Perhaps, like his fellow tradesmen, after surviving through
the Napoleonic Wars, Broadhurst sought the equality and freedom
of speech for which he had fought, which was perhaps the
initial attraction to a society which, he felt, held those qualities.
At a Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Manchester in
October 1818, a resolution was passed which declared that
any Lodge whose membership was reduced to less than seven,
should not be considered ‘regular’ and the Warrant be
This resolution was used by Gage as a bureaucratic move to
complain about the UGLE, and sent shock waves through the
Liverpool Lodges, some of whom, such as the Ancient Union
Lodge, was an old ‘Antient’ Lodge which had at the time only
ten members. The Ancient Union Lodge held an emergency
meeting prior to the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting, and
sent a brother to attend to keep an eye on proceedings.
Many Lodges at this time had suffered a decline due to
the impact of the Combination Acts 1799-1800 – which
outlawed associations of workers against employers – and
the majority of Liverpool Lodges, some suffering more than
others from low attendance, bonded together.
This led to some Freemasons, such as Broadhurst, joining
other Lodges, a move which ensured the survival of the
struggling Lodge. The decisive meeting at the Castle Inn,
Liverpool, in November 1821, set the scene for rebellion.
A document was drafted with 34 signatures, including Gage
and Broadhurst, outlining the dissatisfaction felt by the rebels.
This move followed the drafting of a letter, which had been
addressed to the Duke of Sussex personally almost two years
previous. The letter was extremely direct and revealed the
anger felt by the rebels, complaining how certain ‘Modern’
practices were being enforced and how new rules concerning
the Royal Arch conflicted with traditional practices.
During this period, certain local Lodges had their own
slightly different practices, and hampered by the neglect of the
Provincial Grand Master within the rebellious areas of Liverpool
and Wigan, the rebels grew extremely sensitive to the transition
of the Union of the ‘Antient’ and ‘Modern’ practices.
In a letter to the Duke of Sussex, the rebels refer to an
incident in Bath, where petitions for Royal Arch Chapters
were dismissed by the Grand Chapter because it was “not
desirable to make the Number of Chapters in any place equal to
the Number of Lodges.”
The rebels seized upon this example, indicating that they
saw the Royal Arch as part of Craft Masonry, and the rejection
of the petitions was an abuse of power. The Duke of Sussex,
however, did not reply to the letter, which intensified the anger
of the rebels and culminated in the November 1821 meeting.
Broadhurst was Master of Ancient Union Lodge in 1821,
and along with William Walker, John Pilling and Thomas
Berry, represented their Lodge in the rebellion, adding their
signatures to the Castle Inn document.
Top to bottom
Wigan certificate of James Broadhurst, Wigan copperplate Summons and Wigan Grand Lodge Seal