District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Jamaica and Cayman Islands
Approaches to the History of Mark Masonry
by Dr Andrew Prescott
Reproduced from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry
Ye Masons of Old England
Boast not that you are free,
If it be more than you may dare
To break the chains your brethren wear -
Your brethren – o’er the sea!
Gird the masonic apron tight,
And go to work like bricks!
Not small your task, nor labour light,
For you must fight for every right
In eighteen fifty-six
'1856', a poem published in the Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle, 1 (November 1856), p. 7
On 1 July 1886, the Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VII, was installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales at Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street in London. The Times carried a lengthy report of what it described as ‘The largest, most influential, and most imposing gathering which has ever been held in connexion with the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons’.[i] It noted that over 1,000 mark masons attended the ceremony and emphasised the prestigious character of the assembly:
Large as the crowd was, it was of no mixed multitude that the performance and spectators were made up. There was no room found for Mark Masons of unofficial rank. Every one present had some special claim to distinction above the lay brethren. Some were Grand, others were Past Grand, others were provincial Grand officers, but all in some way had the title of honour affixed to them, not only as members of a Grand Lodge, but in a more personal manner as grand members of a society in which all are grand.[ii]
Indeed, the event was sufficiently grand to warrant an extended Times leader. The leader writer reflected that ‘As outsiders, we can catch only a dim and distant glimpse of the full splendour of yesterday’. He complained that, while Lord Kintore as the retiring Grand Master gave some ‘very curious information’ about Mark Masonry, ‘as he was speaking to experts it did not occur to him to describe the thing itself’. Such facts as Kintore revealed were, for The Times, completely baffling:
We have learned that the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons is flourishing in no ordinary way. In 1876 it was made up of five time immemorial lodges and 179 other lodges. In 1886 the time immemorial lodges have grown to 13, and the other lodges to 375. The latter part of this statement presents no difficulty. There may be as many lodges as members can be found to constitute. But how new time immemorial lodges can come into being, not only within the memory of man, but within the term of ten years, must be one of the inner mysteries of the craft, beyond the comprehension of any but Grand Masters and Past Grand Masters, and such like exalted functionaries.
The Times was similarly puzzled by Kintore’s claim that the Mark Benevolent Fund doubled itself every year. This, it pointed out, was arithmetically unlikely – assuming the fund had started with a reasonable sum in it, if it had really doubled every year it would surely be worth many millions of pounds. But, reflected The Times,
In fairyland strange events happen in the ordinary course of things, and Mark Masonry, with its gorgeous splendours, its long history, its impenetrable secrets, and its vast gatherings from all quarters of the globe, is so entirely removed from common life that we are quite prepared to admit its claim to be regulated by its own sacred laws, and to be under no subjection to time or space or arithmetic if it finds any of them in its way. But it would have been kind in the Earl of Kintore if he had done something to enlighten the outer world, as far as it is capable of enlightenment, on the subject of his remarks yesterday. Most people have their own notions, correct or incorrect, about Freemasonry, but the knowledge of Mark Masonry and even the pretence of knowledge are so entirely confined to Mark Masons, that we can form no precise estimate of the degrees of honour which its several ranks confer, or of anything else about it, except its numbers and its wealth.
Since 1886, various authors have shed light on those aspects of Mark Masonry which The Times found ‘dark and incomprehensible’. In 1960, a detailed chronicle by John Grantham of the first twenty five years of the new Grand Lodge was published, which drew together most of the primary sources concerning its creation.[iii] In 1969, Randall Handfield-Jones, the Librarian and Curator of the Mark Grand Lodge, produced an authoritative short institutional history of the Mark Grand Lodge.[iv] More recently, Neville Barker Cryer’s The Arch and the Rainbow, which appeared in 1996, is a sweeping review of the development of Mark Masonry, paying particular attention to its rituals and their relationship to the wider history of Freemasonry.[v] As yet the implications of the enormous quantity of evidence assembled by Cryer have not been fully absorbed by masonic scholars, and for those whose appetite for the history of Mark Masonry is whetted by the present book, the next port of call should certainly be The Arch and Rainbow.
These masonic authors explain some of the issues which baffled The Times in 1886, such as the way in which a number of existing Mark lodges were reluctant to subscribe to the new Grand Lodge on its creation and were only afterwards gradually persuaded to join the fold. Although these lodges joined the Grand Lodge after 1856, they were still known as ‘Time Immemorial’ lodges because they pre-dated the formation of Grand Lodge. This slow process of securing the allegiance of existing lodges explains how the number of ‘Time Immemorial’ lodges increased between 1876 and 1886. Nevertheless, the fundamental criticism of The Times holds true – while many people have some sort of impression of what craft Freemasonry involves, hardly anybody who is not a freemason has ever heard of Mark Masonry. Mark Masonry has not generally been well marked.
WHAT IS MARK MASONRY?
Like many other fraternal bodies such as the Oddfellows and the Druids, Freemasonry is a hierarchical organisation in which members progress through a series of different degrees. Members pass through these degrees by taking part in rituals which consist of an allegorical drama or short morality play relating to the legendary history of stonemasonry which are performed in a closed lodge meeting. In the course of these rituals, special passwords and signs are given to the candidate which allow him to prove to other freemasons the extent of his progress through the organization. The process of performing these rituals is intended to assist in the moral education of the candidate. For British freemasons, a primary focus of Freemasonry is the learning and performance of this ritual, so it is not surprising that much British masonic scholarship has focussed on discussion of this ritual, which often seems completely impenetrable to outsiders.
Mainstream Freemasonry in England comprises three degrees, which are generally known as craft Freemasonry. These are the entered apprentice, fellow craft and master mason. The ritual performed for the master mason’s degree tells the story of the murder of Hiram Abif, ‘the most accomplished Mason upon earth’ who was said to have been the architectural genius responsible for Solomon’s Temple. According to the ritual of the master mason’s degree, Hiram was killed by three craftsmen who wanted to learn the secrets of his skill as a stonemason. His body was hastily buried and work on the Temple stopped. The ritual tells how Hiram’s body was found and was re-interred in a place of honour in the Temple. The secrets of Hiram’s craft were however lost. Craft Freemasonry is administered in England by a body known as the United Grand Lodge of England, formed in 1813 from two Grand Lodges, the Premier Grand Lodge or ‘Moderns’, established in London in 1717, and the ‘Ancients’, created in 1751 by a group of Irish freemasons who objected to some of the ritual practices introduced by the Moderns.
The Ancients practised another degree known as the Royal Arch and from at least the 1760s members of the Premier Grand Lodge also took this degree. The ritual in the Royal Arch tells the story of the rediscovery of Hiram’s secrets. Following the creation of UGLE, the Royal Arch was recognized as the completion of the master mason’s degree and craft freemasons were explicitly encouraged to become companions of this order. The Royal Arch was however administered by a separate body, the Supreme Grand Chapter, although in practice many of the officers of the Supreme Grand Chapter were the same as those in the craft Freemasonry. The three degrees of craft Freemasonry and the Royal Arch constitute mainstream Freemasonry in England and Wales.
Mark Masonry is yet another degree but, although it was performed in craft lodges and Royal Arch chapters at least as early as 1769,[vi] its relationship to and importance for craft Freemasons and companions of the Royal Arch has been a bone of contention for English (and other) freemasons. In order to become a mark master mason, it is necessary to have completed the master mason’s degree in craft Freemasonry, but craft freemasons are not explicitly urged to become mark masons – the decision depends on the taste, enthusiasm or curiosity of the individual freemason.
The ritual for the advancement of a master mason to the degree of mark master mason most commonly used today in England takes us back once again to the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The candidate is first tested to ensure that he has indeed taken the three degrees of craft Freemasonry. The candidate is then invited to choose a mason’s mark, which is entered in the lodge’s register of marks. It is explained to the candidate that he has to present his mark to receive wages for his work as a stonemason. The candidate duly presents his mark and receives his wages in the form of a token. The overseers of the lodge then proceed to examine stone supposedly cut in the quarries for use in the building of the Temple. A stone said to have been cut by the candidate is found unsuitable and he is accused of being an impostor. He is threatened with the ancient punishment for false craftsmen of having his hand cut off, but is saved by repeating the signs that he was given earlier in the ceremony. It is then reported that work on the Temple is at a standstill because of the lack of a stone cut in the form of a keystone. Enquiry reveals that a suitable stone had been cut but it had been rejected by the master overseer because he had not been given instructions that it should be passed. A search is made for the keystone and it is found that it was the stone which the candidate had earlier presented and had been rejected. In gratitude, the candidate is given the signs and password of a mark master mason and invested with a jewel which features a keystone and the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. (Hiram the Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon).
It is striking that a significant feature of the rituals of Mark Masonry is the use of a mason’s mark. It is surprising that the mark, which is nowadays one of the best-known attributes of a medieval stonemason, does not feature at an earlier stage in the ritual progress of a freemason, although, as Robert Cooper discusses below, the allocation of a mark was prescribed by William Schaw’s regulations for stonemasons in Scotland in 1598 and the registration of such marks is a feature of Scottish freemasonry from that time through to the eighteenth century. There is no evidence of direct continuity between the marks of medieval stonemasons and Mark Masonry, but not surprisingly mark masons have taken a great interest in the history of medieval stonemasons’ marks.
The first scholarly descriptions of stonemasons’ marks, such as Godwin’s pioneering account published in Archaeologia in 1844,[vii] appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century, at precisely the time in which freemasons in England were beginning to take a renewed interest in the rituals of Mark Masonry. Masonic authors of the period such as George Oliver and Thomas Pryer discussed in masonic publications the significance of these newly-identified stonemasons’ marks,[viii] and their work is a neglected aspect of the early Victorian discovery of these important features of medieval buildings. Such discussion would have encouraged an interest in a masonic ritual which gave prominence to these marks, otherwise absent from the rituals of craft Freemasonry. The emergence of the GLMMM in 1856 may itself be seen as a reflection of the Victorian discovery of medieval masons’ marks and, for scholars of the medieval marks, their use today in masonic correspondence by those lawyers, stockbrokers, doctors and other respectable middle class gentlemen who are mark master masons is a surprising and little-known expression of interest in these fascinating details of medieval buildings.
