The Lodge of Industry No 48

Freemasonry in 1600s and 1700s by W J Hughan

Bro W J Hughan is his paper “Freemasonry in the early 1600s and 1700s” originally published in 1906, makes mention at the end of his paper of two northern operative Lodges in existence during this period.   He writes:

“There are two Lodges of the pre Grand Lodge era, which also overlap that important period, which really require whole Papers to themselves, to do their proceedings anything like justice. A few words about each of these will fitly conclude my Address.

The records of the old Alnwick Lodge were brought to the notice of the Craft by me in 1871, and are of special value, not only because of their antiquity, but also in relation to their text. As with so many of these venerable Lodges, its origin is unknown, but it may be accepted as of the 17th century. A copy of the “Old Charges” precedes the “Orders to be observed by the company and Fellowship of Free Masons, att A Lodge held att Alnwick Septr 29 1701 being the General head meeting day.” Apprentices had to be entered and be given their “Charge” within “one whole Year after” admission, and on the expiry of their term of seven years were “Admitted or Accepted butt upon the feast of St. Michaell the Archangell.” The Master and Wardens were elected by the members, and the frequent entries “made free”, “made free Masons” or “made free brothers” are very suggestive and important. On 20th January, 1708, it was ordered that no member “should appear at the Lodge to be kept on St. John’s Day in Christmas without his appron & Common Square fixt in the Belt,” and to be similarly attired on attending Church on that day, when a special sermon was to be preached. Although the Lodge was active far on in the 18th century, it never, so far as is known, joined the Grand Lodge of England, although a Warrant issued by that Body in 1779 for Alnwick may have been applied for by some of its Brethren. It is of special interest to remember that on Christmas Day in 1755, Mr. “George Henderson of Alnwick. visiting Bro from Canongate Kilwinning Lodge” is duly noted in the minutes; he was initiated in the northern Lodge in 1751, receiving the two higher degrees on Nov 20th 1754. There is no mention of separate Masonic ceremonies in the minutes, 1703 to 1756, and the Lodge was operative from first to last, the proceedings of the modern Grand Lodge and its subordinate Lodges being entirely ignored.

The old operative Lodge at Swalwell, in its early records, had much in common with its senior of Alnwick, its “Orders of Antiquity” and its “Apprentice and General Orders” being virtually reproductions of still earlier “Old Charges.” the three “ffraternal signs” are mentioned, and the minutes generally from the third decade of the 18th century are of considerable value and interest.   The members accepted a Charter from the Grand Lodge of England in 1735, being now, and for a long time past, known as the Lodge of Industry No 48 Gateshead.   It was thus another link in the union between the Grand Lodge and its operative ancestors.

It is the fashion of some to raise objections to our claim as being “ancient”, as well as “free and accepted” Masons, but I trust that the facts herein submitted, will “at once and for ever” prove, that our beloved Society is fully entitled to the antiquity so long assumed by the Fraternity”.

The complete paper can be found at: