A Brief History of the Royal Europa Chapter, Rose Croix of Heredom, No. 14.

 

 

There appears to be no better way of starting to compile a history of this Chapter than by quoting from the first page of the first of a series of Minute Books. There we find in the typical copper plate of the time, this entry: -

 

            “Gibraltar, August 23rd, 1861.

            The Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Charles John Vigne, Lieutenant Grand Commander 33 degree, attended this day on behalf of the Supreme Grand Council 33 degree England, Wales, and Dependencies of the British Crown for the purpose of consecrating the Europa Chapter Rose Croix at this place, Gibraltar.”

 

After the consecration ceremony four brothers were ballotted for and accepted, and two being present were advanced to the 18th degree. The first point of interest lies in the fact that each of these four Brothers are quoted as being of Lodge 178 and there being no record of a Lodge of that number in Gibraltar it is presumably an error on the part of the Recorder for No. 278 or Friendship Lodge as it then was. (Note Lodge 178 is in fact the Inhabitants Lodge No. 153 with its pre 1863 No. so the Recorder is in fact correct) When the Ceremony of Advancement was completed, Brother Edward T. Warry was installed as the first Most Wise Sovereign. He then appointed his Officers who in turn elected a committee of three consisting of the M.W.S. and the 1st and 2nd Generals for the purpose of preparing a draft of the Chapter By-Laws for submission to the Supreme Grand Council.

 

Before the Chapter was closed for the first time it was determined that the fee for Advancement would be 20 dollars with an annual subscription of 5 dollars. A collection made for charity realised 3 dollars and 9 reales. It should be noted that the currency in use was Spanish and though at a later date both Spanish and English monies were acceptable, the Spanish form continued to be more popularly used until its devaluation consequent upon the Spanish Civil War.

 

At the second meeting of the Chapter, two Brothers, one of whom was the Colonel commanding the Royal Engineers at Gibraltar and the other a Captain in the Merchant Service, were proposed and seconded as worthy of Advancement only to find when the ballot was taken at the next meeting and I now quote from the minutes:

 

            “which not being unanimous, they accordingly rejected.”

 

thus proving at a very early stage in its history that the members of the Chapter considered rank as not the essential key to open all Masonic doors.  Whether or not this action caused some feeling of discontent is not known but there is no further record of any meeting from that time, February 1862, until an emergency meeting in October 1863 when a new M.W.S. was elected. Despite the apparent break in the meetings the Treasurer produced a statement which showed a credit balance in the Chapter funds of 135 dollars and 11 reales.

 

This is followed by a period of nearly two years without any record of a meeting. However in July 1865 an emergency was held at which only 3 Brothers were present one of whom had to leave early. Despite this the minutes record that:

 

          “Bro. John Croft Moore, No. 278, was advanced to the 18th degree with as much ceremony as possible under the circumstances.”

 

 

In the following October, a Bro. George Alton, W.M. No. 278, was also advanced, this time in the presence of only two Princes but here the minutes record the ceremony as having been performed “in a summary manner”. Despite this, Bro. Alton, who was by profession a clergyman, exactly six months later attends a meeting where the M.W.S. Illustrious Bro. Warry, intimated his anticipated early departure from Gibraltar and the necessity for electing a successor. And although there were a number of more senior Princes present Bro. Alton was proposed, seconded and unanimously elected as the M.W.S. elect. But in very tactful fashion Bro. Alton requested that, as many Ill. Companions were absent, the election be considered as a nomination only and that it be reconsidered on the following night. The second meeting took place on the following night when the result of the election was confirmed subject to approval and dispensation from the Supreme Grand Council.

 

It is interesting to note that at this time nearly all the Candidates for Advancement came from No. 278 Lodge and it is the opinion of our present District Grand Master that the explanation lies in the fact that both the Chapter and the Lodge held their meetings in the same building at Horse Barrack Lane which is now the site of the Prince of Wales Club.

 

In June 1866 the Advancement fee was increased to 25 dollars and three months later there is the first recorded entry of the Princes and Companions sitting down to a Festive Board.

 

It was eight years after the consecration of the Chapter that the members began to think about the desirability of wearing the authorised regalia at their meetings and one complete suit was ordered as a guide. At the same time inquiries were ordered to be made as to the practicability and probable cost of obtaining authority to work and confer the degrees above the 18th and up to the 29th. It is logical to suppose that the members anticipated no difficulty in obtaining such authority and were determined to be properly dressed for the occasion.

