Irish Freemasonry in Barbados

by W. Bro. J. W. David .L G. Clarke LVO P.M (9073 E.C), (9752 E.C), DGJD (District Grand Lodge of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean), P.M (1014 S.C), Hon. .SDGW (District Grand Lodge of Barbados) & Providence Lodge No.928 I C (Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica & The Bahamas)

Introduction

The primary source of my research is the “Irish Masonic Records” originally by the late Very Worshipful Brother Philip Crossle, Past Senior Grand Deacon and updated by Rt. Wor. Bro. Keith Cochrane Past Master, Lodge of Research No. 200 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. I must thank Wor. Bro. Dr. Derrick Mckoy Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica for assisting me in gaining access to these records.

The other main source of considerable information was the history of Albion Lodge, ‘The First Two Hundred years 1790 to 1990”, and a paper entitled “Early Freemasonry in the Eastern Caribbean” by Wor. Bro. N.G.Atwell P.D.S.G.W., P.M.196ER, 2253E.C. and also of this The Research Lodge of Amity 9073 E. C. For Wor. Bro. Atwell’s work, I must thank Wor. Bro. Mike Ridley, who readily in true brotherly fashion lent me his copies of Wor. Bro. Atwell’s works.

I must also thank Rt. Wor. Bro. Ian M. D. Murphy, OBE, JP, the most senior Irish Mason in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, who due to unfortunate circumstance in Antigua could not be here for this lecture.

Finally I must thank my brother and mentor Wor. Bro. Gilmore Rocheford, for his considerable encouragement and guidance in my Masonic career.

History of Irish Freemasonry

In order to discuss Irish Freemasonry in Barbados we must first look at a brief history of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The Grand lodge of Ireland is the second oldest Grand Lodge in the world. The first evidence of its existence comes from the Dublin Weekly Journal 26th June 1725 – “ A meeting of the Grand Lodge of Ireland to install the new Grand Master, the 1st Earl of Rosse.” Unfortunately the exact date of the formation is not known, but the installation of a new Grand Master would suggest the Grand Lodge be already in existence.

There is considerable evidence that there were Masonic Lodges meeting in Ireland prior to the eighteenth century, for example the manuscript know as “the Trinity Trips”dating to the 1680s, Baal’s Bridge Square, discovered in Limerick in the mid nineteenth century, which purportedly dates to the early sixteenth century. The story of the “Lady Freemason Elizabeth St. Leger, also dates to a time prior to the existence of the Grand Lodge.

Unfortunately there are few records of warrants issued to Lodges prior to the register complied in 1790. For 104 of the warrants issued down to No.361, 4th December 1760, there is no record in this register. Minutes of Grand Lodge meetings are only available from the year 1780, but contain a gap from 1801 to 1806. Grand Lodge also had a rule that cancelled Warrants reaching Grand Lodge, should be immediately destroyed, they were usually put in the fire before Grand Lodge closed, and only a few have survived.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland has never ‘closed up’ or officially renumbered its Lodges. Consequently it is possible to date an Irish Lodge during the 18th Century by the number alone often to the day. To this rule, however there are exceptions.

Although there has never been a general renumbering of the Irish Lodges, Grand Lodge adopted a completely illogical system. The source of this illogical numbering system was one Alexander Seton, the defaulting Deputy Grand Secretary at the opening of the nineteenth century (1801 – 1806). He was guilty of reissuing old Warrants and new Warrants with old numbers and neglecting to account to Grand Lodge for the fees. Consequently, when brethren who had in all good faith acquired such Warrants, Grand Lodge had to confirm them on production of a receipt for the fees from Seton. In 1817 a new form of Warrant was issued to try and resolve some of the problems caused by Seton.

The other problem encountered in my research is the use of only numbers by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The practice of naming Lodges was not common in Ireland and Lodges when warranted only had a number recorded. However only one Lodge Warranted in Barbados had a name on the warrant when it was issued #222 “Hibernia Lodge” issued 6th June 1822. This name and number doesn’t correspond with minutes of Lodges working in Barbados at the time. I believe that Hibernian Lodge was the sponsoring Lodge. The Irish Lodges in Barbados adopted the naming system for local purposes.

