VICE REGAL GRAND MASTERS - WHO AND WHY?

Every Australian Grand Lodge has the following, or a similar, clause in its Constitutions: "The Grand Master, if the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia or the Governor of Victoria, may appoint a Pro Grand Master who shall be a member of the Grand Lodge previous to his appointment".

The supposition is, of course, that serving Governors-General and Governors will be appointed as Grand Master if a Mason, and if willing to serve. Historically, that has been the case in a substantial number of instances. Two serving Governors-General of Australia have been Grand Master, and seven in New Zealand. Of the States of Australia, New South Wales has had seven Vice Regal Grand Masters, Victoria six, South Australia four, and Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania three each.

The initial question is why the interest of Antipodean Freemasonry in Vice Regal Grand Masters? Undoubtedly, a Vice Regal Grand Mastership was seen by the Craft as adding considerable lustre to the organisation by effectively having a "patron of great renown". Conversely, one might assume, anti-Masonists who have more difficulty in any attack on the Craft given the leading citizen of the State or the Country was at its head. With the Grand Master resident in Government House, his persona as Masonic leader was certainly viewed as useful in attracting new members. The advantages to the Craft, clearly, were seen as most beneficial. Should a Vice Regal Grand Master emerge in the present time, the same benefits would be seen as applying.

In each case, the Vice Regal Grand Master appoints a Pro Grand Master who effectively administers the relevant Grand Lodge, with the Grand Master himself as effective figurehead. Or at least that is the theory. In most cases, theory did meet practice, but historically there were some who took a more interventionalist role.

The tradition of Vice Regal Grand Mastership has its roots at the beginning of organised Freemasonry in England. According to Anderson's Constitutions (1738), the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717 at the formation of which several brethren met and "constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro Tempore in Due Form, and forthwith revived the Quarterly Communications of the Officers of Lodges (call'd the Grand Lodge) resolv'd to hold the Annual assembly and Feast, and then to chuse a Grand Master from among themselves, till they should have the Honour of a Noble Brother at their Head".

They did not have to wait long, as in 1721 the Duke of Montagu became first Noble Grand Master. Since then a Peer of the Realm or a Prince of Royal Blood has without exception, held the English Grand Mastership. While not specifically stated in the English Constitutions, it is effectively not possible for a brother to become Grand Master or Pro Grand Master unless he is at least a Peer of the Realm. The vast majority of Grand Masters of Ireland and Scotland have also been Peers or knights.

Placing this tradition into an Australian context, it is clear from where the desire for Vice Regal Grand Masters emanated. At least until the Second World War, Australia and Australian society saw itself firmly as part of the indivisible British Empire. There is little doubt that this ethos also applied to Australian Masonry in that period.

It is not possible in this paper to outline the careers of all Australian Vice Regal Grand Masters, aside from the fact that that book has already been written. Rather, detailed below is a resume of some of the more interesting amongst them.

Lord Carrington

The first Australian Vice Regal Grand Master was Lord Carrington (3rd Baron Carrington, afterwards 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire), the initial Grand Master of New South Wales.

Born in 1843, Carrington upon adulthood took on a political career, first entering the House of Commons in 1865, then the House of Lords in 1868 upon assuming his father's title. He was closely associated with the Royal family, and was appointed as Governor of New South Wales in 1885.

On his appointment a London newspaper commented: "He is a man of the world, of acute intelligence, well read and understanding and watching the signs of the times he has come to the conclusion that if the rule of democracy is inevitable, the policy of the aristocracy is to make the best of the situation".

His vice-regal term spanned much change and trouble. He proved a tactful and able Governor in mediating between conflicting social and political forces. His diplomatic skills enabled a number of political crises to be nipped in the bud, and his background activities were seen as crucial in paving the way for the Federation Conference of 1890.

At the conclusion of his governorship, he returned to London and became an active politician. His first speech after his return caused a sensation when he espoused Australian nationalism rather than imperial federation. He served in several ministerial positions until his retirement in 1910. He died in 1928.

The Masonic career of Lord Carrington was both fascinating and somewhat controversial. He was initiated on 28 October 1861 in the Sir Isaac Newton Lodge # 859 EC, meeting at Cambridge, when he was just eighteen. However, he did not take his Second Degree until nearly eight years later, in Cairo. He was finally raised to the Third Degree in the Royal York Lodge of Perseverance # 7 EC, London, on 6 October 1875. He joined the Royal Alpha Lodge # 16 EC, London, on 3 January 1882, and remained a member throughout his life. He was appointed Senior Grand Warden, EC, in 1882, even though he was not a Past Master and therefore technically ineligible.

When he arrived in New South Wales as Governor, he found lodges working under the English and Scottish Constitutions and under the Grand Lodge of New South Wales - a body formed in 1877 from lodges previously owing allegiance to Ireland and Scotland. Several past attempts to bring these various lodges together in one body had failed, and in an effort to force a union, he accepted the office of District Grand Master, EC, and subsequently that of Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales. He played a crucial and pivotal role in cementing that union, and can justly be called the "Father of United Masonry" in New South Wales.

However, just before his Installation as the premier leader of the new United Grand Lodge, it was realised that he was not an installed Master, and consequently he was not eligible to become Grand Master. Perhaps Lord Carrington himself did not consider the matter a problem, given his previous appointment as the English Senior Grand Warden under the same circumstances. In any case, in order to overcome the perceived conundrum, an 'Occasional Lodge' was held at Government House under the Charter of Lodge Ionic # 15 GLNSW (now # 65 NSWC). He was thereupon, in effect, made a "Worshipful Master at sight". Nine Senior Masons were known to be present, including the Grand Master of the merging Grand Lodge of New South Wales, MWBro Dr. Tarrant, and MWBro. Chief Justice Sir Samuel Way, Grand Master of South Australia. The exact date of the meeting is not recorded, although it must have occurred only a few days before Lord Carrington's Installation as Grand Master. This development, though clearly convenient, raises several points of Masonic jurisprudence. Brother W.G. Kett, in his History of the First Fifty Years of Lodge Ionic # 65, states: "…such an Installation, however, cannot be presumptive evidence of membership of the lodge in the ordinary acceptance of the term, despite the fact that His Excellency's name appears as a member…." (in the 1905 By-laws of Lodge Ionic).

