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Anthony O’Neal Haye:Freemason, Journalist, Author, PoetKenneth C. Jack

There have been many influential and illustrious Scottish Freemasons throughout the centuries. Anthony O’Neal Haye is one such Freemason of whom very little - if anything at all, has been written.  He was a respected journalist and author who wrote a number of history books and books of his own verse, and indeed; for a time, was Poet Laureate of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No. 2 in Edinburgh. It is fair to say that his Masonic and Literary interests often went hand-in-glove, as his Poetry was published by his Lodge or the Grand Lodge of Scotland. His history books also centred on the history of the Knights Templar, and he himself was a member of Lothian Preceptory No. 4 of that Masonic Order.

Evidence suggests that Haye was head of a Masonic Rosicrucian Society in Scotland which was a forerunner to the present-day society, and that he effectively fast-tracked Robert Wentworth Little and William J. Hughan through the requisite Grades in order that they could return to England to institute a Society in that country. However, the Rosicrucian Society headed by Haye appears to have been an independent body which - as Haye himself apparently repeated on a number of occasions, had no requisite of Masonic membership in order to join it. The name of this particular society was the “Edinburgh Grand Council of the Rosicrucians of Scotland”. At that period, many individuals held an interest in Rosicrucianism without necessarily being allied or affiliated to a particular body; although from time to time, distinctive groups with common aims were formally set up; The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is but one other example.

Haye is believed kneeling in foreground. The photo is captioned ‘A Group Of Early Scottish Rosicrucians’ (meeting of 31st December 1866)Records show that Anthony O’Neal HAYE was born Anthony O’neil Hay on 17th May 1838 at 9, Henry Street, St. Cuthbert’s Parish, Edinburgh. He married Emma Louisa Kennett in Edinburgh on 26th April, 1865. Anthony Haye died prematurely in 1877 but was survived by his wife until 1891.  Haye’s father’s occupation of Brushmaker, suggests the family were of a working-class background, and in the census of 30th March, 1851 we find 12 year old Anthony Hay described as a pupil at George Watson’s Hospital School, within the Parish of St. Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh, and evidently boarding away from home.

There is no reference to him, however, in the main text of the History of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No. 2, Edinburgh written by Allan Mackenzie in around 1898- slightly curious, given the fact he was Poet Laureate of the Lodge and such a highly regarded Masonic figure. He also does not appear on a list of members of that Lodge compiled up to 1857 which obviously tells us he was initiated or affiliated into the Lodge later than that. It is known that he was Master of St. Stephen’s Lodge No. 145, Edinburgh in 1865/66.

Whilst he may not have been a member of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No. 2 up to 1857; by 1861, at the latest, he was a member of the Lodge and Poet Laureate. The first work we will look at is ‘Songs & Ballads’ which was published in 1861 by Henry W. Finlay, Stationers to the Grand Lodge of Scotland and Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.

Haye was Poet Laureate of No. 2 shortly after his 22nd Birthday, and very likely admitted as a member a while previous to this. This book appears to have been privately circulated by Haye and his Masonic brethren and was dedicated to a certain Catherine Sinclair.

The fondness, respect, and admiration for Catherine Sinclair held by Haye and the Masons of Edinburgh was certainly not misplaced. Catherine Sinclair was born on 17th April, 1800 at Canongate, Edinburgh, the daughter of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster. The family were descended from the Earls of Caithness, and John Sinclair was a noted Lawyer and Politician of the day who was responsible for the collation of the 28 volumes of the Statistical Account of Scotland. Catherine, who never married, worked as a secretary for her father for a time, but when he died she turned her hand to writing novels; children’s novels at first, the most notable being ‘Holiday House’ (1839).

She also wrote romantic novels and travel guides, and was the first to identify Sir Walter Scott as the anonymous writer of the Waverley Novels. She was a noted Philanthropist who instituted workers canteens and also financed the first drinking fountain in Edinburgh. She is commemorated today by a Gothic-style monument at the West end of Queen Street in Edinburgh. Haye and the Freemasons of Edinburgh were clearly drawn to Sinclair because of her altruistic qualities, but for Haye there were likely other aspects of her character that he liked. There was of course the fact she was a fellow author. There is also the fact that being descended from the Earls of Caithness, Sinclair was a descendent of the Sinclair (St. Clair) family who are closely bound to the history and legends of Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh and the Knights Templar.

