extract from page 21 of the following book:
by Rev J. T. Lawrence
Library #: M30_LAW
Publisher: A. Lewis
Published year: 1908
Donated by: D.H. Fraser
We now come to discuss the procedure under which it may be possible for a new Sovereign Grand Lodge to be formed and recognised, made up of Lodges which have seceded from the mother Grand Lodge of England.
Previous to the adoption of the rules to be described, which were presented to Grand Lodge by Brother Philbrick in March, 1897, everything said and done by Grand Lodge on the subject was full of inconsistencies.
What used to happen was something like this. The question was first of all discussed by the brethren in the Colony concerned. Sometimes it was discussed in open Lodge, and resolutions arrived at; sometimes it was discussed at informal meetings, whose resolutions had, of course, none but moral weight. Discussions of this description in open Lodge involved nothing short of treason to that Grand Lodge to whose warrant the Lodge owed its very existence, and under which, in fact, it was at the moment meeting.
In the course of time the new Grand Lodge was formed, and began to issue warrants and certificates. every brother concerned in these proceedings necessarily became subject to the penal provisions of Article 204, which deals with "clandestine" initiations and "forming new lodges without the Grand Master`s authority," and was, ipso facto, under suspension.
The next step in the proceedings was that an application was made to the mother Grand Lodge of England, and to other Grand Lodges as well, demanding recognition. The consistent course of Grand Lodge to pursue was, of course, to read article 204, and then say it would hold no communication with these brethren until "they had made due submission and obtained grace".
As a matter of fact, nothing could be imagined less submissive than the attitude of "the body styling itself the Grand Lodge of ____." What Grand Lodge generally did, was to ignore article 204, and discuss the question on its merits. Then it might be ascertained that the body styling itself, etc., was not qualified to speak for the great majority of the brethren, and recognition would be denied.
The natural inference was that to be successful, the agitation must be more complete, and thus the "disloyal" section were encouraged to spread disaffection among the "loyal". Grand Lodge certainly did not say so in so many words, but the extent of the inference may be judged from the fact that one Lodge actually inserted the question in its printed summons, and when the Deputy District Grand Master ordered it to be expunged the Worshipful Master brought a complaint to the Grand Lodge.
Brother Philbrick`s proposals remedied this. It is now enacted that the District Grand Master may issue a dispensation to allow the subject of autonomy to be lawfully discussed at a Lodge meeting. Should he decline to do so, an appeal lies to the Grand Master. The exact procedure need not be described, as it is very fully explained in Article 218a.
The rules which follow presuppose that a new Grand Lodge has been formed in a regular and constitutional manner, that the prevailing Masonic opinion in the Colony has been voiced, and that recognition has been granted. then it is enacted that within six months of such recognition every lodge which still holds under an English warrant shall be convened to decided whether or no it will throw in its lot with the new Grand Lodge. The questions can only be resolved in the affirmative by two-thirds of the members present.
All this necessitated a new enactment in place of Article 219, which would have been very troublesome, as it would have enabled an insignificant minority to retain the Lodge warrant and go on working. The minimum minority was raised to five, and the clause referring to the majority of members retiring from the Lodge was deleted.
The first case under the new proposals was the Grand Lodge of Western Australia.
When recognition is granted, certain geographical limits are always understood. It would not do, for instance, for the Grand Lodge of Victoria to warrant Lodges outside that colony.
It has usually occurred that when a new Grand Lodge has been formed, it has had the support of the Lodges of all Constitutions working on the same ground. That fact has usually been adduced as an argument in favour of recognition being accorded.
In strict Masonic law however, the support and coalition of foreign Lodges has not the slightest bearing on the question, which is decided solely by reference to the English Lodges joining in the movement.
We have now discussed at sufficient length the nature of the highest courts of Freemasonry, and we only need to add that behind all the Grand Lodges which exercise jurisdiction there are the landmarks which no Grand Lodge dare transgress on pain of excommunication by all other Grand Lodges.