 

Although it is on record that a draft of the Chapter By-Laws were first submitted and approved in 1861, nine years later and for an unspecified reason, a committee was elected to draft another set of By-Laws and when prepared they were unanimously adopted. Although not specifically stated, these new laws must have made reference for the first time as to certain qualifications required of all successive M.W.Ss. elect, for when the current M.W.S. expressed a desire that the members should elect his successor and submitted the names of those Brethren qualified by office in accordance with the By-Laws just adopted, several of the Brethren objected. Their feeling was that the Chapter was competent to elect a M.W.S. without reference to his previous Office even where it was contrary to the laws just adopted, provided a dispensation from Supreme Grand Council was obtained. The M.W.S. ruled to the contrary but on the ballot being taken Ill. Bro. Gilbard received 5 votes and Bro. Cornwall 3 votes. Notwithstanding this the M.W.S. then rules Bro. Cornwall elected in accordance with his understanding of the By-Laws. Supporters of Ill. Bro. Gilbard however proposed and seconded that a dispensation be applied for to confirm his election. A long discussion then followed and it was finally decided that the whole case be submitted to S.G.C. for a decision. At the next meeting the Chapter was honoured by a visit from a member of the S.G.C., Lt. Colonel John Sandeman, Grand Inspector General 33 degree who brought with him the decision of the S.G.C. arising from the discussion of the previous meeting. Suffice it to say that the dispensation had been granted and Bro. Gilbard became the M.W.S. elect and was actually installed by the Grand Inspector General. Not it is not clear from the minutes as to the exact reason for what followed, but the Recorder was called upon to read a letter from S.G.C. regarding the proceedings of the previous meeting. What is clear is that in some way the Chapter had incurred the extreme displeasure of Council. This may have referred to the introduction of the new By-Laws and the following election of the M.W.S. elect but it is more likely to refer to the entrance of the Grand Inspector General into the Chapter without any formal ceremony or greetings applicable to his high office. In the recording of the minutes there is quite obvious evidence, from the manner in which apologies were tendered and accepted, of an old world tact and courtesy which ensured the closing of this particular meeting in peace and harmony and all this despite a most embarrassing event towards the end of the meeting. The following is quoted from the minutes:-

 

          “Owing to the great number of Brethren having come to the Chapter unprepared for the collection of alms, this invariable part of the ceremony was unavoidably dispensed with and the Chapter was cautioned by the Supreme Inspector General that in future this important act must form a part of every meeting of the Chapter. The Chapter was closed in Ancient and Solemn Form.”

 

In August 1870 a Bro. James Balfour Cockburn, M.D., Royal Engineers, was perfected. Bro. Cockburn was District Grand Mark Master of Gibraltar and a founder member of No. 43 Lodge in the Mark Mariners degree which is named after him.

 

When Ill. Bro. Price was re-elected M.W.S. in February 1871, his first act was to propose that the whole of the amount of money in the Benevolent Fund, namely 21 dollars, be donated for the benefit of the sick and wounded at Marseilles.

 

At a still later meeting, the monies of the Benevolent Fund were transferred in toto to a Mrs. Fernandez, whose husband, a Past Master of St. John Lodge No. 115, had unavoidably left her destitute through having been deported to Australia for 15 years.

 

Early in 1872, Ill. Bro. Prince, P.M.W.S., donated a loving cup to the Chapter. The same worthy Bro., having found the Chapter in a flourishing state financially, proposed the purchase of a Sovereign’s Jewel and two Collars for perfecting candidates. There is also on record a proposal for the purchase of  a new harmonium, the cost to be shared by all Lodges using the instrument, but insufficient money being forthcoming, the proposal fell through.

 

In 1873 there is the first reference to a ruling of S.G.C. that no Brother could be perfected without first becoming a member of the Chapter.

 

A special emergency meeting was held on the 23rd February, 1876 when the business of the Chapter was to ballot for and advance H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. The minutes of this meeting contain this entry:-

 

          “The Chapter having been opened in solemn form; the M.W.S. stated that the business of the evening was to advance Bro. H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught; the proposition being put to the members of the Chapter it was carried by acclamation instead of ballot.”

 

In 1877 there is evidence of dissention in the Chapter. Supreme Grand Council wrote to say that certain fees had never been received. These included those obtained from H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught. The Recorder who also doubled as Treasurer was naturally incensed at this reflection on his integrity and blamed everything on to the Post Office. He resigned and in a fit of pique refused to hand over the minute books with the result that at the next meeting it was decided that in the absence of the previous minutes and the Grand Marshall there could be no Installation Ceremony. It was also decided that the letter of the Recorder and Treasurer be not accepted for the time being.

