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Knights of St. John and Malta

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  • Julius R. Pettis (1842 - 1921)
    He served as Grand Commander (1879-1881) of the Knights of St. John and Malta. Sources Reference: FamilySearch Family Tree - SmartCopy : Apr 2 2017, 19:49:57 UTC
  • Sir William de Harcourt (c.1070 - aft.1149)
    Oldest son and heir. William de Harcourt, Lord of Harcourt, Cailville, Beauficel, and Lord of the Manor of Stanton-under-Bardon, co. Leicester, was living in 1124, married Hue de Amboise. He arrayed ...
  • George Washington Place, Sr. (1855 - 1937)
    He was a farmer. He was apparently named for his uncle Washington Place. He married in Richland County, Ohio in 1877, and about 1878 moved to Michigan with his parents. He served in Company E of the 15...
  • Carroll Arthur Place (1920 - 2000)
    Carroll Arthur "Curly" Place died in Grand Junction, Colorado on June 11, 2000 after an illness of several years. He was born March 29, 1920 in Rock Island, Illinois, son of George W. and Dorothy (Gott...
  • George Washington Place, Jr. (1889 - 1958)
    Biography George Washington Place was born on January 28, 1889 in West Branch, MI, United States. His parents were George Washington Place and Jane Elizabeth "Jennie" (Pettit) Place . He was a Owner,...

The Knights of St. John and Malta was a Canadian and U.S. chivalric association. Originally a branch of the Orange Order, it was founded in Scotland as the "The Royal Black Association of the Ancient, Exalted, Illustrious, Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta" Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta on 16 September 1798. It spread to Canada in 1829. A "Supreme Grand Black Encampment of North America" was established by 1874, chartered by the parent organisation in Scotland.

Members was restricted not only to protestants, but to members of the Orange Order. On joining an Orange Lodge under the Orange Order, one completed the 1st or Orange degree, and the 2nd or Purple Degree (dropped by Scotland in 1902). After some time as member of an Orange Lodge, an Orangeman might be invited to join a Chapter of the Royal Arch Purple Order and undertake the 3rd or Royal Arch Purple Degree. After a time in a Royal Arch Purple Chapter, a Royal Arch Purpleman may join a Preceptory of the Royal Black Institution. As Land recorded of the Black,"The standard canon of Scotland and Canada at the time consisted of twelve degrees, viz. 1. The Knights of Malta. 2. Scarlet. 3. Black. 4. Mark. 5. Blue. 6. Blueman Master Builder. 7. White. 8. Green. 9. Gold. 10. Knights of the Green. 11. Priestly Pass. 12. Red Cross." [Land, Vol 2, p.19] These are associated with Bible stories, imitative of Freemasonry.

Under Robert Land of Toronto, Grand Commander, of North America 1874-1879 and 1881-1882, North America gained autonomy from Scotland as "The Religious and Military Order of Knights of Malta" on 19 June 1875. Land introduced a new Obligation on 13 July 1875, which removed the requirement to be a member of the Orange Order. The number of degrees was reduced from 12 to eight [Land, Vol 2, p.19], making them more chivalric and less quasi-masonic. These change was accepted by Glasgow, and schism avoided. By the end of his five year term in 1879, Land had moved the order from a quasi-masonic Orange model to a chivalric model, expunging the former quasi-masonic degrees as incompatible with chivalry, reducing the number of degrees to five, of a chivalric nature: Knight of Malta, Black or Hospitallers, Priesthood, order of the Red Coss, order of Commanders [Land, Vol 2, p.53]. An edict from Glasgow dated 26 August commanded North America to work the 12 Orange degrees on pain of cancellation of their Warrant. At the September 1880 Encampment, the name of the Order was changed to "The Knights of St John and Malta" and the name of the grand body to "The Chapter General of America". At the September 1881 convocation, the Chapter General of America dissolved all fraternal relations with its Orange parent in Scotland.

