Page About Masonry, News & Notes
Mother Kilwinning Lodge No. 0
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 07:59:47 -0700
From: Hugh Young <email@example.com>
Subject: One More Time, Please! (Vol II #4)
ONE MORE TIME, PLEASE! Vol II, No. 4
Circulation ---> 170
This ezine reproduces articles of Masonic interest and proves the
theory that "there is nothing new under the sun".
This month's article is the full text of a small booklet produced by
Mother Kilwinning Lodge in Scotland on its history.
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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
A Brief History of Lodge Mother Kilwinning No. 0
More than fifty years have elapsed since Bro. The Rev. W. Lee Ker and
Bro. Robert Wylie first published their well-known histories of Mother
Kilwinning. The books written by them have been out of print for many
years and are almost, if not quite, impossible to obtain.
Few Lodges can boast of such great traditions as Mother Kilwinning
and it is unfortunate that the history of this ancient Lodge is not more
widely known. The present pamphlet is an attempt to present some of the
more interesting facts about the Mother Lodge to her own members, and to
the visitors from all parts of the world whom she always welcomes. It
should satisfy the needs of those who are unable to purchase books or
spare the time to study them.
It should be pointed out that this pamphlet has been compiled
entirely from the two histories referred to above and although the facts
have been checked / where possible / the writer does not wish to be held
responsible for an controvertible statements which may occur in the
A Brief History of Lodge Mother Kilwinning No. 0.
The Origin of Freemasonry is not definitely known, although many
believe that it originated from the ancient Egyptian religions. It is
well known, however, that from very earl times guilds or companies of
craftsmen such as carpenters, builders, blacksmiths, etc., have existed
in the community and modern Freemasonry may safely be said to originate
from these. In the middle ages these merchants' guilds became very well
organised. They admitted apprentices, and gave charters of proficiency
to their members from whom they sometimes asked high fees for
membership. On Corpus Christi day each guild used to parade in a dress
peculiar to itself and present a religious play in the streets.
Now the guild of masons (or builders) differed from all the others:
whereas, for example, the blacksmith would ply his trade in his own
town, the mason frequently had to travel long distances, even to the
other end of the country, to engage in his work. Arrived at his
destination, the mason had to prove to his employer that he was a mason
and, he also had to prove how proficient he was, i.e., he had to prove
his rank in the guild from which he came. This he did by showing that
he was in possession of certain secrets which he learned from his guild.
Naturally the guild, or Craft, at first contained only Operative Masons
(i.e. builders), but from the sixteenth century, Speculative Masons
(i.e. non-builders), were admitted, and finally the Craft became
About the end of the seventh century St. Vinnen, or Winning, founded
a monastery near the banks of the Garnock, and the town of Kilwinning
takes its name from this saint. The Abbey of Kilwinning, however, was
built some centuries later, the chief benefactor being Hugh de Morville,
High Constable of Scotland in 1157 and a friend of the King (David I).
The date commonly assigned to the building of the Abbey is 1140. At
about this period the Poe created corporations or fraternities of
masons, endowing them with certain privileges and immunities, his object
being to encourage the emigration of Italian artists capable of erecting
religious structures in the Gothic style. A party of these foreign
masons is supposed to have come from Italy for the purpose of building
the Monastery of Kilwinning and to have founded there the first
regularly constituted Lodge in Scotland. The Lodge is reputed to have
been held in the Chapterhouse, a chamber measuring 38 feet by feet, and
situated on the Eastern side of the cloisters. On the broken walls and
mouldering arches of the Abbey numerous and varied masons' marks may be
seen, some very beautiful in design.
From Kilwinning Lodge proceeded the Lodge of Scoon and Bertha (now
Scone and Perth) in about the year 1195, as is confirmed by a charter
now in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (The wording of this
document is given in Wylie's history, p.24). Little else is known of
the early history of Mother Kilwinning as all the early records have
been lost. Whether these records were involved in the destruction which
overtook the building at the period of the Reformation (1560), had never
been clearly ascertained. Tradition affirms that they were carried away
by the Monks to France on the downfall of the Papal power in Scotland.
It is also averred that with the destruction of the buildings
perished the Abbey records, including the Pensile Tables which contained
the genealogies of buried persons, registers of miracles, histories,
etc. A search has been made of late in the Vatican, but without
success. Mr. Fraser, in his memorials of the Eglinton Family says: :It
has generally been supposed that the Cartulary of Kilwinning was
preserved in the Crater Room at Eglinton Castle, but after a diligent
search in that repository, it has not been found." A disastrous fire
occurred at Eglinton Castle in 1544 and this may account for the loss.
After the establishment of the Kilwinning and York Lodges (the
jurisdiction and antiquity of the Grand Lodge of York over other English
Lodges has invariably been acknowledged by the whole Fraternity), the
principles of Freemasonry rapidly spread throughout both Kingdoms and
several Lodges were erected in different parts of the island. The
fortunes of the Craft rose and fell and experienced those alternate
successions of advancement and decay which mark the history of every
human institution. The Scottish Freemasons always owned their King as
their Grand Master; he, when not a Mason himself, appointed one of the
Brethren to preside as his deputy at meetings, and to regulate all
matters concerning the Craft. James I (1406- 37) was Royal Grand master
until he settled a yearly revenue of four pounds Scots, to be paid by
every Master-Mason in Scotland, to a Grand Master chosen by the Brethren
and approved of by the Crown.
James II (1437-60) favoured the Lodges with his presence and granted
the office of Grand Master to William St. Clair, the Builder of Roslin
Chapel, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, and Baron of Roslin, and to his
successors. The hereditary Grand Masters ruled their Lodges without
interruption until 1736, when William St. Clair, the last heir in the
direct male line, resigned the hereditary office into the hands of the
Scottish Lodges. The Barons of Roslin assembled their Grand Lodges at
Kilwinning, and the Masonic Courts were held there. The Roslin family
had not only close, but, at one time, the highest ecclesiastical
connection with Kilwinning. It is recorded that Henry Sinclair, a son
of the House of Roslin, came to be taken much notice of by King James V.
He became Abbot or Perpetual Commendator of Kilwinning in 1541, which
office exchanged with Gavin Hamilton for the Deanery of Glasgow in 1550.
In the "Eglinton Papers" it is also recorded that "Henrie Sinclair, Dean
of Glasgow," was a witness to the marriage between Hugh, third Earl of
Eglinton, and Lady Jane Hamilton, daughter of James, Duke of
Chattellarault, on 13th February, 1554.
From the time of James II onwards, the Craft prospered, and on one
occasion at least the King visited Kilwinning Lodge. In the accounts of
the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland published by authority of the Lords
Commissioners of the Treasury (Edinburgh) 1877, p.172, there is the
"On Fryda, xiii Novembria (1491) in Kilwynnyng to the King before the
super and efter, xx vnicornis."
(The unicorn was a gold coin, valued about 90p. A very considerable
sum in those days.) It is very probable that this was a Masonic
entertainment given at the expense of the King (James IV) when holding
High Festival at Kilwinning.
The ancient Mother Lodge at one time possessed other degrees of
Masonry than those of St. John. Laurie in his "History of Freemasonry"
states, that the Knights Templar of Scotland, on the prosecution of the
Order in the fourteenth century, took refuge with Robert Bruce.
According to the French annalist of Freemasonry, M. Thory, Robert Bruce
founded the Masonic Order of Heredum de Kilwinning after the battle of
Bannockburn, reserving to himself and successors on the throne of
Scotland the office and title of Grand Master. The last of the Stuarts
believed that he possessed this hereditary right and distinction and
granted Charters to Lodges abroad. There is also the strongest reason
to believe that the whole system of Templary, advanced by Ramsay and
other partisans of the exiled House, was based on the conviction that
the Chevalier de St. George was the hereditary head of the "Royal
Order" of Bruce. This "Royal Order" still enjoys the highest celebrity
in France, where it was established by charter from Scotland, and even
by the Pretender himself. It is now conferred as the highest and most
distinguished degree sanctioned by the Grand Orient, under the title of
the "Rose Croix Heredum de Kilwinning". The introduction of this branch
of Masonry on the Continent has been commemorated by a medal struck at
Paris and bearing, amongst other devices, the Royal Arms of Scotland.
The Brethren of the Lodge of Constancy at Arras still preserve an
original charter of the Order granted to their Chapter in 1747 by
Charles Edward Stuart, and signed by that unfortunate prince himself, as
the representative of the Scottish Kings. Nor can anything indicate
more strongly the high estimation in which the chivalry of the Rosy
Cross of Kilwinning is held in France than the fact that the Prince
Cambaceres, Arch-Chancellor of the Empire, presided over it as
Provincial Grand Master for many years, and was succeeded by the head of
the illustrious family of Choiseul.
A note referring to the Lodge is appended to a poem published at
Paris in 1820, entitled "La Maconnerie." The translation reads, "James,
Lord Stewart, received in his Lodge at Kilwinning in Scotland, in 1286,
the Lords of Gloucester and Ulster, the one English and the other
The oldest minute-book now possessed by the Lodge dates from 20th
December 1642, although a document found at Eglinton Castle entitled,
"The statutis and ordinances to be observit be all the maisters
maissonis within this realme, sett doune by William Schaw, maister of
Wark to his Majestie, and generall wardene of the said Craft, with
consent of the Maisteris efter specifeit," is dated 1598.
In 1736, St. Clair of Roslin, hereditary Grand Master of Scotland,
assembled thrity-two Lodges in and about Edinburgh and resigned into
their hands all right, claim or title whatever, which he or his
successors had, to privode as Grand Master over the Masons of Scotland.
The Grand Lodge was then constituted and erected on 30th November
Mother Kilwinning was represented by proxy at Sinclair's resignation
and voted in the election of the first office-bearers of the Grand
She also continued to sit and vote in the same manner for several
years, unti it was agreed to rank and number the Lodges according to
their seniority. The pooint of precedence was naturally claimed by
Kilwinning, but was resisted by the Lodge of St. Mary's Chapel (Roslin),
who claimed to possess older written records than Mother Kilwinning.
The Grand Lodge then put St. Mary's Chapel as No. 1 and Mother
Kilwinning as No. 2. This verdict greatly annoyed the representatives
of Mother Kilwinning, who withdrew from Grand Lodge. From 1744 to 1807,
Mother Kilwinning remained outside the Grand Lodge of Scotland and
continued to grant charters and hold meetings independently. However,
it being undesirable to have tow bodies issuing charters in so small a
country as Scotland, and most distressing to have a schism in the
Masonic Fraternity, successful efforts were made to effect a
reconciliation in 1807. The full terms of agreement were:--
i. That the Mother Lodge Kilwinning shall renounce
all right to granting Charters, and come in along with all the Lodges
holding under her, to the bosom of the Grand Lodge.
ii. That all the Lodges holding of the Mother Lodge
shall be obliged to obtain from the Grand Lodge, confirmation of their
respective charters, for which a fee of three guineas only shall be
iii. The the Mother Kilwinning shall be placed at
the head of the Roll of the Grand Lodge under the denomination of Mother
Kilwinning; and her Daughter Lodges shall, in the meantime, be placed at
the end o the said Roll, and as they shall apply for confirmation; but
under this express declaration, that so soon as the roll shall be
arranged and corrected, which is in present contemplation, the Lodges
holding of Mother Kilwinning shall be entitled to be ranked according to
the dates of their original charters, and of those granted by the Grand
iv. That Mother Kilwinning and her Daughter Lodges
shall have the same interest in and management of the funds of the Grand
Lodge, as the other Lodges now holding of her; the Mother Lodge,
Kilwinning contributing annually to the said funds a sum not less than
two shillings and sixpence for each entrant, and her Daughter Lodges
contributing in the same manner as the present Lodges holding of the
v. That the Master of Mother Kilwinning Lodge, for
the time, shall be, ipso facto, Provincial Grand Master for the Ayrshire
The above agreement is in force to this day and is the Mother Lodge's
bond of Union with Grand Lodge. Unlike other Lodges, Mother Kilwinning
possesses no charter since she, herself, issued charters prior to the
formation of Grand Lodge.
Mother Kilwinning, although possessing few early records (for reasons
already explained) could claim precedency over other Lodges for three
reasons: (i) the fact that she had issued charters for the erection of
other Lodges from time immemorial. (In the Schaw Statutes (1598),
Kilwinning is referred to as an ancient Lodge.) (ii) The existence of
documents relating to the Lodges of Scoon and Bertha founded in 1193,
and preserved in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. (iii) The
fact that the Lodge of Canongate was constituted by Mother Kilwinning in
1677, and would not at that period have come so far west as Kilwinning
to ask for privileges to hold meetings in Edinburgh if there had existed
in the Metropolis any body of whom they could have derived such
authority; it was no later than the year 1736 that that very Lodge
applied for, and obtained from Kilwinning, a renewal of their Charter.
