Richard Hall Williams was a Lodge member for 30 years, George had 70 years membership and his eldest son Charles 44 years service. Richard was the second Master in 1881, while George took the chair in 1911 and Charles in 1919.
He combined all these tasks with being a sidesman at Worsley Parish Church for 36 years, secretary to the Library and Institute for 32 years, drilling at the boys' school for 25 years and at the girls' school for 20 years.
He also drilled the Earl's children each summer and organised the annual May Queen and Rose Queen galas for the vicar of St Mark's Church, Worsley, who happened to be the Earl of Musgrave.
There was no Freemasonry in the area in 1867, but being a Mason he was invited to various Lodges, but these were either in the Manchester or Bolton areas and came under the Province of East Lancashire.
On these visits he met Masons from Eccles, Patricroft, Swinton, Leigh, Urmston and Worsley, and suggested a local Lodge be formed. The result was that he became a founder of Bridgewater Lodge No 1213, consecrated on 8th February 1868 and in 1876 he became its Master.
In 1878 it was decided that a Lodge should be formed at Worsley. The founders, in particular R.H. Williams, wanted the third Earl of Ellesmere, who was not in the Craft, to be the first Master of the new Lodge. He approached the vicar of St Mark's - the Earl of Musgrave - who was a Mason - and who also happened to be the brother of the Earl's wife, to broach the request.
The Earl of Musgrave agreed to become a Mason and was installed as the first Master in 1880, but not being a Mason at the time, this held up the issue of a Warrant for two years.
It proves the high esteem in which R. H., Williams was held by the Earl that, when subsequently he was initiated in what must have been a very exclusive Lodge in London he acted as Warden for a year, and at the 1814 consecration, became the first Master.
Among the congratulatory telegrams received at the consecration was one from the Prince of Wales.
Underlining the broad social background of Worsley Lodge, the Earl's head gardener, Upjohn, became the Lodge's eighth Master, and he would conduct the Master's garden party through the Earl's gardens and greenhouses, with a running commentary as he did so.
In addition, for 40 years Upjohn decorated the Installation Festival Social Board with plants and pots - hyacinths, daffodils, narcissus and tulips - down the centre of each long table.
They were later distributed to the Brethren in order of seniority, but there were always plenty for all - including the visitors.
The old soldier and his two sons lived to ripe old ages. Richard Hall Williams died on 7th July 1910 aged 91 years, Charles Williams died on
30th December 1951 aged 89 and George died on 10th April 1974 having reached 100. However, another son, Richard, died aged 16 on 10th January 1885.
The author wishes to thank Joseph Chesney of Worsley Lodge No. 1814 for providing the history and photographs on which this article is based and Lodge secretary Roy Collier for his invaluable assistance.
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