Thomas William Lemon was one of the earliest members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, being initiated at its Isis-Urania Temple in London, in April 1888. He chose the Latin motto ‘Laus deo’ but never followed up his initiation to any great extent. He resigned from the Order; though the date he did so is no longer known.

I have found plenty of evidence on Thomas William as a freemason; but very little on the rest of his life. He may have been known as ‘William’ rather than ‘Thomas’.

Sally Davis

November 2016

My basic sources for any GD member are in a section at the end of the file. Supplementary sources for this particular member are listed at the end of each section.


He was never a committed member but he may have given the GD’s founders some useful information. Like many of the GD’s earliest initiates, he was a prominent member of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA, of which more in the next section). The GD’s founders, William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers, were also SRIA members. They may never have expected the SRIA’s experts to be active members of the Order; but they wanted their input on the rituals they were going to develop, and their continued silence about the Order’s existence.

Thomas William was known for his understanding of SRIA’s ordinances and I think it’s likely that he made suggestions about how to formulate the GD’s rules and what to include in them.


Transactions of SRIA’s Metropolitan College issue of 1920 p5 obituary of T W Lemon.



Thomas William Lemon was a very active freemason, especially from the early 1870s to the mid- 1890s. Though he was a member of several freemasons’ organisations which met in London, most of his activity as a freemason took place in Devon, where he was living at that time.

There’s now an online, digitised database of freemasons’ magazines up to 1900; you can reach it via the Freemasons’ Library website - see the details in the Sources list at the end of this long section. When I started working on Thomas William Lemon in freemasonry I was overwhelmed with references to him. I decided that I would concentrate on:

- reports from 1888-89, around the time Thomas William joined the GD; though it was clear that by this time he was a senior freemason in Devon, so details of his earlier career would be lacking

- reports from earlier and later, but only when they had information on his earliest initiations or on how senior a freemason he became.

That decision cut down the responses somewhat, but there were still so many that in the end I focused on reports in The Freemason’s Chronicle, which had the best coverage of freemasonry in Devon. And it was in The Freemason’s Chronicle that I found the year and place of Thomas William’s first initiation as a freemason: 1872, at Sincerity Lodge 189, which met in Plymouth.

For a thorough, but basic, list of Thomas William’s senior rankings in freemasonry; and a list - though it’s not complete - of the lodges he was a member of, use his name to search the catalogue of the Freemasons’ Library; details at the end of this section.

I don’t suppose that the list below of lodges etc that he was a member of is complete either; but I’ve tried to give some added information on each of them.


Starting with those published in Quatuor Coronati 2076's members’ magazine Ars Quatuor Coronati, and therefore known to the Freemasons’ Library.


Lodge of Charity 223 was one of several based in Plymouth that had been Antient lodges, members of the Atholls Grand Lodge, in the years before the Antients and the Moderns got together (in 1813) to form the United Grand Lodge of England. Lodge 223 was founded in 1799 but was only given the name it’s now known by in 1809. And of course, being so old, it has had several different numbers; ‘223' dates from the great UGLE renumbering exercise of 1863. It has always met in central Plymouth. I do not know when Thomas William became a member of it.


The references that exist actually place Thomas William in this lodge’s Royal Arch chapter; but you can’t be a chapter member without being in the lodge first. Why Axminster? When he lived in Devon most of his life? Well, I’m not sure, but his birth was registered in Taunton so perhaps he was introduced to the lodge through family connections or friends, still living in the area.

Being an old lodge, 494 had another number - 725 - before the 1863 renumbering. It was founded in 1818, closed down in the 1830s, and then was founded again in 1844 through the efforts of William Tucker (1815-55) of Coryton Park near Axminster; though at least at the outset it met at Chardstock.

I haven’t been able to find out when Thomas William joined this lodge.


The warrant which set up Metham Lodge 1205 was issued by the UGLE in December 1867. It met in East Stonehouse, Plymouth. I haven’t been able to access much information about this lodge; so again I don’t know when Thomas William became a member.


Lodge 1071 was based in Saltash, across the River Tamar from Plymouth. It was consecrated in November 1865 and was a very locally-based lodge with the problems besetting many places in Cornwall as the county’s mining industry declined. For example, it had a lot of visitors from Australia, to which many Cornish miners and mining engineers were emigrating. And it was never a wealthy lodge, being badly hit by the short but sharp recession of 1911-12. It was a great day for the lodge when it was chosen for the May 1895 meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall. The town was decked with flags and banners and there was a procession through the streets to a service in the parish church. Thomas William was a member of the lodge but not a prominent one: he never served as WM and though he might have been in the town for the May 1895 meeting, he didn’t take the church service. In December 1889 (and maybe on other occasions) he did go to a more modest affair, the lodge’s annual banquet. He joined in the after-dinner musical entertainment.

The lodge had a Royal Arch chapter (founded 1877); and there was a Mark Masonry lodge attached to it. I don’t know whether Thomas William was a member of either of those, but I think probably not.


This lodge was one of many set up in the mid-1880s by freemasons who didn’t want alcohol at lodge meetings and dinners. The petition to found such a lodge in Plymouth had 48 signatures on it - an unusually large number. Unfortunately the 48 weren’t listed in the lodge history I found, so I don’t know whether Thomas William was one of them. However, he acted as chaplain during the lodge’s consecration and served as one of its early WM’s (possibly its third) which suggests he was supporter of the lodge’s efforts to bring the temperance movement to freemasonry. He would also have been glad of another of the lodge’s purposes: to raise money for the Devon freemasonry charities (see below for his own involvement in these, especially the educational ones). Lodge of St George 2025 was consecrated on St George’s day (23 April) 1884. It had close connections with another lodge Thomas William was a member of - Lodge of Sincerity 189 - and met in 189's masonic hall during its first years.

Lodge of St George 2025 set up a Royal Arch chapter in 1886. Thomas William was not one of its founders but by the time he became a member of Quatuor Coronati 2076 only a year or two later, he had done a year as its First Principal.


Continuing with lodges he was a member of, which were not mentioned in Ars Quatuor Coronati and therefore not in the Freemasons’ Library catalogue.


Like Lodge of Charity 223, this was one of Devon’s Antient lodges, appearing on the Atholl Grand Lodge roll. It was constituted in 1802 as number 208 and got the number 159 in the 1863 renumbering. Over the years the lodge met in a number of different places, though always in East Stonehouse; until in 1879 it built its own masonic hall in Hobart Street, named Ebrington after Viscount Ebrington who had just become Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire. In 1864 it set up a Royal Arch chapter. And it has many daughter lodges in Devon. In a report in The Freemason’s Chronicle in December 1887 - probably of that year’s installation meeting - Thomas William was mentioned as one of the lodge’s PM’s.

SINCERITY LODGE 189, based in Plymouth

This lodge, the first into which Thomas William was initiated, should perhaps begin the long list of lodges he was a member of. It was a very old lodge indeed, with a warrant dated November 1769: perhaps that was part of its appeal to him. It was very proud of its pedigree.

