Lodge St. Clair of Dysart No.520 History
First Sixty Years
LODGE ST. CLAIR OF DYSART
1872 – 1932
JAMES R. BELL, P.M.,
Grand Steward, Provincial Grand Almoner
Price 2/- 9 or more).
Behold, bow good and
bow pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell
together in unity
STRACHAN & LIVINGTON, LTD., 35 KIRK WYND
I HAVE read this history of Lodge St Clair, No. 520, with the very greatest interest, and I commend it to all lovers of the Craft. The perusal of it should inspire members of other Lodges to delve into the archives of their own Lodge and to write histories of a similar character. Doubtless such investigations would produce much detail of interest to all Free-masons and would preserve material facts which might otherwise be lost to posterity. I should like to see every Lodge in the Province of Fife and Kinross undertake such a work.
I understand that the proceeds of this book are to be given to Grand Lodge Annuity Fund and I cannot think of a better cause to which they could be devoted.
I consider that we all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Brother J. R. Bell, Provincial Grand Almoner, for his work.
P. G. M. SKENE, Colonel,
Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross
THIS brief history of LODGE St CLAIR of DYSART, No. 520, is chiefly compiled from outstanding and interesting events recorded in the Lodge Minute Books.
Alas! Had the brother Secretaries of bygone days realised that they were the historians of the Lodge, perhaps more detail would have been added to their work.
There are many instances of minutes recording intentions of carrying out various items, but no subsequent mention of these ever having been completed.
With the materials at hand, and a few recollections from older inhabitants of Dysart, coupled with the files of the ”Fife Free Press,” the writings may prove interesting to the brethren of 520.
JAMES R. BELL, P.M.
History of Lodge St. Clair of Dysart,
LODGE ST CLAIR OF DYSART was formed on 16th May, 1872, when the Lodge was opened in full Masonic manner, authorised by working letter from Grand Lodge, dated 7th May, 1872. This letter now hangs in the Lodge Room, having been discovered among the effects of the late Bro. David Hume.
The first office-bearers were:-
R.W.M. … … … BRO. DAVID HUME
D.M. … … … “ WM. DUDGEON.
S.M. … … … “ D. WATT.
S.W. … … … “ R. WRIGHT.
J.W. … … … “ GEO. CAIRNS.
Secy. … … … “ R. YOUNG.
Treas. … … … “ J. TERRACE.
S.D. … … … “ TH. THOMSON.
J.D. ... … … “ H. RAMSAY
I.G. … … … “ W. CRUDEN.
Tyler. … … … “ GEO. LANGLANDS
Previous to this date, several meetings of brethren in the burgh had been held with a view of forming a Lodge.
The minute of the first informal meeting, dated 17th April 1872, reads:-
“The brethren belonging to Dysart, as arranged, met in the lower-room of the Subscription School for the purpose of ascertaining the advisability of erecting a Lodge in the Town.
“Bro. D. Hume, taking the chair; after considerable discussion it was unanimously agreed that we should endeavour to form one, and that the name should be ‘THE LODGE OF THE THREE TREES, DYSART’.
“The election of Office-bearers was then proceeded with.
“It was then decided that the brethren elected should hold office for one year from the second Monday in December.
LODGE OF ST CLAIR OF DYSART.
“Fees payable to the Lodge was then settled as follows:---
Founder Members … … … 5/-
Affiliate Members … … … 7/6
For Initiation … … … 37/6
“The Secretary was instructed to write Lodge Dunearn, No. 400, and Lodge Union, Dunfermline, No. 250, requesting letters of recommendation and support for granting of Charter.
“Before closing the meeting, the brethren decided to meet in a few days’ time for the purpose of signing the petition to Grand Lodge.”
The minute of the first informal meeting is signed by D. Hume, Chairman; R.Young, Secretary.
The second meeting was held on 25th April in the Town Hall. On this occasion the first business concerned the naming of the Lodge. Since the previous meeting Bro. D. Hume had approached the Earl of Rosslyn for permission to use the family name, “St Clair,” in the designation of the Lodge. The Earl readily gave his consent, and expressed his thanks for the honour of having his name incorporated in yet another Lodge.
The choice of “St Clair” was very appropriate since the Earl was then reigning Grand Master Mason of Scotland (69th in line), and he signed the Lodge Charter as such.
So the Lodge became “ST CALIR OF DYSART” instead of the “THREE TREES.”
Supporting letters were received from Lodge Dunearn and Bro. J. Whyte-Melville, Provincial Grand Master. The petition to Grand Lodge was then signed and the fees paid. In addition to their fees several brethren gave financial assistance to get the Lodge under way.
Regular meetings were to be held on the first Monday of each month from September to May ay 8 p.m.
Before the first regular meeting was held several more brethren joined the band of founder-members, making a total of fourteen. The preliminaries having been carried through, the Lodge was granted a working letter, dated 7th May, and the first regular meeting was held on 16th May 1872.
The working letter referred to was found by the widow of the late Bro. Hume, and handed to the Lodge. It is now framed and hangs in the Lodge-room.
Although there is no record of the ceremony of installation having taken place, the following is a list of the office-bearers who held office at the first formal opening:-
R.W.M. … … … BRO. DAVID HUME.
D.M. … … … “ WILLIAM DUDGEON.
S.M. … … … “ DAVID WATT.
S.W. … … … “ ROBERT WRIGHT.
J.W. … … … “ GEORGE CAIRNS.
Secy. … … … “ ROBERT YOUNG.
Treas. … … … “ J. TERRACE.
S.D. … … … “ THOMAS THOMSON.
J.D. ... … … “ HENRY RAMSAY
I.G. … … … “ WILLIAM CRUDEN.
Tyler. … … … “ GEORGE LANGLANDS.
The Lodge was opened in regular form, and the first business attended to was to appoint a committee “to carry out the duty of purchasing furnishings and other requisites for the Lodge, including 30 Aprons at 3/6 each.”
Three candidates for admission were then proposed. At this meeting Bro. J. Terrace, Treasurer, resigned, as he expected soon to be leaving the district, Bro. John Boyd (Headmaster of Subscription School and later of Public School) was elected in place of
This completed the business of the first regular meeting of Lodge St Clair of Dysart, No 520.
On a previous page mention is made of the names of the first Office-bearers. The following particulars concerning these brethren have been collected and are worthy of note.
Bro. DAVID HUME, the first R.W.M. to occupy the throne in 520, and for many years the power behind the throne was initiated in Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, on 11th January 1866. He was R.W.M. of No. 72 during 1870-71. Until his death in January 1894, he was the leader and the friend of the brethren in Dysart.
In the Burgh of Dysart he held the positions of Town Chamberlain, Fiscal, and Burgh Surveyor, and for some years was harbourmaster. He was, for many years, a member of the Parish Council, School Board and Kirkcaldy and Dysart Water Commission.
In politics a staunch Liberal, he was Chairman of the local party, and a noted critic and keen heckler at political meetings.
Bro. Hume was for some years Chairman of the Mechanics’ Institute, and interested himself in adult education in the form of lectures and debates. An authority on Milton and Burns, he gave many interesting lectures on these poets at Institute meetings and his services were often sought by other bodies in the district.
As an orator he was outstanding, possessing a powerful yet pleasing voice. In the words of the late Bro. James Archibald, P.M.: “He was the finest speaker I ever heard, having a powerful voice and such eloquence that his lectures were most stirring and memorable.”
Bro. Hume found time to commit his thoughts to paper, having written at least one book of poems, now in the possession of his son. The following quotations are taken from the
fly-leaf of one of his books.
“Be what you seem to be, shun self-conceit;
Spurn every gain made by fraud and deceit;
Heed not though villainy lords it supreme
Over old honesty-be what you seem.
“Pictures have two sides, a dim and a fair;
Think not the world full of gloom and despair;
Hope’s star will light us o’er life’s troubled stream,
God will defend the right-be what you seem.”
Before Bro. Hume came to Dysart he had spent a number of years in America. While there he had met many men prominent in the literary and publishing world. He left a book autographed by many American writers of that period.
Bro. Hume interested himself in nearly all public bodies and organisations of his time.
His services as a Mason, his untiring efforts in launching Lodge St Clair of Dysart and in keeping up the enthusiasm of the members, form a record of which we are justly proud. Indeed, his work for Freemasonry in general gives evidence of his unbounded enthusiasm for the craft.
As we know, he was mainly instrumental in forming our Lodge, and was R.W.M. at its formation. He also held office as Master in 1872-1875, 1877-79, 1881-87, a total of 11½ years service as R.W.M.
His regular attendance at Provincial Grand Lodge is shown in our minutes, when he made reports to the brethren on these communications.
In Grand Lodge he was for 20 years a member of Grand Committee, and for many years he was a member of the Finance Committee.
In 1880 a special Finance Committee was formed by Grand Lodge to liquidate a heritable debt, and Bro. Hume was appointed Chairman of this Committee.
When the duties of this body were successfully carried through, he was presented with an illuminated address for his services. The address is worded as follows:-
“AT A QUARTLERLY COMMUNICATION OF THE GRAND LODGE OF SCOTLAND, HELD IN FREEMASONS’ HALL, EDINBURGH, ON THURSDAY, 1ST NOVEMBER, 1883-GRAND MASTER DEPUTE COL. SIR ARCHIBALD C. CAMPBELL ON THE THRONE. ON THE REPORT OF GRAND COMMITTEE THAT THE FINAL BALANCES OF THE HERTIABLE DEBT DUE BY GRAND LODGE HAD BEEN PAID. IT WAS UNANIMOUSLY. AND WITH ACCLAMATION, RESOLVED THAT THE THANKS OF GRAND LODGE BE TENDERED TO THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, BRO. DAVID HUME, PROXY MASTER 520, GRAND BIBLE-BEARER, REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE GRAND LODGE OF VIRGINIA, AND OTHER MEMBERS, IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THEIR ASSIDUITY AND EXACTITUDE IN THE SUPER-INTENDENCE AND MANAGEMENT OF THE FINANCIAL AFFAIRS OF GRAND LODGE.
