Lodge History

Sir George Cathcart No. 617


The First 100 Years

THE DISTRICT in which the Lodge had its birth and is still situate has romantic and heroic traditions. It is recorded that in 1157 the territory was granted in a charter by David I. to Walter, the founder of the Royal and Illustrious house of Stuart. Walter a few years later made a donation of the Church of Cathcart to the monks of Paisley. In 1179 there is the first mention of the family of the patron hero of the Lodge—Ranaldus Cathcart having been a witness to the confirmation by Alan, son of Walter, of the gift of the church of his father to the monks of Paisley. The ancient castle—the ruins of which still attracts and interests the visitor—is supposed to have been erected so far back as the eighth century. On the 13th May, 1568, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, from an eminence within the castle grounds—the place is marked by a stone—saw her army routed by the Regent Moray, and then became a fugitive, ending her career in the tragedy of Fotheringay. Sir George Cathcart, after whom the Lodge is named, was brother to the second Earl Cathcart (Charles Murray Cathcart). An English general, he served with the Russians as aide-de-camp in the campaign of 1813-1814, and under Wellington at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. In 1852 he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief at the Cape of Good Hope, where he succeeded in restoring peace to the Queen’s Dominion in South Africa. Appointed Adjutant-General in 1853, he served under Lord Raglan in the Crimea. He fell gloriously in command of the 4th Division at the Battle of Inkerman on the 5th November, 1854, killed by a musket ball, and was buried in the old fort on the heights above Sebastopol. A memorial stone erected by his widow, Lady Georgina Cathcart, is in the Abbey Churchyard, Paisley.

1877 New Cathcart: The outflowing  population of the City of Glasgow had begun to build on the wooded knolls and plains of the village, and now the banks of it’s once romantic stream are lined with houses. The city outcomers brought with them many social wants not found among the farmers of the secluded parish. Many had received the Light of Masonry and in their rural homes desired to keep up their connection with the Brotherhood. On the 5th December 1877 a meeting was held in Graeme’s Temperance Hotel , New Cathcart, which was attended by the following seven Master Masons: James Martin 275 in the Chair; Thomas Mailley 512; D. Nochar 321; Robert Caskie 153; John McIndoe 153; Richard Robb 175; and Robert Graeme 89.

The Chairman having stated the object of the meeting, Bro Robb moved: “That an endeavour should be made to establish a Masonic Lodge in Cathcart, as members of the craft were placed at a disadvantage when attending Masonic meeting, there being no travelling accommodation at late hours and the roads being far from good, therefore a committee of all present be appointed to carry out the object.” Bro. Mclndoe seconded the motion, which was unanimously agreed to. Bro. Graeme was appointed Secretary, and Bros. Caskie Treasurer. Various meetings were held, and on 18th January, 1878, having obtained the support of the Office-bearers of Busby St. John’s and Albert Edward, Polmadie, a form of Petition to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Charter was adopted. It was unanimously agreed to name the new Lodge The Sir George Cathcart “ after General Sir George Cathcart, of the district family. The Office-bearers elected were: Bros. James Martin, R.W.M.; James Smith, D.M.; A. McLean, SM.; D. Nochar, S.W.; J. Murphy, J.W.; Geo. Lawson, Secretary; R. Caskie, Treasurer; R, Robb, S.D.; Win. Shanks, J.D.; J. Mclndoe, I.G.; T. Mailley, Tyler.

On 23rd January Bro. Nochar, SW., resigned, and Bro. Graeme was appointed SW. It was resolved to accept from Mr. Couper the use of the hall—a wooden erection, which stood on the opposite side of the road from the present hall. The charter, dated 4th February, 1878 A.D., and the year of Light 5882, came to hand, and the inaugural meeting of the Lodge, with 11 affiliates on the Roll, was held on 22nd February, 1878, at 8 p.m. Bro. T. White, R.W.M., Albert Edward Lodge, attended with a deputation of three brethren. Five candidates were initiated, viz.: William Peddie, William Harley, James Harley, William Gow and William Weir. On 3rd October, 1878, the ceremony of consecration was performed by Bro. Colonel Sir A. C. Campbell, P.G.M. in presence of numerous deputations from Sister Lodges.

When the trustees of the late Mr. Couper built the Couper Institute, the Lodge removed its meeting place to that building, and has continued there except during the years 1915-1917 when it had necessarily to remove to Langside Hall during the rebuilding of the Institute by the Corporation of Glasgow A souvenir of the original Couper Institute has been retained for the Lodge in the presentation by Bro. John Bisset of a model crane and three ashlars made from the cornerstone of the old building.