Nonetheless, Carrington could be claimed, although dubiously, as a member of a NSW lodge - the other technically necessary prerequisite for ascension to the Grand Mastership. Why he never became an actual member of New South Wales lodge is unclear, as no doubt that matter at least could have been quickly affected and all doubt removed. What is certain, despite the irregular manner in which Lord Carrington arrived at the Grand Mastership, is that his role was crucial in bringing about Masonic unity in New South Wales.

On leaving Sydney his interest in Masonry did not diminish. He was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire in 1890, serving for five years. He accepted appointment as the Grand Representative in England of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, and he played a leading role in smoothing early Masonic misunderstandings between London and Sydney. As one writer put it: "It is doubtful whether NSW Freemasonry had a truer friend or a more potent support in emergency than the Marquess of Lincolnshire, more popularly known as Lord Carrington."

Lord Jersey

The second Grand Master of New South Wales was an interesting character. The 7th Earl of Jersey was born in 1845, and after a brief political career, he was appointed Governor of New South Wales in July 1890. His ignorance of the colonial situation was such that, on arriving in Sydney on 15 January 1891, he reputedly had with him "a large supply of drinking water" and "a number of bathtubs". Nonetheless, his term as Governor was widely viewed as successful.

Jersey was initiated into Apollo University Lodge # 357 EC, Oxford, on 25 October 1865, at the age of twenty. He joined Churchill Lodge # 478 EC, also meeting at Oxford, as a Fellow Craft in December 1865 - although he was still raised in his mother lodge in the following February. He became the Master of Churchill Lodge on 10 May 1868. In 1870 he served a year as Senior Grand Warden in the United Grand Lodge of England and in 1885 he was appointed as Provincial Grand Master of Oxfordshire, serving until he resigned in the year before his death in 1915. As will be noted, he remained Provincial Grand Master of Oxfordshire while serving as Governor and Grand Master in New South Wales.

As the new Governor and as a senior English Freemason, it was quite natural that he should follow his predecessor Lord Carrington and assume the Grand Mastership in New South Wales. He was installed in the Sydney Town Hall on 11 June 1891, having affiliated with Lodge Ionic # 65 NSWC two months earlier. His term as Grand Master was a happy one and he gained immense popularity - particularly because he found himself able to devote considerable time to Masonic activities. In his first year as Governor he travelled widely in country areas, and often attended selected lodge meetings or met local Freemasons. He remained as Grand Master until he left New South Wales two years after his arrival.

Admiral Sir Harry Rawson

Amongst the most ardent vice-regal Grand Masters was Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, Governor of New South Wales (1902- 1909) and Grand Master (1905-1909). Born in 1843, he entered the Royal Navy in 1857 at the age of fourteen. He was steadily promoted in rank, finishing up as an admiral in 1903, following a distinguished career. He was appointed Governor of New South Wales in February 1902, and assumed office three months later. He was a most popular and successful governor; indeed it was widely considered that he was one of the best that New South Wales had ever had to that time, and for this reason his term was extended to 1909. He is commemorated in Sydney by the Rawson Institute for Seamen, which he worked hard to establish, and whose foundation stone he laid (with Masonic ceremony) in March 1909.

Sir Harry was a zealous Freemason, although his profession left him with little time for regular participation. He was initiated in Royal Sussex Lodge # 501 EC in November 1863. At the time he was stationed in China, the Royal Sussex Lodge then meeting at Shanghai (now long since working in Hong Kong). When stationed in Malta he joined the St John and St Paul Lodge # 349 EC in late 1889, and was invested as Senior Warden just over a year later. However, his posting again changed before he could assume the Master's chair. He then joined Royal Navy Lodge # 1593 EC at Greenwich but again his duties prevented Masonic advancement. It was not until he became a foundation member of Navy Lodge # 2612 EC in 1896 that he was finally able to progress. Back in England, he was invested Senior Warden in 1898 and finally installed as Master in 1901.

On his appointment as Governor he was conferred with the rank of Past Junior Grand Warden, EC. As an aside, it is interesting to note that most English masons assuming vice-regal appointment were conferred Past Junior (or Senior) Grand Warden EC. Reportedly, this was so that they had some "Masonic authority" once "in the colonies".

After settling in as Governor, Rawson was invited to assume the Grand Mastership and he was installed in 1906, serving to the completion of his vice-regal term in 1909. Even before his installation he was a regular attender at Grand Lodge meetings. Sadly, Sir Harry did not live long to enjoy his retirement. He died in London on 3 November 1910, barely a year after his return to London from Sydney.

Lord Chelmsford

Probably the most controversial vice-regal Grand Master was Lord Chelmsford, who terms as Governor of New South Wales, Governor of Queensland, and Viceroy of India.

Born in 1868, he qualified in law, but he appeared to take little interest in the profession. In 1905 he succeeded to the family barony at the age of thirty-seven, and he accepted what to some was a surprise appointment as Governor of Queensland. His four-year term in Brisbane was eventful, being marked by considerable political division in which he was embroiled by virtue of his office. Despite being sharply criticised for dissolving parliament in late 1907 in an effort to end disputation, he maintained the confidence of the Colonial Office in London. His intellectual abilities and attention to social duties were widely respected and admired.

In May 1909 Chelmsford was moved to Sydney to become Governor of New South Wales. His new governorship proved more tranquil than his Queensland experience, and he maintained excellent relations with the state's first Labour Government. The Premier, Mr. J. S. T. McGowen, later commented that "without attempting to usurp the functions of his advisors, the Governor was their guide, philosopher, and friend". He acted briefly as Governor-General of Australia between 21 December 1909 and 27 January 1910. He resigned as Governor and returned to England in March 1913.

