Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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Freemasonry in Lisburn

Becoming a Freemason in Lisburn

Becoming a Freemason

Anderson's 1723 constitutions seem to recognise only the grades of Entered Apprentice, and the Fellowcraft/Master. Hence the third degree emerged sometime between 1723 and 1730, and took some time to spread within the craft. The fact that it did spread seems to many scholars to indicate that the tri-gradal system was not so much innovation, as the re-organisation of pre-existing material. The Mason word, once given to the Entered Apprentice, was now conferred in the third degree with the five points of fellowship, and the two linked words formerly bestowed on a fellowcraft were split between the first two degrees. The new Master Mason degree was centred on the myth of Hiram Abiff, which itself consists of three parts. The first is the biblical story of the Tyrian artisan with a Northern Israelite mother who became a master craftsman involved in the construction of King Solomon's Temple. The second is the story of his murder by subordinates, which is similar to one of the legends of the French Compagnonnage. Lastly, the story of the finding of his body, and the derivation therefrom of the five points of fellowship, which appears in the Graham Manuscript of 1725, where the body being sought and exhumed is that of Noah. The origin of this re-organisation is unknown. The earliest reference to the conferment of a third degree is from London, from the minutes of "Philo Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini", a short-lived musical society composed entirely of Freemasons. These minutes record the initiation and passing to the degree of Fellowcraft of Charles Cotton. Then, on 12 May 1725, the society took it upon itself to "pass" Brother Cotton and Brother Papillion Ball as Master Masons. This would nowadays be regarded as highly irregular. In March 1726 Gabriel Porterfield received the same degree in lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning in Scotland. That he was not the first is attested by the minutes of the lodge's foundation, only two months earlier, where Apprentices, Fellowcrafts, and Master Masons are recorded as attending. In December 1728, Greenock Kilwinning recorded separate fees for initiation, passing and raising.

Spread of Grand Lodges (1725–1750)

Initiation Paris 1745

Retinted to resemble Moderns Lodge 1805

Even in London, there were many lodges that never affiliated with the new Grand Lodge. These unaffiliated Masons and their Lodges were referred to as "Old Masons," or "St John Masons", and "St John Lodges". Nonetheless, the influence of the new central body spread quickly, and the 1725 minutes mention lodges in ten provincial towns as far north as Salford, with Provincial Grand Lodges in South Wales and Cheshire.

In the same year, a second Grand Lodge was founded in Ireland, which took several decades to bring all the Irish lodges under its wing. Rival Grand Lodges quickly appeared in Munster and Cork. It was in Ireland that the practice of recognising the regularity of a lodge by the issue of a warrant began, the first known example dating from 1731. The Grand Lodge of Scotland was not formed until 1736.

Also in 1725 "The Ancient and Honourable Society and Fraternity of Freemasons meeting since time immemorial in the City of York" assumed the title, " The Grand Lodge of All England meeting in the City of York." This should not be interpreted as rivalry, as there was no overlap in the two jurisdictions. Indeed, Anderson's history would have produced the expectation of an older Grand Lodge at York, and the London Lodges were duly furnished with minutes going back some twenty years. Anderson's 1738 Constitutions recognised the independence of "the Old Lodge of York City. and the Lodges of Scotland, Ireland. France, Italy, etc".

However, in 1735, the Master and Wardens of an Irish lodge were refused admission to Grand Lodge because they did not have the written authority of the Grand Master of Ireland. It seems that they hoped to be recognised as a deputation from Lord Kingston, then Grand Master of Ireland, and Past Grand Master of the London Grand Lodge. They were offered, and refused, the English authorisation. This has been interpreted as evidence of a split between the two constitutions.

Responding to the popularity of Pritchard's and other exposures of masonic ritual, Grand Lodge, about this time, made changes to ritual and passwords to make it more difficult for outsiders to pass themselves off as masons. These changes were not universally accepted by affiliated lodges. The Goose and Gridiron (now Lodge of Antiquity No. 2), one of the original and most senior lodges of the constitution, never adopted them. For the unaffiliated, the innovations simply deepened the division. At the time, London was absorbing many economic migrants from Ireland. Those who were already Freemasons felt that they could not work with the new ritual, and the lodges they formed swelled further the numbers of unaffiliated lodges in the capital.

In the same period, Freemasonry as practiced by the English, Irish and Scottish lodges began to spread to Europe. The establishment of the first Grand Lodge in France is particularly problematic. Freemasonry itself appears to have been established in France by exiled Jacobites. The Grand Lodge of France dates its foundation to 1728, when it claims the Grand Master was the Duke of Wharton. Some Grand Orient seals date the first Grand Lodge to 1736 (the split between the Grand Lodge and the Grand Orient occurred in 1773). French histories date the first Grand Lodge to 24 June 1738. The situation seems confused, as other histories state that the first legitimate Grand Lodge was formed on 11 December 1743 as "The English Grand Lodge of France" with the Count of Clermont as grand master. Although the government of the craft was in the hands of a series of deputies, the protection of the count until his death in 1771 afforded French Masonry a period of stability and growth. As Masonry was persecuted in other catholic states, the moral and egalitarian nature of the French lodges accorded with the spirit of the age.

