Leyland Hesketh Lodge No 986

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Meetings:   1st Monday – September, October, November, December, February, March, April, May

Installation: 3rd Saturday – January

Web site:  

Secretary: TBC

Lodge History:

 HESKETH LODGE  No 986        (1863-2013)

 1.  Early Days

The petition to form Hesketh Lodge was signed  in the Lodge of Harmony, Ormskirk, on August 26th, 1863 and forwarded to the Grand Secretary on September 26th, with half a £5 note. On receiving an acknowledgement from the Grand secretary, the second half of the £5 note and a Postal Order for £1–5s–Od were sent.

On the 26th October, Bro, Hamer wrote again saying that the Croston Brethren wished to purchase furniture and open the Lodge before Sir Thomas G. Hesketh proceeded to London. The warrant was posted on October 27th and received on October 28th, 1863. A meeting was called at Rufford Old Hall on November 7th, when Sir Thomas G. Hesketh met the following:—

Thomas Wylie  –  P.G. Secretary

James Hamer  —  P.G. Treasurer

A.L. Jackson  —  I.P.M.  580 Lodge of Harmony, Ormskirk

John Baxendale  –  W.M.   580 Lodge of Harmony, Ormskirk

William Ascroft  —  M.M.   580 Lodge of Harmony, Ormskirk

Roger Rigbye  —  M.M.   580 Lodge of Harmony, Ormskirk

It was decided to hold the first meeting under the warrant on the third Tuesday in November at the Grapes Inn, Croston, to have the warrant read, the Master installed and to initiate Mr. Nimian Jeffrey Dawson. Also, the Lodge was to be solemnly dedicated on the regular day in January 1864.

At this time there were only 85 Lodges in the whole of Lancashire, of which 55 were in East Lancashire and 30 in what is now West Lancashire. Hesketh Lodge 986 became the 31st Lodge in the West Lancashire Province which in 2012 had 382 Lodges and is the largest Province in the World.

On 17th November, 1863 at 2.30 p.m. the Lodge met for the first time.

On December 15th,  the Lodge met with Bro. Hamer in the chair and balloted for and accepted five men who had been proposed,  “by recommendation”

On January 9th. 1864 the regular Hesketh Lodge night, a Provincial Lodge was held with the Masters of the three oldest Lodges in the Province in the principal chairs: –

W.M. Chair — Bro. James Pickering (Wigan 178)

S.W. Chair — Bro. Charles Leedham (Liverpool 220)

J.W. Chair — Bro. John Baxerdale (Ormskirk 580)

When Provincial Lodge business was completed, the Hesketh Lodge was solemnly dedicated, with Bro. James Hamer P.M. Pr.G. Treasurer acting as Director of Ceremonies. After dedication, the Deputy W.M., Bro. Hamer. invested and completed the first list of officers of Hesketh Lodge.

As stated on the petition, “A Lodge was formed in Croston for the convenience of the Brethren living there.” However, only 4 Masons were living in Croston.

These four were joined by two Liverpool Brethren:-

Captain Augustus L. Jackson.

Captain John Hughes.

both of whom had been seafaring Brethren but were then ships brokers.

Sir Thomas G. Hesketh and his Deputy James Hamer completed the founders; five local men and three Liverpool men.

(It is worth noting that at the time of the Lodges formation, cotton workers in these parts were suffering, due to the American Civil War affecting the import of raw cotton from the Southern States. Also on 17th November 1863 Abraham Lincoln began the 1st draft of his Gettysburg Address. Which he delivered on the 19th of November in Gettysburg.)

2.  Personalities at the Foundation of the Lodge

(i)  Sir Thomas George Hesketh

He was the fifth baronet. Born in 1825, he married Lady Anna Maria Arabella Femour, sister and heiress of the fifth and last Earl of Pomfret, in 1846.  In 1867 by Royal licence Sir Thomas assumed for himself and his second son (the seventh baronet) the surname of Fermour before that of Hesketh. On Lady Fermovr-Hesketh’s death in 1870 her family’s land in Northamptonshire was added to that in Lancashire. The present Lord Hesketh is a direct descendant.

In 1862, Sir Thomas was elected Conservative MP for Preston and was returned unopposed with the Hon. F.A. Stanley (who became Lord Derby) in 1865

In 1857, Sir Thomas had been made Deputy Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire and, in 1865, (as I.P.M. of Hesketh No 986) he became the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master.

