Before the sesqui-centenary
celebrations of the Mark Province of Kent took place on the 14 December 2007 few
of its brethren knew much about the Province’s first Provincial Grand Master
namely Charles Purton Cooper, QC, MA (Oxford), LLD (Louvain and Kiel), DCL,
FRS, FSA, MRSL, MRAS, MRIA, and corresponding member of the Royal Academies
of Lisbon, Munich, Berlin, Brussels, etc. Who
was this first Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of Kent?
A perusal of his academic post-nominals illustrates that he was an
extremely well educated individual with many international connections.
Charles Purton Cooper was born in 1793, son of Charles Cooper a linen
draper of St. Dunstan’s, London. His
activity and industry were very great and he was a most prolific writer of legal
Cooper, usually known as Purton Cooper, became an outstanding lawyer and
antiquary yet after a life of great industry and scholarship he died abroad in
comparative obscurity. Purton was
educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated on 7 December 1814 with a
double first class honours degree. He
was awarded his Master of Arts on 5 July 1817.
He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1816 and after practising
as an Equity Draughtsman he was appointed Queens Counsel in 1837.
Purton was appointed a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1825.
His great knowledge of jurisprudence and legal antiquities procured him a
Fellowship of the Royal Society on 6 December 1832 as well as the LLD degree of
the Universities of Louvain and Kiel. He
was also Queen’s Sergeant for the Duchy of Lancaster from 1834 until his death
in 1873. In 1834 Purton presented
Lincoln’s Inn Library with 2,000 volumes on civil and foreign legal works
having previously presented that Library with 150 volumes of American Law
He became a
Bencher of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in 1836.
He was Treasurer in 1855 and appointed Master of the Lincoln’s Inn
Library in 1856. Purton fought
enthusiastically for legal reform. This attracted the attention of Lord
Brougham, Lord Chancellor in Lord Grey’s Whig Government by whom he was
introduced to the Holland House Circle and the Heads of the Whig Party.
On 12 March 1831
Lord Brougham appointed him Secretary to the Second Record Commission.
A post he held until 20 June 1837 when it lapsed on the King’s death.
Purton bought and printed so many books that the Commission’s debt over
and above it’s authorised budget of £400,000, rose to £24,000.
At one time Purton’s position was so prominent that Lord Holland
recommended him for the post of Solicitor-General but he was not successful as a
Mr Rolfe, afterwards Lord Cranworth, was appointed.
Purton was a
prolific writer of legal publications. His
principal works are shown in Appendix A. Between
1850-7 he also published some 52 pamphlets, written, edited or printed by him on
a range of political topics. Purton
also played an active part in public affairs.
In 1850 he was Whig Candidate for Lambeth but withdrew from the contest.
He unsuccessfully contested Canterbury in August 1854 and March 1857.
In 1855 he was proposed as a Candidate for West Kent but declined to
stand. He lived at Denton Court, a
Tudor Mansion, near Canterbury. Denton
is just off the A2 road, halfway between Canterbury and Dover, although Denton
itself is in the District of Dover.
Purton Cooper was
a member of the Camden Society for the publication of ‘Early Historical and
Literary Remains’. He was a
member of the Council of this Society as well as a Trustee.
Other members were the Rt Hon Lord Francis Egerton (President); HRH The
Duke of Sussex, KG, FRS, FSA; The Most Revd and Rt Hon The Lord
Archbishop of Canterbury; The Rt Hon Lord Lyndhurst, LLD, FRS, Lord High
Chancellor; and The Most Hon The Marquess of Northampton, DCL, PresRS, FSA.
Purton enjoyed a
leading legal practice in the Court of Vice-Chancellor Knight Bruce but
unfortunately openly quarrelled with that Judge, quit the Court and lost his
practice. His business consequently
fell off and disappointment and difficulty overcame him.
He endeavoured without success to obtain Government assistance for a
project for digesting and sifting a settled scheme for all Law Reports down to
that date. In due course he was
obliged to retire in 1860 to Boulogne, France where after unsuccessfully
endeavouring to carry on his projects of legal reform he eventually died of
paralysis and bronchitis on 26 March 1873.
So much for
Purton’s most distinguished legal career.
What is known of his masonic career?
Purton states in his main masonic publication he was initiated in 1821. An article in the Maidstone, Rochester & Chatham Journal
of 28 June 1853 describes his Installation as the Craft Provincial Grand Master
for Kent, shown in Appendix B, and identifies his mother Lodge as British No.8.
It was consequently established that he was initiated on 21 May 1821, in
British Lodge No.8 his occupation being recorded as a Barrister.
Purton never reached the office of Master of this Red Apron Lodge and
never served as a Grand Steward. Purton
subsequently joined United Industrious Lodge No.34, now No.31, at Canterbury in
The 1854 Craft
Provincial Annual Meeting took place at Sheerness.
