History of the Friendly Lodge from 1797 to 1972

This history was published in the 1972 Order of Ceremony of Celebrations and Thanksgiving Service in connection with the one hundred and seventy fifth anniversary of the founding of Friendly Lodge No 239, District No.2 E.C A.F & A.M.; Wor. Bro. Stuart A. Nethersole, Master. The ceremony was held at the Freemasons' building, MacGregor Square in Kingson Jamaica on Tuesday, December 12, 1972.

 


 

HISTORY
of
THE FRIENDLY LODGE

No. 239, Dist. No. 2 E.C.

On Our 175th Anniversary — Dec. 12, 1972
1797 to 1972

ORIGIN OF THE LODGE

It appears, beyond doubt, that the Friendly Lodge No. 239 was an offshoot of Union Lodge No. 257 and was first constituted on the 12th December, 1797, under local Warrant No. 8 of the Atholl Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica. On the 29th December, 1796, and again on the 17th June, 1797, several Brethren of Union Lodge, through Wor. Bro. Solomon Morales, P.M., wrote the Secretary of the Atholl Grand Lodge asking for a Warrant to constitute a new Lodge giving as their reason that "we were in the Union Lodge too numerous." Wor. Bro. Morales' letter reads as follows —

Jamaica, June 17, 1797.

Robt. Leslie, Esq.,

Sir,

I expected ere this to have heard from you respecting the letter delivered you by Mr. Sampson Lucas, and the one I enclosed since his arrival to Messrs. Newton & Levy, dated 29th December, my intentions therein was particularly requesting a Warrant directed for me to establish a Lodge, as we were in the Union Lodge too numerous. Those Gentlemen had directions to pay you for the same.

If you would oblige me, I will thank you, nominating me as Master, Mr. David Sanches, Snr. W. and Abraham P. Mendez, Jnr., Junr. W.
In hopes of seeing it out some time we have been at a great expense to get Jewels in this country and other decorations for the reception of said Warrant, which has cost us not less than near £50 this currency.

We want no more than the bare Warrant, as to Constitution Books there are plenty in this Town, in the General Library to be purchased, our ByeLaws are local for the Constitution of this country, therefore we can make them. The expense of the Warrant will not exceed more than 2 or 3 gs. which Messrs. Newton & Levy has orders from Mr. Lucas to pay — the members who may compose said Lodge, are already recorded in the Grand Lodge at home, therefore there is nothing to be paid on their admission to a Record. I pray Sir, that I may have the honour of a line from you for my government directed "thus" Solomon Morales at the store of John Hinde, Esq., March, Kingston, Jamaica, pardon this trouble and only wish to make it reciprocal, remaining with every respect,

Yr. Assd. and Hble. Scr.
(Signed) SOL. MORALES.

In tracing the history of the Lodge it would perhaps be of interest to recall the constitution of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica under the "Atholl" or "Ancient" Grand Lodge, which was by Patent addressed to the Wor. Bro. the Hon. William Blake in 1796. That Worshipful Brother having died before the formation of Provincial Grand Lodge, some delay occurred in the organization of the Lodges under that constitution, but the Brethren of the Craft in thiS Island being alive to the importance of taking advantage of the warrant procured a worthy successor in the person of Wor. Bro. Col. William Vick of the Artillery Lodge No. 262. It was under the presidency of this Brother that the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Atholls was organized and held their first meeting on the 12th day of December, 1797.

The Lodges which met to form the Provincial Grand Lodge were Union No. 257, Artillery No. 262, Harmony No. 281, Royal No. 283 and Unity No. 288. Of these only the Royal Lodge — now No. 207 — continues.

It was at this first meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge that the .Friendly Lodge was constituted under Local Warrant or Dispensation No. 8 issued by the Provincial Grand Master. This Provincial number appears on several of the Officers' Jewels, which are of sterling silver, while other Jewels, presentations from Bro. Bernard Stiebel, bear the No. 438. On the local Warrant or Dispensation being returned for Registration, Engraved Warrant No. 342 was issued in exchange on 31st January, 1809. At the Union, 181314, the Friendly Lodge was renumbered as 438. From 438, the number was changed in 1832, to No. 291, until the closing up of numbers in 1863, when it became and still is No. 239.

