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Grand Lodge comes to Logierait
By Kenneth C. Jack

The Hamlet of Logierait is a rather unprepossessing area of habitation situated a short distance from the Perth to Inverness Road, (A9); a stones throw from the village of Ballinluig- which in turn is about twenty miles North of Perth, and five miles South of Pitlochry, in the North Perthshire area of Scotland. 

The village does possess a rich history however; being the birthplace of famous Sociologist Adam Ferguson- a Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University during the Enlightenment period, and son of a local Minister- and, Alexander Mackenzie, who from a rather inauspicious start to life as son of a local Stonemason, became Prime Minister of Canada in 1873.

Logierait Church is said to stand on ground once occupied by an early Christian mission founded by St. Cedd around 650 AD- and the church has within its grounds a very interesting Pictish Cross, which takes the form of a sculpted stone which has, on one side: a knot work-decorated Cross- and on the other, what appear to be Pictish symbols; namely, a horseman above (possibly trampling upon) a serpent-and-rod, with the horseman carrying a spear- his horse wearing an ornamented saddle and bridle. The serpent- and- rod symbol is of course one which will be familiar to many Freemasons.

Logierait was the seat of the head regality court of the Dukes of Atholl, and the court was situated near to the churchyard alongside a large regality prison. Nearby, was an Ash tree- known as a Dule Tree, or hanging-tree- which was used to execute an assortment of criminals. Not only were the miscreants necks stretched on these trees, but their corpses were left to hang there until such time as they rotted away and fell to the ground.

This writer has developed an affinity for the village of Logierait, by dint of the fact he has resided in the nearby town of Pitlochry for almost twenty years. Indeed, if he had a pound for each time he has driven through the village during that time, he would be a wealthy man indeed. Family History Research in recent years has also led to him learning that his Great-Great-Great- Grandparents- both from the nearby Hamlet of Dull, near Aberfeldy- were married at Logierait on 15 November, 1834.

However- as interesting as the foregoing may be, this essay concerns a historic event which occurred in Logierait on 10 August, 1865- the day the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland came to the village to lay the foundation stone for the memorial to be erected in memory of the 6th Duke of Atholl.

It is not the purpose here to detail the involvement of the various Dukes of Atholl in Scottish Freemasonry over the years- but it is perhaps necessary to mention some details of the sixth Duke’s Masonic career. George Augustus Frederick John Murray, the sixth Duke of Atholl, was born on 20 September, 1814, and succeeded his father James Murray as Baron Glenlyon in 1837- and his uncle John- the fifth Duke of Atholl in 1846.

He was initiated into the Scottish Craft in Lodge St. John No. 14, Dunkeld, in November I841 (now the United Lodge of Dunkeld No. 14). He was appointed to the position of Deputy Grand Master in the same year, holding that position for two years, before being elected the 66th (some sources say 60th) Grand Master in November, 1843; retaining the post until his death in January 1864.

The laying of foundation stones at various buildings and structures was a prominent public duty of many Masonic Lodges between the years 1836 and 1872 and the sixth Duke of Atholl carried out many of these duties in his role as Grand Master. A number of those which he attended were the laying of the foundation-stones at: Victoria Bridge, Glasgow on April 9, 1851; the Freemasons' Hall, Edinburgh, on June 24, I858; and the Wallace Monument, near Stirling on June 24, I86I. This writer is pleased to report that one of the Lodges attending the latter ceremony was his own Mother Lodge: St Michael No. 38 from Crieff.

In 1851, Queen Victoria’s husband and consort Price Albert was invited to lay the foundation-stone of the Fine Arts Gallery in Edinburgh. His Grace the Duke had failed in his attempt to persuade the Prince to join the Masonic Order, and believing the laying of foundation stones to be an exclusively Masonic duty, he did not give the proceedings his blessing. In 1861, the Prince attended a couple of similar events in Edinburgh, which prompted the Duke to write to the Prince declaring:

 “I consider it my duty, as Grand Master Mason of Scotland, again respectfully to protest against the infringement of the ancient privilege of the Masonic Bodies to lay the foundation-stones of public buildings in Scotland."

