Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

Article Index

His Royal Highness The Duke Of Sussex was MW Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1813 to 1843, during which period he exerted considerable influence upon the fortunes of the Craft. It is the purpose of this lecture to set forth the nature and extent of that influence. It is not intended as a biography, 1 but it is necessary first to know something of the man himself.

Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, sixth son and ninth child of George Ill and Queen Charlotte, was born in 1773. From early childhood he suffered from severe asthma, which sometimes incapacitated him for weeks at a time. It necessitated his living abroad until he was over thirty years of age and prevented him from adopting the customary military career. Educated in Hanover, his days were spent in travel and study whereby he acquired a well-stocked mind and a famous library. A youthful and indiscreet marriage2 cut him off from his father and the Court, while the Whig principles to which he steadfastly adhered alienated him from the Tory Governments of the day. Hence he never obtained any of those lucrative appointments which usually fell to members of the Royal Family and always suffered from pecuniary embarrassment. A good speaker and a good trencherman, his wide interests and liberal ideas made him a welcome chairman at many functions. For nine years he was President of the Royal Society and was also, at times, the head of several other learned bodies. 3

The Duke of Sussex's religious convictions have been the subject of much speculation. Undoubtedly he was very devout, spending upwards of two hours daily in the study of Holy Writ. In a letter published in The Christian Observer, May 1843, the Duke wrote that he was convinced of the divine origin of the Scriptures, 'which contain matters beyond human understanding', and that he did not 'concern himself with dogmas, which are of human origin. I am making this honest declaration,' he said, 'not to be thought a Freethinker, which imputation I would indignantly repel; nor to pass for a person indifferent about religion.`5 His marginal comments in some of the theological works in his library show that his Christianity was unorthodox in that he opposed Creeds and held that the Scriptures must be reconciled to reason.5 He was a Modernist before his time. Among

  1. See Royal Dukes, Fultord. R. : AQC. Iii. pp 184-224.
  2. Royal Archives. Windsor Castle. Box File 'Augustus, D. of Sussex. 1786-1842, No 48019
  3. Gentleman s Magazine, N.S.. vol xix, pp 645-652.
  4. Some of the opinions of his lateR.H. The Duke of Sussex on the subject of Religious Doctrine. by Richard Cogan. Esq; Br  it Mus, 4014 dd 6.
  5. eg, The State in its Relation with the Church. W. E. Gladstone. l838: Brit Mus. 1413 c 10: see also Cogan, loc cit.

the Royal Archives at Windsor is a small manuscript book of prayers which formerly belonged to His Royal Highness. If he used it, and internal evidence goes to show that he did, it proves that he was a sincere and contrite believer in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. His membership of Christian Orders whose obligations required such a belief confirms this. His religious opinions were, however. tolerant and, so far as Craft Masonry was concerned. 'it was part of his masonic creed that, provided a man believe in the existence of the GAOTU and in futurity, and extends that belief likewise to a system of rewards and punishments hereafter, such a person is fully competent to be received as a brother'. 1 Masonically, he was a universalist.

The Duke of Sussex was initiated, 1798, in the Lodge Victorious Truth, Berlin, a constituent of the Royal York of Friendship, the Grand Lodge of Prussia, which then only accepted Christians. He passed through the several offices to the chair. On his return to England he was given the customary rank of Past GM, subsequently becoming DGM of the 'Moderns', or Prince of Wales's, as they were then called. The Duke succeeded his brother, the Prince Regent, as Grand Master, 12 May 1813. He also joined, and for many years presided over, several other lodges, and he had a special fondness for the Pilgrim Lodge, No 238, which, like his Mother Lodge, worked its own ritual in the German language. 2 'When I first determined,' he said, 'to link myself with this noble Institution, it was a matter of very serious consideration with me; and I can assure the Brethren that it was at a period when, at least, I had the power of well considering the matter, for it was not in the boyish days of my youth, but at the more mature age of 25 or 26 years. I did not take it up as a light and trivial matter, but as a grave and serious concern of my life.'3

The immediate purpose of HRH becoming Grand Master of the 'Moderns' was to bring about the long-desired Union of the two Fraternities in England, upon which 'his whole heart was bent'. For the same purpose his elder brother, the Duke of Kent, became Grand Master of the Atholl Masons, or 'Ancients', and expressed similar sentiments .4 As a step towards the Union, the Lodge of Promulgation (1809-11) was established to restore the Ancient Landmarks, to help 'the Lodges of the Moderns fall into line with those of the Antients'. 5 The Duke of Sussex, as RWM of the Lodge of Antiquity, No 1, was a member and made a useful contribution to the deliberations 'by a luminous exposition of the Practices adhered to by our Masonic Brethren at Berlin .6 The ceremonies agreed upon, including that of a Board of Installed Masters, almost non-existent among the Moderns, were rehearsed before the Duke, and arrangements made for their promulgation. The way was thus cleared for the Union, which was celebrated on 27 December 1813, the Duke of Sussex, on the proposition of the Duke of Kent, becoming MW Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of the United Grand Lodge of England. 'This,' he said, 'is the happiest event of my life'.7 Though

