TIME IMMEMORIAL LODGES
Robert Freke Gould
My friend Bro. Hughan, in a recent number of the Freemason, observes with regard to the early history of the "Fortitude and Old Cumberland" Lodge, No. 12 — "I cannot, however, follow Bro. Gould in his statement that 'of these three living lodges who now share the glory of having founded and established the Premier Grand Lodge of the world, it is the only one of them which has never ceased for a single instant to occupy a place on her roll.' The "Lodge of Antiquity" has never been off the roll any more than the original No. 3, now No. 12. The majority of its members left the Grand Lodge 1779-89; but the minority remained, and not only continued as a lodge, but duly made the requisite payments to 'Charity' and 'Hall' Funds during that period."
William Preston, the famous author of the "Illustrations of Masonry" — one of the "majority" on the above occasion — has written at great length on the unhappy difference between the Grand Lodge and the "Lodge of Antiquity." With these writings most students of the Craft are familiar, but among the readers of the Freemason there are probably many to whom the argument of the greatest Masonic writer of his time, on the inherent rights of the Four Old Lodges, will be new — which must serve as my excuse for proceeding with a summary of it in the present article.
I shall not, however, quote from the editions of the "Illustrations of Masonry" which appeared while the members of the "Lodge of Antiquity" were divided in sentiment and allegiance, but from those published after the happy reunion of the brethren of the premier English Lodge, in 1790.
"An unfortunate dispute," says Preston, "having arisen among the members of the Lodge of Antiquity, the complaint was introduced into the Grand Lodge. . . ." Another circumstance tended still further to widen this breach. The Lodge of Antiquity having expelled three of its members for misbehaviour, the Grand Lodge interfered, and, as was thought, without proper investigation, ordered them to be reinstated. With this order the lodge refused to comply, the members conceiving themselves competent and sole judges in the choice of their own private members. The privileges of the Lodge of Antiquity, acting by immemorial constitution, began to be set up, in opposition to the supposed uncontrollable authority of the Grand Lodge established by themselves in 1717; and in the investigation of this point the original cause of the dispute was totally forgotten. At last a rupture ensued. The Lodge of Antiquity, on one hand, notified its separation from the Grand Lodge, and avowed an alliance with the Grand Lodge of All England, held in the city of York, and every lodge and Mason who wished to act in conformity to the original constitutions.
The Grand Lodge, on the other hand, enforced its edicts, and extended its protection to the few brethren whose cause it had espoused, by permitting them to assemble as a regular lodge, without any warrant, under the denomination of the Lodge of Antiquity itself, and suffering them to appear by their representatives at the Grand Lodge as the real Lodge of Antiquity, from which they had been excluded, and which still continued to act by its own immemorial constitution. This produced a schism, which lasted for the space of 10 years. To justify the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, the following resolution of the Committee of Charity, held in February, 1779, was printed and dispersed among the lodges:
"Resolved — That every private lodge derives its authority from the Grand Lodge, and that no authority but the Grand Lodge can withdraw or take away that power. That, though the majority of a lodge may determine to quit the Society, the constitution, or power of assembling, remains with, and is vested in, the rest of the members, who may be desirous of continuing their allegiance; and that, if all the members withdraw themselves, the constitution is extinct, and the authority reverts to the Grand Lodge."
This resolution, it was argued, might operate with respect to any lodge which derived its constitution from the Grand Lodge, but could not apply to one which derived its authority from another channel, long before the establishment of the Grand Lodge, and which authority had never been superseded, but repeatedly admitted and acknowledged.
Had it appeared upon record that, after the establishment of the Grand Lodge, this original authority had been surrendered, forfeited or exchanged for a warrant from the Grand Lodge, the Lodge of Antiquity must have admitted the resolution of the Grand Lodge in its full force; but as no such circumstance appeared on record, the members of the Lodge of Antiquity were justified in considering their immemorial constitution sacred, while they chose to exist as a lodge, and act in obedience to the ancient Constitutions.
The words in italics were aimed at the three other Time Immemorial Lodges, which assisted in the formation of the Grand Lodge. This will be rendered clearer by an examination of the "Manifesto of the Right Worshipful Lodge of Antiquity, 1778," a portion of which I reproduce:
"And whereas, at this present time, there only remains one of the said four original lodges — the old Lodge of St. Paul, or, as it is now emphatically styled, the Lodge of Antiquity. Two of the said four ancient Lodges having been extinct many years [Original Nos. 2 and 3 — the latter being present Fortitude and Old Cumberland, No. 12], and the Master of the other of them [Original No. 4 — present Royal Somerset House and Inverness, No. 4] having, on the part of his lodge, in open Grand Lodge, relinquished all such inherent rights and privileges which, as a private lodge acting by an immemorial Constitution it enjoyed."
It is worthy of remark that, in the opinion of William Preston, as expressed in the "Illustrations of Masonry," 1792 (and in subsequent editions), there was a surrender of its ancient (or inherent) rights on the part of original No. 3 (Fortitude and Old Cumberland), as well as on that of Original No.4 (Royal Somerset House and Inverness). He observes, "The Old Lodge No. 3, in February, 1722-3, was removed to the Queen's Head, in Knave's Acre, on account of some difference among its members, and the members who met there came under a new Constitution; though, says the ' Book of Constitutions,' they wanted it not, and ranked as No. 10 in the list. Thus they inconsiderately renounced their former rank under an Immemorial Constitution."
But he goes on to say, and in a very different frame of mind from that in which he penned those controversial writings, the "State of Facts," and the "Manifesto":
"It is a question that will admit of some discussion, whether any of the above old lodges [i.e. The Four] can, while they exist as lodges, surrender their rights; as those rights seem to have been granted by the old Masons of the Metropolis to them in trust and any individual member of the four old lodges might object to the surrender, and in that case they never could be given up."
I have nearly come to the end of my digression — which will now close with a statement of the object with which it has been introduced.
