George Patterson of Castle Huntly

1st Documented Provincial Grand Master (1797-1801)


George PatersonOn the 25th January, 1797, the four Dundee Lodges, “Operative," "Ancient," "St. David" and, “Thistle Operative" met in the Lodge room of the last named and drew up a petition to Grand Lodge for the appointment of a Provincial Grand Master which Grand Lodge agreed to and appointed Bro. George Patterson, of Castle Huntly.

George Patterson was born in 1734, trained for the medical profession, and at the height of the War with France for India and the possession of Hindustan by Britain he accompanied Sir Robert Harland to India to act as Official Secretary with the East India Company, at that time controlled by Robert Clive.

Not only did his medical training stand him in good stead, but it is evident from the reports of the negotiations carried out at the Court of Arcot that he had made good use of his administrative abilities and for his work in India became very rich.

As to when he joined Freemasonry is hard to say but his name appears in the minutes of the Royal Lodge" (London) and the "Shakespeare" Lodge (London) in 1766, where seemingly he helped out in some intricate negotiations. Also in 1766 he was appointed as one of the Grand Stewards of the Lodge.

He returned to Scotland in 1776, and in 1777 purchased from the Dowager Countess of Strathmore the stately mansion-house and grounds of Castle Lyon in the Carse of Gowrie - for a sum of £40,000, to which he added several thousands in improvements. Apparently when the Strathmore family purchased this estate from the Greys of Kinfauns, they renamed the Castle after their family name – ‘Lyon’. On the 30th November 1776, George Patterson married the Hon. Anne Grey, second daughter of John, twelfth Lord Grey of Kinfauns, and after the completion of the alterations on Castle Lyon, he, as a compliment to his wife, restored it to its original name of Castle Huntly, a title it had borne since its building in 1452 by Anne Grey's ancestor the 2nd Lord Grey.

George Patterson immediately on his arrival in the Dundee district displayed an enthusiasm for continuing his Masonic life and affiliated to Lodge "St. David," Dundee, on 11th September, 1776, on the following day he acted as Right Worshipful Master at the public procession and laying of the foundation stone of the New Trades Hall in Dundee, he also seems to have impressed the crowd by his address to them that day.

This building was at the extreme east end of the High Street, and in 1864 was acquired by the Clydesdale Bank, and demolished to enable them to erect a new Bank building, this new bank building is now occupied by ‘Optical Express’.

The main hall was also used as a coffee-house known as the "Exchange," and frequently was used by the Masonic Lodges and as a theatre by travelling itinerant players.

On St. Andrew's Day, 1776, the Brethren of Lodge "St. David" elected George Patterson to the Chair of the Lodge as Right Worshipful Master, but apparently his business duties in London prevented him personally attending the meetings, and it was not until September.1777 that he was installed.

On his appointment as Provincial Grand Master of Angus and Mearns, Patterson at once exercised his authority by putting a stop to an Irish Mason who had been known to confer degrees, spurious and otherwise, without the approval of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. George Patterson only reigned as Provincial Grand Master from 1797 to 1801 when he was replaced by William Maule, 1st Lord Panmure.

Unfortunately, as no Provincial minutes exist of George Patterson’s term as Provincial Grand Master, we do not really know much about his activities during that time, the earliest Provincial Minutes began in 1815. 

George Patterson was interested in Architecture and agriculture, it seems that many of the existing methods of propagating crops and fruit in the Carse of Gowrie are due to his research, proving that he was an enthusiastic and successful farmer and horticulturist.

George Patterson died on the 25th March 1817 at the age of 82, his wife Anne having died 15 years earlier. He left a large family.

©Research by Iain D. McIntosh, 2014

 

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