Concise History of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Antrim 1911 - 2011
The following is an abridged history of the District Grand Chapter of Antrim. A full, detailed account, may be gleaned from a scrutiny of three District Grand Chapter publications, ‘Historical Record of the First Fifty Years 1911-1961’; ‘Historical Record 1961-1986’ and ‘Historical Record 1986-2011’.
It is to be noted that when District Grand Chapters were formed the presiding Officers were entitled First, Second and Third Principals and all District Grand Officers were designated as Most Excellent, as at that time this was the title of a King in a subordinate Chapter. When, in
1915, the title of the King of a subordinate Chapter was changed to ‘Excellent King’, District Grand Chapter Officers, other than the presiding Grand First, Second and Third Principals, were entitled ‘Very Excellent’.
Later, in 1959, the Officer titles of the three Principals of District Grand Chapter were changed to District Grand King; High Priest and Chief Scribe, respectively. The title ‘Most Excellent’ was retained for the District Grand King and the High Priest and Chief Scribe were designated as ‘Right Excellent’. Also, at this time, the hitherto title of Grand King of Grand Chapter was altered to, Most Excellent and Supreme Grand King, of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland.
Establishing District Grand Chapters
The Grand Royal Arch Chapter exercised direct control over subordinate Chapters from its founding in 1829 until, in 1886, the Grand King announced that memorials for the appointment of Provincial Grand Superintendents would be welcomed. A memorial was received from Antrim the following year and by 1903 Provincial Grand Superintendents had been appointed across Ireland.
On 17th December, 1909, the Royal Arch Board of General Purposes of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter recommended the establishment of District Grand Chapters. This recommendation was subsequently submitted to the Grand Chapter as a Notice of Motion and duly approved on 4th May 1910.
The District Grand Chapters of Antrim and Down were the first District Chapters to be established in Ireland. Down was constituted on 24th February 1911 and Antrim was constituted the day after. Overall, it took fifty years to complete the transition from Superintendencies to District Grand Chapters, the last District Grand Chapter, Midlands, having been constituted in 1960.
Constitution of District Grand Chapter of Antrim
The first Meeting of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Antrim was held on the 24th
October, 1910, under a patent issued by the M.E. Grand King of the Grand Royal Arch
Chapter of Ireland, His Grace the Duke of Abercorn. M.E. Companions W. Redfern Kelly,
R.J. Hilton and W.T. Braithwaite were appointed as Grand First, Second and Third Principals, respectively.
A subsequent Special Meeting was held on 10th December, 1910, at which M.E. Companion Hilton withdrew his nomination for the Office of Grand Second Principal and Companion F. W. Ewart was elected in his stead.
The District Grand Chapter of Antrim was officially constituted on 25th February, 1911, under the auspices of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland, wherewith the District Grand Officers were installed and invested, followed by a celebratory luncheon in the Grand Central Hotel. At a subsequent Convocation held on 13th March, 1911, R.H.H. Baird was installed as the M.E. Deputy Grand First Principal. Resultant from this meeting, a petition was forwarded to the Grand Chapter seeking permission for the appointment of Stewards, Organist, Director of Ceremonies, and Inspectors. Permission was also sought for the M.E. Grand First Principal and his Deputy, to wear collars and gauntlets. All of the aforementioned requests were duly granted.
During the first year, 1911, Royal Arch Chapters No’s. 383, 279, and 166 were constituted. The next year Royal Arch Chapter No. 177 was constituted and in 1913 Royal Arch Chapter No’s. 1008 and 169 followed suit.
On 9th March, 1914, Companions from Royal Arch Chapter No. 154 travelled to Dublin to exemplify the working of the Royal Arch degree. This was an early forerunner to what would become an established pattern over the course of years.
In June, 1914, District Grand Chapter lobbied the Grand Chapter to amend the Constitution to facilitate greater representation at the Grand Chapter of Instruction similar to that pertaining to the Board of General Purposes.
