A brief history of the Lodge


Around the time of the formation of the Lodge in Tarbolton there were two Masonic authorities in Scotland with the powers to grant charters for Lodges to operate.

Before the formation of The Grand Lodge of Scotland in the year 1736, Lodge Mother Kilwinning was a Grand Lodge in her own right, issuing charters and warrants to Lodges wishing to enjoy the practice of Freemasonry.

Both organisations although having very similar aims had entirely separate and distinct jurisdictions.


On 17th May 1771 Lodge Mother Kilwinning No.0, granted a charter to form a Lodge in Tarbolton, namely Tarbolton Kilwinning Lodge.

The Tarbolton Kilwinning Lodge operated successfully in the village for a couple of years, however at that time the authority and influence of Mother Kilwinning versus the power and control of The Grand Lodge of Scotland was in the balance.


For reasons which can only be speculated today, but most likely due to a switch of allegiance, several of the members in Tarbolton applied to The Grand Lodge of Scotland to form another Lodge in Tarbolton and on 5th February 1773 St. David Tarbolton Lodge No.174 was chartered.


The remaining members who were still attached to the original Kilwinning Lodge likewise later applied to The Grand Lodge of Scotland for recognition which resulted in establishing the St. James Tarbolton Kilwinning Lodge No.178 in 1774.


Both Lodges operated individually for a number of years, however at one point there must have been a realisation that the village was too small to sustain the two and so after joint discussions it was agreed to form a union of the two Lodges. This was effected on 25th June 1781, under the name of St. David Tarbolton Lodge No.174 since this Lodge held the oldest charter from The Grand Lodge of Scotland.


Robert Burns in Lochly was Initiated into the St David Tarbolton Lodge on 4th July 1781 and was Passed and Raised on 1st October, 1781. He was the only person ever to do so as the union of the Lodges was short lived.

By June 1782 the members were in disagreement about the union, and a disruption of the joint Lodge took place, so the history of the United Lodge, although brief, was none the less glorious for all times, having the distinction of making Robert Burns a Mason.


The former members of Lodge St. James thereafter re-constituted their Lodge in July 1782, and at the present time this Lodge appears on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland as Lodge St. James (Kilwinning) Tarbolton No.135.


Both Lodges operated separately again for a time, the stronger being Lodge St James, which by now had the support of Robert Burns, who was later appointed Depute Master of that Lodge on 27th July 1784.


In 1816 Lodge St. David Tarbolton No.174 was renumbered by Grand Lodge to No.131, and in 1826 was again renumbered to its current No.133.

 St David ultimately became dormant in 1843, the Minute Books and certain other articles passing into private hands, but fortunately the Charter was recovered by the then Provincial Grand Master and returned to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for safe-keeping.


In 1869 Lodge St David Tarbolton No.133 was resurrected, only now to meet in Mauchline. It had several meeting places in Mauchline, including the North Church Halls, prior to acquiring its own premises in Loudoun St. on 10th October 1959.


In the late 1920's or early 1930's, the wooden chest containing quite a number of historical possessions of the Original Lodge was sadly destroyed by fire, but fortunately the Lodge still has in its possession the original charter which was present when Burns was made a Mason, the Masters' Gavel, the Lodge Standard and the Senior Warden's Chair.


The Lodge St. David Tarbolton Minute book containing the entry documenting the Initiation of Brother Robert Burns was also fortunately recovered from private ownership and is now in the possession of Lodge St. James (Kilwinning) Tarbolton No.135.


The Lodge celebrated its Bi-Centenary on 5th Feb 1973 with a rededication ceremony conducted by Grand Lodge held in the Masonic Temple.

On that occasion Brother Gregor Grant represented the Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire and Brother Major Sir Ronald Orr Ewing of the Grand Lodge of Scotland was in attendance.


At the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held on 6th August 1981, authority was granted for the name of Lodge St David (Tarbolton) No.133 to be altered to Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133.


In 2009 a Re-Dedication ceremony conducted by Grand Lodge took place to mark the 50th Anniversary of the consecration of the Masonic Temple in Loudoun St. The then incumbent Provincial Grand Master Brother Archibald Chalmers led the Deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire.


The Lodge reached a major milestone again in 2023 and celebrated its 250th Anniversary in great style, going back to its roots in Tarbolton for that very special occasion.

A Rededication ceremony was carried out in the Erskine Hall, Tarbolton on the 4th February that year by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, led by Brother W. Ramsay McGhee - Grand Master Mason.


In the same year a unique fund-raising event was organised by the Five Masters of the Five Lodges who celebrated their 250th anniversaries between 1771-73, namely Lodge St. James Newton Upon Ayr No. 125, Lodge St. Andrew Kilmarnock No. 126, Lodge Thistle Stewarton No. 127, Lodge St. David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No. 133, and Lodge St James (Kilwinning) Tarbolton No. 135. At a special meeting attended in person by the Grand Master Mason held in Tarbolton, a Fellowcraft Degree was conferred by the Five Masters and their Office-bearers on a Candidate to raise funds for Whiteley’s Retreat south of Alloway.


The present-day members of Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133 are committed to carrying on with the duty of preserving the Lodge's glorious history of over 250 years, and to do everything necessary to ensure that the Lodge will be preserved for future posterity.

Robert Burns the Freemason


This is a brief account of the key dates of Masonic interest and is not intended to be comprehensive. By clicking on the links to external sites below the reader can expand on the accounts of each notable occasion listed.


When Freemasonry was at the height of its popularity at the latter part of the 18th Century, it's doctrine appealed to scholars, philosophers, gentlemen, farmers and tradesmen alike. It should therefore be no surprise that Robert Burns was an active member of this Honourable Fraternity, fully embracing the concepts and tenets it teaches. 


After the disruption of the joint Lodge in Tarbolton and the re-constitution of Lodge St James, Burns became an active member of that Lodge and was elected Depute Master on 27th July 1784, a position he held for 4 years. St. James No.178 continues to meet in Tarbolton and is now St. James (Kilw) Tarbolton No.135.


Introduced by the Master Gavin Hamilton, Burns was admitted a member of Lodge Loudoun Kilwinning Newmilns No.51, on 27th March 1786, and later that year also of Lodge St. John Kilwinning Kilmarnock No.22, on 26th October 1786.


Burns arrived in Edinburgh in 1786, and was later assumed a member of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No.2 on 1st February 1787.


In company with his good friend Robert Ainslie, Burns also received the Royal Arch Degree from the 'Land of Cakes' Royal Arch Chapter No.15 at a meeting held within the temple of Lodge St. Ebbe No.70, on 19th May 1787, at Eyemouth.


On 27th December 1791, when he had moved to Dumfries, Burns became a member of St Andrew's Lodge No 179 (now dormant). He was elected Senior Warden in 1792, and last visited this lodge three months before his death.


More detailed information on the above account, and the Life and Works of Burns in general, can be found using the embedded links on this page and the additional shortcuts on the Links page in this site.