Review of Freemasonry

Make this site your Home Page Print this page Send Masonic E-card Subscribe News Alerts by Email RSS News Feed
PS Review of FM Search Engine:
recommend PS Review of Freemasonry

StarRed Special Project 2009 StarRed
PS Review of Freemasonry meets the Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council.

Ten selected papers first published by
the Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council.

Plus an illustrated account of the formation and activities of the ANZMRC:
by W.Bro. Tony Pope, Editor of the ANZMRC’s publications.

PS Review of Freemasonry
The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council (ANZMRC) is an inter-jurisdictional association of research lodges for the promotion of Masonic research and education on an international basis.

by R.W.Bro. James Daniel
PM Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research #2076 EC
United Grand Lodge of England
Chapter 7 of Masonic Networks & Connections, a paper prepared by RW Bro. Daniel for his lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2007.

© No part of this paper may be reproduced without written permission from the The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council. HTML code is property of PS Review of Freemasonry - All rights reserved ©



Today, almost 120 years after Lord Carnarvon’s four-month visit to Australia, the Australian press would devote few, if any, column inches to a visit by a British out-of-office former cabinet minister, however distinguished. But 1887 was a special year, and the visitor was an exceptional one.


All over the British Empire, the largest and most powerful empire the world had ever known, the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria were celebrating the fiftieth year of her long reign—from her Dominion of Canada, through India (of which she was Empress), to the Australian colonies and beyond. The as yet unfederated Australian colonies also had some more domestic reasons to celebrate in 1887: a hundred years earlier, the first convicts had been landed at Botany Bay, and so the white settlement of the Australian continent was now marking its centenary. And in 1887 one of the five Australian colonies, South Australia, was also celebrating its own jubilee.


ANZMRC publishes a quarterly newsletter, Harashim (Hebrew for Craftsmen), which is circulated worldwide in PDF format by email. Subscribe Harashim.

Lord Carnarvon, who had been born just a few years before Victoria ascended the throne, was the most senior metropolitan politician—and, indeed, the most senior officer of the United Grand Lodge of England—ever to have visited any of the Australian colonies, where his reputation as a statesman on the imperial stage and as a Freemason had preceded him.[1] For over thirty years Carnarvon, more than any other British politician of his generation, had consistently concerned himself with Britain’s colonies and its empire. He had served as Colonial Secretary in two administrations, in the first of which [2] he had steered through the imperial parliament the bill that ultimately federated Britain’s remaining North American colonies into its first dominion, the Dominion of Canada. More recently he had briefly returned to the cabinet as Lord Lieutenant or viceroy of Ireland.[3] Carnarvon’s Masonic career was equally distinguished. In the English ‘Craft’,[4] as Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, the world’s premier Grand Lodge, Carnarvon was now second only to the Prince of Wales, whom he had installed as its Grand Master in 1875, and he was also its Provincial Grand Master for Somerset (England). Carnarvon was ex officio the Prince’s Pro First Grand Principal in the Royal Arch, and he had also been the head of two Masonic bodies [5] beyond ‘pure antient masonry’ which, like the English Craft and its associated Royal Arch, had branches throughout the empire.


But even the conjunction of imperial and colonial anniversaries with the visit of such a distinguished statesman and Freemason from ‘the mother country’ does not explain the coverage Carnarvon received in the Australian press or the genuine warmth of the welcome extended to him. In this paper I shall consider Carnarvon’s visit in greater detail and in a broader context than previous scholars, and thereby demonstrate its relevance to discourses on such subjects as the development of national identities, colonial-imperial and metropoleperiphery relationships, formal and informal empire, and the adjustment of the English aristocracy to late nineteenth-century conditions. The paper will also compare and contrast the growth of independent Masonic Grand Lodges in Australia with contemporary attitudes towards greater self-government in and the eventual political independence of the Australian colonies, and show the relevance of this four-month episode in Australian history to any study of Carnarvon the statesman and Freemason.


With the honourable exception of Jessica Harland-Jacobs,[6] historians seem to have overlooked Carnarvon’s visit. Blight’s account of Carnarvon’s contribution to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales in 1889 [7] concentrates on that part of Carnarvon’s visit only, and the brief reference to the visit in Carnarvon’s biographical file in the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England [8] are incomplete and, in some respects, inaccurate.[9] Hardinge’s biography of Carnarvon [10] —the only one published to date [11] —certainly covers the Australian visit, but it suffers from having been written under the editorship of Carnarvon’s widow (his second wife, who accompanied him to Australia, and the guardian of her husband’s reputation), and without reference to several important contemporary records, let alone any Masonic ones. I have therefore had to go ‘back to basics’: to Carnarvon’s diaries (from which, unfortunately, some pages have been cut out) and other papers in the British Library and the Hampshire Record Office; to reports of the visit in the Australian press (general and Masonic); and to the official records of the Grand Lodges of England and South Australia and of the (English) [12] District Grand Lodge of Tasmania.



Carnarvon at 56


Carnarvon turned fifty-six in June 1887. Politically he was again out of office and not entirely in favour with either his former friends in the Conservative party or with his Queen. He had resigned in January the previous year from what turned out to be his last appointment to a Cabinet post, the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland. When he had reluctantly accepted the post in the summer of 1885 he had made it clear to Prime Minister Lord Salisbury—and to Queen Victoria—that he would hold it only until the next parliamentary elections.[13] Despite the fact that at the Cabinet’s request he had in the event remained in office a little longer than that, his resignation had not best pleased either the Prime Minister or his sovereign, the latter having expressed to him in writing her regret ‘that he shd for the 3rd time leave the Govt. with which he was serving’.[14] (An independently-minded conservative, Carnarvon had previously resigned as Secretary of State for the Colonies in March 1867 over Disraeli’s Reform Bill, and from the same office in January 1878 over Disraeli’s decision to send the British fleet into the Dardanelles.) With Lord Salisbury Carnarvon had fallen out for reasons not relevant to this paper, and he now found his old friend politically ‘untrustworthy’. On the other hand he hoped that Salisbury’s offer of the Lord Lieutenancy of Southampton (which he promptly accepted) meant that their friendship of more than thirty years was not entirely at an end.[15]


Though out of ministerial office, Carnarvon had retained the chairmanship of the Royal Commission on the ‘Defence of British Possessions and Commerce Abroad’, which he had held since its establishment in 1885.[16] From that base he sought to concentrate the minds of the imperial and colonial governments on improving and maintaining defences throughout the empire,[17] especially those of the major ports and coaling stations used around the world by the British commercial and military fleets. The growing military strength and imperial designs of other European powers made Carnarvon anxious about any perceived weakness in the unity of the British empire. He hoped that consolidating and strengthening the empire would act as a deterrent to those envious of its power and extent, but he feared and accurately foresaw the slaughter of millions if and when European empires clashed on a global scale.[18]


Carnarvon’s interests in Britain’s empire had always been wider than his brief as chairman of the commission on the defence of British possessions overseas. Ever since his first ministerial appointment in 1858, Carnarvon had been careful to maintain his personal contacts with colonial administrators, particularly in the white settlement colonies in North America, Australia and South Africa.[19] Building on his published papers on imperial administration in late 1878 [20] he had written papers on ‘Annexation and Federation in Australasia’ in 1884 and on ‘Australian Federation’ in 1885. He was in discussion about these matters with, among others, Sir Charles Duffy (the former Premier of Victoria) and Sir Henry Parkes (Colonial Secretary, New South Wales), and, though out of office, he had entertained many of the colonial governors at his home, Highclere Castle, in June 1886.[21] Carnarvon had been thinking about visiting Australia, Canada and South Africa since at least 1874,[22] and had indeed visited Canada, privately, in 1883.[23] More recently, Carnarvon had accepted the Prince of Wales’ invitation to serve on the organizing committee of the Imperial Institute, the foundation stone of which was laid by Queen Victoria on 4 July 1887. His particular interest in the Australian colonies was rewarded by his appointments as a member of the Royal Commissions for the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition [24] (at the specific request of the government of Victoria [25]) and the Adelaide Imperial Exhibition, both of which were chaired by the Prince of Wales. And from the letters that Carnarvon received from colonial governors and premiers it is clear that, at least in the colonies, Carnarvon’s concern for their welfare and development within the empire was warmly appreciated.[26]


After his first wife’s death, shortly after giving birth to their daughter in 1875, and after his resignation as Colonial Secretary in January 1878, Carnarvon had married again (December 1878), and Countess Elizabeth [27] had since produced two sons, Aubrey (his second) in 1880 and Mervyn (his third) in 1882. According to their close friends the Phillimores, it was a very happy marriage [28] and Elizabeth, unlike his first wife, normally enjoyed good health. However, by 1887 Carnarvon’s own health was giving even more cause for concern than ever. It is possible that Carnarvon already knew that he ‘was suffering from a disease to which there could be one ending’—cancer of the liver.[29] His health had never been robust and Carnarvon had suffered several prolonged periods of illness over the years. Health worries had caused him to turn down the offer of appointment as Viceroy of India in 1875 and, as we have seen, to limit his time in the Irish vice-regency to a few months in 1885/86. Now fifty-six, Carnarvon not only looked old for his years but was actually finding the burden of his public duties difficult to bear ‘when there is the constant sense of weakness & malaise’.[30] His private life was also proving a strain: the profligacy of his son and heir, Lord Porchester, had recently brought their relationship to a critical point, and Carnarvon was also worried about the extent to which he himself was indebted [31] —and Australia was already an important ‘home for British investment’.[32]



Background to, and reasons for, the visit


Carnarvon’s decision to travel with his wife and two servants to Australia via South Africa on a private rather than an official visit seems to have been taken not very long before they sailed from England at the end of August 1887, and essentially for health reasons.[33] Carnarvon and his wife had spent most of the first three months of 1887 at their house in Portofino, Italy, but without any marked improvement to Carnarvon’s health. A more drastic cure was called for, including long sea voyages and a considerable time away from all his problems at home, and so the decision to sail to Australia was taken, probably in July 1887. The first mention that I have found in Carnarvon’s diaries of his intention to undertake the visit is dated 12 July 1887, when he discussed the trip with Lord Rosebery, who had recently visited Australia.[34] Although this was to be a private visit, given the closeness of the earl’s working relations with the Prince of Wales (in his capacities as the Prince’s Pro Grand Master in the English Grand Lodge and as a key member of the organizing committee of the Imperial Institute, the Prince’s favourite public project at that time), one would have expected him to inform the Prince of his intended journey at the earliest possible moment, and the fact that he did not do so until late July is further proof that the decision was taken only shortly beforehand.[35]


Harland-Jacobs claims that Carnarvon embarked on this journey because ‘So committed was he to Freemasonry and the empire’, and that on it ‘he performed a dual role as a missionary of the Imperial Federation League and an emissary of the United Grand Lodge’.[36] But while Carnarvon certainly acted in his Masonic capacity and spoke on federation and on imperial matters during his four [37] months in Australia, it should be clear from the above paragraph that he embarked on it originally and essentially for health reasons. Indeed, I have also not found any evidence that he went there ‘as a missionary of the Imperial Federation League’ or ‘as an emissary of the United Grand Lodge’. What becomes evident from a closer reading of his diary and papers at the British Library is that when Carnarvon told the Prince of Wales of his decision to go to Australia it was the Prince who definitely gave him a specific imperial commission and who probably asked him to look into and suggest a solution to the Masonic problems of New South Wales (‘NSW’) and possibly of Victoria as well.


Let us examine the specific imperial commission first. In his letter of 29 July 1887 to Carnarvon wishing him bon voyage and better health, the Prince turned down Carnarvon’s suggestion that he might resign from the organizing committee of the Imperial Institute and suggested that he should instead continue his fund-raising efforts while in Australia:[38]


After you have taken so great an interest in the Imperial Institute I could not for a moment hear of you giving up your post on the Organizing Committee, but I hope when you are in Australia you may be able to rouse our Colonial friends & induce them to subscribe more than they have done. If you saw your way to calling a meeting occasionally you would be adding another to the many useful services you have rendered to the Imperial Institute. India has sent us £40,000 & you have now about £300,000 & I always hope to get ultimately £200,000 more!


It would appear that Carnarvon made an effort to obey the Prince’s wish, though not a very great one. Before leaving England he apparently wrote a fund-raising circular letter to, among others, Sir William Clarke,[39] the District Grand Master of all three ‘home’ Masonic constitutions [40] in the colony of Victoria. Once in Australia Carnarvon commented on the value of the Imperial Institute to the colonies—but without specifically calling for donations—when Clarke mentioned that letter in his speech proposing Carnarvon’s health at a Masonic banquet in Melbourne, Victoria, on 14 November 1887.[41] I have not been able to find a copy of the circular letter, nor any other reference to it—or to the Imperial Institute—during Carnarvon’s visit. In any case, some of the Freemasons of Victoria were initially put out by Carnarvon’s letter, written as it was on the Prince’s behalf; as Clarke mentioned in his speech, they had originally ‘misinterpreted’ the letter, believing that their effort in building a local almshouse to mark the jubilee should have satisfied the Prince’s wish to see it properly celebrated. And even Carnarvon’s explanation of the empire-wide value of the Institute on 14 November did not prevent the publication of an article in the Melbourne Age three days later which was openly critical of what its author considered to be the Prince’s and Carnarvon’s misuse of Freemasonry in touting among its members for funds for the Institute.[42] Indeed, unless evidence is found to the contrary, it would seem that the proposal to use Masonic funds to support the Imperial Institute had already been quietly dropped even before Carnarvon reached Australia.[43] Although notice had been given at the meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England (‘UGLE’) in December 1886 that a member would propose a donation of £1,000 to the Imperial Institute, the motion was eventually superseded by a vote of £6,000 to the central Masonic charities from the proceeds of the UGLE’s celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee held at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 June 1887. Thereafter the only mention of the Imperial Institute in the Proceedings is buried in an item in the accounts presented in December 1887: ‘G. Kenning for Printing in connection with the Jubilee Meeting and Imperial Institute [£]101..1..7.’[44]


That the Prince also asked Carnarvon to advise him on the Masonic problems in New South Wales is also quite probable, though I have found no evidence of the royal commission which Blight and others [45] assume Carnarvon was given, or of the UGLE’s commission assumed by Harland-Jacobs. What actually happened appears to be as follows. On 11 August 1887, having heard that Carnarvon was soon to leave England for Australia, and having recently received some relevant communications from Lord Carrington [46] (the Governor of New South Wales, and a Past Senior Grand Warden of the UGLE), the UGLE’s Grand Secretary, Colonel Shadwell H Clerke, wrote accordingly to both the Grand Master (the Prince of Wales) and the Pro Grand Master (Carnarvon).[47] Sir Francis Knollys, the Prince’s Private Secretary, replied to Clerke on 15 August:[48]


I have submitted your letter of the 11th to the Prince of Wales. HRH approves of the action you propose to take in regard to Lord Carrington’s communication but he thinks it should be a sine qua non that the Australian Grand Lodge should be affiliated with the Grand Lodge of England and that it should not be independent such as Ireland and Scotland. Only on this condition can HRH agree to Lord Carrington’s proposal.