First World War Years
In 1914, Grand Chapter had intended to visit Belfast on 8th October. However, owing to the grave war crisis confronting the country, the District Grand Registrar was compelled to report the cancellation of the Convocation, albeit that the Grand King, Lord Muskerry, had written that he hoped the meeting could transpire at the month end, expressing a futile anticipation that ‘the Germans would be in retreat to Berlin and the war brought to a speedy conclusion’. Nonetheless, despite the prevailing situation facing the nation, District Grand Chapter was able to proceed to convene subsequent Convocations. A Special Convocation was held on 24th October, 1914, where it was decided to contribute the sum of £25 from the fund of District Grand Chapter towards the ‘Prince of Wales and kindred funds for the alleviation of distress due to the present War’. A circular was also sent to subordinate Chapters appealing for like subscriptions, intimating that the Grand First Principal sanctioned the use of Chapter Funds for this purpose.
District Chapter business was able to proceed apace.
The following Notice of Motion was passed at a Convocation held on 14th June, 1915, ‘that collections be made at Stated Convocations of District Grand Chapter for the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund’.
A designated set of jewels, of English design, for the use of Officers of Mark Master Mason Lodges was also submitted to the Grand Chapter. The design was subsequently approved by the Grand Chapter at a meeting held on 12th March, 1917, permitting subordinate Chapters to make use of the Jewels.
A further item of business conducted was District Grand Chapter placing on record its appreciation to V.E. Companion J. Milne Barbour, Grand Second Principal, for handing over five cheques of £30 each to endow chairs to the Masonic Boys and Girls Schools, the Victoria Jubilee Masonic Annuity Fund, and the Belfast Masonic Widows and Masonic Charity Funds, to mark his election to the office of Grand Second Principal of District Grand Chapter.
At the stated Convocation held on 10th October, 1921, the M.E. Grand First Principal conveyed the congratulations of the Companions to the M.E. Deputy Grand First Principal, R. H. H. Baird, on receiving a Knighthood and a further honour of the Freedom of the City of London, through the auspices of the Master Printers Association.
Intervening War Years
At the December, 1921, Convocation, District Grand Chapter informed the Companions that the M.E. Deputy Grand First Principal, Sir Robert H. H. Baird, had sent cheques amounting to £400 to endow chairs to a number of Masonic Charities. The beneficiaries comprised the Masonic Boys and Girls Schools, Victoria Jubilee Annuity Fund, Belfast Masonic Widows Fund and the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund.
At the Convocation held on 13th October, 1924, the M.E. Grand First Principal, W. Redfern
Kelly, announced that owing to ill health he would be relinquishing Office, after having been Superintendent, later Grand First Principal, of Antrim for a total of 37 years. Tributes were paid to his skill as a ritualist, ability as a historian and prowess as a leader.
M.E. Companion Sir Robert H. H. Baird was appointed to replace Redfern Kelly as Grand First Principal, who in turn appointed Right Honourable Milne Barbour as his Deputy. The Chapter flourished over the next two years under the guidance of M.E. Comp. Baird.
Unfortunately ill health necessitated his having to resign office in October, 1926.
M.E. Companion Right Hon. J. Milne Barbour was then appointed Grand First Principal and
- L. Porter was appointed as his Deputy.
The death of M.E. Companion W. Redfern Kelly, to whom the establishment of District Grand
Chapter was largely due, was announced at a Convocation in October, 1928,
On a brighter note, in March 1930, District Grand Chapter congratulated the M. E. Grand First Principal, Milne Barbour, on his appointment as Deputy Grand King of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland.
In March 1932, By-Laws were approved to establish a Committee of Inspection. Further Inspection Committees were constituted at Ballymena and Larne during 1933.
In December, 1932, it was adopted that District Grand Chapter Funds may, in cases of necessity, assist Subordinate Chapters to meet their financial obligations and a Special Committee was appointed to investigate necessitous cases.
On 12th June, 1933, the M.E. Grand First Principal, Right Hon. J. Milne Barbour was appointed to the Office of Grand King of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland. His successor to the Office of Grand First Principal of District Chapter was A. L. Porter.
Second World War Years
The commencement of the second world war coincidently heralded an altogether more pleasant event when the M.E. District Grand First Principal, A.L. Porter, together with the M.E. Grand King, attended, on 7th June 1939, the Installation of the Duke of Kent as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in succession to the Duke of Connaught, who had held that position for 38 years.