A good many years ago (1878) I commented on the depreciatory language used by Preston in regard to the sister lodges who co-operated with present "Antiquity" in laying the corner stone of our present system of Masonry, in 1717, as "illustrating the absence of cohesion among the Four Old Lodges, who unitedly might have preserved their privileges for all time."
The attempt, therefore, which is now being made at the instance of existing No. 12, to arrange for a celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, by the three surviving lodges which were present at that memorable event, has my heartiest sympathy; and if I have slightly drifted from my main thesis, it has been with a wish to point out how disastrous to our English Time Immemorial Lodges have been the consequences of a want of union in the past, to suggest a fraternal alliance in the present, and to express a confident hope in the efficacy of a "triple tie" as a talisman to avert any further loss of their ancient privileges in the near or remote future.
Returning to the argument of William Preston, "It evidently appears," he observes, "that the resolutions of the Grand Lodge could have no effect on the Lodge of Antiquity, after the publication of the manifesto which avowed its separation, nor while the members of that Lodge continued to meet regularly as heretofore, and to promote the laudable purposes of Masonry on their old independent foundation. The Lodge of Antiquity, it was asserted, could not be dissolved while the majority of its members kept together, and acted in conformity to the original constitutions, and no edict of the Grand Lodge, or of its Committees, could deprive the members of that Lodge of a right which had been admitted to be vested in themselves, collectively, from time immemorial, a right which had not been derived from, or ever ceded to, any Grand Lodge whatever."
In bringing his remarks to a conclusion, the author of the "Illustrations of Masonry" makes this manly declaration; "Although I have considerably abridged my observations on this unfortunate dispute in the latter editions of this treatise, I still think it proper to record my sentiments on the subject, in justice to the gentlemen with whom I have long associated; and to convince my Brethren that our re-union with the Society has not induced me to vary a well-grounded opinion, or deviate from the strict line of consistency which I have hitherto pursued."
In 1779, the Lodge of Antiquity, became the "Grand Lodge of England South of the Trent," and proceeded to establish daughter lodges.
This invites a comparison with the proceedings of the ancient Lodge of Kilwinning, which, although a consenting party to the erection of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736, withdrew from it in 1743, and, re-asserting its independence, continued to exercise all the functions of a Grand Lodge until 1807, when a reconciliation was happily effected with the "Grand Body" which had been called into existence in 1736.
The Scottish lodges, however — still existing — of higher antiquity than their Grand Lodge, will form the subject of a separate study, and the analogy between the fortunes of "Mother Kilwinning" and those of our premier English Lodge, I shall pass over for the present, though it will be well to bear in mind that the principle involved in the secession of either of the two constituent particles of a Grand Lodge, was identical, and, therefore, that whatever reasoning is regarded as being conclusive in the one instance, should, without doubt, be considered as equally applicable and convincing in the other.
Preston's argument, to the effect that the Grand Lodge of England had no power to endow a minority of the members of the Lodge of Antiquity with the rights of the majority, appears to me absolutely conclusive of the point which he sought to establish. It may, indeed, be conceded, that the position and rank of the senior lodge could have been conferred upon any set of brethren whom the Grand Lodge might choose to name. These, also without doubt, might have been allowed to style themselves "The Lodge of Antiquity No. 1" — but, with equal certainty, of the body so established the remark would have applied, they "came under a new Constitution," and without the salvo (which follows these words in the case of Original No. 3, as given by Dr. Anderson in 1738), "though they wanted it not."
In other words, it was quite impossible for the Grand Lodge to transfer the ancient rights of the Lodge of Antiquity from a majority to a minority — or, to put the matter in a different form, the Governing Masonic Body, organised in 1717, was incompetent to grant an Immemorial Constitution, which is precisely what it was presumed to have done — by arrogating to itself the right of confiscating the privileges of the real, and arbitrarily bestowing them upon the nominal Lodge of Antiquity.
The actual lodge, therefore, I maintain — in opposition to the view expressed by Bro Hughan — was unquestionably represented by those members who seceded from the Grand Lodge.
The order of seniority in which the four oldest lodges were arranged by Dr. Anderson may justify a few remarks. The "Approbation" of the earliest "Book of Constitutions (1723) was followed by the signatures of the Masters and Wardens of 20 London lodges. The officers of what is now the "Lodge of Antiquity" were shown at the first number. The second place was occupied by those of the lodge at the Queen's Head, Turnstile, formerly at the Crown, now defunct. The representatives of our present day "Fortitude and Old Cumberland" and "Royal Somerset House and Inverness" then follow at the numbers 3 and 4 respectively. This is the only occasion where the Four Lodges are shown in the above order of precedency in any printed list down to, and inclusive of, the year 1737. After that date, however, in the "Constitutions" of 1738 (p. 109), the names and descriptions of the Four are given by Anderson in the same numerical order as the founders and creators of the Grand Lodge of 1717.
The representatives of the Four Lodges probably signed the "Constitutions" of 1723, according to their respective seniority, but of this there is no certainty. According to the Engraved List for 1729, Original No. 1 ("Antiquity ") was "constituted" in 1691, and Original No. 2 in 1712. No date of formation is assigned to Original No. 4 ("Royal Somerset House and Inverness"), but it may be supposed to have been established between 1712 and 1717.
The age of Original No. 3 (Fortitude and Old Cumberland) cannot be even approximately determined. It occupied the second place on the Engraved Lists for 1723 and 1725, and probably continued to do so until 1728. The position of the lodge in 1729 must have been wholly determined by the date of its "new constitution," and, therefore, affords no clue to its actual seniority. It is quite impossible to say whether it was established earlier or later than Original No. 2 (1712), nor can we be altogether sure — if we assume the precedency in such matters to be regulated by dates of formation — that "Fortitude and Old Cumberland" would be justified in yielding the first place even to the "Lodge of Antiquity" itself.
The histories of many English lodges have been written, and it is a little surprising that among the number there are none which record the glories and vicissitudes of the surviving Three who founded the earliest of Grand Lodges.
A history of the Lodge of Antiquity is, however, in course of preparation, and the undertaking could not possibly have been placed in better hands. Bro. W. H. Rylands, F.S.A., to whom the welcome task has been confided, is not only a Masonic writer of the first rank, but also an antiquary and archaeologist of general reputation.
