WINSTON CHURCHILL, FREEMASON FROM 1901-1965
WiNSToN CHuRCHiLL, FReeMaSoN FROM 1901-1965
Thanks to Doug Willinger of http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/ for bringing to my attention the second article below, prompting me to dig out the information on when Churchill became a Mason, which can be found in the first article below. We also discover that reports that Churchill was raised to Master Mason in Rosemary Lodge No. 2851 are erroneous. In fact all three craft degree ceremonies were conducted in Studholme Lodge No. 1591.
ISSUE 3, October 2002
Brother Winston: Churchill as a Freemason
Churchill was a very public figure, But Yasha Beresiner has discovered the very private Freemason
Freemasons take pride in having men of stature as members of the fraternity. But have Masons at times attributed too much significance to the Masonic association of these great men? Maybe more than the famous people themselves have done? Winston Churchill was the greatest British statesman in recent history. In 1901 he became a Freemason. What induced him to join the fraternity? How active was he as a Freemason? What part did Freemasonry play in his life?
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 and educated at Harrow. At the time of his initiation into Studholme Lodge 1591 on 24 May 1901, Freemasonry was a fashionable social pursuit.
The election of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) as Grand Master in 1875 gave a huge impetus to Freemasonry. As the Prince of Wales, he had been an exceedingly popular Royal and Grand Master, and brought with him a host of other Royals and aristocrats who gladly joined the Craft.
It was not by accident that the promising young Winston was introduced to Studholme Lodge in London.
John Studholme Brownrigg, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey, whose prominent family gave its name to the new Lodge, consecrated the Lodge on 31 January 1876.
In 1881 the Lodge moved from Surbiton, in Surrey, to London, and the summonses read like a Who’s Who of the aristocracy and social elite.
The guest list for the Lodge’s 21st Installation Banquet in 1897 includes 17 Members of Parliament, including the Lord Chancellor, and numerous Lords, Earls, Knights and high-ranking members of the armed forces dispersed throughout the dining room.
The Lodge records give the date of Churchill’s initiation as 24 May 1901 with his address as 105 Mount Street, his age as 26, and his occupation as a Member of Parliament.
Charles Clive Bigham, Viscount Mersey, whose entry in the Studholme Lodge register, next to that of Churchill, has caused some confusion about his taking his third degree in Rosemary Lodge, gives an insight into the scene on the day.
In his autobiography, published by John Murray in London in 1941, A Picture of Life 1872-1940, he states on page 188:
… that month I was initiated as a free mason at Studholme Lodge (1591). While waiting for the ceremony I walked round and round Golden Square with Winston Churchill, another candidate …
Within two months, on 19 July, Winston was passed to the second degree, and on 5 March 1902 he became a Master Mason, all three ceremonies being conducted in Studholme Lodge.
An unfortunate communication in 1955 by the then librarian of Grand Lodge, W I Grantham, to his counterpart in Iowa, USA, has led to the erroneous reports that Churchill was raised in Rosemary Lodge No. 2851.
This occurred because the Studholme Lodge register has the name Geoffrey C Glyn above, and Charles Clive Bigham below that of Churchill.
Further along the line against both these names is the entry ‘Raised in No 2851, 11th Nov 1901’. This entry was also wrongly attributed to Churchill.
His raising was by special dispensation applied for by the Lodge secretary, Henry James Fitzroy, the Earl of Euston, Provincial Grand Master for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, and conducted by the Master, J C F Tower.
At the same meeting, Ferdinand John St john was initiated and the brethren dined at the Cafe Royal, as was customary for the lodge.
Studholme Lodge amalgamated in 1959 with United Lodge No. 1629 to form United Studholme Lodge, and amalgamated again in 1976 with Alliance Lodge No. 1827 to attain its present status as Studholme Alliance Lodge, retaining its original number 1591.
