The Lewis Jewel and its History

The Lewis Jewel & its History (and added comments)

Adapted from the Grand Lodge of Manitoba e News 12/16

The Lewis is a device that has been used by stonemasons for many centuries. It provides an anchorage in a stone, which enables lifting tackle to be attached and assist in the raising and lowering of large stones to the required heights and set them in place with safety and precision.

Speculative connections  The first time that a speculative Freemason learns about the lewis is usually as an entered apprentice, during the lecture on the tracing board, when he is told that lewis denotes strength and signifies the son of a mason.  The use of the word in speculative craft freemasonry seems to have arisen as a result of the old friendship between France and Scotland, which came to be known as the “Auld Alliance“.

Reference =Anderson’s Constitutions 1738

Again let it pass to the ROYAL lov’d NAME,

Whose glorious Admission has crown’d all our Fame:

May a LEWIS be born, whom the World shall admire,

Serene as his MOTHER, August as his SIRE.

The History The Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis (sometimes written as Lewis), had been made a Freemason in the previous year on 5 November 1737. His son, who would reign as King George III, was born on 4 June 1738 amid general rejoicing. Three of his other sons, the Dukes of York, Gloucester, and Cumberland would follow their father into freemasonry. Masonic historians conclude that the term came into use in the 18th century. The Lecture in the Second Degree published by William Preston in the 1780s contains a lengthy discourse on the Lewis.

Grand Lodge of England   The word Lewis denotes strength, and is here depicted by certain pieces of metal dovetailed into a stone, which forms a cramp, and enables the operative Mason to raise great weights to certain heights with little encumbrance, and to fix them in their proper bases. Lewis, likewise denotes the son of a Mason; his duty is to bear the heat and burden of the day, from which his parents, by reason of their age, ought to be exempt; to help them in time of need, and thereby render the close of their days happy and comfortable; his privilege for so doing is to be made a Mason before any other person however dignified.” from the Junior Warden’s Lecture used in the Grand Lodge of England dating from 1801

Lewis Jewel   The Lewis Jewel has been in use in England and other Jurisdictions under the United Grand Lodge of England for many decades to honor a new Mason’s father.  The jewel has also been adopted in the Jurisdictions of Vermont, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut and others in the United States and is offered in some Provinces of Canada. The Grand Lodge of Manitoba has authorized the wearing of a Lewis Jewel.

The Lewis Jewel consists of two bars connected by chains. The upper bar contains the name of the father and date of his Initiation, the lower bar, the name of the son and date of his Initiation.

Comment   By way of “The Educator” I was recently asked by a fellow brother if I could assist him in providing a paper dealing with the Lewis Jewel. Not finding one in my Library I sought the assistance of M.W. Bro. Stephen Godfrey and he was of immediate assistance.

I myself am a Lewis, my father James McEvoy having been Master of Belfast Lodge #257 Belfast Northern Ireland (Grand Lodge of Ireland) in 1936.

I have the pride and pleasure of wearing his Past Master Jewel, having had a Bar added noting my own year of serving the brethren of Victoria Columbia Lodge #1 Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon as its Master in 1998.

Have a wonderful Day & God Bless     Norm

19 April 2016

Hi Norm,

Once more, thanks for your efforts to educate and cause thought to occur. There is, methinks, something left out in the discussion of the origins of the term lewis. I would make the following observations:

  1. The Auld Alliance was a friendship and an exchange of citizenship between France and Scotland because they both had a common enemy: England. Yet the attribution of the term to a Hanoverian seems a bit suspect especially since the whole Jacobite rebellion situation is part of the background at that time: 1715 the rebellion of the Old Pretender, son of the exiled James II; 1717 the coming forth of Freemasons, probably to avoid being seen as traitorous supporters of the Stuarts who were now domiciled in France.
  2. The birth was in 1738, a mere seven years before the far more dangerous rebellion led by “Bonnie” Prince Charles, the Young Pretender. That attempt in the middle of a war against France meant that Scotland had joined with the enemy, a very clear and present danger. This time the English re-action would not be as mild as it had been in 1715 when neither the Old Pretender nor George I of Hanover had captured the love of either Scots or English. This time Scotland would be reduced so that it could not again be a military threat.
  3. Consider the National Anthem, especially verses two and six.

God Save the King may date back to the seventeenth century. The lyrics and tune are sometimes credited to Henry Carey (1740), but more often this version is credited to Thomas Arne (1710-1778). The tune first appeared in this form in 1744. It became popular in 1745, the second year of the Jacobite Uprising. After the Battle of Prestonpans, the bandleader of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane arranged the tune and played it at the end of the night – which other theatres picked up and which became customary. The tune became a rallying cry for the House of Hanover. It came to be referred to as the National Anthem at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

  Lord and God arise,
Scatter his enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix
God Save the Queen.

 Lord, grant that Marshal Wade
May, by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush
And, like a torrent, rush
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the King.

 Speculative connections  The first time that a speculative Freemason learns about the lewis is usually as an entered apprentice, during the lecture on the tracing board, when he is told that lewis denotes strength and signifies the son of a mason.  The use of the word in speculative craft freemasonry seems to have arisen as a result of the old friendship between France and Scotland, which came to be known as the “Auld Alliance“.

Reference =Anderson’s Constitutions 1738

Again let it pass to the ROYAL lov’d NAME,

Whose glorious Admission has crown’d all our Fame:

May a LEWIS be born, whom the World shall admire,

Serene as his MOTHER, August as his SIRE.

The History The Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis (sometimes written as Lewis), had been made a Freemason in the previous year on 5 November 1737. His son, who would reign as King George III, was born on 4 June 1738 amid general rejoicing. Three of his other sons, the Dukes of York, Gloucester, and Cumberland would follow their father into freemasonry. Masonic historians conclude that the term came into use in the 18th century. The Lecture in the Second Degree published by William Preston in the 1780s contains a lengthy discourse on the Lewis.

  1. The victor at the Battle of Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland, was nicknamed “Butcher” Cumberland for his severe reduction of Scotland, a very effective process (and probably the reason for some of my ancestors being in Canada what with the Highland Clearances and so on). The English were sufficiently grateful as to name a flower after William, the Sweet William. In retaliation the Scots named a weed after him, the Stinking Billy. Handel wrote a musical praise of Cumberland:

(Youths)
See, the conqu’ring hero comes!
Sound the trumpets! Beat the drums!
Sports prepare! The laurel bring!
Songs of triumph to him sing!

(Virgins)
See the godlike youth advance!
Breathe the flutes and lead the dance!
Myrtle wreaths and roses twine
to deck the hero’s brow divine!

(Israelites)
See, the conqu’ring hero comes!
Sound the trumpets! Beat the drums!
Sports prepare! The laurel bring!
Songs of triumph to him sing!
See, the conqu’ring hero comes!
Sound the trumpets! Beat the drums!

And so, given the dates, the events of that tumultuous time and the conflict between Jacobites who were supporters of the exiled Catholic Stuarts and the supporters of the Protestant Hanoverians the notion that Lewis is connected with France and Scotland by way of their common enemy seems not likely.

Regards,

Bro. Dale Townsend