The Origins

The history of Chryston district has been well chronicled over the years with evidence of the various ages of man having been discovered throughout the district.
As part of the Bishopric of Glasgow it became a religious centre during the 1500's.
Situated at the junction of roads from Glasgow in the west to Falkirk in the east.
From the north through Kirkintilloch to Carlisle in the south it is only natural that it should become a meeting place for travellers to sojourn and pay their tolls before travelling on.

Some of these early travellers may well have been Masons of either an operative or perhaps a speculative nature. However Freemasonry did not begin to flourish in the Chryston district until the consecration of Lodge Cadder Argyle No 147 on 2nd February 1778 which was some 39 years before Royal Arch Masonry came into being in Scotland. There were a number of Craft Lodges in close proximity to Chryston at that time and it is strange that it was not until Tuesday 22nd April 1919 that the initial meeting to discuss the formation of a 'Local' Royal Arch Chapter was held within the Masonic Temple Muirhead with Companions Archibald W Barr, Thomas A Thomson, George White, George Williamson, William Gilchrist, William Peat, Archibald Douglas and Thomas Duthie being present. Comps. Williamson and Gilchrist being appointed Chairman and secretary respectively.

The above named companions together with Comps Alex Gorrie, William Johnston and Francis Wilson met the following week and agreed to petition Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Lanarkshire Middle Ward for the formation of a new Chapter at Chryston, and it was also agreed that the Chapter be called 'Chryston Royal Arch', and that the Office Bearers should progress through the offices in rotation.

At this point, time must be taken to accord thanks to M E Comp John H Dowie PZ for the return of the Chapter Roll Book which now makes complete the records of the Chapter. Some work is of course necessary to bring this book up to date.

The opening meetings of the founder members were fully recorded, in much detail. This together with original correspondence and balance sheets attached to appropriate minutes provide a valuable source of information on the development of the Chapter.

The origins of our Founder Members were not apparent until the Roll book became available.
I personally feel a great affinity with, not only the founder members but other prominent members throughout the years who like myself have been employed, in some category or other in Gartloch Hospital.

Of the thirteen Founder members 10 were members of Old Monklands R.A.C. No 226 with one each from St Andrews of Glasgow R.A.C No 69, Commercial R.A.C No 79 and Comp George White signing as Chryston No 454.

With the Staff houses at Gartloch Hospital being home to Comps Williamson, Gorrie, Johnston and Barr, Comp Smith from Cardowan, Comp Wilson from Gartcosh and the others from Chryston it is not surprising that Lodge Cadder Argyle No 147 was Mother Lodge to 10 Founder members with Comp Duthie a member of Lodge St Andrew No 524, Comp Gorrie from Lodge Neptune Kilwinning No 442 and our first Zerubbabel Comp William Gilchrist from lodge Old Monkland St John No 177.

The Founder Members were conscious of the cost of consecrating a new Chapter. The necessary funds were quickly forth coming with Comp Douglas lending œ 50-0/-, and Comps Gorrie and Montgomery œ 25-0/- each. The chairman thanked the Companions and instructed Comp Douglas to draw up the necessary agreements with the lenders and handed over a receipt for œ 5-5/- being the fee payable for the Charter as his contribution to the Chapter.

As well as the monitory donations already mentioned the following material donations were pledged:-

Volume of the Sacred Law, inscribed with Chapter name and number. - Comp A. W. Barr
Alter and Rods - F. Wilson
Decoration of Alter - A. Gorrie
Burning Bush - G. Williamson
Accumulator (to light alter) - T. H. Thomson

The Founder Members received their first instruction in Royal Arch ceremonial from M E Comp Aitken and Logan both PZ No 226, and at a further instruction meeting on 24th August it was confirmed that the dedication of the Chapter would take place on Saturday 13th September 1919 at 3.00pm. It was agreed that 150 programmes should be provided for the use of the Companions. Provincial Grand Chapter would arrange printing with the Chapter to pay cost.

There must have been a degree of panic on Wednesday 3rd September when it was discovered that the Principals Aprons, Caps and Jewels had not been ordered. This was to be done with all haste. M E Comp Aitken No 226 offered the use of Old Monklands Regalia should our own not be forthcoming. He also offered to lay out the Chapter for the dedication ceremony. Both offers were gladly accepted. Arrangements for catering were confirmed and Companions were reminded that they must be clear in their Mother Chapter books. There was a special meeting of Old Monklands No 226 on Friday 12th September, probably to allow the Companions to pay their dues?

The final meeting of the Founder members was held on 10th September when all arrangements were confirmed, including the news that every effort would be made to have the Principals regalia delivered on time. The Burning Bush and a supply of candles were handed over by Comp Williamson who was accorded a very hearty vote of thanks for the manner in which he had conducted the various meetings which had enabled the business of forming the Chapter to be carried through so smoothly. Comp Gilchrist hoped that the same could be said for the progress of the New Chapter.

3.30pm on Saturday 13th September 1919 saw nearly 100 Royal Arch Masons assembled within the Masonic Temple, Muirhead ready to receive the deputation from the Provincial Grand Royal arch Chapter of Lanarkshire Middle Ward headed by M E Comp Col P Spence VD JP Grand Superintendent Depute. The programme lists Grand Superintendent Sir Robert King Stewart KBE to carry out this duty but he was not in attendance.

