The Belfast Masonic Lodge History 1775-2023

The Belfast Lodge, also known in the past as “The Orange Lodge”, and “The Gentleman’s Lodge”
The first Belfast Lodge warrant was Issued to William Johnston, W.M., Samuel East and James Thompson, Wardens to form ‘The Orange Masonic Lodge of Belfast' in Belfast on 6 June 1755.
Not to be confused with the Orange Order which was not formed  until 1795

The Lodge room was located in the Donegall Arms Inn, between Castle Place and ‘Arthur’s Corner’

How the Orange Lodge of Belfast got its name.

In the year 1780, Aymas Griffiths, Esq. appeared on the scene, having been appointed Surveyor of Excise in Belfast. He was an enthusiastic Freemason, with a great driving force, to whom Belfast Lodge owes much of its prosperity. An ancestor of Griffiths had been awarded a special position of honour in 1695, by King William 111, and in remembrance of that royal award to his family, he had the new lodge adorned by the epithet "Orange". The master of this lodge was Major John Brown, of Peter's Hill, commander of the Belfast Volunteer Company, whose name is perpetuated in the name Browns Square, Belfast.

The Orange Lodge of Belfast boldly supported Catholic Emancipation and had among its members Henry Joy McCracken, and William Todd Jones, the noted reformer who was born near Hillsborough, and many other trusted and tried United Irishmen.

The Mass-house referred to in the old document was the Catholic church of St. Mary's in Chapel Lane, which stood behind a row of houses that lined the footpath where the present St. Mary's Church stands. In May 1784, the 1st Belfast Volunteer Company, and the Belfast Volunteer Company paraded in full uniform and marched to St. Mary's Church to show their sympathy with their Catholic citizens.
A sermon was preached by Father Hugh O'Donnell, the parish priest of Derriaghy and Belfast.

In the year 1781, no fewer than 70 members were admitted, and by 1806, 208 members had joined.
Aymas Griffiths resided in Belfast from 1780 until he was dismissed in 1785 for exceeding his duties and taking part in Parliamentary Election activities. He was very fond of publicity, and during his five years of residence in Belfast, lived up to his reputation.

In the list of members of the Lodge published by Bro. Lawrence. Dermot in 1782, "Aymas Griffith, Esq., Past Master and Captain-General" heads the list, and in the letter which follows from "The Editor," it will be noticed that it is addressed to the "Right Worshipful Past Master, Master, Wardens and Brethren", and that the "Master" comes after the "P.M." indicating priority for the letter, which is not so now. The banner of this famous Lodge may be seen in the Museum in Rosemary Street, Belfast.

Bro. Laurence Dermot was Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 26 in Dublin on 24 June 1746 and was a frequent visitor to Belfast He moved to Londonin 1748 where, as Grand Secretary of the Antient Grand Lodge of England wrote the Laws and Constitutions of the Antient Grand Lodge of England which he published as "Ahiman Rezon" of 1782 and dedicated to Lodge 257 with a flattering eulogy.

“To the Right-Worshipful Past Master, Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the Lodge of Belfast, No. 257.

Sir and Brethren, To whom could I possibly, with greater propriety, dedicate this Edition of Ahiman Rezon with Additions, than to you, who have confusedly constituted and established one of the first Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in the three Kingdoms; a Lodge that has been productive of the most munificent Acts of Charity and Benevolence. You have, Gentlemen, released the Prisoner, comforted the Weary, and given Food and Raiment to the Hungry and Naked.

Your Lodge has been the happy Asylum to Strangers, "friendless! till their propitious Stars directed them to you". You pay no particular Attention to Country, Religion, or to Station, but are happy in diffusing Bliss indiscriminately to all the honest and worthy of every Denomination, of every Country, of every Persuasion, and of every Rank.

And you have not only established one of the most respectable and numerous Lodges in the World, in Belfast but you have been the glorious Means of reviving the Royal Craft all over this Province; and Lodges which have long lain dormant and neglected are now forming and reconstituting with redoubled Ardour: indeed it is now not only honourable but fashionable to be a Free Mason.

Go on and prosper and may your Endeavours to illumine the hitherto unenlightened Part of Mankind meet with that Success the generous Undertaking deserves.

