Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133

The Mother Lodge of Robert Burns

The Origin and History of Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No. 133


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


Several of the brethren however, seeing clearly that the power of Mother Kilwinning was on the decline, and wishing to erect a Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which since 1736 was steadily growing in power, applied to that body to form another Lodge, and on 5th February 1773, St. David Tarbolton No.174, was chartered.


Those brethren still attached to the original Lodge, seeing the wisdom of working under the Grand Lodge of Scotland likewise applied to that body for recognition, which resulted in the erection of Lodge St. James, No.178 in 1774.


It was then realised by the members of both Lodges, that there was not room for two Lodges to operate successfully in such a small village, and naturally a little jealousy crept into both Lodges. After discussions by members of either Lodge, it was agreed to sink their differences and form a union of the two Lodges. This was effected on 25th June 1781, under the name and charter of St. David Tarbolton No.174 since this Lodge held the oldest charter from Grand Lodge.


Robert Burns of Lochly was initiated into Lodge St David Tarbolton No.174 on 4th July 1781 for a fee of 12/6d. Joseph Norman being the Master at that time. Burns was passed and raised on 1st October, 1781.


A disruption of the joint Lodge took place in June 1782, so the history of the United Lodge, although brief, was none the less glorious for all times, having the distinction of making Burns a Mason.


Some of the members of the united Lodge objected to Lodge St. James losing its identity, and on 17th June 1782, another Lodge was erected under the former name of St. James, Tarbolton. 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 rather shakily for a time, the stronger one being Lodge St James, having the ardent support of Bro. Burns, who was one of the seceders of the distribution. He was appointed Depute Master 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 it's current No.133.


Lodge St David eventually 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.


After a petition to re-open the Lodge was submitted to Grand Lodge in 1869, it eventually re-opened on 24th April 1877 as Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133, having had several meeting places in Mauchline until acquiring it’s own premises 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 regrettably destroyed by fire, but fortunately we still possess the Original charter, Masters' Gavel, Lodge Standard and Senior Warden's Chair. The Lodge St. David Minute book containing the entry documenting the Initiation of Robert Burns was also fortunately recovered from private ownership and is now in the possession of Lodge St. James (Kilw) Tarbolton No.135.


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


Revised and updated from an original commentary by the late Bro Robert James Lawrence PM 133




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. 


At the time of Burns Initiation, St. David Lodge No.174 and St. James Lodge No. 178 had formed a Union of their two Lodges and were operating under the Charter of St. David in the village of Tarbolton.


Burns was Initiated into St David Tarbolton Lodge No.174 on 4th July 1781, at the age of 22. He was also Passed and Raised in Lodge St David on 1st October 1781.


St. David Tarbolton Lodge No.174 currently meets in Mauchline, and is now Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133 - Robert Burns Mother Lodge.


Less than a year after Burns Initiation, the members of St James Lodge — who had previously been part of the Union with St David's — broke away, and re-started the St. James Tarbolton Lodge. Burns was among those concerned in the disruption who went over to the St. James Lodge, where he became an active member, and was elected Depute Master of that Lodge 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.


Burns received honorary membership from Lodge Loudoun Kilwinning Newmilns No.51, on 27th March 1786, and also from 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.




© Lodge St David (Tarbolton) Mauchline No.133 2011 - 2020


A Daughter Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland within the Province of Ayrshire


Chartered 5th February 1773