During the onset of the Second World War, District Grand Chapter had decided to hold the
June Convocation of 1941 in Portrush owing to the aftermath of enemy air-raids on Belfast in April and May. In the event, disrupted transport difficulties led to the forced cancellation of the Convocation. After a lapse of a few years a Stated Convocation of the District Grand Chapter was able to be held in Ballymena on 14th June, 1943.
In 1944, District Grand Chapter made its first subscription, a sum of £100, to the envisaged ‘New Masonic Headquarters Fund’, a welcome vision to follow the aftermath of the war.
Post War to Mid Century
On 11th October, 1948, the District Grand First Principal, M.E. Companion A.L. Porter, resigned from Office owing to ill health. The M.E. Grand King appointed Viscount Massereene and Ferrard to take his place. On the invitation of the District Grand Chapter of
Antrim the Stated Convocation of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland was held in the Wellington Hall, Belfast on 4th May, 1949, at which the new District Grand First Principal was duly installed.
An Occasional Convocation of District Grand Chapter was held in Carrickfergus in November, 1949, for the purpose of Constituting St. Andrews R.A.C. 1012. The Constitution was unique in that the three Principal Officers being installed each held Office in the District Grand Chapter, the installed Excellent King being no other than the District Grand First Principal, M.E. Companion Viscount Massereene and Ferrard.
Mid to Three Quarter Century
The latter half of the century commenced under the shadow of the death of the M.E. Grand King, Sir J. Milne Barbour, on 3rd October 1951, and all Royal Arch Chapters were directed to assume mourning until 31st December 1951.
Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, was elected and installed as the new Grand King of the Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland.
At the July 1952 Convocation of Grand Chapter the M.E. Grand King, having appointed Colonel Samuel Haughton of Royal Arch Chapter 10, Belfast, as M.E. Grand First Principal of the District Grand Chapter of Antrim, installed him in that office and invested him with his chain of Office.
At a Convocation on 8th December, 1952, a Notice of Motion to alter By-law 7 to read that ‘District Grand Chapter Offices be open for Nomination each year instead of every two years’ was passed.
In March of the following year District Grand Chapter solicited the request that a vault, similar to that in Dublin, be provided in the Chapter Room of the new Masonic Headquarters in Rosemary Street, Belfast, and subscribed £100 toward its provision. Assurance was subsequently received that the requested vault would be provided. District Grand Chapter followed this with an appeal to all subordinate Chapters in the District to support the Building Fund for the new Masonic Headquarters. This was met with a good response, 68 Chapters having sent initial subscriptions amounting to £622 17s.
On the 13th December, 1954, the M. E. District Grand First Principal, Colonel Haughton, informed that, regrettably, in consequence of pressure of other matters he found it necessary to tender his resignation from the office of District Grand First Principal. The M. E. Grand King appointed the then current Grand Second Principal, Donald McCaughey, as District Grand First Principal.
At a meeting on 1st October, 1956, the M.E. District Grand First Principal referred to the loss sustained by Royal Arch Masonry through the death on 20th July of the M.E. Grand King, The Right Hon. Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, who had rendered valuable service to the District Grand Chapter of Antrim as M.E. Grand First Principal during the years 1949-1952.
A further sum of £500 was contributed to the New Masonic Head-quarters Fund to complete the furnishing of the Royal Arch Chapter Room. Later, the following new By-law was unanimously adopted at the Stated Convocation held on 28th October, 1957, ‘that no Chapter in the District Grand Chapter of Antrim shall admit a Candidate either for Exaltation or Affiliation, unless the ballot be unanimous’.
The appointment of M.E. Companion Sydney Hanna as M.E. Grand King of the Grand
Chapter of Ireland was received with gratification and a large number of Companions attended his Installation in Dublin on 2nd November, 1957.
On 27th January, 1958, alterations in titles were announced wherewith M.E. Grand First
Principals’ became M.E. District Grand Kings; V.E. Deputy Grand First Principals’ became R.E. District Deputy Grand Kings; V.E. Grand Second and Third Principals’ became R.E. District Grand High Priests and Chief Scribes, respectively.
