Other meetings took place on the periphery of the Wigan
area, such as the Angel Inn in Ashton. The use of these inns
were vital as important meeting places for the Grand Lodge.
Many of them, like the Angel Inn and the Rope & Anchor
Inn in Scholes, were run by fellow brethren, enabling
the Grand Lodge to establish regular meetings, ensuring
Miller also witnessed the end of the Grand Lodge of
Wigan, its last surviving Lodge being isolated and alone,
and as a relic of the ‘Antients’ of the 18th century, was not
recognised by other local Masonic Lodges. Despite the
ruling passed in the early days of the Grand Lodge that it
was forbidden to discuss the UGLE, Miller mentions that
debates on rejoining had been going on for two or three
years leading up to 1913.
The matter was brought to a head, as Miller puts it, in 1912,
when a newly raised brother received an invitation to visit
another Lodge. On presenting himself to the Lodge, and
showing his certificate, he was refused admission, which led
him to write a rather abusive letter, calling the Lodge a bogus
institution, and stating he was the victim of a fraud. This
incident seemed to confirm that the Sincerity Lodge, the
last surviving Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Wigan, had
a bleak future, and if it was to survive, it needed to adapt.
A meeting between both Grand Lodges was sought,
and the Sincerity Lodge was visited by J D Murrey from
Provincial Grand Lodge, who was satisfied with what he
witnessed of the working of the Lodge.
Miller recites that developments moved quickly, and
the Lodge could keep the name ‘Sincerity’ but would have
to be renumbered. Ironically, the issue over the renumbering
of Lodges after the Union was an issue which had moved
Gage to rebel against the UGLE in the first place.
The Lodge would lose its original number of 486, it would
surrender its old warrant, and despite being founded in 1786,
it would have a new number of 3677. In the official UGLE
records, the Lodge of Sincerity would have 26 September,
1913 as the date of its consecration.
All the brethren of the Wigan Grand Lodge then had
to be initiated, passed and raised, in a ceremony which was
reminiscent of the pre-Union ‘remaking’ ceremony, when
an ‘Antient’ Mason joined a ‘Modern’ Lodge. Miller seemed
to have mixed feelings of his Lodge rejoining the UGLE, and
in his memoirs he discussed the “ghosts of those old brethren
of an unrecognised Lodge that still linger around Sincerity”,
Miller perhaps speaking of some regret of the surrender of the
what was effectively the last surviving relic of the ‘Antients’.
It had been 90 years since Michael Alexander Gage
presided over the first meeting at the Shakespeare Tavern
in Liverpool, and in the Masonic Rooms at Wigan, Gage’s
dream finally ended, as the last surviving Lodge under the
Grand Lodge of Wigan rejoined the United Grand Lodge.
Beesley, E.B., 1920. The History of the Wigan Grand Lodge, Manchester Association for Masonic Research, Leeds.
Spurr, M.J., 1972. The Liverpool Rebellion, pp.29-60, AQC Vol.
Reminiscences of an Unrecognised Lodge, namely Old Sincerity Lodge No. 486 by James Miller.
Many thanks to the Rev. Neville Cryer, who supplied the memoirs of James Miller.
An earlier article on Wigan Grand Lodge by David Harrison appeared in Issue No. 13 (April 2005) of MQ.
The renovated Angel Inn
where the Grand Lodge
of Wigan often met along
with the Lodge of Harmony
Web site created by Mark Griffin