Chapter VII

THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA IN AMERICA

The oldest records we have of the Order in America point to the fact that Sir Knight George Donaldson, Past Grand Master, on leaving Glasgow took with him Warrant No 2., and succeeded in having it established in Montreal. The exact date we cannot trace, but we may safely assume that it was between the years 1841 and 1843, most likely the former. In like manner Thomas Johnston took out Warrant No. 31, which he installed at Hornby-town (33 miles from Toronto) in July 1844. The day of the month is not given, but it was the Thursday before the 8th of the month. On 18th October, 1844, Sir Knight John Wilson (late of No. 24, Glasgow) made application for a Warrant for Toronto. After several letters had passed between him and the Grand Lodge, it was agreed to send him Warrant No. 4. In connection therewith we quote the following from the minutes of Grand Lodge meeting, held on 9th December, 1844:--

"It was agreed to send No. 4 Warrant to Toronto, Upper Canada, to Sir knight John Wilson, and that they be sent under insurance, and that he be empowered to act as a Deputy Grand Master."

We may here note that acting on the suggestion of Sir Knight Wilson, the seal was kept apart from the Warrant, put in a tin box, and carefully soldered up. The whole, Warrant, Rules, Rituals, box, etc., were sent by messenger, and the messenger not a member of the Order but declared by Sir Knight Wilson to be trustworthy. On two separate documents we have the information that this box cost one shilling and sixpence. The Warrant was received by Sir Knight Wilson on the 14th June, 1845, and the Encampment was opened on the 24th June, 1845, by Sir Knight James Bridge, Master of No. 31. Hornby, as installing officer; John Wilson being installed as Master. At the end of the first quarter they reported 30 members.

On the 8th of October, 1845, Sir Knight Wilson wrote a long letter from which we quote the following:--

"At a meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of British North America, held in Toronto last June, it was resolved to revive the Order of Arch-Purple which till then was not recognised by them, although given by many lodges through the Province, and I am sorry to say given with too much mixture which did not belong to it. For the purpose of settling it and other matters connected with the Orange Institution, there was a meeting of delegates held in Kingston to which we in Toronto sent two delegates, who met with the Grand Master, Robert Gowan, and a few others. On a report of our Black Number being in Toronto and doing well, he (the Grand Master) produced what he called a precept and a certificate from the "Royal Britannic" of Manchester, authorising him to initiate members under said precept. From what I can ascertain he with some others intend having an engraving done in Toronto (in which place the said precept is in the hands of an engraver for a specimen) for the purpose of having Warrants issued out through the Province under Mr. Gowan's authority. I have written a letter to George Donaldson for information on the subject, for it is thought by some of them to unite ours within its jurisdiction, and for it to be No. I of Canada. I believe some of our members would be favourable to such a project, and so would many more of the Orangemen of Canada, on account of it coming from the head of the Orange Institution in America. One thing is certain, suppose they do get out some Warrants from this precept of Mr. Gowan's, their members can never come into our lodges. However, I know that if there was a possibility of getting Warrants in Canada, there would be a great many more through Canada than there are. I have not had time to get an answer from Sir Knight Donaldson yet, and the reason why I did not wait for a letter from him is, in the first place, to press immediately on you to make inquiry whether there is such a thing in existence now as the "Royal Britannic" in Manchester, or when it did exist, and write me on the subject at the earliest opportunity."

Sir Knight Wilson made these circumstances the basis of an appeal to Grand Lodge for some method of obtaining Warrants without the tedious delay of sending to Glasgow for them; as a temporary method he suggested that Sir Knight George Donaldson should be entrusted with a few Warrant forms, to be filled in as required. After a lengthy correspondence, a Provincial Grand Warrant was granted to Sir Knight John Wilson, and known as the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada (West). We have no particulars as to the date.

About this time there was a correspondence going on between Grand Lodge and the brethren of Quebec, to whom the following letter was addressed:--

"GLASGOW, November 5th, 1851.

"Sir Knight Companions,--Your petition of 20th September, 1850, has lain over unnoticed until our last meeting, when it was brought forward and received a unanimous consent. Providing the brethren of Quebec are willing to pay the expenses, we will send them out a commission to establish a Provincial Grand Lodge for British North America; we will send it free of postage expenses, together with all the appendages for 2, as soon as we receive your cheque for the amount. You may think this is a strange way of going to work, but it is a rule of Grand Lodge and we cannot break them: so you will be so kind as let me know by return of post. You will also please send the names of the individuals that are to be your Sir Knight Commander and Deputy Commander, so that they may be inserted in your Commission. The cutting of the plate for this Commission has cost the Grand Lodge I 10s. It is quite different from that of a Warrant."

