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Our first Grand Master – Lord Carrington

This is an abridged Address given by W Bro the Honourable Lloyd Waddy, AM, RFD, QC at the Lord Carrington Commem- orative Dinner on 24 June 2013. The dinner was organised by the Freemasons’ Association (NSW & ACT) Inc. as part of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of the Foundation of the United Grand Lodge of NSW. The unabridged Address will be presented to the Grand Lodge Library.

Tonight is perhaps not the night to explore the machinations resulting in the formation of the United Grand Lodge of NSW. In this colony it had been partially pre-empted by a self-proclaimed local and disputed Grand Lodge of NSW, formed in 1877 from Lodges previously owing allegiance to Ireland and Scotland.

Before our United Grand Lodge was established, masonic unity had been a known preoccupation of Lord Carrington.

The Sydney Mail of 20 February 1886 carried an interesting account of a night held nine days earlier, not unlike tonight, but more important in its masonic prospect. It read as below:

Two years later and 125 years ago this year, at a meeting in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on 16 August 1888, the Articles of the Union were adopted and Lord Carrington was elected the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of NSW.

On 18 September 1888, Chief Justice Way, then Grand Master of South Australia installed Lord Carrington as our first Grand Master before 4,000 masons in the Exhibition Building.

Lord Carrington played a great part in achieving masonic unity in this State and in almost unlikely circumstances became our first Grand Master. ‘Unlikely’ because masonically speaking he was unqualified for the role, but universally welcomed!

Just before his Installation, it was realised that Charles had not been installed as a Master and technically was not eligible to become a Grand Master. To overcome this, an ‘Occasional Lodge’ was held at Government House under the Charter of Lodge Ionic where he was made a ‘Worshipful Master at sight’ by nine senior masons.

Our first Grand Master was born in 1843, two years after Queen Victoria’s second child and first son, Bertie. It would be 45 years before Charles assumed the high office of Grand Master of the UGL of NSW.

Charles was educated at Eton between 1856 and 1861 and went to Trinity College Cambridge in 1861. He was initiated into Freemasonry in the Isaac Newton Lodge, No 859 English Constitution, on 28 October 1861, age 18. He graduated in 1863 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Between 1865 and 1868, Charles was a Member of Parliament for High Wycombe, in the Liberal interest.

On the death of his father on 1 March 1868, Charles succeeded to the titles of 3rd Baron Carrington of Bulcot Lodge and 3rd Baron Carrington of Upton, which had been created 70 years before. He was immediately ineligible to remain in the House of Commons and moved to the House of Lords.

From 26 July 1879 he held the office of Joint Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain.

This is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable. The Lord Great Chamberlain had charge over the Palace of Westminster and played a major part in coronations.

On 21 August 1880, by Royal Licence, his name was legally changed to Charles Robert Carington, with only one ‘R’. He held the office of Captain of the Gentle- men at Arms between 1881 and 1885, under Prime Minister Gladstone, and was invested as a Privy Counselor on 15 July 1881. Prior to his departure to NSW on 6 June 1885 he was invested at age 42 as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).

On his appointment as Governor of NSW a London newspaper described him as ‘a man of the world, of acute intelligence, well read and understanding and watching the signs of the times he has come to the conclusion that the rule of democracy is inevitable and the policy of the aristocracy is to make the best of the situation’. He held the office of Governor between 1885 and 1890.

But what had he been up to before arriving as Vice Regal representative in NSW of Queen Victoria, then two years short of 50 years into her reign?

I now rely on Jane Ridley’s Bertie: A life of Edward VII in which she cites Charles over 40 times in her index and in her text, even covering matters after the King’s death.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were strongly Germanic, and raised Bertie and his brother within the court, under rather disastrous private tutors. Ridley records:

‘Very occasionally a few noblemen’s sons from Eton came to tea. Charles Carrington, who was to become Bertie’s lifelong friend and devoted follower, a clever courtier who kept a diary, first met Bertie at Buckingham Palace in 1854. He recalled that Bertie’s younger brother, Prince Albert was his parents’ favourite, “but I always liked the Prince of Wales far the best. He had such a kind and generous disposition and the kindest heart imaginable”.

Now for further information on our First Grand Master and the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, later King Edward VII.

Charles was one of Bertie’s friends the Queen objected to. Bertie wanted to make him his Equerry, but Ridley wrote that Charles declined after consulting his father, who advised: ‘You are his friend now, if you are a member of his household you will be his servant. He may get tired of you and your position as an equerry would not be pleasant’.

After Bertie celebrated his 30th birthday at Sandringham, he was rather ill but insisted on travelling to Buckinghamshire to go shooting with Charles. After his recovery it was proposed to send Bertie to tour India which produced immense dissent. Ridley describes it as ‘open war’ between mother and son. The Queen strongly objected to some of the people Bertie wanted to take with him ‘especially Carrington and the rollicking naval officer Lord Charles Beresford’. Bertie protested he was 33 years old and the Queen had no guardianship over him.

We get a good impression of Charles Carrington from that tour of India – along with the other 18 men Bertie had selected to accompany him. Charles however, was one of only two invited guests, part of the inner circle of the Marlborough Club Bertie had established. However, with the extreme heat Charles wrote they were ‘unduly subdued, more like a lot of monks than anything else’.

Bertie became Grand Master of the
English Constitution in 1874 and remained so until his accession in 1901. (He followed the examples of King George IV; King William I; and was followed by King Edward VIII and King George VI.)

On 3 January 1882 Charles joined the Royal Alpha Lodge No16 EC, London, and remained a member throughout his life. He was appointed Senior Grand Warden, EC, in 1882, even though he was not a Past Master and therefore technically ineligible. Shades of New South Wales!

There is no time to detail his many non-masonic contributions to this State. But as has been said, he played ‘a crucial and pivotal role in cementing our union, and can justly be called the “Father of United Masonry” in New South Wales’.

He had a family tragedy concerning his only son, Albert Wynn-Carrington who was born in London in April 1895 and educated at Eton and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. When only 20, he was wounded in action at Ypres and following complications after the amputation of his arm, he died at Boulogne on 19 May 1915. Due to the death of his son, on Charles’s death in June 1928, all his titles, apart from the two Baronies he had inherited, became extinct.

Few lives have evidenced better friend- ship of the needy. He served his sovereign, his country, his parliament and his people with great distinction, charity, humour and grace. He was at heart a humble man and a great discerner of character.

As said earlier Charles wrote of Bertie: ‘He had such a kind and generous disposition and the kindest heart imaginable’. Cannot the same be truly said of Lord Carrington: a true practitioner of the three principal masonic tenets or virtues to which we all subscribe: Brotherly Love, Relief (which includes charity) and Truth?

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, December 2013, page 10 to 11.