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john dee

Freemasonry in Wales

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An excerpt from a talk given by one of North Wales Association of Masonic Study - which may add some additional information / intrigue ;)



The very first reference, so fardiscovered, to speculative masonry in North Wales is, that amongst the list ofmembers, of a Freemasons Lodge Meeting in Chester in 1660 is the name ofWilliam Hughes of Holt. Many of theother names are of Welsh origin but his is the only one whose place ofresidence is noted to be in Wales. It ishe therefore who must currently be regarded as the first speculative Freemasonin the Province.

The actual birthday of theProvince is the 10th May 1727 when the MW, the Earl of Inchiquin,Grand Master, granted a deputation to Capt. Hugh Warburton as Provincial Grand Masterfor North Wales at Chester. Chester wasprobably chosen because of the number of Welsh gentry who lived there duringthe winter months.

Capt. Warbuton was thus the firstProvincial Grand Master to be appointed by a Grand Master and therefore the Provincecan claim to be considered the first Province to be constituted by Grand Lodge.

So, how was it then, that beforebeing appointed Provincial Grand Master of North Wales Capt. Warburton alreadyheld the rank of Provincial Grand Master in the then Province of Chester?

That latter fact is also recordedin the Minutes of same Grand Lodge Meeting for the 10th May 1727where a letter dated 15th April 1727 from the Prov. G. M. of Chesterwas read, that letter was signed by Capt. Warbuton as Prov G. M. of Chester.

We know also of his earlierinvolvement in Chester Masonry from a list issued by Grand Lodge of theRegularly Constituted Lodges and the names of their members as delivered to theQuarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held on 27th November 1725.

The list records Chester as havingthree Lodges and 80 subscribing members. The Lodge at the Sun Inn, Bridge Street, Chester. Returned 28 membersincluding:

Col. Francis Columbine, Prov.Grand Master

Samuel Smith, Deputy

Col. Herbert Lawrence and Capt.Hugh Warburton Wardens etc. etc.

It must be remembered that GrandLodge itself had been formulated for only ten years when four Lodges met in1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Inn in St Paul’s Churchyard to organise thePremier Grand Lodge.

Grand Lodge could not assumeauthority willy nilly over all those Lodges which had been meeting under theirown authority, some from time immemorial even then! Grand Lodge had been forced to accept thatthose Lodges, which predated its formation, would have to be coaxed intoaccepting the authority of Grand Lodge. Even Anderson’s Constitutions included clauses to the effect that Lodgesoperating under the Ancient Charges would have to continue using those edictsas the guiding principles for the governance of those Lodges but that anychanges to those established practices would then require the authorisation ofGrand Lodge.

Clearly therefore if the Sun Lodgeat Chester had been in the habit of regularly electing Provincial Grand Mastersit was something that Grand Lodge would at that stage in its development haveto accept as regular.

This is why the Cheshire Provincecelebrated its 275th Anniversary two years ago at the secondmillennium. They were celebrating theearliest recorded date of their own self-appointed Provincial Grand Lodge.

I need perhaps at this stage toset the scene, to describe the political climate prevailing at the time of theformation of Grand Lodge. We recall thatwith the death of the childless Queen Anne (she did in fact have 16 childrenbut all had died in infancy) and in accordance with the Act of Settlement theElector of Hanover became George I in 1714. He had no English and was perceived by many as a foreigner. A poorly planned Jacobite rebellion had beenquelled in 1715 but this left the government in a nervous state. A strong English fleet was assembled and putto sea in 1717; this deterred a Swedish fleet from putting to sea with 12,000troops. In March 1719 the Pretender wasin Spain and a Spanish fleet sailed from Cadiz but was dispersed bystorms. A small force landed atRoss-shire only to be easily defeated and forced to surrender. The bursting of the South Sea Bubble in 1720,which was a collapse of the British South Sea Co. founded in 1711 on a boom,only to collapse by the inevitable following bust. Subsequent enquires revealed corruptionamongst ministers, which even touched the King. The day being finally saved by Walpole who transferred the stocks to theBank of England and the British East India Co. This inevitable caused unrest and further diminished the credit of thegovernment. Dr Atterby Bishop ofRochester was placed in the Tower and exiled when he was found guilty of havingbeen in communication with Jacobite leaders abroad since 1717. An edict against undesirable clubs was issuedin 1721 and in 1722 the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended for a whole year. The country was far from being in the stateof peace and progress, which it attained, in the later Georgian period.

In these troubled times thereforeone can see why the formation of a Grand Lodge became necessary. Freemasonry was fairly generally spreadacross England, Scotland and Ireland, meeting generally in private and admittingmembers under an oath of secrecy. It wasimportant to assuage any doubts that the authorities might have as to theloyalty of these groups to the Sovereign of their native land.

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I have recently settled in Wales and am hoping to find a lodge to join. I recently attended a Lodge with a friend who had experience of "the Welsh way of doing things" (sic). He raised an eyebrow and said...."they like to sing".....:-;

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Oh dear, Brother. I have visited a "Welsh" Lodge: Middlesex St David's. They like to sing too, and helpfully leave the words out on the seats. That's not a lot of help though - no vowels! :pinch:

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devexwarrior (21/09/2013)
I have recently settled in Wales and am hoping to find a lodge to join. I recently attended a Lodge with a friend who had experience of "the Welsh way of doing things" (sic). He raised an eyebrow and said...."they like to sing".....:-;


Where in Wales?

Wayne

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wayne cowley (27/09/2013)
devexwarrior (21/09/2013)
I have recently settled in Wales and am hoping to find a lodge to join. I recently attended a Lodge with a friend who had experience of "the Welsh way of doing things" (sic). He raised an eyebrow and said...."they like to sing".....:-;


Where in Wales?

Wayne


In the aforementioned Pembrokeshire. I'm visiting one of the local Lodges this evening.

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Thanks, Wayne, it went well and I got an invite to the other Lodge in town as well. Some things were slightly different and some very different, but that is one of the pleasures of visiting other Lodges and Provinces.

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Strange that no mention is made of St David's Lodge No 366 founded in 1821 in Hakin, Milford Haven and apparently operating unofficially from c 1815 with the help of Haverfordwest Lodge N0 82, now defunct

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