Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

Article Index

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.