Members of the Black Association of the Knights of Malta believed they were authentic knights of the medieval Hospitaller Order of St. John in a continuous and unbroken tradition. The implication was that they were heirs though the Hospitallers of St John's Priory of Torpichen, although this theory is now generally rejected. Another theory, based on the works of Michael Ramsay, a Freemason, is that they originated through a mixing of Scottish men with French Hospitaller knights in the 18th century. Ramsay clearly had little understanding of the concept of fons honorum. The facts above show that "The Knights of St John and Malta" originated as a branch of the Orange Order. Since separating from the Orange Order it had a respectable but troubled history, as follows.

After separation from the Orange Order over its adoption of a chivalric model, the Chapter General of America involved into a friendly society, with life and health insurance intially as a voluntary and later as as a compulsory component of membership. The State of New York issued a certificate of authority to the Chapter General of America, Knights of St John and Malta, to commence business and issue certificates of insurance as a charitable or beneficiary association or corporation, dated 20 March 1883. The Chancellors of the Order controlled the finances, without oversight. Other officers performed the ceremonial roles.

After a long history of personal grievances, Charles Hayward of Wilmington DE led a breakaway group of 443 knights called "The Order of Knights Hospitaller" in 1906, adding the administration of the insurance scheme to his personal grievances. Hayward himself may not have been a well man, and died a few years later. While Hayward may be been a "stormy petrel" as he was described, the Chapter General failed to heed the warning that this schisms should have provided.

A further schism occurred on December 30, 1910, when the Grand Almoner' Arthur T. Lamson; Grand Chancellor, John J. Sheridan and former Trustee, H. C. Kinckle; and three prominent knights, Harry J. Bowen and Alexander McLennan (both were Grand Chancellors afterwards) and William B. Stites formed a body called "Knights of Malta" and received from Grand Commander Collett a grant of autonomy and independence similar to that granted to Canada. This body, built principally around the Bergen (County) Commandery located at Westwood, after a first brief success, declined and its members returned to the Knights of t John and Malta. Unfortunately they did not close out their New Jersey corporation which remained on the books as dormant but not dissolved. This left a way open for two individuals to appear years later and by picking up back taxes "capture" the corporation and thus give a semblance of legitimacy to their own organisation, one of the many "Orders" of St John which sprung up after the 1910 debacle of the Order.

Land later said of the financial control, or lack thereof, "we had spent out money like water, and had nothing to show for it but debts." In 1908 the Chapter General stopped the payment of old age claims and the issue of $2000 bonus certificates. It was unable to pay out when they fell due. The situation was worse than realised due to concealment of debt in the financial reports. It was learnt that there was $20,500 owing in unpaid insurance claims. The salaries of the Grand Commander, Grand Almoner, Grand Attorney General and Grand Chancellor were reduced, and it was resolved to move out of the expensive financial district to a much less expensive locality, and to reduce various other expenses. The Grand Chancellor still held a majority of two votes, and continued to live beyond the Chapter General's means. This situation led to the financial collapse of 1911.The State of New York issued a termination notice to liquidate the corporation. A Brooklyn paper reported, "It was learned yesterday that Henry C. Siegmann of 13 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn, former Grand Chancellor of the K. of St J. and M., committed suicide on Friday within a few hours of the time he was due to appear before a deputy of the State Insurance Dept., to tell us what he knew about the Orders's financial condition."

The bulk of the membership resigned and the Order almost ceased to exist, shrinking to virtually just the Brooklyn Commandery, with Canada being granted autonomy as the Chapter General of Canada. A short-lived New York Priory existed 1926-1928. Pennsylvania had a Priory 1923-1948. California commenced as the Commandery of Los Angeles in 1906 and Golden Gate Commandery in San Francisco which grew into the Priory of the Pacific in 1926, and operated independently.

