History

A brief history of the Old Masonic Lodge of Falkirk, now known as Lodge St John no 16.

1739-1741


It is believed that the Old Masonic Lodge of Falkirk originally worked under a charter granted by ''Mother Kilwinning, and was known then as Falkirk Kilwinning Lodge.'' How long in its then form it exsisted before 1736 we are not in a posistion to say; but it is certain that it was represented at the conferences which, in that year, resulted in the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Our senior local Lodge can thus rightly claim a respectable ascertained antiquity. Unfortunatetly the earliest records are altogether missing. An entire book of the set from 1739 to 1838 seems also to have gone astray, and many passages in the volumes that remain are rather obscure, while at various periods the entries are meagre and irregular

The Lodge was dormant from 1883 till 1864, when, on being resuscitated it adopted the title of ''St John'' as its distinctive title and was ranked as (16) on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, its old number (14) having in the interval been otherwise bestowed. In early days however it was simply called the Lodge of Falkirk.  

The first minutes that are extant bears the date 8th October 1739, and is signed ''James Logan D.M.'' At that meeting it refers to several applications from candidates for admission are considered, and the brethren instruct ''Mr George Dennistoun'' to send in the level( being wrong made) to Edinburgh to be rectified. This ''Mr George Dennistoun'' appears to have been a surgeon in Falkirk and he was evidently a most enthusiastic and devoted Mason. At another meeting the same month a communciation is submitted from the ''Worshipful Lodge of Stirling'' proposing the appointment of ''reciprocal correspondent members'' for the observeance of St Andrews Day in the two towns.The request was cordially received, the Falkirk fraternity deputing two of their number to repair to the county capital and ''join in solemn assembly to commemorate that worthy patron of this antient kingdom'' and all and sundry are earnestly recommended ''to cultivate to the utmost of their power mutual harmony, concord,unanimity, brotherly love and affection with the said Lodge''.

Then a committee is chosen ''to assist the Treasurer in righting the Jewels belonging to this Lodge and in preparing ''proper clothing for the Master and two Wardens''. The Master of the Lodge at this period was James Livingston. An early meeting place was the house of James Livingston, as the Lodge at that time had no fixed abode. (The Master James Livingston who later bore arms against the reigning dynasty at the Battle of Falkirk, and was specially excluded from the pardon conferred by Act of Parliment 1746.) The next meetings were held on Nov' 30th, Dec 14th, and Dec 27th 1739. At the last(on St Johns Day) Sir Michael Bruce of Stenhouse is unanimously elected Master, the other office-bearers appointed are a Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, Clerk and a Key-Keeper and a Key-Keeper(two). It is agreed to give an annual contribution of half a guinea towards the maintenance of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The Brethern march in procession through the town and afterwards dine together.

Jan,29th 1740.- The Lodge being duly mett, there was a petition presented by the Right Honble. Earl of Kilmarnock' present Master of the Kilmarnok Lodge and the British Coffee House Lodge, London, craving to  be admitted a member of the Lodge of Falkirk, which was received and unanimously granted. The Right Honble. Earl of Kilmarnock payed in ten shillings to the box, half a crown to be enrolled at Edinburgh, and other dues. 

The nobleman mentioned in the above extract was the husband of Lady Anne Livingston, the only daughter of Falkirk's quondum feudal superior, the attained and exiled Earl of Linlithgow and Callendar. This high born couple were tenants of Callendar, where indeed they chiefly resided, in such style as their extermely limited means permitted. Lord Kilmanrock, unable to purchase popular applause by lavish display or profuse liberality, was never-theless,owing to his own amiable and engaging qualities a great favourite in the district, and by none was he more heartily welcomed than by the Masonic community.

In the absence of Sir Michael Bruce the Earl is called upon to preside at a meeting of the Lodge held on March 5th 1740. At that meeting Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace is admitted as a member. A curious and striking coincidence when the circumstance is regarded in the light of what followed. The same fate, the traitor's doom, is hovering over both of them even as they become brothers in the Old Masonic Lodge of Falkirk.

The minute of May 7th 1740, reads ''as we observe by publick news, notified there by order and authority of the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, that a communication is to be held at St.Mary's Chapel, the fourteenth instant, and as we never, as yet, have acknowledged said Lodge, either br enrolling such members as have been admitted since the year 1736 or pay'd up the annual quota agreed to carry on the Royal Infirmary, we therefore grant proxie to our worshipful brother George Dennistoun, Senoir Warden, empowering him to appear for us at said communication and act for us in whatever way he shall think most convenient, and particulary to pay in the half-guinea towards promoting the Infirmary, as formerly enacted, and also to enrol such members in the Grand Lodge books as have paid their half-crowns for that end.

The Lodge dues at that time were-- five shillings to the box, half-crown to the Grand Lodge, half-crown for ''clothing the brethern present'' a shilling to the Clerk and sixpence to the Tyler.

Here is a rather curious entry, dated 1st december 1740, ''It being proposed that our stock should be immediately raised and lay'd out in a meal, in order to supply our brethern at prime cost, to prevent their being imposed on, it is unanimously agreed upon,'' and a committee, the members of which are ''recommended'' to be ''diligent and active in making it effectual,'' is appointed to carry out this resolution. The same committee is desired ''to consider upon the most proper method to address the Grand Lodge in order to obtain a confirmation of our Charter.''    

On St John's Day, 27th Dec' 1740 '' the Right Honorable my Lord Kilmarnock was unanimously chosen Master.'' Then follows a minute of March 9th 1741 ''The worshipfull members of the Lodge of Falkirk being met, a letter from our Right Worshipful Master, the Earl of Kilmarnock was read, dated at Kilmarnock 12th January 1741, wherein he expresses himself most affectionately towards this Lodge, and resolves to the utmost of his endeavours to promote the advantage of it and at the same time appoints our worthy brother George  Dennistoun, Esq, surgeon in Falkirk, Deputy Master, with full power to act  in his absence.