In brief, Carrington’s plan for resolving the Masonic problem in New South Wales envisaged unifying the unrecognised Grand Lodge of New South Wales that had been formed in 1877 with the District Grand Lodges of the three ‘home’ constitutions (of England, Ireland and Scotland) in a new body, a united grand lodge of New South Wales—with himself as its first Grand Master. The only reason the Grand Lodge of New South Wales already in existence had not been recognised by the ‘mother’ Grand Lodges in the British Isles [49] was that it had been formed by only thirteen [50] of the one hundred or so lodges in NSW at the time, and therefore did not have the allegiance of the majority of the lodges in the colony, a sine qua non for recognition.[51] As a consequence, members of the ‘British’ District Grand Lodges were forbidden to have any ‘masonic intercourse’ with the new Grand Lodge. However, with a former Premier of the colony, James Squire Farnell, at its head, the Grand Lodge of New South Wales soon flourished; more lodges joined it and the division in the colony’s Craft—with leading citizens on both sides of the divide—became an embarrassment. By the time of Carrington’s arrival in the colony, the chief remaining obstacle to reconciliation and unification appears to have been the District Grand Master of the ‘English’ district, John Williams (see below).


In 1885, soon after taking up his gubernatorial duties, Carrington had courteously received a deputation from the Grand Lodge of New South Wales,[52] and, at a dinner in his honour given by the ‘English’ and ‘Scottish’ Masons of the colony on 24 June 1887,[53] presided over by Williams, Carrington had strongly indicated his view of the way ahead:


The Jubilee year has witnessed in the Empire the joining together of a common outburst of loyalty, and, although I regret to say that in our Craft in NSW there is a serious and deplorable division, yet we all, as Freemasons, are strongly united in our devotion to the Constitution, and in our loyalty to the Queen. (Applause) And, as this is so, brethren, could not this year become memorable amongst Freemasons as the one in which the first steps were taken to bring the Masonic bodies of this colony into one harmonious whole? (Applause) The difficulties at first may appear great – to some they may be apparently insurmountable; but, if they are to be overcome at all, it is by Masonry, and by Masonry alone, that this great step can be effected. Our District Grand Masters have, to their great honor [sic], for years conscientiously and bravely refused to allow any infringement of the Constitutional laws of the Order, which, by their obligations, they are bound to maintain – (applause) – but we know them well enough to know that they would be the last persons in the world to throw any impediment in the way of a general reconciliation of the brethren should it be possible to effect it in a lawful and proper manner. (Applause)


As a statesman, Carrington would not have gone this far in public if he had not been reasonably confident of effecting a ‘harmonious whole’ for the four Masonic constitutions [54] operating in the colony. As a close friend of the Prince of Wales since their days together at Eton and Cambridge,[55] Carrington would have been briefed (or, in Clerke’s term, ‘posted’) about the Prince’s desire [56] to see the Masonic divisions in the Australian colonies removed. And we know from Knollys’ letter to Carnarvon of 15 August 1887 that Carrington had also written privately to the Prince about his plan.


Carnarvon—who, until he announced his visit to Australia, does not seem to have known Carrington well or been in close contact with him—appears not to have known about Carrington’s plan until Clerke wrote to him on 15 August, for Clerke ends his report with ‘I think it is only right that your Lordship should be aware of the position of affairs before visiting the colony’. Clerke also reminded his Pro Grand Master—as he would his Grand Master—that once a Grand Lodge had been established it was immediately and entirely independent, pointing out thereby that the Prince’s condition that ‘the Australian Grand Lodge should be affiliated with the Grand Lodge of England and that it should not be independent such as Ireland and Scotland’ could not be satisfied under ‘universal Masonic law’. As Clerke put it: ‘Of course what the Prince lays down is impossible. What they want and mean to have is an independent Gd Lodge and provided they are unanimous we have neither the right nor the power to refuse them’. Carnarvon was in fact already well aware of ‘universal Masonic law’ in this respect. Clerke had been told by Knollys that the Prince viewed the proposed independent Grand Lodge ‘as a kind of “separatist” movement which out [sic] to be resisted and the unity of the Masonic Empire maintained’, and this was precisely the argument Carnarvon had advanced thirty years earlier when trying unsuccessfully to retain the allegiance of ‘English’ lodges in Canada to the English Grand Lodge rather than to the breakaway Grand Lodge of Canada.[57] Since then he and the UGLE had had to accept the creation of, and to recognise, independent Grand Lodges in several British territories, including South Australia (created in 1884 and recognised in 1885)—but the Prince of Wales had never yet attempted to clip a nascent one’s wings. That the Prince, as we shall see, eventually accepted Carnarvon’s proposal as to how to square this particular circle is as much a measure of Carnarvon’s diplomatic skill as it is of the Grand Secretary’s forthright realism.


Once Carnarvon had made up his mind to visit Australia—and probably after he communicated his decision to the Prince in late July 1887—Carnarvon presumably wrote to his personal, civic and Masonic contacts there to let them know that he would be leaving England at the end of August and reach Australia in late October after a brief stop-over in South Africa. The Masonic network quickly picked up the news, for in its edition of 8 August 1887 The Victorian Freemason carried a short notice that:[58]


It is stated that the Earl of Carnarvon, the Pro. Grand Master of England, will visit the colonies about September next. He will probably have something to say about the ‘Union’.


Even allowing for the recent introduction of telegraphic communications between Australia and Britain, it is not surprising, given that there was only a month between Carnarvon’s decision to travel to Australia and his departure from England, that except in broad outline the Carnarvons’ itinerary was left fairly flexible until they reached their destination. It seems likely that they had always intended to visit Hobart (Tasmania), the first Australian colony they would reach after leaving Cape Town on 1 October, then Melbourne (Victoria), Adelaide (South Australia) and Sydney (NSW), before sailing from Adelaide on 13 February to return to Europe via brief stop-overs in Albany (Western Australia) and Colombo (Ceylon). However, Queensland was certainly not included in their plan until some time after they reached the Australian mainland,[59] and by today’s standards Carnarvon’s attendance at some at least of the Masonic and other events during his visit was arranged at quite short notice. The Grand Lodge of South Australia (meeting at Adelaide) officially received the news of Carnarvon’s visit only on 19 October,[60] and when Carnarvon arrived in Hobart on 20 October the Masons of Tasmanian still did not know if he would be available to attend a meeting of their District Grand Lodge and their plans to hold a Masonic ball in his honour awaited his decision as to the most convenient date.



Tasmania, 20 October to 1 November 1887


Though prolonged by a severe bout of gout, Carnarvon’s visit to Hobart included very little Masonic activity. He received a deputation of Masons and an illustrated address from them at Government House on 21 October 1887, but other engagements and the gout attack prevented his attendance at any other Masonic events. He even had to miss the full-dress Masonic ball in aid of the local Masonic benevolent fund which had been brought forward at very short notice from 28 to 25 October to fit in with the rest of his programme.[61] The reception of the deputation on 21 October was a brief affair: the address, from the English constitution Masons of ‘a colony which prides itself on an unswerving loyalty to the Queen and the Mother Country’ pledged their ‘unswerving attachment to the grand principles of the Order, and of our loyalty to the Grand Lodge of England’. Carnarvon replied that he recognised and valued ‘the loyalty to the Crown, our illustrious Grand Master HRH the Prince of Wales, and to the principles of our Ancient Order’, adding that ‘Law and order, and all that we prize most highly in our public life, will always find a firm support in the teaching and practice of which our English Masonry is the representative’. Thus, although Harland-Jacobs writes that ‘In all places Carnarvon waxed poetic on the significance of the empire and Freemasonry’s role as a bridge between the metropole and the colonies’,[62] this does not seem to have been the case in Hobart. (Perhaps Carnarvon’s visit actually disappointed the local brethren, as it was not mentioned in the District Grand Secretary’s annual report which he submitted to the ‘annual communication’ in Launceston on 3 May 1888. Instead, the District Grand Master’s ‘Jubilee Address’ to the Queen of 22 July 1887, assuring her that ‘Loyalty to the Throne is one of the primary and essential principles of Freemasonry’ was read out in full.[63]) However, the reception on 21 October was recorded in Carnarvon’s diary and reported promptly in the local press, along with his inspection of Hobart’s defences and his brief visit to the colony’s parliament.[64]



Victoria, 3–28 November 1887


Carnarvon had sufficiently recovered from the gout attack to sail from Hobart on 1 November. He and his wife reached Melbourne (Victoria) on 3 November where they stayed with the Governor, Sir Henry Loch, until 28 November.


Carnarvon’s first semi-official function in Melbourne was to attend a luncheon in his honour at the Australia Club on 4 November,[65] but his official programme began with his attendance and speech at the mayor of Melbourne’s inaugural ball on 9 November. The speech is important as it introduces into the visit the related themes of imperial defence, federation, and family—themes that Carnarvon developed as the visit progressed and as he adjusted his messages to local audiences and sensitivities. Introducing Carnarvon, Governor Sir Henry Loch made clear his own view of the current discourse on the most appropriate form of federation for the British Empire by stating that ‘a union between these colonies and the mother country is the federation that seems to me to be the only Imperial Federation possible and reasonable, at all events for the present.’ Carnarvon in his speech acknowledged that ‘the magic word “federation” has been much talked about in England’, but he did not then continue the debate on federation, on the ground that ‘time and circumstance prevent him from full explanation of it’. Instead, he insisted that, however it might be defined, federation had to be based on two things: loyalty to the sovereign on the one hand, and mutual advantages and common interests on the other. Carnarvon saw in the current relationship between Britain and its colonies a growing ‘partnership’. The recent Imperial Conference was ‘an experiment that . . . bound Australia and England closer together’. After all, he said, Englishmen and Australian were all of the same ‘kith and kin’,[66] and both an Australian in England and he in Australia could proudly declare ‘Civis sum Britannicus’.[67] On defence, Carnarvon reminded his audience that the best way for nations to ensure peace was to prepare for war. In so doing, he was encouraging the colonial government to contribute to the colony’s maritime defences—the Naval Defence Bill was at that moment before the colonial parliament—as imperial defence was a matter of ‘mutual advantage and common interest’ to both Britain and the colonies.


The next day the Melbourne Age simply reported Carnarvon’s speech, but on 11 November its leading article opposed ‘Imperial Federation’[68] and advocated instead an ‘advisatory [sic] Colonial Council’ to improve relations between Britain and her colonies, but otherwise to leave the relationship to adjust itself to circumstances as they occurred. The writer was, however, in favour of federating the Australian colonies—a subject which Carnarvon had not touched upon.


By the time of Carnarvon’s next official speaking engagement [69] (the dinner given in his honour on 25 November by Sir James McBain, president of the Legislative Council, in the Queen’s Hall of Parliament House, Melbourne),[70] the Victorian parliament had passed the Naval Defence Bill. Carnarvon congratulated the parliament on this step which, he said, would help tie the colonies to the mother country in bonds of mutual defence. Then, as if to mark this development as a coming of age in the colony–metropole relationship, he added ‘you are stepping from the past where local duties, however important, have had no relationship to Imperial duties and you are joining in a partnership in Imperial matters from henceforth and I know not whether to congratulate you or not’.[71] He also recognised that in such a relationship each partner influenced the other: ‘It would be difficult to state the numberless forms and ways in which Australia and England now act and react upon each other’. Describing his role as Colonial Secretary as ‘in a humble degree the link between old Downing-street and Young Australia’, Carnarvon claimed that Australia had now ‘taken her place amidst the family of European nations’—overlooking, presumably for effect, the facts that not all the Australian colonies had passed a Naval Defence Bill, that they had yet to be federated, and that an Australian nation had yet to be formally created.


Carnarvon’s speech was warmly received. The press coverage was generally sympathetic and supportive.[72] The South Australian Advertiser fully agreed with Carnarvon that Australia was now taking its place among the family of European nations, and added that ‘Our colonial politicians will profit much if they take example from Lord Carnarvon’s speech’ as it was ‘not self-assertive, nor dogmatic, nor boastful’.[73] It also agreed with Carnarvon’s view of the European threat to Australia’s wellbeing, of the danger of an isolationist stance even for a federated Australia, and of the need for the ‘Imperial race’ to stand together.[74] However, The Melbourne Age criticised the current attitude of the Colonial Office towards the colonies:


If Lord Carnarvon can persuade it that it must change its attitude and substitute a policy of conciliation for one of dictation, he will do more to consolidate the Empire and win our allegiance and affection than even the [recent Imperial] Conference did when it offered to relieve the British taxpayer of so much of defending their shores.


