Winter, Dan (b. c.1730), founder of the ‘Orange Society’ and tenant farmer, was born at the hamlet of the Diamond in the townland of Grange Lower in the barony of Oneilland, near Loughgall, Co. Armagh. Little is known of his immediate ancestry, except that his antecedents John and Ann Winter were among the first converts to quakerism in Co. Armagh. They were in association with the Ballyhagan Friends meeting c.1665. Dan Winter still had a connection with quakerism, though he was not ‘in unity with Friends’, in 1795. He was also a member of the society of Freemasons, being a member of Lodge 603.
It was in the immediate area around Dan Winter's house where the battle of the Diamond took place on 21 September 1795, when his cottage at the crossroads, used as a ‘spirit grocer’, came under attack and was destroyed by the Defenders. Immediately after the battle a number of those involved retired to Dan's farmhouse, where they pledged themselves to form a protective organisation. His knowledge of freemasonry helped him in the organising of the new Orange lodges, for their structure imitated the older organisation, though their aims and terms of membership were very different. Dan Winter, often nicknamed ‘Diamond Dan’, can therefore be regarded as one of the founding fathers of the original ‘Orange Society’, later to become the Orange Institution. In the early distribution of Orange warrants, the men of the Diamond received the number 118 and founded LOL 118. ‘Diamond Dan’ joined this lodge.
The date of his death is unknown but he is buried in the Winter family plot in the ‘Monie burial ground’, attached to the Ballyhagan Friends meeting, at Moneyhill, near Kilmore. He is thought to have had at least three sons, Samuel, Daniel, and Francis. His ancestral home, 200 yards (180 m) from the Diamond crossroads, is preserved as a museum, as is the property at the crossroads, by different branches of the Winter family.