Temple 51 brief History
I was delighted to welcome representatives from Temple Lodge No 51, Arthur
Square and Edenderry Lodge No 544 Crumlin Road to our museum in
Rosemary Street last night, before they went upstairs to hold a combined
meeting in the Provincial Grand Lodge Room. For those of you, not familiar
with these two Lodges, I can tell you that a visit from Temple 51 to the Museum
was quite fitting, as the Museum of Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim was
originally established by Very Wor Bro Samuel Leighton, a member of Lodge,
Royal Arch and Preceptory 51 at the turn of the 20th Century. Sam was a noted
Masonic Researcher and Author, Foundation Member of The Irish Lodge of
Research No 200 and was Provincial Grand Lodge Organist for a number of
years. He is credited with writing the music for the various musical odes used at
opening and closing of Provincial Grand Lodge meetings, and these tunes are
now widely used throughout the Irish Constitution.
Warrant 544 was issued to Edenderry Lodge in 1922 and their Constitution took
place on the 14th December 1922. Their Foundation Master was Dr James W.
Ritchie, a medical practitioner in North Belfast and his two Foundation
Wardens were Alexander Lyons, who in his working life was the chief warder
in the Crumlin Road prison and Robert J Gill, who was employed as a
For your reading pleasure, we include below, a shortened version of the history
of Temple Lodge No 51 prepared by Very Wor Bro Samuel Leighton in the
1920’s and made available to Lodge members and other interested local Masons
at the time. This is a Lodge, Constituted on the 1st September 2849, which at
that time met in the Lodge rooms at 14Castle Lane, Belfast.
Temple Masonic Lodge No. 51. Researched and written by Samuel
The Warrant for Lodge 51 was originally issued to Sligo, in the year 1817,
where it remained until returned to Grand Lodge in 1846, to be again issued, in
1849, to Bro. Jas. Coates, John Johnston, and Wm. Cooper, the founders of the
present Lodge, which has, since that time, regularly continued meeting in
Belfast, with varying periods of depression and success. The first mention of the
new Lodge is to be found in a Minute of Lodge 88, as follows:-
“14, Castle Lane, – 6th 4ugust, 1849.
An application having been made to the W.M. for the use of our lodge-rooms,
by several brethren who were applying for a Grand Lodge Warrant No. 51,
and expecting to be installed in October next, Resolved – That they be
accommodated on the same terms as Lodge 59; the W.M. to make the
The terms were as follows
“To pay £6 per annum, payable half-yearly in advance, and also retaining
and defraying the expenses of the Tyler.”
It will thus be seen that we commenced our career as tenants of Lodge 88, in 14,
Castle Lane, the position of which is described by those who can recall that
remote period, as having been situated just opposite the stage door of the
theatre, and on the premises of the present Abercorn Hotel. It is pleasant to
think, that, whilst then occupying the same lodge-rooms together, the brethren
of 51 and 88 still remain on the most friendly and brotherly terms.
The Warrant bears the date of 11th September, 1849; and of the brethren who
formed the Lodge I cannot find that any survive. The oldest living member is
Bro. Beath (1850), who is still resident in Belfast, and although not now taking
an active part in Masonry, was a leading member during many years. He was
one of a few enthusiasts – to whom all honour is due – who kept the Lodge
working in the face of many difficulties, and but for whom the Warrant would
have been returned to Dublin. Their faithfulness and fidelity is herewith
Bro. Charles Longford, who was admitted in 1855, is still in the enjoyment of
this life, being resident in Dublin. He is, I believe, the oldest surviving member
next to Bro. Beath and is entitled to our regards as one of the enthusiasts
Bro. Gordon (1856) is the only other surviving member admitted in the ’50’s of
whom I can hear; he served the Lodge faithfully in times gone by, and merits
our best thanks.
The next in seniority whom I can trace is Bro. Savage, of Ballylesson, who was
admitted in February, 1864, and nothing delights him more than to recall the
memories of that time, in connection with his mother Lodge.
Bro. Coates, the “Father” of the Lodge, died a few years ago, and many of the
present members will have a clear recollection of his venerable and gentlemanly
presence, as he sat in the post of honour, which was always accorded to him
whenever he visited the Lodge.