The book on its history published in 1909 listed all its WM’s so far. As a result I can say that Thomas William and GD member Thomas Walker Coffin were both members of 189 and both served as its WM. Coffin was WM from July 1872 to July 1873; Thomas William was one of the people initiated during that 12 months. Thomas William was WM from July 1878 to 1879, though he was not living in Plymouth at the time, but near Honiton. Both men were both still paying their yearly subscription to the lodge in 1909, and were listed as its second and fourth longest-serving members; though neither now lived in Devon.

In December 1893, a special dinner took place at Stonehouse Town Hall, organised by Sincerity Lodge 189. Fifty freemasons gathered to celebrate 21 years since Thomas William Lemon’s first initiation into freemasonry. The guests also wanted to thank Thomas William for his donations to the lodge and to Devon’s freemasons’ educational charities. At different times he had given the lodge twelve photographs; including one of his distant relation, Sir Charles Lemon 2nd (and last) Baronet, a former Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall; one of the foundation-stone ceremony of Plymouth’s new masonic hall at 1 Princess Square; and one apparently of the Temple of Solomon.


Not all freemasons wanted to be awarded higher rank than could be obtained in their local lodge: higher rank brought status and its public acknowledgement; but it also brought extra duties, and financial burdens. During the years that he was able to live as a gentleman of independent means, Thomas William was willing to go that bit further for his freemasonry, and served as provincial grand chaplain and provincial grand warden. I haven’t been able to confirm the dates for these, except to say that he had served in both roles by 1889. I think he may served his year as grand chaplain in 1887-88, as The Freemason’s Chronicle featured him in that role on several occasions during that 12 months or so. His appointment came in time for him to be involved in the ceremonies surrounding the building of Plymouth’s masonic hall in Princess Square. On the day of the laying of its foundation stone, which I think was in December 1887, 600 freemasons went in procession through the city to St Andrew’s church. Thomas William was one of the group of clergy that met them at the door; and he then led the church service and read the prayers. In October 1888 he attended the masonic hall’s formal opening ceremony, and made a speech.

It seems that only one new craft lodge was consecrated in Devon during 1888, the 51st craft lodge in the county. In July 1888, Thomas William was one of the officers at the consecration of the Western District United Service Lodge 2258.


Thomas William was a Royal Arch mason but during 1888-89 he mostly figured in The Freemason’s Chronicle as a man at Provincial level rather than lodge level, as Grand Principal Sojourner and Grand Provincial Second Principal. During that time he helped instal the year’s Principal at Harmony Chapter 156; and at Brunswick Chapter 159, as a Past Principal of the chapters of both Brunswick and Sincerity craft Lodge 189. He also made donations to Brunswick Chapter 159, Fidelity Chapter 2230, and Huyshe Chapter 1009. All three received a miniature, hand-painted pair of Royal Arch tracing boards.; though I’m not sure Thomas William was even a member of the last two.


The list published in Ars Quatuor Coronati says that Thomas William was a member of lodge 70, without further details. I believe the lodge in question to be Mark Masonry lodge ST JOHN LODGE 50, which is often given as ‘70' including in the FML database, due to its rather confused mid-19th century history. There’s a valiant attempt to explain the many changes of name and number at that time, written by John G Dollery and published on the website of the Mark Masonry Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire. Dollery traced the lodge’s antecedents back to the 1820s.

St John Lodge 50 is the only MM lodge I know for certain that Thomas William was a member of; and I couldn’t find out when he was initiated. In October 1888, the Freemason’s Chronicle - giving the lodge its old name (I think) reported him helping the installing officer at the installation meeting of Temple Lodge 50 (Temple was one of St John’s past names); and then being installed himself as lodge chaplain for the coming year. Though the lodge now meets in Devonport, the meeting of October 1888 was one of the first to be held in the new masonic hall at Princess Square in central Plymouth.


Thomas William had acted as MM Provincial Grand Chaplain on a temporary basis as early as 1878. He went to the province’s annual meeting, presumably covering for someone unable to attend. During 1888-89 Thomas William was acting as Provincial Grand Chaplain again, this time for the whole year, while doing the same job in craft masonry: it was an exceptionally busy twelve months for him. He was one of the team of consecrating officers at the consecrations of these MM lodges: St George Lodge 303, at Stonehouse, in January 1888; St Martin’s Lodge 379, at Liskeard, in February 1888; and De La Pole Lodge 372, at Seaton, in March 1888. He also helped instal Worshipful Masters at Mark Masonry lodges that year: in January 1888 at MM Sincerity Lodge 35, in East Stonehouse and immediately afterwards at the lodge’s Royal Ark Mariners lodge as well; in August 1888 at Charity Lodge Plymouth 76; in October 1888 at Temple Lodge 50, in Plymouth; and in March 1889 at Hawton Lodge 100 (I’m not sure where that lodge met).

In August 1888, Thomas William was present at what was thought to be an occasion unprecedented in England. The annual meeting of the MM’s Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire took place at Rose Ash, a rather remote village near South Moulton. Its main purpose was to lay a cornerstone with symbols of freemasonry on it, in the village’s church of St Peter. Thomas William didn’t lead the church service that was part of the ceremony; but he did do one of the readings.


Mark Masonry was rather younger than craft masonry: for example, the warrant for its Grand Masters’ Lodge only dates from 1881 and as its lodge numbers show, there were not nearly so many MM lodges in Thomas William’s time than there were craft lodges. Although a national hierarchy of officials quickly developed, perhaps it was still easier for MM freemasons to make the move upwards from provincial to national rank, and perhaps the expenses attached to doing so were not so great. Thomas William’s name does not appear in the list of high MM officials from May 1887; but he is in a list published in 1898, and was actually appointed an MM Grand Chaplain in 1885.



In March 1888, Thomas William presented this lodge with a photograph of the ceremony in which the Prince of Wales was installed the Prince of Wales as Mark Masonry’s Grand Master. As a result, he was elected an honorary member of the lodge. The installation ceremony had taken place in July 1886; perhaps Thomas William had been able to go to it.


In 1889 Thomas William gave this lodge another copy of his photograph of Sir Charles Lemon. I don’t know why he chose this lodge, which was based in Looe; perhaps it had some connection with Sir Charles. He wasn’t at the lodge meeting to make the presentation himself; and I’m sure he wasn’t a lodge member.


Being on the committees that ran the freemasons’ charities could get you noticed in the right quarters and in Thomas William’s case it obviously did. He became well-known in Devon for the amount of work he put into Devon’s charities; and the amount he donated to them. He was chairman of the Masonic Educational Fund’s general purposes committee. And in 1888-89 alone he donated 100 guineas each to the national freemasons’ boys’ and girls’ schools; and 100 guineas to the Mark Masons’ Benevolent Institution for Aged Freemasons and Widows of Freemasons. During the period 1888-89, he acted as steward at a meeting of Devon’s Committee of Petitions; stewards were the agents that went around raising funds from lodges and individuals.



