Ashlar Chippings

Multiple Ceremonies

In these days of paucity regarding candidature, it may seem superfluous to rail against breaches of [UGLE Book of Constitutions] rule 168, even by dispensation.

The rule mandates that a lodge shall not ‘initiate or confer any one degree on more than two candidates on the same day.’

There are lodges, particularly in the UGLE Universities Scheme, which regularly ‘process’ (there is no other word for a queue of seven initiates being traipsed round together!) several candidates at once, even to the extent of obligating a whole group round a table of VSLs.

Each candidate, of course, knows no different until he goes out into the wider Masonic world where he will see but not experience the individual, one on one, attention given by the whole lodge to the one candidate.

For that man, the experience is life-long unforgettable.

Here I speak of the degree conferral only; the charges and explanations following can be and are beneficially delivered to more than one simultaneously.

I can, of course, see a special circumstance in the event of blood brothers and suchlike at their request.

 

Dr George Oliver (1782-1867)
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

For a lodge faced with a number of applicants there is a natural tendency to receive them or confer degrees as soon as possible, in the fear that they may go elsewhere or even give up altogether through lack of patience.

It is my firm belief for such a fear to be unfounded. If they go elsewhere, then they are not lost to Freemasonry and could benefit understaffed lodges.

Any who give up altogether, then good – Masonry is not for them.

Finally, in the wise words of the good Dr George Oliver (1782-1867):

 

“If you have a good Lodge, keep it select.
Great numbers are not always beneficial.”

A Horseman Revealed!  

During 1813, the union of the Moderns and the Antients Grand Lodges was fast approaching, and rumours were rife that degrees beyond what we now regard as the Craft would no longer be permitted.

It was, then, only to be expected that brethren would try to amass as many degrees as possible ahead of time.

The records of one lodge give a good example of this near panic.

On 6th September 1813, Lodge of Friendship No. 624 (Moderns, be it noted) had quite a marathon meeting.

Opening with twenty-one brethren present, first a new brother was initiated.

Then that brother and another member were passed to the second degree.

Those two were next immediately raised to the third degree.

Following which, they and four more members were “forwarded” to the “degree of Past masters of arts and sciences”.

Next a further ten members joined them in being “initiated” as Knights of the Red Cross of Babylon; their names being listed with the prefix of “Sir”.

So apart from conferring five degrees on multiple candidates including one of them going through the whole gamut in one session, what makes this occasion even more interesting is that the secretary signs off his minutes with special symbols in the following manner:

 

The explanation for the T over H with attached E, is given in Bernard E. Jones’ Freemasons’ Book of the Royal Arch in the section on the triple tau – almost certainly in your Masonic centre’s library (with a red cover) thus:

Thomas Dunkerley gives Templum Hierosolyma Eques as the description in a patent of his.

Templum Hierosolyma means “the temple at Jerusalem” and Eques means “horseman” and, by implication, a knight.

So, our doughty secretary shows this after his name as a knight of the Red Cross of Babylon; the latter indicated by the “R+” symbol.

Actually, I’m quite glad we aren’t faced with this kind of anarchy nowadays!

Article by: Hugh O'Neill

Hugh O'Neill

Past Master of Craft lodges under the constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Member (Senior Warden 2021-2022) of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076,  the world’s premier Masonic research lodge.

Masonic historian and orator on Masonic topics.

 

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