The minutes of the first meeting on record are as follows:-
Regular Meeting of Lodge 51, held at No. 14, Castle Lane, on Tuesday, the
24th day of June, 1851:-
“Minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed, the following members
Bro. Cooper, W.M.; Bro. Cowan, S.W.; Bro. Clarke, Bro. J.W.; Bro. Levy,
S.D.; Bro. Dale, J.D.; Bro. Clendenning, I.G.; Bro. Woolfenden; Bro. Brown
and Bro. Lipsey, Sec.
Moved, seconded, and passed, that Bro. Dale get an allowance of 1/- per
chair, on the 30 chairs purchased by him for the use of the Lodge, the same
not being required.
Bro. Levy handed in Bro. Moorehead’s transfer fee and yearly subscription.
Moved by Bro. Dale, and seconded by Bro. Clendinning, that Bro. Levy be
paid the amount due to him for clothing, provided for Bro. Coates where S.W.
of the he Provincial Grand Lodge and W.M. of 51. £5. 3s. 6d.
Moved by Bro. Dale, and seconded by Bro. Lipsey, that Bro. Levy’s account
for clothing supplied to Bro. Johnston, when Supt. of Works for “Provincial
Grand Lodge, be paid. £3.
Bro. Robt. Brown was appointed I.G., and Bros. Cooper and Clarke auditors.
The Lodge was then closed, according to the ancient and honourable custom
of Freemasonry, by solemn prayer, until the second Wednesday in August,
unless in case or cases of emergency, of which the brethren shall have due
Pro Wm. Cowan, W.M.
Jas. Lipsey, Sec.”
The Lodge continued sitting in 14, Castle Lane until May, 1852, when
application was made for accommodation in the Masonic Hall, Donegall Place
Buildings ; but this not being available, rooms were secured in Castle
Chambers, from a Mr. Gordon, at a yearly rent of £25, and the tenancy entered
upon in June of the same year. Some idea of the prosperity of the Lodge at this
time, may be gathered from the fact, that at this meeting the Treasurer submitted
his statement of accounts, from which it appeared that there was a balance to the
credit of the Lodge of £55. 15s. 3d. The average attendance, however, all
through the ’50’s, was not more than 10 members. Lodges 58 (now defunct), 88,
97, 106, 111, and 272 also occupied these rooms afterwards, as tenants of 51.
The election of officers took place twice a year ; but we frequently find the
same officers re-elected for another term. Half-yearly elections were continued
until the year 1875, when the present arrangements for annual elections came
It is worthy of note that, on 9th August, 1854, we have a minute to the
“Bro. Echlin, as J.W., appointed Bro. Beath I.G. for the ensuing six months.”
From which it seems that at this time, the J.W. appointed the I.G. It was
customary to confer the first and second degrees upon the same night.
An ancient custom was that of conferring all degrees – Blue, Red, and Black –
under the Blue Warrant. This, however, was done away with when the Order
became more subject to discipline, and the Grand Lodge superintendence
more strict. Masons exalted to the higher degrees under the old system are
not now recognised, except they have been readmitted, in due form, under the
On 27th December, 1853, an unusual honour seems to have been paid the
Lodge, as I find “that the three principal officers elect, on the invitation of the
R.W. the P.G. Master, repaired to the P.G. Lodge-room, when Bro. Lipsey was
duly installed W.M. of this Lodge.”
The regular night of meeting was, at this time, the second Wednesday, and was
altered, in October, 1864, to the fourth Wednesday; again, in June, 1865, it was
changed to the first Wednesday, which has been the regular night of meeting
The Lodge continued working in Castle Chambers until May, i860, when it was
removed to “The Masonic Hall,” Donegall Place Buildings, situated at the rear
of the promises at present occupied by Messrs. Anderson & M’Auley.
In consequence of the action of those political and secret organisation’s which
have kept Ireland more or less in a state of agitation during the greater part of
this century, an Act of Parliament was passed requiring the names and addresses
of the members of all friendly and secret societies, whatever their nature might
be, to be sworn to by affidavit, and lodged with the Clerk of the Peace. The
Masonic body was not exempt from the action of this law; and so we find, in
March, 1860, in names were duly sworn to, as follows:-
John Johnston, William Dale, James Lipsey, D. M’Cullough, Francis C.
