Lodge Eastern Scotia No. 923 [2]

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Outline History

The history of Lodge Eastern Scotia begins on 16th December 1901, for, on that date, a petition signed by thirty Past Masters, Masters, Wardens and members of English and Scottish Lodges working in Hong Kong; was forwarded to Grand Lodge requesting the erection of a new Lodge. Among the names of the thirty petitioners can be found those of almost every Scottish Past Master in the Colony, and no less than twenty-four of the thirty signatures on the petition were members of Lodge St. John No. 618 which had been consecrated in 1878.

This petition was duly considered by Grand Committee of the Grand Lodge of Scotland at its meeting held on 23rd January, 1902, and it was resolved that a Charter should be granted. The Charter was signed and sealed on 6th February 1902. Grand Committee appointed the following prominent Masons to act ns installing and consecrating officers:— Brothers David Gillies (P.M. Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.), G. P. Jordan (P.M. Perseverance Lodge No. 1165 E.C.), G. C. Anderson (P.M. Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.), I. Mallory (P.M. Zetland Lodge No. 525 E.C.) and G. A. Watkins (P.M. Lodge Cosmopolitan No. 428 S.C.). It is of particular intetest to note that no less than three Past Masters of Zetland Lodge, Who were among the original petitioners, were appointed by Grand Lodge for the Consecration ceremony.

The Lodge was erected and dedicated on 17th October 1902 and its first Master was Bro. W. Farmer with Bro. H. B. Bridges and Bro. J. A. Tarrant as Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. The consecration ceremony took place in Sir Paul Chiter’s bungalow, Kowloon, where the Lodge met regularly until the meeting place was changed to the Seamen’s Institute, Kowloon, on 19th February 1903. At the erection of the Lodge, the following brethren acted as Installing Officers.—

The first candidates were Mr. J. J. Sibbet and Mr. G. L. Mitchell who were initiated on 16th January 1903.

On 19th March 1903 Bro. F. Howell disagreed with the proposed fee for Life Membership and resigned from the Lodge forthwith. The following year he was appointed Depute District Grand Master. On 5th January 1904 the three Scottish Lodges in the Colony petitioned Grand Lodge for the formation of a District Grand Lodge. On 22nd February 1904 Lodge Eastern Scotia voted the sum of HK$400.00 to District Grand Lodge funds but it was not until 3rd November 1904 that the District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in Hong Kong and South China was inaugurated and Bro, Dr. G. P. Jordan, an Initiate of Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No. 1 and a past Senior Warden in the English District Grand Lodge was installed as the first District Grand Master.

Bro. Dr. G. P. Jordan held the office for no less than seventeen years consecutively and since 1921 only five other distinguished Masons have filled that high office, three of them being Past Masters of Lodge Eastern Scotia. The present District Grand Master who has held the Office since 1950 is Bro. David Smith Hill, Hon. Senior Grand Warden, Past District Senior Grand Warden, English Constitution, who was initiated in Lodge Antient No. 49 (Dundee) and who joined Lodge Eastern Scotia in 1924 and was Master of the Lodge in 1930 and 1931. Other members of the Lodge who were appointed to the office of R.W. District Grand Master were Bro. J. C. Ferguson (1939–1945) and Bro. A. A. Dand (1947–1950).

Since no Scottish District Grand Lodge existed during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904, the Installation of R.W.M’s of the Lodge was carried out by Bro. E. C. Ray, Deputy District Grand Master, English Constitution.

From a perusal of the Lodge records of Office Bearers, several interesting points emerge. Bro. H. Horley, one of the original petitioners and a Past Master of Lodge St. John No. 618 was Lodge Secretary for eight consecutive years, from 1903 to 1910 inclusive and Bro. J. C. Ferguson, Hon. J.G.W. was Master of the Lodge three times and was Immediate Past Master no less than five times. Bro. L. Brewer, Hon. J.G.D., was Lodge Secretary for six consecutive years from 1918 to 1923 inclusive, having been Master of the Lodge in 1916.

Other points of historical interest to be found in the Lodge records are that in July 1904 the sum of HK$100.00 was voted to be paid as relief to Bro. W. Orche who was one of the original joining members in January 1903. This was the first relief given by the Lodge to any of its members.

At the meeting held on 17th November 1904 the first cloudy ballot occurred in the Lodge. This was in respect of a joining member.

An emergency meeting of the Lodge appears to have been held on 31st July 1905 at which two candidates were initiated and three further candidates were raised in one session. Grand Lodge Laws evidently permitted the working of more than one degree at one meeting in those days and the practice continued at many subsequent meetings.

New Lodge Rooms had been prepared early in 1906 and, on 17th May of that year, the first regular meeting was held in the Rooms, situated in Robinson Road, Kowloon. The Lodge was, however, conducting all Installation meetings at Zetland Hall, Hong Kong, and continued to do so for several years as the Lodge rooms were considered too small for such meetings.

In October 1908 the R.W. District Grand Master, Bro. G. P. Jordan, presented to the Lodge a steel engraving depicting the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon as the Lodge was the only one in the District which had its own Temple. Unfortunately, this engraving has since been lost.

An unusual occurrence took place at the Ldge Installation meeting held on 19th December 1914, when Bro. D. Harvey was presented with a bar to his Past Master’s jewel in recognition of yeoman service to the Lodge over a period of eleven years.

Lodge records being incomplete, it is not known on what date the Lodge began working in the Masonic Hall, Hong Kong but it is certain that the Lodge used the Masonic Hall in Kowloon between 1911 and 1922 and, eventually, transferred its home in company with all other Lodges to the new Zetland Hall.

Bro. J. J. Sibbet, one of the first Initiates died in Manila on 21st December 1920 and the Lodge paid for the cost of his burial.

