History of Lodge 367, Downpatrick

        Copy of “Frontis” Page from one of the early Minute Books

Wor Master,
Rt Wor Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Rt Wor Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Rt Wor Brethren, Very Wor Brethren, Wor Brethren and Brethren. It is my great pleasure tonight to wish Union Lodge of St Patrick No 367 a very happy birthday on this, its two hundred and fiftieth birthday. It was on the 4th June 1761 that Grand Lodge issued Warrant No 367 to Hugh Hill Esq, Thomas Martin and James Smith, to hold a Lodge in the town of Downpatrick.
Original Warrant of Union Lodge of St Patrick No 367,
Unusually, a further twenty four names were registered, suggesting possibly, that this was a pre-existing Lodge seeking to regularise its position with Grand Lodge, by taking out an official Warrant. Amongst the original membership, we find many familiar family names such as Bassett, Chambers, Collins, Fennon, Gibbony, Gordon, Grant, Gray, Martin, McClurg, Nixon & Thompson, all families still residing in the Downpatrick district, up to the present time.

The Foundation Master Hugh Hill Esq was descended from Samuel Hill of Buckinghamshire, who came to Ireland as Treasurer under Cromwell in or around the year 1642. In return for his service, he was given land grants in counties Armagh, Antrim, Tyrone and Derry. Samuel’s great grandson Rowley was a member of the Masonic Lodge that met at The Ship behind The Royal Exchange in London. Then he returned to Ireland and served as Junior Warden of an Irish Lodge that met in an upstairs room of The Yellow Lyon in Warborough Street in Dublin on 6th March 1730/31.

His son Hugh was born on the 1st January 1727, educated at Trinity College, but did not graduate. He entered The Middle Temple in London in 1754 and shortly thereafter returned to Downpatrick as “Collector of Customs for the Strangford Area”. He resided in the house now used as Urban Council offices, in Irish Street, Downpatrick and was married twice. He went on to enter the Irish Houses of Parliament as Member for The City of Londonderry in 1768 and was created a Baronet on the 17th August 1779. He passed to The Grand Lodge Above in 1795. This then was the pedigree of the first Master of  Union Lodge of St Patrick No 367, Downpatrick.
Early Portrait of Hugh Hill Esquire – First Master of 367

In 1764, a draft set of  Lodge Byelaws were prepared and after discussion were agreed early in 1765. These were at times amended and enlarged. A perusal of them shows the true spirit of Masonry and what its real object is, and in addition to providing for the proper working of the Lodge, they also direct how the members should behave to each other. The rules of 1765 were re-enacted with certain amendments and additions in 1784, and have been updated and renewed frequently, right up to the present day. You may be interested in looking at some of these original byelaws, as follows :-

 1/. Be it agreed that every Member, who assembles at any of our meetings, especially at our festivals, must behave himself, Soberly, Modestly and Decently, or be subject to the censure of the Master and Wardens, and to be put under a Rest or Excluded till he or they, so aggressing, make a proper Atonement to the satisfaction of the Brethren.

 2/. Its further agreed that no Brother is to injure another, by any infamous story that he may hear, till first, privately acquainting the injured party of the contents thereof.

 7/. Its further agreed that we are not to accept of any person to be made a Freemason in this body for a sum under 8 shillings one pence halfpence.

However, financial prudence has always been the watchword in Ulster Lodges, and it is interesting to note a reference to the renovating of the Master's chair in the records of Lodge, No. 367, when in 1795 an Initiate had his dues and fees remitted in consideration for Painting of the Chair and Floor Cloth.  The admission money was then £1 8s. 2d. And referring to the jewels etc - The early records of No. 367, Downpatrick, record the gift of “The Poles and Officers Truncheons to the Fraternity grattis by Bro. Thomas Marten for which we Return Thanks.”  Valued at 11s. 4½d.  The same Lodge, in December, 1796, paid 9s. 9d. for the repares of Juels and painting rodes and tronchens.”