Although Anderson seems to imply the existence of an Italian Grand Lodge, no such body existed until the creation of the Grand Orient of Italy in 1805. The first lodge was the English Lodge ("La Loggia degli Inglesi") in Florence, founded in 1731, and Freemasonry quickly spread, in spite of a series of Papal bans.

The first appearance of the many German Grand Lodges dates from the 1740s, notably "Of the Three Globes", founded in Berlin in 1744, which became the "Grand National Mother Lodge" in 1772. Frederick the Great became a Freemason while he was still Crown Prince and personally sanctioned the Berlin Lodge. Although a few authors cite the existence of German operative Grand Lodges as far back as that formed at Cologne Cathedral in 1250, continuity of tradition has been hard to prove, and most sources believe the Eighteenth-century German speculative lodges show descent from the English model.

Freemasonry was brought to the Russian Empire by foreign officers in the Russian service. For instance, James Keith is recorded as being master of a lodge in Saint Petersburg in 1732–34. Several years later his cousin John Keith, 3rd Earl of Kintore was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Russia by the Grand Lodge of England. In the early 1770s, Ivan Yelagin succeeded in reorganizing Russian Freemasonry into a far-reaching system that united some 14 lodges and about 400 government officials. He secured English authorization of the first Russian Grand Lodge and became its Provincial Grand Master. Most Russian lodges were attracted to the Swedish Rite. In 1782, Ivan Schwarz represented Russia at the masonic congress in Wilhelmsbad (a health resort in Hanau), where Russia was recognized as the 8th province of the Rite of Strict Observance. See History of Freemasonry in Russia for further details.

Lisburn is a city in Northern Ireland. It is 8 mi (13 km) southwest of Belfast city centre, on the River Lagan, which forms the boundary between County Antrim and County Down. Lisburn is part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. It had a population of 45,370 people in the 2011 Census. Formerly a borough, Lisburn was granted city status in 2002 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Golden jubilee celebrations. It is the third-largest city in Northern Ireland. Lisburn is one of the constituent cities that make up the Dublin-Belfast corridor region which has a population of just under 3 million.

The town was originally known as Lisnagarvy (also spelt Lisnagarvey or Lisnagarvagh) after the townland in which it formed. This is derived from Irish Lios na gCearrbhach 'ringfort of the gamesters/gamblers'. The origin of the town's current name is uncertain. The modern spelling Lisburn first appears in a January 1662 entry in church records. After February 1662, the name Lisnagarvy is no longer found in the records. One theory is that it comes from the Irish lios ('ringfort') and the Scots burn ('stream'). Another theory is that -burn refers to the burning of the town during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, but this is deemed unlikely. In his book Lisburn Cathedral and Its Past Rectors (1926), Reverend WP Carmody writes "This seems to be most improbable; after twenty years the burning would be a memory, and the loyal people of the town would not be disposed to give it a name that would be forever reminiscent of its destruction by rebels". There is evidence that the name existed even at the time of the rebellion. In the depositions concerning the rebellion, an English soldier stated on 9 June 1653 that the rebels entered the town of Lisnagarvy at "a place called Louzy Barne". Carmody believes that, in the town's early days, there were two co-existing ringforts: Lisnagarvy to the north and Lisburn to the south. He suggests that both names come from Irish and concludes: "Lisburn, being shorter and more easily pronounced by the English settlers, became the familiar name and Lisnagarvey gradually dropped out". The original name is still used in the titles of some local schools and sports teams.

Between 1954 and 1992 Lisburn contained the operational headquarters of No 31 Belfast Group Royal Observer Corps who operated from a protected nuclear bunker on Knox Road within Thiepval Barracks. Converted from a 1940s Anti-aircraft Operations Room (AAOR), the bunker would support over one hundred ROC volunteers and a ten-man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation warning team responsible for the four-minute warning in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK. The ROC would also have detected radioactive fallout from the nuclear bursts and warned the public of approaching fallout.

The two organisations were disbanded in 1992 at the end of the Cold War. In 2007 a commemorative plaque was mounted on the wall of the nuclear bunker which still stands, in recognition of the service of ROC volunteers in Northern Ireland.

Population    45,370 (2011 Census)

• Belfast         8 miles


Lisburn and Castlereagh


County Antrim

County Down

Becoming a Freemason in Northern Ireland

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Post town      LISBURN

Postcode district      BT27, BT28

Dialling code            028

Police Northern Ireland

Fire     Northern Ireland

Ambulance   Northern Ireland

UK Parliament        

Lagan Valley

NI Assembly

Lagan Valley