czwartek, 26 kwietnia 2018

Four Freemasons in J.R.R. Tolkien's family

"Gandalf, Gandalf! Good gracious me! Not the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till ordered? Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows' sons?"
– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit*
"In Ancient Craft Masonry, the title [widow's son] applied to Hiram, the architect of the Temple, because he is said, in the first Book of Kings (vu, 14) to have been "a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali. (...) The Freemasons call themselves the widow's sons, because, afte the death of our respectable Master, the Freemasons took care of his mother, whose children they called themselves, because Adonhiram had always considered them as his Brethren."

I have found four Freemasons among close relatives of J. R. R. Tolkien! They were members of the United Grand Lodge of England: Henry Tolkien, John Benjamin Tolkien, unknown Tolkien and Frank Neville Tolkien.
United Grand Lodge of England

Henry Tolkien (1814–1885), great-uncle of J. R. R. Tolkien, brother of his grandfather, John Benjamin Tolkien (1807–1896). He was a music dealer and he had his shop at 28 King William Street, London (more on him at "London Street Views"). He was initiated to the United Grand Lodge of England in the age of 41 on 1 August 1855. He was a member of the Lodge of Confidence (No. 193) in London till 1860. This Lodge was established in 1790 and named in 1820. In 1790 the lodge met at the Dolphin, Red Lion Street, Holborn, London. The lodge moved to many inns and taverns around London (in the times of Henry Tolkien it was Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street, London, England) but it now meets at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London.

Henry Tolkien, first known Freemason in the Tolkien family
Henry Tolkien, Freemason 1855–1860

Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street (read here)

John Benjamin Tolkien (1845–1883), J. R. R. Tolkien's half-uncle, half-brother of Arthur Tolkien. He was a music dealer in Birmingham, a tuner, a newspaper reporter and a composer. From 21 March 1871 (when he was initiated) to 1881 he was a member (Senior Warden) of the Lodge of Perseverance (No. 573) in Halesowen, Worcester (in the times of John Benjamin Tolkien it was in the Shenstone Hotel in Halesowen). I have found an interesting information in The Freemason's Chronicle (17 April 1875, p. 247). It suggests that John Benjamin Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's grandfather (Arthur Tolkien's father) from Music Warehouse at 87 New Street, Birmingham published his son's ("Brother John Tolkien S.W. 573") "United Ever – New Masonic Song" dedicated to M. W. Provincial Grand Masters of Warwickshire and Worcestershire. As we can see the family of J. R. R. Tolkien's father was Freemason-inclined (Professor's grandfather had a Freemason brother and son!).
John Benjamin Tolkien, Freemason 1771–1881

Unknown Tolkien – we know him from The Freemason's Chronicle, v. 43-44, 1896, p. 72 which records the presence of a Tolkien along with several other Brothers at the sports day of Hertford County College. It is quite possible that it was Arthur Reuel Tolkien's father, John Benjamin Tolkien because the sports day took place on Saturday 25th July.

Frank Neville Tolkien (1884–1966), an engineer from Castleton, son of Henry Alfred Tolkien, grandson of Septimus Tolkien who was J. R. R. Tolkien's grandfather's younger brother. So Frank Neville Tolkien was J. R. R. Tolkiens distant cousin. His date of initiation was 26 February 1908. He was a member of St Martin's Lodge in Castleton (No. 2320) which had its place at Church Inn, Castleton, near Manchester, Lancashire. He resigned in No. 2320 in November 1912 but joined another Lodge of Coronation (No. 3479) in Blackburn. Frank Neville Tolkien belonged to it until at least 1921 and he attended Masonic Hall in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Frank Neville Tolkien, Freemason 1908–1912


* [Who knows if J. R. R. Tolkien knowing the inclinations of his paternal family didn't want to include a pun, a word play in his first published story to tell "I know..."]

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