Freemasonry Beginnings in Australia

From; Monash Gully District No. 114 Volume 1 Issue 6: December 2011

Although Lieutenant (later and better known as Captain) Cook proclaimed New South Wales a British possession in 1770, it was not until 1778 that the first convict convoy arrived at Sydney Cove and, in 1803 the earliest record-ed Masonic meeting was held by 'several officers of his Majesty's Ships, together with some respectable inhabitants of Sydney'. This was against the orders of the Governor, Captain King, and some of the members were arrested, though subsequently released. The instigator, Bro Brown Hayes, was ordered to Van Diemen's Land, though his expulsion was never enforced. This was no promising beginning but it must be remembered the Governor's task was no easy one, and it is possible he was not aware of the exemption given to Freemasonry under the 'Unlawful Societies Act, 1799'.

One again, the spread of Freemasonry owed much to the activity of Military Lodges, especially Social and Military Virtues Lodge 227, (Irish Constitution) which was attached to the 46th Regiment (Duke of Corn-wall's Light Infantry). There was also some American influence and, by 1847, we find an abortive attempt to found a Grand Lodge of Australia. The next attempt, in 1865, was head-ed by one James Blair. This also proved a slip, as did similar attempts in Victoria and New Zealand in 1876.

In 1887, however, thirteen Lodges, succeeded in establishing the Grand Lodge of New South Wales, which was generally unrecognised for the first thirteen years of its life. Victoria, with a few Scottish and Irish Lodges, also declared independence in 1883, but the first Australian Grand Lodge to gain immediate and general recognition was that of South Australia, founded in 1890, followed by Tasmania.


With thanks to RWBro Jim Spreadborough OS -