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No.7, The Grand Lodge of Scotland & Provincial Grand Lodge

grand lodge stained glass from south of temple

The Lodge has been actively involved with the business of both the Grand Lodge (of Scotland) and Provincial Grand Lodge (of Lanarkshire Middle Ward) since their inception and with the promotion of Freemasonry throughout the county over the last five century’s. An excerpt from the minute of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge in Edinburgh, on 5th August 1816 reads as follows: -

That it would lend much to the interests of Masonry in that part of the county were the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire (which is very widely extended) divided into 20 Districts, viz.: into the Upper and Middle Wards of Lanarkshire - that he had it from authority to say that this object was sanctioned and approved by Lord Archibald Hamilton, the Provincial Grand Master for that District

his grace, alexander 11th duke of hamilton painted by richard buckner

Thereafter the Province of the Middle Ward came into being on the 5th August, 1816 and comprised of 9 former Lodges, including Hamilton Kilwinning No.7; indeed, No.7 was the only one of these Lodges represented at the formation meeting of Grand Lodge in 1736. In 1838 Bro. Lord William Alexander, the 11th Duke of Hamilton & 8th Duke of Brandon, (whose portrait is displayed on the right, painted by Richard Buckner) was transferred from the Upper Ward to become Provincial Grand Master of the Middle Ward, however upon his death in 1863, our Provincial Grand Lodge fell into dormancy. The Minute Book from 1886 opens with the following preamble...

The Provincial Grand Lodge of the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire having been long in a state of dormancy, greatly to the detriment of the Masonic cause generally and to Lodges in the Province particularly, many Brethren felt that the state of matters should be speedily rectified. In order to effect such a purpose, the RWM of the senior Lodge in the Province (Hamilton Kilwinning No.7) took the initiative and towards the end of March 1866 he summoned a general meeting of the Brethren to meet in the Freemasons' Hall, Hamilton on 19th April, 1866.

At this meeting on 19th April, 1866, under the Chairmanship of Bro. John Dick, RWM (No.7), eleven out of the twelve Lodges in the Province were represented. It was the unanimous wish of those present that the Provincial Grand Lodge should be 'Raised from its slumbers' and a Provincial Grand Master appointed. Bro. James Merry of Belladrum, M.P., was unanimously recommended, approved by Grand Lodge and, after a brief ceremony of affliation to Lodge No.7, was duly installed in the presence of 600 Brethren at Hamilton Town Hall on 27th September 1866.

past pricipals jewel

Lt. Col. John Clark Forrest commenced his Masonic career by being initiated into Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 in 1862. He became Right Worshipful Master of No.7 in 1867 holding this position for three years (1869). Being Depute Master in the Provincial Grand Lodge, following the death of the Bro. James Merry of Belladrum, P.G.M., M.P. in 1877, Bro. Lt. Col. John Clark Forrest was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Middle Ward, a position he held till 1892. He became a Companion of Hamilton RAC No.172 and in 1878 was installed as the first Provincial Grand Superintendent (the Clark Forrest Past Principals PZ jewel is shown on the left) of the newly formed Royal Arch Province. Major Peter Spence was his Depute. Bro. Forrest was a member of the Royal Order of Scotland and attained the 32nd Degree. As Superintendent, JCF presented the Constitution to the new Blantyre Royal Arch Chapter No. 236, duly titled Clark Forrest, in December 1891 and installed all the Office Bearers in January 1892.

JCF resigned from both Provincial Grand offices in 1892 and was succeeded in both by Bro. Major Sir Robert King Stewart. In April 1893 he was honoured at a Masonic dinner and was presented by the fraternity, a full length portrait of himself (see photograph) painted by Mr. J. Henderson of Glasgow. In this impressive portrait he is wearing his dress uniform as Lt. Col. of the 5th VBSR and his regalia of Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master.

robert king stewart

In September 1892 the aforementioned Bro. Major Robert King Stewart of Murdostoun (No.7), was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Middle Ward. During his 38 years in office, 12 new Lodges were chartered and consecrated, including the revival of Lodges 440 and 471 which had been dormant. In January 1902 he was installed as Grand Junior Warden of Grand Lodge and in November 1913 installed as The Most Worshipful the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, (M.W.G.M.M.) at Grand Lodge in Edinburgh. RKS was appointed a Knight of the Order of the British Empire (K.B.E.) in 1918 in recognition of all his public services and also his Military position. RKS had also during this time followed his friend Lt. Col. John Clark Forrest by being installed as the Grand Superintendent of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Lanarkshire Middle Ward in 1892 and held this position till 1920. Sir Robert King Stewart died in a Glasgow nursing home on the 20th December 1930. The funeral was held on 24th December at Cambusnethan Church followed by a further service at Cambusnethan cemetery. In addition to the expected large family attendance, a representative of H.M. King George 5th was present as well as many civic and military mourners. The Masonic fraternity was well represented by the Grand Secretary, Substitute Grand Master, Grand Chaplain, Provincial Grand Secretary, Provincial Grand Treasurer, brethren of No.7 and many other lodges. The coffin was carried by soldiers from the 6th Battalion Cameronians.

His son, Captain John Christie Stewart (No.7), was installed as Provincial Grand Junior Deacon in April 1923 by his father and also progressed through the ranks and was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Middle Ward on February 1931. Bro. Captain J.C. Stewart served as Provincial Grand Master from 1931 till 1966. The Stewart family father and son led the Province of the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire for 74 consecutive years. In 1942 Captain J.C. Stewart once again followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming The Most Worshipful the Grand Master Mason of Scotland (1942 – 1945).

