The History of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Forfarshire from 1747 to 1901

By Iain D. McIntosh, Past Substitute Provincial Grand Master.

Part 7 - 1883 to 1888


The Honourable Francis Bowes Lyon, P.G. Master 1883 to 1888

Commonly referred to in the minutes as the Hon Frank Lyon, He was born on the 23rd February 1856, the 2nd son of Claude Bowes-Lyon 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. He would also become the uncle of the future Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and future Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

He married Lady Anne Catherine Sybil Lindsay, fifth daughter of Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres in 1883 in St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. As the second son of the Earl of Strathmore he inherited the estate of Ridley Hall in Northumberland. From various Lodge minutes donations were sent in to provide a wedding gift for the newly weds, what form the wedding gift took is not known.

The Hon Francis Bowes Lyon died in 1948

Once Brother Bowes Lyon and Grand Lodge had agreed to the appointment, it was decided that the installation ceremony would take place in the new hall of Lodge Lour No. 309 in Forfar on the 10th January1883.

As the consecration of this new hall had been postponed, owing to the illness, and the resignation of Capt. Clayhills Henderson, Brother Frank Lyon, had the unique experience of being installed in a hall, which at that time, had not been consecrated for the purposes of Freemasonry.

He was installed as Provincial Grand Master by the then Grand Master, The Earl of Mar & Kellie, who was accompanied by the Grand Secretary. David Murray Lyon who administered the oath of office to the new P.G. Master. The attendance that day was approx 150 - 180)

After he was installed into office, the newly created Provincial Grand Master carried out the consecration ceremony of the new hall for Lodge Lour No.309. After the event the Provincial Grand Lodge was closed, the Brethren were marshalled into a procession, and then marched off to the Reid Hall, where a banquet was held.

On the 30th July 1883 in the Hall of Lodge “Operative” No. 47 in the Overgate, Dundee, the Provincial Grand Master granted commissions to the following Brethren.

            David Small, Solicitor, Dundee         Depute P.G. Master
            Andrew Ralston, Glamis                     Substitute P.G. Master
            Ex. Provost John Whyte, Forfar         P.G. Senior Warden
            James Berry, Carnoustie                     P.G. Junior Warden
            Rev. James Crabb, Brechin                 P.G. Chaplain
            James Cargill, Arbroath                      P.G. Secretary

A committee was appointed to prepare the first ever Constitution and Bye-laws for the Provincial Grand Lodge Also Lodge The Bruce; Froickheim was given authority to change the place of their meetings to Brother John Gibbs’s Hall

Brother Bowes Lyon announced that he would make a visit to Lodge St Andrew No. 282 up Glen Esk at Tarfside, the first such visit of a P.G. Master since that of Lord Panmure, 62 years earlier in 1821. This visit was undertaken on the 9th August 1883 and “They found the Lodge in capital working order, owning its own Lodge Room and having a benevolent fund of over £1,200, invested for the benefit of poor children, widows and others in Glen Esk.”

On the 6th September 1883. The Provincial Grand Master and Provincial Grand Lodge visited Montrose and consecrated a new hall for Lodge Montrose, Kilwinning No. 15. The whereabouts of this hall was not recorded.

Hon Frank Lyon absent.

Brother the Hon Frank Lyon now seems to be absent from the Province, probably now living at his home, Ridley Hall in Northumberland. He does not show an appearance again until January 1886. Various other senior office bearers, like Ex- Provost John Whyte of Forfar, now chair the subsequent meetings and visits of the Provincial Grand Lodge. The only interesting snippet that appears in the minutes during this period is from January 1884 when “The members agreed to give ‘patronage’ and support to Brother McFarlane of the ‘Theatre Royal’ Dundee on ‘the occasion of his benefit night”.

James Berry appointed Depute Provincial Grand Master.

James BerryIn January of 1885, Frank Lyon issues a commission to Brother James Berry to become Depute Provincial Grand Master. (David Small, who was Depute P.G. Master died in October of that year)

Interestingly at that same meeting of the 30th Jan 1885, a letter of resignation was read out from Brother Ex-Provost John Whyte of Forfar, whether there is anything of significance in this act, and of the appointment of James Berry as Depute, is not known.