In 1921, Grand Commander Lamson in New York received an overture from a man named Nicholas who knew Spanish Knights of St John in California who had belonged to a Commandery of Guadalajara in Mexico, and who wished to join. These Knights were Roman Catholic, whereas the Scottish-American order had remained anti-Catholic. Lamson saw the need to break with the anti-Catholic position and accept European knights of the Catholic faith if the order was to be chivalric rather than Orange.

In 1928 the Chapter General of America merged with its Canadian sister, Chapter General of Canada; Charles Hayward's break-away groups; the Priory of the Pacific, and the California group that claimed to have been part of the historic Spanish Order to become the Sovereign Order of St. John and Malta. Sometime after 1932, the central administration lapsed, leaving the Pennsylvania Commandery and the Priory of the Pacific operating independently.

Into this vacuum, stepped convicted fraudster Charles Pichel of Shickshinny, PA. Pichel borrowed minutes and records from Dr Bullock, the blind and elderly archivist of the Scottish-American order. From these records and by scouring the New York Times index for the names of the rich and famous, Pichel invested a pseudo-history of a supposed Russian order of Malta. A Russian Grand Priory had been founded in St Petersburg by Paul I in 1798. Pichel used this date, but had it split from the Czar in 1880 when the Scottish-American order split from its Orange parent. The genuine Russian Grand Priory continued in St Petersburg until the 1917 Revolution.

Three women named Mary M. Lafferty, Jean P. Joel and Ruth Biddle register a corporation named the "Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem Inc." in Dover, Delaware on 18 June 1956. On 26 Nov the same year, the "Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem" was resistered to do busness in Pennsylvania as a Delaware Non-Profit Corporation, addressed at RD2 Shickshinny, the residence of Charles Pichel. The next step was to launch a corporate takeover of the Knights of St John and Malta in order to gain a membership. In 1958, the Pennsylvania Commandery under Franklin A. West of West Realty Co joined Pichel's corporation, believing it to be the genuine Russian Grand Priory. Thus Pichel's corporation, just a business name, gained a membership. In 1960, the names of Pichel and his officers appear for the first time. Pichel was CEO and Secretary-Treasurer. In the terminology used within the order, he was the Grand Chancellor. The other officers were merely ceremonial. Pichel had replicated the ill-fated structure of the Knights of St John and Malta order pre-1911, when the Grand Chancellor controlled the money and the other officers were ceremonial.

King Peter II of Yugoslavia joined the order in 1961. He accepted the office of Royal protector in 1962, granted the order a Charter in 1963, a Constitution in 1964. In 1965 King Peter II of Yugoslavia became Grand Master of the order. The Shickshinny Group realised they had lost control of the money, and slit in 1962, ending a short-lived relationship. Further splits and reunions were to continue over future years. King Peter, a monarch who had never abdicated, and who thus retained his fons honorum, or right to grant knighthoods, effectively turn the old Scottish-American order into a new order of chivalry when he became Royal Protector in 1962. That order is now the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem, which is worthy of its own project, free of the stain of the Shickshinny Group. For the King Peter Order, see

The real Grand Commanders of America

  • 1874 -1879 Robert Ernest Augustus Land, lawyer, Toronto, Canada
  • 1879 - 1881 Julius R. Pettis, regalia manufacturer, Troy, NY
  • 1881 - 1882 Robert Ernest Augustus Land, lawyer, Toronto, Canada
  • 1882 - 1884 James E. Henderson, shirt manufacturer & tailor, Syracuse, NY
  • 1884 - 1886 Robert P. Hallgreen, Titusville, PA
  • 1886 - 1890 Christian Armbruster, New York, NY
  • 1890 - 1891 W.H. Goff, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1891 - 1893 George D. Rollins, inventor, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1893 - 1894 John Arpin Cowan, inventor, Toronto, Canada
  • 1894 - 1895 James W. Streeton, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1895 - 1896 Richard M.J. Reed, military goods supplier, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1896 - 1897 William Buckett, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1897 - 1898 James M. Goodenough, New York, NY
  • 1898 - 1899 Milllard Fillmore Smith, clothing manufacturer, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1899 - 1900 Richard B. Treacy, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1900 - 1903 Charles Hayward, Wilmington, DE
  • 1903 - 1905 Dr John P. Ogden, medical practitioner, New York, NY
  • 1905 - 1910 Joseph G. Burrows, New York, NY
  • 1910 - 1911 Edmund B. Collett, Toronto, Canada
  • 1911 - 1925 William Buckett, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1925 - 1928 John J. Sheridan, New York, NY
  • 1928 - 1932 Arthur T. Lamson, New York, NY

