A history of the Order of St Patrick

17 March 2014 - 01:00am
Edited by Cindy Stockman - Spotted an Error?


Order of St. Patrick

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, Royal Central takes a brief look at the Order of St Patrick.

Created in 1783 by George III, The Order of Saint Patrick is an inactive British order of chivalry connected to Ireland. It was awarded to Irish peers that were in support of the government as well as those who held high office in Ireland.

As the Order of the Garter represents England and the Order of the Thistle is representative of Scotland, The Order of St Patrick was the national order for Ireland.

When Ireland became independent as the Irish Free State, the Order of St. Patrick ceased to be awarded. While the Order in principle still exists, no knight of St Patrick has been dubbed since 1936. Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the last surviving knight died in 1974. The Queen, though, continues to remain the Sovereign of the Order.

The rulings of the Order limited membership to men who were both knights and gentlemen. Gentlemen were required to have three generations of ancestors bearing coats of arms or noblesse as they were titled, on both parent’s sides. Tradition had only Irish Peers and occasional foreign prince chosen for the Order.

The number of Knights of St Patrick was 15. In 1833 the number increased to 22. The Knights of the Order of St Patrick wore cloaks of sky-blue satin, and the star of the Order was embroidered in silver on the right breast. The Order’s most well-known emblem was the badge and star worn by the Lord Lieutenant. William IV made these available in 1830 for the functioning Lord Lieutenant.


Comprised of 394 stones, the insignia contained pieces from Queen Charlotte’s jewellery and from one of King George III Order of the Bath Badges.

In 1907, The Order gained international attention when its insignia, recognized as the Irish Crown Jewels, were stolen from Dublin Castle. Their location continues to be a mystery till this day.

Motto: Quis separabit?

Chapel: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

Ranks: Knight

Post-nominals: KP

Founded: 1783; discontinued 1922

Photo credit: Bazonka, Creative Commons