In this episode is revealed the central tension in the development towards a distinct Australian identity: on the one hand a wish to be treated with more respect by London, and on the other a degree of reluctance to accept any greater share of what London saw as the burden of empire. The episode also demonstrates the esteem in which Carnarvon was held in Australia, and the tact with which he pursued his long-term twofold agenda: granting the maximum possible degree of self-government for the white settlement colonies consistent with maintaining and where possible strengthening their allegiance to and support of the British imperial crown—what Gorman has termed the ‘perennial paradigm of empire’.[75]


Carnarvon had actually granted an interview to a reporter from the Advertiser. The text of that interview was also printed on 2 December, and from it we can see that Carnarvon again stressed that he had undertaken the visit primarily in the hope of improving his health,[76] which, in spite of inclement weather and his programme of visits and speeches, does not seemed to have caused him any problems since the gout attack in Hobart. Carnarvon’s spirits had, however, received a serious blow when, on 10 November, he had received the news of the death on 8 November of his son-in-law, the Hon Alfred Byng, at the age of 37. Byng had been one of Carnarvon’s ADCs during his spell in Dublin as Lord Lieutenant, and had married Carnarvon’s daughter, Lady Winifred Herbert, only nine months previously. Carnarvon wrote in his diary that day that his ‘heart bled for her’.[77] It was therefore with some reluctance that Carnarvon attended his first Masonic function in Australia the next day, a ‘Masonic meeting and luncheon’ on 11 November 1887 at the ‘fine & spacious’ Masonic Hall in Melbourne. Carnarvon recorded in his diary: ‘I was obliged to be present this afternoon at the Masonic Hall as it was an old engagement . . . At the end I was made to eat a sort of luncheon & to have my health proposed in two speeches to which I begged to reply in one’.[78] There is no record of his reply, nor have I yet discovered under what auspices the meeting was held.


Despite his mourning, Carnarvon received a ‘Masonic deputation’ on the morning of 12 November, presumably from the ‘English’ District Grand Lodge of Victoria, but his diary gives no details of what transpired. More remarkably, Carnarvon recorded that in the afternoon he had a long talk with ‘Mr. Coppin, the head of the so-called Gd Lodge of Victoria on the subject of re-union.’[79] This was a most unusual step for a Pro Grand Master of the UGLE to take, meeting ‘the head’—actually, since November 1886, the immediate Past Grand Master—of an unrecognised Grand Lodge, and thereby directly intervening in the uneasy relationship between it and the ‘English’ District in the same territory. Indeed, it was Carnarvon who invited Coppin to meet him, as is clear from Coppin’s letter sent earlier that day:


Mr Coppin [80] of Pinegrove, Richmond Hill, has the honor [sic] the fraternal invitation of the Right Hon. Lord Carnarvon for this afternoon (Saturday) at four o’clock to talk upon Masonic matters.[81]


(I cannot prove it, but I think the scanty evidence available suggests that the stimulus for Carnarvon’s invitation came from Lord Carrington, the friend of the Prince of Wales. Carrington, perhaps more than anyone else, would have known of the Prince’s wish to have solutions found to the major problems within the Craft in Australia, and he had himself not rebuffed but responded kindly to an address welcoming him to New South Wales from the unrecognised Grand Lodge of New South Wales, which the ‘home’ Grand Lodges had classified as ‘clandestine’ and ‘spurious’.[82]) Carnarvon recorded in his diary:


I took a note of his proposals, said I wd be glad to see a re-union, but expressed no opinions, & said that I cd say nothing till I had seen the P. of W. and talked to him.[83]


By ‘re-union’ Carnarvon presumably meant the amalgamation of the lodges under the ‘home’ Masonic Grand Lodges in Victoria with those under the unrecognised Grand Lodge of Victoria in a united and independent Grand Lodge. No significant further progress towards this goal was made while Carnarvon was in Australia, but on 31 May 1888 he discussed the proposal with the Prince of Wales in London, and assured him of ‘the very strong Imperialist feeling in Victoria’.[84] At some stage Carnarvon (and possibly Carrington) must also have successfully suggested to the Prince of Wales that in the Masonic sphere this feeling would be maintained if he would consent to be the Grand Patron of the proposed United Grand Lodge of Victoria. The Prince’s original objection to the formation of fully independent Grand Lodges in Australia was thus overcome, and on 9 June 1888, just three days after Carnarvon had spoken to the English Grand Lodge about his Australian experience, the Australasian Keystone reported not only that the Prince would indeed become Victoria’s patron but that ‘The proposed Grand Lodge will thus bear the same relation to the Grand Lodge of England as the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland’. The United Grand Lodge of Victoria was eventually inaugurated on 20 March 1889, when Lord Carrington installed the former District Grand Master, Sir William Clarke, as its first Grand Master.[85]


We do not know how influential, if at all, the Australian Masonic press was in assisting Carnarvon to overcome any residual concerns he may have had as to the formation and recognition of independent Grand Lodges in the Australian colonies. However, it is worth noting here that on 7 November 1887, just after his arrival in Melbourne from Tasmania, the Victorian Freemason reminded its readers that ‘in the great Dominion of Canada, each province has a separate Grand Lodge’, and it thereby argued against the formation of one Grand Lodge for the whole of Australia.[86] It also reprinted the report carried in the Argus on 1 November 1887 that when Carnarvon visited South Africa en route for Australia he told a church synod that ‘the colonial synods had not proved the dangerous innovations predicted’ and that ‘he was in favour of each colonial church exercising that freedom so necessary on account of its special surroundings’ as long it was ‘at one with the common church in doctrine, feeling, and allegiance’. The Victorian Freemason concluded that each Australian colony should have its own Grand Lodge, and suggested that ‘If only he [Carnarvon] will change the word church into Freemasonry the same address will be applicable’ to Australian Freemasons, as ‘There is no intention to cut the painter in Freemasonry in Victoria any more than there is in forming Church Synods’. On the other hand, Carnarvon’s arrival in Australia seems to have had an effect on the local Masonic press—unless it is but a coincidence that the first issues of the South Australian Freemason and the Australasian Keystone appeared on 1 December 1887 and 2 January 1888 respectively.


But to return to Carnarvon’s meeting with Coppin on 12 November 1887. This, it was later acknowledged, ‘paved the way for the cessation’ of the ‘peculiar and undesirable complications’ which had arisen from the existence in the same colony of an unrecognised Grand Lodge and lodges under the three ‘home’ Grand Lodges,[87] despite the fact that some of these ‘complications’ had been evident during Carnarvon’s stay in Victoria. Three examples will suffice here. Carnarvon (like every other Freemason still owing allegiance to the ‘home’ Grand Lodges) did not attend the Grand Masonic Ball given by the unrecognised Grand Lodge of Victoria on 9 November and which received good press coverage the next day.[88] Next, both the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Victoria, James Brown Patterson,[89] and his predecessor, George Selth Coppin, were members of the colony’s Legislative Assembly which entertained Carnarvon on 25 November, as was Sir William Clarke, the local head of the three ‘home’ constitutions. And thirdly, the unrecognised Grand Lodge was not invited to the ‘gt Masonic banquet’ given by the ‘home’ constitutions in Carnarvon’s honour on 14 November (see above) and so it considered the banquet to be ‘unmasonic’.[90]


Before leaving Melbourne for Adelaide [91] Carnarvon visited the newly-built Masonic almshouses with Sir William Clarke,[92] and also the Melbourne Exhibition Building (built for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880,[93] for which he had been one of the Royal Commissioners) to see the preparations for the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition to be opened in 1888.[94] There he was accorded another warm welcome, this time from the Premier, the Chief Justice and members of the executive committee, and his speech to them was warmly received. However, on 29 November 1887, the day of his arrival in Adelaide, the South Australian Advertiser published a not uncritical review of his political career, listing, for example, his failure as Colonial Secretary to punish Eyre (who had served as the Resident Magistrate and Protector of Aborigines in South Australia in the 1840s) for his disproportionate reaction to a rebellion in Jamaica when Eyre was that colony’s Governor-in-Chief, his unsuccessful protest against Disraeli’s successful action in sending the British fleet into the Dardanelles to halt the threatened Russian advance, and the disappointment of his and other’s hopes while serving as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. While it declared that ‘Lord Carnarvon is particularly liked and respected among colonists’ and that ‘As Secretary of State for the Colonies there is no other statesman in his party who possesses the same qualifications’, the article added that ‘if ill-health has rendered further labour distasteful he is well justified, at the comparatively early age of 56, in seeking rest’.[95]



South Australia, 29 November to 7 December 1887


There seem to have been only two fixed points on Carnarvon’s programme for his first visit to Adelaide when he arrived there on 29 November from Melbourne: a visit to the Adelaide Imperial Exhibition (of which he was a Royal Commissioner) and a dinner in his honour given by the Grand Lodge of South Australia. In the event, Carnarvon visited the exhibition on three occasions,[96] the first on the very day of his arrival in Adelaide. The next day Carnarvon spoke at a ceremony there when his host, Governor Sir William Robinson, presented the awards. In that speech Carnarvon naturally commented on the felicitous coincidence of the jubilees of both the Queen and her colony of South Australia, and on the consolidation of the empire during those fifty years, but he also returned to a favourite theme on which he had been writing and speaking for more than thirty years: the role of the monarchy in maintaining the unity of the empire even as some of its parts attained ever greater powers of selfgovernment. He told his audience that ‘it has been given to you in the Australian colonies, more than anywhere else, to show how it is possible to combine freedom with devotion to the monarchy’.


The theme was picked up by the Grand Master of the independent and recognised Grand Lodge of South Australia, Chief Justice Samuel Way,[97] when on 2 December he welcomed Carnarvon to the special meeting of the Grand Lodge and presided over the subsequent banquet. Carnarvon did not particularly enjoy the ‘banquet’ in the Flinders Street Masonic hall as he had already dined with Way. He wrote in his diary that ‘we had a sort of collation & . . . I had to speak. It was altogether rather a severe evening’s work’.[98]

In the beautifully illuminated address presented that evening to Carnarvon as Pro Grand Master of the UGLE,[99] the members of the South Australian Grand Lodge, not being ‘unacquainted with the position you have achieved as a Member of the Commonwealth of letters, as a Statesman, and as a Freemason’, expressed their thanks to Carnarvon ‘for all you have accomplished for the development, the consolidation and the unity of Her Majesty’s Colonial Dominions’, and their pride ‘as Masons . . . of the lustre which your public and masonic services have shed upon the Craft’. The address continued:


Although no longer owing allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England many of us were received into Freemasonry under the English Constitution to which indeed a majority of our Lodges originally belonged. The severance of our connections with the Grand Lodges of Great Britain and Ireland has no more diminished our fraternal feeling towards the Members of the Craft under their respective jurisdictions, or our adherence to the principles and landmarks of Freemasonry, than the development of our political institutions has lessened our loyalty to the Throne, or our desire to continue under the British Empire.


The subscribers assured Carnarvon of their devotion to ‘the person of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ and of their belief that Carnarvon’s visit would be ‘a great public advantage’ and ‘advance the cause of the Masonic Union in these Colonies and all over the world’. In his speech, Way said:


The presence of Lord Carnarvon there that night was cumulative proof that in declaring their Masonic Independence, they had not cut themselves off from the Masonic Brotherhood on the other side of the world . . . They [had] substituted for the old tie of dependence the stronger and still more enduring ties of gratitude, of alliance, and of brotherhood of a more fully developed character . . .


But, he added, the Grand Lodge of South Australia had ‘one ungratified ambition’:


We hope to have still another federal tie to the Grand Lodge of England. We hope to be honoured by the favour of HRH the Prince of Wales . . . [becoming] the Grand Patron of Masonry in South Australia.


Whatever words the South Australians used that night, however, they could not disguise the fact that their Grand Lodge had achieved full independence from the ‘home’ Grand Lodges. The ties of ‘gratitude’ and of a more mature ‘brotherhood’ no doubt existed in many a South Australian Freemason’s breast, but these were not ‘federal ties’. The new Grand Lodge had already been ‘recognised’ by the ‘home’ Grand Lodges, and by many others around the world, but there was no Masonic alliance for it join, let alone a ‘Masonic Union’.[100] And even if the Prince of Wales, the UGLE’s Grand Master, consented to fill the entirely honorary and decorative office of Grand Patron, the Masonic ‘painter’ that had formerly and formally moored them to the ‘home’ Grand Lodges would remain severed.


In his reply, Carnarvon set out the key qualification required of a Colonial Secretary:


no one should attempt in any way to administer on the Imperial side colonial affairs in England who is not prepared to enter into sympathy with these great colonies. If he cannot rise to the point of entering into community of feeling with them he had better leave his task alone.


He also admitted that ‘Errors have been made; errors will often be made . . . and there lives no politician or statesman who can ever be exempt from mistake’. He noted with approval ‘that great line of telegraphic communication’ which now formed a ‘great bond of union…between Australia and the mother country’,[101] a bond which ‘is in truth a federal bond’. In closing, Carnarvon said he trusted that as the relationship between England and Australia grew and matured the two countries would ‘mutually make allowances for each other . . . and above all in the face of the whole world, if it is necessary, stand faithfully shoulder to shoulder with each other. (Cheers)’[102]


For whatever reason, it appears that at this stage of his Australian visit Carnarvon did not take the cue provided by Way to speak about the possibility of formally federating the Australian colonies.[103] Perhaps he did not wish to frighten the horses, as it were, but to let the matter develop at its own speed. Carnarvon may also have rejected another overture to discuss the matter of federation, this time from someone who claimed to have supported his federal aims in South Africa, namely James Walter Smith of 41 Strangways Terrace, North Adelaide. In his letter of 29 November 1887,[104] seeking a meeting with Carnarvon, Smith wrote that he had been ‘at Balliol when your Lordship was at Christ Church’ and had then ‘gone to Natal’ for his health, and there ‘edited the Witness, the only paper in the colony which consistently supported the Colonial Office plans as to federation and native administration etc. – a paper which I was told met with your approval’. Smith also claimed to have been the ‘only advocate in the press’ of the occupation of the Transvaal. Smith also expressed concern that the Australian colonies ‘suffer much from disunion’. Carnarvon may have felt that Smith’s main aim was to gain some favour from him; he may even have noticed that Smith erroneously claimed a Masonic connection when he stated that he ‘was initiated in the Apollo Lodge shortly before your Lordship’, Carnarvon having in fact been initiated in Westminster and Keystone Lodge. Whatever the reason, it does not appear from Carnarvon’s diary that he granted Smith’s request for a meeting.


The Carnarvons left Adelaide on 5 December to return to Melbourne late on 7 December. En route they stayed with the Hon Phillip Russell at Carngham [105] and visited Ballarat, its mines, orphan asylum, and school of mines. At a mayoral reception in their honour at the Ballarat Town Hall on 7 December Carnarvon spoke of Australia as ‘South England’, England and Australia being one nation, one family.[106]



Victoria, 7–12 December 1887


Back in Melbourne the two main events facing Carnarvon were ‘the great dinner’ to be given in his honour by the two houses of the Victorian parliament on 9 December, and a Masonic luncheon the following day—but he would also have to receive a deputation of Presbyterians who were complaining about Britain’s failure to uphold their land claims in the New Hebrides.


At the parliamentary dinner on 9 December, the Speaker raised the matter of the possible federation of the Australian colonies. This time Carnarvon took up the point in his reply. Colonial federation, in his opinion, could not and should not be rushed, and to be a success it would have to be of mutual and permanent benefit to all parties and allow each colony to retain its individuality.[107] (In the event, Federation was not achieved until fourteen years later, when on 1 January 1901 the six colonies were united in ‘a Federal Commonwealth of Australia’.[108]) Some parliamentarians had shown their disapproval of the dinner by leaving their tables empty, but otherwise Carnarvon must have felt that the event had been a success. The Masonic luncheon the next day, however, was described by Carnarvon in his diary as ‘hot, fatiguing, dull.’ The Masonic programme had started with a meeting of the recently-formed Earl of Carnarvon Lodge No 2124 EC at Collingwood, which Carnarvon probably felt bound to attend as he had allowed it be named after him. At the lodge’s luncheon, held in the Collingwood Town Hall, Carnarvon, in responding to the toast to his health, reverted to the theme of the importance of personal contacts between the citizens of Australia and England.


One group of Victorians that maintained contact with England was the Combermere Lodge of Mark Master Masons No 336, Melbourne. Prompted and led by one of their senior members, William Farqharson Lamonby, they prepared an illustrated address to Carnarvon (a former Grand Master of the English Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons) and presented it to him at Government House on 12 December, a few hours before the Carnarvons departed for Sydney. Carnarvon’s diary entry simply reads ‘I received a Masonic deputation’, but, as Lamonby was a journalist,[109] it is not surprising that the account in the Australian Keystone [110] was rather fuller. Carnarvon’s diary continues: ‘The Masons attended on the platform to bid us adieu & cheered as we went off’.



New South Wales, 13–29 December 1887


The Sydney Morning Herald welcomed Lord Carnarvon to Sydney on 13 December with an article praising the pragmatic approach to federation he had demonstrated in his speech to the members of the Victorian parliament in Melbourne on 9 December (see above), agreeing with him that federal schemes should be allowed to develop on the basis of ‘joint action for common purposes’ and therefore supporting ‘a scheme for joint action for purposes of defence’. Visits such as his, and Kimberley’s before him, should ensure ‘against any relapse into that condition of comparative indifference which at one time tended to produce alienation of feeling here, and involved the risks of mistaken policy and injudicious action in the parent state’.


Apart from attending one formal occasion on 18 December and witnessing some heavy artillery practice on 19 December, Carnarvon spent most of the next week sorting out the management of his property in Sydney, and in this he was assisted by the banker Sir George Verdon.[111] (Carnarvon’s Australian properties were valuable enough for him still to be discussing them with Verdon shortly before his death in 1890 and to include in ‘a series of letters for his second wife, Elsie, as a guide to his finances to be opened after his death’ his recommendation that she consider emigrating to Australia or Canada if the economic or political climate in England became unfavourable.[112] The attraction of investing in Australia was also clear to Carrington. He had just been left £20,000 by ‘an old cousin John Henry Smith’[113] and was soon able to tell Carnarvon that he had ‘bought some land between George & Pit Streets and have a little in Worths brewery company which is a good thing & pays 13 p.c.’[114])


The formal occasion was the ‘gt dinner’[115] given in his honour on 19 December by the parliament of New South Wales, at which the Premier, Sir William Parkes, presided. In welcoming Carnarvon, Parkes praised him as a ‘liberal conservative’ and described Australians as ‘Britons to the backbone’. Carnarvon then made a powerful speech in which he claimed that, unlike the colonies of any other nation, those of Britain were ‘bound to the mother country by kindness and love’, metropole and colonies being ‘the diverse members of the English Empire’. He again raised the spectre of a European war, arguing that only as members of this ‘great federation’ could the empire survive against the ‘millions of the Continental armies’ and that the empire’s ‘safety against the use of force lies in preparing for war, which may break out at any time’.


The Sydney Morning Herald reported fully and commented widely on Carnarvon’s speech on 20, 22 and 26 December, and, although its reporting was generally favourable, the newspaper also pointed out that Australia was still tied to Britain not just by emotion but because she could not yet walk alone, and warned that one day, in the distant future, Australia would probably shake off all parental control.


For the Freemasons of New South Wales, however, the day of their Masonic independence from England was only just over the horizon. The Carnarvons, who had spent an inclement Christmas in the Blue Mountains, returned to Sydney on 27 December (the fifth birthday of their son, Mervyn [116]), en route for Brisbane, and on 29 December Carnarvon received John Williams, the ‘English’ District Grand Master, at Government House in Sydney. According to the Sydney Morning Herald [117] it was a ‘long interview’ and their conversation covered ‘the welfare and interests of Freemasonry in this colony’ and the arrangements for the ‘presentation of a Masonic address to his lordship on the 17th proximo’. Although Williams was later to dispute Carnarvon’s version of what transpired at that meeting, and although the reports of it in the Masonic press were essentially assumptions based on subsequent and more public events,[118] it would appear that by the end of that ‘long interview’ Carnarvon believed he had persuaded Williams [119] to offer the Prince of Wales his resignation as District Grand Master, and obtained Williams’ agreement to keep this confidential until the Grand Master replied. When Carrington heard from Carnarvon that he had obtained Williams’ resignation he replied that this cleared the ground—and by that he meant for the amalgamation of the Craft in New South Wales into the united and independent Grand Lodge which he had proposed to the Prince of Wales earlier in the year (see above).[120] But before Carnarvon could take any further steps in that direction, he and his wife left New South Wales to visit Queensland.



Queensland, 30 December 1887 to 16 January 1888


The Carnarvons left Sydney for Brisbane on 29 December. They went by train to Newcastle (via Peat’s Ferry) and thence by steam launch across the Hawkesbury River and up Mullet Creek, whence a special train took them to the Queensland border, which they reached early the following morning. There, their carriage was shunted over the border and attached to the main northern line, which steamed into Brisbane at about 8 pm on 30 December.[121] In Brisbane they were the guests of the Governor, Sir Antony Musgrave, with whom Carnarvon inspected the fortifications and the colony’s gunboats.[122]l Carnarvon’s host for the one Masonic event of his brief stay in Brisbane—a ‘special communication of the District Grand Lodge of Queensland of Freemasons under the Grand Lodge of England’[123] on 4 January—was Augustus C Gregory, the famous explorer, now the ‘English’ District Grand Master and a member of the colony’s legislative assembly. Of the 140 who attended the lodge meeting,[124] twenty or so were from the local Irish and Scottish lodges, including the ‘Scottish’ District Grand Master and several other members of the coony’s parliament. The illustrated address to Carnarvon was read aloud, including the passages pledging the ‘English’ District’s allegiance to their Grand Master, the Prince of Wales, and to ‘the Queen, patroness of English Freemasons’, and expressing their hope that ‘As this visit is understood to be made for relaxation and change of air . . . the temperate and salubrious climate of Queensland will have a beneficial effect on your Lordship’s health’.[125] Carnarvon received the address with a short but unremarkable speech.


At the banquet that followed, however, Carnarvon made a significant speech in which he set out his views of the purpose and achievements of ‘English’ Freemasonry (in contrast with that of countries such as France) and his belief that in the Craft (as in the political world, though he did not make the parallel explicit on this occasion), as long as the core principles were maintained throughout the jurisdiction, practices could and should adapt to the local context. Carnarvon praised ‘the signs of the great care and caution exhibited in the composition’ he had seen in Australian lodges, as ‘it is not mere numbers’ that the Craft required. He stressed that as ‘Masonry . . . will be judged by external evidences’, and as ‘the world rather likes to see what the results [of Masonic teaching] in your everyday life are’, ‘each lodge should consider most carefully its own composition, the rules under which it lives and moves, the objects for which it is instituted and the effective or inefficient way in which it carries out the principles of this order’. Whereas ‘in other parts of the world Masonry has sometimes allowed itself to be mixed up with other associations, other objects, other traditions’,[126] in England Masons united together ‘for purposes of charity, and for kindly, brotherly acts’; they successfully converted ‘many selfish, idle, ineffective lives, into lives that are socially useful’; above all they ‘inculcated, and . . . kept in view those two great pillars upon which every civilised community will rest, . . . the unflinching maintenance of law and order’ and were ‘loyal subjects to the Queen’. Then, in his peroration, Carnarvon once again spoke of the nature of the ties that bound Britain and her colonies together, of which the Craft was one:


if there is one thing more striking to the traveller than another it is this, that as he passes round the globe, ever keeping on British territory, ever living under the protection of the English flag, ever hearing the English language, that he feels he is encircled by a great ring, so to speak, of English institutions and thoughts, and last of all, he is surrounded by English Masonry.


Carnarvon said that he looked upon ‘English Masonry as a very great bond of union’ and the District Grand Lodge of Queensland ‘as a distinct link in the chain’. There were many different ‘bonds of union’, but the most powerful were those, such as Freemasonry, ‘which appeal most intimately to our private feelings, our affections, and our social intercourse’, for ‘Masonry . . . has enabled many things of a semi-public nature to be accomplished that no public legislation would ever have achieved’.[127]


At least in Brisbane, therefore, ‘Carnarvon waxed poetic on the significance of the empire and Freemasonry’s role as a bridge between the metropole and the colonies’ at a Masonic meeting, as Harland-Jacobs has claimed (see above)— but yet again one looks in vain for any mention of the Imperial Federation League or of the Imperial Institute. Indeed, the Courier regretted that the occasion did not provide Carnarvon with an opportunity to air his views on federation as ‘the proceedings at the banquet [on 4 January] . . . were . . . of an interest purely social and Masonic’.[128] Carnarvon had in fact hoped to speak ‘plainly’ on ‘Union & defence’ at the Queensland Club dinner [129] on Friday 6 January, but, when he learnt that the press would be barred from attending and that a speech there on ‘the burning question of the moment’ would not be appropriate, Carnarvon gave an interview to the Courier that morning. While the newspaper’s report of the interview [130] appears to be an accurate record of the views Carnarvon then expounded, its editorial argued strongly against his case for closer ties between Australasia and Britain. It accused Carnarvon of having completely misgauged the temper of the Australian people in this respect. ‘The spirit abroad is not in favour of political or purely dynastic unions; it is the spirit of nationality’, it cried. Even if a European war broke out, it claimed, an Australasian union could stand aloof, like Switzerland. For his part, Carnarvon wrote in his diary that ‘The paper “The Courier” and this rather anti-English section seem to terrorise all the more loyal part of the community’. In another entry he wrote ‘The state of feeling here as to Imperial policy – Union, Federation, Defence – and all questions connected with them is very different from what is in the South & unsatisfactory’. The ‘large section’ who believed Australia could stand alone were ‘inflated with their own importance’ and were either in ‘a fool’s paradise’ or indulged in ‘rather discreditable notions of getting as much English money as they can & then being independent’.[131] In his notebook Carnarvon added further comments on the state of affairs in Queensland and wondered whether ‘the Irish community’ was encouraging the colony’s politicians in what he perceived as their anti-English and pronationalist stance:[132]


A very marked feeling of antagonism as between English & Australian interests. The Young Australia party seems stronger here though the Colony is not 50 yrs old than elsewhere. A jealousy of English influence – a desire to be independent – a belief that either by Australian combination or by U.S. help they can stand alone . . . The leading politicians whom I have as yet met are apparently not very friendly to English connection. The Irish community all [?] is strong & well organised & entirely under the priests influence & apparently adverse & probably contributes to their feeling. I fear that they showed no sign whatsoever of sympathy in the Celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee. It is a gt. question in my mind whether throughout Australia there is not a very wide & large feeling of disaffection on the part of the Irish only waiting the spark to kindle it into fire.



An Irish interruption


Here I must digress briefly to comment on this outburst against ‘the Irish’ as it touches on matters which, at least to Carnarvon’s mind, threatened the unity of the empire which he wished to maintain and strengthen, and which exemplify the essential ambiguity in his stance between imperial federation and colonial self-government. Carnarvon had developed a sharply critical attitude towards ‘the Irish’ over several decades, and entries in his diaries such as the following one are not infrequent:


Almost everywhere, both in Queensland & in N.S.W. I find a dislike & hatred of the Irish. In both Colonies they form a large community & in both they are detested. Here & there a good individual is said to exist, but as a class hardly a good word is said for them.[133]


Despite that general attitude, Carnarvon had accepted Salisbury’s request to take on the office of Lord Lieutenant for Ireland and, once there, he had begun to think that a greater devolution of power to Dublin might save the day for the rest of the empire. As he wrote to the Queen on 27 November 1885:[134]


Ld C is bound to say that in his opn. there is very gt. danger to all institutions at home & to the Empire abroad by delaying to deal broadly & finally with this question. It seems also at the moment to be on the whole a favourable junction. Ireland is quiet; there has been a considerable cessation from really serious outrage (with one single exception) & a measure of self government might now be given wh. wd. not have the semblance of [having been] extorted. A little later all this may change & it may be impossible to refuse with safety or to grant with dignity.


