Lodge Centennial 1959

LODGE CALEDONIAN No. 392 1859 - 1959

by Brother Stewart Logan, Past Master

We now have no way of knowing when the idea of forming Lodge Caledonian first began to take shape, but we may surmise that much discussion had taken place on the matter between certain Brethren of The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), No. 1, because in the month of March 1859 the first known meeting of these Brethren took place in the Lodge Room in the Cafe Royal.

The result of this meeting is shown in the original subscription list, a document which is pasted in the first page of Minute Book No. 1. The document is undated and reads as follows:

"We the undersigned Brethren hereby agree to subscribe the amount placed after our respective names for the purpose of defraying the expense of procuring from the Grand Lodge a Charter for the Erection of a New Lodge to be called the "Caledonian Lodge" and for the purpose of procuring the necessary jewels and paraphernalia: Or in the event of our coming to an arrangement with the Lodge "Caledonian Railways" for the purpose of effecting such arrangement. It being hereby understood that the sums so subscribed shall be repaid out of the first available funds of the Lodge received from Affiliations or initiations:

(Signed) A. DUNCAN Five pounds sterling.
LAW. THALLON Five pounds sterling.
JOHN JORDAN Five pounds sterling.
WM. BENNETT Five pounds sterling.
WM. D. ALLAN One pound sterling.
ROBT. C. REID Five pounds sterling.
JAMES G. THALLON Two pounds sterling.
JOHN MASTERTON Two pounds sterling.
JAMES NELSON One pound sterling.
GEO. STEWART Five pounds sterling.
JOHN GRIEVE Five pounds sterling."
Curiously enough, no record can be found of Lodge Caledonian Railways, but there had been an earlier Lodge Caledonian which, in the later years of its existence became quite notorious in Edinburgh Masonic circles.

In the year 1807 Dr John Mitchell. Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Caledonian, moved in Grand Lodge that an address be presented to H.M. King George III, expressing their gratitude and thankfulness for his support of the established religion of this country. His motion was beaten by one vote.

At this period all the Lodges had their own particular meeting nights, which were not allowed to clash with the others, but Lodge Caledonian commenced meeting on the same night as Lodge Roman Eagle, and was interdicted From doing so by Grand Lodge. Dr Mitchell not only refused to accept this interdict, but proposed to his Lodge that they should secede from Grand Lodge. He also attended, with the Lodge, a procession to divine service, headed by the Most Worshipful The Grand Master Elect, the Honourable William Ramsay Maule of Panmure, M.P., but after reaching the Tron Church, he led his Lodge in a separate procession to Oman's Tavern. For the implied insult to the Grand Master Elect, he was reprimanded, and for proposing the secession of the Lodge, he was suspended by Grand Lodge. Three days later the Lodge expressed their support of their Master and seceded from Grand Lodge. At this time there had been trouble with The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), No. 1, and Lodge Kilwinning, No. 0, about the seniority of their respective Lodges. The trouble with Lodge Caledonian seems to have brought matters to a head and The Lodge of Edinburgh and a few other Lodges also seceded from Grand Lodge. They formed themselves into a body named the Associated Lodges, and a long and bitter struggle ensued until in 1813 peace was restored. Lodge Caledonian, however, never made its peace with Grand Lodge, because from the year 1808 no official returns were made by the Lodge, and in 1836 Lodge Caledonian was erased from the Roll of Grand Lodge. We can only guess, therefore, that the reference to negotiations with Lodge Caledonian Railways meant that they wished to enquire as to whether or not some of the old members intended to resuscitate their Lodge, and if not, to crave permission to use the old name. Whether any discussions ever took place we shall never know, because the matter receives no further mention.

The second entry is the original "protest," and it is also pasted into the Minute Book. It is dated 12th March 1859, and reads as follows:

"We the undersigned Brethren of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) holding of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As considering that for some time past we have been rendered uncomfortable in consequence of the want of true Masonic and brotherly feeling and from the disagreeable personalities which are continually being brought before the Lodge and being generally dissatisfied with the spirit in which the business of the Lodge has for some time past been managed, have resolved to apply for a Charter with the view of instituting a New Lodge, to be called the Caledonian, and we severally bind ourselves (with all due respect to the obligation undertaken to our Mother Lodge) to do our utmost to maintain and support the said Lodge and thus procure that true Masonic friendship and enjoyment, the want of which has necessitated the present secession. And we severally declare that we shall not divulge any part of the present movement until such a time as it may be expedient for us to do so, on the true faith of our obligation as Master Masons:

It will be seen from the names appended to these documents that Brother Grieve, whose name appears on the subscription list, does not appear on the protest, while the names of two new Brethren appear on the latter. Both these historic meetings were held in the Cafe Royal, of which Brother Grieve was the licensee.