(Signed) FRANCIS H. CLARK, Secy. G.B.L.S."

The confession with which this letter begins would scarcely be tolerated by the Companions of today. A petition which had lain aside for twelve months was brought forward, and the prayer of the petition granted by a unanimous vote. How grateful the Sir Knights of Quebec must have felt at the magnanimity of Grand Lodge. We hope they duly tendered their kindest thanks for the prompt consideration given to their humble petition; if not we should say they failed in their duty, and were guilty of gross disrespect to their superiors. We presume that the Warrant to Canada (West) was granted during the interval between the writing of this letter and the granting of the Warrant to which it refers; as when it was granted to John Lindsay on 10th February, 1854, it was named Canada (East) and not British North America.

The next notice we have of them is in the minutes of a meeting of Grand Lodge, held on 24th September, 1858:--

"Some discussion took place as to whether we should unite the whole of British North America under one Provincial Grand Priory, seeing that the brethren of Canada (West) had not been acting up to the terms on which their authority was granted. A series of resolutions bearing on the subject were agreed to. First--'That British North America be united under one Commission, and that said Commission under the great seal of the Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe, shall be the only legal authority henceforth for working upon throughout said territories, always excepting such Warrants as may be granted under authority of said Commission.' Second--'That there be no charge made for the Commission thus granted with extended power, but that the brethren of British North America be notified that it is left to themselves to consider what is a fair and reasonable amount to pay for their extended power.' Third--'That as the Provincial Grand Priors of Canada (East) have with earnestness and zeal devoted themselves to the skillful working and propagation of the Order throughout the bounds over which their authority has heretofore extended, the title of Provincial Grand Master of British North America be bestowed on the present Provincial Grand Prior thereof, and each of his lawful successors, as a token of our appreciation thereof; be it therefore known to all and sundry that the Knight Worshipful Sir T. C. Knowles, and each and all of his duly elected successors in office, are to be known and designated Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of British North America.' Fourth--'That the Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer be empowered to draw up a form of Commission suitable for such extention of power as has just been resolved upon.'"

The form of Commission was duly drawn up and presented at the meeting of Grand Lodge on 28th December, 1858, and approved of by the Knights present. For the next ten years there has been nothing preserved of the American correspondence, but that the Order was working during that time is certain. The next communication we have is dated 16th September, 1868, when a letter was read at a meeting of Grand Council from "William Cook of Williamsburgh intimating that there was a Provincial working in New York, under the seal of the Grand Black of England." This is probably an error. We know of no Grand Lodge of England that could possibly have granted it. It is more likely to have been the Provincial Warrant of British North America, granted as we have noticed in 1858, or it may have been the Commission of Canada West, granted (presumably) in 1851, and cancelled in 1858. At a meeting of Grand Council, 1st March, 1871, a letter was read from Sir Knight Zhawood, Toronto, asking to be advised what to do in case of members of the Black Chapter of Ireland applying for admission to an Encampment of Knights of Malta, to which he received the following answer:--

"You can take members of the Black Chapter of Ireland, if they are recommended by two well-known Knights of Malta, and by promising not to dispense the Order of Knights of Malta in any place only in a regularly convoked Encampment of Knights of Malta, the same holding their authority from the Imperial Grand Black Encampment of the Universe, and that they will not apply to any other Preceptory, Lodge, or Encampment for a certificate."

On 21st December, 1871, a petition from the Sir Knights of Toronto requesting the granting of a Provincial Warrant for Upper-Canada, was considered and left over till next meeting, when on 14th January, 1873, the petition was unanimously approved, and the Warrant granted. On 28th January, another meeting was held to consider an application from the Sir Knights of Toronto for a Sir Knight well posted in all the degrees to be sent out to Canada. On 21st May, 1873, Sir Knight Joseph Norwood (Grand Treasurer,) was appointed as delegate from Grand Lodge to Canada, and Sir Knight John Rogan (late Commander of No. 1,) volunteered to accompany him. It was agreed that they both go on equal footing with each other. The Provincial was superseded by a Kingdom Warrant for British North America on 26th December, 1874. On arrival it did not please, so on 6th March, 1875, Grand Council was again considering the matter. The Canadians "complained that the Warrant which they had received was of no use as they wished an Independent Authority, without any connection with Scotland." Again on 1st April, 1875, another request came up, this time they wanted the word "British" struck out, and they were granted liberty to strike it out. On 18th April, 1875, Grand Council was again considering the relation which the Supreme Black Encampment of America should hold towards the Imperial Grand Black Encampment. A resolution was drawn up by Sir Knight Thomas Macklin, and read, when it was approved of and ordered to be laid before the coming Grand Lodge meeting. Grand Lodge met on 19th June, 1875, when Sir Knight Thomas Macklin submitted the following resolution, which was unanimously agreed to:--