Freemasonry in Barbados

Freemasonry arrived in Barbados on the 12th March 1740 with the formation of St.Micheal’s Lodge No. 186 by Alexander Irvine. The Lodge was warranted on the 7th January 1741 and was the 6th Lodge in the West Indies, and the 20th warranted by the Moderns outside England. This Lodge was very instrumental in the development of Irish Freemasonry as the first Irish Lodge consecrated in Barbados was formed by nine of its members.

I would like to quote a portion of a letter written in 1782 by John Thompson of Belfast and addressed to the Grand Secretary of the Moderns in Ireland. “Tho’ personally a stranger, yet my name cannot be wholly unknown to you; as upon retrospect, you will find it subscribed to a Petition presented to the Grand Lodge of England, 2 or 3 years ago, from the Lodge of St. Michael, Barbadoes, in which I had the honour of being made, passed and raised. Having now been, for some months past, on a visit to this, my native place, for the recovery of my health, and having made myself known as a Master Mason to by Brethren of the Lodge in this town # 257,on the list of regular Irish Lodges, they have thought me worthy of being admitted amongst them as a member and have in a Royal Arch and Knight Templars Encampment, held under the sanction of their said Lodge, conferred on me the high honors of these two degrees, I know not, but if I be persuaded that you will not disapprove of what I am about to add, which is, that I have much at heart upon my return to Barbadoes, the forming a Royal Arch and Knight Templars Encampment, under the sanction of the Lodge which I belong there.”

Warrant number #622 was issued 2nd October 1783 and the names listed in Volume 3 of the extant Grand Lodge register records John Thompson, John Daxon and Thomas Jackson all members of Lodge St.Michael #186. John Thompson on his return to Barbados made good on his promise. This also suggests that the Royal Arch and Knights Templars degrees were also worked in Barbados from this time.

John Thompson is recorded as the first master of Albion Lodge 263/333/232/196 ER founded 26th July 1791. My research suggest that John Thompson who was then the Deputy Auditor General and the John Thompson the founding master of the first Irish Lodge in 1783 are one and the same person. This confirms him as a member of St. Michael’s Lodge #186, Albion Lodge #263 E.R and Hibernian lodge #622 IC.

This implies why much of the workings of Albion are heavily influenced by Irish ritual and also why many of Albion’s Jewels are of Irish origin. The first master of Albion was the most senior Irish mason in Barbados at the time.

At the second meeting of Albion Lodge held at the home of Doctor Richards Jones, visitors are recorded from Lodges # 354 and #622. This meeting settled some questions on the bylaws and Albion stated to the visitors that she would rank equal to them and not junior, even though she was the youngest lodge in the island.

My research has shown that seven Irish Lodges were warranted to work in Barbados and one in Grenada under the Provisional Grand Lodge of Barbados IC, along with three Military Lodges between 1761 and 1870. This is slightly at variance with Wor. Bro. Atwell’s research as to the number of Lodges working during this period. Also he has listed ‘Hibernian’ as number 622, but on the Warrant at Grand Lodges it is recorded as #222. This I believe is an error in the Grand Lodge records, as Hibernian Lodge was probably the sponsoring Lodge.

Military Lodge # 354 The 49th Foot, 1st Battalion Berkshire Regiment which Wor. Bro. Atwell has listed as working in Barbados 1792 doesn’t show up in the Grand Lodge records as working in Barbados, however I believe that further research into the regimental history would clarify this. Officers were always on detachment to other regiments. The 46th Foot Regiment however, was sent to the Caribbean to assist with the subduing of the Carib insurrection in 1792 and I believe that some members of Lodge #354 of the 49th Regiment was on detachment to the 46th at that time.