V.E. Grand Treasurers and Secretaries became entitled R.E. and all other Officers retained
Entering the 1960’s heralded the commencement of the 50th anniversary of District Grand Chapter, celebrations being held on the 25th and 26th February 1961.
The District of Antrim had the distinction of being the largest District throughout the UK and Ireland, having 131 Chapters comprising 7480 Companions at the time of the 50th anniversary celebrations.
At the Convocation in January the following year, 1962, the M.E. District Grand King presented jewels of Office to be worn by the District Grand Treasurer and Registrar, and a new District Grand Chapter Banner was anonymously gifted and duly dedicated.
At the June Convocation in 1964, held in the Cathedral Hall, Lisburn, M.E. Comp. McCaughey announced his forthcoming resignation from the Office of District Grand King upon his being appointed Prior of the Provincial Priory of East Ulster.
The Most Excellent and Supreme Grand King installed M.E. Comp. James Hamilton as the new District Grand King on 31st October 1964.
Four years later, the District suffered the passing of the District Grand King on 25th February 1968. M.E. Comp. W.W. Preston was appointed as the new District Grand King and was duly installed on 27th October 1969.
The District of Antrim was kept relatively busy throughout the period conducting exemplifications at the Grand Chapter of Instruction, and a new Class of Instruction was formed at Finaghy in 1969.
In 1971 it was recorded that two thirds of the Chapters of the District Grand Chapter of Antrim were resident in Belfast, wherein the effect of ‘the troubles’ was having a serious detrimental impact on the Companions attendance. Bomb attacks, including two such attacks on Masonic Halls, coupled with public transport deficiencies at night, rendered attendance at Convocations exceedingly difficult.
Several instances typified the prevailing situation. Chapter 383 transferred from the Arthur Square premises to Park Road in the County Down area; a Chapter at Crumlin Road sought permission to suspend Convocations for a year; and Chapter 181 was compelled to relinquish their Warrant. During the early seventies, six Companions suffered death by terrorist action.
The Constitution, Consecration and Dedication of a new Chapter, Liscoole No. 763, took place on 20th September 1975.
Towards Century’s Close
Royal Arch Masonry in Ireland suffered a great loss by the death of the M.E. Supreme Grand King M.Ex. Comp. Sydney Hanna M.B.E. on the 15th December 1976. He was succeeded by M.E. Comp. Samuel J. Martin.
A new Class of Instruction was formed at Whiteabbey in 1978.
In 1979 the Supreme Grand Chapter celebrated its 150th Anniversary. A Service of
Thanksgiving was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and a Special Convocation of the Supreme Grand Chapter was held in the Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin, followed by a Dinner in Freemasons Hall, Dublin.
Entering the 1980’s resulted in the enforced closure of Brookville Masonic Hall, Antrim Road, owing to ongoing terrorist related vandalism. On a happier note, five Chapters, constituted in 1830, RAC’s 106, 335, 659, 704 and 811, celebrated their 150th anniversaries in 1980. Celebratory anniversaries, varied between 50 and 100 years, were also held for a further 24 Chapters.
In 1981 the District introduced, for the first time, two Stewards to assist the dignified working of the Chapter, and two wands were presented for their use. During the year, R.E. Comp. C.F.A. Quigley, Grand Chief Scribe, led a deputation from the Supreme Grand Chapter to the Convocation of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland. This was to prove a forerunner to the adoption, years later, of a bi-annual routine undertaken between the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Antrim and the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles, commensurate from the subsequent Installation of M.E. Comp. Cyril Quigley as District Grand King.
Early in 1984, M.E. Comp. W.W. Preston, after 20 years in Office, tendered his resignation as District Grand King, to take effect from April 1984. On his parting M.E. Comp. Preston presented a District Grand Kings Standard to District Grand Chapter and also handed over the balance towards refurbishing the Chapter Room in Rosemary Street. The District Grand Chapter agreed to grant funds to supplement the gift.
On 28th April 1984, M.E. Comp. C.F.A. Quigley was Installed as M.E. District Grand King, having previously served the District, for 24 years, in the capacities of Auditor, Assistant Grand Treasurer, Grand Treasurer and District Deputy Grand King.