Which are the earnest Wishes and Prayers of Gentlemen and Brethren,

Your Affectionate Brother, And Humble Obedient Servant, THE EDITOR

The title Ahiman Rezon has been often said to be of the Hebrew language and variously mean "to help a brother", "will of selected brethren", "The secrets of prepared brethren", "Royal Builders" and "Brother Secretary".

Laurence Dermott had a strong, pugnacious presence that made him many enemies. On one occasion he had to defend himself in Grand Lodge from a charge of not being a regularly initiated Freemason. (His accuser was expelled.) He was also an accomplished writer, orator, and teacher of masonry, as well as being the administrator who is credited with preserving and leading the Ancients through most of their history as an independent Grand Lodge.

It is thanks to him that the United Grand Lodge of England, as it currently stands, inherits the infrastructure of the Moderns, but takes its ritual from the Ancients.

In 1783 Lord Donegall granted:- That parcel of meadow ground being part of the Castle Meadows situated on the Southside of the town and Castle of Belfast, in trust, to permit a Market House to be erected for the sale of White Linens, to be managed by a Committee, and for no other purpose whatever. On Monday, 28th April 1783, the first stone of the Belfast White Linen Hall on the site of the present-day Belfast City Hall was laid by John Brown, Esq., Worshipful Master of the Orange Lodge of Belfast, No. 257, High Sheriff of the County, and Major of Belfast Battalion of Volunteers, assisted by the wardens and brethren of said Lodge, and accompanied by the members of the other lodges, the Sovereign, Burgesses, and the principal inhabitants of the town, who aided in funding the building.

At the laying of the first stone of the Belfast White Linen Hall, there were deposited (besides the copper-plate inscription) a sizable quantity of new shillings and halfpence, together with a large glass tube, hermetically sealed at  both ends, so as not to admit the smallest particle of air, and in which were enclosed some interesting documents, gether with a notice to the following effects:-

“These papers were deposited underneath the White Linen hall by the Right Worshipful Master of the Orange Lodge, No. 257, assisted by the Past Master, Wardens, and brethren of the said lodge, all the other Freemason lodges of the town, together with the Sovereign, burgesses, and principal inhabitants, etc.”

When the White Linen Hall, in Donegall Square, was being demolished to make way for the City Hall, a hermetically sealed glass tube containing papers, was found in a cavity of the foundation stone. Over the cavity was a copper plate bearing an inscription to the effect that the first stone of the White Linen Hall was laid on the 28th of April, A.D., 1783, in the year of Masonry 5783, by John Brown, Esq., Worshipful Master of the Orange Lodge of Belfast No. 257, High Sheriff of the County of Antrim, and Major of the Belfast Battalion of Volunteers, assisted by the wardens and brethren of the Lodge, and accompanied by members of other lodges, and the sovereign burgesses and principal inhabitants of the town.

Extract from the "Belfast Newsletter" of May 1781.

 “At this epoch, too, Freemasonry is at the very zenith of its glory, spreading from pole to pole and zone to zone; and the Orange Masonic Lodge (which has, on this occasion, presented one hundred guineas to the managers of this building, and five guineas to the workmen, as an encouragement to them to push it forward with alacrity), so confessedly acknowledged to be the first in Europe, being composed of one hundred and fifty gentlemen, among whom are noblemen and commoners of the very first distinction.  The Orange Lodge was first revived in September 1780, at which time it merely consisted of the present master and two other gentlemen; since which time one hundred and forty-seven gentlemen have been admitted members of it, and the most munificent acts of charity and benevolence have arisen from this never to be forgotten phoenix.

The Gentlemen's Lodge of Freemasons called the "Orange Lodge" No. 257, Belfast, marched under an Orange Flag with their Worshipful Master, John Galt Smith at their head, to assist the Marquis of Donegall in laying the foundation stone of the old Poorhouse at the top of Donegall Street 1817.

They also assisted at similar functions at Belfast Cathedral, known locally as St Anne’s, to whom the building is dedicated. This site in Donegall Street originally housed a smaller church in Classical style, a gift to the town of Belfast by its landlord, Lord Donegall.

This Parish Church was consecrated in 1776 and called St Anne’s, after the mother of the Virgin Mary. Lord Donegall’s wife was also called Anne, which probably determined the choice of name.