(SIGNED) MAR AND KELLIE, GRAND MASTER, D. M. LYON, GRAND SECRETARY.”
The actual duties he performed and the lasting benefit he conferred on Lodge 520 can be assessed from our own records and minutes. One minute book gives many instances of his services and the appreciation of the brethren.
Lastly, it is to be recorded that he was the friend of all who came in contact with him. His opinion and guidance were often sought by individuals and organisations. Like his services, his helpful advice was readily given and appreciated.
His admirers and friends were many.
DATES OF MASONIC HONOURS:-
Initiated – No. 72 – 11th January 1866;
R.W.M. – No. 72 – 1870-71:-
R.W.M. – No. 520 – 1872-75, 77-79, 81-87;
Elected Grand Committee – 1880;
Grand Bible-bearer – 1882-84.
DEPUTE-MASTER – Bro. WILLIAM DEDEON, MANAGER of Linen Factory in Dysart for many years. The family left the district about 1890.
SUBSTITUTE-MASTER – Bro. DAVID WATT, Master Baker, High Street. Initiated Lodge Kirkcaldie, No.72, January 1866. Provost of Dysart, 1870-1886.
A genial personality, he was liked by all. He was considered to be the “perfect” chairman. As such his services were much in demand. Although never Master, he did yeoman service for the Lodge.
SENIOR WARDEN – Bro. ROBERT WRIGHT, Plasterer. He carried on a successful business for many years. He was the second Master of 520, being installed as R.W.M. in 1875. Bro. Wright is a grandparent of the present Secretary, Bro. J. Hunter.
JUNIOR WARDEN – Bro. GEORGE CAIRNS, Mariner. Initiated Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, April 1871. For many years Bro. Cairns carried out the duty of Forth Pilot. Short, stocky in build, typical seaman, he was invariably dressed in reefer coat and deep-sea cap. Although his services as an office-bearer were not lengthy, he continued to be a regular attender at meetings, and took an active interest in the welfare of the Lodge.
SECRETARY – Bro. ROBERT YOUNG, Clerk, was employed as Clerk or Agent at local railway station.
TREASURER – Bro. J. TERRACE, Manager of Gas Company, Dysart. He left the town shortly after formation of Lodge to take up an appointment in England. When Bro. Terrace resigned, the office was filled by Bro. JOHN BOYD, Schoolmaster of Subscription School and later Headmaster of Public School – a very much revered gentleman in the burgh. His interest in his pupils continued long after they had left school. He was Headmaster in Dysart for 43 years. Bro. Boyd was initiated in Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, on 27th February 1872.
SENIOR DEACON – Bro. THOMAS THOMSON, Mate and later Master Mariner. Initiated in Kirkintilloch previous 1870. This took place when he was sailing out of Glasgow as Mate on the “Emily.” This ship was wrecked on West Coast of Africa, and he with other survivors were held captive by natives until rescued by naval personnel. His home being in Dysart, his Masonic knowledge was at the service of 520, of which he was a founder-member. When at home his attendances at Lodge meetings were regular. Bro. Captain Thomson was drowned when his ship “Glengoil” was lost during a typhoon in the Bay of Bengal. Many months passed before news of the loss reached Dysart, and, on receipt of the sad tidings, the Lodge, along with their heartfelt sympathy, gave assistance to his family.
JUNIOR DEACON – Bro. HENRY RAMSAY, Grocer and Wine Merchant, High Street. Initiated Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, in October 1871. Bro. Ramsay carried on business as Grocer until his death. His interest in public affairs was mainly centred in Town Council work. He was a member of Dysart Town Council for many years and held the position of Senior Bailie during that time. He was made a Freeman of the Burgh for his services. Despite the many claims on his time as Councillor and Bailie, he served Lodge St Clair loyally for many years, and his name is always to be found in Committee minutes, both standing and special. The annual “Ball” was a feature he was specially interested in. On many occasions he would use the pictures, mirrors, vases, flowers, etc, from his own home to decorate the hall for his function.
INNER GUARD – Bro. WILLIAM CRUDEN, Baker, High Street. Bro. Cruden apparently left this district soon after 1872.
TYLER-Bro. GEORGE LANGLANDS, Postman and Town’s Officer. Initiated Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, in May, 1871. On the petition he is designated as “letter-carrier.” He was Town’s Officer until his death, and his son served the Town in the same capacity for many years afterwards. Bro. Langlands’ duties included ringing the town bell at certain times daily.
5.30 a.m. was the first call, the bell warning the folks that starting time was near. On occasions “Geordie” would trick the works timekeeper to rush to his job and sound the “hooter” too soon, having thought he had overslept his usual hour.
To continue the history of the Lodge.
The three candidates proposed on 16th May were initiated, passed, and raised on 23rd. They were Brothers George Hay, Thomas Reid, and P.J. Illum. Bro. Hay (Joiner) was a member of Town Council and afterwards Bailie.
It would be noted that, by resolution, it was agreed to hold monthly meetings from September to April. During the year 1872, from May to December, 14 meetings were held, all being minuted as “emergency” meetings. But on December 9th the minutes are headed “Monthly” meeting. It was at this meeting that the first mention is made of minutes having been approved and signed. Perhaps Bro. Secretary read the minutes of the previous 14 meetings which were headed “emergency” meetings.
At this meeting, December 9th, it was decided to raise entrants’ fees from 37/6 to £2 2/-, to come into effect on 1st February, 1873.
Then, in true Masonic manner, it was heartily agreed to celebrate St John’s Night Festival on 27th December, price to be 3/- per member.
Between 9th and 27th December two more emergency meetings were held. Then, as stated St John’s Festival was celebrated on 27th December. The minute is as follows:-
ST JOHN’S FESTIVAL
The brethren of the Lodge met in their Lodge-room at 7.30 o’clock in full Masonic costume to celebrate the Festival of St John. R.W. Master in the chair. At 8 o’clock the brethren sat down and partook of an excellent supper, purveyed by Bro. J. Barclay. After full justice had been done to it, the Lodge was opened in the usual manner in the apprentice degree by the R.W.M. The usual patriotic and complimentary toasts were given, and responded to by the various brethren. The proceedings of the evening were agreeably diversified by some volunteer songs. Deputations from Lodges Kirkcaldie, No. 72, and Dunearn, No. 400, were received. A deputation of five brethren from this Lodge was sent to No. 72, who were holding the Festival this evening. On the motion of R.W.M., a collection for benevolent purposes was made, pleasant and agreeable evening had been spent, the Lodge was closed in amply form by the R.W.M. at 12.15.
(signed) R. YOUNG, Secretary.
This minute is the fullest so far, and it is to be noted that the collection taken at this gathering was to be devoted to benevolence, although strictly no benevolent fund was in operation.
Bro. J. Barclay, who purveyed the supper, was proprietor of the Royal Hotel, Dysart. He was initiated in Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, on August, 1871, and was a founder-member of 520.
This St John’s Festival was the last meeting of the year (1872) and the Lodge was now some eight months old. During these eight months the Lodge had met 18 times, admitted 30 Intrants and received 4 Affiliates.
One brother who joined during the early months of the first session and is well worthy of mention in the history of our Lodge is the late Rev. John Waugh Gibson, M.A., Minister of Dysart Parish Church for 41 years (1865-1906).
The Rev. Brother took an exceedingly keen interest in affairs of the Lodge and in the fraternity. He was a regular attender at meetings for many years. Owing to failing health during his latter years his attendances were few. He was the first Chaplain of the Lodge, an office he filled with acceptance for many years.
The inscription on the memorial stone erected to his memory reads:-
“They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever”
Up to 10th October, 1872, the Bro. Secretary gives the meeting place as the Town Gall but after that date he heads the minutes with “St Clair of Dysart Lodge-room.” Perhaps the Council had allowed the brethren to fix the “kist” in the Council Chamber.
Although no record of the consecration of the Lodge is to be found in the minute book, the ceremony took place on 26th September, 1872, when Provincial Grand Lodge visited Dysart and carried through the consecration ceremony.
1873. The first meeting of this year was held towards the end of January and the minutes after refer to a letter received from Provincial Grand Lodge requesting attendance of R.W.M. and Wardens at a meeting to be held in Cupar, for the purpose of “appointing trustees for receipts of additional fees, and to see that the monies be put to the requisite purpose of clearing off Grand Lodge debt.”
Bro. Hume, R.W.M. attended this meeting in Cupar, and reported back to his Lodge that Bro. Earl of Rosslyn and Bro. Oswald of Dunnikier had been elected Trustees for this purpose.
At the same Lodge meeting, the first bye-laws were submitted and approved. These bye-laws were drafted by a special committee appointed by the Lodge, but there is no record of this committee ever having been formed or appointed.
On 24th January the Lodge was opened by Bro. Dick, P.M., No. 72, owing to Bro. Hume being indisposed.
His illness kept Bro. Hume inactive for nearly three months, and the next seven meetings were held under the Chairmanship of either D.M. or S.M.
At this time we find the first record of accounts being submitted to the Lodge for approval. One account, for printing, was considered an overcharge, and delayed for investigation, as was also an account from Artillery Sergeant for use of two swords. The brethren thereon decided to purchase two swords for their own use. At this meeting the Lodge surveyed the financial position, and decided to repay the monies so generously given by several members at institution of the Lodge. They were heartily thanked for their assistance.
March of this year (1873) saw a start made with the building of the Mechanics’ Institute, the old “folly” having been demolished; and the brethren had visions of better accommodation, if the Town Council would acquire part of the ground. Hence the minute recording that the Secretary was instructed to write the Town Council, viz.:-
“The brethren of this Lodge desired the Town Council to consider the desirability of erecting an ante-room on the south-east corner, so that the members might have more convenience in their duties.”
No further mention of this request is on record, and we know that the ante-room was never built, so the brethren carried on as before.
