History of the Lodge
At a time when the dark clouds of civil strife were spreading over the Nation, Dalhousie Lodge emerged with strength and distinction. The expanse of time, the destruction of several wars and the constant changes of social, cultural and economical standards have eliminated many institutions. Dalhousie Lodge, notwithstanding, still survives and has maintained the degree of excellence, reputation and brotherhood upon which it was founded.
During this celebration year we can be justly proud of our great heritage; rich in traditions, pride and fine reputations. Throughout the one hundred and twenty-five years of its existence, Dalhousie Lodge has been a center Masonry in Newton. It is the oldest Lodge in the City and continues to be recognized as a standard to be emulated by others.
One hundred and twenty-five years ago, the Masonic Brethren in Newton, wanting to establish a Masonic Lodge in the town, called a meeting for that purpose on the 25th of June 1860 at Tremont Hall in Newtonville Square beside the Boston & Albany Railroad. The Masonic Lodges in existence at that time were not situated to be convenient for members residing in Newton. There were eight in the center of Boston, along with Bethesda in Brighton; Monitor, in Waltham; Pequossette, in Watertown; Meridian, in Natick; and Amicable, in Cambridge.
After several preliminary gatherings, of which then Right Worshipful William D. Coolidge, Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, was chairman, and Brother Adin B. Underwood, secretary, and of which we have no records of the proceedings, the following call was issued:
ST. JOHN’S DAY
The Masonic Brethren of Newton are requested to meet at Tremont Hall, Newtonville, on Monday, the 25th inst., at 4.30 o’clock, P.M., for an appropriate recognition of the day. Brethren will be called from “Labor to Refreshment” at 6 o’clock P.M. A meeting for business will be held at the same place at 7.30 o’clock P.M.
1. To adopt and sign a code of by-laws.
2. To choose officers.
3. To hear reports of committees on Masonic Hall, etc., and any other business that may come before the meeting.
Your attendance is particularly requested.
By order of the chairman,
A.B. Underwood, Secretary
Newton, June 21, 1860
Pursuant to this call a meeting was held, Right Worshipful William D. Coolidge served as chairman. The record of the proceedings does not give the names or the number of all the brethren present, but thirty-eight brothers signed a petition to the Most Worshipful Grand Master for a dispensation.
Brother Underwood proposed that the Lodge be called “Dalhousie Lodge of Newton” in honor of Lord Dalhousie of Scotland. Dalhousie is one of the most eminent of Scottish titles, the earldom dating from 1633 (temp. Car. 1), and the name of Ramsay, which is borne by those who hold the title, is eminent in arts and in arms, in letters and statesmanship and in war.
There is some doubt, however, as to which Lord Dalhousie our founders intended to honor. It was most likely one of these two:
George Ramsay, the Eighth Earl of Dalhousie, and Grand Master of Scotland from 1767 to 1769, who granted the letters of deputation to General Joseph Warren making him Grand Master of Masons in Boston. He was a descendant of the illustrious family of Ramseys, which came from Germany and settled in Scotland as early as the reign of King David I. Sir William Ramsay, in 1295, was the first designated by the title of Dalhousie.
James Andrew Brown Ramsay, the Tenth Earl of Dalhousie and Viceroy of India. He served as Grand Master of Scotland from 1836 to 1838. He was commonly known as “Dalhousie” and was still living in June of 1860.
It was the picture of Fox Maule Ramsay, Eleventh Earl of Dalhousie, however, which hung over the Master’s Chair in the Lodge room for many years. He was Grand Master of Scotland when the Lodge was founded, but he did not then bear the title of Dalhousie but was still Lord Panmure.
Whichever may be the Dalhousie for whom our Lodge was named, Dalhousie Lodge has used the Dalhousie coat of arms of 1769, together with the motto “Ora et Labora,” as its seal ever since the constitution of the Lodge in 1861. The motto enjoins us to “work and pray.”
The original seal as adopted bore in the margin of the circle the words, “Dalhousie Lodge, Newton, Mass. Instituted A. L. 5861,” but by vote of the Lodge April 23, 1892, the by-laws were amended so that the title and date should read “Dalhousie Lodge F. & A. M. Newton, Mass. Instituted A. L. 5860.”