  1. Lodge of Research. Leicester. No 2429. Transactions. 1919-20, p 97
  2. 2. A Short History of the Pilgrim Lodge, 238, F Bernhart, AQC, lxvi,
  3. 3. Freemason's Quarterly Rev iew 1839. p 505
  4. Gould, History of Freemasonry ed Poole. in, p 81: AQC, lxviii. p 49.
  5. 5. AQC. xxiii, p 215.
  6. Lodge of Promulgation, Minutes. 29 December 1809 AQC- xxiii p 38.
  7. History of the Roy al Alpha Lodge. 'so 16, Col Shadwell H. Clerke. p 5

others played notable parts, there is no doubt that the influence of the two Royal Grand Masters was paramount in bringing about the successful result.

To harmonise the ritual and ceremonies, the Lodge of Reconciliation was set up (1813-16), the Grand Master sometimes attending its meetings. The chief obstacle was the Obligation in the First Degree.1 Attention was drawn to it from the Chair and, having himself been obligated as an 'Ancient' at his brother's Installation, 2 and possibly influenced by the judgment of the Swedish Ambassador to Spain at his own installation 3 the Duke agreed to this Obligation being made more severe to meet the wishes of the Atholl Brethren. It having been settled, 'the Ancient 0Bgn of the Ist and 2nd degrees were then repeated, the former from the Throne', both being approved by the Grand Lodge as 'the only pure and genuine Obs. of these Degrees, and which all Lodges dependent on the Grand Lodge shall practice'. 4 Notwithstanding this, and though the decisions of the Lodge of Reconciliation were finally approved by the Grand Lodge on 5 June 1816, they were not prescribed. Nor did the lodge consider the ceremony of a Board of Installed Masters. For this purpose the Duke of Sussex warranted a special lodge in 1827. With some exceptions the extended ceremony of Installation has fallen out of use: indeed, the Grand Secretary characterised it in 1889 as 'irregular'. 5

The Lectures, put into shape by William Preston, to whose beneficence we owe these Prestonian Lectures, were in those days almost as important as the ritual. Opinions differ as to what happened to them at the time of the Union. The Grand Master is said to have ordered that no alteration should be made in the Lectures,6 and there is no mention of them in the records of the Lodges of Promulgation and Reconciliation. Yet some important changes were made in them about that time and the majority view is in favour of attributing these to Dr S. Hemmings, WM of the Lodge of Reconciliation, with other influences in the background. The most important change, and that which caused the greatest disturbance, was the substitution of Moses and Solomon for the two Saints John as the Two Great Parallels of Masonry .7 In 1819 a complaint, endorsed by Peter Gilkes, was made to the Board of General Purposes that Bro Philip Broadfoot and the Lodge of Stability were working Lectures contrary to the stipulations of the Act of Union, they never having been in use in either branch of the Fraternity previous to the Union, and not having received any sanction from Grand Lodge. The complaint was rejected, but the Board decreed that no new Lecture could be used without the consent of the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge. The former laid it down

that so long as the Master of any Lodge observed exactly the Land-Marks of the Craft, he was at liberty to give the Lectures in the language best suited to the character of the Lodge over which he presided . . . that any Master of a Lodge, on visiting another Lodge, and approving of the Lectures delivered therein, is at Liberty to promulgate them from the Chair in his own Lodge, provided he has previously perfected himself in the Instructions of the Master of the aforesaid Lodge. The Grand Lodge concurring in the opinion thus

1, AQC, xxiii. p 261
2, Memorials of the Masonic Union. W. J.
Hughan, ed J. T. Thorp, p 19.
3, AQC. lvi. p 308
4, GL Quarterly Communication, Minutes. 23 August 1815.
5, Dorset Masters Lodge. No 3366, Transactions, 1928-29. pp 19-23 Misc. Lat., NS. ii, pp 123-6
6, FQR.
1843, p 46.
7, Gould, ed Poole. in, 108; AQC, xxiii. pp 260, 274; xli, pp 191, 197-201; Misc. Lat., NS, vi, pp l14-16, 129-132,

delivered by the MW the Grand Master, requested His Royal Highness to permit the same to stand recorded in the minutes of the day's proceedings, to which HRH acceded.1

The process of de-Christianising the Craft ritual and ceremonies, gradual since 1717 2 was now completed. In place of the two Festivals kept by the Ancients on the two St John's Days, there was to be, under Article XIV of the Union, 'A Masonic Festival, annually, on the Anniversary of the Feast of St John the Baptist, or of St George, or such other day as the Grand Master shall appoint'. The General Regulations then adopted and the Book of Constitutions settled for .the Wednesday following the great national festival of St George'.3 The structure remains Christian, but nearly every Christian allusion has been eliminated in favour of universality. Whose was the influence remains a moot point; in any case, the responsibility was that of the Grand Master.4

