On the front of the pin is the crest associated with Trinity College Dublin, with a seven pointed star beneath, containing a Christian cross and the latin motto “In Hoc Signo Vinces”. Around the perimeter of the entire pin is the legend “A.O.754 University Preceptory A.O.779”. On the reverse is a set of silver date stamps and a makers mark for J.R. Ryan & Company, Dublin.
Foundation of University Preceptory.
On the 31st January 1872, a Warrant was granted to the Brethren and Knights Companions of the University Encampment by The Supreme Grand Encampment of H.K.T. of Ireland signed by Leinster Grand Master and countersigned by Charles Walmsley Grand Registrar to form University Preceptory. The founders names, noted on the Warrant were:-
Charles Capel MacNamara, LL.D.
Sir Edward B Sinclair, M.D.
Humphrey Minchin, M.B.
Canon Henry H.J. Westby, D.D.
Edward W. Maunsell, M.A.
Sir John T. Banks, K.C.B., M.D.
John Ringland, M.D.
The inaugural meeting was held on Saturday, 6th April 1872, when the Warrant constituting the Encampment was proclaimed, and Sir Knight Charles Capel MacNamara was duly installed as Commander.
Origins of the Encampment.
IN 1870, Canon Henry H. Westby, Reverend Joseph Galbraith and William Stoker with others applied to The Grand Lodge Board of General Purposes and were issued with Warrant number 33 I.C. to hold a Lodge in the Metropolitan District of Dublin, to be known as The University Lodge.
The first meeting of the University Lodge was held at Freemasons’ Hall on the 7th February, 1871, the warrant having been granted on the petition of the following distinguished Brethren:-
Canon the Rev. H.H. Westby, David R. Plunkett, Q.C. (now the Right Hon. First Commissioner of Works), C. Capel McNamara, LL.D., J.T. Banks, M.D. (later Sir John Banks), E.B. Sinclair, John Ringland, John Fox Goodman, Humphrey Minchin, E.W. Maunsell, Rawdon Macnamara, M.D., Rev. Joseph A. Galbraith, S.F.T.C.D., William Stoker, M.K.Q.C.P., Charles Foot, M.D., R.W. Gamble, Vaughan Boulger, Henry Fitzgibbon, M.D., Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Arthur Houston, LL.D., Q.C., and R.W. Griffin, LL.D., Ex. Sch. T.C.D.
This new Lodge proved to be very popular with the academics at Trinity and is membership grew very quickly. There is an undated Royal Arch memorial on file recommending Companion Joseph A Galbraith to be first Excellent King, Humphery Minchin MD to be first High Priest and Albert N. Foot to be first chief Scribe, This memorial had been signed by ten companions.
Membership continued to grow in Lodge 33 and a number of the senior Brethren, decided that a second application should be made to The Grand Lodge Board, to found a second university Lodge. Bros Robert W.Griffin LL.D., Thomas E.Webb LL.D., and John H.Ruby LL.D., with others, made application in 1874 and were issued with Warrant No 357, which was to be known as The Trinity College Lodge.
The Lodge, thus constituted, enjoyed the unique distinction of receiving its warrant during the interregnum which occurred between the deaths of the M.W., His Grace the Duke of Leinster and the appointment of his successor, His Grace the late Duke of Abercorn, as M.W. Grand Master of the Order in Ireland. And accordingly, the first meeting of the Trinity College Lodge was held on the 28th November, 1874, in the Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, when the three brethren mentioned above were installed in the three principal offices, and Bro. W.J. Chetwode Crawley, LL.D., was elected Secretary, a judicious selection, which resulted in the most marked benefits to the Lodge, and has enabled it to successfully tide over many of the difficulties which beset its early days. His tact and discretion disarmed any antagonism that may have existed, while his indomitable energy soon induced large numbers of candidates to come forward, so that even in its infancy the Lodge showed abundant signs of its future strength, while the accuracy of ritual which from the first meeting marked the working of the Lodge when at labour has, under his skilled direction, maintained its reputation to the present time.
You may be interested to learn that the Rt Honourable Sir Edward Carson LL.D. was a member of Trinity College Lodge. In our archives in Molesworth Street, there still survives a letter dated 13th January 1929 from Carson to Shellard, our Grand Secretary at the time which reads as follows “ Dear Bro Shellard, I am much obliged for your letter and am glad to have a Grand Lodge certificate. I hope the Order in going strong in Ireland. I know that it is, in the North. Yours sincerely and fraternally, Carson.
One interesting aspect, detailed on the University Preceptory pin is the references in the text to A.O.754 and A.O.779. These refer to the dating system used in the Knights Templar degrees known as Anno Ordinis, which is the year of the Order’s Foundation. The Knights Templar start their colander with the formation of the order in the year 1118 A.D. Anno Ordinis translates as “In the Year of the Order” and refers to the fact that knight Templars deduct 1118 years from the common time to arrive at their A.O. dates. For example the A.O. 754 date above, actually refers to the year 1872, the foundation year of The University Preceptory. The second date A.O.779 similarly refers to the year 1897, marking the twenty fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Preceptory.
On the very bottom of the pin is a seven pointed star, bearing the legend “ In Hoc Signo Vinces” which translates “By this sign, you will conquer”, and in the popular mind, this symbol and motto are associated with the Knights Templar. However the truth is that the ancient Templars used only the black and white Beauseant banner, and at the bottom of it was inscribed their motto, also in latin, – Non Nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini to da gloriam” meaning Not onto us O Lord, not onto us, but onto thee give the glory”. This was the song, or shout of victory, sung by the Templars when triumphant in Battle.