The "record" of Fortitude and Old Cumberland will also shortly be published, and, let us hope, the distinguished career of the Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge may soon, too, be related. The extraordinary number of remarkable men whose names have appeared on the roll of No. 4 would of itself amply justify the compilation of a lodge history. Payne, Anderson, and Desaguliers were among the early members, and of the later ones a full list would give the names of many of the most eminent persons who have distinguished themselves in the two Houses of Parliament and in the service of the Crown.
- Vol. I. has since appeared under the title of Records of the Lodge Original No. 1, now the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, of the Free and Accepted Masons of England. Acting by Immemorial Constitution. Edited by W. H. Rylands, F.S.A., 1911.↩
The Grand Lodge of Scotland was established in 1736; but for a great many years it stood on a very anomalous footing with regard to the ancient lodges in that kingdom. There were several lodges which never joined the Grand Lodge at all, while others did so and retired, though of the latter some renewed their allegiance. For example, the Haughfoot Lodge (1702) never resigned its independence; Glasgow St. John (1628) only did so in 1850; and the Lodge of Melrose (1598) until so late a date as 1891 refused to recognise any superior authority to its own. The "Company of Atcheson Haven" (1601-2) was struck off the roll in 1737, and only re-admitted to the fold in 1814. The "Ancient Lodge," Dundee (1628), appears not to have definitely joined the new organisation until 1745, while other lodges accepted charters of confirmation in the following order: Dumfries Kilwinning (1687), 1750; St. John's Kelso (1701), 1754; St. Ninian's Brechin (1714), 1756; the Lodge of Dunblane (1696), 1760; and St. John, Jedburgh (1730), in 1767. The lodge of Scoon and Perth (1658), which received a charter of confirmation in 1742, was, in 1807, "upon a memorial to that effect, re-admitted into the bosom of the Grand Lodge, from which for some years past she had been estranged."
There were other old lodges which seceded (for longer or shorter periods) from the Grand Lodge, notably "Mother Kilwinning," and the Lodge of Edinburgh, and their cases present many points of similarity with that of the premier English lodge, upon whose status when disjoined from the Grand Lodge of South Britain, I have commented at some length in the present article.
The following table is derived from "The Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of Scotland" (edit. 1896), and the only additions by myself are the description of Sanquhar Kilwinning, No. 194 — which, being dormant, was off the roll in 1896 — and the asterisk that is prefixed to the name of every existing lodge which was either present or represented at the inauguration of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, on St. Andrew's Day, November 30th, 1736.
|Names of Lodges||When Instituted
Date of Charter
|2||0||* Mother Kilwinning||Before 1598|
|1||1||* The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel)||Before 1598|
|12||Melrose St. John||Before 1598|
|39||13||* Aberdeen||Before 1670|
|4||2||* Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh||Dec. 20, 1677|
|6||3||Scoon and Perth||Before 1658|
|3bis||The Lodge of Glasgow, St. John||Before 1628|
|7||4||* Glasgow, Kilwinning||April 1, 1735|
|8||5||* Canongate and Leith, Leith and Canongate||1688|
|9||6||* Old Kilwinning, St. John, Inverness||1678|
|10||7||* Hamilton, Kilwinning||1695|
|11||8||* Journeyman, Edinburgh||1709|
|12||9||Dunblane, St. John||1709|
|13||10||* Dalkeith, Kilwinning||1724|
|15||12||* Greenock, Kilwinning||1728|
|16||13||Torphicen Kilwinning, Bathgate||1728|
|17||14||St. John, Dunkeld||1737|
|18||15||* Montrose Kilwinning||1745|
|19||16||* St, John, Falkirk||1736|
|17||* Ancient Brazen, Linlithgow||1737|
|20||18||St. John Kilwinning, Dumbarton||1726|
|21||19||* Coupar-of-Fife, Cupar||1736|
|22||20||* St. John, Lesmahagow||1736|
|23||21||* Old St. John, Lanark||1736|
|24||22||St. John Kilwinning, Dumbarton||1736|
|26||24||* Peebles Kilwinning||1736|
|27||25||St. Andrew, St. Andrew's||1736|
|28||26||* St. John, Dumfermline||1736|
|29||27||* Glasgow, St. Mungo||1736|
|30||28||* St. John Kilwinning, Kirkintilloch||1735|
|34||31||St. Mary Coltness, Wishaw||1736|
|35||32||* St. John, Selkirk||1736|
|35||St. John, Falkland||Oct. 12, 1737|
|52||47||* Operative, Dundee||Feb. 6, 1745|
|54||49||Ancient, Dundee||May 2, 1745|
|60||52||St. Andrew, Banff||1749|
|61||53||Dumfries Kilwinning||Feb. 7, 1750|
|68||57||St. John Kilwinning, Haddington||Before 1600|
|69||58||Kelso||Feb. 6, 1754|
|79||66||St. Ninian, Brechin||Nov. 15, 1756|
|86||72||* Kirkcaldie||May 15, 1758|
|130||104||St. John, Jedburgh||1767|
|118||118||* St. Bride, Douglas||May 2, 1769|
|222||167||* Biggar Free Operative||Nov. 6, 1786|
|195||194||* Sanquhar Kilwinning||1777|
|283||215||St. Andrew, Strathaven||Dec. 4, 1806|
The preliminaries relating to the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland were arranged by the Four Lodges — Mary's Chapel, Canongate Kilwinning, Kilwinning Scots Arms, and Leith Kilwinning (the two latter of which are now defunct), on the 15th of October, 1736, and a form of circular was agreed upon to be sent to all the Scottish lodges, inviting their attendance either in person or by proxy for the purpose of electing a Grand Master.
The election took place in Mary's Chapel on Tuesday, November 30th, 1736, and 33 of the 100 or more lodges that had been invited were found to be represented.