Today the Lodge remains prominent within Provincial Grand Lodge. Under successive commissions the Lodge has been represented by Bro. David Kerr PM and Bro. Alex Dick PM both of whom served as Substitute Provincial Grand Masters. Following on from them Bro. Tom Davidson was appointed as Junior Provincial Grand Chaplain under Bro. Kenneth D. Kennedy PGM and then as Substitute Provincial Grand Master under Bro. James L. Jack PGM. Continuing an illustrious tradition on the 18th June 2011 Bro. Tom Davidson was installed as the Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Middle Ward by the Depute Grand Master Mason of Scotland Bro. Hugh Bryson a commission that he held until 2016 when the Province celebrated its bicentenary.In November 2016 Bro. Tom was Installed as Grand Inner Guard of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Many of our brethren have brought great credit to Lodge Hamilton Kilwining No.7 over the years, and in more recent times Bro. James K. Borland PM achieved the rank of Grand Senior Warden in 1985. Honorary Grand Rank has been bestowed on a number of Brethren over many years – Bro. William Johnstone, Bro. Thomas J. Forfar(Secretary 1914-1950), Bro. Andrew Lang and Bro. Willie Cunningham PM. In more recent times, Bro. William Donaldson, Bro. James Ferguson, Bro. James Craik PM (Secretary 1963-1986) and Bro. Alex Dick PM (Hon. Grand Junior Deacon and a Past Substitute Provincial Grand Master) were bestowed this honour. Bro. Tom Davidson PM, currently holds the rank of Hon. Grand Senior Deacon and in 2012 Bro. Alex Stoddart was granted the rank of Hon. Grand Director of Ceremonies in recognition of his faithful service to the Lodge over the last 5 decades.

past masters jewel

A few years ago, Brothers Jack Crawford and Joe Thomson received 50 year Certificates. Joe held the office as Lodge Almoner for many years, giving much appreciated support to the sick and bereaved of the Lodge. More recently brethren who have reached this landmark include Bro. Alex H. Stoddart PM (whose Past Masters Jewel is shown on the left), Bro. John Cumming, Bro. Sam McReadie, Bro. Ian Gordon Snr, Bro. George Hosie and Bro. David Kerr, all of whom remain regular attendees. Notwithstanding the long service of these members, Bro. Roy Brown PM reached the significant landmark of 60 years of membership of the Lodge and on the 13th November 2013 was presented with a jubilee certificate by Bro. Tom Davidson Provincial Grand Master .

Long service by Brethren to the Lodge has become somewhat of a tradition which it is hoped will be emulated and continued over the years to come. Brethren who have served the Lodge with distinction include Brothers W. Andrew, G. Ogg, R. Ogg and R. Wilson who were presented with Diplomas of Distinguished Service Membership in 1994. Bro. W. Andrew held the post of Treasurer for some 25 years and retired as Hall Letting Agent after some 32 years. Brethren who have served in office for over 25 years include Bro. J. Craik as Secretary, Bro. W. Donaldson as Director of Ceremonies, Bro. D. Hastie as Bible-bearer and Bro. R. McMorris as Senior Steward for 29 years and Bro. W. Gilmour served as Hallkeeper for over 40 years. Bro. Robert Wilson is currently the longest living active Past Master and the late Bro. G. Ogg PM, who was the Lodge advisor on ceremony and history, attained high rank in other Masonic Orders, including being a member of the 32nd degree. In 2005, Bro. Alex H. Stoddart PM was presented a Diploma of Distinguished Service by the PGM Bro. James L. Jack. Bro. Alex, has twice been Master of the Lodge (1976-77 & 2001-2002) and has been in one office or another for over 40 years. In 2013 Bro. Jim Dorricott RWM was recognised for his contribution to the Lodge by also being awarded Distinguished Service Membership. Bro. Jim served the Lodge as Master in 1996 to 1997 and again in 2011 to 2013 and has held various offices but has particularly acquitted himself as an Installing Master on many occasions over his time in the Lodge.

The Lodge has always been keen to foster friendships with other Lodges and to Brethren outwith our immediate vicinity, such was the case in 1964 when the Lodge made its first visit to Saint Andrew's Lodge No.6073 (of the English Constitution, sadly now dormant) in Preston. The late Eric Whatmough P.M., during his year in office (1963), invited his Brother-in-Law, Don McNaughton, a member of No.7, to attend one of the Lodge Meetings. Thereafter a reciprocal visit was arranged and a relationship was born and, indeed until recent times, became an annual visit to and from Preston.

A number of our Brethren have close connections with The Boys' Brigade movement and indeed, Brother Robert Wilson P.M. was installed in 1965 by Lord Bruce, Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason (who later became 11th Earl of Elgin and 15th Earl of Kincardine). Lord Bruce was President of The Boys' Brigade at the time of the Installation of Robert (Tug) Wilson, who also was Captain of the 2nd Hamilton Battalion. It was initially through this Boys' Brigade connection that a friendship was struck with Brethren of Lodge Balcarres No.1240 and, in 1975, when our RWM was Robert (Bobby) Kerr and the RWM of Lodge Balcarres No. 1240 was Angus (Gus) Ballingall, our first Lodge visit was made. These annual visits between the Lodges have continued over many years.

Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 has acted as a sponsor Lodge for many local Lodges: Lodge St Andrew No.215, (Strathaven) in 1806, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557 in 1874, Lodge Kirkhill No.1230, (Cambuslang) in 1920 and Lodge The Duke of Hamilton No.1636, (Hamilton) in 1967. Visitations between Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 and all these Lodges still continue and are highly valued today.