Haddock, Peter Echlin, R.M. Beath, Jonathan Cordukes, Thomas
Cunningham, Henry Black, J.W. Carroll, Chas. Longford, James Rutherford,
Wm. Wilson, S. M’Lorn, Isaac Gordon, Jas. M’Neilly, Jas. Maclurcan, W.K.
It will thus be seen that the membership had become considerably reduced, and
the average attendance was so meagre that great difficulty was experienced in
holding the meetings.
The following minutes show the depressed condition of affairs:-
“Regular meeting of Temple Masonic Lodge, No. 51, at the Lodge-rooms,
Donegall Place Buildings, Wednesday, October 10th, 1860.
Bro. M’Lorn, W.M.
Bro. M’Neilly, S.W.
Bro. J. Johnston, J.W.
Bro. Maclurcan, S.D.
Bro. Gordon, J.D.
Bro. Beath, I.G.
In consequence of so few members being present, no business was brought
before the meeting, and the Lodge closed until the 14th November.
Samuel M’Lorn, W.M.”
The minutes of December 27th, 1860, are as follows:-
Bros. M’Lorn, W.M.; Lipsey, S.W.; Longford, J.W.; Thompson (visitor), S.D.;
Rutherford, J.D.; Beath, I.G.
The Lodge having been opened, it was proposed and passed, that the
caretaker be presented with a Xmas-box. No other business of importance
being before the meeting, the Lodge was closed.
The brethren afterwards met and dined together in their lodge-rooms, and the
evening was spent in harmony.
Samuel M’Lorn, W.M.”
This St. John’s Day dinner shows a remarkable contrast to the Installation
dinners of recent years, when 70 to 80 brethren usually assemble round our
A few faithful and enthusiastic brethren, however, met regularly in order to
keep the Warrant; but, under such depressing circumstances, even the most
energetic are apt to lose heart, and so, on June 12th, 1861, at the regular
meeting, 8 members being present, we find it recorded – “That the propriety of
continuing or dissolving the Lodge was discussed by the brethren, but without
coming to any definite conclusion.”
The following notice of motion was, however, given by Bro. Beath:- “That, on
our next night of meeting, he would move that the Lodge be dissolved, and a
committee appointed to wind up the affairs.”
The “next meeting” did not take place till August 17th, 1861, only 5 being
present, when it was proposed by Bro. Beath, and seconded by Bro. Longford –
“That the Lodge affairs be wound up by sale of effects and paying all liabilities.
Bros. Beath, Gordon, and Haddock were appointed a committee to carry out the
After this, no meeting seems to have been held till December 27th, 1861, 6
members being present, when the business proceeded, apparently without any
reference being made to the foregoing resolution. Bro. Haddock was installed
W.M.; Bro. Gordon, S.W.; Bro. Beath, J.W.; Bro. Longford, Secretary; and Bro.
M’Lorn, I.G.; and the Lodge closed till February 12th, 1862.
At this meeting 5 members of 51 and 2 visiting brethren were present, but still
no signs of dissolution appear; on the contrary, things seem to be mending and
in a better state, for we find that an annual vote of £3 was passed to the Belfast
Masonic Charity Fund, and Bro. Longford appointed representative thereto.
This was the year in which this fund was started. Accounts amounting to £5 2s.
8d. were passed for payment, and the Lodge closed till second Wednesday in
On March 12th only 3 brethren of 51 and 2 Visiting brethren were present,
when Bros. Longford and Gordon were appointed to make an affidavit before a
magistrate as to the registry of members of the Lodge. This is the last entry I
find referring to this formality, as the action of this law ceased to operate
against Freemasons about this time.
No meeting was held in April; but on May 14th only 5 members and 2 visitors
were present and another interval occurs till September 10th, when accounts
amounting to £3 5s. 0d. were passed for payment.
The next meeting was held on December 10th, when only 3 members turned up
– Bros. Beath, Johnston, and Longford – and the following truly Masonic
resolution was passed:- “That Bro. Johnston be again made a member of the
Lodge, and that the past be forgotten.”
