History of PGL



As our Province enters it’s third century, we can reflect on the many Brethren who have played their part in forming the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanarkshire Middle Ward.

This is not the complete history, but it does reveal some of the notable events during the terms of the sixteen Provincial Grand Masters since 1816 and whilst we have records of Freemasonry in our Province going back to 1695, this history defines us as a Province during the past two hundred years. Our sincere thanks are extended to Bro. Angus Ross SPGM, for the many hours spent on the research and for his patience with the other members of the ad hoc committee.

We also record that much of the information within this history was obtained from the previous version for the 150th Anniversary, by PPG Secretary, Bro. James C. Osborne.

Bro. William A. Perry
Provincial Grand Master

Two Hundred years of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanarkshire Middle Ward

Provincial Grand Masters

1816-1827 Bro. Lord Archibald Hamilton
1827-1838 Bro. Walter F. Campbell of Shawfield
1838-1863 Bro. Lord William Alexander, 11th. Duke of Hamilton
1863-1866 Province dormant
1866-1877 Bro. James Merry of Belladrum
1877-1892 Bro. Col. John Clark Forrest of Auchinraith
1892-1930 Bro. Sir Robert King Stewart of Murdostoun
1931-1966 Bro. Captain John Christie Stewart of Murdostoun
1966-1971 Bro. Kenneth O. Byres, T.D.
1971-1976 Bro. David Straiton
1976-1981 Bro. Robert T. Syme
1981-1986 Bro. Alexander McGregor
1986-1996 Bro. John S. Dorricott
1996-2001 Bro. George R. Kelly
2001-2006 Bro. Kenneth D. Kennedy
2006-2011 Bro. James L. Jack
2011-2016 Bro. Thomas Davidson

Our story begins on the 5th Day of August 1816 which was no bright summer day; 1816 is known as the year without a summer. Volcanic eruptions obscured the sunlight and freak changes to the Solar Wind caused almost 12 months of winter. Crops failed and thousands died in Northern Europe. Lord Byron was motivated to write his poem “Darkness”. Born in darkness our Provincial Grand Lodge but was destined for brighter times.

Lord Archibald Hamilton was appointed the first Provincial Grand Master in 1816 a role he fulfilled until 1827.

Grand Lodge had, since its formation in 1736, seen the need to devolve governance through the appointment of Provincial Grand Masters. Initially Brother Alexander Drummond of Lodge Greenock Kilwinning was charged with overlooking what was then known, in Edinburgh metropolitan speak, as the Western Shires. This designation evolved into the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow a jurisdiction that covered the ancient county of Lanark which Brother Drummond oversaw until 1742.

The difficulty of managing the size and geographical spread of the jurisdiction was recognised in 1769 when the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire was constituted.

This new district did not include all of the Lanarkshire lodges and the term, which many now would consider to be derogatory; “Under Ward” was used to define the remainder.

In 1813 Sir John Maxwell Bt. of Pollok was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Glasgow and Under Ward of Lanarkshire.

1816 – 1827
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Lord Archibald Hamilton

Precisely when Glasgow and Lanarkshire finally separated is not clear from formal records but we do have a minute from Grand Lodge in 1816 which pronounces on the division of the county of Lanark into the existing Upper Ward and the new Middle Ward. Lord Archibald Hamilton, Provincial Grand Master of the Upper Ward, transferred to the new Province which comprised of the following lodges:

Hamilton Kilwinning No.10 (now No.7)
St. Mary Coltness No.34 (now No.31)
New Monkland Montrose No.112 (now No.88)
Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No.140 (now No.114)
Rutherglen Royal Arch Lodge No.149 (now No.116 transferred to Renfrewshire East 1826)
Strathaven Kilwinning No.187(now dormant)
Airdrie St. John No.221 (now No.166)
Old Monkland St. James No.238 (now No.177)
Operative Lodge of Airdrie No.270 (now No.203)
St. Andrew Strathaven No.283 (now No.215)
Hamilton No.307 (now No.233)

The Province welcomed its first new lodge in in 1823 when Lodge Woodhall St. Johns was granted a charter to serve the village of Woodhall in the parish of Bothwell. The charter was soon amended to reflect the Lodge’s association with Bellshill.

Transfer season
Provincial Grand Masters in the early nineteenth century must have been valuable assets. They seem to get transferred like footballers. As we have said Lord Archibald Hamilton transferred to the Middle Ward. He remained in place until his death in 1827 when he was succeeded by Bro. Walter Campbell of Shawfield who was then transferred to Argyll in 1838. The 11th Duke of Hamilton (William Alexander) then transferred from the Upper Ward to the Middle Ward. No transfer fees are recorded. The 11th Duke held office for 25 years during which Lodge St. John Dalziel No.406 was chartered. The Duke died in 1863 following which the Province appears dormant.