The central administration lapsed some time after 1932.

  • 1950s Franklin Allen West, real estate agent, Pittsburgh, Commander of Pensylvania Commandery

Pichel's fabricated list replacing the above genuine list

  • 1890 - 1909 Colonel William Lamb, Mayor of Norfolk, VA, alleged "Prior of America"
  • 1913 - 1933 Grand Duke Alexander, alleged "Grand Master"
  • 1934 - 1954 General Pavel Awaloff-Bermondt, alleged "Grand Master"
  • 1933 - 1951 Colonel William Sohier Bryant, alleged "Lieutenant Grand Master"
  • 1955 - 1955 Alphons Heribert Scipio Engelhardt, baron de Engelhardt von Schnellenstein, alleged "Lieutenant Grand Master"
  • 1955 - 1960 Count Frederick H. von Zeppilin, alleged "Lieutenant Grand Master"

Pichel's alleged foundation meeting is preceded by other recorded meeting such as: New York Times, September 12, 1883: "PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 11.-- The ninth annual convocation of the Chapter General of America of the Knights of St. John and Malta was opened here today and adjourned after appointing committees. The session will last two days." Pichel's false meeting of 1890 therefore cannot have been the first. That the 1883 annual convocation was the ninth such, would date the first such from 1874, when Robert Land became Grand Commander of North America.

The New York Times, September 3, 1896, recorded the 21st annual convocation, held at the Athenaeum in Brooklyn when William Buckett was elected Grand Commander, succeeding Richard Reed. Buckett defeated. This was an All-American affair, with no Russian nobility from Pichel's fabricated membership list recorded as being present. The Indianapolis Journal, 2 September 1903, recorded the 28th annual convention of the Chapter General of the Knights of Dt John and Malta in New York. "Eight hundred delegates were present from all parts f the United States and Canada. " Had there been Russian nobility present, the reports would hardly have omitted to mention so.

Another problem is that the Czar still ruled and the Russian Grand Priory still attended the Royal Court in St Petersburg until the Russian Revolution in 1917. Criteria for membership before 1917 were to be a citizen of the Czar, fit for membership (i.e. noble or of high rank), and have served three years in the  Russian Imperial Army or Russian Imperial Navy. Confederate Colonel William Lamb had a busy and well documented life which left little time for three years service with Russia. Pichel recreated Colonel William Lamb as a descendant of General Ivan Lamb of Russia, who had a son, but that son used the surname Vaskoff, not Lamb. Neither the father nor the son are known to have founded a Russian dynasty in Virginia.

Grand Duke Alexander had the qualifying service. He was a Vice-Admiral in the Russian Imperial Navy, brother-in-law of Czar Nicholas II and advisor to him up to 1917. All of which makes Grand Duke Alexander a very unlikely schismatic. In fact Grand Duke Alexander remained loyal to the Russian Grand Priory, and was President of the Association of Hereditary Grand Commanders of St John in Paris, 1928-1933. Pichel could scarcely have made a worse choice in claiming Grand Duke Alexander as a member of his Shickshinny Group.

Colonel William Sohier Bryant was an ear specialist in Cambridge, Mass. His obituary appeared in the New York Times, the very journal from which Charles Pichel and his accomplice de Burgh extracted the names of the rich and famous for their fabricated pre-history for the Shickshinny Group. He provided medical services in the Spanish-American War and WW1. There is no mention in Who's Who or newspapers of Briant being a commissioned officer of Imperial Russian or being involved with any Russian Order of Malta.

