St. James Tarbolton Kilwinning No. 135
(The Lodge of Robert Burns)
HISTORICAL REVIEW 1771-1976
Freemasonry came to Tarbolton in 1771 must ever remain a matter
of conjecture. There are no extant records. Nor, strangely enough,
in a community rich in historical associations, local legends, traditions
and cherished family anecdotes are any stories told of the origins
of freemasonry in this romantic Ayrshire village or of the circumstances
or motivations which culminated in an application from the Brethren
- Masons in and around the village of Tarbolton - being submitted
to the Kilwinning Lodge "praying the authority of the Kilwinning
Lodge to be formed into a Regular Lodge or Society . . ." In one
sense this is not surprising. In a community - small though it was
(population approximately 450) - which in the early 1770's could
boast a Weavers' Guild, a Universal Friendly Society, -a Farmers'
Society, and later a Reform Movement, the formation of a Masons'
Lodge would neither occasion surprise nor evoke undue comment. The
villagers were accustomed to progressive movements. Tarbolton was
just such a place.
factors which may well have contributed to the growth of freemasonry
in this corner of old Strathclyde are worthy of consideration:
Speculative freemasonry stemmed immediately and directly from operative
masonry. Stonemasonry was a prominent local craft whose numbers
in the neighbourhood had been augmented by an influx of itinerant
masons engaged in the renovation, building or re-building of the
many local country mansion houses. Indeed Rule VII (of the Early
Lodge Rules) states, interalia, "But if the person who wants to
be made a mason has served an apprenticeship to a Mason, he shall
pay only five shillings sterling, being the half of the entry money".
On the 2nd December, 1772 there was added the following additional
rule - "That every squairsman that enters is to pay fifteen shillings
sterling of entry money and everyone that is not a squairsman is
to pay entry money of twenty shillings sterling." There is evidence
- oral tradition - of persons being made "squaremen" and receiving
the word and grip during the late 18th century at Coilsfield, near
The sentimental deism and liberal benevolence which were the Craft's
basic principles would appeal most strongly to the radically minded,
independent Tarbolton weaver and small farmer.
the official Lodge records provide no guidance whatsoever to the
Lodge origins. Minutes are but bald statements of election meetings
with sederunts attached thereto - e.g. the following extract is
typical: "Eodem die, on which day the Lodge met, there being present
the following Brethren . . ." Indeed for the first few years of
the Lodge's existence only the business of the annual meeting is
recorded and yet there is clear evidence that the Lodge was meeting
to enter, pass and raise candidates. Sederunts and the register
of admissions are inextricably mixed and often completely undated.
The early records, displaying an economy of words and a complete
lack of feeling for history, were certainly not written with an
eye to posterity.
that as it may, whatever the reasons, as the first minute records:
"Tarbolton, 25th July 1771, the which day the Brethren of the Tarbolton
Kilwinning Lodge having convened and after the Lodge being open
by Wm. Gairdner Esqr. of Ladykirk, late Right Worshipful of Ayr
Kilwinning Lodge, Grand Master, and Wm. Willson, Depute Master of
said Lodge with Wardens, Secretary, and Stewards of said Lodge received
the following regulations to be engross'd into their books in order
as a direction for said Lodge and are as follows viz.
FREE MASONS' RULES
at the third stroke of the Grand Master's hammer, always to be repeated
by the Senior Warden, there shall be a general silence . . .
are carefully and neatly recorded twenty-one rules which today would
be regarded, inter alia, as a combination of Laws and Rulings, Standing
Orders, a Code of Conduct, Charges and Schedules 1 and 11. The origin
of the rules is not known but they clearly follow some ancient pattern.
Interesting and quaintly worded they give an insight into social
customs and styles of life of that time. It is further to be noted
that the minutes of Lodge St. David's 174, - now No. 133 - constituted
under Charter from the Grand Lodge on 5 February, 1773, records
nineteen rules which are virtually the same even to the inclusion
of the following: "Whoever shall break a drinking glass at any meeting
he shall immediately pay sixpence sterling for every one he breaks
before he be allowed to leave the room or company." It was indeed
a convivial, hard-drinking age.
mere lip service was paid to the Rules. Members were frequently
reminded of their obligations. Reported breaches were investigated
and on occasion guilty parties disciplined. Three examples are worth
As an addendum to the Rules is the following minute written by John
Wilson (Dr. Hornbook) and signed by Burns as Depute Master: "Tarbolton
Dec. 7 1785. The Lodge thought proper to commit to writing that
old regulation that whoever stands as Master shall be bound, at
the entry of a new member, for that member's dues if the money is
not paid or security such as the Lodge shall approve of given."