1866 – 1877
Provincial Grand Master Bro. James Merry of Belladrum

Signs of life appear in 1866 when Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 summoned a meeting of the lodges. The meeting was chaired by the RWM of No.7 Bro. John Dick. 11 of the 12 Lodges attended and agreed unanimously that the Province should be, as the minute states, raised from its slumbers. Bro. James Merry of Belladrum M.P. was appointed Provincial Grand Master.

The title Belladrum relates to an Inverness estate purchased by Bro. Merry who was the M.P. for Falkirk. His connection to Lanarkshire was through his business. He was an “Iron Master”. He opened the first Malleable Iron works in Scotland in 1849 on a site in Motherwell adjoining the new Caledonian Railway.

The first meeting of the resurrected Province records that it had no minutes of previous meetings and no funds or regalia. The PGM purchased regalia for the office bearers and his Substitute Master, Bro. Gilmour, advanced funds to meet the expenses for the coming year until such time as a levy on the lodges could be agreed. The dues were finely set at 25 Shillings for each lodge, 3 Shillings for each office bearer and 1 Shilling for each member.

Seven lodges were chartered during the eleven year period of Bro Merry’s reign.

No. 471 St. John Shotts in 1867
       544 St. Andrew Coatbridge in 1874
       551 Clydesdale. Larkhall in 1874
       557 Blantyre Kilwinning in 1874
       573 Livingstone St. Andrew in 1875
       579 St. Bryde in 1876
       599 Livingstone Stonefield in 1877


1877 – 1892
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Colonel John Clark Forrest of Auchinraith

Bro. Merry died in 1877 following years of ill health. His Depute since 1874 Colonel John Clark Forrest was duly appointed to succeed him and was installed in August 1877.

Just as his predecessor had discovered that the Province had no regalia Bro. Forrest discovered his Depute had no suit. Much acrimony ensued concerning the Deputes failure to attend meetings. The matter was finally resolved when it was agreed to acquire suitable attire for the suit-less Depute. Whether or not this solved the attendance problem is not recorded.

1888 – HRH the Prince of Wales, Patron of Freemasonry in Scotland, arrived in Motherwell on his way to the Great Exhibition in Glasgow. Large numbers of Freemasons gathered to welcome the Prince and his Consort.

In May of the same year Bro. Robert King Stewart of Murdostoun was installed as Depute Provincial Grand Master.

In the same year Grand Secretary refused to grant the Operative Lodge of Airdrie No.203 the traditional right, as an operative lodge, to appoint a Mark Master annually. This decision was later set aside and the Operative Lodge of Airdrie No.203, as far as can be ascertained, remains the only lodge in Scotland with this privilege.

1891 – Provincial Grand Lodge adopted its first set of Bye Laws just 75 years after its foundation. Discussion took place on the feasibility of acquiring premises suitable for Provincial business. Sensibly the idea was not accepted.

1892 – Colonel Forrest indicated he did not wish to continue beyond his fifteenth year which had seen three new lodges added to the Province:

No. 551 – Lodge Clyesdae, Larkhall, Transferred from the Upper Ward in 1878
No. 668 – Lodge St. Andrew (Military). Chartered in 1882
No. 306 – Lodge St. Thomas Larkhall. Transferred from the Upper Ward in 1887

1892 – 1930
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Sir Robert King Stewart

September 1892 and a legend of Freemasonry in Lanarkshire was installed as Provincial Grand Master. Bro. Major Robert (later Sir Robert) King Stewart, later to become Grand Master Mason in 1913, began his 38 years of service as Provincial Grand Master. This lengthy spell of service saw twelve new lodges chartered and two dormant lodges, Shotts No.471 and Robert Burns No.440, revived.

The new charters were;

919 Robert King Stewart in 1901
948 Major Ness in 1903
963 Whifflet St. John in 1904
1067 Coltswood Glenboig in 1911
1096 Murdostoun Castle in 1911
Motherwell Caledonian in 1920
Bothwell Brig in 1920
Kirkhill in 1920
1231 Avon Glassford in 1920
1254 Griffin  Gartcosh in 1921
1288 St. Enoch Tannochside in 1922
1314 Caldercruix St. John in 1923

In 1930 the Province received a gift from the widow of Lord Newlands, Past Grand Master Mason. The stipulation of the gift was that it would be invested in gilt-edged securities with the income being used for Freemasons deserving of assistance. The fund remains active to this day.

Sir Robert King Stewart died in December 1930.

1931 – 1966
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Captain John Christie Stewart of Murdostoun

The Stewart family association with the Province did not die with Sir Robert. His son, Captain John Christie Stewart, was installed as Provincial Grand Master in February 1931. The Grand Master Mason, Bro. A. S. Haggart Spiers, conducted the ceremony. Unlike many of his predecessors the new PGM had served the Province in various offices, including serving as his Father’s Depute, having first being installed as Junior Deacon in 1923.
The Provincial Grand Master was held in such esteem that in November 1942 he was installed as Grand Master Mason and served as such for three years during which he continued as our Provincial Grand Master
The seventy-four year Stewart dynasty in the Province ended when Captain Stewart announced in October 1965 that he would not be seeking re-appointment at the end of his commission.
Much of the now accepted role of our Provincial Grand Lodge was established during this period ensuring that the legacy of the Stewart dynasty remains.