 

The following quotation from the minutes of the meeting held in February, 1878, may give rise to thoughtful speculation:-

 

          “The Most Wise Sovereign then called attention to the case of Bro. Hector John Hayner and Bro. John I. Ney Morgan and after animadverting upon their succession to the Scottish Degree thereby breaking their Oath of Allegiance – desired the Recorder to read the letter from the Grand Chancellor conveying the Supreme Grand Council 33rd Degree’s decision that the above Brethren be expelled from the Order. The proceedings of the Supreme Grand Chapter 26th November, 1887 was then read together with the resolution Appendix No. 1.”

 

There is no factual evidence of the existence in Gibraltar of a Scottish Chapter working the Rose Croix degree at this time although at a much later date, namely 1911, a communication from S.G.C. refers to the desirability of resuscitating the Mediterranean Chapter under Scotland. It is possible that the expelled Brethren referred to were actually non-residents and more likely members of an English Chapter. The use of the phrase – ‘succession to the Scottish Degree’ is very confusing and would be more understandable and in keeping with the times if it had been worded as ‘suceded from the English Degree’.

 

By 1885 Ill. Bro. Gilbard was still either acting as or being re-elected as M.W.S. and from the minutes was invariably conducting the ceremony throughout. There is frequent evidence of the large preponderance of Army Officers among the Chapter members and one meeting had to be postponed because the M.W.S. and four Brother Officers had left for active duty in Egypt.

 

The last meeting of the Chapter to be held in the premises at Horse Barrack Lane occurred in November 1885 and for the meeting in March 1886 the venue was changed to the New Masonic Hall at Alameda.

 

At the meeting in February 1887 the Recorder had the sad duty of announcing the death of Lt. Col. Gilbard. He had become a joining member of the Europa Chapter in May 1870 and the following August was elected M.W.S. Thereafter until his death and except for a period of three years when he was stationed elsewhere, his record of service to the Chapter is unsurpassed.

 

On the 31st May 1887, H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor of Wales was perfected in the Chapter by the ten M.W.S. Sir H. Burford Hancock, 31 degree, and on the following December a communication was received whereby permission was granted for the work ‘Royal’ to be added to the name of the Chapter. Permission was also granted for all members to assume a special approved badge in commemoration.

 

In April 1890, Lord Charles Beresford, Past Senior Warden, G.L. England, was perfected and less than one year later there is a record of a Lt. Col. Bannister becoming a joining member of the Chapter. Ex. and Per. Bro. Bannister was already a Past 1st General of a Malta Chapter and in 1892 he became the District Grand Master at Gibraltar.

 

There may be some significance in the fact that during the February 1891 meeting, the Chapter at last succeeded in getting around to a discussion of By-Law No. 7. It had been on the agenda for a considerable number of previous meetings but always postponed for later discussion. It meant that the annual subscription was raised to four dollars. Thereafter there is no record of any further meeting until July 1893. Even then difficulties in getting a meeting cropped up as the original agenda set the date for the 30th June. It was then that the charge for the use of the premises was raised to four dollars this to include gas and rates. This difficulty in getting a meeting continues for a few years. At one stage the annual subscription was reduced to the original two dollars but even with this there is still a lapse of a year before another meeting. In April 1898 they were still trying to stabilise the monies accruing to the Chapter and it was then voted that the fee for Perfection be changed from 25 dollars Spanish to £5 sterling, the joining fee to 21 shillings and the annual subscription finally became settled at 8 shillings. The question of what fee was payable by those joining from a foreign chapter was however overlooked at not until some time later was it set at two guineas.

 

In March 1901 the Chapter Recorder had occasion to express his apologies for having issued agendas without the customary black border as showing the Chapter in mourning for Her Late Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria.

 

For the next ten years the Chapter quietly went about its business. Meetings were held regularly and nothing changed and it is not until October 1911 that anything occurs to even slightly disturb the quiet peaceful tenor of its ways. Then at that meeting the Recorder read a communication from Supreme Grand Chapter which instructed the members to consider the desirability of resuscitating the Mediterranean Chapter under Scotland or alternatively the granting of a warrant for a second chapter. This was obviously discussed at length but the final and unanimous opinion was that S.G.C. should be informed that neither suggestion was desirable as far as Gibraltar was concerned.