To that end he was even willing, with Salisbury’s prior approval, to have a secret meeting with Charles Parnell, the leader of the Irish National League, in an otherwise empty house in London on 1 August 1885. There, according to Carnarvon, he simply listened to Parnell’s proposals for ‘home rule’ and promptly relayed them to Salisbury. Carnarvon’s ‘advocacy of federal solution to Anglo-Irish relations’[135] during the autumn of 1885 failed to persuade the cabinet, which preferred, as Carnarvon wrote in his diary on 4 January 1888, to ‘do nothing and announce no policy’,[136] and Carnarvon resigned his post and his cabinet seat later that month. When on 7 June Parnell revealed his meeting with Carnarvon to the Commons, and claimed that Carnarvon had promised that the Tory party would give ‘home rule’ to Ireland if it won a majority at the next election, Carnarvon in the Lords denied making the pledge but made it clear that he favoured giving Ireland a limited form of self-government. This did not go down well with his former colleagues in the government. Carnarvon’s contribution to the meeting with Parnell on 1 August 1885 was next raised while Carnarvon was in Sydney. At the end of December 1887, Carnarvon learnt that Justin McCarthy (the Irish MP through whom he had arranged the meeting with Parnell) had alleged that when he, Carnarvon, had met Parnell, he had not just listened to Parnell’s proposals but had actually accepted them. The allegation was serious enough for Salisbury himself to issue a denial on 23 December, but McCarthy replied on 24 December that as Carnarvon was ‘a man of honour’ he would not ‘disclaim the statement alleged to have been made by him in reference to Home Rule’. The London correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald cabled this exchange to Sydney and it was published in that paper on 26 December. Carnarvon read the article the next day, on his return to Sydney from the Blue Mountains, and wrote in his diary ‘It is vexatious to be dragged into an Irish wrangle but I think some answer must be given’.[137] He wrote to the editor the next day, and his letter was published on 29 December:


My attention has been called to a telegram from England to the effect that Mr. Justin M’Carthy [sic] has stated that I ‘have accepted Mr. C.S. Parnell’s Home Rule for Ireland proposals as a plank in my political faith,’ and that Lord Salisbury has replied that ‘he is convinced that such a statement is without foundation.’ I do not particularly admire the political fairness of making allegations as to a person who is known to be many thousand miles distant, and therefore wholly incapable of making an immediate reply. That reply has, however, already been made for me by Lord Salisbury; but in order that there may be no ground for misapprehension here or elsewhere, I think it well to say that the statement attributed to Mr. M’Carthy is, if correctly reported, absolutely without warrant. My opinions on Irish affairs, and particularly on Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill, have been so often and so clearly stated that it is quite unnecessary for me to repeat them.


The Sydney Morning Herald then published two articles on Carnarvon and Ireland in its issue of 30 December, but thereafter the matter seems to have been dropped by the Australian press.[138] It had, however, vexed Carnarvon—ever sensitive to challenges to his honour [139]—and may to some extent explain his anti-Irish outburst in his Queensland diary. He is also likely to have been disappointed when, at the Masonic banquet in Sydney on 17 January 1888, he presumably realised that his purpose and his perceived outcome of a more recent confidential tête-à-tête had also been misinterpreted by his collocutor—this time John Williams, the ‘English’ District Grand Master of New South Wales, at their meeting on 29 December 1888.



New South Wales, 16–29 January 1888


Over the next few days the Carnarvons made their way via Westbrook (near Toowoomba) and Eton Vale to Armidale and thence to Herbert Park where they spent a relaxing weekend with a distant relative, Mrs George Henry Vaughan Jenkins [140] and her family, and without any official or Masonic engagements.[141] A special train took them back to Sydney on Monday 16 January, via Waratah and Hamilton,[142] where they had but a short time to catch up with their hosts, the Carringtons, before the two men left for the special meeting of the District Grand Lodge the next day.


Once Carnarvon had obtained Williams’ tender of resignation on 29 December, he had quickly passed the news to Carrington before leaving for Brisbane, and Carrington had sent it by telegram to the Prince of Wales on 3 January 1888.[143] The Prince must have accepted the resignation and replied almost as promptly,[144] for on 17 January Carnarvon was able to announce Williams’ resignation at the Masonic banquet that Williams had arranged in his honour. Carnarvon’s announcement seems, however, to have surprised Williams, who was later to claim that as far as he was aware, on 17 January his resignation had yet to be formally accepted by the Grand Master.[145] Williams had not taken the hint to resign that Carrington gave him on 27 June (see above) when Carrington had told the members of the ‘British’ Masonic districts in New South Wales that their District Grand Masters ‘would be the last persons in the world to throw any impediment in the way of a general reconciliation of the brethren should it be possible to effect it in a lawful and proper manner’. During his long period as the head of the ‘English’ Masons in the colony. Williams’ duty and inclination had been to hold the fort against the independent and unrecognised Grand Lodge of New South Wales, which by 1887 had grown significantly in both numbers and prestige. (Clerke, the UGLE’s Grand Secretary, had briefed Carnarvon on 15 August 1887 that ‘the irregular Body has been growing rapidly – it is believed to have the best men of the colony in it, and has increased to about 50 Lodges as against our 76, and they have built a splendid Masonic Hall at cost of about £10,000’.[146]) Despite Carrington’s hint and the changing Masonic context, Williams found it difficult after so many years to change his course. Instead of amalgamation with the other bodies of Craft Masons in New South Wales and the formation of an independent Grand Lodge representing the overwhelming majority of those brethren, Williams wanted an even closer relationship with the UGLE. This is clear from the terms of the address which he presented to Carnarvon, on behalf of his District Grand Lodge, at the banquet on 17 January, in which the hope was expressed that Carnarvon’s visit would ‘result in further cementing the Bond of Fraternal Union by which we are united to The Grand Lodge of England!’ [his emphasis]. Having expressed himself thus in public, and apparently unaware that his ‘resignation’ had already been cabled to and accepted by the Prince of Wales, it is not surprising that Williams was overcome with emotion when he heard Carnarvon announce his resignation at the banquet, and could hardly reply to the warm and generous toast to his health.[147]


For many of those present at the banquet, however, and for the leaders of the dissident Grand Lodge of New South Wales, the main emotions on hearing of Williams’ resignation would have been relief and excitement—relief that the one remaining impediment to the formation of a recognisable Grand Lodge had been removed in as graceful way as possible, and excitement at the prospects for the Craft this afforded. As soon as Carrington had sent the cable to the Prince of Wales he wrote to Carnarvon that ‘old Williams [sic] resignation clears the ground’,[148] and, after the banquet on 17 January, Carnarvon wrote in his diary ‘My hope & object now are to get Carrington D.G.M. of a United G.L. which will bring the dissentient Lodges into Union.’[149]


Although from this entry one cannot be certain that Carnarvon yet fully shared Carrington’s vision of a united and independent Grand Lodge rather than a united District Grand Lodge under the UGLE (since ‘D.G.M. means District Grand Master, yet in the same phrase he uses ‘United G.L.’) it is clear that he was not envisaging a ‘Grand Lodge of Australia’, and in this he was in tune with the leading article in The Victorian Freemason of 5 January 1888 which, more surprisingly, accurately forecast most of Carnarvon’s plan to maintain a link between the several independent Grand Lodges that would inevitably be formed in Australia and their parent Grand Lodges in Britain. The article is also of interest because it finds parallels in politics, religious societies and Freemasonry (would that more historians would do so today!) and between Canada and Australia, as this extract shows:[150]


Whenever local self-government has been established in politics, the same example has been followed in religious societies and in Masonic matters. Each of the [Canadian] colonies has its own Grand Lodge . . . We are of the opinion that the only federal scheme in Masonry possible for the Australian colonies, is for each colony to have its own Grand Lodge, and all of them to be bound to one another, and to the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland, by securing HRH the Prince of Wales as the patron of each of them.


Once the banquet and the announcement of Williams’ resignation were behind him, Carnarvon quickly took the remaining major steps towards the achievement of his ‘hope & object’ that lay within his competence. Bypassing the ‘English’ District Grand Master, Carnarvon met Williams’ deputy, Colonel Frederick Stokes, and Bray, the District Grand Secretary, on 19 January at Government House and found that they ‘strongly advise union & concession of selfgovernment’.[151] Carnarvon followed this up with a ‘very long conversation on Masonic matters with Messrs Pigott,[152] Wynne, Liggins etc.’ the next day, at the end of which they ‘Came to a sort of private & unofficial understanding as to Carrington’s acceptance of the Grand Mastership & as to the terms of union between the English constitution and the Dissentient G.L. of N.S.W.’[153] Carnarvon met them [154] again on 21 January to take them through the ‘Basis for Union’ which he had himself drafted.[155] When Carnarvon had gained their acceptance of his paper, Carrington joined the meeting, read Carnarvon’s terms and signed the document to signify his approval of it. Carnarvon wrote in his diary: ‘I hope that the re-union may now be accomplished on reasonably good terms’.


In essence, Carnarvon’s ‘basis for union’ required the ‘dissentient’ Grand Lodge of New South Wales to elect Carrington as its Grand Master (the incumbent Grand Master, Dr Tarrant, having already signified his assent to stand down in favour of Carrington); Carrington to succeed Williams as District Grand Master of the ‘English’ District (and of the ‘Scottish’ one if the ‘Scots’ desired to join the proposed union); Carrington then to accept the Grand Mastership and, once in possession of these offices, to ‘proceed to the fusion of the different bodies in one Grand Lodge’. Carrington’s part in all this would depend on the approval of his Grand Master, the Prince of Wales, and an assurance that the UGLE would recognise a united Grand Lodge, and this Carnarvon undertook to obtain after his return to England. That Carrington and Carnarvon had correctly assessed the mood of the vast majority of the Masons in the colony, and the success of Carnarvon’s efforts on their behalf while there and then in England, can be judged from the fact that when the UGLE met on 5 December that year it unanimously approved his proposal that it should immediately recognise the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales that had been inaugurated in August and of which Carrington had been installed as the first Grand Master on 18 September, in the knowledge that all 82 ‘English’ and 65 ‘Scotch’ [sic] lodges had already voted or would soon vote to transfer their (Masonic) allegiance to it.[156] Although Carnarvon told the meeting that he was ‘convinced that as time goes on we [the UGLE] shall find that the ties of Masonic affection have not in the least degree been weakened’ by the ‘concession’ of what he called ‘self-government’, he admitted that ‘we are losing nothing that we could possibly have retained for one moment against their wish’. Carnarvon claimed that the ‘concession’ followed ‘the analogy of Imperial Administration’:[157]


Self-government has been freely and fully accorded, without stint and without reserve, to these great self-governing Colonies, and there is no one in England so blind or so mad as to repent that gift. They have paid it with a feeling of affection and loyalty towards the Mother Country, and it is my conviction that in the same way we are bound to give freely, generously, and without stint the powers of selfgovernment in Masonic matters to our Masonic Brethren in the New World.


The analogy was, however, inexact, as from its inception a new Grand Lodge was not only self-governing but, unlike the colony, entirely independent. Shadwell Clerke had reminded Carnarvon of this fact just a few months earlier (see above). Carnarvon used the analogy as a rhetorical device to smooth his proposal’s passage towards acceptance by the UGLE and to express his consistent if ultimately vain hope that the concession of independence, whether gradual (in ‘Imperial Administration’) or immediate (in Masonic administration) would not weaken the affective bonds between the mother country and its offspring.


Although the press printed further articles about the proposed amalgamation of lodges in New South Wales while Carnarvon was still in the colony [158] he does not seem to have undertaken any other Masonic functions during his last week in Sydney. Instead he attended some of the colony’s centenary celebrations and some sessions of the ‘congress’ of colonial governors, and sold one property there before making ‘a large purchase in Hunter St’.[159] His only public speech seems to have been a brief one, at Governor Carrington’s centennial ‘State Banquet’, when he again contrasted the relationship between British colonies and their motherland with those of colonies under other imperial powers, such as Holland, France and Portugal, and which:


knew no real liberty abroad, and they were united by no ties of common sentiment at home. Affection for the mother-country, willing loyalty to the Crown, and the thousand subtle influences and bonds of intercourse that unite Britain with her colonies, were wanting.


Britain and her colonies shared ‘in great measure, a unity of purpose’ and exercised in their relationship ‘a boundless influence upon the fortunes, the characters, and the institutions of each other’.[160]



Victoria, 30 January to 9 February 1888


On 30 January 1888, while Carrington laid the foundation stone of the new parliament buildings in Sydney, the Carnarvons returned to Melbourne and thence to the government cottage at Macedon, where they stayed a week without any public engagements. On 7 February the Premier of Victoria and other members of the colonial government gave a private ‘bon voyage’ dinner to Carnarvon at Menzies Hotel in Melbourne, and there Carnarvon, ‘owing to a feeling of gratitude for the great kindnesses he had received’ in the five colonies he had visited in the previous five months, said he ‘felt impelled to become a sort of missionary for Australia on his return to Great Britain’.[161] In his diary he noted, however, that he ‘spoke on general subjects though I said a few words on defence’.[162] Then, after inspecting fortifications, the Carnarvons left for Government House, Adelaide, on 9 February.



South Australia, 10–13 February; Western Australia, 17 February 1888


Apart from discussing ‘pending Masonic questions’—unspecified—with Grand Master Chief Justice Way,[163] Carnarvon does not seem to have undertaken anything substantive before setting sail from Adelaide to Europe on 13 February, except to answer questions from the press, mainly on defence matters. He praised the progress the Australian colonies had made in this respect, but, given the danger posed by the European powers, he urged them to do more, including the creation of ‘a greater combination amongst these colonies for the purpose of defence’, as ‘In the union of the Empire lies its real strength . . . and its best chance of peace’.[164] When their ship, the RMS Shannon, called briefly at Albany, Western Australia, on 17 February the Carnarvons spent their few hours ashore at ‘the Residency’. There, Lord Carnarvon received a deputation of the local Masons, led by the Hon J A Wright, the ‘English’ District Grand Master designate,[165] who presented him with an address.[166] The Albany Mail published Carnarvon’s full curriculum vitae the next day, together with a mention of the local Masons’ welcome. Aboard ship Carnarvon had already written in his diary:[167]


And so ends an expedition which except for poor Byng’s death has been most prosperous, interesting & successful. I feel very thankful when I think how everything has turned out well & I hope that I go back, if not very strong, yet better in health & certainly refreshed in mind.