On the outbreak of war in 1914 Chelmsford, a captain in the 4th Dorset Territorials, joined his regiment and travelled with it to India. He was unexpectedly appointed Viceroy in January 1916. During his five-year term in India, he helped introduce the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms that set India on the path to self-government. He also had to face Mahatma Gandhi's first non-cooperation campaign. Lord Chelmsford resigned in 1921 and again returned to England. He was created a viscount in the same year. In June 1926 he accepted appointment as Agent-General for New South Wales in London, but again his term was short (until October 1927) although he remained "temporary acting" Agent-General until 1928. Heart disease claimed his life in 1933.

Chelmsford was initiated on 1 June 1898 in the Lodge of Amity # 137 EC, meeting at Poole, Dorset. He was then described as "a barrister, aged twenty-nine, of Lytchett Maltravers". It would appear that he never held office in his mother lodge. He joined St. Mary Magdalen Lodge # 1523 EC (London) in 1900. This was an 'old boys' lodge of his Oxford college. He was invested as its Junior Warden in 1905 but his appointment as Governor of Queensland precluded any further advancement.

In Brisbane he found local Masonry bitterly divided between the Grand Lodge of Queensland and the District Grand Lodge of Queensland, EC. The former (largely an amalgam of lodges originally warranted from Ireland and Scotland) was viewed as irregular by the United Grand Lodge of England. The rest of Australian Masonry was also split on the issue, with only the Grand Lodges of Western Australia and New South Wales recognising the indigenous Queensland body.

Chelmsford took the courageous step of supporting the Grand Lodge of Queensland and accepting its Grand Mastership, thus adding the prestige of the Governor to its cause. In his own words he did so 'on the advice and counsel of a brother who has held high office in England, and with the hope that it might conduce to reunion and a settlement of our unhappy divisions'. The identity of 'the brother who has held high office' is unknown. Certainly the advice was misguided.

The United Grand Lodge of England took a most negative view of events. Nor did it later forgive and forget. Lord Chelmsford, virtually alone among English Masons who became a Governor in Australia, was never conferred with high English Masonic Rank (usually PSGW or PJGW). Clearly, he had a strong belief in the inevitability of a sovereign Grand Lodge in Queensland, and his actions in resigning from both his English lodges would seem to support that contention. Unfortunately, the controversy that surrounded his acceptance of the GLQ Grand Mastership had the reverse effect of that intended and it was not until 1921 that Queensland Masonic unity was finally achieved - although that can hardly be blamed on Lord Chelmsford.

In addition, other aspects of his Masonic career provide puzzlement. No record appears to exist of his ever being installed as the Master of a lodge (a usual prerequisite for Grand Lodge office). He was certainly a Past Warden when he arrived in Brisbane, if only just. It is likely, although again no proof exists, that he was privately 'installed as a Master' before his installation as Grand Master GLQ on 29 November 1906. Indeed, it would have been virtually impossible for him to fulfil his duties as Grand Master without this occurrence.

On his transfer to New South Wales he was elected as Grand Master and installed on 23 August 1910. Oddly, there is no record of his ever affiliating with a lodge in New South Wales, and he is not claimed as a member by any NSW lodge. While a lodge might perhaps fail to properly record details of an ordinary member, it is most unlikely to do so in the case of a Grand Master. While this lack of membership was technically a Masonic illegality, other precedents exist. As well, it is interesting that he resigned all his Queensland Masonic connections when he left. Therefore it would appear that he was unaffiliated with any Masonic lodge while New South Wales Grand Master! Equally, it would seem curious that he did not join a lodge while stationed in India - but again English records are silent. He did, however, join Old Wykehamist Lodge # 3548 EC (London) in 1923, remaining a member until his death.

Lord Gowrie

One of the most loved and respected Vice Regal Masters was Lord Gowrie. Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven was born at Windsor, England, in 1872, the second son of the 8th Baron Ruthven. After finishing his education at Eton, he decided to join the army. In 1891, at the age of nineteen, he joined the 3rd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry. In 1898 he was seconded to the Egyptian Army in the Sudan where he commanded a Camel Corps at the Battle of Gedaref. He was awarded the Victoria Cross during this time for his extraordinary bravery in rescuing an Egyptian officer under fire.

He first visited Australia in 1908 as the military secretary to the then Governor-General, Lord Dudley. This was only a brief appointment, and in 1909 and 1910 he served on the staff of Lord Kitchener when he visited Australia to assist in reorganising the Australian Army. He served with great distinction in World War I, both in France and at Gallipoli, where he was severely wounded and was awarded the DSO. He later served in the British Expeditionary Force in France and received a bar to his DSO. During the war he was mentioned in dispatches on five separate occasions. In 1917 he was promoted to Brigadier-General.

After the war, Hore-Ruthven commanded the Welsh Guards (1920-24) and the lst Infantry Brigade (Guards) at Aldershot (1924-28). In 1928 he was appointed as Governor of South Australia and concurrently knighted (KCMG). After five years of popular tenure in this post, he moved on to New South Wales in 1935 to become state Governor. However, he remained as such for only one year before his appointment as Governor-General of Australia, in which position he served until 1944. A host of further honours were thrust upon him. He was awarded the GCMG in 1935, and created the lst Baron Gowrie of Canberra and Dirleton. In 1937 he was made a Privy Counsellor. In 1944 he became Viscount Gowrie, and finally the 1st Earl of Gowrie in 1945.

On his return to England he became Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor of Windsor Castle (1945-53) and Colonel of the Welsh Guards. He served as president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1948. After a short illness, he died at his home in Wiltshire on 2 May 1955.

