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  • Templar
    Keymaster
    Post count: 130
    • 48
    #2431 |

    The first Scottish Templar Group in the USA: The Grand Priory of the Scots


    (above) Raymond Morris of Scotland, the “Grand Prior of the Scots”

    I thought it was an interesting piece of history that before any other groups of Scottish Templars existed in the USA, there was first “The Grand Priory of the Scots,” that only accepts those of Scottish ancestry. The Grand Priory of the Scots began in California in 1987 and can be found online at: http://grandprioryofthescots.org/. At that time, Fernando de Sousa Fontes appointed a second Grand Prior in Scotland named Francis Sherry. Fontes had already appointed (at that time) James McGrath as the Grand Prior of Scotland, but Fontes believed, “why sell a position just once when you can sell it twice?” Fontes decreed that Francis Sherry would be the “Grand Prior to the Scots” who exist in the diaspora of Scots in America. Francis Sherry traveled to California where they held a celebratory Conclave at which Colonel William Bell was appointed as the first Grand Baliff in the United States (The “Grand Baliff was the highest position in the USA under the Grand Prior). Several years later, after the passing of Francis Sherry, Raymond Morris became the next Grand Prior of the Scots.

    The following was relayed to me by a member of this Grand Priory of the Scots who had experienced these events first-hand, and while I believe their word, I can not personally attest to their accuracy as I did not experience these events myself. Because this group used the common name for most groups who represented The Order of the Temple at that time, “The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem,” and used the Patriarchal cross, they were threatened with a lawsuit by the SMOTJ (Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, SMOTJ.org) in 1999. It’s interesting to note that the Grand Priory of the Scots had called themselves by this name since 1987, 6 years before the SMOTJ filed a Servicemark on that name in 1993: https://trademarks.justia.com/744/49/the-sovereign-military-order-of-the-temple-of-jerusalem-74449931.html. Since The Grand Priory of the Scots use of the name pre-existed that of the SMOTJ’s Servicemark, it appears as if they’d have a good chance at keeping their name, but they didn’t have the money to fight this in court. With legal help, they could have also proven that the SMOTJ.org did not even have the right to Servicemark that name because “Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem” was world famous for being in the public domain since it was first registered in Belgium in 1932 (Scroll down to 1932 Deed Recording: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/documents/ ). At that time, there was no less than 20 Orders in Europe using that name and at least 3 in the untied States.

    It’s important to remember that, in 1993, when the SMOTJ.org, applied to the PTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) for their Servicemark on “Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem,” they had to sign a legal statement that they knew of no other entity at that time using the same mark. Can you imagine a scenario in which the SMOTJ.org would not be aware of their own Grand Master creating the Grand Priory of the Scots in the USA in 1987 and using the same name: “Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem?” If the SMOTJ.org was aware of this, than they committed fraud when they signed that statement for the PTO and their servicemark should be dissolved. For example, in a very similar case, the court ruled in favor of a small Order against the huge Order of Malta because the Order of Malta had committed the very same fraud in their Servicemark Application:

    The court found that SMOM ignored the rights of The Florida Priory and its parent international organization (which the court acknowledged had commenced operations in the U.S. 18 years before SMOM) in its PTO applications by stating that it knew of no other entity using the marks even though SMOM was aware of the parent organization and The Florida Priory.” Please read about this interesting case here: http://barthsnotes.com/2011/10/13/sovereign-military-order-of-st-john-loses-us-trademark-case-accused-of-fraud/

    In a letter to The Grand Priory of the Scots, the SMOTJ explained that the Grand priory of the Scots could avoid a lawsuit if they joined the SMOTJ, and if each of their knights paid $15 per year to the SMOTJ. The Grand Priory of the Scots was small and did not have the funds to fight a legal battle with the machine of the well-funded, and well-lawyered SMOTJ so they gave up and joined the SMOTJ and their knights paid the required tribute.

    Like most marriages made at gunpoint, this arrangement was also doomed to fail. Anger, resentment, and misunderstandings led to a falling out between these two groups that culminated in a letter from Bob Disney. The Grand Priory of the Scots stopped using the name, “Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem,” and discontinued use of the Patriarchal Cross. The two groups remain independent today.

    Decorum Eques Auratus
    Participant
    Post count: 12
    • 0
    #2922 |

    Very interesting article. I wasn’t aware of such a group either and hadn’t run across them in my research until now. I did notice you mentioned Bob Disney in the latter part of the article. Is that any relation to the Walt Disney line of succession?

    Templar
    Keymaster
    Post count: 130
    • 48
    #3151 |

    Very interesting article. I wasn’t aware of such a group either and hadn’t run across them in my research until now. I did notice you mentioned Bob Disney in the latter part of the article. Is that any relation to the Walt Disney line of succession?

    LOL! No relation to Walt Disney that I’m aware of 😀

    Thanks for your feedback Decorum

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