Lodge History Part 1 1901-1926
(reproduced from the Jubilee Souvenir of 1951)
"Days and moments quickly fly" and we have now to record the passing of fifty years in the life of this, our Mother Lodge. The Brethren, being conscious of so great an occasion, wish to embody in this short epistle some of the major happenings which have taken place during these memorable years, and to pay tribute to those Brethren who, in their wisdom, saw fit to apply to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Charter to inaugurate this Lodge, in order that we, in our day and generation, should enjoy the blessings and benefits derived there from.
It is fitting, therefore, that this brochure should commence with the names of those who were responsible for the formation of the "Robert King Stewart" Lodge, numbering 919 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Their names as they appear in the Minute of a meeting held in Robb's Hall, New Stevenston on 9th June 1901, are as follows: Archd. Russell, Robert Smellie, William Livingstone, David Watt, William Galbraith, John Lauder, John Kirk, Alex. Anderson, Robert Grieve, John Reid, Jeremiah Taylor.
At that meeting the Brethren were unanimous in their desire to extend the influence of Freemasonry, and it was agreed that the necessary steps be taken to petition Grand Lodge for their permission to extend the Masonic Vineyard. The first office bearers were appointed, and it was agreed that permission be sought from the then Provincial Grand Master to name the Lodge "Robert King Stewart". This permission was readily forthcoming, and the wisdom of the choice of name for our Mother Lodge is evidenced by the fact that even today the name of Stewart is a household word wherever Masons meet.
The Brethren of those days were indeed men of vision and action and the necessary expenses entailed in the purchase of a Charter were readily met, and it would be fitting at this time also to pay tribute to two of our Sister Lodges "Woodhall St. Johns" No. 305, and "Livingstone" St. Andrew No. 573, who agreed to support the Petition to Grand Lodge.
Much work had still to be done, and finally, on 6th November 1901, the Charter of this Lodge was received under the Name and Number of Lodge "Robert King Stewart" No. 919.
But greater things were still to come, and on the 25th February 1902, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Brother Robert King Stewart, accompanied by Provincial Grand Office Bearers, were received, after which Brother Robert King Stewart opened the Lodge and raised it to the Third or High and Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. The Provincial Grand Chaplain opened the proceedings with prayer, the Brethren responding with Grand Honours, after which Psalm cxxxiii was read. The Provincial Grand Secretary then read the Charter in favour of the Lodge after which the first R.W.M. and Officebearers of the Lodge were presented to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master and the Brethren assembled, for their approval. Everything having been carried out in due and ancient form, the act of consecrating the Lodge was then performed by Brother Robert King Stewart. The Consecration Elements were then sprinkled in the Lodge Room, after which Prayer was offered by Provincial Grand Chaplain. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies the proclaimed, by Command of Brother James Hozier M.P., Grand Master Mason of Scotland, that "these Brethren were now constituted a Regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons by the Title and Designation of Lodge 'Robert King Stewart', No. 919 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland".
How proud our Brethren of fifty years ago must have been on this great occasion at seeing their dreams come true.
From the inception of the Lodge, the Brethren had firmly in their minds the necessity of acquiring or building a Temple, and to this end much hard work was put in by raising money by various schemes which proved fruitful, and it will of interest to some of our Brethren to recall the names of those who served on the First Building Committee, which was formed on the 2nd March 1904: Chairman, Bro. H. Harvie; Secretary, Bro. W.M. Stewart; Treasurer, Bro. James Bowick; Bros. David Allan, William Gibb, Thomas Wilson, and James Mackie.
On the 3rd July, 1904, arrangements were put in hand for the holding of a Bazaar in aid of the Building Fund, and some idea of the work and industry which had been put into this effort can be gauged from the fact that a later Minute records that as a result of this effort the Building Fund was increased by £405. Truly, a magnificent effort and an ideal example of Masonic service and sacrifice.
That the progress being made in our Lodge was appreciated by our Sister Lodges is shown by the fact that on 21st October 1908, Bro. William Dempster, Lodge 305, presented, for use in our Lodge, a set of Marked Stones made from a marble slab taken from old Bothwell Church and reputed to be over 200years old.
February 8 1909 was indeed a red letter day in the history of the Lodge, for on that day the present Hall was opened and dedicated, only eight years after the institution of the Lodge.
What enthusiasm must have existed in these days! The Brethren assembled in Robb's Hall, where the Architect for the Contractors presented a golden key to Bro. Robert King Stewart, who acknowledged the gift in a neat little speech. Thereafter the Brethren formed in procession and marched to the present building, when the New Hall was opened by the R.W.P.G.M. amid great enthusiasm.
The Dedication ceremony was performed by the P.G.M., assisted by other Officebearers, and, with the customary sprinkling of corn, wine and oil. Presentations and speeches followed and the New Stevenston Brethren were heartily congratulated on this consummation of their efforts since the granting of the Charter.
he minute of 11th May 1910, records that reference was made to the death of His Majesty King Edward VII, Grand Master Mason of England, and the great loss which would be felt by the Nation and by the Craft in particular. While the Brethren stood to order, the Director of Ceremonies sand a verse of the "Dead March". At the next meeting a communication was read from Grand Chapter instructing the Lodge to begin a period of Masonic mourning.
