THE STOW LODGE HISTORY AND ORIGINS
Chartered 8th December 1806
There can be no doubt that the Stow Lodge is a direct descendant of the Old Lodge of Haughfoot, whose records date from 1702.
Unfortunately, the connecting links in the shape of minute books and other documents are wanting, although the evidence of the Haughfoot minutes indisputably associates Stow with the Haughfoot Lodge and the practice of Freemasonry from the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The Stow Lodge of Freemasons was 200 years old in December 2006.
The Charter Date of 1806 refers to the Charter Granted to the Lodge at Stow by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
Masonic activity in Stow can be proven prior to the consecration date of 1806. The full extent of the activity before that date cannot be documented in detail, but in common with many other Scottish Lodges we know that masons were active in the Stow area before this Charter date.
In common with the Galashiels Lodge No 262 (chartered 1821) we can show that Masons were active in some shape or form in Galashiels and Stow prior to each Lodge's Charter date.
The Galashiels Lodge No 262 and the Stow Lodge No 216 have good reason to believe that masons who were part of The Haughfoot Lodge which operated at Haughfoot just 1 mile South of Stow and 5 miles North of Galashiels from 1702 - 1763 remained active in the area - passed on their trade secrets to successive generations and that those independent masons in the two localities continued to practise freemasonry after the demise of The Haughfoot Lodge in 1763, however, proving a continuous link has so far proved impossible.
Many scholars have previously studied all the evidence available - so for us to attempt to do so today would be unlikely to prove anything new.
The factual evidence is:-
(1) The Haughfoot Lodge of Masons existed from
(2) Brethren from Stow visited Lodge No 10 Dalkeith prior to 1806 - (Lodge Dalkieth No 10 Minute Book)
(3) Brethren from Galashiels approached Lodge Peebles Kilwinning No 24 in 1794 requesting that Peebles grant them a Charter to form a Lodge in Galashiels - (Lodge Peebles Kilwinning No 24 Minute Book)
So in a similar way to The Haughfoot Lodge which came about
in 1702 without any direct connection or reference to another pre-existing
Lodge - The Stow and Galashiels Lodges were formed by those who were already
qualified as Freemasons.
At the time that the Stow Masons petitioned the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Charter for a "New" Lodge in Stow - The Secret Societies Act 1799 prevailed.
This Act expressly exempted Lodges of Freemasons, however, The Grand Lodges thought it prudent not to issue New Charters to Lodges until clarification had been sought. During that uncertain period no new charters were issued by The Grand Lodge of Scotland.
To get round this older Charters which had been returned to the Grand Lodge by Lodges which had become "Dormant" were re-issued.
Stow Lodge was one of a small number of lodges chartered in this way The Lodge was originally Issued with a Charter granted to a "Cumberland Kilwinning" Lodge No 55 in 1746 and based in Peebles?
This Lodge became Dormant in 1785 and was "erased" in 1809. In referring to Cumberland Kilwinning Lodge with the Charter No 55 - I should mention that another Lodge of the same name exists to this day on the Roll - and that Lodge's number is 217! Is this more than a co-incidence?
I think the two must be connected - This Lodge was originally Chartered by Mother Kilwinning - the date - 4th February 1747 - quite close to the date shown for Lodge No 55.
The present day Cumberland Kilwinning Lodge joined the Grand Lodge 2 February 1807 Up to this date Mother Kilwinning continued to grant Charters to Lodges and following a reconciliation in 1807 which stated:-
i. That the Mother Lodge Kilwinning shall renounce all
right to granting Charters, and come in along with all the Lodges holding
under her, to the bosom of the Grand Lodge.
ii. That all the Lodges holding of the Mother Lodge shall be obliged to obtain from the Grand Lodge, confirmation of their respective charters, for which a fee of three guineas only shall be exigible.
iii. The Mother Kilwinning shall be placed at the head of the Roll of the Grand Lodge under the denomination of Mother Kilwinning; and her Daughter Lodges shall, in the meantime, be placed at the end of the said Roll, and as they shall apply for confirmation; but under this express declaration, that so soon as the roll shall be arranged and corrected, which is in present contemplation, the Lodges holding of Mother Kilwinning shall be entitled to be ranked according to the dates of their original charters, and of those granted by the Grand Lodge.
The fact that the present day Cumberland
Kilwinning remains with the number 217 suggests to me that this Lodge had
lost - handed over or in some other way disposed of it's original Charter
- This requires further investigation but it does seem likely that the Charter
which was issued to The Stow Lodge was connected to the present day Cumberland
Kilwinning Lodge No 217.
The two sponsor Lodges of the Stow Lodge were Dalkeith Kilwinning No 10 and St Luke (Lauder) No 132 The Stow Lodge Number has changed over the years. It was numbered 284 in 1807 - changed to 211 in 1816 - re-numbered 215 in 1822 and given the number 216 in 1826.
The Stow Lodge Regalia Colour has also changed over the years. From Blue in 1848 - to Light Blue in 1896 - and then Light Blue and Silver in 1923.
(Lodge Numbering info taken from - Scottish Masonic Records - GS Draffen)
Our existing minute books do not go further back than 1829.
There is a register of members and their quarterly payments from the 17th February, 1807. From this we see that at that time there were twenty-nine members on the roll. The number at the end of the following year had risen to thirty-six, and in 1810 to forty- three, whilst at the end of the volume the number given for the years 1857-58 totals to 114.
Prefixed to the register of members and their payments is the following set of rules:-
I. That none shall be admitted into this Society but such
as are of an honest, decent and respectable character and when any one of
this description shall apply a report shall be made of him to the Lodge
and if no objections are made, a day appointed for his admittance.
II. Every member at his entry shall pay for the benefit of the Box Seven Shillings and sixpence Stg. If not an operative Mason, but if an operative Six Shillings only.
III. Every member of the Lodge shall annually pay the sum of _______ to be laid up in the Box.
IV. The stated meetings of this society shall be as follows viz. The first on the Monday before Stow Fair at five O’clock afternoon. The Second on the first Friday of December at six O’clock in the afternoon. The third or General Meeting on St.John’s Day being the 27th of December when the annual payments are to be made effectual to the Box.
V. All the Brethren shall attend on St.John’s day at 11o’clock forenoon dine together at Stow about ________
After dinner the Lodge is to be opened and the evening to be spent in Masonic concerns with convivial songs & etc, etc,
Whoever shall absent themselves from this General meeting if in bodily health & within the distance of ten miles shall pay a fine, an office bearer one shilling an ordinary member sixpence to be lodged in the Box for the augmentation of the Funds.
If any entered Brother wish to Join this Association, and continue in it, he shall at his admission pay Half a Crown into the Box, and his other Proportions afterward along with the rest of the Brethren.
While the Public Business of the Society is going on, decency and good order shall be attended to.
Only one to speak at a time and to direct his Discourse to the Grand Master.
No private conversation to be allowed among Members during a Debate. Neither shall any be Permitted to turn on his opponent as if directing his speech to him, nor interrupt another while speaking under penalty of Two pence to be lodged in the Box.
If any Member shall be convicted of swearing or using unbecoming language at any of the Meeting or making himself disagreeable to the Society by excess in drinking shall incur a penalty of sixpence to be paid immediately into the Box.
All the affairs of this Society and every difference that may arise shall be decided by a majority of votes the Grand Master to have two and every other member one.
This Society shall never be dissolved as long as there are three members willing to continue in it & stand by the regulations thereof.
And whoever shall promote the dissolution of it, or obstinately break any of its laws, shall (unless by repentance & promise of better behavior he finds pardon) be excluded.