First Military Lodge

The first Military Lodge recorded as working in Barbados was warranted #227 “Lodge of Social and Military Virtues”, in the 46th Foot Regiment, later the 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on 4th March 1752 worked in Barbados in 1761 and again between 1792 and 1798

Extracts from an address delivered at a communication of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Down, 11th February 1896, by the Past Grand Secretary Bro. F.C. Crossle,

“On the 4th March 1752 a warrant was granted by the Grand Lodge of Ireland to the 46th Regiment, the list of original members of the lodge, and its early transaction being, unfortunately, unknown to us. As the lodge was a "Regimental” one, it accompanied the 46th all through its campaigns; and a history of the Lodge is practically a history of the regiment. In 1756 the regiment sailed from Cork for Nova Scotia and took part in the conquest of Canada. In1761 it embarked for Barbados; was in service in Havana in 1762 and returned to the American Continent in 1764, remaining in some of the English colonies to the South of Canada for four years.”

It was for a long time thought that George Washington the first President of the American Republic was initiated in this lodge. It has been proven to the complete dissatisfaction of every Irish Mason not only that he was initiated in another Lodge, but the bible owned by Lodge #227 could not have been used for the purpose of obligating him in any of his degrees. However the Masonic furnishing of the 46th did fall in to the American hands in1778 and was returned by Washington under a flag of truce and escorted by a guard of honour. George Washington’s Lodge was Lodge Fredericksburg warranted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1758 and now Lodge #4 under the Grand Lodge of Virginia.

This Regimental warrant was returned to the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1847 and a new warrant of a military character with the same number was issued for the purpose of forming a permanent Garrison Lodge at Montreal.

In 1855 lodge #227 I.C. joined the Grand Lodge of Canada, receiving a civil warrant and two years later it resolved: -

‘That the Lodge of Social and Military Virtues’ shall henceforth be called the ‘Lodge of Antiquity,’ shall wear gold instead of silver jewels and take precedence of all numbered Lodges.”

In 1869 a Grand Lodge was established in the Province of Quebec, and the first Lodge on its roll is “The Lodge of Antiquity”, the lodge under its new name and new allegiance continues to exist to today.

The warrant #227 was reissued to Geraldine Lodge in Freemasons Hall, Molesworth, Dublin 11th September 1871. The warrant was returned in 1984 having amalgamated with Lodge #171 to become Geraldine Lodge #171. This warrants number is currently vacant.

An Irish Provincial Grand Lodge existed in Barbados from 1804 to 1842, but this collapsed when it was unable to carry out an edict issued to it in1823 with reference to existing color prejudice in Masonry in the Island.

The lodge in Grenada was numbered local warrant #6 under the Provincial Grand Lodge of Barbados. Which show that at least 6 of the warranted lodges were actually consecrated and worked under the Provincial Grand Lodge of Barbados.

Grand Lodge minute of 5th November 1818 notes: “ Barbados reports that they have formed a lodge under their local warrant #6 in the Island of Grenada confirmed by Grand Lodge as:”

Chronological order of Irish Lodges working in Barbados 1761 to 1871

Year in Barbados

Warrant #

Name

Warrant Issued

1761, 1792 to 1798

227

Military Lodge:Lodge of Social and Military Virtues

46th Foot Regiment, later 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 4th March 1752. 1855 joined the Grand Lodge of Canada/1869 Grand Lodge of Quebec #1 Lodge of Antiquity.

1783

622

Hibernian

Brethren in Bridgetown, Barbados 2nd October 1783. John Thompson, John Daxon, Thomas Jackson. Cancelled 2nd December 1858. Reissued March 1928 Natal, South Africa. Current

1801

649

?

Originally issued 1786 to brethren at Drumahaire, Co. leitrim, but Warrant not issued. It appears to have been reissued by Seton to Brethren in Barbados. I find no record of it having been consecrated.

1802

653

Seaforth

Brethren at Barbados 2nd December 1802. Warrant issued by Seton. Number duplicated to brethren in 1808 Carnlough. In 1818 Grand Lodge issued a new warrant to the brethren of Carnlough #216.

Barbados surrendered warrant for one of the Grand lodge of England #848 EC 26th August 1829. Became 577 in 1832 and erased in 1842.

1819

252

?