The book of verse entitled Songs & Ballads contained a large number of poetic works by Haye.  Here is the last verse of the poem ‘The Quest’ which will resonate with Royal Arch masons:

Upon the Altar gleam’d the sacred word,

Of ‘truth’ that brought the seeker to his knee,

And filled his heart with holy ecstasy;

From off its fane, he raised its great record,

And with heart filled with thanks- he took his way,

To preach salvation to his fallen clay.

Haye was a member of the Masonic Order of the Temple, but in addition to this, he was seriously interested in the history of that Chivalric Order of warrior monks. Haye was intrigued by the Abbe-De-Vertot’s work on the rival Order of the Knights of Malta and sought in vain through various works for a similar treatise on the history of the Knights Templar.

Haye set out to plug this gap in Templar history, carrying out extensive research work over a lengthy period, eventually producing his first book on the Templars in 1862 entitled: “The History of the Knights Templar from Their Rise to the Third Crusade”. His second book was published in January 1865. He entitled this book: ‘The Persecution of the Knights Templar.  Haye had an idealised view of the Templars and recent histories have not portrayed them quite as benevolently; but there is no doubt that the notion of humble warriors fighting for poor and oppressed Christians would have resonated strongly with him. It is Haye’s editorship of ‘The Scottish Freemasons’ Magazine’ that will be of as much interest as anything else. It was the first Masonic magazine that achieved any measure of success in Scotland. There were three completed volumes of twelve issues of the magazine and four issues in a fourth volume, so the periodical was very short-lived. The magazine contained many of Haye’s own works; and also included news from the various Masonic bodies in Scotland, including the Craft, Royal Arch, Great Priory, Royal Order of Scotland and the Supreme Council.

Haye was a complex character; a working-class lad from Edinburgh;  educated in an exclusive boarding-school, who at an early stage in his life acquired and developed an interest in esoteric subjects - including Freemasonry; who eventually found himself rubbing shoulders with nobility and high-society, but who in his writings, occasionally betrayed what might be described as an inferiority complex; and who in the final analysis, was probably uncomfortable in such rarefied circles. However, he was undoubtedly a brilliant man, who made an indelible mark on the Scottish Craft, and despite his brief life, left behind a wealth of literature which can be enjoyed for years to come.




By Br. Anthony Oneal Haye, R.W.M.

St Stephen, No.145,

Monday, 9th January 1865.


[Extracted and transcribed by Bro. Kenneth C. Jack from ‘The Scottish Freemasons’ Magazine, February 1st, 1865, pp 21/22]


Worshipful Wardens and Worthy Brethren, The honour which you have done me, in elevating me to the highest seat in this Lodge, necessitates my doing every­thing in my power to advance the interests of the Craft, and so prove to you that I am grateful for your kindness, and anxious to forward your interests. If I fail in the proper dis­charge of my duties, or do not come up to the brilliancy with which Past Master, Brother Reid and others, have filled this chair, you must ascribe it to my want of ability, not to the absence of inclination. My endeavour shall constantly be to promote the true interests of this Lodge, so that when I leave this chair, I may hand it over to my successor in as flourishing a condition as my esteemed friend Past Master Brother Reid has surren­dered it to me.

Furthermore, with your assistance Brethren, I hope to be able, before long, to inscribe upon our banners the gallant motto of the “Greys,” SECOND TO NONE; but I must assure you, that without your cordial co-operation and assistance, such a hope can never be realized, and thus, I must call upon your Masonic obligations, and your desire for the advancement of the Lodge, to nerve you on in the great work which lies before you. If you support me, test the great work which lies before you. If you support me, rest assured that nothing shall be wanting on my part, to raise the working and the status of the Lodge to the highest eminence. Remember, that though a Lodge can get on very well with an indifferent Master in the Chair; if the other Office-Bearers do their duty, the best intentioned and ablest Master must feel his endeavours futile, if he has not the support of his Office-Bearers, as well as that of the other Brethren. It should be the laudable ambition of every Brother to fill some post in the Lodge. By careful discharge of the inferior offices, he proves to the Brethren his fitness to fill the highest, for he only can properly command who has in an inferior post learnt to obey. I hope, then, on leaving this chair, to find many aspirants for it, and that the other offices will be eagerly sought after by the younger Brethren, who may, at some future time, desire to rise to the highest honour among us.

