|Rivista di Massoneria - Revue de Franc-Maçonnerie - Revista de Masonerìa - Revista de Maçonaria|
|R W Bro YASHA BERESINER LL.B.|
|1813 REVIVAL BY SUSSEX OF RESTORATION CHAPTER No 1, 1769|
Records of Royal Arch activity in England, in today's Supreme Grand Chapter, start with the entry in the first minute book of the unnamed 'Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter'. They are dated 22 March 1765 and show the first meeting to have been held at the mysterious and still unidentified Mr Inge’s premises, until the move to The Turk's Head in Gerrard Street, Soho, London on 12 June of the same year. It took a further four years before Supreme Grand Chapter issued warrants establishing the first new Chapters under the jurisdiction of the Order.
Chapter No 1 was conceived on 13 January 1769 when Br John Brooks, acting as Hagai in Grand Chapter, moved that 'a Constitution might be granted to himself and other Companions to meet privately as might be convenient'. This was unanimously agreed to. The Chapter was warranted several meeting later, on 14 July at the Turk's Head, when 'the following Warrants of Constitution passed the Seal of the Chapter, viz No 1 to our M E Companion Br Brooks PZ empowering him to hold a Chapter in his own House by the title of 'The Restauration Lodge or the Chapter of the Rock Fountain Shilo . . .'. Although a Lodge name is given in addition to that of the Chapter, the 'Lodge of Restauration' never existed. The 'Restauration Chapter' was so named in 1795, when it was revived by Grand Chapter.
There appears to be no explanation as to the name adopted by the Companions at the time. The word 'Restauration', the archaic form of 'Restoration', is so spelt in the original minutes and not in all of the subsequent entries. Its archaic form has been adopted by many authors including Jones and Hughan, whereas others, such as Lane use the modern spelling. Similarly 'Shilo' is the spelling in the 1769 minutes and adopted by Bernard Jones but later corrected to read 'Shiloh' as per the biblical entry, which may have inspired the extended name of the Chapter, namely:
“And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.” I Samuel 3:21-4:1
As to Bro John Brooks of Holborn, London, the instigator and first member of Chapter No1, he is fifth on the list of the thirty-four Brethren (the term used in the records) who attended the historic meeting of the unnamed Grand Chapter at the Turk's Head in Gerrard Street, Soho on 12 June 1765. He is seen to be very active and consistently present, being installed as Principal Grand Sojourner on 8 January 1766 and Joshua a year later, with Bro Dunckerley acting as Zerubbabel. In August 1767 Bro Brooks is elevated to Prince Zerubbabel, frequently occupying the high post in Grand Chapter in the following years.
There are no records of the activities of Chapter No 1 after its foundation, until 1795. In the intervening period, rather unexpectedly though logically, Grand Chapter takes on a dual role acting both as a regulatory body, chartering new chapters &c, as well as undertaking the activities of an ordinary chapter, exalting new members into the Order, holding rehearsals for ritual work and receiving lectures. This dual role by Grand Chapter, lasting over a quarter of a century, is the cause of a great deal of confusion, not least with finances. Frequent arguments in Grand Chapter finally lead, after considerable dissension and long and laborious discussion, to a resolution on 17 December 1795, that:
' . . . in order to conciliate, and do away every remaining jealousy, and
uneasiness (if such exists) among the several Chapters, or any of
them - that a Committee be now appointed - consisting of the present
Officers of the Grand Chapter - to consider of the precise mode of
separating the business of that Chapter - and a Chapter for the
purpose of exalting Master Masons to this sublime degree &c . . . so
that Chapter No 1 be revived for that purpose.'
The appointed committee met on 25 February 1796 but 'adjourned (for want of time) the consideration about forming the Chapter No 1, until the next Chapter meeting. It did not meet on 24 March, the date for the next meeting. It was on 22 April 1796, at a special meeting, that the proposal for the revival of Chapter No 1 was adopted and the three Grand Principals of Grand Chapter were nominated the Officers "for that Chapter" and were elected. The meeting dates and times were established to coincide with those of Grand Chapter. The fact that it was also agreed that members of Grand Chapter were to constitute the membership of Chapter No 1, led Bro Dashwood to refer to this as 'distinction without a difference'. However, it was decreed that separate books would be kept, to sort finances out and that no further exaltations would take place in Grand Chapter except in the case of Nobility. Thus the Committee revived Chapter No 1, which was now 'open for Business'.
The only available evidence of any further activity by Chapter No 1 is to be found in those attending Grand Chapter as visitors: a Captain Gil and Sir John Earner attended and signed in as visitors from Chapter No 1, on 13 May 1796. These two gentleman were proposed for exaltation in Grand Chapter before the agreement to revive Chapter No 1 was reached. Thus their registration as visitors from Chapter No 1 is significant. On 15 December Bros Johnston and Linley visiting Grand Chapter, also signed in as members of Chapter No 1. The Chapter appears again to disappear into oblivion.
Meanwhile Grand Chapter resumed its dual role. In the next decade or so events reverted to old times. Grand Chapter went through a period of stagnation and as it regained its strength, it reverted to the old habits of exalting candidates, whether of noble blood or not.
On 5 February 1811, a member of Caledonian Chapter No 2, Comp Charles Pidgeon, presented to Grand Chapter the original warrant of the 'Royal Arch Chapter of Restoration (sic) or the Rock and Fountain of Shiloh, No 1' and he was thanked for preserving it against loss. In January 1812 the same warrant was re-issued, at his own request, to the Duke of Sussex who, contrary to various accounts by historians (Hewitt, Dashwood etc), revived Chapter No 1, for a short period of time.