Brethren St. Georges Grenada 4th November 1819 under the Provincial Grand Lodge of Barbados. Richard Hudson, Wm. Kirkland, and Jas Burrowes and an additional 34 brethren registered. Last returns 1826. Sent in prior to 1858. Reissued to Brethren ‘Loughcrew Lodge” in Old Castle Co. Meath 1st 1877. Current

1822

222

Leinster Lodge

Brethren in Barbados, West Indies 6th June 1822. Henry Frazer, Wm. Murrell Howard and Chas Greenidge. Sent in 25th March 1845. Reissued ‘Prince Wales Lodge’ in Bray Co. Wicklow 4th February 1870.

Current

1822

259

Integrity

Brethren in Barbados, West Indies, 6th June 1822. William Walker, Morgan Griffith and Sam Edghill. A total of ten brethren register up to 21st July 1828. No returns after 1828. Sent in and filed 1828. Reissused to ‘Duke of leinster Lodge’ in Arthur Square 9th march 1883. Warrant returned 1975.

1822

277

Amity

Brethren in Barbados, West Indies, 6th June 1822. John Haynes, John Mc Ara, William Mclean. A total of 80 brethren registered in batches up to 2nd November 1840. Warrant sent in 1841. Reissused 4 times. Finally to brethren in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh 9th December 1909. Current

1831

36

Military Lodge :possible name,” The Firms “

36th Foot Regiment on 5th July 1781. Working St. Ann’s Garrison Barbados 1831. Reissued to Duke of Abercorn Lodge in Belfast 7th December 1869. Current

1842

282

Shamrock

Brethren in Barbados 5th May 1842. Chas Goodwin, Francis. E. Knowles and Henry Hardy. The warrant was destroyed by fire and the Lodge broke up. Reissused to brethren in Carrickfergus 11th March 1889. Current

1870

322

Military Lodge:

‘St. John’s Lodge”

Brethren of the 29th Foot Regiment, later the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment now the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29/45 Foot) on 3rd May 1759. Met in Barbados 27th December 1870. Last meeting 6th July 1871. Current ‘Glittering Star”. The Worcestershire Regiment.

 

Union of Provincial Grand Lodges.

It is apparent that through lack of timely and efficient communication with the UK the masons of Barbados thought that the Union of 1813 was between the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland and not between the two English factions of Ancients and Moderns. They thereupon proceeded to form a union of the English Provincial Lodge and the Irish Provincial Grand Lodge and styled themselves the “Union of the Provincial Grand Lodges of Barbados”. Who was the Provincial Grand Master of this I have not been able to identity, but it appears that it was Brig. General Charles Shipley with one B. Hill as Provincial Deputy Grand Master of the Union.

Quoting from a letter dated 2nd September 1814 (now preserved in the U.G.L. of England Archives) to Bro. Isaac Lindo in London from his brother in Barbados, a member of Albion states….” But in a late meeting of our P.G Lodge here, I took the occasion to introduce the subject of the happy union between the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland and assure you it would have been adopted but they conceive it indecorous in us to notice the late union at all as the Grand Lodge of England and Ireland treated us with so much neglect as never to have sent us any official communication on the subject, which has determined us to take no measure for carrying the union into effect…” However from the fact that officers are later mention we know this was done.

This concept of the union was nourished for a long time; a letter dated 30th July 1824 from Bro. The Hon. John Beckles, Provincial Grand Master to Bro. Edward Harper, Grand Secretary England, states in part…” I certainly wish some arrangement could be made for this colony which would unite us all, for at present there is as great a schism as ever existed. My authority is disputed by those holding under the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and really it is ridiculous to witness their five lodges composed, I may say of almost all the same brethren. They attend the meetings of each lodge and thus by their presence and assistance as officers, contrive to form a proper number to compose a lodge, and their working is different to ours; consequently they ridicule our mode and call it innovation and unmasonic…”.

It is important to note that Irish Masonic Ritual was never written down, it was taught and repeated from memory. Irish masons adhered strictly to the obligation in the Entered Apprentice Degree which states, “I further solemnly promise that I shall not write, these secrets, print, carve, engrave or otherwise them delineate or cause, or suffer the same to be done by others.” Irish ritual has only been written in very recent years. It appears that the English brethren were reading the ritual, which was not acceptable in Irish work.

