a prominent Mason
James Heseltine (fl. 1769 - 1793)
[NB. This James has not yet been traced as part of the known family.]
Some of the
following information has been
put together from the following web site
James Heseltine was a prominent
Mason, and stories about him crop up from time to time. Captain George Smith was a
distinguished Grand Master in, and over, Kent, being an Inspector of the
Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He became 3rd Grand Principal in Grand Chapter in
1775, 2nd Grand Principal the following year and presided as 1st Grand
Principal from 1777 to 1779. He was also appointed as Provincial Grand Master in and over
Kent in 1777 and honoured with the rank of Junior Grand Warden in 1780.
However, as a result of this
appointment, he came into contact with James Heseltine, who was then Grand
Secretary, and who objected as a mater principle that no Brother could
hold two appointments in grand Lodge at the same time. The matter was
eventually resolved at the following Quarterly Communication when Captain Smith resigned as Junior Grand
Warden and retained his appointment as Provincial Grand Master of Kent.
Smith was a leading figure in
every sense and a prominent worker for various
reforms. One might be tempted to comment that he was before his time on
many things, one in particular regarding the Union, for in 1776 he wrote
to James Heseltine raising certain matters in an attempt to settle some of
the differences that separated the two Grand Lodges. This included the admission of women, or at least that they be allowed to
form separate Lodges amongst their own sex. George Smith's outstanding career as Provincial Grand Master, indeed even
as a mason, ended ignominiously in 1785 when he was expelled from the
Craft for issuing what was purported to be a Certificate of Grand Lodge
recommending two distressed brethren for relief although it is generally thought that his outspoken ways contributed to
A second one from:
Illustrations of Masonry by
William Preston, at:
On the 25th of March 1788, another event worthy of notice in the annals of masonry took place,
by the institution of the Royal Cumberland Free-mason school, for
maintaining, clothing and educating female orphans, the children of indigent
brethren. To the benevolent exertions of chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini, the
fraternity were first indebted for this establishment. Under the patronage
of her royal highness the duchess of Cumberland, the school was originally
formed; and to her softening hand is owning its present flourishing state,
by here recommendation of it to the Royal Family, as well as to many of the
nobility and gentry of both sexes.
On the 1st of January 1789, fifteen
children were taken into the house provided for the purpose at Somers Town,
St. Pancras; but since that time, by the liberal encouragement which the
Charity has received from the fraternity in India as well as in England, the
Governors have been enabled to augment the number of children at different
periods to thirty-four. The object of this Charity is to train up children in the knowledge of virtue and religion; in
an early detestation of vice, and its unhappy consequences, in industry, as
necessary to their condition; and to impress strongly on their minds, a due
sense of subordination, true humility, and obedience to their superiors.
In 1793, the Governors, anxious still farther to extend the benefits of this Institution,
hired on lease a piece of ground in St George's Fields belonging to the City
of London, on which they have erected as commodious and spacious
school-house at the expense of upwards of £2,500 into which the children are
now removed. This building is sufficiently extensive to accommodate an
hundred children; and from the exertions of the fraternity at home an
abroad, there is every reason to hope that the Governors will soon have it
in their power to provide for that number.
This Charity is under the immediate supervision of her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cumberland, the
patroness; their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and
the Duke of Gloucester, the Patrons; Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini, the
Institutor; the right hon. Lord Macdonald, James Heseltine, James Galloway,
William Birch, William Addington esqs, the Trustees; and Sir Peter Parker, bart., the Treasurer.
And a third from:
Freemasonry and the Problem of Britain Andrew
Centre for Research into Freemasonry
Inaugural lecture to mark the launch of the University of Sheffield's Centre
for Research into Freemasonry, 5 March 2001.
From the file:
In 1769, the son of one of the members of the lodge at Anglesey went mad. Grand
Lodge's committee of charity in London agreed to pay the expenses of admitting
the unhappy man to Bethlem Hospital in London and the Senior Grand Warden,
one of the governors of the hospital, made the arrangements for his admission.
The Grand Secretary himself went to the hospital to fill up the necessary forms,
and obtained advice from a friend on the medical staff as to how the various
practicalities should be handled.
Later that month, the 'poor lunatick',
accompanied by his doctor, unexpectedly arrived by coach in London late
one evening. The Grand Secretary, James Heseltine, was away, and
noone would allow the poor man any shelter, even in their stables.
Eventually, the landlord of a tavern close to Heseltine's office
allowed him to stay there, provided he was chained to a table and the
doctor slept in the same room on chairs.
There was a delay in completing the
admission to Bethlem and the doctor who had accompanied the man to London
refused to stay with him any longer, so Heseltine who had now returned,
arranged for the patient to be sent to a madhouse just
outside London Heseltinewho was 'left with the man
upon my own hands and answerable for everything', also sorted out the
eventual transfer to Bethlem and gave the necessary security required by the
hospital should he ever escape. He then sent a detailed account of his
proceedings back to Anglesey.
Sadly, about a year later, the unfortunate man
died, and Heseltine again intervened to ensure that he had a decent
funeral. Acts of charity and kindness such as Heseltine's can
contribute to the shaping of a nation. By providing a means by which
provinicial members could get access to metropolitan facilities such
as hospitals, freemasonry could help bring Wales closer to London and
played a part in developing those everyday contacts which are the sinews
of the nation.