The Prince apparently made some enquiry and formed the conclusion that Freemasonry had no such exclusive jurisdiction, and replied to the Duke accordingly.

This little spat did not appear to cause any long-term damage to the relationship between Grand Master Mason of Scotland and the Royal Family, and during the illness leading to his eventual demise; Queen Victoria paid a personal visit to the Duke. Following his death in 1864, the sixth Duke of Atholl was succeeded as Grand Master Mason of Scotland by Brother John Whyte-Melville of Bennochy and Strathkiness; who carried the additional distinction of being the Deputy Grand Master and Governor of the invitational and appendant Masonic body- the Royal Order of Scotland- between the years 1858 and 1883; and Grand Master of The United, Religious, and Military Orders of the Temple and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta between 1865 and 1883. The Duke had also held the latter title between the years 1845 and 1863.

A Grand Lodge of Sorrow was held in honour of the Duke, and a similar mark of respect was held by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow which was presided over by their Provincial Grand Master- Sir Archibald Alison, 1st Baronet (1792-1867) – a historian, social-critic, criminal lawyer, and Sheriff of Lanarkshire.

In 1865, the Duke’s family, friends, and tenants decided to erect a Memorial to the Duke which was to be sited on a hill overlooking the village of Logierait and the Vale of Atholl. The Memorial was to take the form of a Celtic-Cross and cost 1500.00; a considerable sum of money in those days.

As befits a former Grand Master; the Foundation-Stone for the Memorial was to be laid by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, with the new Grand Master, Brother John Whyte-Melville presiding over the ceremony. Grand Lodge would be supported by large Deputations of Freemasons from Provinces throughout Scotland.

A letter dated 17 June, 1865 from the Memorial Management Committee to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland- Brother W.A. Laurie Esq., stated:

“At a meeting held at Logierait on the 10 July, this Committee of  Management for erecting the monument to the late Duke of Atholl considered that the most suitable time for all the parties for laying the Foundation Stone of the Monument at Logierait with Masonic honours would be about the 10 August, and I have been desired by the Earl of Mansfield, the Chairman of the Committee, to ascertain if this time would be agreeable to the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge.

May I therefore request that you will have the kindness to inform me if Thursday the 10 August will suit Mr Whyte-Melville, and upon hearing from you the necessary arrangements will be made.

Begging the favour of your reply as soon as may be convenient.”

The aforementioned Grand Secretary- Brother William Alexander Laurie- is a very interesting character indeed, being a member of an Edinburgh family which was involved in Freemasonry and the printing trade over many decades. In 1859 he published a book entitled: “The History of Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland – With Chapters on the Knight Templars, Knights of St. John, Mark Masonry and RA Degree” which was nominally a second edition of a book first published by his father Alexander Lawrie in 1804- which, although in his father’s name- is now widely believed to have been the work of Sir David Brewster, the Scottish Scientist, Inventor (Kaleidoscope) and Writer. However, William Laurie acknowledged that the later book was actually an entirely different work, which he dedicated to his Grand Master- the sixth Duke of Atholl. (Note: - as can be seen- the family changed the way they spelt their surname).

A notice dated 24 July, 1865 declared the following:

“Memorial to the late Duke of Atholl

Notice to the subscribers

The Committee of Management beg to intimate that the Foundation Stone of the Monument will be laid by the Grand Lodge of Scotland on Thursday, 10 August next.

The procession will be formed at Logierait Schoolhouse, near Ballinluig Station at 11 o’clock on that day after the arrival of the trains from the South.”

Confirmation of the proposed itinerary was also communicated to the Earl of Mansfield, in a letter dated 26th July, 1865; sent to his London address:

“I am just favoured with your Lordship’s letter of yesterdays date.

I have been intending for some days to write your Lordship as to the arrangement for laying the Foundation Stone of the Monument at Logierait on 10 August, but have delayed, expecting to receive information from the Grand Lodge as to the deputations and numbers that might be expected to be present, but I have not yet got all the required information from Mr Laurie.