Andrew Gibson, a venerable citizen of Belfast, played a part in solving a puzzle that occupied public attention. The name "Orange Masonic Lodge of Belfast, No. 257", created a puzzle.
The Battle of the Diamond was fought on 21st September 1795 and it was known that the first Orange Lodge was formed on that day at Loughgall. How then, could the existence of the Orange Lodge in 1783 be explained? In a couple of interesting and exhaustive letters to the Belfast News Letter. (The Belfast News Letter is the oldest English language general daily newspaper still in publication, having first been printed in 1737).
In 1931, the late Andrew Gibson solved the puzzle by establishing the fact, from records of the period, that the "Orange Lodge of Belfast, No. 257," was one of five Masonic Lodges existing in Belfast at that time.

The Theatre, Ann Street.

By desire of the Right Worshipful the Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of the Orange Lodge of Belfast, No. 257. On Wednesday evening, being the 9th of May will be presented a comedy called the "Wonder! A Woman keeps a Secret." A new occasional prologue, in Character of a Knight Templar (written by Amyas Griffith, Esq.) to be spoken by Brother Wilmot. Masons songs between the Acts by the Brethren. An occasional Epilogue (in the character of Mason's Wife) by Mrs Wilmot. To which will be added a Musical Entertainment, (never performed here) called "Daphne and Amintor, a comic opera."
The Worshipful Master and Wardens expect the attendance of Brethren at the Lodge-Room at six o'clock, to proceed from thence to the Theatre, where a Throne and Amphitheatre will be erected on the stage for their reception.

Masonic Lodge No. 257, Belfast

"March 1784. Captain Rahash and his son Rahash, two Turks, taken prisoners by the Spaniards in attempting to bring relief to the Garrison of Gibraltar, and who had afterwards escaped and got to Leith, from whence they came to this town (Belfast), well recommended by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, visited the Orange Lodge, No. 257, where they were treated with every respect, civility, and love by the Brethren of that numerous and respectable body, who gave them a recommendation to other Lodges and a sum of money to enable them to return to Constantinople, the place of their nationality. How grateful to the liberal mind to perceive the distinction of Turk and Christian - in short, all local and religious prejudices sunk in the sublime affection which, as the offspring of one common parent we all owe to one another, and which every sound principle of religion and virtue never fails to heighten into pure philanthropy, when not obscured by the rankest bigotry and ignorance."

Orange Lodge of Belfast No. 257 17 June 1785

The Members of the Orange Lodge are to meet together in their Lodge Rooms in the Donegall Arms at 10 O'clock in the morning of Friday 24th June inst. in Order to transact the business of the day and proceed to Church where a sermon will be preached by their Chaplain and a collection made for the Poor House. In the course of Divine Service a new Anthem composed by Doctor Thompson for the occasion at the request of the Lodge will be performed by the Choristers of Hillsborough; the Organ for that day by Dr. Thompson, after which they are to dine together. Dinner to be on the table at three O'clock. Signed by Order, Jas. Hyndman, Secy.

Many areas in the North of Ireland considered that they suffered from severe Penal Laws in the late 18th century and this resulted in the rising of the "United Irishmen" associated with the name of Wolfe Tone and others, many of whom were Protestant dissenters, who together with the Roman Catholics wished to rectify the situation.
This resulted in many Lodges publishing loyal resolutions in the local press:-

At a meeting of the Orange Lodge of Belfast, No. 257, on 19th June 1797, the Right Worshipful James Montgomery, Esq. Master, in the chair, it was resolved - `That we will, with our lives and fortunes, support and maintain his present Majesty, King George the 3rd, our happy Constitution, and the succession to the Throne, in his Majesty's illustrious house. That we will aid and assist, to the utmost of our power, all civil magistrates, in the execution of their duty. And that we will use our utmost endeavour to suppress all riot and disorder, and support and maintain our ancient and honourable society in its truest intent and meaning.'

James Montgomery, Master, John Brown, Past Master, John Galt Smith, Secretary. Orange Lodge 257, Belfast." Taken from "Joy's History of Belfast."
One of the most prominent leaders of the 1798 rebellion, Henry Joy McCracken, spent his last night in the Donegall Arms Inn at Castle Junction before being hanged at nearby Corn Market.

To many, the name of John Brown, familiar though it is in the abstract, conveys but little in local history. 
The reverend gentleman was the grandson of John Brown of Peter's Hill, who amassed considerable wealth from the purchase of ground in Belfast, and died on 21st December 1772.

