Minutes of the Ordnance Lodge No. 202
St. John’s Day 27th December 1778
The Lodge being assembled walked in Grand Procession from the Grand Battery to Church, at the particular request of His Excellency the Governor. After which we dined in separate Lodges and spent the day and evening in great harmony.
Received visitors from the under mentioned Lodges.
No. 148 Royal Artillery
No. 58 12th Regiment
No. 290 39th Regiment
The expense of the day & evening ordered to be settled next meeting.
This Lodge being weak as to numbers applyd to Lodge No. 148 for 3 members to assist at the procession, which was granted. The said members spent the day & evening with us free from all expense.
The above minutes have been extracted from the Lodge’s oldest Minute Book. The front cover of this Minute Book although badly damaged and worn out bears the inscription No. 202 and the Masonic Year 5776, which may well imply that our Lodge was already working unofficially well before its Warranted date of 18th November 1777. Unfortunately, the state of the Minute Book has deteriorated to such an extent that many of its first pages appear to be missing and indeed there are still a few loose and broken pages within the Book in dire need of repair. The first recorded meeting took place on Saturday 15th August 1778 at the house of Worshipful Brother Strachan our first Master of the Lodge. The first recorded Installation is illustrated above and although brief by today’s standards do reveal a number of startling revelations.
Firstly, it was common practice for the Lodges to install a new Master on the two days reserved for the feast of St. John. December 27th dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and the 24th June dedicated to St. John the Baptist. A Master’s regular period of election was therefore only six months, although it was not uncommon for this period to be extended to a year or longer. Indeed Bro. Strachan our first Master enjoyed the Mastership of our Lodge for the first couple of years of our Lodge’s existence. It was also common practice for the various Lodge’s within the Garrison to assemble under their respective banners in full Masonic regalia at around 11 o’clock in the morning on these two dates and parade in full view of the public to church for a church service. The minutes mention that the Brethren assembled at Grand Battery, which is the present Casemates Square and marched to church, which although not mentioned is most probably referring to King’s Chapel as this was the only place of Anglican worship in Gibraltar until the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was built in 1825. The Governor at whose particular request the Brethren assembled in 1778 was none other than George Augustus Elliott later Lord Heathfield of Gibraltar.
After the church service the Brethren would retire to their respective meeting places, usually taverns such as the Freemason’s Arms, the Three Anchors, Crown and Anchor or King’s Arms in our case. The short ceremony of Installation and investing of Officers was quickly followed by the Festive Board, although it was not uncommon for both events to take place simultaneously. As all Lodge’s invested their Officers on the same day, it was therefore courteous for each Lodge to send representatives to visit other Lodges after the meal to relay fraternal greetings on behalf of their Lodge. Our Lodge received visitors from Lodge No. 148 Royal Artillery, which is the present Lodge of St. John No. 115, No. 58 Scottish Constitution Warranted in the 12th Regiment of Foot and No. 290 Irish Constitution Warranted in the 39th Regiment of Foot.
Both Ordnance Lodge and the Royal Artillery Lodge enjoyed a very special relationship even at this early time in their history being among the first Atholl (Antients) Lodges in Gibraltar. Brethren from No. 148 were regular visitors to our Lodge and were only too willing to assist in our assemblies at a time when our Lodge was still attempting to consolidate itself within the Masonic community.
Finally, although not mentioned in the Minutes the following Brethren were appointed to the following Offices.
W.Bro. Strachan Worshipful Master
W.Bro. Young Senior Warden
W.Bro. Reid Junior Warden
Bro. Cotter Secretary
The Lodge appears to have had too few members to fill the office of Treasurer, Senior and Junior Deacon, the Tyler being hired for meetings as was the custom and therefore not considered as an office. There was no office for Inner Guard at the time.