Chapter IV.


On 24th March, 1834, we have an application from Bally-macarret, Belfast, Ireland, for a Warrant to work there. The names appended are--John Darby, Master; William Fossett, Deputy-Master; Richard Davis, High Priest; William Crossbey, Secretary; James Dunwoody, Treasurer; John Fossett, Every Devilin, Richard Stitt, William Devilin, Dinis Devery, William Sharp, William Liggett, and John Marshall. From the tenour of this letter we infer that these brethren had been working under an Irish Warrant. The office-bearers are specified, and they excuse the absence of the seal from the letter "as one of the keys was absent." The number granted was 18, on 24th April, 1834, and in name of John Darby. Here we have the beginning of a long list of Irish troubles.

In a letter from Grand Lodge dated Glasgow, 27th June, 1834. Instructions are given:--

"That William Fossett be tried by the Master and members of 28, for the violation of his obligation in giving the Orders to men holding under a Dispensation and not under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and that the report of the trial be sent to the Grand Lodge, in Glasgow, for approval.
"That Robert Plunket has been expelled for selling Warrant No. 7 belonging to the St. Battalion of the St. Royals."

On July 22nd, 1834, Brother Robert Gamble, of Ballymagory, Ireland, makes application for his certificate from No. 24, Glasgow, and from Orange and Purple Lodge, No. 83. In the body of this letter we find reference made to Black lodge, No. 13, evidently at Ballymagory, D. Cook, Master; also to Black Lodge, No. 19 having been established at Woodend. He sends compliments to the members of No. 24, five of whom he mentions by name. The letter was sent by bearer--Isaac Kerr, of No. 19.

On August 17th, 1834, we have a letter from Brother William Fawcett (spelt "Fossett" in the previous letters, but as this one is his own we presume that "Fawcett" is correct) of Belfast, giving what appears to us to be a very straightforward account of his doings during the time covered by the charges preferred against him. In the course of his account he refers to having gone to County Armagh on the 22nd, where he stayed for a few days. When there he bought Warrant No. 16, issued by the Grand Black Lodge of the City of Dublin, St. February, 1822. He also obtained the seal of the lodge and some articles of lodge paraphernalia, James Crooks being the disposer. Brother Fawcett's intention was to have the Warrant renewed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but on arriving at Belfast he met Sir Knight and Brother Adam Thomson of Glasgow, who informed him that he had been "excluded." As a matter of course he could for the present take no further action.

The report asked for by the Grand Lodge, on 27th June, is headed "Belfast, September 8th, 1834," and is a complete vindication of Brother Fossett (Fawcett), and a recommendation that Grand Lodge should grant him a renewal of the Warrant previously referred to. The letter is signed by John Darby, Master, of No. 18, Ballymacarrett. The explanations of Brother Fawcett and No. 18 Lodge appear to have been satisfactory, and that intimation to that effect had been forwarded by Grand Lodge on 10th September, 1834, is shown by a letter from No. 18 Ballymacarrett to Grand Lodge dated 24th November, 1834, in which reference is made to the future actions of Brother Fawcett.

We have also before us a letter from Brother John Piper, Master of Black Lodge, No. 17, Moneyred, Belfast, dated November, 1834, referring to the dissatisfaction felt by the members of the Orange District Lodge of Saintfield "at the suppression of high Orders and Black Warrants," and states that at a meeting of the said District Orange Lodge, with Brother Rev. Mr. Archer in the chair, it was resolved "to use all means in their power to prevent those who profess the Black from sitting in an Orange Lodge." In a series of five letters from George Whitten of Lisnakee, near Tanderagee, dated 14th February, 1840; 20th October, 1841; 4th December, 1841; 28th February, 1841; and 22nd March, 1841; we have proof of the existence of No. I in Tanderagee, in August, 1840--George Whitten, Master. How long No. I existed before this date we know not. We have also proof that the said George Whitten had been raised to the dignity of Deputy Grand Master. In one of these letters the Grand Lodge is informed that the lodge secretary is teaching school 24 miles from Tanderagee, which makes it impossible for him to attend every meeting. We think it was impossible, especially when we remember these were Irish miles and that there were no trains in those days. Another is brought to a close by a sentence which is certainly Irish--"Excuse haste as the bearer is standing in a hurry." In another we have a specimen of how things were done in the early days of the post office,--"I did not get your letter till last night, by a mistake it has been at a town called Lisinaskea, in the County Fermanagh, 66 miles from Belfast, before it came to me." He then proceeds to point out the reason for this mistake. He says, "You directed to George Whitten, Tanderagee, Lisnakee, Ireland," and he advises them to try this "George Whitten, Lisnakeee, Tanderagee, Ireland." The body of these letters relate principally to the fact that the Grand Lodge had lost touch with Nos. 16, 27 and 18, in Belfast, and were trying through Brother Whitten to renew the correspondence. The correspondence was renewed direct from Belfast. On 28th June, 1842, we have a letter beginning thus:--"I have just received your letter bearing date 19th June, 1841, and we are very much obliged to you for answering so soon." In this letter they resent the interference of George Whitten, and assert that they "will come under no authority but the Royal Black Lodge of Glasgow." They are profuse in their expressions of loyalty to Grand Lodge, and they communicate the information that William Fossett sold the Warrant (16) to a private soldier for one shilling and eightpence; and as for John Piper, Master of No. 17, they knew nothing about him. "The Warrant is lying dormant here. The reason our late Worshipful would not let him get on was owing to something irregular in the Blue." The new Master was Andrew Crawford Storey and the Secretary, Robert Storey; and the letter concludes thus:--