To the names of the survivors of the "Thirty-three" — 28 in number — an asterisk has been prefixed in the "Roll" given above. The remaining five, which, in Scottish phrase, have been "cut off," were Kilwinning Scots Arms, Kilwinning Leith, Athcheson's Haven, Strathaven, and Maryburgh. But the task of identifying either the living or the defunct lodges which were present or represented on November 30th, 1736, is environed with many difficulties. Some of these may be briefly related.
For example, the younger Laurie in his well-known work (p. 374) has the following note; "The Lodges Hamilton and Strathaven Kilwinning [orig. Nos. 164 and 187], both now extinct, were among those represented in 1736."
The present Hamilton Lodge, No. 7, has been long on the roll, but only one lodge of that name was present at the formation of the Grand Lodge. Laurie says it was Hamilton Kilwinning, Orig. No. 164 (now extinct). Both "Hamilton Lodges" have "Kilwinning" added to their names. Which of them is it that should be numbered among the Thirty- three? As will have been seen, however, the inclination of my own opinion is in favour of present No. 7 being entitled to the distinction. Then, again, Strathaven Kilwinning, orig. No. 187, was struck off the roll in 1843, but there is a living St. Andrew, Strathaven, No. 215, having a constitution (which may have been a charter of confirmation) dated December 4th, 1806.
The lodge at Maryburgh is not mentioned under that name in the Constitutions of 1836, 1848, and 1852, or by Lawrie in 1804; but is shown among the founders of the Grand Lodge by Laurie in 1859, and David Murray Lyon (Hist. L. of Edinburgh) in 1873.
With the exception of St. Andrew, Strathaven, present No. 215 (which may or may not be a revival of Strathaven Kilwinning, orig. No. 187), all the lodges in the foregoing table are (according to the best authorities) of older date than their Grand Lodge. Nor does the list given profess to be an exhaustive one, though as several Scottish brethren are prosecuting inquiries on my behalf, I am not without hope that some of the omissions they may succeed in detecting will be incorporated with the text before the present article is reprinted in pamphlet form.
The origin of a great number of these old lodges is unknown, and the dates placed after their names are merely conjectural. These are in the strictest sense of the term "Time Immemorial Lodges," While the others, though classified in the same way, are only accorded a similar status in the narrower and more restricted (or perhaps it would be better to say, Masonic or conventional) sense, of having been in existence before the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736.
In November, 1737, it was resolved that all the lodges holding of the Grand Lodge should be enrolled according to their seniority, which should be determined from the authentic documents they produced; and, in accordance with this principle, the first place on the roll was assigned to Mary's Chapel and the second to Kilwinning. The latter, however (in 1743), resenting this conclusion, resumed its independence, and for well nigh 70 years continued to exist as an independent Grand Body, dividing with the Grand Lodge in Edinburgh the honour of forming branches in Scotland, as well as in the North American Colonies and other British possessions beyond the seas.
Ultimately it was agreed (1807) that Mother Kilwinning should be placed at the head, and her daughter lodges at the end of the roll of the Grand Lodge but that so soon as; the roll should be re-arranged and corrected, the lodges holding of Mother Kilwinning should be ranked according to the dates of their original charters and of those granted by the Grand Lodge.
Foreign Masons were long believed to have introduced their customs into Scotland, and the leading position in the Craft as the centre of Operative Masonry in that kingdom was traditionally attached to Kilwinning.
But the legend pointing to Kilwinning as the original seat of Scottish Masonry, based as it is upon the story which makes the institution of the lodge, and the erection of the Abbey (1140) coeval, is inconsistent with the fact that the latter was neither the first nor second Gothic structure erected in Scotland. Moreover, a minute inspection of its ruins proves its erection to have been ante-dated by some 80 or 90 years. Still, even were we to accept the dates of erection of the chief ecclesiastical buildings as those of the introduction of Masonry into the various districts of Scotland, it would be found, says an authority of great weight, that Kelso stood first, Edinburgh second, Melrose third, and Kilwinning fourth.
It may, however, be safely laid down, that no argument whatever can be drawn from the existence or non-existence of local Masonic tradition, as all genuine tradition of the kind in Scotland was swept away by the famous Oration of the Chevalier Ramsay in 1737, which substituted for it a spurious tradition, awarding the palm of priority over all the other Scottish lodges to the Lodge of Kilwinning.
The records of Mother Kilwinning begin with the year 1642, but the lodge is referred to in the Schaw Statutes of A.D. 1599, where, in Item III., the Warden-General confirms the rank of "Edinburgh" (Mary's Chapel) as "the first and principal lodge in Scotland," of "Kilwynning" as the "secund ludge," and of "Stirueling" (Stirling) as the "thrid ludge," respectively.
About 70 "Kilwinning" charters are supposed to have been issued down to the year 1803, but all traces of the greater number of them have disappeared. Many of the lodges so established superadded the name of Kilwinning to that of the town or place where they carried on their work, but this compound title is by no means distinctive of the bodies so created, as the practice was also a common one among the lodges erected by the Grand Lodge, without their having any connection whatever with the present No. 0.
John, seventh Earl of Cassilis, afterwards a prominent figure in the Revolution of 1688, was deacon, or head, of the Lodge of Kilwinning in 1672, and the same position was filled by Alexander, eighth Earl of Eglinton, in 1678. Histories of Mother Kilwinning have been written by Bros. D. Murray Lyon (Freemasons' Magazine), 1863-66, and Robert Wylie, 1878.
The earliest minute of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) bears the date "Ultimo Julii 1599," and the tercentenary of this interesting epoch in its career was celebrated with much rejoicing in 1899. The history of this famous lodge (with which I have the honour to be connected by the tie of honorary membership) appeared in 1873, and was the great Masonic event of that year. A second edition is now on the verge of publication, and, without doubt, will sustain (for it cannot enhance) the high reputation already acquired by its gifted author (the Grand Secretary of Scotland) as a writer and scholar of the Craft.
