To the Brethren of Today.

The series of events in the pages that follow should not be looked upon as something of the dead past. They tell the story of a Lodge whose greatness does not rest upon age or material wealth, but upon the vigour as revealed by its Brethren who have created the spirit that it possesses today.

I would like you to come and mingle for a while with our Brethren of yesteryear. Let us enter the old Masonic Lodge and listen to them as they are swayed by the emotions, prejudices and customs of their times, and we may hear the crash of the sea against its stout walls.

As we look back over these 240 years with pride, we shall realise that while traditions and customs have changed, the character of the Lodge remains as it was.

John Nicol R.W.M.


The history of the Lodge was first put to print by Brother James Wood in 1954, to mark the "bi-centennial" celebrations. However, in 1972, Brother R. Gordon, a former secretary of the Keith Lodge, was called to a local solicitor's office to dispose of some papers among which he recognised some to be the records of the Keith Lodge which were handed back to the Lodge.

These records proved to be mainly Treasurers' records up to the year 1856, diplomas, correspondence, bylaws printed in 1808 and 1818, and a Sederunt Book which contains the Constitution Laws and regulations of the Lodge and the Laws and Constitution of the Keith Lodge Benefit Society. There is also a record book dated 1743 on the cover of which is listed the office-bearers elected and members admitted up to 1817.

The earliest date 1739 lists the following names: 

George GrayJohn BuchanWilliam Farquhar
William MillGeorge LillieRobert Buchan
Andrew SmithJohn MillGilbert Paterson
John Mill Jnr.Andrew ThomWilliam Reid
Alexander Taylor  

It is also stated that in 1740 George Gray was elected R.W.M. when the Lodge was first formed.

The Sederunt Book containing the Constitution of the Lodge lists 38 bylaws. The first states that the Lodge would meet on the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.; except for the month of APRIL when it would meet on the 13th day, that being the Earl Marshal's birthday, the day when the Lodge was founded. From the entry in the Bi-centennial History and from the entry in the Sederunt Book it is possible that the Keith Lodge was founded on the 13th APRIL 1739 and named after the Earl Marshall (Earl Marischal) - George Keith.


1740 - 41George Gray
1742 - 43John Buchan
1744 - 46Andrew Smith
1747 - 48John Mill (of Cruden)
1749John Mill (of St. Fergus)
1750Thomas Robertson
1751 - 52William Farquhar
1753 - 54William Reid
1755 - 56John Dargie
1757 - 58Robert Farquhar
1759 - 60Robert Arbuthnot (of Haddo)
1761John Thomson
1762 - 63Robert Garden
1764Lt. Alexander Keith
1765Capt. John Thomson
1766 - 67John Duncan
1768 - 69Capt. Thomas Arbuthnot
1770 - 71Alexander Ellis
1772 - 73Dr. David Wilson
1774 - 75Alexander Ellis
1776 - 77Alexander Ogilvie
1778 - 79James Reid
1780 – 81Lt. Alexander Keith
1782 - 83Alexander Ellis
1784 - 85Dr. David Wilson
1786 - 87Alexander Ellis
1788 - 89Dr. David Wilson
1790 - 91Gilbert Alexander
1792 - 93James Arbuthnot Jnr.
1794 - 95Gilbert Alexander
1796 - 97Alexander Gordon
1798George Smith
1799-1801Robert Robertson
1802-1804Gilbert Alexander
1805-1807Robert Robertson
1808 - 09Gilbert Alexander
1810 - 11Alexander Ross
1812 - 13William Jaffray
1814 - 15Gilbert Alexander
1816John Reid
1817 - 18Ogilvie Will
1819 - 20Roderick Gray
1821 - 22Gilbert Alexander
1823George Law
1824 - 25Andrew Duncan
1826Roderick Gray
1827John Elrick
1828Gilbert Alexander
1829William Gammack
1830 - 31Ogilvie Will
1832 - 33Andrew Boyde
1834Roderick Gray
1835Keith Forbes
1836Thomas Arbuthnot
1836 - 1852No Record
1853 - 1864William Spence
1865 - 1866No Record
1867 - 1869William Boyd
1870 - 71John Ingram
1872William Stewart
1873Rev. Morgan Morgan
1874John Hunter
1875George Fraser
1876David Macdonald
1877Alexander Catto
1878George R. Stewart
1879Alexander Catto
1880David Macdonald
1881Rev. John B. Davidson
1882Alexander Catto
1883William Stewart
1884 – 1887William H. Leask
1888Thomas D. Rennie
1889William H. Leask
1890John Reid
1891A.N. Burnett/Hyam Dimmer
1892Andrew N. Burnett
1893 – 1895John R. T. Hill
1896John Allathan
1897David McGregor
1898George M. Forrest
1899John Mason
1900William H. Leask
1901 - 1902David McGregor
1903 - 1904John R. T. Hill
1905 - 1906John Forrest
1907 - 08Robert H. Smith
1909 - 10James M. Hay
1911 - 12Alexander W. Robertson
1913James Young
1914 - 15Henry E. Wood
1916 - 17Thomas Mitchell
1918Alexander Spence
1919Alexander J. S. Douglas
1920Henry E. Wood
1921John Ross
1922A. Wood McKinnon
1923 - 1924John Smith
1925George Grant
1926 - 27William Young
1928Charles Neil
1929Charles Sim
1930 - 31Harry Sutherland
1932 - 33John McKay
1934 - 35Robert B. Tocher
1936 - 37Charles G. Crockett
1938 - 39George Davidson
1940 - 41James D. Buchan
1942 – 43John A. Smith
1944 - 45Robert R. Sutherland
1946 - 47George Morrison
1948Charles Lawson
1949 - 50Arthur Buchan
1951 - 52Robert D. Buchan
1953 - 54John Buchan
1955James A. Wood
1956 - 57W. K. Buchan
1958 – 59R. Harvey
1960 - 61H. Falconer
1962 - 63D. M. Grant
1964 - 65J. McLean
1966 - 67J. B. Strachan
1968 - 69W. McD. Gordon
1970 - 71A. T. Buchan
1972 - 73A. Cameron
1974 - 75J. Grubb
1976 - 77T. B. Collin
1978 - 79J. Nicol

EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE LODGE 1754 - THE KEITH LODGE OF PETERHEAD received its charter from THE GRAND LODGE OF SCOTLAND in this year. It is dated 6th February, 1754.

The names of the 35 members thereon are as follows:- 

William FarquharMaster
Andrew PennySenior Warden
Gilbert PatersonJunior Warden
James ReidBoxmaster
John MarshallTreasurer
James VolumClerk
John Buchan 
William Mill 
George Lillie 
William Reid 
Andrew Smith 
John Mill 
John Mill of Cruden 
James Craighead 
John Dargie 
Thomas Robertson 
George Brown 
George Lobban 
John Auchinleck 
George Begg 
James Bowman 
George Baxter 
James Murison 
Alexander Smith 
Thomas Smith 
John Turriff 
William Boyes 
Alexander Anderson 
John Anderson 
William Bowman 
John Park 
William Scott 
George Mitchell 
Robert Farquhar 
Alexander Thom 

The Grand Office-Bearers whose signatures appear on the Charter are those of 1753. In the "List of Gentlemen who have filled the office of Master of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead," printed in the Byelaws of 1808, the Master in 1754 is William Reid. It would appear therefore that the Office-bearers whose names are on the charter are those of 1753 or perhaps earlier.

1754 - According to Peter Buchan, the local historian, in his Annals of Peterhead, of 1819:- "Upon this rocky Island the Keith Freemasons of Peterhead, prior to the building of their Lodge, used to hold their meetings, particularly when members were to be init­iated into this honourable order, and introduced to the insignia of the compass and square."

The authenticity of this statement is exceedingly doubtful, but we cannot overlook the fact that Peter Buchan could have received some information of this nature from the old minute books.

1759 - From the "Charter by the Preeses of the Governours of the Maiden Hospital," dated 3rd May, 1759, we learn that the Keith Lodge, in the name of Robert Garden, Writer in Peterhead, purchased a feu from the Town Superiors and thereon commenced to build a Lodge. The Charter reads thus:- "Whereas the said Governours have been well Informed that the piece of ground aftermentioned hereby Disponed is at present of little or no value and has never paid any Rent or ffeu-duty to the proprietors or the Superiors and is no-ways fitt to be Improved otherways than by building thereupon and that Robert Garden, Writer in Peterhead, is willing to build and erect a Tenement upon the said piece of ground and to become hound to pay the Governors of the said Hospital as Superiors thereof twelve Shilling Scots money of ffeu-duty yearly for granting these presents in the manner underwritten. Therefore and for the encouragement of Building and Policy in the said Town of Peterhead Wilt ye me to have Given granted annalizied and Disponed in favours of the said Robert Garden and his heirs and Assignies whatsoever Heritably and Irredeemably All and Haill that piece of ground lying within the Town of Peterhead parish thereof and Sherriffdome of Aberdeen measuring Sixty fleet in length and fourty fleet in breadth bounded with the Mineral Well of Peterhead on the East, The common Road or passage leading by the back of the said Town on the North, The Rocks on the West and the Sea on the South parts."