However a most unusual event took place before the actual Provincial
Meeting opened. Namely that the
Adams Craft Lodge No.184, later No.158, held an emergency meeting for the sole
purpose of communicating the Chair Secrets to the Provincial Grand Master, RW
Bro C. Purton Cooper. The
Provincial Grand Secretary, Bro Charles Isaacs performed the Ceremony and Bro
John Staples Keddell, ProvGSW designate, of Adams Lodge, presented the
Provincial Grand Master. This
clearly corrected a technical oversight when Purton was installed as Provincial
Grand Master the previous year not then having been through the Chair of any
One of Purton’s
first actions as Provincial Grand Master was to establish the state of
Freemasonry in his Province by means of a survey and return from the Secretary
of all lodges in Kent. This return
requested details of the number of meetings and ceremonies performed; charities
the lodge had subscribed to and details of returns made to Grand Lodge and to
the Clerk of the Peace. At the same
time the Worshipful Masters of all lodges were asked to submit suggestions to
advance the state of Freemasonry in the Province.
Purton was present
at the 1854 Girls School Annual Festival but it was only on his arrival, finding
senior brethren absent, he realised he had to propose the Health of Lord
Londesborough. His training as a
barrister stood him in good stead and he ably acquitted himself.
He spoke about how long speeches were usual in the Court of Chancery but
should be as brief as possible here. He
referred how Masonry was expanding with Lodges in Turkey and other parts of
Asia. Indeed he did not despair of
one day seeing the Emperor of Russia himself made a Mason!
Purton was eventually exalted on 5 May 1854 into British Chapter No.8 and
became First Principal of that Chapter in 1858.
He was then appointed Grand Superintendent of the Provincial Grand Royal
Arch Chapter of Kent in 1858.
advanced into Bon Accord Mark Lodge on 11 April 1856.
Shortly afterwards Grand Mark Lodge was formed on 23 June 1856.
The following year on 10 June 1857, Lord Leigh, Grand Master of the new
Grand Mark Lodge constituted Mark Provinces and Provincial Grand Masters, with
Kent being included in the first batch of eight Provinces.
On 11 December 1857 Grand Mark Lodge confirmed the Grand Master had
constituted Kent and appointed Charles Purton Cooper, QC, as its Provincial
Grand Master. As previously
indicated C. Purton Cooper had been the Provincial Grand Master for the Craft
Province of Kent since 1853. Andrew
Prescott on page 22 of the book ‘Marking Well’ states support for the
‘Masonic Observer’ group came from men who were afterwards concerned in the
establishment of Mark Grand Lodge such as the lawyer and erstwhile Secretary of
the Records Commission, C. Purton Cooper, Provincial Grand Master for Kent.
A footnote also indicates that Purton Cooper was a prolific contributor
to the Freemasons’ Magazine. Purton
Cooper was a Founder and Primus Master of Leigh Mark Lodge No.11, Erith in
September 1857. Other Founders and
Wardens of this Lodge were Thomas Bisgood, Craft DepPGM (1853 to 1859); and John
Harvey Boys, Craft DepPGM (1859 to 1860). Despite
such a high calibre of membership the Leigh Mark Lodge foundered shortly
There is nothing
at all recorded about the Mark Province of Kent during Purton’s term of office
but with Leigh Mark Lodge very quickly falling by the wayside and the only other
Mark lodge then being Adams Mark Lodge No.6 at Sheerness, which was constituted
in May 1857 but become dormant by the end of 1858, this is hardly surprising.
Whilst the Mark Province of Kent thus had virtually no Mark Lodges
shortly after Purton Cooper became its Provincial Grand Master, by the year 2008
it had become one of the largest Provinces in the English Constitution with some
60 Mark Lodges.
Purton Cooper is
often mentioned in the Freemasons’ Magazine as the Craft Provincial Grand
Master. An abbreviated, though
rather long report of the 1857 Kent Craft Annual Meeting is shown in Appendix C.
An extensive report on the Annual Grand Lodge Festival that took place on
27 April 1859 in the Freemasons’ Magazine lists Purton as being in attendance.
Interestingly the last Toast was to ‘The Ladies in the Gallery’, a
tradition now faded away!
Purton Cooper is
also mentioned in the Freemasons’ Magazine as affixing his signature in 1859
to the By-laws of the newly formed Lodge of Instruction of the Royal Navy Lodge
No.621, now No.429, at Ramsgate to which Purton signified his intention of
becoming a member. The Royal Navy
Lodge have however not been able to confirm Purton’s membership of their Lodge
of Instruction but have confirmed that he did visit the lodge in October 1853
and their Minutes record that he explained the purpose of his visit and gave a
concise history of Freemasonry. The Freemasons’ Magazine also
records that there were nearly 100 present at the Consecration of Wellington
Lodge No.1086, now No.784, at Deal on June 18 1859.