He was married three times, and by his third wife had eleven children, only three of whom survived the age of childhood. Of the survivors, John, the elder boy, was born on 29th July 1751, and ultimately became Sovereign of the Borough. As Worshipful Master of Orange Lodge 257, he laid the foundation stone of the White Linen Hall on 28th April 1783, with full Masonic honours.

The Belfast Masonic Lodge 257

Warrant issued 22 Oct. 1885 to Robt. Neill; Thomas Gordon and Thos. McMurtry. Series three Vol. 8 of the extant Grand Lodge Registers shows:- Warrant No. 257 to Belfast as “The Belfast Lodge”, 22 October 1885.

Robert Neill; Thomas Gordon and Thomas McMurtry registered along with fourteen others from various lodges, 22 October 1885.  A total of 79 brethren registered up to 19 November 1900.

The Founder Officers of the Lodge were:-

Robert Neill, P.M. Worshipful Master, Thomas Gordon  Senior Warden, Thomas McMurtry, P.M. Junior Warden

James Anderson Treasurer, Wm. Stanfield  Secretary, together with a further eleven brethren.

Belfast: Granted a city charter by Queen Victoria in acknowledgement of its economic importance as it had surpassed Dublin in population, Belfast required a newer, far grander City Hall, to be built on the central site of the White Linen Hall, Donegall Square. In 1888, the Town Hall was not considered imposing enough and a magnificent Edwardian wedding cake of City Hall was built instead.
By 1906 Belfast had its grand hub and the city hall was to play a central role in the century that followed, the setting for the Signing of the Covenant in 1912, the seat of the first parliament of Northern Ireland, after partition in 1921, the focus of huge rallies and demonstration like the VE Day celebrations in 1945, homecoming welcomes for Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters, world boxing champion Barry McGuigan and the visit of U.S. President Bill Clinton.

This was a city, already known as Linenopolis, leading the world not only in the production of linen but of huge ships, ropes, tea-drying machinery and aerated water. It was a city of innovation, inventing, among many other things, milk of magnesia, air-conditioning and barbed wire.

The Belfast City Hall was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Aberdeen, on 1 August 1906. Hereunder the great dome in 1912 the Home Rule movement was stymied with the signing, after a plebiscite on the issue, of the Ulster Covenant.

In September 1892 the Belfast Masonic Lodge 257 subscribed to the new "Purchase Scheme" devised to buy out the Freemasons’ Hall, Arthur Square.

The Belfast Masonic Lodge cared for the 257 warrant through two fearsome World Wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. There were times of great hardship like the 1930s also years of great pleasure to remember.
The Lodge was strong through the 1960s despite our civil strife and trouble in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s. These years provided one of the most difficult periods for all our brethren and we continually prayed for more peaceful times. We did survive these times with quite a large membership, however, in the late 1990s as membership began to decrease, the Lodge began the recirculation of attending Past Masters and considered returning its warrant but the brethren always managed to survive that little bit longer.

Eminent Past Masters such as Walter Pascoe PPJGD, Stanley Nash, Hugo McClenaghan, Ivor Atkinson, Cecil Blyberg, James Green and Niall McKay were all re-circulated to keep the Lodge alive and when new Masters took the chair they were often kept for an extra year. As the Lodge entered the 21 st Century there came a small influx of new members and the Lodge numbers swelled for a time, but just when the future of the Lodge seemed to be brighter some Brethren for various reasons were unable to attend.

This resulted in the Lodge going through a lean period where it struggled to open and the Brethren were forced to consider their future again. Rather than wait until a time when they could not continue, the Brethren considered an offer of amalgamation with Finaghy Masonic Lodge No 651 who were also attempting to pre-empt such an occurrence. The consultations and liaisons concluded with the return to Dublin the 257 warrant in December 2008.

On the 19th January 2009, the Lodge reopened as The Belfast Masonic Lodge No 651.

The name and coat of arms were retained though the 257 warrant was returned once again.
The Lodge is opening this website to commemorate and celebrate the past but also to prepare for a brighter future for Irish Freemasonry in the 21 st Century. As a direct result of this action, the membership of the Belfast Masonic Lodge is growing steadily and strongly which augers well for the future. There is degree work continued regularly, a festive board after every meeting and charitable events and functions planned for the future for Masons and their families which should give the Lodge a firm base from which to grow and blossom.

