Negative stories on Freemasons hard to fathom
It was with great disappointment that I read in your paper this morning (News, November 24) another scurrilous article purporting to be news in which you claim that named officials avoided censure over the loss of the Titanic because of their links to the Masonic Order.
Matters are then compounded with the further speculation that Lord Pirrie, chairman of Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, "also appears to have been a Freemason". One is, of course, curious to know where this unproven claim has come from. Your readers may be interested to learn that the "secret archive" you speak of is, in fact, the release to online genealogy service Ancestry of details of the membership of lodges under the Irish, English and Scottish Grand Lodges of some two million Freemasons in the period 1733-1923.
This initiative was taken by the three home Grand Lodges to make it easier for genealogists to carry out their work. In some ways, there is nothing new here, as our Masonic records have always been available to accredited researchers. Here, again, is more evidence of the role played by Freemasonry as a part of society and not apart from society.
I do not understand the desire to seek out negative stories on the activities of fraternal organisations, such as The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland, who work tirelessly raising funds for various charities set up for the benefit of all. Indeed, the one-time owner of the Belfast Telegraph, Sir Robert Baird, was a member of the Masonic Order in Ireland, rising to the post of Grand Treasurer of The Grand Lodge of Ireland.
He thought so highly of the order and its charitable work that he founded a new Irish Lodge, known as The Press Lodge, specially to cater for newspapermen and fellow workers in the print industry.
His name will appear in your "secret archive" and I, for one, am fairly confident that he had no involvement with the Titanic.
Ballymoney, Co Antrim