Sir Thomas took a very close interest in the parish from which he came and laid foundation stones at the building of RuffordChurch in 1861. Hesketh Lodge was represented at the Churches Consecration, along with other visiting Masonic Brethren.

(ii)  W.Bro. James Pickering

He was an orphan when Colonel Blundell – the owner of Pemberton Colliery, was  paying one of his frequent visits to BlueCoatSchool in Liverpool, and selected him to be  trained as an office boy. He later become his Private Secretary.

However, when returning from a Masonic meeting in very thick fog.  He fell down a stone quarry in AppleyBridge and died from exposure.

(iii)  John Baxendale

He was a member of Harmony Lodge No. 845, and a draper by trade in Church Street Ormskirk. In 1863, when Harmony Lodge 845 was renumbered to 580, Bro. Baxendale was installed as W.M. and again in 1864.

He acted as J.W. at the dedication of Hesketh Lodge and, during the first fifteen years, he performed the installation of Hesketh Masters on no less than 11 occasions.

(iv)  Roger  Rigbye

Roger Rigbye was the Postmaster at the Croston Post Office. He was initiated into Harmony Lodge No  580 in 1862 by the Deputy Pr.G. Master R.W. Bro. Sir Thomas G. Hesketh, Bart. P.G.D. So, at the foundation of Hesketh Lodge at which he was the prime mover he had only been a mason for 1- 2 years.

Early meetings held, to discuss the founding of the Lodge were held in Roger’s home in a room over the Post Office in Croston. Lodge funds were deposited in the Post Office until 1902 when a bank account was opened.

Roger was J.W. at the foundation of Hesketh Lodge and also in 1864.   He was S.W. in 1865, W.M. in 1866 and 1872. Treasurer in 1868, 1869, 1870, Secretary from 1875 to 1878.

Two members of the present Lodge are related to him. W.Bro. Jack Staziker is the Great grandson and W.Bro. Bob Kay is the Great Great grandson.

(v)  John Rigbye

John was Roger Rigbye’s brother and was a saddler by trade. He had only been initiated 10 months when he became a founder of Hesketh Lodge 986, having been initiated into Lodge of Harmony 580 in January 1863. He became Tyler of 986 in 1863 and died holding that Office in 1869.

(vi)  William Ascroft

William was Landlord of the Grapes Inn, Croston, and was initiated into the Lodge of Harmony in January 1863 at the same time as John Rigbye. Although, as landlord of the Inn where Lodge met he was not eligible to hold office. However he was I.G. for a few months in 1863 and 1866.

(vii)  William Hurst

William was the local builder, who came from Upholland and had been initiated into a Wigan Lodge (No. 178) before joining 580 at Ormskirk. He was J.D. for the year 1864, and appears to have been badly hit financially by the slump of 1869/70 for he was excluded due to arrears in 1871.

(viii)  Augustus L. Jackson

Captain A.L. Jackson was a seafaring man who became a ships’ broker and lived in Seacombe, Liverpool. He was W.M. of Harmony 580 in 1862 and was I.P.M. of that Lodge when he moved the resolution that Harmony Lodge should sponsor the new Lodge in Croston.

He was appointed S.D. for the year. 1864 but in November that year he opposed his friend and colleague, Captain John Hughes S.W., and secured election to W.M.

In 1867 the minutes recorded that, “Due to very unfortunate circumstances he found himself compelled to leave the country.”

His wife was given £4 to set up a small business by the members of Harmony and Hesketh Lodges.

(ix)  Captain John Hughes

Captain Hughes, a seafaring man living at Seacombe, Liverpool. He was a member of Lodge 223 Liverpool. He was a friend of A.L. Jackson and was appointed S.W. of the Lodge for 1863 and 1864.

His son, also Captain John Hughes, was initiated into the Lodge in 1864.

Having been defeated by Jackson in the election for W.M. in November 1864, He finally resigned in 1867 and his son left with him.

(x)  James Hamer, Pr.G.Treasurer.

James Hamer, P.G.T., was the man who gave his name to the Hamer Benevolent Institution. He lived in Liverpool and gave his Lodges as 220, 249 and 580.