1966 – 1971
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Kenneth O. Byres T.D.

We can safely assume that Bro. Byres smiled when in December 1965 his Lodge, Kirkhill No.1230, decided to propose him as the next Provincial Grand Master. The proposal seems to have had support throughout the province. We shall never know if Brother Byres remained smiling when Grand Lodge confirmed his appointment. The task ahead must have been daunting. His predecessor had served for 35 years and for three years of his term also served as Grand Master Mason. Not easy shoes to fill.

The new Provincial Grand Master had little time to dwell on such thoughts. Important events in the Province demanded his immediate attention.

In Hamilton brethren had proposed to Grand Lodge that a new lodge should be formed and racing towards him was the 150th Anniversary of the Province.Following his commission Brother Byres appointed his team for the term.

Depute: Bro. David Straiton, Lodge Livingstone Stonefield No.599

Bro. James O. Prentice, Lodge St. Mary Coltness No.31
Bro. James Gardiner, Lodge New Monkland Montrose No.88
Bro. James K. Borland, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7

Secretary: Bro. Robert G. Russell, Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No.114

Rev. Bro. James Hamilton, Lodge St. Clair No.427
Bro. John B. Morton, Morton Lodge No.89

Interestingly the Junior Chaplain was a member of the Morton Lodge in Lerwick. What was his connection to Lanarkshire we wonder?
The installation ceremony coincided with the 150th Anniversary of the Province. Grand Lodge performed an excellent rededication of the Province following the installation of the new Provincial Grand Master.
Brother Byres and his team had a whirlwind first year. Six months into the commission the Province celebrated its 150th Anniversary. Central to the celebration was a rededication of the Province in Hamilton Town Hall.
The ceremony took place on the evening of Thursday the fourth of August. The Grand Master Mason, Bro. Major Sir Ronald Orr Ewing, presided.
During his time as Depute Brother Byres had foreseen the need for change in the organisation of Provincial Grand Lodge. Key to his vision of change was the introduction of the system, now established in the Province, of each lodge electing a representative to Provincial Grand Committee.

The proposal from brethren in Hamilton to form a new lodge was accepted by Grand Lodge. Lodge “The Duke of Hamilton” No.1636 received their charter on the 3rd of August 1967. The only Lodge to be chartered during Brother Byres commission.

1971 – 1976
Provincial Grand Master Bro. David Straiton

25th June 1971 saw Hamilton Town Hall once again host the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master. Brother David Straiton, the long term secretary of Livingston Stonefield 599, was installed by the Grand Master Mason, Bro. David Liddell Grainger of Ayton.
The new commission contained representatives from several of the larger towns in the Province and in the junior chaplain a brother from a Glasgow lodge.

Depute: Bro. Robert T Syme, Lodge Livingstone St. Andrew No.573

Bro. George Sneddon, Operative Lodge of Airdrie No.203
Bro. Joseph Parvin, Lodge St. John Dalziel No.4
Bro. Robert G. F. Russell, Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No.114

Secretary: Bro. William B. Barr, St. Andrew No.573

Rev. Bro. John. M. MacKechnie MBE, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7
Rev. Bro. John McKendry, Lodge Kenmuir No.570 (Glasgow)

Brother Straiton’s five year term appears a relatively quiet time for Provincial with fewer social activities than in previous commissions. Committee minutes however show the Provincial Chaplain calling for greater harmony and less discord at the committee meetings.
The minutes of the PGL Committee meeting of June 1975 show the lodge in hopeful mode as it approaches the end of the commission.
In the minutes it is proposed that the Golf tournament should take place on the Sunday of the Divine service in order that Brethren can attend both events. There is little mention of a Divine Service in the minutes up to this point which is strange considering the importance of the event in our Provincial calendar in more recent times.
Some disagreement took place in Committee as to when a decision should be made on nomination of a successor to Brother Straiton. This was finally resolved at the Committee meeting of November the 25th. Brother R. T. Syme was nominated.

