1914: the famous World War I
recruiting poster featuring
© Hulton Archive/Getty Images
A patriotic postcard of Kitchener
"Unity is Strength"
© Michael Nicholson/Corbis
Of the many famous men who have been Freemasons,
the first Earl Kitchener of Khartoum may be considered
to have been the most active to patronise the Craft. In an
extraordinary life, his onerous military commitment to his
country was intertwined with the Masonic duties he pursued
on behalf of the fraternity.
He belonged to 15 Lodges and Chapters whilst serving
as District Grand Master of Egypt and the Sudan and of
the Punjab in India. He was simultaneously Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Army and later in India,
culminating in his appointment as Secretary of War
before his untimely death in 1916. At the time he was
holding active Masonic office.
Horatio Herbert Kitchener was born on 24 June 1850
near Ballylongford, Kerry, Ireland. Following in his father's
footsteps into the army, after varied posts he moved to
Egypt in 1882.
Freemasonry was well established in the area, having been
brought to Egypt in 1798 by Napoleon's armies and quickly
spread through the region. From the start, high-ranking
French officers were active members, encouraged by
They introduced eminent and respected native soldiers
and politicians that became the breeding ground for Kitchener
to become a Freemason some 50years later. The Masonic
legacy in Egypt was confused at best. French, Italian, English,
Scottish and Irish jurisdictions worked at times together
and at times at loggerheads. The formation of the National
Grand Lodge of Egypt in 1864, warranted by the Grand Orient
of Italy, only gave temporary relief to the confusion.
The National Grand Lodge of Egypt was quickly recognised, particularly in the light of the dignitaries who headed
it. Soon, however, disillusioned with the many unrecognised
Degrees and Orders being practiced by the National Grand
Lodge, England decided to form, for a second time, its own
District Grand Lodge, which brought some semblance of
order and control.
Kitchener was 33 when he was initiated, almost certainly,
in the Italian-speaking La Concordia Lodge No. 1226 in Cairo
in 1883. Some doubt as to the Lodge at which he was initiated
has arisen as a result of hand annotations in the records of the
listing of Grand Officers in Grand Lodge in England.
The annotation states:
`presumed to have been initiated in Star in (sic) the East Lodge 1355
Egyptian Grand Lodge in 1883, OR if not there, in La Concordia
This error may have been brought about by Kitchener's
details in the petitioner's warrant for the Drury Lane Lodge
No. 2127 referred to below. La Concordia Lodge, consecrated
with a group of other Lodges in 1868, was sadly erased in 1890
and there are no surviving records.