THE OFFICIAL HISTORY
Most accounts of the development of Mark Masonry in England have however concentrated not on the marks in medieval cathedrals but rather on the circumstances whereby the two craft Grand Lodges were united in 1813. The events which led to the establishment of the GLMMM in 1856 have been seen as arising from defects in the process whereby the ritual practices of the Premier Grand Lodge and the Ancients were amalgamated. In order to help establish its legitimacy, the GLMMM felt it was necessary to promulgate in 1867 an official view of its history, which was for some years afterwards reprinted at the beginning of its published proceedings.[ix] This document provides the historical warrant of the GLMMM and has shaped historical writing on Mark Masonry ever since, and is therefore worth describing in detail. It begins with an extraordinary statement that the Union in 1813 was not between the ‘Modern’ and ‘Ancients’ Grand Lodges, but rather between Grand Lodges meeting at London and York. The reason for this was perhaps in order to distance the GLMMM from the allegation, commonly made at the time, that the Ancients Grand Lodge was a breakaway schismatic group. The Grand Lodge of All England which met at York in the eighteenth century was a completely different body, although there is evidence that it did also use a Mark degree. These are complex matters, but in declaring that ‘the Grand Lodge, meeting from time immemorial at York’ was one of the parties to the 1813 union and that lodges meeting under this Grand Lodge regularly worked the Mark degree, the GLMMM’s official account of its history evidently reflected anxieties about its origins.
The official history continues by declaring that the Mark degree was abolished at the Union and that the authors of the Union had falsely claimed that portions of the Mark degree had been incorporated in the master mason degree. It then continues:
Notwithstanding this declaration, the Mark degree continued to be extensively worked in the Northern and Midland districts of England, in some cases in Lodges being held under their immemorial constitution, derived from the Old Athol York Grand Lodge; in some cases in connection with, or under the authority of, Knights Templar Encampments; and in some places the degree continued to be conferred (and this until very recently) in a Lodge of Fellow-Crafts; the Lodge or Lodges so conferring the degree being under the jurisdiction of ‘The United Grand Lodge of England’; the fact of the degree being thus conferred being, probably, unknown to the latter body. The same circumstances, though to a limited extent, have been found to exist in the South of England.[x]
Here, in stressing the antiquity of the degree, the official history implies also that the provinces retained a more authentic version of Freemasonry than that of the metropolitan UGLE. In doing so, it takes a side-swipe at UGLE, suggesting that it did not know what its provincial lodges were doing. The history goes on to emphasise further how the incompetence of UGLE, and the way in which the Union had been managed, had created great confusion – it points out that in Scotland, Ireland and America the Mark degree was regarded as an ‘essential and integral portion of Ancient Freemasonry’. As Robert Cooper’s description of the position of Mark Masonry in Scotland indicates below, this is again a disingenuous view of the complex Scottish situation. In particular, the extent to which those who had created the Mark Grand Lodge had contributed to this confusion in the first place is glossed over.
To ‘remedy this state of confusion and to restore the degree to its rightful position in the Masonic situation’, declares the official history, an attempt was made in 1855 to obtain recognition of the degree by UGLE and a committee comprising members of UGLE and Supreme Grand Chapter was appointed to consider the matter. This committee reported that the Mark degree was not an essential aspect of Freemasonry but a ‘graceful appendage’. This report was adopted by UGLE in March 1856 but then ‘not confirmed’ at its next meeting – events which the official history presents as the immediate cause of the establishment of the Grand Lodge.
Interestingly, the official history again passes over some potentially embarrassing facts. It refers in passing to the Bon Accord Mark Lodge, ‘recently established in London’. In fact, this lodge had been established a few years previously under a warrant of dubious masonic legality from Scotland – again we find that the official history is anxious to counter any suggestion that its establishment represented a breakaway movement. It is only after describing how UGLE had failed to accept the recommendations of its own committee that the official history then explains that the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter in Scotland had raised doubts about the legitimacy of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge in London. The official history stresses that the case was not proven, but goes on to describe how ‘several earnest masons’ nevertheless secured charters from the Scottish SGRAC to work the Mark degree.
The decision of UGLE, suggests the official history, had created intolerable confusion and the risk of a foreign masonic jurisdiction intruding itself in England. This led to the decision ‘to constitute a Grand Lodge with jurisdiction over the Mark degree in this country and its dependencies’. Members of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge summoned a meeting to constitute a Mark Grand Lodge, in which they were supported by existing ‘time immemorial’ lodges in Newcastle, Bath and London and other Mark lodges elsewhere. In so doing, claimed the official history, the lodges which formed the Mark Grand lodge were acting in accordance with precedents established by the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge by four existing lodges in 1717 and by the subsequent formation of such bodies as the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland. The legitimacy and respectability of the new Grand Lodge is emphasised by the closing statement of the official history that the first Grand Master of the GLMMM, Lord Leigh, was ‘a thoroughly constitutional mason, and a personal friend of the MW Grand Master of England’.
This official history of the GLMMM is a carefully crafted attempt to establish the historical legitimacy of the new body and to suggest that its creation was rooted in the mangling of authentic masonic tradition at the time of the Union of the Grand Lodges and in the subsequent mismanagement of UGLE, and in particular its insensitivity to the requirements of provincial and colonial lodges. This official history has exercised a profound influence on subsequent discussion of the history of GLMMM. Influenced by the 1867 official history, subsequent discussion of the circumstances of the creation of the GLMMM has focussed more on the nature of the Union in 1813 than on the immediate events between 1855 and 1857. Moreover, much of the discussion of Mark ritual has focussed on the situation before 1813, both in an attempt to establish that the degree does indeed have that antiquity which has been claimed for it and also to try and reconstruct the characteristics of the masonic system before 1813, apparently in the hope that this may assist in the recovery of ancient esoteric wisdom. If we are to get a clearer appreciation of the wider significance of Mark Masonry in eighteenth and nineteenth century history, it is essential to try and break away from the shadow cast by the official history.
MARK GRAND LODGE AND THE CRIMEAN WAR
The creation of the Mark Grand Lodge in 1856 was the result of the brief but profound political and social crisis precipitated by the disastrous management of the Crimean War. In December 1854, The Times began its famous revelations exposing the dreadful conditions of the British troops besieging Sebastopol. The effect of these on the national mood during the first half of 1855 has been vividly described by Olive Anderson:
The war enforced for several months a mood of national self-searching which can hardly be paralleled sat any other time in the mid-Victorian ‘age of equipoise’. For the first six months of 1855 at almost every articulate social level and to men of totally different outlooks, the war represented an inescapable challenge which stripped away the shams and compromises and time-honoured habits which gave English society its stability and cohesion. What Bagehot was to call ‘the cake of cohesion’ seemed to be breaking into fragments.[xi]
The mismanagement was considered the consequence of elderly hidebound aristocratic leadership. The increasingly prosperous provincial middle classes were exasperated by the failure of the government to display the kind of practical and pragmatic spirit with which they were familiar in commercial life. In their view, wars were won by efficiency and practical experience, not by privilege of birth or ‘dash in action’. Bodies such as the Administrative Reform Association argued for the creation of a more meritocratic society, with the slogan ‘the Right Man in the Right Place’.[xii] As Punch put it:
No more will we be ruled by men
Whose sole qualification
Is not ability and ken
But lies in rank or station.[xiii]
The drive for reform and the attack on aristocratic privilege extended beyond the war office. The enthusiasm for practical commercial knowledge led to major reforms of such institutions as the civil service, the universities and local government. Important legislative reforms were introduced such as the Limited Liability and Joint Stock Companies Acts and the abolition of compulsory stamp duties on newspapers. To quote Olive Anderson once more, ‘One of the most striking characteristics of the national heart-searching of the early spring and summer of 1855 was its concentration upon domestic institutions, both political and social, as the explanation of the disasters’.[xiv] The social reforms produced by this national crisis of confidence were wide-ranging: public libraries were allowed for the first time to use public money to buy books; fees for the registration of friendly societies were abolished; and masses of complicated legislation, such as that governing merchant shipping, railways and canals, was consolidated and rationalized.
While the mismanagement of the war had provided the immediate catalyst for these reforms, they reflected more deep-seated changes in British society. The first wave of industrialization had led to enormous shifts in population and wealth, most visibly expressed by the growth of the new industrial towns and cities in northern England and the Midlands, and the increasing prominence of the provinces in the economic, social and cultural life of the nation was to be further enhanced with the spread of the railways. Moreover, as Theodore Koditschek has described in his description of the social history of Bradford from 1750-1850, the period from 1825 to 1850 saw the rise of a new breed of urban entrepreneurs:
As young men who were generally immigrants, Nonconformists, and frequently children of relatively humble and obscure working- or lower-middle class parents, the new bourgeosie constituted not merely a new elite generation, but an entirely distinctive social group. In all but a very small minority of cases, these men bore no family relation to the traditional Anglican Tory establishment whose members monopolized the traditional cultural and political institutions of the town.[xv]
These new men wanted institutions that would give them a political and social voice. As they contemplated the environmental catastrophe that industrialization had produced in towns like Bradford, they sought ways of making life in provincial towns more wholesome and pleasant. They supported the new local government reforms which sought to improve public health provision. The recurrent economic crises of the 1830s and 1840s had faded and from 1850 these new middle-classes had more spare time and money, but they viewed with disdain the traditional boorish and boozy recreations of the aristocracy and working classes – in their view, leisure activities had to be rational, respectable and improving.[xvi]
The process of soul-searching precipitated by the mismanagement of the Crimean War affected every national institution, and Freemasonry was no exception. Freemasonry was governed by an elderly Whig leadership. The Grand Master, Lord Zetland, was known as a ‘steady supporter of Whig principles’ who was more interested in the distinctly unrespectable pleasures of the Turf than in social reform. The Times observed on his death that ‘it may be doubtful whether any political triumph ever gave him such genuine and unmixed satisfaction as the success of his horse Voltigeur, who won the Derby in 1850’.[xvii] Indeed, Zetland was accused by Henry Warren, the publisher of the influential Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror of neglecting meetings of the Grand Lodge because of his attendance at race meetings.[xviii] Zetland’s deputy, Lord Yarborough, was another elderly aristocrat, best remembered for giving his name to a hand in bridge,[xix] who suffered a serious stroke in 1857. Zetland’s insensitivity to the wider political and social changes in English society at that time is reflected in his choice of Yarborough’s successor as Deputy Grand Master – Lord Panmure, who had been appointed war secretary by Palmerston in February 1855 in order to try and improve the efficiency of the war office’s administration. Despite Panmure’s great self-confidence and energy, he proved unable to achieve effective reform of the military machine and had been subject to ferocious criticism in cabinet, parliament and the country at large throughout 1856. Panmure was a surprising choice for a senior position in UGLE as he was a Scottish freemason, who had not recently held any senior office in English Freemasonry and indeed had not been particularly active as a freemason for some years. The criticisms levied at Panmure at the War Office, that he was not the ‘right man in the right place’ and that he personified the inefficiencies of an aristocratic system of patronage, could be, and were, made of his appointment by Zetland as Deputy Grand Master.
