Lodge St. John No. 618 [2]

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Outline History

Lodge St. John was the first Scottish Lodge to be formed in Hong Kong and its history starts early in the year 1878 when a petition was made to the Most Worshipful The Grand Master Mason by nine brethren who subsequently became the first Office Bearers of the Lodge. — The petitioners being:

J. M. Emanuel Past Senior Warden of The Victoria Lodge of H.K. No. 1026 E.C.,
a member of Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.
W. Ball of The Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.
T. Sewell of The Victoria Lodge No. 1026 E.C.
T. Driscoll of The Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.
P. H. Emanuel of The United Brothers No. 1069 E.C.
J. Keating of The Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.
A. Johnston of The Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.
W. K. Taylor of Lodge St. Baldred No. 313 S.C.
C. Jensen  

It may be of interest to have on record the first documents received by Grand Lodge.

(a) The Petition Itself

“Victoria, Hong Kong, China.
January 1st, 1878.

“Unto The Most Worshipful the Grand Master Mason the R.W. the office bearers and Members of The Grand Lodge of Scotland.

“The Petition of the undersigned, regular registered Master Masons of The Lodges, mentioned against our respective names—

“Humbly Sheweth

“That your Petitioners having the good of Masonry at heart, are desirous of extending the benefit of the Craft in this part of the Country, which cannot be accomplished without having a regular constituted Lodge. We therefore being anxious to commence and carry on our Masonic Labours under the sanction of the Grand Lodge pray for a charter of Constitution and Erection empowering us to meet as a regular lodge at Victoria, Hong Kong, China by the name and title of “St. John” and there to discharge the duties of Masonry in a constitutional manner, according to the form of the Order, and the Laws of the Grand Lodge, and we recommend and propose the following to be the first Office Bears of the Lodge.

“J. M. Emanuel H.W.M.
W. Ball W.S.W.
T. Sewell W.J.W.
T. Driscoll Treasurer
P. H. Emanuel Secretary
J. Keating S.D.
A. Johnston J.D.
W. K. Taylor I.G.
C. Jensen Tyler”

(b) Granting of the Petition

“6th May, 1878.

“No. 618 Saint John
Hong Kong, China.

“Petition presented to Grand Lodge of the 4th May (1878) one thousand eight hundred and seventy eight years in name of J. M. Emanuel, J. Keating, A. Johnston, K. Clipperton, T. Sewell, J. Driscoll, and others Praying for a Charter to Lodge at Hong Kong, China to be named “St. John” and proposing as Office Bearers of the Lodge”

there follows a list of officers similar to (a) above.

“The prayer of the Petition was Granted and a Lodge erected under title of Saint John to meet at Victoria Hong Kong, China. Initiation of Members not to be under one Pound ten Shillings and Six pence Sterling. The sum of ten shillings and six pence at least to be paid to Grand Lodge for each Brother Initiated.”

“Given on the 6th day of May 1878 and of Light 5882 by Sir M. Stewart Baronet Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Henry Inglis of Tirsonce Rt W. Depute Grand Master, Colonel A. C. Campbell of Blythswood Rt. W. Substitute Grand Master etc., etc.”

Unfortunately the History of the Lodge prior to the Pacific War cannot be given in detail as in common with the other two Lodges in the District its records were completely destroyed, and apart from its Charter, which had been placed in the vaults of the French Bank for safe custody, it has no pre-war records for reference.

However certain high lights in its History are known. The Lodge assisted in the formation of Lodge Naval & Military No. 848 in 1897, Lodge Eastern Scotia No. 923 in 1902 and in the establishment of the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong & South China in 1904. Of its nine Founders only three became R.W.M. namely Bros. J. M. Emanuel (1879), T. N. Driscoll (1880) and J. Keating (1881 and 1884).

At the preliminary Meeting held on 4th January 1904 to consider the formation of a District Grand Lodge Bros. J. A. Tarrant, T. H. Jewitt, J. Dickie and H. B. Bridger took a prominent part, and amongst the first officers Bro. T. H. Jewitt was appointed Chaplain, and the following brethren were elected to office, Bros. J. Dickie as Senior Warden, J. A. Tarrant as Treasurer, and H. B. Bridger as Senior Deacon.

The Lodge is proud of the fact that the first two District Grand Masters, Bros. Dr. G. P. Jordan and Dr. G. D. R. Black were members of the Lodge. Bro. H. B. Bridger was Depute District Grand Master from 1916 to 1922 and Bro. W. H. Bailey from 1947 to 1949. Members of the Lodge who have held the office of Substitute District Grand Master are Bros. J. Dickie 1906, J. Andrew 1907–12, H. B. Bridger 1912–16, J. Hyde 1923, F. K. Garton 1949-51 and J. Skinner 1951–5.

Of pre-war Masters particular reference should be made to Bro. F. C. Mow Fung (R.W.M. in 1925, 1926 and 1946) who was District Grand Secretary responsible for the reformation of the District after the War, and was also the first brother of Chinese Race in the District to become R.W.M. in a Daughter Lodge in Hong Kong; Bro. H. Gittins Honorary Grand Director of Music (R.W.M. in 1929) who was District Grand Organist for many years, and Bro. J. Skinner, Honorary Grand Bible Bearer, (R.W.M. in 1939, 1947) who did so much to restore the Lodge to its former glory after the Pacific War.

The Lodge held its first meeting after the end of the Pacific War on 12th February 1946, and at an Installation Meeting held on 9th April 1946 when Bro. F. C. Mow Fung was installed as R.W.M. for the third time, it is reported that the attendance at this Meeting was a record one as 152 brethren were present and 124 sat down to Supper afterwards.

Since the re-occupation of the Colony the Lodge has met regularly and now meets on the Second Tuesday of each month from September to May.

The following members of the Lodge hold Honorary Grand Rank in the Grand Lodge of Scotland: