[Square & Compasses]

Page About Masonry, News & Notes

Mother Kilwinning Lodge No. 0

Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 07:59:47 -0700
From: Hugh Young <hugh@canadamail.com>
Reply-To: hugh@canadamail.com
Subject: One More Time, Please! (Vol II #4)


ONE MORE TIME, PLEASE!                                 Vol II, No. 4
Circulation ---> 170                                                   

April 1997

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.

As always, should you wish to cease receiving this ezine or wish to add a name (after the recipient has agreed) -- it's just as easy to send this ezine to 169 brethren or 569 brethren --, please just email me and in the words of Jean Luc-Picard, I will "make it so".

Best Fraternal Regards

Hugh Young
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 originals.


June 1944.

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 entirely Speculative.

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 following entry:--

"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 Irish."

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 1736.

Mother Kilwinning was represented by proxy at Sinclair's resignation and voted in the election of the first office-bearers of the Grand Lodge.

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 exigible.

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 Lodge.

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 Grand Lodge.

v. That the Master of Mother Kilwinning Lodge, for the time, shall be, ipso facto, Provincial Grand Master for the Ayrshire District.

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 follows:--

  • 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, Kilmarnock.
  • 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 Cumnock.
  • 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 House.
  • 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), Edinburgh.
  • 1728 — Torphichen (Kilwinning), Bathgate.
  • 1734 — Moortown of Garran, Muirkirk.
  • 1734 — St. John (Kilwinning), Kilmarnock.
  • 1738 — East Kilbride (Kilwinning)
  • 1746 — Cumberland (Kilwinning), Port Glasgow.
  • 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, No. 63.
  • 1759 — Partick (Kilwinning), No. 64.
  • 1765 — Squareman's (Kilwinning), Ayr, No. 65.
  • 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, No. 69.
  • 1768 — Mount-Stuart (Kilwinning), Greenock, No. 70.
  • 1769 — St. Bride's (Kilwinning), Douglas, No. 71.
  • 1770 — erskine (Kilwinning), No. 72.
  • 1771 — Tarbolton (Kilwinning), No. 73.
  • 1772 — Lennox (Kilwinning), No. 74.
  • 1775 — Falmouth (Kilwinning), Virginia.
  • 1779 — High Knight Templars of Ireland (Kilwinning), No. 75.
  • 1784 — Bathgate (Kilwinning), No. 76.
  • 1791 — St. Andrew (Kilwinning), Paisley, No. 77.
  • 1800 — Montgomerie (Kilwinning), Eaglesham, No. 78.
  • 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, 1746-1759.
  • Petition from Galston Masons for Charter for Lodge Marchmont, Kilwinning, 1748.
  • Petition from Masons in Provan-Miln, near Glasgow, July 1754.
  • Petition and Letter from Moortoun of Garran of Muirkirk for Charter, 1737.
  • 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.

Return to Reports from the Masonic World
Return to A Page About Freemasonry main page.