Burns's rhyming epistle to Dr. Mackenzie, Mauchline - "Friday first's
the day appointed/by the Right Worshipful annointed/To hold our
grand procession" is more than an invitation to the annual meeting.
It is a telling reminder of the good Doctor's obligation in terms
of Rule XIII.
"Tarbolton 2 Dec. 1789 ........... They next proceeded to make enquiry
into Br. McDonald's conduct at a former meeting which had been found
great fault with as Senior Warden and excluded him unanimously from
that office and elected Bro. Hugh Manson in his place till the 24th
'to return to the first minute - after a formal signing of the Freemasons'
Rules the Brethren were joined by the R.W. Dr. John Nimmo, Grand
Master of the Ayr Kilwinning Lodge, who presented the Charter from
the Kilwinning Lodge, dated 17th May 1771. The Lodge is still in
possession of the Kilwinning Charter. The minute continues: .....
Thereafter the said Charter was openly read and after prayer by
Rev. Mr. Widrow, one of the Brethren, and a charge by Bro. Alex
Gillies of the Kilwinning Lodge, the same was consecrated in ample
form and full powers given to them as to any other Lodges as are
consecrating the same: Thereafter out of the members of the said
Tarbolton Kilwinning Lodge the officers are elected and are, viz:
Alex Montgomerie, Esq. of Coilsfield - Grand Master.
John Hood in Tarbolton - D.M.
3. John Anderson, mason at Adam Town Burn - S.W.
4. Alex Wilson - J.W.
5. (name omitted) - Treasurer.
6. John McLatchie, innkeeper at Tarbolton - Secretary.
7. W. Anderson - S. S.
8. Adam Grieve - J.S.
9. John Mitchell - Standard Bearer.
10. Matthew Wilson - Tyler.
above to continue in their offices for the ensuing year who all
have accepted the same and given their oaths de fideli. John Nimmo,
minute has been signed by Wm. Gairdner, Wm. Willson, the Wardens,
Secretary, and Stewards of Lodge Ayr Kilwinning who had constituted
the Lodge at the opening ceremony and by Alex Montgomerie and John
Hood, G.M. and D.M., of the newly consecrated Tarbolton Kilwinning
Lodge. On the adjoining page are appended the signatures of 63 Brethren
who attended. Some of these Brethren were to figure prominently
in the subsequent history of the Lodge: e.g. Jas. Dalrymple (of
Orangefield), John Hamilton (of Sundrum), Thos. Wallace Dunlop (of
Craigie), John Andrew, John Dove, James Manson, John Richard, Hume
Campbell, John Rankin, John Ferguson and Henry Cowan. Thus did Freemasonry
come to this ancient Burgh of Barony. What hopes the founder members
entertained for their Lodge can only be guessed. They were not to
know then, that within a decade history would be made in the village
and the name of "Auld Tarbowtin" for ever assured. This, unfortunately,
was not to be achieved without dissension, turbulence, and bitter
two years the Scottish Passion for schism betrayed itself. On the
5th February 1773 the Grand Lodge of Scotland considered a petition
on behalf of Sir Thomas Wallace Dunlop Bart. and 10 others, all
members of Lodge Tarbolton Kilwinning "setting forth that they
being at a distance from their Mother Lodges (the bold is the
present author's) nevertheless were willing to promote Masonry in
the place above mentioned and craved to hold under the sanction
of Grand Lodge . . . . . . . and praying the Grand Lodge to grant
them a Charter of Erection and constitution for a Free Mason Lodge
to be held in the Town or Village of Tarbolton by the name and Title
of Tarbolton Saint David's ..."
Lodge accepted the petition and as the first minute of Lodge St.
David's records: "1773 Feb. 26 was the day of the Charter of St.
David's Lodge being granted in faiver of Sir Thomas Walles Bart.,
John Mitchell" (Sir Thomas Wallace Dunlop Bart., second son
of John Dunlop of Dunlop House and Frances Ann Wallace - the Mrs.
