ISSUE 9, April 2004

The Duke of Wellington: A Brother in arms
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Life with the Stars: Masons and famous people
Hall Stone Jewel: Cyril Spackman, designer
Travel: Jamaica
Grand Charity: Annual Report and Accounts
Masonic stamps: Masonry on stamps
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Antients and Moderns go on-line
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Masonic charities: The continuing work
Bowel cancer: How the Grand Charity is helping
Royal Arch: Russia and Eastern Europe
Richard Eve: A former Grand Treasurer
Book reviews

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Library and Museum

Antients and Moderns go on-line

For the last 11 months, Katrina Jowett, Senior Assistant Librarian and Archivist, and Amanda David, Project Archivist, have been busy cataloguing the returns submitted by Lodges before 1813 as part of the Library and Museum’s lottery funded Access to Archives project.
      The work has now been finished, and the catalogue entries are available on the catalogue pages of the Library and Museum website at and on the Access to Archives web site at
      Before they could be catalogued, the 76 boxes of documents had to be conserved as they had been sent to Grand Lodge folded, and as they had been kept like that over the course of 200 years or so, many had become torn and were extremely dirty.
      Conservation involved the documents being carefully washed, flattened and repaired with Japanese paper and special glue. This took a number of months, and was undertaken by a special conservation company called Preservation Solutions.
      Katrina describes the project as being “a fascinating glimpse into how both the Premier Grand Lodge and the Antients Grand Lodge worked, and what the concerns of early Freemasonry were.”
      She adds: “Although the Premier Grand Lodge was established first, they only introduced the system of Annual Returns in 1768 when Grand Lodge needed to raise money for the building of the first Freemasons’ Hall.
      “There were fewer documents for Lodges governed by the Premier Grand Lodge and much less associated correspondence. By way of contrast, the Antients documents included a significant number of petitions for charity which the Grand Lodge retained with the returns, and the correspondence provided an insight into some of the local conditions at the time.”
      There is evidence in the documents of the rivalry between the two Grand Lodges. A letter of William Fleming, secretary of an Antient Lodge held in the 76th Regiment, No. 313 [erased] to Robert Leslie, Grand Secretary, stating:

“…We are extremely happy to hear of the flourishing state of the Antient Craft in England and hope that it will still continue to flourish as it has done hitherto notwithstanding the puny Effects of the Moderns who though they may Continue for time yet in the end they will not be able to withstand the Truth but fall from all their imaginary Grandeur like a Building constructed on a Sandy foundation…”

A letter of Leonard Drory of Angel Lodge No. 51 [Moderns], Colchester to William White, of Freemasons' Tavern stated:

“However painful the task, I & the Lodge… have lately found it our Duty to erase the following names from our list of Members… Henry Foxwell Samuel Levi Robert Braggs John Rickards James Montague For attending meetings of persons calling themselves Antient Masons, & countenancing their proceedings contrary to the constitution…”

Within the Annual Returns series there is also a number of petitions for relief, these include a petition from William Fletcher of the Lodge of Fidelity, No.3, London to the Stewards’ Lodge, stating:

“your Petitioner most Humbly sheweth that his being in his .. year of his age and by A Long and sevear affliction for .years past by the Visitation of God witch has so mutch Injured him in his Facultys as to Inable him to do any thing for his support… your Petitioner…Earnestly hopes that you will take hisCase into your tender Consideration…”
      Petition dated 20 October 1806

Although it is unsure what the petitioner meant by ‘a visitation by God’ it is thought that he had suffered a stroke.
      There were also petitions from members who suffered as a result of disasters, including the petition of John Fisher, of the United Mariners Lodge No. 30, London sent to the Deputy Grand Master, Grand Wardens and Brothers of the Stewards’ Lodge, stating:

“ in the year 1806 I engaged as guner on board the Lady Burgess on the 20th April last she struck on a rock and went pieces, 50 Persons was drownded, I lost every thing I had, except one Shirt and Trousers and from the many Hours I was in the water. I got a very bad cold, I have not been well since Therefore kind Gentlemen, I have a Wife and Two Children, I hope you will be pleased to take my situation into your Consideration and grant me such Relief…”
      Petition dated c 1806