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The Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire

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An Historical Sketch

by
Brothers Alexander Whitehead & Philip Maley

The Early Years

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire comprises the Masonic Lodges of Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire and one Lodge in Fife.

All parts of the Province have contributed to the ancient history of Masonry and the indisputable fact that it has flourished throughout the Province for several centuries is to be found in the many early buildings which still commemorate their places in Scottish history.

In the East of the Province, on the site of the present Falkirk Parish Church, once stood a Church built by Malcolm III, King of Scots, in the 11th Century. The present Church dates back to the 15th Century, with alterations having been carried out in the 19th Century. The Falkirk Steeple is of 16th Century construction. There is also the French Chateau type Callendar Park House.

In the West there is Culcreuth Castle, Fintry, of the l4th-l5th Century, and it is known that a church was built in Killearn in the 13th Century.

Clackmannanshire boasts the 15th Century Castle Campbell at Dollar, the 16th Century Menstrie Castle, the 13th Century Alloa Tower and the 12th Century Clackmannan Tower, reputedly purchased by Robert the Bruce in 1359.

In those days, however, Stirling, with its Castle, was the centre of the Masons’ Craft and the proliferation of such buildings as the Castle itself, the Church of the Holy Rude and Cambuskenneth Abbey, are ample statements to that craft.

It is, however, to Cambuskenneth Abbey that we turn for the earliest documentation relating to Lodges of Masons. There is a school of opinion which asserts that the Masons employed at Cambuskenneth were the predecessors of the present Ancient Stirling Lodge and that they held a Charter granted by King David I of Scotland at the time of their being engaged in the construction of the Abbey. The Charter guarded the craftsmen against incoming unskilled workmen and granted them supreme power over all Masons in the Shire of Stirling and the Stewartry of Mentieth. A copy of the Charter is inscribed in the minute book of Lodge Ancient Stirling No. 30, covering the period from 1738-1822. The Charter is dated 5th March, 1147, the date of the founding of Cambuskenneth Abbey. The original Charter has never been found and, consequently, there are some doubts as to its authenticity.

The origins of Freemasonry within the Province are further advanced by the suggestion that the Royal Order of Scotland was instituted by King Robert the Bruce after the Battle of Bannockburn (inset).

mage of the Brce Statue at BannockburnThis was probably encouraged by the Grand Lodge of that Order in approving the following Law on 5th January, 1767: “The election of these Officers shall be annually upon the fourth day of July*, being the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, fought anno 1314, after which King Robert Bruce held a Grand Lodge of this Order and created several Knights upon or near the Field of Bannockburn, as he did many more at Kilwinning “.

*Editor’s note: The Battle of Bannockburn was fought on the 24th June, 1314. The introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, whereby the day following the 4th October, 1582, became the 15th October, 1582, had the effect, in subsequent years, of the 24th June becoming the 4th July.

In the middle of the 15th Century James III of Scotland employed the Masonic Craft more extensively than any Monarch before him, particularly at Stirling, where he erected a spacious hall and a splendid Chapel-Royal in the Castle.

William Schaw, who was born in 1550 and who was probably a younger son of Schaw of Sauchie, was appointed Master of Works and Warden, by King James VI in 1583. With this appointment came the responsibility of reorganising the Masons’ Craft. Schaw issued two Statutes setting out his instructions to all Lodges in Scotland. The first of these was issued in 1598 and related to the duties and responsibilities of a Master towards Brother Craftsmen and the public, as well as the entry of new members to a Lodge and their subsequent advancement. The second Statute was issued in 1599. The significance of it to the Province of Stirlingshire was that it declared the three principal Lodges ii Scotland to be Edinburgh, Kilwinning and Stirling in that order. The positioning of the Stirling Lodge at number three confirms the previous belief that masonry in Stirlingshire had it origins many centuries before the Statutes were made.

In 1601 the first St. Clair Charter was drawn up by the “Deacons, Maistre, and Freemen of the Masons within the Realm of Scotland”, with the consent of William Schaw, Master of Works. This indicated that William St Clair of Roslin had their approval to purchase from the King liberty, freedom and jurisdiction over all the Masons within the Realm, without right of appeal, this jurisdiction to be vested in William St. Clair and his heirs without limit of time.

The second St. Clair Charter, dated 1628, reaffirms the statements contained in the first Charter with additional information. This Charter is signed on behalf of ‘The Ludge of Stirling’ by a notary on behalf of the Master, John Serveite, and by John Thomsone and James Rind.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland was formed in November 1736. The details of its founding and its progress during the years 1736 to 1986 are clearly defined in the ‘Historical Sketch of the Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland’, published by Grand Lodge on the occasion of its 250th Anniversary.

Of the Lodges currently within the Province of Stirlingshire, only St. John No. 16, Falkirk, was represented at the founding meeting, on 30th November, 1736. The representatives were Brother Michael Bruce of Milnhall, Master, and Brothers Robert Mirrie and William Walker, Wardens.

Two future Provincial Grand Masters of Stirlingshire were among the representatives of Lodges attending the founding meeting of Grand Lodge - Brother Sir Alexander Dalmahoy, as Master of the Linlithgow Lodge and Brother Sir Alexander Hope, as Warden of the Strathaven Lodge.

By 1738 Grand Lodge declared “that seeing the principles of the Craft had been so rapidly propagated through every part of the Kingdom, it was found necessary to appoint Provincial Grand Masters over particular Districts”. The first Commission in favour of a Provincial Grand Master was issued by the Grand Master Mason, Brother The Earl of Kintore, on 7th February, 1739. This Commission, granted to Brother Alexander Drummond, nominates, appoints and constitutes him to be “our Substitute and Provincial Grand Master over the Lodges in the Countys - Argyll, Clydesdale, Dumbarton, Renfrew and likewise the County Stirling “.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire did not however, become a separate entity until 6th February 1745, when a Commission was granted by the Grand Master Mason to the first Provincial Grand Master.

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