Bro Robert Henderson


Robert Henderson was a freemason and founding member of Lodge Temperance 2557 which in 1895 met at the Masonic Hall, Shakespeare Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was a master mason from St. Bede’s Lodge No.1119, Jarrow where he was initiated on 15th September 1891, passed to the 2nd degree on 28th October 1891 and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on 15th March 1892. The records show he stopped attending St Bede’s Lodge in 1895 after joining Lodge Temperance 2557.

In early 1895 a group of Freemasons thought it a good idea to form a Lodge which would have no intoxicating drinks at any of its meetings. The petition forwarded to the United Grand Lodge of England for the formation of Lodge Temperance shows he was a master mason and subscribing member of St Bede’s Lodge 1119, living at 30, Lovaine Crescent, Newcastle Upon Tyne and working as a foreman.  It was agreed that Robert would become the first chaplain of Lodge Temperance.

He continued as chaplain in 1898 and again in 1899 when he was honoured with the Provisional rank of Provincial Grand Steward. The Lodge records show that in 1900, Bro Robert took his first step on the ladder to Master and the position of Junior Deacon. The following year, 1901, he became Senior Deacon and in 1902, Junior Warden but this seems to be the end of his masonic progression. He continues to be a member of the Lodge but not as an officer. Perhaps he found the Junior Wardens tools and charge in the first degree to be too much or more likely his work and family commitments took precedence.

The registers show that in 1899 Bro Robert proposed Mr Percy William Sparks and his elder brother Mr David Alexander Sparks as members of the Lodge and then in 1902 he proposed Mr George Henry Slater. Bro Robert left the Lodge in 1906.

With so little information to go on, it has proven difficult to find any conclusive background on Robert. The registers of St Bede’s Lodge show him in 1891 as a 31 year old plater living in Jarrow and the petition for Lodge Temperance in 1895 as a foreman living at 30, Lovaine Crescent, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The most likely fit is the Robert Henderson born in Shotley Bridge, Co. Durham in 1859 the son of Thomas Henderson, a Scotsman from Bathgate, West Lothian and Magdalene Smith from Morpeth, Northumberland, who married in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1851. Thomas was a grocer and provision dealer with a shop in both Jarrow and Wallsend They had at least six children including:

  • William b 1853, Wrexham, N. Wales
  • Janet b 1857, Jarrow, Co. Durham
  • Robert b 1859, Shotley Bridge, Co. Durham
  • Thomas b 1861, Scottswood, Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Isabella b 1866, Jarrow, Co. Durham
  • John b 1869, Jarrow, Co. Durham

In the 1881 census the family were living at 43, Palmer Street, Jarrow and Robert is recorded as a plater which fits with the job described at his initiation into St Bede’s Lodge. In the 1891 census the family have moved to 11, Hadrian Road, Wallsend and Robert is now a shipwright. Robert is next found in the 1911 census in Lewisham, London, a married man of 18 years with three children. He is working as a consulting engineer for a mechanical and marine engineering company. Unfortunately, his wife and children are not in the household at the time of the census so can’t be identified.

It is unknown if Robert continued as a freemason or when died.