English and Irish Masons in Barbados had formed a Union or Provincial Grand Lodges and were fighting for supremacy in Barbados.

A number of natural and man made disasters have had an effect on the working of Irish freemasonry in Barbados. The hurricane of 11th August 1831 destroyed the Masonic Temple crushing nine people and also destroying warrant #622 Hibernian Lodge.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland minutes of 2nd September 1832 notes: ‘ granted a duplicated (free of charge) original being destroyed in the late hurricane’.

A second duplicate warrant was issued on 6th January 1843; this was due to a dispute, which had arisen between Hibernian # 622 and Amity # 277 in 1841. The duplicate warrant was issued in the names of Anthony Howard, Philip Simpson and Henry P. Thomas.

On 2nd July 1840 Lodge Amity # 277 sent a query to Grand Lodge asking how far the legislative enactment’s freeing slaves affected their admissibility into the order, but consideration of this was postponed by Grand Lodge. In 1841 Lodge Amity # 277 was chastised by Grand Lodge for acting” in a manner unnecessarily harsh and arbitrary” towards number # 622.

On 5th February 1844 Grand Lodge gave a ruling after further inquires by # 622, “ That a person born in bondage could be admitted to the Order by special dispensation if he were otherwise desirable”.

The warrant of Lodge Amity # 277 is recorded as being returned on 3rd November1842 in dissatisfaction at the Duke of Leinster’s refusal to appoint any further Provincial Grand Masters outside of Ireland. However this is questionable as Amity #277 continued to work until 1847. The volume of the Sacred Laws of Lodge Amity # 277was presented to the Research Lodge of Amity No. 9073 E.C in 1983 by Wor. Bro. N.G.D. Atwell.

I believe that Henry P.Thomas indicated to the brethren of Amity #277 that he intended to propose a man born as a slave or he proposed him. This created a serious rife between the Hibernian and Amity. Hence the enquiry to Grand Lodge.

The disharmony started within # 622 Hiberian Lodge the senior Irish Lodge with regards to Amity # 277 continued and Henry P. Thomas was suspended in July 1844 and a line was drawn through his name on the warrant.

The master in 1845 James R. G. Marshall unlawfully withheld the warrant and Grand Lodge had to send a special dispensation dated 25th February, 1846 in the names of William Simpson, John. T. Hinkson and James Carstairs to permit the Lodge to meet. This disharmony continued and no further returns were made after 1846. The warrant was cancelled on 2nd December 1858. This warrant was reissued to,” Inyati-Rossburgh Lodge” in Belliar, Natal South Africa 1st March 1928 and is still an active Lodge.

The most junior Lodge to be issued with warrant to work in Barbados #282 Lodge Shamrock 5th May 1842 registered only 21 members. The warrant was destroyed by fire in 1845 and the lodge broke up shortly after. They had tried to get one of their members Bro. Lt. Col. Charles Malassez named as Provincial Grand Master but to no avail.

The last Irish Lodge to work in Barbados based on the records of the Grand Lodge of Ireland was a Military Lodge. Lodge # 322 issued on 3rd May 1759 to brethren in the 29th Foot Regiment, later the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment, now the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot). The lodge was originally known as the Glittering Star Lodge, however it was known as St. John’s Lodge in 1870.

The regiment moved to Barbados on 29th November 1870 and a meeting is recorded as being held in Barbados on 27th December 1870.

It was at this meeting that it was proposed that, “ a good man should be chosen from the privates of the Regiment, and be initiated, passed and raised for the purpose of being a permanent Tyler” to the lodge. This confirms the impression that the Lodge members were restricted to Officers and NCO’s.

At the meeting of 11th January 1871 the officers elected at the last meeting were duly installed. At this time the Regiment had companies on detachment, noted that no fewer than fourteen members were absent on detachment. The last meeting was held in Barbados was 6th July 1871and shortly after, the Regiment returned to Ireland with the next meet being held at Templmore, Ireland on 5th August 1871.