A Brief History of Finaghy Masonic Lodge No 651

Finaghy Masonic Lodge No. 651 held its first meeting in January 1935, when W.Bro. A. M. Wedderburn was installed as Worshipful Master. Some of the founding brethren were also members of Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church, at Finaghy, and their Christian principles brought in a ban on the intake of alcohol, which lasted until the mid-'90s.

The first meeting took place in rooms over Hatch’s Hardware Shop at Finaghy Cross Roads. After a few years, however, they moved two doors down to above the local newsagents.

These premises were leased out at a peppercorn rent. A properly laid-out lodge room, a dining room and a kitchen were installed, making the Lodge self-sufficient. Over the years three lodges joined 651 at Finaghy, they were Stewartstown No.783, Strathearn No. 680 and Woodland No. 803, as well as a Chapter and a Lodge of Instruction.

During its lifetime the Lodge had some prominent members:

Tommy Priestly the W. Master in 1952, a prominent Soccer star, who before the 2nd World War, played football for Linfield, Chelsea and Ireland (as it was then).

Sam Cree (1975) was a well-known popular Ulster playwright with such titles as “Cupid Wore Skirts” and “Don’t Tell the Wife” to his credit; he also wrote scripts for the “Carry On” films.

Right, Worshipful Brother George Power. George and John Hood took a great interest in the Masonic Boys’ and Girls’ Schools and raising funds and awareness.
George Power was born in 1917, a schoolteacher he retired in 1980 as Headmaster of Mountcollyer Secondary School, Belfast.  He was an enthusiastic Freemason, having joined in 1943 and was a member of the Supreme Council of Ireland 33rd degree. His degree work was unique; there was not a degree he could not deliver accurately, and with a relaxed style which was quite refreshing to the recipient as well as the brethren.

George wrote many books on freemasonry including  ‘A Masonic Miscellany”. A foreword to the book by The Most Hon. Marquess of Donegal,  Grand Master of Ireland 1981-1992 reads:

“The Masonic Order is greatly indebted to George Power for the detailed research which he has undertaken in the production of this book. How many people know that characters as diverse as – Rudyard Kipling, Garibaldi, and Buffalo Bill were all Freemasons. He throws some light on the gradual change from operative to speculative masonry and he emphasizes the importance of the example which we should set during the short time we have in this World”

Finaghy Lodge moved in 1985 from Finaghy when the lease on the Masonic hall ended,  to Freemasons’ Hall, Arthur Square, Belfast, where it enjoyed a strong period with a goodly flow of new members.

In 2006 disaster struck; over a three-month summer period, five members died. With fewer new members coming through a decision had to be taken about the future of the Lodge. On 21st November 2008, the longest attending Past Master W. Bro J D Pollock closed the last meeting of Finaghy Masonic Lodge No. 651.

At 6.51 pm on Monday 19th January 2009, the Lodge reopened as The Belfast Masonic Lodge No. 651.

Bro. Renton McGrath W. Master Belfast Lodge 651 Irish Constitution 2020/21

Finaghy Masonic Lodge 651 History

Issued to `Orange Lodge' in WHITE HOUSE, nr. Belfast, Co. Antrim, 2 March 1786.

Warrant issued 2 March 1786 to Whitehouse near Belfast, Co. Antrim to Jas. Hunt, Dav. Knowles and Jas. Kirk.
Volume 3 of the extant Grand Lodge Registers record James Hunt; David Knowles and James Kirk registered 2 March 1786. No registration of Master or Wardens. A further 190 brethren registered up to 2 September 1812.

A total of 234 brethren either transcribed from a previous volume or registered here up to 6 February 1817.
On numerous occasions, large batches of brethren registered together the largest 43 registered on 19 April 1796.

Extract of a Letter from Templepatrick, 25 June 1790.

