A brief history of the Inhabitants' Lodge No. 153

Our lodge was founded on the 18th November 1777 when a warrant was granted by John, 4th Duke Of Atholl, to various military brethren in Gibraltar, empowering them to constitute a lodge designated "H. M. ORDNANCE IN THE GARRISON OF GIBRALTAR", as a stationary Lodge, registered as No. 202 in the Books of the GRAND LODGE of ENGLAND according to the Old Institutions, subsequently known as the "ATHOLL MASONS or ANCIENTS" and designating:-

BROTHER    JOHN STRACHEN       AS THE FIRST        WORSHIPFUL MASTER

BROTHER    DAVID YOUNG           AS THE FIRST         SENIOR WARDEN

BROTHER    CHARLES HUTCHINSON    AS THE FIRST         JUNIOR WARDEN

In 1779 the GREAT SIEGE OF GIBRALTAR by the French and Spaniards commenced and lasted until 1783.  During the early stages of the Siege, Masonic Meetings were held as circumstances permitted.  The minutes of 15th December 1780 record that:-

"The Lodge communicated a short lecture as the precarious state of the GARRISON did not allow of the usual formalities".

Despite the difficulties, a raising was carried out at this same meeting. 

Despite the ongoing siege and the constant bombardment from the Spanish Lines the Lodge continued to meet and Initiate, Pass and Raise brethren as the situation permitted. However, the 1777 Minute Book reveal some interesting anecdotes. For example between September 1781 and December 1783 no Masonic Meetings were held, it was generally believed that this was due to the suspension of Masonry during the height of the Great Siege which included the Great Sortie and the attack by the Floating Batteries. However a closer examination of the Minutes reveal that the last initiate prior to September 1781 was a Hanoverian Sergeant Major by the name of Schauman. The first meeting recorded after this date shows that Bro. Schauman had been elected as W.M. Therefore this proves that regardless of the siege conditions in Gibraltar, our Lodge continued to meet and carry out regular ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising as regularly as time and circumstances permitted.

 

 

 

In 1807 the Lodge adopted the name "INHABITANTS" after the lapse of a previous Lodge bearing that name and numbered 159 (MODERNS) which was formed in Gibraltar on 12th July 1762 as No, 285 but lapsed about 1800 and was erased before the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813. In 1814 as the result of the union, the Lodge was re-numbered 251. In 1872 the Lodge was again re-numbered to 178.  On 26th April 1838 the Lodge took part in the ceremony of laying the Foundation Stone of the lighthouse at Europa Point by H.E. the Governor of Gibraltar, Major General Sir Alexander Woodford K.C.B. etc. etc. with Military and Masonic honours.

Original emblem of the Royal Artillery with a subsequent number - No. 178 inscribed upon it. From the 1847 Minute Book Cover.

In 1858 the Lodge was revived after a dormant period of what was generally thought of as having been of seventeen years, in fact the Lodge had been briefly revived in the latter part of the 1840's and continued to meet regularly up to Nov. 16th 1848 when the last entry is recorded.  Two sergeants of the Royal Sappers and Miners, Irwin and Schreiber approached Bro. Robert Freke Gould, the famous Masonic Historian, who was then serving in Gibraltar as a Lieutenant in the 31st Regiment of Foot (the 1st. Battalion East Surrey Regiment). They had in fact made all the necessary preparations for the FIRST REVIVAL MEETING of Inhabitants' Lodge, but thought it preferable that a commissioned Officer should approach the Deputy Provincial Grand Master-in-Charge for the required permission. Gould had shown little interest in Freemasonry until that time but thankfully for our Lodge agreed to this proposal. He was installed as Worshipful Master and he invested Brother Irwin as Senior Warden and Brother Schreiber as Junior Warden. It was traditionally believed that Gould was actuated to resuscitate the Inhabitants' Lodge after discovering the Warrant of the Lodge being blown about by the wind in one of the streets of the Rock. There is no basis for this story, but as we shall see later the Original Warrant was to play a significant role in the history of the Lodge. Gould left six months later, bound together with his Regiment for the Cape of Good Hope. However, in this short period of time Gould had chaired ten meetings in which he had initiated thirteen, passed sixteen and raised fourteen to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, making a total of forty-three in all. In less than three months Gould had turned a moribund Lodge into one of the biggest and most influential Lodges on the Rock and a tradition, which continues to this day.

On the 7th April W.M. Irwin who had succeeded Gould as Master of the Inhabitants’ Lodge petitioned Grand Lodge for a Chapter to be attached to No. 153. This was refused as the petition was not made in a proper manner and signed by R.A Masons who had been regularly registered under the Grand Lodge of England. Irwin argued that the Irish Constitution (No. 325) had a Chapter attached in which all the English Constitution Masons were being exalted for 13 1/4 dollars, while in Calpean Chapter it cost 22 dollars. He also pointed out to the other attractions for the Irish Constitution such as the Mark, Ark Mariners, High Priest and Knights of the Black Eagle. Irwin pointed out that Brethren who had no Chapter of their own to claim allegiance, would most likely go to where they could receive the whole of these degrees for less than the exaltation in the only English Chapter here would cost them. The Irish also enjoyed the power to give any number of degrees in one night. Despite Irwin's persistence it was not until 1894 that the Prince of Wales Chapter No. 153 was Consecrated and attached to the Lodge.