One of James Berry’s first duty as Depute P.G. Master was attending the Centennial celebrations of Lodge Thistle Operative No. 158, who at that time met in the ‘Vault’ area of Dundee, Brother D Murray Lyon the Grand Secretary attended and the whole Masonic body, headed by the band of the Highland Volunteers marched by way of the Murraygate, Commercial Street, Reform Street and Nethergate to the ‘Thistle Hall in Union Street.

There is also recorded in the minutes of Provincial Grand Lodge, a copy of a report that Brother Frank Lyon submits to Grand Lodge, detailing his early activities in the Province. This report is dated the 11th April 1885, and addressed from “The Hyde, Luton.” Even though it is evident that he was no longer resident in Forfarshire he was still retaining the style and title of Provincial Grand Master.

James Berry the new Depute Provincial Grand Master now becomes a really significant and important figure in the history of our Provincial Grand Lodge, through his impressive dedication to the tasks, he proves to be a very industrious and conscientious worker for the welfare and success of the Provincial Grand Lodge and for the Lodges in the Province. He is a person who more than any other of his predecessors captures my interest and indeed my admiration.

With the Grand Lodge structure steadily exerting more authority and administrative control over the Lodges, especially in how they run their Lodges and conduct their degrees, James Berry is soon thrust into an increasingly ‘diplomatic and judicial’ role in resolving ‘problems’ with the Lodges, and indeed, using the authority he commands, to make sure that the Lodges comply with the ‘rules’ of Grand Lodge.

This fact becomes evident throughout subsequent ‘incidents’ recorded in the minutes. People in those days, like us today, resented change, also too the steady, relentless encroachment of central control and a standardised way of ‘working’. One of the changes, which had been agreed to by the members of Grand Lodge was to stop the common practice, at that time of conferring all three degrees in one night, the changes introduced meant there would be an interval of two weeks between each subsequent degree, quite a big change in those days. But it seemed the brethren of P.G. Lodge liked this idea and at one quarterly meeting they voted 31 to 4 to support such a proposal. However it seems from the minutes that it would take another 11 years for Grand Lodge to impose this change on the Lodges. (1896)

Lodges were also being made to introduce, for the first time, bye laws to regulate their business and to put their business procedures on a more legal basis, of course again, in accordance with Grand Lodge laws and with their ‘close scrutiny’. This again caused dissention within some of the Lodges. Within weeks of James Berry’s appointment as Depute P.G. Master he was having to suspend Lodge Forfar & Kincardine No. 225 and 13 of its members for, ‘disobedience and disloyalty to Grand Lodge’ in respect that ‘those brethren would not conform to the Bye Laws of the Lodge…as revised by Grand Lodge’ This situation took over 15 months to resolve, and involved the Grand Secretary, Brother D. Murray Lyon travelling up to Dundee from Edinburgh. Quite a journey in those days, most probably he came by rail to Tayport, then cross by ferry to Broughty and train or carriage up to Dundee. The second Tay Rail Bridge, the replacement for the collapsed first bridge was at that time in the process of being built.

The report by Frank Lyon and James Berry to Grand Lodge for April 1885 is interesting, especially James Berry’s part, which seems to, maybe highlight a disturbing trend in Dundee during the later part of the 19th Century, and that was ‘the evil of drink’ James Berry reports the problem in the following terms: -
‘It is a matter of much regret to report to Grand Lodge that two of the Dundee Lodges, viz: Thistle Operative and Caledonian have drinking clubs in connection with their Lodges, or at all events with the brethren of these Lodges, which are very badly conducted. The Lodge rooms are open on Sundays for the consumption of drink, and the drinking is not kept in moderation, and it is stated that drink is supplied to outsiders. Lodge Caledonian was recently heavily fined for illicit trafficking in drink, and both Lodges are on the Superintendent of Police’s ‘Black List’. In fact the manner in which these two Lodges conduct their drinking clubs, particularly on Sundays, has become notorious and scandalous, and is injuriously affecting the interests and respectability of Masonry in Dundee.’

There also seems to be indications in the minutes during these years that Grand Lodge through the Provincial Grand Master were requiring those Lodges which were meeting in ‘licensed premises’, i.e. Hotels, Inns and Pubs to move to other more appropriate premises.

Visit to the Province by the Grand Master

Archibald Campbell of BlytheswoodOn the 29th May 1885 the Grand Master Mason of Scotland - Brother Colonel Sir Archibald Campbell of Blythswood, Bart accompanied by Brother R.F. Shaw Stewart, Past Substitute Grand Master and many of the main officers of Grand Lodge made an official visitation to the Province.

