Order of the Bath
|The Most Honourable Order of the Bath|
Civil Knight Grand Cross Star of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath: "Rays of silver issuing from a centre and charged with three Imperial Crowns, one and two, within a circle gules whereon inscribed the motto of the Order in gold"
|Awarded by |
|Established||18 May 1725|
|Motto||TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO ("three joined in one")|
|Awarded for||Service, at the monarch's faith|
|Grades||Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCB)|
Knight/Dame Commander (KCB/DCB)
|Former grades||Knight Companion (KB)|
Ribbon bar of the Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (formerly the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath) is a British
Members belong to either the Civil or the Military Division. Prior to 1815, the order had only a single class, Knight Companion (KB), which no longer exists. Recipients of the Order are now usually senior military officers or senior civil servants. Commonwealth citizens who are not subjects of the Queen and foreign nationals may be made Honorary Members.
The Order of the Bath is the fourth-most senior of the
From at least 1625, and possibly from the reign of
The prime mover in the establishment of the Order of the Bath was
It was Martin Leake's opinion that the trouble and opposition Anstis met with in establishing himself as Garter so embittered him against the
heraldsthat when at last in 1718 he succeeded, he made it his prime object to aggrandise himself and his office at their expense. It is clear at least that he set out to make himself indispensable to the Earl Marshal, which was not hard, their political principles being congruous and their friendship already established, but also to Sir Robert Walpoleand the Whigministry, which can by no means have been easy, considering his known attachment to the Pretenderand the circumstances under which he came into office ... The main object of Anstis's next move, the revival or institution of the Order of the Bath was probably that which it in fact secured, of ingratiating him with the all-powerful Prime MinisterSir Robert Walpole.
The use of honours in the early eighteenth century differed considerably from the modern
The Sovereign still exercised a power to be reckoned with in the eighteenth century. The Court remained the centre of the political world. The King was limited in that he had to choose Ministers who could command a majority in
Parliament, but the choice remained his. The leader of an administration still had to command the King's personal confidence and approval. A strong following in Parliament depended on being able to supply places, pensions, and other marks of Royal favour to the government's supporters.
The attraction of the new Order for Walpole was that it would provide a source of such favours to strengthen his political position. He made sure that most of the 36 new honorees were peers and MPs who would provide him with useful connections. George I having agreed to Walpole's proposal, Anstis was commissioned to draft statutes for the Order of the Bath. As noted above, he adopted the motto and badge used by the Knights of the Bath, as well as the colour of the riband and mantle, and the ceremony for creating a knight. The rest of the statutes were mostly based on those of the Order of the Garter, of which he was an officer (as Garter King of Arms). The Order was founded by
The Order initially consisted of the Sovereign, a Prince of the blood Royal as Principal Knight, a Great Master and thirty-five Knights Companion. Seven officers (see below) were attached to the Order. These provided yet another opportunity for political patronage, as they were to be
The majority of the new Knights Companions were knighted by the King and invested with their ribands and badges on 27 May 1725. Although the statutes set out the full medieval ceremony which was to be used for creating knights, this was not performed, and indeed was possibly never intended to be, as the original statutes contained a provision allowing the Great Master to dispense Knights Companion from these requirements. The original knights were dispensed from all the medieval ceremonies with the exception of the Installation, which was performed in the Order's Chapel, the
Although the initial appointments to the Order were largely political, from the 1770s appointments to the Order were increasingly made for naval, military or diplomatic achievements. This is partly due to the conflicts Britain was engaged in over this period. The
In January 1815, after the end of the
The Order was now to consist of three classes: Knights Grand Cross, Knights Commander, and Companions. The existing Knights Companion (of which there were 60) became Knight Grand Cross; this class was limited to 72 members, of which twelve could be appointed for civil or diplomatic services. The military members had to be of the rank of at least Major-General or Rear Admiral. The Knights Commander were limited to 180, exclusive of foreign nationals holding British commissions, up to ten of whom could be appointed as honorary Knights Commander. They had to be of the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel or
In 1859 a further edition of the Statutes was issued; the changes related mainly to the costs associated with the Order. Prior to this date it had been the policy that the insignia (which were provided by the Crown) were to be returned on the death of the holder; the exception had been foreigners who had been awarded honorary membership. In addition foreigners had usually been provided with stars made of silver and diamonds, whereas ordinary members had only embroidered stars. The decision was made to award silver stars to all members, and only require the return of the Collar. The Crown had also been paying the fees due to the officers of the Order for members who had been appointed for the services in the recent war. The fees were abolished and replaced with a salary of approximately the same average value. The offices of Genealogist and Messenger were abolished, and those of Registrar and Secretary combined.
In 1910, after his accession to the throne,
Prior to the 1913 Installation it was necessary to adapt the chapel to accommodate the larger number of members. An appeal was made to the members of the Order, and following the Installation a surplus remained. A Committee was formed from the Officers to administer the 'Bath Chapel Fund', and over time this committee has come to consider other matters than purely financial ones.
Another revision of the statutes of the Order was undertaken in 1925, to consolidate the 41 additional statutes which had been issued since the 1859 revision.
Women were admitted to the Order in 1971. In the 1971 New Year Honours,