Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East No. 493 [2]

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Outline History

The history of Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East in many ways reflects the history of Freemasonry in Shanghai. The Lodge was erected and dedicated at the New Masonic Hall, Shanghai, on 28th June 1869, some five years after the first Scottish Lodge in the Far East, Lodge Cosmopolitan, No. 428, had been consecrated. The Lodge was formed by a representative body of Scottish Freemasons, and amongst its founders particular reference should be made to Brother Brodie A. Clarke, Senior Deacon elect, who became Master in 1871 and whose influence on the Lodge some fifty years later was to become so important.

The Ceremony of Consecration was conducted by Brother R. S. Gundry (Tuscan Lodge, No. 1027 E.C.), assisted by Brothers A. Campbell, W. Pearson (Royal Sussex Lodge, No. 501 E.C.), Birt (Lodge Cosmopolitan, No. 428), T. A. Cowderoy (Tuscan Lodge, No. 1027 E.C.) and the Rev. Canon Butcher, Provincial Grand Chaplain (E.C.) in the presence of about eighty members of the Craft. Its first Master was Brother J. G. S. Coghill, M.D.

The Lodge met monthly, and its first candidate, Mr. J. P. M. Fraser, was initiated on 1st October 1869.

The original Minute Book of the Lodge shows that during its first year the Lodge was extremely active, but after 1870 the number of Freemasons in Shanghai dwindled, and although an attempt was made to amalgamate with Lodge Cosmopolitan in 1872–1873, it was found that the difficulties or arranging the matter to the satisfaction of the members of both Lodges were insuperable and after a short but happy career the Lodge became dormant in 1874.

Late in 1917 opinions were expressed that another Lodge should he formed in Shanghai under the Scottish jurisdiction. Informal meetings were held in December 1917 and January 1918, when the suggestion was made to resuscitate Lodge St. Andrew, as there was still one surviving member of the Lodge, an original founder, in Shanghai, in the person of Brother Brodie A. Clarke. Twenty-one Brethren signed the Petition for resuscitation and during 1918 Brother J. E. Inch visited Edinburgh and completed the requirements of Grand Lodge, who granted a duplicate of the original Charter thereby allowing the Lodge to again function.

On 18th February 1919 an informal meeting was held in the Masonic Hall, 30 The Bund, Shanghai, to discuss arrangements and the Inauguration and Installation Meeting was held on Tuesday, 4th March 1919, when Brother Brodie A. Clarke was formally presented with the new Charter by Brother J. E. Inch. Brother Clarke then opened the Lodge as Right Worshipful Master, supported amongst others by Brother F. G. Penfold as Worshipful Junior Warden, Brother F. G. Penfold being still on the roll of the Lodge. Brother J. E. Inch was installed as the first Master after the resuscitation by Brother S C. Young, a Past Master of Lodge Saltoun, No. 936.

The first candidate was Mr. C. M. Bain, who was initiated on 8th April 1919.

The revival of energy aroused amongst Scottish Brethren by the resuscitation of the Lodge is evidenced by the Lodge carrying unanimously on 3rd June 1919 a resolution urging the formation of a District Grand Lodge of North China, which was supported by the other two Scottish Lodges in the District and great joy was experienced by the Brethren of the Lodge when Brother Brodie A. Clarke (who had previously been elected the first Honorary Member of the Lodge on 2nd December 1919), became the first District Grand Master in 1921 until his resignation in 1927, and who continued to support the Lodge and the District so well until his death on 30th September 1931. It is interesting to recall that amongst the effects of Brother Clarke was found the original Minute Book of the Lodge, which was formally presented to the Lodge on 27th October 1931 and is now its most treasured possession.

The Lodge is also proud of the fact that the honour of the choice of the remaining two District Grand Masters fell upon members of the Lodge, for Brother F. G. Penfold, a petitioner for the Lodge’s resuscitation became District Grand Master in 1927 followed by Brother N. C. Macgregor, Master of the Lodge in 1935, who became District Grand Master in 1937 and remained in that office until the District was declared dormant in 1953.

Another outstanding member of the Lodge who remained a member until his death in 1956 was Brother E. J. Hudson, who was Master in 1920, elected an Honorary Member on 24th February 1925 and appointed Representative of Grand Lodge near to the Grand Lodge of California in 1935.

Other notable occasions in the history of the Lodge were meetings held on 13th April 1920, when Brother J. E. Inch initiated his son, Mr. J. V. Inch; 10th May 1921, when Brother W. Gardner, Past Master, obligated his son, Mr. F. T. Gardner; and 22nd January 1935 when Brother N. C. Macgregor initiated Mr. R. G. Penfold in the presence of his father, Brother F. G. Penfold, Brother F. G. Penfold later having the honour to instal his son into the Chair of the Lodge in November 1939. A rare experience in Lodges in the Far East.