On October 2nd 1741, Lord Kilmarnock attends the Lodge for the first time as Master. At that meeting the subject of arrears of dues is discussed, and the prosecution of defaulters is gravely spoken of. In the records of the Lodgethere are many indications of such threats, which however have a good deal of the brutum fulmen about them, as in such cases the ''bark'' is generally worse than the ''bite'' At that meeting regular stewards are appointed for the first time, the brethern selected were James Livingston and James Easton. 

In 1741 the celebration of St.John's took place on the 28th December,when Lord Kilmarnock is re-elected to the chair and it is resolved '' that all fines due for absence should be excused (thus day included), and that the Act relating thereto should be put in execution in future without favour''.


1742-1748

Lord Kilmarnock was at the meeting and signs the minute 6th Feb' 1742, and on St Andrews Day ''in brother Livingstone's house'' the Lodge had a feast which concluded with the drinking to the health, success, and prosperity of the Right Honourable the Earl of Kilmarnock, our present Master who this day was unanimously nominated Most Worthy Grand Master of Scotland for the ensuing year. 

March 6th 1742 - This day the Depute-Master of this Lodge, at the desire of the brethern, gave an invitation to the Most Worshipful and Right Honarable Earl of Kilmarnock, Grand Master of Scotland, begging he would honour this Lodge with a visit, to which he graciously condescended. When the Grand Master entered the Lodge, the Master resigned his jewel and seat. He appointed two Grand Wardens pro tempore who took their seats betwixt the two Wardens of the Lodge. The Lodge was closed by the Grand Master. At this meeting Lord Kilmarnock was ''most graciously pleased to give five shillings into the box towards the relief of idigent brothers. it was the unanimous consent of the Lodge to give of the above donation half-a-crown to the Tyler.''

The minute of 15th January 1743 has this entry:- The Society, taking into their consideration and thinking it their duty to put some mark of favour and regaurd on their deceast brethern, do therefore enact that, upon the proper application of any one of such deceast brother's sons, he being duly found qualified, that shall be entered an Apprentice, and afterward Fellowcraft or Master, in due form, free of all charges, and orders the Clerk to engross this Act among our by-laws.

The St John's day business meeting of 1743 took place at Gartcows, where the Earl of Kilmarnock was elected Master; and his Lordship presided over a communication which was held in the town the same day.

From that date till early 1747 there are no entries whatever in the minute book. In the interval the sanguinary drama of the Jacobite rebellion which, having run its course, ended in disaster ''when the the clans of Culloden were scattered in flight'' had been enacted. Among those who joined the insurgents was Lord Kilmarnock. Falling into the hands of George the Second's relentless government, he was tried, convicted, codemned and beheaded in London in the summer of 1746. Thus it was that the Freemasons of Falkirk of two hundred and seventyone years ago lost their nolbe and well-beloved Master, whose tragic death was deeply deplored even by those who had no sympathy with the cause in which he suffered. Nor was the Earl of Kilmarnock the only distinguished man belonging to the Lodge who sacrificed his life in that rash and unhappy enterprise. Brother Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace also cast his lot with Prince Charlie, and like many others was hanged at Carlisle for his mistaken loyalty.   

It has been shown that, during the progress of the Jacobite rebellion,and, indeed, for some time previous to and after that memorable event, no meetings of the Lodge were held- at least no record of any such meetings is discoverable. Probably from the fact that the Master, the Earl of Kilmarnock had so prominently identified himself with the cause of the insurgents, the brethern felt there was a danger of their own loyalty being called unto question if they continued to assemble; so that they prudently resolved to keep themselves safe by suspending the practice of their labours and mysteries till the advent of quieter and less perilous days. Lord Kilmarnock was executed for high treason on the 18th August 1746, and then Lodge does not appear to have regularly called together again till the 9th February 1747, the following minute of that date states.

''The annuall communication of St John's Day for the two bypast years being ommitted , by reason of the late commotions in the country and other accidents, a solemn communication was this day appointed, by legal order, for electing office-bearers for the current year for the Lodge. After such a long interruption, as it will require some time to regulate the affairs of the Lodge, the Tayleur is hereby ordered to summon all the brethern of the Lodge to meet at the house of James Logan against Saturday next,the fourteenth instant, at four o'clock afternoon, in order to examine the state of the box, and other affairs of the Lodge.'' That examination seems to have proved much more satisfactory than had been expected, as we find it recorded that ''notwithstanding of the interval, nothing has occurred that is confused, but all plain and easy.''    

On St John's Day 1748, it was agreed to remit all fines and outstanding dues- a measure which it is declared,'' will be great encouragement to members who have been long absent to attend punctually for the future, and thereby considerably augment the stock by their after payments.'' This act, however is carefully described as '' no infringement of the laws, as we find ourseves under the necessity of passing it on account of the late commotions in the country.''

1749-1757


On the 27th December 1749, Lord Boyd was elected Master, the Hon'Charles Boyd Senior Warden, Hon' William Boyd Junior Warden. they were the sons of the unfortunate Earl of Kilmarnock. Lord Boyd, who about ten years afterwards, succeeded to the ancient Earldom of Errol, became a tenant of Callendar on the death of his mother,and spent much of his time there. He was an officer in the army of King George, and was present at the battle of Culloden, fighting against the insurgents, in whose ranks his father held a high command. Charles Boyd joined the rebels along with Lord Kilmarnock, and on the the defeat of the Young Pretender, he with great difficulty managed to to effect his escape. Taking refuge in the island of Arran, the greater portion of which in former days, belonged to his family, he remained in hiding there for many months and having some slight knowledge of medicine, he excercised his skill in treating the aliments of the inhabitants. He ultimately got himself smuggled over to France staying there until the resentment of the Government cooling down , he was enabled to return home with safety. His younger brother, William bore a commission in the Navy. Lord Boyd was several times re-elected to the Mastership of the Lodge, although there is no evidence that he ever condescended to attend any of its meetings. William boyd was admitted a memberon the 27th Dec' 1750, a year after his appointment as Junior Warden. No doubt he was already a mrember of some other Lodge.

