LODGE ST. JOHN 540 CROSSGATES
WHAT'S IN A NAME
Bro. Andrew Kerr PM. Almoner.
For the brethren of lodge St. John today, there may not seem to be much difference between, Lodge St.John Crossgates 540, and Lodge St.John 540.
When permission was granted from Grand Lodge to form our Lodge in 1873, the letter informing the petitioners included the sentence that it would be ' styled ' Lodge St. John 540, but our current Charter shows that the Lodge will be known as Lodge St. John Crossgates. Our original Charter (lost in a fire in 1890 ) must also have had the name of our Village Crossgates on it, as will be shown later.
BUT !!, to some of the brethren in the 1880's this 'difference' could have meant not only a loss of our original identity, but perhaps even a loss of the existence of a Lodge in Crossgates, as eventually Cowdenbeath was added to the Charter, if only for a few short months, and for a time, no meetings were held in Crossgates at all.
Like most Lodges, there have been times when our Lodge has gone through hard times and come through them, and by around 1883, the Lodge was certainly beginning to experience dwindling attendances , but this time it was different, as there seemed to be a solution, which was probably supported by most of the brethren, and for a time it seemed to have worked.
Our problems may well have begun, due to falling attendances possibly caused by the movement of labour away from the Crossgates area, resulting in reduced numbers of candidates. Many miners had to move away, as the existing Pits in the area became harder to work. The opening up of new Pits a few miles away, in and around the growing village of Cowdenbeath meant that between 1871 and 1881, the population of Cowdenbeath almost doubled, after all, the birth of our Lodge in 1873 had probably stemmed from the population growth in the Crossgates area, due to the influx of miners from not only other areas of Fife, but also from further afield. The census returns from the time record many instances of miners coming from such places, as the Lothians, Lanarkshire and the many other mining areas of Scotland and even abroad, and by the early 1880's the workforce were on the move once again.
According to an extract of the minutes of the Lodge 19th Jan., 1888, in a letter sent to G.L ., " If the petitioners wish is acceded to, depend upon it, then the Lodge would go back to it's dormant form of 1883. " Our records show that we had only one initiate in 1882 and no initiates at all in 1883. Then in 1884 we had a total of 17 Initiates. It was to cope with this problem, that in 1884 in what seemed like a good idea at the time, the Lodge decided to apply to Grand Lodge to hold meetings alternately, between Crossgates and Cowdenbeath and the increase in Initiates in 1884, ( a total of 17 ) would suggest that moving to Cowdenbeath was indeed a good idea.
We have to realize that travel between the two places was not quite as easy as it is today, especially in the middle of winter, although there was a rail link between the Station on the edge of Crossgates, and the Station in Bridge Street Cowdenbeath, ( neither of which still exists today ) and it was only short walk across the road from the station on Bridge Street to the new meeting place in McLean's Hall. During the differences between the two factions within the Lodge, a letter sent to Grand Lodge informed them that " when the meetings were held in Cowdenbeath, the Crossgates Brethren had suitable trains both ways when the roads are bad, while Cowdenbeath Brethren have not, when meetings are held in Crossgates. "
As more and more of the brethren who moved to the Cowdenbeath area would have introduced new applicants, who would themselves have brought more of the local Cowdenbeath population into the Lodge It is easy to see the sense this made since less than ten years after our Inauguration, attendances had begun to decline. It is worth noting that even before this, there were already a good number of Freemasons already living in the Cowdenbeath area, many of whom were actually members of Lodge Minto 385, as well of course as members of Lodge St John 540.
On August 15th 1884, Lodge St John Crossgates convened a Special meeting in Cowdenbeath, where three brethren were initiated. It was then proposed that the next meeting be held on the 29th of August for the purpose of Passing and Raising those Brethren, David Penman and Charles McLean. This duly took place, and again at Cowdenbeath where Brother John Kirk was also Passed and Raised.
The R.W.M. at this time was Brother Thomas Campbell, a founding member who had been Installed only four months earlier and the Secretary was Brother James Parker, two Brethren who would later play a large part in ensuring the survival of Lodge St.John in Crossgates.