On January 14th, 1863, “Bro. Johnston was elected W.M. for the ensuing term,
thus showing that the resolution referred to above had been carried out in spirit
and in truth. At this meeting the same 3 brethren were the sole representatives
of Masonry, and, by resolution, the rent of Lodge 111 was reduced to £5 per
The next meeting, held on March 11th,1863, was a remarkable one, the same 3
faithful brethren being present, in addition to 4 members from 111. It was
proposed by Bro. Beath, and seconded by Bro. Longford -“That the members
of 111, collectively, become members of 51, they transferring all their property
to our chest, but not to be liable for our debts the transfer fees to come out of
general funds. Passed unanimously.”
At the May meeting, the proposed brethren were formally and separately
balloted for, and all admitted except one; Bros. Johnston and Longford being
the only members of 51 present. It does not appear, however, that the coalition
was so complete as is suggested by the above resolution. Lodge 111 did not
wind up its affairs, but manifestly continued working under its own Warrant,
and with considerable success, as is testified by the present position of this
highly respected and well worked Lodge.
Minute of 27th December, 1864:-
“Passed – That Bro. Lyons be not charged fees whilst living beyond his cable
tow.” This is a practice that has not been perpetuated, as members are now
expected to accept with membership all the responsibilities attached to it, no
matter where they may be resident.
At this time a wave of prosperity set in, and the efforts of the brethren, who had
been working the Lodge through a period of great depression, were rewarded by
a large influx of members, on transfer, affiliation, and initiation, which placed it
upon a most successful footing, and the attendance at the monthly meetings
became correspondingly large.
The secretaryship had been held by Bro. Longford through a lengthened period,
and it was no doubt a great satisfaction to him to see the prosperity which had
ensued. On resigning his office, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to him
for his services, in which the present brethren will join, knowing how much
they owe to his faithful attention at a time when it was so much needed. He was
succeeded by Bro. J.D. Templeton in 1866.
On March 7th, 1866, a balance of £59 2s. 0d. was declared in favour of the
Lodge, which speaks for itself. Indeed, it is remarkable that at no time was
there a deficiency of funds, even when the paucity of members might have
On 6th January, 1869, in the last minute recorded in the old book, I find that
accounts amounting to £55 18s. 1 1½d. were passed : enough, surely, for one
In May, 1870, the Lodge removed to the New Masonic Hall, Arthur Square,
having arranged with the House Committee to take over its furniture and
belongings: a relic of which may still be seen in the Arch-room, in the shape of
the S.W.’s chair, which bears a plate showing the previous ownership. It does
not, however, appear that the change of address contributed to the continued
success of the Lodge for a manifest falling off took place, both in attendance
and in the number of admissions, which fell much below the previous year.
However, I find that a small number of faithful brethren, worthy successors of
that trusty few who piloted the old craft successfully through the shallow waters
of the early ‘6o’s,’ stuck closely by the old number, and worked it once more
over a critical period: amongst whom honourable mention may be made of
Bros. S. Abernethy, R. Corry, and J.D. Templeton, to whom much credit is due
for their assiduous labours.
Bro. Samuel Abernethy’s unwearied and lengthened services were formally
recognised on March 15th, 1876, when he was made the recipient of a P.M.’s
jewel; and again, in January, 1888 (on his retirement from the Lodge, in
consequence of failing health), he was presented with a handsomely illuminated
address album, and was made an honorary member. His interest in the Craft has
never relaxed, and the affairs of 51 in particular never fail to rouse his interest
and enthusiasm. The brethren cherish lively recollections of his genial and
animated presence, as well as of the earnest and impressive manner with which
he always conferred the degrees, and his welfare and happiness are subjects of
the warmest interest to all who have the pleasure of knowing him.
