The Orange Institution was founded in 1795 after the skirmish in County Antrim which is known as “the Battle of the Diamond”. The Roe Valley like most of Ulster was convulsed by political upheaval in the late 18th Century. Limavady, as befitted a strongly loyalist area, participated enthusiastically in the Volunteer movement in the late 1770′s. This semi-independent, largely Protestant body, was the forerunner of the militias which later became a fertile recruiting ground for the Orange Institution. However Limavady was also an area where the United Irish movement was particularly strong, especially amongst the Presbyterians in rural areas.
Orangeism first came to County Londonderry in those areas where the linen Industry was strong. Economic factors would have been very important in its growth. Although the first warrant seems to have been issued to Macosquin District, the movement grew from the south of the county. The spread of Orangeism to Limavady was inevitable. Much of the land around the area was owned by the Beresford Family, one of whom John Claudius Beresford was on e of the first Grand Secretaries of the Grand Orange Lodge. Furthermore, the Rector of Banagher, the Reverand George Blacker, was the uncle of William Blacker who had fought at the Diamond. Grand Lodge Records indicate that Lodges were operating in Limavady by 1800. The first mention fo Limavady District as a separate body occurs in 1811. It was about this time that Lodges were formed into Districts as they were too remote to be given control and direction even on a couty structure. The County Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge met in Limavady in February 1814 and passed revolutions indicating a willingness to defend the constitution. The first recorded District Master was William Thompson. Hid Lodge Number is unknown.
Incidents of sectarian violence were sporadic throughout the 1820s. During this period the Institution was in decline but in June 1829 the Grand Orange Lodge was reconstituted and 10 warrants were issued to Limavady District. A key figure at this time was the Reverend John Graham who was Rector of Tamlaghtard and the County Grand Master. He had been Grand Chaplain of Ireland and was very active in the re-establishment of orangeism in the 1820′s. He was an enthusiastic poet, historian, and controversialist.
The oldest surviving report of a 12th July demonstration of this period is in the “Londonderry Sentinel” in 1831. The procession took place to the old Parish Church at Drumachose. Limavady Lodges were joined by those from Aghadowey and Garvagh. In 1832 the Public Precessions Act banned demonstrations and the Grand Lodge called on Brethren to obey this law. However, as in many places, the Orangemen of Limavady ignored the decision. As a result there was a faction fight at Bellarena and several Orangemen were prosecuted. The authorities were regularly obliged to send bodies of Policemen to the District during this period and on many occasions Orangemen from Limavady defied the law and were subsequently prosecuted. In 1834 this backfired when a large number of Orangemen came to the Old Courthouse and faced with an overwhelming crowd, the Magistrates were obliged to release them, only to re-arrest them later on.