The first honorary Chaplain of the Lodge, the late Bro. Rev. Dr. Smith, minister of the local Parish Church, reached his jubilee as a member of the craft on 13th June, 1881, and the same year was appointed to the Moderatorship of the General Assembly—the highest honour the Church of Scotland can bestow on any of its members. To mark the event the Lodge presented to Dr. Smith an eloquent congratulatory address, in which they referred to the consummate tact, dignity and efficiency with which he had discharged his high duties as Moderator of the General Assembly, and to his long life as a Mason, reflecting honour on the craft

Ceremonial Masonic functions have at all times enlisted the interest of the Lodge. One notable ceremony on record was the laying of the foundation stone of Langside Parish Church on the 3rd October, 1885. Bro. Col. Sir Archibald Campbell of Blythswood, M.W.M.M., officiated, all the offices being filled by representatives of Sir George Cathcart Lodge. Some 400 brethren took part in the procession.

The 60th Anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated on 3rd February, 1938, by a dinner in the Lodge Room, Couper Institute, Bro. James Balmer, R.W.M., in the chair, and at which were present: Bro. Thomas Hart, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Renfrewshire East, accompanied by the Office-bearers of the Province, representatives of Grand Lodge and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow.

At or near the beginning of the Second World War, the Lodge Room was taken over by the Glasgow Corporation for Civil Defence duties, and the meetings were then held in Edith Cottage, Old Castle Road, Cathcart, but after a short absence the meetings were resumed in the Couper Institute

The Lodge held Divine Service in Cathcart Parish Church, the service being conducted by Bro. the Rev. J. A. C. MacKellar, M.A., D.D., a member of the Lodge and Senior Chaplain for a number of years, but later it was merged into a Joint Divine Service with Lodges Nos. 153, 512, 592.

New chains of office, designed and fashioned by Bro. Alastair J. Murdoch, Substitute Master, for the Right Worshipful Master and Wardens, along with a new set of regalia for the Office-bearers were consecrated at the Installation Meeting on Saturday 3rd December, 1949, by Bro. Rev. D. Langlands Seath, Provincial Grand Junior Chaplain, and Bro. Samuel W. Love, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Renfrewshire East, then invested Bro. Thomas W. Shearer, Right Worshipful Master, with the new chain of office

The 75th Anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated on 4th February, 1953, by a dinner in the Marlborough House, Shawlands, Bro. Matthew 1. Livingston, R.W.M., in the chair, and at which were present: Bro. Robert Macmenemey, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Renfrewshire East, accompanied by the Office-bearers of the Province and representatives of Grand Lodge. The Lodge has always taken an active interest in the work of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge. The late Bro. F. W. Allan, P.M., held the positions of Grand Senior Warden, and was elected R.W. Provincial Grand Master of Renfrewshirc East in 1903; the late Bro. William Scott was Provincial Grand Master Depute; the late Bro. H. F. Gordon, B.A.(Oxon), acted as Provincial Grand Substitute Master; the late Bro. James Donaldson, P.M., occupied the position of Provincial Grand Treasurer from 1903-1913; the late Bro. James McGuire, P.M., was a Provincial Grand Lodge Office-bearer from 1910-1928 and held the position of Provincial Grand Secretary from 1916-1928; the late Bro. James Dowie, P.M., was a Provincial Office-bearer for many years, being elected Senior Warden in 1925; the late Bro. Robert Ewan, P.M., held the office of Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1938; the late Bro. James Balmer, P.M., held the office of Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1954, and the late Bro. Arthur Watson held the office of Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1971.

At present the Lodge is well represented by Bro. Arthur Bruce Watson, P.M.. who occupies the position of Provincial Grand Substitute Master, and by Bro. Aeneas MacNeill, P.M., Provincial Grand Sword Bearer. Thus during its 100 years’ existence, brethren of the Lodge have held the following Provincial Offices: 

Grand Master, Grand Master Depute, Substitute Grand Master, Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer, Grand Senior Warden, Grand Junior Warden,

a record of which the Lodge is justly proud. 

For most of Lodge Sir George Cathcart’s 100 years, progress has marked each year of the Lodge history, the membership growing with the residential development of the district.

However, in the past decade changes in the area have meant slightly leaner times for the Lodge, but the Lodge has been fortunate in retaining a goodly number of new members, and coupled with a large number of active Past Masters, the interest manifested by our early brethren has not waned, and the principles of Masonry are earnestly advanced by the work of the Lodge and Regular Instruction Class meetings. 

The Lodge continues to meet in the Couper Institute, Clarkston Road, Cathcart, on the first and third Wednesday of each month, except during June, July and August.

