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Written by Bro. Edwin Sykes, Assistant Secretary, and read at a Regular Meeting of the Lodge held at Freemasons' Hall, Fitzwilliam Street, Huddersfield, on Wednesday, December 13th, 1899.
The attainment of one's majority is always an occasion of rejoicing, and the joy of such attainment is increased by the' kindly greetings of the friends of him who has arrived at the full age of twenty-one years. In favourable surroundings the happy event is form.ally celebrated ; he and his friends enjoy each other's society at the festive board ; good wishes and good wine commingle. On such an occasion it is not unusual for the quondam youth to acknowledge the many kindnesses that he has received at the hands of his relatives and friends, and to refer to such incidents of his minority as he thinks will be pleasing to those around him, by reason either of a lively recollection on their part, or of their mere interest in the events of his past life.
As with an individual, so it is with a Masonic Lodge. The Albert Edward Lodge, No. 1783, has attained its majority, and has invited its friends to celebrate the occasion with rejoicing. The banquet is ready ; and good wishes, excellent as good wine, are waiting to be poured forth. In anticipation of this happy event, the past history of the Lodge has been reviewed ; and it is hoped that the following incidents of its minority will raise in the minds of many here a pleasant recollection, or at least gratify a friendly interest.
Scientists "have pointed out that reproduction really begins with the almost mechanical breakage of a unit mass of living matter which has grown too large for successful co-ordination" (The Evolution of Sex, by Geddes and Thompson, p. 232). In a manner somewhat similar came into being this Lodge. In the early part of the year 1878, the subscribing masons in Huddersfield were so numerous that the three local Lodges appeared to several of the brethren to be in danger of becoming too large for successful working ; and it was thought by them that the time had come for the founding of a new Lodge to be composed of members of the local Lodges, Harmony (275), Huddersfield (290), and Truth (521), and of any other brethren who were willing to join. Accordingly a meeting was convened and held in this hall on the 1st of May, 1878, when and where were present the following brethren, namely:—
Under the Chairmanship of W. Bro. Allen Jackson, who stated shortly the object of the meeting, it was proposed by Bro. Thomas Sellers (1,458), seconded by Bro. William Dawson (Huddersfield 290), and carried unanimously, that the requisite steps should be taken for the formation of a new Lodge, and that every subscribing member of the Lodges in Huddersfield should be invited to attend a meeting to be held in this hall on the 27th of that month. At that second preliminary meeting, at which five Lodges were represented, and which was presided over by Bro. George Gardiner, W. Bro. Thomas Ruddock (Harmony 275), Prov. S.G.D., expressed himself favourably and promised his support, and W. Bro. Jonas Craven (Harmony 275), P.P.S.G.W., who was unable to be present, wrote as follows :— "I have long thought that the augmentation of members in large Lodges, whether by initiation or joining, is not desirable, and that Provincial Grand Lodge ought to consider the advisability of restricting such increase. If the numerical strength of the three Huddersfield Lodges is the basis of the opinion expressed at the meeting held on 1st May, my sympathies are with you".
Before the meeting broke up a number of the brethren expressed a wish to become founders of the Lodge. Then, its birth being only a matter of time, like fond anticipating parents the brethren determined forthwith to give the expected Lodge a name, and immediately and naturally found themselves at variance. No less than three different names were proposed and seconded. The first was "Fitzwilliam", and the second "Unity" ; and that we are the "Albert Edward" Lodge is doubtless due to the fact that the present Grand Master of England was then newly exalted to that Most Worshipful office.
Besides a name, the brethren lost no time in providing for the expected Lodge a local habitation. A committee was appointed to wait upon the Trustees of the Lodge of Truth, 521, to ascertain on what terms they would provide accommodation for the proposed Lodge in this hall; and at a meeting held on the 14th of June, 1878, the terms were agreed on, — the Albert Edward Lodge to have the use of Lodge, Furniture, Crockery, Glass, &c., for £30 a year for two years. Certain items of immediate expenditure had to be met, and this was done by calling on every intending member to make a deposit of £1 in part-payment of his first year's subscription.
The Petition for the founding of the Lodge was in due time prepared, and was signed by 14 brethren, who thereby became founders of the Lodge. These are (in order of signature) :—
Besides the brethren above named, it was intended that 14 other brethren should be founders of the Lodge ; and, at the meeting on the day of consecration, a special resolution was passed, purporting to admit them as such, notwithstanding that they had not signed the petition ; but the Secretary of Grand Lodge pointed out that the resolution was irregular, and they were subsequently admitted as joining members.