The next meeting to take place was once again held in Cowdenbeath, on 12th September and Ironically, after two brethren were initiated, the matter of what to do with the Lodge Room in Crossgates was raised and the matter was left in the hands of the R.W.M. and the Brother Treasurer.
No doubt, It would seem that paying rent to Mrs. Crawford in Crossgates and also to rent a room in Cowdenbeath would be proving costly. Ironically both of the owners of the premises which would come to be used by the Lodge in Cowdenbeath, namely McLean's Hall ( Charles McLean ), and then when it had become known as Brunton's Inn
( John Brunton ) became Freemasons Charles becoming a member of Lodge St.John and John, of lodge Minto.
Perhaps the fact that three meetings in a row were held in Cowdenbeath should have been a portent of things to come. The R.W.M. at this time would come to play an important part in the years ahead but for now, just as the Lodge had prospered after initially opening in 1873, so it now continued to prosper after 1884.
Although the Lodge did indeed meet alternately at first gradually less meetings were held in Crossgates, and after the meeting of 1st May 1886 at Crossgates it would be 21st September 1887 before a meeting was held there again almost 30 meetings, including committee meetings and nearly 18 months later. It must have seemed to those brethren who were still living in the Crossgates area that they were in danger of losing their Lodge from the village.
Gradually the discontent which had been simmering within the Crossgates Brethren began to come to a head.
At the meeting held in Cowdenbeath on Sept. 7th 1887, some discussion took place regarding the place of meeting in Crossgates. Some doubt being expressed as to the power of working the 3rd degree in Cowdenbeath, the Bro. Secretary was instructed to write to Grand Lodge to ascertain exact powers. Also at this meeting, Bro. Morris proposed, and Bro. Simpson seconded , that the Lodge give up the hall in Crossgates It was agreed to leave any action till the next meeting.
This was held on the 21st. Sept. 1887, in Crossgates. By now it was becoming clear that there were indeed Crossgates voices of discontent within the Lodge.
At this meeting once again a discussion took place regarding the Lodge meeting and working all degrees in Cowdenbeath, but once again nothing definite was arrived at, and a letter was read out re-assuring the Lodge of their right to work degrees in Cowdenbeath. This question of having the right to work the Degrees in Cowdenbeath may well have been a smoke screen, hiding the fight to prevent so many meetings being held in Cowdenbeath.
The meetings returned to Cowdenbeath again. On Nov. 16th 1887 Bro. Thomas Campbell, by now P.M., proposed and Bro. James Bruce seconded to have the Lodge wrought in accordance with the terms of privilege granted by Grand Committee in May 1884. That is, to work only occasionally at Cowdenbeath and to meet alternately at Crossgates and Cowdenbeath.
It was then moved by Bro. Hunter, seconded by Bro. Wilson that they meet as usual at Cowdenbeath when there was work to be done and to go to Crossgates when there is work to be done there. It must have seemed to the Crossgates Brethren that as usual at Cowdenbeath seemed to be the norm, and now Cowdenbeath seemed to be the accepted meeting place.
Events now began to take on a more serious nature. After the Installation meeting on the 27th Dec.,1887, the retiring Secretary Bro. James Parker and retiring Treasurer Bro. Alex Spence moved quickly at the end of the meeting and removed, and then refused to hand over the books and monies to the succeeding Office Bearers.
At the next meeting on 4th Jan., 1888, the Lodge was now for the first time in our minutes styled " Lodge St John Crossgates and Cowdenbeath".
At this meeting a motion was moved by Bro. Keddie PM and seconded by Bro. Simpson, that committee of management be instructed to secure the books and money in the hands of the late Treasurer and Secretary, and to produce the same at the next meeting in lodge room at Cowdenbeath.
This advert (Fig1)was placed in the Dunfermline Saturday Press for the meeting to take place on Wednesday 7th December, 1887. The advert was placed before it appeared in our Minutes.
At the committee meeting held on the 7th Jan., the late Secretary and Treasurer informed the committee that they had been advised to keep the books and money, but declined to say by whom. The new Secretary Bro. Robert Morris was instructed to write to inform Grand Lodge of this, and this was duly done, informing Grand Lodge that on the 4th Jan., neither the former Secretary Bro. Parker nor former Treasurer Bro, Spence had appeared at the meeting to hand over the books or money.
On the 11th Jan.1888, a letter from Grand Lodge informed the Lodge, a petition from 40 members of the Lodge had been received, stating that, ) - ' In May 1884 G.L. granted permission to hold meetings at Cowdenbeath and that privilege was faithfully acted upon for nearly 2 years. During the last 18 months however, only one meeting had been held at Crossgates, and that meeting, was convened on receiving a petition from 25 Brethren residing in the Crossgates district. The Petitioners felt much aggrieved that the Lodge had practically been removed to Cowdenbeath, and had several times requested to have meetings alternated at Crossgates and Cowdenbeath, but these had been ignored. '
The Petitioners now requested that the right to meet in Cowdenbeath, be withdrawn.
The Lodge had clearly now divided into two clear factions, with the Crossgates Brethren obviously fearful of losing the Lodge to Cowdenbeath.
On the 18th Jan., Secretary of the Lodge Bro., Morris was instructed to reply to G.L. regarding the letter they had received from the Crossgates Brethren and was as follows )- 'Since May 1884 meetings had been held regularly every fortnight in Cowdenbeath, always with work to do - either Entering, Passing or Raising. Some 57 members had joined, all residing in Cowdenbeath and neighbourhood, the meetings are always well attended.
If the petitioners wish is acceded to, depend upon it, the Lodge will go back to its dormant form of 1883 while if allowed to meet here, our Lodge is bound to prosper. Cowdenbeath village has grown by leaps and bounds these past 10 years, while Crossgates is the reverse. The pure and simple case is this. Since meetings were held in Cowdenbeath, the Lodge finances have swelled very much and is at present in a prosperous state and we are of the opinion that if our right was withdrawn, the Crossgates Brethren would be able for a year to keep afloat. Of the 40 members who signed the petition, 35 were not in clear standing. '
A meeting was due to take place at Crossgates, on the 8th Feb. but although it was duly opened, no business could be transacted because the parties told to ' secure the Charter and swords, could not get into the room where the articles were kept. Owing to a mass meeting of miners in McLean's Hall in Cowdenbeath, and the train being due at Cowdenbeath for Crossgates, the Brethren had not time to get the working tools etc.,. and catch the train, the Lodge was closed.'
The Lodge received a letter on the 9th Feb. from G.L. The Master, Secretary and Treasurer, to appear before Complaints Committee on the 18th Feb. and to submit Minutes and cash books.
Reply dated 9th Feb. That they would do so but the books were not in their possession, but would ask the Late Secy. and Treasurer for them, and if they were handed over, they would bring them. So far it is not clear when the books and monies (taken on the 27th dec,1887) were returned to the new Secretary and Treasurer, but the Lodge held a meeting in Crossgates on 7th March 1888, and a letter from G.L. was read out. Perhaps G.L. saw the writing on the wall for Lodge St. John, long before the Brethren of the Lodge. The letter held what was sound advice, although not completely for all of the Brethren. G.L. suggested )- 'That the Lodge is to hold its March regular meeting in Crossgates and thereafter to meet alternately in Cowdenbeath and Crossgates, and that the Annual Meeting for the election of Office Bearers be always held in Crossgates.
Further that in the event of these arrangements proving unsatisfactory, the Cowdenbeath Brethren to be recommended to apply for a Lodge for themselves.'
So there it was - the first suggestion, as early as March 1888 from Grand Lodge, that the Cowdenbeath Brethren should apply for a Lodge themselves, but it would be a long time before this suggestion would be acted upon.
