The Order of World Scouts was founded on the 11th November 1911, and was the earliest World Scouting organisation. The date was chosen to echo the declaration of Baldwin as King of Jerusalem, concluding a successful end to the first Crusade, 11th November 1100.
Most folk today know little, or nothing about this known organisation as events from 1912 onwards reduced the organisation to a mere remnant of what it had been. Its glory was short lived. It was an organisation that was in fierce competition to Baden-Powell's organisation. You can find some reference to its existence in Tim Jeal's Biography on Baden-Powell (Baden-Powell, Published by Hutchinson, London 1989 & in paperback by Pimlico, London 1991, pages 408, 428 and 544, both editions).
At the beginning of 1909, with B-P still in full time service with the Army, the officials left by B-P to run his organisation, were to the minds of some, too official. The fear of an infiltration by the National Service League (an organisation pushing for compulsory military conscription) members, was also a very real concern. With these two concerns the Battersea District Scouts seceded, and formed The British Boy Scouts or BBS.
A boy's comic called CHUMS sponsored the British Boy Scouts. The paper was read throughout the United Kingdom and the British Empire, and through this, the BBS spread worldwide. B-P's London Commissioner, Sir Francis Vane bt, KCOC reconciled the BBS as an affiliated organisation to B-P's Boy Scouts Association in October 1909. Despite B-P's unease, HQ staff sacked Vane, which led to the BBS disassociating from B-P's organisation. Vane became President of the BBS "bringing with his most of the troops in the London area and the majority of those in Birmingham" (see Jeal, Baden-Powell, London 1989, page 407). An alliance between the BBS and the Boys Life Brigade in February 1910 created The National Peace Scouts, with a combined membership of some 85,000 (40,000 BLB 45,000 BBS). There was no real interest in Scouting in the BLB, so the NPS, in the end were solely identified with the BBS. In 1910 Vane had founded the Ragazzi Esploratori Italiani (Italian Boy Scouts) which became linked with the BBS in the UK. The founder of the Boys Guide Brigade (founded in 1902, with details sent to B-P in that year) E P Carter, provided the basis of a South African BBS. The BBS had spread to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Egypt, South America and India. The main source of information about the spread of the BBS is given in CHUMS, volumes for the years 1909-1911. These various national organisations of Scouts formed a loose federation early 1911 called the Legion of World Scouts under the leadership of Vane.
In France Monsieur Augustin Dufresne, a ship owner formed a French scouting organisation in the summer of 1911 (a precursor to the Eclaireurs de France), help was give by Sir Francis Vane. In May 1910 an American Newspaper owner, William Randolf Hearst - the American Newspaper owner formed and Incorporated the American Boy Scout (ABS, note the singular ending) which competed with the Boy Scouts of America, (BSA) an allied organisation to that of B-P's organisation in the UK. By 1911 the ABS had become part of Vane's Legion of World Scouts. The French Scouts and the American Scouts (ABS), joined in with Vane's organisation, which contained the British Boy Scouts in the UK, the British Girl Scouts (founded lat 1909) in the UK, and British Boy Scouts in the Empire. A more formal organisation was then launched on the 11th November 1911 in the Royal Chapel of the Savoy, as the Order of World Scouts. This Order had lifted the theme of Knighthood and applied it to the whole organisation (as B-P had done with the Scout Law and Promise, and in the development of the Rover Scout Programme). There was a tradition of Grand Masters in both the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitaller . In the same manner, Vane had become the Grand Scout Master of the Order of World Scouts (OWS), a position that has continued up to this day . Vane was a Knight Commander of the Order of Christ , a Portuguese survival of the Order of the Knights of Christ and the Temple (the Templars) which had been suppressed elsewhere by the Pope in the 1200s. Vane's Order of World Scouts was considered a chivalric Order for Scoutmasters of the BBS/Order of World Scouts. By mid 1912 the Order of World Scouts under its leader, Sir Francis Vane distanced itself from the American Boy Scout as the organisation became more military, and the Order of World Scouts sought to gain other groups in the USA.
