The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
23rd January, 1877.Joseph Braithwaite, M.W.G. Master G. Lodge of New Zealand, I.O.O.F.
My dear Sir and Brother,—
Very recently application was made to this office by the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, through one of its standing committees (Committee of Correspondence), for instruction as to the form of government of the Order connected, with this Grand Lodge in Australia. Upon making the proper examination into the subject, and consulting our records, I was surprised at the lamentable paucity of our historical material, and of our consequent inability to respond satisfactorily to the inquiry. I now beg to invite your attention to this subject with a view to correction of errors, if any exist, in the record, and to the securement of a proper historical narrative of the transactions. The object of the inquiry was to learn the character of the charter of the Grand Lodge of Australasia. This charter was easily found (a copy) at page 4295, printed journal G.L. of U.S. But it does not appear that the same has been put in practice in as comprehensive a form and power as was designed. By reference to the charter, and to the instructions of Grand Sire Sanders to D.D.G. Sire Meacham, it will appear that it was designed to institute the Order in Australia as an "independent jurisdiction," subject only to certain limitations and conditions, heretofore required in the establishment of the Grand Lodge of British North America, as follows
1st. That the Grand Lodge of Australia shall not alter or repudiate any of the signs, tokens, pass-words, lectures, or charges, or any part or portion of either of the written or unwritten work of the Order as known or practised within the jurisdiction of the G.L. of the United States I.O.O.F.
2nd. That the Grand Lodge of the U. States reserves to itself the right to give to the said Grand Lodge of Australia the annual travelling pass-word, to be used within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Australia, and both jurisdictions shall use the same travelling pass-word.
3rd. The qualifications for membership in the subordinate lodges within the jurisdiction of the said Grand Lodge of Australia shall be identical with those established for membership in subordinate lodges within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the United States.
It thus appears that the charter of the Grand Lodge of Australia established that grand body as a quasi Independent Grand Lodge of Australasia, subject only to the specific limitations named therein, and of course with grand jurisdiction co-extensive with the continent. Nevertheless, your Grand Lodge of New Zealand, and possibly other colonial Grand Lodges, have been since established; and if by Bro. Meacham, as Sp. D.G. Sire, we have no account of their formation and under what charter. Properly speaking, the G.L. of Australasia, should incorporate all her colonial Grand Lodges, and these Sub Grand Lodges would, embodied by a system of representation, constitute the Supreme Grand Lodge of Australia. I desire to call your attention to the subject for the purpose of inducing you to begin your system right, and conforming your government of the Order to the original intendment. This is especially desirable in view of the fact, that as I learn from Melbourne, that a Lodge has been formed at Sydney, N. S. Wales, with a design of erecting the colony into a Grand Lodge Jurisdiction, and that efforts are also to be used to form a Grand Lodge in Tasmania, and thus to enlarge and amplify the extent of the Grand Lodge of page 36 Australia, and of making it more efficient. Such a step vigorously put forth and followed up, will at once awaken zeal and interest at Urge, and do more to build up Oddfellowship in the country than any other means. I have written to Bro. Curtis, Grand Secretary at Melbourne, on this subject, and would suggest that your co-operation with the brethren of the Grand Lodge of Australia would be wise. I have received the copies of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, and the South Canterbury Times of September 8 and 9, 1876, which you were kind enough to send, and have read them with interest. Herewith we send you a package of the proceedings of our Centennial Session, 1876, which you will find interesting; also, Journals of 1872-3-4 and 5, as per memorandum.
Jas. L. Ridgely, C.S.,