1976 – 1981
Provincial Grand Master Bro.Robert T. Syme

If you believe in omens then 1976 started well for Freemasonry in Britain. Brotherhood of Man won the Eurovision Song contest.
Bro.. Robert T Syme (Past Depute PGM) happily succeeded Brother Straiton as Provincial Grand Master and was duly installed by the Grand Master Mason, Bro. Captain Robert Wolridge Gordon of Esslemont in Hamilton Town Hall. As far as we know they did not sing the winning song “Save All Your Kisses For Me”. The new Provincial Grand Master commissioned a strong team;

Depute: Bro. Alexander McGregor, Lodge Robert Burns No.440

Bro. Andrew D. Millar, Lodge Kirkhill No.1230
Bro. George Smith, Lodge Livingstone St. Andrew No.573
Bro. Arthur G. Jamieson, Lodge Whiflet St. John No.963

Bro. Robert G. Russell, Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No.114

Rev. Bro. J. Stanley Cook, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7
Rev. Bro. James E. Hunter.

Publication of a PGM quarterly communication seems to have been the practice in the seventies. Brother Syme’s first communication resonates with today’s objectives when he congratulates Lodge Caldercruix 1314 on the success of their community Old Folks day and also commends Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 on their refurbishment of the Television lounge in the Hamilton Eventide Home. The PGM goes on to encourage the rest of the Province to participate in worthy non masonic events.

The Minutes of the October 1976 committee show the first stirrings of interest in providing holiday accommodation for needy brethren. The Depute PGM     (Alex McGregor) was charged with looking into the possibility of acquiring a caravan.
The caravan facility was finally opened at a site in Peebles in May 1977. The running costs were estimated at £250 per year. The caravan, though useful, proved to be too small and was upgraded in 1979.

The minutes of various committee meetings show some discord over a variety of issues in the Province such as;
The Use of the Blanket in 3rd. Degree ceremonies
A proposal to bring forward the AGM to October.
The increasing number of PGL social events.
The use of Benevolent funds for pensioner parties.
Late returns from daughter lodges
There seems to have been an increase PGL social activity with events such as Family weekend breaks, Master and Wardens dinners and Annual Dances.
The Province appears to have come to the view that these were detracting from social events in the daughter lodges. Similarly bringing forward the AGM hardly seemed practical when significant numbers of lodges were late with their annual returns. The proposal on the change of AGM was defeated.
The first two years of Brother Syme’s commission saw him lose two valuable friends in Provincial Grand Secretary Robert Russell who died in 1976 and Past Provincial Grand Master Brother Kenneth Byres who died I977.

Bro. Andrew D. Millar gave moving obituaries on his friends

While researching the minutes you can’t help wondering if there was so much more Provincial activity than today that justified an Assistant Secretary. Many brethren thought not sufficient to justify an honorarium, though one was eventually granted.
The Queens Silver Jubilee appeal in 1977 sparked much activity in Provincial and in the lodges which resulted in the Provincial Grand Master presenting the Provost of Hamilton with a cheque for £660 towards the appeal.
The Province appears to have regularly borrowed consecration vessels from Glasgow and following their use in consecrating the new temple for Lodge Dura 1513 it was proposed and agreed that the Province should acquire consecration vessels.

Lodge Fleur de Lys No 1722 was consecrated in March 1978. The ceremony was held in the Masonic Hall Clark Street Airdrie. The proposal to create a new lodge with associations to the Scout movement had been made a year earlier. The Provincial Grand Master presided over the ceremony.

January 5th 1980 dawned and Brother Syme performed the second new lodge consecration of his term with the birth of Lodge Burns Immortal No.1730. The ceremony took place in Hamilton Town Hall followed by a celebration dinner.

Brother Syme’s term was nearing a close and an election was held to nominate his successor. Three candidates were proposed; Depute PGM Brother McGregor and Substitute Provincial Grand Masters, Brothers Smith and Millar. Depute PGM Bro. Alexander McGregor of Lodge Robert Burns No. 440 was duly nominated.

Brother Syme warmly congratulated Brother McGregor and in summing up his term of office he said that it had been both enjoyable and at times stormy but he hoped he left the Province in good heart.

1981 – 1986
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Alexander McGregor

You can easily picture the delight of the Brethren of Lodge Robert Burns

No.440 when on the 11th June 1981 the then Director of Ceremonies, PM. Alex Hunter, introduced a large deputation from Provincial Grand Lodge headed by the Provincial Grand Master Alexander McGregor. The Provincial Grand Master had been in the Chair of the lodge in the term 1945 -1946.

Brother McGregor’s installation as Provincial Grand Master had taken place on the 29th of May. The Grand Master Mason, Sir James McKay, presided at Hamilton Town hall. Interestingly on that date the Provost of Hamilton District Council, Brother J Swinburne (Lodge No.948), presented the new

PGM with a charity medallion to commemorate the contribution of Provincial Grand Lodge to charity work throughout Hamilton District. Brother Swinburne was also an affiliate member of Lodge Buchanan No.1499 the first of two members of that lodge to hold the office of Provost. Brother McGregor’s team for the commission consisted of;

Bro. Malcolm Dow, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557

Bro. Gilbert Gourlay, Lodge Livingstone Stonefield No.599
Bro. John Miller, Lodge St. Andrew Coatbridge No.554
Bro. James McNeil, Lodge Bothwell Brig No.1229
Bro. David Lindsay, Lodge St. Mary Coltness No.31

Bro. J. S. Dorricott, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557

 Rev. Bro. J. Stanley Cook, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7
Rev. Bro. James E Hunter.