The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), No. 1, together with Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2, and four other lodges, seceded from the Grand Lodge in 1808, and organised themselves into a separate body — July 18th — under the designation of "The Associated Lodges seceding from the Grand Lodge of Scotland." The Master of Mary's Chapel was appointed "Grand Master." A legal struggle ensued, in which the Grand Lodge was thoroughly worsted, and the Associated Lodges emerged from it victorious. Happily, however, a conciliatory spirit prevailed, or the result might have been a multiplicity of Grand Lodges, and in 1813 the seceding lodges returned to their former allegiance.
I have passed very lightly over the eventful career of No. 1, but the history of this famous lodge has been written by a master hand, and like my fellow students of the Craft, I am looking forward with pleasurable anticipation to the appearance of a revised edition of Bro. Lyon's monumental work, in which (unless I have been wholly misinformed) there will be found a quantity of new and original matter of the greatest possible interest to all who make a close study of the early history of our Society.
The written records of the Lodge of Melrose do not go further back than 1674, but there is evidence to show that it must have been in existence for a period long before the entry in the first minute book. The lodge affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Scotland on February 25th, 1891, and on account of its great antiquity was placed on the roll as No. 1. A short sketch of its history was written by the late Bro. W. F. Vernon in 1880, and a fuller one in 1893.
It is now impossible to prove the identity of the ancient Lodge of Aberdeen, No. 1, with that described in the Burgh Records of 1483, though for my own part I see no reason to doubt the probability of their being one and the same.
At what date non-operatives were first admitted in the lodge cannot (in the absence of records) be determined, but it was evidently before 1670. In that year there were 49 members on the roll, and 11 apprentices. Of this number, four were noblemen — the Earls of Errol, Findlater, Dunfermline, and Lord Pitsligo — three ministers, two surgeons, an advocate, several gentlemen, besides merchants and tradesmen, and only eight were operative Masons.
The customs of the Aberdeen Lodge differed singularly, and at times materially, from those of other Scottish Lodges. Mother Kilwinning chose the seclusion of an "upper chamber" of an ordinary dwelling-house for its meetings, but the Masons of Aberdeen preferred to hold their lodge in "the open fields," rather than in occupied buildings "the Mearnes in the parish of Nigg, at the stonies at the point of the Ness," being the specified place for entering in the "Outfield Lodge."
The two classes of Brotherhood, known under the names of Domatic and Geomatic (Operative and Speculative) Masons, were kept quite distinct; and no Operative was permitted to receive any of the Three Degrees until he had made his essay piece to each Degree, and it was approved of by the lodge. In the oldest minutes the admission of either class was differently worded.
By the rules of the lodge (which was originally numbered 39, afterwards 34, and only very recently 13) it is laid down that the Master shall be a gentleman, or Geomatic, Mason. This, with rare exceptions, has been adhered to since 1670, while the office of Senior Warden was held by a Domatic, or Operative, Mason until 1840.
In 1781 the bulk of the Operative members left the old lodge, taking their mark-book with them, and established the "Operative Lodge," No. 150. Since then, as I am informed, the senior lodge of Aberdeen has ceased to register the marks of its members, which is to be regretted, as such an ancient custom was well worthy of preservation. No. 150 continues to be a purely Operative lodge, and no person can be admitted, whether by initiation or affiliation, who is not an Operative Mason.
What may be termed the "Premier Scottish Warrant of Constitution," was granted by the Lodge of Kilwinning to several of its own members resident in the Canongate, Edinburgh, and is dated December 20th, 1677.
This was a direct invasion of jurisdiction, for it empowered them to act as a lodge, quite to the same extent as Mother Kilwinning herself, and with a total disregard to the proximity of Mary's Chapel — "the First and Head Lodge of Scotland." Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2, whose "regularity," as dating from December 20th, 1677, was duly recognised by the Grand Lodge, not only supplied the first Scottish Grand Master, William St. Clair of Roslin, but has also numbered amongst its members 21 other brethren who were "Grand Master Masons of Scotland." The eighth and ninth Earl, and the 10th Earl and 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, together with other leading members of Scottish nobility and gentry, figure in this list. An excellent history of No. 2 has been written by Bro. Alan Mackenzie (1888), from whose "selected Names of Members" I extract the following; Under "Law" — Lords Brougham and Loughborough (first Earl of Rosslyn), Lord Chancellors of England; Lords Monboddo, Westhall, and Eskgrove; "Medicine" — James Gregory, John Brown, James Burnes, and Sir William Fergusson; "Army" — Generals Sir James Adolphus Oughton, Sir Ralph Abercrombie, and Lord Frederick Fitsclarence; and "Literature" — James Bruce (the Abyssinian Traveller), James Boswell of Auchinleck, Robert Bums and James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) — who both held the office of Poet-Laureate of the lodge, Henry Mackenzie (author of "The Man of Feel- ing"), John Wilson ( "Christopher North"), D. M. Moir (the "Delta" of "Blackwood's Magazine"), Dr. Hugh Blair (the eminent preacher and lecturer on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres), John Gibson Lockhart (the biographer of Scott), and William Edmundstoune Aytoun (Professor of Literature and Belles-Lettres, author of "Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers," etc.), R.W. Master, 1839.
Prior to 1846, the Royal Burghs of Scotland held a monopoly of trade, and no person other than a Burgess (or Freeman) could trade within the Burgh. Hence, to evade this monopoly, lodges were formed in the Canongate of Edinburgh and Leith — places in the immediate vicinity of the Burgh — where the members made Masons for fees, which was then held to be carrying on a trade. "Canongate Kilwinning," No. 2, and "Canongate and Leith, Leith and Canongate," No. 5, are examples of this practice. No. 5 dates from 1688, m which year a schism is recorded in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), the seceders being composed of Masons in the Canongate and Leith.
The first actual encroachment upon the monopoly was made by the Journeymen Lodge, No. 8 (also an offshoot of No. 1), in 1707, but some of the members were master builders and others the sons of burgesses, and therefore privileged. Liberty to give the Mason Word was the principal point in dispute between Mary's Chapel and the Journey- men, which was settled by the "Decreet Arbitral" in 1715, empowering the latter "to meet together as a society for giving the Mason Word." Several lodges meeting in the Canongate — then a Burgh of Regality, and not a Royal Burgh — afterwards fell into line, and changed their names. For example, Canongate from Leith, No. 36 (1739), to St. David's; and Scots Lodge in Canongate, No. 48 (1745), to Edinburgh St. Andrew. The history of No. 8, by Bro. William Hunter, appeared in the "Freemasons' Magazine" of 1858, and as a separate publication in 1884.