On the Earl of Errol's Plan of a Feu in Peterhead of 1771 (see below), the lodge is shown as a two-storey building on road level. The foundations of the Lodge (the seaward wall of which is still standing today) were actually on the rocks of the foreshore a few yards from high water mark. This building was to be the home of the Keith Lodge for the next 160 years!


Part of the Plan of a Feu purchased by the Earl of Erroll in 1771, and now in the Arbuthnot Museum. The Mason Lodge is shown as it was prior to being extended. The building stood at road level, the road being built up to the height of the first floor in later years.

A - A House belonging to the Kirk Session of St. Fergus.
B - The Mineral Well.C - The Mafson Lodge.
D - The New House built by the Earl of Erroll for the Entertainment of the Company.
E - Andrew Darg's Feu.
F - The Bathing House. 

1761 - Robert Garden was Master of the Lodge in 1762 - 63. He became the first Baron Bailie or Provost to be appointed by free election by the "haill feuars and inhabitants" of Peterhead, his predecessors having been appointed by the Town Superiors - the Merchant Maiden Hospital - "as it had been bruiked and enjoyed by the Earl Marischal" before them. He states in his Obligations and Declaration to the Keith Lodge, dated 4th February,

1761:- "I, Robert Garden, Writer in Peterhead, considering that the members of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead having been unanimously resolved and agreed to layout and settle the funds for their poor by purchasing a piece of ground adjacent to the Mineral Well of Peterhead  That thereafter the members of the said Lodge for their better accomodation and conveniency did cause erect a Lodge at a very considerable expense upon the foresaid piece of ground which is now almost finished partly with their own funds and sundry sums borrowed by me and other members of my cautioners... But it is always hereby provided and declared that if I the said Robert Garden or any of the members of the said Lodge who may have become bound for debts-resting by it, shall at any time be distressed for payment thereof and relief not given us by the Lodge in due time, then in that case I shall have power and liberty by myself alone as holder of the said Charter to sell and dispose of the foresaid feu and tenements by publick roup upon proper notice and to dispone and convey the same to the purchaser without consent of the said members I being always accountable to them for my disposall of the price."

About this time Peterhead was rapidly becoming famous as a "watering place" and distinguished visitors from all over Europe came to partake of the mecidinal waters of the Wine Well. The Freemasons were not long in sizing up the possibilities of the situation. Adjoining the west gable a small lean-to bath house was built which contained one bath for the exclusive use of gentlemen. Permission was given by the Freemasons for the daily use of a ground floor room in the Lodge for visitors and "respectable inhabitants who desired to partake of the health-giving waters." In time the water or pump room in the Lodge became the rendezvous of beauty, wit and fashion.

1764 - Marked the home-coming of George Keith, Tenth and last Earl Marischal of Scotland. "Before he left his native land for ever the old Earl Marischal determined to revisit the place of his birth." "Notice of this had reached Peterhead, and everything in and around the little town wore a gay aspect. Preparations were made for a grand banquet in the Keith Masonic Lodge, previous to which an address of welcome was to be read in Broad Street. When word was brought that the carriage was in sight, the towsfolk formed in line, headed by the Mag­istrates, and marched out to meet their illustrious visitor."

For the fourteen remaining years of his life, the Earl Marischal spent a happy and contented old age under the wing of King Frederick the Great at Potsdam.

"He was called the King's Friend and was the only one who had deserved that title, for he always stood high in his favour without flattering him."

1775 - Prior to this time, the Earl of Errolwho was a regular habitue of the Pump Room took a feu immediately opposite the Lodge, at the comer of Jamaica Street and Lodge Walk, and erected "an elegant and commodious dwelling" which he named the "New Inn." Under changing circumstances, the Freemasons were faced with the alternat­ive, either of withdrawing all privileges for the use of the Pump Room or of making extensive alterations to the Lodge. Happily they decided to improve and extend. They purchased an additional piece of ground 20 feet in length and 40 feet in breadth, on the West. The bath house was demolished and the Lodge was reconstructed and extended. The reconstructed building contained "two baths and four dressing rooms for the gentlemen below: a ladies' bath and three dressing rooms on the lower floor beside the room for drinking the water; the Mason Hall and Preparation Room on the middle flat at the East; and an elegant drawing room, 36 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 14 feet high, at the West." At the same time the Well was enclosed by a small stone building, with the Keith coat of arms cut in freestone over the doorway.