In 1855, an event occurred which seemed to confirm that UGLE was affected by the same malaise of ineffective aristocratic leadership and unreformed bureaucracy which was widely thought to affect the whole of British society. A group of Canadian masons formed their own Grand Lodge. This key incident has been analyzed in detail by James Daniel in a paper which will appear in a future issue of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, so there is no need to describe it in detail here. The essential point is that it sparked off criticism of the management of UGLE which echoed that being made at the time of many other institutions. In 1856, a new masonic periodical was established, The Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle, whose tone was perhaps the most acerbic of any masonic periodical before or since, but which reflects the kind of rhetoric which was commonplace at the end of the Crimean War. In the first issue, it was declared that ‘The executive [of UGLE] has not only very grossly mismanaged our affairs, but is determined if possible to stifle discussion and by arbitrary and unconstitutional conduct to deprive the great body of the craft of their undoubted and supreme authority’.[xx] Or again:
The members of the dais are, most of them, worthy and excellent masons; but whatever may be the cause, certain it is that collectively, not only do they oppose every useful measure that is brought forward, but they assume a conscious air of patronising superiority towards the great body of GL as offensive as it is ridiculous.[xxi]
The rulers of UGLE were compared to dodos:
the relics of something which may have existed in another phase of human life, but which now perplexes men, baffles imitation, and sets the laws of reasoning at defiance. Their artless belief in their inherent right of governing, the simplicity of their faith in all the little devices to evade real points at issue and to mask their intentions ... it is really quite affecting.[xxii]
Of the Grand Secretary’s office, it was stated that ‘any mercantile company would be bankrupt in a week whose affairs were managed in the same way’[xxiii] – precisely the sort of criticism which was being levelled at that time at the war office.
The Masonic Observer was the mouthpiece of a closely-knit group whose most vocal representatives were the clergyman George Portal, the Hampshire MP William Beach and Lord Carnarvon.[xxiv] As James Daniel discusses below, these three were close friends and neighbours. Increasingly, this trio emerged as the leaders of the movement for reform of UGLE, with Carnarvon in particular being actively promoted as a young ruler-in-waiting. All three were young Tories and their activities in UGLE, and particularly their promotion of Carnarvon, apparently reflected a belief that it was necessary for the aristocracy to give a lead in the process of reform to prevent a social catastrophe – an outlook evident in their demand that ‘the leading noblemen and gentlemen in each county should give to the Craft their support and influence’.[xxv]. In Grand Lodge, support for what might be called the Masonic Observer group came from men who were afterwards to be concerned in the establishment of the Mark Grand Lodge, such as the lawyer and erstwhile secretary of the Records Commission Charles Purton Cooper, Provincial Grand Master for Kent,[xxvi] and Lewis Aria, a Portsmouth Jew who had made a fortune in Jamaica.[xxvii]
The debate soon widened out beyond the Canadian question to that of the general relationship of the provinces to UGLE, which was held to be dominated by London freemasons. The rhetoric used by the Masonic Observer to promote the claims of provincial masons echoed the language being used at that time by towns such as Bradford and Birmingham to demand improved parliamentary representation and a greater say in the affairs of the nation:
At present the Provinces feel as little concerned as to what takes place in London, as if it happened in New York ... for the London members to usurp the government of the craft is as much as if the Metropolitan members were to monopolise the government of England ... Why should the choice of the elective officers of the Craft be virtually placed in the hands of one hundred London lodges, while the provinces have as much to do with the election as they have with that of his holiness the Pope?[xxviii]
The Masonic Observer promoted a number of initiatives to reduce the power of the ‘Clique in London’. It advertised a ‘provincial mess’, of which Portal was the treasurer, which met on the days of quarterly communications and sought to make attendance of provincial masons at the meetings of UGLE more attractive by providing them with a meal and some congenial company.[xxix] It supported Carnarvon’s campaign in Grand Lodge for the advance publication and distribution of an agenda and papers for quarterly communications, so that provincial masons could decide whether or not they wished to attend. Portal’s campaign to obtain details of how frequently provincial grand lodges met and to identify negligent Provincial Grand Masters was enthusiastically reported. The provincial masonic machinery could be revitalised, claimed the Masonic Observer, by the appointment of men of local influence and by the provision of greater information about provincial activities; in 1857, the craft Province of Oxfordshire, where Portal was Grand Senior Warden, published the first provincial yearbook.
The development of this movement for reform of the provincial organization of English Freemasonry has been reviewed by Aubrey Newman in his Prestonian Lecture for 2003, and it is not necessary to repeat his analysis here. The central point is that this pressure for a greater provincial voice reflected wider social concerns at the time. Indeed, the description of provincial masons coming to Grand Lodge to hear Carnarvon speak on the printing of an order paper for Grand Lodge encapsulates the way in which provincial England was finding its voice in the 1850s:
When the Old Highlander said that ‘it was a far cry from London’, he probably meant the same as our Grand Lodge authorities thought – if indeed they ever so far troubled on the trouble of our country lodges ... there are railways at the present day which converge upon London from every part of the country; and the representatives of the country lodges on the 1st October appeared from the four corners of England to support Lord Carnarvon’s motion ... Henceforth the country lodges will be aware of the business to be discussed in the Grand Lodge and it will be optional to them to express their opinions upon it. Now after many years of exile they have their own again and rejoin the communion of English freemasonry.[xxx]
The position of Mark Masonry quickly came caught up in this wider debate. The status of the Mark degree had been an issue for Canadian freemasons, as the Masonic Observer pointed out. Although the Masonic Observer began publication after the first meeting of the Mark Grand Lodge had been held, Mark Masonry quickly became a prominent feature of its pages. The bulk of its reports of masonic meetings were of lodge meetings and throughout 1857 it carried advertisements inviting lodges to affiliate to the new Grand Lodge, similar to those which had been placed in The Times the previous year. The Masonic Observer reported how on 10 May 1857, Lord Carnarvon was advanced as a mark master mason at a meeting of the Bon Accord Mark lodge in London, in the presence of Portal, Beach and Lord Leigh.[xxxi] In June 1857, the Observer carried a long editorial on the links between Mark Masonry and the Canadian question and affirming the right of mark master masons to form a Grand Lodge which would ensure the avoidance of the ‘red-tapeism’ of UGLE and create an organization ‘at once national and comprehensive’.[xxxii] Outrage was expressed at the remarks of John Havers, President of the Board of General Purposes of UGLE, at a meeting of mark master masons summoned by Lord Leigh in May 1857. Havers
denied absolutely the antiquity of this degree, and that it had ever been under the jurisdiction of Grand Lodge, and desired that brethen should not be misled, but should understand that the degree was a recent and modern innovation, and never formed part of ancient freemasonry ... He would also take exception to another remark in his Lordship’s letter, in which he alluded to the widespread influence of the degree throughout the country. Now he (Brother Havers) altogether denied that its influence was widespread, and he believed that it was only by the exertions of a few zealous masons, who began, in 1851, to work the degree in London, that it could be said to have gained any influence.[xxxiii]
Havers, a well-connected and prosperous London surgeon, seemed to encapsulate the metropolitan orientation of Grand Lodge, and by denying the importance of the Mark degree in this way, he seemed to be confirming that UGLE was out of touch with Freemasonry outside London. Mark masons from the English provinces and the colonies insisted that the Mark degree was indeed well known outside London.
It would be an over-simplification to see the creation of the Mark Grand Lodge simply as a by-product of the tensions created by the Masonic Observer group. While Lord Leigh, the first Grand Master of the Mark Grand Lodge, had a great deal in common with Carnarvon, he was not directly associated with the Masonic Observer and indeed maintained friendly relations with Zetland. It seems Leigh’s more immediate concern was the jibes made by Henry Warren in the Freemason’s Magazine questioning the legality of the Mark degree shortly after Leigh had become master of a Mark lodge in London. Considerable work still remains to be done in investigating the political alignments and connections of those involved in establishing the new Grand Lodge. Nevertheless, the Mark Grand Lodge was the product of a specific historical moment and of the immediate social and political crisis which characterised the years 1855-6. It reflected a broadly-based antagonism towards the old-fashioned, aristocratic and London-orientated values that were represented by men such as Zetland, Panmure and Havers.
THE SOCIAL ROOTS OF THE NEW GRAND LODGE
Mark Masonry was a well chosen vehicle for promoting a new approach to Freemasonry. It had links back to the movements of the 1830s and 1840s which had sought to create a more socially aware and overtly religious Freemasonry. This reformist Freemasonry was associated with the physician Robert Crucefix and its focus was the campaign to establish an asylum for ‘Worthy and Decayed Freemasons’, now the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. The Duke of Sussex, as Grand Master, favoured an annuity system. The conflict over these two approaches to masonic charity echoed the wider debate about how to provide financial support to the unemployed and elderly, a debate which was fuelled by the New Poor Law. In 1834, the year in which the Poor Law was introduced, Crucefix launched the Freemasons’ Quarterly Review to help generate support for the asylum. The Freemasons’ Quarterly Review was, however, more than simply a means of raising funds for the asylum. It argued for a Freemasonry that was more prominent in society and took a greater interest in social questions, with stronger roots in the provinces and closer links with the rising middle classes – a force for moral improvement. Above all, for Crucefix, Freemasonry was the essential complement to Christianity. As is well known, Crucefix took an active interest in promoting Christian orders and was the first Sovereign Grand Commander of a Supreme Council of the 33° for England and Wales. Crucefix also promoted the work of George Oliver, who was to become the ideologue of Victorian Freemasonry and also saw Freemasonry as the handmaiden of Christianity.