Dunlop, friend and correspondent of Burns - acceded to the title
in 1771 and assumed the Wallace family name.) Harvey in his book,
'Robt. Burns as a Freemason', a work which in relation to Tarbolton
contains several gross inaccuracies, seeking to justify the schism,
maintains that - "the influence of Kilwinning at this time was rapidly
waning before the growing power of the Grand Lodge of Scotland."
Others, since, have repeated, parrot-wise, his conclusion and would
attribute to the founder members of St. David's qualities of prescience
which they themselves would never have claimed. This is too simplistic.
The credulity of those who have supported this theory is matched
only by their naivety. Such an approach displays a total lack of
knowledge of the vagaries of village life and completely underestimates
the power and influence that Lodge Mother Kilwinning continued to
exert, not only in Ayrshire but in the whole West of Scotland and
far beyond during the next 30 years, a power and influence which
enabled her to rejoin Grand Lodge in 1807 largely on terms of her
own dictating. For the most part, for the majority of Brethren in
the village at that time, Grand Lodge was an irrelevance. Then,
and for many years to come, her control was so lax and ineffectual
as to be of little or no consequence. The real reason for the secession
resided, as has already been stated, in the Scottish propensity
for schism and in all probability sprang from local differences,
petty jealousies or unsatisfied ambitions. Hans Hecht, in his 'Robert
Burns, The Man and His Work', hits the nail on the head when he
attributes the secession to "internal friction". No reference, whatsoever,
to the secession is made in the minutes of Lodge Tarbolton Kilwinning.
Nevertheless, within a year the Brethren of Tarbolton Kilwinning,
no doubt to safeguard their position and perhaps as a precaution,
applied to have a Charter from Grand Lodge. The Lodge minute, worthy
of note, is quoted at length:
the 24th June 1774, this being St. John the Baptist's Day and the
anniversary meeting of Tarbolton Kilwinning Lodge the Lodge was
opened in due form and there was presented and read the Charter
for said Brethren from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, bearing the
date 27th May 1774 under the stile and Title of St. James Tarbolton
Kilwinning Lodge No. 178 . . . . The Brethren then marched in due
and orderly procession from their Lodge Room to the Church where
an excellent sermon was preached from the text Romans 12 verses
9-11 by the Parish Minister Bro. Rev. P. Wodrow. The Brethren returned
from Church in the same due and orderly procession to their Lodge
Room and after prayer by Bro. Wodrow proceeded to the election of
Office Bearers for the ensuing year, when by plurality of votes
they made choice of the following worthy Br. into their respective
offices - viz: James Montgomery Esqr. -- G.M. etc."
other office bearers are listed and forty-three names are appended
to the minute. This account of the early history of the Lodge may
seem somewhat profuse but this is deliberate to dispel doubts and
to correct the many inaccuracies which, over the years, have appeared
in print from a variety of sources. Two Lodges, both operating under
Grand Lodge Charters, now functioned in the village and for the
next seven years continued to co-exist with considerable success
and in close harmony. It is surely a tribute to both Lodges that
from their original formation until 1780 each Lodge had initiated
upwards of 140 members and in addition many prominent members of
the community were associated with both Lodges. Despite this initial
success it was becoming increasingly apparent that a small community
could not continue adequately to sustain two active Lodges. Oblique
references indicate a growing desire to establish one Lodge in the
initial overtures regarding a possible union (Juncheon) emanated
from Lodge St. David. The St. David minute of the quarterly meeting
of 6th Dec. 1780, at which meeting 17 members attended, records
what is virtually a notice of motion by Bros. Henry Cowan and John
Richard "that the sense of the Lodge re a proposed union with Lodge
St. James may be given pro. and con. on the first Wednesday of May
6th June 1781 the St. David minute records, inter alia, "have considered
on our offers to St. James Lodge respecting a Juncheon on the 24th
- i.e. the anniversary meeting of both lodges - also their answer
and find by a majority of votes both lodges may unite on terms offered
and exchanged this day".
the 25th June 1781 the two lodges were united under the style and
title of St. David. The minute of Lodge St. David is as follows:
for June 25 1781. On the above mentioned day the two lodges formerly
going under the names of St. James and St. Davids were united and
now go under the name of St. Davids being the oldest Charter and
made choice of the following office bearers. List of Office Bearers
for 1781. "
Choice of office bearers had been made with tact and care. It was
a judicious sharing of offices from members of each lodge. Joseph
Norman, a P. M. of St. Davids was chosen as Master. Geo. Guthrie
- S. W. (St. Davids), John Highet - J.W. (St. James), James Manson
- Treasurer (St. James), Robt. Wodrow - Secretary (St. James), Wm.
