Lodge History

Extracts from:-
"The History of Lodge Montefiore No.753"
  By Charles Winston PM
  ISBN 0 9512788 0 0

Bailie Michael Simons D.L. J.P. - The Founding Master

The quantity of published information available on the Lodge's Founding Master contrasts sharply with details known about any other member. Indeed, we are fortunate that he was such an outstanding public figure of his time and that so much is a matter of public record.

There can be no doubt that, without exception, in the scores of articles examined he is recorded again and again as kind, considerate, thoughtful and generous. He was a polished orator, broadminded in his sympathies and a man of distinguished presence.
Michael Simons was the senior partner of the firm Simons, Jacobs and Company,( now Simons & Co. Ltd) He was also a member of the firms of Garcia, Jacobs & Co.,London; Simons Shuttleworth & Co.,Liverpool; and Simons Shuttleworth French & Co.,New York, and had established agencies worldwide. He was born on 23rd September 1842 in Covent Garden, London, and moved at an early age to Glasgow where he identified himself wholeheartedly with the interests and associations of the City. He was educated at St. James's School and at the old High School in John Street. The firm in Candelriggs was founded by his father, Benjamin Simons, and was considered at the time to be the largest fruit brokers and importers in the Empire and probably the world.

In 1869 he married Alice, the daughter of Mr Samuel Moses, J.P. of Hobart, Tasmania. they had three sons and four daughters.

By 1879 his administrative skills were to the fore at the formation of Garnethill Synagogue, where he was the Honorary Secretary. He also served on the Building Committee which was chaired by his father. Among the notable appointments which he undertook was to help the organising of the Great Exhibition of 1888. James Nichol the City Chamberlain in his "Vital, Social and Economic Statistics of Glasgow 1885-1891", records the folowing remark; "to no section of the Exhibition is more honour due than to that presided over with so much ability, tact and geniality, by Bailie Michael Simons". This at a time when he was instrumental in the formation of the Lodge. Thirteen years later to further the interests of Glasgow in promoting the International Exhibition of 1901 he went to the United States and by personal interviews enlisted the help of President McKinlay and other leading men.

Notwithstanding his business interests he found time to take a strenuous part in municipal life. In 1884, at the age of 42, he entered Glasgow Town Council when he was elected to serve for the Third Ward. There, he played his part, as a convener of committees and as a magistrate. The following extract records his appointment as Bailie.

The Preliminary Meetings

"Synagogue Chambers, Glasgow 23rd October 1887 A meeting of Jewish Freemasons was held this day at the above place to consider the advisability of forming a Masonic Lodge in Glasgow under Jewish auspices. Bro. M. Simons in the Chair "

Twelve Brethern met at Garnethill, on the above date, in the first recorded Minute. They resolved that it was "highly desirable to constitute" such a lodge and "in order to carry this to a successful issue" a further meeting was convened calling all interested parties together, including non-masons. A small working committee was formed, ad interim.

The subsequent General Meeting of "Jewish residents favourable to the formation of a masonic lodge in this City, under Jewish auspices" was held one month later on 27th November 1887 when a unanimous resolution was passed to proceed. The interim committee was then authorised "with full power" to collect subscriptions and take all necessary steps for opening the lodge.

On the 22nd January 1888 the Committee met followed by a General Meeting held immediately afterwards. At the former meeting a number of important decisions were made. These were :-

NAME OF LODGE: Proposed "that the suggested lodge be called The Montefiore Lodge". Agreed

COLOUR OF REGALIA: Resolved "that royal blue and gold be the colours of the clothing and paraphernalia of this lodge".

MEETING PLACE: Resolved "that the Lodge be held at St John's Masonic Hall, 213 Buchannan Street".

DAY OF MEETING: Resolved "that Monday be the night of Meetings".

FEES: Resolved "that the initiation fees be four guineas inclusive of the current year's subscription".

A General Meeting was held shortly after when the Committee reported funds in hand and all of the above resolutions were submitted and unanimously adopted. It was further resolved to forward the petition for a charter to Grand Lodge and the interim treasurer was authorised to pay all the preliminary expenses including ten guineas for the charter.

The selection of office-bearers was then proceeded with, a full list can be seen in Apendix (1); the only comment to be made is that Bro. J. Levin, the interim secretary, who was elected at that time, tendered his resignation prior to the consecration and Bro. Julius Tinto the proposed Senior Steward took his place.

One year's rent of St John's Hall, costing fifteen pounds, was paid.

A further meeting was called for the "consideration and discussion of the bye-laws" one week later on January 29th 1888, "at 1.30pm". Proof copies of the bye-laws were submitted and bye-laws 1 to 19 were passed. The Meeting then adjourned until the following day when the remaining bye-laws were considered and "after several alterations had been agreed to" it was agreed that they be reprinted and submitted to the brethren for further consideration prior to a copy being sent to the Provincial Grand Lodge of the City of Glasgow. Bro. Humphreys, Senior Warden elect, was given permission to purchase the "Regalia and all necessary lodge implements according to samples shown by Bro. Kenning."

The bye-laws were finally approved at a meeting held on 12th February 1888 and the corrected proofs were reprinted and submitted to the Provincial Grand Lodge.

The Consecration

The minute book records the names of an extremely long list of brethren including Bro. D. Murray Lyon, Grand Secretary, members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow City, (the Provincial Grand Master was in London on parlimentary business) and many visiting Provincial Grand Lodges, distinguished brethren from the Irish and English constitutions, a Past Grand Master of Gibraltar and the District Junior Grand Warden from Bengal. Over twenty lodges within the province were represented by their Masters and Wardens. The extracts speak for themselves. "St John's Hall
213 Buchannan Street
Glasgow. 19th March 1888

The Erection and Consecration of Lodge Montefiore No.753 took place this evening. Bro John Graham S.P.G.M. in the unavoidable absence of Bro. Sir Wm Pearce officiated."

