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Dr. Robert Hamilton

Freemason, in Jamaica

Brethren may find the following of some (small?) interest: Of Robert Hamilton, M.D., Master of Sussex Lodge #447 (now #354) – meeting in Kingston – in 1855, 1856 & 1864 and Member of Friendly Chapter 291 (now 231), in 1865:

“ ‘Hamilton informed Supreme Council that in Jamaica, at the beginning of the 19th century, many Lodges under both the English and Scottish Constitutions, were joined by white merchants who were for the most part unmarried and “had few inducements to keep them at home”. After the Act of Emancipation in 1830, “ the white population rapidly diminished, and the Jews and coloured classes, who had previously been, so to say, nowhere, gradually acquired influence, both in the legislature, the municipalities and in the Lodges”. Consequently … “there were three races to be considered, the White, the Jewish and the African with its various admixtures, and two religions, the Jewish and the Christian, with its various forms of belief and worship. Hamilton went on to say that in 1852, of the four lodges under the English Constitution, the Royal No. 207 consisted principally of coloured brethren, “The Friendly 239 was almost exclusively Jewish … The Sussex (354) was composed of the few white Merchants and planters who still took an interest in Freemasonry and the Union et Concordia, originally established to meet the wants of the Spanish and French residents, in which the degrees used to be given in French or Spanish according to the nationality of the recipient and often the ritual of the French Rite, was at the time I refer to, composed almost completely of Negro Bn’.

“According to (F.W.) Seal-Coon (An Historical Account of Jamaican Freemasonry [1976]), the Spanish left a sizeable Jewish community behind them after their defeat in 1655 and two of the founders of the first Lodge under Warrant (14/04/1739) from GL of England “..may have been members of the Jewish community”. “The founders of at least two surviving English Craft Lodges, Friendly No. 239 (Kingston) and Friendly No. 383 ((Montego Bay) were almost all Jewish”. There had been an English Craft Province in Jamaica from 1742 until it lapsed in 1831 with the resignation of Surgeon General Sir Michael Clare. Although there were fewer Scottish Lodges on the island, the (Scottish) Provincial Lodge was still extant (existing) when Hamilton arrived in Jamaica (in 1850). The (Scottish) Deputy Provincial GM, Bro. James Kay Fingzies, “held strong views on the Christianity of Freemasonry” and that eventually led to a rift between the SC lodges and Sussex (EC) on the one hand, and the Jewish brethren on the other. Furthermore the white brethren seem to have become more exclusive’. (Dr. Robert Hamilton, MA, MD, 1820-1880; His Masonic Life and Times: by Bro. J.W. Daniel (Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council 33* until 2002) from The Transactions of QUATUOR CORONATI LODGE No. 2076 Volume 114 Year 2001).

I (LLV has) have wondered on more than one occasion on the difference between Provincial (Grand Lodge) and District (Grand Lodge) as it applies to English Freemasonry. I have been (reliably?) informed that in the E.C. the only difference (if difference there is) is that “Provincial” relates (local England) to the demarcation lines of the counties in England and the term “District” is used to refer to E.C. “outside” of England. If that is indeed the case, I would be interested in knowing when that customization was “formalized”. For me, the incongruity arises because inter alia:

I am sure that there are other examples which may support or disavow the explanation given for the difference (similarity?), so if any Brother has any information supporting or contradicting, I shall be pleased if he would share it with us. In any case you may comment on any aspect of interest to you on the above or matters relating.