"Yesterday Ballyclare Lodge, No. 430; Dundrod, No. 499; Ballyeaston, No. 590; Ballyutoag, Bo. 591; Carnmoney, No. 645; and Whitehouse, No. 651, came here to celebrate the Festival of their Patron Saint, and accordingly went in Procession to our Meeting House, with Templepatrick Lodge, No. 551, where a Sermon Suitable to the occasion was preached before them by their Brother Futt Marshall. The silent and profound attention of the whole audience evidenced their approbation of the discourse, which was admirably calculated to inform and improve the hearers in general, but more particularly the Fraternity. The distant Lodges were met respectively, previous to their entering the village, by the Brethren of 551, and, when ready to depart, were accompanied by them through the same. At meeting and parting a mutual salute was given. In short, the most perfect order, harmony and friendship subsisted throughout the whole business of the day, which was begun and finished without any of those disorders which sometimes happen in societies regulated by less perfect principles."


At a Meeting of the Whitehouse Orange Lodge No. 651. At their Lodge Room July 15th 1797 the Worshipful John Bell in the Chair. Resolved That being steadily attached to our beloved Sovereign King George the Third, and the principles of the Constitution, we consider ourselves called on at this period, to avow our determination to support the Civil Magistrate in the due execution of his duty, and as Masons and Men, we recommend to our Brethren a brotherly love, to govern and conduct the members of our ancient and honourable fraternity.

Signed by Order,

William Dixon Sec. 24 July 1797

"To the R.W. James Craig Esq., M.P., Grand Master of Masons for the Province of Ulster; this Enquiry is most respectfully inscribed by hid most obedient servant.

The Author... a specimen of which is here quoted, being a Memorial to the G.L. from eighteen Lodges, assembled at Belfast, on the 16th of March, 1803:

"To the R.W. the G.L. of Ireland.

The Memorial of lodges No. 272, 484, 491, 499, 550, 598, 609, 621, 636, 684, 651, 687, 761, 762, 763, 793, 845, and 861 - respectfully sheweth That your Memorialists have been favoured with the resolution's of an Emergency meeting of the G.L., held on the 19th of August last; and, having considered them in open Lodge, conceive it their duty to communicate to you their sentiments on a subject which seems to interrupt that Masonic harmony which has so happily existed time immemorial. That, whilst your Memorialists highly applaud, the humane purposes for which the recent augmentation of the G.L. dues is to be levied; jet, with great deference, they are unanimously of opinion that, if said resolutions were enforced, they will very much impair our ability to relieve the numerous and pressing application's of distress which are pouring in from travelling Brethren, and also from those who, residing 80 miles and upwards from the Metropolis, cannot hope for assistance from that quarter. That, though your Memorialists feel the most poignant regret in dissenting from any resolution of the G.L., yet they cannot but consider themselves bound in Christian duty, to oppose a measure which would exhaust their resources, and consequently strip their poor of that to which they have an undoubted rightful claim, and especially to support those of a  city which, for commerce, affluence, and respectability holds the second rank in the Empire. That your Memorialists, being influenced by no spirit but that of duty, unanimously declare that the said resolution's, together with the appointment of an extra Officer, called Deputy Grand Treasurer, is unnecessary, and a grievous burden to the Order at large, of which we form a part. And that Memorialists look up to you for redress, earnestly praying that you, in your wisdom, will be pleased to rescind the said resolution's and said appointment, which - in our opinion - will restore to our ancient Order that happy unanimity and social contentment for which it has always been so deservedly admired and beloved. Signed in the name, and by order of the Meeting &c. 16 March 1803."


At a meeting of the Representative's of sixty-two Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, convened at Belfast, on the 20th of January, 1806, the Worshipful William McCall, of Lodge No. 112, in the Chair, the following Resolutions' were unanimously passed and ordered to be transmitted, signed by our Chairman to the Worshipful the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

1st. "That it appears to us, that the Innovation's lately proposed to be placed on the higher Masonic Orders, are unnecessary, in as much as these Orders have hitherto enjoyed uninterrupted Tranquillity without any ostensible Head or controlling Power."

2nd. "That we pledge ourselves to one another, and all K.T's. and Royal Arch Masons in the Kingdom, that we never will acknowledge such Innovations, considering them of so dangerous nature as may, if persisted in, dissolve that good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between the Rt. Worshipful the G.L. and Country Lodges."

3rd. "That we think it a Duty incumbent on us, earnestly to recommend to the Right Worshipful the G.L., that instead of new, chimerical, and complex systems of Finance, they will be pleased to restore the Original Regulations which have formerly produced general satisfaction."

4th. "That we cannot with Indifference behold the Discussions which have lately convulsed the Bosom of the Rt. Worshipful the G.L., as they appear to dispassionate observers, to be Contests more about Places of Power and Emolument, than the Genuine Interests of the Order, which breathes nothing but Charity and Love."