A circular has been sent from the Grand Lodge to the Lodge of Perthshire and Forfarshire, and also to Glasgow, inviting their attendance, and I have put an advertisement in the Perth papers, the North British Advertiser, the Scotsman, and also in a Glasgow paper, intimating to subscribers that the Foundation Stone is to be laid by the Grand Lodge on the 10 August.

It is proposed that the procession should be formed at the new Schoolhouse at Ballinluig after the arrival of the South trains (say about 1 o’clock) and that it should proceed across the river by the Railway Bridges (which will be granted by the Company) to the site of the Memorial.

The Foundation Stone would probably be laid about Noon, and the procession would then return to the School House, where a lunch will be given by the Duchess Dowager, to the Grand Lodge and Deputations and the Memorial Committee, and at which it is hoped your Lordship will preside.

The band of the Perthshire Rifles will attend. The trains will arrive at Ballinluig from the South at 10.19, and parties can return either at 2.44 or 5.53. The Duchess’s Carriage will be at Ballinluig Station to take your Lordship and the Grand Master to the School House…….”

On the day of the event, The Highland Railway ran a Special Train to Ballinluig- full to brimming with a large number of guests and Masonic brethren from all over Scotland. The Perthshire Journal and Constitutional Newspaper of Thursday, August 17, 1865 wrote extensively about the event and reported that it was dampened by heavy showers of rain- although it would appear that the spirits of those attending remained upbeat. The site chosen for the Memorial was Tom-Na-Croigh hill- on which an ancient castle is reputed to have stood- but of which there is no longer any trace. The hill is about two hundred feet in height; this author has scaled it, and found that although steps have been built to accommodate the climb up- the endeavour can still break sweat and quicken the pulse. It must have been a strain for older attendees of the event, some of whom would have had the additional encumbrance of Masonic Regalia and paraphernalia.

Prior to the foot- procession from Ballinluig, a number of bystanders passed the time by either obtaining lodgings, or visiting some of the local sites, which included the “chain-wrought” floating platform which operated as a ferry- and which crossed back and forth on the nearby River Tummel. However, the greatest attraction was a shed in which the assembled Masonic brethren were given their instructions by the Grand Marshall. The procession formed up, and was led from Ballinluig over the railway bridge to the foot of Tom Na Cloigh hill- preceded by the band of the Royal Perthshire Militia, and four of the Duke’s Pipers – playing the Atholl March. The procession is said to have been half-a mile long. The Perthshire Journal & Constitutional reported:

“On arriving at the opening leading to the stone, the procession halted, the brethren opened to the right and left, so as to leave room for the Grand Master and office-bearers to pass up the centre. The Grand Master and office-bearers of the Lodges passed under the crossbars in the usual form, and the whole of the brethren fell in as it came to their turn.”

A large number of Grand Lodge officers and Masonic brethren then made the climb up to the memorial site, some of them carrying the ceremonial wine, corn and oil to be used in the course of the stone-laying. The Perthshire Journal & Constitutional further reported:

“The Working Tools of the Grand Lodge were carried by 12 members of the Journeyman Lodge (Lodge of Journeymen Masons No. 8, Edinburgh) - the famous ‘Blue Blanket’ being carried by Brother Andrew Kerr” (Note:-The ‘Blue Blanket’ is an ancient Craft Banner which has only been carried by this Lodge on four occasions at various Foundation Stone-Laying ceremonies over the years).

