Past Substitute Provincial Grand Master, Provincial GL of Fife and Kinross, Grand Lodge of Scotland
PM, Lodge Earl Haig No. 1260, Grand Lodge of Scotland
RWM, Lodge Hope of Kurrachee No. 337, Grand Lodge of Scotland
The 30th November as all of Scotland knows is our national day, but many do not realise that the Grand Lodge of Scotland recognise St Andrew as the patron Saint of Scottish Freemasonry and not one of the St John’s as many would assume. Two tangible examples of this are: the annual installation of the Grand Master Mason happens around St Andrews Day every year and secondly above the entrance to the Grand Lodge on George Street stands the statue of St Andrew.
But who was St Andrew? Michael T R B Turnbull, tells us the following about who he was in his work Saint Andrew: Myth, Legend and Reality:
“Saint Andrew (who is believed to have later preached around the shores of the Black Sea), was an agile and hardy Galilean fisherman whose name means Strong and who also had good social skills. He brought the first foreigners to meet Jesus and shamed a large crowd of people into sharing their food with the people beside them. Today we might describe him as the Patron Saint of Social Networking!
Having Saint Andrew as Scotland’s patron saint gave the country several advantages: because he was the brother of Saint Peter, founder of the Church, the Scots were able to appeal to the Pope in 1320 (The Declaration of Arbroath) for protection against the attempts of English kings to conquer the Scots. Traditionally, Scots also claimed that they were descended from the Scythians who lived on the shores of the Black Sea in what is now Romania and Bulgaria and were converted by Saint Andrew.
In the fascinating legend of The Voyage of St Rule from Greece to Scotland we can see the complicated spread of devotion to Saint Andrew – from Constantinople in modern Turkey, to St Andrews in Fife. St Rule (Regulus in Latin) and the six nuns and monks who took the long sea-journey with him, stands for the missionaries and monasteries who worked long and hard to bring the Good News to Britain. They lived in communities organised by a monastic Rule – hence the name St Rule or Regulus.
As Scotland slowly became a nation it needed a national symbol to rally round and motivate the country. Saint Andrew was an inspired choice and the early Picts and Scots modelled themselves on Saint Andrew and on one of his strong supporters, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, whose statue you can see today in York, where he visited his father, a Roman General then trying to force the Picts to go back north.”
Both William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce appealed to Saint Andrew to guide them in times of national emergency. The Saltire was flown on Scottish ships and used as the logo of Scottish banks, on Scottish coins and seals and displayed at the funerals of Scottish kings and queens – that of King James VI for example and of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. At the Union of the Crowns in 1603, London was treated to the spectacle of Saint Andrew and Saint George on horseback, shaking hands in friendship. When King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822 he was presented with a Saltire Cross made of pearls on velvet, within a circle of gold.
There is also a wider dimension. Saint Andrew and his relics at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh provides Scots with a special link to Amalfi in Italy and Patras in Greece (where two Cathedrals named after the saint also hold his relics). The many St Andrew Societies worldwide, set up originally as self-help organisations for Scots who had fallen on hard times, form a network of Scots who are all united under the Saltire Cross of Saint Andrew.
Within the Province of Fife and Kinross both St Andrew and St Rule are commemorated in our Province with two of its oldest and most historic Lodges taking their names – St Andrew no 25 in St Andrews and St Regulus no 77 in Cupar. Both Lodges are very well worthy of a visit not just for the warmth of the welcome but also to see the very many differences in the work from other Lodges in the Province. There are also very many other Lodges across the Scottish Craft that have taken on the name of our patron Saint.
But when we look at the network of St Andrew Societies across the world, it would not be too far of a leap of the imagination to see a masonic guiding hand at work.
When we look at the oldest of these organisations we find that it is The St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston, South Carolina, which was founded in 1729. At a time when many Scots were making the life changing or life-saving move due to the political situation at home to one of the new colonies in the new world
We know that the first Freemason in America was a Scot from Aberdeen, John Skene was born in Newtyle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In 1659 he was admitted as a burgess in Aberdeen. He was a Quaker and he left Scotland and settled in West New Jersey where he purchased a 500-acre plantation which he called Peachfield. John Skene was a member of Aberdeen Lodge No. 1ter.
So could the founding members of the society in Charleston be Freemasons? Scottish Freemasons had been in the new world for some 70 years and masonry was rapidly spreading across the colonies and Charleston was a growing town of importance with many connections back to Scotland. When you read the purpose of the Society it certainly makes me think that the founders had a knowledge of our masonic tenets.
The Purpose of The St. Andrews Society Of Charleston:
“As the Principal Design of a Society is to promote some Public Good, by the joint endeavours of a Number of People, where particular Men are well disposed to do Generous and Charitable Actions, but find it impractical to carry on the same to Advantage without the Assistance and Concurrence of others who are equally inclined to establish and support good Undertakings; and as Rules and Orders are absolutely necessary for establishing and continuing all Designs of this Nature; we therefore whose names are underwritten, being willing to contribute our Utmost towards so good a Work, have unanimously entered into a Society at Charles-Town in south Carolina the Thirtieth Day of November, in the year of our Lord 1730, have voted and agreed to the following Rules, for the better Management and Improvement of the same”
~Penned by the Founders in the preamble of The Society Rules
Who were the founders of the Society, or Club as it was first called on the original copy of the rules, which required that “every Member hereafter to be emitted shall immediately subscribe the Rules,” under the words “Original Members Present, 30th of November, 1730”?
The first Office-bearers were:
• A Skene – President
• John Fraser – Vice President
• James Crokatt -Treasurer – Solomons No1, 4th Master
• James Graeme – Assistant – Solomons No1, 2nd Master
• Walter Burn – Secretary
Solomon’s Lodge, No 1 of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of South Carolina was consecrated in 1735 and two of the first Office-bearers of the St Andrew’s Society were also founding members of this historic Lodge and indeed James Graeme served as the 2nd Master and James Crokatt served as the 4th Master of the Lodge.
Graeme was a prominent lawyer and later served as Chief Justice of the Province of South Carolina, Judge of the Court of Admiralty, and held a seat in his Majesty’s Council. So a very well connected brother.
One of the other names that signed the original rules was Dr John Moultrie, the first of many of a famous South Carolina family who had emigrated from Culross within our Province. He had four sons all would distinguish themselves in the early life of America and probably the most famous being William who became a Major General during the American Revolution and a close acquaintance of Washington. He too was a Freemason.
The early history of Freemasonry in South Carolina also informs us that the first Scottish Lodge was Lodge St Andrew no 1. The Charter being granted on the 15th March 1768 from the Grand Lodge of Scotland. There is so much more that can be said about Scottish masonic connections in the State of South Carolina, but that is best kept for another time.
When you raise a toast of the critur on the 30th November, please pause and think back to those roots of why we commemorate St Andrew today in the way we do. As I firmly believe that these can be credited to the influence of those St Andrew Societies around the globe, those societies that claim their existence from the original St Andrew’s Society in Charleston, South Carolina. An organisation full of Freemason’s and at least one from the Kingdom of Fife, an organisation that to this day commemorates Scotland’s Patron Saint, St Andrew.