Barry Vickers FRSA FSA Scot.
PM "Caledonian" No. 392SC
MM "The Caledonian Lodge of Uganda" No. 1389SC
HM "Caledonian" No. 238SC
HM "Motherwell Caledonian" No. 1228SC
PrM "Far East Caledonian" No. 1274SC
A short article, "ROYAL ARCH LODGES - WHAT'S IN A NAME ?", by Brother A. F. Stevenson Chalmers, printed in the Grand Lodge of Scotland Year Book for 1990, prompted me to research the following.
I have a great interest in Caledonian Lodges, being a Past Master of one, a subscribing member of another, an honorary member of two more, and also the Proxy Master of a South African "Caledonian". All this despite being a Sassenach !
There are, throughout the world, some 36 lodges which bear Caledonia as the whole or part of their name :
SCOTLAND (HOME LODGES)
SCOTLAND (OVERSEAS LODGES)
UNITED STATES of AMERICA
Lodges which might well have taken their name from their meeting place and been included in the above lists are :
Also worthy of mention is Kaledonia No. 177, under the banner of the Grande Lodge Nationale of France, which meets in Rennes, but I digress...
There are then, 9 Scottish Lodges within Scotland and 9 Scottish Lodges overseas, bearing the Caledonian banner. England has two, and the remainder of the Masonic world sports 16, and of these sixteen, some have Scottish roots.
Lodge Caledonian No. 178 (WA) was chartered on the 7th of May 1896 as No. 830 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The Lodge joined the Grand Lodge of Western Australia in 1944.
The United Grand Lodge of Queensland has two Caledonians on its roll, both of which were, in the past, holding of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Lodge Caledonian No. 14 (QLD) was originally chartered on the 7th May 1886 as No. 456 SC, whilst No. 34 (QLD), was chartered on the 4th November 1886 as "Caledonian" No. 737 SC.
On the formation of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, Lodge Caledonian No. 534 SC returned its charter, granted 3rd February 1873, to Scotland, and joined the Grand Lodge of New Zealand as No. 16.
At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, held on the 7th August 1865, a charter was granted to erect a Lodge "Caledonian", with the number 449. I am unable (as yet) to trace the confusion, but it appears that the Lodge was not satisfied with the number allocated, and such was the strength of the protest that the roll was revised, and this Lodge now appears as 4472.
Not all the Caledonian lodges have survived, the Caledonian Lodge of Uganda having a near miss with extinction just a few years ago when it was decided that, in order to escape being forcibly closed by Idi Amin, meetings would be suspended until prudence dictated otherwise. Alas, the lodge never again met in Uganda, but was saved from the inevitable by the dedication of the surviving members of the Lodge, resident in Scotland, who succesfuly petitioned for a re-designation of meeting place. The Lodge now to great credit in Edinburgh. A short history of this Lodge is given in the Year Book for 1986.
Lodge Caledonian No. 723 SC, chartered 30th November 1885 relinquished its allegiance to Scotland and joined the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales as Caledonian No. 144. The Lodge subsequently lost its identity on merging with Phoenix Lodge No. 79 (previously No. 1846 EC), and the combination taking the name of Bathurst United Lodge, retaining the lower roll number. This Lodge is still working today.
Grahamston and Carron Lodge, chartered 6th August 1810 as No. 310, changed its name to Lodge Caledonian in 1816. It would appear that the change of name did not inspire attendance, for the Lodge went dormant in 1826.
Lodge St. John Caledonian, chartered by Mother Kilwinning 28th July 1770, joined Grand Lodge as No. 314 in 1811, but went dormant in 1823.
The fate of Lodge Caledonia No. 1300 SC., chartered on the 2nd November 1922 to meet in Tiensin, China, was decided by Chairman Mao. The Lodge struggled on to its inevitable closure and dormancy in November 1952, by which time China was well and truly under the rule of Communism.
In the aftermath of the recent Gulf War I feel that special mention should be made of another victim of oppression, Lodge Kuwait Caledonian, No. 1570 SC. This Lodge had a short history, being chartered an the 5th of May 1960, and meeting in the little port of Mina-al-Ahmadi, Kuwait. The moving finger had already wrote the fate of this Lodge at it's consecration, for the swell of opposition to Freemasonry in the Middle East had already closed Lodges in Iran and Bahrain. Kuwait Caledonian ceased to meet in 1975.
Lodge St. Andrew, chartered 7th February 1780, had travelling status, being held within the 80th Regiment of Foot (The South Staffordshire). This travelling charter was withdrawn by Grand Lodge, and the remnant members formed themselves into a new Lodge, Caledonian, No. 218, in 1786. This particular Lodge had a short, but chequered history, and probably did more to alter the course of masonic history than any other Caledonian Lodge, being the catalyst that sparked the "Edinburgh Rebellion ", an excellent account of which is given in the transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, (AQC 86 1973 pp 322 - 325). The name of the Lodge is mis-spelled as Caledonia, but this detracts nothing from the story.
