Mariners’ Chapter No 249, which was consecrated in 1831, has regrettably surrendered their charter at the final meeting which has taken place at Liverpool Masonic Hall on Hope Street. This last meeting was opened in due form by first principal Bob Farmer, ably assisted by second principal Jason Hengler and Jack Poller third principal. The scribe Nehemiah was Arthur Merrill and principal sojourner Gordon Farmer. On opening the chapter, the usual standard business was quickly dealt with and the first principal requested Bill Skinner and Stan Merrill to arrange the admission of distinguished guests.
Bill and Stan retired to quickly return in procession escorting Past Assistant Grand Sojourner Paul Shepherd who was accompanied by Liverpool Group Vice Chairman Dave Kemp. Bob Farmer warmly welcomed them to the chapter and hoped that they would enjoy the convocation given the prevailing circumstance. In reply Paul spoke of the wisdom of the original founders of 1831, and those who helped breathe new life after a period of being dormant. Through these companions the chapter has welcomed into membership good people whose charitable giving has helped 1,000s of citizens throughout the years, and has as a bonus brought great happiness to the companions of Mariner’s Chapter.
First principal Bob Farmer thanked Paul for his kind words then invited Stan Merrill to give a brief history with regard to Mariner’s Chapter, and he began by saying how the first meeting place of the chapter was at the Star Inn, Williamson Square, and numbered as 466 at the time of consecration. Due to the various re-numbering schemes it then became No 310, finally in 1853 holding the number it has up to the present day, No 249. One extract from the minute book of Mariner’s Lodge, then No 466, told of ‘a grant to lend £7.0s.0d. to the Royal Arch Chapter was on motion of John Colby Davies, seconded by John Eltonhead agreed nem con’.
John Colby Davies was an Officer of Excise and John Eltonhead a Brandy Merchant. The phrase ‘nem con’ although little used now, is an abbreviation from the latin ‘nemine contradicente’, meaning no-one contradicting, in other words, without dissent, unanimously. In today’s terms the sum of £7 sounds rather insignificant but at the time of the chapter consecration the annual fee for membership of Mariners’ Lodge was two shillings. That equates to 1/10 of the old £1, which would mean 10p today. However, the worth of £7 then, has a similar value of over £4,000.00 today.
The minutes for many years commence ‘Holy Royal Arch Chapter of Mariners’ but after 23 February 1910 all records refer to Mariners’ Chapter No 249, as at present. Mariners’ Chapter took as their badge or device a ‘galliot’ which is a galley propelled by two sails and oars, used in the Mediterranean. The badge is the same as used by the Mariners’ Lodge so it can only be assumed that the founders had permission to use their badge. As to why the founders of Mariners’ Lodge used a Mediterranean galley is a mystery, as many of the lodge were sea-going captains and would be used to sailing in brigantines and schooners out of Liverpool.
In April 1961 a centenary charter was granted to the Mariners’ Chapter. Although the chapter received its charter in 1831, this can be explained by reason that it fell dormant for some years, before it was resurrected, presumably in 1861. Associated with Mariners at this time was James Hamer, a well-respected person in Liverpool, after which the Hamer Benevolent Institution was named, now part of the West Lancashire Freemasons Charity.
Paul Shepherd thanked Stan, and after checking all was in order, bank accounts dispersed, all subscriptions and dues received with clearance certificates issued to all eligible, the chapter was closed and the charter handed to Paul for onward transmission to Supreme Grand Chapter. Paul then gave the valedictory address, after which all retired from the room and Mariners’ Chapter No 249 had completed its voyage of discovery.