Although Crucefix himself took the Mark degree in Ireland,[xxxiv] it is fascinating to note that he owned the copy of the 1723 Book of Constitutions which contains the earliest known reference to Mark Masonry. George Oliver referred to the Mark degree in his influential publications,[xxxv] and it was doubtless these references which encouraged a group of London masons in 1850-1 to find out more about how the Mark degree was practised in Scotland, leading to the establishment of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge in 1851. It is significant that the London masons who received the Mark degree from Robert Beveridge in 1851 included Richard Graves, Past Master of the Bank of England Lodge No. 243 which was closely associated with Crucefix’s campaigns, and Richard Spencer, Oliver’s publisher, who had taken over the publication of the Freemasons’ Quarterly Review in 1850. At the first meeting of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge, the candidates advanced included two other distinguished members of the Bank of England Lodge, the famous conductor Sir Michael Costa and his brother Raphael. The jurisdictional disputes sparked off by the creation of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge are described and discussed from various angles in the essays in the present volume by Peter Glyn Williams, Robert Cooper and Neville Barker Cryer. However, a bald account of the creation of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge may give the impression that these problems were simply created by a few inquisitive London masons intrigued by what was to them a novel aspect of Freemasonry. Those involved in the creation of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge included some expert masonic students, such as Spencer. They clearly saw Mark Masonry as in some way offering something that was missing from Freemasonry as they knew it in London, and as something which would help contribute towards the vision of Freemasonry which had been enunciated by Crucefix.
The milieu of the early Bon Accord Mark Lodge in London requires further investigation in the many masonic periodicals and publications of the period, and an important source in understanding the vision of the founders of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge will doubtless be the writings of George Oliver. Robert Cooper suggests that at one level the introduction of the Mark degree from Scotland into London may be considered the ‘revenge of the operatives’. This is an aspect of the interest in Mark Masonry which may be a fruitful area for exploration in future researches. Peter Bailey in his study of leisure in Victorian England emphasises how, with the growth of new forms of recreation from 1850 onwards,[xxxvi] the new middle classes were anxious to promote new forms of recreation for the working which were more sober and purposeful and which would also promote social harmony. One might wonder whether part of the attraction of Mark Masonry in the early 1850s was that it could be seen as celebrating the virtues of the craftsmen and might offer a way of attracting the respectable working classes back into Freemasonry.
Certainly, Mark Masonry in provincial England during the period 1850-6 reflected changing patterns of leisure. Freemasonry had suffered during the 1830s and 1840s from its association with aristocratic and Anglican elites; this may have been one of the factors behind the crisis of masonic membership in the 1820s and 1830s which has been remarked by various commentators but never properly investigated. In particular, drink featured prominently in masonic proceedings at a time when middle class reformers were discouraging social activities associated with heavy drinking. By the 1850s the middle classes had greater leisure but were uncertain what to do with it. As the Saturday Review commented:
It is a very fine thing to have cured ourselves of the boosing [sic.] habits of our ancestors; but there is no doubt that the moral conquest has left a formidable void in our social existence ... the gentlemen used to be drunk, and are now sober; and the mistress of the house, who got rid of them in the drinking days, has to bear the burden of their reformation, and find amusements to beguile the weary hours of sobriety.[xxxvii]
However, there was an anxiety not to fritter away this leisure time in pointless activities – recreations should be purposeful, improving and uplifting. As one writer put it:
Recreation is, or ought to be, not a pastime entered upon for the sake of pleasure which it affords, but an act of duty undertaken for the sake of the subsequent power which it generates, and the subsequent profit [presumably personal improvement, rather than financial profit] which it ensures.[xxxviii]
Freemasonry was evidently a leisure activity which could meet this prescription, providing that it was dissociated from drink. The way in which the membership of masonic lodges reflected wider social changes is apparent in the Lodge of Hope, now No. 302, in Bradford. The first wave of industrialization in Bradford from 1750-1810 had already fragmented the traditional community of the town.[xxxix] The Anglican gentry elites distanced themselves from the industrial developments of the town, while the new capitalists, once they had made their money, sought to join the ranks of the gentry. Traditional centres of community such as the church and the marketplace became less important, while inns increasingly emerged as the focus of cultural and community life, although, as Theodore Koditshek has emphasized, the way in which different social groups became associated with particular inns itself reflected the process of social fragmentation.
In the period from its establishment in 1794 to 1810, the Lodge of Hope was evidently one of those bodies which sought to preserve the old sense of community. Its membership was dominated by shopkeepers, artisans and men connected with the smaller-scale old-style wool trade, such as woolstaplers and cardmakers.[xl] From 1810 Bradford’s urban-industrial revolution took off; its worsted output rose thirteen times and by 1850 Bradford was the eighth largest city in Britain. Correspondingly, from 1810, the character of the membership of the Lodge of Hope changed dramatically – the membership starts to be dominated by manufacturers, factory owners and wealthy professional men such as the broker G. R. Mossman.[xli] This change in the nature of the lodge received physical expression in 1828 when the lodge changed its meeting place from an inn (significantly, the lodge never met in Bradford’s most prestigious inn, the Sun, but in the less respectable New Inn) to a specially-built masonic hall. From the 1840s, as noted above, a new type of capitalist entrepreneur emerged in Bradford – self-made men, frequently immigrants, usually non-conformist. In 1843, the first initiation of a German in the lodge, Julius Bardoff, was noted as a significant event.[xlii] Within a few years, the membership of this lodge was to be dominated by this new type of capitalist entrepreneur, men like Jacob Unna, a German immigrant from a modest background who built up a flourishing export business in Bradford, and was master of the Lodge of Hope in the 1850s.[xliii]
This new membership of the Lodge of Hope earnestly debated how Freemasonry could better express the social needs and aspirations of their class. In April 1856, an address to UGLE by the Canadian masons who had set up their own Grand Lodge prompted a devastating editorial in the Freemason’s Magazine denouncing the ineptitude of the aristocratic leadership of UGLE, asking ‘What position did Desaguliers hold in the peerage’ and asking if English society was now ‘so scant of noblemen that we are obliged for the say-so of the thing, to put up year after year with the present Grand Master’.[xliv] Not surprisingly, such comments found a welcome among the ‘new men’ who now dominated the lodge in Bradford, and at supper following the lodge’s next meeting an animated discussion took place on the editorial in the Freemason’s Magazine.[xlv]
The Lodge of Hope was one of those ‘Time Immemorial’ lodges which practised the Mark degree but did not join the Mark Grand Lodge until 1873. The Lodge of Hope’s claim to be a ‘Time Immemorial’ Mark lodge rested on the claim attributed in 1873 to a Bro. Richard Scholefield that the degree was worked by the lodge before 1813. Scholefield was said to have been secretary of the lodge shortly after its foundation in 1794 and to have served as Master before the Union. Scholefield alleged that the Bradford lodge had been given permission to continue working the degree at the time of the Union. Unfortunately, relevant lodge records to support Scholefield’s claim do not survive, and the reports of Scholefield’s story do not tie up with other records. The Freemason’s Magazine published in May 1856 an address on ‘Three Steps in Freemasonry’ given by W. P. M. Bro. Scholefield ‘on the occasion of his fiftieth jubilee’.[xlvi] If this is the same man, then it would suggest that he was not initiated until 1806. Even this appears to be an exaggeration – the only Scholefield shown as a member of the lodge in the Grand Lodge registers before 1813 was a John Scholefield, who was initiated on 23 October 1809. Clearly, the traditions of the lodge had become garbled by 1873, but it is perhaps significant that Scholefield was apparently an artisan who became a member of the lodge shortly before its social character profoundly changed. His address in 1856 shows that he was a learned man who had thought deeply about Freemasonry, holding that ‘the scientific philosophy of Freemasonry forms a rational employment of the mind in acquiring wisdom and experience resulting from human knowledge’ – an expression of rational recreation which would have appealed to new men like Jacob Unna. Perhaps Scholefield emphasised the importance of the Mark degree and the way in which its practice in Bradford supposedly reached back to the days before large-scale industrialization there because he saw the degree as a way of helping to bind up the fractured and frequently brutalized community of the town – a ‘revenge of the operatives’ in a different way.
Neville Barker Cryer in his essay below on Lord Leigh describes a further fascinating incident in Birmingham which vividly illustrates how the growing interest in Mark Masonry in the 1850s was linked to changing social patterns in English industrial cities and towns. A group of socially prestigious Birmingham freemasons, including John Ward-Boughton-Leigh, a relative of Lord Leigh and Deputy Provincial Grand Master in the craft, the jeweller Benjamin Goode who ran a factory with more than 400 employees, the glass manufacturer Isaac Hawker Bedford, and Maurice Myers, owner of a well-known pen factory, sought to establish a lodge which would accord with new ideas of respectable recreation.[xlvii] It would not meet on licensed premises but in rooms set aside for masonic purposes. There would be not only a craft lodge but also a Royal Arch chapter and Mark lodge. All lodge funds would be devoted to charitable purposes; the aim was to show ‘Masonry pure and undefiled’. An indication of the purpose of the new lodge was given by its proposed name: the Lodge of Progress. One of the proposers of the Birmingham lodge had already visited a Mark lodge in Newstead in Nottingham to learn more about the degree. He felt there was room for improvement, noting that the Newstead ceremonies exhibited a
Robust jollity in working, which, however calculated to promote fun and good fellowship, does so only at the sacrifice of dignity and effect. The manners of the 18th century do not suit the age yet linger on in too many places in Freemasonry.[xlviii]
As Cryer has observed elsewhere, the Birmingham masons, in taking over the Mark rituals from Newstead, refined the practice of the ritual to accord more with the taste of the 1850s.[xlix]
The Newstead Mark lodge was willing to consecrate a Mark lodge in Birmingham, but the craft Provincial Grand Master, the aged and ultra-conservative Lord Howe, refused to confirm the petition for the Lodge of Progress, on the grounds that there were sufficient lodges in Birmingham already, echoing a similar policy adopted by Lord Zetland for London. Howe’s action seemed to reflect the way in which the hierarchy of UGLE was out of touch with the enormous growth and change in the industrial towns. Notwithstanding Howe’s refusal to allow the craft lodge to be formed, the Mark lodge was consecrated. It was only through very tactful diplomacy by Ward-Boughton-Leigh, including the suggestion that the new lodge be called the Howe Lodge, that the petition to set up a craft lodge was finally accepted, and the new lodge met in masonic rooms over the coal wharf in Newhall Street.
Some of the founders of the Howe Mark Lodge in Birmingham were actively involved in the creation of the Mark Grand Lodge, and Cryer suggests that it was concern about such masonic irregularities as these that prompted Lord Leigh’s decision to become a mark mason in the Bon Accord Lodge in London rather than in Warwickshire. Certainly, Leigh played an active part in ensuring that the Birmingham Mark masons were involved in the development of the Grand Lodge, proposing for example that members of the lodge should be members of the special committee which reviewed the state of the Mark degree in England in May 1857. Lord Leigh and his relative Ward-Boughton-Leigh both seem to fall into that category of younger local aristocrats and gentry who were trying to adjust their local role to take account of the challenges posed by the growth of large industrial cities close to their traditional areas of influence. Rick Trainor has noticed for example how aristocratic patronage of new forms of organized sports created a forum for contact and cooperation between local peers and members of the upper middle classes in industrial towns in the Black Country,[l] and Leigh’s patronage of the Stoneleigh cricket club, with his brother becoming an influential President of the MCC, seems to reflect the use of social organizations to restate the role of the aristocracy in a county now dominated by industrial towns. Leigh’s role in promoting friendly societies and in establishing the Leigh Mills in Coventry seems to reflect a wider paternalistic engagement with the industrial areas of Warwickshire.