The Lodge continued working, “in peace, love, and harmony,” through the early
’70’s, with but a meagre average attendance. In 1875, however, with the advent
of a number of enthusiastic musical brethren, success again ensued, and the
Lodge continued to advance in prosperity and popularity until 1880, when it
touched its highest level, which position it has steadily maintained up till the
It was the writer’s privilege to introduce a musical ritual into the various degrees
and ceremonies, which tended to greatly enhance their solemnity and
impressiveness, as well as making them more attractive. This innovation was
viewed with no favourable eye by the older members of the Craft in Belfast,
who were so jealous of the old landmarks, that anything in the shape of a
novelty at once excited their opposition. The music was, however, such a
palpable improvement, and commended itself so much to the best judgement of
the brethren generally, that soon the murmurings ceased, and it became the
established rule to have music to all the ceremonies. It is gratifying to think that
51 is not now the only Lodge which indulges in this practice many Lodges in
Belfast having adopted the “Ode Card,” which has received the sanction and
approval of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
The fame of the musical powers of 51 having become known, the committees of
the local Charities resolved to utilise them in the cause of the widow and
orphan, and accordingly invited the Lodge to give a concert in aid of the
Masonic Charities of Belfast – an invitation which was at once accepted, and
heartily entered into. The concert was given in the Victoria Hall, on February
15th, 1878, and proved a great success, a handsome sum being realised after
paying expenses, which was equally divided between the Charities; and in
recognition of this effort, Bro. Saml. Abernethy, as a P.M. of 51, was made a
life member of both committees.
The programme was sustained (with one exception) entirely by the members of
51 and their lady friends, and is of historical interest, as being the inauguration
of that series of concerts which led up to, and are now merged into, those annual
meetings, so well known and so highly appreciated, and which have tended to
bring these Charities into that popular favour which they now enjoy.
As Lodge 51 was the originator of the series, it seems a fitting coincidence that
no performance has since been given without at least one representative of that
Lodge contributing to it, and it has been the pleasure and privilege of the writer
to conduct, not only this inaugural concert, hut many others of the series. It
may be interesting to have the programme of this performance recorded in this
place, and it is here appended:-
[There follows a copy of the programme]
The large influx of well-known amateurs, who threw themselves heartily into
the business of Masonry, and by the exercise of their talents made the
ceremonies impressive, and the pleasures of the refreshment board attractive,
won for the Lodge the sobriquet of the “Musical Lodge,” and what with solos,
both instrumental and vocal, – part songs, duet’s, and trios, the first Wednesday
in the month was always looked forward to with pleasurable anticipation. All
things are, however, subject to change, and our Lodge is no exception. Some of
the brethren referred to have left the city, some have “crossed the bar,” and
other circumstances have contributed to reduce their numbers but although we
cannot boast of so many musicians as formerly, I trust it will be long ere Icabod
will be pronounced, or that our good old Mother loses her reputation for either
music, mirth, or hospitality.
It may seem invidious to mention any names in this connection, but I cannot
refrain from giving honourable mention to Bros. J. M’Wade, H. Campbell,
David Brittain, W.E. Bullick, A. Anderson, Hiram Galloway, John Dickson,
Kenneth Stewart, Nevin H. Foster, A.P. Dalzell, A. Cotter, and W.J. Devers,
who have, one and all, contributed materially to the success of the Lodge music.
When the “Hall Purchase Scheme” was proceeding, 51 was not lukewarm in its
support, the sum of £109 being subscribed. In connection with this matter, Bro.
Alex. Anderson P.M. 51, P.P.J.G.W. deserves more than passing mention,
having given much of his time (in conjunction with Bro. Thos. Nesbitt,
D.P.G.S.) in ventilating the scheme amongst the lodges sitting in the Hall, and
it is gratifying to know that if is now placed upon so safe a footing, and that the
building soon will belong absolutely to the Masonic body, clear of debt, as a
central meeting place, with a settled income, which will be available for
Masonic charitable purposes; all who have helped to this desirable end have
reason to congratulate themselves upon the result, and to no one is the credit
due more than to Bro. Thos. Nesbitt, whose indefatigable efforts are worthy of
the heartiest commendation.
The Hall was originally subscribed for in £1 shares by the Masons of the
district, and cost some £12,000. It was erected from plans designed by our late
lamented Pro. G. Master, Sir Charles Lanyon. The foundation-stone was laid on
24th June, 1868, with full Masonic ritual, the procession being large and
imposing, notwithstanding the unfavourable weather. In the evening there was
a banquet, which was largely attended, and the proceedings passed off with
The result, however, was a financial failure, and the property in a few years
passed out of the possession of the fraternity into the hands of a Building
Society, which held a mortgage upon it; but the building has now been acquired
on such terms as will effectually secure it to the Craft for all time to come.
