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British Military Royal Arch Membership Certificate, 1806
Contributing Institution
Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry Research Collections
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Certificate issued to John Blade on his exalted status to the Supreme Degree of an Excellent , Super Excellent, Holy Royal Arch Mason from the Rolay Arch Lodge No. 183, British 9th Regiment infantry in Valenciennes, France. Red seal with faded red colored ribbon attached to document. 9 x 12" "Lodge No. 183 in the 9th Regiment of Foot, received its warrant from the Antients Grand Lodge on 19th February 1803. The warrant was a much older one, originally issued to an artillery regiment in 1773 but transferred to the new lodge in 1803. The warrant was a travelling one, allowing the lodge to meet wherever the Regiment was stationed. As it was an Antients Grand Lodge warrant, the lodge was free to work the Royal Arch and the Knights Templar degree within the lodge. At the Union in 1813 the lodge became No. 221 on the roll of the United Grand Lodge of England. It was erased in 1829. In late 1805 members of 1st Battalion of the 9th Regiment of Foot were shipwrecked off the coast of France and the battalion head quarters (staff officers and 262 soldiers), including the lodge, were captured by the French and made prisoners of war. They remained in custody until January 1814. However, as the lodge members had their warrant, they continued to meet in Valenciennes, France, where they were held prisoner, initiating other prisoners of war or accepting them as joining members. For further information see page 145-6 of Robert Freke Gould's "Military Lodge: the apron and the sword" (see library cat no. M13 GOUL-m) Amazingly, the lodge's minute book covering the years 1806-1824 still exists and is in the collection of the library at the United Grand Lodge of England (call number GBR 1991 ELM/1298), as are the lodge's by-laws (GBR 1991 ELM/1298) and the original warrant (SN 1413). The minutes and by-laws have been catalogued. The by-laws have the membership list for the lodge. It is fascinating, with over 120 members when the lodge was in captivity. Although the lodge was originally for non-commissioned officers in the 9th Regiment, it opened up to others whilst in captivity, including some higher ranking officers, POW's from other regiments, navy and Merchant Seamen and one Peer of the Realm (Lord Viscount Barrington). The man on your three certificates, John Blade, was a seaman (which probably made him Royal Navy). He was initiated in the lodge, whilst a Prisoner of War on 7th August 1806, along with Peter Payne Bays (Prize Master), Michael Scanlan (Seaman) and Jonathan Willie (Seaman). Once the lodge was liberated in 1814 in reverted to being a lodge for NCOs in the 9th Regiment of Foot again, so it is unknown what happened to the non-infantry members. The lodges meeting places are listed in, John Lane's "Masonic Records 1717-1894" (see list of regimental lodges in index) or on the electronic version (" --from an Oct. 12, 2009 email by Martin Cherry, librarian at the UGLE

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