Early in the Lodge's career there appears to have been trouble over money matters, as is evidenced by the resolutions adopted from time to time concerning members in arrears. Trouble arose early with Grand Lodge over dues: the following copy letter is of interest:-

 "A Copy a Letter Sent to Mr. Calders 11th July 1767"

"Dr. Sr. We Yor. Humble & homest Brothers Belonging to No. 367 Held in Downpatrick Wrote to you Some time Since but had not the favour of

 any Answr. We have Since Reasoned it was our fauly for not paying the Postage as was Advertised. We Ever have & Intends Behaving as a Regular Body of free & Accepted Massons & hopes to Abide by that Constitution. Yor. Correspondence kept with us  wou'd be a Great Satisfaction to us. What Dues are Due by us you may Expect Will be honourably paid Since we had the favour of Seeing you. In turn Samll. Chambers is Now Master. I Dr. S. Remain Secry. as you ordered & hopes Ever to Copy the Noble Principals you Abide by Whilst I am &c. &c."

It is interesting to note, in the Minute Book under date 6 June, 1769, the following entry in the hand of Thomas Corker Dep Grand Secretary –

Recd from Br. James Smith, W.M. of No. 367 Fourteen Shillings and Seven Pence Half Penny in full Grand Lodge Dues to the 27th December last, also recd. Five Shillings and Five pence for the Registry of Brs. John Quaile, Hugh Gordon, George Bassett, John Graham and St. John Harvey.

Downpatrick the 6th day of June, 1769
Thos Corker, D.G. Secy.

31 March, 1777 - It is agreed By the Master and Wardens and the Members present that their should Be a fund for the reliefe of a distressed  Brother travelling having a proper Certificate from warranted Lodge and said Certificate must Be in Deate - Now our Worshipful has Nominated, otherised, and apoynted the following Brethren to give Reliefe to any Such as the above.

Sigd. By our Worshipful,
John Connor, Master.
Willm. McCullagh, Thos. Shearman, Jas. Smith, Saml. Chambers.
Signed by our Worshipful – John Connor Master.

In the following January –“It is further agreed that one sovereign will be left out of the box to relieve the distressed”.

And then, referring to charity – we detail below some of the  payments made by Union Lodge of St Patrick No. 367, Downpatrick, to Brethren and their families:-

1790. 1st November – Given to William Moor, distressed by the burning of his house and shop at Ballygiggan – 11s - 4 ½d.
1801.  July 6 - Cash paid Bro. Daly for a coffin for the child of Bro. Carrol, Tyler 2s. 2d.
1804 – February Cash paid to Thomas Foy, a prisoner in the jail in this town who is unable to provide for himself. 5s – 11½d -  Cash to James McQuillan for the same purpose, he being on, as is supposed, his deathbed.  5s-5d.

These previous items may have come as a surprise to some, but it should be remembered that the sanction of prison was much commoner in the 18th and 19th century for minor crimes and the State made virtually no provision for the provision of upkeep of prisoners, leaving such care to the prisoner’s families and dependents. It was relatively commonplace for charity to be given to Brethren or their families by local Lodges in cases such as these. 367 had the added disadvantage of a jail on its doorstep, so to speak. One interesting case recorded in the Minutes of January 1805 was a call for the raising of a subscription to support Bro James Brett, who had been lying on his bed these past three years.

Surviving records in Downpatrick, researched by the late Bro Edward Parkinson show that  Lodge No. 367 was the owner of a Pall purchased on 24th September, 1781, to be loaned at 2s. 81/2d., except to a member of the Lodge.  At the same time the Lodge purchased:-

2 Bazel skins                  4s. 10½
Making a bag                         6½

These skins were used in the making of a bag for the Pall when not in use.  The probable cost of a Pall was £6 10s. 0d.
One interesting item discovered by Bro Parkinson, whilst researching the Minute Book for the period  1784 – 1793, was an undated entry on page 115 recording that John Wesley was Entered and Passed this 3rd day of October after making payment of 5s-5d. A subsequent payment of 2s- 8½d was received on the 13th October when Bro Wesley was raised to the Third or Sublime degree of Freemasonry. From its location in the Minute Book, Bro Parkinson surmised that these events took place in the year 1788. But, of course, who was John Wesley? Could it possibly be John Wesley the founder of Methodism, and indeed Church  records and Wesley’s own diary both confirm that he was in Downpatrick around that date, and may well have been the Brother, so named in the Lodge Minutes. Bro Parkinson had the foresight to get these entries photographed and recorded, forwarding one set to the Editor of QC- the famous world Lodge of Research. These items have subsequently been published in QC and their conclusion was, that on the balance of probabilities they believe that it was the John Wesley, founder of Methodism, who, late in life joined the Masonic Order in Downpatrick, in Union Lodge of St Patrick, No 367. 

