THE HAWICK LODGE NO.111

 

THE HISTORY OF HAWICK LODGE 111

 

FOREWORD

The information for the Lodge history has been gathered mainly from Lodge minutes, and some from newsletters and scrapbooks. I have taken, quite blatantly and without remorse, copies of entries from the Historical Sketch written in 1892 by my esteemed predecessor the late Br. Thomas Ker, whom I have no doubt would have given his assent gladly and would have readily agreed to the Lodge history being updated. I make no claims to the authenticity of the information contained herein, but accord my appreciation to the number of Lodge Secretaries and Treasurers who over the years have kept a record of the Lodge happenings.

Lodge 111 is unique in that our workings are slightly different from any other Lodge. I appeal to my Masonic descendants to keep to the ancient landmarks and not to be swayed by what appears to be a better way of working. Make your motto "Its Aye Been”.

Acknowledgements to

Mr. GIFFORD LEES (Proof Reading)

Mr. ALAN HILL (Photographs)

HAWICK MUSEUM (Photographs)

HAWICK LIBRARY (Information).

The Lodge history was last written in 1892 by the late Br. Thomas Ker and has now been updated by Br. Alex Burgon, PM.

Hawick Lodge 111 has seen many changes in the intervening years and I am pleased to endorse this book, which I know will prove interesting to all brethren who are interested in the Lodge Workings over the past 225 years.

M. Laidlaw R.W.M. 1994

 

CHAPTER 1

The Granting of the Charter and early years

There is no doubt that a Masonry Lodge existed in Hawick possibly 100 years before the granting of a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 15th March 1768. Unfortunately how and when Masonry came to Hawick and the Borders is unknown but it is generally assumed that operative Masons from the Continent who were building Melrose Abbey in 1136 brought with them their form of Free Masonry.

The oldest recorded minute of any Masonic meeting was 28th December 1598.

No records of previous meetings held before 15th March 1768 can be found, so the real age of the Lodge and exact date of its institution must remain a subject of speculation, however, we know that at that time, there existed “a Brotherly Society of Masons” in Hawick.

Many are inclined to date their Lodge from the date of receiving their Charter forgetting that practically all the older Masonic Lodges arose from organizations connected with the Masonic Craft.

The Charter was not a document issued by Grand Lodge for the purpose of creating a new Lodge, but was the connecting link which joined the hitherto independent Lodge with the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

The Charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland to the Hawick Lodge on the 15th March 1768. Forty-seven members attended some of the first meetings of the Lodge, but their initiations are not recorded. These forty-seven brethren were members of the Lodge when the Charter was received and must have been initiated prior to that date.

The Lodge was given the number 141.

In the rules, framed by the Lodge in 1768, the first was to the effect “ that no one was to be admitted under a fee of one guinea, without distinction of operative or non operative” (proving the Lodge was not confined to operative Masons).

Six years later, a Resolution was passed that operative Masons could be admitted at half the usual fee. There is no record of where the meetings were held, although some of the earlier meetings were held in the Commercial Inn, which stood near the site of the present Catholic Church Hall in Buccleuch Street.

During the first two years, after receiving its Charter the Lodge appears to have been fairly prosperous but after 1770 it fell into a languishing state, for there are no recorded minutes between 1770 and 1774, the following extract shows the brethren deplored the state into which the Lodge had fallen and how ardently they desired to revive its prosperity: -

"The brethren having taken into their most serious consideration the declined state of the Lodge and the consequential thereof, and desirous that they should contribute all in their power towards the restoring thereof, have this day met and after making choice of the following of the brethren to serve as officers till next quarterly meeting, viz Brothers William Elliot, Master; Robert Erskine, Senior, and Andrew Scott, junior Warden and James Wintrope, Secretary; Robert Rodger, Treasurer; they resolve that as soon as may be they will apply to the Grand Lodge for a renewal of their Charter."

The brethren were under the false impression that Grand Lodge had withdrawn the Charter, according to the Minute of the 21st June 1781, the Secretary intimating that according to Grand Lodge Secretary "that this Lodge of Hawick have not forfeit their Charter and still stand on the roll”.

The Master and Wardens met on the 12th December 1792 in the Cross Keys Inn, Hawick, to examine the books.

At a meeting on 29th December 1802, it was decided "that the brethren constituting the Hawick St Johns Lodge shall have quarterly meetings on the following Saint days: - St Johns 27th December, St Patrick’s 17th March, Summer/St Johns 24th June, and St Andrews 30th November". St Patrick’s day was celebrated for a considerable number of years. Brethren not attending on these occasions will be liable to pay the penalty contained in the Minute Book.

In the early days, the office bearers were elected in a very expeditious manner as the following entry testifies: -

“27th December 1804, the brethren met to celebrate the festival of St John the evangelist when it was agreed that on account of the smallness of the meeting that the office bearers chosen at last St John's day should be continued for the ensuing year, and the office bearers present accepted accordingly."