Another unusual incident occurred at the Lodge Election meeting held in November 1922, when there were no less than three Brethren nominated as Master Elect, namely, Bros. F. Cullen, J. B. Spiers and J. C. Ferguson. Bro. Ferguson withdrew his nomination and on a vote Bro. Cullen was elected. Bro. Ferguson was elected and installed as Master in 1924.

During the occupation of the Colony by Japanese forces from December 1941 until August 1945 most of the Lodges in the Colony lost all their records together with regalia and furniture due to the destruction of Zetland Hall. The Minute Books belonging to Lodge Eastern Scotia for the years 1903–1909 and 1911–1922 were however later recovered. The Charters of all Lodges in the Colony fortunately had been placed in the vaults of the French Bank for safe custody and were all recovered intact on 10th December 1945 some three months after the re-occupation by British Forces.

At the resuscitation meeting of the Lodge after the end of the Pacific War held on 19th February 1946 at which time there were fourteen members of the Lodge in the Colony, Bro. A. E. Mainwaring, a Past Master, was requested to take the chair and was also elected as temporary Secretary and Treasurer. The Minutes of that Meeting were duly confirmed at the next regular meeting and signed twice by Bro. Mainwaring in his capacity as both Master and Secretary. Thus it is on record that one person as Secretary issued a summons to Brethren to attend a meeting by command of himself as Master and then conducted the meeting and received the collection as Treasurer. Surely this must be unique in the history of any Lodge. In any event Grand Lodge took exception to the appointments and the matter was quickly rectified!

The present Masonic Temple, Zetland Hall, 1 Kennedy Road, Hong Kong, now used by all Lodges working in the Colony of Hong Kong, was consecrated on 30th January, 1950 and Lodge Eastern Scotia held its first meeting therein on 13th February 1950.

Owing to the loss of the Lodge records it is not known if any presentations were made to the Lodge between the years 1922 and 1945. In 1951 The Grove Park Kent Lodge No. 2824 E.C. (London) presented to the Lodge a set of firing glasses each bearing the crest of that Lodge. The glasses were duplicates of a set presented to them by Bro. F. W. Belschner to mark the victorious conclusion of the Second World War. The presentation was the result of a suggestion made by W. Bro. J. E. Bardrick, Secretary of Grove Park Kent Lodge and the glasses were actually made by W. Bro. H. V. Stout, a member of that Lodge.

At the Lodge Jubilee Installation banquet in December 1951 an inscribed silver Quaigh was presented by a Brother who wishes to remain anonymous and was used for the first time. It has been used at every subsequent Installation Banquet on which occasions it is carried in procession following the Piper and the Haggis in traditional style.

At the January meeting of the Lodge in 1952, Bro. G. Arliss, Immediate Past Master, presented to the Lodge a baton for use by the Director of Ceremonies made of ebonite with a silver plated base and surmounted by silver-plated crossed batons and St. Andrew’s Cross. This baton is used at all Lodge meetings and has been carried many times by Bro. Arliss himself.

The loss of almost all the pre-war records of the Lodge made the task of compiling a brochure to celebrate the Jubilee of the Lodge in 1952 a particularly arduous one and the Lodge owes much to Bro. G. Arliss who, as Lodge Secretary in 1950, spent a great deal of time putting together pieces of information until he was able to formulate the whole into what is now regarded as the solid foundation of the post-war Lodge records.

The successful and worthy compilation of the Jubilee Brochure itself must, however, be attributed to the devoted researches made both locally and in Grand Lodge archives at Freemasons’ Hall, Edinburgh, by Bro. T. W. Fripp who was Lodge Secretary in 1952 and who generously devoted part of his home leave for this purpose. These researches were certainly an onerous task which was greatly facilitated by the wholehearted co-operation received from the Grand Secretary, Bro. Dr. Alexander F. Buchan, the Grand Treasurer, Bro. Leonard Melrose and many other officers at Grand Lodge.

The Lodge has, for many years, worked the Mark Degree once in every year, usually at the October or November meeting.

Among its numbers, the Lodge is proud to have elected four Distinguished Service Members, namely, Bro. M. J. B. Montargis, Hon. Grand Bible Bearer who joined the Lodge in 1926 and held also the rank of Past Grand Deacon (E.C.) and Hon. Grand Steward of Charities (I.C.). His death on the 14th June 1960 was a great loss to the Lodge and the District; Bro. F. T. Winterton who was an Initiate of the Lodge in November 1946 and who holds the rank of Past District Senior Grand Deacon; Bro. G. E. Marden, Hon. Grand Deacon who joined the Lodge in April 1948 and was Depute District Grand Master from 1950 until 1959 and lastly, Bro. H. K. H. Long, Hon. Junior Grand Deacon who joined the Lodge in November 1948 and is a Past Substitute District Grand Master.

In addition the Lodge is proud of the fact that Bro. T. W. Fripp, Hon. Grand Architect, and Bro. A. A. Dean, both Past Masters of the Lodge were elected Distinguished Service Members of Lodge St. Andrew in the Far East No. 493 as recognition of their outstanding services rendered in connection with the transfer of the Lodge to Hong Kong in 1953.

During the visit of 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. to the Colony from the 23rd February to the 1st March 1961 the Lodge was further honoured by the promotion and appointment of three of its members in Grand Lodge.

These honours were announced by the M.W. Grand Master Mason at a Communication of District Grand Lodge held on 23rd February 1961 and were as follows:

The Lodge meets regularly on the third Tuesday of every month from September to May inclusive at Zetland Hall, 1 Kennedy Road, Hong Kong, and has a total membership of one hundred and thirty—eight, of which ninety-three are resident in the Colony.