A large gathering of members from the 26 Lodges in the Province assembled in the Queen’s Hotel, Dundee. The Grand Master highly complimented the Provincial Officers for the excellent state of Masonic affairs within the Province and referred particularly to the efficient manner in which the books were kept and also to the fact that every Lodge had been officially visited.

Prior to this visit the Grand Master had expressed a desire, that, while in Dundee, he would like to see a degree ceremony being worked and this had been arranged.
The Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Operative Dundee, No. 47, Brother David Henderson then performed an initiation ceremony on Principal Peterson and Professor D’Arcy Thomson of the University College, Dundee, into the craft.
After the ceremony the Grand Master complimented him on the careful, faithful and impressive manner in which he had performed the ceremony.

Foundation Stone of the New Public Buildings – Kirriemuir.

On the 18th Sept 1885, Provincial Grand Lodge assembled in Webster’s Seminary in Kirriemuir. A big occasion for the people of the town, the laying of the foundation stone of the ‘New Public Hall Buildings’ by the Grand Master Mason Colonel Sir Archibald Campbell of Blytheswood It is mentioned that, along with the deputations from Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge, 18 local Lodges were represented, approximately 300 Freemasons paraded in full regalia. The list of men in attendance on that day indicates the high level in which local communities accepted Freemasonry in those days. Brethren like the Earl of Airlie, Col John Grant-Kinloch of Logie, and Sheriff Thoms of Aberlemno.

At Webster’s Seminary the procession formed up, the Masons were preceded by a large contingent of the Trades and Factory workers of Kirriemuir and the Rifle Volunteers accompanied by their brass band led the procession. Mr James Davidson, solicitor, Hon Secretary of the building committee presented a silver trowel to the Grand Master to perform the ceremony. After the ceremony Col Campbell congratulated the town ‘on having a building so suitable to offer profitable pursuits and amusements for the inhabitants of the town’ the ‘Chief Magistrate Ogilvy’ thanked him for his services that day. After marching back to Webster’s and dispersing they had luncheon in the ‘Airlie Arms Hotel, during which toasts were proposed to the ‘Army’ the ‘Navy’ and finally the ‘Reserve Forces’. (See full details in Appendix 3.)

Frank Lyon returned to Forfarshire and resumed his duties in July 1886. He announced that he would visit the Lodges in the Eastern (County) District, while his Depute James Berry would visit those in the Western District (Dundee). From the minute books Frank Lyon did not visit any of the Lodges and only undertook the laying of a foundation stone in Dundee (detailed below) before once again disappearing from the scene.

From what is being mentioned in the minutes, Freemasonry and the Lodges were in a very healthy and expanding state, this no doubt due to the growing population of Dundee and the rapid changes that were taking place within the industrial, social and economic conditions of the times. This situation is also reflected throughout the towns of Angus, and the surge of new members joining those Lodges. Indeed Frank Lyon mentioned that the year of 1885 ‘had been the most prosperous year in the history of Grand Lodge, and ‘that the whole debt which previously affected Grand Lodge property had now been paid off and that there was a large sum to the credit of the benevolent fund’ So overall Freemasonry was expanding not only at home but also overseas where many Lodges were being created as the British empire expanded.

Foundation stone laid of Brother Blakeney’s new Building at the top of Whitehall Street

On 21st July 1886 The Provincial Grand Master Brother the Hon. Francis Bowes Lyon, presided over a meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge, which was convened in the hall of Lodge Ancient No. 49 in the Murraygate.

The Depute Provincial Grand Master Brother James Berry proposed that as a compliment to the Provincial Grand Master, that his own mother Lodge the Lodge of Glamis No. 99, be given the honour of carrying the consecration vessels at the head of the procession.

The Provincial Grand Lodge was then adjourned, Brother Robert Kidd of Lodge Broughty Castle was called to receive the baton and installed as P.G. Marshal for the day, he arranged the brethren in seniority order and they marched in procession by way of the Murraygate, Commercial Street, Reform Street and High Street to the site of the new building. After the usual Masonic Ceremony had been completed, brother Blakeney presented to the Provincial Grand Master the silver trowel, which had been used on that occasion. Afterwards he entertained the Brethren and their lady friends to a banquet in the “Thistle” Hall, Union Street Dundee. It is thought that this may have been the buildings that would become occupied by Draffens of Dundee.

