of the Orange Order: The Formative
Years 1795–1798, pg 19–20, 126. GOLI Publications, Belfast, 1994.
^ Mervyn Jess. The Orange Order, Pg. 18, 20. The O’Brian Press Ltd.
^ Mervyn Jess. The Orange Order, page 20. The O'Brian Press Ltd.
^ A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, D.J. Hickey & J.E.
Doherty, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 2003, ISBN 0-7171-2520-3
^ Bardon, Jonathan (2005). A History of Ulster: New Updated Edition (2
ed.). Blackstaff Press. ISBN 0-85640-764-X.
^ Welsh, Frank: The Four Nations: A History of the United Kingdom,
^ Mulholland, Dr. Peter, Justice and Policing and Orange Parades:
Towards a History of Orange Violence and Corruption in Northern
^ Jackson, T.A., Ireland Her Own, pg 144–145. Lawrence &
Wishart, Fp 1947, Rp 1991. ISBN 0-85315-735-9
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