Although the Lodge would continue to alternate between the two places and continued to carry on with normal Lodge business, it was not long before there were other bones of contention and disharmony between the two factions. The first action to cause some friction came with the Lodge attempt to introduce the Mark Degree to the Lodge. A letter was sent to Lodge Minto and to Lodge Dunearn to inquire if they could advise how best to approach this proposal, but eventually on 1st August, 1888, the R.W.M. read out a letter from North British Railway Lodge No 597, with guidance in drawing up Bye Laws for the Lodge to work in accordance with G.L. for conferring the Mark Degree on M.M.s, also for the ceremonial for Installed Masters. The fee for the Mark Degree to be 37/- without a diploma, and 39/6d., with. Brethren who went to Edinburgh to receive M. Degree, to receive 2/6d., each for travelling expenses.
Also at this meeting, the Secretary was asked to draw G.L. attention to the fact that the Lodge had been mentioned in a report in Grand Lodge as -- St John Crossgates -- instead of Crossgates and Cowdenbeath.
Now , the underlying problems began to surface once again. On the 3rd Oct, P.M. Campbell moved a motion against meeting at Cowdenbeath, against making changes to the Bye Laws and that a meeting had been held and agreed, that they objected to the Lodge working the Mark Degree. The motion was overruled by a show of hands.
Clearly all was not well between the Crossgates and Cowdenbeath Brethren, and a rather more serious phase was now underway.
On 5th December 1888, at McLean's hall, Cowdenbeath, -- not having the Lodge Charter, the Lodge was not opened, but the 34 Brethren assembled, agreed to report to G.L. as follows ) R.W.M. sent to Crossgates for the Chest containing the Working Tools, Charter etc. of the Lodge, for him to open the same in Cowdenbeath tonight.
When Bro. James Parker, who had custody of the Lodge Room key, refused to allow the Tools etc. to be removed. R.W.M. and two other Brethren had to hire a machine specially, and went to Crossgates, but were met at Lodge Room by some 7 Brethren from Crossgates, who refused to hand over the property, and did use violence to prevent the Chest being conveyed to Cowdenbeath. Their objection being that the meetings should be held in Crossgates '.
Just how much violence, or even the nature of the violence which was used, we will never know, but it shows the strength of feeling between the two factions --no doubt both of whom were convinced that they were doing their best to ensure the survival of Lodge St. John.
A letter had been sent to R.W.M. D. Hodge from P.M. Campbell, stating that a meeting had been held by the Crossgates Brethren ( dated, 27th Nov. ) that it was their intention to uphold the protest made by them and that in future, meetings should be held in Crossgates.
There follows a report -- that the letter must have been drawn up at a private meeting. From the attendance book it is noted that of the protesting Brethren, only 2 or 3 attend the meetings regularly, that the lodge meets alternately at Crossgates and Cowdenbeath, and the only time there is any trouble is when P.M. Campbell is present. G.L. is again invited to resolve the situation.
Grand Lodge was again invited to visit Lodge rooms to try to resolve situation.
Clearly - a lack of Brotherly love was by now becoming more and more obvious, and the inconvenience of having to move the Lodge Paraphernalia between Crossgates and Cowdenbeath did not help the situation. Although P.M. Campbell would seem to be the main protagonist, he was by no means acting alone.
On the 8th Dec. 1888, -- once again a letter was received from G.L., repeating the same advice given 9 Months earlier, -- again recommending that if the problem could not be resolved amicably, then Cowdenbeath Brethren should apply for a Charter at earliest possible date.
It must be remembered that although the Lodge was divided on the issue of where it should be meeting, there is no doubt that both sides must have felt that they were doing what was best for the Lodge. On the Cowdenbeath side of the disagreement, there were also founder members of the Lodge who were resident in Cowdenbeath and must have thought it was obvious that it would benefit the Lodge in the long run, to meet in Cowdenbeath. Those founding members who were resident in Crossgates could, probably, only see the possibility of losing the Lodge to Cowdenbeath, and must have felt it would only be a matter of time :- especially now that the name had been changed -- if only for now at least, on Lodge Certificates.
On 12th Dec.,1888 at Crossgates, the Crossgates Brethren now tried a new tactic, one which had a more democratic attempt to gain a little more control over the Lodge. Nomination of Office Bearers for ensuing 12 Months took place. Each Office was Moved for re-election and Seconded. Other Brethren were also proposed and Seconded for every Office. It would seem that the Crossgates Brethren were challenging every Office from R.W.M., right through the Offices. All Cowdenbeath Brethren were re-elected.
