PGL © EAST LOTHIAN & BERWICKSHIRE 2016
A Way of Life
There are now about 4 million Freemasons under more than 100 “regular” Grand Lodges worldwide. Membership of the craft is open to every respectable man who believes in his personal Supreme being- usually known in Masonic terms as the Great architect of the Universe. Grand Geometrician of the Universe or Most High. These descriptive names show the importance the Freemason places on his Supreme Being in the order of things on Life.
Three great but simple principals, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, unite freemasons of every colour and many creeds. Non- Freemasons often unfairly criticize not knowing that members of the Craft are guided by such honourable objectives. The good Freemason builds these principals into his daily life as a law abiding Man and citizen of the world.
BROTHERLY LOVE is the concern which each freemason has for his Brother, which is readily shown by tolerance and respect for the beliefs, opinions and practices of his fellows and his willingness to care for his Brother and that Brother’s dependants.
RELIEF The Freemason is by nature and teaching a charitable man. He will cheerfully and kindly assist those less fortunate (whether Freemasons or not!). He will care for and support his community – local, national and international.
TRUTH The Freemason believes in Truth in all things in honesty and integrity in his personal, business and public life, in fair dealings and in firm standards of decency and morality.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of East lothian & Berwickshire
The Lodges within the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lothian & Berwickshire as we know it today have been arranged and re-arranged into various different Provinces many times over the last 250 years.
The earliest records of Lodges within the Province being organised on a regional basis was in the mid-18th Century when in 1747 John Murray Keeper of the minute book of the Court of Session was appointed Provincial Grand Master over the Lodges of Dunse, Haddington, Peebles and Selkirk. This is a testimony to resolve of the Grand Lodge of Scotland bearing in mind that this was taking place in a time of great upheaval in Scotland following the Battle of Culloden the previous year.
These two fine old Lodges within our Province have made an indelible mark on Scottish Freemasonry over several hundred years with Lodge St John Kilwinning No. 57 being one of the oldest Lodges in the world who can trace their history back to 1599 and Lodge Dunse No. 23 who were one of the Lodges present when Grand Lodge was founded in 1736.
Some 8 years later it is recorded that in 1755 James Lidderdale Esq Collector of Excise @ Kelso was appointed Provincial Grand Master of the Districts comprising East Lothian, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.
In 1801 there existed a Provincial Grand Lodge of Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh and Berwickshire which included Lodge Dunse No. 25 (now 23), St Abbs No. 84 (now St. Ebbe No. 70), Dunbar Castle No. 89 (now 75), St. Luke Lauder No. 173 (now 132). Lodge Dunse 23, St Luke 132 and St. John 280 found themselves in the province of Berwick and Roxburgh from 1827-1855. The Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lothian was active from 1836 with The Right Honourable James Andrew Lord Ramsay Marquis of Dalhousie being installed during that year. Bro. Lord Ramsay was not only to became Grand Master Mason but was also Governor General of India.
The East Lothian Province at that time comprised Lodge Dalkeith Kilwinning No. 10, Aitchisons Haven No. 33, which many of the Brethren will be aware has the distinction of having the oldest recorded minutes of a Lodge meeting dated 1598, Lodge St John Kilwinning No. 57, Lodge St. Ebbe No. 70, Lodge Dunbar Castle No. 75, Lodge Musselburgh Kilwinning No. 81, St John Fisherrow No. 112 and St. Baldred No. 313.
Between 1866 & 1871 there was a Provincial Grand Lodge of Haddington, with George Baillie – Hamilton the 10th Earl of Haddington who was a member of St John Kilwinning No. 57 installed as its Provincial Grand Master in 1866. So we had the Earl of Haddington who was a member of the Lodge in Haddington and also the PGM of Haddington.
The Earl of Haddington was an avid Freemason and had been elected as Deputy GM in 1865 and was due to become Grand Master Mason in 1870 however he had the misfortune while pruning a mulberry tree in his garden at Tyningham to cut his finger, which ultimately caused his death in London during June 1870.
He was succeeded as PGM of Haddington by Major Henry Hope of Luftness in 1871 another member of 57 who held the Office for around 10 years.
In 1885 yet another transformation took place when the 3 existing Provincial Grand Lodges of Peebles and Selkirk, Berwick and Roxburgh and Haddington became 2 namely Roxburgh Peebles and Selkirk and Haddington & Berwickshire, the latter containing Lodges 23, 57, 70, 75, 132, 280, 313 & 714 and was the fore-runner of the Province as we know it today.
The Provincial Grand Master was the 11th Earl of Haddington who served for a period of 5 years at which point he vacated his office to take up the top Job in Edinburgh and was installed as Grand Master Mason in 1892.
A period of dormancy then ensued until on the 3rd of August 1912 a meeting of the RWM’s, Past Masters and Wardens of the Lodges in the premises of Lodge Dunse 23 took place which had been called for the purpose of resuscitating the Provincial Grand Lodge of Haddington & Berwickshires .
Bro. Christopher Charles Nisbet of Stobshiel presented his commission from Grand Lodge as Provincial Grand Master and occupied the chair. The Provincial Grand Lodge was back in business.
The first meeting of the resurrected Provincial Grand Lodge took place on 8th October 1912 in the Masonic Hall Haddington which was called to consider a petition from Freemasons in Tranent to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for the granting of a charter for a Lodge to be called Lodge Nisbet@ Tranent.
Bro. C. C. Nisbet as he was affectionately known was installed as PGM on the twelfth of November 1912 in Dunbar with over 200 Brethren in attendance.
Bro. Nisbet appears to have been a very interesting character, he was a Writer to the Signet and a published author. He had travelled the world extensively and was a devoted Free-mason. There are numerous records of him having attended masonic meetings throughout the then dominions.
He served as the Eight Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council for Scotland between 1933 & 1940.
Some six days later on the 18th of December in the Hall of St Andrews United Free Church Lodge Nisbet No 1112 Tranent was erected and consecrated by the Provincial Grand Master and his Office Bearers.
Bro. Nisbet presented the Masters chair to the Lodge which is still in use today.