During the illness of the R.W.M. the progress of his condition was regularly reported to the brethren, and many of the members reported having made visits to his home during this period.
By April he had recovered sufficiently to visit the Lodge. At the meeting dated 14th April, the Lodge was opened by the D.M., when Bro. Hume was received with “three cheers” and many warm wishes expressed for his restored and continued progress to normal health.
Bro. D. Watt, S.M., in the name of the members of the Lodge, presented the R.W.M. with a jewel, along with a purse of sovereigns, as a mark of their regard for his character as a Mason, and in appreciation of his untiring efforts in establishing this Lodge.
Mrs Hume was presented with a beautiful gold ring inscribed: “From Lodge St Clair of Dysart.”
Bro. Hume, in his reply, expressed his thanks for the gifts and for the expression of goodwill of all brethren, also the many visits the several members had paid him during his illness.
Part of this reply is worthy of being included here: “Masonry enjoins upon us all faithfully to endeavour to guard its landmarks, advance its interests, and promote by every means in our power every measure which may tend to promote the social or intellectual progress of our fellow-men. Each of us in our different spheres can assist in this consummation the hastening of the time when men of different creeds, different climes, will hail each other as brethren.”
After the business had been completed the Lodge was then called from L to R, when a happy hour was spent in harmony.
In April, an emergency meeting was called to appoint a deputation, as requested by Provincial Grand Lodge, to attend at the consecration of Lodge Rothes, No. 532, Leslie. Rothes being the youngest Lodge of the Province, following St Clair, it was decided to send a large deputation to support our good friends in Leslie.
At this time, and for many years after, a large number of Master Mariners were admitted, many of them hailing from Norway and Denmark. This, most likely, was due to the fact that Bro. Hume was Harbourmaster, and several of the Office-bearers carried on business as ship-chandlers and provision merchants, particularly Bros. D. Watt and H. Ramsay. Many will remember the notice painted over Bro. Watt’s shop – SHIP BISCUITS.
The ships captained by these brethren from Norway and Denmark made regular voyages from the Continent to Dysart, mostly arriving in ballast and shipping coal. The Lodge roll-book contained many such names as Larsen, Pedersen, Halvesen, etc. In addition, many mariners of British nationality were admitted members, hailing from Goole, Colchester, Tain, Richmond, Perth. Besides the many seafaring brethren who joined the Lodge, many others attended meetings as visiting brethren.
The first record of rejection is contained in a minute dated September, 1873, when three applications for admission were refused.
At the end of this year it was decided to recompense the Secretary and Treasurer on a commission basis, a practice long since stopped, and one not approved of by Grand Lodge.
St John’s Festival was held on 19th December, at 7 p.m., while an emergency meeting was held at 4 p.m., when one candidate was admitted, passed and raised. No doubt this newly-made brother would attend the Festival at 7 p.m.
It was at this meeting that Bro. James Archibald, P.M., affiliated to Lodge St Clair. He was initiated in Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, on 26th December 1871.
During the second year good and steady progress was maintained, and there was little change in the personnel of the office-bearers.
1874. In February the members decided to find a Lodge-room of their own. The Old Free Church was their objective. It was agreed to offer £200 for the building but owing to the many alterations required the Lodge later decided to withdraw the offer. About this time the Town Council had purchased the property in Fleshmarket Street, now Victoria Street, with a view to building Municipal offices and enlarging the Town Hall. In view of this intended development, the Lodge offered their services for carrying out the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, but the whole scheme was delayed for some years.
A new journal for Masons had been issued, and it was decided to procure copies each month for circulation among the brethren. Further, the members decided to meet regularly as a class of instruction, and to get the services of speakers, etc., to assist.
Other than normal Lodge work and routine business this year passed off in a very steady and smooth manner.
1875. In this year occurs the first report of benevolence being granted. The grant was made to the widow and family of a brother who had been lost at sea. The members subscribed for this purpose, as at this time no benevolent fund existed. The sympathy of the members was conveyed to the widow; the deceased brother having held office in the Lodge just previous to his sailing.
At the following meeting, Bro. Robert Wright, D.M., proposed that a “DIAGRAM” be purchased. This was agreed to, and a committee was appointed to have this done. This committee was empowered to spend up to £2 10/- on the “Diagram”, and were instructed to “that the article was a good one.”
Once again the desire to possess their own premises is shown in a minute which states: “That the Old Industrial School be inspected, enquires made as to cost, and its suitability as a Lodge-room to be reported at a subsequent meeting.”
The committee appointed immediately made contact with the proprietor and inspected the building as instructed, but their report was unfavourable. The Lodge, after discussing the committee’s report, decided against purchasing the building.
The committees appointed for the purpose of inspecting halls, etc., were usually led by Bro. Robert Wright. No doubt his knowledge of the building trade would be of value to the Lodge.
The Old Industrial School referred to was situated in Relief Street. The last headmistress was the lady who became the wife of Bro. John Boyd, Treasurer of the Lodge.
The other building referred to in a previous page, i.e., the Old Free Church, is the Hall we now possess. St Serf’s Church had just been completed and the congregation removed to their new home, so that the other building was known as the “Old” Free Church. I am informed that when the interior furnishings of the “Old” Church were removed much damage was done to the building. This probably was the reason that the brethren considered the cost of repairs too high, and caused their offer to be withdrawn.
Towards the end of the year the attendances were increasing so much that it was found necessary to purchase another 18 Aprons.
The committee appointed to procure a “Diagram” for the Lodge made reports at each monthly meeting following their appointment. Bro. R. Wright was Convener of this committee.
It was in May of this year, 1875, that Provincial Grand Lodge resolved that “all I.P.M.’s and P.M.’s be members of that body.”
On 2nd November the Lodge decided to open a separate fund for benevolent purposes, by placing 2/6 from Initiates’ Fees and 1/- annual Test Fee to that account.
The Installation of Office-bearers, followed by St John’s celebration was held on 24th December. At this meeting, Bro. Robert Wright was installed R.W.M., and Bro. James Archibald (P.M.) as Secretary.
The balance-sheet showed a credit balance of £24, and the brethren congratulated themselves on the healthy condition of the Lodge finances. Considering that all loans had been repaid, and over £50 had been spent on Lodge furnishings, the brethren had cause for self congratulations.
1876. The first meeting under the new R.W.M. was held on 26th January, when four candidates were admitted. This was the first occasion when all three degrees were not worked in one night. Previously all candidates were entered P. and R. at one meeting.
Early this year a local minister, during the course of a sermon, made some slighting remarks “anent secret societies, particularly the ancient and honourable order to which we belong.” The resentment of the brethren was expressed at the meeting following this unfortunate incident, and an apology was demanded. The minister was interviewed, and at once gave his unreserved apologies, stating that his remarks were not intended to include the Order of Freemasons. The apology was accepted and acknowledged, and the brethren satisfied.
In May, a deputation of 16 brethren went to Edinburgh to support Grand Lodge at the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Royal Blind Asylum. The Lodge paid the rail fares of the deputation on this trip. Two members from Lodge Rothes asked to join the St Clair party. They were cordially invited, and in return for this gesture presented “2 beautiful” rods to the Lodge. This ceremony in Edinburgh was attended by an assembly of brethren from all over Scotland. The members from St Clair reported it a huge success.
Still looking for a home of their own, an endeavour was made to purchase a small building at the foot of the Coalgate (Fitzroy Street). Before the Normand Hall was built no street connected High Street and Rectory Lane. This quest was also abandoned owing to the building being too small.
At most of the regular meetings reports were made as to the progress being made on the “Diagram”. At last, on 5th December, this long-looked-for “Diagram” was brought to the Lodge, when it was moved unanimously “that the ‘Diagram’ be taken official delivery of by the Lodge, and the account paid. The committee to procure such be discharged with thanks.”
The cost of this article was £2 10/-. Bro. D. Hume concluded by passing a high eulogium on Bro. Thomas Reid for having produced such a beautiful work of art.
Bro. Hume continued to represent the Lodge at Grand Lodge communications, and our minutes show he gave very interesting reports of his attendances there. In one of the reports he mentioned the appointment of Bro. D. Murray Lyon as Grand Secretary. This report was received with pleasure and acceptance all over Scotland. It was after the appointment of Bro. Lyon as Grand Secretary that minutes of Grand Lodge meetings were first printed and circulated to Lodge Secretaries and members. The first copy received by St Clair was read by R.W.M. and explained by Bro. Hume to the interest and satisfaction of the brethren.
This year 1876 seems to have been a “Ceremonial” year, numerous letters of invitation having been received from various Lodges regarding laying of foundation stones. Among those received were invitations from Galashiels, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dunfermline. Deputations attended the ceremonies at Edinburgh and Dunfermline. The building of the Town Hall at Dunfermline was commenced with Masonic ceremony.
The ceremony was carried through by Provincial Grand Lodge, under Bro. J. Whyte-Melville, P.G. Master.
With the usual decision to celebrate the Festival of St John on installation night, the office-bearers for the ensuing year were elected. Bro. David Hume was appointed R.W.M., and Bro. James Archibald as Secretary. A new office was created, viz., Master of Song, Bro. James Methven being the first to hold this office.
Bro. R. Wright served as R.W.M. for one year. During his tenure 17 meetings had been held, and 11 new members had joined the Lodge. The hall rent at this period was 2/6 per meeting.
At the previous installation Bro. D. Hume installed Bro. Wright as R.W.M., so now it was Bro. Wright’s turn to administer the necessary oath to Bro. Hume. This installation was carried through on 27th December; thereafter, the brethren celebrated the Festival of St John.
The next evening, the 28th, an emergency meeting was held, when one candidate was admitted and two brethren affiliated. The brethren who affiliated were Dr Goodenough and Captain Wylie. Thus, Bro. Hume was soon at work after his installation as R.W.M.
1877. About this time a committee was appointed to take an inventory of Lodge furnishings. They carried out this duty and, on reporting to the members, it was decided to insure the Lodge property for £100.