The brethren assembled at Walmer Castle Hotel and processed to the
Assembly Rooms where the lodge was consecrated.
Stephen Barton Wilson, PGD, PProvGSuptWks(Kent) had been appointed by the
Grand Master to consecrate the Lodge in the presence of Purton Cooper,
Provincial Grand Master. Stephen B.
Wilson was by profession an Architect and was President of the Emulation Lodge
of Improvement. His mentor being
the well known Peter Gilkes. The
brethren afterwards adjourned to the Town Hall for the banquet.
The Provincial Grand Master presided but was compelled immediately
afterwards to leave for London. Purton was also listed as being present at a Special Grand
Lodge Meeting on 23 June 1859 to consider items carried forward from the
previous Meeting, with Purton contributing to the discussion about the Grand
Secretary’s salary. A report on
the Centenary meeting of the Grand Master’s Lodge No.1 also lists Purton
present as a visitor.
prolific legal publications his main masonic publication was a mere 48 page
pamphlet entitled ‘Specimens of a series of SHORT EXTRACTS from Brother Purton
Cooper’s Letter and Memorandum Books for the years 1859 to 1868’.
This was not published for sale and only 50 copies were ever printed.
It does however indicate the wide range of masonic matters that occupied
Purton’s mind in the latter part of his life, as well as the numerous and
varied subjects that prompted him to submit his many contributions to the
Freemasons’ Magazine. Subjects
such as: How a Candidate who has
been a Pagan should be obligated; On Masonic Oaths; Mahommedan Lodge and
Christian Brother; Voltairianism and Spinozism; High Grades in Freemasonry;
Words of the Duke of Sussex; Atheists and Freemasonry; French Masons and the
Name of God; French Constitutions; Homosibi Deus; etc.
The first and most intriguing entry in this publication of ‘Short
Extracts’ reads: ‘Monsieur *** you will sooner persuade the English
Freemason to plant the Upas Tree in his garden, than you will persuade him to
admit Atheism into his Lodge.’ Doubtless
those reading this will be familiar with the Upas Tree? Whilst another quotation amply illustrates that Purton was
undoubtedly a man ahead of his time: ‘Every
Sack of Coals that Man burns brings his Planet nearer the epoch of another
transformation – September 1863.’
One of Purton’s
ambitions as the Craft Provincial Grand Master of Kent was that every lodge in
Kent should be a Life Governor of the two masonic Schools.
Ten of the fourteen lodges in the Province had achieved this by 1858.
It had always been Purton’s habit to read everything written relative
to the management of the Order. Up
until 1858 it had been the practice to open Provincial Grand Lodge within a
private Lodge. When it was brought to Purton’s attention that the private
lodge was thus never able to close he immediately saw how illogical this was and
changed the practice so Provincial Grand Lodge opened up independently.
Bro. Yoshio Washizu’s ‘Notes on Masonic “Fire” ’ in AQC 111
(1998), p.162 refers to RW Bro Purton Cooper giving the loyal toast at the
Provincial Annual Meeting in 1859 and the anecdote he relayed, followed by
‘Kentish Fire’ unknown to today’s Kent brethren.
such a distinguished individual it has not been possible to discover a
photograph, a portrait, or any image of Charles Purton Cooper, QC.
Although at the 1858 Craft Provincial Meeting Purton himself presented a
lithograph portrait of Bro Ashley, a Past Master of the Royal Kent Lodge of
Antiquity No.20 and very popular PastDepPGM in recognition of his past services.
The following sources have confirmed they do not hold an image of Charles
Purton Cooper: Lincoln’s
Inn Library; Great Queen Street Library and Museum; Kent Masonic Library and
Museum Trust; Canterbury Reference Library; The Centre for Kentish Studies,
Maidstone; The Royal Society; The Society of Antiquaries:
The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; The National Portrait Gallery;
The British Museum; Victoria & Albert Museum – their Word & Image
Department incorporates the National Art Library and the Museum’s Prints
Drawings, Paintings & Photographs Collections.
Do you know where a photograph, portrait or any image of Charles Purton
Cooper, QC, is held? If so, the author would be delighted to hear from you.
Grasby E.D.Y. The Province of Kent 1770-1970
Dictionary of National Biography.
Rochester & Chatham Journal of 28 June 1853.
Prescott A. Ed.,
Marking Well (2006)
Magazine (various dates).
‘Notes on Masonic “Fire” ’, AQC 111 (1998), p.162.
Charles Purton Cooper’s main Legal
Account of the Parliamentary Proceedings relating to the Practice in Bankruptcy,
Chancery, and the House of Lords – 1828.
etc., in French on the Court of Chancery – 1828; 2nd edition 1830.
on Registration and Forms in Conveyancing – 1831.