On the 20th Oct 1886, at the quarterly meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge held in Lodge Panmure No. 299 a new Provincial Grand Secretary was commissioned to take over from John Cargill. The new Secretary was Brother Alexander David Anderson, Solicitor, of Arbroath and a member of Lodge St Vigean No. 101; Brother Anderson would hold this office for 18 years, retiring in 1904. He then handed over to his son Archibald Craig Anderson, also a solicitor, and a member of Lodge St. Vigean (initiated 9th March 1897). He would hold the office until 1925 when he became Provincial Grand Master. Thus father and son would hold the important office of Provincial Grand Secretary continuously for nearly 40 years. Both became Right Worshipful Masters of St Vigean, Brother Alexander D. Anderson in 1873 and his son Archibald C. Anderson from 1904 to 1907, who was also a Provost of Arbroath.

Lodge visitations in 1886.

With the P.G. Master Frank Lyon again being absent, James Berry, along with his office bearers conduct a very intensive regime of visiting Lodges, observing the working of degrees and inspecting their books. Even with the railways extending to most of the Angus towns he and his office bearers must have spent a lot of time travelling, not only by train, but also by horse & carriage to the likes of Kirriemuir, Glamis, and Letham. Also one can only imagine these men in their Victorian suits traipsing through the vennels and alleyways of Dundee at night to visit Lodges.

Of course the Provincial office bearers were reimbursed for train fares and other travel expences. The size of the Deputations from the Provincial Grand Lodge averaged about 5 – 7 brethren. There are no figures mentioned for 1886 but for 1892 the railway fare and expences to Montrose were quoted at 3 shillings and 6 pence, how many brethren travelled for that amount is not known, for a visit to Lodge Dunnichen in Letham, the hire of carriages and expences came to 10 shillings and 6 pence (train to Froickheim and then hire of Horse & carriage).

Funeral Lodge for the 13th Earl of Dalhousie.

On the 22nd Dec 1887 the Depute Provincial Grand Master James Berry in the absence of the Hon Frank Lyon conducted the very well attended memorial service for the late John William Ramsay, 13th Earl of Dalhousie.

This was a unique event for the Provincial Grand Lodge again it was James Berry who, in the absence of Frank Lyon again presided on this occasion. In the minute book 170 signatures are recorded for attendance on that day, the local newspaper quotes about 250 in total who gathered in the Thistle Hall. (See full details in Appendix 4.)

By January 1888 the Provincial Grand Lodge were expressing their sympathies to the P.G. Master Frank Lyon regarding his recurrent illnesses, In a letter Frank Lyon apologised for his absence but had been ‘seized with congestion of the lungs and confined to bed for days’ and, ‘against the advice of his medical attendant he had started back for Scotland but was prostrated at Darlington and of need to abandon his idea of reaching Scotland.’

Resignation of Hon Frank Lyon

Frank Lyon tried to resign during his illness in January, but the Grand Master had refused to accept it, however Frank Lyon persisted and on the 10th July 1888 a letter in the following terms was read out at the Provincial Grand Lodge, meeting in Dundee,

                                                                                Streatham Castle,
                                                                                                          Darlington, May 5th, 1888

Dear Mr. Anderson,

It is with deep regret that I must ask you to intimate to the Brethren, that I have placed in the hands of Grand Secretary, my resignation of the office of Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire.
It is with much unwillingness that I have determined to give up what has been to me both a pleasure and a privilege, but experience has shown me that the fact of my no longer living in Scotland makes it extremely difficult for me to carry out the duties of Provincial Grand Master in the way in which I myself would like to fulfil them.

It is a great matter of regret to me that my recent illness has prevented my visiting the Province once more before giving up.

I wish to tender to the Office-bearers of Provincial Grand Lodge and, to the various Lodges in the Province, my very warmest thanks for the uniform support and assistance I have received during the whole period of between five and six years which it has been my good fortune to preside over them and I can only hope that the universal kindness and sympathy I have met with on all occasions, will still be mutually continued between them and their Past Master, who, on his part will never cease to cherish the deepest feelings of interest and sympathy in all that concerns their welfare.

Believe me,
Yours sincerely & fraternally,
(Signed) Francis Bowes Lyon

Copyright Iain D. McIntosh 2014

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