The 12th of July or The Twelfth is a celebration of Protestants conquest over Catholic forces in England. It originated as a celebration of the Battle of Aughrim which took place on July 12, 1691 where the predominantly Irish Catholic Jacobite army was destroyed by Protestant forces led by Dutch nobleman William of Orange but the decisive battle of the Williamite-Jacobite War happened a year earlier in July 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne where William defeated king James II of England. Both defeats were combined and celebrated William who became William III of England. Smoldering resentments left 2 factions – Orange Men, Protestants who supported William and the English Crown and Catholic “Defenders” who supported Irish nationalism.
In 1795 after a fiery sermon from a Protestant reverend, a riot broke out where Protestant and Catholics clashed. The Orange Order was formed as an organization to fight Irish political expression. Lodges were formed and spread all over the British Empire. Celebrating “The Twelfth” became a flash point for confrontation and violence especially in Catholic dominated areas. The celebrations were banned in Northern Ireland in the 1830-40’s. The Twelfth had dwindled until 1886 when the subject of Irish Home Rule started being introduced. Orange lodges started marching as a sign of disagreement with Irish national desires. The night before, “Eleventh Night” were marked with huge bonfires. Tensions between Catholics and Protestants were heightened and riots killed dozens. In 1912 a Irish Home Rule bill was introduced in Parliament. Protestants marched to show their disapproval.
In Canada the Orange Order held such sway that membership in the Orange Order was an unspoken pre-requisite for holding civic office. There has been an Orange parade in Toronto on July 12th since 1821, the longest continuous celebration.
On July 12, 1912 the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 2123 – Hamilton, Ontario gathered to show their support for the Protestant cause.