Account of the Most Important Public Records of Great Britain, and the
Publications of the Record Commissioners: Together With Other Miscellaneous,
Historical & Antiquarian Information – 2 volumes 1832. 
(This work was reprinted as late as 2004 by ‘The Lawbook Exchange’.)
for Rev. C. Wellbeloved in the Case of Lady Hewley’s Foundation;
Attorney-General v Shore – 1834.
on the Act for Regulating Municipal Corporations – 1835.
Cases decided by Lord Brougham in the years 1833 and 1834 edited from His
Lordships original MSS – 1835.
of Cases decided by Lords Cottenham and Langdale and by Vice-Chancellor Shadwell
in 1837 and 1838 with notes 1838-41.
of Cases in Chancery decided by Lord Cottenham – 1846.
to the Lord Chancellor on law defects in the custody of lunatics – 1849.
pamphlet on the Reform of Solicitors’ Costs – 1850.
to Sir George Grey on the Sanitary State of St. George’s Parish – 1850.
pamphlet on the condition of the Court of Chancery – 1850.
pamphlet on the Masters in Chancery.
pamphlet on the House of Lords as a Court of Appeal.
Miscellanies under his editorship Nos.1-13 – 1850 and 1851.
Miscellanies under his editorship Nos. 1-20
on Pope’s Apostolic 1850-1 Letters.
pamphlet on the Government and Irish Roman Catholic Members – 1851.
of Cases & Dicta in Chancery from MSS, with notes Nos.1-7 – 1852.
of a Proposal to Classify the Law Reports, Boulogne – 1860.
similar Proposal for Digesting the Statute Book, Boulogne – 1868.
It should be noted that Purton was appointed by the
Public Records Commission to locate all significant State records in England,
Scotland, Wales and Ireland, describe their physical condition and summarise
their contents. This
extraordinary body of material includes such landmarks as The Statutes of the
Realm, The Exon Domesday and the Red Book of the Exchequer.
Purton fulfilled this daunting task with enviable skill.
What is more he added detailed annotations that discuss the
significance, reception history, provenance and other notable features for
each record. First published more
than 175 years ago this study remains to this day an incomparable guide to
such records of State.
Purton Cooper Installed as Craft PGM of Kent
Maidstone, Rochester and Chatham Journal of 28 June 1853 reported on Purton’s
Installation as the Craft Provincial Grand Master of Kent at Folkestone on 20
June 1853. This newspaper article
states that numerous brethren from British Lodge No.8 were in attendance with
Purton himself being a member of that Lodge.
The newspaper reported that the Installation day in 1853 was remarkably
favourable and at an early hour the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages
thronged into town. The Provincial
Grand Lodge was opened and that part of the ceremony to which the public was not
admitted was performed in the Guildhall. At
one o’clock the Procession was marshalled, headed by different Kentish lodges
with their Standards and Banners. The
principal were those of Maidstone, Margate, Gravesend, Chatham, Ramsgate,
Dartford, Sheerness, Dover, Hythe, Folkestone and Canterbury.
Visitors included many Grand Officers of the United Grand Lodge of
the visitors, a Hindu, a fine-looking man in native costume, attracted much
attention. There were also present members of French lodges in their
peculiar clothing. The procession
moved through the principal streets, which were crowded, to a full Church.
After the usual service of the day an anthem was sung written for the
occasion by Brother How, composed and arranged for three voices by Brother
Phipps, the Provincial Grand Organist. The
Rev. David Jones, the Provincial Grand Chaplain also preached an impressive
procession reformed and returned through a different part of the town to the
Guildhall where the newly-installed Provincial Grand Master, the business of the
day having been transacted, closed Provincial Grand Lodge in due form.
Later a banquet was served at the Pavilion Hotel at which many brethren
were present. Many however were
compelled by their avocations to leave previously for London and other places.
Suitable Toasts were drunk with great enthusiasm.
Nearly fifty years have elapsed since such a Masonic Festival has been
held at Folkestone. Nothing of the
kind has ever passed off more happily. It
is said the Provincial Meeting next year would be held at Sheerness or
Canterbury but the choice of the place at which the Meeting is held rests with
the Provincial Grand Master.
The Craft Provincial Annual
Meeting of Kent in 1857.
no Mark Provincial Meeting took place 150 years ago in 1857 there is an
extensive report in the Freemasons’ Magazine of the Craft Provincial Annual
Meeting that took place that year. As
events in 1857 vary somewhat from similar events of today the following
abbreviated, though long, report is included for those who may be interested.
Provincial Grand Lodge of Kent was held at Canterbury on Monday 15 June 1857.
This event excited considerable interest, as such a meeting had not been
held in Canterbury for nearly half a century.