On 15th Dec., a letter was sent to P.G.L. once again informing them that the Crossgates Brethren were refusing to allow working tools etc., to be conveyed to Cowdenbeath.
On 24th Dec., P.G.L. now took a more hands on approach to try to solve the dispute, when a Deputation arrived at Cowdenbeath at 11.40 am.
The Provincial Deputation consisted of R.W.P.G.M. Bro. Major Oswald of Dunikeir, Bro. Captain Bremner, P.G. J.W. and Bro. David Osborne, P.G. Secretary.
They were met by a Deputation from Crossgates - viz, Bro, T Campbell P.M., Bros, A Spence, J Bruce, J Addison, A Duncan, A Scotland and Bro Thomas Muirlong.
There was also a Deputation from Cowdenbeath - viz, R.W.M. David Hodge, Bro., A Hodge P.M., Bros, T Ness, J Hall, J Dryburgh, A Fowler and Bro R Morris.
Evidence was heard from both sides, then R.W.P.G.M. intimated that after the election on the 27th Dec, - the books to be sent to P.G. Secretary, then they would announce their verdict. The meeting closed at 1pm. The night of the 27th arrived and at Crossgates, the Election of Office Bearers took place and in all votes -- the Cowdenbeath Brethren were re- elected and installed. When the Lodge was called to refreshment -- all of the Crossgates Brethren except one, retired.
It was on 6th Feb, 1889 at Cowdenbeath that the P.G .Lodge report was read. -
It was resolved to withdraw permission of Lodge St. John Crossgates No. 540 to meet in Cowdenbeath , and instruct Grand Secretary to communicate with members of 540 resident in Cowdenbeath, with view of erecting a new Lodge there. 'It is worth noting that P.G. Lodge were still referring to the Lodge as : Lodge St John Crossgates 540.
Yet again this would seem to be the answer to the problem, considering all that had gone before, to the Crossgates Brethren at least. BUT !!! Bro. Keddie moved and Bro. Morris seconded that the Lodge protest against Bro. Oswald of Dunikeir's report, and that Bro. Hodge be sent to Edinburgh to meet with Bro. Charles Harding our Proxy Master, to protest against proceedings meantime.
6th March 1889 at Crossgates -- A copy of the letter sent to G.M.M. by Bro. Thomas Campbell read out again asking for permission to meet alternately be withdrawn.
Despite the disagreements within the Lodge, it should be noted that the Lodge as a whole still functioned as it should, and a letter from some of the employees connected with the Railway works in Cowdenbeath had asked that the Lodge lay a Foundation or Memorial stone on the new bridge that spans the Great North Road situated in the centre of Cowdenbeath. Eventually this would duly be done. The Lodge also met and marched in processions with Lodge Minto.
20th March, 1889, at Crossgates, the Lodge now received a letter from Grand Secretary -- ' Power to meet alternately to remain in force '.
Bro. Muirlong objected to this decision, and was dissatisfied with conditions relevant to arrangements regarding processions, festivals and celebrations being held in Crossgates and was also dissatisfied that the -- " CHARTER SHOULD SHOW COWDENBEATH ON IT ", if power to work there is granted .
Clearly, Grand Lodge could not make both sides happy.
At the next meeting on 3rd April at Cowdenbeath Bro. A Hodge moved and Bro. Keddie seconded, -- 'THAT COWDENBEATH BE ADDED TO THE CHARTER.' Not surprisingly, P.M. Thomas Campbell moved and Bro . A . Spence seconded that it 'be not.' This must have been what the Crossgates Brethren had been dreading most although it could only have been a matter of time.
There were 6 votes for amendment and 26 for the Motion.
Over the rest of the month, arrangements were made, and on the appropriate day, the Lodge carried out --- the Laying of the Memorial Stone in the Railway Bridge spanning the High Street in Cowdenbeath, with P.M. Archie Hodge performing the ceremony. It should be noted, that although the Lodge was now 'styled ' Lodge St. John Crossgates and Cowdenbeath on the certificates, Cowdenbeath had not yet been added to the Lodge Charter.