The total number of persons attending the ceremony that day was about 1500- 564 of them being Freemasons. The local paper also reported the following list of Lodges in attendance at the event- along with the number of brethren representing each; in order of seniority:  


1.   Edinburgh Menzies Chapel - - - - 8

 3.  Scone and Perth - - - - - - - - - - - -70

 5. Canongate and Leith- - - - - - - - - 14

 8. Edinburgh Journeymen- - - - - - - 25

 9. Dunblane - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3

10, Dalkeith Kilwinning- - - - - - - - - - 4

14, St. John, Dunkeld- - - - - - - - - - - 30

21. Old St. John, Lanark- - - - - - - - - -6

40. St. Thomas, Arbroath- - - - - - - - - 7

46. St. John, Auchterarder- - - - - - - - 8

47. Operative, Dundee- - - - - - - - - - - 7

48. Ancient, Dundee- - - - - - - - - - - - 20

50. St. John Inverary- - - - - - - - - - - - 3

60. St. John, Inverkeithing- - - - - - - - 3

66. St. Ninian, Brechin- - - - - - - - - - -7

72. St. John, Kirkcaldy- - - - - - - - - - 34

74. St. Andrew, Perth- - - - - - - - - - - 23

78. St. David, Dundee- - - - - - - - - - - 16

85. Kirknewton and Ratho- - - - - - - -13

90. Forfar Kilwinning- - - - - - - - - - - 14

105. St. John Operative, Coupar Angus-10

106. Lindores, Newburgh- - - - - - - - - 3

121. St. Cyre, Auchtermuchty- - - - - - 6

122. Royal Arch, Perth- - - - - - - - - - -12

134. Robertsons, Cromarty- - - - - - - - 6

151. Edinburgh Defensive Band- - - -   7

152. Operative, Dunkeld- - - - - - - -25

158. Thistle Operative, Dundee- - - -5

160. Roman Eagle, Edinburgh- - - - 4

204. St. Paul’s, Ayr- - - - - - - - - - - - 4

223. Trafalgar, Leith- - - - - - - - - - - 6

225. Forfar and Kincardine, Dundee- 5

254. Caledonian, Dundee- - - - - - - - - 3

291. Celtic, Edinburgh- - - - - - - - - - -6

299. Panmure, Arbroath- - - - - - - - - 20

309. Lour, Forfar- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 20

317. Camperdown, Dundee- - - - - - - 10

333. St. George, Glasgow- - - - - - - - - 3

339. St. Mary, Caledonian Operative, Inverness-9

349. St. Clare, Edinburgh- - - - - - - - - 6

384, Athole, Kirkintilloch- - - - - - - - - 3

392, Caledonian, Edinburgh- - - - - - - 9

400. Dunearn, Burntisland- - - - - - - - 25

408. Clyde, Glasgow- - - - - - - - - - - - - 5

419. Neptune, Glasgow- - - - - - - - - - - 3.

The Newspaper also commented:

“The stone was placed on a pedestal some six feet in height and ten or twelve feet square, and was supported by four guys. The following was the order given in the programme in which the parties took up their positions on the platform.’ The Architect is the first of the Masonic procession who walks up to the Platform on the East; 2dly, the Chaplain; 3dly the Grand Jeweller; Grand Deacons; Grand Clerk, Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer, Grand Wardens and Substitute; then Grand Master, Past Grand Master, and Deputy Grand Master, followed by Provincial Grand Masters and Brethren attendant, all giving way to the Grand Master when on the platform, and the Substitute taking the right of the Grand Master.

Immediately after the officers of the Grand Lodge had taken their places; the Rev. Mr. Wilson of Dunkeld offered up an appropriate prayer.

The Architect having brought forward the necessary workmen, the Grand Secretary placed a bottle containing a number of Newspapers, coins etc. in the cavity below the stone. Among these articles was a plate bearing the following inscription:-


In Memory of



Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland,

Erected by

Numerous Friends and Admirers of his benevolent and

Manly character

Was laid by



Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland,

Assisted by

The Office Bearers of the Grand Lodge,

And by numerous Daughter lodges

On the

Tenth day of August, in the year of our Lord MDCCCLXV,

And of


The stone was then lowered with the usual Masonic ceremony, the plumb being applied by J.G.W. Dr. Middleton, the level by S.G.W. Dr. McCowan and the square by Sir Alex G. Maitland. The Grand Master gave three knocks, and the wine and oil were poured on the stone by the Wardens, and the Grand Master then pronounced the Masonic blessing.”