At the June Convocation, held in Bushmills, a set of cushions were presented to District Grand Chapter and an inscribed and illuminated copy of ‘The Spirit of the Age’ was given to the District Grand King to mark his first Convocation in Office. District Grand Chapter also received three Wands for the use of the Directors of Ceremonies, gifted by M.E. Comp. Wm.
McKelvey, R.E. Comp. Norman Black, V.E. Comp. J. Mcllveen and E. Comp. M. Rickerby.
A delegation from the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ayr was in attendance.
The year 1984 also heralded the uptake of the exchange visits between the District Grand
Chapter of Antrim and the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles, with District Grand Chapter receiving an invitation to visit the Annual Convention of the Scottish Provincial Grand Chapter in Oban.
At a Convocation held in May 1986 the District Grand Chapter hosted a visit from the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter. Six days later the senior officers of the District, together with thirty Companions, travelled to Ayr for the Installation of the Officers of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ayr. The following month, District Grand Chapter welcomed a delegation of Companions and their wives from the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyle and the Isles.
At this juncture District Grand Chapter comprised 128 Chapters.
The year 1986 also heralded the completion of the Provincial Masonic Hall at Rosemary Street. Immediately following the June Convocation the Chapter Room was named and dedicated the W. W. Preston Room as a permanent memorial to M.E. Comp. W.W. Preston, Past District Grand King. It was officially opened by M.E. Comp. Preston, after which it was dedicated by the Rev. A.S. Hofmeester, District Grand Chaplain.
The year 1986 also marked the 75th anniversary of District Grand Chapter. It was celebrated at a Convocation held on Saturday, 8th November, attended by the M.E. and Supreme Grand King, Deputy Grand King and the Past Depute Grand First Principal of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.
The following year, 1987, marked a further visit of Grand Chapter to the Provincial Grand
Chapter of Argyll and the Isles for their Annual Meeting held in Campbeltown, on Saturday 25th April, at which the Deputy Grand King and District Grand King were both elected and obligated as Honorary Life Members of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles. A Provincial Buffet Dinner and Dance was held on Saturday night and on Sunday the District Grand Chapter delegation, in full regalia, joined a procession, led by a Pipe Band, through Campbeltown to the Annual Provincial Church Service. In May, District Grand Chapter attended a Service in Belfast Cathedral to mark the Centenary of the Victoria Jubilee Masonic Annuity Fund.
Toward the end of 1987, a new Royal Arch Class of Instruction was formed in Larne. The year after, Sharon Chapter was constituted, consecrated and dedicated at an Occasional Convocation of District Grand Chapter on 29th June, 1988, after which the EK, Council and Officers were duly installed. Several Chapters, No’s 615, 439 and 427 celebrated 150th; 60th and 40th anniversaries, respectively.
Two years later, in April 1989, R.E. Comp. Norman Black was installed as District Deputy Grand King.
The following month, District Grand Chapter hosted the Supreme Grand Chapter at
Rosemary Street Provincial Masonic Hall. This was followed by a visitation to District Grand Chapter on 28th June by Officers and Companions of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles, now established as a biennial exchange event. On Saturday 16th September an Occasional District Grand Chapter Convocation had the pleasant task of Constituting Islandmagee Royal Arch Chapter No. 162.
Throughout the year 1989, ten Chapters celebrated anniversaries, namely, Chapters 29, 372 and 602 (100 years); Chapter 259 (90 years); Chapters 89, 318 and 327 (75 years) and Chapters 439, 562 and 613 (60 years).
The year 1990 was marked by a series of notable events. A party of fifty Companions and their wives crossed over to Campbeltown for the April Convocation of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles. This was followed in December by a visit of District Grand Chapter officers to Dumbarton to attend the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Dumbartonshire Installation of Officers.
Two Chapters, Cameron No. 353 and True Friendship No. 663, celebrated their 75th and 100th Anniversaries, respectively.
The year culminated with the termination of the reign of the M.E. District Grand King C.F.A. Quigley, who resigned due to the onset of deafness.
