|MARK MASONRY A brief history of Mark Masonry by W.Bro. Paul Bullows|
|MARK MASONRY||GRAND LODGE||PROVINCE OF CHESHIRE||MARK LODGES||ROYAL ARK MARINER||LINKS||NEWSLETTER||MEMBERSHIP||CONTACT US|
A POTTED HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPECULATIVE MARK MASONRY
W.Bro. Paul Bullows P. G. Stwd.
the shrouded history of Operative Mark Masonry begins much earlier, this
story has its outset in September 1769, where we find the first written
record of any working of a speculative Mark degree, when at a newly
chartered Royal Arch Chapter, known as the Chapter of Friendship, held
at the George Tavern in Portsmouth, the famous Thomas Dunckerley, son of
the Prince of Wales (later King George II), Provincial Grand Master;
the Warrant of the Chapter and having lately rec’d the “Mark”, he
made the bre’n “Mark Masons” and “Mark Masters” and each chuse
state of the Mark Degree down to the middle of the Nineteenth Century
was at best, chaotic. Many degrees of varying types had been worked in
Craft Lodges prior to the Union of the two rival Grand Lodges in 1813,
since when under the Articles of Union, the Mark Degree was not
recognised as “Pure Ancient Masonry”.
25th August 1851, a group of London Brethren founded a Mark
Lodge under a Charter obtained quite illegally from the Bon Accord Royal
Arch Chapter No. 70 of Aberdeen, and appointed William Jones as Master,
an action which resulted in the suspension, along with all its members,
of the mother chapter. Bon Accord Mark Lodge was very successful; by
1855 it had 120 members, growing to about 150 by 1856.
1856, a joint committee of The United Grand Lodge of England and the
Supreme Grand Chapter of England reported that the Mark Degree
be considered as forming a graceful addition to the Fellow Crafts
United Grand Lodge actually resolved that it might be conferred by Craft
Lodges, but at the following Quarterly Communication on 4th
June 1856, the section of minutes regarding the Mark Degree were not
confirmed, and therefore the Mark was not accepted into the fold.
four weeks, Grand Mark Lodge was established with Lord Leigh, Provincial
Grand Master for Warwickshire in the Craft, as the first Grand Master
and gradually, almost all the bodies conferring the Mark Degree in
England and the existent Mark Lodges, acceded to or came under its
authority. All nineteen Grand Officers then appointed came from the Bon
Accord Mark Lodge in London. Three other Mark Lodges were involved,
namely Northumberland and Berwick in Newcastle upon Tyne, Royal
Cumberland in Bath and Old Kent in London.
From then on,
the Mark Degree prospered and grew rapidly. In just twelve months it had
more than trebled with 15 lodges and by 1861, just 5 years after its
formation, Grand Mark Lodge had 53 lodges on it roll, including 20 newly
formed ones and by 1881 there were 281 Mark lodges in England and Wales,
and around the colonies, owing allegiance to it.
This was in
spite of the continuing opposition from the Craft. The United Grand
Lodge of England continued its policy of treating the other Orders as
artificial. The Mark Degree was certainly its largest ‘competitor’.
The lead of the
London Bon Accord Lodge encouraged some Mark Lodges to cut themselves
loose from their parent bodies and go it alone. This was a new
development. One such lodge was the Newstead Mark Lodge at Nottingham,
with a semi-independent history probably going back to the 1700’s. It
made itself independent in 1858, and even warranted two other lodges.
1859 The Thistle Mark Lodge No 3 SC (now No.8 EC) joined, which gave a
lead to other Scottish Warranted Lodges which had previously been slow
to change allegiance. This Lodge also provided Fredrick Binkes, who took
over as Asst. Grand Secretary, and later in 1861 as Grand Secretary, in
London, making many significant improvements to the administration of
In 1865, at the
behest of Bro. Canon Portal, one of the visionary leaders, Grand Mark
Lodge began handing out benevolence, raising funds at ‘charity
festivals’ in a similar manner to the Craft. The stated aim was a
speedy response, as opposed to the Craft’s slow. The Mark Benevolent
Fund as we know it today was established in 1868.
In 1871, Grand
Mark Lodge took charge of the re-emerged Royal Ark Mariner Degree which
had been suppressed along with all the additional degrees by the Craft
Grand Masters, the Duke of Sussex, until his death in 1843 and by the
Earl of Zetland after that. The 1st Marquis of Ripon, who was
invested as Craft Grand Master in 1870, was more tolerant. However, A
‘transparently illegal’ and fraudulent ‘Grand Lodge of Royal Ark
Mariners’ had been ‘revived’ in 1870. It operated, in a small way,
under a Brother Morton Edwards. This forced the hand of Grand Mark Lodge
which announced its protection of the degree in 1871, but had to play
along with Edwards until it was, at last in 1884, able to buy him out.
The receipt for the payment hangs in Mark masons Hall today.
In 1872 the
Craft commissioned a report into the Mark, and as a result a statement
was issued. Included in that statement from the United Grand Lodge of
England was -
1872. The Grand Lodge (Craft) firmly forbids all their officials
salaried from mixing themselves up in any way with other parties and
especially the schismatic body styling itself the ‘Grand Mark Lodge of
In common with
most disputes, time was a healer, and in 1883, HRH The Prince of Wales,
Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, was advanced,
becoming Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 1886.
He expressly stated that he wished to see the Mark remain independent of
the Craft or any other body.