The Warrant having been obtained, the Consecration of the Lodge took place on Tuesday, the 12th of December, 1878. Among the Provincial Grand Officers then present were R.W. Bro. Thomas William Tew, D.P.G.M., and R.W. Bro. Henry Smith, P.G.S. After the ceremony W. Bro. Thomas Ruddock was duly installed as the first W.M. of this Lodge, by W. Bro. William George Dyson, 521. The W.M. then proceeded to invest his officers as follows :—
W. Bro. George Sykes was elected to serve on the Provincial Charity Committee.
The Lodge began life with vigor, and with every promise of support from the parent Lodges. At its first meeting in the first year after its consecration the Lodge saw its first initiate, Mr. George Hinchliffe, now a P.M. of this Lodge ; at its second meeting it resolved that an Instruction Class should be held every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. ; and at its third meeting, that is, on the ISth of March, 1879, when the R.W. the D.P.G.M. Thomas William Tew was present, there were five candidates for initiation. Mr. John Shoesmith was initiated by W. Bro. George Sykes, then of this Lodge; Mr. Thomas Wood by W. Bro. Benjamin Hutchinson, then of Huddersfield, 290, and Thornhill, 1,514 ; Mr. George Beaumont by W. Bro. Allen Jackson, then of this Lodge, but now of Truth, 521 ; Mr. Joshua Broadbent by W. Bro. Charles Edward Freeman, of Harmony, 275 ; and Mr. Benjamin Oxiey by W. Bro. Charles William Keighley, then W.M. of Harmony, 275. At an adjourned meeting on the 24th of March, 1879, Bro. George Hinchliffe was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason by W. Bro. Joseph Lowenthal, of Harmony, 275 ; and on the 15th of April, 1879, the passing ceremonies were assisted at by W. Bro. Tinker, of Holme Valley Lodge, 652.
It cannot be expected that ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising, or any of them, will be down for every meeting of the Lodge, and probably it is not good for any Lodge to have these at every or nearly every meeting. The busy times must alternate with the slack, and every Lodge must be judged by the use that it makes of its times of non-compulsion. As an infant the Albert Edward Lodge was exceeding wise: very early it took to its lessons. In July, 1879, W. Bro. George Sykes gave "part of the tracing board", and the questions were answered by the brethren in open Lodge. The tracing board in the first degree occupied the brethren in the following month ; in the month next following, W. Bro. Abraham Smith, Chaplain, worked the first and second sections of the first lecture ; while in the month of October, 1879, the seven sections of the first lecture were worked respectively by seven of the brethren, W. Bro. George Sykes asking the questions.
The first year of the existence of the Lodge was distinguished by four other events which are worthy of mention. At the festive board the post of Organist was kindly accepted by Bro. Joe Wood, whose presentation portrait adorns the walls of the dining-room of this hall ; the first initiates of this Lodge, Bros. Hinchliffe, Shoesmith, Wood, Beaumont, Broadhead, and Oxley, presented a handsome horseshoe-shaped snuff-box, mounted with silver, and inscribed to the Lodge as a memento of their appreciation of the cause of freemasonry ; W. Bro. George Sykes presented to the Lodge an album, which he said had been subscribed for by a number of the brethren of the Lodge for the purpose of having the cartes-de-visite of the brethren of the Lodge contained therein ; and the Lodge subscribed £5 5s. to the Bentley Shaw Presentation Fund. Thus it will be seen that the wise child, which attended assiduously to its labours, did not forget or neglect the pleasures of comradeship.
Apart from the initiation, passing and raising, of new brethren, the year 1880 was uneventful ; except that the lodge-night was altered from the third Tuesday to the fourth Friday, and again (Friday being found to be inconvenient) to the fourth Thursday, and that in December of that year the whole of the first lecture was worked by the brethren of Huddersfield Lodge, 290, the questions being asked by Bro. Abbey, then W.M. Elect of the same Lodge.
In 1881 our tenancy of these premises expired ; and, as it was then found impossible to agree on terms for renewal, the brethren in December of that year took rooms at the Queen Hotel, where the Lodge continued to be held until July, 1883 ; when, terms having been happily arranged, we returned to this hall. In the interval, W. Bro. Abraham Smith, Chaplain of the Lodge, Principal of the Huddersfield Collegiate, and Incumbent of St. Thomas' Church, Bradley, died ; and the brethren contributed £10 to the placing in his own Church of an illuminated window to his memory.