The 'new method' was not received with unanimous approval. Both sides felt that they had surrendered something vital, and there was bitter rivalry among lodges and individual brethren. The Union was carried through in the last stages of the Napoleonic War and was worked out during its aftermath of distress and discontent, complicated by the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution. For a generation the country was torn by numerous more or less violent agitations which provoked the Government into repressive legislation or reluctant concessions. Such conditions were not conducive to masonic progress and the number of lodges declined. When the Duke of Sussex ascended the throne there were some 650 of them; when he died there were fewer than 500. In 1828 fifty-nine lodges were erased for not having made returns for a considerable time; no new lodges were warranted in London between 1813 and 1839 .5 The new Grand Master, who was resolved, unlike his predecessors, to rule as well as to reign, realised that a firm hand was necessary. 'I recommend to you,' he said, 'order, regularity and the observance of masonic duties.'6 Not unnaturally, there was some opposition.

From his own Lodge of Antiquity there came, in 1814, an Address to him as its RW Master, drawn up by Charles Bonnor, who had been the Acting Master and had done much useful work in the Lodge of Promulgation. It complained, in 'exceedingly objectionable, offensive and slanderous terms', that the Duke had not done his duty by the lodge in allowing it to lose some of its privileges at the Union, especially that of being No 1 on the roll. His Royal Highness referred the complaint to the lodge, when the opposition to Bonnor, led by William Meyrick, Grand Registrar, presented a counter Address expressing complete confidence in their RW Master, and expelled Bonnor from the lodge. For printing his Address, Bonnor was charged before the Board of General Purposes and expelled from Grand Lodge, though he was soon reinstated. Two years later he fell into disgrace again and was deprived of his Grand Rank. At the same time, in Grand Lodge, Bro Robert Leslie, jun, RWM of Lodge No 9, used some disrespectful remarks to

  1. GL Quarterly Communication, Minutes. 1 September, 1 December 1819; History of the Emulation Lodge of Impressment, H.'Sadler, pp 109-12.
  2. Lodge of Research. Leicester, No 2429, Transactions, 1906-7, pp 39 -40.
  3. Memorials of the Masonic Union, W. L Hughan, ed J T. Thorp. p 76.
  4. The Symbol of Glory Dr G. Oliver (1850). pp xvii, 20,51, 78; FQR, 1844,0 36, 1845, pp 409-11; A Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual, E. H. Cartwright, pp 10, 14. 92; A QC, xlv, p 93.
  5. AQC. lxviii, pp 129-31; Dorset Masters Lodge. No 3366. Transactions, 1918. p 112: Illustrations of Masonry W. Preston. 14th Edn, p 418.
  6. FQR Supplementary No 1843, p 193.

the Grand Master in the Chair, 'a proceeding of unexampled outrage tending to create discord and dissentions in the Grand Lodge, to undermine the principles on which the late happy Union of the two Grand Lodges of Masons in England was established and insulting to the Grand Lodge in the person of the MW the Grand Master'. The Board decided that his offence merited expulsion, but owing to his youth and inexperience, and the apology he had offered, he was let off with a year's suspension.1

Also in this same year, 1814, a group of Ancient Lodges in London formed an influential committee, led by Bro J. H. Goldsworthy, which circulated resolutions against the 'Innovations', saying that the Lodge of Reconciliation had ‘altered all the ceremonies and language of masonry and had not left one sentence standing'. 2 They were particularly opposed to the Obligations. The Lodge of Reconciliation expelled Goldsworthy from its membership and, calling the dissenters before it, made some slight variations to meet their wishes. They were not satisfied, refused to hold intercourse with the United Grand Lodge and proposed the formation of a new Lodge of Reconciliation. Gradually their resistance broke down, and by 1816 they had more or less grudgingly adopted the system of working officially set forth.3

There was no harmony in Bath, either. There, the three Modern lodges, Royal Cumberland, No 55 (now 41), Virtue, No 311, and Royal York of Perfect Friendship, No 243, combined to build a new Masonic Hall, opened by HRH the Duke of Sussex with full ceremony in 1819. The project soon failed, partly from lack of co-operation from the one Ancient lodge in the city, the Royal Sussex, No61 (now 53), the first to be named after the Duke, by his special permission.4 Rivalry developed into bitterness, the Moderns refusing visits from the Royal Sussex Lodge. Internal disputes shook all four and the Board of General Purposes was called in to adjudicate. As a result, the Royal York Lodge was erased in 1824 and the Lodge of Virtue in 1839, the remaining two continuing their hostilities for many years. On one occasion a member of the Royal Sussex ran off with the warrant of the Knight Templar Encampment attached to the Royal Cumberland Lodge, thus bringing its activities to a temporary close.5

From Sussex to Lancashire, from Ipswich to Bristol, came reports of unrest.. Brethren resigned or were expelled, lodges were suspended or erased through opposition to the new order. It must not be thought, however, that the revolt, though widespread, was general. More ink has been spilled over a few sinners than over the 'ninety-and-nine' which needed no repentance. The great majority either loyally accepted the new working or, unheading, quietly continued their old ways. Uniformity in the ceremonies is neither practicable nor desirable.