Binkes completed 28 years of service as Grand Secretary in 1889, and was
succeeded by Charles Matier. Matier was responsible for getting many of
the Additional Degrees housed under the same roof as the Mark in London.
1889 the ‘Provincial Grand Lodges’ in the colonies became
‘Districts’, and were charged to largely run their own affairs. In
that year also, the first ‘daughter’ Mark Grand Lodge was formed, in
New South Wales.
Cheshire, the oldest Masonic Craft Province in the world, the Mark
degree was worked without much control in a number of Craft Lodges
throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It was slow
to make formal progress. Many looked on the Grand Mark Lodge as Illegal,
including the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, which had continued to
issue Mark Degree Charters after the formation of the English Grand Mark
Lodge. I mention this because one of our oldest lodges in Cheshire was
first warranted in Scotland, this being Joppa No. 5 at Birkenhead, now
numbered 11 Time Immemorial, which was first officially charted between
1856 and 1858, and whose original members incidentally, all wore Mark
aprons shaped in the form of a keystone!
on as regards the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, this body went as
far as to constitute an English Mark Province and actually appointed
William Romaine Callender as the first Provincial Grand Master in 1870,
in Lancashire! They finally recognised the Authority of the English
Grand Mark Lodge in 1879. R.W.Bro Callender was to feature prominently
in the Cheshire story some three years later!
of our oldest and indeed our most senior Mark Lodge in Cheshire, is now
styled the Ashton District Mark lodge, commonly known as Ashton District
TI, which traveled all around Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire,
commonly meeting within the confines of a Craft Lodge, usually on a
Sunday, and conferring the Mark Degree and demonstrating the ceremony.
The members of Ashton District clearly did not take well to the
formation of Grand Mark Lodge in London and in 1857 decided to form
their own Grand Lodge which had the fancy title “The Honorable United
Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of the Ashton-under-Lyne District”.
It is not certain how many subordinate lodges were constituted by this
Grand Lodge, but it is known that Joppa No.5 at Birkenhead (now numbered
11), which was originally warranted by the Supreme Grand Chapter of
Scotland, was Joppa’s first subordinate lodge. In 1870 the Deputy
Provincial Grand Master of Lancashire visited Ashton District TI, trying
to persuade them to submit to the authority of the Grand Mark Lodge of
England. He stressed his view that there must be uniformity. Whose
uniformity? Ashton saw value in diversity, and refused to submit. Like
Scotland had, and arguably correctly at the time, it saw the English
Grand Mark Lodge as irregular. In 1898 the editor of the Masonic
Record asked questions about this Ashton District Mark Grand Lodge
which no doubt stirred Grand Mark Lodge into action. The Grand Secretary
dispatched a letter to Ashton District Grand Lodge in March 1899,
abruptly stating that the ‘so-called’ Grand Lodge would be declared
a ‘Clandestine Lodge’ in May, and all Masonic connections to it
would be severed, unless it submitted. Could it have been that London
had forgotten its own treatment by Scotland!
replied, pointing out that, far from being clandestine, it had been
working its old ritual, and openly, for over one hundred years. The
lodge then asked that the term “clandestine” be withdrawn. They
wanted to know in which way London could put down such a strong,
In June 1899
Grand Mark Lodge in London officially declared Ashton District as
“spurious and clandestine”.
A very strange
and unexpected turn in events then occurred. Instead of sticking to its
no-doubt well founded integrity, it actually gave in and submitted. It
appears that this was due to the new presence of a very persuasive
person, a Dr Foreman.
of course was ecstatic. Suddenly Ashton was not spurious. Dr Foreman
received his reward by being made a Past Grand Overseer of England. This
Grand Lodge had been very stubborn, being the last external authority to
submit to the Grand Mark Lodge of England on 17th February
1900, when it received its Time Immemorial status and now meets
1903, in a publication celebrating the achievements of W.Bro.
Richard Newhouse, the first Mark Provincial Grand Secretary in Cheshire,
we find the following interesting information.
to 1872, there had been no Provincial Grand Mark Lodge for the Province
of Cheshire. The consecration of the Stamford Mark Lodge No. 148 in
March 1872, now meeting at Sale, brought the number of Mark Lodges in
Cheshire at the time, to four, the other three being Ashton District at
Dukinfield, Benevolent No. 67 (now Benevolent TI) at Stockport, and
Fidelity Mark No.31 at Birkenhead. With the addition of North Wales, it
was deemed desirable by several eminent Mark Master Masons, that a
Provincial Grand Lodge should be established for the area of Cheshire
and North Wales. on 5th April 1873 therefore, ostensibly
through the united exertions of Brothers Bulkeley Hughes, W. Romaine
Callender ( who we mentioned earlier as the Mark Provincial Grand Master
in Lancashire), J. Chadwick, Lt. Col Wilkinson, J. A. Birch, and Richard
Newhouse, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Cheshire
and North Wales was Instituted and Consecrated under the command of The
first Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. The Hon. Wilbraham Egerton
(later Earl Egerton of Tatton). W.Bro Newhouse was appointed as the
first Provincial Grand Secretary (and indeed, he held the same position
Earl Egerton of Tatton
from the list of 41 Mark Provinces and 27 Mark Districts under Grand
Mark Lodge, Cheshire is the 8th largest outside London, having 44 Mark
and 23 Royal Ark Mariner Lodges under its authority with approximately
twelve hundred Mark Masons and five hundred Royal Ark Mariners proudly
practicing the degrees.
from the original Minute Book of the Mark Provincial Grand
of Cheshire and North Wales