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History - 1767-1866 The Early Years

There are records of Masonry in Tiverton as far back as 1767, when George III was on the throne and the American War of Independence was still eight years ahead. All Souls Lodge was instituted on the 24th October 1767, and the Warrant was transferred to Weymouth in 1804.

Freemasonry was not again practised in the borough until the year 1831, when some of the principal gentleman of the town, who had kept their degree in other Lodges, determined to raise a Lodge in Tiverton. Lodge of Fidelity, originally founded in Rotherhithe, had its Warrant transferred to Tiverton in 1831, where it remained until 1860. In that year the Warrant was transferred to Devonport, where Lodge of Fidelity still flourishes.

Any record of Freemasonry in Tiverton would be incomplete without reference to the Lodge formed by French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. Many of the officers billeted on residents willing it receive them were members of Lodges under the Grand Orient and held an irregular Lodge, until their privileges were severely restricted following a successful escape by a number of prisoners.

After the passing of Fidelity, Masonry was extinct in Tiverton until, in 1865, John Sharland, who had been a member of that old Lodge, took the initiative in reviving the craft.In conjunction with Walter Hugo Reed, Dr. Scott, General Morris and Edward Williams the builder, a petition was forwarded to the Provincial Grand Master praying for a Warrant of Constitution empowering them to form a Lodge.Arrangements were made for use of rooms in the Three Tuns Hotel, which later changed its name to the Lord Palmerston, and for the purchase of jewels and furniture for the Lodge. Brother Sharland, as founder and largest contributor was invited to become the first Master, but declined the honour and induced Brother Hugo Reed to take the office, not only because he was one of the last survivors of the old Fidelity, but was the oldest man in the town. The St Peter's Lodge met on the 5th September 1866, under dispensation signed by the Provincial Grand Master and was consecrated by him on the 24th October 1866. In that year the modest Reform Bill introduced by Gladstone was defeated and Lord Palmerston, who had such close ties with Tiverton, died the previous year.

1866, St Peter's Lodge and St Peter's Mark Lodge