Tonight, I would crave your indulgence, while I briefly point out what are the duties incumbent upon the Members of a Lodge, which they are sworn to discharge, and the neglect of which is an offence against every Masonic law. A man, when he has received the Light, and been put in the possession of the signs and tokens by which Masons know each other, at once fancies himself an adept in our mysteries. He may be able to repeat the ritual from the opening to the closing, and from that, imagine that he knows everything that Masonry has to teach him. I regret to be forced to dispel this fond delusion, and to assure such a one, that  he is still on the threshold of the Lodge, and still struggling with the darkness of the outer world, “ What !” one may reasonably exclaim; “ Do I know nothing of Masonry, I, who have filled every office in the Lodge ?” Very probably you do not my Brother, for, as I have already said, the Ritual of Masonry is not the mystery of Masonry, any more than the sacrament of Baptism is Christianity.

The Ritual is simply your introduction into the Craft, and the mode by which you can only be permitted, or even have the power of studying its mysteries. When I was first made a Mason, I entertained the laudable ambition of rising to this chair, and to qualify myself to discharge its duties, I ground up the Ritual, which I was wont to repeat on all occasions when requested, with much inward satisfaction to myself. That happened a good many years ago—for although a young man, I am comparative­ly an old Mason.

During the second year of my Masonic career, an old Brother, one who had devoted many years to the speculative sciences of our Order, took me aside, and said I should now enlarge my Sphere of Masonic knowledge if I wished really to understand Masonry in its widest extent, and gave me a list of the authors to study. As was very natural, I felt chagrined at this turn of affairs, and surprised that I, who, in my own estimation was second to none, should yet be only on the beach of Masonry, and before me the broad ocean still untracked and still unknown. However, I took his advice, although with a very bad grace, and glad am I that I did so, for the more I have studied Masonry, and the deeper I have dived into its mysteries, the more convinced have I become, that it is a universal teacher; the sister to true religion, lead­ing up from earth to the great white throne, “from Nature up to Nature’s God.” Days and nights have I spent in studying our sublime mysteries by the midnight lamp, by the broad flaunting blaze of the sun, by the pale radiance of the moon. On the sea shore I have listened to the long melancholy roll of the waves; and in each little shell, with its exquisite whorl, found the finger of the great Creator. On the mountain summit, in the dark and sombre forest, upon a bed of wild flowers, have I found His work; and in the town, with its vice and crime, with its sins and sorrows, there, too, have I found Him. The greater part of what I do know, has been acquired in the study of Masonry.

Masonry presupposes in every candidate for her mysteries, a knowledge of and a belief in God. That knowledge she perfects in the earnest student, that belief she deepens in his breast. Know God, is the sum of all Masonic teaching. And, my Brethren, is not this a sublime knowledge, which can, ‘neath every clime, unite people of every country and creed in the broad band of brotherhood—

“That strict pledge, which, once partaken, blunts the sabre’s edge, it takes even contending tribes in peace unite, and hated hosts seem brethren to the sight!

I think, from these remarks, you will agree with me, Brethren, that the Ritual is not Masonry, and that it is only the means towards an end. To enable you to attain that end shall be my endeavour, so long as I have the honour and the happiness to fill this chair. If you will only give me your attendance, support me in my schemes for the uprearing  the standard of Masonry; I have little doubt but the time will come, when other Lodges, taking up our cry, will make her blaze as brilliantly as ever she did in days of yore. It has been a subject of deep regret to many able and accomplished Masons, the decline and par­tial fall of our Order. It only remains for the Brethren at the present day to resolve to study its mysteries, once more to uprear the altar upon the square of truth, when that peculiar perpendicular line, linking the love of the Father in Heaven with the bond of Brotherhood on Earth, will be even as Jacob’s ladder, upon which the good messengers will be con­tinually found travelling, Masonry is no idle service, no vain imagining of light minds, but the solid growth of many ages, upreared by the greatest minds of antiquity, and established by the mightiest intelligences of all time. Is it then, not a cause to be proud of? Is it not a high privilege to be allowed to range under that honoured banner? And is it not something to boast of in aiding the advance of that time, when

“Man to man, the World o’er,

 Shall brothers be?”

