Names of Lodges
The precedency of Lodges does not depend on their names, but on their numbers The rule declaring that "the precedency of Lodges is grounded on the seniority of their Constitution" was adopted on the 27th of December, 1727 (Constitutions, 1738, page 154). The number of the Lodge, therefore, by which its precedency is established, is always to be given by the Grand Lodge. In England, Lodges do not appear to have received distinctive names before the latter part of the eighteenth century. Up to that period the Lodges were distinguished simply by their numbers. Thus, in the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1723, we find a list of twenty Lodges, registered by their numbers, from No. 1 to No. 20, inclusive. Subsequently, they were further designated by the name of the tavern at which they held their meetings. Thus, in the second edition of the same work, published in 1738, we meet with a list of one hundred and six Lodges, designated sometimes, singularly enough, as Lodge No. 6, at the Rummer Tavern, in Queen Street; No. 84, at the Black Dog, in Castle Street; or No. 98. at the Bacchus Tavern, in Little Bush Lane. With such names and localities, we are not to wonder that the "three small glasses of punch," of which Doctor Oliver so feelingly speaks in his Book of the Lodge, were duly appreciated; nor, as he admits, that "there were some Brethren who displayed an anxiety to have the allowance increased." In 1766 we read of four Lodges that were erased from the Register, under the similar designations of the Globe, Fleet Street; the Red Cross Inn, Southwark; No. 85, at the George, Ironmongers' Lane and the Mercers Arms, Mercers Street. To only one of these, it will be perceived, was a number annexed. The name and locality of the tavern was presumed to be a sufficient distinction. It was not until about the close of the eighteenth century, as has been already observed, that we find distinctive names beginning to be given to the Lodges; for in 1793 we hear of the Shakespear Lodge, at Stratford-on-Avon; the Royal Brunswick, at Sheffield; and the Lodge of Apollo, at Alcester. From that time it became a usage among our English Brethren, from which they have never since departed.
But a better taste began to prevail at a much earlier period in Scotland, as well as in Continental and Colonial Lodges. In Scotland, especially, distinctive names appear to have been used from a very early period, for in the very old Charter granting the office of Hereditary Grand disasters to the Barons of Rosslyn of which the date cannot be more recent than 1600, we find among the signatures the names of the officers of the Lodge of Dunfermline and the Lodge of Saint Andrew's. Among the names in the list of the Scotch Lodges, in 1736 are those of Saint Mary's Chapel, Kilwinning, Aberdeen, etc. These names were undoubtedly borrowed from localities; but in 1763, while the English Lodges were still content with their numerical arrangement only we find in Edinburgh such designations as Saint Luke's, Saint Giles's, and Saint David's Lodges.
The Lodges on the Continent, it is true, at first adopted the English method of borrowing a tavern sign for their appellation; whence we find the Lodge at the Golden Lion, in Holland, in 1734, and before that the Lodge at Nure's Tavern, in Paris, in 1725. But they soon abandoned this inefficient and inelegant mode of nomenclature; and accordingly, in 1739, a Lodge was organized in Switzerland under the appropriate name of Stranger's Perfect Union. Tasteful names, more or less significant, began thenceforth to be adopted by the Continental Lodges. Among them we may meet with the Lodge of the Three Globes, at Berlin, in 1740; the Minava Lodge, at Leipsic, in 1741; Absalom Lodge, at Hamburg, in 1742; Saint George's Lodge, at the same place, in 1743; the Lodge of the Crowned Column, at Brunswick, in 1745; and an abundance of others, all with distinctive names, selected sometimes with much and sometimes with but little taste. But the worst of them was undoubtedly better than the Lodge at the Goose and Gridiron, which met in London in 1717.
In the Colonies of America, from the very first introduction of Freemasonry into the western world, significant names were selected for the Lodges; and hence we have, in 1734, Saint John's Lodge, at Boston; a Solomon's Lodge, in 1735, at both Charleston and Savannah; and a Union Kilwinning, in 1754, at the former place.
