Atholl History

In 1751 representatives of five independent Lodges of Irish Freemasons met in London, formed themselves into a Grand Committee and commenced looking for someone to appoint as “Grand Master” – which was the beginning of an alternative to the Premier English Grand Lodge – which, because of its outlook, was considered to be “Modern”.The new Grand Lodge was referred to as “Antient” and quickly became a very well-administered organization, which ran parallel with – and, in some respects, in competition with - the premier Grand Lodge.

Present-day Masonry owes a great deal to the “Antients” because they not only preserved the Landmarks but also expanded Masonry further and further a field ; and, by granting warrants to army lodges, spread Masonry to many parts of the world.In 1771 the Third Duke of Atholl was appointed Grand Master of the “Antients” and as his nephew, the Fourth Duke of Atholl was Grand Master in 1813, when the two Grand Lodges combined to form United Grand Lodge, the terms “Atholl Lodges” and “Atholl Masons” were often used as alternative titles for the “Antients”. Any Lodge who’s Warrant of Constitution was issued by the “Antient” Grand Lodge can therefore be called an “Atholl Lodge.In the Huddersfield Masonic area there are eighteen lodges and of these only our own Lodge can claim to be an Atholl Lodge.

How does this make our lodge different from the other lodges? 

Fifteen of the eighteen lodges are all direct descendants of the Royal Yorkshire Lodge, No 265, which was constituted in Keighley in 1778. Of the remaining three lodges, Candour, No 337, is descended from Unanimity, No 328, Penrith and Colne Valley, No 1645, is our Daughter Lodge, which leaves only the Lodge of Peace. The story of The Lodge of Peace began on the first of April 1777, when the Third Duke of Atholl signed a Warrant of Constitution, which authorized Thomas Peat, a druggist, John Flather, a gardener, and Richard Morris, an innkeeper, to hold a Lodge at the “Cock Inn” at Barnsley in West Yorkshire. The Lodge was numbered 199 on the Atholl register and held its first meeting on the fourth of June 1777.

As we do not possess minute books prior to 1806, we do not have details of the Barnsley meetings but we do know that in 1804 a decision was taken to transfer the Lodge to Dewsbury – another small Yorkshire town a few miles from Barnsley. As the original Warrant of 1777 could not be found a Warrant of Confirmation was requested and in order to obtain this it was necessary for the petitioners to swear on Oath, in the presence of a magistrate, that the Lodge to be held at the “Travellers Rest Inn”, Dewsbury, was Lodge No 199, previously held at the “Cock Inn”, Barnsley. This may appear to be “using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut” but without a warrant a Lodge meeting would have been not only irregular but also illegal, and the Law of Treason was so strictly enforced in those days, that in 1836 six Dorset farm workers were sentenced to Seven Years Transportation for holding a meeting to form, what we would today call, a Trade Union. This document has, fortunately, survived and is among the treasured records of the Lodge. The Warrant of Confirmation was signed by the Fourth Duke of Atholl on the 28th of March 1804 and allowed Lodge No 199 to be transferred from Barnsley to Dewsbury. The first meeting was held on the 16th of August, 1806 at the “Travellers Rest Inn” Dewsbury – Robert Senior, Squire Whitworth and Joseph Whitworth – who were all members of Atholl Lodge No 162, Bristol - being appointed Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden respectively. 

Coat of Arms: Athol Grand Lodge

After the union of the “Antient” and “Modern” Grand Lodges, in 1813, new numbers were allocated and Lodge No 199, at Dewsbury, was re-numbered 247 on the roll of United Grand Lodge.In 1820 the Lodge was moved again, this time to Honley a village only three miles from its present home at Meltham.

As neither the Warrant of Constitution of 1777 nor the Warrant of Confirmation of 1804 could be found, it was again necessary to apply for another Warrant. Because of the delay in receiving the new warrant, the petitioners appealed to the Provincial Grand Master, who responded by granting his permission for the Lodge to be moved to Honley. When the petitioners wrote to the Provincial Grand Master they must have used the name The Lodge of Peace because the Provincial Grand Master repeated this name in his reply and this letter - which is displayed on the anteroom wall - is the first evidence we have of the Lodge being named The Lodge of Peace.The Warrant of Confirmation dated 1st of June, 1821, was issued by United Grand Lodge and is the Warrant under which we have operated for the past 183 years. During this time the Lodge number has been changed from 247 to 174 (in 1832) and finally to number 149 in 1863.The meeting place at Honley was the “Wool Pack Inn” and the Lodge continued to meet in local taverns for 43 years – moving to the “Golden Fleece” at Meltham in 1826 and the “Rose & Crown” at Meltham in 1856. In 1863 the Lodge obtained a lease on property in the “Market Place “ at Meltham, where they were able to furnish their own Masonic Lodge Room. These premises eventually became inadequate and in 1880 the brethren took the bold step of deciding to build their own Masonic Hall. The new hall was completed in February, 1882, the December 1881 installation being delayed for a two months and held on the first meeting in this hall. The time taken to buy the land and build this hall was a great deal less than the time it took to pay for it – for the debt was not cleared until 1928 – a long mortgage of over forty five years.

As previously mentioned The Warrant of Constitution dated 1st of April 1777, went missing sometime before 1804. It did not travel far but must have traveled very slowly because it re-appeared in Scarborough,in 1926 - when it was among the Masonic effects of the late Rev Dr J. Senior, which were bought from W/B Senior’s widow, by Elstone Cawthorne of Leeds. It is not known how the Warrant came into W/B Senior’s possession, but Mr Cawthorne immediately recognized his “find” as the missing Barnsley Warrant. A number of Lodges claimed ownership of the newly discovered Warrant but after a lengthy and thorough investigation by Provincial Grand Lodge it was established that the Warrant rightly belonged to The Lodge of Peace now numbered 149 on the records of United Grand Lodge. W/B Cawthorne agreed with this decision and generously donated the Warrant to The Lodge of Peace.On the 13th of October 1934, there was great rejoicing in Meltham when the Provincial Grand Master, M.W. Bro. The Earl of Harewood, accompanied by Mr Cawthorne, paid a special visit to The Lodge of Peace to return - after its absence of over one hundred and fifty years – the missing Warrant to its original owners.The happy ending of the missing 1777 warrant was not repeated when the missing 1804 warrant was found, because in July 1935 the warrant was found in the archives of United Grand Lodge, who cannot explain how, or when, it got there and to date have sadly refused to return it.

All our efforts to have it returned to the The Lodge of Peace have, so far, failed but we are still hopeful that someday our photographic copy will be replaced by the original warrant.

The Lodge has come a long way since the Brethren held the first meeting in Barnsley – many things have happened, few of which have been beneficial, but the Brethren have succeeded in ensuring that the Lodge has survived into the modern world we live in today.We are, quite rightly, proud of our Atholl ancestry and are ever mindful of the legacy our late Brethren have bequeathed to us - may it continue for another two centuries. 

Copyright 2018 Lodge of Peace No.149

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