The best-known and possibly the most resistance led to the foundation of a rival Grand Lodge at Wigan.6 In Lancashire, Ancients and Moderns had long worked

  1. GL Quarterly Communication, Minutes. 1 June 1814, to 4 December 1816: Records of the Lodge of Aatiquiry, No 2 ii, Capt C. W. Firebrace. 26 January to 20 February 1814.
  2. Statement by, the WM. Phoenix Lodge. No 289, to the L of Reconciliation.
  3. AQC, xxiii, pp 233-51.
  4. Autograph letter, dated December 1813. in GL Library.
  5. From the records of Lodges 41 and 53; Somerset Masters Lodge. No 3746, Transactions, 1925. pp 400-61; 1958, pp 292 –311
  6. History of the Wigan Grand Lodge. E. B, Beesley l920; The Grand Lodge in Wigan. N. Rogers, AQC, Ixi. pp 170-210.

in harmony and continued to do so after the Union, but there was discontent caused by the introduction of a Provincial Grand Master and the innovations of the Lodge of Reconciliation. The revolt began in 1818 with a threat to close a lodge because of its few members. Then a Memorial was sent from the Provincial Grand Lodge to the Grand Master, who pigeon-holed it because it contained matter concerning the Royal Arch and was therefore outside the scope of the Board of General Purposes. The Brethren of Lodge No 31, Liverpool, thereupon charged the Board, who knew nothing about it, with suppressing the Memorial,,a dangerous innovation', and circulated the document to all lodges. For this, 68 (later reduced to 26) brethren were expelled from the Craft and the lodge erased. Others who supported Lodge No 31 soon suffered the same fate. The PG Master was suspended 'with a view to remove prejudice and suspicion', William Meyrick, Grand Registrar, being placed in charge of the Province. When the PGM died in 1825, the Grand Master divided it into two Provinces. The penalties imposed were severe but necessary; they compare favourably with those of the Government in dealing with the contemporary affair at 'Peterloo'. The erased lodges and their supporters continued to meet and, at a meeting in Liverpool, 27 December 1823, resolved to restore the Ancient Grand Lodge on the grounds that the new (1815) Book of Constitutions established a dangerous and despotic authority, that the Landmarks of the Order had not been maintained, and that, as many lodges and individual masons had seceded from it, the United Grand Lodge had ceased to exist. Seven lodges joined the new body, whose headquarters were in the Lodge of Sincerity, which became No 1. The Wigan Grand Lodge functioned formally for many years, only ceasing to exist when the Lodge of Sincerity rejoined the fold in 1913.

Cases such as these were generally referred by the Grand Master to the Board of General Purposes, but his influence was usually, though not always, predominant. The process was probably much the same as had been used in the Moderns Grand Lodge before the Union, described by the Swedish Ambassador to Spain: 'The Duke was seated on an elevated throne in the East, in front of a great table around which thirty-five persons were seated. Here all cases concerning Freemasonry were decided ... The laws were read, and then the Secretary read out a number of cases. At each of them the Chairman said:---A motion is made and seconded. Who approves will raise his right hand." In most cases all present shouted "All", but one question took a long time: it concerned a Master who had been drunk several times in Lodge and behaved in a disorderly way, and whom the Duke wished removed. But there were persons who defended him and also others of opinin not only that he ought to be removed, but also deprived of the dignity of a Brother. There was an awful row. They spoke with a certain amount of heat, but many quite well, and the Duke had to put the proposition eleven times before it was accepted by the majority.1

Considerable authority was vested in the MW Grand Master by the new Book of Constitutions. His own annual election, proposed from the floor of Grand Lodge from 1836,2 was purely formal. He appointed all the Grand Officers, the