The first minute actually written in the Minute Book is dated 28th April 1859, and records that the Petition to Grand Lodge, signed by the required number of Master Masons and recommended by four Right Worshipful Masters of Edinburgh Lodges with several of their Wardens and other Office-bearers, was to be presented to Grand Lodge next day. The fee of £10, 10s. for the Charter had been lodged in terms of Grand Lodge Laws.

At the meeting on 30th April the Right Worshipful Master Elect Brother Lawrence Thallon, intimated that the application for a Charter had been rejected by the Grand Committee of Grand Lodge, merely however, by the casting vote of the Chairman. The Brethren thereupon unanimously resolved to present the application again at the Quarterly Meeting of Grand Lodge on the 2nd May, and on the 3rd May, Brother Thallon was able to announce that the application for a Charter had been sustained by an overwhelming majority of Grand Lodge. A committee was immediately formed to make the necessary arrangements for the opening and consecration of the Lodge and the procuring of the necessary clothing and paraphernalia.

There can be doubt as to the patriotism of these Brethren, because not only had they chosen the name Caledonian for their new Lodge, but they also decided to enquire for detailed estimates for Office-bearers' aprons, "The aprons to be of the best quality, emblem of office emblazoned thereupon, richly embroidered, silk lined, gold tassels and fringe, the ribbon and flap of the aprons to be of the Hunting Stewart Tartan." Three Jewels, those of the Right Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden and the Junior Warden, along with silver square and compasses were ordered from Brother Hay of Princes Street. On the 18th May the Brethren accepted the estimates of £15 for the Office-bearers' Aprons and Cordons for Jewels. Eight other Jewels were ordered from Brother Hay. These original Jewels are still in use in the Lodge. On the 7th May Brother Lawrence Thallon, Right Worshipful Master Elect, made the first presentation to the Lodge. This was a very handsome silver-mounted rapier.

The Consecration of the Lodge and the Installation of Office-bearers of the Caledonian Lodge was carried out on the 2nd June 1859 in the Cafe Royal by Brother Lord Loughborough, Substitute Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The event was reported in the columns of The Scotsman thus:-

"The consecration of the Caledonian Lodge took place on Thursday evening last in the Cafe Royal Hotel, under the presidency of Brother Lord Loughborough, Substitute Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, who discharged the duties devolving upon him with much taste and ability. The Right Worshipful Masters of the Lodges St Andrew, Celtic, St Clair and Grangemouth were present, accompanied by deputations from their respective Lodges, who were welcomed in the usual Masonic style. The Rev. Brother Bonar acted as Chaplain. The sacred music was performed in an efficient manner by Brother Fraser of the Celtic Lodge and Brother Tough of the Lodge of Portobello, who volunteered their services for the occasion. At the termination of the ceremony the Brethren sat down to a sumptuous supper provided by Brother Grieve, Grand Steward of the Lodge Caledonian. After spending a happy evening, they separated, highly gratified with the proceedings, more especially as they had previously the honour of affiliating Brother Lord Loughborough as an Honorary Member of their Lodge."

After the ceremony of Consecration and the Installation of Office-bearers, and before calling the Lodge from labour to refreshment, Brother Lord Loughborough vacated the Chair in favour of the first Right Worshipful Master, Brother Lawrence Thallon, when a petition was read from Mr W. R. Hayden, Register House, Edinburgh, praying to be admitted a member. "The petition being approved, Mr Hayden was then admitted in due form and took the Obligation as an Apprentice Mason." The wording of this minute is of interest as it would suggest that the only ceremony used was the Obligation. After supper and harmony, the Lodge was called from refreshment to labour as "high 12 was nigh at hand," when the Right Worshipful Master installed Brother Lord Loughborough as an Honorary Member of the Lodge. Thus, on that first evening in the life of the Caledonian Lodge was made the first Right Worshipful Master, Brother Lawrence Thallon; the first Initiate, Brother W. R. Hayden; and the first Honorary Member, Brother Lord Loughborough. One of the curious things about Lodge Caledonian is that it is one of the very few Lodges which has, in a way, changed its name. As the reader may note, the original name was the Caledonian Lodge, which, within a few months had become Lodge Caledonian, and has remained so ever since.

The four sponsor Lodges referred to earlier are neither named in the Lodge minute nor in the minute of Grand Lodge, which records the application for a Charter, but as has been seen, The Scotsman report gives the four main deputations present at the Consecration as Lodges St Andrew, Celtic, St Clair and Grangemouth (now Lodge Zetland). However, while the members of the first three Lodges appear in the attendance book for that evening, the number of Lodge Zetland (391) does not appear. The late Brother Tom Grant, who wrote the Sketch of the History of Lodge Caledonian in 1923, also appears to have come up against the same confusion, but contents himself with the statement that there were three sponsor Lodges for Lodge Caledonian. It seems impossible now to obtain information about this, and it may be that it will always remain a mystery. The attendance book was signed on that evening by sixty-three Brethren, among whom were the Right Worshipful Masters of thirteen Lodges in Edinburgh, Leith and District, along with deputations.