According to its traditional history, the Mason Lodge of Scone (now Scoon and Perth, No. 3), was erected in very early times by those artificers who were employed to build the Abbey, the Palace, and other buildings which were required in this ancient capital of Scotland. When, however, Perth became the capital of the kingdom, the Lodge of Scone was removed to it, and remained there, when at the close of the 15th century, the seat of government was transferred to Edinburgh.
The earliest records go back to 1658, and a minute of that year recites that King James the Sixth of Scotland, by his own desire, had been "entered ffrieman, measone, and fellow craft," a circumstance which Bro. D. Crawford Smith — in his admirably-written History of the Lodge (1898) — thinks is entitled to our credit, and considers must have taken place in April, 1601.
The Lodge of Glasgow St. John for a long time claimed an extraordinary antiquity, by virtue of a charter alleged to have been granted by Malcolm III, King of Scots, so far back as the year 1057. But the earliest authentic notice of the lodge occurs in a document bearing the date of 1620, which refers to its existence in 1613. It was a party to the St. Clair charter of 1628, but did not join the Grand Lodge until 1850, when it was enrolled under its present name and number (3 bis). Unlike other pre-18th century lodges, its membership was exclusively Operative, and though doubtless giving the Mason Word to Entered Apprentices, none were recognised as members until they had joined the Incorporation which was composed of Mason Burgesses. The admission of non-Operatives did not take place until 1842. A "Sketch of the Incorporation of Masons and the Lodge of Glasgow St. John "has been written by Bro. James Cruikshank (1879).
Old Kilwinning St. John, No. 6, is said to be the oldest of the "Kilwinning" Lodges, and to date from 1678, which seniority has been confirmed by the Grand Lodge. An excellent sketch of its career will be found in Bro. A. Ross's "Freemasonry in Inverness" (1877).
Hamilton Kilwinning, No. 7, has already been referred to. Of its history very little is known, but it is considered to date from 1695. The period of origin and the date of charter from the Grand Lodge, of the other Hamilton Kilwinning, orig. No. 164 (which, and not present No. 7, Laurie thinks was represented at the formation of the Grand Lodge) are alike unknown. It was "cut off" the roll in 1809.
Dunblane St. John, No. 9, possesses records from 1696, at which date Viscount Strathalan was the Master. The following entry appears in the minutes of December 27th,1720 "Compeared John Gillespie, writer in Dunblane, who was entered on the 24 instant, and after examination was duely passt from the Square to the Compass, and from an Entered Prentice to a Fellow of Craft."
Commissions were issued by the Lodge of Dunblane authorising the entry, elsewhere than in the lodge, "of gentlemen or other persons of entire credit and reputation, living at a distance from the town" — brethren holding such licences being instructed to "have present with them such members of this lodge as can be conveniently got, or, in case of necessity, to borrow from another lodge as many as shall make a quorum without any more."
No. 9 (as we also learn from Bro. D. M. Lyon), 15 years after it had joined the Grand Lodge (which took place in 1741, and not as erroneously stated above, in 1760), constituted a number of affiliated brethren into a branch lodge, much in the same way that Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2, had been raised to that position. This circumstance occurred in 1756.
Torpichen Kilwinning, No. 13, ranks under a "constitution" applied for as a kind of warrant of confirmation from Mother Kilwinning in 1728. But on joining the Grand Lodge in 1737 it again obtained the recognition of Kilwinning, on the ground of having once accepted "a charter of erection, of a very ancient date," from that source.
St. John, Dunkeld, No. 14; Montrose Kilwinning, No. 15; and St. John, Falkirk, No. 16, were in existence (according to an extract from the Records of the Grand Lodge, 1748) in 1726. The last named (dormant 1838, revived 1863) was the lodge which recommended the petition of St. Andrew, Boston, Massachusetts, for a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, from whom it first held. A history of No. 16, by Bro. Thomas Johnston, was published in 1887.
Ancient Brazen, No. 17, which was present at the erection of the Grand Lodge, and is shown in the sixteenth place, on the roll of lodges given in Lawrie's History (1804), never had a number at all until the precedency of all the Scottish lodges was readjusted and new numbers issued — after the healing of the Kilwinning Schism — in 1816. Its present position on the roll was only ensured by an entry in the minutes of No. 1, showing that it visited the Lodge of Edinburgh about the year 1653.
The earliest records of St. John, Lesmahagow, No. 20, go back to 1716, and those of the Lodge at Dunse, No. 23, to 1728.
William, fourth Earl of Kilmarnock (executed in 1746), was the first Master of St. John Kilwinning, Kilmarnock, No. 22, and he held the same office in the Lodge of Falkirk, No. 16, and Mother Kilwinning, when in November, 1742, he was elected Grand Master Mason of Scotland.
Peebles Kilwinning, No. 24, was at work in 1716. It observed many ancient customs long after they had disappeared from the other lodges, such as holding an annual trial of the Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, appointing intenders (or instructors), and engaging in prayer at the opening ceremony with the special object of ensuing strict impartiality in the transaction of business — otherwise called "Fencing the Lodge." Sketches of No.24 have appeared from the pens of Bros. Robert Saunderson ("Scottish Freemason," and "Masonic Magazine "), and W. F. Vernon (1893).
St. Andrew, St. Andrew's, and St. John, Dunfermline, Nos. 25 and 26, are, in all probability, identical with the "Lodge of Dumferling," and "Sanct Androis," parties to the St. Clair Charter of 1601. If this be so, the latter, without doubt,must also have been present at the Convention of St. Andrew's in the previous year. Glasgow St. Mungo, No. 27, originally held its Charter from the Lodge Glasgow St. John, which, being an Operative Lodge, and connected with the Incorporated Masons of Glasgow, refused to enter Speculative Masons, but granted a Charter to St. Mungo, as a Speculative Lodge. It afterwards — about 1728 or 1729 — obtained a second charter from Mother Kilwinning, under the name of "St. John Kilwinning, Kirk of Glasgow St. Mungo Lodge."