This brief historical digression will serve as an examination of the rules which should govern all founders in the choice of Lodge names. The first and most important rule is that the name of a Lodge should be technically significant; that is, it must allude to some Masonic fact or characteristic; in other words, there must be something Masonic about it. Under this rule, all names derived from obscure or un-masonic localities should be reflected as unmeaning and inappropriate. Doctor Oliver, it is true, thinks otherwise, and says that "the name of a hundred, or wahpentake, in which the Lodge is situated, or of a navigable river, which confers wealth and dignity on the town, are proper titles for a Lodge." But a name should always convey an idea, and there can be conceived no idea worth treasuring in a Freemason's mind to be deduced from bestowing such names as New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, on a Lodge. The selection of such a name shows but little originality in the chooser; and, besides, if there be two Lodges in a town, each is equally entitled to the appellation; and if there be but one, the appropriation of it would seem to indicate an intention to have no competition in the future.
Yet, barren of Masonic meaning as are such geographical names, the adoption of them is one of the most common faults in American Masonic nomenclature. The examination of a very few old Registers, taken at random, will readily evince this fact. Thus, eighty-eight, out of one hundred and sixty Lodges in Wisconsin, were named after towns or counties; of four hundred and thirty-seven Lodges in Indiana, two hundred and fifty-one have names derived from the same source; geographical names were found in one hundred and eighty-one out of four hundred and three Lodges in Ohio, and in twenty out of thirty-eight in Oregon. But, to compensate for this, we had seventy-one Lodges in View Hampshire, and only two local geographical appellations in the list. There are, however, some geographical names which are admissible, and, indeed, are highly appropriate These are the names of places celebrated as Masonic history. Such titles for Lodges as Jerusalem, Tyre, Lebanon and Joppa are unexceptionable. Patmos. which is the name of a Lodge in Maryland, seems. as the long residence of one of the Patrons of the Order. to be unobjectionable.
So, too, Bethel, because it signifies the House of God; Mount Moriah, the site of the ancient Temple; Calvary, the small hill on which the sprig of acacia was found; Mount Ararat, where the ark of our father Noah rested; Ophir, whence Solomon brought the gold and precious stones with which he adorned the Temple; Tadmor, because it was a city built by King Solomon; and Salem and Jebus, because they are synonyms of Jerusalem, and because the latter is especially concerned with Ornan the Jebusite, on whose threshing-floor the Temple was subsequently built--are all excellent and appropriate names for Lodges. But all Scriptural names are not equally admissible- Cabul, for instance, must be rejected, because it was the subject of contention between Solomon and Hiram of Tyre; and Babylon, because it was the place where "language was confounded and Freemasonry lost," and the scene of the subsequent captivity of our ancient Brethren; Jericho, because it was under a curse; and Misgab and Tophet, because they were places of idol worship. In short, it may be adopted as a rule, that no name should be adopted whose antecedents are in opposition to the principles of Freemasonry.
The ancient patrons and worthies of Freemasonry furnish a very fertile source of Masonic nomenclature, and have been very liberally used in the selection of names of Lodges. Among the most important may be mentioned Saint John, Salomon, Hiram, King David, Adoniram, Enoch, Archimedes, and Pythagoras. The Widow's Son Lodge, of which there are several instances in the United States, is an affecting and significant title, which can hardly be too often used. Recourse is also to be had to the names of moderate distinguished men who have honored the Institution by their adherence to it, or who, by their learning in Freemasonry, and by their services to the Order, have merited some marks of approbation. And hence we meet, in England, as the names of Lodges, with Susser, Moira, Frederick, Zetland, and Robert Burns; and in the United States with Washington, Lafayette, Clinton, Franklin, and Clay. Care must, however, be taken that no name be selected except of one who was both a Freemason and had distinguished himself, either by services to his country, to the world, or to the Order. Brother Oliver says that "the most appropriate titles are those which are assumed from the name of some ancient benefactor or meritorious individual who was a native of the place where the Lodge is held; as, in a city, the builder of the cathedral church."