In 1862 Grand Lodge granted a Centenary Warrant and a special Jewel or Medal to the Lodge but his was cancelled in 1878 as it was discovered that the Lodge had not completed in 1862 the Centenary of its existence, having been confused with the previous Inhabitants Lodge No. 285, Moderns, founded on the 12th July 1762, which lapsed about 1800 and whose name the Lodge had adopted in 1807.

On 6th July 1863 the Lodge was informed that Grand Lodge had resolved that the Numbers of all Lodges on the Register was to be brought forward in regular succession by filling up those Numbers which had become vacant either by the voluntary surrender of Warrants or by the erasure of Lodges, as a result the Lodge was  re-numbered 153 which it bears today.

On 17th April 1876 the Lodge took part in the ceremony of laying the Foundation Stone of the Market at Chatham Counterguard, Gibraltar by the M.W. Grand Master, H.R.H. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, with Masonic full Honours.

In 1877 a Petition was submitted to the M.W. Grand Master for a Warrant of Confirmation as the Original Warrant issued on the 18th November 1777 had unaccountably been mislaid or lost. The M.W. Grand Master was pleased to accede to this request and a Warrant of Confirmation dated 10th July 1877 was issued bearing the names of Brother James Cunningham as Worshipful Master, Brother James Conroy as Senior Warden and Brother Russell H. Collins as Junior Warden.

In the same year, 1877, the Lodge having definitely completed the centenary of its existence, applied for, and was granted a Centenary Warrant dated 18th November 1877 by the M.W. Grand Master, and the issue of a Special Jewel or Medal authorized accordingly.

In September 1885 the original Warrant dated 18th November 1777, which had been lost for many years, was recovered by R.W. Brother Hughan P.S.G.D. It had been found in Bristol in the personal library of Brother Major Irwin P.M. 153, and restored to the Lodge. This is recorded on a brass plate screwed on the wooden frame containing the original Warrant. The matter was duly reported to Grand Lodge who on 4th December 1885 reclaimed the Warrant of Confirmation issued on 10th July 1877 but, at the request of the District Grand Master, Sir Henry J.B. Burford Hancock, the Lodge was allowed to retain the Warrant of Confirmation as a memorial of the distinguished brethren whose names are thereon inscribed. This Warrant bears an inscription to that effect on the top left hand corner in the handwriting of Sir Henry, signed by him, also H.T. Creswell, District Grand Secretary. The Inhabitants' Lodge is also greatly indebted to R.W. Brother Hughan for the recovery of the 1794-1801 Minute Book, which he purchased from a second-hand bookseller in Plymouth. The book had long been in possession of a family who had a relative as member prior to 1794.

It is recorded in the various Minutes of the Lodge that meetings were held at the following places in Gibraltar, viz:

                            Three Anchors                                                   1778 to 1781

                            Freemasons Arms                                              1783

                            Southport St.                                                     1794 to 1796

                            Three Anchors                                                   1796 to 1798

                            King's Arms                                                       1798 to 1801

                            Crown and Anchor Tavern.                                1815

                            Glyn's Building.                                                   1862

                            Three Anchors Coffee House, Main Street.        1863

                            No. 6, Engineer's Lane.                                      1866

                            Garrison Library.                                               1869

                            No. 19 Bell Lane.               

                            No. 32 Engineer's Lane.                                    1876

                            Armstrong's Building.                                        1877

                            Assembly Rooms, Alameda.                             1886 to 1935

                            No. 2 Cornwall's Parade.                                 1935 to 1956

                            G.M.I 47A Prince Edward's Rd.                       1957 to present.

On the 18th November 1977 the Lodge celebrated its Bicentenary Meeting. The M.W. Bro. Rt. Hon. The Earl Of Cadogan, Pro. Grand Master, accompanied by the R.W. Bro. J.W Stubbs P.J.G.W, Grand Secretary, and V.W. Bro. A.F Ferris, Grand Director of Ceremonies were present at this meeting. The Grand Director of Ceremonies obtained from the Secretary the Bi-Centenary Warrant and hand the same to the Pro. Grand Master for examination. The Warrant was then passed to the Grand Secretary who read the said Warrant out loud for the information of the assembled Brethren. After an eloquent speech by the Pro. Grand Master the Warrant was then returned to the Secretary for safe custody. The present banner of the Lodge was then presented to the W.M. C.E Menez D.S.G.W by a deputation of Past Masters.

In 2002 the Lodge will celebrate its 225th Anniversary Celebrations and special events are currently being planned.