Lord Gowrie entered Freemasonry on 15 March 1893, in Lodge St Andrew's Military # 668 SC, meeting at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, while he was attached to the Highland Light Infantry. While serving in the Sudan he affiliated with Sir Reginald Wingate Lodge # 2954 EC, serving briefly as its secretary. This lodge later became extinct. Soon after his arrival in Adelaide as Governor of South Australia, he received a call from MWBro Sir Mellis Napier, who asked him to accept the position of Grand Master. He declined to accept immediately, evidently because he felt he would first like to gain experience in an ordinary lodge. Indeed, he was as yet ineligible, having not yet served as a Master. He therefore affiliated with United Service Lodge # 27 SAC, and was appointed as its Senior Warden on Anzac Day 1929. On Anzac Day in the following year he was installed as Master of that lodge. In his retiring address to the South Australia Grand Lodge four years later he made special mention of his happy year as Master of his lodge.

Ten days before he ascended the Master's chair, he was installed as Grand Master of South Australia on 15 April 1930. Therefore, his year as Master of his Lodge virtually coincided with his first year as Grand Master. In both capacities, and as Governor, he was immensely popular. He consistently demonstrated his desire to be the leader of South Australian Freemasonry in fact as well as name. On his tours of the state he never failed to meet the Master and Wardens of each lodge if he was unable to attend their meetings. His genuine attachment to Masonry was obvious, and shortly before his departure from South Australia he commented in Grand Lodge that "I have had greater satisfaction, and interest, from my connection with Freemasonry than from anything else with which I have been connected".

On arriving in New South Wales, he was promptly installed as Grand Master of that state, and he remained as such during his term as Governor-General. Again, he was ever an active Masonic leader, visiting lodges at every opportunity. Amongst many highlights, he dedicated the new Masonic Temple in Canberra on 9 May 1936. In honour of their Grand Master, several Masons petitioned Grand Lodge for permission to erect a new lodge to be named Lodge Gowrie # 651 NSWC. Lord Gowrie himself attended its first meeting to carry out the ceremony of consecration and installation. In later years this lodge amalgamated with Lodge Leinster Marine # 2 NSWC. Subsequently a group of Masons in Canberra formed Lodge Gowrie of Canberra # 715 NSWC, and this lodge still works happily.

As Grand Master in both states, Lord Gowrie was particularly adamant in maintaining a high standard for Freemasonry. He enjoined all Grand officers and Masters of lodges to ensure that the quality of speeches and the items of entertainment at lodge festive boards should be of a standard that would not detract from the dignity and high moral standard of the Order. A deeply religious man, he decreed that Sunday picnics under lodge auspices were not permissible, stating: "it is not seemly that Masonry should identify itself with pleasure functions on the Lord's Day".

Lord Brassey

Victoria's first Vice Regal (and second) Grand Master was Lord Brassey. The son of a railway contractor, Thomas Brassey was born in England in 1836. He was educated at Rugby School and at University College, Oxford and he was called to the Bar in 1866. He made several attempts to enter parliament between 1861 and 1865. He finally won the seat of Devonport for the Liberal Party in 1865, later switching to the seat of Hastings that he held for twenty-seven years (1868-95). He served as a civil Lord of the Admiralty from 1880 until 1884, and as its parliamentary secretary between 1884 and 1885.

Brassey's greatest interest and love was for the sea. He spent most of his spare time aboard his yacht, the Sunbeam. He was an ardent publicist of maritime affairs and labour conditions, particularly through public letters and in the House of Commons. During his career he served on several royal commissions, including those on unseaworthy ships and inland navigation. He served a term as president of the Institute of Naval Architects, and he was the founder and original editor of the Naval Annual. His work in establishing the Volunteer Naval Reserves was rewarded in 1881 when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Bath. In 1886 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brassey of Bulkeley (Cheshire).

Brassey became a Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria in 1893. In 1895 he accepted the position of Governor of Victoria, and travelled to Melbourne aboard the Sunbeam. He proved to be a much-respected Governor, but his term was not without controversy. He was an unwavering supporter of Australian federation - in some people's eyes to an embarrassing extent. He promoted the causes of Australian naval reserves with vigour, and he successfully rallied the colony in support of the Boer War, although his relations with the British Government were not consistently warm.

On his retirement as Governor in 1900 he returned to England and followed a creditable career as a speaker and writer on imperial and naval subjects. A number of further honours were conferred on him. He was created a Grand Commander of the Bath in 1906 and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1908. He was raised to an Earldom in 1911. He was honorary colonel of the 2nd Home Counties Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, and a military member of the Sussex Territorial Force.

When World War I broke out Brassey offered the services of himself and his yacht, and he sailed for Gallipoli in 1915. In 1916 he handed the Sunbeam over to the Indian Government as a hospital ship. As a result of his war service he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour (France) and awarded the Grand Cross of the Crown of Italy.

Brassey was initiated into Freemasonry while studying at Oxford, but his professional duties prevented him from taking an active role in the Craft until later in life. He affiliated with the Abbey Lodge # 1184 EC at Battle, Sussex, in 1868 and remained a member for forty-eight years. He also joined Derwent Lodge # 40 EC, and he was a foundation member of Navy Lodge # 2612 EC, London. Interestingly, the United Grand Lodge of England appointed him PJGW in 1895 on his appointment as Governor of Victoria, even though he was still a Master Mason. In Melbourne he joined the Clarke Lodge # 98 and served as its Master in 1897. He was installed as Grand Master while still a Master Mason (4 May 1896) - two days before he was invested as the Senior Warden of the Clarke Lodge!

The election of Lord Brassey as Grand Master was in itself quite interesting. There were a number of brethren at the time that did not wish to lose Sir William Clarke as Grand Master, and he was again nominated for the position. Sir William permitted the nomination to stand only on the condition that he would not contest an election if Lord Brassey were willing to serve. Accordingly, at the Quarterly Communication in March 1896, Sir William informed Grand Lodge that his nomination was withdrawn and that Lord Brassey was therefore elected as Grand Master.

Lord Carmichael

Lord Carmichael was born in Edinburgh on 18 March 1859, the son of the Reverend Sir William Carmichael, 10th Baronet. Interestingly he was baptized in the Church of England, but had a strict Presbyterian training, his father being a minister of that church. He went to school in Hampshire before attending St. John's College, Cambridge (1877). He graduated BA in history in 1881 and MA in 1884. He joined the Liberal Party while at university, and in 1886 he became a private secretary to the Secretary for Scotland in William Gladstone's third government. On the death of his father in 1891, he inherited the family title as 11th Baronet.