This freemasonry organisation is independent of the UGLE, with a separate masonic hall which in the 19th century was at 33 Golden Square Soho. Its lodge equivalents are known as Rose Croix chapters. Membership of the AAR is very select, being by invitation only. Only those who have been a Master Mason for at least one year are eligible; and even they have to be believers in the Christian trinity. Thomas William would have fulfilled those strict conditions by the mid-1870s at the latest.

The AAR equivalent of a craft lodge is called a Rose Croix chapter. There were two such chapters meeting in Plymouth in the 1880s, St Aubyn 20; and Huyshe 38 which met in Devonport. Although Thomas William was a welcome guest at St Aubyn 20, he was only ever a member of Huyshe 38. The AAR had several levels of initiation above the basic one and by 1880 Thomas William had reached its 30º level. It was not difficult to reach 30º, but in 1884, Thomas William reached the 31º level. Only allowed 81 AAR members could be 31º at any time; and it was the highest level in the AAR achieved by any man who joined the GD. He was still a member of the AAR, and of Huyshe 38 chapter, in 1900 after he had withdrawn from many of his other freemasonry commitments.

At the time of my sweep through The Freemason’s Chronicle of 1888-89, Thomas William was High Prelate of Huyshe 38 chapter. At its March 1888 meeting he was one of four officers leading a ceremony in which three new members were elected and ‘perfected’. When that part of the evening was over, he installed the year’s MWS. A banquet followed, at which Thomas William took part in the singing and reciting. In September 1888 he presented the chapter with a set of photographs of current members of the AAR’s Supreme Council.


As a Royal Arch and Mark Mason Thomas William was eligible to join the order usually known as the Red Cross of Constantine (its various full titles have all been a lot longer). He did join, but kept his involvement at a low level, never serving as a national officer and hardly ever attending the order’s annual assemblies. The Red Cross of Constantine’s craft lodge equivalent was called a

conclave. I think it’s likely that Thomas William and Thomas Walker Coffin were both members of Sincerity Conclave 102, founded in 1873 and holding its meetings in East Stonehouse, at least in its early years; though I haven’t been able to confirm that he was a member from the annual reports of the Order that I’ve been able to check. Thomas William was still a member of the Red Cross of Constantine in 1899 though Sincerity Conclave 102 may have been dormant by then; and Coffin had left the order.

ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS, often known as cryptic masonry

These are another group of freemasons independent of UGLE. They work the Ancient and Accepted Rite, also known as the Scottish. As with the AAR, membership was restricted and actually more demanding than the AAR with only those who were both Mark masons and Royal Arch masons being eligible. I don’t quite understand the references to dates in the RSM’s annual reports from the time, so I’m not sure exactly which year he was “received and acknowledged” as an RSM member. However it must have been very soon after the RSM first arrived in England - its Grand Council was only constituted in 1873. I think it’s likely that he and Thomas Walker Coffin joined Sincerity Council 6, which was formed in 1876 and met in East Stonehouse; though I only have evidence for Coffin as a member of it, and that only from the 1890s.

Thomas William served as one of the RSM’s two grand chaplains in 1883 and 1884; though he never rose any further up its hierarchy. In 1886, Thomas William helped at the ceremony at which future GD member Nelson Prower was admitted to the RSM. If he had ever been in Sincerity Council 6, Thomas William had left it by 1891 and joined the RSM’s Grand Master’s Council 1, which met in London. He was still a member of that council in 1899, the last year whose annual report I was able to find.

The evidence I’ve found suggests that Thomas William’s most fervent commitment as a freemason was to the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, properly known as the Order of the Temple. He donated to the Devonshire preceptory Royal Veteran Encampment 10, and may even have commissioned, a painting which embodied how he felt about the Order. I haven’t been able to find a reproduction of the painting, but an article in The Freemason’s Chronicle described it as showing a group of medieval templars taking their oath in time to go on crusade with Richard I. The idea of an Order of devout young men about to take up arms for Christianity would have appealed to Thomas William, both on personal grounds and as an acknowledgement of his family background.

Until 1889 all Knights Templar had to have been Master Masons for two years and also be a member of a Royal Arch chapter. Nowadays they have to be professed Christians; in Thomas William’s day that seems to have been taken as read.

I haven’t been able to find out exactly when Thomas William joined the Knights Templar. He was a member of the Loyal Brunswick Preceptory 24, which met in East Stonehouse. Like so many of the craft lodges of Devon, this was an old preceptory, its warrant having been granted in 1834. Thomas William had probably recommended for membership by his mentor from Sincerity Lodge 189, T W Coffin, who was also a Loyal Brunswick 24 member. The evidence I’ve found shows Thomas William being installed as its preceptor in March 1888; which is so late in his knights templar career that I’m wondering if he was serving for the second time. His duties as preceptor will have added to the calls on his time in what was already an extremely busy 12 months.

In May 1887 - that is, the year before the GD was set up - Thomas William was appointed to succeed Lt-Col John Tanner Davy as the Knights Templar’s most senior officer in Devon, the county’s Provincial Prior. As the Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta were administered together, he also became Provincial Prior of the Knights of Malta. It’s likely that T W Coffin recommended Thomas William as suitable for the post. Coffin was an elected member of the Order’s governing body, the Council of its National Great Priory.

Until 1890 the National Great Priory held one meeting a year, in May, at the City Terminus Hotel in Cannon Street. After 1890 there were two meetings, the second being in December; and in 1890 the venue for both of them was switched to the Mark Masons’ new hall in Great Queen Street. After each Knights Templar annual meeting, the annual meeting of the Order of Malta was held, with a banquet to follow. Thomas William attended his first National Great Priory in 1885, as a representative of Loyal Brunswick 24. Perhaps he was already being lined up to succeed Tanner Davy. During his time as Provincial Prior of Devonshire he attended nearly every annual meeting of both orders; and on each occasion he went to the banquet after the Order of Malta meeting. On a couple of occasions he was the most senior officer present at the banquet, and took the chair for the after-dinner speeches. At the same time he was having some success at getting more representatives of Devon’s preceptories to attend the Knights Templar’s annual meetings; and eventually one of them - James Keats from Loyal Brunswick 24 - was elected a Council member.

The years 1889 to 1894 were ones of great change at the Knights Templar, as the Order tried to make itself attractive to new members after a period of decline. The entrance requirements for prospective members were made less demanding, though the requirements for entry to the Order of Malta were actually toughened up. The entry fees Templar candidates had to pay were reduced. Efforts were made too to sort out the Order’s finances and to strike off its roster those preceptories - quite a few - which had not sent in their annual subscriptions for more than three years. As Thomas William and T W Coffin continued to be active members of the Order through all these changes, they must have supported them; but other GD members who were also Knights Templar were not so keen. Nelson Prower didn’t attend any annual meetings after the changes in entrance requirements came into force, and W G Lemon didn’t go to any for several years. In 1890, GD members Jeremiah Leech Atherton and Francis William Wright both attended the May annual meeting (the last one, I think, before the changes took effect); but neither of them attended another one.