 

The outbreak of the first World War is not mentioned specifically but its effect is gradually felt as the number of members able to attend meetings decreased. In December 1915 a letter from S.G.C. announced the case of those Princes who had served the Office of Prelate or General and through the exigencies of the war had been prevented from proceeding to the Chair of M.W.S. and if favourable, S.G.C. were prepared to grand the 30th degree. In January 1916 a printed form was circulated informing everyone that a Chapter of Instruction would be held. By the middle of 1916 the attendance had dropped off so noticeably that it became necessary to give notice of motion of a proposal to amend the By-Laws to the effect that in the absence of a Sovereign or Past M.W.S. the senior member of the Chapter present was empowered to preside over a quorum, not less than three to form a quorum. This notice of motion subsequently came up for discussion but never arrived at the proposal stage and the By-Laws remained unaltered. Included in the collection for charity at this time was a 2 Peseta piece which the Recorder equated as one shilling and eight pence. By today’s standards it would be worth only 3 pence.

 

In February 1919 a notice of motion was made that the sum of nine guineas be moved from Chapter funds for the purpose of buying a wedding present to be sent to H.R.H. Princess Patricia of Connaught.

 

It is in the November of 1919 that we first find mention of Ill. Bro. Lt. Col. W.F. Ellis, who then became a joining member. At the same meeting Bro. Mazwell Henry Anderson was Perfected. The former subsequently became the District Grand Master, Gibraltar E.C. and the latter occupied a similar rank with the Scottish Constitution. In April 1920 a very well known Mason with long Gibraltar associations was Perfected. This was W.Bro. Peter Freeman Lyons the then D.G.M. (S.C.).

 

And so as the history of the Chapter gradually unfolds itself through the minute books and we approach our present era, with more and more familiar names beginning to make an appearance. Our late D.G.M. Judge Henry Hume Barne was Perfected in May 1926.

 

By November 1935 the meeting place for the Chapter had changed from the Masonic Hall, Alameda, to the Gibraltar Masonic Istitute at Cornwall’s Parade and there is an immediate entry in the minutes resolving that a sum of £35 recovered from shares in the Public Assembly Rooms be invested in the G.M.I. Building Fund. How many of the Brethren then present could have envisaged the long struggle ahead before it became possible to see the fruition of such a fund in the building and occupation of our present Temple. Not R.W.Bro. Harold Melrose for it was not until the following year that he himself was Perfected.

 

By the end of 1942 the effect of the Second World War is observed in a communication from S.G.C. stating that due to the scarcity of regalia a Brother would be considered properly dressed if he wore a Red Rose in his lapel.

 

The business of the Chapter is continued through the years. Still more familiar names appear. W.Bro. E.V. Andlaw in February 1944, R.W.Bro. J.M.V. Cumming the present representative of Irish Freemasonry in Gibraltar was installed as M.W.S., W.Bro. Suarez was Perfected and then, 31 years after he had been raised in a Craft Lodge, our own well beloved and Present District Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Anthony Mena became Perfected in May 1950 and less than for years later we find him installed as M.W.S. by Ex. and Per. Bro. E.V. Andlaw.

 

The Masonic premises at Cornwall’s Parade had always left much to be desired but contributions toward the Building Fund were not sufficiently substantial to have any practical value. It is likely that no firm action would have been taken had not the owners of the building intimated that the tenancy was limited. In May 1955 it is recorded that a very long discussion took place at the Chapter Meeting regarding a donation of £50 and an investment of £200 towards a general fund for the purchase of the Methodist Church for conversion into a Permanent Temple for Masonry. Fired with enthusiasm and the need for urgent action the Chapter continues to devote most of the money accruing into this fund and eventually in February 1958 the Convocation is held in the new Temple Building at Prince Edward’s Road with Ex. & Per. Bro. J.H. Rigg enthroning his successor.

 

To conclude this brief history one point remains clear, Masonry in general in Gibraltar and this Rose Croix Chapter in particular has existed to serve others. There is a Magnificent record over a period of 100 years of donations to charities and to needful people which makes it all the more remarkable that the last recorded donations to Masonic Institutions occurred in 1945.  At the same time it should be remembered that the intervening 16 years has been a period when all the energy and money have been devoted to obtaining a permanent home and then making it sound financially. Now that this has been achieved your R.W. District Grand Master and Chapter Recorder and myself, in the humble capacity of M.W.S., can think of no better way in which to mark the occasion of achieving our centenary than to give fully to all the Masonic Charities including the Mark Benevolent Fund.

 

                                                                                    Submitted by,

 

                                                                                    E.G. Ward.

                                                                                    Most Wise Sovereign

6th November, 1961.                                                    Royal Europa Chapter, Rose Croix, No. 14

 

 

 

 

(Recorder’s note:- Donations of Ten Guineas to each of the following charities were voted from Chapter funds on the 6th November 1961, R.M.I.B., R.M.I.G., R.M. Hospital, R.M. Ben. Inst. And Mark Ben. Fund. A futher sum of Five Guineas to each of the above five charities was donated by the M.W.S.)