Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lodge Name

from the book "Sidelights on Freemasonry"
by Rev. John T. Lawrence

EVERY Lodge has a name and a number. The choice of the latter is a matter with which the Lodge has nothing to do, but the former is the concern of the Lodge, and it is only due to the Lodge to suppose that it received as much consideration as everything else affecting its welfare. When lodges were few and far between, and the light of Freemasonry was only dimly visible from one beacon to the next, it was easy to ring the changes on a few names replete with real or fancied Masonic significance.

Of the lodges on the register, about three hundred were in existence at the beginning of the last century. To be accurate, at the time of the Union, the last Lodge warranted was No.339. Of these, one hundred and one met in London and seventeen in foreign parts, and there remained two hundred and twenty~one for all England and Wales besides. There was not much chance, therefore, of one Lodge interfering with its neighbour by reason of similarity of name, and consequently such designations as Friendship, Charity, Fortitude, Unanimity, Hope, Fidelity, Perseverance, Peace, Philanthropy, Faith, Integrity, Rectitude, Temperance, Honour, Harmony, Tranquillity and the like, flourished freely.

For the curious it may be of interest to note that at the time of writing there are sixteen lodges called Unity and eight Unanimity, which means the same thing; eighteen Harmony, eight Benevolence, seven Philanthropy, seven Charity, seven Sincerity, eight Peace, five Emulation, four Honour, twelve Fidelity, eleven Hope, sixteen Friendship, thirteen Perseverance, six Faith, six Industry, eight Prudence, seven Fortitude, seven Loyalty, and eleven Concord, besides others bearing similar names; illustrating public and domestic virtues of different kinds. That is to say, two hundred and nine in all, of which one hundred and eighty-one were warranted before 1856, which shows that this style of nomenclature has had its day.

Perhaps it may be considered Pharisaic to make this somewhat exclusive claim to the possession of a particular virtue, and possibly our Brethren feel unworthy to label themselves so distinctively; or, more likely still, it is owing to the large number of friendly societies which have sprung up during the last half-century which favour this style of designation.

Several of the above lodges possess a combination of two or even three of these names, and others strongly emphasise the virtues they live to illustrate, such as Universal Charity, True Friendship, Perfect Unanimity, and the like. Some combinations are rather curious, such as Fortitude and Old Cumberland, Somerset House and Inverness, and they represent amalgamations.

In the absence of reference to Masonic sentiment or virtue, our forefathers were in the habit of procuring some celebrated person stand in as godfather. Shakespeare, Pythagoras, Burns, Milton, Socrates, Clive, Nelson, and Wellington are among those whose names are enshrined and kept green in the warrants of some sixty-five lodges. This number, it should be said; excludes those lodges named after some one living at the time of the warrant.

Local associations have, of course, had much to do with the choice of these worthies. Thus Wyckliffe is very properly commemorated at Lutterworth, Charles Dickens at Chigwell, Sir Francis Drake at Plymouth, King Harold at Waltham, where the hero king was buried, Sir Isaac Newton at Cambridge, Wolsey at Hampton Court, Gooch at Swindon, Homer at Smyrna (the poet's reputed birthplace), Hereward at Bourne, and Canute at Southend-on-Sea.

It was reasonably to be expected that Masonic dignitaries would not be forgotten, and thus we have fourteen lodges dedicated to the Earl of Zetland, nine to the Duke of Sussex, thirty-six to the late Grand Master, and four to the Marquis of Ripon, whilst seven lodges have taken the name of the present M.W.G.M. since his accession to that office. In 1863 Lodge Rose of Denmark was very suitably warranted with relevance to the marriage of the Prince of Wales, and H.R.H. the Princess of Wales stood godmother to some eighteen other lodges about the same period. Her late Majesty Queen Victoria has given her name, to sixteen lodges.

The practice of calling a new Lodge by the name of a person still living, however distinguished, is one which needs to be discussed in all its bearings. In some cases no exception can be taken. For instance, there are lodges which bear the honoured names of Kitchener and Roberts, Lathom and Gould, but the names thus immortalised are those of persons whose reputation has been made in public capacities. If it be desired to do honour to the private virtues of some well known local personage, it must be remembered that the Lodge may long outlast any recollection of the very name of such person. He may have merited the esteem and affection of those about him, but it certainly seems hard upon posterity-which, after all, has never done us any harm that we should burden it with a perpetual charge in the shape of the payment of our debt of gratitude. In one district abroad there are no less than eighteen lodges, Chapters, &c., out of a total of forty-one, that bear the names of purely local worthies.

With regard to this practice, one suggests with great diffidence that the party concerned, if still living, may live long enough to "break his record" and cause the Lodge to regret its name, and perchance ask to have it altered, or to be erased, and start again. It is the practice of many Grand Masters, to refuse to grant a warrant to a Lodge. proposed to be called after the name of a living person.

