MASONS ABOARD VICTORY
Regarding Admiral Lord Nelson (MQ,
Issue No. 15), having been a regular
summer visitor to Norfolk for many
years, I have absorbed a few snippets of
local information connected with this
I had previously read of the block of
marble at the Lodge of Friendship,
Yarmouth, but the other artefacts and
associations described in the article
added up to a compelling probability
that Lord Nelson was a Freemason.
Some two years ago my Mother
Lodge, the Knights of Malta Lodge No.
50 in the Province of Leicestershire and
Rutland, celebrated its Bi-Centenary and
I was part of the editorial team charged
with updating our Lodge history.
In that History is an interesting
anecdote concerning one of our early
members, Bro. William Hands, who was
born in 1777 at Burbage, a village about
one and a half miles from Hinckley.
He enlisted into the army when quite
young and was initiated in a Lodge in
Ireland attached to the 90th Foot in
1799. He served in this regiment for
some years as a Private. The regiment
then moved to Gibraltar, where another
Lodge, No. 8 on the roll of the Provincial
Grand Lodge of Gibraltar, was
warranted and Bro. Hands became a
member of this Lodge.
In 1805 he was stationed in the West
Indies, being at that time a General’s
orderly. On 4 June that year he was
drafted as a bombardier in the artillery
on board the Victory and returned on
that ship to Europe, subsequently taking
part in the battle at Trafalgar on board
Bro. Hands died on 16 April 1860
at the age of 83. It is recorded that
until the last few years of his life he
retained a distinct recollection of his
early experiences, and delighted to
recount how, on going on board the
Victory, Nelson singled him out from
his companions, all of whom were
Masons, and addressed a few questions
to him as to his military knowledge
These details were compiled by RW
Bro. William Kelly, a former Provincial
Grand Master of Leicestershire and
Rutland in the middle to late 19th
century and included in the original
History by W.Bro. J T Thorp, the wellknown
From this account we can see that
there were several Freemasons serving
on Victory and Lord Nelson may have
known of their presence on board. It
would also be interesting to search the
records of Lodge No. 8 at Gibraltar to
determine if there were any visitors
from the Navy. I wish Brother Hamill
every success in his continued research.
Nelson medal – Masonic or navigation?
In MQ (Issue 15), John Hamill describes the
medal issued by the Nelsonian Crimson
Oaks, and the photograph of the reverse side
of this medal shows various symbols which
are said to be Masonic.
The sun, moon and stars may be
references to navigation, as they were used
for navigation at that time. The implement
in the middle may be dividing compasses as
they have a semi-circular scale attached. In
short, the symbols depicted could be
maritime rather than Masonic.
I would like to take the opportunity through
your columns to pass on the most grateful
thanks of a party of brethren up from East
Kent to attend the centenary meeting of
Aquarius Lodge No. 3113 at Mark Masons’
Hall on Friday, 30 September.
Having elected to walk from Victoria
Station, a debate ensued as to the best route
to proceed from the junction of Grosvenor
Place and Lower Grosvenor Place, when a
taxi drew up with a greeting from the driver
‘Brethren you appear to be lost’.
We had strayed off the shortest route a
tad and gratefully accepted his invitation to
climb aboard. Shortly after, we were safely
deposited outside Mark Masons’ Hall and
were informed that the trip was on him.
Although we did not find out his name,
we did learn that he belonged to National
Westminster Lodge No. 3647, that he was
76 and still thoroughly enjoyed driving cabs.
Thank you Brother for your most friendly
and fraternal act. It set the tone for a most
pleasant and enjoyable evening.
Learning is important
I was interested to read in Issue No. 15 Mr
Salisbury’s suggestion of reading the Royal
Arch Principals’ Obligations, and whilst I
concur with the preference to have a seamless
ceremony wherever possible, perhaps the
reading of the Obligations is not the solution,
nor ‘imperfect’ ceremonies the problem.
We hear (not read) in the recommendation
to the Master-Elect in the Craft Installation
ceremony that such a person should be
“well skilled in the noble science”, and
that he should be “able and willing to
undertake the management of the work”.
What more proficiency as to his
preparation for such responsibilities could
he demonstrate than having learned the
Obligation and rehearsed and repeated it from
the heart, a notion which we make much of
in the progression from Initiation onwards?
Such an expectation to work from the
heart continues throughout the Royal
Arch, right up to the First Principal’s
charge, wherein he is rewarded for “zeal”
and “continued exertion on behalf of
the cause”, presumably the fruits of many
a “daily advancement”.
The striving for such perfection in our
ceremonies in no way undermines the
efforts of those who genuinely struggle
with the work – and who does not? It is
my experience that those who attempt
their Obligations and other pieces of ritual
to the best of their ability often receive quite
rightly a greater part of the brethren’s
esteem, even if they falter in the attempt.
Perfection is not demanded of us –
integrity is. If there is zeal to see the work
firmly committed to one’s head, then it has
a chance of finding its place in the Mason’s
heart. Delivery is extra!
It is acknowledged that there is a lot
to learn. Perhaps the issue is again the
phenomenon of too rapid a ‘progression’,
arising primarily from the necessity to fill
gaps in the offices rather than preferment
as the real reward of merit, leaving those
inexperienced too far behind and below
the demands of the roles expected of them.
Rev Graham Halsall,
Bamber Bridge, Preston
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