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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

(Reply to K.)

(Reply to K.)

Grand Lodge, I.O.O.F. Dunedin,

Dear Sir and Brother,—

I have to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 30th ult., in reply to which we desire to state that the G. Lodge wishes to settle the dispute between them and the late members of the Marton Lodge in a friendly manner, and do not care to introduce the matter into a court of law, which would put all concerned in an unenviable position before the public—totally inconsistent with the principles of the Order—besides everything would bo eaten up with law expenses and no one benefited. Sooner than this intemperate course should be pursued, we propose to divide the one-half of the real and personal property amongst the late members, and the other half to be taken over by the G.L; but, rather than all this, we are anxious that the lodge should be resuscitated. It is no pleasure to the Grand Lodge to receive moneys consequent on the dissolution of one of its branches—quite the reverse. Surely enough Oddfellows of the late Marton Lodge can be found patriotic enough to give it a fresh start. Five members who would pay their back subscriptions up, and become financial so as to qualify themselves, could keep it afloat. You could act as receiver, and endeavour by this means to give a fresh impetus. We hope to hear of your urging this step, as we believe it is to the true interests of the members. Taking leave of the foregoing views of the matter, we will now discuss the points raised in our last letter and your replies thereto, as representing the opinions of the late members of the Marion Lodge. We shall simply base our arguments on the laws of the Order, by which every Oddfellow of our institution is morally bound to faithfully uphold. We assume that the brothers of the Marton Lodge are willing to concede this, and on no other ground does the Grand Lodge desire to stand. The latter part of Rule 56 is as follows :—"And shall also forfeit absolutely to the Grand Lodge, its charter, initiation and degree books, and its working regalia, and one moiety (meaning one-half) of all its real and personal property whatsoever; and thereupon, all matters and things so forfeited as aforesaid shall become absolutely vested in the Grand Lodge, and shall form part of its funds and property thereby demonstrating clearly that this rule not only supports (or repeats), but it is actually a continuation of, and addition to, Rule 52. Financial members only, that is, members who owe not more than three months' contributions, would therefore be entitled to claim the one-half of the real and personal property, but as we understand from your letter of the 8th May that all the members of the late Marton Lodge were unfinancial through not holding a meeting for six months, we naturally raised the point that they placed themselves in the same position as present members of an existing lodge, viz.: that whenever a member owed more than three months' dues, he forfeited all interest in the property and funds of his lodge of whatsoever kind. Assuming this to bo the case, we held that as the late members of the Marton Lodge had no status in this respect, they therefore disqualified themselves from any participation even in the one-half real and personal property which they would have been entitled to had they remained financial members up to the time of dissolving the lodge. You will observe from this explanation that the facts of the case justified us in the position we took up in our previous letter on this special matter.

page 53

We do not propose to introduce the provisions of the Friendly Societies Act hearing also on this question, because the Lodge is not registered, but may be allowed to explain that the terms of the Act disqualify all persons from participation in the property or funds of the lodge, if, at the time of the dissolution, they were not entitled to any benefits (viz.: unfinancial). This would only be fair and just to the members that are financial when the dissolution of the lodge takes place, because any old member might claim his share of the spoil. A line must be drawn somewhere to protect those justly entitled. If a lodge is not registered, a trustee can hold the property of such lodge against all comers, and not be touched: this is unquestionable. We have endeavoured to set the case now before you in all its relations, and trust that the late members will be guided by general moral principles, in consonance with the laws and usages of the order, and so show that they were not unworthy of their obligations as Oddfellows. We invite calm and carefully-reasoned deliberation on all the points, and if the late members still find that their opinions have undergone no change, and that they do not wish to continue the Lodge, then the Grand Lodge asks you to adopt our first suggestion in this letter, viz.: to take over for the Grand Lodge one-half of the real and personal property, and distribute the other half to the brothers. Permission is granted, in the event that the Marton Lodge is not re-instituted, to hand over the regalia, furniture, and charge books to the proposed new lodge at Palmerston North, free of cost; taking an inventory of the same, which, together with the account books of the late Marlon Lodge, will have to be sent to us.

Thanking you again on behalf the G. Lodge, I have the pleasure to remain,

Yours fraternally,

Josh. Braithwaite, G.M.

To W. E. Watt, Esq., D.D.G.M* I.O.O.F., Marton.