However, Leigh’s immediate concern about the position of Mark Masonry was prompted by the objections made by the SGRAC of Scotland to the legitimacy of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge in London shortly before he became Master of the lodge, and this reflects another major theme in the early history of GLMMM. The preoccupation of the founders of the Mark Grand Lodge with uniformity of ritual practice and their anxiety about confusion over masonic jurisdictions may at first sight seem to be a peculiarly masonic concern, but it is echoed in many other recreational activities at that time. The concern that recreation should be respectable and purposeful also generated a feeling that it should be properly controlled and organized. It is no coincidence that the same period which saw the establishment of the Mark Grand Lodge also saw the codification of the rules for sporting activities such as football. The comment that the first twenty years of the life of the Football Association, founded in 1863, were dominated by ‘differences over the rules of play, as the administrators sought to reconcile the several variations’, issues which were primarily technical,[li] could also be applied to the early years of the Mark Grand Lodge.
This concern about masonic jurisdiction should be placed in the context of an enormous growth in associational activity in the middle of the nineteenth century. Increasingly, Freemasonry had to compete with other leisure activities. Theodore Koditschek has described how in Bradford at this time there was a proliferation of middle-class associations ‘organized around the principles of rational recreation and self-help’, betokening ‘the development of a rich participatory culture well attuned to the demands of urban-industrial success’.[lii] Freemasonry had to maintain its position in this competitive market place of association. Just as temperance bodies found that they had to make their activities more attractive and enjoyable to maintain their membership, so Freemasonry needed to offer more. New activities such as Mark Masonry offered fresh attractions for Freemasons. Moreover, this growth in associational activity provided a means by which the new entrepreneurial classes could redefine their identity in an increasingly crowded and anonymous society. A committed teetotaller could enter a world in which all his needs were met by temperance organizations – he could read a temperance newspaper, stay in a temperance hotel, eat in temperance restaurants, keep his money in a temperance bank, and spend the evenings at temperance meetings. Likewise, the growing commercial infrastructure of Freemasonry allowed the enthusiastic Victorian freemason to spend much of his waking life in a masonic world.
The early Mark Grand Lodge had to make its way in a society increasingly marked by what the American sociologist Jason Kaufman, in a recent analysis of the growth of fraternal organizations in late nineteenth-century America, has called ‘competitive voluntarism’.[liii] Audrey Fisk has described how the Ancient Order of Foresters, one of the large national friendly societies, was active in southern England in establishing new branches in southern England as the railway network grew and suburbs spread into the countryside.[liv] Here James Daniel’s stress on the role of George Portal in the creation of the National Deposit Society is particularly significant.[lv] By contrast with the established friendly societies such as the Foresters, the National Deposit Society was intended to be a savings bank, not a club. One of its rules forbade meetings on licensed premises and it offered no significant convivial activity. The lack of any social activity meant that both men and women could be members. Money paid by members to the National Deposit Society remained their own; members could only receive as much sickness benefit as they had deposited. This was intended to encourage thrift and to ensure that benefit was only claimed when it was needed. It also reduced the risk of the society becoming insolvent. New benefit societies such as the National Deposit were vehemently attacked by the existing friendly societies, which claimed that the new bodies were excessively complicated and denounced the new societies as the creation of middle class do-gooders whereas the established societies had, it was claimed, been built up by working men themselves.
Through the National Deposit Friendly Society, Portal sought to foster middle class values of thrift, hard work and self-reliance among working men. The connection of Lord Leigh with friendly societies in Warwickshire suggests a similar interest, while at Leicester William Kelly was involved in the trustees savings bank movement. In a world of ‘competitive voluntarism’, Portal, Leigh and Kelly clearly felt that new associational activity could help in the propagation of middle class values. The ambitious structure of the National Deposit Society seems in some ways to anticipate the ‘rational and comprehensive structure’ that Portal and others sought for the Mark Grand Lodge.
Portal’s activities with the National Deposit Friendly Society seem to reflect an engagement, which apparently he shared with Carnarvon and Leigh, with a paternalistic Tory outlook which accepted the values of the rising middle class, such as temperance and was more responsive to the demands of the industrial districts, but eschewed the more radical liberal panaceas such as free trade. The significance of this paternalistic Tory outlook within the early Mark Grand Lodge is exemplified by te figure of William Romaine Callender (1825-76).[lvi] Callender was the first Mark Provincial Grand Master of Lancashire, appointed in 1870 as part of a concerted attempt by Portal on his appointment as Grand Master to enhance the provincial organisation of the Mark Grand Lodge and above all to resolve the complications caused by the activities of the Scottish SGRAC in England. The Scottish SGRAC had recently created a Scottish Mark province in Lancashire and Portal used Callender’s installation as Provincial Grand Master of the English Mark Grand Lodge for a demonstration of local strength. The installation of Callender was performed by Portal himself as Grand Master with a formidable array of Grand Officers and many mark masons from all over the north-west.[lvii]
Like Portal, Callender was a friend of Thomas Hughes, the author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays and christian socialist. Callender came from one of Manchester’s leading families of cotton spinners and merchants. Callender sought to put his social ideas into practice at the firm’s cotton mills, encouraging a mutual improvement society and regularly addressing his workers on the value of literacy and self-help. He was a strong supporter of the temperance United Kingdom Alliance. Callender encouraged trades unions and campaigns for shorter working hours. He rejected the liberal free trade policies of the non-conformist manufacturers of the ‘Manchester School’ and identified himself with Manchester’s Anglican Tories. Callender was the leading figure in the rebuilding of the Conservative Party in Manchester, as an instrument for the defence of the church, the promotion of working-class welfare and the encouragement of popular education. As A. C. Howe has written in the entry on Callender in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
Callender’s anti-liberalism took him in some strange directions (including financial succour to the former Chartist, Ernest Jones), but he became the most influential of Lancashire employers, who in the late 1860s not only ensured the revitalization of the tory party locally, but also gave it a growing voice within the national party. Callender acted as Benjamin Disraeli’s host on his famous Manchester visit of 1872 and influenced significantly the social legislation of the Conservative government, having become MP for Manchester in 1874. A leading and original exemplar of grassroots tory democracy, he would have been rewarded for his contribution to the Disraelian Conservative Party with a baronetcy but for his unexpected death.
The ideals of the early Mark Grand Lodge evidently chimed with Callender’s broader social beliefs. He worked tirelessly to resolve the conflict with the Scottish SGRAC in Lancashire and was active in securing the jurisdiction of the new Mark Grand Lodge elsewhere in the north of England, inaugurating for example the new Mark province of West Yorkshire in 1871.
If the immediate circumstances of the establishment of the Mark Grand Lodge in 1856 are to be found in the social and political crisis sparked off by the Crimean War, in its social roots Mark Grand Lodge was based on new social alignments which were to lay the basis of the emergence of a new social and political consensus during the 1860s and 1870s. One of the questions which might be explored by future researchers is how far the Mark Grand Lodge passively reflected this process or whether, by giving practical expression to the ideals of men like Callender and Portal and enabling them to build bridges to those who might otherwise have been natural liberals, the Mark Grand Lodge can be seen as actively underpinning the creation of this consensus.
A MIDDLE CLASS VEHICLE?
If the circumstances of the creation of the Mark Grand Lodge link it to the rise of a new entrepreneurial and professional class in the provinces and to changing patterns of leisure in the middle of the nineteenth century, how did these social pressures shape the new Grand Lodge during the first phase of its existence up to the outbreak of the First World War? To confidently answer such a question, it is necessary first to undertake a detailed analysis of the membership of individual Mark lodges. By contrast with masonic scholarship in Europe and America, virtually no detailed analyses of membership of masonic lodges have been undertaken for British masonic lodges. There is an urgent need to undertake such studies, and it is impossible to write the history of British Freemasonry until a representative group of studies of the membership of local lodges has been completed.
The only British historian to have made studies of this kind is Roger Burt. Burt has researched the membership of a number of lodges in Cornwall and elsewhere as part of his study of the history of metal mining. Burt has shown how Freemasonry was an important part of business networking amongst Cornish miners, assisting for example miners who were going to work abroad in finding new business contacts. Burt’s previous studies have concentrated only on the membership of craft lodges, and his essay in the present volume extends his previous researches by comparing patterns of membership in craft lodges and Royal Arch chapters with the membership of Mark lodges in Cornwall.
Burt gives a vivid picture of the type of men who were joining Mark lodges in Cornwall from 1865 to 1900. They were ‘accountants, mining engineers and mine agents, merchants, surgeons/medical practitioners, hotel and innkeepers and “gentlemen”’ – in other words, the Mark lodges were heavily dominated by the middle classes. This forms a startling contrast with the membership of craft lodges in Cornwall, where working men and artisans were more evident. As Burt observes, ‘Ordinary miners, for example, joined craft lodges in the hundreds but Mark lodges in tens or less’. Burt considers the reasons for this – the extra costs of Mark membership and the fact that craft membership offered a business benefit in a way that was not evident with the Mark degree. As Burt emphasizes, precisely part of the attraction of the Mark degree might have been that it offered a haven for those who took their Freemasonry more seriously. Nevertheless, the social message from Burt’s analysis of a small sample in Cornwall seems very clear – that Mark Masonry was something which attracted the new professional and middle classes during the second half of the nineteenth century.
An embodiment of the social type of Mark Masonry at this time was the man who more than any other was responsible for establishing lodges in Cornwall under the new Mark Grand Lodge during the second half of the nineteenth century, William James Hughan.[lviii] Hughan was of Scottish descent with a strong Baptist background. He became an apprentice in the drapery trade in his brother’s business at Devonport at the age of fifteen. After completing his apprenticeship, he became a warehouseman at a company of haberdashers in Plymouth. Determined to improve himself, he spent several weeks calling at various warehouses in Manchester and elsewhere in search of a position. Eventually, he got a temporary position and managed to work his way up to become joint manager of a wholesale cloth warehouse in Truro. Hughan may have been a self-made man, but his professional position remained comparatively modest. It was in his (limited) leisure time that Hughan was to make his mark on the world.