Corbett - D.M. (St. James). Thereafter each office has two Brethren,
one from each lodge, and finally a Senior and a Junior Tyler. Not
unexpectedly, there is no reference in the St. James minute book
to the union.
minutes of July 4th - the first meeting thereafter of the united
lodge - and October lst 1781, as recorded in the St. David minute
book are historic and are here stated in full:
for July 4th. Robt. Burns in Lochly was entered an apprentice. Joph.
Book Entry when Burns became a Freemason
October lst 1781. Robt. Burns in Lochly was passed and raised. Henry
Cowan being Master, James Humphrey being Senr. Warden and Alex Smith
Junr. Do., Robt. Wodrow Secy. and Jas. Manson, Treasurer and John
Tannock Taylor and others of the Brethren being present."
should be noted that the first three Brethren mentioned were not
elected office bearers and accordingly must have been acting for
the evening. The elected Master, Joseph Norman, has signed the minute.
union was ill-fated. By the 5th December 1781, the date of the next
meeting, dissension had arisen. Robt. Wodrow, the elected Secretary
of St. Davids, had removed from the Lodge Charter Chest the Charter,
Books, and sundry papers belonging to St. James, for which act he
was, by decision of the meeting of 24 June 1782, expunged from Lodge
St. David and the Master and Wardens were ordained and appointed
to prosecute him. Robert Wodrow later became Secretary and in 1810
Master of the re-constituted St. James. The office bearers of St.
David were embittered by the resumption of St. James. They petitioned
the Sheriff of Ayr to grant a warrant to apprehend Wodrow. They
disagreed with the Sheriff's findings. They authorised the Master
and Wardens or their successors in office to prosecute Wodrow before
the Court of Session or by appeal to the Grand Lodge. They retained,
through Robertson Smith, Writers in Ayr, Bro. David Cathcart, Greenfield,
Alloway, an advocate - Bro. Cathcart later became Lord of Session
with the legal title of Lord Alloway - to act for the Lodge in the
minutes, recorded in great detail, indicate not merely the depth
of feeling engendered but literally how obsessed the office bearers
had become with the issue. For six years it was the major lodge
business. Their obsession became counter-productive and indeed marks
the turning point in the history of Lodge St. David. It was the
beginning of the end. Throughout, Wodrow remained defiant. Even
the order from Grand Lodge anent restoration of the documents failed
to move him. The minute of Lodge St. James is brief and to the point:
- "Tarbolton 17 June 1782. St. James's Lodge met upon the same footing
that it was before the Juncheon. Jas. Montgomerie, G.M. for the
the 8th July 1782 they re-constituted the Lodge and on 8th August
1782 elected a full quota of office bearers for the ensuing year.
The only other reference to the unhappy events of 1781 appears in
the minute of June lst 1785 when the thanks of the Lodge were unanimously
voted to Capt. Montgomerie, the Right Worshipful Master of the
Lodge, "for his trouble in recovering their colours for some time
illegally retained by the Lodge of St. David's".
Burns - the only person to be initiated and later passed and
raised in the united lodge - associated himself with the reformed
St. James, became a most active member, and from 1784 to 1788 was
Depute Master and, as such, was "oft honour'd with supreme command".
Burns proved himself not only a most enthusiastic freemason but
a most competent Depute Master. During this period the Lodge met
with increased frequency both in the village and in neighbouring
communities. For example, the Lodge, or a deputation from the lodge,
met regularly at Mauchline and on one occasion, 5th October 1786,
with Burns in the chair at Sorn. It is also to be noted that at
one such meeting of the deputation at Mauchline Gilbert Burns, the
poet's brother, was enter'd, passed and raised. Later in his capacity
as Junior Warden Gilbert was to preside, on at least four occasions,
over meetings of the deputation in Mauchline. Again, at the lodge
meeting in Mauchline on 25th July 1787, with the poet presiding,
Professor Dugald Stewart of Catrine, Claude Alexander of Ballochmyle,
Claud Wilson of Paisley, John Farquhar Gray of Gilmilnscroft and
Dr. George Grierson of Glasgow were admitted Honorary Members of
Lodge greatly valued the importance of its Mauchline connection.