The Lodge has worked the Mark Degree at irregular intervals and the number of candidates at each ceremony has generally been considerable, the highest number recorded being nineteen candidates on 11th September 1928.

During its workings in Shanghai regular meetings of the Lodge were from time to time interrupted owing to various states of emergency existing. All Lodge meetings were postponed between May and September 1925, March and April 1927, February 1932 and slightly curtailed during the 1937 disturbances. The Lodge was in abeyance between November 1941 and 1946 during the Japanese occupation of the city.

Fortunately during the Second World War no attempt was made by the Japanese to destroy Lodge records or property, and after the re-occupation of the city the Lodge was re-opened on the 26th June 1946.

The Lodge continued to meet regularly in Shanghai until Friday, 28th December 1951, when at a regular meeting held at 103 Grosvenor House, the Lodge declared itself dormant. The reason behind the resolution being that since Shanghai had passed into Communist hands there were insufficient Brethren remaining in Shanghai to support three Scottish Lodges. It was therefore decided in the best interests of Scottish Freemasonry to retain the warrant of Lodge Cosmopolitan, No. 428, being the oldest Lodge in the District, and to surrender the Charters of Lodge Saltoun, No. 936, and Lodge St. Andrew. Thus for the second time in its history the Lodge passed with great regret a resolution terminating its labour.

Fortunately, however, Grand Lodge did not act on this resolution as the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and South China (as it was then) had expressed its willingness for the Lodge to be transferred to Hong Kong. Negotiations to this end began in January 1952 and were happily concluded on 5th February 1953, when Grand Lodge finally approved the transfer of the Lodge to Hong Kong.

Much remained to be done, but with patience and the assistance of the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and South China, and nobly assisted by the three Scottish Lodges in Hong Kong, and in particular by Lodge Eastern Scotia, No. 923, the Lodge held its first formal meeting in Hong Kong on 16th April 1953, with Brother S. C. Smith, the reigning Master, in the Chair, supported by Brothers G. M. Goldsack and V. B. West, members of the Lodge as Wardens, and a large gathering of Brethren, headed by Brother D. S. Hill, District Grand Master. The Lodge actually opened with only the Charter, a copy of the Bye-Laws and a type-written copy of the last minutes and balance sheet in its possession, all of which had been smuggled out of Shanghai. On 30th April 1953 twenty-three Affiliate Members joined the Lodge, including Brother Hill, the District Grand Master, thus continuing the Lodge tradition of having the reigning District Grand Master as a member of the Lodge.

The first candidate for Initiation in Hong Kong was Mr. G. D. Millar who was Initiated on 18th June 1953.

During the first eighteen months working in Hong Kong the Lodge Banner, its Minute Books (except for two) and the Lodge Roll were received in the Colony, and from these and with the help of former Brethren all over the world the Lodge Records were completely reconstructed; it now being the only Lodge in Hong Kong to possess such complete records as the other three Lodges lost all records during the occupation of the colony by the Japanese during the period 1941–1945.

On 28th October 1954 the Lodge elected Bro. T. W. Fripp its first Distinguished Service Member in recognition of his services in connection with the transfer of the Lodge to Hong Kong, while on the 28th February 1957, Bro. A. A. Dean was also elected to this very exclusive circle.

At the Regular Meeting held on 26th March 1959, Bro. G. M. Goldsack very generously contributed a new Lodge Banner of exquisite workmanship. It was consecrated by our old and valued friend Bro. J. E. Sandbach in his usual humble but excellent manner.

On the 27th February 1961 the Lodge had the great privilege of receiving the M.W. Grand Master Mason, Bro. The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Eglinton and Winton, T.D., V.L., B.A. and the R.W. Grand Secretary, Bro. Dr. A. F. Buchan, M.B.E., B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.E. The R.W.M., Bro. C. E. J. Eather worked a Third Degree, the Candidate being Bro. V. H. Anderson. The M.W. Grand Master Mason highly complimented the Lodge upon its working. At this meeting Bros. S. C. Smith and G. M. Goldsack were elected Distinguished Service Members in recognition of their long and faithful service to the Lodge.

Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East now occupies, with great pride, the place of Senior Lodge in the district. However, it recalls, with humility, the help of the Brethren of Hong Kong who flocked to its assistance when it transferred and realises that without their help it would not have been possible for the Lodge to have continued working.