History of the Original Order of St. Thomas of Acre:


The English hospitaller Order of St. Thomas of Acre was originally founded as a purely religious Order in Acre in 1190, by King Richard the Lionheart, during the Third Crusade. It was devoted to Saint Thomas Becket and retained an English character throughout its history.


In 1228, the Bishop of Winchester reorganized the Order into a Military Monastic Order on the model of the Teutonic Order. The habit was a white mantle bearing a red cross with a scallop shell. The Order did not play a major military role, and after the fall of Acre in 1291 it retired to Cyprus. The Order also acquired lands in Sicily, southern Italy and Greece.


Sometime in the 1370s the Order moved its headquarters to its London house at the site of what is now Mercers hall a house which was the birthplace of Thomas Becket. There it survived as a mainly Hospital Order until it was dissolved along with other orders in 1540.


It was revived in the early 18th century in Jacobite circles, and was one of several organizations active in promoting the Jacobite cause. It seems to have been under the protection of the exiled Stuarts in France. This revived Order existed until the early 1900’s.


The current Order claims no direct links with the original Crusader Order or any revival.


In May 2021, the Rt. Hon. Earl of Loudoun, co-lateral descendant of King Richard the Lionheart, was appointed as Protector of the Order.


Plantagenet Links to the Current Order of St. Thomas of Acre:


The Plantagenet dynasty ruled England from 1154 to 1485. It is credited with the creation of Great Britain as we know it today. It draws its name from Geoffrey Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy who was the first to use this name, a nickname given to him due to his practice of wearing a sprig of broom (Latin genista) in his hat or, more probably, to his habit of planting brooms to improve the hunting habitat in his County of Anjou. The last Plantagenet king was Richard the Third. The dynasty was ravished by the Wars of the Roses where most of the male line was killed in battle, murdered or executed. The Wars of the Roses concluded when Henry Tudor, King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York uniting the two cadet Plantagenet houses of Lancaster and York and founding the Tudor dynasty. The English red and white rose originates from this union. His son King Henry VIII saw the of the remaining male Plantagenet heirs as a threat to his rule and had Plantagenet claimants and their supporters of the House of York (the White Rose) executed. The Plantagenet bloodline line today survives only through the female line of descent.


Our Order of St Thomas of Acre has concrete links to the original order and the Plantagenet family as:


1. King Richard the Lionheart, a member of the Plantagenet dynasty, created the original Order in Acre in 1190 during the Third Crusade.


2. Our Protector the Right Honourable Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun, is a direct descendant of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, who was usurped and killed by his brother who seized the throne as King Richard III. The last King of England from whom the Earl of Loudoun is descended is King Edward III. He is a direct descendant of a line of Plantagenet kings commencing with Henry II. He is a great grandnephew of King Richard the Lionheart and a direct descendant of Geoffrey Plantagenet Duke of Normandy. Today he is the recognised head of the Plantagenet bloodline.


3. Our Grand Master Lord Allan Sterling, is a direct descendant King Edward I through his daughter Joan of Acre and therefore a direct descendant of Geoffrey Plantagenet Duke of Normandy from the line of Plantagenet kings through to Edward I. Many of Allan’s ancestors were supporters of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses. Through another line of his family, he is a direct descendant of Geoffrey Plantagenet and his lover Adelaide de Angers and their son Hamelin de Warenne, 4th Earl of Surrey. Geoffrey Plantagenet’s father was Fulk V Count of Anjou who became the 4th King of Jerusalem when he married Queen Melisende. In common with the Earl of Loudoun, Allan has a direct link to the Kings of the ancient Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Grand Master is also a great grandnephew of King Richard the Lionheart.


Although the history and current status of the Order of St Thomas of Acre is clearly Plantagenet based, the Order is totally supportive of the British monarchy and King Charles III, King of Australia, and is committed to Australia remaining a constitutional monarchy.


The current Order was reformed by Lord Allan Sterling and Lord David Burkart in February 2005.



Romantic 19th Century Impression of the Christian defence of Acre in 1291.


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