Hamer did all the preliminary secretarial work prior to and at the Foundation of Hesketh No 986. He also acted as D.C. and first Installing Master, as acting I.P.M. and Deputy W.M. for 1864. He was elected as an Honorary Member but left the Lodge in 1865 due to a difference of opinion about an hired organ. However he returned to assist in the Lodge in 1871 and 1872.

3.  Details of Lodge Meetings (Time. Date, Place.)

The Warrant of the Lodge shows that meetings were originally held at the Grapes Inn, Croston, on 3rd Tuesday each month at 2.00 p.m.

Later, the time was amended to 2.30 p.m., then 3.00 p.m., then 4.00 p.m. and, in 1895 to 6.00 p.m. In 1903 opening was at 4.00 p.m. or such other time as the W.M. shall see fit.

It is worth remembering that with all three degrees and several candidates in each, 2.00 p.m. was an essential start time originally.  In 1869/70 there were no candidates for 18 months and so a later start was adequate.

In 1867 the meeting day was changed to “the Tuesday on or next before the full moon”. This enabled candidates to take two degrees in one month. On June 20th, 1887 the meeting was changed to the third Monday in the month at 4.30 p.m.

From 1897 the Lodge closed for the three summer months of June, July and August, but Bye law 1 was changed again in 1910 owing to there being so many emergency meetings being called and the June meeting was reinstated.

However, in 1910, the June meeting was held in such heat that after initiating one candidate, proving and entrusting two more it was found essential to “call off” before raising these two. A complaint about the inadequate ventilation was made to the owners of the Grapes Inn, which was apparently ignored because on September 19th, 1910, the following notice of motion was given:- “the interests of Hesketh 986 will be best served by removal from the Grapes Hotel to the De Trafford Arms Hotel”.

The Lodge met at the De Trafford Arms Hotel for the first time on November 21st 1910 after 47 years at the Grapes Hotel. The Lodge meetings were transferred to Leyland Masonic Hall from February 4th, 1974 after 64 years at the De Trafford Arms Hotel.

In January 1914 the De Trafford Arms was found inadequate for the Jubilee Celebrations and the Wesleyan School was hired for the ceremony but the banquet attended by the R.W.Pr.Gr. Master and 80 others was held at the De Trafford. During the same year, 1914, the Lodge requested improved lighting for the Lodge room and a shed for the storage of the Lodge furniture. The timber for the three Principal chairs was in fact supplied by W.Bro. John Henry Mayor’s family business.

From 1925 to 1940 the adjacent cinema called Jackson’s Assembly Room was used for the Installation Ceremony whilst the meal was held in the De Trafford Arms Hotel. From 1943 – 1960 the Installations were held at Leyland Masonic Hall and from 1961 – 1987 at Preston Masonic Hall owing to the need for increased accommodation.

In 1988 following the move to the New Masonic Hall, Wellington Park in Church Walks Leyland and the offer of a suitable Saturday in January, W.Bro. David Smalley was installed as W.M. Thus becoming the first Master of Hesketh Lodge to be installed at the New Hall. He had also been the first Candidate to be initiated at Leyland Masonic Hall after the move from the De Trafford Arms Hotel in 1974.

2003.  The Lodge continues to meet at Wellington Park. The Lodge meetings are held on the First Monday of each month except for June, July & August. The normal starting time is 6.30pm. The Installation meetings are held each year on the 3rd Saturday in January starting at 2.45pm.

 4,  Lodge Programme of Work & Ceremonies

Early work programmes were notorious for the complete lack of planning, with some meetings being over crowded (several ceremonies and several candidates in each) followed by evenings with little or no work to do. This may have been because in the first years there was only one Past Master in the Lodge. In 1864 W.Bro. Hamer (who left in 1864) and in 1865 Bro. A.L. Jackson (who left the country in 1867). In 1867 the I.P.M. W.Bro. R. Rigbye was the only P.M.

During the years 1865 — 1920 there were at times as many as four candidates for each ceremony and all three degrees on the same evening. Rushes of work alternated with blank periods.

In 1877 six candidates received the three degrees (two initiated, two passed and two raised ). This was  immediately before the Installation, quite a swan song for the retiring W.M.  Bro. Thurston Whittle and during the same year there were four meetings without any ceremony. 1878 was the busiest year ever for Hesketh Lodge but still there was one meeting with nothing to do. In that year there were thirteen candidates for each of the three degrees and an Installation.

