ISSUE 19, October 2006
Editorial
Historic: Rabbi and Mason
Travel: Morocco's exotic charm
Quarterly Communication: Address by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Working with Youngsters: The Grand Master goes fishing
Community Relations: Saying it with flowers
International: Spanish Freemasonry under the microscope
   Events: Grand Lodge Award; Royal Masonic Variety Show
Specialist Lodges: Masonry on the canal
Freemasonry and Society: A Churchman's view of Masonry
Education: Toast of the town and Events
Young Masons: The Universities Scheme
Library & Museum: The Freemasons's Tontine
Masonic Charities: The Grand Charity and NMSF and RMTGB and RMBI
Letters
Book reviews
Gardening

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Subscription to the tontine required four quarterly payments of £12 10 shillings at or before Midsummer (24 June), Michaelmas (29 September) and Christmas 1775 and Lady Day 1776 (25 March). Each subscriber was allocated a share number to help with the administration and they were issued with a parchment Freemasons’ Tontine share certificate.
    The printed list of subscribers to the Freemasons’ Tontine shows that prominent Freemasons of the time purchased shares including Lord Petre, the Grand Master, Henry, 5th Duke of Beaufort, who had been Grand Master 1767-71 and HRH the Duke of Cumberland, who became Grand Master in 1782.
    The subscribers to the tontine were required to nominate an individual (a nominee) on whose life the share was staked.
    They could nominate themselves or another individual of any age. The total annual dividend of £250 (5% of £5,000) was split amongst the subscribers as long as their nominee was alive.
    As the number of nominees fell through death, the £250 was divided amongst this smaller number of qualifying subscribers until, finally, one subscriber received the full £250 dividend annually until the death of their nominee. In an age when life expectancy was uncertain, subscribing to a tontine was a risky investment. In one sense, a tontine was an early form of life insurance.
    It was common in tontines for the subscribers to name their children or young relations as nominees. Through nominating an individual of a younger age there was a good probability that their nominee would survive longer to benefit from the tontine, in the Freemasons’ Tontine 39 of the nominees were aged 10 or younger.
    The youngest nominee was Rebecca Lara, just nine months old when her father, Joshua Lara, nominated her. Rebecca died in 1847, aged 72, making her one of the longest surviving nominees. However, nominating a young child was still a gamble at a time of relatively high infant mortality.
    Francis Case, nominated by Dr Isaac Sequiera of Mark Lane, East London, was recorded as being 15 months old on the list of subscribers and nominees printed in 1775. His death two years later, on 24 December 1777, is noted in the Tontine Register.
    Subscribers did not have to know their nominees personally. For example, four different subscribers chose the Prince of Wales, later George IV, as their nominee. He was 14 at the time and was nominated not only by his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, but also by Charles Taylor of Villiers Street, Junior Grand Warden in 1769, James Galloway, Junior Grand Warden in 1781 and Thomas Sandby, who designed the first Freemasons’ Hall.
    Perhaps they believed that as heir to the throne he would be well cared for by physicians and thus live to a good age.
    This he proved to do, dying aged 68, despite his extravagant lifestyle, at a time when the average life expectancy was around 40.


Photograph courtesy of the Library & Museum of Freemasonry

The Chevalier Ruspini leads a procession of girls from the Royal Cumberland School during a fundraising dinner, showing the interior of Sandby’s Hall


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