Trustees have been appointed in the persons of Bros. Wm. Joseph Stokes,
P.P.J.G.W., P.M. 88; Wm. John Williamson, P.M 103; and Thos. Nesbitt,
D.P.G.S., P.M, 97.
The Trust Deed has been carefully drawn up to the satisfaction of all concerned,
signed by the trustees and committee representing the lodges, and by Bro. A.
Thompson, P.J.G.W., P.M. 51, as chairman of the final meeting summoned for
the purpose. He i6 worthy of special mention, as a prominent member of 51
who assisted in bringing to a definite conclusion this important arrangement,
whereby the Hall has been acquired for a net sum of £3,500.
We frequently hear it remarked by those who have no knowledge of Masonry
that she exists solely for the purpose of cultivating the social pleasures but this
is a great mistake. Masonry has higher and loftier aims than the mere pleasures
of the table; and if I were asked to name some of them, I would point to those
noble schools in Dublin, where 130 orphan girls and boys, children of deceased
Irish Masons, are educated and trained in such a way as to fit them for entering
upon the struggle of life, with advantages and prospects of success which they
could not otherwise have possibly had.
I would point to the local Belfast Charities, which annually spend about £1,000
in relieving the wants and distresses of the widow and orphan, as well as of
destitute brethren, who, perhaps, through no fault of their own, have become
reduced to indigence and want. Should such an one be found sick and needy, he
is carefully nursed and tended ; and in case of his death, Bumbledom is not
“Rattle his bones over the stones,
“lie’s only a pauper whom nobody owns”;
for there is a plot of ground in the Borough Cemetery consecrated to
Masonry, in which he will be reverently interred.”
I would remind them of the fact that over £100,000 are annually subscribed by
Freemasons of the United Kingdom towards masonic charitable purposes, and
ask, “Do these facts not speak for themselves ? Are such results fit subjects for
scoff and ridicule, and unworthy of consideration ?” – Surely no one would
reply in the affirmative.
The social aspect is, no doubt, an important part of the general constitution.
Friendships are made and cemented at the social board, which otherwise might
be difficult of attainment; but sociality, as a part of Masonry, is only of
secondary consideration, and merely an adjunct to the greater principles of
universal Morality, Benevolence, and Charity.
Men may have the desire for ameliorating the lot of those less fortunately
circumstances than themselves, but, individually, may not find favourable
opportunities: Masonry, however, supplies these, and gives ample scope for the
exercise of those kindlier feelings of sympathy and brotherly love which are at
once the pride and boast of the Craft.
The record of our Lodge in this matter, although the sum total may not be so
very great, still, considering the class from which our members are drawn, is not
to be despised as unworthy of being recorded in this place.
Towards the various Masonic charities we have contributed, to the end of 1892
The Belfast Widows’ Fund £154. 13s. 0d.
The Belfast Charity Fund .. 90. 10s. 6d.
In the Masonic Orphanage for Girls, Dublin, the following endowments have
W. M. £10. 0s. 0d
S. W. £10. 0s. 0d
J.W. £10. 0s. 0d
Bro. W. T. Braithwaite, P.M. £10. 0s. 0d
The bazaar which was so successfully carried out in Belfast in 1883, for the
benefit of the local Charities, was heartily supported by this Lodge, and a total
sum of £200 was placed to its credit in that undertaking.