It was also agreed that in order to make the Lodge more respectable a fund ought to be raised for purchasing jewels, extending charity to distressed brethren, and to procure premises for use as a Lodge room.

A great uproar arose at the General Meeting on 27th December 1814, "That Grand Lodge was increasing the fees for entering, passing, and raising shall be £1-6/6".

On 28th December 1816 Grand Lodge purged the roll and the Lodge formerly 141 was given the number 108.

A procession was held to lay the foundation stone at the Subscription Rooms, Buccleuch Street Hawick, and Lodges from Kelso (St. John and Tweed), Jedburgh (St John and St Andrew's), Selkirk, Langholm (Eskdale Kilwinning and St Torvald), Galashiels and Yetholm Beaumont Lodge (now defunct), were invited to take part on that occasion. A leaden casket containing coins, a copy of the Charter of the Burgh and account of its history etc deposited therein.

A deputation was sent to Abbotsford to request the honour of the company of Sir Walter Scott at the laying of the stone and to preside upon the occasion, but he was unable to attend. The R.W.M. Brother Francis Ballantyne deposited the casket in the stone, which was laid with full Masonic honours. The procession then proceeded to the Tower Inn, where 112 brethren sat down to dinner. This ceremony was the last occasion on which the brethren of St Andrews Lodge, Jedburgh, made a public appearance, that Lodge becoming dormant shortly afterwards.

In April 1828, correspondence took place between the secretaries of the Hawick Lodge and Grand Lodge regarding the number held on Grand Lodge roll, Grand Secretary having issued a circular which gave the number of Hawick Lodge as 111.The Hawick Secretary wrote stating the number was not 111 but 108, and the diplomas issued during the last thirteen years had been issued under 108 and the circulars issued by Grand Lodge during these years had given the number 108. He further stated that the first circular from Grand Lodge quoting the number as 108 was dated 1816.

Grand Secretary replied on 22nd April 1828, and in the course of his letter stated “I received your very incourteous letter this morning and am sorry to state, that, if you had taken as much pains to endeavour to understand what was quite plain to anyone else, as you have to display your own ignorance for having blundered on for the past eleven years, does not surprise me. The number of Hawick was 111, and never 108”. He wrote a further letter on 28th April 1828 from which the following extract is taken: -

"I have made enquiries at the Grand Clerk regarding the mistake you mentioned, who informs me that your Lodge got the temporary number about ten years ago from 141 to 108 until a new roll should be made Out incorporating the Kilwinning Lodges, agreeable to the agreement made with them in the year 1806. It was only last year that a new roll was completed after a long period of much labour and research by the Grand Lodge and the officers appointed for the purpose, shewing the real numbers of each Lodge in Scotland after expunging from the former roll those Lodges that had been struck off from time to time either on account of dormancy or non compliance with the enactments of the Grand Lodge regarding the arrears of dues. The new roll was made Out according to the dates of the original grants or charters, and having been most accurately compared with the original dates may now be said to be the most complete and correct that has ever been issued, and I can assure you that so far from wishing to keep back the Hawick Lodge it now stands in its proper place as number 111."

The minute book, which records Lodge meetings from 1768 to 1859 unfortunately, displays several wide gaps between some of the entries. There were no returns to Grand Lodge between 1827 and 1861 (Between 1832 and 1873 there were several outbreaks of cholera in Hawick, the most severe between July and November of 1849, one hundred and forty one deaths due to the disease being recorded). The brethren would naturally be reluctant to gather together in close contact and perhaps this was the reason for the discrepancy). Two candidates were admitted in 1828 and in 1830 there were three candidates, one candidate in 1847 and one candidate in 1849.

0n 3rd August 1832,one thousand men of all trades including fifty brethren dined in the Upper Haugh to celebrate The Great Cause of National Reform.

A letter was sent to Grand Lodge on 21st June 1833 It is with painful feelings that I have to acquaint you that our Lodge is in a very depressed state”.

The lodge was struck off the Grand Lodge roll, the Charter recalled and quietly "fell asleep", and remained in a state of dormancy for about 23 years, and in between after ten years, awoke to do a little business. In 1847 four meetings were recorded at which one new member was admitted, then the lodge" fell asleep" again until 1860, although in 1857 signs of a coming change were visible on the surface and a small band of brethren, with the premonition of the coming change began to put their house in order, as the following entries occur: ­

"21st December 1857,

The four undersigned met in Mrs. Grieve’s Crown Inn, and examined the chest which contained the jewels belonging to the Hawick St. John’s Lodge and found the eight jewels in it, but somehow or other the chest was forced open by some person or persons”.

(Signed)

FRANCIS PASLEY

WILLIAM WALDIE

JOHN KEDIE

Wm. DAVIDSON.

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