The year 1883 was distinguished by the visit of H.R.H. the Duke of Albany, R.W.P.G.M. of Oxfordshire ; and a number of the brethren of this Lodge had the honour of assisting on that occasion. Bro. Fitton, then W.M., Bro. Shoesmith, S.W., Bro. Oxley, J.W., W. Bros. Ruddock and Sellers, were members of the committee formed for the purpose of making arrangements for the presentation of an address which H.R.H. had intimated that he would be graciously pleased to accept from the five Lodges in the borough. A meeting of these Lodges was held in the Town Hall, and Bro. William Fitton took the chair of the J.D. It is recorded that, in order to ascertain that the Lodge was close-tyled, an examination was made of the whole of the false roof, through which ventilation apertures had been made ; but no cowan or intruder was discovered there. At the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge which followed, Bro. Humphrey Holdsworth was one of the many Inner Guards. At our next ordinary meeting it was resolved that the autograph of H.R.H. should be framed and hung in the Lodge. It is sad to record that early in the following year H.R.H. was no more.
If for nothing else, the year 1884 is memorable because Bro. John Shoesmith was then W.M. of this Lodge. But that was not all. At the meeting in January of that year, W. Bro. George Sykes, one of the founders of the Lodge, was made its sole honorary member. Neither before nor since has any brother had that distinction conferred upon him. The minute book testifies that the palm was given to him who merited it. On nearly every occasion on which there was no ceremony to be performed, W. Bro. George Sykes was ready with a tracing board ; or a section, or a lecture ; and the brethren profited accordingly. Immediately following on W. Bro. George Sykes's resignation, which was the occasion of his being made an honorary member, Bro. Shoesmith was installed into the Chair of King Solomon ; and ever since then W. Bro. Shoesmith has taken his teacher's place. As far back as 1887 it is recorded in the minute book that the tracing board in the first degree was given in W. Bro. Shoesmith's "usual felicitous style", and that in responding to the vote of thanks, Bro. Shoesmith expressed the pleasure he derived in imparting to others any masonic knowledge. That both the compliment and the response were absolutely genuine, it is quite unnecessary to affirm, to those who are familiar with Bro. Shoesmith's masonic work, whether in this Lodge or out of it ; and it is one of the greatest tributes to his masonic learning and zeal that the benefit of these has been reaped, not only by brethren who are, but also by those who are not, members of this Lodge. It will surprise no one that, on the expiration of his year of office, W. Bro. Shoesmith was presented with a P.M.'s jewel, subscribed by the officers of the Lodge.
In the year 1886 the lodge-night was again changed ; this time to the Wednesday before full moon in every month ; and on such day it has ever since been held.
In the year 1889, W. Bro. Humphrey Holdsworth, being commissioned thereunto, purchased the Lodge Banner, of which he was always very proud, and which now ornaments this Lodge-room ; and in October of the same year. Provincial Grand Lodge met under it, the W.M. for that year being our highly esteemed Bro., George Maule Marchant. For us, next to the honour of entertaining Provincial Grand Lodge, the most outstanding event was the inclusion of W. Bro. Shoesmith amongst P.G. officers as P.G. Steward. Bro. Shoesmith was the first of the Albert Edward initiates to receive Provincial Honours. It may conveniently be recorded here that Provincial Honours have since been conferred on three other brethren of this Lodge, namely, W. Bro. the Rev. John Dunbar, P.P.G.C, W. Bro. Joseph Wigglesworth, P.P.A.G.D.C, and W. Bro. George Maule Marchant, Prov. A.G.P. ; and it must be added that W. Bro. Shoesmith has since been raised to a higher office, being now P. P.G.P.
Towards the end of last decade, two items in the minute book show that the members of this Lodge were living in brotherly love with the world of masonry without. It is recorded that in the year 1889 a number of the brethren of this Lodge joined in celebrating the Centenary of the Harmony Lodge, 275, by attending Divine Service in the Huddersfield Parish Church, on Sunday, November 10th; and that in November, 1890, the first lecture was given, the W.M. giving the introduction, Bro. George Jackson, W.M. of the Lodge of Truth, 521, asking the questions, and the answers being given by brethren of the same Lodge.
In the present decade, those amicable relations have been maintained, and the friendly ties binding the brethren of this Lodge to one another have been strengthened. Some causes and evidences of this happy state of things are here enumerated.