30th April 1889, at Cowdenbeath, a letter was sent to Proxy Master to effect that the Lodge is quite happy with arrangements, - viz, alternating between Crossgates and Cowdenbeath, and that ' all we want, is to have Cowdenbeath inserted on to the Charter. ' Needless to say that is all the Cowdenbeath Brethren wanted. The same could not be said for the Crossgates Brethren. At the meeting held on 1st of May, 1889 --- It all proved too much for one Brother in particular. Matters now came to a head.
9th May, 1889, yet another letter was sent to G. Secretary after what, in this writers opinion, probably the single most decisive act which ensured that Lodge St. John No. 540 would eventually return to Crossgates permanently, and so ensure that a new Lodge would be set up in Cowdenbeath occurred.
This letter informed G.L., ) ' At the close of the meeting on 1st May, 1889, Thomas Campbell P.M. lifted Charter of Lodge from the Master's table and made off with it.
A deputation was sent to him the same night asking him to return it, but he would not even to Grand Lodge. Bro. Campbell, had on 16th Jan. recommended Mr. R. Chalmers as a proper candidate for Initiation, which was agreed to and he got his several Degrees in due course. His Diploma was made out in usual form viz. -- St. John 540, Crossgates and Cowdenbeath and this he refused to accept because Cowdenbeath was not on the Charter. The members then approved Cowdenbeath to be added to Charter to save any squabble, but Bro. Campbell petitioned against this and also asks for permission to work in Cowdenbeath to be withdrawn. Our Proxy Master advises to apply for permission to work without Charter until it has been restored. '
The Lodge was then authorized to continue working under Annual Certificate issued byGrand Lodge. until recovery of Charter.
15th May 1889, Meeting held at Crossgates could not be opened due to the fact that, once again the Chest containing working tools etc, had been removed.
The Lodge now took an unprecedented step, when informing G. Secretary of these events --- they also informed him that they considered it their duty to put the matter into the hands of the police.
31st. May, 1889, -- G .Secretary wrote to the Lodge, informing them that Grand Committee has ordered the Charter which Bro. Campbell has unlawfully taken possession of, to be returned to G .Secretary on or before 4th June next, under pain of suspension or expulsion. On receiving it, he would endorse it as -- Crossgates and Cowdenbeath and forward it to the Lodge.
14th June, 1889, -- another letter was received from G .Secretary informing the Lodge that while G.L. exercises control over Charter, books etc. of the Lodge, it takes nothing to do with the furniture, jewels etc. This letter also contained an amazing sentence viz, --- ' Grand Lodge consent to you taking civil action for recovery of chest is not necessary '.
They may or may not have been endorsing the action, but considering how long the disagreement had been going on, and that the Lodge had repeatedly asked both - P.G.L.and G.L. for help in resolving the situation, and that the Cowdenbeath Brethren had been advised to look to starting a new Lodge - it was a pity that the situation had been allowed to go on for so long, and a pity that the two sides could not seem to sit down and resolve the situation themselves.
The Lodge had indeed been in touch with Solicitors, ( McBeth Currie) who in turn, had been in touch with Sherriff Gillespie, who advised that the matter should be settled in a Civil Court. The Lodge then advised the Solicitors to take any necessary steps for the recovery of property.
A meeting scheduled for 3rd, July at Crossgates was not opened because the door was locked and the key for the Hall was in the possession of the Crossgates Brethren, who refused to allow any meetings meantime to be held in Crossgates, owing to dispute over Lodge property. 12 Brethren then met in Crawford's Hotel adjoining the Lodge Room and arranged to meet at Cowdenbeath at a later date and await the result of the Solicitor's investigation.
At a committee meeting on 30th July it was agreed to ask McBeth Currie to put the case into Court.
In August, Bro. David Hodge resigned as R.W.M. and Bro. R Morris moved from Secretary, to R.W.M.
