The proposal to form a District Grand Lodge was originated by Calabar Lodge No. 3434 at its Regular Meeting held on 14th September 1912. At that date, and in order of seniority, there were six Lodges of the English Constitution in existence in Nigeria i.e.:
- Lagos Lodge No. 1171 Warranted 25th May, 1867
- St, John’s Lodge No. 2668 “ 23rd July, 1897
- St. George’s Lodge No. 3065 “ 25th July, 1904
- Northern Nigeria Lodge No. 3325 “ 20th July, 1908
- Calabar Lodge No. 3434 “ 1st Feb., 1910
- Zungeru Lodge No. 3506 “ 15th Feb., 1911
It is worthy of note, therefore, that the prime movers to form a District Grand Lodge were the members of the Calabar Lodge which was then the second youngest Lodge in the Country. Following a decision taken at the Regular Meeting of Calabar Lodge held on 14th September 1912, a letter was addressed to each of the other five Lodges in the country regarding the necessity for the formation of a District Grand Lodge and seeking their views on the proposal to petition the M.W. the Grand Master to approve the formation of such a District Grand Lodge.
With the exception of Northern Nigeria Lodge No. 3325 some of the members of which apparently, considered the proposal to be somewhat premature, the reactions from the other four Lodges appear to have been favourable and the nomination of Mr Justice A. Willoughby Osborne as the first District Grand Master was generally agreed. Willoughby Osborne was at that time the Chief Justice of Southern Nigeria.
The Petition to form a District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria was approved by the M.W. the Grand Master in the following year and the Patent was issued in London on 15th July 1913. The opening Meeting of the District Grand Lodge was held at St. George’s Hall, Lagos on Thursday 20th November, 1913.
After the Opening Meeting which was held on 20th November 1913, the District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria met at St. George’s Hall, Broad Street, Lagos on seven occasions as follows:-
- 26.12.13 Investiture of D.D.G.M R. W. Bro. Willoughby-Osborne, D.G.M.
- 21.5.14 ⅟2 Yearly Communication W. Bro. C. Ungebauer, D.D.G.M.
- 25.11.14 Annual Communication W. Bro. C. Ungebauer, D.D.G.M.
- 22.5.15 ⅟2 Yearly Communication W. Bro. C. Ungebauer, D.D.G.M.
- 18.12.15 Annual Communication W. Bro. Hon. K. Ajasa, D.J.G.W,
- 17. 5.16 ⅟2 Yearly Communication W. Bro. Hon. K. Ajasa, D.J.G.W.
- 25.11.16 Annual Communication W. Bro. Hon. K. Ajasa, D.J.G.W.
From, this table it will be noted that the District Grand Master was able to be present, only once after the Opening Meeting. His successor was not installed until 31st. March, 1917. At the half-yearly communication held on 22nd May, 1915, the Standards of the District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria were presented. These were the gift of R. W. Bro. Willoughby-Osborne.
At the Annual Communication, held on 25th November, 1916, it is recorded in the Minutes that it “was agreed to change the title of the District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria to the District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.” Although there is no reference in Grand Lodge records to the change in title of the District Grand Lodge. The Librarian and Curator of Grand Lodge A. R. Hewitt commented that:
“The matter would not necessarily come before the Grand Lodge as the Grand Master must have sanctioned the change. One would have thought, however, that the approval would have been communicated by letter but I can find none in the correspondence. Correspondence on other matters from the Grand Lodge in October 1916 is addressed “District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.”
The first Deputy District Grand Master was Charles Ungebauer. He was appointed to office at the Opening Meeting held on 20th November 1913, and invested at a Special Meeting held on 26th December 1913. Ungebauer was, at that time, with the firm of A. SACHSE and Co., of Broad Street, Lagos. His standing in the Craft may be gathered from the fact that he had been W. M. of Lagos Lodge in 1891 and 1892; of St. John’s Lodge on its formation in 1898 and again in 1901; and of St. George’s Lodge on its formation in 1905.
During the first World War, the United Grand Lodge of England passed a Resolution at the Quarterly Communication held on 2nd June 1915, as follows:
“That in order to prevent the peace and harmony of the Craft being disturbed it is necessary that all Brethren of German, Austrian, Hungarian, or Turkish birth, should not during the continuance of the War attend any meeting of Grand Lodge, or any other Masonic Meeting, and that such Brethren be and they are hereby required by Grand Lodge to abstain from such attendance, and that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to the Secretary of every Lodge.”
As a result of this Resolution, the Deputy District Grand Master was precluded from attending the Meetings of the District Grand Lodge after that held on 22nd May, 1915, but he continued to afford all possible assistance to the District.
Ungebauer was, in 1915, a naturalized British subject. It is on record that “he was the only person of German, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish birth who had been allowed to remain in Lagos by the Government, having been a resident in the Colony for 38 years.”
After much discussion between the various Lodges in the District, a proposal to petition the Grand Lodge for an exemption in his case from the terms of the Resolution was eventually dropped. Ungebauer resigned his appointment as D.D.G.M. in March 1917, and his death occurred on 21st June 1918.
Warrants issued by the United Grand Lodge for the formation of three additional private Lodges under the jurisdiction of the District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria were as follows:
- Travellers’ Lodge No. 3726;
- Nigeria Lodge No. 3773 and
- St. John’s Lodge (Onitsha) No. 3780