In the United States we are, it is true, precluded from a selection from such a source; but there are to be found some of those old benefactors of Freemasonry, who, like Shakespeare and Milton, or Homer and Virgil, have ceased to belong to any particular country and have now become the common property of the world-wide Craft. There are, for instance Carausius, the first Royal Patron of Freemasonry in England; and Saint Alban, the first Grand Master; and Athelstan and Prince Edwin, both active encouragers of the art in the same kingdom. There are Wykeham, Gundulph, Giffard, Langham, Yevele (called, in the old records the King's Freemason), and Chicheley, Jermyn, and Wren, all long celebrated as illustrious Grand Masters of England, each of whom would be well entitled to the honor of giving name to a Lodge, and any one of whom would be better, more euphonious, and more spirit-stirring than the unmeaning, and oftentimes crabbed, name of some obscure village or post-office, from which too many of our Lodges derive their titles.
And, then, again, among the great benefactors to Masonic literature and laborers in Masonic science there are such names as Anderson, Dunckerley, Preston, Hutchinson, Town, Webb, and a host of others, who, though dead, still live by their writings in our memories. The virtues and tenets--the inculcation and practice of which constitute an important part of the Masonic system--form very excellent and appropriate names for Lodges, and have always been popular among correct Masonic nomenclatures. Thus we everywhere find such names as Charity, Concord, Equality, Faith, Fellowship, Harmony, Hope, Humility, Mystic Tie, Relief, Truth, Union, and Virtue. Frequently, by a transposition of the word Lodge and the distinctive appellation, with the interposition of the preposition of, a more sonorous and emphatic name is given by our English and European Brethren, although the custom is but rarely followed in the United States. Thus we have by this method the Lodge of Regularity, the Lodge of Fidelity, the Lodge of Industry, and the Lodge of Prudent Brethren, in England; and in France, the Lodge of Benevolent Friends, the Lodge of Perfect Union, the Lodge of the Friends of Peace, and the celebrated Lodge of the Nine Sisters.
As the names of illustrious men will sometimes stimulate the members of the Lodges which bear them to an emulation of their characters, so the names of the Masonic virtues may serve to incite the Brethren to their practice, lest the inconsistency of their names and their conduct should excite the ridicule of the world.
Another fertile and appropriate source of names for Lodges is to be found in the symbols and implements of the Order. Hence, we frequently meet with such titles as Level, Trowel, Rising Star, Rising Sun, Olive Branch, Evergreen, Doric, Corinthian, Delta, and Corner-Stone Lodges. Acacia is one of the most common, and at the same time one of the most beautiful, of these symbolic names; but unfortunately, through gross ignorance, it is often corrupted into Cassia--an insignificant plant, which has no Masonic or symbolic meaning.
An important rule in the nomenclature of Lodges, and one which must at once recommend itself to every person of taste, is that the name should be euphonious, agreeable sounding. This principle of euphony has been too little attended to in the selection of even geographical names in the United States, where names with impracticable sounds, or with ludicrous associations, are often affixed to our towns and rivers. Speaking of a certain island, with the unpronounceable name of Srh, Lieber says, "If Homer himself were born on such an island, it could not become immortal,-for the best-disposed scholar would be unable to remember the name"; and he thinks that it was no trifling obstacle to the fame of many Polish heroes in the Revolution of that country, that they had names which left upon the mind of foreigners no effect but that of utter confusion. An error like this must be avoided in bestowing a name upon a Lodge. The word selected should be soft, vocal--not too long nor too short--and, above all, be accompanied in its sound or meaning by no low, indecorous, or ludicrous association. For this reason such names of Lodges should be rejected as Sheboygan and Oconomowoc from the Registry of Wisconsin, because of the uncouthness of the sound; and Rough and Ready and Indian Diggings from that of California, on account of the ludicrous associations which these names convey. Again, Pythagoras Lodge is preferable to Pythagorean, and Archimedes is better than Archimedean, because the noun is more euphonious and more easily pronounced than the adjective. But this rule is difficult to illustrate or enforce; for, after all, this thing of euphony is a mere matter of taste, and we all know the adage, "De gustibus non est disputandum," there is no disputing about tastes.