From January-February 2005
By Robert Morris
On a faded high school diploma dated June 28, 1940, one can still see the signature of the High School Principal, W.C. Scott. He was born shortly after the turn of the century and his full name was Winston Churchill Scott. While still in his twenties, Winston S. Churchill had achieved enough fame that parents were naming their sons after him forty years before he became Prime Minister of Great Britain on May 10, 1940.
Long before the advent of the automobile and airplane, Brother Churchill was born in Blenheim Place in Victorian England on November 30, 1874. He was from a distinguished family descended from the famous Duke of Marlborough. He was, however, only half English, his mother being Jennie Jerome, an American and daughter of Leonard Jerome, editor and proprietor of the New York Times.
At age 12, Churchill was admitted to Harrow, Britain’s prestigious school for boys. Upon graduation, he was admitted to Sandhurst, “Britain’s West Point,” from which he graduated as a Second Lieutenant in December, 1894. The following month, he was saddened by the unexpected death of his father at age 45. H he greatly admired his father and later to resolve to take over in Parliament, where his father had left off.
His first significant assignment was as an observer to a Spanish military force sent to Cuba in 1895. On the way there, he stopped by New York City to visit his American relatives. The next two years were spent as a war correspondent in India. In 1898, he volunteered to serve with General Kitchener in the latter’s attempt to re-conquer the Sudan and participated in one of history’s last great cavalry charges in which he came close to losing his life.
During the Boer War in South Africa, Churchill was a war correspondent for the London Morning Post. On November 15, 1899, he was captured by the Boers and became a prisoner of war. He soon made a daring escape and, with a price on his head, made his way back to the British lines. He was then commissioned a Lieutenant in the British Forces and helped in leading them to Pretoria, where he helped release his former fellow prisoners of war. He returned to England a hero in 1900.
Deciding to run for Parliament, he was elected in 1900. He had reached the ripe old age of 25 and had already seen military action in Cuba, India, Sudan, and South Africa. Before taking his seat in Parliament, he decided on a lecture tour of America. There he was introduced to Mark Twain and, later, both Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and President William McKinley. The fact that Churchill’s father and those three were all Brother Masons must have gotten him to thinking because upon returning to England he applied for the Degrees in Freemasonry. He was initiated in Studholme Lodge #1591, London, and raised to the Third Degree on March 25, 1902, in Rosemary Lodge #2851.
Prime Minister Asquith appointed Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty, a position similar to that of the United States Secretary of the Navy. Churchill held this appointment from 1911 to 1915. He saw to the strengthening of Britain’s Navy, and when World War I broke out in 1914, the fleet was ready. Churchill, however, did get the blame for one unfortunate campaign. The defeat of the British forces at Gallipoli in 1915 resulted in his dismissal from the Admiralty. At age 41, his career seemed finished. Later analysis proved that not Churchill but others closer to the scene were the actual culprits. All was not lost though, because as a result of Churchill’s prior planning, the British Navy was later to give the German Navy a resounding defeat at the Battle of Jutland in June 1916.
In July 1917, just as the United States entered the World War I, Bro. Churchill was appointed Minister of Munitions. His American contacts were of inestimable value in working out various logistical support arrangements between the two countries. At the end of the war, Churchill became the only Englishman to receive the prestigious United States Distinguished Service Medal.
The period 1921-1922 was not a good one for Churchill. In 1921, he was saddened by the death of his mother, and the following year, he lost his bid for reelection to Parliament, a harbinger of things to come a generation later. Of all Britain’s statesmen, Churchill was by far the most prolific of writers. Already, since the turn of the century, Churchhill had been turning out volumes related to historical matters. Among them were works about the Malakand Field Force in 1898; his escape from the Boers in 1900; a biography of his father, The Life of Lord Randolph Churchill, in 1906; a five-volume history, The World Crisis, about World War I, in 1923 and, later, a four-volume biography of his famous ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough in 1933.