The Second Century 

Saturday 11th February 1978 a ceremony of rededication was held within the Couper Institute to mark our centenary. The ceremony was carried out by a deputation from the Grand Lodge of Scotland headed by The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason Bro. Captain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont. This service was very well attended and saw the return of many Brethren. A commemorative jewel and Lodge tie, both designed by P.M. Brother Sam McNicol were made to mark the occasion. Thereafter, a personally hand written letter was received from The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, thanking the Brethren for the kindness and hospitality extended to himself and the Brethren of his deputation.

Brother David Edward Johnston became the first initiate of the second century, receiving his first degree on the 15th February 1978. Brother David is now a Past Master and has served as P.G. Committee Member and has now joined the Board of Stewards.

On the 19th of April 1978 R.W.M. Brother Robert Thomson had the unpleasant duty of informing the Brethren that the Masters Chain of office had been stolen from his car, fortunately by the 17th of May it had been recovered intact and in good order.

In May 1978 P.M. Brother Bruce Watson presented Brother William Young Smith with a Jubilee Diploma to mark his 50 years service to the craft. Bro. Smith at 92 years of age, still attended the Lodge on a regular basis.

December 1980 saw the initiation of five members of the same family, namely the Brothers Norman, Gordon, Kenneth, Albert and David Wright.

In the early eighties a Lodge fishing club was established. P.M. Brother Bert Dick presented a trophy in memory of his late wife “The Anne Dick Trophy” which the brethren still compete for on a regular basis.

November 1984 – P.M. Brother Thomas Shearer on retiring as Senior Chaplain after 34 years in that office was presented with a silver tray suitably engraved to mark his excellent service. During Brother Shearer’s years in office he collected coppers from the Brethren at the after meetings, all money collected was donated to the Masonic Homes special comforts fund. Over the years Brother Shearer must have collected thousands of pounds for this worthy cause, a tradition which is continued to this day by Brother Willie Hamilton. 

1987- P.M. Brother Arthur BRUCE Watson was installed as Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Renfrewshire East. Brother Bruce was initiated as a “Lewis” September 1946, he served the Lodge as R.W.M. 1956 – 57, he then went on to P.G.L. serving as Provincial Grand Master 1987 – 1992. In 1992 the brethren of the Lodge presented Brother Bruce with a Past Provincial Grand Masters Jewel in recognition of this outstanding achievement and service to the craft. Brother Bruce was known throughout the province for his eloquence as a degree worker and orator among his many other fine qualities as a man and mason. He died in 1998 aged 71 years.

P.M. Brother Aeneas MacNeil progressed through the ranks of P.G.L. becoming Worshipful Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1984. The Brethren recognized Bro. Aeneas’s achievement with the presentation of a Past P.G.S. Wardens jewel.

P.M. Brother Joe Monahan was a very active and long serving member of Provincial Grand Committee and his many years of service were honored when he was conferred with the honorary rank of Provincial Grand Senior Deacon in 1986. Brother Joe was succeeded as committee member by P.M. Brother Sam Milwain.

P.M. Brother John Stephen served on the Board of Stewards and this position is now held by P.M. Brother David Johnston. 

The Lodge actively supports the Provincial Grand Lodge sporting competition winning the Lord Blythswood Bowling Trophy:-

1979 – Rink - W. McIntyre, R. Currie, D. Quaile and J Creasey.

1983 - team not recorded.

1998 – Rink – M. Higgins, J. Dundas, Angus MacCulloch and W. Wallace.

J. R. Logan and J. Creasey also won the Samuel Love pairs Competition



R. Thomson and W. Smith won the Robert McMenemy Golf Trophy in 1978.

January 1993 - P.M. Brother Sam Milwain suggested the introduction of a Burns harmony on the second meeting of the month. This event has become very popular and continues to this day.

May 1993 - Affiliate Brother John Anderson was presented with a Jubilee Diploma to mark his 50 years service to the craft.

Installation Meeting 1997 P.M. Brother Sam McNicol installed his son Graham as R.W.M. The following year he really made Lodge history by installing his other son Ian as R.W.M., which created a family dynasty of one son as R.W.M. the other I.P.M. and father Sam as Depute Master. 

1999 - Honorary Member Brother Gill Paton presented to the Lodge a special jewel to be worn by the R.W.M. at harmony meetings.

Over the years the Lodge has given many gifts and donations to outside charities and organizations and will continue to do so when appropriate. 

The closure of the Couper Institute in 1996 caused the Lodge to move it’s meetings to the Meikle Hall, Clarkston and then Langside Hall, this was between April and December 1996.

The Couper Institute reopened in 1997 and the Lodge returned to it’s familiar home on the 15th January 1997 and meetings continue there on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, except June, July and August. Brethren continue to enjoy the Masonic fellowship and visiting Brethren will always be welcomed.

History of Lodge Sir George Cathcart, No.617