by Brother David H. Cramb, Past Master.
There can be no doubt that the Masonic Lodge was in existence in Dunblane long before the first legible minute of 6th April 1695. A pamphlet containing statistics of The Parish of Dunblane compiled by Mr. John Monteith, Teacher, and published in 1831, states the organised Charter of this Lodge is lost, but the Institution is of considerable antiquity and is now ninth on the Roll. A new Charter was procured in 1760. The records of the Lodge extant go no further back than 1687, although mutilated and defaced scraps may be seen in the box of a date some twenty years earlier. Subsequently to 1687 the records are entire.
One has only to look at the magnificent structure of Dunblane Cathedral and the Masons’ Marks found on the oldest parts of the stonework to imagine that a Lodge of operative Masons, in some form, could have been in existence in the town at a very early period.
The first signed minute dated 28th January 1696 is signed by William, Lord Strathallan, who was the son of the first Viscount. Among other signatories (for a considerable time afterwards it was the custom for all present to sign the minute) were Duncan Cameron of Locheil, Warden; Allan Cameron cousin german to Locheil; Alexander Drummond of Balhaldie, Warden, a strong Royal Stuart supporter, who was descended from and became Clan Chief of the MacGregors, the family taking the name of Drummond when the name of McGregor was proscribed in Scotland, and was Cameron of Locheil’s son-in-law. In 1743, Lord John Drummond, brother of the Duke of Perth, was nominated Master. He was a colonel in the French army and commanded the left wing of the Highlanders at the battle of Falkirk. After the collapse of the army at Culloden he, with his brother, fled to France where he was killed in service of the French monarch. John Stirling of Kippendavie was twenty-seven years Master of the Lodge, sixteen of which were consecutive, before his death in 1882. He was succeeded by his son, Patrick, in 1885 who served the Lodge in the capacity of Master for four years. Another Master of interest is J. Pearson of Kippenross who was born in 1667. He became Master in 1716 and married the widow of Alexander Linton of Pittendreich who was killed with his eldest brother, James, in 1685 by Cameron of Locheil during the Argyle Rebellion. He was succeeded by his second son, Hugh, who was Master 1734-3 5. His son, John, succeeded him in 1751 and served the Lodge as Master from 1765 until 1771 and died a bachelor. In 18I0 a Brother Coldstream was Master who was a schoolmaster in the town and his brother discovered the mineral wells on Cromlix Estate bringing some prosperity to Dunblane in the early half of the nineteenth century. In 1840, and again 1854-56, the Master of the Lodge was Dr. P.J. Stirling, son of the Rev. R. Stirling. He had a distinguished university career at St Andrews and Edinburgh before returning to Dunblane to practice law, and was also Factor of Kippendavie and Ardoch Estates, as well as being recognised as a brilliant author and translator.
On 21st August 1756 it was unanimously agreed by the Brethren to grant a Commission to several Brothers from the Thistle Lodge in Edinburgh in the name of Our Lodge of Dunblane and to enter prentices, pass Fellows of Craft and raise Masters all of whom were to be reported to the Brethren in Dunblane, so that they may be recorded in the books of the Lodge, but no names were ever forwarded from Edinburgh to be recorded in the minute book. The Lodge of Dunblane not only granted commissions to other Lodges at this time but travelled around local villages spreading Freemasonry. On 24th May 1786 a meeting was held in Doune where three applicants were admitted and paid their dues; again on 10th June of that year in Thornhill eight applicants were initiated and another two were matriculated and furthermore on 26th December when another two were admitted. On 2nd August 1787 the Lodge met in Doune in the house of David Bain where three members were passed and raised. On 28th January 1789 the Master intimated to the Lodge that he understood that an application was intended by some of the members of this Lodge, residing in Doune and the neighbourhood thereof, to be made to The Grand Lodge of Scotland that they might obtain leave from The Grand Lodge and obtain a Charter in their own favour. As some of the members had not paid their fees for admission to Dunblane No. IX it was decided by the Lodge to oppose the granting of a Charter in the meantime. On l2th March 1789 James McGill, Surgeon and other members residing in Doune, applied once again to the Lodge to obtain a Charter from Grand Lodge. This was agreed to and Dunblane nominated the two Wardens, Thomas Duthie, writer in Dublane, and John Graham, and the said certificate was duly signed.
Brother John Henderson, a Past Master of the Lodge, made various reports on return from his travels. One that on 1st August 1789, in consequence of the powers granted to him by the Lodge, he admitted Andrew Mitchell at Drumych as a member of this Lodge; and on 6th December 1800 admitted William Donaldson at Fort Augustus; and in 1802 one Donald McDonald on the Isle of Skye, this being ninety-six years before a Charter was granted to the present Lodge in Portree. The fees of all three initiates being paid by Brother Henderson to Dunblane, they were duly enrolled as members of the Lodge.
Until 1756 the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Degrees only were worked in the Lodge, and the first Mark Degree in Dunblane was worked by Lodge Ancient Stirling No. 30 on 24th May 1886 in the Stirling Arms Hotel. It was not until 1804 that the Master first signed the minute book as Master.
In 1860 Gilbert Farie, Chemist, and Peter Campbell, Surgeon, both residing in Bridge of Allan, were admitted to the Lodge and were to be the first of many members from that area. In fact, so many joined that in 1866 representation was made to Grand Lodge to hold occasional meetings in Bridge of Allan and this was granted. On 8th April 1872 a meeting of No. IX was held in the Westerton Arms Hotel, Bridge of Allan and on 3rd February 1873 Lodge Abercromby No. 531 was founded with No. IX’s Past Depute Master, Brother Gilbert Farie, as the first Master. It is curious to note that with No. IX having been instrumental in assisting to form the Lodges in Bridge of Allan and Doune, both Lodge numbers add up to nine.
There has been a great deal of discussion with regard to the introduction in the Lodge minute books, and its use by the Brethren, of the Roman numerals IX in place of the Arabic 9. The first use of the figure IX appears in the minute of a meeting held on l3th January 1888. No mention is made in that or any subsequent minute as to why it was introduced and may only have been a whim of the Secretary at this time. Grand Lodge still uses the Arabic 9 when describing the Lodge of Dunblane in the YearBook.
At a meeting of the Lodge held on 3rd September 1885, with Brother Robert Cameron in the Chair, the present unsatisfactory state of the Lodge was taken into consideration. On 19th November Brother Cameron reported that, as the Lodge was in arrears to Grand Lodge for five years, he had paid the same and obtained the Annual Certificate. The Lodge being met on 20th November 1885, petitions in due form were received from Patrick Stirling of Kippendavie and three others, all residing in Dunblane. The applications being approved, the four were made entered apprentices. It was represented that as this was a case of emergency, it was proposed and approved that the four be passed