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Masonic Apron


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Burns' Masonic Apron

This lambskin apron belonged to Robert Burns and was used by the poet during his time as Depute-Master at the Lodge. The apron clearly shows the square and compass, tools of the stonemason and symbols of freemasonry. The 'D' signifies Burns' status as Depute Master. Burns became Depute-Master of Lodge St James in 1784, continuing in this important role until his move to Nithsdale in the winter of 1788. An assiduous holder of the office, Burns continued his Masonic career in Edinburgh and Dumfriesshire and benefited from many social introductions through the Masonic brotherhood. Robert Burns became a freemason on 4th July 1781 and remained enthusiastic about the movement for the rest of his life. Why? The answer lies both in the personality of Burns and the social norm in 18th Century Scotland. The club atmosphere of lodge meetings appealed to the sociable nature of the young poet, while the spiritual aspect of freemasonry was largely in tune with the moral teachings of his father. It would have been unusual for Burns not to have been a member of the Masonic 'craft' in Ayrshire at that time. Freemasonry crossed social classes - this helped Burns meet with some of the most influential men in Scotland. It is no coincidence that those who encouraged Burns to print his poems, the printers themselves, and many of those who subscribed for copies were all freemasons. In his poetry Burns refers many times to the sense of brotherhood which he found in Masonic circles. The following verse sums this up and was added to Burns' warm letter to Lodge St James in August 1787:
Image Rights Holder:
National Burns Collection
Masonic Apron
Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) (poet and Depute Master of Lodge St James)
Scotland, Ayrshire, Tarbolton, Burns Masonic Lodge
'Within your dear Mansion may wayward contention, Or withered Envy ne'er enter; May secrecy round be the Mystical bound, And brotherly love be the centre!'