The Ancient Order of Foresters

The Ancient Order of Foresters is one of the oldest friendly societies, with its origins in Yorkshire in the 1790s. Philanthropy and virtue featured prominently in the principles and ritual of the Society. ‘The object of Forestry is to unite the virtuous and good in all sects and denominations of man in the sacred bonds of brotherhood so that while wandering through the Forest of this World they may render mutual aid and assistance to each other’. Like Freemasonry it was open to anyone believing in a Creator. Just as its lodges were called Courts, the officers of the society used the titles of officials of the medieval forest courts, such as Ranger and Woodward. However, the order blended this mediaeval idea with the notion of Adam as the first Forester. In the late 19th Century Forestry spread over the world, particularly to the British colonies but also to the USA. In 1892 a proposal was put forward to open the Foresters to women by allowing the formation of female Courts. This resulted in an alteration to the emblem of the order to include the figure of a female forester.

Foresters Sash