At their next meeting in June "in order to facilitate fraternal intercourse and the frequent interchange of visits betwixt this and the Sister Lodges in the Edinburgh Province, it was suggested by the Right Worshipful Master, and unanimously agreed to, that the Monthly Meeting of this Lodge should be held on the fourth Thursday of every month and Special Meetings when occasion requires on Thursday evenings weekly."

In August 1859 there was received from one of the Metropolitan Lodges a communication which illustrates the slackness of Masonic procedure of that time. It stated that they had struck off their roll a certain David Anderson, occupant of the Crown and Anchor Hotel, High Terrace, Edinburgh, "in respect that at the time of his affiliation into that Lodge (8th June 1858), he was not a Mason."

At this period it was of quite common occurrence to work three or even more Degrees in one evening, and the meeting of 31st August 1859 illustrates this practice, with the difference that on this evening the "Right Worshipful Master and the other Superior Office-bearers were away from home." The Secretary, however, was fortunate enough to obtain the services of Brother Patrick Cowan, Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Celtic, who undertook the task of working the First, Second and Third Degrees all in one evening. This was done for a seaman, Captain Curtis, of the screw steamship "Russian", as the "duration of his stay in Leith was uncertain."

The Installation meetings of those days were very different, there being no Installed Master's Ceremonial then in use. On St John's Day, the 27th December 1859, the first Installation meeting of the Lodge was held. The Lodge being opened, it was Passed and Raised when the Master Mason Degree was conferred upon a Fellow-Craft member. The Lodge was then reduced to the First Degree when the Right Worshipful Master, Brother Thallon, demitted office and the Senior Warden, Brother Duncan, in the absence of the Substitute and Depute Masters "took the Chair and held the Mallet. while the Right Worshipful Master Elect took the customary vows of Fidelity to the Lodge. Brother Duncan then invested him with the insignia of his office and installed him into the Chair, amidst the plaudits and cordial congratulations of the Brethren." In the course of the evening a deputation was sent out from the Lodge to visit twelve other Lodges, while deputations were received from all except three of the Sister Lodges in the Edinburgh District, the custom at that time being that all the Edinburgh Lodges held their Installation meetings on the same evening, Saint John's Night, 27th December, when each Lodge sent out deputations to visit the other Lodges in the District.

The price of the "convivial ticket" for this first Saint John's Festival in Lodge Caledonian was one and six. "Convivial" seems to have been the correct term to use for this meeting, for on the 28th January, when passing payment of the hotelkeeper's bill, the Secretary was instructed to write Brother Grieve that the Lodge "will not in future hold itself responsible for the breakage of crystal, either by its own members or that of visiting Brethren."

On the 1st June 1860, the occasion of the first anniversary of the Consecration of the Lodge, the celebration took the form of a Dinner Festival, Tickets, "including beer, drams and waiters, 3s. 6d.," at which, however, only twenty-six Brethren signed the attendance book. One point which strikes the reader of the minutes of this period is the enormous number of professional musicians who were initiated during the first few years. These Brethren conducted all the Harmonies in a very able manner, and Lodge Caledonian seems to have been known for quite a number of years as one of the finest musical Lodges in the City. In April 1860 Brother Ferdinand D. Falk presented to the Lodge the copyright of a march he had composed and dedicated to the Lodge entitled the "Caledonian March," of which, unfortunately all trace appears to have been lost. In March 1863 a concert was given when all the artists were members of the Lodge, a distinguishing feature of the evening being the number of original pieces composed by these same members.

In the absence of the Right Worshipful Master any Brother who was willing to do so could assume the Chair of the Lodge. This is illustrated in October 1858, when a certain Brother Campbell, at the request of the Senior Warden, occupied the Chair, and not only initiated a new member but also affiliated two other Brethren at the same meeting. This Brother Campbell held no office in the Lodge.

There being no Enquiry Committee in existence at this time, it was quite usual for a knock to be heard on the door, when the Brethren would be informed that a gentleman waited outside, who prayed to be admitted a member. He was usually well recommended, and after passing the ballot, was admitted and initiated, although in some cases even the ballot was dispensed with, a rather strange way of working in the modern view, as many of the initiates came from other parts of the country and indeed in many cases were not even British. An instance of this is shown in a minute of July 1860 :- "The Lodge being opened, a Petition was read from Mr Adolf Ruhling, Architect, praying in the usual manner to become a member of this Lodge. Being duly recommended, he received his First Degree. It was then stated by Brother Ruhling that he had to proceed to the continent in two days, in consideration of which the Lodge was Raised to the Fellow-Craft Degree and he received the Second Degree. Thereafter, on the Lodge being Raised to the Sublime Degree, he received the Third Degree."

