In the early days of the Grand Lodge of England the secretary used to carry a bag in processions, thus in the procession round the tables at the Grand Feast of 1724 we find "Secretary Cowper with the Bag" (see the Constitutions, edition of 1738, page 117).
In 1729 Lord Kingston, the Grand Master, provided at his own cost "a fine Velvet Bag for the Secretary,," besides his badge of "Two golden Pens a-cross on his Breast" (see the above Constitutions, page 124). In the Procession of March from St. James' Square to Merchant Taylor's Hall on January 29, 1730, there came "The Secretary alone with his Badge and Bag, clothed, in a Chariot" (see the above Constitutions, page 125).
This practice continued throughout the Eighteenth century, for at the dedication of Freemasons' Hall in London in 1776 we find in the procession "Grand Secretary with the bag" (see the Constitutions of 1784, page 318). But at the union of the two rival Grand Lodges in 1813 the custom was changed, for in the order of procession at public ceremonies laid down in the Constitutions of 1815, we find "Grand Secretary with Book of Constitutions on a cushion" and "Grand Registrar with his bag," and the Grand Registrar of England still carries on ceremonial occasions a bag with the arms of the Grand Lodge embroidered on it.
American Union Lodge, operating during the War of the American Revolution in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, and first erected at Roxbury, has in its records the accounts of processions of the Brethren. One of these is typical of the others and refers to the Festival of St. John the Baptist held on June 24, 1779, at Nelson's Point, New York.
Here they met at eight in the morning and elected their officers for the half year ensuing. Then they proceeded to West Point and, being joined by other Brethren, a procession was formed in the following order: "Brother Whitney' to clear the way; the band of music with drums and fifes; the Wardens; the youngest brother with the bag ; brethren by juniority ; the Reverend Doctors Smith, Avery, and Hitchcock ; the Master of the Lodge, with the Treasurer on his right supporting the sword of justice, and the Secretary on his left, supporting the Bible, square and compasses ; Brother Binns to close, with Brothers Lorrain and Disborough on the flanks opposite the center."
From this description we note the care with which the old customs were preserved in all their details.
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