On the 3rd December 1788 it was agreed, on representation, from
the Mauchline deputation "that the office bearers with as many of
the Brethren as shall think proper shall go from this place to Mauchline
with the colour and insignia of the Lodge for the purpose of having
a procession there and dinner at John Dove's upon Monday 12 Jan.
first." Again on the occasion of the annual meeting on 24 June 1790
it was proposed "that there should be an Annual Meeting of the Lodge
once every two years at Mauchline. But this being ags. the original
institution of this Lodge to have an annual meeting anywhere but
at Tarbolton, the seat of the Lodge, this proposal was refused by
a great majority. But as the interest of the lodge has been much
advanced by a number of worthy members in and around Mauchline who
have joined it the Lodge agreed to have a general meeting at Mauchline
some time in December next. - "The day to be fixed afterward". No
such meeting ever took place. Incidentally, the following year 1791
Lodge St. Mungo was Chartered in Mauchline.
Burns period in the history of the Lodge had been a hectic one.
He had a real zest for freemasonry. He clearly appreciated that
true masonic fellowship is intimately bound up with the company
of one's brethren and cannot be dissociated from the lodge room.
Hence the frequency of meetings under his direction. While it is
true that in the immediate post- Burns period lodge meetings were
less frequent we must not jump to conclusions, as so many chroniclers
have done, and assume that, bereft of the personality, zeal and
driving force of the poet, there was a gradual diminution of interest
in the Lodge and its activities. This was just not so. The availability
of candidates from the village and its immediate neighbourhood was
closely related to the size of the male population. Some decline
was inevitable - in a small community the number of candidates is
limited - but 56 candidates in the ten years from 1790- 1799 was
not insignificant, and, as we shall observe presently, other horizons
used by Burns
of its close association with our National Bard Lodge St. James
possesses a number of interesting and valuable
relics of the Burns period. These include:
The Minute Books, Ledgers and Roll Books of the Lodge from its inception
but especially the first, covering the years 1771-1790. In it is
recorded in full Burns's active association with Lodge St. James,
particularly noteworthy his period as Depute Master, 1784-88. Three
minutes are written in full by the poet, the first unsigned. In
all he has signed the minutes on 32 occasions. The poet's brother,
Gilbert, has signed the minutes on 5 occasions, one of the minutes
being written in full by him. In addition there are minutes written
by John Wilson (Dr. Hornbook) as Secretary. Two minutes have also
been signed by him as Master pro. tem.
The Minute Books of Lodge St. David's from 1773 to 1843 when the
Lodge was disbanded. Reference has already, elsewhere in this account,
been made to the entries relating to Burns's entering, passing and
raising. These Minute Books, after the dissolution of the Lodge
in 1843, became the property of the Oliver family and were handed
down in the families of their descendants as treasured heirlooms.
On 28 May 1920 Mrs. Murchie indicated her desire to dispose of the
Minute Books. On the advice of Provincial Grand Lodge a deputation
from St. James met with Mrs. Murchie but failed to persuade her
to "hand them over". On 8 June 1923 representatives of St. James
discussed the situation with representatives of Provincial Grand
Lodge and the Master and Secretary of Lodge St. David (Tarbolton)
Mauchline No. 133. Their final decision was to refer the whole matter
to Grand Lodge. On 3 October 1924 Provincial Grand Secretary intimated
to the parties the opinion of Grand Lodge. It was further agreed
to initiate legal proceedings to recover the Minute Books. This
process was unsuccessful. The terms of the final minute of 7 January
1843 were held to give possession of the lodge funds and property
to the eight remaining members and their heirs. The Minute Books
passed from Mrs. Murchie, Burns Tavern, to her daughter Grace, Mrs.
Stewart, Black Bull Hotel, Mauchline and in time to her daughter,
Olive. On 30 November 1970 they were put up for auction in Sotheby's,
London, Lodge St. James learned of this from Grand Secretary, Dr.
Alex Buchan, via our own Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master,
Bro. T. Muir Wilson. At a hastily convened meeting the office bearers
commissioned Bro. Muir Wilson O.B.E., who had placed his services
at the disposal of the Lodge, to endeavour to purchase the Books
for St. James. This was happily effected, the Minute Books being
bought for £500. It must be placed on record, however, that
such was the determination of the office bearers, with the concurrence
of the Brethren, to secure such priceless records for 135 that even
if the price had been double that figure the Minute Books would
still have come to Tarbolton. When Bro. Horace W. McCurdy, George
Washington Lodge H251, an Honorary Member of 135 and a generous
benefactor of the Lodge, learned of the purchase he refunded the
total cost. The Books are, therefore, recognised as a gift to the
Lodge from Bro. McCurdy.