The post of Assistant Secretary, which had been much discussed in the previous year, seems to have been abandoned.

Reading the minutes of both the Quarterly Communications and the General Committee meetings you get the strong impression of a quiet orderly term until 1983. Intrigue then appears to have gripped the province prompting Brother McGregor to announce, paraphrasing Mark Twain, that rumours of his demise were being much exaggerated and that he intended to fulfil his five year commission. The PGM also castigated those in his commission who were reported to be offering commissions in exchange for support in becoming the next PGM.

The minutes reflect a quiet Province for the remainder of the commission, though discussion on the use of the blanket continued together with the now established pattern of late lodge returns and problems with social clubs.

The Scottish Parliament may have thought it was ground breaking when it introduced the smoking ban in 2007 but our Provincial Grand Lodge was well ahead of them in 1984. Following a complaint from the Provincial Grand Chaplain concerning passive smoking at committee meetings it was agreed that smoking would not be allowed at Provincial Committee meetings.

Grand Lodge confirmed that the PGM, Alexander McGregor, had intimated that he would not seek a second commission. The Provincial Grand Secretary Brother John S. Dorricot and Brother Malcolm Dow both indicated their wish to follow Brother McGregor as Provincial Grand Master.

Brother Dorricott was subsequently nominated.

1986 – 1991
Provincial Grand Master Bro. John S Dorricott

The Grand Master Mason, Bro. James Marcus Humphrey of Dinnet, duly installed Brother Dorricott at a ceremony in Hamilton Town Hall on the 23rd May 1986. Brother Dorricott’s team contained names well known in the Province to this day;

Depute: Bro.. John Miller, Lodge St. Andrew Coatbridge No.544

Rev. Bro. J. Stanley Cook, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No. 7
Bro. David Kerr, Lodge Woodhall St. Johns No.305
Bro. John Reid, Lodge St. Mary Coltness No.31
Bro. Alexander Fraser, Lodge Woodhall St. Johns No.305

Secretary:Bro. George R. Kelly, Lodge Major Ness No.948

 Rev. Bro. James E. Hunter
Rev. Bro. James E. Black

This is the first installation of a PGM where a deputation of the reigning Masters in the Province is recorded as being introduced.

Provincial Grand Secretary could have written the minutes of committee meetings without attending. The same chestnuts appear time after time, late Lodge returns, rough working at MM degrees and problems with social clubs. Thankfully the 250th Anniversary of Grand Lodge appeared on the horizon.

A special West of Scotland Committee was formed to co-ordinate celebrations among the Provinces and PPGM Roy Syme was appointed to represent Lanarkshire Middle Ward.

The Middle Ward’s formal contribution was a successful garden party at Hamilton Race Course. Many visiting brethren from around the world were entertained at lodge functions throughout the Province.

Erskine Hospital was the focus of much of the non- masonic charity fund raising in the Province.

Visits by the “Erskine Road Show” are recorded by many lodges.

The Holiday Caravan was deemed to be no longer fit for purpose and a proposal to spend £3,700, purchasing a second hand facility at the Maidens site in Ayrshire was accepted.

Following further complaints of rough working in the 3rd Degree the Provincial Grand Master decided to no longer allow visiting Lodges from out-with the Province to confer the Master Mason degree. This decision was, to say the least, controversial.

On a happier note in 1988 the Rev. Peter Owen Price makes his appearance in Provincial as Junior Chaplain. Bro. Price would go on to serve the Province as chaplain until the installation in 2016 and his service was recognised by award of the rank of Honorary Depute Provincial Grand Master.

As thoughts were on Christmas celebrations on the 23rd December 1988 many people in Lanarkshire saw strange red colouring in the sky to the south. Debris from Pan Am flight 103 had landed in Lockerbie. The tragic event obviously stimulated support among our lodges for the people of Lockerbie and many fund raising events were organised. Provincial donated £200.

1989 saw the proposal to form Lodge Meridian being accepted by Committee. The new Lodge, No.1779, was consecrated on the 14thOctober.

Some discussion took place concerning the 175th Anniversary of Provincial Grand Lodge but no special events were organised. The brethren seemed more concerned on fund raising for the Masonic Homes and a special Burns Supper was planned for Hamilton Town Hall.

The raffle for the Caravan Fund, now a fixture of the New Year Draw, made its first appearance.

January 1990. Brother Dorricott informed the brethren that he intended to remain as PGM for a second five years.

1991 – 1996
Provincial Grand Master Bro. John S. Dorricott

Brother Dorricott was reinstalled as PGM by the Grand Master Mason Brother Sir Gregor McGregor of McGregor Bart. at a special meeting in Hamilton Town Hall on the 17th of May.

