Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Fife and Kinross

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The Foundation of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Fife & Kinross

At a meeting held in the Masonic Hall, Priory Lane, Dunfermline on June 21st 1919 the first Grand Superintendent of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Fife and Kinross was installed into office by the Earl of Cassillis, First Grand Principal for Scotland and a deputation from the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland.

"The commission having been read, the Provincial Grand Superintendent Designate was presented for Installation. ... The Provincial Grand Superintendent, having been duly obligated and invested with the insignia of his office, was proclaimed and saluted by the companions present. The First Grand Principal, the Earl of Cassillis, then addressed the Companions and congratulated the Province in having for its first Grand Superintendent so eminent and enthusiastic a freemason as M.E.C. Lord Elgin." Extracted from the Minute of Provincial Grand Chapter of 21/6/1919.

Whilst Lord Elgin's reply to these comments is not recorded one can imply from his serving in that office for 41 years that he was reasonably gratified.

The story of the foundation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Fife and Kinross goes back further than that however.

Exactly two days before the Armistice bringing the Great War to an end was signed a Conference of Principals was held in the Masonic Hall, Cowdenbeath, under the auspices of Union Royal Arch Chapter, No. 295, to consider a circular from Supreme Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland to nominate a Grand Superintendent for the proposed Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter. This information from the Provincial Minute book does not intimate any information concerning the discussions that must have preceded this circular but it is evidence in itself of a desire amongst Royal Arch Freemasons in Fife to set up a regulatory body particular to the Province. There is a reference in the minute to the possibility of Josiah No. 10 and St. Michaels No. 31 detaching to join the Province of Angus and the Mearns. However, this threat to the fledgling Province was removed when St. Michael's attended the meeting and Josiah, in its letter of apology for non-attendance indicated that it would abide by the decision of the meeting.

The Chapters represented at this historical preparatory meeting were St. Michael's No. 31, Rosslyn No. 261, Union No. 295, Minto No. 342, Prudence No. 343, Ore Valley No. 412, St. Margaret's Hope No. 418 and Constantia et Virtute No. 422.

This meeting chaired by M.E.C. Andrew Burt, M.E.Z. of Union No. 295, and scribed by M.E.C. Hugh Douglas, M.E.Z. of Constantia et Virtute No. 422 resolved unanimously to nominate the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine as Provincial Grand Superintendent.

A second meeting of Principals took place in Cowdenbeath on 12th April 1919. This was chaired by Lord Elgin as Provincial Grand Superintendent Designate, who indicated that he would like the installation to take place in the Chapter rooms of Dunfermline Abbey No. 36, his Mother Chapter.

At this meeting the first Provincial Scribe Ezra was appointed in the person of M.E.C. John R. Menzies, P.Z. St. Colme's No. 105.

A committee was set up to make the nominations for the other office-bearers.

At this second meeting the following Chapters were represented; St. Michael's No. 31, Dunfermline Abbey No. 36, Kirkcaldy No. 97, St. Colme's No. 105, Rosslyn No. 261, Union No. 295, Minto No. 342, Prudence No. 343, Inverkeithing/Rosyth No. 371, Ore Valley No. 412, St. Margaret's Hope No. 418, Constantia et Virtute No. 422, and Buckhaven No. 441. Dreel Castle was unable to attend but sent apologies. These 14 Chapters could be said to be the proto-province of Fife and Kinross and it is evident that all but two still play a significant role in the life of Provincial Royal Arch freemasonry today.

For those interested the committee recommended the following Companions as the first Commissioned Office-bearers for the Province; The Rev. Robert Muir, Union No. 295, as Depute, P.G.2nd Principal James W. Carr, St. Michael No. 31 and P.G. 3rd Principal John C. Bolton, Dunfermline Abbey No. 36.

Lord Elgin went on to serve the Province with distinction until October 1961, an incredible 42 years. Indeed it is ironic to note that he survived his nominated successor who tragically was unable to assume office as he was called to that Grand Chapter above only days before his installation, necessitating Lord Elgin to continue for a further 8 months.