The Collapse of the Order of World
Vane had committed all his resources to funding his Scout empire, with a failure to make the amounts of money he needed with his investments in Lloyds the Insurance Syndicate. He failed to pay the money he owed in Uniform manufacture. Vane was made bankrupt August 1912. Lost to both the BBS in the UK and the OWS was the London Office Vane had supplied. The BBS in the UK was thrown into turmoil. B-P's organisation refused any corporate affiliation as was granted before, and demanded that each BBS Troop apply to their local B-P Association. A few Troops under Colonel Masterman accepted this. The Boys Life Brigade accepted corporate negotiations and created a Scout Department in the BLB, but delays in negotiation dragged the matter through to late 1913. The evidence available is that only 18 Troops of the BBS took this option between 1914 and 1918, but Britain was engaged in a War and communications with HQ suffered, so the number could have been higher (with the amalgamation of the BLB with the Boys Brigade in 1926 Scouting as an activity was dropped). Albert Jones Knighton took over the running of the BBS in the UK and maintained communications with the Australian BBS, which survived in odd places until the late 1930s. The American Boy Scout had been taken over by little known leaders (see David I Macleod, Building Character in the American Boy, University of Wisconsin Press, 1983, page 147) and had become a military organisation under the new corporate name of United States Boy Scout. Subject to a lengthy lawsuit with the Boy Scouts of America, by 1919 the USBS had become the US Junior Military Forces Inc. Cater's BBS in South Africa, refusing overtures from B-P became Naval Cadets. The French Scouts had become the Eclaireurs de France, and at a guess in the absence of any evidence which has come to light, the BBS elsewhere in the Empire would have been absorbed in the B-P organisation. The Order of World Scouts never entirely vanished, but became restricted to the BBS in Britain and only a small membership abroad.
During Albert Jones Knighton's leadership, from 1914 onwards, definite shape was given to the chivalric concept of the Order of World Scouts in the launch of The Order of the Redeemer for all BBS Scoutmasters.
In 1991, the Scouts of Australia, an independent Scouting organisation in Australia made contact with the BBS in England. The organisation was founded in 1986, and incorporated in 1988 as the Independent Scouts of Australia Incorporated, but changed the corporate name to the present one in 1992. This provided a spur to revive the fortunes of the present Order of World Scouts. Other Countries became represented - Canada in 1999 and Poland in 2002. The Order of World Scouts is the oldest alliance of Independent Scout organisations.
Further details on the Order of World Scouts can be gained by E.Mailing
Individual and Corporate membership can be gained by individuals, or by Scout groups, members of which, have taken a Scout Promise which reflects B-P's original. If sufficient people are interested, a book will be published covering the whole history of The British Boy Scouts, and the Order of World Scouts. Included in the text are details on dozens of other organisations which were connected with scouting (Woodcraft Folk, The Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, Kibbo Kift, Life Pioneers, British Scout Federation, British Pathfinder Scouts Association, the Outlanders, Federation of European Scouts UK Association, Baden-Powell Scouts Association, along with more details of the other organisations mentioned above) Details of the 1919 Court Case in New York over the United States Boy Scouts, the British Chartered Associations (Protection of Names and Uniforms) Act 1926, which was sponsored by friends of the Boy Scouts Association, and took 5 years to get through Parliament are included. The 1926 Act has been used recently against an FSE group in England - details in the text. If sufficient folk order a book (no payments are required yet), it will be published. If not a photocopied version will be available. Details E.Mailed on request. An earlier version was published in 1987, which was used by Time Jeal in the research for his biography, but the work has grown too large for the BBS to publish the book itself (76,277 words plus dozens of photographs and illustrations) without guaranteed sales. Advanced Orders will allow a professional product -hard covers, dust jacket.
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