The later history of Mother Kilwinning may be found from the Minute
Books of the Lodge. The brethren took part in many processions and
ceremonies. Details of these may be found in Wylie's "History of the
Mother Lodge, Kilwinning" (John Tweed, Glasgow, 1882) and Rev. W. Lee
Ker's "Mother Lodge, Kilwinning" (Alexander Gardner, Glasgow) to which
acknowledgment has already been made, for most of the information given
in this pamphlet. The most important of these occasions were as
- 1806 —
Laying of foundation -stone of Ardrossan Harbour.
- 1814 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of the new Tower of Kilwinning.
- 1818 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Ayr County Buildings
- 1820 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Burns' Monument, Ayr.
- 1821 —
Loyal Address to the King from the Ayrshire Lodges.
- 1821 —
Erection and consecration of Blair Dalry Lodge.
- 1828 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Ayr new Spire and Town-house.
- 1833 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of New Pier at Largs
- 1834 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of St. Marnock's Church, Kilmarnock.
- 1844 —
Burns' Festival on the Banks of the Doon.
- 1846 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Ballochmyle Bridge, Cumnock.
- 1847 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of a new hall at Burns' Cottage
- 1848 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Sir James Shaw's Monument,
- 1858 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of New Towns' House, Ardrossan.
- 1859 —
Inauguration of monument to General Neil at Ayr.
- 1863 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of a new Bridge over the Nith at
- 1864 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of a new parish Church at Cumnock.
- 1865 —
Inauguration of the Eglinton Statue at Ayr.
- 1867 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of the Reformed Presbyterian Church
at New Cumnock.
- 1867 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Kilmarnock Infirmary.
- 1868 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Newton-on-Ayr Parish Mission
- 1868 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Crofthead and Kilmarnock Railway
viaduct at Stewarton.
- 1871 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of New parish Church at Dalry.
- 1871 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of New U.P. Church, Coatbridge.
- 1872 —
Laying of Memorial Stone of West Kilbride Parish Church.
- 1875 —
Laying of the Memorial Stone of Old Cumnock Public School.
- 1875 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Kilwinning New Public School.
- 1875 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of Kilmarnock New Academy.
- 1876 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of the Ayr New harbour.
- 1878 —
Laying of the Memorial Stone of Burns' Monument, Kilmarnock.
- 1893 —
Laying of the foundation-stone of the New Lodge, Kilmarnock.
- 1907 —
Centenary Dinner, Glasgow (Mother Kilwinning was independent of
Grant Lodge until 1807).
- 1921 —
Dinner to Bro. The Right Hon. The Earl of Eglinton and Winton,
R.W.M. of Mother Kilwinning and Provincial Grand Master of Ayrshire, in
honour of his being elected M.W.G.M. Mason of Scotland.
- 1931 —
Laying of the Memorial Stone at the County Buildings, Ayr, by
H.R.H. The Duke of York.
Charters of the Mother Lodge, Kilwinning
- 1677 — Cannongate (Kilwinning),
- 1728 — Torphichen (Kilwinning),
- 1734 — Moortown of Garran, Muirkirk.
- 1734 — St. John (Kilwinning),
- 1738 — East Kilbride (Kilwinning)
- 1746 — Cumberland (Kilwinning), Port
- 1747 — Loudon (Kilwinning), Newmilns.
- 1748 — Cessnock (Kilwinning), Galston.
- 1749 — Paisley (Kilwinning).
- 1749 — Airdrie (Kilwinning).
- 1754 — Provan (Kilwinning).
- 1754 — Beith (Kilwinning).
- 1755 — Renfrew County (Kilwinning).
- 1755 — Wigtown (Kilwinning)
- 1756 — Fort George (Kilwinning).
- 1758 — Tapahannock (Kilwinning) County
Virginia, N. America.
- 1758 — St. David's Edinburgh.
- 1759 — Doric (Kilwinning), Port Glasgow,
- 1759 — Partick (Kilwinning), No. 64.
