Lodge St. John No. 618 [3]

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Extracts from Minutes of Grand Committee Meetings

In view of the great harmony which exists between the three Constitutions which now work in Hong Kong, the following extracts from the Minutes of Grand Committee from 1878 to 1880 make interesting reading.

1. Extract from the Minutes dated 24th Dec., 1878

Grand Secretary reported that he had written to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England regarding the nonrecognition by the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong of the Lodge St. John, No. 618 (No. 11 of Proceedings, page 5), and had been informed that the Colonial Board had directed Grand Secretary to write to the District Grand Master advising him “to receive the St. John Lodge and its members as though no difficulty had arisen, and to write to all the Lodges of his district apprising them of this resolution of the Board.”

2. Extract from the Minutes dated 27th Feb., 1879

Grand Secretary stated that in September last he had received a communication from the Secretary of the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong, English Constitution, objecting to the erection of the Lodge St. John, No. 618, which had been chartered by Grand Lodge in May 1878. Among other objections it was urged that “the Lodges in the district were quite numerous enough already,” the charter had been granted “without any reference being made to the District (English) Grand Lodge,” or “recommendation being given to the petitioners by any of the existing Lodges (English) of the District,” that the petition for charter was “untruthful,” and that for these and other reasons the District Grand Master meanwhile declined to recognise St. John’s as a regular Lodge. Grand Secretary stated that he had felt it to be his duty to reply in the following terms:

“I regret very much to find that any misunderstanding should have interfered to interrupt a friendly feeling between the Lodges under the English Constitution in China and the newly formed Lodge St. John, 618, under the Scottish Constitution. The petition for the Charter to St. John, Victoria, being in order, and the respectability of the petitioners vouched for, the Charter was granted, and cannot now be cancelled. Should your District Grand Master decline to render any fraternal services, officially or otherwise, to our Scottish Lodge in Victoria, Hong Kong, it cannot be helped—and while such a state of matters is to be deplored, St. John’s may continue to pursue its vocation as a regularly chartered Lodge irrespective of the countenance of the English District Grand Lodge.”—Brother Sheriff Thoms said that having had a letter from a gentleman in China charging Grand Secretary with discourtesy to the English District authorities, he had called and read Grand Secretary’s letter, and saw no discourtesy in it.—Approved.

3. Extract from the Minutes dated 27th May, 1880

Grand Secretary reported that the V.W. Deputy District Grand Master of Hong Kong and South China, English Constitution (Brother C. P. Chater), had in the handsomest manner possible conferred on the R.W.M. of the recently erected Lodge of St. John, Victoria, No. 618, the degree of Installed Master. Grand Secretary was instructed to send a letter of thanks to the Deputy District Grand Master for his fraternal courtesy and kindness. (The following is an extract from the report of the proceedings:— “After the installation the R.W.M., Brother T. N. Driscoll, thanked the V.W. Deputy District Grand Master and his Officers for the kind manner in which they had come forward (immediately upon receipt of the telegram from the Grand Ledge of England authorising the recognition of the Lodge St. John) and offered their services and assistance in installing him (Brother Driscoll) in the Chair of King Solomon. As this was the only Scotch Lodge in the Colony, and having no Past Masters of their own to instal the R.W.M., he would have had to have gone to Shanghai to be installed, had the English District Grand Officers not been so kind as to come forward as they did and offer their services. He sincerely hoped that now all little differences between the English and Scotch Ledges in the colony had been settled, that they should always work together in peace and concord. Brother the V.W. Deputy District Grand Master replied that he had had much pleasure in installing the R.W.M. of St. John’s Lodge, and was very glad to see so many Grand Lodge Officers present. He was sure that they would he ever ready and willing to come forward to give the Scotch Lodge any assistance they might require, — and as they were all working for the same cause he sincerely hoped and trusted that they should hitherto be firmly cemented together and that they might continue to work with that peace and harmony so essential to the interests of British Freemasonry.”)