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
PM, Lodge Hope of Kurrachee No. 337, Grand Lodge of Scotland

On 25th April 1842 the Provincial Grand Master, Bro. Burness, established Scottish Freemasonry in India under authority from the Grand Lodge of ­Scotland, by issuing a Provisional Charter to Brethren at Kurrachee to form themselves into a Lodge styled “Hope”. The Provisional Charter is permission to hold meetings until a Charter is issued by the Grand Lodge of ­Scotland will take its place and precedence from the Provisional issue on that date. The Lodge was numbered 421 by Grand Lodge.
The inaugural meeting was held in the 17th May 1842 when Bro. Capt. R H MacIntosh was installed as Worshipful Master, and what an excellent Scottish name to start Scottish Freemasonry in India. Our appointed acting PM at our consecration was Bro. Gen Sir John Lysaght Pennefather, who presided over the installation of the Master and the Office-bearers who were duly installed. Thereafter the following business was conducted including twenty articles of the By-Laws that were approved. The Lodge was passed to the second degree and Brothers Fenning and Hayman, who as entered apprentices signed the petition, were made Fellows of Craft. Four candidates were proposed and duly initiated, a further 5 candidates were proposed. Thus, indicating the masonic enthusiasm in the Regiment, that Regiment being the 22nd Regiment of Foot (The Cheshire Regiment) which the General commanded. We know that whilst in India they took part in the Battle of Meeanee in February 1843, the Battle of ­Hyderabad in March 1843 and the conquest of Sindh in summer 1843.

The first recorded minute of the Lodge reads:

A warrant of Dispensation having been received from the MW James Burnes, PGM of the North Western Provinces of British India, dated Bombay, the 25th April in the year of our Lord 1842 and of Freemasonry 5842, constituting and appointing Bro. J L Pennefether as Past Master, RH MacIntosh as first Worshipful Master and AHO Mathews and M. McMurdo as the first Senior and Junior Wardens respectively, authorising them to assemble a Lodge for the purpose of Freemasonry, and to be designated Lodge Hope. In pursuance thereof the following Brethren assembled at ­Kurrachee on 17th May 1842 at 2 noon.

But who was this man that was appointed Past Master of the Lodge and assumed the Chair of King Solo­mon at our first meeting and was arguably our first member of the Lodge? We know a little about his masonic history in that he was initiated in the Sussex Lodge, Jamaica in 1828, when a Captain in the 22nd Regiment of Foot. The ­Lodge at this time met in the Sussex Hall.

An article written by ­Ernest Marsh Lloyd and published in 1895 gives an insight into the man:

Sir John Lysaght Pennefather was the third son of the Rev. John Pennefather of Co. Tipperary, and ­cousin of Richard Pennefather, Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland. His mother was daughter of Major Percival.
He entered the Army on 14 Jan. 1818 as Cornet in the 7th Dragoon Guards, became a Lieutenant on 20 Feb. 1823, and a Captain on half-pay on 5 Nov. 1825. On 8 April 1826 he was appointed to the 22nd Foot (The Cheshire regiment), in which he became Major on 22 March 1831, and Lieutenant-colonel on 18 Oct. 1839.

