The 34 brethren who signed the document were subsequently
suspended by the UGLE, and Gage’s Lodge, No.
31, was erased. This action created further isolation for the
suspended rebels as they were not allowed to visit any other
Lodges, ultimately providing greater bonding between them.
The dissent spread rapidly through Liverpool as certain
Lodges began to support their fellow brethren. The Liverpool based
Sea Captain’s Lodge No. 140 threatened to separate
itself from the UGLE if Lodge No. 31 was not reinstated,
and by the middle of 1822 a list of 65 brethren from Liverpool
and Wigan were recorded as being suspended.
On 2nd December 1822, a meeting was held at Lodge of
Harmony No. 385, at the Magpie and Stump in Key Street,
Liverpool. Lodge of Harmony, like Ancient Union Lodge,
had belonged to the Antient Grand Lodge before the Union
in 1813. This meeting had visitors from The Merchants’,
Mariners’ and Ancient Union Lodges, local Liverpool
Lodges which had certain members involved in the rebellion.
The meeting revealed a Lodge in crisis as the Master and
Wardens were appointed during an emergency meeting, and
not elected or installed, as was the custom. The result of this
particular gathering was the wish by all the members present
to write a letter to the UGLE declaring the present state of
the Lodge of Harmony.
It seems that the Lodge decided against the rebellion and
kept their distance, giving their support to the UGLE. Despite
this show of loyalty, the Master at the time of the meeting was
suspended in 1824 for 12 months, and another brother for seven
years, for what was described as ‘un-Masonic conduct.’
Broadhurst also opted out of the rebellion, and along with
a number of rebels, presented an apology which brought them
back into the fold. He rejoined the Merchants’ Lodge in 1824,
but his payments ceased two years later, the experience of the
rebellion and the subsequent fall-out perhaps affecting the
camaraderie of the Lodge.
Of the rebels representing the Ancient Union Lodge, only
Thomas Berry remained to become an active member of the
Grand Lodge at Wigan, attending its first meeting at the
Shakespeare Tavern in 1823 and serving as secretary at the
meeting of March 1825.
Having been suspended during the rebellion, James turned
his back on the rebels and conformed. He was not present at
the Shakespeare Tavern at the formal opening of the rebel
Grand Lodge in December 1823, and took no part in the
Magna Charter of Freemasonry which outlined Masonic
independence and recreated the ‘Antients’. The leader of the
rebellion, Michael Gage, was to fall out with his fellow rebels
and resigned from Wigan Grand Lodge in 1842.
Although Broadhurst eventually left Masonry, several of
his descendants, who also became Liverpool watchmakers,
also became Freemasons, continuing a family tradition.
He died in October 1851, and was buried at the Wesleyan
Brunswick Chapel in Liverpool.
The rebel Grand Lodge met only at Wigan from 1825,
and its last remaining Lodge survived until 1913, a legacy
as the longest secessionist Grand Lodge resounding into
the early 20th century.
Beesley, E.B., 1920. The History of the Wigan Grand Lodge, Manchester Association for Masonic Research.
Harrison, D., 2002. Freemasonry, industry and charity: the local community and the working man, (Journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research, Vol. 5, No.1.)
Church records of St. Nicholas, Liverpool Library. Ref: 283NIC3/12.
Family papers of James Broadhurst, Private collection.
Gore’s Liverpool Trade Directory, 1825, Liverpool Library. Ref: H942.7215.
Minutes of the Ancient Union Lodge No. 203, 1795–1835.
Garston Masonic Hall, Liverpool. Not Listed.
Minutes of the Lodge of Harmony No. 220, 1822-1835.
Royal Arch apron of Wigan Grand Lodge
James Broadhurst naval document of 1795
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