Hughan remained loyal to his Baptist inheritance and was a Sunday school teacher from a young age. He was deeply interested in the history of the Bible and built up a large collection of biblical texts. He signed the pledge at the age of nine and became an enthusiastic member of the temperance Order of Rechabites. He became an Oddfellow in 1860. Three years later, Hughan saw a masonic procession in Truro and was intrigued to see a family friend take part. Hughan asked him about the freemasons and was initiated in 1863. Hughan immediately became fascinated by all aspects of Freemasonry and joined many masonic orders. He also quickly formed some lasting friendships, including Thomas Chirgwin, a wealthy lawyer who was afterwards Mayor of Truro from 1877-9.
Hughan had been forced to find out about Mark Masonry by joining a Mark lodge in Devon. Enthused by the Mark degree, he persuaded Chirgwin also to become a mark mason in 1865. One month later, the Lodge of Fortitude No 131 in Truro petitioned GLMMM for the formation of a Mark lodge there. Hughan was its first master; aged only 24, he advanced more than seventy candidates during the first year of the new Mark lodge. Hughan seems to have had a pre-conceived plan to establish Mark Masonry in Cornwall. Candidates advanced by him formed Mark lodges in Hayle and Falmouth. Hughan drew up the petitions and played a leading role in proceedings at the consecration of the lodges. In 1867, at the suggestion of Hughan, the Fortitude Mark Lodge proposed that a Provincial Mark Lodge be formed for Cornwall and that the local MP Frederick Williams should be the first Mark Provincial Grand Master. On the inception of the Mark Provincial Grand Lodge for Cornwall, Hughan himself was appointed Mark Provincial Grand Steward. In 1875, he achieved national rank in the Mark, when he was appointed Past Grand Master Overseer.
The Mark was just one aspect of Hughan’s extraordinary masonic achievements. He was one of the most productive of the masonic scholars who were at that time rewriting the history of Freemasonry. Barely a month passed without one of the masonic periodicals reporting the exciting discovery by Hughan of a manuscript of the Old Charges or another ancient document relating to Freemasonry in Scotland during the seventeenth century. Many of Hughan’s works are still indispensable references for those investigating the history of British freemasonry. This literary work brought Hughan international acclaim and membership of a number of foreign Grand Lodges. In 1874, Hughan was appointed Past Senior Grand Deacon in UGLE in recognition of his historical work – the first honour of its kind ever bestowed.
In Hughan’s case, Freemasonry brought him honour and prestige of a sort that his professional life would not have brought him. Mark Masonry was evidently a central part of this. Through his promotion of Mark Masonry in Cornwall, Hughan was able to achieve contacts and influence in county society which would otherwise have been inaccessible to a non-conformist Scottish warehouse manager of humble origin. Through Mark Masonry, Hughan could secure access to and influence within local elites in a way that perhaps was not feasible in craft lodges, crowded with miners and other working class men.
The impression given by the example of Hughan, that Mark Masonry was in the second half of the nineteenth century something which appealed particularly to ‘new men’ in provincial towns, is confirmed elsewhere. In 1858, the twenty one year old Thomas Pearson Tate had recently become a freemason in Hartlepool.[lix] Tate was one of three children who had been brought up by his mother on her own. At the age of fourteen, he was a merchant’s clerk, but seven years later he had worked his way up to the position of shipbroker. Tate was a regular correspondent of the Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror, where he read about Mark Masonry. He wanted to know more, but could not find a Mark mason in Hartlepool. He approached the Newcastle and Berwick Mark Lodge at Newcastle and was advanced there. Tate wanted to establish a Mark lodge in Hartlepool, for which three Mark masons in Hartlepool were needed. He found that Edward Hudson, a printer and stationer at Hartlepool, had been advanced in a Mark lodge at York, but this lodge was not recognised by GLMMM. GLMMM agreed to recognise Hudson as a Mark mason. Tate persuaded Henry Hammarbom, a Swedish merchant who had settled in Hartlepool and was a past master of St Helen’s Lodge now No. 531, to become a mark mason at Newcastle. The petition for a Mark lodge in Hartlepool was then submitted to GLMMM and a Mark lodge was constituted there.
Thus far, the story of Tate and the Hartlepool Mark Lodge shows remarkable similarities to that of Hughan – a young man making his own way in the world who took a serious interest in his Freemasonry and was intrigued by Mark masonry. Like Hughan, Tate enlisted the support of a more prominent local freemason to help establish a Mark lodge in his locality. However, Tate’s story has a sad ending. In 1861, the young Tate was drowned in a boating accident. Without Tate’s drive, the Hartlepool Mark lodge was not viable. During the year after Tate’s death, only eight candidates were advanced. By 1862, hardly anyone was attending meetings, and the lodge was closed.
In other towns, the lead in developing Mark Masonry was again taken by local entrepreneurs. The debate about Mark Masonry in 1856 prompted the formation of the Joppa Mark Lodge in Birkenhead.[lx] The founders included the shipowner Edward Willoughby, who was then lessee of the Birkenhead and Tranmere ferries, and the insurance agent J. Parry Platt. In Sheffield, William White, who ran a prosperous business publishing county directories and histories, was master of Britannia Lodge, now No. 139 in 1860.[lxi] Again he was intrigued by the discussion of the Mark degree in the masonic press. His business travels took him to Portsmouth where he made contact with the Phoenix lodge and received further information about Mark Masonry. White and Ensor Drury, afterwards the first Registrar of the new University College at Sheffield, joined the Albany Lodge in Isle of White and persuaded other Sheffield masons to do so, so that they were able to found the Britannia Mark Lodge in Sheffield.
A further attraction of Mark Masonry during its first fifty years was probably that, while most of the craft Provincial Grand Masters were members of the aristocracy, a number of Mark Provincial Grand Masters were businessmen and professionals. Mark offered such men an opportunity to exercise masonic authority in a way that was not available to them in craft masonry. Aubrey Newman has described elsewhere how it was a struggle for William Kelly, the Irish accountant of mysterious origins, to become craft Provincial Grand Master in Leicestershire, and one of the attractions for Kelly of Mark Masonry was that it helped him further build up a masonic power base across the East Midlands. But in a way more telling was the appointment of Abraham Woodiwiss junior as the first Mark Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire, following the break-up of Kelly’s super-province after his death.[lxii] Woodiwiss’s father had begun life as a common labourer, but had built up a business as building and railway contractor and developed the Strand Arcade in Derby in 1878. He was Mayor of Derby from 1880-2. Abraham Woodiwiss junior continued to develop his father’s business and with his partner George Benton built the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Abraham Woodiwiss himself served as Mayor of Derby in 1891 and 1901 and was eventually knighted. For all his achievements, however, Woodiwiss was not the sort of man who was ever likely to become a craft Provincial Grand Master; he was appointed craft Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1888, but never progressed to rulership of the province. Mark Masonry offered a more ready outlet for his talents, and he served as Mark Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire for seventeen years.
While the roll of Provincial Grand Masters in Mark Masonry up to the First World War includes many aristocratic names, it also includes a large number of local clergymen, professional and businessmen who would not have had much prospect of a similar rank in craft masonry. For example, in Sussex the first Provincial Grand Master from 1874-5 was Sir John Cordy Burrows, another self-made man.[lxiii] Leaving Ipswich Grammar School at an early age, he had become apprenticed to a local surgeon, eventually obtaining positions at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in London. Burrows settled in Brighton in 1837 and quickly became involved in many initiatives for town improvement. He was a member of the committee which secured the purchase of the Royal Pavilion in 1843. Cordy argued vociferously for the improvement of the sanitary condition of the town and also campaigned for a charter of incorporation which would allow a town council to be set up. Following the grant of such a charter in 1854, Burrows became mayor of the town. Burrows was held in such high regard by the inhabitants of Brighton that they presented him with a handsome carriage and his knighthood in 1873 followed a petition from the townsfolk to the Queen that his services should receive public recognition. Burrows was never craft Grand Master, but his appointment as Mark Grand Master for Sussex reflected his position as ‘King of Brighton’.
The greater responsiveness of the Mark Grand Lodge to the growing social importance of the provinces reflects not only its origins in the political crisis of 1855-6 but also the personal influence of George Portal, particularly during his period as Grand Master from 1869-73. Portal introduced the system whereby meetings of the Grand Lodge were held in various provincial towns which was used not only by the larger friendly societies such as the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows but also by other bodies such as the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science.[lxiv] Indeed, the impression is that Portal’s period as Grand Master marks a turning point in the organisational development of the Mark Grand Lodge. As Richard Gan describes below, it was largely through Portal’s initiative that a magnificent new hall was purchased for the order close to the headquarters of UGLE in Great Queen Street. Portal was assiduous in asserting the authority of the Mark Grand Lodge over the degree and in trying to improve its provincial authority. As has been noted, he sought to overawe the new Scottish Mark province in Lancashire by the elaborate installation of Callender as the first Provincial Grand Master of GLMMM for Lancashire. He wrote to F. G. Irwin in 1871 expressing concern that a group of masonic Knights Templar in Bath had conferred the Mark degree and ordering that those advanced in this way should not be admitted to any lodge under the GLMMM. Likewise, he advised Irwin that he would immediately constitute a Mark province for Bristol if the lodge under the Scottish GRAC could be persuaded to recognise the GLMMM.[lxv]
The articulation of the provincial structure of the GLMMM was not universally welcomed and a number of lodges remained suspicious of the growing bureaucracy of the Grand Lodge. In North and East Yorkshire, Thomas Bowman Whytehead energetically worked to build York into a centre of masonic influence reflecting its ancient masonic traditions. From 1877, repeated proposals were made by the York mark master masons to their brethren in Hull that a Mark province for the North and East Ridings should be formed. These were rejected by the Hull lodge, at first on the grounds that the constitution of such a province would be an ‘unnecessary addition to the expenses of the brethren’, but afterwards on the grounds that they hoped to create a separate province for Hull as a county borough. A Mark province for North and East Yorkshire was eventually formed in 1881, but the Hull Mark lodges did not become associated with it until 1903.[lxvi]
In seeking distinctive status for their city, the Hull Mark masons were able to point to the claim that the Minerva Lodge had been practising the Mark degree since long before 1813. There is a suggestion elsewhere that the reason for the reluctance of many ‘Time Immemorial’ lodges to subscribe to the Mark Grand Lodge may reflect their suspicion of the middle class ethos of the new Grand Lodge. It has been noted how the Birmingham masons who formed the Howe Mark Lodge in 1851 had visited the Newstead lodge in Nottingham and expressed their distaste for the ‘robust jollity’ of the Newstead Mark masons and criticised the ‘lack of dignity’. The Newstead lodge was at that time dominated by artisans such as framework knitters and lace makers who were struggling to maintain their livelihood against competition from factory-made products.[lxvii] Not surprisingly, the Newstead lodge regarded the new-fangled middle class Mark Grand Lodge with suspicion. The Newstead Mark masons denounced Lord Leigh’s new Grand Lodge as ‘a dangerous innovation’ and ‘positively declined to acknowledge authority other than the Grand Lodge of England’. Portal attempted to woo the Newstead Mark lodge by holding a movable Grand Lodge meeting at Leicester in 1870, but the Newstead mark masons refused to attend. It was not until 1881 that the Newstead Mark lodge finally acknowledged the Mark Grand Lodge, but even then a number of Newstead masons continued to run their own separate Mark lodge until 1893.