In 1924 at age 50, Churchill was again back in Parliament, this time appointed to the prestigious position of Chancellor of the Exchequer—similar to the American Secretary of the Treasury. This was the period when Mussolini had already taken over Italy and Adolf Hitler was agitating in Germany, finally becoming Chancellor in 1932, the same year that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States. To Churchill the handwriting was on the wall, and he perceived the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as a pacifist and appeaser. He railed against these policies, especially after Chamberlain returned to England from a conference in Munich waving a piece of paper and announcing that he had agreed to giving a piece of Czechoslovakia to Germany. The subsequent occupation of all of Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Poland by Germany finally caused both Britain and France to declare war on Germany in September 1939. Churchill was asked to reassume the position of First Lord of the Admiralty on September 21, 1939.
No sooner had Churchill been appointed than his Brother Mason Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a congratulatory note to him beginning a series of personal letters which lasted until Roosevelt’s death in April l945.
When France fell in 1940, the Chamberlain government also fell, and Churchill was appointed Prime Minister at age 65. In his acceptance speech, he was candid with his countrymen in notifying them that “I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears.”
Among Churchill’s activities during the period May 10, 1940, to April 12, 1945, was the deep personal relationship which had begun to grow with President Roosevelt. The first two years were spent in dealing with the United States as a non-belligerent and in finding ways to tap the seemingly inexhaustible war supplies of that country without violating America’s neutrality laws. In September, 1940, they successfully negotiated the trading of 50 U.S. destroyers for a 99-year lease of British military bases in the Atlantic and also the subsequent shipping of war supplies to Britain.
During a visit to Washington on December 26, 1941, Churchill became the first British Prime Minister to be invited to address a joint session of Congress. On May 19, 1943, he again addressed that august body, one of only a few foreigners ever to receive that distinct recognition. He noted that if his parents’ nationalities had been reversed, he might have gotten to Congress on his own.
In 1945, Clement Attlee replaced Churchill as Prime Minister. Although now out of office, Bro. Churchill was still the leader of the opposition in Parliament, and the growing intransigence of Stalin gave him great concern. Accordingly, he was pleased to accept President Truman’s invitation to speak at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. There he gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, saying “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” This was, in effect, the beginning of the Cold War which was to continue long after Churchill’s death.
Between l948 and 1951, Churchill took time out to produce another of his historical masterpieces, a 6-volume history of the Second World War. On January 20, 1953, Churchill was again in Washington, where he visited Truman on his last day in the White House. Churchill then entertained Truman at a dinner at the British Embassy. The year 1953 saw his being knighted by the Queen into the Order of the Garter and thenceforth to be known as Sir Winston, his participation with President Eisenhower in the ill-fated Bermuda Conference, and his being awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature.
Age was now beginning to take its toll, and Churchill resigned as Prime Minister in April 1955. Although he maintained his seat in Parliament, he now began to take more time with his favorite pastimes, especially writing. Between 1956 and 1958, he produced his final epic masterpiece, the four-volume History of the English Speaking People.
In his personal life, he adored his wife, Clementine, and in addition to saying that “they lived happily ever after” noted that “what can be more glorious than to be united in one’s way through life with a being incapable of an ignoble thought.” They were married for over 56 years. His beliefs were also truly Masonic. Ever since the end of the Boer War, he had always advocated magnanimity for a defeated foe. He was a Mason for over 62 years.
When he died on December 12, 1965, at the age of 91, he had earned a respected and honored position on the world scene. No other leader in the Western World had done more to contain tyranny and despotism. To paraphrase one of his more memorable statements: “Never in the history of modern statesmanship have so many been influenced for so long by one man.” He truly was one of the great men of the century and one whose attitudes, beliefs, tenacity, and accomplishments will be noted for all time.
Bro. Robert Morris is Secretary of Manchester Lodge, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Manchester, Mass., a 32° Mason in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, and a staff member of the TROWEL, a publication of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This text, taken from a Short Talk Bulletin (May 2003) published by the Masonic Service Association of North America and based on an article published in the TROWEL (Spring 2001).