The funds of the Lodge do not appear to have been in a particulary prosperous condition at this period, as it is stated that,'' after paying the Tayler four shillings sterling, there is seventeen shillings and sixpence sterling in the box.''

Dec'27th 1753, ''A proposall for joining with the severall societys of this place for purchassing a meal in quanties for the benefit of the poor being laid before us, as it seems to be designed for the general good and a charitable end, wee, agreeable to the principals of Masonary, cheerfully approve of the same,and, in a paper apart, signify our inclination to contrbute towards making the same effectuall.''  

( Note the value of one penny sterling in 1750 equates to one pound eighty pence today)

At the same meeting it was resolved that in future regular quarterly meetings should be held on, the last Friday of March,June, and September annually.The anniversary celebrations of St Andrew and St John being continued as before. It was agreed that members be called upon to pay three halfpence into the box at each quarterly meeting.

On December 20th 1754, it was resolved to celebrate St John's Day ''in David Watt's,'' the brethern to be all decntly clothed-viz., with ''white aprons, white gloves, and if convenient, white stockings, and each of them to wear a St Andrews Cross on their batts or bonnets.'' The Clerk was desired to cause the Tolboth bell to be rung the time of the procession.'' The great occasion seems to have passed off with all proper e'clat, and the Lodge received an iffluential new member in the person of the Hon' Francis Napier.

''The Lodge, betwixt two and three afternoon, went in procession from the house to the West Port, and from that to the East Port, from thence back to the house in the following order:- 1st, Tyler with sword; 2nd, French Horn, 3rd, the rest of the music,4th the Master supported by one of his own choseing; 5th the two Wardens; 6th the Treasurer and Secretary; 7th the two Key-keepers; 8th the two Examiners; afterwards the Fellowcrafts two and two; then the Enterd Prentices two and two; and the procession was brought up by the Clerk, and one appointed by the Master.''

Next St John's Day a standard-bearer was appointed to grace the procession, the office being conferred upon Brother Lauder.

November 30th 1756,-''The Lodge taking it into their consideration that many inconveniences atend the taking bills from entring breatheren for their dues, they are therefore of an unanamously oppinion that no such custom shall pervale in this Lodge for the futer, but evry petitioner shall pay his dues to the Treasurer emmedeatly before admission, but if any brother or breatheren shall offer reasons to the Lodge in favoure of any petitioner whay this law may be depenst with for the time bieing, in that case it shall be brought to a vote of the Lodge, and admitted or regected accordingly.'' At this meeting arrangements were made for the Festival of St John, and brethern were'' intreated to attend punctually, and be deasently dressed.'' The Junior Warden and Treasurer were also instructed to provide a standard for the Lodge, ''after the following manner;-- The ground to be a perfit squair, of the dementions they shall juge proper, of a white coulered stuff, having these devices upon it-- the Massons' armes upon the center, the St Andrew's Cross above it, and moto below it 'Lodge of Falkirk', with a bunch of freenges or narrow riabonds at the end of the pole, also at the two outmost corners of the squair, on each corner one of the juels, compas, plum, rule and levell.'' The brethern to whom this important commission was entrusted were allowed a considerable amount of altitude in executing it , as it was left to them to alter or amend or improove on the above devices.'' As we learn from another minute the cost of the flag and a box to hold it, was one pound four shillings.

Another entry about this date bears the following, '' It is enacted that the eldest son of any brother belonging to this Lodge may be admitted after duely petitioning, and being found duely quallified, upon paying the Clark and Taylor's dues, with this acception that if both shall hapen to be present at a meeting the father only shall have a voat in any question.''

The Masons of the olden time set their faces rigidly against ''scamped'' work, and made it a point that all who had the privilege of joining their ranks should be able to show their competence in the lower degrees before they could successfully apply for promotion to the sublime grade. Thus, in the middle of the last century (the seventeen hundreds), no Apprentice was permitted to become a Fellowcraft until he had been in the former position for at least six months; and a further probationary period was necessary ere he could reach the third and highest stage in the St John's mysteries. Nor was time alone needful to qualify for advancement. The candidate had also to give proof that he had picked up his lessons properly; and it was the duty of two sharp functionaries called ''Examiners'' to put him through his ''facings'' in order  to ascertain that his attainments were up to the mark.

A most earnest and business-like determination seems to have pervaded the Lodge at the St John's Day communication of 1757. it was then resolved that there should be no dinner in future on such occasions, but an hour after the procession the Lodge should be opened; and so as to improve the knowledge of the members, Brother Moir was appointed an '' Extraordinary Examiner'' to catechise the brethern. Evidently, however, the virtuous intention to forego the feast was not carried out with uniform exactness; for the eating and drinking department continued to be well attended to at the partiular season in question.

1758-1764


In 1758 Thomas Dundas, Esq. of Castlecary- an ancestor or kinsman, we presume, of the Earls of Zetland, was admitted a member of the Lodge, of which at the same time he was appointed Master. His ''Mother Lodge'' seems to have been that of St Giles, Edinburgh. He frequently attended the meetings of the Falkirk Lodge, to the Mastership of which he was repeatedly re-elected.

In the minute dated 4th January,1760, there is mentioned a pleasant instance of fraternal ''giff-gaff:''  ''This day the cometee mett according to the appointment of the last meeeting, and as Brother Alexander Callo having been so good as to complement the Lodge of Falkirk with a dozing of their drinking glasses, therefore we thought it proper to complement him with the freedom of our Lodge, and he signed our book and laws and regulations accordingly.'' 