MARK MASONRY BEFORE THE UNION
While the Mark Grand Lodge was the creature of the political and social changes of the middle of the nineteenth century, this is not to deny that the Mark degree was an important part of English Freemasonry before 1813. Indeed, the discussion of the position of this degree before the Union has been profoundly distorted by the anxiety to establish the legitimacy of the GLMMM. If this question is put to one side, the issue of the nature and significance of the Mark degree before 1813 can be approached afresh. Consideration of this degree has been further complicated by the anxiety of individual Mark lodges to establish a ‘time immemorial’ status. The confused traditions of the Lodge of Hope in Bradford have already been discussed. The complications are reflected in the evidence for the early working of the Mark degree in Sheffield. A book of marks was extant in 1960 which bears the number of the Britannia Lodge in Sheffield between 1792 and 1814. Some of the marks in this book have subsequently been identified as those of members of the lodge at this time. However, these identifications appear very speculative and it cannot be established how reliable they are without examining the original volume. Unfortunately, the book itself cannot at the time of writing be traced and is only known from some black and white photographs in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, so it is impossible to investigate this evidence further. It is on these rather uncertain foundations that evidence for the working of the Mark degree at Sheffield before 1813 rests.
Fortunately, however, there are many other more reliable references to the working of the degree in lodge minutes and elsewhere. Much of the existing evidence has been assembled and discussed by Neville Barker Cryer in the Arch and the Rainbow. However, it is clear that there are many more references to early Mark masonry over and above those discussed by Cryer. For example, the minute book of the Witham Lodge, now No. 297, in Lincoln describes how on 5 April 1798, ‘several Brethren, members of the Witham, expressing a wish to be acquainted with the Degree of Mark-Mason’ were advanced to that degree.[lxviii] At present, it remains impossible to get a clear sense of the distribution of the degree and the chronology of its appearance. This is caused by the fact that the focus of research hitherto has been simply on establishing that the degree did indeed exist before 1813. There is no doubt about this; what is now essential is to develop a comprehensive view of when and where it was practised. This can only be done by a systematic examination of all surviving pre-1813 lodge minutes – reliance on existing lodge histories will produce a skewed result, since lodge historians are too often anxious to establish the masonic precedence of their lodge. Moreover such a survey of early evidence for the Mark degree should not be restricted to lodge minutes. As Elias Kupfermann shows in his discussion of early Mark jewels, material evidence can also be very valuable. In collecting this early evidence for the Mark degree, there is also a need for a more systematic survey of foreign materials – one of the earliest discussions in print of the Mark degree was after all in the celebrated 1797 American treatise by Thomas Smith Webb, The Freemason 's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry.[lxix]
It might seem that such a study would be merely antiquarian and only of interest to those concerned with the minutiae of masonic ritual. However, it is likely that such a detailed study of early Mark Masonry will challenge many preconceptions about the cultural and political significance of Freemasonry in the eighteenth century. Freemasonry during this period has generally been seen as Hanoverian, Whiggish, Newtonian and metropolitan. The history of the Mark degree before 1813 seems to suggest that there was another major thread in English freemasonry of this period which has been neglected – one which was more provincially based, with different political connections and wider esoteric interests. In their essays respectively on John Knight and Ebenezer Sibley, John Mandleberg and Susan Mitchell Sommers evoke this ethos of a provincial masonry in which the Enlightenment seems to dissolve into many different shades. Both Knight and Sibley were of course were connected with Thomas Dunckerley, who is the first person recorded as bestowing the Mark degree in 1769, and in assessing the genesis and significance of this late eighteenth-century provincial Freemasonry, further study of Dunckerley is an indispensable prerequisite.
As Neville Barker Cryer has pointed out, the emergence of the Mark degree appears to be closely connected with the fascinating masonic order recorded in northern England from the mid-1730s to the early nineteenth century, which is generally known as the Harodim.[lxx] The lectures associated with the Harodim are described by Cryer as follows:
These lectures of which we have later, edited versions, covered aspects of the three fundamental degrees but amplified them to include material that was wholly Christian, using many biblical stories, and providing the foundation for the Mark, Ark and Link, Passing the Bridge (or Red Cross of Babylon), the Royal Arch, the Rose Croix and Crusader Masons.[lxxi]
Activities in connection with this order are recorded in connection with at least ten lodges under the Premier Grand Lodge in the north-east of England, including for example the masonic lodge established at the ironworks of the Tory industrialist Sir Ambrose Crowley at Winlaton, now the Lodge of Industry No. 48.[lxxii] Crowley and his family were accused of Jacobite sympathies and swords manufactured at Crowley’s work were found in the possession of Jacobite rebels in 1745. Trevor Stewart has suggested a link between the Harodim and Jacobite activity in the north of England, reaching back perhaps to the Grand Lodge of All England in York.
The exact extent of the practice of Mark degree in the eighteenth century; the precise chronology of its appearance; the exact role of Dunckerley in the wider dissemination of the degree; and its relationship to the mysterious Harodim – all these are important and fascinating areas for further research and investigation. However, a clear view of these themes will only be achieved if they are approached without anxiety to establish the legitimacy of the present-day practice of Mark Masonry. Thus far, the early history of Mark Masonry has been approached largely from the point of view of vindicating the claims made in the ‘official history’ of the GLMMM in the 1860s, namely that Mark Masonry was an integral part of Freemasonry before the Union and that the degree was injudiciously left out of the agreements made a the time of the Union. A dominant theme of previous research into Mark Masonry has been a search by masonic scholars to recapture aspects of the inner meaning of Freemasonry which were held to have been thoughtlessly jettisoned at the Union. The early history of Mark Masonry has been viewed exclusively through perspectives created by the events of 1813 and 1856. It is only when these distortions are removed and the early history of Mark Masonry is approached on its own terms, and without any preconceptions as to the true philosophical character of Freemasonry, that its true significance in eighteenth-century cultural history will become apparent. Men like Thomas Dunckerley, John Knight and Ebenezer Sibley have an enormous amount to tell us about the nature of the society in which they lived and which they sought in different ways to change. We need to reclaim them for their own age, and not simply see them as guides to what Freemasonry ought to be in the present age.
A CHARTIST MARK MASON
Of the many remarkable people who have been connected with the history of Mark Masonry since the middle of the eighteenth century, there is one who seems to encapsulate all these various aspects of its history. This is Richard Bagnall Reed (1831-1908).
Reed was a member of a family of blacksmiths and chainmakers who had worked at the Crowley family ironworks in Winlaton. Crowley’s works were remarkable for their strong paternal character – schools were provided, workers received sick benefits, the workforce shared in communal meals, a surgeon was appointed to minister to the workers and a court of arbitration was established to settle disputes between them. However in 1816, unable to compete any longer with more modern enterprises, the Crowley works closed. This event engendered great bitterness among the workforce so that, in the words of Owen Ashton and Paul Pickering, ‘the politics of deference engendered by the Crowleys’ Tory paternalism was replaced by an extremely class conscious Chartism’.[lxxiii] Reed’s connection with Chartism began with his involvement in selling the Northern Tribune, established by Joseph Cowen in 1854. Reed became an active member of the National Republican Brotherhood founded by Cowen. He was closely engaged in attempts by Chartists in the north-east to support Garibaldi, including the smuggling of guns for use by Garibaldi’s soldiers, and in protests against the prosecution by the British government of Felice Orsini for his attempt to assassinate Napoleon III. Reed was a prominent member of the Northern Reform Union which campaigned for an extension of the right to vote in the late 1850s. In 1861, Joseph Cowen appointed Reed as editor of the Newcastle Daily Chronicle. Reed turned the Chronicle into one of the most successful and influential provincial newspapers, which played a major part in the campaign to secure the 1867 Reform Act. Reed’s journey from self-taught village politician to respected provincial newspaperman can be seen as mirroring the wider emergence of a social and political consensus during this period.
Reed’s family had close connections with the Lodge of Industry at Gateshead. Reed’s grandfather Joseph who died in 1849 was one of the last working stonemasons to be a member of the lodge[lxxiv] and his father Robert served as Master of the Lodge of Industry.[lxxv] Richard was initiated in the Lodge of Industry on 4 April 1865. He was master of the lodge in 1870 and was the leading light in its affairs right up to the end of the nineteenth century, being one of the chief movers in the building of a masonic hall for the lodge in 1881.[lxxvi] In 1885, the year of the 150th anniversary of the lodge’s warrant, Reed became craft Provincial Grand Treasurer. Reed was one of the founders of the Royal Arch chapter associated with the lodge, ultimately becoming a Grand Standard Bearer in Supreme Grand Chapter. Reed was deeply interested in the old traditions of the Lodge of Industry and was particularly proud of its connections with working stonemasons such as his grandfather.