  1. December 1813; AQC. Ivi. pp 129-30.
  2. FQR. 1836, p 399.

Grand Chaplain, Sword Bearer and, for a time, the Grand Treasurer, being selected from three brethren nominated by the Grand Lodge.1 He also chose nearly half the members of the Boards through which that body exercised its administrative functions. The Duke's appointments to Grand Rank have met with some criticism. He said: 'Merit is the sole means of promotion' 2 and that he had 'never given any Brother office who was not in other respects eligible to enter Grand Lodge .3 The appointments for 1837 were said to have honestly represented the various interests of the Craft and to 'prove that the---“Eye"of the Grand Master is observant of merit, and that it does not limit its range of vision to this or that Lodge' .4 Yet three years earlier, when the Grand Master's sight was failing, it was alleged that there had been 'a kindly yielding to the solicitations of private friendship', and therefore the appointments were 'not altogether gratifying to the expectations of the Craft'.5 Three days after the Union the Duke offered the Deputy Grand- Maste rship to the dissolute and unwashed Duke of Norfolk, who had once been PGM for Herefordshire.6 The SGW of 1838, Lord Worsley, had been raised only a few days before his appointment,7 and the Grand Registrar, appointed to that very important office at a critical time in 1840, was seventy years of age and had only four years' experience as a Freemason.8 Gould wrote that 'The Duke of Sussex was, in his way, a despot . . . his patronage was not confined to the right (from 1819) of nominating all the Grand Officers, except the Treasurer. He altered at pleasure the status of any Grand Officer, created new offices, and freely appointed Brethren to rank in Grand Lodge'.9 He may have asked a Brother at a Quarterly Communication to fill a casual vacancy through absence, but an analysis of his appointments from 1813 to 1843 shows that Gould's assertion is not true. The Wardens and Deacons were changed annually, the Sword Bearer almost so; the other officers continued for several years and there was no abnormal creation of new offices. During the whole period there were less than a dozen promotions and, although he was at loggerheads with him at the time, he made Dr R. T. Crucefix Junior Grand Deacon in 1836.

The Duke of Sussex was prone to act on his initiative and to interfere personally in proceedings, though he denied any intention of dictation.10 He conferred privileges upon those lodges in which he was specially interested.11.He decided that a Serving Brother could only become a subscribing member in a lodge other than that in which he was initiated under dispensation, but he was not disposed to do anything further in the case of a lodge which has initiated two serving brethren and an excessive number of candidates after being refused a' dispensation, because he thought they had acted under a misapprehension.12 The disputes in Bristol and in the Silent Temple Lodge, No 126, Burnley '13 were

  1. 1. GL Quarterly Communications, Minutes. 7 September 1814. 6 March 1816. etc.
  2. FQR, 1836. p 319
  3. FQR. 1840, p 498
  4. FQ R. 1837, pp 293-4,
  5. FQR, 1834, pp 240-1,
  6. AQC, Iii. pp 208. 214 216; Complete Peerage (Doubleday').
  7. FQR. 1840, p 285.
  8. 8. Lodge of Research. Leicester, No 2429. Transactions. 1919-20. p 96.
  9. 9. Gould, ed Poole, iii. 110. AQC. Iii, p 192. eg, Firebrace, op cit. p 155, GL Quarterly Communications, Minutes. 5 March 1834. Communicated by W Bro N. Rogers

both smoothed over by the Grand Master's personal intervention. On the other hand, whilst the case of the PGM for Somerset against Thomas Whitney, of the Royal York Lodge of Bath, was sub judice, the Duke wrote that the latter's statements were 'as distant from truth as the East is from the West', and he told the Board of General Purposes that they were not to receive any affidavits during the course of their investigation. 'As Masons,' he said, 'we rule and judge by the laws of Conscience and Honour. Public Opinion and the strict observance of a Mason's Word are our only means of Control . . . we cannot punish legally for perjury'.1 In 1834 the Duke ordered that there should be no professional singers in the Glee Room with the ladies at the Boys' Festival because of an unpleasant incident three years before. This had a bad effect on contributions to the Institution, so he withdrew the restriction in 1836 .2

The Grand Master of England worked in cordial co-operation with the Duke of Leinster, head of the Order in Ireland, but on one occasion he over-reached himself and was severely snubbed. Freemasonry in Ireland was made illegal in 1823, and the PGM for Upper Canada attempted to compel an Irish lodge there to accept an English warrant. In 1826 the papers were laid before the Duke of Sussex, who suggested to the Grand Master of Ireland that Irish lodges overseas should be placed under the Grand Lodge of England for better control. The Irish Grand Lodge would thus abandon its rights under the International Compact of 1814. They reacted strongly, characterising the Duke of Sussex's conduct as unmasonic, and issued a new warrant to their lodge in Canada. 3

It was said by the DG Master, Lord Durham, himself in 1835 that 'until lately the proceedings at the Quarterly Communications were mere promulgations and registrations of the edicts of the Grand Master; but, Brethren, there has arisen of late a spirit of enquiry worthy of our glorious profession, that has found its way into our legislative assembly, that has brought about discussions upon most important subjects and this has been happily marked by an especial propriety of conduct, and the exercise of great intellectual powers. I have sincere pleasure in stating my conviction that the Grand Master, so far from viewing these proceedings with either distrust or jealousy, is gratified to know that they have taken place. 4 Bro Philipe, a member of the Board of General Purposes, added that the Grand Master 'during the past year had, in a most especial manner, endeared himself to the Craft by the ready and kind manner in which he had met their wishes upon some important changes'. 5 At this period, however, the Duke was absent from Grand Lodge owing to his blindness. When he recovered, after an operation, there was a change for the worse.