The first office bearers' jewels presented by Capt. James Montgomerie,
Master in 1774. In his "Farewell to the Brethren of Lodge St. James"
Burns makes special reference to the Master and the Master's Jewel:
"And you, farewell! whose merits claim Justly, that highest badge
The Master's Chair and Footstool.
The Candlesticks and Snuffer.
The D. M.'s Apron worn by Burns.
The Bible bought by Burns with Lodge money, and Square and Compasses
purchased for the Lodge by Bro. McDonald, Secretary.
The clock hammer and pendulum of the Kirk clock: "The Auld Kirk
hammer struck the bell".
The copper plate from which were printed the summonses to meetings
issued to Brethren. The practice of issuing these summonses has
had, of necessity, been discontinued. Each initiate receives one
"as a souvenir of a most important occasion".
The Lodge Snuff Box which Bro. M. T. Wilson, R.W.M. 1924-25, the
last real snuff taker in the village, kept constantly filled.
The very letter sent to the Lodge by Burns from Edinburgh, dated
23 August 1787. At that time in the absence of convenient banking
facilities - the Lodge did not open a bank account until 18 January
1817 partly, no doubt, because of inconvenience and partly, maybe
more so, because of lack of confidence in banks - the Lodge loaned
its available capital to Brethren at 5% p.a. interest. Quarterly
meetings were "settling days". On occasion, depending on the state
of trade in the village, Brethren defaulted or "craved days". Defaulters
were liable to prosecution. In this letter which was also a letter
of apology for absence, Burns is interceding on behalf of defaulters,
hence his comment: "if you please, I wish you would delay prosecuting
defaulters till I come home . . . . and those who confess debt and
crave days, I think we should spare them. Farewell!" He then added
the famous stanza beginning: "Within your dear mansion may wayward
contention Or wither'd envy ne'er enter". It is interesting to record
that at the quarterly meeting, 5th September 1787, the office bearers
agreed to defer the prosecution of them until the next meeting.
The signatures of the three sons of the Poet viz: Robt. Burns, Wm.
Nicol Burns James Glencairn Burns.
The tracing Boards - cloth and canvas - used in the Lodge at the
time of Burns. These old Tracing Boards were, on 7 May 1920, returned
to the Lodge beautifully renovated and in handsome frames by the
Brethren of Lodge Wishaw St. Mary No. 31. This had been executed
by members of a deputation of Lodge St. Mary who had previously
visited Tarbolton and had expressed a desire to leave something
to commemorate their visit and had asked to be allowed to take away
the old Tracing Boards and have them renovated to preserve them.
The veritable mallet used by Burns, and proudly by all his successors,
when presiding over the Lodge.
is a wonderful heritage of which the Brethren of St. James are justly
proud. Here we have a unique collection
of relics pertaining to Burns's magqnic connections with Tarbolton.
With the exception of the Tyler's Sw rd of Lodge St. David and the
Peggy Orr, Toddy Bowl and Jug, both in the Bachelors' Club, Tarbolton,
two Candlesticks belonging to St. David, still in private hands,
and a small piece of silk (1/2in. square) cut from the Burns apron,
now in the Lodge of Robert Burns, Australia, on,the authority of
Mr. John Hunter, a direct descendant of John Richard, and who as
a boy spent his holidays in the "Bachelors' Club", there are no
other authentic relics of this period of the Poet's Masonic life
now in existence. The chairs of Lodge St. David's were disposed
of because, as the minute of 24 June 1837 states, "they were rotting".
With the passage of time other articles, documents, etc., met the
same fate as that which befell the Depute Master's chair of Lodge
St. James after the Burns Centenary Exhibition in Glasgow 1896 -
consigned to the flames - while the mallet and certain papers (copies
of diplomas?), handed down as treasured possessions in the Cowan
and John Richard families, were destroyed in the disastrous fire
which gutted the home of Mrs. John Richard, who sadly lost her life
in the fire - 2 October 1915. (Mrs. Richard was the second wife
of John Richard who predeceased her in 1912. His first wife, Elizabeth
Cowan was the grand-daughter of Henry Cowan who occupied the chair
on the evening Burns was passed and raised.)