"That the Imperial Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe do hereby give and grant full Grand Lodge power to issue Warrants, try cases, rule, guide, and govern, to the Supreme Grand Black Encampment of Toronto, Province of Ontario, British America or New Dominion. And power is now hereby given to the said Supreme Grand Black Encampment to issue Warrants, try cases, rule, guide, and govern all and every Encampment of the Universe in and throughout British America and the whole American Continent, the only condition being that said Supreme Grand Encampment pay to the Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe the sum of three-pence for each private Encampment under their authority."

Although it is not so stated here, it may be understood that this was an annual tax. On 9th August, 1875, there was read at a meeting of Grand Council a resolution adopted at the Annual Meeting of the Supreme Grand Black Encampment of America, viz:--

"That the Knights of Malta in Canada should not be confined to members of the Orange Order, but should be open to all true Protestants."

After some discussion the further consideration of the matter was postponed till a future meeting. It was again discussed at a meeting of Council on 17th August, 1875, when the following Resolution was passed:--

"That inasmuch as the Parent Grand Encampment of the Universe has already given a Kingdom Warrant to the Brethren of Canada, covering the whole American Continent, it rests with them to work these powers out for the present and future good of the Order to the best of their judgment. The point under consideration--whether it is essential to be Orange and Purple before becoming a Knight of Malta. It is not and never has been a fundamental law of the Knights of Malta. It is only an approved practice regulated by a bye-law, but a practice which Grand Lodge recommends without at all enjoining it on those who have to work under the Supreme Warrant of the Continent of America."

Sir Knight R. E. A. Land, Supreme Grand Commander of America, was present at the Annual meeting of the Imperial Grand Encampment held at Glasgow, 23rd June, 1877. In returning thanks for the reception given him he said:--

"He returned thanks to the Imperial Grand Master and the Sir Knights in Council for granting a Kingdom Warrant to America, and also power to work it as they thought fit: he was confident they had laid the foundation of the best Protestant society in America. They were receiving into its ranks men of position, wealth and influence, and he was sure that with the present ritual and other machinery that they had for working the several degrees, it would not fail to become popular and beneficial."

At the meeting of the Imperial Grand Encampment, 14th December, 1878, the report of the Supreme Grand Encampment of America was submitted, from which we quote the following paragraph:--

"The recent legislation of the Supreme Encampment cannot fail but to prove of the greatest benefit to all our Encampments in the juris- diction. For my own personally I can speak, and say it has; elsewhere advices say the same; time, however will tell the tale, and prove the efficacy of its labours at last annual Convocation, as well as its previous sessions. Thrown open to the whole Protestant world it will find its level and prove, ultimately, we hope, the Protestant fraternity of the New World, as useful as its sister, the Orange, has been to the old. This has been the goal in view actuating us in pursuing the course we have followed. The results we anticipate will prove the wisdom of our course."

At the same meeting there was lodged a complaint by the Washington encampment, Philadelphia, against the conduct of the Supreme Encampment in reducing the number of degrees. They asked the Imperial Grand Encampment to cancel the Supreme Warrant and expel the Supreme officers. It was then proposed "That we disapprove of the conduct of the Supreme Encampment of America, and are now in a position to grant Warrants to any that may apply for them." The Grand Master stated that he could not take such a course until they had communicated with the Supreme Grand Encampment of America.

On 14th June, 1879, the matter was again before the Imperial Grand Encampment, at its annual meeting, when:--

"The Imperial Grand Master considered that the Supreme Encampment of America had went too far in expunging the several degrees, and had therefore the disapproval of the L.P.G.B.E., as they considered they had departed from the ancient landmarks. As regards admitting Protestants without coming through the Orange Society, it never was a fundamental principle of the Order of Knights of Malta, but only a bye-law; and my advice to you is that we remain connected with the Supreme Encampment of America, and let them work as they think best, so long as they fulfil their agreement with the L.P.E. in paying their annual dues."

We are not aware that the Imperial Grand has ever tabulated which of their laws are "fundamental" and which are not, but we may notice what the law really was at the time under review. From the book of "Laws and Ordinances" then in use, we quote the following:--

"GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS.--Any person seeking admittance within the realm of Great Britain and Ireland, or any of its dependencies, must at the time of this admission be a member of the Loyal Orange Society, and have received the degrees of Orange and Arch purple."

