A Curious Masonic Find.

We are very grateful to Wor Bro Eoin Meehan of The Military Lodge of Ireland No 728 I.C. for the following article on some early Irish silver Officers Jewels. Eoin’s paper reads as follows :-

Old Officers Jewel Lodge 728 I.C.

Old Officers Jewel Lodge 728 I.C.

At a recent meeting of the Military Lodge of Ireland No 728 (of which I was Worshipful Master), W∴ Bro∴ Robert Merriweather, acting as Tyler and preparing the lodge room for us in his immaculate fashion, pointed out to me that our lodge had a number of artifacts in our “lodge box”. These included three small lodge officer’s jewels (worshipful master, senior warden and junior warden). They were smaller than usual, a bit dirty and pinned together.

I wasn’t sure what they were and some of our brethren had a number of different theories, but I thought I would take them home, clean them up and see if I could find out any background to them. I noticed that on the front of the jewels was inscribed “Lodge 728” but on the back was inscribed “Lodge 995” and “No 995”. Intrigued, I dived into the Internet and asked our wonderful archivist, Rebecca Hayes, for any info on this lodge.It turns out that a warrant for Lodge 995 was issued on 7th April 1808 to Jacob Parsons, Thomas Tabor and Stephen Luke to hold a lodge in the 8th Garrison Battalion, based in Cork. The Garrison Battalions were formed during the Napoleonic Wars to free regular army units to fight on the Continent. Shortly after the lodge was founded, two of the founders were censured by Grand Lodge:“2 February, 1809 – Read a report from the Committee on No. 995 against Bros. Parson and Tabor – Ordered that as it appears by the report that Bros. Parsons and Tabor acted from religious motives, the Grand Lodge directs that they be at liberty to withdraw from the Lodge and get their Certificates on paying their Dues.”

The Garrison Battalions were frequently re-organised and on 3rd May 1810, Bros Stephen Leeke, Joseph Cockroft and Richard Thomas, Master and Wardens of Lodge 995, sought permission from Grand Lodge to move the warrant to the 1st Garrison Battalion, the 8th having been disbanded.The 1st Garrison Battalion was then itself disbanded in 1814, and Bros. John Sparks, Robert Clarke and Wm. Waring, petitioned Grand Lodge on 7th July 1814 to issue a duplicate of warrant 995 and to hold a Lodge in Bantry with 48 brethren on the register as at June 1814. Warrant 995 was finally cancelled on 7th January, 1830 with 34 brethren registered.

I discovered that Lodge 995 was part of the “Trowbridge Union Band”. R∴ W∴ Bro∴ Robert Bashford of the Lodge of Research No 200, informed me was an old Irish degree called the “Union Band of Royal Arch High Knight Templar Pillared Priests”. To deliver this degree, 7 lodges would “band together” into a Union Band, each having its own seal. There would be an 8th seal held by the secretary of the Band.The individual seals were illustrated with various implements and each bore a text – Let Truth / Stand / Though The / Universe / Should / Sink Into Ruin. On the 8th or Great Seal is a Passion Cross, the letters I.N.R.I. with the motto In Hoc Signo Vinces ( In this Sign we conquor ).

Example of an old Pillared Priest's Certificate.

Example of an old Pillared Priest’s Certificate.

The Lodge of Research records this event of a Pillared Priest degree: “Given under the sanction of Lodge No. 995 in H.M.’s 8th Garrison Battalion, at Cork, 20 February, 1809, and signed: J. Moody, Frances Garner, Wm Arscott, Abraham Howell, Julian Fannuar, John Guy, Bernard Thomas, as the seven Grand Pillars, and Stephen Luke, as Grand Scribe. Red wax impression of seal engraved: “Trowbridge Union Band”, Lodge No, 995 Ancient, and attached to White (for Priestly Order), Black (for Knight Templar), Green (for Red Cross Mason), Red (for Royal Arch), and Blue (for Master Mason) ribbons, superimposed upon each other.”

One other item that caught my attention was that lodge 995 appeared to have transgressed Grand Lodge at some point:“A Communication from the Grand Lodge of Ireland of the 6th March, 1823, confirming a Report of a Committee to whom the Memorial and Resolutions, passed at the meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Munster, held in Cork on the 1st of November, 1822, had been referred … The Grand Lodge of Ireland has also put the Lodge Nos. 1, 3, 25, 27, 67, 71, 95, 99, 385 and 995, under suspension during the pleasure, interdicting them from all the Rites, Privileges, and Benefits of Freemasonry during the existence of said suspension, or from holding lawful Meetings as Freemasons, or for any other purpose other than that of reconsidering their very unmasonic proceedings and acknowledging their errors.”

Finally, I noticed One further item of confusion is the fact that there is also a Lodge 995 on the Roll of The Grand East of Ireland from 27th December 1806 until the 6th December 1809! This does not appear to be the same warrant as I have described here and I can only surmise this is a result of the confusion caused by the Seton Affair. Lodge 995 closed in 1830 and Lodge 728 was warranted in 1845, so some further work is required to figure out how these three jewels ended up in our hands.

Eoin Meehan

About irishfreemason

Rt Wor Bro Bashford lives in Ireland where he joined the Masonic Order in 1977. He became a Master Mason in 1978 and served as Master of his Mother Lodge, Moyarget No. 280 Irish Constitution in 1990. He was appointed Richard Robinson Memorial Lecturer in the Irish Masonic Province of Antrim in 1992 and 2004. In 1996 he was appointed Grand Master's personal Standard Bearer by Most Wor. Bro Darwin Templeton, G.M. In 2000 he became the Millennium Master of the `irish Lodge of Research No. 200, and in 2001 went on to become Excellent King of the irish Chapter of Research No. 222.He is the current Editor of the Irish Lodge of Research, and has been since 1992, and of the Irish Chapter of Research since 1996. He was appointed Representative of the Grand Lodge of Portugal at the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 2006 ( a ten year appointment), giving him the courtesy title of Right Worshipful Brother. He is currently Provincial Grand Librarian for the Province of Antrim, and Curator of the museum at their headquarters in Belfast.
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