HISTORY of the
Ipswich and District Provincial Grand Lodge
Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes
GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND
Compiled by A.R.Rampling, K.O.M.
Dedicated to the late Brother JOHN HENRY MASON Roll of Honour, Provincial Grand Primo, 1933 and 1939 Chairman, P.G. Lodge Benevolent Committee from 1935 to 1955. Whose work for the Province inspired, and assisted, many others
Copyright by Ipswich and District Provincial Grand Lodge
The object in writing this history, was mainly to give the author something to fill in leisure hours during the winters of 1954-55 and 55-56. The time spent in digging up old records has given me much pleasure, and if the result does help the Order in any way, then the object has been more than achieved.
My thanks are due to the proprietors of the East Anglian Daily Times for allowing me access to their files, and for the use of extracts from them. Also to the Lodges that have allowed me to peruse their records, and the many members of the Order that have assisted me in verifying incidents.
The history as told in the following pages is by no means exhaustive, and there is much more that could be told, but we have to keep within limits, and I have tried to point out the main events only.
HISTORY OF THE IPSWICH AND DISTRICT PROVINCIAL GRAND LODGE
OF THE ROYAL ANTEDILUVIAN ORDER OF BUFFALOES
GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND
Before proceeding to the Ipswich and District provincial Grand Lodge, it may be of interest to outline briefly the early days of the R.A.O.B. in general, and to establish when and where the Order came to Ipswich.
From a history of the order, compiled by the late Bro.W.Rose,R.O.H. (Grand Secretary of England) and published in 1927, we find that by 1870, the R.A.O.B. was firmly established in London and the Provinces, but a list of Lodges for 1874 does not give any in East Anglia.
Provincial Lodges were formed mostly by travelling theatrical people, and it is probable that the Rosendale No.323 and the Premier No.589, at Colchester, were the first to be established in the area and also that they were opened by a brother with a traveling Dispensation.
In 1897, the Grand Primo Lodge of England split in two, and from this arose the Grand Lodge of England, which consisted of the provincials and the Grand Lodge of England Limited, which had, and still has, its headquarters in London. We assume that the Colchester Lodges went in with the provincials, as they still retain their original numbers.
In the search for evidence of the existence of Lodges in Ipswich, only a few items have come to light, these being two or three reports from the East Anglian Daily Times, a few photographs and an extract from Stevens Directory of Ipswich (1894). From these we can establish the date of the founding of Buffaloism in Ipswich.
Undoubtedly, the first Lodge was the Gyppeswyck, as this passage from Stevens Directory informs us:-
ROYAL ANCIENT ORDER OF BUFFALOES.
The Gyppeswyck - This Lodge was founded November 27th 1891, and has its headquarters at the Kings Arms Hotel, Cornhill. Host Bro. Sir Aaron Mead. Meetings are held every Friday evening from 8 to 10.30. Number of members nearly 200. The main object of the Order is to promote philanthropy among its members, and otherwise encourage good and charitable deeds generally. One of the features of the Order is the grand support given to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, in presenting the R.A.O.B. lifeboat, now stationed at Dungeness, to the Institution, and great effects are now being made to raise sufficient funds for another lifeboat.
As Bro. Mead was a Knight of the Order of Merit by 1894, it is obvious that he joined the Order before 1891, therefore it is more than likely that he came from Colchester, or attended Lodges there and it was he who founded the first lodge in Ipswich.
The previous quotation is supported by an account of the Ipswich Lifeboat Saturday Fund, to be found in the E.A.D.Times of July 25th 1904.
.....It is a pleasing fact that many of those who interested themselves in the event at the starting of it, about ten years ago - following upon the successful impromptu collection undertaken by the members of a Buffalo Lodge meeting at the Kings Arms - are still zealous in the work, and the headquarters of the committee continue to be at Mr.Aaron Meads house just mentioned.....
This Gyppeswyck Lodge was almost certainly under the Grand Primo Lodge, but for how long it existed, we do not know. Possibly when the split in the Order came in 1897, it closed, and it was certainly defunct before 1902, as our next piece of evidence shows that it was revived under the G.L.E. Ltd., in that year, as follows:-
E.A.D.T. March 28th, 1905
BUFFALOISM IN IPSWICH
The THIRD annual festival, indentified with the Gyppeswyck Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, took place on Monday evening at the Rainbow Hotel, Ipswich. Upwards of 40 members sitting down to an excellent repast put on the tables by Primo C.Tidey, the loyal toasts having been duly honoured, Primo F.Fox submitted Success to Buffaloism remarking that outside Buffalo Lodges there was an idea not altogether complimentary to them, and he thought that was something to be wiped off the slate.
