Dr. Robert Hamilton - Freemason, in Jamaica
Brethren may find the following of some (small?) interest:
Of Robert Hamilton, M.D., Master of Sussex Lodge #447 (now #354) – meeting in Kingston – in 1855, 1856 & 1864 and Member of Friendly
Chapter 291 (now 231), in 1865:
“ ‘Hamilton infomed Supreme Council that in Jamaica, at the beginning of the 19th century, many Lodges under both the English and
Scottish Constitutions, were joined by white merchants who were for the most part unmarried and “had few inducements to keep them
at home”. After the Act of Emancipation in 1830, “ the white population rapidly diminished, and the Jews and coloured classes, who
had previously been, so to say, nowhere, gradually acquired influence, both in the legislature, the municipalities and in the Lodges”.
Consequently … “there were three races to be considered, the White, the Jewish and the African with its various admixtures, and two
religions, the Jewish and the Christian, with its various forms of belief and worship. Hamilton went on to say that in 1852, of the four
lodges under the English Constitution, the Royal No. 207 consisted principally of coloured brethren, “The Friendly 239 was almost
exclusively Jewish … The Sussex (354) was composed of the few white Merchants and planters who still took an interest in Freemasonry
and the Union et Concordia, originally established to meet the wants of the Spanish and French residents, in which the degrees used
to be given in French or Spanish according to the nationality of the recipient and often the ritual of the French Rite, was at the time
I refer to, composed almost completely of Negro Bn’.
“According to (F.W.) Seal-Coon (An Historical Account of Jamaican Freemasonry ), the Spanish left a sizeable Jewish community behind
them after their defeat in 1655 and two of the founders of the first Lodge under Warrant (14/04/1739) from GL of England “..may have been
members of the Jewish community”. “The founders of at least two surviving English Craft Lodges, Friendly No. 239 (Kingston) and Friendly
No. 383 ((Montego Bay) were almost all Jewish”. There had been an English Craft Province in Jamaica from 1742 until it lapsed in 1831 with
the resignation of Surgeon General Sir Michael Clare. Although there were fewer Scottish Lodges on the island, the (Scottish) Provincial
Lodge was still extant (existing) when Hamilton arrived in Jamaica (in 1850). The (Scottish) Deputy Provincial GM, Bro. James Kay Fingzies,
“held strong views on the Christianity of Freemasonry” and that eventually led to a rift between the SC lodges and Sussex (EC) on the one
hand, and the Jewish brethren on the other. Furthermore the white brethren seem to have become more exclusive’.
(Dr. Robert Hamilton, MA, MD, 1820-1880; His Masonic Life and Times: by Bro. J.W. Daniel (Grand Secretary General of the Supreme
Council 33* until 2002) from The Transactions of QUATUOR CORONATI LODGE No. 2076 Volume 114 Year 2001). End
I (LLV has) have wondered on more than one occasion on the difference between Provincial (Grand Lodge) and District (Grand Lodge) as it applies to
English Freemasonry. I have been (reliably?) informed that in the E.C. the only difference (if difference there is) is that “Provincial” relates (local England)
to the demarcation lines of the counties in England and the term “District” is used to refer to E.C. “outside” of England. If that is indeed the case, I
would be interested in knowing when that customization was “formalized”. For me, the incongruity arises because inter alia:
- there was an English Craft Province in Jamaica from 1742 -1831 (see above)
- the Colonial Board (12/1856) to oversee Masonry in the Colonies, had as its Chairman a Past Provincial GM of Bengal (India)
- In 1857 the Colonial Board reported that the MW GM had received representations from the Colonies (including Canada)
to have the power to nominate their own Provincial Grand Masters ‘..subject to the approval of the MW Grand Master”.
- (But) later in the Report the same Board refers to Provincial Grand Masters as “District Grand Masters”
- In May 1859, Robert Hamilton was designated Provincial GM of East Jamaica (Montego Bay & Westmoreland Lodges had
opposed his being designated for the whole of Jamaica). He was Installed as Designated in July 1859.
I am sure that there are other examples which may support or disavow the explanation given for the difference (similarity?), so
if any Brother has any information supporting or contradicting, I shall be pleased if he would share it with us. In any case you may
comment on any aspect of interest to you on the above or matters relating.
FR - LLV