The Duke was a 'persevering and unwearied patron of every charitable institution, the most charming beggar in Europe' .6 In 1829 he approved the design of a jewel to be worn by brethren who had served as stewards to both the Masonic Charities, the Boys' and the Girls' Institutions. It was his concern for these that involved him in the worst dispute of his reign. Dr R. T. Crucefix, in 1834,

  1. Auto raph letter dated 24 October 1824, in G1, Library.
  2. FQR, 1834. pp 49-51. 159-61. 240. 419; 1836, p 169. '
  3. History of the Grand Lodge of F. and A, Masons of Ireland. R. E. Parkinson (1957). pp 60-67.
  4. FQR. l835, p 176,
  5. Ibid, p 432.
  6. FQR. 1843, p 141 A QC. 1xvi, p 71,

suggested the erection of an Asylum for Aged and Decayed Freemasons, inviting the Duke to become its president. But the Grand Master opposed the scheme on the grounds that the proceedings of Dr Crucefix and his supporters were irregular, that it would induce improper persons to enter the Fraternity, and that it would adversely affect the two existing Charities - the Girls' School being at that time in financial difficulties. Interviews between the Duke and Crucefix were variously interpreted, the latter saying that the Grand Master was 'not opposed' to the Asylum, whilst the former said he was,1 though he changed his grounds. 'Finding that opposition but aided the Asylum, [he] adopted the plan of competition and hoisted the standard of a Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund. The Duke of Sussex for a long time denied his patronage, but Walton2 sought an interview with him and, meeting with a repulse on his favourite theme, he fairly told the Grand Master, on taking leave, that there remained no other means of preventing the Asylum being built and endowed. This decided the matter; the Grand Master relaxed, adopted Walton's scheme and thus proved the fallacy of all opposition to the Asylum principle; which, so far from being uncalled for and unnecessary, became the parent of a second Masonic Charity.,3

Crucefix, fortified by a Grand Lodge resolution unanimously in favour of the Asylum, 4 went on with his scheme and managed it as though it was an official business with governors, collections, festivals, and so on. A dispute at a meeting held 3 November 1839, led to Crucefix and his lieutenant, J. Lee Stevens, being temporarily suspended from their masonic duties. Crucefix's appeal against the sentence being disallowed, he wrote a highly improper letter to the Duke of Sussex, accusing him of disregarding the Ancient Charges. and recalling a memorable scene in the Grand Secretary's office on 29 April 1840, when the Grand Master 'threatened me with the enforcement of a power beyond the Masonic Law and expressed that threat in language so unusual and unexpected from a Brother of your exalted Rank and Station, as was calculated to lower the respect due to the person of Your Royal Highness, and above all the dignified Office of Grand Master'.5

This the Duke ignored until it was published in Crucefix's periodical, The Freemason's Quarterly Review. Now, publication of masonic proceedings was anathema to the Grand Master. Charles Bonnor, of the Lodge of Antiquity, No 2, and the brethren of Lodge No 31, Liverpool. had been penalised for such an offence. Also, Laurence Thompson, a Prestonian Lecturer and one of Crucefix's opponents, fell under the Grand Master's displeasure for publishing a form of ceremonial promoted by the Lodge of Reconciliation, of which he was a member.6 Earlier in this same year, 1840, the Duke had circularised all lodges warning them against printing masonic information. The appearance of Crucefix's letter in the Review, therefore, caused the Grand Master to lay it before the Board of General Purposes, 'leaving to their Discretion the Proceedings

  1. AQC, Iii. p 199-200; FQR, 1837, pp 484-5
  2. Isaac Walton, PM of the Moira Lodge, No 92.
  3. Gould, ed Poole, iii ' 109-10
  4. 4. FQR  1838  flyleaf
  5. 5. GL 6 1838.Qoartelyly Communication, Minutes, 2 September 1840. The letter over the Pseudonym 'Pythagoras' in FQR, 14-52 differs from that officially recorded.
  6. AQC xxiii, p 86.

necessary to be adopted for the preservation of Order in the Craft, and for the Maintenance of that Subordination which is so essential to be observed in all regular communities which are governed by Laws, and by no one more particularly than by the great Body of Masons'. The Board found it proved that the Grand Master had taken no part in the original proceedings against Crucefix, which had been initiated by four brethren unknown to him. (Yet Laurence Thompson was one of them!) The letter was denounced as 'a false, scandalous and unwarrantable attack on the character and conduct of the MW Grand Master', and it was recommended to the Grand Lodge that Crucefix should be expelled from the Craft. At a subsequent Especial Grand Lodge the motion for his expulsion was put, but, an apology being tendered on his behalf, an amendment was made that this should be received. The amendment was carried by a small majority, one of its principal opponents being RW Bro C. T. D'Eyncourt, an equerry to and friend of the Duke of Sussex and PGM for Lincolnshire.1 The Asylum and the Annuity Fund both came into being and were amalgamated in 1850 to form the RMBI.

It was the publication of Crucefix's letter in the Freemason's Quarterly Review that brought the Asylum controversy to a head. The Review itself was another cause of the Duke's rancour against the Doctor. Founded by him in 1834, he was its editor for the next six years. The periodical supplied a much-felt want in masonic literature, but the Grand Master disapproved of it. In the course of the interview in the Grand Secretary's office, already alluded to, he said that Dr Crucefix 'had sown the seeds of discontent where all was peace and good order, and by his vile paper he had caused considerable mischief, the effects of which it would take all the care and consideration of the Grand Master, assisted by the Grand Lodge, to correct'. 2 A little later in this same year, when addressing the Grand Lodge on the death of the DGM, Lord Durham, the Duke noticed two brethren, one of whom was Lee Stevens, taking notes, doubtless for the use of the editor of the Review, and told them it was illegal. When they demurred he exclaimed: 'It is the law. I have so laid it down and I will enforce it.'3 Yet the Board of General Purposes shortly before this had rejected a memorial against RW Bro J. Easthope, PGW, who, as proprietor of The Morning Chronicle, had printed an account of a public speech by the Grand Master, in which he had associated the Fraternity with his denunciation of the connection between the Established Church and the State as disastrous to both and a grievous hindrance to the dissemination of the true religion. 4 In 1841 the Freemason's Quarterly Review was denounced as 'a traitorous violation of the obligation of secrecy '. 5

Two months after Dr Crucefix's narrow escape from expulsion, Lee Stevens opposed, in the Grand Lodge, the re-nomination of the Duke of Sussex as Grand Master, suggesting instead the Marquis of Salisbury, DGM. The Duke allowed him to make a long speech, which he described as 'able, candid and straightforward', and then 'expressed himself very warmly, not to say intemperately' ' on the subject. 'I'll let the Brother see,' he said, 'and I'll let the Grand Lodge see, too, that 1 do know all about him', going on to accuse Stevens of attacking him in the

  1. GL Quarterly Communications, Minutes, 2 September. 30 October 1840
  2. FQR, 1840. pp 192-3.
  3. Manchester Association for Masonic Research, Transactions, 1934, pp 95-6
  4. FQR, 1840. pp 209-10.
  5. FQR, 1841. pp 1-10.

newspapers, and the Asylum supporters of improper practices. The Duke 'declared his desire to resign his office; and it is understood he consents to hold it only until his royal nephew (the Prince Consort) shall be qualified to fill the distinguished and, let me add. not uninfluential station'. Resignation was much in HRH's mind at the time. He had threatened it at Crucefix's appeal: that 'he had been many years the Grand Master, and was willing to continue so, but that if Grand Lodge thought a younger and more active person was necessary, he was ready to retire; that personall ' v it was of no consequence to him; that it had rather detracted from than added to his popularity ; that it gave considerable trouble, but that he was ready to undergo while he held the office'. On this occasion the Marquis of Salisbury declined the nomination, Stevens withdrew it and the Duke of Sussex was re-elected.1

Next year Stevens was the moving spirit in the organisation of a testimonial from the Craft to Dr Crucefix. At the presentation and banquet, 24 November 1841, the Chair was taken by Dr George Ofiver, the well-known masonic author and a frequent contributor to the Review. The consequence was that RW Bro C. T. D'Eyncourt dismissed Dr Oliver from his position as DGM for Lincolnshire, which caused another outcry.2 There is no doubt that the influence behind the PGM's decision was that of the MW Grand Master. The real reason for the attack on these two distinguished brethren was that they were both active propagators of the Higher Degrees.

The Duke of Sussex was head of several of these, and on one occasion spoke of 'his attachment to the principles and determination to maintain the privileges and to provide the well-being of the Order'. 3 The Duke, however, did not pursue an active policy for their advancement and they did not flourish under his rule. It may well be that his inactivity was, in the circumstances, more effective in preserving the Higher Degrees than the uninhibited behaviour of Bros Crucefix and Oliver.

With the approach of the Union of the two Grand Lodges, the Duke of Sussex was exalted into the Royal Arch, April 1810, and in the next month was installed as MEZ of the Supreme Grand Chapter of the Moderns, The Earl of Moira gracefully making way for him.4 At the Duke's instigation, the SGC, in 1813, 'Resolved unanimously that as the Grand Lodge of.England (Moderns) through the MW Grand Master has communicated its Determination to acknowledge the Royal Arch', the MEZ be entrusted with full powers to conclude a union of the SG Chapter with the two Grand Lodges .5 For the Ancients, full recognition of the Royal Arch Degree was a sine qua non of the negotiations, but the universalists, who disliked the Royal Arch as they did the Christian Orders, were able to secure the compromise in the well-known Article II of the Union. There was to be no fourth degree as the Duke had anticipated,' nor was any provision made for the government of the Royal Arch in the new Book of Constitutions. Only after slow progress did the Duke's influence bring about the Union of the two Supreme

1. FQR. 1840, pp 496-9, 202-3; 1841, pp 457-8
AQC, lxxiv. pp 53-70.
The Origin and Progress of the Precptory of St George, No 6. C. Fitzgeraid Matter, pp 42-46.4. Supreme Grand Chapter. Minutes, 17 April. 10 May 1810.
5. Origin of the English Rite. W J. Hughan. ed 3. T. Thorp, p 171,
6. Freemasons Book of the Roy al Arch. B. E Jones. p 111,

Grand Chapters, 18 March 1817. Formal recognition was granted by the United Grand Lodge.