Year 1991 commenced with a visitation to District Grand Chapter in January by representatives of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Dumbartonshire, in return of the former visit made to Dumbarton by District Grand Chapter the previous year.
In March, Richview Chapter 711 was constituted at the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter. On 20th April, the M.E. Grand King installed M.E. Comp. Norman J. Black as District Grand King, following which M.E. Comp. Black installed M.E. Comp Alan S. Watt as District Deputy Grand King.
Three Chapters celebrated anniversaries during the course of the year, Carnmoney Chapter 645 attained 100 years; Oak Chapter 326, Ballinderry, marked 75 years and Chapter 22, Arthur Square, celebrated 150 years.
The year 1992 saw R.E. Comp Harold McMaster Taggart, Past District Grand Organist, being invested as Honorary Past District Grand Chief Scribe of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Antrim and presented with his fifty year jewel of membership in Royal Arch Masonry. The event was unique in that it was the first honorary Grand rank to be conferred in the District Grand Chapter of Antrim.
The following Chapters celebrated Anniversaries during the year, Chapter 28, Antrim, 125 years; Chapter 64, Arthur Square, 100 years and Chapter 667, Rosemary Street, 100 years.
The year 1994 saw the establishment of an inaugural meeting between the Senior Officers of the District and subordinate Chapters to discuss issues of mutual interest, an event thereafter repeated periodically every several years.
The M.E. District Grand King presented a birthday present to E.C. Dr. Robert Simpson, Chapter 450, Portglenone, who had completed 75 years service in Royal Arch Masonry, a unique record.
Thiepval RAC 1020, Broughshane, was constituted in November.
In 1996, two presentations were made at District Grand Chapter Convocations. In April, a portrait of Past District Grand King, W. Preston, was personally presented and subsequently hung in the District Grand Chapter reception room. Two months later, in June, visiting Companions from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Argyll and the Isles presented a special jewel to the District Grand Registrar, R.E. Comp. Cyril Ferguson, to mark his role of organising the visits between the District of Antrim and the Province of Argyll and the Isles.
The following year, 1997, heralded another presentation, wherewith the Companions of Chapter 353 presented a portrait of Past Grand King, M.E. Comp. Cyril Quigley, to District Grand Chapter at the January Convocation.
At this Convocation, the District Grand King, M.E. Comp. Norman Black, announced that he had been granted permission by the M.E. and Supreme Grand King to announce that he had appointed M.E. Comp. Alan S. Watt JP to be the next District Grand King of Antrim. M.E. Comp. Alan S. Watt was subsequently installed M.E. District Grand King by the Most Excellent and Supreme Grand King at the May Convocation in the Provincial Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast.
The year 1998 was a special year for a number of Chapters who celebrated anniversaries, namely R.A.C. 431 celebrating 150 years and Chapters 175, 466, 469, 485, 536, and 538, celebrating 75 years. At a meeting held in March between Senior Officers and Excellent Kings and Registrars of Chapters the agenda included talks on ‘Royal Arch Masonry’ and the ‘Masonic Benevolent Institutions’ given by R.E. Companions George power and Dennis Millen, respectively.
As the century drew to a close it was evident that the District Grand Chapter was fully and adequately administratively prepared to meet the dawn of a new era as new Chapter Ritual Books and Bye-Laws were duly approved at the June 1999 Convocation.
Twenty First Century
The new century commenced with a continuation of the annual visitations between District Grand Chapter and the Province of Argyll and the Isles. Year 2000 was the turn of Argyll and the Isles to visit the District Grand Chapter of Antrim which took place at the April
Convocation. The year also marked the 100 year celebration of Sidon Chapter 275.
The year following, 2001, was marked by interruptions to Convocations owing to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
Year 2002 heralded the launch of the annual District Grand Chapter ‘Banner’ magazine. On a sadder note it was reported that two Chapters had recently returned their Warrants and that the number of Chapters in the District now comprised 117, a reduction from the hitherto 128 Chapters operational 15 years ago.
A maul, crafted by V.E. Comp. Thomas Yarr, was presented to the Provincial Superintendent of Argyll and the Isles on the occasion of their visit to District Grand Chapter in June.
