Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East No. 493 [3]

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Bro. Brodie Augustus Clarke

Hon. J.G.W., P.D.G.M. (North China)

Brodie Augustus Clarke was born at Nairn, Scotland, on 9th May, 1844, and died at the Country Hospital, Shanghai, on Wednesday, 30th September, 1931. He was educated at Nairn Academy and in May, 1863, he set sail for China in a “P. & O.” steamer; he had to cross the desert from Port Said to Suez by caravan, as the Suez Canal was not opened till six years later. On arrival at Hongkong he obtained a position with the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs and went to Formosa, but the job soon came to an end. Though not bred to the sea, but to the counting house, in 1864–5 he served as third mate aboard the “Salamander” (Schooner of 115 tons) under Captain Alfred Roper, who was also the owner; at that time the vessel was under charter to Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. at $1,000 per month and commission. Following that experience he was given a position in the shipping office of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co., Shanghai; he was then transferred to their Hankow office where he remained for nearly ten years before being transferred back to Shanghai. In 1891 he accepted a partnership in the firm of Messrs. Hopkins, Dunn & Co. with the late Mr. James Tulloch, who died about 1909, when Mr. Clarke became senior partner.

From the time of his first arrival in Shanghai he took a keen interest in sport and was a prominent oarsman. He stroked the Scottish “Eight” for the first time in 1865, and continued to do so till transferred to Hankow, and stroked them to victory on four occasions. He was one of the founders of the Shanghai Golf Club in 1891. He was an original member of St. Andrew’s Society, founded in 1865 in which year he was President, and he served again as President in 1925 on the occasion of the Society’s “Diamond Jubilee”. He was a member of the Council of the French Concession for a time, and commanded the Shanghai Volunteer Corps after going through the ranks of the “Rangers” and the “Light Horse”. At the time of the Boxer Rebellion he was in full command of the Volunteers and displayed remarkable qualities of leadership. His volunteer service covered some forty-four years-for a long period he was also a member of the old Volunteer Fire Bridge in Shanghai. As a racing man he rode his first winner in the Jockey Cup on a “Jardine” pony “Merry Monk” — in 1870, and subsequently won many races in Hankow and Shanghai. He was first Chairman of the International Recreation Club in 1910 and held that post for many years.

He was successful in his business career and built up a great reputation for straightforward dealing, and he was universally trusted. His vitality was remarkable; he had no enemies and was known for many acts of kindness carried out in a most unobtrusive manner.

He was initiated into Freemasonry in Scotland and assisted in founding Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East, No. 493, in 1869, and became R.W. Master in 1871. In 1872 he joined Lodge Cosmopolitan, No. 428, and was R.W. Master in 1873, 1875 and 1888; he continued as a subscribing member of the Lodge for fifty-nine years. He also took active part in the work of the “United Religious and Military Orders of the Temple and Hospital” (of England and Wales). The Shanghai Body was organized under the style of “Celestial Encampment”, but in 1877 was changed to “Celestial Preceptory”. Sir Knight Brodie A. Clarke was Eminent Commander of the “Encampment” in 1873 and Eminent Preceptor of the “Preceptory” in 1878.

Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East became dormant in 1874, but was resuscitated in 1921 largely through his instrumentality.

When the District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in North China was formed he was appointed first R.W. District Grand Master; he was installed on 7th January, 1922, and held that office until 28th January, 1928, when he installed his successor. In recognition of his services the M.W. Grand Master Mason conferred on him the Honorary Grand Rank of Junior Grand Warden.

During a visit to Shanghai in June, 1922, M.W. Bro. Arthur D. Prince, Grand Master of the M.W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, bestowed the “Henry Price” Medal upon Bro. Brodie A. Clarke, Hon.J.G.W., D.G.M. This is one of the most highly prized honours of Massachusetts Masonry.

He was a Trustee of the Masonic Charity Fund of Northern China for some years and always took a great interest in the Craft.

His funeral was held on Friday evening, 2nd October, 1931, at the Bubbling Well Cemetery, Shanghai, with the utmost simplicity. The Rev. M. MacLeod, Chaplain of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Scots Fusiliers, officiated at the service. A large number of brethren and representatives of every civic organization attended to mark the esteem in which he was held. Then, on 8th December, 1931, in the Masonic Hall, 1623 Avenue Road, Shanghai, a Funeral Lodge was held by the District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in North China, when high tribute was paid to his memory. He was known as the “Father of Scottish Freemasonry in North China” and well did he deserve that title.