The Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire
History of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire
1739 - 2022
The Grand Lodge of Scotland, as most Brethren will be aware, was formed in 1736, and three years later in 1739 Grand Lodge decided to appoint Brethren to the position of Provincial Grand Master over several large areas of Scotland.
As noted from the Grand Lodge Of Scotland Year Book of 1957 the first ever P.G.M. was Brother Alexander Drunnond, who was appointed P.G.M. for "Argyll, Clydesdale, Ayr, Dumbarton, Renfrew and Stirling".
Brother Drummand was succeeded by Brother Robert Hollison in 1747, who in turn was succeeded by Brother George Murdoch in 1769. Brother Murdoch was appointed to preside over 'Lanark, Renfrew, Ayr, Dumbarton and Argyll' and he did so till 1795.
From 1795 till 1801 there was, as Grand Lodge officially calls it, an 'interregnum', which is an interval between reigns, and therefore no-one presided over the Lodges In Ayrshire during that period.
In 1801 Brother William Campbell was appointed to preside over Ayrshire, having been transferred from the Province of Dumfriesshire where he had been P.G.M. for the period 1796-1801. Brother Campbell was the principal overseer for Ayrshire until 1807 when he was succeeded by Brother William Blair of Blair.
This was the year that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire was that and that alone. The P.G.M. reigned over all the Lodges in Ayrshire and nowhere else.
1807 was also a very historic year for Scottish Freemasonry. During that year an agreement was reached between the Grand Lodge and Lodge Mother Kilwinning regarding Lodge Mother Kilwinning's place on the Roll of the Grand Lodge.
Space does not permit me to go into great depth the numerous discussions which took place between these two bodies but suffice it to say that Lodge Mother Kilwinning considered itself to be, "The Heid Ludge of' Scotland' and held its belief's with great trust in ancient Masonic documents called the "Schaw Statutes" dated 1598 and 1599, which made reference to the Kilwinning Lodge as such.
However this was disputed by Lodge St. Mary's Chapel of Edinburgh who likewise considered themselves to be the oldest Lodge and desired to be recognised as the first Lodge in Scotland.
After much debating in Grand Lodge the Lodge of Kilwinning decided that they could not achieve satisfaction with their Brethren of Grand Lodge and subsequently withdrew from Grand Lodge in 1743. It was not until 1807 that Lodge Mother Kilwinning came in from the cold and became part of the Grand Lodge of Scotland again.
This decision was not taken lightly and several conditions were laid before both bodies and had to be agreed upon before any re-union would take place.
One of the conditions was:
That the R.W.M. of Lodge Mother Kilwinning would be IPSO FACTO the Provincial Grand Master for Ayrshire".
This was agreed upon and after several of the conditions were altered on both sides, the agreement was signed and approved. This agreement is referred to as "The 1807 Agreement".
From 1807 until 1983 this agreement was accepted by all concerned. However, in 1983, and only after a long time on the floor of Grand Lodge, this agreement was overwritten and a new one was reached between Grand Lodge, Lodge Mother Kilwinning and the other Lodges of the Province of Ayrshire.
This new agreement led to the formation of The Provincial Grand Lodge of Kilwinning with its own P.G.M. and the P.G.M. for Ayrshire was to be the overseer of all the Lodges in Ayrshire, without having any connection whatsoever with Lodge Mother Kilwinning.
The 45th P.G.M. was Brother Thomas Armour McCall who presided over the Mother Lodge as Master, and the P.G. Lodge as P.G.M, from 1977 - 1983, and so ended a unique reign of distinguished brethren who had held both honoured positions simultaneously from 1807-1983, a period of 170 years.
Brother John Weir, as the next P.G.M. of Ayrshire, was the first to be elected and appointed under the terms and conditions of what is now referred to as the "1983 Amendment to the 1807 Agreement". On Friday the 11 November 1983, he was Installed into Office and received his Commission at the hands of the then Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland Brother Sir James Wilson MacKay.
Brother Weir was succeeded in 1988 by our present P.G.M. Brother Adam Cunningham. Brother Adam was Installed into Office and received his Commission from the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason Brother James Malcalm Marcus Humphrey of Dinnet, on Saturday the 12th of November.
The M.W.G.M.M. had conducted the affairs of Grand Lodge during the last five years and had the special Honour of presiding over the 250th Anniversary Celebrations of Grand Lodge in 1986. It seems to me to be quite appropriate that he should be the Brother to send the P.G.M, and the Province of Ayrshire into our 250th Anniversary.
The aforementioned remarks are given purely as an informative sketch as to the various changes which have taken place with regards to the government of the Lodges In Ayrshire since the formation of Grand Lodge. They are not in any way meant to be derogatory to any one of the bodies concerned.
Bro. A. Chalmers, Past Provincial Grand Master.