The September meeting found two Office-bearers resigning their offices owing to their leaving the town, namely, Bro. Sedgwick, J.W., and Bro. W. Dudgeon, S.D. The brethren were sorry to lose two very loyal members, particularly Bro. Dudgeon who, since the formation of the Lodge, had held various offices, and who, when the occasion arose, could carry out the duties of any Office-bearer. These two brethren were leaving to take up appointments in other districts, and were given a hearty send-off at a farewell dinner held on 14th September.
Besides the regular work at meetings, many of them were enlivened by the R.W.M. reporting on Grand Lodge Provincial Lodge business. These reports on occasions would cause a discussion among those present.
A new Masonic Magazine had been published at this time called “Scottish Freemason,” and articles and theories from this journal also helped to enliven and enlighten the meetings. Much time was devoted to discussions and debates on ideas taken from the “Scottish Freemason.”
As previously mentioned, Bro. Hume was a regular attender at Grand Lodge meetings, and gave reports to his Lodge. But, on 2nd September, 1878, he went one step further. He introduced Bro. Albert Calthorpe, P.M., Rifle Lodge, Edinburgh, member of Grand Committee, to St Clair. Evidently Bro. Hume and Calthorpe did not agree on several points of Grand Lodge procedure and certain business before Grand Lodge at that time. This difference of opinion led to a very lively debate at the meeting, much to the benefit of the brethren. The minute concludes by stating “they gave the Lodge a good opportunity of forming an opinion on several points presently the subject of discussion in Grand Lodge.”
During 1879, as during the previous year, the most outstanding items were discussions and readings on things Masonic. One, for example, was a lengthened detail of Freemasonry from the Thirteenth Century. After delivering this lecture the R.W.M. invited the brethren to give readings or lectures, as “such readings proved edifying to the brethren present.”
At a later meeting, Bro. Robert Wright, P.M., read a paper on the first degree to the delight of all present. Indeed, many meetings which would have been a matter of opening and closing were enlivened by readings and discussions. One evening was devoted to an interpretation of Grand Lodge Laws.
1880 opened with Bro. James Archibald as R.W.M. He appointed Bro. Hume as Proxy Master to Grand Lodge, to the satisfaction and with the hearty approval of the brethren.
At the regular meeting in March the R.W.M. announced the appointment of Bro. Hume to Grand Committee. After receiving the congratulations of the brethren, Bro. Hume acknowledged the honour done to his Lodge and himself by this appointment, and promised to do his utmost for the Craft and his Lodge.
Bro. Hume was later appointed to the Finance Committee, and also to the Convenership of the Special Finance Committee.
In the minutes of 1880, nearly all matters of extra business are coupled with the name Bro. Hume. This is no apology for mentioning his name so often, but it serves to emphasise his continual efforts to further the interests of the Craft in the Province and town.
Again, in September (1880), he makes a lengthy statement about activities or rather the in-activities of Provincial Grand Lodge, “Of whose existence this Lodge was reminded only when the annual contribution was asked for.”
Following his statement and some discussion by the brethren, Bro. Hume moved “that the Secretary be instructed to write to Provincial Grand Secretary asking if his Lodge ever met for the transaction of business as no report ever appeared of the same, and if anything has lately been done to further the cause in the way referred to, viz., by visiting the Lodges in the Province.”
1881. This year opens with Bro. Hume once again R.W.M.
In January, the Lodge decided to insure their paraphernalia to the value of £100.
During this year attendances at meetings were rather small, but the faithful attenders carried on, having some very interesting discussions to enliven the proceedings.
These conditions prevailed during the next three years. Meetings were held regularly, and a few initiates were admitted. These working meetings, under R.W.M. Hum, who also led many of the debates were an indication of the steady if slow progress which the Lodge made in the early ‘eighties.
Of course other functions, such as St John’s Festival and the annual “Ball” were also held each year. One other item which appeared each year was the inventory of Lodge furnishings. One item on this list, viz., “Lodge Banner,” is of interest.
The “Lodge Banner” was included for a number of years from this date, but latterly was omitted.
The annual Ball in 1884 having returned a credit balance it was decided to purchase three dozen glasses, in the event of the Magistrates granting permission to fix a cupboard in the ante-room adjoining Lodge-room, which was, of course, Town Hall Council Chamber.
No record of this occasion by the Town Council is to be found in the minute book. One thing we know that there was complete harmony between the Council and Lodge St Clair. This relationship was very much evidence later on this year, when they co-operated in carrying out the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Normand Memorial Hall.
In February of this year (1884) Captain James T. Oswald of Dunnikier was installed Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross. The ceremony was held in the County Hall, Cupar, and was carried through by Grand Lodge, under Sub. Grand Master Major Crombie, of Aberdeen. There was an attendance of over 300 brethren.
The following principal Office-bearers were also installed: - Depute Provincial Grand Master, Bro. General Briggs; Sub. Provincial Grand Master, Bor. E. Balfour; Provincial J.W., Bro. J. T. Balfour; Provincial Chaplain, Bro. Rev. Dr Thomson; Provincial Grand Secretary, Bro D. Osborne.
At the banquet which followed the installation ceremony, Bro. D. Hume, P.M. (520) proposed the toast of the “Newly Installed Office-bearers,” saying that he believed “they would sufficiently discharge the duties they had undertaken and suggested that regular visits should be made to all Lodges in the Province, and that the Provincial Grand Master should himself visit as many as possible.”
The newly installed Provincial Grand Master, Captain Oswald, made his first official visit to Lodge St Clair of Dysart when the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Normand Memorial Hall was carried through with full Masonic ceremony. This ceremony was carried through early in March in somewhat stormy weather conditions. Snow fell heavily on the day previous, and the work of clearing the streets was undertaken. But still it snowed, and it was under very trying weather conditions that the whole proceedings were carried through. Happily the blizzard ceased in time for the actual ceremony.
Early in the day deputations began to arrive, and the Hall of the Parish Church was set out for the reception of the visiting brethren. The following Lodges sent deputations:-
Lodge Cupar o’ Fife … … No. 19.
“ St Andrew … … … “ 25.
“ St John … … … “ 26.
“ St John … … … “ 35.
“ St John … … … “ 60.
“ Kirkcaldie … … … “ 72.
“ St Regulus … … … “ 77.
“ St Andrew, Crail … … … “ 83.
“ Elgin, Leven … … … “ 91.
“ St Ayle … … … “ 95.
“ Lindores … … … “ 106.
“ St Cyre … … … “ 121.
“ St Adrian … … … “ 186.
“ St Michael … … … “ 246.
“ Union … … … “ 250.
“ St Serf’s … … … “ 327.
“ Minto … … … “ 385.
“ Dunearn … … … “ 400.
“ Oswald … … … “ 468.
“ Rothes … … … “ 537.
“ St John … … … “ 540.
“ St Michael (Queensferry) “ 548.
Lodges Scone and Perth, No. 3, and Journeymen, No. 8, were represented by a deputation, in addition to their members who were Grand Lodge Office-bearers. There was in attendance of 60 members of our Lodge.
The members of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge were given an official welcome by the Provost and Magistrates in the Town Hall. A public holiday was observed, and large crowds assembled to view the procession and ceremony. All societies and organisations in the neighbourhood joined in the procession, which was headed by the Freemasons bearing symbols of the Craft. The procession, including three bans, marched through the town to the site.
The ceremony of laying the stone, placed under the central pillar, was performed by provincial Grand Master Bro. Captain J. T. Oswald, assisted by the Earl of Rosslyn, Past Grand Master of Scotland. In the absence of Provincial Grand Chaplain, Bro. D. Hume carried through those duties.
Despite the unfavourable weather conditions, the stone was laid with cheers and rejoicings. The holiday spirit was abroad, for, though the snowfall had spoiled and damped the bunting and decorations it did not damp the spirit of the townspeople. After refreshment, the bands continued to discourse music.
The deputations were entertained and thanked for their assistance.
The Town Council entertained members of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge to a banquet in the Town Hall. Including the loyal toasts, the total number of toasts proposed was 14. From the various speeches made, the following is quoted for various reasons. The toast was “Lodge St Clair of Dysart, No. 520.” And was proposed by Councillor Harrow, who was not a member of the Craft.
Mr Harrow, in proposing the toast, said:- “Although not a member of the Order, it is my privilege to meet its members here and elsewhere, in the various relations of life in business and social intercourse and in public service. It is my privilege to have a seat in this Council Chamber, and when some of the Councillors, with a carefulness which is becoming in them, are re-thrashing the sheaves already thrashed, lest some precious grain should be lost, my interest relaxes and my eyes wander round the various objects adorning the wall, chief of which is a picture with the various insignia of the Lodge of St Clair. The floor of the room on which the light from heaven shines unobstructed by roof or ceiling, indicates I suppose, that they are lighted from the source of all light, and are courting investigation and rejoice in good ventilation. Then the sword, I suppose, indicates that they are ready to defend their own, and to give justice to all. While over all the eye of Him who made the eye is teaching all to avoid eye service.”
R.W.M. Bro. Hum replied on behalf of the Lodge. The excerpt from Mr Harrow’s speech shows the close and friendly arrangement between the Town Council and Lodge St Clair.
The whole proceedings had been carried through very successfully, and the local press devoted much space to reporting the event, heading the report with the caption – “DYSART’S RED LETTER DAY.”
At the next Council meeting Provost Watt, in the name of the Council and burghers of Dysart, thanked Bro. D. Hume for the excellent arrangements he had made, and which were so satisfactorily carried out. Speaking highly of Bro. Hume’s ability in organising the event, the Provost said it had never been equalled in the history of Dysart.
This historical event was the outcome of a decision reached in the Lodge when a start was made to prepare the site for the building. A committee was appointed to interview the Magistrates to press for a Masonic ceremony and to offer the assistance of the Lodge in making the arrangements for carrying out the scheme. We rejoice to know that the efforts of the R.W.M. and brethren proved so successful.