Despite his letter of June, 1797, Wor. Bro. Morales was not, in fact, the first Master of the Friendly Lodge. The first Officers of the Lodge were:

  • Bro. Abraham D'C Alvarenga, Wor. Master
  • Bro. Abraham P. Mendez, Senior Warden
  • Bro. Solomon Bonito, Junior Warden

FIRST MEETING:

The Lodge held its first meeting immediately after its constitution in December, 1797, possibly on the same day, as it appears from the records that its second meeting was held on the 12th January, 1798; its third meeting on the 13th February, 1798; and thereafter regularly every month. The Election and Installation of Worshipful Master and Officers took place every six months until the date of the receipt of the regular Engraved Warrant in 1809, when the Election and Installation was fixed for every year. The original text of the Warrant is annexed to this history.

The first meeting held under this regular Warrant was on the 5th December, 1810. It is impossible to account for the delay which occurred between the granting of the regular Warrant and the holding of the first meeting thereunder, but without doubt, there was good cause. Perhaps the postal services were no less immune to haste in those days than the present.

FIRST CENTENARY

The regular and continuous working of the Lodge from that time up to 1897, was established beyond doubt in that year to the satisfaction of the then Most Worshipful Grand Master who, on the petition of the Worshipful Master, Officers and Members of the Lodge, granted the Lodge a Centenary Warrant with permission to wear the Centenary Jewel. A copy of The Petition and The Centenary Warrant are annexed as an essential to the understanding and record of these first 175 years.

Report was made to the Lodge at its meeting on the 13th December, 1897, that the Centenary Warrant had been received and the celebration took place on the 14th February, 1898, at which meeting the Worshipful Master was also installed and the appointment and investiture of Officers took place.

Wor. Bro. Owen L. Samuel, historian at the time of the 150th anniversary celebrations in 1947, expressed an earnest desire that the Petition should be preserved in extenso by subsequent historians. The present writer, having willingly complied echoes his words to those who follow.

The Lodge was indebted to Worshipful Bro. Emanuel X. Leon in establishing its right to petition for a Centenary Warrant. It was whilst making searches in the Grand Secretary's office in England, in connection with the Centenary of the Royal Lodge No. 207 that he discovered returns and other documents referring to this Lodge, and which showed the existence of the Lodge before the date of its Engraved Warrant.

LANDMARKS

The Brethren of the Lodge have, from time to time, held different offices in the Provincial and District Grand Lodge. From 1801 to 1809, the Provincial Grand Lodge was in charge of Worshipful Bro. Isaac Morales, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, when Rt. Worshipful Bro. Moses Belezario was appointed Provincial Grand Master, having as his deputy, Worshipful Bro. A. D'C Alvarenga. From 1828 to 1832, Worshipful Bro. Daniel Jacobs was Deputy Provincial Grand Master and administered the affairs of the District during the absence of Rt. Worshipful Bro. Sir. M. B. Clare on several occasions.

In 1879, Worshipful Bro. Altamont DeCordova was appointed Deputy District Grand Master and was in charge of the District from the death of Rt. Worshipful Bro. Dr. Robert Hamilton in 1880, until the 22nd July, 1886.

On the 3rd June, 1909, Rt. Worshipful Bro. Sir John Pringle, whilst filling the position of Senior Warden of this Lodge, was appointed District Grand Master and was duly installed on the 27th July, 1910. In the interim, namely on the 8th February, 1910, he was installed as Worshipful Master of this Lodge by his predecessor, Wor. Bro. Frank E. Lyons, P.G., Std., Br., P.D.G.W. It is believed that such an event, namely, that the retiring Master of a subordinate Lodge should have the honour and dignity of performing the ceremony of installing and investing as his successor, the District Grand Master of the ruling body, who was not yet an Installed Master is unique in the annals of Freemasonry throughout the entire world. In 1952, Wor. Bro. Frank E. Lyons, established yet another landmark when he was installed for the third time as Master of this Lodge and on his fiftieth anniversary in the craft.