One of the primary objects of the Order was philanthropy for one brother to stand by another in the hour of need (Applause). Only recently, two or three Lodges had been opened in the Ipswich District, and he looked forward to the time when buffaloism would be a power in the land.(Applause)
Primo W.Armstrong, in reply, said they were on the road to making Buffaloism a success in the Ipswich District, where he believed it was now more popular than ever before. Remarking upon the philanthropic objects of the Order, he emphasied the fact that five lifeboats, and an infant home were supported by its contributions - a fact which proved that it was not a society which simply looked after itself. (hear, hear). The toast of the Gyppeswyck Lodge was given by Primo W.Green, and responded to by Bro. A.Robb, (City Secretary), who said that the Lodge established only three years ago, now had a membership of considerably over 300 members, and what was more gratifying, their numbers were steadily increasing, which argued well for Buffaloism in general, and the Gyppeswyck Lodge in particular.Bro. J.W.Moorhouse gave The Town and Trade of Ipswich, which was responded to by Mr. W.J.Christie.
And other toasts followed. An entertaining musical programme was contributed to by Messrs. Wingrove, George Le Fevre, R.T.Ellis, Dan Bronson, W.Armstrong, and others.
The two or three Lodges referred to in the above report, were probably the Pickwick, Pride of Ipswich, Lord Nelson (Leiston) and the Ordinance at Felixstowe, which were all flourishing in 1911. There is also evidence in the Ipswich P.G.L. minutes, that a Lodge had been opened at the Kings Arms, Woodbridge, from 1905-08.
The only one of which we have been able to establish the opening date is the Pickwick. This Lodge possesses a large collection of photographs, one of these, which now adorns the Lodge room, is of the Officers for the opening month of March 1905. The regalia shown in this picture is still being used by the Duke of Kent Lodge.
The Pride of Ipswich is mentioned in the E.U.R. and Pickwick minutes, where we find that it was held at the Freemasons Arms, Victoria street and later moved to the Rose & Crown, Norwich road. Very little has been found concerning this Lodge, and it is not mentioned after 1926.
The opening of the E.U.R. Lodge is established from the first registration book, wherein is found the fact that this Lodge was opened on September 21st, 1905.
By 1911 then, there were four Lodges in Ipswich, one at Leiston and one at Felixstowe, all flourishing under the G.L.E. Ltd. banner. At this time, however, there was considerable unrest regarding the treatment received from headquarters, the primary cause being finance, for on December 28th 1911, Knight Robb stated on the E.U.R. Lodge:- It is time that the R.A.O.B. had a Grand Provincial Lodge in East Anglia, its centre being Ipswich, and on March 15th 1912 (by which time the Lodge had moved from its original home, the Coach and Horses, Brook street, to the Beehive, Majors Corner), the Pickwick accepted the Grand Lodge balance sheet for year ending February 1911, and were demanding the 1912 edition.
Two Pickwickians, Primos Leonard Leaney, (host and Treasurer) and Albert Plume, (Secretary), were appointed delegates to Grand Lodge in March, to represent both the E.U.R. and Pickwick Lodges, Herbert Howard, (E.U.R.) joining them in April.
The delegates were not satisfied with the answers they received and this item was minuted:-
Pickwick. April 10th. The secretary read a letter from Knt. Cooper, in answer to question put by him. Primo Leaney also read a report of Grand Lodge proceedings, and pointed out where the difficulty really lies....
Knt. Robb proposed and Primo Rae seconded, that the secretary write and ask for a balance sheet by May 1st, if not, we must call a meeting of Lodges in Ipswich to consider our postion .Carried.
A similar proposition was carried on the E.U.R. the next evening.
The intentions of Bros. Plume and Leaney were that the Lodges should transfer to the Grand Lodge of England, and at the same time form a Governing Authority in Ipswich - which at that time could be formed by three or more Lodges - therefore it was necessary to secure the co-operation of a third lodge before this could be done. A meeting was held at the Gyppeswyck during the first week of May to discuss the matter, and the outcome of this was that the E.U.R. and Pickwick were in favour, but the Gyppeswyck were against seceding.
It is worthy of note that Bro. Robb (Secretary, Gyppeswyck), who first voiced the idea of a Provincial Grand Lodge, was in oppostion to the first moves made in that direction, and was probably responsible for the Gyppeswyck remaining loyal to the G.L.E. Ltd.
At the E.U.R. on May 2nd Knt. Robb gave his opinion on seceding. He said that he had heard something as to put him on his guard, and he would not like the E.U.R. to come to any downfall as he thought we might be a bit hasty, if we did not look before we leap.