A few negative rules, which are, however, easily deduced from the affirmative ones already given, will complete the topic. No name of a Lodge should be adopted which is not, in some reputable way, connected with Freemasonry Everybody will acknowledge that Morgan Lodge would be an anomaly, and that Cowan Lodge, would, if possible, be worse. But there are some names which, although not quite as bad as these, are on principle equally as objectionable. Why should any of our Lodges, for instance, assume, as many of them have, the names of Madison, Jefferson, or Taylor, since none of these distinguished men were Freemasons or Patrons of the Craft. The indiscriminate use of the names of saints unconnected with Freemasonry is for a similar reason objectionable. Beside our Patrons, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, but three other saints can lay any claims to Masonic honors, and these are Saint Alban, who introduced, or is said to have introduced, the Order into England, and has been liberally complimented in the nomenclature of Lodges; and Saint Swithin, who was at the head of the Craft in the reign of Ethelwolf; and Saint Benedict, who was the founder of the Masonic Fraternity of Bridge Builders. But Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint Andrew all of whom have given names to numerous Lodges, can have no pretensions to assist as sponsors in these Masonic baptisms, since they were not at all connected with the Craft.
To the Indian names of Lodges there is a radical objection. It is true that their names are often very euphonious and always significant, for the Red Men of the American Continent are tasteful and ingenious in their selection of names--much more so, indeed, than the whites, who borrow from them; but their significance has nothing to do with Freemasonry.
What has been said of Lodges may with equal propriety be said, mutatis mutandis, the necessary changes having been made, of Chapters, Councils, and Commanderies.
We may supplement what Doctor Mackey says here with a few allusions to peculiar names of Lodges Gaelic Lodge of Glasgow, Scotland, has the peculiarity that once a year the Brethren confer a Degree in that quaint old Celtic language of the Scotch. America Lodge of London, England comprises exclusively only those who were born in the United States. There is a Lodge of lawyers at Belfast. Ireland which bears the significant name of the Lodge of Good Counsel. A Lodge at London comprises a membership keenly interested in the improvement of the condition of the blind, and the name of their Lodge, Lux in Tenebris, or Light Among Shadows has a meaning that touches the heart.
Titles of many foreign Lodges have a peculiar significance as they exhibit a tendency to group Brethren of certain professions and pursuits. The London Hospital Lodge, the Middlesex Hospital Lodge and the City of London Red Cross Lodge are particularly significant names and several of the leading clubs, permanent schools, societies of musicians, of architects, of chartered accountants, the London School Board as well as engineers and various other professional organizations have Lodges bearing the names of these institutions. The Telephone Lodge has an expressive title, and one might suspect that the Sanitarian and Hygeia Lodges have to do with public health, and that is correct. Aquarius Lodge recruits its members from Brethren connected with the London Water Works, Aguartus being indeed the "water bearer." The Brethren of Evening Star Lodge are concerned with the lighting of London. We Visited a Lodge at London whose members were all lawyers and all engineers; they were certified members of the Institution of Patent Agents and the name of their Lodge was Invention. Hortus Lodge comprises Brethren who are merchants or growers of flowers, hortus being the Latin word for garden.
Owned & Operated Exclusively by Members of the Masonic Family
Tradition, Integrity, Trust.
© 2018 The Ashlar Company
“The package arrived in the mail, Thank you Bro. Mike, the ring is beautiful and truly a work of art.”
Brother John, San Jose, CA
You are currently visiting masonicencyclopedia.com