The foundation stone of St. Mary's
Catholic Church, Standishgate,
Wigan, laid on St. Patrickís Day,
1818. In his memoirs, James Miller
mentions that the lever and heavy
maul used to lay the stone was
presented to the Lodge of Sincerity
in 1826 by the Master, John Bimson.
The 19th century Masonic rebellion in Liverpool involved
a number of Wigan Lodges, and after 1825, the newly formed
rebel Grand Lodge met only in Wigan. The make-up of the
Liverpool and Wigan Lodges that were involved in the
rebellion where similar, with the majority being tradesmen
and merchants, and they all shared the same grievances.
By 1824, however, many of the leading Liverpool rebels,
such as James Broadhurst, a watchmaker in the city, had
returned to the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).
Another leading rebel, John Eltonhead, a Liverpool liquor
merchant, returned to the fold in 1827.
This left the Liverpool-based leader, Michael Alexander
Gage, and a handful of Liverpool brethren, such as Thomas
Page, Thomas Berry and John Robert Goepel, mixing with
an influx of leading Wigan rebels, such as John Atherton,
Ralph Ball and Robert Bolton.
There is a gap in the minute book from the last known
meeting in Liverpool in 1825, until 13 April, 1838, when
the Grand Lodge met in Wigan at the Hole Iíthí Wall, in
the Market Place.
Gage was not in attendance, but original rebels Thomas
Page, from the ĎAntientí Liverpool Lodge No. 31,
renumbered to its original pre-Union number of 20
after the rebellion, and Robert Bolton, from the Wigan
Sincerity Lodge No. 492, were present.
A new Grand Master, William Farrimond, was elected, and
the Wigan Grand Lodge began a new phase as it took on more
of a Wigan identity, gradually severing its ties with Liverpool.
By 1842, Gage, who had not attended any Lodge for 15
years, resigned from the Wigan Grand Lodge, angry at not
being asked to review the re-numbering of Lodges and the
granting of new Warrants, a decision that took place in a
meeting held on 15 August, 1838.
The Wigan-based Sincerity Lodge became Lodge No. 1,
the Liverpool Lodge No.20 became No. 2, a move which
may have added to Gageís anger. As the Wigan Grand Lodge
slowly began to spread its influence, new warrants for the
Lodges were issued.
As there were only five Lodges, they were subsequently
numbered one to five, though a Lodge in Barnsley opted
out of the Wigan Grand Lodge, and a Lodge in nearby
Warrington, called the Lodge of Knowledge, was relatively
short-lived. Two more Lodges were given warrants, one
based in nearby Ashton-in-Makerfield, the other, named
the St. Paulís Lodge, was based in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Perhaps Gageís opinion was not sought by the Wigan
Grand Lodge in fear of his reaction to the changes. The
Magna Charta of Masonic Freedom, originally written
under the influence of Gage, was also rewritten in 1839.
This reorganisation, decided by a Grand Lodge now
dominated by Wigan brethren, began to forge a new identity.
Web site created by Mark Griffin