After their success out of doors, the Lodge carried on indoors quietly and progressively. Meetings were held regularly, though no matter of special interest was noted until 4th October, 1884. On this day, Bro. Hum was presented by Grand Lodge with an illuminated address, now the cherished possession of his son, the Rev. D. Hume, M.A.
The following is taken from the local Press: - “Grand Lodge of Scotland presented to D. Hume and illuminated address, having on the left margin the crest and various emblems of the Craft engrossed on vellum in the highest style of art. The address is worded as follows:-
“IN FREEMASONS’ HALL, EDINBURGH, ON THURSDAY, 1ST DAY OF NOVEMBER 1883-COL. SIR ARCHIBALD C. CAMPBELL, DEPUTE GRAND MASTER ON THE THRONE. ON THE REPORT OF GRAND COMMITTEE THAT THE FINAL BALANCES OF THE HERITABLE DEBT DUE BY GRAND LODGE HAD BEEN PAID, IT WAS UNANIMOUSLY, AND WITH ACCLAMATION RESOLVED THAT THE THANKS OF THE GRAND LODGE BE TENDERED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, BRO. DAVID HUME, P.M., PROXY MASTER 520, GRAND BIBLE-BEARER, REPRESENTATIVE FROM GRAND LODGE OF VIRGINIA, CHAIRMAN IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HIS ASSIDUITY AND EXACTITUDE IN THE SUPER-INTENDENCE AND MANAGEMENT OF THE FINANCIAL AFFAIRS OF GRAND LODGE.
(SIGNED) MAR AND KELLIE, GRAND MASTER.”
This beautiful vellum was shown in Lodge St Clair, when Bro. Hume received the heartiest congratulations of the brethren of 520 and also of many neighbouring Lodges and brethren.
Thus one other outstanding event took place in 1884. This year ended as usual with the ceremony of installation and the Festival of St John, when Bro. Hume was again appointed R.W.M.
1885. This year opened quietly, the Lodge suffering from the effects of the very bad trade slump which set in. 1885 and 1886 proved disastrous to this community and, indeed, to the whole country. It was a period of stagnation in trade. Many works were forced to close down, wages were reduced, strikes and industrial unrest were prevalent. Towns which had been so happy and prosperous were now in a state of poverty and distress. In our own district relief funds were formed to assist the needy, while food kitchens were opened for providing meals to necessitous children. Assistance was given to hundreds of deserving poor families. The Lodges in this district supported those funds and took an active part in looking after the needy. This distressful period had its effect on Lodge St Clair, for regular meetings were cut by half, while new entrants were an exception. Other than benevolence there are no interesting items to be found in the minute book.
1n 1886 the Lodge lost one of its stalwarts by the death of Bro. Provost Watt. Although he never occupied the chair in 520, he took a deep interest in the affairs of the Lodge.
Bro. Watt was Provost of the Burgh of Dysart for 16 years. For the funeral, all the works and shops in the town were closed to allow the workpeople to pay their last tribute. The locl company of Volunteers and every organisation in the town, including a large turnout from Lodge St Clair, followed the cortege to the graveside. The Lodge also took part in the valedictory service in the Parish Church on the Sunday following.
Just previous to his death, and despite the slump, Provost Watt persuaded the Council to build the new Town Hall and offices. The old property, extending from the Cross down Fleshmarket Street (now Victoria Street), had been acquired some years earlier, and when the extension was decided on the Lodge pressed for a Masonic ceremony, but further delay before the building begun seems to have shelved the idea of having a ceremony.
Once the building was started, the tradesmen were hustled to have the hall finished in time for the Jubilee celebrations (1887).
The formal opening of the new hall took place during the celebrations in honour of Her Majesty’s 50 years’ reign. The street was renamed Victoria Street, and another old landmark of Dysart disappeared.
During the rebuilding of the Town Hall the Lodge held their meetings in the small hall in the clock tower, and continued to do so until the present hall was acquired.
Towards the end of this year (1887) trade began to improve, and the black period was becoming a memory. This improvement was reflected in the Lodge, which once again became active, and regular meetings became normal. At the regular meeting in December, Bro. Sergeant-Major G. Capel affiliated to Lodge St Clair. He was initiated in Lodge St John, Calcutta, No. 486, E.C., in January, 1883, while serving with the Forces in India. At the next (annual) meeting, Bro. Capel was elected Secretary of the Lodge. The return to better times merited the celebration of St John’s Festival, and this meeting is Bro. Capel’s first minute. In it he minutes the splendid response by the brethren and that “the brethren dispersed with the wish that many more such happy evenings may be held.”
1888. Beside the regular meetings, many special meetings were held to meet the many new members. Indeed, at one meeting, three different degrees were worked for six persons, viz: - 1 Candidate for 1st degree; 3 candidates for 2nd degree; 2 candidates for 3rd degree.
1889 saw the same Masonic boom continuing. The annual “ball” this year proved a huge social and financial success. A good credit balance being returned from this event, the Lodge decided to purchase three dozen glasses and cupboard to store same – “ in the event of the Magistrates allowing Lodge to fix same in corner of Lodge-room.”
There is no confirmation of this having been granted, but as the inventory shows an increase in the number of glasses owned by the Lodge, it would seem that the space was found for the cupboard.
Bro. Capel, besides being a very efficient Secretary, was instrumental in improving the affairs of the Lodge, such as renewing the roll, calling in lapsed members, collecting annual dues, and especially in rallying the half-hearted to support their Mother Lodge.
1890 opened under the chairmanship of Bro. J. Ritty. His first meeting in January, records Lord Loughborough being proposed for membership. The next regular meeting, on 21st February, his Lordship was entered, passed, and raised. R.W.M. was assisted by two Past masters, R.W.M. J Ritty, initiated: P.M. D. Hume, passed; P.M. J. Archibald, raised.
This meeting was attended by a deputation from Provincial Grand Lodge, headed by Bro. Captain Swan, P.G.M. depute. Many Sister Lodges were also represented. The visitors were entertained to a cake and wine banquet after the meeting.
This year was a year of festivities for the town. The first one of note was Lodge St Clair’s annual assembly, and it surpassed any previous function held by the brethren. Indeed, after reading the report taken from the “Fife Free Press,” the reader will admit that it has never been equalled. Beyond doubt, this function was the highlight of a series of festivities.
The following report is taken from the “Press” – “One of the most successful and brilliant assemblies ever held in the district was the occasion of Lodge St Clair’s annual assembly. The handsome hall was gaily decorated with leaf and flower, a magnificent arrangement of mirrors, pictures, exotic plants, fairy lights etc. In front of the gallery the Prince of Wales feathers formed a dazzling illumination in gas; the gallery itself being fitted up as a model tropical forest of trees and plants. The fern-laden platform was backed by a curtain on which was an artistic illumination of Masonic emblems. The music was supplied by an orchestra from Edinburgh. Among those present were: - Provost Grand Master Bro. J. T. Oswald; Brigadier-General Briggs, P.G.M. depute; Lord Loughborough, and party. Beside the deputation from provincial Grand Lodge many Sister Lodges were represented. The deputations were received by the R.W.M., Bro. J. Ritty. And members of Lodge St Clair,”
Thus the first of many festivities held this year passed off successfully in March. The reason for the many functions held in 1890 was the fact that Lord Loughborough attained his majority. He was feted by many sections of the community, estate tenants, staff, and the Town Council. He was the recipient of many gifts, good wishes, and loyal greetings.
The Lodge was strongly represented at the consecration of the Lodge-room of Lodge Balgonie, when the brethren in Markinch carried through a very successful ceremony supported by a large assembly of visiting brethren.
Lodge Randolph, 776, and Lodge Wemyss, 777, were applying for charters, and our Lodge heartily supported the applications. The founder-members of 777 were mainly from St Clair of Dysart.
More festivities were crowded into this year (1890), when Lord Loughborough was married. On the arrival of the newly-weds the town was en fete to welcome them home. The Lodge again took a prominent part in the welcome. The couple were met at Kirkcaldy Station, driven in an open carriage drawn by four greys to the West Lodge, where they were greeted by the townspeople, who lined the main drive to the house. At the house, the Town Council greeted them and extended a welcome, followed by the estate staff and workers, while marshalled at the entrance to Dysart House, were members of St Clair. They had met in open Lodge and marched in procession to welcome Bro. Lord Loughborough and his bride. Lady Loughborough was introduced to the R.W.M. and principal Office-bearers after the address of welcome. This event took place on 15th August.
At the next Lodge meeting a letter from Lord Loughbourgh, expressing his thanks, was read. He also promised to attend a meeting of the Lodge very soon. Before he could make his promise, and only one month after, he was mourning the death of his father, Fourth Earl of Rosslyn, Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland.
Expressions of deep sympathy were sent by the Lodge and by the Scottish Craft along with all local bodies and organisations. The Lodge received acknowledgement from the new Earl and Countess Rosslyn.
The young Earl, taking up his duties again, attended several meetings towards the end of the year, and carried out the duties of J.W., to which office he was appointed soon after his initiation. He was next elected to the office of S.W.
The installation meeting was held on 26th December, and, after it, the Earl invited the brethren to celebrate the Festival of St John in Dysart House.
He attended many meetings during 1891 as S.W. At the meeting towards the end of this year the Earl’s brother, the Hon. Fitzroy St Clair Erskine, and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Westmoreland were entered, passed, and raised.
This year, the Earl was installed R.W.M., and again the Festival of St John was celebrated in Dysart House. His attendances as R.W.M. were fewer, and as I.P.M. J. Ritty, who was chief coastguard, had been posted to a station in England, the duties of the Chairman were carried out by P.M. James Archibald.
In December, 1890, Grand Lodge held a grand bazaar, chiefly to augment the Benevolent Fund, when our Lodge gave a splendid response to the appeal for support. The work of local lodges went to the Fife and Kinross stall, of which Mrs Oswald, wife of the Provincial Grand Master, was convener. The bazaar proved an outstanding success.
