Devon Freemasonry

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 90-1.


T. Cann Hughes, MA., FSA.

Prepared by Michael Steer

No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed. A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it descends from the stonemasons' guilds of the Middle Ages. The oldest Masonic document is the Regius Poem (abt. 1390), a copy of an earlier work. In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England. Through the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy. During the late 1700s it was one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment. Masons supported the first public schools in Europe and elsewhere. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 77. DEVON FREEMASONRY. - Is there any history of the various Devon Lodges in existence? Many noted writers on Masonic subjects, e.g., John Lane, William James Hughan, Frederick Joseph William Crowe, come from the county.                    T. Cann Hughes, MA., FSA

An octavo volume of 131 pages written by Mr. Andrew Hope, P.M., P.P.G.O., and entitled History of St. John the Baptist Lodge, No. 39, of Free and Accepted Masons, meeting at the Freemasons' Hall, Gandy Street, Exeter, was issued as recently as 1906. It is an exhaustive history of the "oldest continuous Provincial Lodge in England." I cannot say whether or not copies can be purchased, but it can be seen in the Exeter Public Library, to which institution a copy was presented by Mr. A. G. Burridge, who was W. Master in 1908. There is also in this Library a copy of The Principles of Freemasonry Delineated, written by Robert Trewman in 1777. This volume, which is very rare, deals principally with the Union Lodge, Exeter, constituted in 1766, but which is no longer in existence. The author was a member of this lodge and the book is dedicated to Sir Charles Warwick Bampfylde, Bart., Provincial Grand Master of the Antient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons for the County of Devon and City and County of Exeter. It contains charges delivered at various functions, prayers, laws for the government of lodges, a collection of anthems, odes and songs, and various other matters. In the front is a steel engraving (usually missing from the few copies of the book known to exist) of the Medal of the Union Lodge, Exeter. It consists of a figure of Truth, as represented by the ancients, under the form of a woman in flowing robes, with a mirror in her right hand ; her left leaning upon a shield, which has upon it the face of the sun, and which rests upon a broken rock. Around her are masonic implements, and to the figure is added a veil, which hides part of her face, and which is alluded to in the inscription, " Quamvis velata, Veritas" - the truth although it be veiled. The reverse is the Free- mason's Arms, with an escutcheon of pretence bearing the union (or hand-in-hand) to denote the lodge to which it belongs. The copy of the book referred to bears the ex-libris of Sir John Duntze, Bart.                   H. T.-S