Dunoon Masonic Lodge

A Family Legacy

Throughout its 180 year history Lodge Dunoon Argyll has had many local families who have contributed to the running of the lodge down through the generations.  Names like Fletcher, Sands, Walker and Murchison stretch back through the pages of our history and you only have to look at our list of office-bearers to see that the tradition continues today with fathers and sons holding office at the same time.

But in the annals of our history one name stands head and shoulders above all others in terms of contribution to our Lodge, and that name is McFarlane.

To understand the story of the McFarlane family and their contribution to the Lodge we need to go back four generations to 1861 and the birth of Andrew McFarlane, the first of the family to join 335.  Despite being born in Dunoon, Bro. McFarlane did not not begin his masonic journey there.  Instead in 1890 he moved to Glasgow where he took work as a plasterer and joined Freemasonry in Lodge Sir George Cathcart no. 617.   He returned to his home town in 1895 and on the 8th of February that year he affiliated to Lodge Dunoon Argyll.

Bro. Andrew (or Buller as he was known) went on to serve as Right Worshipful Master of 335 twice.   His first term of office was from 1911 to 1915 and his second term from 1920 to 1921.  It seems likely that his second term was done in an effort to aid the Lodge through the carnage that followed World War 1.

Aside from his masonic activities Bro. McFarlane also ran a successful family plastering business in the town which at its peak employed up to 70 men.  This firm still exists in the town today and is still owned and operated by the McFarlane family.  His knowledge of the building trade proved invaluable when in 1922 the Lodge looked to procure its own premises in the town’s Argyll Street.  Bro. McFarlane was instrumental in bringing this vision to fruition and carried out much of the building work himself including the wonderful embossed masonic emblems on the interior walls of the lodge which are still there today (see photographs below).

Masonic plaster mouldings

Bro. Andrew McFarlane's Masonic mouldings in Lodge 335

But probably Past Master Mcfarlane’s greatest contribution to the Lodge was his family.  You see Bro. Andrew had 6 sons, all of whom went on to join Lodge Dunoon Argyll.  Amazingly this incredible feat of membership is recorded for posterity in the photograph below with a rather somber looking Bro. Andrew (3rd from the right) surrounded by his sons all in full regalia.

The McFarlane Family

Past Master Bro. Andrew McFarlane with his six sons (l to r: Alexander, Andrew Jr, Robert, John, Andrew Sr, Angus, Archibald)


Archie McFarlane P.M.

Past Master Bro. Archie McFarlane

Whilst all of them served the Lodge in various capacities throughout the years, none of Andrew’s sons served as Right Worshipful Master.  He did however have a Grandson who went on to do so.  Bro. Archibald McFarlane (the son of the Archibald McFarlane on the extreme right of the above photo) was installed into the Chair of King Solomon in 1974 and served the then traditional one year in office.  He also went on to achieve the rank of Substitute Provincial Grand Master in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Argyll & The Isles.

This Bro. McFarlane is most fondly remembered as one of the great ritualists of Lodge 335.  Our ritual is based on the Harvey’s ritual but as in common  in all Scottish lodges it has been modified and personalized to suit the lodge.  It was Bro. Archie McFarlane who undertook the monumental task of standardizing the Dunoon Argyll ritual into the form we practice today.  In fact our ritual is still colloquially known as the Archie McFarlane ritual.

When Bro. Archie came out of the chair of the Lodge he was presented, not with a new Past Master jewel as is our custom, but instead with his Grandfather’s Past Master jewel.  This jewel is rather unique in that it has two pendants as opposed to one (see photograph below).  The second, top-most jewel was added to the original after Bro. Andrew had completed his second term of office as Master in 1921.  When Bro. Archie completed his term it was agreed by the Lodge to have the reverse of the jewel inscribed to recognise his achievements as well.

Graham McFarlane P.M.

Past Master Bro. Graham McFarlane

But the McFarlanes weren’t done yet.  In December 1999 Bro. Graham McFarlane, Past Master Archie’s son, and the 4th generation of his family to be a member of the Lodge was installed into the Chair of King Solomon completing a quite remarkable Masonic legacy for his family.  He now proudly wears the same Past Masters jewel as his Father and his Great Grandfather did before him.

Past Masters Jewel

The McFarlane Jewel

Not only has Bro. Graham continued his family’s masonic tradition but he also now owns and operates the same family plastering business that his Great Grandfather started in the town nearly 120 years ago and he is frequently called upon to lend his skills to the upkeep and maintenance of the building that Bro. Andrew was so instrumental in securing as a home for Lodge Dunoon Argyll.

So have the McFarlanes finally come to the end of their Masonic journey?  No-one can really answer that, but it’s worth noting that Bro. Graham now has a son of his own (another Archie), so we may yet see another chapter written in this history of this family who have given so much to the Lodge Dunoon Argyll over the past 120 years.

So mote it be.

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