Bro. Goodall took over as Secretary. Bro. Morris opened his first meeting on the 4th Sept, but not being in possession of Working Tools had to postpone the meeting until October when they hoped to borrow Lodge Minto's Tools.
There now began a series of letters and meetings between lawyers for the Lodge - McBeth Currie for the Lodge, and Mr. Gorrie for the Defenders, viz, Bros P.M. Thomson, Bro.Addison and others. ' The Defenders having without authority from the Committee of Management of the Lodge, removed Chest containing the Working Tools and Paraphernalia of the Lodge. '
It seems wholly unmasonic and cold to see this action in black and white, and it is a mystery how this situation could not have been resolved long before it ever got to this state. There must have been some pretty determined characters on both sides.
In September, the Lodge sent a letter to Fordell Brass Band informing them that the Lodge was no longer the Tennant of Mrs. Crawford's Hall as she had re-let it to other Parties. There had been discussions between the Lodge and Mrs. Crawford about the amount of the annual rent for the Hall.
2nd October, 1889, at Cowdenbeath. The Lodge received a letter from G.L. to say that P.M. Campbell had delivered the Charter and that it would be held by G.L. until Grand Committee had given it's deliverance upon a petition signed by 49 Crossgates members, praying for an inquiry into the whole matter as between Crossgates and Cowdenbeath sections of the Lodge,
Could this at last begin to solve the problem ?
The Lodge Committee now decided to answer G.L., informing them that only 9 of these 49 members had in fact paid test fees, - the rest therefore had no say. The Lodge was quite happy to meet under the powers already granted, viz, to meet alternately in Crossgates and Cowdenbeath and suggested !!!!!!! -- that if the Crossgates section of the Lodge were not happy with these arrangements, then -- 'THEY SHOULD APPLY FOR A CHARTER FOR THEMSELVES'.This petition was signed by 53 members who also wished to add to the petition, that of the 49 who had signed the former petition, -- only about 6 or 7 ever entered the Lodge Rooms, and have no doubt been pressed by the 6 or 7, to put their names to the petition.
It seems ironic that as early as September 1884, the problem of what to do with Lodge Room in Crossgates had been discussed and left over. Then, in Sept. 1887 the Cowdenbeath Brethren proposed to give up the Lodge room in Crossgates and again the matter was left over. In Jan. 1888, the Crossgates Brethren requested that the right to meet in Cowdenbeath be withdrawn.
In March 1888, G.L. recommended that the Cowdenbeath Brethren consider setting up a new Lodge in Cowdenbeath with the same advice being repeated in Dec. of 1888. Into Feb. of 1889, and once again G.L. repeated the suggestion that the Cowdenbeath Brethren set up a new Lodge. The following March saw the Crossgates Brethren asking to have permission to meet alternately at Cowdenbeath be withdrawn. The Cowdenbeath Brethren remained determined to meet alternately, and so, on to May, when matters really came to a head ; with Bro. Campbell removing the Charter.
Now just over 4 years after the question of hiring a hall in both Crossgates and Cowdenbeath was raised, and 2 years after G.L. first suggested that the Cowdenbeath Brethren set up a new Lodge for themselves, ; --- the Cowdenbeath Brethren were suggesting that the Crossgates Brethren consider opening a new Lodge for themselves in --- CROSSGATES.
I can only wonder how the Crossgates Brethren must have felt about this suggestion.
15th Oct.1889 at Crossgates, -- The Lodge was informed that committee had renegotiated with Mrs. Crawford and now had use of Hall, and that the committee now had possession of Chest of Working Tools etc, from Bro. Addison. It was now agreed; to save removal of chest, to procure furniture necessary for 3rd Degree and to allow one Chest to stay in Crossgates and the other in Cowdenbeath.
6th Oct. 1889, at Crossgates, -- A letter from G .Committee informed the Lodge that on 25th Sept.1889, Bro. T. Campbell had appeared and delivered up the Charter along with the Petition from the 47 Brethren, which would be considered on the 31st. October by G.Com., when a report from Complaints Committee would be as follows ;- to grant the prayers of the Petition, would be as follows --- to withdraw the authority of the Lodge to meet alternately in Crossgates and Cowdenbeath.