The return journey via Colombo and the Suez Canal brought Lord and Lady Carnarvon to Italy on 16 March 1888. Their onward journey overland to Paris and thence to London was delayed until the end of April by a further bout of illness that caused Carnarvon to write that he was ‘not very well fitted at present for any regular or hard public work’, characteristically adding, however, ‘I must go on & do the best in my knowledge & power, very thankful to have as much as I have’.[168]


On 31 May, soon after the Prince of Wales had returned from Berlin, Carnarvon had ‘a long & interesting talk’ with him, beginning with ‘Australian Masonry’ and a discussion of ‘all that I sd say next week in Gd Lodge’. Carnarvon also described ‘the difference of the political atmosphere – the very strong imperialist feeling in Victoria, the lessening of it in N.S.W., & the almost anti-Imperialist sense in Brisbane’.[169] At Grand Lodge on 6 June Carnarvon spoke of his Australian visit, and especially about South Australia and New South Wales, ‘two out of the three great Australasian self-governed free Colonies’. He rejoiced that ‘though the Grand Lodge of South Australia now enjoys entire self-government and independence . . . there has been no wavering whatever of affection and the old Masonic loyalty to the Mother Craft here at home’ and that the Prince of Wales, having heard his report, had agreed to become its ‘Grand Patron’. Carnarvon went so far as to express his hope that the South Australian Grand Lodge might yet make a request to ‘His Royal Highness that he should consent in some way to undertake the duty in certain very limited cases of the decision of certain appeals’—but that request never came. Turning to New South Wales, Carnarvon forecast the imminent solution to its Masonic problems under ‘Lord Carrington the common meeting-place, so to say, of all desires’. He then praised the achievements of Masonry in Australia, where it was ‘uniting various classes and interests together; . . . composing differences and soothing animosities’ and, as in England, being ‘the foremost champion for the support of law and order, and of hearty loyalty to the Throne’.[170] On 5 December 1888 Carnarvon successfully proposed the recognition of the recently inaugurated United Grand Lodge of New South Wales (of which Carrington had been installed as its first Grand Master in the presence of more than 4000 Masons) and then announced that the Prince of Wales would now accept its invitation to be its Grand Patron. On this occasion, however, Carnarvon added that ‘This is an Honorary Title’ that marked, on the part of the Masons of New South Wales, their ‘feelings of loyalty and affection’ towards the Prince.[171] In fact it was the final attempt ‘to clothe with illusion that which lacked reality’.[172]


The United Grand Lodge of Victoria was formed on 29 March 1889 and recognised in Carnarvon’s absence on 5 June that year.


In the House of Lords Carnarvon spoke about Chinese immigrants in Australia and criticised the Western Australian Consolidation Bill on 8 June and 11 July 1889 respectively. He declined Sir William (Cleaver) Robinson’s invitation to join the board of the Federal Bank of Victoria’s London branch, believing that the bank would use his name to attract ‘English depositors’ and fearing that if things went wrong the depositors might ‘turn round & say they had invested in the faith’ of his name.[173] The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales voted to procure and send him a jewel as its representative at the UGLE, but although he managed to discuss his Australian property with Verdon in May (see above), Carnarvon died, before the jewel reached him, on 28 June 1890, eight days after Carrington inaugurated the Grand Lodge of Tasmania. This passage in Carnarvon’s obituary in the South Australian Freemason speaks for itself:[174]


In his successful efforts to heal the differences in Masonic circles which unfortunately existed in more than one of the adjoining colonies, and in his equally successful advocacy of the rights of colonial Masons to autonomy and sovereign jurisdiction within our respective borders, he laid the foundations of a solid inheritance of respect and gratitude.





Carnarvon went to Australia essentially to improve his health, to take a long break from the demands on his time and strength in England, and to attend to his Australian investments. As a former Colonial Secretary who was known to favour granting Britain’s white settlement colonies the maximum of selfgovernment consonant with maintaining the unity of the British empire to the mutual advantage of its centre and periphery, Carnarvon was at short notice fêted by the colonial parliaments in Australia. Because ‘Rome and Greece were thought to demonstrate that empires were ultimately self-dissolving’,[175] Carnarvon sought a stronger template for the British empire, consisting of selfgoverning colonies linked to Britain by loyalty to the monarch, shared values, personal connections, trade and sentiment—and by shared obligations of mutual defence. It was this theme that pervaded his handful of major public speeches during his four-month visit. He did not press for more formal links between the colonies and Britain, or even between the colonies themselves, though he pointed out that closer collaboration for mutual defence was necessary to combat the threat posed by other European powers and even China. Nor did he press for funds for the Imperial Institute. In sum, Carnarvon was not acting as an emissary of the Imperial Federation League but as a seasoned conservative statesman trying—ultimately in vain—to halt even the British empire’s dissolution.


Carnarvon was not sent to Australia as an emissary of the English Grand Lodge. However, as its second most senior member his help was sought—once he had decided to make the voyage—by its Grand Master, by its local leaders in Australia, and by the ‘dissentient’ Grand Lodges that had already been formed there, to smooth the latter stages of the way towards the creation of Grand Lodges in three of the five colonies he visited, Grand Lodges that would unify the Craft in each colony and which would be founded on ‘a solid inheritance of respect and gratitude’ towards their parent(s). To that extent he was successful. If he and the Prince of Wales had still entertained any hope that these new Grand Lodges would be anything other than fully independent, that hope was unrealised. The best that could be achieved was the purely honorary appointment of the Prince of Wales as their patron. In Gorman’s words, ‘bonds of sentiment’ did not stand the test of . . . burgeoning sovereignty’.[176] Carnarvon neither initiated nor opposed the formation of independent Grand Lodges in Australia. The movement for Masonic independence in Australia was homegrown (though influenced by their North American forerunners), and it preceded the movement for national independence, the nation of Australia then having yet to be born. When, eventually, the Australian colonies were federated in 1901, the Grand Lodges in each colony were too well established to come together in a Grand Lodge of Australia, and they have remained separate entities to this day. I leave it to others to consider whether the early creation of state Grand Lodges in Australia delayed or assisted the formation of an Australian national identity


[1] Welcoming Carnarvon to South Australia, Chief Justice Samuel Way called him ‘the most illustrious Freemason and distinguished statesman who has yet visited Australia’ and said that Carnarvon ‘anticipated by more than a quarter of a century the interest felt by English people and English politicians in the colonies and colonial affairs’. South Australian Advertiser 3 December 1887. (British Library Add. 60940 f14)

[2] In 1868.

[3] June 1885–January 1886.

[4] The term ‘the Craft’ is a synonym for the three fundamental degrees of Freemasonry (‘Entered Apprentice’, ‘Fellow Craft’ and ‘Master Mason’) which are ‘worked’ in lodges of Freemasons. A ‘Craft’ lodge owes ultimate allegiance to and receive its authority to work these degrees from a ‘Grand Lodge’, which may delegate some of its powers to a Provincial or District Grand Lodge.

[5] The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons for England and Wales and the Dependencies of the British Crown (of which Carnarvon had been the second Grand Master, 1860–63), and the Supreme Council 33° for England and Wales and the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Crown (of which he had been the Sovereign Grand Commander, 1874–77).

[6] Jessica Harland-Jacobs: ‘“The Essential Link”: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1751–1918’, unpublished DPhil dissertation, Duke University (2000).

[7] Blight, V C N: ‘Most Worshipful Brother The Earl of Carnarvon, Pro Grand Master, United Grand Lodge of England’, a paper published by the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales (?1982/3), a copy of which is held on Carnarvon’s biographical file in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London [FMH ref: BE 65 (CAR) BLI 401].

[8] In the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London [FMH ref: BE 65 (CAR) BLI 401].

[9] I quote:

In 1888 Carnarvon was sent as a mediator to New South Wales, where the English, Irish and Scottish lodges were making moves towards independence. As a result of his diplomacy the UGL of NSW came into existence and Carnarvon installed the Earl of Carrington (Governor of NSW) as first GM. He performed a similar service in Victoria the same year.

I shall dispute that Carnarvon was ‘sent as a mediator’, and he certainly did not install Carrington in New South Wales or anyone in Victoria.

[10] Hardinge, The Rt Hon Sir Arthur, GCMG, KCB: The Life of Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, Fourth Earl of Carnarvon 1831–1890, edited by Elisabeth, Countess of Carnarvon (1925).

[11] November 2006.

[12] In Masonic contexts I use ‘English’ to mean ‘under the jurisdiction of the English Grand Lodge’, pari passu ‘Irish’ and ‘Scottish’.

[13] In his letter of 20 January 1886 to the Queen, he respectfully reminded her that ‘it was distinctly agreed with Lord Salisbury that Lord Carnarvon should not remain in Office longer that the Elections or the meeting of Parliament. When the Elections were over Lord Carnarvon was on grounds of health very anxious to be relieved of his office, but the Cabinet pressed him so strongly to retain office for another month or six weeks that he put all question of health aside and consented. The unexpected announcement of his retirement in the newspapers anticipated that retirement by a short time, but also forced him to delay no longer’. BL Add. 60757, f96.

[14] Queen Victoria to Carnarvon, 18 January 1886. BL Add. 60757 f95.

[15] See his diary entries of 5 & 22 July 1887 (BL Add. 60929); in the one Carnarvon records that ‘Salisbury is unanimously untrustworthy’ and in the other that he had accepted Salisbury’s offer ‘as a test & evidence of his wish at least to be on friendly terms with me’.

[16] Carnarvon had previously chaired the Colonial Defence Committee (from its first meeting in July 1879 until it was wound up in July 1882) while he was once more out of government office.

[17] It may be of interest to note here that the copy of The Defence of Empire (a selection of Carnarvon’s papers on the subject, published in 1897) in the London Library—of which Carnarvon was a trustee—was still uncut in 2004.

[18] See, for example, the speech he delivered on 19 December 1887, as commented on and reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 26 December 1887.

[19] In this he would have been helped by the presence of his cousin, friend and almost exact contemporary, Robert G W Herbert (1831–1905), permanent under-secretary in the Colonial Office 1871–92, and previously premier of Queensland (1859–66).

[20] His speech at the Edinburgh Philosophical Institute on 5 November 1878, and his article in the Fortnightly Review of 1 December 1878.

[21] For further details see the cuttings from the European Mail and the Newbury Express of 18 June 1886, reporting a reception at Highclere on 17 June for leading ‘Colonials’ from South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, etc, (from a ‘Scrapbook’ held at Hampshire Record Office, reference 75M91/S15).

[22] Sir Charles Duffy suggested the visit to Carnarvon in his letter of 8 August 1874 (BL Add. 60906) and Carnarvon, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, subsequently discussed the idea with his Permanent Secretary.

[23] For a brief account of this visit see my paper ‘Grand Lodges in British Colonies 1850–1900: Imperial consolidators or Commonwealth seedlings?’ in (2006) AQC 119 & chapter 6.

[24] He was appointed on 2 April 1879 and 9 October 1886 respectively, according to the Times.

[25] As later reported in the Melbourne Age of 28 November 1887.

[26] See, for example, the letter dated 28 February 1878, Sir Hercules Robinson at Government House, Sydney, regretting Carnarvon’s resignation: ‘We have heard by telegraph that you no longer rule over us. I can assure you that I received the intelligence with unfeigned regret, and I know that this feeling is shared by the public generally of this Colony’. (BL Add. 60807, f18)

[27] At the time of their marriage Carnarvon was 47 and his bride 22.

[28] See, for example, the extract from the diary of Charlotte, Lady Phillimore, for 1 August 1880, which records ‘both of them very well and like happy children’. (Hampshire Record Office, ref 75M91/514/2)

[29] According to Pat Jalland in Death in the Victorian Family (Oxford, 1996, pp113–14):

Carnarvon died in 1890 at the age of 59, suffering from cancer of the liver, attended by E B Turner, FRCS. Early in the course of the illness, Carnarvon asked Turner to tell him the nature of the disease and the likely outcome, saying that he trusted Turner to explain the exact condition in plain words, which he could understand. When the doctor obliged, Lord Carnarvon displayed courage and perfect faith under a sentence of death which he thoroughly understood.

Unfortunately it is not possible to tell from the document to which Jalland refers her readers (‘E.B. Turner, FRCS to Elsie Lady Carnarvon, 30 July 1921, Carnarvon Papers, BL Add. MS 61060’ – actually ff 227–231) how long before his death Carnarvon received this ‘sentence of death’ from Turner.

[30] Carnarvon wrote these words in his diary (BL Add. 60929) on 4 July 1887 after attending ‘the ceremony of the Queen laying the foundation stone of the Imperial Institute’ (when the Prince of Wales read the address which Carnarvon had written for him), presiding at a ‘meeting for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (one of the Queen’s particular concerns), and visiting ‘the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition’.

[31] The ‘Bretby valuation affair’ had produced £12,000 and on 6 July 1887 Carnarvon wrote in his diary that ‘This will I hope extinguish £12000 of property debt, which is not a small matter’. His diary entries for the period 30 July to 10 August 1887 refer to the heavy pressure he was under as the new Lord Lieutenant for Southampton, and in property and family matters, including Porchester’s serious financial problems. (BL Add. 60929).

[32] Thus Luke Trainor in British Imperialism and Australian Nationalism (Cambridge University Press, 1994, p11). Trainor gives as an example (citing the diary of Lord Derby, 18 January 1884, Derby Papers AJCP M1972) the fact that Derby then had ‘some £50,000 invested in Australian, chiefly New South Wales, stock’.

[33] In his speeches and interviews in Australia Carnarvon frequently mentioned that the main reason for undertaking the voyage was his health and, in proposing his health on formal occasions while there, his hosts hoped that his journey would indeed improve his health. See, for example, his interview with the South Australian Advertiser, printed in its edition of 2 December 1887.

[34] BL Add. 60929. According to Trainor, op cit, p14, the Sydney Morning Herald of 10 December 1883 reported that Rosebery urged New South Wales to forsake ‘even a prosperous celibacy for the substantial attractions of a federal matrimony’.

[35] The Prince replied to Carnarvon from Portsmouth on 29 July 1887: ‘Many thanks for writing to tell me that it is your intention shortly to visit the Australian Colonies & be absent till March. I sincerely hope that your voyage will prove beneficial to you in every respect & that the change of air & scene will do you good’. (BL Add. 60757, f153)

[36] Harland-Jacobs, op cit, p287.

[37] Harland-Jacobs, ibid, describes it as a ‘three-month journey’, but, leaving aside the time it took them to travel to and from Australia, the Carnarvons arrived in Hobart on 20 October 1887 and did not sail from Albany (Western Australia) until 17 February 1888.

[38] BL Add. 60757, f153.

[39] Sir William (John) Clarke, one of the richest men and the largest landowner in Victoria, a member of the colony’s Executive Council, governor of the Colonial Bank of Australia, the ‘Irish’ Provincial Grand Master since 1881 and the ‘English’ and ‘Scots’ District Grand Master since 1884. (See Sylvia Morrissey, ‘Clarke, Sir William John (1831–1897)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 3, Melbourne University Press (1969), pp422–424.

[40] By ‘home’ I mean the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland.

[41] Clarke’s and Carnarvon’s speeches are reported in detail in the Argus and the Melbourne Age of 15 November 1887. Clarke presided, and the banquet was held in the new Freemasons’ Hall in Collins Street, which he had largely financed.

[42] The Melbourne Age of 17 November 1887.

[43] Trainor, op cit, p51, states that the ‘attempt to secure funds for its establishment from Australia was, however, to prove a major embarrassment to Governors and governments and the identification with the royal family was to make the situation worse, until the depression and financial dependence on Britain in the early 1890s left the colonies little choice but to show their “loyalty”.’

[44] See the UGLE’s Proceedings December 1886, and March, 16 June & December 1887.

[45] See, for example, the words of Dr Tarrant, the Grand Master of the unrecognised Grand Lodge of New South Wales at its special meeting on 31 January 1888, as reported in the Victorian Freemason of 10 February 1888:

It appeared [ie from Carnarvon’s activities in Australia] that the distinguished brother had been especially commissioned by the Most Worshipful the Grand Master of England – the Prince of Wales – to enquire into the constitutional position of the Grand Lodge of NSW, and its relations with the other Constitutions working in the colony.

In its edition of 16 April 1889 the Victorian Freemason elaborates the assumption:

His Lordship . . . it is now no secret, brought with him a commission from his illustrious chief, HRH the P of Wales, to bring about in a diplomatic manner the consolidation of the opposing bodies in both NSW and Victoria.

Blight, op cit, goes further and asserts that:

the Earl . . . was sent to Australia by HRH the Prince of Wales . . . with the object of healing the scars that existed as a result of the differences of opinion among those who earnestly sought to form a United Grand Lodge of NSW and those who wished to continue with their former allegiance

and that ‘he was sent to Sydney at the instigation of the Grand Master, HRH the Prince of Wales’.

[46] Harland-Jacobs refers to him as ‘Sir Charles Wynn-Carrington’, but, on the death of his father he had succeeded him as (the 3rd) Lord Carrington. He went on to become an earl in 1895 and a marquess in 1912.

[47] I have not found that letter, but it is referred to in the reply of 15 August 1887 from the Prince’s private office. (BL Add. 60807, f153)

[48] BL Add. 60807, f153.

[49] The United Grand Lodge of England turned down the request for recognition on 7 December 1881. (See the UGLE’s Proceedings of that date.)

[50] ‘seven Scotch and six Irish’ according to Blight, op cit.

[51] For the evolution in the nineteenth century of the UGLE’s policy on the recognition of Grand Lodges formed in British territories overseas ,see chapter 6, first published as ‘Grand Lodges in British Colonies 1850–1900: Imperial consolidators or Commonwealth seedlings?’ in (2006) AQC 119.

[52] Blight, op cit.

[53] As reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 25 June and the Victorian Freemason of 26 June 1887.

[54] The three ‘home’ constitutions plus the unrecognised Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

[55] For further details of their personal and Masonic connections see chapter 1, first published as “‘An intimate and permanent tye” – Anglo-Swedish masonic relations 1868–1870’ in (1996) AQC 109.

[56] As relayed as early as 9 July 1884 to ‘the Hon J B Patterson, of Melbourne’, that ‘the Prince of Wales would be glad if the wishes which he [Patterson] expresses on behalf of several important colonies, could, if possible, be carried into effect’. The exchange of correspondence, via Sir Francis Knollys, is available in the special supplement to the Victorian Freemason of 6 December 1884.

[57] See chapter 6, first published as ‘Grand Lodges in British Colonies 1850–1900: Imperial consolidators or Commonwealth seedlings?’ in (2006) AQC 119.

[58] The Victorian Freemason, 8 August 1887. ‘Union’ here meant the possible unification of the Craft not in New South Wales but in Victoria.

[59] See, for example, the address of welcome, dated 26 Oct 1887, from the District Grand Secretary of Queensland, John Fenwick, on behalf of the District Grand Master, the Hon A C Gregory, hoping that Carnarvon can extend his visit so that he can meet the Queensland brethren and asking for probable date of visit to Queensland; and the letter of 1 November 1887 from Musgrove, the Governor of Queensland, inviting Carnarvon to stay with him in Brisbane. (BL Add. 60807, ff163&167.)

[60] As reported in the South Australian Freemason of 6 December 1887.

[61] In the event Lady Carnarvon was escorted to the ball by the Governor, where they were received by the heads of the ‘English’ and ‘Irish’ Masonic constitutions in the colony. The event was reported in detail the next day, 26 October, by the Hobart Mercury, and on 29 October by the Tasmanian Mail.

[62] Harland-Jacobs, op cit.

[63] See the official record of the proceedings of the eleventh annual communication of the District Grand Lodge of Tasmania (English Constitution) held on 3 May 1888.

[64] BL Add. 60929 (the entry for 21 October 1887) and the Mercury on 22 & 25 October 1887.

[65] Carnarvon mentions the luncheon in his diary entry for 4 November 1887 (BL Add. 60929) and Sir Henry Loch referred to his attendance there in one of his speeches later in the visit, but I have found no detailed record of it.

[66] This section of Carnarvon’s speech reminds one of Seeley’s Expansion of England published in 1883.

[67] In his brief addresses to the Geelong Jubilee Juvenile Exhibition on 22 November and at the Kilmore Agricultural Show on 24 November Carnarvon again emphasised the similarities and ties between the people in the colony and those at ‘home’, despite the distance that separated them and the growth of a generation that had no personal knowledge of the ‘mother country’. (See the brief mentions of his participation in the Melbourne Age of 23 & 25 November 1887.)

[68] In its view, the colonies would oppose such a federation because in it they would be ‘swallowed up’ by the larger partner [‘England’], and the English would oppose it because they would not want colonists to have any say in the ruling of England.

[69] Carnarvon’s speeches during his visits to the Geelong Jubilee Juvenile Exhibition and the Kilmore Agricultural Show on 22 & 24 November respectively were brief and extempore, mentioning the warmth of his welcome, and the similarities and bonds between Australia and England.

[70] The idea of the dinner had been opposed by some parliamentarians. There had then been arguments as to who should meet its expense, and Catholic members had objected to holding it on a Friday. (See the reports in the Melbourne Age of 26 November & 7 December 1887.)

[71] The Melbourne Age of 26 November 1887. The Argus of 28 November 1887 reported that Carnarvon said the colony was moving ‘into a position wherein Imperial duties and partnership in Imperial labours and dangers’ would ‘henceforward be our lot’.

[72] The Illustrated Australian News also printed a portrait of Carnarvon alongside a detailed curriculum vitae in its December 1887 issue.

[73] South Australian Advertiser of 1 December 1887, in BL Add. 60940, f12.

[74] South Australian Advertiser, 2 December 1887. According to Gorman, op cit, ‘In the era preceding the First World War, Britons began to use the term “race” as a close synonym of “culture”, denoting the values and pedigree of a “national” people . . . It was also used increasingly to explain/justify European imperial expansion’.

[75] Daniel Gorman, ‘Wider and Wider Still? Racial Politics, Intra-Imperial Immigration and the Absence of an Imperial Citizenship in the British Empire’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 3.3 (2002).

[76] South Australian Advertiser of 2 December 1887.

[77] BL Add. 60929 (the entry for 10 November 1887). Winifred, Carnarvon’s eldest child, was born in 1864. According to Hardinge (op cit, vol i. p264) she ‘early became a companion to her father, she shared his literary tastes, and the happy relations of father and daughter were with them even closer than usual’.

[78] BL Add. 60929 (the entry for 11 November 1887).

[79] BL Add 60929 (the entry for 12 November 1887).

[80] ‘Mr. Coppin’ was in fact the Hon George Selth Coppin, the ‘father of the Australian theatre’, a philanthropist and a member of the Legislative Assembly. (See Coppin the great, father of the Australian theatre (1965) by A Bagot)

[81] BL Add 60807, f171.

[82] Carrington had replied to ‘the Members of Free and Accepted Order of Freemasonry under the Grand Lodge of New South Wales’ as follows: ‘As the representative of Her Majesty I beg to thank the members of your body, styling themselves the Grand Lodge of New South Wales for your expression of loyalty and devotion to the Throne; I also in my official capacity beg to return my most sincere and grateful thanks to so influential a body of the citizens of NSW, and it is a matter of much regret to me that, owing to the non-recognition of your Grand Lodge by the Parent Grand Lodge of the United Kingdom, I am precluded by their decision at the regular Quarterly Communication of Wednesday, 7th December, 1881, from receiving the address in my Masonic capacity.’ (See Blight, op cit.)

[83] BL Add. 60807 f171.

[84] BL Add. 60930 f?.

[85] Full reports of the event can be found in the Australasian Keystone and the Victorian Freemason of 6 & 16 April respectively. The Supreme Royal Arch Chapter of Victoria was inaugurated on the same day, and it is of interest to note that according to one report the ‘three Canadian Chapters’ were not invited to attend.

[86] The idea of one Grand Lodge for the whole of Australia already had a long history. For example, in its issue of 17 November 1858, the leader writer of the Freemasons’ Magazine reacts thus to events in Canada and to the threatened formation of a Grand Lodge in Victoria:

That the day will come when the Craft will become so large and important in Australia as to warrant its forming an independent Grand Lodge for its government, we have no doubt.

[87] Details of these ‘complications’ were given on page 10 of the Australasian Keystone of 6 April 1889.

[88] The Melbourne Age, 10 November 1887.

[89] Patterson had been a minister in the Victorian cabinet and would go on to be premier of the colony in 1890. It was Patterson who carried the letter from Coppin, his Grand Master, to the Prince of Wales, Grand Master of the UGLE, in 1884 which prompted the Prince to express to the UGLE’s Grand Secretary on 9 July 1884 his wish that the problems posed by UGLE’s refusal to recognise the independent Grand Lodges in Victoria and NSW should be solved. In that letter Coppin had compared ‘the wonderful progress of the Australian colonies under local self-government’ with the delayed progress towards Masonic self-government caused by ‘District Grand Officers, who sacrifice the unity, strength and general progress of the Craft for the sake of retaining the dignity of representing the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland; promoting, encouraging and maintaining national distinctions that are at variance with the fundamental principles of Masonry.’ (See the supplement to the Victorian Freemason of 6 December 1886, p4.)

[90] The Victorian Freemason claimed on 10 December 1887 that

Carnarvon will not easily forget the unmasonic sight he has been called upon to witness in this colony of three Constitutions being invited to give him a Masonic welcome to Victoria, and the only legally working Constitution of Freemasons in this territory of Victoria was not asked to take part in.

[91] On 28 November 1887.

[92] See the Melbourne Age for 17 November 1887, p5.

[93] Clarke received his baronetcy for his work in connection with the 1880 exhibition.

[94] See the Melbourne Age for 28 November 1887, p6.

[95] BL Add. 60940, f9.

[96] On 29 & 30 November and on 2 December (for reports see the South Australian Advertiser for 1, 2 & 3 December 1887).

[97] Chief Justice Way (1836–1916) had sat on the Supreme Court bench since 1876, and was chancellor of the University of Adelaide 1883–1916. He received a baronetcy in 1899 and was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia in 1900 (See his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (1990) vol 12, pp417–420, by J J Bray.

[98] BL Add. 60929, the entry for 2 December 1887.

[99] The address is still preserved in the muniments room at the Carnarvons’ seat, Highclere Castle.

[100] As a recognised Grand Lodge its members could visit lodges under the Grand Lodges that had accorded it recognition, and those Grand Lodges would not normally create new lodges in its territory; such was part of the ‘universal Masonic law’ to which Shadwell Clerke had referred when he briefed Carnarvon before his departure from England. But from the moment of its creation the Grand Lodge of South Australia was a sovereign body, no more closely tied to the UGLE than it was to any other Grand Lodge.

[101] ‘we almost can tell the latest tree which Mr Gladstone cut down, and the number of strokes with which he cut it down’, Carnarvon added.

[102] The speech was fully reported in the press. See the Victorian Freemason of 2 December 1887, the supplement to the South Australian Advertiser of 3 December 1887, the Australasian Keystone of 2 January 1888, and the South Australian Freemason of 6 December 1887. My quotations are from the last-mentioned of these publications.