Indeed the last Provincial Grand Lodge held in Canterbury took place in
1808. Why was this?
Well in some measure it may be attributed to the fact that the only Lodge
in Canterbury, the United Industrious No.34 had been almost allowed to die from
exhaustion not having more than two or three members!
In the last few years great efforts had been made to revive it.
This was so successful that it now ranked as one of the most respectable
Lodges in the Province. (The fact
that Purton Cooper, QC, the Provincial Grand Master joined the Lodge in 1852
doubtless played a significant part in its revival.) Accordingly Purton Cooper was determined to hold his Annual
Provincial Grand Lodge this year in Canterbury. On the previous Sunday evening there was a goodly attendance
of Brethren in the Masonic Hall, St. Margaret’s Street when Bro. Stephen
Barton Wilson, JGD delivered a very effective lecture on the objects and scope
of Freemasonry. He was unanimously
accorded a vote of thanks.
the Monday morning after a sumptuous breakfast at the Rose Hotel in the High
Street the brethren proceeded to the Freemasons’ Tavern where the large
Concert Hall was arranged as a lodge room.
The lodge was opened with the usual ceremonies in excellent style by Bro
Holttum, Worshipful Master of United Industrious No.34 assisted by his SW and JW.
RW Bro Purton Cooper, QC, the Provincial Grand Master and his Provincial
Grand Officers then entered the Lodge and were received with the customary
formalities under the direction of the excellent and experienced Master of the
Ceremonies Bro Poussett. Provincial
Grand Lodge was then opened. Amongst
the brethren on the dais were Bro Ashley, PProvDepPGM, Bro Harvey Boys, PProvGSW,
Bro Brook Jones, PProvGSW, Bro W.H. Vale, PProvGSW (Herefordshire), Bro Hyde
Pullen, DepPGM (Isle of Wight) and several Provincial Grand Officers.
Minutes of the last Provincial Grand Lodge were read and confirmed.
Bro. Saunders was re-elected Treasurer and the officers of the year were
appointed and invested by the Provincial Grand Master.
The Provincial Grand Master said that Bro Phipps, ProvSGW had for many
years held the important and pleasing office of Provincial Grand Organist.
He spoke at length about Bro Phipps attributes as both a working mason
and a charitable brother. The
Provincial Grand Master then invested Bro Pike as ProvGJW, Bro Windeyer as
ProvGReg and Bro Tolputt, who is blind, as ProvGOrganist in each case listing
their respective attributes in considerable detail.
other business had been disposed of the Provincial Grand Master said he had the
pleasing duty of presenting to Bro Isaacs the testimonial voted to him by
Provincial Grand Lodge for his long and faithful service as Provincial Grand
Secretary. The testimonial vote of Provincial Grand Lodge swelled by
many individual subscriptions had taken the shape of the massive silver salver
they saw before them, a tea and coffee service and a handsome Masonic Jewel, the
estimated value being more than £200. The
inscription on them was:
to Brother Charles Issacs, Past Master of Lodge No.20, Past Provincial Grand
Senior Warden and Provincial Grand Secretary by the Provincial Grand Master and
Brethren of the Province of Kent as a mark of esteem and regard and in grateful
appreciation of his zealous and efficient services during a period of twelve
Grand Lodge of Kent, Canterbury, June 15, 1857.’
making the presentation, the Provincial Grand Master spoke at length about his
expertness as a mason and his charitable nature.
(Loud applause.) Bro Isaacs
was received with applause and appeared much affected expressed the deep sense
he had of the honour conferred upon him. From
his first admission into Masonry he had been impressed with a profound
admiration of its principles and it was indeed an intense gratification to him
that his earnest desire to further the cause and exemplify the principles of
Masonry should have been so highly appreciated and so lavishly rewarded by the
Brethren of the Province. It was
indeed gratifying to him to know that he possessed the esteem and approbation of
the Brethren and their flattering acknowledgement of his services would only
stimulate him to further exertions. (Cheers.)
procession was shortly afterwards formed to the Cathedral headed by the Band of
the 3rd Dragoon Guards playing as a march ‘The Free and Accepted
Mason’. The passage of the procession of the Provincial Grand
Officers up the magnificent nave of this glorious edifice presented a
spirit-stirring scene, the rich colours and the glistening jewels which most of
these distinguished Brethren wore contrasted in a picturesque manner with the
pushing crowd around them. The
Cathedral was densely crowded and the Venerable Archdeacon Harrison the Canon in
residence exhibited great anxiety that all should be well accommodated.
service was most effectively performed although the strength of the choir was
diminished by several of its choicest singers having gone to the Handel
Celebration at the Crystal Palace. The
Revd R. Hirst, minor Canon said the prayers and the anthem was from Psalm cxxxii
‘Lord remember David’. The
Revd Bro Kingsford preached the sermon who took for his text 1 Tim. ii. 5
‘For there is one God’. The
preacher in dwelling on the great aim of the Apostle to promote unity and
harmony observed that there were few societies more active on this behalf than
that of the Freemasons, the principles of which proved its Divine origin,
principles the very opposite of those generally professed by mankind, for the
disposition of mankind was naturally selfish.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain then developed this theme into an extremely
the close of the service a collection was made at the doors on the joint behalf
of the Kent and Canterbury and the Masonic Charities.