He succeeded William Gladstone as the Member of Parliament for Mid-Lothian in 1895, but he resigned from politics five years later. He was described by his close friend Sir Edward Grey as having 'the acutest brain in Europe'. Nevertheless, while he certainly possessed high intelligence, he did not appear to be blessed with the eloquence required of a politician.

Carmichael was a keen patron of the arts, and an avid collector and connoisseur. In 1904 he became a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery (London) and in 1906 he assumed the same position with the National Gallery. He resigned both posts on his appointment as the Governor of Victoria in 1908. He was created KCMG on his accession as Governor.

Carmichael brought to his new post considerable farming skills (he was a breeder of polled Angus cattle) and he was at his happiest when touring the country areas of Victoria. As a man he was regarded as intelligent, curious, compassionate and self-deprecatory. He possessed a dry wit and a gift for friendship that greatly endeared him to those he met.

Nonetheless, soon after his arrival he was involved in a political crisis that gained him brief unpopularity. The Liberal Government of Thomas Bent was brought down in parliament through a vote of no confidence and Sir Thomas ordered the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly and fresh early elections. The controversy died as quickly as it arose, and the rest of his governorship was quiet. Sir Thomas and Lady Carmichael interested themselves in a range of social areas. They took a particular interest in art education, the Victorian Bush Nursing Association, the Victoria League, kindergartens, rural promotions and art exhibitions. Sir Thomas left Melbourne on 29 May 1911 to become Governor of Madras, India. He was created GCIE in 1911, and in 1912 he became the lst Baron Carmichael of Stirling. He assumed the position of Governor of Bengal in 1912, and after an uneventful administration he retired to England in 1917. His retirement saw him further honoured with the award of the GCSI.

One of Lord Carmichael's greatest loves was purposeful ceremonial, and in Freemasonry he readily found great interest. He was initiated in Lodge Dramatic and Arts # 757 SC, meeting in Edinburgh, in 1895. He received all three Craft degrees within the space of eight days. He became the Right Worshipful Master of his lodge in 1902, and he served a second term in the following year. While still serving as Master he was appointed Senior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Within seven years he rose to become Scotland's Grand Master Mason. On his appointment as Governor of Victoria he relinquished his Scottish position, only to be called upon immediately to serve as Grand Master in Victoria. His time as Victorian Grand Master was quiet and uneventful, which in itself was probably a tribute to the respect in which he was held. Lord Carmichael died in London in 1926.

Lord Stradbroke

George Edward John Mowbury Rous, 3rd Earl of Stradbroke, was born at his family's ancestral home, Henham Hall, Suffolk, on 19 November 1862. He succeeded to his father's titles in 1886. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge University, from which he graduated as a Master of Arts in 1881.

On the completion of his education, Stradbroke began a military career. He joined the lst Norfolk Royal Artillery, and by 1888 he had gained the rank of colonel. He held this position until 1908 when he transferred to the Royal Artillery East Anglia Division. In 1902 he was appointed ADC to Edward VII and he remained as such on the succession of George V in 1911. Lord Stradbroke served with great distinction throughout World War I, as the commander of several brigades. He saw active service in France, Egypt and Palestine. In recognition of his services to the Crown he was appointed a Commander of the Bath in 1904, and he was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1906. For his distinguished war service he received the CBE in 1919.

Stradbroke was appointed Governor of Victoria in 1920 and further honoured with the KCMG. His term as Governor was relatively peaceful and uncontroversial in these post-war years. He proved popular and he attracted great respect, carrying out his duties with dignity and military precision. After his six-year term as Governor had expired, he returned to England. He briefly resumed his duties as ADC to the King (until 1929) and he served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture (1928- 29).

Lord Stradbroke entered Freemasonry through the Lodge of Prudence # 388, which meets in Halesworth, a town close to Henham Hall. After serving as Master of his lodge, he was appointed as Provincial Grand Master of Suffolk in 1902. He held this position until his death in 1947 - a record forty-five years. Two years after he arrived in Victoria he was elected Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria. He was fortunate in having the able and energetic MWBro Bickford to fall back on as Pro Grand Master, thus relieving him of most duties of the Grand Mastership. When he left for England at the end of his term his loss to Victorian Freemasonry was sincerely and widely regretted. Stradbroke remained interested in the progress of Masonry in Victoria for the rest of his life. He died in 1947, at the age of eighty-five.

Lord Huntingfield

Baron Huntingfield was born in Queensland on 3 January 1883, the son of grazier William Arcedeckne Vanneck, the brother of the 4th Baron. He was educated at the Downs School, Toowoomba, and at Wellington College, Berkshire. Upon leaving school he searched for a career and finally settled upon the army. He joined the 13th Hussars, then stationed in India, in 1906. However, following a period of ill health, he was invalided home to England in 1914. He succeeded his uncle to the title in 1915.

Huntingfield spent World War I with a reserve regiment at Aldershot, Hampshire. He resigned from the army in 1921 with the rank of captain. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1923 as the Conservative member for the Eye Division, East Suffolk. He served as parliamentary private secretary to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (1926-27) and as president of the Board of Trade (1927-28). Again ill health overtook him, and he did not contest the election of 1929.

In 1933 Huntingfield accepted appointment as the Governor of Victoria. The post had been vacant since the departure of Lord Somers in 1931 (who also served as Grand Master in Victoria), in the wake of the depression. As Victoria's first Australian-born Governor, he began his governorship with widespread goodwill. He was fluent in French and German and an acknowledged sportsman with an affable personality. He carried out his vice-regal duties with a good mixture of friendliness and dignity. In particular, he expressed a deep interest in agricultural, industrial and technical matters - often making extensive tours of towns and rural areas throughout the state. His American-born wife, Margaret, Lady Huntingfield, endeared herself to Victorians through her social work, which was later recognised by a scholarship established in her name at the University of Melbourne.