Back in his home county, it was Thomas William’s job as Provincial Prior to call and chair meetings of all the members there; to supervise the installation of Encampment/Preceptory officers; and generally to promote the ideals of the Knights Templar and recruit new members. And in taking that on, Thomas William was up against the “lethargic condition” of the Knights Templar in the south-west, as The Freemason’s Chronicle put it in 1892, in its review of freemasonry during the year 1891. Six preceptories were still going in Devon when Thomas William was appointed, though the review described them as having barely enough members to justify the existence of one. Three years into the job, Thomas William was being very zealous, the Freemason’s Chronicle’s reviewer said in 1891, but he wasn’t getting much support. He was having some success with his own preceptory, Loyal Brunswick 24, but despite all his work, the Knights Templar’s annual reports show that the Devon preceptories Royal Sussex (which met in Newton Abbot) and Trinity in Unity had stopped sending their yearly dues to the National Great Priory by 1890. Union or Rougemont preceptory stopped sending its annual subscription in 1892 and Holy Cross preceptory was declared defunct by the National Great Priory in 1893 after failing to send its dues for three successive years. The situation in Cornwall was much worse - but Thomas William hadn’t been made responsible for that and was probably glad not to be.

Thomas William’s work in Devon and his support of the changes in the Order led to promotion at national level. Although it was less spectacular, his rise coincided with that of the Earl of Euston whose sister, Lady Eleanor Harbord, joined the GD. In 1893 Thomas William served as Constable of the Order, one of its Great National Officers; pretty high up the Order’s scale for a man who wasn’t a member of the landed aristocracy. And at the December meeting that year, he was one of twelve men who were invested as Knights Commander of the Order of the Temple. The award of this title, however, seems to have been part of a carefully planned withdrawal from the Order. In the list of officers as at December 1893, Thomas William was no longer a National Great Officer of the Knights Templar and he wasn’t in the list of officers for the Order of Malta either; though he did go to their banquet. He did not attend any annual meetings after that of December 1893, and by May 1894 he had resigned as Provincial Prior of Devonshire; no one was appointed to replace him. He was not named in a list of current Knights Templar drawn up in 1900.

The Knights Templar was the only freemasonry organisation in which Thomas William reached a senior national position. With that one exception, he preferred to keep his freemasonry very local.


I found two references to Thomas William having a collection of freemasonry memorabilia. A copy of the 1778 publication Antients Grand Lodge now in the Freemasons’ Library collection was owned by him; and dated by him “1875", presumably the year in which he obtained it. He bequeathed it and his other books on freemasonry to Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. He also lent some items to a public exhibition of freemasonry memorabilia held at Plymouth’s Huyshe Masonic Temple in July 1887; one of five such exhibitions organised by his friend W J Hughan. Unfortunately, The Freemason’s Chronicle’s report on the exhibition doesn’t give any details of the items Thomas William had lent to it.



The first of the two was the craft lodge Quatuor Coronati 2076. It held its meetings in central London but had a world-wide corresponding membership who were entitled to receive its magazine, Ars Quatuor Coronati and go to meetings when they were able, though they had no voting rights and couldn’t serve as officers. A number of GD members were also active members of QC2076. Thomas William had become a corresponding member of the lodge by May 1888 when, in London for the annual meeting of the Knights Templar, he attended its monthly meeting at the Freemasons’ Hall. Quatuor Coronati 2076 had been founded as a forum for the study of the history and symbolism of freemasonry. Thomas William was not as keen on this as he was on rosicrucianism and never made as much effort to get to QC2076's big occasions as he did those of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (see below for SRIA): for example, he didn’t go up to London for QC2076's 10th anniversary conversazione, in 1895. He let his membership lapse, probably after his marriage in 1894; he was certainly no longer a member by 1900.


This organisation was far more important to Thomas William than Quatuor Coronati 2076. The SRIA was an anomaly within freesmasonry: it was not a lodge, and was independent of any freemasonry authority; but only freemasons could join it. In its Ordinances of 1905 - which Thomas William probably helped to draw up - SRIA stated what it had been founded for: “to give mutual aid and encouragement in working out the great problems of Life”; to discover the secrets of nature; to facilitate the study of the Kabalah and the “doctrines of Hermes Trismegistus”; and to investigate the meaning and symbolism of “all that now remains...of the ancient world”. It was organised into colleges and a number of cities had one, including Cambridge, Bristol and Glasgow. Thomas William joined its Metropolitan College in London, in July 1885.

The meetings of both QC2076 and SRIA featured a talk by a member, followed by discussion and comments; the talk was then published the group’s magazine. Thomas William gave no talks at QC2076 and only two at the SRIA’s Metropolitan College; one at the meeting of 9 April 1891, on the topic of Rosicrucianism, and a second in 1919.

Despite his reluctance to give any talks, Thomas William attended the Metropolitan College’s meetings very regularly for nearly 30 years, and became respected for his knowledge of SRIA’s rituals and ordinances. And despite his many commitments in Devon, he worked his way up SRIA’s hierarchy to serve as its Celebrant (equivalent to Worshipful Master). He was installed as Celebrant at the meeting of 12 April 1894; and at the same time congratulated on his recent marriage, with W G Lemon (his immediate predecessor as Celebrant and a man who had been married for many years) making “a very genial and humourous speech” on the subject. By 1900, Thomas William was representing the Metropolitan College on the SRIA’s governing body, its High Council. From 1907, there was only one person in SRIA senior to him - its Supreme Magus, GD founder William Wynn Westcott. Thomas William was thus in line to succeed Westcott; but the Supreme Magus was appointed for life and Westcott outlived him.

In 1909, the SRIA set up a new college, the Robert Fludd College, based in Bath. Perhaps Thomas William had lobbied for this, because he took part in its consecration ceremony and visited it several times.

By 1914, the Metropolitan College’s meetings had changed from monthly to quarterly; and moved into the popular freemasonry venue of Café Monico in Piccadilly. Thomas William continued to go to meetings regularly, even during World War 1, until there was a break after the meeting of January 1917. He next went to a meeting in October 1918, with the end of the fighting in sight but the country ravaged by the Spanish flu. The last meeting he went to was on 10 July 1919. It was a special one, at which the SRIA’s jubilee was celebrated, and Thomas William read his paper on “Our Notable Deceased Officers and Fratres”. There wasn’t time to read in full two other papers that had been prepared, so precis of them were read instead. Both were by ex-GD members: George Frederick Rogers’ paper on Hypnotism; and Marcus Worsley Blackden’s paper on The Festival Songs of Isis and Nephthys.