The result was a sum of £20. The
route taken by the procession from the Cathedral to the Lodge room on its return
was by Burgate and St. George’s thus more than quadrupling the distance gone
over on proceeding to the sacred edifice.
resumption of Provincial Grand Lodge thirty guineas were voted from the Charity
Fund to be given in the names of Dartford and Canterbury Lodges by which they
became permanent governors of the masonic Girls’ and Boys’ School.
Votes of thanks were given to Archdeacon Harrison and Revd Bro
Kingsford, the former for his courtesy in allowing them the use of the
Cathedral and the latter for his admirable sermon, after which the Provincial
Grand Lodge was closed in ample form.
brethren then proceeded to the Corn Exchange where Bro Bretton, the
indefatigable Landlord of the Rose had prepared a sumptuous dinner.
At the table d’honneur were Bros Purton Cooper, Provincial Grand
Master (in the Chair); Bisgood, DepPGM; Ashley, PDepPGM; Harvey Boys, PProvSGW;
the Revd M. Kingsford, ProvGChap; Saunders, ProvGTreas; Isaacs, ProvGSec;
Pullen, DepPGM for the Isle of Wight; Warren, Grand Stewards’ Lodge; J.
Delmar, PProvSGW; Vale, PProvSGW for Herefordshire, etc.
In other parts of the room were various brethren.
The numbers of Brethren at dinner were upwards of 150. After dinner grace was sung by Bros Donald King, Young,
Lawler and Kingsbury, who afterwards sung in admirable style, a variety of
songs, glees, etc.
the removal of the cloth the Provincial Grand Master said that he had now the
pleasing duty to perform of proposing a toast, which was always acceptable to
Masons ‘The Health of Her Majesty’. They
had always had the good fortune in England of having their Masonic rites
patronised by royalty. Canterbury
had borne no small part in the history of Freemasonry.
Not to go back into earlier ages he found that in the reign of Edward III
some very important masonic operations took place in Canterbury, so important
that the King thought it first necessary to revise the Constitutions with his
own hand. Other important business
was transacted in Canterbury in the reign of Henry IV.
Then when they came down to the time of her Majesty’s ancestors they
would find that they had invariably practised Freemasonry.
Her Majesty’s august father was a mason, so also were all her uncles
with one exception and had her illustrious uncle the late MW Grand Master, the
Duke of Sussex lived a little longer there could be no doubt that although he
would not say the Queen would have been a mason, Prince Albert would have been
enrolled in their ranks. They were
now entering on another generation and he had no doubt that ere long the Prince
of Wales would be numbered in the Craft. The
Princess Royal could not be but she was about to marry into a family the members
of which were celebrated from the time of Frederick the Great as being promoters
of Freemasonry and he believed that Prince Frederick was already a good
Freemason, if he were not he was sure he would become one.
He begged to propose ‘The Queen and the Craft’.
The toast was drunk with loud applause.
Provincial Grand Master then gave ‘The health of the MW Grand Master of
England, the Rt Hon The Earl of Zetland’.
It had been the fortune of the noble Earl to live in an age of masonic
transition and should he now be approaching the close of his masonic career the
brethren would always regard with admiration the firmness with which he had
carried them through that period and for the excellent appointment of officers
recently made. During the reign of the noble Earl Freemasonry had greatly
progressed, the number of Lodges, which were less than 730 when he became Grand
Master having increased to upwards of 1,000 and he was sure his Lordship had won
for himself the respect and love of every member of the Craft.
(Applause.) The Provincial
Grand Master next gave ‘Lord Panmure, the Deputy Grand Master of England and
the Grand Officers’. He was sure
Lord Panmure would prove a most valuable and efficient officer and though
Minister of War his masonic principles would ever keep him from running the
country unnecessarily into war. With the toast he wished to couple the name of a brother who
was distinguished not only by his connection with the literary organ of the
Craft (the Freemasons’ Magazine) but for his high masonic attainments and
independence of conduct. He
proposed ‘Lord Panmure, Deputy Grand Master and the rest of the Grand Officers
coupled with the name of Bro Warren’.
Warren scarcely knew how to return thanks for the toast with which his name had
been coupled inasmuch that he was not a Grand Officer!
It was true he had held that dignity by virtue of having been a Grand
Steward of Lodge No.108 (sic) but his rank and precedence expired with his year
of office. He accepted the task
imposed upon him in the name of his respected friend and Bro Stephen Barton
Wilson who’s eloquent lecture many of them had heard the previous evening and
who had unfortunately been compelled to return to town.
