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Ripen, Lord

George Frederick Samuel Robin son was born in 1827, son of the first Earl of Ripon He was elected to the House of Commons in 1852 became Secretary of War, Secretary of State for India, Lord President of the Council, Viceroy of India, Lord Privy Seal in Asquith'6 Cabinet. He died in 1908. He was made a Mason in 1853, and from the first became so absorbed in the Craft that he went through the chairs of his Lodge; after working in his Provineial Grand Lodge he was elected Deputy Grand Master Grand Lodge of England, in 1861; and in 1870 mas elected Grand Master. The following year he vas sent by his government to Washington, D. C., to negotiate the American Government's claims against the British Government for damage done by The Alabama, a raider built, fitted, and munitioned bv the British for use by the Confederate States in violation of both treaty and international law. While here, Lord Ripon, the first Grand Master to visit America while in office, u as guest of honor at what until that date was the most brilliant function in American hIa sonry, a reception tendered him by the Grand Lodge, District of Columbia, attented by delegates from every other Grand Lodge, including Southern Grand Lodges. When the Grand Lodge of England met on September 2, 187A, an unusually large throng awaited the Grand Master's appearance; instead of his coming he sent a letter, Mhich left the assembly stunned: "I am sorry to inform you that I find myself unable any longer to discharge the duties of Grand Master... etc." The people of England were as greatly stunned as the Masons when it transpired that Lord Ripon had become a convert to Roman Catholicism, and had retired from the Fraternity upon orders from his priestly adviser. The London Times n as always cautious about mentioning the Craft but in this instance it could not remain quiet; after suggesting some hitherto hidden weakness of character it went on to discuss how un-English Roman Catholicism was. Provincial Grand Master Tew expressed surprise that a Grand Master should leave the Craft "because of a change in his religions opinions." Although Lord Ripon confided in nobody his private reasons for his defections, a guess can be hazarded: after Cardinal John Henry l! Tewman had been guilty of a similar defection from the Church of England, he became a Romanist missionary to the educated and cultured upper classes, and with his famous book Apologia Pro l ita Sua had insinuated the Romanist notions into a number of English aristocrats in pages of one of the most beautiful styles of English prose ever written; the course followed by Lord Ripon in his conversion was typically a "Newman conversion." He was followed in the office of Grand Master by the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII. Two of England's previous Grand Masters had been Roman Catholics, Lords Petre and Montague, but in the Eighteenth Century and before the Roman Church had dared to enforce her rules of excommunication. Lord Ripon's Brethren forgave him, indulged in no recriminations, but they felt that he should have taken them into his confidence beforehand instead of sending a brusque bolt out of the blue. The Roman Church based its condemnation of the Craft on the ground that Freemasonry is morally corrupt, atheistic, and is conspiring to destroy government; with a convert of stainless moral character on their hands who for four years had been Grand Master and with their own prospective King installed as his successor, the English priests could not help but know how false their own charges were, and yet were helpless to undo in London the folly of excommunication committed by an Italian Pope in Rome; they were in a curious moral dilemma. (See English-Speaking Freemasonry, by Sir Alfred Robbins; consult index. Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism, by H. L. Haywood; Masonic History Co.; Chicago; 1944.) NOTE. Freemasonry had yet another reason to remember the famous ease of the Alabama claims. In 1848 Michael Flanagan was initiated in Phoenix Lodge No. 94, at Sunderland. He was a sea captain, ran a hardware store and was a very popular gentleman." About every three months he made "a little sail" out into the Atlantic; why nobody could guess, after the Civil War it came out that his "little sail" was into mid-ocean to carry instructions to the Alabama! He had kept them hidden in his hardware store. The Alabama had carried on so devastating a series of raids that the British Government had to settle damages for no less than three million pounds. Lord Ripon was the first English Grand Master to visit America while in office; others had been here before or after their Grand Mastership, the Earl of London among them.

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