To call a Lodge after the name of the place in which it meets displays some lack of inventive power. One Lodge the writer once visited is called by the name of the terrace at the end of which the Lodge premises are situated! and a good many are called by the, name of the sign of the licensed house in which the meeting's are held, and if of historic value there can be no objection.

In some cases the old Roman name of the town has been hunted but by some brother of classical attainments, and the result has been to incidentally to give a fillip to the appetite for historical research in the neighbourhood. Thus we find Lodge Olicana at Ilkley; Eboracum at York, Lindisfarne in North Shields, Beaudesert at Leighton Buzzard, Cestrian at Chester, Cornubian at Hayle, Claro at Harrogate, and Vitruvian, Ross.

There are, ten lodges "Light." One of these, No. 2721, is London and all the rest meet in India, and for the most part possess a geographical qualification; e.g. "Light in Tirhoot," "Light in the Himalayas." A very ambitious name is "Light of the Craft," No. 362, meeting in Jubbulpore.

The "Stars" are very numerous in the Masonic firmament as in the celestial, There are sixteen of them; and all but two are, abroad, these being "Star in the East" at Harwich, and the "Star" at Greenwich. Of the rest, the greater number are connected with the four cardinal points, e.g. there are six "Stars in the East". Apart from these and not so readily traceable in the year-book are such names as "Morning Star," "Rising Star," &c.

St. John has stood godfather to no less than forty-two lodges, and two hundred and forty lodges in all are dedicated to various Saints, the whole calendar apparently having been ransacked.

And it is not surprising to find eighty-nine lodges whose names have the word "Royal" prefixed. Seeing what an effect upon the imagination is produced by the old T.I. Mother Lodge of Kilwinning, it is not surprising to find the name of the cradle of Scottish Masonry incorporated into the names of some forty other lodges, distributed in all parts of the globe.

Some curious names are "Inhabitants," "Noah's Ark," "All Souls," "England's Centre," "Nil sine labore," "Silent Temple," "Sun and Sector," "Parrett and Axe," "St. George and Corner Stone," and "Strong Man," among doubtless many others.

Of names of real Masonic significance there are comparatively few. There are in this country three lodges named Ionic, five Doric, and four Corinthian, a King Solomon, three Lewises, a Perfect Ashlar, Abiff; a Pentalpha, Keystone, Pentangle, Square and Compasses, Sun Square and Compasses, Three Grand Principles (3), and Three Pillars - that is to say, not many more than a score; or about one in a hundred. Abroad there are three Corinthian, one Doric, two Hiram, one Ionic.

Local history often solves the problem of what the new Lodge is to be called. Robin Hood at Eastwood, the seven Abbey Lodges, Athole in the Isle of Man, Border City at Carlisle, Camalodunum at Malton, Caradoc at Swansea, Dorothy Vernon at Bakewell, Eleanor Cross at Northampton, Hotspur at Newcastle, Hengist, Horsa, and Rowena at Bournemouth, Humphrey Cheetham in Manchester, Ivanhoe at Sheffield, Limestone Rock at Clitheroe, Merlin at Pontyridd (the reputed birthplace of the bard), Rose of Raby at Staindrop, and William of Wykeham at Winchester are all names to be highly commended. Peveril of the Peak at New Mills is also worth noting. If the Three Graces at Haworth refer to the three Sisters Bronte that Lodge must be included, but the date, 1831, does not suggest the association, for the Sister's Bronte were but schoolgirls at the time. Moreover, neither prophets nor prophetesses have any honour in their own country.

The lord of the manor or some neighbouring historic property often suggests a name. Thus we find Londesborough at Scarborough, Eastnor at Ledbury, Bute at Cardiff, Wentworth, at Sheffield, Wharnecliffe at Penistone; Talbot at Swansea, and Sir Watkin at Mold. Current history and even current politics are sometimes studied with this object. The year 1902, which witnessed the Coronation of our present Sovereign, was responsible for one London, five country, and two foreign lodges being called Coronation, whilst three other lodges gave expression to a similar feeling of loyalty by calling themselves after the king's name. Class lodges are responsible for many new departures in nomenclature, but these are referred to in a separate chapter.

To continue our analysis; the Lodge rejoicing in the longest name is possibly that one in Karachi, Lodge Khan Bahadur B. Rajkotwallah, No. 253I. When the hearty good wishes of this Lodge are conveyed to another, which one of its members may be visiting, it generally happens that the Secretary of the Lodge visited does not trust his memory, but asks to have it put down on a piece of paper.

The Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry is a fairly good mouthful, but it possesses the advantage of a familiar ring which the other lacks; so does the Incorporated Society of Musicians. On the other hand, there are six lodges which altogether only trouble eighteen letters of the alphabet between them. These are the Oak, the Rye, and the Ivy, all London lodges, and the Dee, Lyn and Era.

There are thirty-eight lodges whose names run to but four letters each. On the whole, the palm for brevity may be given to Lodge Dee. One other name of dignified proportions is the Premier Diamond of the Transvaal.

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