Masonic influence in the settlement, commercial and pastoral development of the colony of New South Wales 1788-1860

  • Jennifer Lambert Tracey

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Freemasonry, in recent years, has attracted increasing academic attention. However minimal consideration has been given to the organisation's function during the early years of settlement in the Colony of New South Wales. The aim of this thesis is to establish the role of Masonic influence in the development of the Colony during the period 1788 to 1860. The subject of 'influence' is rapidly expanding as a field of psychological inquiry devoted to discovering the principles that determine beliefs, create attitudes and result in activities or actions. Cultural historians are often obliged to draw inferences from incomplete or ambiguous records. This highlights the question of whether it is possible to identify 'Masonic' influence. What features are evident to signify that such an 'influence' was not merely the effect of power or authority, excellence of character or intellect, wealth or hereditary qualities? In New South Wales the presence of Freemasonry is evident from 1788 in the military regiments to which the Grand Lodge of Ireland issued 'travelling warrants'. The thesis takes into account Freemasonry's transition from those military lodges to the establishment of the Colony's first 'stationary' lodge in 1820. Further, the study aims to identify whether those within the Masonic network dominated colonial administrative and military positions, and favoured the commercial and pastoral endeavours of those within the fraternity. Associations, and the events or transactions arising from them, should then be able to be attributed primarily to Masonic philosophies and practice. The subsequent growth of the Masonic movement and the influence of its members are examined for their potential to be an integral part of commercial and pastoral expansion. The granting of extensive land holdings, work contracts and commissions to Freemasons, particularly during the growth period of the Macquarie era, is considered during this process. The probability of preferential treatment being given to convicts who were Freemasons is investigated within the broader framework of the colonial administrative system. In particular, the role of Samuel Clayton, an Irish convict engraver and silversmith who instigated the establishment of the first Masonic lodge in New South Wales, is examined towards understanding how Freemasonry developed within the penal environment. Clayton, his family and his Masonic compatriots were linked to significant events in New South Wales colonial history. These associations are assessed to establish the significance of Clayton's Masonic values. The later pastoral endeavours of both Samuel Clayton and his son Benjamin at Baltinglass, near Gunning, are considered with regard to those within Masonic network acquiring and maintaining extensive land holdings along the rich grazing lands of the Lachlan River.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBrian Egloff (Supervisor) & Ken Taylor (Supervisor)

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