The Grand Master then addressed the assembled throng and stated that having attended many stone-laying ceremonies with the late Grand Master- it was of course a sad duty in having to carry out the ceremony for his late friend and Brother Freemason; and whilst acknowledging that there were those who thought the Memorial unnecessary, told of his great pleasure in being asked to do so. He also thanked and paid tribute to those Freemasons who had travelled great distances- particularly in those days- to attend the event, stating:

“To the brethren present, I beg to tender my thanks for their assistance and co-operation. Many of them have come from far to do honour to the late Grand Master, and one Lodge I feel called on to refer to specially, which has come as far as from a distant point of Cromarty. To the deputation of that Lodge, I beg to tender my most sincere thanks. I don’t know if it is on my right or on my left, but I beg to thank it. At all events, I am very thankful to the large deputations that have come forward to assist me on this occasion-to the number, I understand, of deputations from 40 Lodges”

The Grand Master then intimated that Her Grace, The Duchess Dowager of Athole would host a luncheon for the Masonic brethren in the local schoolhouse, and those for whom there was no room in the school house- they would be catered for in a shed! The Grand Master then wound up the ceremony by stating:

“I will conclude by praying the Great Architect of the Universe to permit this monument to the Duke of Athole- one all so truly loved- to be finished and erected without hurt or detriment to any of those engaged in its construction”.

The procession thereafter returned to the schoolhouse where the luncheon was enjoyed by around 350 persons; and various toasts and speeches were made. The event was chaired by the Earl of Mansfield, supported by the Grand Master and various other dignitaries. The Earl proposed a toast to the Grand Master Mason stating:

“I must now ask you to drink to a health which I am sure you will receive with enthusiasm- it is that of ‘The Right Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland’. I had the honour of stating to him at the close of the ceremony today, how much we, the subscribers to this memorial, and also the inhabitants of this district in general, were indebted to him and the Grand Lodge and all the Masons for their kindness in coming here and assisting in laying the foundation stone. I know it has been done at much personal inconvenience of many of you. I know there may be prejudices and feelings against Masonry existing in the minds of some, but I believe there are few who would have been satisfied had the foundation-stone of this Memorial been laid in a common-place manner, without the forms and ceremony which the presence of the Masonic body impart to it. It is true I may be prejudiced the other way myself, being a Mason, but as I am here answering not for myself only, but for the Duchess-Dowager of Athole, and for the other lady-subscribers who cannot possibly be suspected to be Masons- I am sure that they, as well as many of the subscribers in this district, feel deeply indebted to you for your presence here today. There is a manner in which certain duties have to be discharged, and I appeal to every one of you whether I am not correct in stating that, contrasted with other occasions of a similar nature to this, the duties have been fulfilled in a very able, and discreet, and sensible manner indeed”.

The Grand Master Whyte-Melville replied:

“Lord Mansfield and gentlemen, I beg to express to you in the warmest manner of which it is possible for words to convey, my sense of the very kind way in which his Lordship has proposed the toast of my name, and for the especially kind manner in which you have received it. I beg to assure Lord Mansfield that if, in his estimation, my duties were appropriately performed, I feel quite satisfied. As Masons, we all do our duty to the best of our ability, and those who are not initiated can’t know anything about the matter”.

The Grand Master then proposed a toast to the Earl of Mansfield, before the event came to a conclusion with all parties departing to their respective parts of the country.

In any event; the actual Memorial was subsequently built to a design by noted Edinburgh Architect Robert Rowand ANDERSON (1834 – 1921) who amongst his many other achievements carried out restoration work to Broughty Castle, Dundee, in 1860/61, and structural alterations to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Pitlochry, in 1887. He was later knighted for his services to Architecture, becoming Sir Robert Rowand ANDERSON in 1902.