Chryston R A Chapter No 454 was then constituted and dedicated in due form with an oration on the theme 'Behold I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide for ever, thy name shall be there' being delivered by M E Comp Larkman P.G. Scribe E

The Office Bearers where then installed into their respective offices with M E Comp Spence, accompanied by 21 Installed 1st Principals conferring the 1st , 2nd and 3rd Chair degrees on Comp William Gilchrist. 2nd and 3rd Chair Degrees on Comp George Williamson, and the 3rd Chair Degree on Comp George White. This would seem to indicate that the Founder members were relatively 'young' Royal Arch Masons.

The other Office Bearers were:-

Comp Alex Gorrie Scribe
Thomas Duthie Scribe N
Archibald Douglas Treasurer
William Johnston 1st Sojourner
Archibald W Barr 2nd Sojourner
Francis Wilson 3rd Sojourner
William Peat Janitor
Archibald Montgomery Superintendent of Works
Thomas H Thomson Captain 3rd Veil
Thomas Smith Captain 2nd Veil

M.E.Z. William Gilchrist in his address to the Companions expressed the thanks of the Founder members for the help and assistance given by all present, in particular the Provincial Grand Chapter from their meritorious work and as a small token of appreciation asked each member of the deputation to accept Honorary Membership of No 454 which was duly conferred by M E Comp Gilchrist. With this action the membership of the Chapter was doubled in one fell swoop. Following this Provincial Chapter retired. The Chapter was closed and the Companions retired to high tea.

On 23rd September there were 27 Companions in attendance at a Special meeting when applications for admission were read on behalf of 20 Brethren, 19 of whom were from Lodge Cadder Argyle No 147 and one from Lodge St Clair of Dalbeggie No 867
Stephen Dowell, Alexander Thomson Sen, Alexander Thomson Jr, Ivie Cooper, Lennox J Lauchlan, William Armstrong, Lawrence A Luke, James Marshall, Leonard Winkworth, Robert Gray, Robert Barr, Charles B Henderson, Charles Henderson, William Richardson, William Williamson, James McDerman, James Murray, Hugh Beattie, James Muir and John Cormack No 867,

The ballot for admission was by a show of hands and the ceremony of Affiliation to Mark degree, Excellent Master’s Degree and Exaltation to the Holy Royal Arch degree were all carried through by M.E.Comp. Richard Aitken PZ Old Monklands Chapter No 226.

As well as being the first name in the Petition Book, Comp Stephen Dowell became the first initiate to be installed into office when he was nominated and elected to the office of Captain of the 1st Veil. He was also the first member to work through the offices to 2nd Principal and not take the Chair of Zerubbabel.

The Chapter enjoyed its formative years and like ourselves there were expressions of concern at the lack of candidates and poor attendances of members. This concern was at its deepest following the Exaltation on 13th March 1928 of Bro William Chapman from the Athole Lodge No 384 who was to be the last Candidate until 10th January 1933 when Bros John Siegfried Laidlaw, James Laidlaw and Samuel Siegfried Laidlaw, all Mark Master Masons of Lodge Cadder Argyle No 147 were Exalted to the Holy Royal Arch Degree by The Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Lanarkshire Middle Ward headed by M E Comp C R Lackman Grand Superintendent in a very efficient manner. This was to be the one and only occasion that Provincial Chapter carried through Ceremonial work, other than dedications at Chryston.

Due to the vagaries of attendances, lack of candidates, and the needs of the military forces who requisitioned the Masonic Temple during the Second World War resulting in a change of meeting place to Gartcosh. The Chapter did not celebrate the end of the first 25 years in 1944.
During this period there were occasions when the Principals were in despair and the situation appeared critical. However as the second twenty five year period progressed the Chapter became more active in Provincial Grand Chapter, and it is pleasing to note that M E Comp Joseph Stevens P.Z., our last Provincial Office Bearer, attaining the office of Chancellor in 1980, is with us this evening. Under the chairmanship of the late M E Z John McDowell the Chapter had a successful Jubilee Celebration on Saturday 13th September 1969.

The Chapter felt the effects of the economic recession which followed and resulted in the Closure of Bedlay and Cardowan Collieries, The Gartcosh Steel Mills, Black and White distillery and of course the Auchingeich Colliery disaster all had an effect on the Chapter. Being here to-night we know that the Chapter has survived and we are privileged to once again have the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter rededicate the Chapter to the furtherance of Royal Arch Masonry in Chryston in a very competent and efficient manner.

Chryston Chapter has survived through each decade by the actions of an enthusiastic and dedicated band of masons. This same enthusiasm will ensure that the Chapter can survive to achieve a further land mark of its centenary celebrations.

M E Z my thanks to you for allowing me the privilege of speaking on the Origins of this our Mother Chapter Chryston Royal Arch Chapter No 454

In conclusion, having celebrated the past, let us now look forward to the future and resolve to give the Masonic Order, in all its aspects, and Chryston R.A.C. No 454 in particular the support it so richly deserves.

James F Denholm