The two annual Church Parades in June and December were generally well attended by the Brethren, and it would have been normal to post a Thank-You article in the Newsletter or Telegraph thanking the minister for his sermon and thanking the other Lodges for attending. Occasional a gift, such as a pair of gloves would be given to the preacher. However in December 1788, a slightly different tact was taken. The report of the occasion reads as follows :- Sent by Alexander Smith to the Rev   Mr Williamson, One pound of Tea, with the present of a hat, for his preaching to us all, on St John’ Day 25th June 1788.

It is an interesting thought, that Bro John Wesley would have seen the Master arrayed in a scarlet cloak and tall hat.”  The records go on to state that one Peter Hodges was initiated, and in lieu of fees we find against his name, “By stuff for the cloak 17/-.”  Nor was it a mere plain cloak, for in the same year the Lodge paid for “Armon” (ermine), but it is feared that for the price paid a more basely born animal supplied the fur.  A further reference relating to Master’s regalia says that on
“16th December 1790.  Paid for making the cloak 3/3 .”

Church services were always well attended and the Brethren would walk in procession to church, occasionally preceded by a band of music, In 1786 the Lodge used the band of the 9th Regiment, whilst on other occasions the only music available was a fife and a lambeg drum. On other occasions the Band of the Hon Edward Ward school of music was used for accompaniment. In all occasions the Lodge ensign would carry the banner  of the Lodge in procession, in front of the Wor Master.

 One further interesting fact from that period in the Lodge history is that in the 1790’s the Preacher cost as much as the fife and drum combined 11s 4½d

Like many Irish Lodges the Brethren were very aware of the politics of The Irish Volunteers and indeed the United Irishmen and dabbled in the politics of the day. Like many Lodges 367 issued the occasional set of Resolutions, as in the year 1792 when under the hand of  Archibald  Edgar they expressed their undying support for King George, and confirmed support for all his laws, yet sought extension of the political opportunities to our Brethren of the Roman Catholic faith. Universal Suffrage for All.

Thankfully, Downpatrick missed the worst excesses of the 1798 Rebellion. The presence of a major military barracks in the town helped to keep the town quiet, and ultimately safe from the ravages of both side. However one famous Mason would meet his end, just across the road in Downpatrick Jail.

Thomas Russell, prominent United Irishman, friend of Emmett and of course Librarian of The Linenhall Library was hung in the jail, on a crowded fair day on the 21st October 1803. He is remembered in song, poem and story right up to the present time, probably best known as :-

                The Man from God Knows Where


Brethren I’m deeply indebted to Dennis Carroll, and his excellent book, “Thomas Russell 1763 – 1803” for his telling of the history of Thomas Russell and the words  from the famous Ulster ballad “The Man from God Knows Where, recited by Phil Coulter. As we sit here tonight, we should all give thought to the events that took place just across the road some 210 years ago.

The late Edward Parkinson presented the Lodge with a photograph of a silver K.T. jewel which belonged to his great-granduncle, Robert Edgar, of the Royal Artillery, to whom it had been presented by Lodge 367, Downpatrick, on the eve of his departure for the Peninsular war. He fell at Badajoz in 1812. The jewel was found in his tunic, and his K.T. certificate in his knapsack, and both were sent home to his relatives. He was reverently buried with full Masonic honours by the officers and soldier Brethren of his corps.
               Photograph of The Edgar jewel  

Freemasonry - St. John's Day.
On the 27th ult., the members of the Masonic Lodge No. 367, commemorated the Anniversary of their Patron Saint, by a dinner in Mr. Nesbitt's of this town. The evening was spent in the utmost harmony, and improved by rational conversation. The company separated at eleven o'clock, with that decorum which usually characterizes the members of the Craft.

Down Recorder 4 January, 1840.
The Royal Arch and Knights Templar degrees of Masonry only exist as separate entities from 1839. Previous thereto Craft Lodges considered they had the right to confer these degrees, provided there were members in the Lodge possessing and capable of conferring them. In this connection the Grand Lodge, in the year 1814, made the following declaration: "It is declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three Degrees, and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Chapter of the Holy Royal Arch."

