information for the Lodge history has been gathered mainly
from Lodge minutes, and some from newsletters and
scrapbooks. I have taken, quite blatantly and without
remorse, copies of entries from the Historical Sketch
written in 1892 by my esteemed predecessor the late Br.
Thomas Ker, whom I have no doubt would have given his assent
gladly and would have readily agreed to the Lodge history
being updated. I make no claims to the authenticity of the
information contained herein, but accord my appreciation to
the number of Lodge Secretaries and Treasurers who over the
years have kept a record of the Lodge happenings.
is unique in that our workings
are slightly different from any other Lodge. I appeal to my
Masonic descendants to keep to the ancient landmarks and not
to be swayed by what appears to be a better way of working.
Make your motto "Its Aye Been”.
GIFFORD LEES (Proof Reading)
Lodge history was last written in 1892 by the late Br.
Thomas Ker and has now been updated by Br. Alex Burgon, PM.
Lodge 111 has seen many changes in the intervening years and
I am pleased to endorse this book, which I know will prove
interesting to all brethren who are interested in the Lodge
Workings over the past 225 years.
Laidlaw R.W.M. 1994
Granting of the Charter and early years
no doubt that a Masonry Lodge existed in Hawick possibly 100
years before the granting of a Charter from the Grand Lodge
of Scotland on 15th March 1768. Unfortunately how
and when Masonry came to Hawick and the Borders is unknown
but it is generally assumed that operative Masons from the
Continent who were building Melrose Abbey in 1136 brought
with them their form of Free Masonry.
The oldest recorded minute of any
Masonic meeting was 28th December 1598.
No records of previous meetings held
before 15th March 1768 can be found, so the real age of the
Lodge and exact date of its institution must remain a
subject of speculation, however, we know that at that time,
there existed “a Brotherly Society of Masons” in Hawick.
inclined to date their Lodge from the date of receiving
their Charter forgetting that practically all the older
Masonic Lodges arose from organizations connected with the
Charter was not a document issued by Grand Lodge for the
purpose of creating a new Lodge, but was the connecting link
which joined the hitherto independent Lodge with the Grand
Lodge of Scotland.
The Charter was granted by the Grand
Lodge of Scotland to the Hawick Lodge on the 15th
March 1768. Forty-seven members attended some of the first
meetings of the Lodge, but their initiations are not
recorded. These forty-seven brethren were members of the
Lodge when the Charter was received and must have been
initiated prior to that date.
The Lodge was given the number 141.
rules, framed by the Lodge in 1768, the first was to the
effect “ that no one was to be admitted under a fee of
one guinea, without distinction of operative or non
operative” (proving the Lodge was not confined to
years later, a Resolution was passed that operative Masons
could be admitted at half the usual fee. There is no record
of where the meetings were held, although some of the
earlier meetings were held in the Commercial Inn, which
stood near the site of the present Catholic Church Hall in
the first two years, after receiving its Charter the Lodge
appears to have been fairly prosperous but after 1770 it
fell into a languishing state, for there are no recorded
minutes between 1770 and 1774, the following extract shows
the brethren deplored the state into which the Lodge had
fallen and how ardently they desired to revive its
brethren having taken into their most serious consideration
the declined state of the Lodge and the consequential
thereof, and desirous that they should contribute all in
their power towards the restoring thereof, have this day met
and after making choice of the following of the brethren to
serve as officers till next quarterly meeting, viz Brothers
William Elliot, Master; Robert Erskine, Senior, and Andrew
Scott, junior Warden and James Wintrope, Secretary; Robert
Rodger, Treasurer; they resolve that as soon as may be they
will apply to the Grand Lodge for a renewal of their
brethren were under the false impression that Grand Lodge
had withdrawn the Charter, according to the Minute of the 21st
June 1781, the Secretary intimating that according to Grand
Lodge Secretary "that this Lodge of Hawick have not
forfeit their Charter and still stand on the roll”.
Master and Wardens met on the 12th December 1792
in the Cross Keys Inn, Hawick, to examine the books.
meeting on 29th December 1802, it was decided
"that the brethren constituting the Hawick St Johns Lodge
shall have quarterly meetings on the following Saint days: -
St Johns 27th December, St Patrick’s 17th
March, Summer/St Johns 24th June, and St Andrews
30th November". St Patrick’s day was
celebrated for a considerable number of years. Brethren not
attending on these occasions will be liable to pay the
penalty contained in the Minute Book.
early days, the office bearers were elected in a very
expeditious manner as the following entry testifies: -
“27th December 1804, the
brethren met to celebrate the festival of St John the
evangelist when it was agreed that on account of the
smallness of the meeting that the office bearers chosen at
last St John's day should be continued for the ensuing year,
and the office bearers present accepted accordingly."