Having taken some part in the discussions, which had made this, what the
Provincial Grand Master had been pleased to call, an age of transition, he might
be allowed to express his gratification at Lord Zetland’s appointments this
year. They were the most popular
for many years. (Cheers.)
It might be presumptuous in him to express an opinion relative to the new
Deputy Grand Master but he must be allowed to say that widely as his Lordship
and himself had differed in opinion in Grand Lodge he sincerely believed the
noble Lord was actuated by the strongest desire to promote the best interests of
the Craft and his appointment as Deputy Grand Master would be of advantage to
it. He believed now the old system
of routine had been broken through and they had a few new and trusted Grand
Officers many of the neglects of which he and others had complained would be
remedied but he warned the brethren the matter was in their own hands.
If they did not look after the performance of the duties of Grand Lodge
they had no right to complain if they were not properly performed.
(Applause.) Long services,
increased business and advancing years would no longer be regarded as apologies
for correspondence unanswered or duties unperformed but to ensure efficiency
they must look well after the business themselves and support those who did so.
Reynolds of United Industrious Lodge No. 34 wished to guard himself from the
charge of vanity in proposing the next toast.
He had not voluntarily put himself forward to perform the duty knowing
there were many brethren present who could do greater justice to the toast.
He begged to give them ‘The health of their RW Provincial Grand
Master’ who had so ably performed his duties that day as he had on every
occasion when he mixed among the brethren.
(Cheers.) He could not
conceive that it would require any eloquence to make that toast acceptable to
them when he considered the sublime principles by which they were bound together
and with the beauties of which they could not have failed to be impressed when
listening to the eloquent discourse delivered to them in the Cathedral of
Canterbury that day. Freemasonry
might indeed be regarded as one of those humanizing influences of life, which
rendered it so delightful for man to mingle with his fellow men.
Whilst its watchword was charity it appeared to him in the attribute of
an angel who had flown over the earth scattering flowers from his brow and
diamonds from his wings. (Cheers.)
He called upon them all to drink with him ‘Health and long life to Bro
Purton Cooper, their RW Provincial Grand Master’.
RW Provincial Grand Master returned thanks and in the course of his remarks said
if it pleased the GAOTU to spare his life so long he intended to celebrate the
next Provincial Grand Festival at Maidstone.
He trusted that on that occasion Freemasonry would be as creditably
illustrated as it had been that day by the arrangements of the brethren of the
United Industrious Lodge. (Cheers.)
This had certainly been one of the most successful celebrations since he
had the honour of holding the office of Provincial Grand Master and he trusted
the meeting at Maidstone next year would not be inferior.
of the great principles of Masonry was the Master should perform his duties with
the assistance of his officers. Now
he was happy to say that he was supported by one officer, the DeputyPGM, who had
nothing to do for the reason that he (the Provincial Grand Master) did all the
work himself. He was sure that he
had always had the honour of being supported by most excellent Provincial Grand
Officers and he should therefore ask them to drink to the health of these
gentlemen coupled with the name of Bro Bisgood who he hoped might enjoy a long
and happy life. (Cheers.)
Bisgood said there was one thing at least he could do, return his most sincere
thanks for the kindness which he had received from the Provincial Grand Master
and the brethren of Kent whenever he had the honour to meet them.
The Provincial Grand Master had told them he did nothing and he could
assure them that he wished the Provincial Grand Master would give him a little
to do. This he had done, he had
attended there to support the Provincial Grand Master and assist him with his
suggestions in the performance of his duties.
Perhaps the Provincial Grand Master might call that nothing because he
did not require any suggestions from him. (Laughter.)
If however he should at any time obtain the opportunity he would show
them how well he could perform the duties of the Chair and it was his most
fervent hope that he might have to preside over them at Maidstone next year in
consequence of his friend the RW Provincial Grand Master having been honoured
with the discharge of other and higher duties in the State by Her Majesty’s
RW Provincial Grand Master then gave ‘Bro Ashley, PastProvDepPGM, and the rest
of the PastProvGOfficers’. They
could not be too grateful for past benefits and at no time had there been a
brother to whom they were more deeply indebted for his services.
He had held the Office of DeputyPGM for thirteen or fourteen years with
equal advantage to the Craft and honour to himself.
(Cheers.) Bro Ashley
returned thanks. He lamented that
PastProvGOfficers paid the Provincial Grand Master so poor a compliment as not
to attend in greater numbers whenever Provincial Grand Lodge was held.
That was in fact their duty and they ought not to accept the honours of
office without they intended to perform its duties.
RW Provincial Grand Master then proposed the health of their excellent brother
the Provincial Grand Chaplain to whom they were so deeply indebted for his
eloquent and truly masonic sermon. He
only regretted he was not in a position to do so or he should have great
pleasure in making Bro Kingsford a Bishop.