I haven’t found any evidence that Thomas William Lemon was involved in either of them. As an ordained priest of the Church of England he may even have thought that it was inappropriate for him to take an interest. He might also have been aware how controversial a subject spiritualism was within the Church of England: there was much debate on whether a member of the Church of England and especially the CofE clergy, could also believe in the reality of communications from the dead. I have to say, though, that it is hard to tell whether people were spiritualists: spiritualism was a very locally, even family-based pursuit and there was no over-arching organisation with a membership list that can be consulted now.

Sources for the esoteric interests section: FREEMASONRY

Database of the collections at the Freemasons’ Library: go to


and take the option ‘Explore’. You don’t have to have a reader’s ticket to search the catalogue or to use the other online resources which include online copies, digitised as far as 1900, of the main freemasons’ magazines, a very useful resource for some - but not all - freemasons’ organisations.

General introductions to the various groupings within freemasonry.

Susan Snell and Peter Aitkenhead at the Freemasons’ Library recommended these two books to me. Without them, there would have been even more mistakes in this section!

Beyond the Craft by Keith B Jackson. Published by Lewis Masonic, an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd of Hersham Surrey. First published 1980. I used the revised and expanded 6th edition, published 2012.

A Reference Book for Freemasons. Compiled by Frederick Smyth. Published London: Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle Ltd 1998.

Thomas William as a freemason:

Initiation: The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1893 p4.



Via to a list originally at Lane’s Masonic Records.

Lodge Virtue and Honor 494 Axminster 1844-1944 Centenary Celebrations It being in the Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, Province of Devonshire. By T E Mayo. Published Exeter, W V Cole and Sons Ltd 1944. Thomas William is not mentioned in the account of the lodge’s history and he’s not in its list of WM’s.


By-Laws of Lodge Metham 1205 issued 1909, printed Plymouth: Underhill and Co. This small leaflet gives a small amount of lodge history but very few members past or present are mentioned and Thomas William isn’t one of them.

The Freemason’s Chronicle May 1885 p13 Thomas William as WM-elect.


By-Laws of the Lodge of St George 2025 Plymouth issued 1917. Printed by Bro J H Keys of Whimple Street Plymouth. On p6, the Introduction to the booklet is by Thomas William’s friend William James Hughan.

History of the Lodge of St George 2025 1884-1949 by W J Gilbert who is a PM. There are no details in the booklet of when or where it was published but the authors Foreword (p1) is dated Aug 1950. P2, p41: the account of the lodge’s history is (P2) based on those lodge Minute books that survived the destruction of the Freemasons’ Hall in Princess Square Plymouth in March 1941.

And on (p4) a copy of A Retrospect of the Lodge of St George 2025, 1884-1905 written by C G Withell, an early lodge member. There’s a good account of the lodge’s founding and (pp13-14) good lists of important members. On p19: the lodge’s Royal Arch chapter was consecrated in October 1886. Thomas William is not mentioned at all in the booklet.


The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1889 p5.

Freemasonry in Saltash 1865-1965 by Lt-Cdr T C A Waghorn as WM of 1071. I couldn’t find any details of who printed it and there’s no actual pubication date in the booklet though 1965 is a good guess. It’s a good account of all the Saltash-based lodges but as with so many of the lodges I’ve already listed, Thomas William’s name is not mentioned in it.


The Freemasons’ Library has some of the lodge’s earliest records in its collection, so there’s a good account of the lodge’s history in the FML catalogue.

Website is the lodge’s website incl a history. However, there’s no coverage of the years between 1879 and 1915, just the years I most wanted to look at. Thomas William is not mentioned in the rest of the account.

The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1887 p8 has it as 158 but that’s a type-setting error. Thomas William is mentioned as a PM of the lodge.


Bye Laws and History: Lodge Sincerity number 189 by M G Endle and L R Dunstan. Published 1909. Both Thomas Walker Coffin and Thomas William Lemon are mentioned in the booklet: p6, pp16-17, p18.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1887 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle February 1888 p5.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p8.

The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1888 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1893 p4 Presentation to Rev Dr Lemon, reprinting a report that had originally appeared in the Western Morning News.



The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1889 p12.


The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p11.


The Freemason’s Chronicle September 1888 p4 though not an official in Cornwall, Thomas William went to a meeting of its Provincial Grand Lodge, in Camborne.


The Freemason’s Chronicle January 1888.

The Freemason’s Chronicle July 1888 p3.

The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1888 p10.



The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1888 p7.


The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1888 p11.


The Freemason’s Chronicle June 1888 p11.


The Freemason’s Chronicle July 1888 p9 Just noting here that website, in its history of Brunswick 159, describes Huyshe Lodge as one of its many daughter lodges.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1888 p11.


At, website of the Mark Masons’ Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire, John G Dollery’s history of St John Mark Masonry Lodge, current number 50. The lodge is still active and is on Twitter.


The Freemason’s Chronicle August 1878 p13.

The Freemason’s Chronicle August 1888.


The Freemason’s Chronicle January 1888 p8.

The Freemason’s Chronicle January 1888 p6.

The Freemason’s Chronicle February 1888 p10.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p11.

The Freemason’s Chronicle August 1888 p11.

The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1888 p11.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1889 p5.


I am not able to use the archives at the headquarters of the Mark Masons. The two calendars I consulted for some sense of the history of Mark Masonry are in the collection of the UGLE.

Masonic Calendar for 1888, its 3rd year of issue. Thomas William was not listed as an officer in this Calendar, but only national officers’ names were published.

Masonic Calendar of 1898 showed how much Mark Masonry had expanded in the intervening decade. On p37 Thomas William as one of the Grand Chaplain; 1885. On p45 W G Lemon as the only other GD member listed.


Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Degrees from the 4º to 32º Inclusive under the Supreme Council 33º of the Ancient and Accepted Rite [in the British Empire etc etc]; plus a List of Members. I looked at the issues of 1880, 1885, 1888 and 1900.

Issue of 1880 pp43-44, p72

Issue of 1888 p13, p48, p57, p73,

Issue of 1900 p225.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p4.


The Freemason’s Chronicle September 1888 p11.

RED CROSS OF CONSTANTINE properly the Imperial, Ecclesiastical and Military Order of Knights of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine. The Freemasons’ Library has a volume of its annual reports purporting to cover 1868 to 1899; however, if any reports were issued between those of 1874 and 1887, they were not included in this volume.

Statement of Accounts, Annual Report and List of Officers and Conclaves Published in London by George Kenning, who was a member of the order. The annual report for 1893 contains the first published list of past officers at national level but Thomas William Lemon isn’t in it.

Issue of 1891 p3 shows Thomas William Lemon at the only annual assembly of the Order that I am certain he attended; that of March 1891. GD members W G Lemon and Nelson Prower were also at the meeting.