Grand Committee refused this Petition.
Grand Lodge had overruled the complaints committee
Bro. Thomas Campbell, P.M. had taken the Charter from the Lodge on 9th May,1889. Ill feeling still prevailed when Bro. Bruce accused several brethren of underhand work in getting G.Com. to throw out the Petition, after alterations to the Lodge Charter having been read out. This was the first mention of alterations to the Lodge Charter, which now must have been styled ' LODGE St .JOHN 540 CROSSGATES AND COWDENBEATH. '
So, while our Lodge certificates, minutes and Charter would now agree, for a short time at least ; the same could not be said for the Brethren, and on 11th Dec,1889 at the nomination of Office Bearers -- Once again all Offices were challenged by the Crossgates Brethren. On the 27th Dec. at the election of Office Bearers, on voting taking place, again the Cowdenbeath Brethren retained Office.
On 20th Jan. 1890, at Cowdenbeath, the Lodge received communication from the Solicitors re expenses etc. and then one month later tragedy struck the Lodge when there was a fire at McLean's Hall, Cowdenbeath, on 19th Feb.; the Lodge Charter, Chest and Paraphernalia were all lost. The Lodge Meetings would now take place in Brunton's Hotel, although our minutes would also record that meetings were held in Brunton's Hall and the Dunfermline/ Cowdenbeath Hotel, all of which thanks to the marriage of Charles Mclean Snr's widow Isobel to John Brunton - were the same place. After John's death, this Hotel was then run and known by Eezie and then her son Charles Jnr's name = McLean's. By the 19th March 1890, the Lodge now worked with a duplicate Charter.
The Lodge was again disrupted by the loss of R.W.M. Bro Morris who had to move to Methil due to work commitments. Bro. Morris resigned his office, although the Lodge refused to accept it but it became clear that he would now be living in Methil. Bro. Keddie was then proposed as R.W.M. but declined it and instead proposed Bro Thomas Muirlong, Seconded by Bro. James Parker. Bro Muirlong was installed as R.W.M. and was in Office for just over 9 Months. It would seem that the Lodge was now back in the hands of Crossgates Brethren.
From now on, there must have been a coming together of the two factions, and at the next Nomination of Office Bearers on 10th Dec 1891, at Crossgates, Bro.Thomas Campbell and the Crossgates Brethren were proposed for Offices -- with no opposition.
4th March 1891 at Crossgates,---- A letter was read out from Bro. Goodall, stating that the Cowdenbeath Brethren were desirous of getting a Charter for themselves, and asking for support from Crossgates and other Brethren. Bro. Goodall to be Secretary and Bro. Keddie to be R.W.M. of Lodge Thane of Fife, 781. Bro. William Keddie had been R.W.M. of Lodge St. John in 1886-1887 this was discussed at length and agreed by Lodge St John 540, on 17th March 1891. It was proposed to donate £10-10/- For their Charter, and in May it was agreed to lend Working Tools for their first meeting to be held in June 1891. On 10th June the Lodge also agreed to give 2 boards,3 candlesticks and 1 black box for the sum of £3. This was to be done before the first meeting on 24th June.
In November 1891, at Lodge Committee meeting it was moved to have Cowdenbeath removed from our Charter but this was defeated by 2 votes.
This matter was brought up again over the following years, each time the votes taken produced the same result until finally the Lodge agreed to submit a proposal to Provincial Grand Lodge and on 9th November 1894 --- Report of P.G.Lodge meeting - 'Business being, petition from Lodge 540 to have Cowdenbeath removed from Charter. Provincial meeting being unanimously in favour, it is to be put before Grand Lodge at a suitable date.'
It is hard to believe that it took so long to achieve what it seemed, most of the Crossgates Brethren had wanted for so long,
Now there was no doubt that Lodge St. John 540 was once again the Crossgates Lodge, but was it Lodge St. John Crossgates 540 -- Lodge St. John 540 Crossgates -- or was it Lodge St. John 540 ?
Oh well, what's in a name