Much is talked of "Masonic Benevolence", but surely no more interesting example is known than that recorded in the minute of 6th September 1911, where a letter was read from Lodge "Golden Fleece" No. 66, U.S.A., stating that a Brother of our Lodge, who was in poor health and circumstances had been sent home to Scotland, all expenses being paid by American Brethren.
While political discussion is discouraged in our Lodges, it is interesting to note that on one occasion at least, the Brethren of 919 discussed a proposed Act of Parliament. The proposed Government of Ireland Bill was under consideration by the Government and our anxiety about the effect of this measure on our Irish Brethren moved the Lodge, in May 1912, to send a letter to the Prime Minister humbly requesting the Government to give "favourable consideration to the clause, submitted by the Marquis of Tullibardine, M.P. safeguarding the Freemasons of Ireland". "we would respectfully point out," says the letter, "that we, as a body, are of no denominational or political party, and it is not as such we beg you to accede to our request, but as Freemasons anxious for the standing and welfare of Freemasonry in this country."
Throughout the records of the Lodge, one is pleased to note that members at various times were moved to do something towards improving the Lodge furnishings. At one time, a Gong was presented, next it was a Bible, and so on, each donor seeking to do something in his own way to show his interest in his Mother Lodge and his enthusiasm for the Order in general.
"Harmony" we are told, "should at all times characterise Freemasonry." But the question of "Harmonies" may at times cause discussion. The Minute of 3rd November 1915, however, shows that complete harmony prevailed in 919 when the Lodge decided that all such harmonies run in connection with the Lodge should be on Temperance lines.
Prominent Brethren have from time to time given lectures on topics of Masonic interest, and we have a record of one such lecture given by the late Bro. Henry Dyer P.M., Lodge 573. Bro. Dyer had been on a visit to the Holy Land and we have it on the authority of Members of the Lodge who heard him on that occasion that this was perhaps the most interesting lecture ever given.
1914 and War! The Roll of Honour shows that 26 members of the Lodge answered the Call to Service and that 4 Brethren made the Supreme sacrifice.
During the war years the Lodge continued to operate, and despite the stress and strain of these difficult times continued to wield an influence for good in the community, and it is typical of the "Universality" of our order that many Brethren, who we are still privileged to have with us, speak of visits made to Lodges in foreign parts during their term of service in His Majesty's Forces, and recall, with much pleasure, the real Mason's welcome that always awaited them.
At the meeting on 3rd September 1919, a circular was read from Grand Lodge re Notice of Motion to come up for discussion at the Quarterly Communication to be held on Thursday 6 November 1919, that a law to be numbered 190a be added to the Constitution and Laws to the following effect that "No Lodge shall initiate more than seven candidates on the same day, and no Lodge shall pass to the Second Degree or raise to the Third Degree more than seven Brethren in either of the said Degrees on any one day."
That this Notice of Motion was agreed to is confirmed in the Lodge Minute of 19th November 1919, when the Lodge was officially informed that the Constitution and Laws had been altered accordingly.
Up to 7th January 1920, it had been the custom of the Lodge to hold weekly meetings but on that date a Notice of Motion to the effect "that two Regular Meetings be held per month" was agreed to. It is also interesting to note that the hour of meeting was altered from 7:30p.m. to 7 p.m. as a result of a Motion put before the Brethren at the Annual Business Meeting of the Lodge on 7th December 1921, and on the 1st of March we read of a committee being appointed to revise the Bye-Laws of the Lodge.
The Lodge attained its majority on 9th December 1922, when suitable celebrations were held. The Provincial Grand Master who had opened and consecrated our Halls in 1909, was present at a luncheon held to celebrate the occasion. Accompanying him on the platform were Bro. Col. peter Spence P.G.D.M. and other Provincial Officebearers. Bro. Rev. T.B. Stewart Thomson B.D., M.C., opened the proceedings with prayer.
After the luncheon, presentations were made to the Provincial Grand Master and provincial Grand Secretary. Bro. Sir Robert King Stewart was the recipient of a silver cigar case suitably inscribed. In returning thanks, he expressed pleasure at having received such a handsome gift, and produced from his pocket a penknife presented to him on the occasion of the opening of the Halls. He also expressed his deep interest in the Lodge and was pleased indeed at the fact that it bore his name. He voiced his good wishes for the future prosperity of the Lodge and said he was confident that it would always be one of the best in the Province. A suit case was presented to the P.G. Secretary as a token of appreciation of his services to the Lodge. Bro. Black, in acknowledging the gift, congratulated the Lodge on its progress, and extended his best wishes for the future. Bro. Archd. Russell P.M. was honoured by being presented with a Founder's Jewel. In reply, Bro. Russell, in reminiscent vein, told of the origin of the Lodge and of events during its earliest days. He extended his thanks for honour conferred on him. Speeches and Toasts followed, and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" brought a memorable evening to a close.
Please contact Bro Nicoll Ross P.M. by email with your comments on this web site or for further information about Lodge Robert King Stewart No 919.