Issue of 1895: Beginning on p24, there is the first published list of current members of the Red Cross of Constantine: p28 for T W Coffin and p36 for Thomas William Lemon; who are both in Sincerity Conclave 102 at the moment. Sincerity Conclave 102 is in the list of conclaves, on p19. However p51 there are no dtls of this conclave in the list of when and where the conclaves meet; so it might be dormant; though (p21) it’s not on the list of conclaves struck off the roll, either.

The last in the volume is the Issue of 1899 p40 in the list of current members.

ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS also known as the Cryptic Rite, a reference to the basic layout of one of its rituals.

Annual Report of Proceedings of the Grand Council of RSM of Engl and Wales etc. Published by George Kenning. The Freemasons’ Library earliest volume of these covers 1887 to 1899.

Issue of 1887 p3; p9 notes Thomas William’s apologies for absence from the annual meeting of February 1888.

The next issue with any mention of him was that of 1891: p3 has Thomas William attending the annual meeting, as a Past Grand Chaplain. Beginning on p16 was the first published list of senior RSM officers since 1871; p17. Beginning p20, list of current members; and just noting here how few are members of any of the RSM’s councils at the moment. On p22 entry for T W Lemon “received and acknowledged” in the RSM’s first year. P15 for details of Grand Master’s Council 1 which was one of the RSM’s four original ones.

Issue of 1896 re ann mtg p3 of March 1896. RSM is holding its ann mtgs at the Mark Masons hall now. On pp19-26 a list of current members: p23.

Issue of 1899: p24.

Thomas William as an RSM member helping to induct Nelson Prower: The Freemason May 1886 p12.


If following up the references below, BEWARE The Freemason’s Chronicle: it often gets the name of Thomas William’s preceptory wrong, referring to it as the Royal Brunswick when it was in fact the Loyal Brunswick.


Calendar of the Great Priory which changes its name in 1896. Published for the members of the Order. The report for each year contains the following:

- list of senior officers as at the annual meeting in May

- details of preceptories thus: name + number; are they still functioning; where they meet and when; date of warrant; current Preceptor

- very basic coverage of the annual meeting or (after 1890) meetings

- coverage of the meeting/dinner of the Order of Malta

- annual accounts.

I went through the Calendars from 1878 to 1900. Just noting here that Thomas William never served as preceptor of Loyal Brunswick 24 preceptory during that period.

I started with 1883, so the information on Loyal Brunswick 24 is from its p11: meets St George’s Hall East Stonehouse. Warrant is dated 1830.

1884 issue pp30-31.

1885 issue p31.

1887 issue p1 in which Thomas William is listed for the first time as Provincial Prior of Devonshire.

1888 issue p16: date of Thomas William’s appointment - 31 May 1887; p1 an account of Thomas William doing homage for his appointment at the December meeting of the National Great Priory. He was attended into the hall for this by (amongst others) Thomas Walker Coffin and W G Lemon. On p31 in list of those attending the annual meeting in May: Nelson Prower, soon to be in the GD, was there representing Mount Calvary D preceptory. PP32-33 Thomas William, W G Lemon and Nelson Prower also attended the meeting of the Order of Malta, in May 1888, and Thomas William presided at the banquet.

1889 issue p30; pp36-37 in which the changes to entrance requirements were first debated; pp38-39.

1890 p1, p6, p10, pp31-34; p35 ratification of the changes in membership requirements and efforts to sort out the Order’s finances; p35 change of venue for meetings and p37 confirmation that there would now be two national meetings per year.

Following the 1890 issue: text of a leaflet United Orders of the Temple and Hospital, with alterations to statutes 1 and 2 and several new statutes.

1891 May issue p1, p30, p35. December issue p1, pp7-8 in which Thomas William read out a letter from W J Hughan.

1892 May issue p1, p30, p37-38. December issue p1, pp8-9.

1893 May issue p1, p31, p34, pp36-37. December issue p1, pp9-10.

1894 May issue p1, p28-29. December issue p1, p9.

Officers as at ann mtg of May 1894 p1 E of Euston as sub-prior; TWL is now “KCT” but he isn’t

1895 issue p28.

With the 1896 issue the Calendar changed its name to become Liber Ordinis Templi volume 1.

Issues 1896-1900. The 1900 issue contains a list of all current members of both Orders. No GD members are on it.

The Freemason’s Chronicle Jan 1892 p9 the review of freemasonry in 1891.

The Freemason’s Chronicle August 1887 p4: Thomas William’s installation as Provincial Prior of Devonshire.

The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1887 P4 another report of Thomas William making his homage at the National Great Priory.

The Freemason’s Chronicle February 1888 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1888 p10.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1890 p3.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1893 p4.


The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p13: Thomas William installed as its preceptor and also as its Prelate.


The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1887 p7 the presentation of H Lynn’s painting of Knights Templar soldiers taking their oath.

I’ve made some efforts to identify the artist, named only as “H Lynn” in The Freemason’s Chronicle. I’ve looked at the British Library’s collection of dictionaries of artists working in the 19th century, including those from Ireland and Scotland; miniaturists; sea painters; watercolourists, Royal Academy exhibitors...I haven’t found H Lynn in any of these works. No such person has an entry in either of the DNBs, in Who Was Who, or in Boase. Perhaps it was someone working in Devon, and not exhibiting nationally at all.

KNIGHTS OF MALTA properly the Order of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.

Beyond the Craft p26 says that all those hoping to be installed as a Knight of Malta must already be a Templar knight.

The Freemason’s Chronicle May 1887 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle June 1888 p10 the first Provincial Priory meeting that Thomas William organised after his appointment was the first that had been held in Devon for 12 years.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1890 p3.


The Freemason’s Chronicle February 1888 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p10.

The Freemason’s Chronicle August 1889.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1888 p11.

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1889 p9.


Antients Grand Lodge published 1778, bequeathed by Thomas William to SRIA and now in the collection of the Freemasons’ Library.

The Freemason’s Chronicle July 1887 p9.


Quatuor Coronati 2076: Ars Quatuor Coronati number 2076 published annually by the Lodge.

Volume I 1886-88 p137. Unnumbered pages of each volume list the full and corresponding members. [p14] for the entry for Rev T W Lemon, member of lodges 70, 189, 223, 1071, 1205, 2025; a PM of 2025; member of chapters 70, 189, 223, 494, 2025; PZ of 2025.

I didn’t follow Thomas William year by year but I did look in Volume XIII issued 1900. He was no longer in the Lodge’s corresponding members list.

Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia:

Ordinances privately printed 1905.

Transactions of Societas Rosicruciana Metropolitan College

- Volume for 1885 p4

- Volume for 1891-92 p3 meeting of 9 April 1891

- Volume for 1893-94 pp1-2 meeting of 12 April 1894

- Volume for 1909 p49 and Volume for 1910 p1: founding of SRIA’s Robert Fludd College at Bath

- Volumes for 1914-1919 confirming how regularly he went to London for SRIA meetings, even in wartime

- Volume for 1920 p7: obituary.