1793 - In this year the Lodge again extended their feu westwards by purchasing another piece of ground, measuring 100 feet in length and 40 feet in breadth, in the name of "James Arbuthnot, Jnr., Merchant in Peterhead, present Master of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead, for himself and as Trustee for the other members and Office Bearers of the said Lodge and their Successors." paying to the Governors "the sum of One pound sterling at the Term of Whitsunday yearly and doubling tie said feu duty every Twentieth year, and further paying at the end of every Twentieth year an Angel Noble with a purse and Five Shillings and Sixpence Scots therin, Conform to the original Contract of Feu of the said Town entered into between the deceased George, Earl Marischal, Superior of the said Town and the original Feuars thereof, dated the first day of June, Fifteen hundred and Ninety-Three."

1799 - In this year" a bath, 40 ft. x 20 ft., erected by the Mason Society for the accomodation of the company frequenting the mineral well, Mr. Arbuthnot having taken a lease of this bath together with the Mason Lodge, the former is now appropriated solely as a Gentelman's Bath, and the latter is used as a pump room, coffee room, and long room for the accomodation of the company, who have likewise the use of two excellent organs."

1804 - On Friday, 25th May, 1804, the foundation of the Muckle Kirk was laid with all pomp and ceremony. An eye-witness reported: - "The masons walked in procession, and 120 Volunteers as a Guard, who fired three rounds after the ceremony was at an end, and prayer was said by the Rev. Dr. Moir, then the corn, wine and oil was put, or rather poured, on the stone, the music began to play, and they marched away. The stone is in the south-east corner. To better see the ceremony, James Cato, Carter, got upon the roof of James Craighead's shop, and the roof fell in: part of it fell in the yarn of the web, and broke a great deal of the web, to the great amazement of James, who ran out and threw a large stone at James Catto who scampered off, but never paid him for his loss which cost him near two days to mend the web, besides the roof of his shop."

1808 - The Lodge is fortunate in having a copy of "The Constitution, Rules, Orders, and Regulations of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead" of this year. Therein is contained (1) the "Constitution, etc." (2) the "Rule by Order of the Justices" viz. Dr. Arthur Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh, and John Durno of Cattie, dated 26th August 1794, (3) "List of Gentlemen who have filled the office of Master of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead" from 1754 to 1806, (4) "List of the present members of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead, with the dates of their admission." The earliest date is 1755. It is of interest to note that of the 134 names on thre list, 61 are masons, 30 are mariners or seafaring men, and 43 other trades or professions.

1814 - "At a meeting held at Peterhead on the 29th of September, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen, for the purpose of establishing a fund for the relief of sick and decayed members thereof, their widows and children, the following rules and regulations are ordained, and that it shall be known under the name and designation of the Keith Lodge Royal Arch of Free Masons Peterhead.

John Reid, R.W. Master. Adam Lyall, Secretary." 

This is the first minute of the society which became the Keith Lodge Royal Arch Chapter, No. 44, The "Royal Arch of Freemasons," continued as an independent body until 1820, when they received a Charter from the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland.


1816 - In the Grand Lodge enumeration of this year, the Keith Lodge was placed number 55 on the Roll of Lodges. Prior to this time the Lodge held the number 412 and shared the number with the now extinct Lodge of Edinburgh from Dunfermline which held the number 411 . The latter Lodge received its charter from the Grand Lodge on the 7th February, 1739. At that time many operative Lodges throughout Scotland still holding aloof and independence of the Grand Lodge, were granted the privilege of merely paying the Fees of a Confirmation for their Patents of Erection and Constitution. Was the Keith Lodge one of those Lodges? Was it placed No. 412 on the Roll of Lodges in 1739 under these circumstances?

1818 - The Keith Lodge has in its possession a Book of Marks which was "Presented to the Mark Brethren of the Keith Lodge of Free Masons in Peterhead by their Faithful Brother."


A.M. 5818


The five-pointed star mark is that of the Master, Brother Ogilvie Will, Druggist.






The entries on the first page in the book are as follows:

1740 Dec.271John Mills
1742Dec.272Cruden George Brown 
1745Dec.273James Bowman 
1750Dec.274James Torrow, St. Fergus 
1751Dec.275William Bowman 


6George Mitchell 
1753Dec 267Alexander Forbes 
1754Dec.238James Brander 
1755 9William Sangster, Pitmeddan 

More to follow...