5th. "That as it appears by the last Statements that the Arrears, and Irregularity of the Books, occasioned by the late Bro. Corker's Indisposition, are now adjusted, and that the Accountants have been rewarded (according to the opinion of eminent Merchants) for their Trouble, we recommend that the Office of D.G. Treasurer do now cease; and that the D.G. Secretary in future collect all Monies due to the Grand Lodge as formerly."

6th. "That a Committee of Nine be now appointed to draw up a Memorial, conveying our Sentiments, together with a Copy of the above Resolutions, to the Right Hon. and Right Worshipful the Earl of Donoughmore, G.M. of the Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland."

Signed by Order,

William McCall

List of Lodges under the Grand East of Ulster

The sixty-two Lodges were:

Nos. 112, 178, 180, 182, 253, 257, 270, 272, 294, 314, 316, 372, 403, 418, 426, 428, 429, 430, 446, 447, 484, 491, 499, 507, 508, 550, 551, 587, 590, 598, 609, 615, 627, 629, 636, 645, 651, 652, 659, 662, 675, 684, 687, 725, 732, 749, 761, 762, 763, 776, 783, 793, 822, 825, 845, 861, 915, 926, 927, 931, 947, and 949.


The following regular Masonic Lodges on the Registry of the Ancient Grand Lodge of Ireland, held in the Town of Dungannon in the Province of Ulster, assembled in their respective Districts to commemorate the Anniversary of St. John, most respectfully return their thanks as follows viz:-

Nos. 112, 178, 193, 316, 335, 427, 575, 606, 608, 652, 659, 682, 683, 716, 749, 963 & 978 to the Rev Dr. Cupples for his excellent sermon, delivered at Hillsborough & also to George Stephenson Esq. & Capt. Coulson for their friendship on that occasion.

And Nos. 319, 403, 404, 426, 428, 429, 669 & 772, to the Revd. Mr. McMullan for his excellent Sermon at the Church of Ballinderry.

And Nos. 447 & 746 to the Rev. Hugh Woods for his excellent Sermon at Bangor.

And likewise Nos. 88, 272, 484, 485, 550, 551, 598, 602, 621, 651, 687, 762, 783, 793, 800, 801, 845, 931, 949, and 999 to their Rev. Bro. Campbell for his excellent Sermon at Dundrod.

Signed by Order,

  1. Murray of 112, H. Walker of 772,, I. Mathers of 447,, G. Savage of 931.

June 24th, 1809.

N.B. We understand that 53 Lodges on the same Registry assembled at Dergbridge, Ballygauley, Petigo, to commemorate the same occasion.


We, the Masters, Wardens, and Brethren of Lodges No. 88, 112, 270, 292, 311, 316, 484, 575, 645, 651, 652, 682, 687, 762, 749, 783, 916, 931, 949, and 978, Free and Accepted Masons, according to the Ancient Constitution held under the Registry of the Grand East, established in the Province of Ulster, return their most sincere thanks to the Rev. Samuel Hanna for his very eloquent, impressive, and truly Masonic sermon, delivered to them on the 24th inst. being the anniversary of St. John the Baptist.

Signed by Order,

K.A. McCartney, Sec. B.C. Belfast, June 27, 1811.

Bro. Francis C. Crossle (17th March 1847 - 15th October 1910)

The formation of this Grand Lodge, sometimes styled the Grand East of Ulster, was no less important an event than an actual revolt from the properly-constituted authority,
"The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland," and yet Masonic writers seem to be practically ignorant of the fact that such a Grand Lodge ever existed, and amongst Ulster Freemasons of the present-day one seldom meets with a brother who has ever heard of such an event. Bro. Gould, in his com­prehensive ''History of Free­masonry," does not, so far as 1 can ascertain, even once refer to the history of this body, and I think I am, therefore, correct in arriving at the conclusion that this exceedingly pains­taking and accurate writer must have been ignorant of its existence. Millikin, writing in 1848, after referring to the termination of the conflict be­tween the Minister brethren and the Grand Lodge of Ireland, alludes to it in the following words:- "Thus was Masonry placed on a lasting foundation in Ireland, with but a trilling intermission, occasioned by an attempt to erect a Grand Lodge in the North, under the name of the Grand Dust of Ulster. But, as error cannot remain long undetected, some of the leaders in this revolt saw, with contrition, the ill-tendency of their proceedings, submitted to the Grand Lodge, and were again received within the legitimate pale of Masonry."