The other names claimed by Pichel are equally non-verifiable, including Awaloff-Bermondt, Engelhardt von Schnellenstein and von Zeppelin. Only with the advent of Paul de Granier de Cassagnac can information be found in the public realm as alleged leaders of the Shickshinny Group. Crolian Edelen de Burgh. In a letter addressed to Harrison Smith, the Historian to the King Peter Order in Malta, wrote on January 22, 1980:

“My problem with the history is that all seems to be false from 1908 to 1932 as published by Pichel. I know his Minutes are false. Dr Bulloch was never Grand Chancellor of the Order. He was the Archivist of the old Scottish-American Order of St John and kept these records at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When he was old and blind, in the early 1950’s, Pichel went to him with a story that he was writing a history of the Knights of Malta and needed some records from the Archives. Dr Bulloch let him borrow whatever he fancied and then obligingly died while Pichel had the most important records. We took the material, twisted it around, took names of noblemen from the Times Index and created an Order stemming from the Grand Priory of Russia, all a hoax…. The Scottish-American Order went out of business in New York about 1909 following a suicide of the Grand Chancellor, as well as a scandal involving payment (or non-payment) of life insurance policies on the lives of members. Some members in New Jersey tried to save the situation by securing a charter as the “Knights of Malta” in Trenton in 1911. Their effort failed and by 1912 was abandoned. Then Pichel came along in the 1950’s and claimed to be the duly elected officer of that Corporation to give his Order some evidence of antiquity and to substantiate the false Minutes”.

The union of the Knights of St John and Malta with Pichel's Shickshinny Group were then led by the following verifiable leaders

  • 1960 - 1962 Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac, Lieutenant Grand Master
  • 1962 - 1965 Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac, Grand Master
  • 1965 - 1967 King Peter II of Yugoslavia, Grand Master
  • 1967 - 1969 Prince Sergei Belosselsky-Belozersky, Lieutenant Grand Master
  • 1969 - 1977 Prince Sergei S. Troubetzkoy, Lieutenant Grand Master
  • 1977 - 1990 Prince Andreij of Yugoslavia, Grand Master
  • 1990 - 2001 Anthony Zammit, Lieutenant Grand Master
  • 2001 - now Prince Karl-Vladimr of Yugoslavia, Grand Master


1. After the Chapter General of America separated from the Orange Order in 1881, a rump group emerged which, after to-ing and fro-ing, reunited with the Orange parent as "The Ancient and Illustrious Order of the Knights of Malta", retaining the chivalric model which Robert Land had introduced, but acknowledging the Orange Order. By 1954, this group too had ceased to acknowledge the Imperial parent, the Orange Order.

2. "The Order of Knights Hospitaller", led by Charles Hayward, separated from for Order in 1906. Hayward's group met at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on 10 January 1908. (This was later claimed by convicted fraudster Charles Pichel as his "Shickshinny Order"s first meeting.) Hayward's group rejoined in 1928. In farcical fashion, Pichel turned this meeting of a quasi-masonic organisation (many members were masons) into a star-studded cast including "HIH Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia, Peter the Trubetzkoi, the Michele Khilkov, Count Alessandro Buturlin, Count Alfred of ChoiseulGouffier , the Adm. Paul Ligny , the Baron James Harden- Hickey of the SI, the Count de Boissiere , Baron de Rosen (Russian ambassador to the U.S.), Charlemagne Tower ( USA minister and ambassador to Russia, Austria and Germany ), Hethelbert Watts ( U.S. Consul General in St. Petersburg ), Baron L. von Hengelmuller Hengervar (Ambassador of Austria in the U.S.) and many others."