At the expiry of his term as Governor in 1939, Huntingfield returned to England. He was appointed Governor of Southern Rhodesia in 1941 but ill health prevented him from taking up the post. Thereafter he lived largely in retirement at Hove, Sussex.

Huntingfield joined Freemasonry through the United Lodge # 1629 EC, meeting in London, in 1919. He affiliated as a Past Master with the United Service Lodge # 330 in 1934, shortly after his arrival in Victoria. As an experienced Mason, he was promptly invited to assume the mantle of Grand Master of Victorian Masonry, and he was installed in March 1935. The Craft in the post-depression period was expanding rapidly in numbers. He proved a highly popular leader, and on his travels around Victoria he often made a point of meeting groups of local Masons. He had the honour of laying the foundation stone of the Freemasons' Hospital, East Melbourne, on 18 March 1936, and he was present as Grand Master on 17 March 1937 when Lord Gowrie, the Governor-General and Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, opened the hospital. Back in England he continued actively in the Craft. In 1940, the year after his return, he was appointed as the Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Lord Huntingfield died in Sussex on 20 November 1969. While he suffered ill health many times during his life, his resilience enabled him to live into his eighty-sixth year.

General Sir Dallas Brooks

Sir Dallas Brooks, Victoria's longest-serving Governor and Masonic Grand Master, was born at Cambridge, England on 22 August 1896, the son of an Anglican minister attached to the Royal Navy. He was educated at Dover College, Kent, and entered the Royal Marines at the age of eighteen. During World War I he served with great distinction at Gallipoli and was severely wounded. This fact did not escape notice and acclaim several years later when he was appointed as Governor of Victoria.

During the period between the wars Sir Dallas steadily rose through the ranks and held several Royal Marine staff appointments. In 1934 he was stationed in South Africa for two years as an attache to the Naval Commander-in-Chief. During World War II he was attached to the Foreign Office and served initially in its political warfare department. In 1944 he became Chief of Staff to the Commandant-General of the Royal Marines, whom he succeeded in 1946. He was knighted (KCB) in 1948 and retired in the following year before his appointment as Governor of Victoria.

Sir Dallas Brooks was possibly the most popular Governor in Victoria's history, and this fact contributed to his term being extended. His distinguished service was rewarded with two further civil awards, the KCVO in 1954 and the KCMG in 1963.

The circumstances surrounding the admission of Sir Dallas Brooks into Freemasonry are most interesting. He remains the only Governor of Victoria (or in Australia) to be initiated while serving in that capacity. Soon after his arrival in Victoria, MWBro R.A. Rowe, Grand Master, and several senior Grand Lodge officers, were received at Government House by Sir Dallas in order to express the loyalty of the Victorian Craft to the King. At this meeting Sir Dallas expressed his desire to become a Freemason, but his decision was not taken on the spur of the moment. In later years it was discovered that certain discreet enquiries were made in England when the appointment of the new Governor was first announced. Sir Dallas himself, in responding to the toast to him at the dinner following his initiation, revealed that when he was approached in London to become Governor of Victoria, he made known his desire to become a Freemason, but expressed a wish that this be achieved in Victoria.

Sir Dallas was initiated in the Clarke Lodge # 98 on 6 February 1950, and raised within the space of two months. In having possibly the quickest lodge elevation in Masonic history, he was installed as the Master of Clarke Lodge barely five months after his initiation. In the following year he was elected Grand Master unopposed.

Sir Dallas Brooks was as popular a Grand Master as he was a Governor. Although his duties as Governor prevented him from giving as much of his time to the Craft as he would have wished, he took every possible opportunity to meet his brethren. In September 1952 the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge was held at the Exhibition Building at the specific request of Sir Dallas, so that he could meet all present at refreshment. The Festive Board that evening took four and a half hours. Sir Dallas attended as many Grand Lodge meetings as possible, but he was able personally to consecrate only one new lodge - Lodge Camden # 702.

On his retirement as Governor Sir Dallas returned to England but, stricken with ill health, he died three years later, on 23 March 1966.

Sir William Ellison-Macartney

William Grey Ellison-Macartney was born in Dublin on 7 June 1852 and educated at Eton and at Exeter College, Oxford, from which he graduated BA with first-class honours. Thereafter he returned to Ireland and was largely a gentleman farmer until 1885. In that year, at the age of thirty-three, he entered the British Parliament as the member for South Antrim (Northern Ireland). He held this seat for the Unionist Party until 1903.

Subsequently, Ellison-Macartney served as a parliamentary secretary to the Admiralty from 1895 until 1900, and was a justice of the peace for England and Wales. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1900. On retiring from the House of Commons he took up an appointment as Deputy Master of the Royal Mint, in which position he acted until 1913. He also served as High Sheriff of County Antrim in 1908.

In 1913 he was knighted (KCMG) and appointed as Governor of Tasmania, serving for four years. After a popular, yet uneventful, tenure he moved to Western Australia in 1917 to become Governor of that state, finally retiring from vice-regal duty in 1920. On his return to England he became chairman of the People's Palace, London. He likewise assumed the chairmanship of the Council of East London College, University of London.

Sir William was initiated into Freemasonry while studying at Oxford University. He took his First Degree in Apollo University Lodge # 357 EC on 6 June 1872, the day before his twentieth birthday. On his return to Ireland he affiliated with Lodge Cappagh # 350 IC, meeting in Omagh (1877). Subsequently he moved across to Concord Lodge No, 332 IC (also Omagh), before becoming a foundation member of Border Lodge # 482 IC on 25 April 1889.

As his political career kept him regularly in England, Sir William had no opportunity of expanding his Masonic career in an Irish lodge. However, soon after he had retired from Westminster he had the opportunity to become a member of the recently founded Lodge of Erin # 2895 EC. This lodge, meeting in London, was composed of Irish expatriates. He became Master of this lodge on 24 January 1907. In 1910 he was conferred Past Junior Grand Warden (EC).