Ancient, Stirling, No. 30, claims a venerable antiquity, as representing the body of Masons who were engaged in the construction of Cambuskenneth Abbey, founded by David I, in 1147.
Passing, however, from tradition, No. 30 may be identical with the "Third Lodge of Scotland," referred to in the Schaw Statutes of 1599, as well as with "The Ludge of Stirlinge," one of the parties to the St. Clair Charter of 1628. A most interesting account of this lodge was given by Bro. W. J. Hughan in the columns of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (VI., 108-112).
How long St. John, Selkirk, No. 32, had existed before 1736 the historian of the lodge, Bro. W. F. Vernon (1893), was unable to determine, but he gave the approximate date of 1701. It was dormant from 1849 to 1864. Very little is known of St. John, Falkland, No. 35, but there is little or any doubt that it was at work prior to 1736.
The Lodge of Dundee, present at the inauguration of the Grand Lodge, may have been, and probably was, identical with the body of the same name, represented at the Convention of St. Andrew's in 1600, which was also apparently a party to the St. Clair Charter of 1628. But whether the lodge which attended the meeting at Edinburgh, in 1736, is present No. 47 or present 49, there would seem some difficulty in determining. According to Laurie (1859) the Lodge "Dundee," party to the St. Clair Charter of 1628, and a founder of the Grand Lodge in 1736, "is supposed to have been the Ancient Operative, No. 47, which Asserts a traditional antiquity of more than a thousand years. It also claims as one of its ancient Masters David, Earl of Huntingdon, to whom is ascribed the erection of a fine old cathedral, which was partly destroyed by fire in 1841."
As will be seen, however, both lodges — 47 and 49 — have received warrants of confirmation, bearing the date of 1745, and in the charter of No. 49, precisely the same traditional antiquity, with all its details, is recited, which (as we learn from Laurie), has been advanced on the part of No. 47!
The minutes of St. Andrew, Banff, No. 52, extend back to 1703. There is a tradition that in the early days of its existence it used to meet in the Clay-holes, on a cliff near Banff. The lodge was "cut off" in 1837, but has since been restored (after what interval I know not) to its former position on the roll.
According to the "History of the Old Lodge of Dumfries Kilwinning, No. 53," by Bro. James Smith (1892), the year 1575 is assigned as the date of its supposed origin. The minutes begin in 1687. After 1847 the lodge sank into a slumber, from which it did not awake until 1874,
The oldest record in possession of St. John Kilwinning, No. 57 (according to Laurie), is dated 1599, which sets forth that a lodge was opened in Gullane Church (now in ruins) upwards of seven miles from Haddington, probably for the initiation of candidates, as later minutes disclose that the lodge was frequently opened for that purpose in the parish church of Haddington.
It has also been asserted (and I believe remains a tradition of the lodge), that it was an offshoot of the "Lodge of Wark," in Northumberland, about the same year (1599), as that in which it was assigned (by the younger Laurie) a habitation at Gullane. No.57 was a party to the St. Clair Charter of 1601, and Lyon informs us that the date of the oldest Masonic MS. possessed by the lodge is 1682, and that of its earliest existing minute, December 26th, 1713.
The records of the Lodge of Kelso, No. 58, begin with the year 1701, and its story has been twice admirably related by the late Bro. W. F. Vernon, on the last occasion in his "History of Freemasonry in the Province of Roxburgh, Peebles, and Selkirkshire" (1893). In the same volume will be found sketches of the Lodges of Melrose, Peebles Kilwinning, and St. John, Selkirk (Nos. 12, 24, and 32, above), and of the work as a whole, I wrote in 1893; "An equally suggestive book it has never been my fortune to review, and I shall state without any fear of contradiction, that more Masonic facts of primary importance to all true students of Freemasonry have never been presented to their notice in a volume of the same size." (A.Q.C. VI., 77).
A minute of the lodge of Kelso, dated June 2nd, 1702, records the election as Master of Sir John Pringle of Stitchel, the 2nd baronet, a nephew of Walter Pringle, Advocate, who, together with the Right Hon. William Murray and Sir John Harper, was received as a Fellow Craft in the Lodge of Edinburgh, No. 1, on June 24th, 1670. A later minute of No. 58, records the presence on St. John's Day, 1705, of 41 brethren, and among them wera the lairds of "Greenhead, Thirlestane, Stodrig, Grubbet, Clifton, Cherrietries, and Smailholme," who are designated not by their own names, but by those of their estates."
St. Ninian, Brechin, No. 66, has records from 1714, and St. John, Jedburgh, from 1730. The latter was "cut off" in 1843, but restored to the roll in, or before, 1859.
A Kilwinning Charter was granted to the Sanquhar Lodge, No. 194, in 1738, but among the Masons' marks preserved in the records there is one of a brother admitted in 1719. A sketch of this lodge's career — which was "cut off" in 1816, and re-admitted in 1897 — has been written (though not yet published) by Bro. James Smith, the Historian of Nos. 53, 63, 79, and 140.
My list of the old Scottish lodges which are of greater antiquity than their Grand Lodge is, I fear, very far from being a complete one. But it must be taken into consideration that there were about 100 lodges in Scotland in 1736, and that this attempt to produce a roll of the kind is a pioneer effort. "You are probing a new and interesting field of inquiry — a new view of Masonry," writes my friend Bro. William Officer, to whom, among other valuable assistance rendered during the preparation of the present article, I am indebted for the suggestion that an extinct Lesmahagow Lodge — orig. No. 153, but without any distinctive title, is mentioned by Laurie (1859), which the Scottish "Constitutions" of 1852 inform us was chartered (or instituted) in 1769, and "cut off" in 1809.
