“History of The Craigelachie Lodge from 1893”

This Lodge originated in a representation made to the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1811 by Master Masons, Members of different Lodges-residing in and about Grantown. Seven of these petitioned the Grand Lodge for a Charter to form a Lodge in Strathspey. The request was granted, and a Charter designated "Craigelachie Lodge of Freemasons, No. 317, Grantown," embodying the names of the seven petitioners as Office Bearers, was received. These, with eight other Members of the craft, held the first Meeting of the Lodge under the Charter at Lettoch, in the Parish of Abernethy, on 25th October, 1811, when Rules and Bye-Laws for the conduct of Business, the Initiation, Passing. Raising, and Affiliation of Members, were drawn up and adopted.

The future prosperity of the Lodge casts an undying lustre on the business capacity of the fifteen who met for the first time under the shadow of the Cairn-gorms. Inspired by the grandeur-of their surroundings, and the enthusiasm of a noble cause, they parted to meet at Grantown, on 2nd November, 1811, where the second. and all succeeding Meetings of the Lodge were held. The Membership on the 1st January, 1812, was 115. while it increased to nearly 700 by 1830. From Aberlour, Knockando, and Inveravon along both banks of the Spey to Kingussie, Badenoch, and surrounding districts, Members joined the Lodge, which held some property in Grantown and soon became a power in the country. St. John's was being always celebrated by a grand procession, which attracted crowds of spectators from all parts of Strathspey.

The marvellous success of the craft was, no doubt. due to the election of the Right Hon. the Earl of Seafield as Grand Master of the Lodge, on 10th January, 1815 which Office the noble Chief continued to hold and adorn till 1851, a period of 36 years.

By 26th February, 1816, there were some 14 Master Masons in the Lodge, who were Royal Arch Masons in other Lodges, and these, having made due arrangements, met and opened the Lodge in the Royal Arch Degree, after which 16 Members were initiated and others proposed. A few were yearly admitted to the Excellent Degrees till 1822, by which time there were upwards of 100 Royal Arch Masons in the Lodge.

Freemasonry was a great institution in Strathspey for a time, but after 1830 fewer Members seem to have joined , and the attendance began gradually to fall off. This may be partially accounted for by the fact that the inrush of Members induced by the Chief`s becoming Grand-Master had ceased; and partially also to the diminished population in the country districts. Thus, through the death and departure of the old Members and the fewness of initiations, the welfare of the Lodge was so grievously affected that the funds began to decline. This led to the Properties being sold, and finally to the dissolution of the Lodge in 1854. A scheme prepared for the distribution of the proceeds of the sold property among the Members was also mismanaged; but the books, documents, and all other utensils Belonging to the Lodge were left in a box with the Secretary, who died in 1864.

Mr James Findlay, a son of the Secretary and only Member of the old Lodge now living, had gone abroad, carrying the Charter with him; in 1881, and found that all the property had disappeared, except the Mason Box and Lodge ledger. After the dissolution of the Lodge, in 1854 Freemasonry was defunct in Grantown till 1883, when a representation was made, much in the same manner as 1811 to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for the re-establishment of a Lodge at Grantown. The request was granted, and Mr James Findlay presented the original Charter, which was accepted by Grand Lodge adding a Post Script, and substituting 241 for 317, the original number. The Lodge has since been steadily progressing, and bids well for the future. The Membership at present is forty.

Rev. J. M'COWAN, Chaplain. 1893.