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Speerin Masons in Australia



The document provided by the Georgia clan has reminded us that our ancestors were also involved in Masonry.

Ref: A brief history of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.
by W.Bro. Juan Carlos Alvarez, PJGW

"The earliest record of Freemasonry in Australia appears in an early minute book of the Grand Lodge of Ireland when three Privates from the NSW Corps petitioned that Body for a warrant. Discussed on 6th July, 1797, the record says simply "Deferred", it was never raised again. (R.E.Parkinson, History of the G.L. of Ireland, 2, 1957, p.306, and Cramp and Mackaness, History of the United G.L.of NSW, 1938, 1, p.1.)

The oldest record of an Australian masonic incident in our possession is dated in 1802, when Captain Anthony Fenn Kemp (1773-1868) was raised to the Master Mason Degree on board the French ship "La Naturaliste" anchored at Port Jackson, N.S.W.

This is in opposition to statements made in the majority of the history books or publications describing this event as Bro Kemp being "Perfected" in the 18┬žDegree of the Rose Croix. A full description of this interpretation is to be found in "Australia's Oldest Extant Masonic Document, a factual interpretation", by WBro. Allan McL.Sharp, The Research Lodge of N.S.W. No 971 proceedings, Vol. 13 No 3 June, 1993, and Ars Quatour Coronatorum, Vol. 104,1991, pp.150-165.

The first permanent Masonic Lodge in Australia was established in NSW. According to RWBro. Grahame H. Cumming PAGM, in his book "The Foundations of Freemasonry in Australia"(1992) the warrant, No 260 from the Grand Lodge of Ireland, arrived in Port Jackson on Saturday 5th August, 1820, in the care of Brother Surgeon Price of the ship "Hadlow", sailing from Cork. This Lodge was named Australian Social Lodge and the ceremony of dedication and installation was performed by the members of Lodge No 218 Irish Constitution attached to His Majesty's 48thRegiment of Foot.

As more Lodges were established, and communications with Dublin were difficult, approaches were made for a Provincial Grand Lodge in the Colony in the years 1839, 1842, and 1847, but they were denied. In 1848 a request was made for the establishment of a Grand Lodge of Australia, but this was also unsuccessful.

Chartered under the Jurisdictions of England and Scotland more Lodges were formed. Eventually unhappy disagreements between the Irish and Scottish Lodges, and their respective Grand Lodges led to the formation of the original Grand Lodge for New South Wales, into which were merged all the lodges of Irish origin, with the addition of six Scottish Lodges; another Scottish Lodge joining soon after, and one English Lodge.

What followed was a bitter and protracted dispute between the English, and Scottish Lodges on one side, and the Grand Lodge of New South Wales on the other, until negotiations supported by the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, the Prince of Wales, later King Edward Vll, brought about masonic union with the formation of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales in 1888. According to VWBro. T.K. Taylor PDGIW, in his paper presented at the Research Lodge of N.S.W. No 971 (Vol.10 No 9 August,1988) "A short history of 100 years of Freemasonry in New South Wales", "no institution of comparable worth and reputation was founded under brighter auspices than the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, whose inaugural meeting took place in the Great Hall, University of Sydney, on 16th August, 1888, and included the election of Lord Carrington, Governor of the Colony, as the first Grand Master." The Grand Installation following this event was held in the Exhibition Building on 18th September, 1888, and was attended by over four thousand Brethren , more than half the total membership of the Lodges holding meetings at the time."


It is not clear whether our founding father in Australia, John Speerin (1820-1882) was connected to any Lodge. However, his son, our great grandfather Ernest Speerin (1865 - 1941) was a member of The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

Our grand uncle, Alfred Speerin (1895-1969) was a member of the same Lodge and also a member of The Supreme Royal Grand Arch of Scotland (NSW Chapter).

Our parent's generation eschewed Masonry as have their children. Masonry perhaps could be considered an early form of "networking" (clothed in ritual) which appears outmoded to the modern generation.

It would be interesting to establish if Masonry was practised by any of the Limerick or Dublin families.


Here is the wording from the membership certificates for Ernest and Alfred.

THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF NEW SOUTH WALES

OF ANCIENT, FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS

(Established 1888 in NSW, Australia)

Certificate Number 47730 ERNEST SPEERIN


Know all men by these presents that our brother Ernest Speerin who hath signed his name in the margin hereof was regularly received into Free Masonry on the 3rd day of April A.L. 5918 and has been admitted to the Third Degree on the 2nd day of October A.L. 5918 in the TUSCAN LODGE No. 18, Sydney and that his name has been duly Registered in the Books of this Grand Lodge accordingly.


In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal of the United Grand lodge of New south Wales at Sydney the twenty fifth day of November A.L. 5918 A.D. 1918

This certificate shall not entitle to Admission into any Lodge without due Examination.

Signed: Arthur Bray William Thompson
Grand Secretary Grand Master


THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF NEW SOUTH WALES
OF ANCIENT, FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS (Established 1888 in NSW, Australia)

Certificate Number 123213 ALFRED SPEERIN


Know all men by these presents that our brother Alfred Speerin who hath signed his name in the margin hereof was regularly received into Free Masonry on the 3rd day of May A.L. 5934 and has been admitted to the Third Degree on the 29th day of November A.L. 5934 in the FIDELITY LODGE No. 101, Sydney and that his name has been duly Registered in the Books of this Grand Lodge accordingly.


In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal of the United Grand lodge of New south Wales at Sydney the sixth day of December A.L. 5934 A.D. 1934


This certificate shall not entitle to Admission into any Lodge without due Examination.


Signed: David Cunningham H. Maguire
Grand Secretary Grand Master



THE MOST EXCELLENT PRINCIPALS AND SCRIBES OF THE COSMOPOLITAN ROYAL ARCH CHAPTER No. 554 held in SYDNEY having certified and declared unto us the Grand Principals, Office Bearers and Members of
THE SUPREME GRAND ROYAL ARCH CHAPTER OF SCOTLAND


that our truly and well beloved companion Brother ALFRED SPEERIN


Having been duly admitted to the Degrees of MARK and EXCELLENT MASTER and properly recommended , was by them in full Chapter assembled upon the 22nd day of June 1940 exalted to and instructed in THE MYSTERIES of the ROYAL ARCH DEGREE OF FREE MASONRY.


We therefore hereby rectify and confirm to him all the privileges of a REGULAR ROYAL ARCH MASON and recommend him to the attention and care of all the Companions of that degree over the Globe.


In testimony whereof we have delivered unto him this OUR DIPLOMA having for better security caused him sign his name on the first Pillar thereof.
Given under the hand of our Grand Scribe and sealed with our seal at Royal Arch Masons Hall, Edinburgh, this 26th day of June A.D. 1940 A.L. 5944 A.J. 2470 Signed: Geo.A.Howell Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland


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Neil Speerin and Pam Hector

July 2011

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Last update: April 2011

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