The evidence of this revival lies in the surviving minutes of the Restoration (sic) Chapter No 1, now vibrant again as the Duke of Sussex's effective private Chapter. These manuscript minutes are housed in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry (Ref BE366RES)' recently moved from the library to the archives. They consist of six handwritten quarto pages on both sides of the paper, bound in a soft cover.
They record on the first page, a list of the twenty members of the Chapter and their addresses. The members are all Officers of Grand Chapter, headed by HRH The Duke of Sussex shown as MEZ, John Dent, MEH, the Rev John Austin MEJ, Richard Spencer, PS, J C Burckhardt, Treasurer, Rev D Hemming as E, William H White as N and William Lowndes, Organist. The entries that follow are a record of the four consecutive meetings of the Chapter, held at Freemasons Tavern (none held in Kensington Palace) between April 1813 and September 1815.
The first minutes record the meeting on 30 April 1813 attended by 20 members and no visitors, when nine senior Freemasons - three Provincial Grand Masters, four Past Senior Grand Wardens, a Grand Chaplain and the Rev David Lewis - are proposed by the MEZ, the Duke of Sussex and exalted.
The Chapter holds its second meeting on 28 January 1814. It is attended by sixteen members taking office, headed by HRH The Duke of Sussex and sixteen visitors. They include: John Aldridge of Grand Chapter, the Rev G A Browne, Grand Orator and His Excellency The Count de la Gardie. HRH the MEZ proposes four candidates for exaltations, namely: Bros Dr Von Heys of the Grand Lodge of Hamburg; the Rev Giese, WM of Pilgrims Lodge; William Meyrick, Grand Registrar and, at the special request of the MEZ, Sir George Nayler, Grand Director of Ceremonies who was unable to attend his exaltation at the St James’s Chapter No 60 at their 28 January meeting.
The date of the third meeting of Chapter No 1, on 2 July 1814, should be noted as it coincides with the final day of the protracted meetings of those attending the International Compact negotiations in Great Queen Street, London. The importance of this meeting justifies a full account of events. The Duke of Leinster, Grand Master of Ireland; Lord Kinnaird, Grand Master elect, Scotland; the Earl of Rosslyn, Past Grand Master, Scotland; Lord Dundas, Deputy Grand Master, England and Lieut Gen Sir John Doyle, Provincial Grand Master, Guernsey, are proposed for exaltation by HRH The Duke of Sussex, MEZ in the Restoration (sic) Chapter No 1 at Free Masons Tavern, London. In attendance are twenty officers and companions of the Chapter as follows:
The Duke of Sussex MEZ
Rev John Austin MEJ
Richard Spencer PS
J C Burckhardt Treasurer
Rev Dr Hemming E
William H White N
H J Da Costa /
William Meyrick / Ass Sojourners
Comp Sir George Nayler Comp Simon Mc Gillivray
Hon W Shirley " Dr I Cooke
Colonel S Stewart " William Wex(?)
James Deans " Rev Dr Coglan
Arthur Tegart " W Lowndes Organist
there are present, in addition six visitors, namely: The Earl of Donnoughmore , Dr Von Hoyse, James Parry, James Agar, Thomas Harper and Isaac Linde.
The fourth and last recorded meeting of the revived Restoration Chapter No 1 takes place on 14 September 1815 again at Freemasons' Tavern attended by twelve members who take office headed by HRH The Duke of Sussex. The minuted records appear unfinished with the statement ‘The Chapter was opened in Ancient and Solemn Form. The Minutes of the last Chapter were read and confirmed’. Nothing more.
Although there appear to be no more meetings of the Chapter, the Hon Washington Shirley, of Vineyard Cottage Fulham, listed as a member of the Chapter, offers his services as a Steward at the Festival of Grand Chapter in May 1818, citing Chapter No 1 as his 'mother' Chapter, as does William H White, a year later on 12 May 1819.
In the November 1821 list of 'Chapters which have conformed to the Regulations of the United Grand Chapter, and attached themselves to the Lodges specified by Numbers' the Restauration (sic) Chapter is listed as No 43 (i.e. attached to Lodge No 43). This is Alpha Lodge No 43 [previously No 76], which amalgamated with the Red Apron Royal Lodge No 210  to become Royal Alpha Lodge No 16 in 1824.
There are no names of members of Chapter No 1 in the 1817 Register and Chapter No 1 does not appear in the 1852 Register . . . having gently faded into historic oblivion.
Credits and Sources
Martin Cherry, our Librarian in London and the handful members of staff, whose unreserved assistance has
so often been praised, needs repetition and I express my gratitude at the guidance I have been given
to sources which made this article possible.
Dashwood, John The Second and Third Minute Books of Grand Chapter AQC63 (1950).
Hewitt, A R The Supreme Grand Chapter of England. A brief history from Lord Blayney to the Duke of
Sussex London 1966
Hughan, William James Origin of the English Rite of Freemasonry New Ed. Leicester 1909.
Jones, Bernard E Freemasons' Book of the Royal Arch Reprinted London 1975.
Lane, John Masonic Records now on line: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/lane/
Andreas Rizopoulos, my long standing (fifty years or more) friend and colleague, who has to be thanked for
looking through, and usefully commenting, on my paper notwithstanding his present incapacity and
discomfort. Wishing him health and long life.