The attitude of Bro. Robb caused a bit of an uproar, as the E.U.R.records:- May 23rd. Primo Howard brought his experience at the Gipp Lodge, as to the seceding, as it was Knavery, if they did not secede with us, we should have to open another Lodge in Ipswich, so we could have our own Governing Authority.
Primo Leaney said that he had brought forward a motion to be brought forward on Monday, June 3rd 1912, to see if they would secede. Primo Leaney also supported Primo Howard in all that he said concerning same, and hoped that all those who could be present at the Gyppeswyck Lodge that night would endeavour to do so.
Throughout these negotiations there is no mention of any approach being made to the Pride of Ipswich Lodge regarding this matter, and we shall never know why they were not asked to assist. The fact remains that only the Pickwick and E.U.R. changed their allegiance, and from that time forward, the two sections had little to do with each other. The Gyppeswyck is not heard of after 1916, whilst the Pride of Ipswich was last mentioned in 1926. The only survivor of all these G.L.E. Ltd Lodges, is the Lord Nelson which is still in being at Leiston.
Having failed to convince the Gyppeswyck, the Ipswich Lodges had to be content to become part of the Colchester District Primo Lodge, as it was then called. The Pickwick No.1955, (GLE Ltd) became No.1640 (G.L.E.) on Wednesday June 12th 1912, thus retaining their seniority over the E.U.R No.1977 which became No.1641 (G.L.E.) twenty four hours later.
Primo Albert Plume was raised to Knight Order of Merit on the night sucession, after defeating Primo Rae,
In passing, we quote the following from the Pickwick minutes:-
Dated 18.12.12. Proposed by C.Marshall, 2nd by C.Tyler, that the letter respecting the presentation to Knt. Brays dog, Pieshop, be read again next week, also the delegates report of visit to D.P.Lodge on December 10th.
We do not Know what to make of this curious entry. Having studied the writing of the secretary, I find that he had a habit of placing dots after nearly every word, and also crossed his T s with dots. So we cannot say whether Bro. Bray had a dog called Pieshop to which a presentation was made, or if he had a Pieshop for dogs? Perhaps the Premier Lodge at Colchester can supply the answer.
The Certifying Council minute book is the only book I have been able to trace, which deals with the early activities of the Ipswich D.P.Lodge Owing to the 14-18 war, there was very little activity at all in this province. From the E.U.R. and Pickwick minutes we find that contributions were made to the R.A.O.B. War ambulance scheme - which presented 18 ambulances to the war office - and efforts were made to look after the needs of serving members of the Order, but only the E.U.R. Lodge was able to keep going without a break. The Victoria closed for a short while in 1916 until July 1919.
We do know that the District Primo Lodge and the Certifying Council were held at the Black Horse, Black Horse Lane, where Bro. Albert Plume was Mine Host, and that the first meeting of the D.P. Lodge took place on April 22nd, three weeks after the inaugural meeting of the C.Council.
From various sources we have been able to trace that Bro. Plume was the first President of the D.P.Lodge, and that Bro.Harry Taylor was the first Secretary.
The original regalia of the Ipswich D.P. Lodge is still in use to-day by the Examining Council.
The present Charter of the Ipswich and Distrist Provincial Grand Lodge was issued in January 1920, after a convention had decided that Governing Authorities would henceforth adopt the title of Provincial Grand Lodge.
This also meant that the Examining Council would become subservient to P.G.L. instead of being the senior body. Another curious procedure in those days was that a brother had to attend the Certifying Council twice before he could obtain his Primos Certificate. He would attend for examination, and if he passed, would receive an intermediate certificate. He would then be raised to the Second Degree, and again attend the council, where the signs and passwords would be conveyed to him, and if he satisfied the Council he would be granted his Primos Certificate. It would be interesting to find some brother who had been raised to the Second Degree and was then refused a certificate.
To return to the P.G.L. Charter. This document is signed by Bro. Bray, as Deputy Grand Primo, although this brother was the Grand Primo for the year in question (1920), This is explained by the fact that at that time the Grand Primo was not installed until the end of January, and in this case, Bro. Bray paid a visit to Drewsbury (Yorkshire), where he was taken ill, and in consequence was unable to attend Grand Lodge until April. Unfortunately he never fully recovered from this illness, but the date of his death is not recorded.
The first page of the oldest P.G.L. minute book, still in our possession, provides some interesting information. Dated 3rd Dec 1920 it states that the meetings were held at the Old Black Horse, but all official records refer to this house simply as the Black Horse. Be that as it may. We also find that Bro. Charles Taylor K.O.M., retired from the office of P.G.Secretary after three years as such. This indicates that he took over that office in 1917 from Bro. Harry Taylor, who was the first Secretary.