March 26th 1760, ''The meeting has taken it to consideration that the stock in the box raises so slow that they have thought proper to raise their quarterly dues from three halfpenes to threepence each quarter, likeways a motion being made by the brethern that the Society should pay in a shilling yearly, the commensment of the same shall be at St John's Day,1760'' the impost to continue for a period of six years.

April 8th 1760, ''This day a meeting of the free and accepted Masons mett in Br.Watt's and went in procession from that to the house of the deceased worthy Br. James Eastone, and after drinking a glass,fifteen of the loving brethern carried the said corps to the place of interment, and afterwards went in procession to Br. Watt's and drank a glass to the memory of the said deceased brother.'' In those days teetotalism was unknown, and on no occasion, whether of joy or of sorrow was the bottle neglected. Even at funerals hard drinking was common; but there is nothing in the foregoing to lead us to suppose that any excess of conviviality characterised the obesquies of ''the worthy Br. James Eastone.'' No doubt, if the brethern had altogether dispenced with the bibulous custom they would have laid themselves open to the charge of showing disrespect to the dead.

At this time the Lodge had no regular place of meeting. The Master at the end of each communication intimated where the brethern were next to assemble. that was usually at the house of a brother who happened tom be a vinter or innkeeper; and the Br. Watt referred to earlier, was frequently patronised. His Chirstian name was David, and he kept a tavern. No doubt he was the same Boniface (David Watt) of whom the story is told that, after the Battle of Falkirk (1746), he was set upon and deprived of his fine silver-buckle shoes by a party of Highlanders, who refused to abandon their acquisitive design, though imploringly assured by the luckless wight that he was a good friend of the Prince's cause. It was not, however, always in the change-house or in hostelry that the Lodge practised its rites. It did so occasionally even in the burgh Tolbooth. This state of matters must have been rather inconvenient and unsatisfactory. The first symptom we have of the brethern moving in the direction of providing premises of their own is to be seen in a minute of October 31,1760, when a committee was appointed to consider the subject, the idea then being that a suitable house should be purchased.

Dec' 27 1760, ''At the request of our last meeting, the Master went and inspected a house proposed by the brethern to be purchased, and finds the same to be worth the money offered for it, and should be glad that the brethern should purchase the same, providing they find the rights good, and appoints an committee to meet with the owner and make a bargine'' The property here mentioned belonged to one Alex' Kidston. Nothing however came of the negotations, as there was seemingly a flaw discovered in the title-deeds.

On the 22nd July 1761, a committee was appointed ''to attend in Br john Liddell's on Friday night, at 6 o'clock at night, to make a purchase if possible with John Jervey for a little piece of ground lying at the foot of the Back-roe of Falkirk, and,if the said cometee shall find anything in that way that can be purchased easier to purchase the same''

 No cheaper or more eligible site being available, the aforesaid ''little piece of ground'' was duly acquired.

Jan'6th, 1762 ''It's appointed that the brethern of this Lodge are to meet in Sister Watt's upon the 20th instant, to receive a plan for a new Lodge that they propose to build, and that any mason that has a mind to undertake to finish the same may attend there and give in their estimates''

The plan was submitted accordingly on the 20th January 1762, and on the 3rd of February, ''the brethern receiving an estimate from Bro's Andrew Eastoun, William Scott, William and John Wyses, amounting to forty-one pounds, ten shillings, and nine pence, for which the Lodge agreed to pay the above brethern five pounds, eighteen shillings sterling per rood, at three partial payments, and the said work to be finished against the first of May next.

 In February 1762, the foundation stone was laid of the new Lodge, which, says the minute, '' was stiled the Melisian Lodge of Falkirk, in honour of Thales, the Melisian.'' that rather far-fetched title, however had subsequently to be dropped, as the Grand Lodge refused to sanction it, unless the Lodge was re-constituted under a fresh charter.

On May 3rd 1762, it was agreed that fines of twopence should be imposed for non-attendance, and one penny upon any member who should be half an hour late at any meeting.

June 22nd 1762, '' The undertakers petitioned to have their work (the new Lodge) visited and taken off their hand; therefore the brethern thought it proper to appoint Br.John Easton and Br.James Whytlaw to visit and inspect the sufficiency of said work, and give in their report against the next meeting, which is appointed to be the 22nd September next,in the Lodge; likewise, the brethren empower John Moir to finish the rest of said work, and give in a charge of said against the meeting.

The minute of date15th September,1762, contains the following ingenious scheme for raising money to defray the expences connected with finishing the Lodge:- ''Suposing to compleat the Lodge, it will be necisary to borrow £50. at five percent, alow the Lodge to consist of fourty members, that each pay one shilling sterling each quarterly meeting for four years; let the Steuart's profits be five pence for each botle of punch, or whatever else is used, and let the fine of such members absent be equal to the same; supose we have three entrys in one year, at ten shillings and sixpence each, the rent of the low rooms at one pound each:- To quarterly payment of fourty members yearly, £8; to Stueart's profits on 160 botles punch, or fines,£3 6s 8d: to three entrys, and rents of the low rooms, £3 11s 6d; to fines for those that are late, or otherwise,1s 10d; total yearly colection, £15. The schame, proposed by Bro. Robert Whyt, was aproven of by a great majority of the Lodge, to which the rest agreed, and it was accordingly enacted that the same should be immediately put in execution after St John's Day nixt to come, and the Lodge appoints the last Wednesday of March, the 24th of June, the last Wedneday of September, and St John's Day to be the quarterly meetings, where the whole members most punctualy attend, in order to their regularly paying their quarterly dues,heing one shilling each quarter, which is to continue for four years after the first quarterly meeting; and it is further enacted that the fine for each absent member at each of these meetings shall be sixpence sterling, which he shall pay together with his dues the first time he enters the Lodge nixt thereafter, which if he refuses to do he shall be extruded the Lodge, and not be allowed to enter the same till he submitt himself to the awward and determination of the Lodge. As also it is enacted that, if any brother shall not acknowledge the Lodge for eight quarterly meetings successively his name shall be taken out of the books, and he be held as no member of our Lodge. That each brother living at the distance of two or more miles shall, upon regularly remitting his quarterly dues, be exempted from the fine; and the Lodge appoints every member present to drink at least half a botle of punch, or else pay sixpence sterling each quarterly meeting, all which dues, profits, and fines shall be applied to the public stock.''

