A Brief Lodge History

Captain Cook had yet to discover the Antipodes and Culloden was still eighteen years away when the first meeting of Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII was held in the hostelry of vintner Robert Moor on The Feast of St John, on 27th December 1728. No XII was represented at the institution of the Grand Lodge of Scotland at Mary’s Chapel, Edinburgh, on 30th November 1736.  The lodge received its Charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 12th October 1737, with the number on the roll of The Grand Lodge of Scotland based on the date of the first meeting of the lodge.

As the town of Greenock prospered and expanded in shipbuilding, sugar refining, distilling and other industries, the new lodge experienced little difficulty in recruiting members of eminence and importance into its ranks, as the aims and principles of the fraternity became more widely known. One such initiate, Alexander Drummond was a collector of Customs in Greenock. He joined the Lodge in February 1738 and Drummond Medalbecame Master in December that year.

In February 1739 he was commissioned by the Grand Master, The 3rd Earl of Kintore, to oversee the West County Lodges of Argyll, Clydeside, Dumbarton, Renfrew and Stirling as the first Provincial Grand Master in the Scottish Craft. A legacy of his appointment is the jewel which he presented to the lodge to be worn by the Right Worshipful Master at all regular meetings. This medallion is still part of the Right Worshipful Master's regalia and is commonly known as The Drummond Medal.

After a period of seven years the meeting place at Robert Moor's Hostelry was exchanged for the house of Bro David Govan until April 1765, when an agreement was made with the magistrates and council of the Burgh of Greenock that by contributing financial assistance to the project (equivalent to over two million pounds today) the lodge would hold a share in the property, and would thereafter secure the right in perpetuity to conduct its meetings and business in the new Town House and its replacement, the current Town Hall, without charge. The first meeting in the new venue was on 10th September 1766, and but for a short space between 1858 and 1865 while the current Town Hall was being built, all meetings were, and still are, held in the Municipal Buildings.

The Scott and Caird shipbuilding families contributed greatly to the growth and success of the lodge as did the sugar refining Kerrs and the Shaw Stewarts of Ardgowan.  Sir Michael R  Shaw Stewart 7th Bart. of Ardgowan was initiated into the lodge in 1847, and became not only Provincial Grand Master in 1848, but also, in 1873, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason. Sir Michael was Grand Master until 1882. The office of Provincial Grand Master of Renfrewshire West was held by a member of the Shaw Stewart family for over a hundred years from John Shaw Stewart, Sheriff of Stirlingshire in 1839 till Sir Walter Guy Shaw Stewart 9th Bart. MC demitted office in 1967.

The regular meetings of the lodge were held throughout the two world wars and contact with the Brethren serving with the armed forces was maintained, financial contributions being made to services welfare and organisations for the relief of civilian casualties.

In the two hundred and seventy-five years and more of its existence, the Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII has been proud to count among its members, aristocrats, captains of industry, provosts, ministers of religion, servicemen, tradesmen, magistrates, butchers, clerks, lawyers and many others from all walks of life.  All have had but one aim in view, to promote the fundamentals of our order - brotherly love, relief and truth. 

Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII is the oldest organisation in Inverclyde.

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