Arriving in Tasmania as its Governor in 1913, Sir William was promptly waited on by MWBro Hon. Charles Davies (the serving Tasmanian Grand Master) and presented with an address of welcome. Shortly thereafter he agreed to become Grand Master, and he was unanimously elected and installed on 19 February 1914. Usually a Governor who becomes Grand Master can spare little time to devote to the Craft, despite the best of intentions. Nevertheless, during his three-year term Sir William managed to visit nearly all lodges in Tasmania at least once, and in most cases personally carried out their installation ceremonies. As a Governor, a man and a Mason, he proved enormously popular throughout Tasmania, and his departure in 1917 was sincerely regretted.

However, he was warmly welcomed on the other side of the country and Sir William was speedily approached to succeed as Grand Master of Western Australia. Again, he involved himself as fully as possible in lodges and their work, winning the deep respect and affection of all West Australian Masons.

Sadly, Sir William's retirement to England did not long outlast his homecoming. He died in London on 4 December 1924 after a brief illness, at the age of seventy- two.

Sir Gerard Smith

Gerard Smith was born in London on 12 December 1839, the son of M. T. Smith, MP. Destined for a military career, he joined the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1857, at the age of eighteen after completing a private education. He saw active service in Canada, being a member of the British expedition sent to recapture the towns of Mason and Sidell which had been seized by the American Government. Otherwise his military career was largely uneventful and he retired from the army in 1874 at the age of thirty-five, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Smith then joined his father's business, the banking firm of Smith & Wilberforce, in Hull, northern England. He subsequently took a large and active role in the business and in the commercial life of the country. In 1879 he formed a company to build a railway from Hull to Barnsley, and served as its first chairman. In 1883, having gained an interest in politics and the financial means to support his ambitions, he successfully contested the seat of High Wycombe, and entered the House of Commons as a Liberal. However, on the question of Home Rule for Ireland he took up a position at variance with William Gladstone, his party's leader. This forced him to leave the Liberal Party and become a Unionist, at the same time effectively removing his prospects for an expansive political career.

Nevertheless, he could not be ignored, as he held favour with Queen Victoria. He served as a groom-in-waiting to the Queen from 1881 until 1895. He left parliament in 1885 after a brief two-year tenure and returned to his business interests. Ten years later he was knighted (KCMG) and appointed as Governor of Western Australia, assuming office on 23 December 1895. His term as Governor was relatively quiet, although he was a supporter of Australian federation, the dominant political issue in Western Australia during his tenure. He relinquished his position in June 1900, with the question of Western Australian accession to the federation still in question. Now sixty-one, Sir Gerard returned to London in retirement, although he maintained his business interests.

Sir Gerard was initiated into Freemasonry on 4 May 1880, at the age of forty-one, in the United Studholme Alliance Lodge # 1591 EC (meeting in London). He achieved his Third Degree within two months, and soon thereafter assumed junior office. He rose to be installed as Master of his lodge on 17 January 1890. Upon his knighthood and appointment as Governor of Western Australia, he was conferred Past Junior Grand Warden EC, in 1895. In 1898 he was appointed as District Grand Master for Western Australia, EC. He proved to be a supporter of the Grand Lodge movement then active in the colony, and readily gave his permission for English-warranted lodges to discuss the question. Unanimously elected as the first Grand Master, he was installed on the foundation of the Grand Lodge of Western Australia on 27 February 1900. However, as his term as Governor was rapidly drawing to a close, he was Grand Master for only one year.

Sir Gerard died at his home in Cromwell Road, southwest London, on 28 October 1920, at the age of eighty.

Sir Leslie Wilson

Leslie Orme Wilson was born in London on 1 August 1876, the son of Captain H. Wilson, an army officer. He was educated at St Michael's School, Westgate, and at St Paul's School, London. In 1895, at the age of nineteen, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. He became a full lieutenant in 1896 and a captain in 1901. His first overseas service was in South Africa (1899-1901) during the Boer War. After being severely wounded in this campaign he was returned to England, but not before being mentioned in dispatches several times, and awarded the Queen's Medal (with five clasps) and the Distinguished Service Order.

Upon recovering his health, Wilson was appointed ADC to the Governor of New South Wales. He took up the appointment in 1903 and returned to England in 1909. In the following year he stood unsuccessfully for parliament, but on his third attempt he was elected to the House of Commons as the Member for Reading (1913). He remained in parliament until 1923 and in that time he held several important positions. He was parliamentary Assistant Secretary to the War Cabinet (1918), chairman of the National Marine Board (1919), parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Shipping (1919) and parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and chief Unionist whip (1921-23). He became a Privy Counsellor in 1922.

His parliamentary career was only interrupted by his service in World War I. On the outbreak of hostilities Captain Wilson (as he was then) was attached to the Berkshire Royal Horse Artillery. He served throughout the Gallipoli campaign (1914-15) and was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the CMG (1916). In late 1915 he was moved to the Western Front in France, now with the rank of lieutenant colonel and command of his own battalion. He was severely wounded in November 1916, and returned to London. Thereafter he took no further direct part in military action.

In 1923, Wilson was knighted (GCIE) and appointed Governor of Bombay (1923-28) whereupon he resigned from parliament. After his term as Governor he returned to England to retirement and in 1929 he was awarded the GCSI. Nonetheless, his relative inactivity was short-lived, as in 1932 he began what was to prove to be a fourteen-year term as Governor of Queensland. He was so popular in the posting that his period in office was extended twice. His governorship was relatively quiet, spanning as it did from the depression years to the end of World War II. During his term he received further honours. In 1935 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Queensland and in 1937 he received the GCMG.