The actual pattern of a Lodge evening in the early days, especially those when many ceremonies were performed should show an interesting comparison with modern Lodge Nights.

From the earliest days the same pattern of business has been followed on each Lodge Evening. The first four items on the agenda have always been: –

1. Opening the Lodge.

2. Reading and approving the Minutes.

3. Receiving communications and notices of Motion.

4. Main business of the evening — one or more of the three degrees.

In the first few years the Lodge was “called–off” for refreshment after item 4. After “calling– on” the remaining items were:-

5. To consider communications and receive propositions.

7. To close the Lodge.

Item 2 from January 2007 a copy of the minutes has been sent out to every Brother by either post or e-mail.

Item 6 to collect for Masonic Charities was, for the first 30 years, only taken annually but it is now taken at each meeting.

From 2005 the collection no longer states ‘Masonic Charities’ it now says ‘Charities’. It is still taken at every meeting but it was felt that the word ‘Masonic’ restricted who could benefit from them.

Many early W.M’s were unable to perform the ceremonies themselves, but when one considers that for the first forty years there was no written ritual and our ancestors had to learn their parts by hearing it, it is not surprising.

Ceremonies were somewhat shorter before the 1880s, the charge and working tools were not included, and then only by W.M’s or P.M.s. The Wardens having nothing to do except participate in opening and closing. With these differences the ceremonies of the three degrees have remained much the same, but the ceremony of installation is the longest and most impressive.

The first two installations of 1863 and 1864 were both of P.M.s and were of a curtailed nature, but that of 1865 was the normal full ceremony. It appears that Masters Elect could choose their Installing Master and that certain P.M.s specialised in the Installation Ceremony. Their services were in great demand since few P.M.s knew the Installation Ritual. In the early days the Installing Master did everything. Only in 1878 was a Director of Ceremonies appointed as a Lodge Officer.

In the early days the Installation took place in December. In 1902 the Installation was postponed to January 3rd 1903, due to the Master Elect’s illness. It was resolved to change the bye laws making December not November the year end. The election for the Master would then take place in December  and the Installation in January.

In 1872. the Master Elect was Bro. The Rev. J.P. Coggin, Pr.Gr.Chap(a joining member). For the first time the Master Elect was, in the second degree, led before the S.W.’s pedestal and presented to the Installing Master. The charges and duties of a W.M were read and the candidate obligated. This was a most radical change since never before had any part of the Installation Ceremony taken place outside the P.M.’s degree. The Lodge was then opened in the third degree and all below the rank of an Installed Master retired. The Master elect was Installed. The P.M’s degree was closed. Brethren were admitted to the third degree and the officers invested. The Installation was considerably shortened by the fact that there were no addresses to officers. Also the working tools were not explained.

In 1874 the Installation ceremony reverted back to the 1865 pattern with the whole ceremony in the P.M’s degree.

In 1888, for the first time, the cardinal points of the compass were used to indicate where each proclamation was made and have been used ever since.

In 1886 W.Bro. W.J. Melling was the first Hesketh Master (or P.M.) to install his successor. He also performed the Installation of 1887 & 1888..

It was not until 1920 that the Lodge adopted a printed ritual for the Installation and this one copy is handed down from year to year enabling each Master to learn the ceremony. (See section 7 for more information on the Hesketh ritual)

1913 was the first time that the installation had become a complete meeting, While 1921 appears to be the beginning of the period when one degree was held each meeting.

5.  Lodge Finances and Charity

All income, initially, was derived from two sources: initiation fees and annual subscriptions. For the first thirty-three years the initiation fee was 5 guineas and the annual subscription 1 guinea. The average income was 30 guineas from fees and 28 guineas from subscriptions but this varied from year to year.

During the first five years of the Lodge, 70% of all Lodge furnishings were bought. (£112 out of a total expenditure of £150 during the first twenty years.)

Lodge Charity was given mainly as relief to indigent Masons either members or visitors and averaged two days’ pay (5/-) per man and sums of between  2 and 5 guineas for widows.

The meals account was the largest and averaged 50% of all income. Meals practically bankrupted the Lodge in some years and only voluntary ‘after tea’ subscriptions of 1882 and 1883 and determined efforts to cut costs saved the Lodge from bankruptcy.

Charity collections were made annually in September and it was not until 1895 that monthly collections were made. Efforts were made to raise at least £5 in order to give the Lodge a vote in Masonic Charities.

The first appeal for Charity came in 1865 when a widow appealed and was donated 1 guinea. In April 1865 the Lodge opened a private subscription fund for the children of a deceased Liverpool brother.

In 1867 a Lodge Relief Fund was set up, such that “relief to be given to such Brethren as require it when it is thought requisite by the Lodge”.

With the death in 1869 of Bro. John Rigbye, saddler and founder member of Hesketh 986, who had spent his whole Masonic career as Tyler of Hesketh his widow was given one guinea.

In 1882 it was decided to increase members annual subscription by 5 shillings, this to be sent to the R.M. Institute for Boys and Girls. In 1883 the J.W. presented the Lodge with a money box (possibly the present ballot box as the present system of balloting did not begin until 1913). Money raised in this box was to form a Lodge Charity Fund with any surplus being given to other Masonic Charities. In 1895 a resolution to levy 1 shilling per quarter per member was made, and that the Lodge charity plate was to be sent round at every Lodge Meeting and this has been done ever since.

In 1902 the first separate banking account for the Charity Fund was opened by the Secretary.

During the 1914—18 War there were many donations to War Charities.

Between the two Wars the monthly charities grew steadily.

The Lodge has contributed to local churches through church services. Between 1910 and 1940 a strong link with Bretherton Church existed and at the Centenary of this church the rector W.Bro. J.B. Goodall P.G.Ch. was Chaplain of the Lodge. Also, during the building of Blackburn Cathedral a service was held at Bretherton Church and the offertory was given to the Cathedral Building Fund.

Hesketh Lodge Benevolent Fund was established in 1959.

Contribution to Hesketh Lodge Widows’ Christmas Fund have been taken at each Lodge Meeting for several years.

6.  Festive Board

The festive board has always been an integral part of the Lodge since early days, in fact the Lodge was called off for refreshment before the completion of all business, albeit minor in character.

In early days the meal was of a “high tea” nature although the price of ls.6d. supports the view that the meal was comparable with our present day one. After the meal, the cloth was withdrawn before loyal and Masonic toasts were indulged in. Harmony was sustained by musical brethren

Originally, meals were a charge on the Lodge and only in times of financial stringency were members asked to pay, and then only about half the cost.

Within six years of the Lodge foundation “calling off” ceased and continuing work until finished followed by dinner became the rule. Until 1913, with rare exceptions, visitors as well as members were literally guests of the Lodge including the costs of wines and tobacco. In 1890 members could get adequate liquid refreshment for 6d.

Bye law 2 had read “It shall be competent for the master (at his discretion) on any Lodge night to order refreshment to be provided for the Brethren at the expense of the Lodge.” It would appear that the Master’s discretion had become an established custom from 1865 onwards. In 1875 a regular attender at all Lodge meetings had a return on his 1 guinea Lodge subscription of £2.12.0.


In 1928 the cost of the Installation was 5/-. In the 1960’s this had risen to 17/6d and in 2012 the cost was  £22..

7.  Ritual

The ceremonies performed in Hesketh Lodge are different from other lodges but it must be remembered that certain basic fundamental facts in Freemasonry remain unchanged in all Lodges. The verbal embroidery attached to these basic ideas may vary from Lodge to Lodge and from time to time. Written records go back a relatively short space of time and documented Masonry more than 200 years old is extremely rare.

The main reason for the differences in the ritual used by Hesketh Lodge is that before there was any written ritual, the ceremonies were passed down by word of mouth. We have inherited our tradition from older lodges such as 113, 220, 314, 343 and 580 all of whom, through the 19th century, assisted us as active participants in our work and as joining members. The result is a method of working which owes something to all these lodges. This is the tradition of Hesketh lodge and why such variations give so much pleasure to observant visitors.

In 2002 it was felt by the Lodge Committee that a Ritual Book, with the words used by the Lodge, and to maintain our traditions, would be to the advantage of ALL the members of the Lodge especially the Master and junior brethren. A small committee of 5 was set up consisting of the present D.C W.Bro. Tom Oakes, ex D.C.s W.Bro’s Norman Singleton and Alan Owen, W.Bro. Alan Heald and the Secretary W.Bro. David Lloyd. All the Degree ceremonies, charges, addresses, tracing boards were included by the agreement of the committee and the finished book was then sent off to the printers in November 2003 and was made available to all members in 2004.