Year 2003 commenced with the death of the District Grand King, M.E. Comp. A.S. Watt, while on holiday. An emergency Convocation of District Grand Chapter, incorporating a Service in memory and appreciation of the late District Grand King was held in the Provincial Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast, on the 27th February, wherein the late M.E.
Companions N.J. Black and A.S. Watt, were accorded the final salute.
After the Service, Comp. David Watt unveiled a portrait of his late father.
The M.E. and Supreme Grand King, Charles R. Knipe, installed M.E. Comp. Cyril Ferguson as District Grand King at the subsequent May Convocation of District Grand Chapter in the Provincial Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast, whereafter R.E. Companions Will Gault and Richard Aughey were installed as District Deputy Grand King and District Assistant Grand King, respectively.
Crumlin R.A.C. No. 140 celebrated their Centenary in June.
The year following, 2004, invoked mixed emotion. It was pleasing to learn that Chapter 229 celebrated their centenary. On the other hand it was disappointing that G.H. Gault Chapter 445, Arthur Square, had returned their Warrant after 87 years working.
The year 2005 was marked by presentations. At the January Convocation V.E. Comp.
- Gray, Past District Grand Steward, presented a Volume of the Sacred Law to District Grand Chapter to mark his sojourn in Office. The Chaplain, Rev. Denzil Caldwell, dedicated the gift for use by the District Grand Chapter.
Shaftesbury Chapter 327 held a service of dedication in Crumlin Road Masonic Hall to mark their 90th anniversary.
On the 15th April, 51 Companions, accompanied by their ladies, travelled on the established biennial visit to Argyll and the Isles. At the Convocation held in Oban, the District Grand King and Assistant Grand King were invested as Honorary Members of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles.
At the Convocation of District Grand Chapter held on 25th April, R.E. Comp. Andrew Stephens presented the District Grand King with a Kidney Research Fund tie in recognition of a donation of £350.00 that he had received on behalf of the Fund during his visit with District Grand Chapter to Oban.
The June Convocation was held in Lisburn Masonic Hall at the invitation of St. John Chapter 811, Lisburn, who were celebrating their 175th anniversary. The EK of St. John Chapter 811 presented the District Grand King with an intricately engraved maul to mark the occasion.
The Past District Grand King, M.E Comp. C.F.A. Quigley, Sir Charles Cameron Chapter 353, was presented with a Supreme Grand Chapter Certificate in recognition of 60 years service to Royal Arch Masonry.
The resignation of the District Deputy Grand King, R.E. Comp. Will Gault, owing to personal reasons, was announced.
At the Convocation on 28th January 2006, the District Grand King installed R.E. Comp. Jon McA. Pollock and R.E. Comp Wendell McGrath as District Deputy Grand King and District Assistant Grand King, respectively.
The Masonic Male Voice Choir entertained the June Convocation assembly with a short rendition from their extensive repertoire prior to the formal opening of the District Grand Chapter. A visiting delegation from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Argyll and the Isles was led in by piper E.C. Jim McGookin. An evening dinner, dancing and socialising followed at the Masserene Golf Club.
Abbey Chapter 180, Whiteabbey, marked their centenary celebration with a Church Service.
The January Convocation in 2007 encompassed a tribute to M.E. Comp. Cyril Quigley, Past District Grand King, wherein he received an illuminated address in recognition of 63 years service to Freemasonry, in particular to the District Grand Chapter of Antrim. The Companions appended their signatures onto a 100th Year birthday card which was presented to M.E. Quigley by the District Grand King prior to the closing. This was followed in February by a celebratory dinner hosted by District Grand Chapter in honour of M.E. Comp. Quigley. The Assistant Grand King, M.E. Comp. Gordon Leathem, presented a framed photograph personal to M.E. Comp. Quigley, which was hung outside the door leading to the Chapter room in the Provincial Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street. On 20th February the District Grand King, accompanied by the District Grand Registrar, R.E. Comp. Jim Lynch, attended the dedication of a new Masonic Hall in Ballintoy.
The April Convocation was held in West Presbyterian Church Hall, Ballymena, hosted by Prince Frederick William of Prussia Chapter 431, who as part of their 160th year celebration had invited the District Chapter to Ballymena.
