Sir Francis Vane

We all know the important facts behind how scouting began and their can truly only be one historical figure that can ever lay claim to its creation and that of course is Baden Powell himself.

However, like with so many organisations scouting has had various other personalities that have either had a dramatic impact on the direction scouting has taken or a significant contribution to its history.

Most people are aware that the BBS (British Boy Scouts)split from the Boys scouts many years ago but few are aware this actually happened as early as 1909. The BBS often get confused with the BPSA  ( The Baden Powell Scouts Association) who parted company with the now UK Scout Association in the 1950’s.

Sir Francis Vane was born Dublin in 1861 to an Irish mother and an English Father, he was like Baden Powell educated at Charterhouse School following which he enrolled in the Oxford Military College. Vane also served in the Second Boer war where Baden Powell became a house hold name, but following the publishing of a pamphlet criticizing the British military method of war in 1903 was “retired” from the military.

Sir Francis was the Boy Scouts Associations London Commissioner in 1909 and he felt strongly the the scout association should be non military and more democratic, which the the BSA headquarters staff disagreed with and they eliminated Vane’s position. Following this during a protect meeting, the London area Scoutmasters voted overwhelmingly to support Sir Francis, however, Baden Powell never reinstated him, even though he had agreed at the meeting to do so.  Vane was offered and accepted the Presidency of the BBS and left the BSA taking most of the London troops with him.

Sir Francis then arranged the for BLB (British Life Brigade) to join the British Boy Scouts in a loose federation called the The National Peace Scouts in February 1910, At the time of the merger there were some 45,000 BBS scouts and 40,000 BLB members. With Vane having and Italian summer home he was able to launch the Italian Scouting movement in Italy the Ragazzi Esploratori Italiani in 1910 and then in 1911, Vane assisted Augustin Dufresne, a ship owner to organise the French scouting organisation.

With the spread of the alternative British Boy Scouts program throughout the world, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Vane in-formerly aligned the various groups as the Legion of World Scouts, the first international organisation, then in 1911 it became more formerly the Order of World Scouts on the 11th November 1911, Vane became the Grand Scout Master of the Order of World Scouts.

Sir Francis died in 1934 aged 72 at St Thomas’s Hospital London.

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