In such an actively working Lodge as No. 367, it could not be expected that they would overlook or neglect to exercise any privilege they had given to them by virtue of their warrant, and consequently we find in the records prior to 1839 numerous entries referring both to the Royal Arch and Knights Templar degrees. It is to be regretted that these entries are not detailed, but from them, slender though they may be, we can see that these two superior degrees were worked with the same enthusiasm as the Craft degrees. The first mention is as follows:

"A list of these members that mean to be made Knight Templars against 10 June, 1789."

Then follow a list of names.

It would seem that all arrangements for holding the meetings of Royal Arch and Knights Templar were transacted in the Craft Lodge and recorded in their minutes, and these very often contain a record of proceedings of the Royal Arch and Knights Templar. For example: "January 20, 1799. Lodge opened in due form, Bro. John M'Neill in the chair. Lodge closed in due form. All parted in good harmony. Half-past seven o'clock.

It would seem that all arrangements for holding the meetings of Royal Arch and Knights Templar were transacted in the Craft Lodge and recorded in their minutes, and these very often contain a record of proceedings of the Royal Arch and Knights Templar. For example: "January 20, 1799. Lodge opened in due form, Bro. John M'Neill in the chair. Lodge closed in due form. All parted in good harmony. Half-past seven o'clock.

Bro. James McIlroy raised to the degree of Royal Arch Super Excellent and Knight Templar by Bro. Hodges, of Lisburn. He lectured on the foundations of Masonry. Brothers Knight Templars present (here follow the names)."

On the 26th of April following Bro. Hodges is reported as lecturing on the first, second, and third degrees of Masonry, also on the degree of Royal Arch Mason Super Excellent. As showing the interest taken in the superior degrees, it may be noted that at this meeting twenty Kt.'s of Lodge 367 were present, and seven visitors, including one from Lodge No. 13 on the Register of Scotland. In the reports of subsequent meetings it is generally stated Bro. --- dubbed Sir Knight with particulars of fee paid.

The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland dates from 1839, and the Great Priory from 1838, and thenceforward Craft Lodges ceased to exercise any jurisdiction over these higher degrees.

In the year 1846 the Lodge, under its original warrant ceased working. But the spirit of Masonry was not dead and we find it resuscitated under its old number. In February of that year an application was made to Co. Down Masonic Lodge No. 86 for the use of their room, as several of the members of original No. 367 were desirous of reforming that Lodge, but were prevented from doing so as they had not a suitable place for meeting. Permission was readily given, and on 13th November of that year No. 367 under its present charter was constituted.

The first Officers were:- Bro. Hugh Martin W.M.; Bros. Thomas Neill and Samuel M`Clenaghan Wardens; Bros. John Matthews and Johnston Napier Deacons; George Stockdale Secretary and Bro. James B. M`Connell I.G.

The Master and his two Wardens were even then old and tried members of Lodge 367, Bro. H. Martin having acted as Master so far back as the year 1831. At the usual meeting of Lodge 86, in December 1855, Bro. Hugh Martin was presented "in the name of his brethren of Lodge 86 with a silver snuff-box." He attained to eminence in both the Royal Arch and Knight Templar degrees, and was a Past Master of Lodge No. 130, Killyleagh. He died in 1876, and was buried in front of the east window of the Parish Church of Down, where shortly afterwards a suitable monument was raised to his memory by his Masonic brethren of Downpatrick and its neighbourhood. Bro. Thomas Neill was initiated in 1838, and, after 50 years' service, was elected an honorary member of Lodge 367. Bro. Matthew Orr, who was Senior Warden in 1856 was elected an honorary member in the early 1900's

Bro. James Crawford was initiated in 367 in the year 1808, and served as Master on several occasions, the earliest being in 1824. He was a native of Scotland, and settled in Belfast in 1798, and in Downpatrick two years later. A cartwright by trade, Bro. Crawford made the first Scotch cart and Scotch plough ever seen in Downpatrick or its neighbourhood. He was an active member of Lodge 367 until within two years of his death, which took place in May, 1868, and was believed to have been then in his 95th year.

Many other changes took place in the 19th century including the Consecration of Warrant 86 to The County Lodge and Warrant 369 to

Downpatrick Lodge. It was very much a new dawning for the Order in Downpatrick. A Masonic Bazaar was organized in the Assembly Hall in October 1906 to raise funds for a new Masonic Hall – the building where we are meeting tonight. It was quite an occasion with a variety of stalls, amusements and refreshments. A programme of music was provided by Mr H.Wright’s Bijou Orchestra. This was a very successful venture, and building work began shortly thereafter.