3. "The Knights of Mallta" led by Arthur T. Lamson incorporated in New Jersey in 1911 but failed to attract sufficient members to form a commandery, and rejoined by 1912. This warrant was lated claimed by Charles Pichel as his Shickshinny group's.

4. The Chapter General of Canada were granted autonomy in 1911. They met under the following Grand Commanders and rejoined in 1928.

  • 1911 - 1912 Edmund B.Collett, Toronto, Canada
  • 1912 - 1913 Arthur E. Rowley, probate judge, Toronto, Canada
  • 1913 - 1915 A.G. Horwood, Toronto, Canada
  • 1915 - 1916 H. Morem, Toronto, Canada
  • 1916 - 1918 Thomas Jenkins, Toronto, Canada
  • 1918 - 1920 John Arpin Cowan, inventor, Toronto, Canada
  • 1920 - ? W.R. Glocking, Toronto, Canada

5. The Grand Priory of the Pacific originated a the Commander of Los Angeles in 1906. It grew into the Priory of the Pacific. There was no formal spilt with the eastern states, but with the lapse of the central administration, it simply operated independently. Under Formhals, it joined the Shickshinny Group in 1963 after the Pennsylvania Commandery's brief union with the Shickshinny Group dissolved in 1962. In 1965, Formhal's group also split with the Shickshinny Group and joined King Peter. The Pensylvania Commandery had remained loyal to King Peter, so now the eastern and western branches of the Knights of St John and Malta were reunited. After the death of King Peter, several schisms broke away in 1971. Formhal's California group became the Royal Yugoslavian Order of St John of Jerusalem, with Formhals as Grand Master 1972-1992 and Prince Andreij as Protector 1971-1977. Leaders:

  • Dr W.A. Hobday, Commander of Los Angeles, 1906-1918
  • Robert G. Loucks, Commander of Los Angeles, 1918-1934
  • Robert G. Loucks, Prior of California 1934 - ?
  • Robert Willard Yates Sanguszko Formhals, Prior of California c 1950s - 1972
  • Robert Willard Yates Sanguszko Formhals, Grand Master, Royal Yugoslavian Order etc 1972-1992
  • Baron Richard Flach de Flachslanden, Grand Master, Royal Yugoslavian Order etc 1992-1998
  • Dr Joe Rude, Lieutenant Grand Master, Royal Yugoslavian Order etc 1998

6. The "Shickshinny Group", who were nothing more than a business name registered in 1955, who attracted the Pennsylvania Commandery to join them in 1958, split in 1962. The brief association with Pichel’s Shickshinny Group has been a stain in the genuine King Peter Order and the former Orange Order schism from which it spring. It was just a four year association, from 1958 to 1962. The Shickshinny Group with its competing egos, had further schisms which returned to the King Peter Order over succeeding years. Leaders of other Shickshinny schisms did so for the purpose of promoting themselves to the coveted rank of Grand Master. After the split with de Cassagnac, leaders of the core Shickshinny Group were:

  • 1962 - 1966 Count Felix von Lucker, "Lieutenant Grand Master"
  • 1966 - 1978 Crolian William Edelen de Burgh, "Grand Master"
  • 1966 - 1969 Prince Sergei S. Troubetzkoy, "Lieutenant Grand Master"
  • 1978 - 1981 Prince Roberto Paterno Catello, "Grand Master"
  • 1981 - Leonard Messineo, "Grand Master"
  • 1981 - Salvatore T. Messineo, "Lieutenant Grand Master"

7. Most of the Shickshinny Group's schisms are forgettable, as are their "Grand Masters". One schism gained the protection of King Michael II of Romania.

  • 1994 - 1996 HH Chevalier George Korey-Kreczowski, "Prince Grand Master", with HM King Michael II of Romania as Royal Patron.
  • 1996 - "Count" Joseph Frendo Cumbo, "Prince Grand Master"
  • 1996 - "Count" Emmanuel Bonello, "Lieutenant Grand Master"