8.  Growth of the Lodge  — Attendance – New Members

The growth of the Lodge showed a regular pattern during the first fifty years of the Lodge, rising and falling with the economic booms and slumps and pausing at the crest or troughs. Attendance’s were generally best during troughs and worst during booms.

In the second fifty years certain changes became apparent. The number of P.M.s attending increased and their influence held the Lodge together with increasing firmness. The Lodge grew rapidly with a slight check during the economic slumps of 1924 and 1931–2,  gaining an average of five members per year.

During the first half – century the membership consisted mainly of young Masons on the promotion ladder and in 1896 only 20% of the 45 members had ten years or more service.  By 1904 that percentage had increased to 50%. During the second half century the majority of members had ten years or more service (In 1963 about 76% of members had 10 or more years to masonry)

At the present time only 5 out of a membership of 35 have less than 10 years  in masonry. The remainder have an average of over 30 years in masonry.

Over the last 10 years the membership has decreased to about 35 and the attendance of members has averaged  25 per meeting. (The average age of the members is around 66).

Perhaps the greatest change has been the change in the WM’s power. For nearly half a century uninfluenced by P.M.’s, the W.M. was absolute dictator. From 1903 onwards the P.M.’s Committee has jealously guarded the traditions of the Lodge.

9.  Social Activities in the Lodge

Although Masonry is essentially a masculine organisation, especially in the early days, most men like their ladies to share in the pleasure  found in Masonry.

Masonic Balls are of considerable age historically and as early as February 1891 and August 1896 Hesketh Lodge held Charity Balls, essentially as charity fund-raising efforts.

However, it was not until after the First World War that the Lodge held social functions in which ladies shared, as part of the social life of the Lodge.

In 1920, 21 and 22 unsuccessful attempts were made to organise Ladies Evenings but outings to Southport Masonic Hall on Saturday afternoons and evenings where the Southport Brethren and their wives entertained them, were acceptable.

In 1925 the first Ladies evening was held in the Bull & Royal Hotel, Preston, followed by similar functions in 1926 and 1927. After three Ladies Evenings they were discontinued and only with the greatest difficulty did W.Bro. Fred Shelley, hold a Ladies Evening in 1931 at Leyland Public Hall, the venue for the next ten years. With the exception of the War Years, Ladies Evenings have been held regularly ever since.

During the 1930s the first Lodge Bowling Handicap was organised, and became a firm favourite at the Eagle & Child Hotel, Bispham Green. The Bowling Day is still held, most recently at The Ley Inn.

Old English Nights have only become popular since the Lodge Centenary in 1963, but are now an annual event.

Ladies Evening are held each year on 3rd Saturday in November. Old English nights are still held annually usually in October or November. A bowling day is held each year. A new feature also from around 2000 has been for the Ladies to join the Brethren after the December meeting for the Festive board and have a band to play Carols during & after the meal.

10.  Masonic Offspring of 986

Hesketh Lodge, despite its age has produced surprisingly few Daughter Lodges, yet the Daughter Lodges have, in some cases, been very prolific.

It may be a surprise to learn that the first offspring conceived was a R.A. Chapter proposed and approved in April 1887 but proved to be stillborn despite unanimous support from the Lodge.

Between 1870 and 1890 a steady influx of recruits came from Leyland so that in 1890 Hesketh Lodge was asked to sponsor a Daughter Lodge in Leyland. In December 1890 Carnarvon Lodge No. 2376 was born, the first offspring of Hesketh Lodge 986 and Mother Lodge of numerous Lodges in Leyland.

In 1921 Coppull Lodge No 4232 was founded.

In 1938 an over crowded Lodge Room and long waiting list led to the founding of St. Michael’s Lodge No. 5756.

In 1957, some 70 years after the original proposition to form a chapter, the Hesketh Chapter was born.

In 1961 Eccleston Lodge No. 7754 was sponsored by Hesketh Lodge.

Finally, in 1963, in her 99th year the old lady gave birth to yet another Lodge, Tarleton Lodge No. 7871.