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India (entry B)

An extensive peninsula of Southern Asia. The Grand Lodge of England authorized Brother George Pomfret in 1728 to open a Lodge in Bengal. Captain Ralph Farwinter, Pomfret's successor, was appointed Provincial Grand Master of India in 1730. The records of this Provincial Grand Lodge are not extant but even previous to this time Lodges had been constituted at various places.

A Dutch Body, the Grand Lodge of Solomon at Chinsura, was always most friendly to the Bengal Lodge and at times the two worked a joint ceremony.

January 25, 1781, was the date of the last meeting of the Bengal Provincial Grand Lodge before the war in the Carnatic proved the cause of the downfall of all but Industry and Perseverance Lodge in Calcutta. July 18, 1785, the Provincial Grand Lodge reopened and Freemasonry began an uphill struggle to regain its former strength. In 1794 the Provincial Grand Lodge controlled nine Lodges, from the first two of which its officers were always chosen. This caused ill feeling and a secession of several Lodges took place. It disappeared for a time but was re-established in 1813 by the Earl of Moira. The Provincial Grand Master returned to England in 1826 and the loss of all proper authority gradually brought about a failure of communication between the Bengal Provincial Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of England.

The earlier groupings of the Lodges overseas in India and other countries were designated as in the records of the Grand Lodge as Provinces but since 1866 these have been termed Districts to distinguish them from the Provinces in England itself.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland issued a Charter for a Lodge in 1837 at Kurnaul but this did not survive.

A Lodge at Madras was chartered from England in 1755, and in 1766 a Provincial Grand Master, Captain Edmond Pascal, was appointed.

A Lodge was warranted for Bombay under English authority in 1758 and Brother James Todd was appointed Provincial Grand Master in 1763.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1836 appointed Dr. James Burnes of the Indian Medical Service as Provincial Grand Master of Western India and its Dependencies, and a Provincial Grand Lodge came into being on January 1, 1838. A Provincial Grand Lodge of Eastern India was also created to control Masonic matters on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and of this Body also Doctor Burnes became the head, and in 1846 he was duly invested as Provincial Grand Master for all India. He was the author of a Sketch of the History of the Knights Templar in 1844 and was also the founder of a fraternal organization having three classes of members, Novice, Companion, and Officer, and known as the Brotherhood of the Olive Branch of the East. Natives of India joined the Craft, and Rising Star Lodge at Bombay and Saint Andrew's Lodge at Poona were set up West and East in 1844 for that purpose and soon followed by others. Some prominent natives of India have become Freemasons. Among these are the son of the Nabob of Arcot, Umdat-ul-Umara, Prince Keyralla, Khanof Mysore, Prince Shadad Khan, the former Ameer of Scinde, Maharajah Duleep, and Maharajah Rundeer Sing.

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