LAGOS LODGE - No. 1171 (1867)
The oldest Lodge in Nigeria is Lagos Lodge No. 1171 which was warranted on 25th, May 1867. The first Meeting took place on 11th June 1868 and it seems that there was no actual Consecration Ceremony. According to the minutes of the first Meeting, the Secretary “read the Most Worshipful Grand Master’s Warrant of constitution for the general information of the brethren”. The Petition to form the Lodge was signed by thirteen Masons of whom particulars are quoted hereunder:
1st. W.M. Frank Simpson- Lion Lodge 312, Whitby, Yorks; 1st. S.W. Thomas Lewis- Buckingham Lodge 861, Aylesbury Bucks; Henry Homer- Royal Athelston Lodge 19, of Lincoln’s Inn Fields Hotel, London; 1st. J. W. Henry Mills- Royal Victoria Lodge 1013, Liverpool; George Fisher- Unity Lodge 71, Cork (Unity Lodge now called Concord); John Hunter, Royal Arch Lodge 165, Ayr; John Jones (Lieut. R.N.)- Ascension Lodge 1029, Ascension Island; Irving Hartford- Gold Coast Lodge 773, Cape Coast; Josiah Gerard- Gold Coast Lodge 773, Cape Coast; E. R. Hoblyn- Lodge Glasgow Kilwinning No. 4; Facundo Galvao- Kane Lodge 454, New York City; Robert Campbell- Phoenix Lodge 31, Philadelphia and Hans Schmidt- St. Johanus Lodge No. 6. Hamburg.
It will be noted that the Founders hailed from many different-countries and parts of the world. The petition was sponsored by “the Master, Wardens, and other officers of the Lodge of Relief No. 42 meeting at the Hare and Hounds Inn, Bury, in the Province of East Lancashire”. The letter forwarding the Petition to Grand Lodge was signed by fifteen officers and brethren of Lodge of Relief No. 42. The connection between this Lodge and West Africa is mysterious and, from enquiries made through the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lancashire (Eastern Division) it seems that there is no record as to why so many of the members supported the Petition without any reference whatever in the Lodge Minutes. It has, however, been established that Thomas Cornall, who signed the letter as J.D. of Lodge of Relief, was a member of the Firm of Horridge and Cornall which had trading connections with West Africa. It is not known whether Bro. Cornall actually travelled to West Africa at any time.
It seems that at first the Lodge Meetings were held in Broad Street, Lagos in a “small storey house at Olowogbowo, opposite the American Tobacco Co. Ltd. Later the Lodge removed to a house on the Marina between the palatial building of Messrs Elder Dempster & Co. Ltd., and the Lagos Stores”. This house, it appears, was formerly the property of Chief Taiwo and later of a Mrs. Bucknor. According to the Grand Lodge Register, five brethren appear to have been elected as joining members at the first Regular Meeting held on Thursday 11th June, 1868. They are recorded as: – James A. Croft, no details; John H. O’Brien, Lieut. R.N; Bruin Von Rauchalxaupt, from Germany; M, Berand, from Algiers; J.M d’Carvalho, from USA.
From the typescript history, it appears that the Minutes of the first Regular Meeting held on 11th June, 1868 record that a Mr. Valence of “H.M.S. Investigation” was proposed and seconded as a candidate for initiation.
At the next Regular Meeting held on 2nd July 1868 the first initiation in Lagos Lodge, and in Nigeria, took place. The candidates were Mr. Valence and a Mr. Foresythe. There does not appear to have been a proposition in open Lodge for Mr. Foresythe, nor is there any record of a ballot having been taken before the two candidates were initiated.
The Minutes of this meeting record that “The Board of Trial having reported that Mr. Valence and Mr. Foresythe had answered the questions to their satisfaction and that they had paid the fees on account of their initiation, they were then severally initiated into the first degree of Masonry”.
At the Regular Meeting held on 3rd December 1868 it appears that three more candidates were initiated. They were Messrs. A. A. Stuart; A. Keen, and F. D. Cole who was the first African to be initiated into Masonry in Nigeria. He is recorded as “being the Chief Clerk at the Colonial Hospital, and a well-known dandy of his time. He was an uncle of the late Honourable C. A. Sapara-Williams, C.M.G.” The first Master of the Lodge, W. Bro. Frank Simpson is recorded as “holding the post of Colonial Surgeon”. Bro. Charles Foresythe is recorded as “being a practising Solicitor and hailing from Freetown, Sierra Leone.”
The typescript records indicate that during its first few years of existence Lagos Lodge was very poorly attended and, on more than one occasion, the Regular Meetings could not be held due to “paucity of attendance.” It seems also that there was much difficulty in finding a suitable building in which to hold the Lodge meetings. The Regular Meeting of 12th April, 1871 was held at the house on the Marina and it is recorded that “the Brethren were unanimous in their condemnation of the unsanitary condition of the room, and the great heat felt.” During its first year of existence, there were 12 initiations and one passing ceremony undertaken by the Lodge. For the first two years, the installation of the Master took place on St. John’s Day but this practice was discontinued in 1870.
It is of interest to note that at an Emergency Meeting held on 25th July, 1871 the Lodge initiated Captain David Hopkins, “Her Brittanic Majesty’s Consul for the Bights of Biafra and Benin.” At an Emergency Meeting of Lagos Lodge held on 14th March, 1874, it is also recorded that two candidates were initiated. They were Messrs. Paul Berand and Carlos Rodrigues. The typescript record reads as follows :-“both these gentlemen being Portuguese and not understanding the English language, the ceremony of Initiation was carried out as usual in English and interpreted into Portuguese. The Charge was delivered to the newly initiated Brethren in the Portuguese language by Bro. Riberis. Previous to this, no language other than English had been used in the Lodge.”
On 13th September 1907, Ladapo Ademola was initiated into Freemasonry and became the 234th member of Lagos Lodge. He was shown on the Lodge Roll of Members at that time as being “a Trader”. He later became the Alake of Abeokuta and held the appointment of P.D.G.W.
In 1968, Lagos Lodge celebrated its centenary – 1868 to 1968. The “highlight of the weeklong celebration was the laying of the Foundation Stone of the new Temple which was performed by His Excellency Brigadier David Ejoor on behalf of the Head of the Military Government, and Commander-in-Chief, Major General Yakubu Gowon. The late H. B. Phillips was the Master and he presented the trowel while prayers were offered by the Director of Ceremonies, J. T. Adebogun, in the absence of the Chaplain.
Lodge Venue and Meeting Days
First Saturday of odd Months
Installation in January.
Meets at St. George’s Hall
Time: 12 noon
St. George’s Hall,
28 Broad Street,
Mail: P.O. Box 227, Marina, Lagos.