Brother Dorricott refreshed his commission:

Depute:  Bro. Alexander Fraser, Lodge Woodhall St. Johns No.305

Bro. John Reid, Lodge St. Mary Coltness No.31
Bro. John Mathie, Lodge Hamilton No.233
Bro. Walter Blower, Lodge St. Enoch No.128
Bro. Alexander Clezy, Lodge New Monkland Montrose No.88

Secretary :Bro. George R. Kelly, Lodge Major Ness No.948

Rev. Bro. Peter O. Price, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557
Bro. Lesley Falconer, Lodge Garrowhill No.1413

The refreshed commission held a special meeting Cambuslang in July 1991 when the “New Jersey Masonic Kilties” delivered an exemplification of the Master Mason Degree in front of nearly two hundred brethren. The meeting was hosted by Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No. 114.

PGM’s second term also had a sad beginning with the death of Past Provincial Grand Master David Straiton on August the seventh. A memorial service was held on the 4th October and the Provincial Grand Master delivered a moving eulogy on Brother Straiton.

1992 – Grand Lodge issued their “Ad Hoc” committee report on Freemasonry in Scotland with recommendations for improvements both in the Daughter Lodges and Provincial Grand Lodges. The recommendations were extensive and meetings were held throughout the country to discuss the implications and agree the recommendations. Sadly at this important   time our Provincial Grand Master suffered a stroke while in hospital for a hip replacement.

Brother Dorricott tried manfully to continue his leadership but his health precluded any active involvement and the task was shared until the end of the commission initially by Depute Alexander Fraser and Past Depute Jack Reid. Sadly Depute Provincial Grand Master Alexander Fraser resigned his commission and was succeeded by Donald Mathieson as Depute to head the Province until the installation of a new PGM. The absence of an active PGM had placed an additional burden on the Secretary, George Kelly, who was commissioned as Substitute and Brother Lesley Falconer replaced him as Secretary.

The lodge social activity continued driven by Brother Stewart McEwan (Golf) and Brother Bill MacAdam( Bowls).

The Office Bearers Installation meeting in March 1995 had an interesting change to custom when the Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master of Ayrshire, Brother Adam Cunningham, installed the Office Bearers. Brother Cunningham was subsequently awarded Honorary Provincial Grand rank of Senior Deacon.


1996 – 2001
Provincial Grand Master Bro. George R. Kelly

Following the end of Brother Dorricott’s second term four brethren were proposed as successors; Donald Mathieson Depute PGM and Substitute PGM’s Alex Clezy, John Mathie and George Kelly. George Kelly emerged as the nomination of the Province.
Brother Kelly was duly installed as Provincial Grand Master at a ceremony in Hamilton Town Hall on the 31st May 1996. The Grand Master Brother The Right Honourable Lord Burton presided.

Brother Kelly commissioned the following brethren:

Depute: Bro. Kenneth D. Kennedy, Lodge Robert King Stewart No.919

Bro. Walter Blower, Lodge St. Enoch No.1288
Bro. Allan Campbell, Lodge Major Ness No.948
Bro. David Lindsay, Lodge Motherwell Caledonian No.1228
Bro. James Shanks, Lodge Coltswood No.1067

Secretary: Bro. James L. Jack, Lodge St. Bryde No.579

Rev. Bro. Peter O. Price, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557
Bro. William E. Orr, Lodge St. Bryde No.579

The written history of Lodge Major Ness No.948 records the pleasure of the brethren on receiving a deputation from Provincial Grand Lodge headed by their own Brother George Kelly as Provincial Grand Master and including Brothers Alan Campbell, David Stark and Alex Kelly all members of the lodge.

Brother Kelly had sadly to announce the death of one of his predecessors Brother R. T. Syme at his first meeting.

The Holiday accommodation Caravan soon became the focus of fund raising in the Province and many events were held to support the new PGM’s target of raising £15,000 by the year 2000 (Millenium) to replace the existing unit.

The PGM held communication sessions in the five districts of the Province to promote the Millennium Project and to gain feedback from the lodges. The secretary, Jim Jack, produced a News Letter updating the Province on the status of fund raising for the both the Holiday accommodation project and the St. Andrews Hospice project. The issue of September 1998 shows that the £15,000 target for the Caravan project had been speedily passed with the fund at over £20,000. The new Holiday Caravan was formally opened on the 10th April 1999 by Anne Kelly wife of the PGM.

The Quarterly communication in July 1998 held a tribute to Past Provincial Grand Master John S. Dorricott who had passed away in April. Brother Kelly’s term also saw the loss of Substitute Provincial Grand Master Brother Walter Blower (succeeded by Bro Alex Dick) and Substitute Provincial Grand Master Brother Alan Campbell (succeeded by Bro. Jack Mathie)

The focus on the Millennium projects kept the Province so busy that Brother Kelly’s term flew past and suddenly his successor was being sought. Brother Kelly’s Depute, Kenneth D. Kennedy was unanimously nominated.