History of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia by the MW Supreme Magus Dr William Wynn Westcott. Privately printed London 1900: pp14-15; pp31-32

Esoteric interests section: THEOSOPHY AND SPIRITUALISM

Theosophical Society Membership Registers 1889-1901.



Apart from the short one in the SRIA Metropolitan College’s Transactions for 1920, I haven’t found one.


There were two men called Lemon in the GD during the 1890s: Thomas William; and William George. They knew each other through freemasonry and its offshoots. However, from what little evidence I’ve come across, I would say that despite the fact that the surname is not a common one, they were not closely related.

While William George Lemon’s family were Londoners, Thomas William Lemon was a member of a Cornish family, the Lemons of Carclew Park near Truro, whose wealth derived from the entrepreneurial and managerial skills of William Lemon (died 1760) who started out managing another man’s smelting works and ended up owning the Wheal Fortune and Poldice mines at Gwennap and making a fortune from them. Lemon Street in Truro is named after him; he built his town house in it. He bought the Carclew Park estate, near Penryn, and had a house built on that, as well. His grandson entered politics, on the Whig side, and was made a baronet in 1774.

William Lemon’s descendants had got into Debrett by its 1840 edition, but with family details designed to obscure the commercial origins of their wealth. The focus was on Sir Charles Lemon 1784-1868, who had succeeded his father as 2nd baronet. Sir Charles had three children, but they all died young. As he had no direct male heir, the baronetcy became extinct at his death. He left the Carclew Park estate to one of his sisters, Caroline Tremayne.

Thomas William liked to draw attention to the fact that he was distantly related to Sir Charles Lemon. In the late 1880s he presented photographs of Sir Charles to Sincerity Lodge 189 and St Anne’s Lodge 970. However, the sketchy details in Debrett suggest to me that their common ancestor was most likely to be Sir Charles’ great-grandfather, the William Lemon who died in 1760.

Thomas William’s father and grandfather were both called Thomas Lemon and both of them served in the Royal Marines. As I’ve made clear above, I haven’t discovered how either of them was related to the Lemons of Carclew Park. Thomas Lemon the grandfather reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was married to a woman named Elizabeth and died in 1856. In 1807, he was stationed in Gloucester, which is where Thomas Lemon, Thomas William Lemon’s father, was born and baptised. I don’t know whether he had any other children.

The younger Thomas Lemon joined the Royal Marines in 1827. In June 1844 he married Anne Cowling, the daughter of another Royal Marines officer. At the time of the marriage both Thomas Lemon and Anne Cowling’s father were stationed at the barracks in East Stonehouse in Plymouth. Thomas William Lemon was born at Taunton in 1846. He was Thomas and Anne’s only child. One reason for this was that Anne did not go with her husband on his long tours of duty in the East. On the day of the 1851 census, Thomas Lemon was abroad, probably in India. Anne and Thomas William were living at 4 Caroline Place Plymouth, a district occupied by many men who served in the forces. Anne’s mother Elizabeth was living with them, and Anne was running a modest household with one general servant only, not even a nurse for Thomas William aged 5.

In the late 1850s Thomas Lemon’s battalion was stationed in Calcutta. It was sent to China in 1857 when the 2nd China War broke out, arriving in time to take part in the battle of Fatshan Creek in June; and missing the Indian Mutiny/First War of Independence altogether. Despite heavy losses, the Royal Marines occupied Canton city in January 1858. Thomas Lemon was injured at some point in the campaign. He was mentioned in despatches, and was promoted to Colonel.

By 1861, Thomas William’s grandmother Elizabeth had died; and Thomas Lemon had been sent home on leave. He and Anne were living in the Royal Marine barracks, presumably in the same house Anne was occupying in 1851 though the census form isn’t clear on this point. They were still employing just the one general servant. Thomas William, aged 14, was with them; either because it was the Easter vacation, or because he was at school in Plymouth.

After his leave was over, Thomas Lemon returned to his battalion, which spent the next 10 years in the Far East including a spell stationed in Yokohama. Thomas Lemon was promoted again, and ended his working life as a Lieutenant-General. He was not in the UK on the day of the 1871 census; but neither was his wife. Perhaps Anne had finally decided join her husband abroad; but I think it’s more likely that Thomas Lemon had retired by then, and was enjoying a holiday. When they returned to England, Thomas and Anne settled at 9 Seaton Terrace, in the Mutley district of Plymouth; where they were next door neighbours to George Porter Rogers and his family. George Porter Rogers’ eldest son George Frederick Rogers joined the GD in the mid-1890s.

Thomas Lemon died in February 1875. His personal estate was worth less than £12000; which doesn’t sound like much, but in the mid-19th century a careful person could live well off the income from that, if it was carefully invested. I think that in the 1880s, Thomas William Lemon was able to do that.



The Great Cornish Families: A History of the People and their Houses by Crispin Gill. Published 1995, reprinted 2000. This edition pubd Halsgrove 2011. There’s no chapter on the Lemons in the book as the house burned down and the baronetcy went extinct. However, the founder of the family fortune is mentioned three times: pi in the Introduction; p59 in the chapter on Molesworth St Aubyn of Pencarrow; and p105 on John Williams and his family who made a fortune smelting Cornish copper in South Wales. Gill disagrees with Debrett on when the Lemon baronetcy was created and who for; but I think Debrett is more likely to be correct on snobbish details like that. Carclew House burned down in 1924 but the gardens, laid out by various members of the Lemon family, are still there.

Debrett 1840 issue p348.

Thomas William’s donations of photographs:

The Freemason’s Chronicle November 1887 p4. Sincerity Lodge 189. An inscription on the photo reminded the members that Sir Charles Lemon had been a freemason and served as Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall from 1843 to 1863. I don’t quite see the connection with a lodge based in the East Stonehouse district of Plymouth, so I presume that the donation was just a subtle piece of boasting on Thomas William’s part.

The Freemason’s Chronicle October 1889 p12.


Modern English Biography compiled by Frederick Boase. Volume 2 I-Q p386 has a very short entry on Thomas William’s father; with even briefer references to his grandfather.

Familysearch England-EASy GS film number 855617: baptism of Thomas Lemon 22 September 1807 at St Mary-de-Lode’s Gloucester. Parents Thomas Lemon; and wife Elizabeth.

At // Thomas Lemon 1807-75, Royal Marines, is referred to; as mentioned in two archives now at Cambridge University:

- despatches concerning the occupation of Canton

- despatches to Lord Elgin.

At a list originally published Edinburgh Gazette 16 April 1858 p757: Thomas Lemon’s promotion to colonel.

Royal Marines Commandos: The Inside Story of a Force for the Future by John Parker. London: Headline 2006; seen via google so no page numbers. Royal Marines in the 2nd China War; and in Japan.