One thing demanded of a Mason is then, study; another equally important duty is regular attendance at Lodge Meet­ings. This, I regret to say, is a duty little attended to at the present day. Brethren appear to consider this of no consequence, forgetting that at their reception they promised this at all times, sickness and pressing emergency alone prevent­ing. It is exceedingly disheartening to a Master to find himself left unsupported by the Brethren. It is uncourteous to­wards himself personally, and an insult to the Lodge. Every Brother is a block in the building of the Lodge, without which it cannot be perfect. Besides, it surely is no great call upon their time to ask them to be present twice a month, or about eighteen times a year. I sincerely trust that, during my term of office, the old members of the Lodge, as well as the young, will rally round the chair, so that a goodly show of ashlars may greet the eyes of my successor. In honouring the Lodge, the Brethren must remember they honour themselves; but in allowing the least innuendo, or giving rise to such against it; they dishonour themselves. A man, to his grave, is a Mason; he cannot escape from his obligations, and if he does not fulfil these to the utmost letter, then he fails in the display of everything noble and honourable in man. Furthermore, it is his duty to come forward and take office in the Lodge, and for that purpose he must be a regular attender at all meetings, so as to qualify himself for discharging its duties.

The duties of Office-Bearers are imperative; they are doubly bound to discharge them, both by their obligations as Masons, and by their oaths of fidelity as Office-Bearers. A Brother, before being raised to the dignity of the chair, should have passed from Inner Guard to Depute Master. It is no use saying that such a law would be inexpedient at the present day. It was the rule in former times, and I cannot see why it should be departed from in the present. Nothing is so ri­diculous, nothing more contemptible, than to see Brethren re­quiring to be prompted in repeating a few words that a child of seven could learn in ten minutes. A Master should be perfect in every office of the Lodge—this can only be got by serving in every office; and the honour of being raised to the chair would be more highly appreciated, and more sought after, were there greater obstacles in the way of obtaining it. The Master would discharge his duties with greater zeal, and his efforts at benefiting the Lodge be rewarded with greater success.

“The power of the Master in his Lodge is absolute; he is the supreme arbiter of all questions of order, so far as the meeting is concerned. Nor can any appeal be made from his decision to that of the Lodge. He is answerable to Grand Lodge alone for his conduct, and all complaints against him must be presented for consideration to that sovereign tribunal. For no misdemeanour, of whatever nature, can he be tried by his Lodge ; for as no one has a right to preside there in his pre­sence except himself, it would be absurd to suppose that he could sit as judge, while, at the same time, he appeared in the position of the accused.”

Brethren, these are the privileges of the Master according to Masonic law; I sincerely trust that while I hold this chair, I shall never be called upon to exer­cise them. At the same time, I may assure you, that I shall not allow the dignity of this chair, or the honour attaching to it, to be sullied by the slightest act of any Brother. If I can do nothing else in handing over the reigns of government to my successor; at least I shall hand them over as strong and as untarnished as they were handed over to me. While on this subject, it may be as well, Brethren, to inform you, that while in the chair, the Master must be treated with the utmost respect—his commands implicitly obeyed. One of our ancient charges says explicitly, and I recommend it to your earnest attention, Brethren, when in Lodge. “ You are not to hold private committees, nor separate conversations, without leave from the Master, nor to talk of anything impertinent or un­seemly, nor interrupt the Master; but to pay due reverence to your Master, Wardens, and Fellows, and put them to wor­ship.”

Brethren, I have thought it right, in as plain language as I could muster, to lay before you the duties of the Brethren to the Lodge. I trust that you will take to heart what I have said, and assist me in all things to promote the interests and welfare of the Lodge. It is my anxious desire to destroy any­thing appearing like self in any Brother, and to unite the Lodge in one harmonious whole. If, in my endeavours to rule this Lodge properly, I fail in doing so, or if by my actings I should give offence to any one, I beg of you to remem­ber, that I do not sit all the term of my life in the chair, and that if dissatisfied at my actings, the remedy is clear, and you can turn me out at the first election.

The error Brethren often make in leaving the Lodge is, supposing the man to be the Master, while in reality the Master is distinct from the man. To abandon the Lodge, then, for the doings of one person who must in a definite term vacate the chair; is, to say the least of it, silly, I trust, however, and I trust with the utmost confidence in the Brethren, that my term of office, if characterised by little else, will at least be by the drawing still closer of the ties of brotherly love and affection, and the uniting of the individual Brethren of the Lodge into what may be well called a band of Brothers. May God be with you all, my Brethren.



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