© Library & Museum of Freemasonry
It was a Dispensation and not a Warrant
or Charter “as the Grand Chapter will
not meet til the last Thursday in Oct.”
Dunckerley wrote it out in due form in his
own hand on the back of the letter. John
Knight was named as the First Principal Z.,
an office which he was to occupy for the
rest of his life.
Consecrations differed somewhat from
what we are used to today. A senior
Companion would be delegated to install
the three principals, who appointed their
officers at the following meeting.
For example, in 1810 John Foulstone,
the Grand Recorder, was delegated to travel
to Falmouth to install the principals of the
newly Warranted Valubian Chapter. He
took the Chair of ZX, with John Knight
acting as H. Foulstone “opened [a Chapter]
in Ample form the several Comps who had
not passed the Chair of Zerubi being duly
passed with the proper Signs & Words.”
In other words, all those present were
made Passed Zs so that they could witness
the installations. [To have been Exalted, a
Brother would already either have presided
over a Lodge as it Master, or have been
through a ‘Passing the Chair’ ceremony.]
When the Druids Chapter of Love and
Liberality had been founded in 1791, Knight
had evidently wanted the Companions to be
properly clothed. He wrote to Dunckerley
in August 1792 wishing to obtain “proper
Royal Arch Masons Aprons”, but received
the reply that “Royal Arch aprons were
directed to be worn by the old Chapters,
but to have been discarded for several years,
& Sashes being deem’d sufficient.”
Dunckerley omitted to point out that
the reason why sashes had been “deem’d
sufficient” was because Grand lodge had
refused to allow Companions to wear their
red-bordered aprons in Craft Lodges, with
the result that in a fit of pique Grand
Chapter ordered them to be discarded.
In the early 19th century new regalia was
designed for Royal Arch Companions, so
that John Knight could write to London in
1803: “You mentd. in your last letter that
patterns of Jewells & aprons to be worn by
officers and companions of the order were
to be fixed on & when ready shall be glad to
know what they are.” The new aprons had
the indented red and blue border with
which we are familiar today.
But these were minor changes compared
with those imposed by Supreme Grand
Chapter when it was formed in 1817, four
years after the Union of the Grand lodges.
For example, while each Antient Chapter
worked under the Warrant of the lodge
from which it had sprung, a Modern
Chapter such as Love and Liberality
had been granted its own separately
Now, every Royal Arch Chapter had
to be sponsored by a regularly Warranted
lodge, the number of which it assumed.
Supreme Grand Chapter then issued Charters
of Confirmation” to each Chapter which
complied with this instruction, those
formerly Modern and Antient alike. For
some reason this gave John Knight particular
concern. He involved himself in considerable
correspondence to ensure that the new
Charter would fit exactly into the frame
which surrounded the former Warrant.
John Knight then summoned the
Companions of his Chapter to an especial
meeting “for the purpose of framing Bye-
Laws, entering into Annual Subscription,
Electing members for the Better Regulating
& Support of the Royal Arch Chapter.”
Up to this time there had been no well defined
‘Membership’ of a Chapter. Now,
in accordance with the new Regulations
of the order, all those who had previously
been Exalted in the Chapter had to make
the decision whether they should formally
become members of it.
This would involve them in paying
an annual subscription and adhering to its
bye-laws – which had yet to be written –
or being excluded from it except as visitors.
Several Companions who had formerly
considered themselves part of the Chapter
declined to become subscribing members.
However, John Knight was elected to
continue as First Principal.
The records of how John Knight and his
Companions reacted to the further changes
which were made in his lifetime have not
survived, and Love and Liberality Chapter
itself did not long survive his death in 1828.
His 35-year reign may have made it
impossible to find anyone to follow him.
Redruth was then without Royal Arch
Masonry for nearly 40 years.
John Mandleberg is Master of Quatuor
Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier
Lodge of Masonic research
Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar at Redruth,
Cornwall, 1791–1828, C J Mandleberg and
L.W. Davies, QCCC Ltd.