Seen at but originally in the Times and elsewhere,

a list brought together by George Wingrove Cooke and published 1861 by Routledge Warne and Routledge: pp350-52, casualties of the 2nd Anglo-Chinese War.

Hart’s Annual Army List 1863 p38 in the list of current colonels: Thomas Lemon CB, Colonel Commandant Royal Marines. With his promotions so far.

Probate Registry 1875.


I haven’t found out anything at all about where Thomas William Lemon went to school. Some but not all of the public schools’ registers are now on the web but he didn’t appear in any of those. He may have gone to school at the grammar school in Plymouth, the school later attended by George Frederick Rogers.

From whatever school he attended, Thomas William went on to Magdalen College Oxford University and graduated BA in 1869, MA in 1872. Many years later, he returned to Oxford, this time to Hertford College; he graduated BD and DD in 1889.


Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1880 607.

Pall Mall Budget p37 issue of 19 January 1872 University Intelligence: Oxford.

The Freemason’s Chronicle December 1889 p4


It was probably obvious to Thomas William’s parents from an early age that their son wasn’t going to follow his father and grandfather into the army. However, the family was not wealthy and he would have to go into a profession. He chose the Church of England, and was ordained in 1870. As a new recruit to the Church, Thomas William spent several years as a curate in various parishes in Plymouth: at Stoke Damerel; at St Paul Devonport for two years; and finally at St Mary Devonport for one year. On the day of the 1871 census he had been in the first of those parishes, Stoke Damerel, for a few months. On census day he was living in lodgings at 12 Stoke Terrace Stoke Damerel; this may have been a temporary arrangement while his parents were abroad. In 1878, Thomas William was given what should have been a permanent appointment, as vicar of Buckerell, near Honiton in Devon. His mother Anne, now a widow, went with him. On the day of the 1881 census they were living at the vicarage in Buckerell. Anne had a visitor, a Mrs Catherine Brown who had been born in Ireland. The house normally only had two people living in it, and Anne was managing it without any live-in servants.

Anne Lemon died in May 1884. Probate was granted on her Will only a few weeks later but even before then, Thomas William had left Buckerell and moved back to Plymouth, to 5 Woodlane Terrace. As his parents’ only heir, he was about to inherit a very comfortable income. He gave up his job with the Church of England and for the next ten years, he lived on that income, devoting his time to gaining his two theology degrees, and to freemasonry. By the day of the 1891 census Thomas William had moved from Woodland Terrace to Cheltenham Place and was living at number 1, as sole member of one of the two households at the address.

Not until he was about to get married, in 1894, did Thomas William ask the Church of England for another post.

Sources: census 1871, 1881, 1891; probate registry 1884.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory issues 1880 p607.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1889 p765.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1895 p809.

ANY PUBLIC LIFE/EVIDENCE FOR LEISURE TIME? Bearing in mind, of course, that most leisure activities leave no trace behind them.

The social side of freemasonry is a very important part of it: all big meetings were followed by dinner at a hotel, for the members and their guests. Several reports of lodge and chapter dinners which Thomas William attended mentioned him as taking part with other lodge members in after-dinner songs and recitations; though without saying what he sang or recited. There’s a certain theatricality about taking a Church service as well, of course; and about - say - being a Knight Templar.

I’ve already mentioned one book in Thomas William’s collection of old volumes, and a second one, still in existence, proves he didn’t just collect books on freemasonry. He had a copy of William Borlase’s The Natural History of Cornwall, printed for the author in 1750 by W Jackson of Oxford. It is now in the library of the University of Toronto.


The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p8.

The Freemason’s Chronicle March 1888 p4.

The Freemason’s Chronicle May 1885 p13.

For the William Borlase:


In April 1894, Thomas William married Mary Louisa Brian. I think they had been engaged for about a year before they married. Mary Louisa (born 1862) was the eldest child of the wonderfully-named Thomas Cadwallader Brian, solicitor, and coroner for Plymouth from 1868 until his death in 1889. In 1891 Mary Louisa and her sisters Eleanor and Jessie were living with their mother Mary at 17 Woodford Terrace in Compton Gifford. Mary Louisa’s brother Cadwallader was also at home while doing his legal articles; he qualified in due course and worked as a solicitor and I think his sons carried on the family business into the next generation. T C Brian had left surprisingly little money, for a man who worked in the law, and the Brians did not have any servants living-in, on census day.

After their marriage, Thomas William and Mary Louisa went to live in Cornwall. Evidence from freemasons’ magazines shows that Thomas William was not so active in freemasonry in Plymouth after he moved away - as you would expect. In 1895 Thomas William and Mary Louisa were living in Erme House, on Station Road Ivybridge, possibly while repairs were being done to the vicarage in Thomas William’s new parish. As part of the preparations for his marriage, he had gone back to the Church of England and been appointed vicar of Poughill near Bude, where in 1914 the yearly stipend will have added £200 to his income from other sources. A group of trustees controlled the appointment, and perhaps Thomas William had used his freemasonry contracts in order to be recommended to them. By 1901 he and his wife had been able to move into the vicarage. On census day they were at home there, with a visitor, Rev Henry D Wilkinson, who was probably a friend of Mary Louisa as he came from Derbyshire where her father had worked at one time. The Lemons were keeping house with a cook and one housemaid. They were still living at Poughill vicarage on census day 1911, and still had two servants living in, though they may no longer have been employing a specialist cook.

Thomas William Lemon was still in-post at Poughill when he died, at the Vicarage, in December 1919.

Mary Louisa and her nephew Cadwallader Brian - now in practice as a qualified solicitor - were the executors of Thomas William’s Will. One of their tasks was to hand over to the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia some books that Thomas William had left to the SRIA’s library; the ones now in the Freemasons’ Library collection.

Mary Louisa Lemon moved back to Plymouth and died there in February 1935.

Sources: census 1895, 1901, 1911; probate registry 1920, 1935.

Transactions of the Societas Rosicruciana Metropolitan College issue of 1920 p7 obituary.

Thomas Cadwallader Brian

Report and Transactions of Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art volume 140 2008 p203 mentions the Brian family as owners of the freehold of 22 George Street in Plymouth; the article seems to be suggesting that the Brians had owned the property at least since 1818.

Using google I saw several references to T C Brian practising law in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.

London Gazette 24 December 1861 p5561 has T C Brian of Freemasons’ Hall Cornwall Street Plymouth acting in a bankruptcy case.

At a list of coroners who had worked in Plymouth.

The Freemason’s Chronicle April 1894 p3: marriage announcement for Thomas William Lemon and Mary Louisa Brian. 9 April 1894 at Emmanuel Church Compton Giffard.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1895 p809.

Erme House Ivybridge is Grade 2 listed. See

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1908 p868

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1914 p916.

BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.

Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01. I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.

For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke. Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.

Family history: freebmd; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.

Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.

Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.

Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.

Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.


2 November 2016

Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: