TALK ON
 St. PATRICK'S MASONIC LODGE



Given by the late

W. Bro. Jim Adamson

at the 250th Anniversary meeting on 17th March,
2006.



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Introduction.

 

It is down on the Circular for the Meeting as a talk on St. Patrick's Masonic Lodge and nothing else. When first asked to say a few words I thought that to devote only one minute to each year of the Lodge's existence would not be too difficult a task until of course I realised that having you sitting here for some four hours would not make me very popular, so back to basics.

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St. Patrick and Carrickfergus.

 

First, and possibly foremost, St. Patrick, and why in the 18th Century did a Lodge of Freemasons adopt the name. There are very few concrete facts regarding the man Patrick, plenty of myth and legend some of which are now taken as fact. I will not dwell too long on the subject other than to say that Patrick was born quite close to the town of Carlisle in the north of England in approximately the year 405, his parents were Roman, they were Christian, and no doubt they had settled in this part of Roman Britain either by choice or having been stationed there. He was well educated but at the age of approximately 16 he was captured, or possibly indentured, during one of the many incursions by the Irish and taken back to Ireland where he spent the next six years, and I have no doubts that these were the years he spent in and around Slemish and the Glens.
He returned to his parents in approx. 437, now a young man in his twenties, but still in his mid-twenties, following his Christian calling, he returned to Ireland in the year 440, and particularly to the northeast part of the Island, an area he loved. That he ministered all over Ireland is now recognised and he eventually declared himself Bishop of the Church in Ireland a position which he held until he died in his late seventies in 493. Of the 50 odd years between his calling back to Ireland and his death we have the myth and the legend.
Coming to myth and legend, in the Topographical Dictionary of the towns of Ireland by Lewis of London printed in the year 1837 we find the town referred to as Dun-Sobarky or Dun-Sobairchia, taken from a prince named Sobairchius who had made the place his residence. The present name is of course taken from Fergus the Scottish Prince who lost his life whilst coming, according to legend, to effect a cure from a Well on the rock, hence Crag, Craig and eventually Carrickfergus. There is mention in the Dictionary of an ancient triad which records that St. Patrick blessed a tower or strong hold in which was a well of miraculous efficacy,
"The Well of St. Patrick". There is of course a well in the Castle better known to the old locals as "Buttencap's Well" but what price would some of the modem bottlers of water pay to have such a legend behind their product. There is little doubt that a fortified structure was in existence before the Normans began the present structure in the 12th Century. This with subsequent additions is now considered one of the finest Norman Castles in Ireland.

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Before Grand Lodges.

 

Now we come to Freemasonry. When did it start, especially in Carrickfergus? The easy and official answer is of course 1755 when the first warrant was issued to True Blue Lodge and given the number 253. However, let us think back, the Grand Lodge of England was established in London by four unnumbered Lodges in 1717. In Ireland we have no record other than the Dublin newspaper article of 1725 referring to the Installation of the Grand Master, hence the Grand Lodge of Ireland takes its date from this known record 1725. We also have another Grand Lodge, known as the Grand Lodge of Munster. With our Prov. Grand Master present it would be wrong not to say a word about Prov. Gd. Lodge. The first was of course Cary and Dunluce founded in 1834 and lasted until 1849. The PGL of Belfast, Antrim and Massereene was founded in 1836 but didn't meet for at least four years due to the absence of the PGM and was eventually disbanded in 1844. The PGL of Belfast and North Down was founded in 1848 and this lasted until 1868 when the present PGL of Antrim was founded. Lodge 43 placed itself under the PGL of Antrim and North Down in 1864 and eventually under the present PGL It is interesting to note however that there was no PGM for the period 1898 to 1901 a three-year period. In 1890 we find the Lodge paying the PGL Dues of seven shilling and sixpence - oh happy days.

The main emphasis on this part of the talk Brethren is to say that ordinary Masonic Lodges were in existence before Grand Lodges or Prov. Gd. Lodges were formed. Warrants and therefore numbers for existing Lodges in Ireland did not commence to be issued until the 1730's and even then it was primarily in the metropolitan area of Dublin, which at the time was well influenced by the London Society.


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Why St. Patrick's?

 

St. Patrick's received its Warrant in 1756, and now let us add a little myth and legend of our own. Why did a Lodge warranted a year before not take the highly prized name of our Patron Saint? The inhabitants of the town at that time had strong connections with the west of Scotland, not only through trade but also primarily through the Calvinist form of religion, i.e. Presbyterianism. They would also have brought with them their system of masonry and of course in the formation of a Lodge they would have adopted the name St. Patrick, they looking upon him for not only what he had achieved in Ireland, but eventually with his teaching, example and Christian legacy throughout the whole of the British Isles. So it is my belief that masonry existed in the town before 1755 and even possibly before warrants began to be issued. With the issue of Warrants, when the Lodge applied in 1755 they couldn't use the name St. Patrick as a Lodge already existed called St. Patrick and it was when this Lodge saw that Lodge Warrants were now being issued by a Grand Lodge in Dublin that they then applied and received Warrant No. 270 in 1756. In saying all of this Brethren, let us remember that IT communication was not the vogue in the mid- eighteenth century, proper roads did not exist, and the Penny Post was not introduced until 1839. So now Lodge 43 has myth and legend, which no one can confirm, but which no one can disprove, written into its records.


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Warrants 270 and 43.

 

On the opening leaf of the Minute Book commencing in 1917 we find hand written the following History of Warrant No. 43

No. 43 was first issued to Waterford 20th Decr. 1735, and was cancelled by Order of Grand Lodge 1st July 1815, on 24th June 1817 it was re-issued to Carrickfergus. Names on Warrant, Ezekiel Milliken, Robert McAlpine, William McKinstry.

From inquiries from R. W. Bro. H. C. Flavelle, Grand Lodge Secretary a Masonic Warrant No. 270 was issued to Carrickfergus on 2nd June 1756, Original members Patrick McDowell, John Patterson, Pat. Allen and Whittney Bowman. The following note on No. 270 appears in Grand Lodge Register "This Warrant and Jewels were taken the time the French was in this place and the Lodge did not meet since"

From the earliest records available, this Warrant was returned by the French and was working continuously until 1817 . On the 24th May of that year (1817) the following is an extract from old Minute Book - "E. Milliken in the Chair when the old officers were re-elected and the Lodge voted to have a new Warrant"

Again on Nov 22nd 1817 "Lodge 270 met in due form when it was resolved that the Installation shall take place on Saturday 29th November 1817, of 43 at the hour of 6 o'c"

Again on Saturday 29th November 1817 "Lodge 270 met to install No. 43"


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Missing Warrant.

 

In regards to the Grand Lodge Register referred to above, I give below the following opening paragraph of the Introduction to Irish Masonic Records by Philip Crossle:

"The primary sources of this work are, of course, the archives of the Grand Lodge of Ireland: unfortunately, as Masonic students are only too well aware, the earliest of these to come down to us is a Register, which internal evidence shows to have been compiled about the year 1760 - apparently from returns made about that time. For 104 of the Warrants issued down to No. 361, 4th December, 1760, there is no record in this Register."

Coming now to the year 1760, the year of the French Invasion when they held the town to ransom for almost a week. The Lodge still has a connection, a strong connection with this period.
The Officer in charge of the garrison in the Castle was a Lt/Col Jennings, an ancestor of W. Bro. Tom Jennings who was initiated into the Lodge on the 22nd October 1948 and who is with us here today.

To say that the Lodge did not meet from 1760 until 1805, because as is alleged, they had no Warrant, does not take into account the maturing of the Ulster/Scot character and also the fact that the Warrant had been returned after the defeat of the French Force close to the Isle of Man. In a list of Lodges erased from the books of Grand Lodge of Ireland, ordered to be printed and which is dated November 1801, the Lodge Number 270 does not appear. Let us remember Brethren that Grand Lodge Minutes up to 1780 are missing and there are still some missing even after that period and most of the investigative work done by Masonic Researchers has been not only from Lodge Minute Books, but also Committee Books, Newspapers and other Masonic pamphlets


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A Busy Lodge.

 

We in Lodge 43 are reasonably lucky in that we have records going back to 1805, sometimes very scant but also at times revealing and it would be wrong if on this occasion some of these were not included in this talk.
7th March 1806: The Lodge met in due form, Ezk. Milliken Master. Bro. Wm. McAtamney was reported to become a member of this Lodge.

24th June 1806: The Lodge met in due form at an early hour when John Holmes was installed Master, Robt. Giffin Snr. Warden, John Wilson Jnr. Warden. Thomas Happin was entered and passed, John Connor was passed and Joseph Kirk passed. At twelve o'clock walked To Meeting accompanied with the different Lodges, viz 253, 430, 590, 615, 645, 725, 825, 915, 923.

Then Brethren we come to a Minute which today would break all Grand Lodge 5 Regulations, but which nevertheless I am sure they would be very glad to see:
2nd October 1824: Lodge in good order, John Wilson in the Chair when Wrn. Haggin was reported by John Moore likewise Andrew Lappin was reported by Wm. Boyle to become Masons, when David Moore, Samuel Moore, John Moore, Sam McAllister, Daniel McGuicken, Jas. Kirk, Jas Finney, Wrn. Haggan and Robt. McAllister was entered in the Lodge. Brethren these nine were duly crafted in November of the same year.

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Rev. James Warwick.

 

It would of course be boring at this time to go on giving examples of the Minute Book suffice to say that these are now held in the Hall Museum and may be viewed on request. A couple of items I would mention - on Sunday we shall be having our Church Service in Joymount Presbyterian Church at 3.30 p.m. This Congregation was formed in 1852 and the Minister in charge and eventually the Minister called was The Rev. James Warwick. In the Minutes of Lodge 43 we find:
May 16th 1853: Night of Emergency, Worshipful John Huston in the Chair when the Rev. James Warwick was reported by John Huston and Seconded by Edward Latimer to become initiated in this Lodge and he was entered and became a fellowcraft same night. (Minute signed by Edward Lattimer, Secretary)

Bro. Warwick was raised to Master Mason degree on the 1st. December of the same year. As you enter the Church on Sunday, you will see plaques in the Entrance Hall and the centre one of these is to the Rev. James Warwick.


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Family Connections.

 

Then Brethren there are also some very strong family connections with the Lodge, even though in some cases a generation may be missed but you can still see the connection. I have already mentioned the Jennings connection with 1760, it is of course quite possible for the Jennings of that time to have been a member, no one will ever know. We have at this moment a Wor. Bro. Robert A. Donald, initiated in 1979. In 1809 we have a John; in 1810 a Thomas; in 1811 a Robert; in 1812 a James; in 1815 a John and moving on we have a Robert in 1904 and Alex. M. in 1910 and I have been assured that this is a family line.

Then again Wallace: William in 1813; David in 1821; James 1913; Samuel 1945; Robert H. in 1946; William J.C. in 1966 and Christopher F. in 1971. I do know that Jim and Chris can go back to 1913, their Grandfather, who was D. of C. when I came into the Lodge in 1954.


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Calling the Workmen on Again to Labour.

 

Brethren one could continue but time does not allow, I have always found that a short Talk is a much more interesting one, but what I would say that to those who eventually look at the old Minutes you will see that even the Templar degree was being conferred in 1857 and in 1882 the Installation Ceremony took place on the three degrees.

I was going to conclude the talk with a non-masonic legend regarding the Stone of Scone, but all I would ask of our Scottish Friends, who are with us today, is when are they going to return it to its rightful home?

Brethren this has been a short talk, I hope an interesting one, and that it whets the appetite of aspiring researchers because there is much to be done so that no more of our Records go lost. Throughout the work I have been struck by the one most solid Consistency, and which also happens to be the Foundation Stone of our Great Order and that is "The Brotherhood of Man"

In conclusion therefore a few lines of a poem by John McNeill of Ballycarry and a poem so often recited in full by the late Rt. Wor. Bro. Milner at the many festive boards, which he attended:

"Tis midnight in Ballynamanagh
And the moonbeams are overhead,
As I, the spirit of Fergus,
Rise up from my secret bed,
To glide like a fleeting shadow
Past the base of the Knockagh hill,
And visit my city of Carrick,
As it lies in its slumber still."

Thank you Brethren for your kind attention to this short rambling.

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