The Masonic brethren of Lodges 86, 367, and 369 assembled at the Mall on a Tuesday afternoon in May 1907 to assist Br. Colonel R.G. Sharman-Crawford, P.G.M., in laying the corner-stone of the new Masonic hall.

On a commanding site, the hall will be an ornament to the town. The plans have been prepared by Mr. Vincent Craig, FRIBA The work commenced  about a fortnight ago, and already considerable progress, has been made.

After an inspection, the brethren formed round the corner and Br. the Archdeacon of Down, P.G.C. opened the proceedings with prayer.

In a cavity under the stone is placed a leaden box containing a parchment roll with the names of the members of 86, 367, and 369, and R.A.C. 367, a copy of the `Down Recorder' of Saturday, 18th May, the `History of Masonry in Downpatrick' the bye-laws of each lodge, and a number of coins of the realm. The stone was then lowered into position, and was tested by Brs. Colonel R.H. Wallace, CB., DL., P.P.S.G.W., W.M. 86; Joseph Mitchell, S.W. 367; and W.B. Aiken, W.M. 369. Br. John R. M'Connell, JP.

The new Hall was dedicated on the 16th January 1908 by Rt Wor Bro Sir James Creed Meredith Deputy Grand Master of Ireland in the presence of Rt Wor Bro Sharman-Crawford P.G.Master of Down and Rt Wor Rt Rev The Bishop of Down D.D. Senior Grand Chaplin of The Grand Lodge of Ireland.

One of the first decisions by the Hall Committee was the formation of a new body to be known as the “Downpatrick Masonic Association”, a body set up to facilitate Master Masons by  giving them  a venue for the purpose of discussing matters of Masonic Interest, and for the mutual improvement of Brethren, by means of Instruction in Freemasonry.  Brethren were expected to subscribe the sum of  2s-0d per year and their names were to be kept in a separate ledger, provided for the purpose. Brethren, this sounds like a fascinating item, and I hope to learn a little more about it, in the months ahead.  

Eight members of the Lodge served in the 1914-18 War and Bro. Capt. J.W. Field DCM, R.I.R. made the supreme sacrifice for King and country. 

The history of Freemasonry in Down is not complete without reference  to the service and contribution of Col The Rt Hon R.H.Wallace C.B. 33rd Degree, P.J.G.W of Ireland and P.P.S.G.W. of Down. His personal standard hangs on the wall of the Lodge-room, alongside other memorabilia of his and the collections in the museum next door, were collected by him and put on display for the use and  knowledge of the Brethren at large. After his death in 1930, the Brethren of Down decided to install a stained glass window into the cathedral in his memory. The Window, in two lights comprises a scene with King Solomon of Israel in the left hand light and Hiram King of Tyre down at the quayside in the right hand light. The window was installed and dedicated by the Dean of Down P.G.C on the 27th June 1931.
       The King Solomon window         The King Hiram of Tyre window
One unusual memorial, is found embroidered at the rear of the alter-cloth to the memory of Wor Bro Lyle Reid, a local bank manager and member of Lodge 367. On a meeting night in 1962, a fault developed in the old gas/coke boiler, then used to provide heat in the Hall. A number of the Brethren felt unwell and the building was evacuated. The Brethren made their way down the street to The Denvar Hotel, where Bro Reid sadly died. I understand that his grand-son  Bro Alan Reid, a visitor from County Lodge No 86 is with us here tonight.
                      Memorial to Wor Bro Lyle Reid
Outside in the Porch is another poignant memorial to Wor Bro Jack Gibson, who got caught up in the Provisional IRA bomb Blitz on Bloody Friday the 21st July 1972, when he was killed by a bomb blast at Oxford Street Bus Station. He too had been an active and hard working Brother of 367.
                     Memorial to Wor Bro Jack Gibson
I can  only scratch the surface tonight, with a brief overview of the history of this great Lodge. It began in very different times in the 18th century, and we gather here tonight in the 21st century to pay homage to their achievement. I was speaking to our Most Wor Grand Master yesterday, at Grand Lodge and he has directed me to convey to you, his congratulations and thanks on 250 years of service to The Craft, and his hope that you continue to grow from strength to strength in the years ahead. I too would associate myself with these remarks, and add my personal thanks to the Brethren of 367 for giving me this opportunity to study your history.

Robert Bashford.