[103] Way had called ‘the great measure for the confederation of the British North American Colonies into the Dominion of Canada’ the ‘most striking and the most historical incident of his lordship’s political career’ before wondering ‘Whether or not he will have the privilege of assisting in carrying a similar measure for the Australian Colonies lies hidden in the future’. (Australasian Keystone, 2 January 1888)

[104] BL Add. 60801 f189.

[105] Ballarat Courier of 7 December 1887.

[106] Reports in the Ballarat Courier and the Ballarat Star of 8 December 1887.

[107] See the Age of 10 December 1887, and Carnarvon’s entry in his dairy for 9 December 1887 (BL Add. 60929).

[108] The words of the Queen’s Proclamation, quoted in Australia: A biography of a nation, by Phillip Knightley, p59 (London, 2000).

[109] Lamonby had been a journalist in England (where he was born in 1835) before he moved to Australia shortly after the publication of his Craft Masonry in Cumberland and Westmorland 1740–1879. In Melbourne he joined the staff of the Melbourne Argus and was probably responsible for that paper’s reports on 15, 17 & 28 November 1887 of Carnarvon’s visit. A keen Freemason, Lamonby was the Senior Grand Warden of the UGLE’s District Grand Lodge of Victoria at the time of Carnarvon’s visit, as well as being a member of the Combermere Mark Lodge. He generously supported the Mark’s charitable work, as was noted in the minutes of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons which record that on 2 March 1920 ‘£100 was granted to W Bro William Farquarshon Lamonby, PPG Warden of Cumberland and Westmorland, a Journalist by profession, a Mark member since 1873, now 80, having served 3 stewardships. His small income had been adversely affected by the war’.

[110] Australasian Keystone of 2 January 1888.

[111] See, for example, BL Add. 60929 for 14, 17 & 21 December 1887. So important to Carnarvon were his Australian holdings and so heavily did he rely on Verdon that he and Verdon met several times just before Carnarvon’s death to discuss the arrangement of his Australian affairs. See Carnarvon’s diary entries for 8 & 15 May 1890 (BL Add. 60934).

Carnarvon died on 28 June 1890.

[112] BL Add. 61054 ‘Documents concerning the disposition of Lord Carnarvon’s property, 1884–9’ as quoted by Pat Jalland in Death in the Victorian Family (OUP, 1996, p226 and the related note 91). However, as Jalland points out, Carnarvon thought that Canada had a better ‘moral atmosphere’.

[113] See Carrington’s letter of 21 November 1887 to Carnarvon (BL Add. 60801 ff13–15.)

[114] Carrington’s letter of 13 June 1888 to Carnarvon. (BL Add. 60801 ff29–32.)

[115] BL Add. 60929.

[116] BL Add. 60929.

[117] Sydney Morning Herald 31 December 1887.

[118] For the versions of what transpired at this private meeting see, for example, the Australasian Keystone of 1 & 20 February and 2 April 1888, and the Victorian Freemason of 10 February 1888.

[119] Blight, op cit, mentions that Carnarvon had ‘much difficulty with . . . Williams’ but does not state the source of this information.

[120] BL Add. 60801 ff23–24.

[121] BL Add. 60929 and the Sydney Morning Herald of 30 & 31 December 1887.

[122] BL Add. 60930 (entries for 5 & 6 January 1888) and the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 January 1888.

[123] As it was styled by the Brisbane Courier in its report the following day.

[124] Which included, as acting Deputy District Grand Master, Gregory’s brother and co-explorer, F T Gregory.

[125] The text of the address was printed in full in the report in the Courier, and the address itself, like the others presented to Carnarvon in the other colonies, is still to be found in the archives at Highclere Castle.

[126] And here Carnarvon must surely have had in mind the UGLE’s decision to break off relations with the Grand Orient of France when it withdrew from the conditions for membership the requirement of a belief in a ‘Supreme Being’.

[127] All the quotations in this paragraph have been taken from the version of Carnarvon’s speech that appeared in the Courier on 5 January 1888.

[128] Courier 5 January 1888.

[129] A C Gregory was also in the chair at the Queensland Club dinner, which the Governor and about 70 others attended, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 January 1888.

[130] Courier 7 January 1888.

[131] BL Add. 60930.

[132] BL Add. 60809 f21.

[133] BL Add. 60930, 21 January 1888.

[134] BL Add. 60757 f92 (actually a copy of the letter, in Carnarvon’s handwriting).

[135] Thus Peter Gordon in his article on Carnarvon in the Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).

[136] BL Add. 60926.

[137] BL Add. 60929.

[138] But the dispute as to what actually transpired between Carnarvon and Parnell on 1 August 1885 continued to rumble on for some time. Carnarvon picked up the story again in some out-of-date English newspapers which he read in Aden on 7 March 1888 while homeward bound. He wrote a letter about it to the Times, which it published on 11 May 1888, together ‘with a fairly friendly article’. Salisbury told him they liked his letter and Carnarvon then wrote in his diary ‘I think the effect is on the whole good’. (BL Add. 60930 of 7 March & 11 May 1888).

[139] Peter Gordon, op cit, even describes him as being ‘handicapped by an oversensitive nature’.

[140] Mrs Jenkins was born Beatrice Mary Herbert, and was the daughter of the Hon Robert Charles Herbert, a son of Edward Clive, the 2nd Earl of Powis. The details of the family connection and of the Carnarvons’ stay at Herbert Park were reported in the Toowoomba Chronicle of 14 January and the Armidale Express of 13 and 17 January 1888. See also Carnarvon’s diary BL Add. 60930.

[141] The members of the local Unity Lodge No 595 EC were, however, on the platform when the Carnarvons arrived at Armidale on 13 January, having been summoned by their Master to attend by a notice that appeared in that day’s local paper. They invited Carnarvon to attend their lodge meeting of 16 January, but Carnarvon had to decline as his train was to leave Armidale at 8 o’clock that morning, and his letter of regret was published in the Armidale Express on 17 January.

[142] Newcastle Herald of 16 January 1888.

[143] The date of the cable is vouched for in a report in the Sydney Freemason’s Chronicle, which also details the letter which the UGLE’s Grand Secretary sent to Williams on 26 January 1888, informing him that his resignation had been accepted and that Carrington would be appointed in his place. The report was reprinted in the Australasian Keystone of 2 April 1888.

[144] Shadwell Clerke, the Secretary of the UGLE, wrote to Williams on 26 January 1888 that ‘On the 3rd instant HE Lord Carrington, PC CMG Past Grand Warden, telegraphed to the MW Grand Master that you had resigned your office as Dist GM of NSW, whereon HRH transmitted a message in reply, appointing HE to the position thus vacated by yourself’. The letter is quoted in the Australasian Keystone of 2 April 1888, p73.

[145] For further details of Williams’ version of events see the Australasian Keystone, vol 1, nos 2 & 4 (of 1 February & 2 April respectively), and the Victorian Freemason, vol VI, no 6 of 10 February 1888.

[146] BL Add. 60807, f155.

[147] For fuller reports of the District Grand Lodge meeting and banquet on 17 January 1888 see the Sydney Morning Herald of 18 January, the Australian Town & Country Journal of 21 January, the Australasian Keystone of 1 & 20 February, and the Victorian Freemason of 10 February.

[148] BL Add. 60801 ff23–4. Undated letter from Carrington to Carnarvon, but presumably written soon after Carrington’s telegram of 3 January 1888 to the Grand Secretary of the UGLE.

[149] BL Add. 60930, entry for 17 January 1888.

[150] Carnarvon had hoped that independent Grand Lodges in Australia would choose to have the Prince of Wales, the Grand Master of the UGLE, as their final court of appeal. He was as unsuccessful in this respect with Australia as his friend W W B Beach had been with Canada some thirty years earlier. See ‘Grand Lodges in British Colonies, 1850–1890’, (2006) AQC 119:11&22, and chapter 6 of this book.

[151] BL Add. 60930.

[152] Presumably William Hilson Pigott (1839–1909), a member of the NSW Legislative Council, solicitor, ‘Freemason and Orangeman’, according to the website of the NSW Parliament.

[153] BL Add. 60930 for 20 January 1888.

[154] ‘Them’ being, according to Blight, op cit, Pigott, Wynne, Liggins and Taylor. However, it would appear from a report of Carrington’s installation speech that Carnarvon also met Dr Tarrant (Grand Master of the ‘dissentient’ Grand Lodge) and ‘Sedgewick’. See the reprint of an (undated) article from the Sydney Morning Herald in the Australasian Keystone of 2 October 1888.

[155] The quotations that follow are taken from Blight, op cit, but the copy of Carnarvon’s paper which Blight used has not been traced.

[156] Proceedings of UGLE, 5 December 1888.

[157] ibid.

[158] See, for example, the Australian Town & Country Journal for 21 & 28 January (which includes images of Carnarvon, Carrington, Sedgwick, Tarrant and Williams), and 4 February 1888.

[159] BL Add. 60930.

[160] Sydney Morning Herald 27 January 1888.

[161] The Age of 8 February 1888.

[162] BL Add. 60903.

[163] ibid, 12 February 1888. I can only assume that Carnarvon briefed him on New South Wales (from the fact that it was Way who would install Carrington as Grand Master there later in the year) and that Way repeated his hope that the Prince of Wales would consent to be the patron of the Grand Lodge of South Australia.

[164] South Australian Advertiser, 11 February 1888.

[165] John Arthur Wright (1841–1920) had been designated to be the first District Grand Master of the District which was to be inaugurated later that year (though Wright’s patent had already been issued on 29 October 1887). Wright, an English-born engineer, had been ‘appointed director of public works, engineer-in-chief and commissioner of railways in Western Australia’ in 1885, an appointment which ‘carried with it a seat on the [colony’s] Executive Council’. (From the article on him by Pat Bunny in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, p585.)

[166] Whereas the text of the other Masonic addresses Carnarvon received in Australia were published at the time, and the originals are to be found in the archives at Highclere Castle, I have been unable to find any trace of the Albany address.

[167] BL Add. 60930, 13 February 1888.

[168] BL Add. 60930, 20 April 1888.

[169] BL Add. 60930, 31 May 1888.

[170] Proceedings of UGLE for 6 June 1888.

[171] Proceedings of UGLE for 5 December 1888.

[172] G W Martin, Historical Journal XV 562, quoted by Ronald Hyam in Britain’s Imperial Century 1815–1914: A Study of Empire and Expansion, Batsford, London, 1976, p16.

[173] BL Add. 60934.

[174] South Australian Freemason, 7 July 1890.

[175] Duncan Bell: ‘From Ancient to Modern in Victorian Imperial Thought’ in The Historical Journal (2006) 49:735–759.

[176] Gorman, op cit.

ANZMRC The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council (ANZMRC) is an inter-jurisdictional association of research lodges for the promotion of Masonic research and education on an international basis. A brief account of its aims, formation and development is contained at
Masonic Research in Australia and New Zealand. Full membership is open only to research bodies in Australia and New Zealand, but associate membership is extended to research bodies worldwide, and ANZMRC has associates in Africa, America, Asia and Europe.

Every two years ANZMRC holds a three-day conference at which major research papers, designated Kellerman Lectures, are presented. These are published prior to the conference in ANZMRC Proceedings. The venue for conferences is rotated between New Zealand and the six states of Australia.


In the ‘off’ years when a conference is not held, ANZMRC organizes a lecture tour by an overseas Masonic scholar, and publishes a book of the lectures offered in the tour. Past lecturers include: Yasha Beresiner, Robert Cooper, Neville Barker Cryer, James Daniel, John Hamill and Wallace McLeod.


ANZMRC publishes a quarterly newsletter, Harashim (Hebrew for Craftsmen), which is circulated worldwide in PDF format by email. This contains research articles (originals & reprints), book reviews, news and comment. ANZMRC is also developing a digital library of full-text research papers from Australia and New Zealand (about 2000 to date).


Membership of ANZMRC is restricted to organizations (lodges, study circles, etc), but its products (publications, lectures, etc) are available to individuals (Masons and non-Masons).
For purchase of Proceedings, tour books & CDs, free enrolment for the newsletter, and general enquiries, contact by email:
Colin Heyward (Secretary) or Kent Henderson (Assistant Secretary). For further information please visit ANZMRC website.

ANZMRC – Something Worth Reading


masonic-digital-library The Paper Masonic Research in Australia and New Zealand, by W.Bro. Tony Pope  talks about a project that was in development in 2007 when the paper was written.


The first edition of the “Masonic Digital Library”, sponsored by the ANZMRC was issued in March 2008, and a further edition is planned for release during 2009.


Many readers of Pietre–Stones Review of Freemasonry are also members of a ‘masonic research organisation’. They know that the publications of ‘research lodges’ cover the whole range of Freemasonry, and that within that huge range of material are some real gems – information to cover most general enquiries, talks that have inspired, discussions that have clarified uncertainty, and topical lectures that illustrate matters of concern to freemasons through the last century.


The problem is that these are inaccessible – often even to members of each organisation. The Digital Library gathers a file for each ‘paper’ or item of Masonic interest, collects these in electronic form, and allows the generation of lists by author, title, subject – or searches by any word or phrase. With many research lodges coming up to their centenary, the Masonic Digital Library offers a way to make past papers accessible to members – as well as sharing these with members of other research organisations, and giving your members access to papers from other research lodges.


The collection (currently over 2,100 files and growing) will only be accessible by members of participating research organisations – similar to sharing copies of transactions. The plus is that it is free to those who qualify for access.


This desirable reference collection can only get better as more publishers participate. If you are a member of a Masonic research lodge or association, make sure someone contacts the Secretary of the ANZMRC to discuss participation. 


W. Bro. Ed Robinson


Home Page | Alphabetical Index | What is New | Freemasons World News
Research Papers | Books online | Freemasons History | Symbolism & Rituals
Saggi in Italiano | Essais en Langue Française | Monografias em Português | Planchas Masonicas en Español

| Sitemap | Privacy Policy | How to Contribute a Paper |

RSS Feed News Feed | News Alerts Subscribe News by Email

visitor/s currently on the page.