Sir Leslie had long been a Freemason by the time he became Queensland Governor. Indeed, while one might suspect that he first joined the Order in England he was, in fact, initiated in Lodge Ionic # 65 NSWC on 17 January 1904, while ADC to the Governor of New South Wales. On his return to England from that posting in 1909 he resigned from Lodge Ionic and affiliated with Navy Lodge # 2612 EC, meeting in London. He became Senior Warden in 1913, but the outbreak of war prevented any further progress until 1917, when he was finally installed as Master. In 1922 he served as Junior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England, and on his appointment to Bombay in the following year he became District Grand Master over English lodges in that region of India. Soon after his appointment as Governor of Queensland, he was invited to become the Queensland Grand Master. He was installed in 1934 and served until his retirement as Governor some twelve years later - a record term.

The era of Sir Leslie's Grand Mastership saw many highlights, including continuous numerical strengthening of the Queensland Craft. In 1937 he attended the conferring of the rank of Past Grand Master on King George VI at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in the presence of 9000 brethren. Other highlights of his Grand Mastership were the establishment of a Grand Lodge Building Fund, and the revamping of Masonic Benevolence.

When he stepped down as Governor in 1946 Sir Leslie retired to the English countryside. It is, perhaps, ironic that after surviving severe wounds on several occasions during his military life, he was to die as the result of motor accident, which occurred near his home in Surrey on 29 September 1955. He was then seventy-nine.

DISCUSSION

There is no doubt that those Vice Regal incumbents who have served as a Grand Master have been men of the highest standards, which in every case was brought to their high Masonic office. A few have been controversial in the wider community, and even inside the Craft in a small number of cases. Not a few of them came to office with Masonic rules of eligibility conveniently forgotten or bended somewhat, and perhaps this is understandable. That said, given the hectic careers of many Governors before their appointment, particularly those from military backgrounds, it is hardly surprising they found little time to be active in Masonry. Some were clearly dedicated Freemasons as such, while some - the minority - showed little active interest in the Craft either before and/or after their "colonial" Grand Mastership. That said, for the reasons just stated, that does not necessarily indicate a lack of good intent.

What is unclear, and largely undocumented, is the extent of persuasion used in each case to encourage the various Freemason Governors to assume supreme Masonic Office. That said, there have been a few Governors who, though Masons, did not become a Grand Master. One would imagine this to be by personal choice - it is unlikely that they were not asked.

Another factor very probably inherent is the relative profusion of Vice Regal Grand Masterships of the past is the former nexus between Freemasonry and the "old school tie". The upper class protestant elite of England were educated in English Public Schools (a misnomer, as they were strictly private schools), such as Eton, Harrow and several others. Each school had at last one Masonic Lodge attached to it. Dr. Paul Rich, in his books Elixir of Empire and Chains of Empire clearly demonstrates the pervasion of Freemasonry into Upper Class English Society, and through it to those who administered the British Empire.

This nexus between school and Freemasonry was definitively carried into the "colonies", and there were few Public Schools in Australia that did not have a Masonic Lodge "attached" to it. In Victoria alone, a dozen existed as "old school lodges". Interestingly, only six remain extant today. Rich is emphatic in stating that the schools, lodges and clubs of the Empire were the pillars of Imperial society, and that intertwined membership of each was seen as the road to life. While the influence of the Old School tie is not banished from Australian Society, its influence in modern times is undoubtedly greatly diminished.

This diminution has possibly had a contributory effect on the numerical decline of Freemasonry. In tandem with this fact, it will be noted that the last Vice Regal Grand Master, Sir Alan Mansfield (Governor of Queensland) left office in 1972. Thus, just on thirty years have now past since an Australian Grand Lodge was favoured with a Governor as its head. One wonders if we will ever see one again. It is probably unlikely.

Up until the Second World War, and perhaps a bit beyond, the genre of Governors tended to be protestant English peers or knights who, almost by definition, were more likely than not to be Freemasons. Certainly since the 1970s at least, Governors have exclusively been Australian citizens, and have not universally been drawn from what could be described as "the ruling elite" of the past - those possessing the "old school tie". It is a trend unlikely to be reversed. In addition, the concurrent numerical decline of Australian Freemasonry over the same period has meant, if only statistically, the chances of a Governor concurrently being a Freemason have also been greatly reduced.

APPENDIX

The Vice Regal Grand Masters of Australia and New Zealand are listed as follows:

Australia: Baron Stonehaven (1925-30), 1st Earl of Gowrie (1936-44).
New Zealand: 5th Baron Plunkett (1906-09); Admiral of the Fleet 1st Earl Jellicoe (1921-23); General Sir Charles Fergusson (1925-28); 1st Viscount Bledisloe (1930-33); 8th Viscount Galway (1935-38); 1st Baron Newell (1942-44); Baron Porritt (1968-71).
New South Wales: 1st Marquess of Licolnshire (1885-90); 7th Earl of Jersey (1890-93); Sir Robert Duff (1893-95); Admiral Sir Harry Rawson (1902-09); 1st Viscount Chelmsford (1909-13); 1st Earl of Gowrie (1935), General Sir John Northcott (1946-57).
Victoria: 1st Earl Brassey (1895-1900); 1st Baron Carmichael (1908-11); 3rd Earl of Stradbroke (1920-26); 6th Baron Somers (1926-31); 5th Baron Huntingfield (1934-39); General Sir Dallas Brooks (1949-63).
Tasmania: Sir William Ellison-Macartney (1914-17); Sir Ernest Clark (1933-45), Sir Charles Gairdner (1963-68)
South Australia: Lord Kintore (1889-95), 1st Earl of Gowrie (1928-34), Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1939-44); Air Vice-Marshall Sir Robert George (1953-60).
Western Australia: Sir Gerard Smith (1895-1900); Sir William Ellison-Macartney (1917-20); Sir Charles Gairdner (1951-63).
Queensland: Sir Thomas Goodwin (1927-32); Sir Leslie Wilson (1932-46); Sir Alan Mansfield (1966-72).

REFERENCES

Henderson, K. W. The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia. Drakeford, Melbourne. 1988.
Rich, P. J. Elixir of Empire. Regency Press, London. 1989.
Rich, P. J. Chains of Empire. Regency Press, London. 1991.


                                                                                    

My favourite book is my diary. One should always have something really sensational to read
- Oscar Wilde, Freemason

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