A Freemason is said to DEBIT from his Lodge when he withdraws his membership; and a DEBIT is a document granted by the Lodge which certifies that, that decision has been accepted by the Lodge, and that the demitting Brother is clear of the books and in good standing as a Freemason. To demit, which is the act of the member, is, then to resign; and to grant a demit, which is the act, of the Lodge, is to grant a certificate that the resignation has been accepted. lt. is derived from the French reflective verb se dmettre, which. according to the dictionary of the Academy, means to withdraw' from an office, to resign an employment. Thus it gives as an example. Il s`est dmis de la charge en faveur d`un tel. meaning that he resigned (demitted) his office in favor of such a one.
The application for a demit is a matter of form, and there is no power in the Lodge to refuse it, if the applicant. has paid all his dues and is free of all charges.. It is true that a regulation of 1722 says that no number of Brethren shall withdraw or separate themselves from the Lodge in which the were made, without, a dispensation; vet it is not plane how the la v can be enforced, for Freemasonry being a voluntary association, there is no power in any Lodge to insist on any Brother continuing a connection with it which he desires to sever (see, on this subject, Doctor Mackey's Jurisprudence of Freemasonry).
The usual object in applying for a DEBIT is to enable the Brother to join some other Lodge, into which he cannot be admitted without some evidence that he was in good standing in his former Lodge. This is in accordance with an old law found in the Regulations of 1663 in the following; words: "No person hereafter who shall be accepted a Freemason, shall be admitted into any Lodge or Assembly until he has brought a certificate of the time and place of his acceptation from the Lodee that accepted him unto the Master of that limit or division where such Lodge is kept." Brother Hunt, Grand Secretary of Iowa, wrote to us (March 21, 1923) as follows: The word dimit I believe has never been used in England. and the word DEBIT is seldom used there the words withdrawal or resignation being the most common ones used. In the Regulations of 1723 the only restriction on the right of a Brother to withdraw is found in Section 8 of the General Regulations which provides that they should not withdraw in numbers unless the Lodge becomes too numerous etc. This restriction was later withdrawn, and at the present time the rule is that Freemasonry being quite voluntary a member of a Lodge may server his connection with it any moment he pleases even though his dues are unpaid or he is under charges.
When a Brother leaves a Lodge he is entitled to a certificate stating the circumstances under which he so left. This is provided by Section 213 of the Grand Lodge Constitution. It has been held that if a Brother leaves under a cloud whether this cloud be unpaid dues or charges that the Lodge issuing the certificate should state the circumstances under which he left but Section 212 provides that one who has been excluded or voluntarily withdraws from a Lodge without having complied with its By-laws or the General Regulations of the Craft shall not he eligible to Join any other Lodge until that Lodge shall be made acquainted with his former neglect. If any Lodge receives a petition and accepts him and fails to make due inquiry as to the conditions under which the Brother left his former Lodge they are liable to his former Lodge for any arrearages which he may have owed them at the time of his withdrawal or exclusion.
This practice seems rather strange to us in this country but I believe that in the early days the duty- of a Freemason to become affiliated with some Lodge was not emphasized as it was later or as it is at the present time. A Brother had a right to resign membership, or as it was usually called DEBIT from his Lodge at any time he pleased, and his letter of resignation had much the same effect as a request for a DEBIT does at the present time except that the moment this letter was filed with the Secretary the act became irrevocable and if he repented and desired to withdraw the letter. he could not do so but must petition for membership, the same as another non-affiliate.
In the Grand Lodge of England there is the case of a Brother who wrote to his local Lodge Secretary resigning membership in the Lodge The next day he changed his mind and asked to be allowed to withdraw the resignation. Both letters were received by the Secretary before the next meeting of the Lodge but the letter of resignation was held to be final. The Grand Lodge held that there was no other way in which the fact of the resignation could be undone except as a joining member. This decision also seems strange to us , because we hold that a request for a DEBIT is inoperative until it has been read to the Lode, and there would be nothing to prevent a secretary from returning a request for a dimit to a Brother requesting it provided such request was made before it had been read to the Lodge.
However it all goes to show that Masonically the term DEBIT is the same as a resignation of membership. The verb DEBIT denotes the act of the Brother and not the act of the Lodge the noun DEBIT is a Certificate issued by the Lodge, certifying that the brother's membership has terminated. at his own request. Therefore, there is practically no difference between a DEBIT and a resignation of membership (see dignity).
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