The brethern appear to have entered their new Lodge (situated at the corner of Back Roe and Silver Roe) on the 22nd of September 1762. A good deal, hoewever, remained to be done before the premises could be regarded as in a finished or satisfactory condition and for several years many are the complaints recorded in the minutes as to the dilatoriness of the ''undertakers'' whom are threatened with all sorts of dire consquences. Nevertheless, it fell out that matters were ultimately arranged in an amaicable manner, and the Falkirk Masons were at lenght in possession of a mansion which, in those days, was a credit, as it must have been a comfort, to them.The building, with the arms of the craft over the doorway still stands, and is used as a public house.   

Roayl Arch Masonary was introduced into the town a little after the middle of the 1600's, and on the 27th of December1762, the brethern of that order ''agreed join their stock with that of the Falkirk Lodge, the Falkirk brethern to get the Arch and Royal Arch parts.'' This arrangement continued for years, when the Royal Arch section probably became extinct. The fee charged for exaltation was six shillings. 

It is interesting to learn, even at this period, when Freemasonary was purely speculative in its character,there was still a marked disposition to favour operative masons. In exemplification of this fact - of which there are instances in the records of most the old Lodges, it may be mentioned that on the 27th December,1764, it was decided in future to admit applicants of this class for 10s 6d, whereas ordinary applicants had to pay 15 shillings. All comers, however had to give a shilling to the Clerk and sixpence to the Tyler.

1765-1800

We have already referred to the ingenious scheme devised to defray the expenses connected with the completion of the Lodge building. Unfortunately it did not prove quite so successful as had no doubt been expected. We are not informed that anyone ''kicked against' the ordinance''appointing'' every brother ''to drink at least half a botle of punch,'' the profits arising from the sale of said punch  to go to the funds. looked at in the light of that thirsty age, when teetotaller was a personage of the future, the mininmum quanity of liquor thus described was moderation itself; and there were no doubt many to whom ''half a botle'' was by no means an adequent refreshment. It may be assumed, therefore, that all and sundry dutifully imibibed; but many who had nothing to say against the Steward's good cheer had decided objections to paying the quarterly shilling. That tax had accordingly to be abandoned, and, instead of it, a shilling each St John's Day was imposed, as formerly. We have no proper account of how much the new Lodge cost altogether, although the figures for the mason work are set down at £51 9s 1d., from which £1 was deducted. Apparently some difficulty was experienced in meeting the various bills, so that the brethern were under the necessity of borrowing a sum of £25 10s. from the Society of Weavers. This was the commencement of a practice which years afterwards led to alienation of all their property, and had the effect of causing this ancient Lodge itself to become dormant for about a quarter of a century.

 It appears from a minute dated 4th Nov., 1765, that the Carron berthern belonging to the Lodge had power to admitt members, whose names were regulary reported to the Falkirk Lodge. Indeed that same year a separate Depute Master and Wardens were appointed by the Falkirk Lodge to officate in that district. This proceeding it may be (for we have no precise knowledge on the subject), formed the germ from which was developed the old Lodge of Carron, now reopned as No. 139, having been closed for forty-five years.

Sept. 21 1766, - ''This day the brethern mett, and taking into consideration that Thomas Dundas, Esq., is now in this countree, did recomend it to the Secretary to notifie our situation to him, as he generously promised to assist us to defray the expence of erecting our Lodge.'' This gentle reminder had the desired effect; for Mr Dundas sent £5, and afterwards supplemented that bt another donation of £10, not a bad contribution at a time when money was scarce and went far.

Dec, 1st, 1766, '' The brethern agreed that James Wyse should furnish a dinner on St John's Day, and that there should be a bonfire at the Cross, and a covered table with a dozen of wine and a sufficient number of glasses.'' The James Wyse here spoken of was the tenant of the Lodge property, and, unlike some of his successors, who ocassioned a great deal of loss and trouble to the brethern, he seems to have been ''the right man in the right place.''

As was stated earlier, the minutes for the twenty-seven years from about the close of 1771 to 1798 are missing. Possibly, like the time stained records before us, they are still in existence, and, as was the case with these are destined in due season again to see the light of day, and tell their own old story. It may be that at this moment they are reposing in some quiet and dusty nook, in the keeping of one all unconscious of their value and their interest. On the other hand, it is not improbable that long ago they were sacrificed to those commonplace utilitarian purposes which, to the unspeakable disgust of the historian and antiquary, have proved the destruction of so many yet more important manuscripts relating to a bygone age, However that be, the want of the leaves us utterly in the dark as to the proceedings and fortunes of the Lodge during the protracted interval to which we have referred. 

The next available entry, Nov. 30th 1798; On this day the brethern met in order to celebrate the anniverary of St Andrew, our national patron. Evidently the festive qualities for which they were formerly noted remained unimpaired, for they '' spent the hight with that conviviality which distinguishes the ancient craft of Freemasons.''  On the 14th December following, Br Robert Walker was elected Master, and on the 27th ( St John's Day) there was a grand demonstration in honour of the Evangelist. Firstly there was a dinner, and ''after some toasts being given by the Master, the brethern walked by torch light in procession thróugh the town, being joined by a number of the Carron and Operative Masons, and spent the evening in cheerefulness by hearing a number of good songs, drinking toasts applicable, and departed orderly and in good time. 

It was, at this time, a movement a foot with a view to erect a hall in Edinburgh for the accommodation of Grand Lodge, and on the 11th January 1799, the Falkirk Lodge agreed to give £5 in support of that object. 