Briefly, the Secret Societies Bill, formulated at a time when England was overrun with secret societies of multitudinous types, was aimed at eradication of groups suspected of being in league with France during the Napoleonic Wars. This Act, if passed, would have effectively wiped out Freemasonry within these shores, but the Earl of Moira and other influential members of the Grand Lodge of England, had the Premier, Mr. Pitt, amend the Act to exclude "Lodges sitting by the precise authority of a Grand Lodge and under its direct superintendence". The amendment, whilst protecting the Lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England, would have proved disastrous in Scotland, for it must be remembered that at this time Mother Kilwinning had seceded from Grand Lodge and was, therefore, not protected by the amendment.
Kilwinning enlisted the aid of her Member of Parliament, a Colonel William Fullerton, who was successful in gaining a further amendment to the Bill exempting "all Lodges declaring upon oath before a Justice of the Peace that they were Freemasons", an amendment which not only gave protection to the Mother Lodge enabling her continuance outside the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but also to the unattached Lodges such as Glasgow Freemen and Melrose St. John. The Earl of Moira was, it seems, unaware of this amendment, with disastrous results, as we shall see later.
In 1807, a Bill allowing partial Catholic emancipation, such as serving in the Army, and freedom to practice their religion freely, came before Parliament. King George III interceded, and caused the Bill to be withdrawn.
It is at this stage that Lodge Caledonian comes into the fray, for at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, held the 14th May 1807, Dr. John Mitchell, Master of Lodge Caledonian No. 218, moved that "the Grand Lodge of Scotland forward an address to His Majesty, in praise of the stance he had taken". The motion was defeated by a single vote and the meeting ended in chaos.
Dr. Mitchell re-submitted his proposal at the next Communication when it was not only soundly defeated, but he had to suffer the indignity of rebuke for bringing political matter before Grand Lodge. Had Dr. Mitchell the sense to admit his defeat at that point, history might not have pursued the path it did, but he took the stance that at least five addresses had been sent to His Majesty by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and that the rebuke was unjustified; indeed the Acting Grand Master, (the Earl of Moira), had even sought permission from the King, to make declaration of the Political Principles of Grand Lodge.
To say that Grand Lodge and Dr. Mitchell were not on amicable terms seems to be an understatement, both sides smarting considerably, and an otherwise trivial incident, a dispute between Lodge Caledonian and the Roman Eagle Lodge, over their usage of the Temple in Grand Lodge, might not have caused the repercussions it did.
Grand Lodge, no doubt in an attempt to express its annoyance with Dr. Mitchell, stepped in, and ruled in favour of Roman Eagle. Dr. Mitchell ignored the ruling, and began proceedings of secession. Charges were made against Mitchell by a Brother James Gibson, and were answered by a challenge to a duel! For his conduct, Bro. Mitchell was suspended sine die.
Here also the matter might have ended, had Mother Kilwinning chosen another time to return to the embrace of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, for on her return, she displaced the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1, at the head of the roll of the Grand Lodge, by, under the terms of reconciliation, being placed at the head of the roll, without number! The Lodge of Edinburgh was not amused, but again, here the matter may have been ended, had it not been for the ensuing incident.
Dr. Mitchell, despite his seemingly eccentric manner, must have had the loyal support of his Lodge, for at its installation meeting, held just three days after the suspension edict, the members proceeded to reinstall him into the chair of the Lodge. They also voted for secession from the Grand Lodge until "such time as that body saw fit to raise the suspension inflicted upon its Master". At this meeting were the Senior Warden and the Treasurer of No. 1, and the Grand Lodge retaliated by suspending these, and the office-bearers of Caledonian, from all Masonic privileges.
The Lodge of Edinburgh, its feathers now substantially ruffled, protested that the two Brethren, merely visitors, had no say in the proceedings, and that no one had ever been suspended for visiting Kilwinning during her period of secession from Grand Lodge. Grand Lodge was accused of "glaring partiality", and the suspensions were ignored. Other Lodges, also incensed at what seemed a flagrant display of partiality, entered the fray. St. Andrew, Canongate Kilwinning, and St. David all proposed secession in support of No. 1, and all were promptly suspended. The suspended Lodges formed themselves into a separate body, taking the style, "The Associated Lodges".
Doctor Mitchell, perhaps having a greater axe to grind than most, on hearing of a procession to Divine Service to be lead by the Acting Grand Master Elect, the Honourable William Ramsay Maule MP, arranged an alternative procession and followed the main body down the High Street, but after reaching the Tron Church, veered off into Oman's Tavern taking the rebels with him. It was now the turn of Grand Lodge not to be amused, and, under the direction of its Acting Grand Master, it sought to quash the rebels under the Secret Societies Act of 1779, blissfully unaware of the Fullerton Amendment.
Enter now the Law.
Grand Lodge, mistakenly believing itself unassailable as the only legally recognised body in Scotland, sought, through the agency of some members of Lodge Caledonian who had not joined the rebels, to prohibit the proposed celebration of the Festival of St. John, by the rebels, on the 24th of June 1808.
