Early Hawick Free Masonry
When freemasonry first took root in Hawick is not exactly known but a charter was granted in favour of Hawick lodge in 1768 by the grand lodge of Scotland. In this document, which is dated 15th march, 1768, it is however stated that the brethren who made the application “ had been for some time past kept up a brotherly society of masons without any regular constitution.” It may thus be inferred that for some time prior to 1768 a Masonic Lodge had existed in the burgh. The Hawick lodge, like so many lodges has, during its long and honourable history, had its periods of prosperity and adversity, and at one time was dormant for something like twenty-three years. Early in 1860 it awakened from its slumbers, and resuming its labours it has since had a most prosperous career. Towards the close of the year 1862 strained relations developed amongst the brethren, the cause of this being understood to be connected with the formation of a second company of rifle volunteers in Hawick. Eventually one section severed itself from the lodge and resolved to form a second lodge.
A New Lodge is formed
Towards this end a meeting was held in the bridge hotel in June, 1863, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements. Those attending were: - James Thom, coal merchant; James Purvis, joiner; Andrew Patterson, innkeeper; James Forsyth, shoemaker; Michael Scott, licensed grocer; William Davidson, plasterer; James Millin, plumber; Thomas Blaikie, coal agent; George H. Fraser, draper; and Walter Laurie, baker.
At this meeting it was agreed that the Grand Lodge of Scotland should be petitioned to grant a charter for a new Lodge in Hawick, to be called Lodge St. James, Border Union Royal Arch, Brother Thom being instructed to prepare a draft of the petition and submit the same at an early meeting to be held in the crown hotel.
A meeting was held on the 3rd July to discuss travelling expenses for Brother Millin who was to attend grand lodge and pay for the charter at a cost of £12. The next meeting was held on the 7th august when Brother Millin produced a letter stating that the charter had been granted. It was also agreed that the lodge colours should be royal blue and crimson.
The Institution of the Lodge and the Installation of Office Bearers took place in the Half Moon Hotel on the evening of the 7th September 1863.
Brother James Thompson Initiated
Under date, 11th December, 1866, it is recorded that James Thomson, turner and cabinetmaker, received the degree of entered apprentice mason, this being the initiation into the mysteries of the craft of the author of “Doric lays and lyric,” and the future esteemed bard of the lodge. Brother Thomson received his second degree on the 26th December, and his third degree on the 9th January, 1867. On the 11th December, 1867, there is minuted, “ Brother Thomson presented a Bible to the Lodge, which the lodge accepted.” This Bible was used for over half a century in regular use by the Lodge. It is still one of the highly- valued possessions of the Lodge.