Blair Castle- situated in the village of Blair Atholl, just to the North of Logierait- the family seat of the Dukes of Atholl; is now a magnet for many tourists from around the globe. The Castle holds a large amount of Masonic regalia and memorabilia relating to the Masonic activities of the various Dukes. However, it is doubtful whether any of the tourists are aware of the Memorial to the sixth Duke- which, despite its age and many years of neglect is still a magnificent edifice. The Monument stands today, not only as a tribute to the 6th Duke of Atholl- but, perhaps also as a relic from a bygone age, when Nobility was regarded with awe and reverence;  Foundation Stones were laid with Masonic pomp and circumstance; and Grand Lodge came to Logierait.

In conclusion; this funeral dirge was composed by Brother James Ballantine- the Grand Bard for the Grand Lodge of Scotland- on the occasion of the Dukes Grand Lodge Funeral:

“O wild wails the wind o'er the green hills of Athole,
While deep in the valleys the dark waters flow;
The caverns are moaning, the forests are groaning,
The grey cliffs are shrouded in dense wreaths of woe.
Through glen and through corrie the coronach's stealing,
Round sheiling and cottage sad sounds thrill the air;
In castle and palace, lorn hearts are revealing
Their soul-stricken anguish, in tones of despair.

O'er the dark night of grief there arose a bright morrow,
And love's morning star shone with warm genial ray,
When our dear widowed Queen and her sister in sorrow,
With pure angel tears washed death's sorrow away.
O heavenly the feeling, that links hearts for ever,
When Royal Humanity points out the way
To life and to love! where no future can sever
Souls blent in harmony, ever and aye.

Well may the Clansmen lament their brave Chieftain!
Well may we Brothers our loved Master wail!
He who maintained in their pure pristine glory
The Light of the Craft, and the fame of the Gael!
And now, though he sleeps 'mid his own native mountains,
While Lowlands and Highlands one sad sorrow share;
Watered and nourished by love's swelling fountains,
His name in our bosoms shall bloom ever fair."


‘Comment’, History & Heritage Online web page

‘Ancient Scotland’ web page- Logierait Pictish Cross-Slab

Martin, Bro. George M, F.S.A. (Scot), P.M. Lodge Dundee St. Mary No. 1149-
‘The Athole Family and Freemasonry’

Lodge St. Michael No. 38, Crieff, web page

Royal Order of Scotland (USA) web page

Great Priory of Scotland web page

Watson, Bro. Ian P, PM, ‘The History of the Blue Blanket’

Blair Castle Archives, N.R.A.S 234, Bundle 1534.

Denslow, William R. – ‘10,000 Famous Freemasons’

Laurie, William Alexander –‘The History of Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland’

Perthshire Journal & Constitutional Newspaper

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Biography Report

Photographs by Kenneth C. Jack, Author:-

This article was abridged in the Ashlar magazine from...

Circle Publications which was formed in 1997.

The Managing Editor and Founder, Brother Angus N. MacInnes, Past Provincial Grand Master of Dunbartonshire, decided to set up this charitable company, limited by guarantee, to promote Scottish Freemasonry. All surpluses generated by the company are donated to the Benevolent Funds of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland.

Circle Publications provides a number of items for the interest and edification of Freemasons all over the world. Pride of place goes to the magazine, The Ashlar, first published in 1997. This idiosyncratic publication is produced thrice yearly, in January, March and September, this timing designed as the best fit for the Scottish Masonic calendar.

The Ashlar is produced as a high quality magazine, in colour, at the minimal cost of 2.50 per copy. It is not intended to be an academic journal; the main focus is on providing a platform where a Mason can express his opinions. However, the magazine is intended to provide information on Scottish Freemasonry for Freemasons around the world and therefore is a superb medium in promoting Masonic education.

The Ashlar is already enjoyed by many with subscribers in every continent. We trust this website will encourage you to become a regular reader and support Scottish Freemasonry.

‘Masonic Publishing’ is an imprint of ‘Circle Publications’ and can be accessed via the ‘Circle Publications’ website. This sister company provides a number of very interesting books on both Freemasonry and Scottish History- including excellent biographies on Scottish heroes Robert the Bruce & Robert Burns- which will be of great interest to Masons and Non-Masons alike. Check out the ‘Masonic Publishing’ catalogue!

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