The next ceremony of importance took place in June, 1892, when a Divine Service in Dysart Parish Church was attended by a large number of brethren from this and many other Lodges. The procession from the Town Hall to the church attracted much attention from the public. The service was conducted by Rev. J. W. Gibson, M.A., Chaplain of the Lodge. His address on Freemasonry was a great interest to the brethren, and was thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed. The Grand Lodge Annuity Fund benefited by the collection taken at the service.
Charters having been granted to Lodge Randolph and Lodge Wemyss, the brethren of this Lodge assisted the latter in forming their lodge. The brethren of St Clair were strongly represented at the consecration of the two Lodges.
The installation ceremony in December saw the Earl of Rosslyn installed as R.W.M. for a second term, and the next year, 1883, opened with great enthusiasm among the brethren. This is shown by the increase of attendances at the Lodge meetings.
The Earl of Rosslyn, who had promised the free use of the Fitzroy Hall, now fulfilled that promise and more, for he decided to hand it over as a gift to his Mother Lodge. As certain repairs were necessary, the brethren carried out their meetings in the Town Hall meantime.
May, 1883, records the death of Bro. J. T. Oswald of Dunnikier, Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross. He was succeeded by Bro. J. Whyte-Melville as Provincial Grand Master, while the Earl of Rosslyn was appointed his Depute.
During October the Lodge carried out certain improvements to the hall to have it made suitable as a Lodge-room. Thus, on 22nd December, the brethren of St Clair had a Temple of their own.
The inauguration ceremony took place on that date, when the Lodge was opened for the last time in the old hall. Assembling there, the brethren marched in procession to their new home for the first meeting under its roof. The Lodge was then opened under R.W.M. the Earl of Rosslyn. The most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Bro. Sir Charles Dalrymple, Bart., accompanied by a deputation of Grand Lodge Office-bearers, were received with honours. They were followed by a deputation from Provincial Grand Lodge, headed by Bro. J. Whyte-Melville, P.G. Master.
After Grand Lodge Office-bearers had taken charge of the Lodge, R.W.M. Earl of Rosslyn remarked it had been his wish to see Lodge St Clair in a suitable Lodge-room, and he was happy to see this had at last been carried out.
At this stage the hall was formally handed over to the custody of Lodge St Clair of Dysart. The Earl then presented a gold key to the Grand Master who, in his address, stated it gave him great pleasure to perform this, the first outside duty since his election to the Throne in Grand Lodge. Wishing the Lodge every success and congratulating the brethren on being owners of this beautiful building, he declared the hall duly opened as the Lodge-room of St Clair of Dysart. He then made suitable reference to the family name of the Earl being incorporated in the Lodge name, and to the fact that the late Earl had signed the charter of the Lodge.
The ceremony continued with prayer and a hymn of praise. The Provincial Grand Master then added his congratulations on the new acquisition; he also expressed his good wishes, and voiced his appreciation of the assistance Provincial Grand Lodge had received from 520.
The guests were entertained at a banquet which followed.
With reference to the Grand Master who performed this ceremony, it is interesting to note that, in his capacity as Grand Master, and accompanied by one of the largest gatherings of Scottish Freemasons (about 2000), he assisted at the laying of the foundation stone of the North Bridge, Edinburgh. A plate on the Bridge in commemoration of the event is inscribed – “The Rt. Hon. Andrew McDonald, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh laid this, the foundation stone of the second North Bridge, on the 25th day of May, 1896. Of the reign of Queen Victoria in the 59th year, and of the era of Masonry 5900. The Most Worshipful Sir Charles Dalrymple, Grand Master Mason of Scotland.
1894. In January of this year the Lodge lost its leader and friend when Bro. David Hum, P.M., passed away. The funeral, on the 17th, was conducted with Masonic ceremony, when the late Brother was buried with full Masonic honours. Over 100 brethren followed the cortege, representing Grand Lodge, Provincial Grand Lodge, and several Sister Lodges. Bro. Rev. J. W. Gibson, M.A., carried through the service and gave an oration at the graveside.
The demise of Bro. Hume was a severe loss to Lodge St Clair, for he had been its friend and guide for over twenty years.
Grand Lodge recorded its loss in a minute, which reads – “Grand Secretary reported the death of Bro. David Hume, at Dysart, on the 14th inst., and stated that, as representing Grand Lodge, Bros. James Berry, Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire; Colin Galletly, Past Junior Grand Warden; and himself had attended the funeral of the deceased.
“On the motion of the Grand Master, Grand Secretary was directed to prepare and engross in this minute a resolution in connection with Bro. Hume’s death and send a copy of the same to Mrs Hume.
“Grand Committee desires to place on record its deep sense of loss Grand Lodge and the Craft have sustained in the death of Bro. David Hume of Dysart, who was present at its last meeting and to give expression to its sympathy with his widow and family.
“Bro. Hume was a member of Grand Lodge for some 20 years standing and served with much acceptance for a long period on Grand Committee, and on its Committee of Finance, and for two years held the post Grand Bible-Bearer. His attendance on all occasions, and under all circumstances, were most regular. In private life, Bro. Hume was warm-hearted and obliging, and his friendships were sincere and lasting. He was also remarkable for his freedom from envy and unwavering adherence to truth. His several Masonic duties were discharged with a shrewdness and promptitude which made his advice and assistance all the more valuable. He has departed this life deeply regretted by an extensive circle of Masonic and private friends, and his widow and children have the heartfelt sympathy of the Craft.”
The first regular meeting following the death of Bro. Hume records the sympathy of the brethren. The following is the text of the letter to the widow and family; - “I am directed by the R.W.M., Wardens and brethren of Lodge St Clair of Dysart to forward to you their expression of sincere regret and deep sympathy with you and yours in your sad bereavement.
“The brethren of this Lodge feel that, in the death of their Master, they have lost a good and true friend, one who took an exceeding interest in everything in connection with the Craft, and especially in Lodge St Clair of Dysart, he being one of the founders and our first R.W.M.
(Sgd.) D. M., Secy.”
On the whole, this year was very successful for the Lodge, 17 new members were admitted, and a number of affiliations took place.
1895 opened with Bro. James Archibald resuming the office of R.W.M. and it proved to be another prosperous year. The income was now increased by letting the hall for social functions; this income was the start of a fund for alteration and renovating the building.
1896, under the same R.W.M., was a repeat of the previous year. Minutes of the Halls Committee are now very frequent, mostly dealing with applications for the use of the hall. One Lodge minute, dated 11th February, shows six candidates being proposed for membership, a record so far. Thus, 1896 proved to be the first of a series of very progressive years.
1897. Bro. Sgt-Major G. Capel was installed R.W.M. having served the Lodge well in various offices since his affiliation in 1888. Under his able Chairmanship, the progress of the Lodge continued.
On 11th February, Provincial Grand Lodge asked for recommendations for the office of Provincial Grand Master, so St Clair unanimously supported the Earl of Rosslyn for this position.
The appointment of the Earl was confirmed, and he was installed Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross in Roslin Chapel on 19th June. A number of 520 brethren attended the ceremony, but owing to the limited accommodation the attendance at the actual installation ceremony was restricted to invitations, to a total of 250 brethren. Those present included twenty-five Grand Lodge Office-bearers, a full muster of Provincial Grand Lodge members, and representatives from nearly all the Lodges in the Province. In all, 500 brethren from 23 Lodges in the Province accompanied by lady friends, joined in garden party which followed the ceremony. The installation of the Earl of Rosslyn as Provincial Grand Master was carried through by Bro. Sir C. Dalrymple, Past Grand Master. During the afternoon the assembly visited the grave of the late Earl and deposited many wreaths there.
The late Earl of Rosslyn, Past Grand Master, during his reign as Grand Master Mason of Scotland entertained over 600 brethren along with their wives and sweethearts “with sumptuous bounty within his beautiful domain of Roslin.”
After the pilgrimage to the Rosslyn vault, Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge were entertained at a banquet, while other brethren and friends were served with luncheon in marquees near the Chapel.
Soon after his installation the new Provincial Grand Master led Provincial Grand Lodge at a Masonic ceremony, when the foundation stone of the new Hospital at Kirkcaldy was carried through with Masonic honours. Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, were responsible for the arrangement on this occasion. Lodge St Clair was strongly represented at the ceremony, requiring the purchase of “a leather bag for carrying the Lodge jewels on such occasions.”
All this happened on the eve of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, when Freemasons all over took part in the celebrations. In Dysart, out of the 21 members on the burgh Jubilee Committee, no fewer than nine were Office-bearers of Lodge St Clair.
The brethren organised a church service on the Sunday following the day of celebration. They marched from the Fitzroy Hall to the Parish Church for divine service, which, on this occasion, was largely choral and musical. A Press account states, “for this beautiful service, the church was filled to capacity, marking a very memorable occasion.”
During this very busy season the Lodge augmented the building fund by holding concerts, etc. One concert in particular was very successful, when the whole programme was sustained by members of the Lodge. Songs and recitations, a lecture, illustrated by lantern, by Bro. James Mitchell, on “A Visit to the Channel Islands,” formed the main part of the evening’s entertainment. The great event of the evening, however, was an “exhibition of the cinematograph,” to the great delight of the audience.
Many suggestions were put before the members regarding necessary alterations to the Lodge-room, and one feature was being seriously considered i.e., additional ante-room accommodation. One scheme under discussion was to make the gallery into an ante-room by raising a wood screen from the existing balcony to the ceiling. This project was considered unsuitable, and the Lodge decided to delay any alterations until something big could be undertaken.
This year, 1897, also records the formation of Lodge St Clair of Balbeggie, No. 867. The brethren of 520 gave able assistance to the new Lodge, and thanks for this was tendered by Bro. Buist, R.W.M., of 867, at a meeting in December. So an eventful year came to an end, when the brethren met to celebrate the Festival of St John.