Then No. XV. of the "General Rules" ran thus:--

"Any Sir Knight Companion of this Illustrious Order of Knights of Malta, who shall withdraw his certificate, or cease to be a member of the Loyal Orange Society while it is within the United Kingdom of Great Britain, or any of its dependencies, and does not rejoin an Orange Lodge within twelve months, shall be suspended from this Order till he rejoins an Orange Lodge."

This was the printed law of the Order, and for Grand Master M'Leod to speak in the manner he did, about certain laws not being "fundamental" and about certain "approved practices" being regulated by "bye-laws," does not, in our opinion reflect any great credit to his logical abilities. We are well aware that the law referred to was not one of the ancient laws of the Order; but it was the then existing law, and as a matter of law, the law is law, not "bye-law," and the law is absolutely essential as a primary principle of the Order, therefore the law is "fundamental" and not merely an "approved practice."

On 5th June, 1880, we learn that the insubordinate Encampments had been expelled. In the Grand Recorder's report, read to Grand Encampment, we find the following:--

"During the past year we have had several lengthy communications from the companions in America, the reading of which would occupy too much of your time; the principal matter contained therein is regarding the insubordination of several Encampments against the authority of the Supreme Encampment of America. The grounds of their insubordination was the reducing of the Ritualistic work of the Order. The Supreme of America gave them due notice that unless they complied with the finding of the Supreme Convocation, they would be expelled. The expelled Encampments applied to us, asking our assistance in the matter. When we made inquiry into the minuteness of the several cases, we found that errors were on both sides, but principally on the part of the insubordinates; and we approve of the action of the Supreme Encampment in asserting their authority, though holding that, in reducing the degrees, they have our dis- approval. But, owing to the authority given them when we granted their Supreme Charter, we can take no action against the Supreme Encampment of America, but would recommend to those Encampments who have appealed to us, that for the unity and welfare of the Knights of Malta throughout the Universe, they should comply with the commands of their Supreme Encampment."

In connection with this matter there was presented at this meeting a series of resolutions from the Grand Priory of Ireland, which we consider worthy of being quoted verbatim:--

"116 YORK STREET,
BELFAST, 3rd June, 1880.

At a meeting of the Grand Council of the Grand Black Encampment of Ireland, held on 1st inst. At the above address, the following finding was unanimously arrived at, and ordered to be transmitted to the Imperial Grand Black Encampment of the Universe for their serious thought, when the matter of cutting down the orders to eight (8) comes up for consideration. Resolved.--First--'That we, the Sir Knights of Ireland, renew with gratitude our loyalty and fraternal attachment to the Parent Grand of Scotland, and unitedly determine to use every legitimate means in our power for the maintainence and propagation of the entire orders as conferred on us by the said Parent Grand of Scotland.' Second--'That we learn with much surprise and regret the intention of a section of the Parent Grand of Scotland to annihilate, mutilate, or otherwise destroy the utility and beauty of several of the most noble and ancient Orders of our glorious Institution, which has been preserved and transmitted to us by men of Scotland's noblest and best blood.' Third--'That we, the Sir Knights of Ireland, specially appoint and instruct a deputation to proceed to the Parent Grand and to oppose by every legitimate means any intended innovations as ruinous to us, injurious to the entire Institution, and which would degrade us in the estimation both of the Black Chapter and the world, as recent legislation has already done.' Fourth--'That in the event of the Parent Grand making any alteration in the Orders as at present established, we request the Grand Encampment of Ireland to consider, is it possible to continue our connection with the Parent Grand of Scotland, or with the Institution at all, and whether we would not be violating our obligations thereby. (Signed) ALEXANDER DALZELL, Grand Recorder

At this meeting of the Imperial Parent Grand Encampment, the Imperial Grand Master intimated that there were a great many communications from the Supreme Encampment of America, and also from those Sir Knights who protested against the authority of the Supreme Encampment, but they were so lengthy that it would take up too much of their time to go over them all, but he would allow the finding of the Supreme Encampment to be read. The Recorder read the finding which occupied eleven closely-written pages. The following resolution was then agreed to:--

"That owing to the power granted to the Supreme Encampment of America, we cannot receive the applications of those Sir knights to grant them Warrants, but that the Imperial Encampment disapprove of the Supreme Encampment of America in reducing the degrees, and that we do not print the expulsion of those subordinate Encampments."

Part 2