Naturally, the rebels, fully aware of their legal standing, declared themselves Freemasons, and lobbed the ball back into the court of Grand Lodge.
The case dragged on for three years, and would doubtless have been settled by a further amendment to the Secret Societies Act in favour of the petitioners, had not the lawyers for Grand Lodge literally dragged defeat from the very jaws of victory, by entering into evidence correspondence between the Earl of Moira and the Grand Master, (The Prince of Wales, later King George IV.) which included opinion on the "merits of the question". The ruling of the court was that "if parties were allowed to make such production in a Court of Justice, containing the opinions of private persons, far less that of the greatest subject of the State, and Heir-Apparent to the Crown, it might tend to very dangerous consequences indeed".
The letter was withdrawn from the proceedings, all statements from it expunged from the record, and judgement found in favour of the rebels.
Naturally, the situation could not be allowed to continue as inter-visitation between the rebel Lodges and the regular Lodges would result in an ever growing snowball of expulsions.
The contending parties were reconciled on 31st March 1813 when all suspensions and expulsions, with one exception, were removed. The exception was of course Dr. John Mitchell, who did not, or would not apply for re-admission to Grand Lodge, and drifted away into obscurity.
Of what happened to the Lodge no record exists, for returns were not received from Lodge Caledonian, from secession to erasure. At roll closures subsequent to 1813, the Lodge is shown as 161 (1816), 161 (1822), and 163 (1826), before finally being erased in 1838.
The Caledonian Lodges in Scotland have a further bonding besides having similar, or in some cases, identical names. Once each year all join together to work a common degree, the meeting place rotating.
1991 sees the end of the first cycle of meetings, and all are most emphatic that the event should continue, further consolidating the ties. An account of these meetings could well form the body of a future paper.
The last page of the History of Lodge Caledonian No. 392, has, as its closing lines, a parody of "Hail Caledonia", which ends :
Wisdom shall guide thee,
Strength shall support thee,
Beauty and Harmony reign in thy hall,
Honour and Virtue and Love for the Brethren
Ever thy precepts our mem'ries recall.
O Caledonian, much hast thou taught us,
May we be faithful and true to the end,
Ever be worthy our fair Bond of Friendship,
Mother and Friend.
(Not a lot of people know this, but...)
Some of the Caledonian Lodges around the world HAVE had links to each other prior to these which are made possible by the mere click of a mouse.
A certain Charles Cleghorn Scott, Master Mason of Lodge "St. Mary's Caledonian Operative" No. 339, affiliated to 392 on the 27th of May 1869. In 1880 the minutes of 392 record that he emigrated to America. Perhaps he was not too impressed with our former Colonies, for he returned to Edinburgh prior to the Installation meeting of 1887 when he was installed as Secretary of 392.
John Irvine was Initiated in to 392 on the 25th of April 1906. he was Passed on the 26th of October of that same year, and Raised 28th of February 1907. The Passing and Raising were carried out by "Caledonia" No. 490 in Bombay (now Mumbai).
William Symon McLeod first saw masonic light in Lodge Caledonian 392 on the 20th December 1917. He was Passed and Raised on the 26th of March 1919 and 11th of June 1919 respectively. Bro. William was Advanced on the 19th of February 1920. On the 10th of November 1920 a Demit was granted to Bro. William in favour of Lodge "Caledonian" No. 637 in Canada. Bro. William progressed through the Offices of the Lodge and became Worshipful Master of 637 in 1933.
Henry Wilson Toolin was Entered and Passed on the 9th January and the 13th of March 1946, Raised by Lodge "Thistle" No. 1227 on the 22nd of April, and then Advanced as a Mark Master within "Lodge Caledonia" No. 1406 on the 9th of May 1946.
The four items mentioned above are probably just scraping the surface of what, if other "Caledonian Lodges" could contribute by trawling through their minutes, might form the basis of a very interesting article on Global Networking before the advent of the Internet.
If there ARE half remembered snippets which link various Caledonia(n) Lodges, then why not double check on them, write them up, and contribute to those above.
Caledonian St. John Royal Arch
(Lennoxtown, Scotland) No. 195
Founded: 2nd May 1796
Lodge colours: Blue & Silver
Location: Lennoxtown, Scotland
Meets: 2nd & 4th Thursday, September to June
(Annan, Scotland) No.238 Home Page: Click here
Founded: 4th February 1811
Lodge colours: 42nd Tartan and Gold
Location: Campbell House Tweedie Terrace Annan Dumfriesshire DG12 5HF
Meets:2nd and 4th Wednesday September to November, January to April.
This page is dedicated to providing links to those "Caley" lodges who, for reasons of distance, cannot attend our annual gatherings, and an attempt to unite ALL Caledonians, where so e'er dispersed.
The various lodges which have Caledonian as the whole or part of their name, meet annually at a venue which is decided upon by the host any particular year.
If you know of a "Caley Lodge", Chapter, or whatever, which has a web site, or contact address but is not shown in the listings, PLEASE let me know, and I will happily add it to Caledonian Links.