At the end of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth century, Falkirk appears to have had a considreable military population, portions of several corps, both cavalry and infantry, being stationed there. This was the period of the Napoleonic wars which threatened to strangle the liberties of all Europe. The resistance to him and his designs was headed by Great Britain who with our allies, did not finally succeed until his defeat at Waterloo. That was only after years of anxiety and heroic effort, during which the resourses of the country were most severely taxed. Among the troops then quartered in the town were detachments of the 1st Light Dragoons, the Lochaber Regiment, and the Lanarkshire Milita. Many of the soldiers availed themselves of the opportunity of getting initiated into the Masonic mysteries by joining our old Lodge, the atmosphere of which, indeed, acquired thereby a distinctly martial flavour. The muscians were generally admitted free of  charge on account of services rendered, or to be rendered, on the occasion of the processions which were the pride and joy of the brethern of those days.  

It was the custom of the Lodge to meet on the first Friday of each month for ''instruction.'' The minute of Oct. 3rd 1800, says, ''The brethern went through the various degrees of the craft with brotherly kindness and charity, assisting one another in the noble work.''

March 7th 1800; ''It was agreed to let the Lodge room to the Justices of the Peace for them to hold their meetings, for the rent of seven pounds per annum, and take possession at Whitsunday first, reserving the power and use thereof to ourselves from three o' clock afternoon, when the courts and sittings rise. To accommodate the judges more properly, ordered four big armchairs, leather bottomed, to be made, which also shall be used for seats by the two Wardens, Depute Master and Secretary. Ordered the floor boards or foot stools of the Master's and other ofice-bearers'  chairs to be repaired. Ordered also a long table to be made and covered in green baize, to stand before the Master's seat, and that the Chaplain shall sit in the centre, the Treasurer on his right, and the Clerk' on his left hand, with backs to the Master's seat.'' 

The Commissioners alluded to in the above extract were probably some committee of the County Commissioners of Supply. As for the Justices, they did not turn out to be such very exemplary and desirable tenants as might have been expected in the case of gentlemen occupying their dignified station. On December 8th, 1809,''the brethern took into consideration that the Lodge had run into debt, which they considered it hard when there was a sum dew to the Lodge by the honourable Justices of the Peace of bygone rent for the Lodge-room sufficient to pay all the debts dew by the Lodge;'' and at a subsequent meeting it was resolved to present an account at the first court, the Master being authorised, in the event of payment being refused, to act as he might think most proper. How the matter was resolved is not revealed in the minutes.

The Masonic community of those days were a jolly set of worthies, who entertained a due regard for the good things of life. On proceeding ''from labour to refreshment'' they were no enemies to the ''flowing bowl'' and the following shows in a practical fashion the grateful sense they had of the merits of the accomplished artist who lent his aid in catering for their gastronomic entertainment and pleasure.



1802-1838


Dec' 23rd 1802, '' A motion being made of the long practice that Robert Balderston, senior,baker, has had in assisting in making ready the dinner for the brethern on St John's Day ought to be made a Mason, which being taken into consideratiion by the brethern then present of him being a good cook, and his other good services, he was entered an Apprentice Mason, honorary, and signed the laws and regulations of this society.'' At this time the principal dishes that graced the table at tyhe feasts of the craft consisted of beef and greens and veal ''florintins.'' A singular compliment was paid to Br Balderston's culinary skill in 1815, when a new office, that of ''Piebaker'' to the Lodge was created and conferred upon him.

In 1806 the Lodge subscibed a further sum of £10 10s, in aid of the scheme for building a Masonic Hall in Edinburgh. 

Feb' 21st 1810. ''The brethern having met according to an appointment for the purpose of going to Grangemouth, qwhen they were accompanied with some of the brethern of the Operative Lodge, here, and a party of our sister Lodge of Carron, and then proceed to Grangemouth for the purpose of celebrating the laying of the foundation stone of the new Custom House, when we first saw a stone laid by the contractor, Br' Alexander Easton, and assisted by some of the brethern, and there was deposited in that stone a bottle containing the following coins of his present Majesty's reign:- ''A five shilling and threepenny piece in gold, a shilling and a sixpence in silver, and two farthings in copper, all wrapt in hemp covered with a copperplate with this inscription: Grangemouth, 21st Feb 1810, in the fifieth year of his present Majesty, King George the Third, built a new Custom House on the property of the Right Hon' Lord Dundas, Kerse.''  ''Thereafter another sone was laid and finished in masonic from by the Right Worshipful Master of Falkirk Lodge, Brother James Richardson, and the whole concluded by prayer from the Rev. Doctor Wilson, one of its members.'' 

On St John's Day, 1810, the brethern were seemingly in a devout frame of mind; for instead of indulging in the usual procession, they went to the Parish Church where they had a suitable sermon from Rev. Doctor Wilson, who took as his text 2nd Peter, 1., 6 and 7. The subject ''descibed brotherly kindness and charity in its proper view, and displayed Masonary in its purest light.'' The brethern afterwards dined together, and the same evening under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, constituted the Caledonian Lodge of Grahamston and Carron, which seems not yet to have been provided with a charter.     

June 28th 1811, It was reported that, in accordance with authority previously given, £30. had been borrrowed from the Maltmen's Society to defray debts due by the Lodge, and that the Master (BrJames Richardson) and Br. Thomas Duncanson had given bills for the amount. The process of decadence had now fairly set in, and went on until the Lodge was overwhelmed by accumulated difficulties.

By 1811 the Lodge premises had become so much the worse for wear that the brethern had to dine on St John's Day of that year in the Red Lion Hotel, and on Sept' 14th 1812, Bro William Black presented an account (£55 6s 10d) for extensive repairs which he had been instructed to carry out. The claim was found to be just, but, as there were no funds in hand, the Lodge ''authorised the R.W.M. and Treasurer to grant their acceptances for the sum in the name of the Lodge, payable in three months from that date.''

By December 27th 1813, the liabilities of the Lodge had increased to £143 10s., with £47 18s. 6d. owing it (£35 6s. of this by''the honourable Justices of Peace.'').

Dec' 27th 1814, ''The Right Worshipful Master, taking into consideration the low state of the funds of the Lodge, thought it proper to avoid the expense of a fire and wine at the Cross, which was done accordingly.'' It is pleasant to observe that, although pecuniary trouble assailed the fraternity on every side, they did not scruple to do a liberal thing when a worthy purpose was to be served. The minute dated Jan' 13th 1815, states that ''a request being made to the R.W.M, in the name of the Rev. Mr. Henry Belfrage, for the use of the lodge room for the Sunday evening school, it was decreed by the brethern that he was to have it gratis.''

By 1817 the Lodge property again required seeing to, the following being a report concerning its state in the December of that year:- ''In the stair several loose steps. In the entry to the hay loft several holes. In the Lodge five panes broken in one window, two in another, and one in a third.  The outer shutter of one window unhinged. The whole of the forms shattered and loose. the Secretary's chair completely broken down, and part of it away. The leather covers torn off the Warden's chairs, and one of the elbows off the Junior Warden's chair. One branch of one of the hanging candlesticks amissing, and two broken. No fire-arms except a pair of tongs, and the fender much bent. The whole of the office-bearers' clothing and jewels in  pretty good order.''

In 1825 the Lodge was still so out of repair that the brethern could not meet in it on the St John's Day of that year. they dined instead at the Crown Inn, where they appear to have enjoyed themselves immensely, no shadow of the approaching ruin intervening to mar their mirth. ''Seldom,'' says the minute, ''have the members of any lodge spent on a similar occasion an evening of so much delight and true Masonic spirit as on this occaision'' which is pretty good for men whom were financially about on their ''last legs.''

By 1829 the brethern's obligation to the Maltmen had grown to £120, and on Feburary 17 1835 the latter demanded payment of the debt, with interest. So the evil day has at last arrived. Negotiations were attempted, with a view of tiding over the embarrassment, but the creditors were obdurate.  Ultimately, however, the Maltmen offered £200, for the property, and there being no alternative, it was unanimously resolved to accept that tender.  

The last election of office-bearers, before the long dormancy of the ancient lodge, took place on December 8th 1837, when the following appointments made were:- George Simpson R.W.Master; David Buchanan, Senior Warden; Michael Callander, Junior Warden; Robert Black, Depute Master; James Turner, Secretary; Peter Booth, Treasurer; James Warden, Clerk; William Scott, Chaplain; and Francis Watson ,Tyler. 

On March 6th 1838, the brethern met in the house of Br Michael Callander to receive from the officers of the Maltmen's Society the price of the property, and to pay the bill due the said Maltmen's Society of £120, with £20, interest thereon, also the accounts due by the Lodge to Russel & Aitken, writers£24, and to Br Booth £41.

Oct 1st 1838, ''A meeting of the office-bearers of the Lodge having been called for this day for the purpose of considering a letter received by the Treasurer of the Lodge from Mr Adam Smith, writer, threatening to charge upon the decreet at his instance for expences of process osf sequestration at the instance of the office-bearers against Lewis Towers [ late tenant of the Lodge] being restricted to £8, and Brothers David Buchanan and Michael Callander having offered to pay one pound each of these expenses out of their own pocket, the Teasurer, P.Booth, was requested to advance the balance, although he had not as much belonging to the Lodge in his hands, and agreed to do so upon the promise of being repaid from the first funds collected by the Lodge, or take possession of articles belonging to the Lodge, if they could be found, in compensation thereof; and said expenses were paid to Mr Smith accordingly.''    

1863-1879


For more than a quarter of a  century after the date of the last minute quoted the fortune of Masonary in the Falkirk district-- where in former days the kindly institution flourished as in an atmosphere peculiarly congenial-- were reduced to the lowest possible ebb. The ancient Lodge, whose history we have, with such incomplete materials as are at our disposal, endeavoured to trace, fell altogether out sight. The whole of its property, as we have shown, had been alienated, and those who were wont to be most devoted in promoting the principles and interests of the fraternity were so discouraged that they at length subsided into inactivity, if not into indifference. Meetings were no longer held; offices ceased to be appointed; and the society, in fact, sunk into a state of suspended animation, with no prospect that it would ever again awake to a fresh career of usefulness and energy.

Meanwhile death was gradually thinning the ranks of the old members, and the few remaining links connecting us with the Masonic generations of the latter years the past and the early years of the nineteenth century were becoming worn and weak. The Carron Lodge, once prosperous and enthusiastic, had alrady fallen dormant, and the name of the Operative Lodge of Falkirk too, disappeared from the roll of the Grand Lodge. Those were the days of the craft's darkest adversity in this part of the country, there being for a considerable period only one Lodge in our immediate neighbourhood-- Lodge Zetland(No 391), which had been established in the enterprising port of Grangemouth, and did much to keep alive the expiring embers of Masonic vitality. At length however there dawned a brighter era. 

On the 14th November, 1863, a small but earnest meeting of Masons was held in the Blue Bell Hotel for the purpose of devising measures with a view either to the formation of a new Lodge or the revival of the Old Lodge of Falkirk. alexander MacFarlane, Esq. of Thornhill, presided, and there were also present Bros. William Dick,(Grahamston), Henry Weir, William Scott, William Morrison, David MacFarlane, John Lawson, John Marshall, Alexander W. Askew, John Inglis, James R. Borthwick, George Brownlee, and David Baptie. The proceedings were most harmonious, and it was agreed that a strenuous effort should be made forthwith to bring about the re-opening of our venerable local Lodge, which had been in abeyance for about twnty-five years. Accordingly the co-operation of the resident surviving members was sought, and except in one case, which need not here be specified, it was cordially granted, the after-named resoected Masonic veterans ( the last of whom, alas, has now gone hence), signing the petition for the necessary authority :- Bros. Thomas Jeffrey, Alexander Ronald, Alexander Hodge, William Wallace, David Buchanan, Michael Callander,William Dobbie, George Lightbody, James Sawers Pender, and James Black. The petition was endorsed by the Master and Wardens of the Zetland Lodge and Ancient Brazen, and Sir Alexander Gibson-Maitland, Bart., Provincial Grand Master of Stirlingshire, kindly promised to do all in his power to further its success--a promise which he zealously and completely fulfilled. The result was that Grand Lodge granted a working warrant, under the sanction of which a communication was held on the 25th April 1864, Bro, Alexander Hodge being appointed R.W.M. ad interim, while Brs. J.S.Pender and Alexander Ronald acted as Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. A deputation from Grangemouth, headed by Br. Andrew Cowie, R.W.M. was present on the ocassion, and lent valuable assistance. At this meeting and others which followed, a number of brethern affiliated from sister Lodges.

On the 13th of December 1864, the first regular nomination of office-bearers since 1837 took place, with the following result:-    Br. David MacFarlane, R.W.M.; Br, John Lawson , P.M.;  Br. James sdeuart, D.M; Br, A. MacFarlane, S.M; Br,W. Dick, S.W; Br. John Inglis J.W.; Br. J.Henderson Treasurer,; Br. W.Scott Sectretary; Br. George Liddle, S.D.; Br. John Ross,J.D.; Br. J.R.Borthwick, Architect,; Br. H. Weir, Jeweller,; Br. A.Hodge, B.B.; Br. A.W. Askew, Steward,; Br.John Marshall, I.G.; Br. william Finlayson, Tyler,; and on the evening of St John's Day, (December 27th), the installation  ceremony was duly performed by Br. Denovan, P.M. of lodge Zetland, the proceedings being followed by a dinner in honour of the Evangelist's anniversary. Br MacFarlane continued to, fill the chair for several years, during which the membership steadily increased.

A strict search and diligent inquiries were instituted for the recovery of the old charter, which, however has never been found, and in due course a new one was issued in favour of the resusitated Lodge, which was ranked as No.16 in the books of the Grand Lodge, and was named ''St John.'' The brethern were exceedingly desirous of getting back their old number(14) and, that number not being vacant, it occurred to them that they should endeavour to induce Grand Lodge to allow them the position of 14bis, an idea which, on advice, they ultimately abandoned.  The colour adopted for the trimming of the clothing was pale watered blue, and a new set of jewels was ordered, it having been found impossible to regain possession of that formerly in use.

After its revival the Lodge was at first in the habit of meeting in the Blue Bell Hotel. Accommodation was next secured in Wilson's Hall, and a change was subsquently made to the Lorne Hall, which, on the whole, was best adapted to the purposes of the craft. It began to be felt, however, that it would be much more satisfactory, for the Lodge  to have premises of its own, and in January 1879 the then Master Br. John Gillespie appointed a committee to consider the subject and report.early in February that committee recommended that the Lodge should build a hall and adjacent conveniences above and behind the fire-engine house immediately to the east of the Town Hall, and a plan for giving effect to this scheme was submitted by Br. William Black, architect. The porposals thus practically brought forward were cordially adopted, and it was agreedforthwith to lay the matter before the Feuars, the  proprietors of the engine-house and Town Hall. That body met the Lodge in the most lieral and friendly spirit, and consented to grant a ninety-nine years' lease on moderate terms. Subscription sheets were at once issued, and so hearty was the response made by the members of the Lodge that a handsome sum, ammounting to over £220, was contributed within a month. It was then determined to proceed with the work with as little delay as possible,the contractors all to be members of No16. On the 8th April it was announced that the subscriptions had increased to £252. The estimated cost of the building and fittings was £950. A loan of £300 was obtained from the Sir John de Graeme Lodge of Oddfellows, and this, it is hoped , will be more than covered by the proceeds of the Grand Bazaar and Fancy Fair about to be held.

On the 6th June 1879, the foundation stone of the Masonic Hall was laid with all the honours suitable to such occasions by Sir James E. Alexander, of Westerton, Provincial Grand Master of Stirlingshire, and on the same day Br William H. Burns, Preses  of the Feuars, laid the memorial stone of the Town Hall, a reconstruction of the Corn Exchange. A grand Masonic banquet was afterwards held in the Crown Hotel with Sir James Alexander in the chair.


1879-1884


On the 11th November 1879, the brethern of Lodge St John No16 met for the first time in their newv hall, both as regards its internal and external features, gave the utmost satisfaction. It is 34feet long, by 25feet 3inches wide, and there is an ante-room behind, besides a retiring-room and other convenicences on the ground floor at the back. The Lodge room has been suitably furnished, and is at once elegant and comfortable. Last years festival in honour odf St John the Evangelist was held with more than the usual enthusiasm; for at the  same time there was celebrated what was called the third jubilee of the Lodge, which, however, is certianly entitled to claim a greater antiquity than is thus indicated, as it was in existance long before the instution of the Grand Lodge in 1736. 

Little remains to be added. following the re-opening of the Old Lodge of Falkirk was soon followed by-if, indeed, it was not the means of bringing about an extensive Masonic revival in the district. In the town itself Lodge Callendar No588, was established, and has since gone on prospering, and after a dormancy of no less than forty-five years the ancient Lodge of Carron No139 was resuscitated. In 1884 two higher Masonic orders were auspiciously instuted, namely, the Falkirk Royal Arch Chapter No210, and the Zetland Conclave No11. The membership of these is composed of brethern of the Falkirk and neighbouring lodges. Both meet in the Masonic Hall. In the Cha[pter, the degrees of 'Mark', 'Excellent Master', and 'Royal Arch' are worked, while the Conclave is 'authorised to impart the Mysteries and Privileges of the Order of Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine to worthy Master Masons, and the appendant Orders of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and St John the Evangelist to Royal Arch Masons.'