The minute of Brother Kelly’s last meeting shows the Province was generally in good heart and performing heroically on fund raising. £11,000 had been raised for St. Andrews Hospice. Central to the fund raising was a Grand Ball held in Hamilton Town Hall at which Sister Catherine from the hospice was presented with the cheque. In recognition of Brother Kelly’s service to the province he was awarded Distinguished Service Membership in 2011.

2001 – 2006
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Kenneth D. Kennedy

In a change from custom the Installation of the new Provincial Grand Master was held in Motherwell Civic Centre.

The Grand Master Mason Brother Sir Archibald Donald Orr Ewing Bart., presided. Brother Kennedy appointed a new team of Brethren well known throughout the Province;

: Bro. J. Stewart Wood, Lodge Old Monkland St. James No.177

Bro. Alex Dick, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7
Bro. David Lindsay, Lodge Motherwell Caledonian No.1228
Bro. Jack Mathie, Lodge Hamilton No.233
Bro. John Wood, Lodge Murdostoun Castle No.1096

Secretary: Bro. James L. Jack, Lodge St Bryde No.579

Rev. Bro. Peter O. Price,Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557
Bro. Tom Davidson, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7

Early in his commission Brother Kennedy addressed the Brethren on the sad news that the Queen Mother had died. The PGM reminded the Brethren that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had been the wife of our own Grand Master Mason, King George VI. Brother Kennedy’s Finance committee reports show the Province in a healthy financial condition with over £40,000, in funds.

During his term Brother Kennedy sadly commented on the death of two stalwarts of our province in Brother Gilbert Gourlay and Brother Andrew D. Millar both of whom had held senior positions in the province and had contributed their time over many years. Brother Kennedy’s term also experienced the loss of Substitute Provincial Grand Master Bro. Alex Dick.

St. Andrews Hospice continued to be the focus of much of our charity work and the minute’s record that the Grand Ball raised £4,000, for the cause.

The Grand Master Mason visited the Province in June 2005. The meeting was hosted by the PGM’s mother lodge, Robert King Stewart No.919, in New Stevenson. The Grand Master Mason, Bro. Joseph Morrow, thanked the Province for its continued good work. Our Provincial Grand Master Mason was an extremely busy Freemason and was congratulated by his predecessor on becoming the Grand Master of the Great Priory of Scotland. The five years had largely been a happy trouble free time for the Province and Brother Kennedy announced that he would not seek re-appointment at the end of his term. he Provincial Grand Secretary, James L. Jack, was duly nominated to succeed Brother Kennedy.

2006 – 2011
Provincial Grand Master Bro. James L. Jack

Since in 2001 brethren from South Lanarkshire discovered that it was possible to visit North Lanarkshire the Provincial installation was once again held in Motherwell Civic Centre.

The Grand Master Mason, Brother Sir Archibald Donald Orr Ewing Bart., once again presided.

Brother Jack commissioned the following team;

Depute: Bro. James Shanks, Lodge Coltswood No.1067

Bro. Tom Davidson, Lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7
Bro. Alex Kelly, Lodge Major Ness No.948
Bro. William A. Perry, Lodge Robert Burns No.440
Bro. Angus Ross, Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No.114

Secretary: Bro, William M. Craig, Lodge Buchanan No.1499

Bro. Peter O. Price, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557
Bro. James O. Ferguson, Lodge Airdrie St. John No.166

The new PGM stated his objectives for the year which included raising the profile of Provincial Grand lodge, establishing a closer relationship with Masters and Wardens and making use of the internet through a new Web page to improve communication.

Once again the holiday accommodation facility required attention and as the existing caravan would be ten years old by the end of the commission fund raising for its replacement started immediately.As it was often the case that some lodges could not appoint a representative to Provincial Grand Lodge it was proposed by IPPGM Ken Kennedy and PPGM George Kelly that interested members from other lodges could be appointed as the reps for those lodges. The practice is now established policy.
The 250th Anniversary of the birth of Bro. Robert Burns was approaching and many events were being organised throughout the country. Planning started in PGL to hold a special Burns Night in 2009.

2008 dawned and the Province was pleased to welcome the Grand Master Mason and Grand Secretary to the October communication hosted by Lodge Woodhall St.Johns No.305.

The PGM awarded Honorary Provincial membership to both our distinguished visitors.

The Burns Night was hosted in 2009 by Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No 114 and was a great success, raising over £2,000 for the Caravan project.

Perhaps the Caravan project highlights how things had changed in Scotland over the years.

The first facility in Peebles, opened in 1977, had no running water. The new facility would have double glazing, central heating, wheel chair access and shower facilities. Mrs Helen Jack, wife of the PGM, opened the new facility on Saturday 13th. March 2010, an open day attended by 70 Brethren and their partners.