In the general management of the Lodge, “The Board of General Purposes”
performs a useful and important work. It consists of all the P.M.’s, the W.M.
and Wardens for the time being; its duties are to assist the W.M. in the
management of the Lodge, to consult and discuss all matters in which the
general welfare is concerned, such as the admission of candidates, elections,
&,c., &c., so as to be able, after due deliberation, to advise and regulate all
business that may be brought before the Lodge with premeditation, and not in a
The influence and action of this committee has hitherto been attended with the
happiest results, its establishment having led to an harmonious union between
the members of the Lodge generally, and the P.M.’s in particular, and to the
prevention of any friction, which sometimes is the cause of unpleasantness. It
has also been the means of preserving the active interest of the older members,
and keeping them together in a way that otherwise might have been difficult, the
result being a sympathetic, friendly, and harmonious working together for the
best interests of the Lodge, which is now in a flourishing condition, both
numerically, financially, and in point of attendance: a condition which, it is to
be hoped, may long continue, so that it may be enabled to maintain the noblest
traditions of the Craft, which are worthy of the heartiest support of every
In the latter end of 1877 the following important resolution was issued by The
Grand Lodge of Ireland to all lodges under its jurisdiction, and ordered to be
recorded on the minutes: –
“Whereas, the Grand Lodge of Ireland has received official notification that
the Grand Orient of France has altered the first article of its constitution from
its previous form, and omitted therefrom, as one of its fundamental principles,
a belief in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. the Grand
Lodge of Ireland hereby resolves That the Grand Orient of France having, by
such alteration, rendered admissible, as members of lodges within its
jurisdiction, individuals who do not believe in the existence of a Personal
Deity, has thereby caused a breach in the foundation of Ancient Masonry,
and acted in violation of the first great principle of the Order, and, therefore,
the Grand Lodge of Ireland declares that it cannot continue to recognise the
Grand Orient of France as a Masonic body, and directs all lodges working
under the Irish constitution to decline receiving, as Masons, any person
hailing from the Grand Orient of France, or front any subordinate lodge
under its jurisdiction.”
This resolution received the fullest acceptance from all Masons outside the
jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of France.
[There follows a copy, and translation of the Constitution of the Masonic Order
The principles of Masonry are so broad and wide in their application, that both
Jew and Gentile, Christian and Mohammed, can meet upon a common platform,
and greet each other as brothers ; but whilst she favours no particular form of
religion, and recognises no Church, she demands, as a fundamental principle, a
belief in a Supreme Being and the Immortality of the Soul. It is only against the
Atheist that her portals are closed ; and so long as this principle is maintained,
together with the twin attributes, Benevolence and Charity, she may be
considered to be established upon a foundation at once strong, safe, and secure;
but should the time ever come when these fundamental principles should be
allowed to lapse, when they should cease to be chief corner stones in the
foundation, from that day the superstructure may be expected to crumble into
In the history of human institutions, Freemasonry has a unique record. No other
can boast of such antiquity, or of having so successfully withstood the shocks of
time, and the attacks of enemies both from within and without. Successive
occupants of the Papal throne and their agents have hurled the thunderbolts of
Rome against her, have issued bulls and excommunications, times without
number, and used every means in their power to stamp the Order out of
existence, but all in vain. Freemasonry stands immovable and impregnable in
her inherent strength; and notwithstanding persecution, envy, hatred, malice,
and all uncharitable ness, she is numerically stronger, and socially more
powerful, to-day than ever she has been before. Kings, princes, and potentates
do not hesitate to patronise the Order and join in its assemblies, and “have not
thought it beneath them to exchange the sceptre for the trowel.” The principles
upon which she is founded are unassailable in their integrity; the principles of
brotherly love and charity are so broad and universal, that Freemasons only
smile in derision at the fulminations of Rome, well knowing that the evils
attributed to them are non-existent.
The Order is non-political and non-sectarian, and based upon the truths of a
morality that finds acceptance with every creed, and, in the observance of
which, men are drawn to each other in a union of sympathy, which is calculated
to make them better men and better citizens, better fitted to live their shortened
lives in this world, and better prepared to enter upon the life of immortality in
the world that is to come.
It should be the earnest endeavour of every Mason to soften and subdue those
selfish passions with which all are more or less imbued, and to foster and
encourage those kindlier feelings of peace and go6d-will to men, which should
be the key-stone to every Mason’s heart. The great and immutable truths of
cripture furnish moral lessons and precepts which are incontrovertible, and form
a common basis upon which all men can agree; and so long as Freemasonry
holds steadfastly by these truths, she can and will defy all the powers that man
can bring to bear against her.
Compiled by Bro. Samuel Leighton 1893