In 1794, the Freemasons’ Magazine in a report on the Lodge of Industry noted that ‘most of the brethren are initiated into the secrets of the Harodim’.[lxxvii] Joseph Reed evidently regretted that the secrets of the Harodim were dying out, and passed on the degree to his son, who in turn initiated Richard.[lxxviii] Reed corresponded with the masonic researcher Ferdinand Schnitger about the Harodim in the 1890s, although he admitted that he remembered little about it: ‘my mind respecting it is as clean as a sheet of paper’.[lxxix] Schnitger had found details of the degree and was anxious to revive its working in Newcastle. Schnitger wanted to ensure a proper line of descent for his activities and persuaded Reed to make an assignment to him of the power to make others ‘free of Harodim’. In a letter to Reed, Schnitger explained some of the difficulties of reviving the degree: ‘I could not as Chief Harod give the Mark knowledge and Lectures to a Harodim who has not the Mark and this applies to all other degrees’.[lxxx]
Given this background, and Reed’s profound interest in the connections between working stonemasons and the development of Freemasons, it is not surprising that he became an enthusiastic mark mason. In 1882, he was one of the founders of the Industry Mark Masters Lodge No. 293.[lxxxi] In 1888, he was appointed Mark Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Northumberland and Durham. The Provincial Grand Master, Canon Tristram, declared in 1894 that Reed had been a prime minister of Mark Masonry in the province.[lxxxii] Reed’s commitment to Mark Masonry not only reflected its connection with the traditions of his beloved Lodge of Industry, but was also evidently due to the fact that late nineteenth-century Mark Masonry provided a congenial social environment for this self-taught former Chartist who had become an acclaimed ‘newspaper genius’.
Richard Bagnall Reed thus provided a living link between the eighteenth-century traditions of Mark Masonry, associated with small communities of provincial craftsmen and artisans, and the development of Mark Masonry after 1856, when the new entrepreneurs and professional classes reinvented Mark Masonry to help meet the need for a more sober, rational and improving form of leisure. Reed’s own transformation from Chartist radical to provincial worthy mirrors this transformation of Mark Masonry.
In congratulating the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales on its 150th anniversary, it is perhaps appropriate to recall the words used by Reed in 1885 to mark another anniversary, that of the 150th anniversary of the granting of a warrant to the Lodge of Industry:
Let this old lodge be nourished and cherished by you all, for the good work it has done in the past, and the good work it is destined to do in the future. Let us hope that generation after generation - your children and children's children - may meet under its banner for social reunion, for social enjoyment, and also to be taught the principles of our noble philosophy with its rites and ceremonies.[lxxxiii]
- [i] The Times, 2 July 1886, p. 7.
- [ii] Ibid., p. 9.
- [iii] J. A. Grantham, History of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales (1960).
- [iv] New and Comprehensive History.
- [v] Arch and Rainbow.
- [vi] This is the date of an unambiguous record of the conferring of the degree by Thomas Dunckerley, but earlier references from Newcastle probably also refer to the working of the degree: Arch and Rainbow, p. 56.
- [vii] See the essay by Jennifer Alexander below.
- [viii] Oliver referred to Godwin’s paper on masons’ marks within a couple of years of its publication, and declared that the masonic lodges established during the building of Solomon’s Temple included twenty mark master lodges: G. Oliver, The Historical Landmarks and Other Evidences of Freemasonry (1845-6), 1, pp. 421, 426-7. Oliver’s Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry, published by Richard Spencer in 1853, p. 225, quotes Pryer as follows: ‘Those brethren who have been initiated into the degree of Mark-Man and Mark-Master, perfectly well understand, that the mark which was conferred upon the ancient craftsman was not arbitrary, but selected from a defined and well-understood series ... A knowledge of these facts, combined with a careful examination of the ancient marks will, no doubt, throw much additional light upon the history of ecclesiastical architecture...’
- [ix] GLMMM, Minutes, 3 Dece. 1867, pp. 3-6.
- [x] Ibid., p. 3.
- [xi] O. Anderson, A Liberal State at War: English Politics and Economics during the Crimean War (1967), p. 27.
- [xii] Ibid., pp. 106-7.
- [xiii] Ibid., p. 112.
- [xiv] Ibid., p. 171.
- [xv] T. Koditschek, Class Formation and Urban-Industrial Society: Bradford, 1750-1850 (1990), p. 179.
- [xvi] P. Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control, 1830-1885 (1978), pp. 35-79.
- [xvii] Obituary of Lord Zetland: The Times, 7 May 1873, p. 5.
- [xviii] Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror, new series, 2 (1856), p. 43.
- [xix] According to the OED, ‘a hand which contains no card above a nine’, so called because Lord Yarborough bet 1,000 to 1 against the occurrence of such a hand.
- [xx] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 1 (Oct. 1856), p. 1.
- [xxi] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 2 (Dec. 1856), p. 2.
- [xxii] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 3 (Dec. 1856), p. 2.
- [xxiii] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 2 (Dec. 1856), p. 2.
- [xxiv] A. Newman, The Contribution of the Provinces to the Development of English Freemasonry, The Prestonian Lecture for 2003 (2003), pp. 12-17.
- [xxv] Newman, op. cit., p. 14.
- [xxvi] On Cooper, see further the account of his life in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and J. Cantwell, The Public Record Office 1838-1950 (1990). Cooper was a long-standing advocate of legal reform and supporter of the Administrative Reform Association. He was a prolific contributor to the Freemason’s Magazine.
- [xxvii] R. A. Peel, The Portsmouth Grammar School and Aria College (1999).
- [xxviii] Newman, op. cit., p. 15.
- [xxix] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 2 (Nov. 1856), p. 7.
- [xxx] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 1 (Oct. 1856).
- [xxxi] Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle 6 (June 1857), p. 15.
- [xxxii] Ibid., p. 3.
- [xxxiii] Ibid., pp. 13-15.
- [xxxiv] Arch and Rainbow, pp. 215-6; W. J. Waples, ‘Mention of Making a Mark Mason in a Resolution dated 19 January, 1756’, AQC 81 (1968), pp. 260-5.
- [xxxv] For example, Oliver, Historical Landmarks, p. 422 n. 43, published in 1845-6, cites as evidence of the Christian character of Freemasonry ‘the fact that in America and other countries, the charge taken at the opening of a Mark Mason’s [sic.] Lodge, is exclusively taken from the writings of the New Testament and refers to the living rock of our salvation’. In his Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry, published by Spencer in 1853, p. 224, Oliver anticipates the conclusions of the 1856 UGLE report on the degree by stating that ‘The degree of Mark-Master Mason may be considered as appendant to that of Fellow Craft, although entirely distinct and different from it. The order and harmony which this degree communicated to the builders of the Temple at Jerusalem, are incalculable; and indeed, without it, so many workmen of different nations would have been in continual confusion’. Comments such as these were bound to create an interest among Oliver’s readers in Mark Masonry.
- [xxxvi] Bailey, op. cit.
- [xxxvii] Ibid., p. 64.
- [xxxviii] Ibid., p. 67.
- [xxxix] For following, see Koditschek, op. cit.
- [xl] On membership of the Lodge of Hope, see the membership registers in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
- [xli] On Mossman, see Koditschek, op. cit., pp. 120, 178. Mossman was initiated in the Lodge of Hope on 30 July 1810.
- [xlii] Freemasonry in Bradford 1713-1913 (1913).
- [xliii] On Unna, see Koditschek, op. cit., p. 172.
- [xliv] Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, new series, 2 (1856), pp. 233-9.
- [xlv] Ibid.,, p. 372.
- [xlvi] Ibid., pp. 330-1.
- [xlvii] For the following, see further L. J. Biddle, How the Mark Degree Came to Warwickshire (1969).
- [xlviii] Arch and Rainbow, p. 141.
- [xlix] Ibid.
- [l] R. Trainor, Black Country Elites: The Exercise of Authority in an Industrialized Area 1830-1900 (1993), pp. 86-91.
- [li] Bailey, op. cit., pp. 140-1.
- [lii] Koditschek, op. cit., p. 298.
- [liii] Jason Kaufman, For the Common Good? American Civic Life and the Golden Age of Fraternity (2002).
- [liv] Audrey Fisk, Mutual Self-Help in Southern England 1850-1912 (2006).
- [lv] On the National Deposit Society, see further P. H. J. H. Godsden, Self-Help (1973), pp. 105-7.
- [lvi] On Callender, see further the account of his life in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and an unpublished paper by J. Acaster, presented at the University of Leiden in November 2005.
- [lvii] New and Comprehensive History, p. 71.
- [lviii] For the following, see K. B. Jackson, ‘William James Hughan (1841-1911): His Contribution to Freemasonry and to Masonic History’, AQC 114 (2001), pp. 83-111, and J. E. Price, Mark Masonry in Cornwall (1967).
- [lix] For the following, see The Eclectic Lodge of Mark Masters No. 39 (1859-1862; 1867-1967) (1967).
- [lx] J. Armstrong, History of the Joppa Mark Lodge No. 11 (1898); J. Bostock, Joppa Mark Lodge (1972).
- [lxi] Britannia Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 53, Sheffield (1961)
- [lxii] B. H. Kniveton, A Centenary History of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Derbyshire, 1894 – 1994 (1994).
- [lxiii] On Burrows, see further the entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- [lxiv] On the popularity and importance of provincial meetings of bodies such as the Social Science Association, see Lawrence Goldman, Science, Reform and Politics in Victorian Britain: The Social Science Association 1857-1886 (2002), pp. 91-8.
- [lxv] Letters of the Mark Grand Lodge subject file in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
- [lxvi] F. S. Collier, History of the Humber Lodge of Mark Masters No. 182 (1975)
- [lxvii] E. L. Loach, The Newstead Lodge of Mark Masters, time immemorial: 1792-1973 (1973).
- [lxviii] T. P Dorman, The Mark Degree (1919), p. 10.
- [lxix] Thomas Smith Webb, The Freemason 's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry (1797), pp. 93-8.
- [lxx] Arch and Rainbow, pp. 52-5.
- [lxxi] Ibid., p. 54.
- [lxxii] See further T. Stewart, ‘The H.R.D.M.: A Fourth Visitation to a Curious 18th Century Masonic Phenomenon from the North East Region of England’, Acta Macionica 6 (1996), pp. 43-93.
- [lxxiii] O. R. Ashton and P. A. Pickering, Friends of the People: Uneasy Radicals in the Age of the Chartists (2002), p. 129. Ashton and Pickering provide a full discussion of Reed’s career.
- [lxxiv] R. Whitfield, History of the Lodge of Industry No. 48 (1911), p. 6.
- [lxxv] Ibid., p. 62.
- [lxxvi] Ibid, p. 50-1..
- [lxxvii] Ibid., p. 6.
- [lxxviii] For the following, see W. Waples, ‘An Introduction to the Harodim’, AQC 60 (1950), pp. 143-7.
- [lxxix] Ibid., p. 146.
- [lxxx] Ibid., p. 145.
- [lxxxi] Whitfield, op. cit., p. 51.
- [lxxxii] The Freemason, 21 July 1894.
- [lxxxiii] Lodge of Industry No. 48 Celebration of 150th Anniversary (1885), pp. 15-16.