The past year seems to have been an outdoor year for the Craft. Beside the celebrations mentioned, many invitations to attend outdoor ceremonies were received from Lodges in other parts of Scotland. One of these ceremonies took place when the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the new G.P.O. building on south side of George Square, Glasgow.
A very interesting “find” was produced in the Lodge on 27th November (1896). Bro. James Mitchell brought to that meeting a copper plate engraving of what had apparently been the diploma issued by an old Masonic Lodge of Dysart, known as “Dysart Kilwinning.” The plate was on view and later returned to the owner in Cupar after several copies had been taken from it. It is to be regretted that neither the plate nor any copy can be found to-day.
Bro. Mitchell was charged to investigate the matter further, but no record is available of this having been carried out. The authenticity of the plate can’t be proved. Concerning these copper plates, it appears that it was, at one time, the custom for Lodges to print their own diplomas. Thus each Lodge would possess its own copper plate. One of these plates forms an interesting exhibit in Lodge Lindores, No. 106.
1898 commenced quietly, but soon became one of the most strenuous in our history. The Halls Committee, formed for the purpose of considering alterations to the building were able to go ahead, thanks to the assistance of the Bazaar Committee, who were busy building up a fund. This fund by the end of the year, had reached the total of £220, due largely to a very successful bazaar. One of the gifts raffled at the function was a pony and trap. Many of the brethren well remember this pony. “Mouse,” belonging to Bro. Harris, Royal Hotel.
With this handsome credit balance on hand the Lodge decided to go ahead with the alterations to the buildings.
1899 saw the start of the work under the Chairmanship of Bro. G. N. Spalding. The first estimate was not to exceed £160, but this sum was more than doubled, as later it was decided to rebuild the ante-rooms. The work was actually commenced on 1st May.
The alterations were extensive, and included new ante-rooms with lavatory accommodation, new staircase and vestibule, new ventilation shafts in roof and walls, new entrance, with enlarged doors, vestibule laid with mosaic tiles, Stewards’ room refitted with serving bole added, alteration to gallery, and a commemoration stone over main door inscribed: - “Masonic Hall, Presented by Rt. Hon. Earl of Rosslyn. 1890.”
The total cost, including painting and cleaning amounted to over £330.
This very ambitious scheme was carried through to schedule, and in time for re-opening of the Lodge. The completion of the alterations was celebrated by a conversazione, followed by a dance.
Bro. Provost Allan was chief guest on the occasion, and performed the re-opening ceremony. Rev. J. W. Gibson gave an address on “The Benefits of Freemasonry.” The evening’s entertainment was sustained by a concert party. During the evening a telegram was received from the Earl of Rosslyn expressing his good wishes and congratulations to his Mother Lodge.
A Press report on the “new” hall, after describing the additions to the building states “it is decided acquisition to the burgh for social functions.”
The Halls Committee completed the task by drawing up a scale of charges for the use of the premises. This committee is to be admired for the way they carried through their work. The members gave their time most ungrudgingly, as is shown by the number of meetings held, often two and three in a week. This, in addition to interviews with the architect and the several tradesmen, gives an indication of the work they put into the business. We who now enjoy the results of the labour give thanks. The “gay” 90’s ended on a high note; even the inventory of furnishings had been increased by acquiring – Charcoal stove; four Swords; Kirkwall Scroll, with key; tumblers engraved “St Clair of Dysart”; new Candelabra and Columns for Wardens; several new Jewels (now 14 in all).
Bro. D. Mitchell retired from the office of Secretary after serving for four years in that capacity. Bro. Mitchell, judging by the minute book, was an ideal Secretary. His minutes are a delight to read, being very full in every detail and extending in many cases to six pages.
The last mention of the Earl of Rosslyn as Provincial Grand Master is contained in a report of April, 1898, when he, with Provincial Grand Lodge, met jointly the Lodges of Kirkcaldie, No. 72, Oswald of Dunnikier, No. 468, and St Clair of Dysart, No. 520, at Masonic Hall, Kirkcaldy.
This joint visitation was held on the eve of his Lordship’s departure to South Africa. The books of three Lodges were examined and approved of. An informal dinner followed, at which Bro. James Burt, P.M., No. 468, proposed the toast of the “Provincial Grand Master”, stating that “the name of St Clair was one dear to Masons.”
Provincial Grand Master’s great ancestor was the first Grand Master Mason of Scotland, and it was pleasing to know that the honourable name was being perpetuated in Masonic circles by Lodges adopting the name St Clair, as in the neighbouring Lodges in Dysart and Thornton.
1990 gives few incidents of importance, but tells a story of continued progress.
On 25th March, the minute is headed “Pathhead Public School. The Lodge was opened here to-day, Sunday.” This change of meeting place was for the purpose of attending divine service in St Michael’s Episcopal Church. There was a large attendance of brethren from 520, along with many more from Lodges 72, 468, 777, and 867.
The Curate of St Michael’s, Rev. J. T. Malton had invited the members of St Clair to hold a Masonic service in his church. The reverend gentleman was evidently a keen and studious Freemason, and gave many interesting lectures on things Masonic during his stay in this district.
Later on, this year, the Earl of Rosslyn, who had been in South Africa with the Forces, was welcomed home and congratulated by the brethren on his return from the seat of war.
The only event of note during 1901 is the part taken by the Lodge in the memorial service for the late Queen Victoria. The service was held in the Parish Church, and was organised by the Town Council, and included all local bodies and organisations.
Near the end of 1901, the Lodge Secretary outdid all former Secretaries by writing a very comprehensive minute of the annual conversazione and dance. The whole proceedings of this event are mentioned, even the table decorations. There is no record of this minute having been approved of at next regular meeting.
The annual inspection of Lodge books took place in Kirkcaldy. Provincial Grand Lodge simply asked that these books be sent to an appointed place for scrutiny. That appears to have taken place of the annual visit.
1902. This year saw the institution of the Mark Degree in 520. On 22nd January, the Office-bearers from Kirkcaldy R.A. Chapter, No. 97, attended Dysart and conferred the mark degree on the Office-bearers of our Lodge. Bro. Alex. Robertson, P.M., No. 72, was Master for this meeting and had willingly undertaken to see Lodge St Clair safely under way as a Mark Lodge. Many special meetings were held to work this ceremony owing to the many applicants.
The next important event for the Lodge was the Coronation celebrations for King Edward VII. For this the Lodge decided to carry out the following programme “in honour of the Patron of the Order”:-
1. Decorate the hall outwardly
2. Present Medals to all clear members
3. Present P.M. with Jewel
4. Present Chaplain with Jewel
5. Hold a banquet to which all old members were to be invited
So far as is known, Nos 3, 4, 5 were carried out. The celebration dinner was held on 26th June, when presentations were made to P.M. and Chaplain. The hall was decorated in suitable manner, and in keeping with the public display of flags, bunting, etc.
So smoothly did the work of the Lodge proceed during the next ten years that there is no mention of a vote being taken on any matter of business which came before the Lodge.
A very high standard of efficiency on the part of the Office-bearers was maintained, and many minutes give reference to congratulations and admiration being expressed by visiting brethren. Inter-Lodge visits were popular during this period, and 520 officially visited many Sister Lodges in the Province.
1910 records the installation of the Rev. Hugh Menzies, B.D., as R.W.M. During his term the same harmonious conditions continued, while the attendance increased. The Rev. Bro. held office as R.W.M. until 1915. Two years later he became Lodge Chaplain, and continued as such until his death in 1941.
1913. This year the brethren were anxious to improve the interior of the hall. Up to this year the “East” was situated on a platform about 2½ feet high, built from side to side of building and fitted with steps at either end, and backed by plain plaster-work wall, painted a rather drab colour. It was decided to cover this rather drab plain erection by having a screen built across the east of the building.
A committee was appointed to visit various Lodges, see plans, etc., and to determine what style would be most suitable for our hall. After visiting many Lodge-rooms, along with Bro. F. Smith (Architect), it was decided to make plans on a line similar to Lodge St Andrew, No. 25.
The screen, although copied from No. 25, differs in detail, for stained glass panels were included in place of painted panels, the pillars are of oak, fluted, capped by heavily moulded cornice. The centre panel is a painting depicting an architect working at a trestle board, with a background of building operations. The “Masonic” picture was the work of Mr Wright, Glasgow. He also painted the heraldic panels on front of the gallery. The late Bro. Provost Mcleod states that the model chosen for the “architect” was a Jewish pedlar residing in Glasgow. Bro. Mcleod’s friendship with Mr Wright lasted for many years.
This most beautiful addition to the Lodge-room gives balance to the interior of the building, since it hides the north-east corner which is shaped to suit the street plan. The east screen is one of the finest in the county, and the members of 520 are justly proud of it. The cost of this addition was over £120.
Rev. H. Menzies held office as Master until December, 1914, when Bro. John McLeod took over the reins of office.
During the next four years, 1914-1918, the Lodge minutes are full of references to members leaving to join the Forces, of the good wishes extended to them, and alas, of sympathy extended to the relatives of the brethren who died for King and Country.
The Lodge also interested itself in the many funds for relief and comforts to serving men.
Then came the welcome home to those who survived the ordeal, some to become keen and energetic workers for the Lodge and Craft.
During the immediate post-war period, Masonry like other institutions, entered into a phase of phenomenal activity. New members literally flocked to join, and meetings of extraordinary size were held, with dozens of proposals being dealt with at a time. Special meetings became regular features of the minute book. Financially, at least, the Lodge became prosperous. This boom period probably was due to the reaction following the repression from which nearly everyone suffered during these four black years.
During the boom period, Bro. Andrew Stevenson was R.W.M. He and the Office-bearers did yeoman service in conferring degrees on some hundreds of new members.
The finances of the Lodge being in a very healthy state, the next addition to the hall was carried out. A very ambitious scheme to purchase new furniture was commenced, and donations were solicited from members. The response was very gratifying, and the scheme was carried out through when the handsome oak furniture was purchased. The desks, pedestals, and 100 chairs cost about £250. To complete the whole scheme, electric light and central heating were installed, providing the members with a very comfortable and handsome meeting place. The old pedestals were presented to Lodge Castle Dour, they being information. The altar was retained for sentimental reasons, and forms a link with days gone by.
From 1922 to 1932 the Lodge, under its several Masters, continued to keep up a high standard of work and to carry out its duties in a manner worthy of St Clair. Although nothing outstanding is recorded in the minute book, none of the prestige was lost. Everyone of the R.W.M.s interested himself most sincerely in the welfare of 520.
1932 saw the completion of the first sixty years of the life of 520. The occasion was marked by a celebration dinner, held on Saturday, 7th May, presided over by Bro. D. W. Henderson, R.W.M.
A company of about eighty brethren assembled including Bro. The Earl of Elgin, Provincial Grand Master; Bro. J. C. Robertson (St Clair of Edinburgh, No. 439); Bro. A. Lamont (St Clair of Glasgow, No.362); Bro. H. G. Humphries (St Clair of Roslin, No. 606); Bro. W. Jeffrey (St Clair of Balbeggie, No. 867). The R.W.Ms. from the St Clair Lodges were made honorary members of 520. The following Lodges were also represented: Kirkcaldie, No. 72; Oswald of Dunnikier, No. 468; Wemyss, No. 777; Macduff, No. 940; St Leonard’s, No. 935.
During the evening many toasts were proposed and responded to. Bro. The Earl of Elgin, in replying to the toast to Grand Lodge, complimented the brethren and thanked the R.W.M. for the active part Lodge St Clair took in Masonic circles. Bro. H. Menzies, B.D. in a very interesting speech proposed the toast of the “St Clair Lodges”, the reply was made by the Masters from the other St Clair Lodges.
Next day, Sunday, 8th May, a thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church, when over 300 brethren, including representatives from all over the Province, took part.
Considerable public interest was evinced in the proceedings. Brilliant sunshine prevailed as the imposing procession, headed by pipers, marched from the Masonic Hall to the church.
Bor. Rev. H. Menzies, B.D., P.M., Chaplain of the Lodge, conducted the service, assisted by Bro. D. W. Henderson who read the Scripture lessons. Taking as his text, “Pay that which thou hast vowed.” The Rev. Bro. delivered a most impressive sermon. During the course of the service, Bro. J. Robertson (No. 468), rendered the solo, “Honour and Arms,” by Handel.
This service was a fitting conclusion to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, marking an outstanding date in the Lodge history.
The brethren holding office in the Lodge during this year were:-
R.W.M. … … … Bro. D. W. HENDERSON.
I.P.M. … … … “ D. PATERSON.
D.M. … … … “ J. REID.
S.M. … … … “ J. BELL.
S.W. … … … “ H. CHRISTIE.
J.W. … … … “ R. THOMSON.
Secy … … … “ J. HUNTER.
Treas. … … … “ A. ADAMSON.
Chaplain … … … “ Rev. H. MENZIES, B.D., P.M.
S.D. … … … “ W. WILSON.
J.D. … … … “ R. SMART.
Arch. … … … “ W ALISON (F.R.I.B.A.)
Jeweller … … … “ G. MITCHELL.
Bible-bearer … … … “ A. SCOTT.
Dir. Of C. … … … “ J TODD.
Sword-bearer … … … “ A. ROBERTSON.
Mar. … … … “ G. NESS.
Steward … … … “ A. WALKER.
I.G. … … … “ J. MITCHELSON.
Tyler … … … “ S. DRYBURGH, P.M.
Thus, in 1932, the Lodge attained its 60th birthday. These sixty years have been of steady progress, despite many setbacks and several rather lean years – years when few meetings were held and no additions were made to the membership – up to the boom period when meetings were held almost every week and hundreds were admitted. But, through all, the progress was steady, and a proud name was set up in Masonic circles.
Let us who have reaped and are reaping the benefits of the labour of our predecessors preserve and extend them, and seek ever to uphold the honourable name which the Lodge has attained.
Although conditions both in and out of the Lodge have changed since 1872, the principles of our Order remain unchanged. May we, like those landmarks remain unchangeable in our respect for the Order, in our love for Mother 520, and in the application of the tenets the Craft has taught us.
May. 1872 … … Bro. DAVID HUME.
Dec. 1876 … … “ ROBER WRIGHT.
“ 1877 … … “ DAVID HUME.
“ 1880 … … “ JAMES ARCHIBALD.
“ 1881 … … “ DAVID HUME.
“ 1888 … … “ JAMES ARCHIBALD.
“ 1890 … … “ J. RITTY.
“ 1892 … … “ THE EARL OF ROSSYLN.
“ 1894 … … “ JAMES ARCHIBALD.
“ 1897 … … “ Sgt.-Major G. J. CAPEL.
“ 1899 … … “ GEORGE N. SPALDING.
“ 1904 … … “ EB. JOHNSTON.
“ 1909 … … “ J. MCDONALD.
“ 1910 … … “ Rev. HUGH MENZIES, B.D.
“ 1915 … … “ JOHN MCLEOD.
“ 1918 … … “ ANDREW STEVENSON.
“ 1921 … … “ SAMUEL DRYBURGH.
“ 1923 … … “ JOHN WRIGHT.
“ 1925 … … “ WILLIAM MCGREGOR.
“ 1929 … … “ D. PATERSON.
“ 1931 … … “ D.W. HENDERSON.
EARLS OF ROSSLYN
Since the Lodge adopted the name of St Clair, and one of the line was R.W.M. for two years, some mention of the family connection with Freemasonry is worthy recording.
1st Earl of Rosslyn, born 1733, died 1805. Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain 1793. Buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
2nd Earl of Rosslyn, nephew of 1st Earl. As Sir James St Clair Erskine was M.P. for Kirkcaldy, 1796-1805, when he succeeded to the Earldom. Depute Grand Master of Scotland, 1808; Grand Master Mason of Scotland, 1810; Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross, 1801-1838.
3rd Earl of Rosslyn – James Alexander St Clair Erskine, 1802-1866. M.P. for Kirkcaldy, 1830-31. Entered Army 1819, appointed to rank of General 1866.
4th Earl of Rosslyn – Francis Robert St Clair Erskine, second son of 3rd Earl; born 1833, died 1890. Initiated 1851 in Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72, at a meeting held in Dunnikier House. R.W.M. Lodge Kirkcaldie, No. 72. Grand Sen. Deacon, 1853; Grand Jun. Warden, 1854; Grand Sub Master, 1855; Grand Dep. Master, 1856; Grand Master Mason, 1870. It was while he was reigning Grand Master that Lodge St Clair received its charter. It was also during his term in the chair of Grand Lodge that the degree of Installed Master was recognised and made regular in Scotland. He was also Lord High Commissioner to Church of Scotland 1890.
5th Earl of Rosslyn – James Francis St Clair Erskine, born 1869. As Lord Loughborough, he was initiated in Lodge St Clair of Dysart, 21st February, 1890. Senior Warden, 1890; R.W.M., 1891; R.W.M., 1892; Depute Provincial Grand Master, 1893; Provincial Grand Master, 1897; Grand Junior Warden, 1893; Grand Senior Warden, 1895. He served in South African campaign with Thorneycroft’s Mounted Corps and was present at the relief of Ladysmith. He died in August, 1939.
MASONIC HALL, DYSART
The Masonic Hall, Dysart, was built I 1845. At the time of the Disruption, in 1843, a “Free” Church congregation was formed in Dysart. This congregation, with one of the Parish Church ministers, met and worshipped in the Subscription School. No time was lost in raising funds for the erection of a church for, in 1845, the congregation took possession of their own church – now the Masonic Hall.
The present St Serf’s Church was built in 1874, and when the congregation removed to the new church the old one became known as the Fitzroy Hall. It was then the only hall in the burgh suitable for entertainments and social functions until the opening of the Normand Hall in 1885, when it took second place but continued to be used extensively for all kinds of functions. The Earl of Rosslyn, owner of the building, presented it to the Lodge in 1890, since when the interior has undergone many alterations.
Described by Bro. Walter Alison, F.R.I.B.A.
The building is a beautiful piece of Italian renaissance work, designed by Mr Rowland Anderson (Arch), Edinburgh, later Dr R. Anderson, and subsequently Sir R. Anderson. The building was erected by Mrs James Normand in memory of her late husband, who was the elder son of the late Provost Normand. This building is one of the finest in the district; the stonework is beautifully wrought, the detail and carving of the window and doorway in the east gable is admirably executed. This work is of pure Italian renaissance, and while one has to admit that a good deal of it is copied from buildings in Italy, it also shows that the architect had studied this period of architecture very thoroughly and was a master of the style.
Study the building and note the finely channelled joints of the lower portion of the walls, the section of the string course above this, and the simplicity of the ashlar from the string course to the wall head. Note the scale of the window in the east gable and pay particular attention to the carving in the tympanum of the doorway, consisting of the Pascal Lamb on a shield surrounded by laurel leaves.
At the rear of the building on stairway to platform entrance note the craftsmanship in a little wrought iron gas lamp fixed to the stonework. It is beautiful piece of work, and well worth preserving.
The building measures 60 feet by 44 between the galleries, and the height from the floor to the crown of the carved ceiling is 35 feet. The building was formally opened on 8th May, 1885, and handed over to the Provost and Magistrates as a gift to the town.
THE OLD LODGE OF DYSART
Grand Lodge records show that Lodge Dysart, No. 51, was formed in 1745, with the following names entered as founders: David Beatson, of Vicarsgrange, Master; George Lumsden, in Dysart, Warden; John Mortimore, Merchant there, Warden: George Arnot, Roderick Touch, Alexander Thomson, James Mercer, Alex. Maver.
The charter is dated 6th February, 1745. The last record, in possession of Grand Lodge, of Lodge Dysart, is dated March, 1797. During the 52 years the Lodge was on the roll of Grand Lodge, 58 new members were admitted.