Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

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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.