This, or St. John, present No. 20, must have been the body referred to in the Scottish law case, "Masons of the Lodge of Lanark, contra Hamilton," decided in 1730, but, I believe, heard in 1729, in which the Lodge at Lanark sought to interdict the Masons at Lesmahagow from giving the Mason Word to persons resident there (Lord Kames, "Remarkable Decisions of the Court of Session," Edinburgh, ii. 4).
I have also to thank Bro. Officer for the information that Maryburgh was the original name of Fort William, and as the lodge there is of earlier date than the Grand Lodge, though only holding a nominal precedency from 1743, there is every probability that the lodge which under the name of "Mariaburgh" was present at the Convention of November 30th, 1736, is now represented by the Fort William Lodge, existing No. 43.
The only other pre-1736 lodges with regard to which any details have come to my knowledge since the tabular statement above first appeared in type, are (to begin with) St. John Operative, Forres, No. 37, and Kirkwall Kilwinning, No. 382 (both of which are shown at the year 1739 on the Grand Lodge roll). To the former (on what purports to be the authority of the Grand Lodge Records) is assigned 1706 as the date of its "Constitution," in the "Laws of the Aberdeen Mason Lodge," 1852 (Appendix I.).
The latter was founded on October 1st, 1736, by two brethren from the Lodge of Stirling and Dunfermline respectively. These having admitted four others, the six formed themselves "into a proper court," of which a merchant in Kirkwall was the first Master. The lodge obtained a charter from the Grand Lodge in 1740 (A.Q.C., x. 79).
There are also Nos. 187, St. John, Carluke; 189, St. John, Castle Douglas (ofi the roll in 1852); and 190, St. George, Aberdeen, all three of which apparently held Charters of Confirmation granting precedence from 1704.
I shall also interpolate by way of addenda, that besides the lodges already named which have sustained a break of continuity in their existence, should be mentioned Nos 11, Maybole; and 31, St. Mary Coltness, Wishaw, the former having been "cut off" in 1848, and the latter in 1843, but with regard to their respective periods of dormancy I have no information.
The narrative clauses (or recitals) which are to be found in the various charters of Confirmation, would doubtless supply much valuable information respecting the antiquity (legendary or otherwise) of the old Scottish lodges. But the task of examining all these documents would be a truly herculean one.
The idea, however, has occurred to me that it might be possible to unite all the Time Immemorial Lodges now existing in a League or Association, with the special object of placing on permanent record whatever may be found to exist in their several archives that would be of interest to the craft universal.
It is not a little strange that for the earliest information regarding the existence of our oldest English lodges, to wit, the surviving Three who took part in the formation of the Mother of Grand Lodges, we must refer to a printed book — Dr. Anderson's "Constitutions" of 1738 — as no minutes of any living lodge extend back to the date of the famous Convention of the Four London Lodges in 1716. Nor do we possess, in South Britain, more than the actual records of a solitary representative of the numerous lodges which at one time or another must have been at work, during the dim and uncertain period of Masonic history ante-dating the erection of the first Grand Lodge.
The records of the Alnwick Lodge comprise a good copy of the Manuscript Constitution, certain Rules of the lodge, enacted in 1701, and the ordinary minutes, which commence in 1703 and terminate on June 24th, 1757. The last-named, however, between 1710 and 1748, while not wholly wanting, contain at best very trivial entries. This lodge, which never surrendered its independence, was still in existence until at least the year 1763, and from first to last was an operative rather than a speculative fraternity. Indeed, that it was speculative at all, in the sense of possessing members who were not operative Masons, or of discarding its ancient formulary for the tri-gradal ceremonial of the Grand Lodge, is very problematical.
North of the Tweed, however, a far greater body of evidence relating to the early history of the Craft has happily been preserved.
Freemasonry has come down to us in two distinct channels, an English and a Scotch one. Ultimately, the two streams became united, and this "meeting of the waters" occurred in 1736. From that date a feature is added to Freemasonry, its universality, upon which I desire to lay great stress.
A system of Scottish Masonry, differing from that of England, might have continued to exist, side by side with the latter, and that it did not, is a matter of much importance, which has been almost totally overlooked. For example, it has been the habit — especially in America — to assume that Masonry was Scottish before 1717, and English afterwards.
The year 1717 is, indeed, an important one. We are supposed to pass from the domain of Ancient to that of Modern Masonry. But the change was not carried out in a day or a year. Modern Masonry, it is true, had its beginning at the formation of the Grand Lodge of England (1717), but Ancient Masonry still existed by its side, nor was it until the example set in London had been followed in Edinburgh (1736) that the Old System may be said to have been practically supplanted by the New.
For this reason the early records of the old Scottish Lodges become of surpassing interest to all true students of Freemasonry, and the first care of any such Society as the one whose formation I have ventured to recommend, would (or should) be to take the necessary steps to perpetuate, by the aid of the printing press, the ancient documentary evidence still existing — but entombed in the archives of private lodges — which relates to the Scottish Craft.
Other objects that would profitably engage the attention of the southern wing (or branch) of the proposed League or Society, consisting of the three Time Immemorial Lodges of English origin, might be freely cited; but here I bring my present remarks to a close, though (with the editorial sanction) I shall resume them, should either the task which has been begun of identifying the (at one time) Independent Lodges of Scotland, or the suggestion thrown out with regard to a League of Time Immemorial Lodges, be taken up by other readers of the Freemason.
I must not omit to say, though it involves more "last words," that besides Bro. William Officer — whose name worthily heads the list — I have received valuable assistance during the preparation of this article from the Grand Secretary of Scotland, Bro. W. J. Hughan, and Bro. James Smith, of Shotts, N.B.
Official Masonic Statutes
of 28th December 1599.
Item it is thocht neidfull & expedient be my lord warden generall, that Edr salbe in all tyme cuming as of befoir the first and principall ludge in Scotland, and yt Kilwynning be the secund ludge as of befoir is notourlie manifest in our awld antient writts and that Stirueling salbe the third ludge, conforme to the auld privileges thairof.
Maistir of Work
Warden of ye Maisons