Given the strong relationship & history between the both the Keith Lodge of Peterhead No. 56 & Lodge St. James No. 256 it seems only appropriate to give a very brief history of the Lodge.
Very little is known about the life of the original Lodge St James in Peterhead, we know that 4 members of Lodge St. James No. 223 of Aberdeen petitioned to the Keith Lodge to form a new lodge in Peterhead in July 1814.
From recorded history we know Lodge St James was originally chartered as Lodge No. 332 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1814 and was founded by Brethren of Lodge St. James No.223 of Aberdeen, its first set of Bye Laws was approved in 1815 and at some point between 1815 & the dissolution of the original Lodge St James in 1833 it was renumbered to No. 327. By 1859 the only two lodges remaining in the province were the Keith Lodge & Lodge Forbes.
On St. Johns Day 1831 an attempt was made by the members of Lodge St. James towards dissolving the society, but failed in doing so at that time. Unfortunately this appears to have marked the end for the original Lodge St. James No. 327. An additional three meetings were then called over the next two years, and on the final meeting held on the 19th February 1833, the Lodge St. James No. 327 was dissolved.
The property owned by Lodge St. James No. 327 in Broad Street was then sold of by public roup on the 8th March 1833. Unfortunately very little is known about the original St. James Hall, but given the description in the attached article and its prominent location within Peterhead, the loss of their temple could only prove a loss to both the Craft & Peterhead.
The Lodge then lay dormant from 1833 until 1891, when an internal dispute within the Keith Lodge reached extraordinary proportions. At a meeting on the 5th January 1891, a document came into circulation that contained a request to consider the resuscitation of the dormant St. James Lodge No. 327. The St. James Lodge was eventually reconstituted and the nine petitioners on it’s charter from the Grand Lodge are, the recently elected Right Worshipful Master, The Depute Master, The Senior Warden, a Past Master & five other brethren, all from the Keith Lodge.
On the 2nd May 1891, Lodge St. James was finally revived, however the No.260 which had originally been assigned, was changed by appointment of Grand Lodge to No. 256, which it still proudly retains to this date. The first Master of the new Lodge St James No. 256 was Brother W.Stewart, Past Master of the Keith Lodge, he was the followed by Brother Hyam Dimmer, also a Past Master of the Keith Lodge. There were only two Past Masters of the Keith Lodge who had the privilege to serve as Master of Lodge St. James No.256.
Lodge St. James took up residency within the Lower Floor of the Keith Lodge Building & was consecrated on the 18th November 1891.
From that point onwards Lodge St. James No. 256 immediately took there place within the province of Aberdeenshire East, playing a prominent role in Provincial Grand Lodge, they have within their ranks many Past & Present Provincial Office Bearers as well as Past Provincial Grand Master.
An interesting article appears in the press on the 2nd November 1897, where a deputation of Lodge St. James No. 256 met with the Provincial Secretary and several local brethren at Longside to discuss formation of a new Lodge, No further steps were taken until suitable Lodge Rooms could be found – We can only speculate, but could the actions of Lodge St. James No.256 have assisted or indeed prompted the formation of Lodge Ugie No.939 in Mintlaw a few years later ?
The above is only a brief history of Lodge St. James No. 256 derived from the records of the Keith Lodge of Peterhead, If you have any specific queries relating to Lodge St. James please visit them or contact them on their facebook page