The June Convocation welcomed the presence of the newly installed Grand King, M.E.
Comp. Michael Ward, accompanied by the Deputy Grand King, M.E. Comp. Gordon Leathem. A delegation of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Argyll and the Isles was also in attendance.
In the year 2008 it was announced that the Provincial Masonic Hall in Rosemary Street was closing at the end of June and the ten Chapters who met there required to find new accommodation which was accomplished prior to the close of the summer recess. Correspondingly, District Grand Chapter moved its administrative office to Arthur Square Masonic Hall. At the onset of change of venue the District Grand King was moved to comment that ‘inspired by the Companions, the ethos of Freemasonry which we all strive to achieve will be vigorously pursued by me, my Officers and the Companions of the District Grand Chapter of Antrim’.
Significantly, the year 2009 heralded 25 years of alternate annual visitations between District Grand Chapter and the Provincial Grand Chapter of Argyll and the Isles, marked by a delegation of 50 Companions travelling over to Scotland. At a celebratory banquet hosted by the Provincial Grand Chapter of Argyll and the Isles, District Grand Chapter was presented with an inscribed cut glass decanter, currently displayed in Whiteabbey Masonic Centre.
At the June Convocation a sword was presented to the District Grand King and ceremoniously dedicated by the District Grand Chaplain before being reverently placed on the East of the altar.
The following year, 2010, was the penultimate year preceding the 100th anniversary of District Grand Chapter. Consequently it was a year of preparation and anticipation.
A proposal to levy each Companion of the District £1.00 to assist with the expenses of the
District Grand Chapter Centenary year celebrations in 2011 was agreed at the January Convocation. Designs for a celebratory jewel and tie were also anticipated being placed before the Board of General Purposes in April, both of which were subsequently duly agreed.
It was additionally announced that a composite team from Whiteabbey Masonic Centre planned to exemplify the Royal Arch degree in October of the centennial year. The M.E. District Grand King also reported plans for having a special Church Service, hosting the Grand Chapter and holding a celebratory banquet.
The January 2011 Convocation was attended by the Deputy Grand King, M.E. Comp. Gordon Leathem. The District Grand King outlined the 100th Year celebration events and announced that celebratory jewels and ties were available for purchase at the close of the Convocation and were available for Chapters to place orders.
The District Deputy Grand King then presented a jewel and tie to the District Grand King, followed by a like presentation to the Deputy Grand King.
The planned series of celebratory events ensued throughout the year.
A Service of Thanksgiving was held in Joymount Presbyterian Church, Carrickfergus, on
Sunday, 6th March, 2011, conducted by Rev. T. Richard Graham. The Preacher was V.E. Comp. Rev. D. Selwoode Graham. Praise was led by the Masonic Male Voice Choir.
The District Grand Chapter hosted the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter in the Provincial Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast, on 4th May. A celebratory banquet was held in the Tullyglass House Hotel, Ballymena, on 4th November.
By the close of year, a great many Companions were wearing celebratory jewels and ties with heart felt pride. The decorum of Convocations, companionship and fellowship, was prevalent throughout.
LIST OF DISTRICT GRAND KINGS
(formerly Grand First Principals)
|1911 - 1924
|M.E.C. W. Redfern Kelly
|1924 - 1926
|M.E.C. Sir Robert H. H. Baird,
|1927 - 1933
|M.E.C. Sir J. Milne Barbour
|1933 - 1948
|M.E.C. A. L. Porter
|1949 - 1951
|M.E.C. Viscount Massereene & Ferrard
|1952 - 1954
|M.E.C. Colonel Samuel Haughton
|1955 - 1964
|M.E.C. Donald McCaughey
|1964 - 1968
|M.E.C. James Hamilton
|1969 - 1984
|M.E.C. W. W. Preston JP, BA
|1984 - 1989
|M.E.C. Cyril F. A. Quigley FCA
|1989 - 1997
|M.E.C. Norman J. Black
|1997 - 2002
|M.E.C. Alan S. Watt MBE, JP
|2003 - 2011
|M.E.C. E. Cyril Ferguson
|M.E.C. J. McA. Pollock