About Freemasons NSW & ACT
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (NSW & ACT) is a cornerstone of Freemasonry in Australia
Freemasonry came to New South Wales with the regiments of the British Army soon after the First Fleet in 1788. It was banned by Governor King because of suspicions of republicanism.
The first stationary lodge, The Australian Social Lodge No.260 (Irish Constitution), was established by lodges working under Irish travelling warrants that were attached to British regiments garrisoning the settlement in New South Wales. Lodge No.227 (attached to the 46th Regiment) and Lodge No.218 (attached to the 48th Regiment) admitted a number of civilians to membership and assisted in the dedication of The Australian Social Lodge in August 1820. In 1824, Lodge Leinster Marine of Australia, No.266 (Irish Constitution) was formed.
The first lodge under the English Constitution was warranted in June 1828 as the Lodge of Australia No.820. The first Scottish lodge was established in 1844 in Melbourne, then known as the Port Phillip Settlement and still part of New South Wales. It was not until 1851 that the first Scottish Lodge, Lodge of St. Andrew (No.358), was established in Sydney.
The first English Provincial Grand Lodge was opened in Sydney on 10 May 1849, Bro. John Williams was the first Provincial Grand Master. The institution grew and prospered; English lodges, The Maitland Lodge of Unity No.804 had been opened in 1847, followed by The Australian Lodge of Harmony No.814 (Sydney) in 1848 and the Armidale Lodge of Unity No.865 in 1851.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland were also warranting lodges in New South Wales, and creating their own provincial Grand Lodges. However, there was to become a growing level of dissatisfaction with the home Grand Lodges (England, Scotland and Ireland) due to the tyranny of distance and also the amount of money being sent away from the Colony. This dissatisfaction eventually led to the establishment of the Grand Lodge of New South Wales by three Irish Lodges and five Scottish Lodges on 3 December 1877. The new breakaway Grand Lodge was not favourably received by the home Grand Lodges and was not officially recognised until the union in 1888, although it did receive recognition from a majority of the world's Grand Lodges, especially from the various jurisdictions in the United States of America.
In the following 11 years, although there was much disharmony between the three organisations, the three constitutions continued to warrant lodges and membership grew. By the time of the formation of the United Grand Lodge in 1888, the Grand Lodge of New South Wales had fifty-one lodges on its register. Following Scottish tradition, The Australian Social Lodge, being the mother lodge of masons in New South Wales, was given the number 0 on the register.
On 16 August 1888, after considerable consultation, the Masters and Wardens of the one hundred and seventy-six lodges assembled, the articles of union were again adopted, and the " United Grand Lodge of New South Wales " declared to be duly constituted and established. The first Grand Master was Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales.