Morris Marks


Bro Morris Marks PM 2557 WM 3188 PPGSD Chaplain

Bro Morris Marks PM 2557 WM 3188 PPGSD Chaplain

Morris Marks was a notable member of the Newcastle Jewish Community and prominent Freemason and co-founding member of Lodge Temperance 2557 which after the Lodge was consecrated in 1895, met at the Masonic Hall, Shakespeare Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Morris started his Masonic career in 1892 when he was initiated into Tyne Lodge 991 on 13th October, passed to the 2nd Degree on 10th November and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on 8th December 1892 .

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. Whilst Morris didn’t attend the first meeting to discuss the formation of what was to become Lodge Temperance 2557, he was named on the petition forwarded to Grand Lodge as a subscribing member and Master Mason of Tyne Lodge 991, an Agent living at 4, Westmoreland Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.  It was agreed that Morris would become the first Senior Steward of Lodge Temperance. To minimise costs and to ensure the lodge started without debt, several brethren promised to donate items of furniture and Morris’ contribution was a pair of Warden’s Columns.

Morris had a long and distinguished Masonic career with Lodge Temperance 2557.  He served as Secretary in 1896, Junior Warden in 1897, Senior Warden in 1898 and was the last founding member to attain the chair of King Solomon when he was installed as Master at the Annual Meeting in November 1899. Then after his year as Immediate Past Master he served as Assistant Directory of Ceremonies from 1901 to 1907 and then as Director of Ceremonies from 1908, a position he held for 18 years, until 1926. In 1915 he was invested with the Provincial Rank of Past Provincial Grand Warden.

In June 1897, he presented a charity box with the proviso that the proceeds go to medical charities. The brethren accepted the gift on condition that a donation should go to the Almoner of Newcastle and the first ten guineas be given to the Mayors Royal Infirmary Fund. This being agreed Morris promised to donate the first ten guineas. This charity box is still used today during the ceremony to initiate new members into freemasonry.

Morris was a very active Freemason outside of Lodge Temperance 2557 and was a founding member of several other Craft Lodges and Chapters.

At the Temperance meeting held In December 1904, he proposed that Grand Chapter be petitioned to grant a warrant for a Royal Arch Chapter to be attached to Lodge Temperance, consent was given and Temperance Chapter No. 2557 was consecrated on May 24th 1905 at the Masonic Hall, Grainger Street West, Newcastle Upon Tyne. His son, Isadore Marks became a Companion of this Chapter in 1919.

In July of 1906, he presented a petition to form a new lodge to be called Burdon Lodge No 3188 named after the new Provincial Grand Master, Major Augustus Edward Burdon. The petition was granted and Morris was the first Master.

At the annual meeting of Lodge Temperance in November, 1909, he presented a petition to found a new lodge which would be called Lodge Prudence No. 3424. This was agreed and a warrant was granted by Grand Lodge in January 1910 and the consecration held on 30th March 1910 at the Grand Assembly Rooms, Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Morris was named on the petition, one of the 21 from Lodge Temperance who became the founding members of Lodge Prudence and he was appointed and invested as their first Chaplain. His son Isadore (Issy), aged 21, was initiated into Lodge Prudence on October 11th 1911 and became Master in 1925.

In 1919 Morris was a petitioner, founding member and first Master of Fortitude Lodge No 4017. Of the 26 founding members, 24 were from Lodge Temperance 2557.

It should be noted that these were all temperance lodges and interestingly in 1952, W.Bro Miller a P.M. of Fortitude Lodge attended Lodge Temperance in February and presented to the lodge, the Past Master and Founder Jewels of his uncle W.Bro. M. Marks, expressing the sentiments that the idea of forming of a temperance lodge, which had been met with great antipathy prior to its founding, had proved the founders to be right and their decision fully justified. At the Annual meeting in November 1952 the Jewels of W. Bro Marks were presented to the Master on his night of installation to be worn during his year of office and passed on to his successor on the night of installation. Sadly, Morris’ Past Master and Founder Jewels are no longer with the Lodge, most likely having been kept by a past master.

Morris wrote several articles on Freemasonry but perhaps the most famous is the first of two he co-wrote  in 1902 with another Lodge Temperance member, Bro Rev. Morris Rosenbaum, and published as Masonic Lectures in 1904. The Lecture was first delivered at the Lodge of Industry No 48, Gateshead in 1902/3 and is a traditional history of Hiram Abiff illustrated by the Volume of the Sacred Law. It is still used today and can be read here.

