As much as Freemasonry claims to have roots in antiquity, the Institution also relishes its founding and growth during the enlightenment and romantic periods of the 17th and 18th centuries. Robert Burns, who is perhaps as well or even better known as the great Scottish poet, than as just a Freemason, saw the close of those great periods of time, having lived from 1759- 1796.
Of the most endearing tributes- not only to Burns- but also to the gentile lifestyle he represented, have been the long standing tradition of the “Burns Supper”, where groups of admirers gather for food, drink, and stories on or about January 25 annually. The first of these took place in 1801, where 9 friends of Burns gathered at the late author’s “Alloway” cottage in order to do just that- celebrating his life. Although certainly the tradition has been kept alive by some circles, especially those Masonic in nature, it is important to note, as I am sure Burms might acknowledge, that poetry- Masonry- and friendship all go hand in hand. Indeed, the Burns Supper is a tradition which could be enjoyed by any number of groups, friends, and Brothers.
As a Mason, “Robert Burns was initiated an Entered Apprentice in Lodge St. David, Tarbolton on 4 July (ironic date) 1781, at the age of 23. His initiation fee was 12s 6d, and paid on the same date. Like many other times in his life, Burns came into the lodge amidst a controversy. Originally, there had been only one lodge in Tarbolton, chartered in 1771 from the Kilwinning Lodge, which is said to be the oldest lodges in the world (again, another story worth telling, yet for another time).
In 1773, a group broke away from the lodge, forming Lodge St. David No. 174, and the original lodge became St. James Tarbolton Kilwinning No. 178, only to be reunited in 1781, 9 days before Burns’s first degree. However, while St. James was clearly the older of the two lodges, St. David’s name was used, and the seeds were sown for further dissension. Burns in the meantime was passed to the degree of fellowcraft, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on lst October 1781. The Lodge record book, according to James Mackay’s “Burns” reads as follows:
Robert Burns in Lochly was passed and raised, Henry Cowan (ironic name!) being Master, James Humphrey Senr. Warden, and Alexr. Smith Junr. Do., Robt. Woodrow Secy. and James Manson Treasurer, and John Tannock Taylor and others of the brethren being present.”
In keeping with tradition, The Freemasons Coronation Lodge, are hosting a Burns Supper on January 28 from 6.30pm. The entire story follows:
By: Quinton Boucher
“NEWCASTLE – Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is considered a pioneer of the Romantic Movement.
After his death in July 1796, his works inspired founders of liberalism and socialism.
The Freemasons Coronation Lodge, Scottish Constitution, will host a Burns Supper in his memory on January 28 from 6.30pm.
Read: Freemasons helping the helpless
Freemasons across the globe host a supper annually on the Saturday closest to Burns’s birthday in January, which was on January 25, 1759.
The first Burns Supper took place in 1801, when nine of Burns’s acquaintances met for dinner in Burns Cottage in Alloway to celebrate his life and work.
The Master of Ceremonies was a local minister by the name of Hamilton Paul, and as he and his fellow guests shared a Masonic brotherhood with Burns, an evening resembling a lodge ceremonial was devised.
Haggis was served and Burns’s works were recited and sung.
The dinner proved to be such a jolly experience, that all nine friends agreed to meet again the following year for a birthday dinner in honour of the famous writer. Little did they know their dinner would become an annual event.
The format of the evening follows the original format, where a haggis is prepared and served to guests, a poem, Address to a Haggis is read, and guests enjoy an evening of traditional Scottish cuisine.
The Burns Supper will take place at the Coronation Lodge in Kirkland Street. Interested parties to contact Warren Seegers on 083 304 0507.”