As the commission approached the end of its term the PGM was delighted to report that our lodges had raised £210,000 for non-masonic charities during the term.

The District Grand Master of Central South Africa, Brother Bob Law, had visited the Province several times. At a special dinner, hosted by Lodge St.Bryde No.579, the PGM was delighted to announce that £4,000 had been raised for Brother Law’s special charity the “Sunshine Centre” in Johannesburg.

As another happy and busy 5 year period for the Province neared its close Brother Jack was delighted to announce that Brother Tom Davidson had been nominated to replace him as PGM. Brother Davidson’s appointment confirmed that the oldest lodge in the province, ”Hamilton Kilwinning No 7, remained as active as ever. Indeed as PM David Kerr of No7 was in the chair of the Royal Order, Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow and the West of Scotland perhaps the lodge was more active than ever.

2011 – 2016
Provincial Grand Master Bro. Thomas Davidson

Following the confirmation of Bro. Davidson’s commission from Grand Lodge in February 2011 the commission commenced on the 9th June 2011 with the ceremony of installation held on the 18th June.

The usually venues capable of accommodating the large numbers who attend these occasions , Hamilton Town Hall and Motherwell Civic centre, were unavailable. Hamilton College proved a very suitable alternative for the 318 Brethren who attended, including visitors from 17 sister Provinces.

The Depute Grand Master, Bro. Hugh Bryson, presided over the ceremony accompanied by 22 Grand Lodge office bearers.

Brother Davidson was ably installed by Brother Bryson following which the new Provincial Grand Masters Commissioned Office Bearers were also installed;

Depute: Bro. William A. Perry, Lodge Robert Burns No.440

Bro. Andrew D. Millar, Lodge Kirkhill No.1213
Bro. James O. Ferguson, Lodge Airdrie St. John no.166
Bro. Norman M. Carnegy, Lodge St. Mary Coltness No.31
Bro. Stephen H. A. Campbell, Lodge St. Enoch No.1288

Bro. William M. Craig, Lodge Buchanan No.1499

Rev. Bro. Peter O. Price, Lodge Blantyre Kilwinning No.557
Bro. Peter M. Ball, Lodge St. Andrew (Miltary) No.668

Surprisingly one of the first actions of this new team was to consider their demise. A sub committee was formed to plan for the 200th Anniversary of Provincial Grand Lodge in 2016. The occasion would coincide with the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master. Our Province demonstrated its foresight in appointing the chairman, Depute Provincial Grand Master William Adam Perry.

During Brother Davidson’s successful term of office the Province was inspired to collaborate in several worthy charity projects which raised substantial sums for organisations such as :
The Boys Brigade.
The Scouts
Prostate Cancer Scotland
Breast Cancer Scotland.
Children with Additional Educational Needs.

The commission also saw a number of innovations in the province both procedural and social. The annual inspection of lodge books was confined to the first Monday in February reducing the burden on active office bearers and committee members. The need for a Commutation fee’s fund ceased, following the abolition of new Life Memberships, much to the delight of Treasurers throughout the Province.

Sadly the Province witnessed a Lodge, Lodge The Duke of Hamilton No.1636 going into dormancy, despite the efforts of some dedicated Past Masters and Brethren.

Socially the Province continued to meet in the annual Bowls and Golf competitions.

The Provincial Grand Master also organised a number of social occasions including a Charity Dinner and Burns Supper. His introduction of the Lanarkshire Freemasons Christmas Carol Service seems to be an innovation that will become a permanent feature in the life of the Province as will the Provincial Quiz night.

The Provincial Grand Master continued to encourage close relations with the other Provincial Grand Lodges throughout Scotland. To this end the concluding charity event of the commission was a Charity Zipslide across the River Clyde in Glasgow in support of Prostate Scotland’s Blue Horizon Robot

Appeal, this event was a jointly promoted event with the PGLs of Ayrshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire East and Renfrewshire West with strong support from the brethren of the five organising provinces and ten other provinces. The event organisers set themselves the ambitious target of raising £50,000 for the charity. On the day of the event, expectations were surpassed when due to the efforts and generosity of all brethren and friends involved, the amount raised was actually £120,000.

As we approach our 200th anniversary it may be appropriate to note the sensible management of the Province over the years. In 1971 the accounts showed assets of £16,474 as Brother Davidson prepares to hand over the Province to Brother Perry the assets are £75,929. The Province is in good heart with many of the 41 lodges looking forward to a confident and successful future with improving candidate numbers.

The next 200 years starts with the Installation of Bro. William Adam Perry as our new Provincial Grand Master in September 2016. The Province has confidence that Brother Perry’s experience as Depute and Substitute will enable him to continue the great work of his predecessors

Bro. Angus G. Ross
Substitute Provincial Grand Master
July 2016gllogo






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