It is worth noting that the Rev. Morris Rosenbaum was initiated into Lodge Temperance on January 15th 1900, passed on February 19th and raised March 19th 1900. He was a Hollier Hebrew Scholar, University of London. Bro Walter Sharman in his article “Early Jewish Masons in the Province of Northumberland 1800-1920” published in 1988 wrote of Rev. Rosenbaum – He served as Rabbi to the Leazes Park Road Synagogue from 1896 – 1905 and made a study of Freemasonry one of his life’s absorbing interests and was considered a veritable giant amongst Masonic historians and researchersHe was chosen as a preacher at the first Masonic service ever held in an English Synagogue, at Brondesbury in London on October 28th 1923. Rev. Rosenbaum left Newcastle and by April 1911 was living in Southwark, London although he maintained his membership with Lodge Temperance.

Morris was born in London the son of David Marks (1832 – 1909) a Jewish immigrant from Hanover Germany who was variously a coffee house keeper, slipper maker and tailor, and Henrietta (Harriet) Schoenthal (1833 – 1898), tailoress also an immigrant born in Frankenberg, Germany. David and Henrietta were married in the New Synagogue, London on 26 May 1853 and moved from London to the Jewish community in North Shields and then to the community in the Westgate area of Newcastle. David died on August 31 1909 and in his will left £521 to John Armstrong and Edward Watson both leading members of Lodge Temperance. David and Henrietta had at least 12 children including:

  • Sophia (b 1854, London)
  • Flora (b 1857, London)
  • Bertha (b 1859, London)
  • Aaron (b 1860, London)
  • Morris (Mordecai) (b 1861, London)
  • Judah (b 1863, London)
  • Gaskell (b 1865 North shields)
  • Henry Hyman) (b 1867, North Shields)
  • Isaac (b 1869, North Shields)
  • Gusta (Augusta) (b 1871, North Shields)
  • Emily (b 1873, Newcastle)
  • Myer (b 1875, Newcastle)

Morris had varied employment during his lifetime ranging from a shoe slipper maker, leather merchant, canned goods dealer, commercial traveler and butter importer. For a time, he was in partnership with his brother Gaskell carrying on business as canned goods importers at the Cloth Market, Newcastle Upon Tyne under the name of “G. Marks & Co.” He retired from it in 1917. Gaskell was also a member of Lodge Temperance. A 30 year old importer, he was initiated on December 20th 1897, passed on January 17th 1898 and raised on March 21st 1898. Gaskell married Edda Strauss the sister of Morris’s wife Helena.

Morris married a Jewish immigrant Helena (Lena) Strauss, born in Offenbach, Germany around 1890 and they had one child:

  • Isadore (b 1890, Newcastle)

In the 1911 census taken in April, they were living at 39, Holly Avenue, Jesmond and Morris is recorded as a butter importer and Isadore a grocery manager.  Isadore later married Miriam Behrman at the Moor Street Synagogue in Sunderland on June 23, 1915.

Morris  died on May 29th 1926 and is buried in the Jewish section of Heaton Cemetery. He left £6,244 to his son Isadore company director and Isaac Collins, the son of his sister Sophia, film renter.

His death was reported in the Newcastle Journal & North Star on Monday May 31 1926:

“Marks, – will the Companions of Temperance Royal Arch Chapter (2557) meet at Heaton Cemetery today (Monday, 31) at 2:13 p.m. for the interment of the late Ex. Comp Morris Marks.

Marks, – Brethren of Lodge Temperance are invited to attend the funeral of W.Bro. Morris Marks today (Monday May 31st) in Heaton Cemetery, leaving residence, 17, Mitchell Avenue, Jesmond at 2:00 p.m. – Robt. E. Womphrey, Secretary”


Morris Marks Family Grave Heaton Cemetery

Morris Marks Family Grave
Heaton Cemetery












Gaskell Marks Family Grave Heaton Cemetery

Gaskell Marks Family Grave
Heaton Cemetery













Photos of Morris Marks and the Marks family graves courtesy of W. Bro. Peter Walker

Thanks to Gordon Rich and Lois Gilman for their help with Morris’s family history. 

Page Updated 16/07/2018