- 1765 — Squareman's (Kilwinning), Ayr,
- 1767 — Pythagorean (Kilwinning), St. John's
Antigua, W. Indies, No. 66.
- 1767 — Largs (Kilwinning), No. 67.
- 1768 — Stranraer (Kilwinning), No. 68.
- 1768 — Riccarton (Kilwinning), Kilmarnock,
- 1768 — Mount-Stuart (Kilwinning), Greenock,
- 1769 — St. Bride's (Kilwinning), Douglas,
- 1770 — erskine (Kilwinning), No. 72.
- 1771 — Tarbolton (Kilwinning), No. 73.
- 1772 — Lennox (Kilwinning), No. 74.
- 1775 — Falmouth (Kilwinning),
- 1779 — High Knight Templars of Ireland
(Kilwinning), No. 75.
- 1784 — Bathgate (Kilwinning), No. 76.
- 1791 — St. Andrew (Kilwinning), Paisley,
- 1800 — Montgomerie (Kilwinning), Eaglesham,
- 1803 — Montgomerie-Cunningham (Kilwinning),
East Kilbride, No. 79.
- 1807 — Glasgow Partick (Kilwinning), No. 64.
(Renewal of Charter).
The above list is by no means complete. Cannongate Kilwinning,
Edinburgh and Old Kilwinning St. John's Inverness, claim to be the
oldest Kilwinning Lodges now in existence.
However, no written records of St. john's Inverness, exist in the minute
books of Mother Kilwinning.
Tarbolton (Kilwinning), No. 73, is famous as Burns' Mother Lodge.
Old Property of Mother Kilwinning
An Inventory of the property of the Mother Lodge was undertaken by a
Committee in 1929. This Inventory is too long to be included here, but
the following items may be of interest.
- Old Chair of the R.W.M., 1809
- Old Chair of the S.W., 1809.
- Old Chair of the J.W., 1809.
- Mallet of R.W.M. made of wood from Old Lodge, 1779.
- Table (plain), 9 ft by 3 ft in use in Old Lodge, 1779.
- Foundation-stone of Old Lodge with Inscription (set in Altar), 1779.
- Old Silk Banner used in procession of Freemasons on the occasion of the
laying of Foundation-stone of Eglinton Cstle, 1796. (Hanging in South).
- Old Silk Banner, date 1832. (Hanging in West).
- Charity Box, presented by John Whinton, 1852.
- Old Toddy Bowl (stone) in use prior to 1779.
- Old Oak Charter Chest - 16 in. By 9 in. By 10 in. Deep, with double iron
locks and double iron hinges, and iron handles inside the Chest.
Referred to in Old Minute Book, 1642-1758.
- Seal of Lodge, cut in silver, 1779.
- Old Mell (gilded) in use prior to 1806.
- Master's Old Jewel / presented by Patrick Montgomerie, Esq. Of
Bourtreehill, 1735 / Case for holding same presented by the Mother
Kilwinning Social Club, Glasgow, 1925 made from roof timber of Old Abbey
of Kilwinning, 1140.
- Ledger and Minute / Ayr Kilwinning Lodge, No. 123. January 1767- 1799.
- Copy Set of Songs entitled "The Freemason's Pocket Companion", presented
by Lodge Canongate, Kilwinning, No. 2. January, 1736.
- Minute Book of Mother Kilwinning, 1642-1758, and the Minute Books
following down to the present day.
- Minute of Agreement betwixt the Committees of the Grand Lodge and the
Mother Lodge, Kilwinning, dated October 14th, 1807.
- Copy Old Diploma, 1779.Petition for Charter from Masons in Port Glasgow,
- Petition from Galston Masons for Charter for Lodge Marchmont,
- Petition from Masons in Provan-Miln, near Glasgow, July 1754.
- Petition and Letter from Moortoun of Garran of Muirkirk for Charter,
- Petition from the Masons of Richardton for Charter / Richardton
Kilwinning Lodge, 1768.
- Petition from Torpichen for Charter, 1728.
- Petition from Lodge East Kilbridge, 1738.
- Petition from Lodge Partick, 1759
- Petition from Lodge Beith, 1754.
- Letter from Dublin Masons, Knights Templar, 1779.
- Copy of Schaw's Statutes and Ordinances, 1598.
- List of Subscribers to Building of New Mason's Lodge, Kilwinning, 1779.
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