Warrant No. 651

  1. 18 Jan. 1934 – Printed form of Memorial for a Warrant to hold a Lodge at the Seymour Hill, Dunmurry, Co. Antrim to be called “Finaghy Lodge” – Memorial signed by twenty-one Brethren from various Lodges – Nominates Andrew M. Wedderburn (P.M. 81) to be first W.M.; Wm. John Wallace (P.M. 538) S.W. and Samuel G. Duckworth (811) J.W. – Recommended by Lodges 783, 565 and 602 and the P.D.G.M. of Antrim.
  2. 23 May 1938 – Printed form of Memorial for a Royal Arch Warrant to hold a Chapter at the Masonic Hall, Finaghy, Belfast to be called “Finaghy Chapter” – Memorial signed by fourteen Companions from various Chapters – Nominates Robert Martin (P.K. 783) to be the first E.K.; George Sherman (425) H.P. and Jas. S. Seymour (188) C.S. – Recommended by Chapters 783 and 178 and the G.F.P. of Antrim.

From the Minutes of the G.L. Board of G.P.

Lodge 651, 20 February 1935 - Read Memorial from various brethren praying for a warrant to establish a Lodge in Finaghy, Dunmurry in the County of Antrim to be called the Finaghy.  Recommended.

G.L.M. 7 March 1935 – Confirmed. Reissued to `Finaghy Lodge' in FINAGHY, Belfast, 8 March 1935.

 Warrant No. 651 to Finaghy Belfast, 8 March 1935

Andrew M. Wedderburn, Electrical Engineer (81); William J. Wallace, Merchant Tailor (538) and Samuel G. Duckworth, Teacher (811) registered along with eighteen others from various lodges. A total of 85 brethren registered up to 26 October 1951.

The Lodge was Constituted in the Lodge Room, Seymour Hill, Dunmurry on Friday, 29th March 1935 by Rt. Wor. Bro. J.B. McCutcheon, Provincial Deputy Grand Master of Antrim.

W. Bro. A.M. Wedderburn was the first Master, the Wardens were Bros. W.J. Wallace and S.G. Duckworth, W. Bro. J.S. Seymour was Treasurer and W. Bro. George Sherman the Secretary.

Other Founding Members:-

Bro. J.K. Carlisle; Bro. Hugh Page; Bro. Robert Dixon; Bro. J. Barnes; Bro. M.A. Gillespie; W. Bro. G. Lithco; W. Bro. W. Baxter; W. Bro. J.D. Collins; W. Bro. E.A. Anderson; W. Bro. R.G. Hood; Bro. C.H. Robinson; Bro. Jas. A. Shaw; Bro. John C. Shaw; Bro. Dr. J.B. White; Bro. J. Caldwell and Bro. J. McFarlane.

Lodge No. 651

The Finaghy suburban district of Belfast has developed so rapidly that a new Lodge, No. 651, dedicated in March last, arranged for the upper portion of a new public building to be designed for the purposes of a lodge room, etc., and same having been dedicated recently the brethren are now installed in their new home.

Warrant No. 651 to Finaghy, Belfast Co. Antrim

The register commences with the registration of David J. Williamson, Traveller, registered 24 in September 1954. A total of 70 brethren registered up to 25 August 1983.  In most cases the dates when the issue of certificates is shown, together with the occupation of the brother.

Removed to Freemasons' Hall, ARTHUR SQUARE, BELFAST, 1984.

From the Minutes of The Grand Lodge Board of G.P.:-

Lodge No. 651 & 257

Read letter from Lodge No. 651 noting a proposed merger between itself and Lodge No. 257 and requesting permission for the retention of the name of one Lodge, with attendant crest and the number of the other – one Warrant to be returned to Dublin.  Confirmed, one vetted and approved by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim.

Confirmed by G.L. 5 June 2008.

Lodge No. 651

From the Minutes of the G.L. Board of G.P. 27 December 2008

The Board noted, with regret, for reporting to Grand Lodge, the return of the Warrant of Lodge No. 257 on amalgamation with Lodge No. 651.