The custom of initiating musical gentlemen at reduced fees in return for their services is shown in a minute of March 1860: "Petitions were read from Mr. J. Melville Watson, Engineer, and Mr. John Denovan, Clerk, praying to become members of the Lodge, in respect of the latter's abilities as a musician and on the understanding that these were at the service of the Lodge on particular occasions. the customary fee was commuted to that sanctioned by the Grand Lodge Laws."

It was also customary for the Right Worshipful Master to be notified during refreshment that a candidate for Initiation waited outside, when the Right Worshipful Master would delegate some other Brethren to initiate the candidate, while he carried on at Harmony. In November 1861, immediately after the Lodge had been called from labour to refreshment, a candidate was reported to be waiting outside. The Right Worshipful Master instructed the Immediate Past Master to proceed to the Upper Lodge Room, along with seven Brethren, to initiate the candidate. After the Initiation Ceremony was completed the Immediate Past Master closed the Lodge, and along with the Brethren who had assisted him, proceeded to the "Ordinary Lodge Room" and reported progress to the Right Worshipful Master.

A very popular practice of the times was that of initiating and affiliating Brethren without immediate payment. In fact, a deferred payment system. There is no doubt that this had been of benefit to the Lodge in that they had almost certainly procured more candidates by this method than by the regular one, and had probably been able to collect fees from most of them through time, but at a committee meeting in November 1861 the Treasurer drew attention to the fact that several Brethren were in arrears with their Initiation and Affiliation fees. The Lodge discussed the matter over a period of some weeks, and at length reached the decision that the guarantors of all candidates must see the fees paid within two months. After a period of trial this proved to be unsatisfactory and was abandoned. The Initiation of members of Her Majesty's Forces was allowed at reduced terms for some years. "In respect of the two candidates' services in the cause of humanity and justice in India, they were unanimously voted in as members at reduced fees as regulated by the Grand Lodge of Scotland." The original full Initiation fee was £2, l2s. 6d., which included "Tyler's and Secretary's fees."

On the 23rd January 1864 the Right Worshipful Master, Brother Chalmers I. Paton attended the funeral of the Most Worshipful the Grand Master Mason, His Grace the Duke of Atholl, with all expenses paid by the Lodge.

Until November 1864 the Brethren had used the Lodge Room at the Cafe Royal, without payment of rent, but rumours had begun to circulate that Brother Grieve now intended to make a charge on the Lodge. On being written to, Brother Grieve denied these rumours, but on the 17th of the same month the Secretary reported to the Lodge that he had received verbal intimation from Brother Grieve that the room at present used by the Lodge had now been let and that no meetings could be held there after the end of the month. Within a few days arrangements were made to hold their meetings at the Albert Hotel in Hanover Street, the condition being made that no rent would be charged, but that when at refreshment the Brethren would be charged at hotel prices. This agreement was to stand for one year, and on the 26th November 1864 the first meeting was held in the new premises.

The Lodge at this period began to experience difficulty in prevailing upon Brethren to accept the office of Right Worshipful Master. The Office-bearers did not move up in office as they do now. A Brother might hold office for a year or two, after which his name would just disappear from the minutes. The choosing of the Right Worshipful Master was of rather an arbitrary nature and the office was not eagerly sought after by the Brethren.

In the year 1864 the Right Worshipful Master, Brother Paton, signified his intention of retiring from the Chair on Saint John's Day. Two of the Brethren were requested to accept the office, but both of them declined. After some persuasion Brother Lawrence Thallon, the first Master of the Lodge, agreed to occupy the Chair for one year only. After completing his year in office he proposed Brother P. R. Haddow, Depute Master, as the next Right Worshipful Master, but the proposal was declined and Brother Thallon was prevailed upon once more to serve his Mother Lodge for yet another year. In November 1865 the Lodge removed from the Albert Hotel to the Grand Lodge Building in George Street. In November 1866 Brother Haddow was again asked to accept the office of Right Worshipful Master, but once more he declined. Brother Masterton was then approached, but he also declined the office. Eventually Brother Bennett, one of the founder members of the Lodge, who had held various offices, agreed to accept office as Right Worshipful Master.

In this same month to "strengthen the hands of the Treasurer" and "put the Lodge in an independent position," the Brethren agreed to impose upon themselves a test fee of 2s. 6d. per year, payable on or before Saint John's Day, but they thought better of this plan after a while, and in January 1867 the resolution was rescinded.

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