"Sirs and Brethren,

We remain your worthy sweeps, if we should never use a brush, and I hope that the Supreme Being will guide us, and that it will guide you also."

On 29th November, 1842, we have another letter from Robert Storey in which he informs us that the Lodge (No. 28) is the strongest in all Ireland. He complains of the conduct of certain parties calling themselves Knight Templars and mentions "friend Reid." We may mention here that "friend Reid" had been the medium of all communications between the Grand Lodge and its members in Belfast, ever since the installation of No. 18. In this letter we are informed that he is District Master of the Orange and Purple District Lodge. The charges made against him and those acting with him were opening reading, and detaining letters, and a change of address is advised. Reference is also made to the late Master, John Darby, being summoned to Crossgar, but this is more fully explained in another letter dated 28th November, 1842, from which it appears that the summons was for Saturday, 3rd December, and bore the seal of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The complaint as stated was "that he is doing all that is in his power for the good of the Institution, and to keep down all those that are striving to wrest the power we hold in our hands from us, and to overturn your authority in this place by getting up a Royal Grand in Ireland." They ask for credentials that he might have with him "when he goes to stand his trial before this would-be Lodge of Grand Brotherhood." For the purpose of the credentials the information is given that John Darby was a weaver, and that he had received the degrees of Scarlet, Black, R. Mark, R. Blue, White, Gold and Green. We are further assured that John Reid (friend Reid) was a brother sweep.

A sudden change of affairs is revealed by a letter from the same writer, dated 5th December, 1842, in which formal charges are lodged against John Darby, for having acted with John Reid and others in holding illegal meetings, reading and detaining letters, and initiating men from a distance, who then go to the country towns and cities initiating men for I/-, I/6 and 2/6, and then boast that they are overthrowing the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As the reader will notice further on these charges were without foundation. Our old friend George Whitten, of Lisnakee, informs us on 14th May 6, 1842, that they are getting on prosperously, they had initiated six men from Banbridge, one of them (David Cathcart) last Wednesday, "in daylight in a dark room." These he says "are about to apply for a Warrant," but he refers Grand Lodge to Brother Heron (a member of Grand Lodge) who was visiting their lodge, "but hoped to be home in Glasgow next week." That the Warrant (No. 3) was applied for and granted is shown by a letter from the Master elect, D. H. Cathcart of Banbridge, dated 23rd September, 1843. George Whitten, of Lisnakee, writing on St. November, 1843, says "David Cathcart opened his new lodge on the 26th of September." In this letter he applies for a "certificate for John M'Cleland, of Banbridge, who Joined No. I, on the 16th of May last, and has received the degrees of Black, Mark, Scarlet, Blue and Priestly Order." This letter closes with another reference to the opening of No. 3. He says "I was there, he (Brother Cathcart) made three new members, and gave us, all that went, an elegant supper in Mr. Moor's of Banbridge."

We now come to a very important letter in showing the state of affairs in Ireland at that period. It is written by William Savage, of Dunmore, 14th May, 1844. We will let Brother Savage speak for himself. He says:--