Conclusion

The abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807 and the Emancipation of Slaves in 1834 brought with it some adjustments. It would appear that these adjustments had a serious affect on the harmony of many of the lodges in Barbados.

On 13th November 1836 the Grand Lodge of Scotland defined ‘free’ (a) ‘as “a person free at the time of his application for admission into a lodge being his own master and capable of governing his own time and action”.

Following an enquiry by Lodge Amity No. 277 in Barbados dated 2nd July 1840 the Grand Lodge of Ireland sought to find out from the United Grand Lodge of England if it had any regulation on the subject of free men who were born as slaves. It took four years for the Grand Lodge of Ireland to send the following reply.

“By the ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry no person who has been born in bondage is, in the ordinary course, eligible to be admitted into the order. That in such case where the candidate is otherwise a desirable person, the course open is by dispensation. That in the case out of which the present enquiry has arisen, they recommend to the Grand Lodge to grant such dispensation when Lodge 622 applies forwarding the candidates name.”

It can be no mere coincidence that Lodge Scotia 340 S.C. was warranted on 5th February 1844 by members of Albion some of whom were members of the Irish Constitution as well.

By 2nd December 1858 the six Irish Lodges of Barbados, two Irish Lodges in Grenada and the single Irish Lodge in St. Lucia and Trinidad and the four Irish Lodges in Jamaica were extinct.

Irish freemasonry returned to the Caribbean through South Carolina Lodge, 1st West India Regiment No. 390 in Kingston Jamaica (warranted on 27th October1905). However the lodge was actually consecrated in Sierra Leone on 27th February 1906 as the Battalion rotated between Sierra Leone and Jamaica. Following the First World War the Battalion moved into permanent quarters in Jamaica. In 1927 the West India Regiment was disbanded and the warrant of the Lodge was surrendered to Grand Lodge. Later that year a group of civilians including Police and Prison Staff who had been connected with the Lodge applied for the reinstatement of the Lodge under the name of “The South Carolina Lodge No. 390 I.C” (warranted 6th December 1927). The consecration of the Lodge took place at 80 Hanover Street, Kingston on the 3rd April 1928.

In a paper presented by Aviston D. Downes of the Faculty of Humanities, Department of History University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus on Friday November 6 1998 entitled, ‘The Limits of Brotherhood: Colour, Class, Gender in Freemasonry in Barbados, 1880-1914’ he states: ‘Barbadian non whites had gained entry into Freemasonry long before 1880 but they were almost all confined to the membership of the Scotia Lodge 340 operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.’

I have no doubt that Irish Masons continued to meet well after the dates indicated in my research. Wor. Bro. Gilmore Rocheford remembers one of the last surviving Irish Masons Bro. Oscar Clarke. This warrants further research which I will try to address in a future paper.

Bibliography

  1. Irish Masonic Records by Very Worshipful Bro. Philip Crossl P.S.G.D and RT. Wor. Bro. Keith Cochrane.
  2. Website the Grand Lodge of Ireland. http://www.irish-freemasons.org/Pages_GL/GL_introduction.html
  3. The First Two Hundred Years 1790 to1990 of Albion Lodge by Wor. Bro. N.G.D Atwell P.D.S.G.W. P.M.195ER, 2253E.C. 9073E.C.
  4. Early Freemasonry in the Eastern Caribbean by Wor. Bro. Neville G.D.Atwell, JP, PADGC,PDSGW, PM 196ER, 2253EC, 9073EC, & 1750 SC.
  5. Prince Hall Freemasonry by George Draffen of Newington, P.J.G.D. P.M. Depute Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Scotland (13 May 1976).
  6. The Limits of Brotherhood: Colour, Class and Gender in Freemasonry in Barbados, 1880 – 1914 by Aviston D. Downes.
  7. Jubilee Year Book of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland. 50th Edition Edinburgh 2001.
  8. A paper entitled, “West Indian Freemasonry “ by The Hon Mr. Justice Garvin M Scott delivered at Sir Robert Moray Lodge No. 1641 on 2nd August 1973