[IOM Weekly Times 26 September 1925 p2]

Sixty-Five Years of Freemasonry

Masonic Life of the late John A. Brown

A Unique Career


The following Article was primarily intended for private circulation, but as we felt that many of our readers would be interested not only in the reference to our late Editor, but to Insular Masonic events of a passing generation, we reproduce it here with the permission of the writer.

On the 2nd of April, 1925, aged 86 years, died John Archibald Brown, Justice of the Peace, Editor and Managing Director of "The Isle of Man Times", Chairman of the Palace and Derby Castle, Co., Ltd., Chairman of the Douglas Steam Ferries Ltd., Vice-Chairman of Noble’s Hospital Committee, a Member of the Lifeboat Institution Local Committee, and during his lifetime a member of practically every important Committee formed for the welfare of the general public in the Isle of Man.

Surely there has never been in the history of our Island such a unique example of industry, ability, and courage continued to a ripe old age, for not only did his numerous activities manifest themselves in splendid fashion in public, in philanthropic and unselfish effort, but for 65 years he threw his whole life and soul into the cause of Freemasonry.

It is not my purpose to write even a brief biography of his career, but to outline in simple fashion the rise and progress of Freemasonry in our Island, with which is intertwined, in inseparable fashion, the life of John A. Brown.

First of all, let me say that I think John A. Brown’s devotion to the craft was due to his conception of Masonry. I have often heard him in answering the question "What is Masonry ?" express the view that its one great secret is that it has no secret, and that its secret rites are practised not in order to hide, but to teach more impressively. "True Masonry" he once said, "is a society of honest people bound together by the sentiments of liberty, equality and fraternity, working individually and collectively to promote social welfare and good fellowship, and exercising charity in its broadest sense. "If we were all Masons and modelled our lives on Masonic teaching, then the world would be an Elysium from which all sin, dishonesty, slandering, back-biting, and unchastity would be banished, and in which there would prevail universal freedom and everlasting tranquillity….

Under which flag

There is an idea abroad that it was under the Grand Lodge of Ireland that Masonry was first introduced here, but I have before me a copy of the bye-laws framed for the government of the "Royal Isle of Man Lodge" of Freemasons holding its warrant from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the office bearers of which were appointed and installed on the 27th December 1843, and this appears, as far as I can ascertain, to be the earliest record of the existence of Freemasonry in the Isle of Man. It would appear from perusal of these bye-laws, which were printed by W. Dillon, North Quay, that the Worshipful Master and all the officers of the Lodge were elected by ballot, twice annually on the 27th December and on the 21st June in each year.

The original officers of the Lodge were Lieut-General John Ready, Governor of the Island, Castletown, Christopher Eiffe, John White, M. Fleming, M.H., C. Lewin, H. Evans, G. Torrance, H. W. Walshe and John Brew.

On the other hand a Lodge No. 123, under the Irish constitution, had, prior to its collapse in 1862, existed for years in Douglas, and the Lodge of Mona, which still flourishes in Castletown, now under the English constitution, had a charter from the Grand Lodge of Ireland dated as far back as the 8th June 1857.

The Irish Lodge, No. 123, referred to, met in a dismal room opposite the present Customs House in Fort Street, Douglas. The father of John Archibald Brown was its secretary and he had his son initiated in it during the very month he attained his majority – November, 1860.



Additional notes [FPC]

Pigot's 1837 directory has the following:

Galvin Torrance was a well known Spirit Dealer, Duke Street, Douglas;
Clifford Lewen, custom house broker.South Quay;
Jno Brew custom house broker. Shaw's Brow;

Maxwell Fleming was a doctor/surgeon 1 Finch Road (from 1848 Quiggin's guide)

Christpher Eiffe can not be found in 1837 directory but had links with Dublin (see letter in Manx Liberal)


H Mayle is in 1863 directory at 11 Finch Road (no occupation given).


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001