George Patterson was born in 1734 adopted the medical profession and at the height of the war between France and Britain for the possession of India he went with Sir Robert Harland to India as Official Secretary under the direction of the East India Company, which was at that time controlled by Robert Clive.
Not only did his medical training stand him in good stead, but also it is evident from the reports of the negotiations carried through at the Court of Arcot, he had made use of his “pronounced administrative ability and reaped the just reward of a considerable fortune.”
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 (Castle Huntly) 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, Brother 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 (the title it had borne since its building in 1452 by the second Lord Grey). He was an enthusiastic and successful farmer and horticulturist and did research into methods of propagating crops and fruit in the Carse of Gowrie.
According to current History Books (Scottish Society 1707-1830 by Christopher A. Whatley), he was one of the first landowners to introduce onto his lands, a new type of steam driven threshing machine to reduce labour costs.
When he joined Freemasonry it is impossible to say, but his name appears in the minutes of the “Royal Lodge” (London) of which he was a Past Master, and the “Shakespeare” Lodge (London) in 1766,
Patterson affiliated to Lodge St. David in Dundee, on 11th September 1776. The following day he acted as Right Worshipful Master at the public procession and laying of the foundation stone of the New Trades Hall and he is credited with having endeared himself to the populace by his oratory. This building, at the extreme east end of the High Street, was acquired by the Clydesdale Bank in 1864 and demolished to make way for the building of their new bank.
On Andrew's Day, 1776, the Brethren of Lodge St. David paid George Patterson the compliment of electing him to the Chair, but apparently his business duties in London prevented him personally attending the meetings, and it was not until September 1777 that he was installed.
Among his numerous benefactions, was a beautiful candelabra for the then Town House (The Pillars).
Little is known about what contribution George Paterson made to Freemasonry during his term as P.G. Master. The early minutes of Lodge Ancient certainly do not mention any visits, communications, meetings or indeed any activity whatsoever from this Provincial Grand Master. The Minutes of Lodge St. Peter No. 120 in Montrose (an Angus Lodge) make no reference at all to George Paterson or his appointment as Provincial Grand Master to the Angus area.
The only report of his activities that I have found, to date, was a reference contained in a Masonic Book written in 1924 – when on his appointment as Provincial Grand Master of Angus and Mearns, he 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.
His term as P.G. Master seems to have been very short, for by 1801 the Hon. William Maule of Panmure then appears as the Provincial Grand Master.
George Paterson died in London on the 25th March 1817 in his 83rd Year.
Meanwhile at Grand Lodge in 1801
At Grand Lodge the problem of arrears, the circumstances and situation of every Lodge, was discussed once more. Brother Laidlaw, Right Worshipful Master of Mary’s Chapel, proposed at the Quarterly Communication of February 1801 what appeared to him to be of great importance to Grand Lodge.
Although it had been the practice for many years to appoint Provincial Grand Masters, he was informed on good authority that few, if any, of these brethren had of late years paid any attention to the trust reposed in them (Did this indicate the inactivity of George Paterson?).
Since the passing of the Act of Parliament*, it was of great importance to the Grand Lodge that the enactments therein contained, regarding Mason Lodges should be strictly complied with in every respect. In order to do this it was necessary, and also of great advantage, if the Lodges throughout Scotland holding of the Grand Lodge were divided into proper Districts.
It is noted in the Minutes of Lodge Ancient (August 1799) that in order to comply with this Act of Parliament two members were appointed to appear before a town magistrate and take an oath and make an affidavit that the Lodge was not involved in seditious or treasonable activities.
To each of these Districts a proper person should be named as Provincial Grand Master. This was seconded by Brother Laurie who was the Proxy representative on Grand Lodge for the Dalkeith Lodge. The Right Worshipful Master of St David’s Lodge, Edinburgh, Brother Brown, agreed in principle with the motion but, due to its importance proposed that a decision be delayed until the next meeting, to allow the fullest investigation and deliberation.
It was therefore remitted to the Standing Committee to draw up the Districts, enquire into the Qualifications of proper persons to be Provincial Grand Masters, and to draw up proper regulations and Instructions for the Government of such Provincial Grand Masters with full powers. The Committee decided to write to the Lodges explaining the intention of Grand Lodge and if they had any objection to the arrangement proposed to advise them without delay, otherwise their silence would be held as approval.
At the Standing Committee on the 1st May 1801, following the remit, it was reported that various Brethren had agreed to accept the appointment of Provincial Grand Masters of the various Provinces. And among those listed was: -
The Hon. William Maule of Panmure.
With the appointment of William Maule, 1st Lord Panmure, a member of the Maule-Ramsay, the Earls of Dalhousie family, the documented history of the Provincial Grand Lodge now begins. Members of this family would provide the Provincial Grand Masters of Forfarshire for 80 years during the 19th Century and again into the early part of the 20th Century. They would also throughout the years become Grand Master Masons of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The Minutes of Lodge Ancient duly minute the receipt of a letter from Grand Lodge of the 30th November 1801 with a list of the Provincial Grand Masters appointed and also a letter to the Lodge from the Honourable William Maule 1st Lord Panmure regarding his appointment as Provincial Grand Master and his intention to call a meeting of the Lodges in the spring of 1802 to lay before them his commission.
Also there is this extract from the minutes of Lodge St. Peter No. 120, Montrose: -
11th January 1802
R.W. Master, Depute, Past Master, Treasurer & Secretary, Brothers Steven, Spence & Allan.
The Right Worshipful laid before the Lodge a circular which he had received from the Grand Lodge dated the 1st Sept 1801, mentioning that in order to afford these Lodges situated at a distance, the benefit of meeting as Provincial Grand Lodges, which will not only give them an opportunity of establishing more intimate and friendly intercourse with their sister Lodges, but should any misunderstanding or dispute happen, either amongst members or Lodges, or between any Lodge and another, these differences may be adjusted with greater ease and at less expence(sic) and inconvenience to all concerned – Had divided the Lodges holding under them into proper districts and over these districts appointed Grand Masters with the accustomed and usual powers. A copy of these Lodges, classed into districts with a printed copy of these instructions sent to the Honourable William Maule, Provincial Grand Master of Angus included in the above letter were also produced.
There was, further, a letter produced from Grand Lodge intimating the election of office bearers of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Masters for the ensuing year, and also a letter dated the 23rd Dec 1801 from the said Hon. William Maule intimating his election and signifying that it would be necessary to transmit to him a certificate that this Lodge had complied with the Grand Lodge’s Regulations of 5th August 1799. He further intimated his intention to assemble the Lodges early in the spring to lay before them his commission and instructions of which he promised a future intimation, and requests the Right Worshipful to lay the same before the Lodge.
Sig. John Brown, Master
Copyright Iain D. McIntosh 2014
Formed in 1736 theGrand Lodge of Scotland is the governing body for all Freemasonry in Scotland.
Formed in 1861 the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter for Angus and Mearns is the governing body for Royal Arch Masonry in this area.