Obviously some alterations in the ritual were necessitated by the establishment of a united SGC to weld the two systems into one uniform ceremony. But so little interest was taken in the Supreme Order and so chaotic were conditions at headquarters that it was not until 1834 that the Duke of Sussex, as MEZ, set up a committee to revise the ritual.1 The work appears to have fallen mainly on his friend and former chaplain, the Rev G. A. Browne, PG Superintendent for Cambridgeshire, the result being approved by the MEZ and SGC in November of the same year. Many alterations were made, new ceremonies for the installation of the Principals were introduced, and an attempt made to remove all Christian allusions from the ritual. The SGC made it 'the duty of every Chapter to adopt and obey' the new method, the Grand Principals suggesting that any Chapter which failed to teach its members the 'Sussex Ritual' should be suspended.2 A Chapter of Promulgation was warranted on 4 February 1835, for six months, but in spite of the improved means of communication, little was done to spread the new ways beyond the Metropolis. Provincial Companions found it difficult to make the journey for instruction and were hard put to it to learn about and practise the new ritual, especially the installation ceremonies. 3 Even when they did get the information they did not always conform entirely. 4 Though there are several versions existing today claiming to be copies of the 'Sussex Ritual' of the Royal Arch Degree, 5 they are no more correct than those of the Craft ritual which purport to be derived from the decisions of the Lodge of Reconciliation. In the Supreme Order uniformity is as non-existent and as undesirable as it is in the Craft.

Many eulogies and criticisms, contemporary and later, have been made of the Grand-Mastership of the Duke of Sussex. The former may largely be discounted as laudatores temporis acti, having been given on special occasions which demanded them, or as deriving from the deference then customarily paid to Royalty. The critics, though some of their remarks are not without foundation, have, in general, paid too much attention to the last five years of the Duke's reign and too little to the first twenty-five, at the conclusion of which he was presented with that magnificent testimonial now in Freemasons' Hall. The year 1838 was the turning point. Up till then the Grand Master's rule was successful and popular. In spite of his many other interests, the Duke took great pains to equip himself for his position, was remarkably assiduous in his duties and enjoyed the advantages of very able advisers. Their purpose was to enforce the settlement made at the Union and to resist further change. If his influence sometimes degenerated into interference it was used in what he considered to be the best interests of the Craft. His rule was personal and firm, but not autocratic. His Whig principles, so staunchly held, and his fondness for the British Constitution, so often expressed, can hardly have been lost sight of when he ascended the Masonic Throne. Whether in the Grand Lodge or presiding at the festive board, his burly figure,

  1. 1. Ibid 170
  2. 2. bid.171
  3. 3. FQR 1837 , p 59; 1839, p 78.
  4. 4. Freemasonry in Bristol, A, C. Powell, and J. Littlejohn pp 667-9.
  5. 5. Somerset Masters Lodge, No 3746, Transactions, 1924, p 289.

clothed in a blue coat, light waistcoat, knee breeches and black skull-cap, his 'jolly' countenance and his genial affability made him ever welcome.

After twenty-five years came a sad deterioration. The Duke was getting old, his illnesses were prolonged and painful, for two years he was completely blind and thereafter only partially recovered, his veteran advisers had all passed away. The organised conspiracy - for it was such - of Drs Crucefix and Oliver threatened to bring crashing into ruins the work of the Duke's lifetime. No wonder he became ill-tempered. The Grand Master was a changed man; he was hectoring, unjust, despotic; it was not a pleasant sight. Though many fine things were said of him at his passing, his demise brought relief to the Fraternity. He was not a great Grand Master, but he was a good one. Of his contemporaries he was by far the best fitted for the office. 'If' is a dangerous word in history, but it is a safe assumption that if we had had one of his brothers in his place - and it might easily have happened 1 the Craft would not have been so well served. The memorial of his labours is not the statue, the portraits or the other paraphernalia of departed merit: it is one of which any man, of any rank, could be justly proud - the United Grand Lodge of England. The existence and present prosperity of this great Fraternity are due in no small measure to the Grand-Mastership of HRH the Duke of Sussex.

1,      Letters of King George 1V, 1812-1830, ed A. A. Aspinall. i, p 60, No 55.

The Prestonian Lecture For 1962
P R James