Up to this time he had seen no active service, but in 1843 his was the one European Regiment in the small force with which Sir Charles Napier won the battle of Miani (Meanee) (17 Feb.), and it bore the brunt of that action, in which two thousand men defeated thirty-five thousand. The Battalion was about five hundred strong, nearly all Irishmen, like their Colonel and their ­General. ‘The noble soldier, Pennefather’ (as Napier described him), fell wounded – mortally, it was thought – on the top of the bank which bordered the river-bed and formed the crest of the Baluchis’ position. He was made a CB, and received the thanks of Parliament.
In 1848 he gave up the command of the 22nd Regiment, and was placed on half-pay, and in the following year he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster-General in the Cork district. In 1854 he was given Command of the First Brigade of the Second (Sir De Lacy Evans’s) Division in the Army sent to the East, and on 20 June he was made ­Major-general. His brigade consisted of the 30th, 55th, and 95th Regiments. He commanded it with credit at the battle of the Alma, and in the affair of 26 Oct., when a sortie in force was made from Sebastopol against the heights held by the second division on the extreme right of the allies. But he had more opportunity of distinguishing himself ten days later, when the attack, for which this sortie was only preparatory, was made by the Russians, and the Battle of Inkerman was fought (5 Nov.).
Owing to the illness of Evans, Pennefather was in command of the Division on that day. He had less than three thousand men under him, while thirty-five thousand Russian infantry were converging upon him. On 26 Oct. Evans had drawn up his force on the ridge immediately in front of the camp of the division, and allowed his pickets to be ­driven in rather than leave his chosen ground. Pennefather adopted an opposite course. He disputed every inch of ground, kept only a few men in hand on the ridge, but pushed forward all the men he could to support his pickets in resisting the ­several masses of the enemy. The thickness of the weather favoured these tactics, and the result justified them. As reinforcements, English and French, came up, they were similarly thrown forward by fractions. Lord Raglan was soon on the ground, and Sir De Lacy Evans came up from Balaclava during the course of the morning; but Pennefather was left to direct the fight, so far as any one person could direct it. ‘Always undaunted, always kindling with warlike animation, he was a very power in himself.’ Even when his radiant countenance could not be seen, there was comfort in the sound of his voice, ‘and the “grand old boy’s” favourite oaths roaring cheerily down through the smoke’ (­Kinglake). The battle lasted about six hours – from daybreak to 1 p.m. – then the Russians began their retreat, having lost nearly twelve thousand men.
Pennefather’s ‘admirable behaviour’ was mentioned in Lord Raglan’s despatch. A fortnight afterwards he was given the Colonelcy of the 46th Regiment, and he succeeded to the Command of the Second Division when Evans returned to England in the latter part of November. He was invalided from the Crimea in July 1855, and on 25 Sept. he was appointed to command the troops in Malta, with the local rank of Lieutenant-general. He remained there nearly five years, and after a short term of service in the Northern District he commanded the troops at Aldershot from 1860 to 1865. He exchanged the Colonelcy of the 46th for that of his old Regiment, the 22nd, on 13 Feb. 1860. On 12 Nov. of that year, he became Lieutenant-general on the establishment, and on 9 May 1868 he became General.
He had been made a K.C.B. on 5 July 1855, and received the G.C.B. on 13 May 1867. He was also a Commander of the Sardinian order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, and in the second class of the Medjidieh. On 27 Aug. 1870 he was made Governor of Chelsea Hospital.
He died on 9 May 1872, and was buried in Brompton cemetery. In 1834 he had married Katherine, eldest daughter of John Carr, esq., of Mountrath, Queen’s County.
N.B. Pennefather’s wife was actually called Margaret, NOT Katherine, as stated here.

This testimony written 23 years after our first member took the Chair, brings to life the character of the man and it allows members of the Craft some 150 years later a small insight into the life of a military Free­mason, serving his Country thousands of miles away from home, how highly he must have valued his membership of the Craft in the times of the British Empire. We as current day members should treasure that it was our Lodge, The Lodge, Hope of Kurrachee that first lit that bright light of Masonry in India, a tradition that still continues and burns brightly to this day.
One tradition as a Lodge we are looking to resurrect is one that our forebears conducted annually when they met in Karachi and was carried out on the Anniversary of the Lodge’s founding. The Brethren remembered the founders in the following way:

The brethren in the Lodge called to order in the 3rd degree.
A bugle sounded last post from the West.
The roll of Founders was called by the Master.

The founders being Brothers: I. L. Pennefather, H McMurdo, A. McPherson, H. F. ­Dilley, R. H. McIntosh, I. A. Ore, A. Hayman, H. Fenning, A. H. O. Matthews, C. Benbow.

This was followed by Reveille being sounded from the East.