"The Ceremony of consecration according to printed form (Plate 7) was gone through in a most impressive and fitting manner.



An interesting Masonic event took place last evening in the St John's Lodge, Buchannan Street when Lodge Montefiore No. 753, the first Jewish Lodge in Scotland, was solemnly erected and consecrated by a deputation of Provincial Grand Lodge, accompanied by Bro. Lyon, Grand Secretary.

There was a large attendance of the Brethern............. ...( The article then gives a lengthy list of those present and apologies for absence )..............The Provincial Grand Lodge having been duly opened in the third degree, the ceremonial of erection and consecration was carried through with Grand Honours, and at the close Bro. Simons, the first R.W.M. of Lodge Montefiore took his seat beside the S.P.G.Master amid applause.

In the course of the proceedings The Grand Chaplain (Rev.W.W.Tulloch) delivered a brief address, specially appreciated on the occasion. He reminded the brethren that the name of the new Lodge recalled that of Sir Moses Montefiore, the first Jew ever knighted by a British sovereign. Sir Moses was a sterling example of a man who had brought lasting renown to himself; while by his benificent activity, by the unceasing and brotherly devotion with which he laboured for his race, it was chiefly through his exertions that the Jewish disabilities were removed, and that his nephew, Baron Rothschild was the first Jew who sat in our parliament. That was the beginning of a long series of successful endeavours on behalf of his brethren to break their bonds and to help them in their poverty and distress. Was it too much to hope that the Lodge Montefiore, animated by his spirit and inspired by his example, would be conspicuous among the lodges of the province and of Scotland for its philanthropy and beneficence.The R.W.M. and office-bearers of Lodge Montefiore were afterwards duly installed, and R.W.M Simons having taken the chair, was suitably addressed by S.P.G.Master Graham. In addressing the brethren in reply, R.W.M Simons said the Lodge, Montefiore, was, as they all knew, under Jewish auspices. That was a comprehensive term. He rejoiced to think that a lodge so constituted could be nothing less than a lodge conducted in accordance with the highest and best principles of Masonry. (Applause.) In the sister kingdom there were numerous lodges under Jewish auspices, and they were pleased to know that these lodges were for the most part presided over by masters who were not of the Jewish persuasion. They might therefore rest assured that there was nothing in those tenets of Judaism so touchingly referred to by Bro.Tulloch which were in any way inimical to the highest and most sacred professions of Masonry or the highest duties of citizenship. There was nothing to prevent them extending the right hand of fellowship in all truth to all those who recognised, as they did, the supreme authority of the Great Architect of the Universe. (Appluase.) Brother Lyon, Grand Secretary, afterwards briefly addressed the brethren, and expressed the pleasure it afforded him to attend on so interesting an occasion. R.W.M Simons afterwards invited all the brethren present to partake of supper at his residence in Bath Street, whence they proceeded after the lodge had been closed in the usual manner.

The Glasgow Evening News of the same date noted much of the above details and also remarked that "the regalia of the new lodge was much admired". A detailed report of events was also carried by the Jewish Chronicle dated 23rd March 1888.

The remarks made by Michael Simons to the effect that brethren not of the 'Jewish persuasion' would play their role in the government of the Lodge, proved to be accurate. Of the first ten masters, five were not of that persuasion, and many more were to follow.

The oration delivered on the occasion by Rev. Tulloch, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, made a deep impression on those present and is, in fact, recorded in full in the minute book. (cf Appendix IX). He was indeed a powerful orator. It is most interesting to note that Rev.Tulloch distinguished himself not only as Provincial Grand Chaplain but his reputation as a minister ( he was elected in 1877 to serve Maxwell Parish ) was complimented by the fact that he had a passion for writing. Indeed he contributed to many monthly magazines and had been on the staff of various newspapers. He was also a favourite at Court, being the only clergyman in Scotland, not a royal chaplain, to dine regularly with Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family.

The Lodge having been duly erected and consecrated, following the installation of the office-bearers, a number of founders were obligated in their allegiance to the lodge.

Although 16 brethren signed the petition, the Roll Book records a further 9 brethren as "founders" registered in the books and it is clear that their affiliation came about because they were now resident in Glasgow and their Mother Lodges were for the most part in the east of Scotland. (cf Appendix I)

Applications for initiation were read from eleven gentlemen whose occupations and professions included a clergyman, a foreign bookseller, a mantle maker, a restauranteur and a master tailor.


The first meeting of the office bearers took place at 206 Bath Street, the home of Michael Simons on the 21st March 1888 when it was decided to hold an Emergency Meeting in order to ballot the applications. This meeting duly took place on the 28th and to which the Provincial Grand Secretary had been invited to affiliate the remaining founders and petitioners.

The minute book records that "in return for the very satisfactory way that the Erection and Consecration of the Lodge had been performed" it was unanimously agreed to confer Honorary membership on Bro. John Graham S.P.G.M., Bro. David Reid, P.G. Secretary (|and Grand Bible Bearer ), W.W.Tulloch B.D., P.G.Chaplain and D.Murray Lyon, Grand Secretary.

The Committee for General purposes was empowered

" Owing to the Passover holidays occurring on the night of the next Regular Meeting to arrange for and fix a night in lieu. "

The first Regular meeting of the Lodge took place on the 9th April 1888 when the work of the lodge began in earnest. The Roll Book records the evenings labours.

©2009    Lodge Monteriore No 753