On the 24th of June, 1924, Wor. Bro. Alfred D'C Myers was appointed and installed Deputy District Grand Master, which position he held until 1927. Wor. Bro. Ernest H. deSouza, while serving as W. M. of the Friendly Lodge, December, 1967, was elected Master of the Sussex Lodge 354, E.C. He was installed by dispensation January, 1968, thus holding the two Masterships simultaneously an achievement not previously recorded in Masonry in Jamaica.

MEETING PLACES

It would seem that the first meeting place of the Lodge, after being constituted, was "The Lodge Room" in Port Royal Street, Kingston. It is impossible to say, at this stage, for what period the Lodge continued to meet at that address, but on the 23rd November, 1869, the Lodge purchased No. 23 Hanover Street, Kingston, which was afterwards known as the Friendly Lodge building and was used continuously as our meeting place until 1892/3, when the premises were sold and the Lodge transferred its meetings to Sussex Hall, Hanover Street, wherein all the Lodges then met. The Lodge continued to meet there until 1907, when Sussex Hall was totally destroyed by the great earthquake on the 14th January in that year, after which meetings were held at various places by special dispensation until the 10th August, 1908, when the meetings were held at a temporary building erected at No. 80 Hanover Street, Kingston, the site of the present Masonic Temple. This current year, 1972, the Lodge has been meeting by dispensation in the Freemasons' Building, McGregor Square, until such time as the necessary relocation of the English Constitution from Hanover Street is brought to a conclusion.

SUPREME SACRIFICE

This century has seen two great wars involving the majority of countries in which Masonry has its roots. In 19141918, and again in 19391945, the spectre of Dictatorship and repression of all that Masonry holds dear threatened civilization as we know it. The effects are still with us although at this present time most parts of the world enjoy a semblance of uneasy peace.

A very severe loss to Masonry, due to the last war, was the death of the Most Worshipful Grand Master H.R.H. the Duke of Kent, who was killed in an aeroplane accident whilst on active service. Several Brethren of the Friendly Lodge served in the fighting forces, two of whom:— Bro. Leslie S. Melhado and Bro. Alfred G. Henriques, Jr., the latter having only received his Second, made the supreme sacrifice.

125th ANNIVERSARY

On Tuesday, 12th December, 1922 (the regular meeting date of the Lodge and the same date of the month as it was first constituted), the Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary in a fitting manner, by a simple and beautiful ceremony in the presence of the District Grand Master of the English Constitution, and his Deputy, and the District Grand Master Depute in charge of the Scottish Constitution and a very large and representative gathering of Free Masons from all parts of the Island.

150th ANNIVERSARY

On Wednesday, December 17, 1947, at an elaborate ceremony, the Lodge celebrated its 150th anniversary in a most fitting manner, in the presence of the Very Wor. Bro. Sir Ernest Cooper, D.L., President of the Board of General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Right Wor. the District Grand Master of Jamaica and of the Right Wor. the District Grand Master of Jamaica Scottish Constitution and of a large assembly of Brethren f r o m all parts of the Island. Wor. Bro. Vernon S. C. Henriques was Master of the Lodge and Wor. Bro. Leslie R. Mordecai, P.D.G.W., was Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements.

OUR HERITAGE

The Friendly Lodge can look back upon one hundred and seventy five years of progress from the time of its inception. The numerical strength of the Lodge has not varied to any great extent, existing records showing few more or less than one hundred members at any one time. The World itself, however, has shown considerable change. From the Horse and Carriage of the eighteenth century to the Moon Landings of the nineteen seventies is a far step. From the European centred society of the seventeen nineties, to our World of multiple races and nationalities, meeting now in an equality our Brotherhood has demonstrated from time immemorial, is perhaps an even greater step. Though the World may change, certain other things do not, and one of the unchanging attributes of this Lodge will ever be the strength it derives from the fact that so many of its Members are bound to it by ties firmly built by their ancestors, whose veneration for the Lodge has descended in an unbroken chain, giving their descendants the desire for Membership and that love for it, which is their proudest heritage.

Thus as on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Lodge and again on this the 175th anniversary, several of the administration and other members have the proudest honour of visualizing a father, grandfather, great grandfather or uncle occupying the highest chair of K. S. in this their mother Lodge. And may it ever be so.