The Geneva Bible had several other features. On the
advice of John Calvin, it became the first Bible to divide
scriptures into numbered verses. It gives the names, order
and number of Chapters of all the books of the Old and
New Testament along with books entitled Apocrypha.
The famous ‘breeches’ passage in Genesis III, Verse 7
The Frontispiece of the Bible states:
It became the first Bible to be translated into English.
The Holy Scriptures
contained in the Old
and New Testament
Imprinted in London by
Robert Barker, Printer to the
Kings most excellent
There were more than 160 editions and it was printed for
the last time in 1644. The key features of the Geneva Bible
to distinguish it from other bibles of its time, and what made
it so popular, were the extensive marginal notes that were
intended to explain and interpret the scriptures for the
common people. These notes run to approximately 300,000
words or one-third the length of the text of the Bible itself.
Maps were included, also a name and subject index.
Psalms sung by the English Congregation were also
included. Due to the marginal notes and superior quality
of the translation, the Geneva Bible became the most
widely read and influential English Bible of the 16th and
It was the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers,
thinkers and historical figures of the era. William Shakespeare’s
plays and the writings of John Milton and John Bunyon
were influenced by the Geneva Bible. Oliver Cromwell
issued a pamphlet containing excerpts from the Geneva
Bible to the troops during the English Civil War.
When the Pilgrims set sail for America on the Mayflower,
they took with them a Geneva Bible.
Regarding the “Breeches Bible” held by the Lodge
of Affability with Villiers No 317, in addition to the details
of its donor, within its pages are several other items of interest.
Inside the cover is written:
Since its formation, the Lodge of Affability, up to 1929,
met in Manchester in 15 meeting places. At the time the
Bible was returned to its meeting place it was meeting at
Freemasons’ Hall, Cooper Street, where Affability was the
first Lodge to hold a meeting at the Hall after the erection
of the building in 1865.
amongst the property of the
Alexander Chapter 993
and is presumed to have been lost from the
owing to removals of the said Lodge from time
to time and is now restored to its rightful owners
by the Companions of the Alexander Chapter
John Stovold Z
Xmas 1889 A H Jefferis PZ. PPAGS
From 1929, the Lodge regularly met at Freemasons’ Hall,
Bridge Street, Manchester and yet again in 2004, upon
amalgamation, moved to a new address, Masonic Hall,
Hemsley House, Salford.
At present, the “Breeches Bible” is the only one known
to be used in the English Constitution, although in America
there are believed to be two – one in Blair Lodge AM of
Chicago, Illinois, which is generally thought to be the oldest
Bible used in a Lodge.
The other is believed to belong to Palestine Lodge
No. 181 in Denver, Colorado. Regarding Affability’s
“Great Light” it is recorded that in 1932, George Walmsley
presented to the Lodge the family Bible of his late father
Henry Walmsley “to be used at all Lodge meetings with
the exception of the Installation in order to obviate damage
to the valuable Breeches Bible used for a great number of
years in the Lodge”.
Since bringing the inventory up to date, the “Breeches
Bible” was used in the amalgamation ceremony with Villiers
Lodge No. 6684 in November 2004. The Provincial Grand
Master, Peter Walthall, conducted the ceremony, being one
of his last duties before announcing his retirement,
On 26 April 2005, at a Regular Lodge meeting, the Geneva
Bible was presented on loan to the Manchester Masonic
Museum at Freemasons’ Hall, Bridge Street, Manchester,
for safekeeping, and has since undergone restoration.
Peter Coward is the former secretary of Affability Lodge No. 371
Web site created by Mark Griffin