(Cheers & laughter.) Bro
The Revd Kingsford briefly responded assuring the company that as a member of
United Industrious Lodge No.34 he was always happy to meet them and he was
deeply grateful to the RW Provincial Grand Master for having raised him to the
dignity of ProvGChaplain. He was as
yet but a humble curate but whatever position he might hereafter hold he should
never forget the kindness he had received from their hands.
Provincial Grand Master said the next toast was one he really ought to call the
toast of the evening, he meant ‘The health of the brethren whose hospitality
they were enjoying, the Worshipful Master and brethren of the United Industrious
Lodge’. (Loud cheers.) It
was nearly fifty years since a Provincial Grand Lodge had been held in that
ancient city. It was then held
under the auspices of the Earl of Moira, the then Grand Master and presided over
by the great-grandfather of Bro Windeyer who had that day been invested with
purple honours. (Cheers.) The fact
that they were assembled on a peculiar spot, which of all our native isle was
the first to be civilised in the most ancient city of the United Kingdom gave
charm to their meeting, which the memories of the past enwrapped around all
objects within its scope. (Cheers.) He
hoped and trusted that much less than half a century would elapse before they
met there again. The United
Industrious Lodge he was happy to say would be able to receive the Provincial
Grand Lodge in its regular rotation with other lodges and so in nine or ten
years in all probability the Provincial Grand Lodge would be again held at
Canterbury. Again he hoped to be
received in the admirable and comfortable manner in which they had been received
that day. He congratulated Bro
Steel (who for many years when the lodge was in abeyance paid the Grand Lodge
dues and thus kept it on the register) on the resuscitation and promising
condition of the lodge and on the events of that day. (Cheers.)
The toast was drunk with great enthusiasm.
Holttum, Worshipful Master, in the name of United Industrious Lodge No.34
returned thanks. He expressed gratitude for the handsome attendance, which had
resulted from their invitations and their delight at finding their arrangements
had met with the approval of the brethren. (Cheers.) Bro Steel also returned thanks and expressed his
gratification at witnessing the continued prosperity of the lodge, etc., and the
Provincial Grand Lodge once more enabled to meet in their city.
Provincial Grand Master had now a most pleasing duty to perform, namely to
propose the health of the visitors who had honoured the Provincial Grand Lodge
of Kent with their presence and with that toast he would couple the name of Bro
Pullen, DepPGM for the Isle of Wight. (Cheers.)
Bro Pullen returned thanks and expressed his gratification at the
opportunity of being present, he being a former inhabitant of the county and a
Provincial Grand Officer of the Province. Whilst
in the Cathedral he could not but reflect upon the circumstances that it was
built of stone brought from the neighbourhood in which he now lived and compare
its noble proportions with the lovely scenery around the quarry from whence the
stone was obtained as showing forth the natural beauties of creation and the art
of man. (Cheers.)
health of the Provincial Grand Treasurer having been drunk and responded to, Bro
Bisgood, DeputyPGM gave the health of the Provincial Grand Secretary, which was
drunk with loud applause. Bro
Isaacs responded assuring the brethren he had always felt the greatest pleasure
in Freemasonry in which he had the honour to hold Provincial Office for twelve
years. He again thanked them for the handsome testimonial with which
they had presented him; which he trusted would be handed down as an heirloom to
his children’s children to testify how well the brethren had appreciated his
services. He felt that Freemasonry
had made him a better man than he might otherwise have been and having had the
charge of bringing up six brothers and sisters, it was gratifying to him to know
that one of those brothers was now rendering a service to Freemasonry in a
distant clime, having received an account of his Consecrating a new lodge in
Australia. (Cheers.) The closing
toast having been given the brethren separated about half past nine o’clock.
The excellent singing of Bros Donald King, Lawler, Kingsbury and Young
agreeably diversified the intervals between speeches.
after the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Canterbury there was a series of
letters published in the Freemasons’ Magazine regarding the fact that of one
of the largest lodges in the Province only three brethren dined at the
Provincial Banquet whilst nine other members preferred to dine at the Fountain
Hotel. Debate ensued as to whether,
not dining at the Provincial Banquet was disrespectful to Purton Cooper, QC, the
presiding Provincial Grand Master with varying views subsequently being
The Fountain Hotel in St. Margaret’s Street, Canterbury, dating back to
1029 was reputed to be the oldest inn in Kent and possibly in England.
Princess Victoria had stayed here in 1835 before she became Queen in
1837. Legend has it that the four
knights who murdered Thomas a Beckett gathered here arriving on the fifth day of
Christmas of 1170 before moving on to the Cathedral.)
The author is indebted to Bro. Yoshio
Washizu for his help in providing relevant pages of the Freemasons’ Magazine
thus enabling the production of this Appendix.