"Sir and Brother,--Robert Blair, Grand Secretary, being in Scotland in the month of September last I called at your place. We had some little conversation concerning the Arch Purple and other Orders, and how the system was carried on in Ireland and Scotland; but the greater part of the conversation was concerning Brother O'Hara and Brother Darby, as you considered there was a very bad system carried on betwixt them. It was said that Brother Darby gave Brother O'Hara a duplicate out of the Warrant he held from you. I find that was not the case, Brother O'Hara got a duplicate out of County Antrim held at one time by the 28th Regiment of Foot, but Darby has taken his Warrant to several parts of the County and given Orders under it. You also requested to know when and how O'Hara got the Orders he had, and what authority he had for giving Orders under a Warrant, when the Grand Lodge that issued said Warrant was null and void. He got the Orders he has under a duplicate got by Sergeant James Rae of the Constabulary Force from Mr. Joseph Edgar, of Newry, District master at the time of the Province of Ulster. O'Hara got it in the year 1825, and was in no way bound against acting under one of the old Warrants,. so long as he was appointed Master of the Warrant he was acting under, or authorised by the Master of the lodge that said Warrant belonged to; but it was still his intention to have the Grand formed in Ireland, which is now done. When challenged in open lodge on what he was charged with, he gave a statement as near as I can recollect to what I state to you. It was considered by the greater part of the members present, that had it not been for O'Hara, it would have been carried on in a far worse system. When O'Hara first commenced to give it in this place, there were a number of men came to join with him in giving it. When on examining them they could pass themselves on most of the Orders he had. He did not admit them until he bound them by obligation. These men I speak of had got it without either obligation or cost, how they came by it in that way I cannot say, but O'Hara has put a stop to that system. It is considered by all who know anything of the affair that you will consider him preserving the system instead of doing it any injury, as he is admitting no man into the system no matter how able he may be in that way, unless they have a certificate from a regular lodge.

"Darby attended the meetings in this place, and about the time I was in Scotland he was appointed as Secretary or Agent betwixt County Down and Antrim. When I made it known to them that Darby had with- held the dues of the Grand Lodge in Scotland, they struck him off till such time as he would get a certificate from you that he had paid all that was against him. I hear he is at the present time going about upbraiding the Grand Lodge of Ireland for so doing. There is to be a meeting of the Grand Lodge on Saturday, St. June, in Saintfield. It is thought that Darby will be there. I would for ever consider myself indebted to you if you would write a few lines to me in answer to this, before the District Meeting, and let me know if Darby has yet paid up the lodge dues. There are a great many things I would like to let you know, but they are too tedious to mention at this time.

(Signed) WM. SAVAGE.

We would here remind our readers that Companion Savage is an independent witness, being a member of the Irish body making inquiries into the state of affairs in Ireland, for and on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. His evidence is therefore the more reliable: but to be more particular about Companion "O'Hara" whom he mentions we will revert for a moment to a letter written by John Darby of Belfast, 21st March, 1842, in which he informs us that John O'Hara had been for some time in Belfast, from whence he removed to Clough, County Down. He then applied to Companion Darby for a "Dispensation of Warrant," i.e., a duplicate of the Warrant held by Companion Darby. On being told that such a thing was not allowed under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, he replied that "he would go to Ahoghill and have one independent of him." This he did, and received a Dispensation from "Ballyminster, County Antrim; District of Ahoghill, No. 1231 of Black Orangement, Royal Arch Chapter, Black Knight Encampment; Scarlet, White, Blue, and Green; Holy Order of St. John of Jerusalem and Apron Order."

At this period the designation of a lodge showed at a glance whether it was Irish or Scottish, the latter always being designated "Royal Black Association." The above is a fair specimen of an Irish designation.

The Dispensation was granted to John Craig, Master; John O'Hara, D. Master; Moses Adair, Secretary; Matthew Meek, High Priest; and countersigned Matthew Adair, Grand Pursuivant. These statements are attested by five witnesses, fiz., John Darby, Wm. Baxter, John Willis, John Kead, and John Williamson, all office-bearers in No. 18, and sealed with the seal of their lodge.

We have a letter from James Hadden, Master of Killyman Royal Black Lodge, No. 2, which was installed by George Whitten, on 27th January, 1845. The letter is undated, but the post office stamps prove that it was posted on the 11th September, 1845, and received at Glasgow on the 13th, at 7:30 a.. The letter begins thus:-- "Dear Sir,--Agreeable to your request I called a meeting of this lodge, previous to your meeting on the 14th inst. I now send you a return of the members which were present." Forty-nine names are given, and in most cases the occupation is also given; they include farmers, potters, clerks, carpenters, smiths, shoemakers, bleachers, weavers, and mechanics. Then follows a kind of conciliatory note--"I trust to be able to send a return of more on our next night of meeting, which takes place on the third Wednesday of December." On 27th September, 1845, we have the following to Sir and Brother William Jamieson, now Pursuivant of the Grand Black Lodge of Scotland.

"We do authorise and empower the said Sir and Brother William Jamieson, to examine the brethren of all the branch lodges in the kingdom of Ireland, whom he may meet with, in their proper place; also, to instruct them in the said Orders, which they may have received, according to our laws.

"N.B.--At all meetings to take a report of the proceedings, and return the same to the R.W.G.M.
(Signed) ROBERT BLAIR, Grand Master.
JAMES SIMPSON, Secretary."

This bears the Grand seal, and on the reverse side of the sheet:--

"This authority to be returned, with reports, as early as convenient after returning home.
(Signed) ROBERT BLAIR, Grand Master.
JAMES SIMPSON, Secretary."

Part 2

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