It was also agreed that in order to
make the Lodge more respectable a fund ought to be raised
for purchasing jewels, extending charity to distressed
brethren, and to procure premises for use as a Lodge room.
A great uproar arose at the General
Meeting on 27th December 1814, "That Grand
Lodge was increasing the fees for entering, passing, and
raising shall be £1-6/6".
On 28th December 1816 Grand
Lodge purged the roll and the Lodge formerly 141 was given
the number 108.
A procession was held to lay the
foundation stone at the Subscription Rooms, Buccleuch Street
Hawick, and Lodges from Kelso (St. John and Tweed), Jedburgh
(St John and St Andrew's), Selkirk, Langholm (Eskdale
Kilwinning and St Torvald), Galashiels and Yetholm Beaumont
Lodge (now defunct), were invited to take part on that
occasion. A leaden casket containing coins, a copy of the
Charter of the Burgh and account of its history etc
A deputation was sent to Abbotsford to
request the honour of the company of Sir Walter Scott at the
laying of the stone and to preside upon the occasion, but he
was unable to attend. The R.W.M. Brother Francis Ballantyne
deposited the casket in the stone, which was laid with full
Masonic honours. The procession then proceeded to the Tower
Inn, where 112 brethren sat down to dinner. This ceremony
was the last occasion on which the brethren of St Andrews
Lodge, Jedburgh, made a public appearance, that Lodge
becoming dormant shortly afterwards.
1828, correspondence took place between the secretaries of
the Hawick Lodge and Grand Lodge regarding the number held
on Grand Lodge roll, Grand Secretary having issued a
circular which gave the number of Hawick Lodge as 111.The
Hawick Secretary wrote stating the number was not 111 but
108, and the diplomas issued during the last thirteen years
had been issued under 108 and the circulars issued by Grand
Lodge during these years had given the number 108. He
further stated that the first circular from Grand Lodge
quoting the number as 108 was dated 1816.
Secretary replied on 22nd April 1828, and in the course of
his letter stated “I received your very incourteous
letter this morning and am sorry to state, that, if you had
taken as much pains to endeavour to understand what was
quite plain to anyone else, as you have to display your own
ignorance for having blundered on for the past eleven years,
does not surprise me. The number of Hawick was 111, and
never 108”. He wrote a further letter on 28th April
1828 from which the following extract is taken: -
have made enquiries at the Grand Clerk regarding the mistake
you mentioned, who informs me that your Lodge got the
temporary number about ten years ago from 141 to 108 until a
new roll should be made Out incorporating the Kilwinning
Lodges, agreeable to the agreement made with them in the
year 1806. It was only last year that a new roll was
completed after a long period of much labour and research by
the Grand Lodge and the officers appointed for the purpose,
shewing the real numbers of each Lodge in Scotland after
expunging from the former roll those Lodges that had been
struck off from time to time either on account of dormancy
or non compliance with the enactments of the Grand Lodge
regarding the arrears of dues. The new roll was made Out
according to the dates of the original grants or charters,
and having been most accurately compared with the original
dates may now be said to be the most complete and correct
that has ever been issued, and I can assure you that so far
from wishing to keep back the Hawick Lodge it now stands in
its proper place as number 111."
The minute book, which records Lodge
meetings from 1768 to 1859 unfortunately, displays several
wide gaps between some of the entries. There were no returns
to Grand Lodge between 1827 and 1861 (Between 1832 and 1873
there were several outbreaks of cholera in Hawick, the most
severe between July and November of 1849, one hundred and
forty one deaths due to the disease being recorded). The
brethren would naturally be reluctant to gather together in
close contact and perhaps this was the reason for the
discrepancy). Two candidates were admitted in 1828 and in
1830 there were three candidates, one candidate in 1847 and
one candidate in 1849.
0n 3rd August 1832,one
thousand men of all trades including fifty brethren dined in
the Upper Haugh to celebrate The Great Cause of National
A letter was sent to Grand Lodge on 21st
June 1833 “It is with painful feelings that I have to
acquaint you that our Lodge is in a very depressed state”.
The lodge was struck off the Grand Lodge roll, the
Charter recalled and quietly "fell asleep", and remained in
a state of dormancy for about 23 years, and in between after
ten years, awoke to do a little business. In 1847 four
meetings were recorded at which one new member was admitted,
then the lodge" fell asleep" again until 1860,
although in 1857 signs of a coming change were visible on
the surface and a small band of brethren, with the
premonition of the coming change began to put their house in
order, as the following entries occur:
"21st December 1857,
The four undersigned met in Mrs.
Grieve’s Crown Inn, and examined the chest which contained
the jewels belonging to the Hawick St. John’s Lodge and
found the eight jewels in it, but somehow or other the chest
was forced open by some person or persons”.