1. In the year 1891, Bro., then W.M., Bernin, presented the Lodge with the portrait of the M.W.G.M., H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, which adorns this Lodge-room.
2. In 1892, W. Bros. Ruddock and Marchant gave the Lodge a Store Cask and Electroplated Tap.
3. On the 31st of August, 1892, the Lodge witnessed what was then a novel ceremony within these walls. It is recorded that, by command of the W.M., Bro. John Dunbar, J.W., presented Bro. Henry Augustine Whittell with a bible in honour of the birth of his son, and expressed the hope that the father and mother might be spared to see the child grow up to be a blessing to his parents and a credit to his family,—which would follow if he made that volume the guide of all his actions, — and that he might some day be made a Mason. Since then, many another of the brethren has received a bible in commemoration of the like interesting event in his domestic history, that is, the birth of a son who may ultimately become a Mason ; and the brother who has been blessed with a daughter has had a bible too.
4. In 1893, W. Bro. Marchant, who has been our charity member for three years last past, framed and mounted at his own cost a number of receipts from Grand Lodge for subscriptions in aid of Masonic Charities, and these now hang in the Instruction Class-room.
5. In 1895, the members of the Lodge presented to W. Bro. John Shoesmith a portrait of himself, and W. Bro. Shoesmith responded by presenting it to the Lodge.
6. Last year, Mrs. Humphrey Holdsworth presented to the Lodge the portrait of our late W. Bro. Humphrey Holdsworth, which adorns these walls.
7. Last year also, Bro. George Greenwood presented the Lodge with an Immediate Past Master's Jewel, which is worn by the I. P.M. for the time being.
8. Early this year, Bro. John Haigh, W.M., presented to W. Bro. George Hinchliffe a P.M.'s Jewel of 15ct. gold, enamelled in blue, and bearing a suitable inscription, as a mark of esteem from the Lodge on the occasion of his leaving this neighbourhood.
9. In May last, the W.M. had the further pleasure of presenting to W. Bro. Marchant a pendant for his P.A.G.P. collar, subscribed for by the members of this Lodge as a token of their appreciation and esteem.
10 and last. The bands of friendship and brotherliness have been strengthened by an event of unusual sadness. In August last, our W.M. had the misfortune to fall from a high scaffolding, and suffered serious injuries. It was providential that his life was spared to us. It has been a source of consolation that every Lodge in the town and neighbourhood has sent us and our W.M. its heartfelt sympathy, and we are happy in the well-founded expectation of seeing him perfectly restored to the full use of brain and limbs.
The Lodge has 59 members, of whom 6 have been initiated during the present year. Since its foundation, starting with 28 members, it has seen 80 initiations, and has welcomed 8 joining members.
The Lodge has subscribed sums of money in aid of Masonic Charities as follows :—
|To the Aged Freemasons' and Widows' Annuity Fund — Males||136||10||0|
|To the Aged Freemasons' and Widows' Annuity Fund — Widows||57||15||0|
|To the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys||52||10||0|
|To the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls||31||10||0|
|To the West Yorkshire Benevolent and Educational Fund||21||0||0|
|Making a total of||£299||5||0|
We have made the following additional subscriptions :—
|1879 — To Bentley Shaw Presentation Fund||5||5||0|
|1884 — To Sir Henry Edwards' Presentation Fund||5||5||0|
|1887 — To Victoria Jubilee Fund||10||0||0|
|1890 — To Pension Indemnity Fund, R.M.I. Boys||3||3||0|
|1891 — To Thomas William Tew Presentation Fund||10||10||0|
|1895 — For Testimonial to W. Bro. Henry Smith, P.G.D. of E. and D.P.G.M. (W.Y.)||5||5||0|
The Lodge has also had occasion more than once to dispense private charity, but there has not fallen upon any of the brethren of this Lodge any misfortune of such a nature as to compel us to call in the assistance of Provincial Grand Lodge; and for this immunity from poverty and pecuniary loss, as for the many positive benefits we have received, we may well render thanks to the Great Architect of the Universe.
From this evening this Lodge turns its back on its youth and looks forward info the future. Its minority has been so prosperous, and so little disturbed by harassing events, that brightness illuminates its year of majority, and rays of light dart forward into its years of maturity. Many of the brethren who have been the blood and life of the Lodge in its infancy are still here to invigorate its young manhood ; and it is hoped that the younger members are, and that those who are yet to become members will be, equally healthy and vigorous elements, affording abundant, joyous, and long life to the ALBERT EDWARD LODGE.