A Tribute to Col. J.B.W. McLeod Moore
Colonel Moore was born on 14th January, 1810 in Kildare, Ireland, the eldest son of Captain N. J. Moore.
Colonel Moore received his early education in Aberdeen, Scotland, graduated in 1825 and attended the Military School at Sandhurst On his graduation in 1831, he received an Ensign’s commission in the 69th Regiment of Foot, in which he served for twenty years
In 1852 Colonel Moore was appointed a staff officer of Out-Pensioners and transferred to Canada, arriving in August of that year. His first place of residence was Kingston, where he remained until December of 1856. He then moved to Ottawa, and in 1872 moved to Laprarie, Quebec. He then moved and took up residence at St. John’s East, Quebec, and in 1884 we find him in Prioral House, Prescott, Ontario where he lived until his death in 1800.
Colonel Moore first saw the light in freemasonry on the 17th of August 1827, when only seventeen years old. He was also passed and raised at the same time. This was a special meeting of Glenkindel Lodge No. 333, held in the house of the Master, Major General Sir Alexander Leith, K. C. B. at Aberdeen, Scotland.
In 1831, Moore was exalted to the Holy Royal Arch degree and made a Mark Master in St. Macher’s Chapter No. 37 in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1834, when his regiment was in Dublin, he joined St. Patrick’s Lodge and Chapter No. 50 and also Victoria Mark Lodge No. IV. On 29th October, 1844 he was installed High Knight Templar and Knight Malta in the Encampment attached to Lodge No. 242 in the old Town of Boyle, County Roscommon, in Ireland, in which Lodge he served as Senior Warden.
In 1847, he was transferred to Malta, with the 69th Regiment. He affiliated with St. John and St. Paul Lodge No. 349 in Valetta and in 1849 was installed as its Worshipful Master. He joined Union of Melita Lodge and became the Third Principal of its Royal Arch Chapter.
But it was in the field of Knights Templar that Colonel Moore established his great reputation as an authority on Christian and Chevalier Masonry. Malta was teaming with the history of crusading Knights of St. John, a spot sacred as being their last refuge. He established the Malta Encampment, not attached to a Craft Lodge, but separately under a warrant from the Supreme Grand Conclave of England and Wales. This was warrant No. 37, dated 10th May, 1850, in which he was named as Eminent Commander. This Preceptory still meets at the Masonic Hall, Valetta.
In 1851, Captain Moore’s regiment was transferred to Chichester Barracks and there is a record of a meeting held at Portsmouth, England, under the Warrant of No. 2 Royal Naval Encampment, on the 10th September, 1851 at which Captain Moore was installed as Eminent Commander of Melita Encampment.
When Captain Moore arrived in Canada in 1852, he at once identified himself with Freemasonry, joining Ancient St. John’s Lodge No. 2 and Ancient Frontenac Royal Arch Chapter, both of Kingston. Having learned that there were historical records of an old Encampment at Kingston, he set out to find them, and on 10th March, 1854, the Supreme Grand Conclave of England and Wales issued a warrant for Hugh de Payens Encampment, naming him as Eminent Commander. This Warrant was the cornerstone of all his great constructive work for the Orders over the next thirty-five years.
In July of 1854, he received a patent appointing him Provincial Grand Commander for the Province Canada Armed with this important document, he set about forming Encampments at Toronto and Quebec. He convened the first meeting of the Provincial Grand Conclave of Canada at Kingston on 7th October, 1855. One of the first acts of the new Provincial Grand Conclave was the adoption of a seal for the new body. This seal was designed as follows: The shield displayed in the first and fourth quarters, the Red Cross of a Knight Templar or Cross Patee. In the second a silver Maltese Cross on a sable ground. In the third, the Arms of St. John, a White Cross on a red field. On the centre of the shield was an inescutcheon of pretence, displaying the family Arms of the Grand Prior. Behind the shield and above, scrolls, embellishments and various legends. While the Coat of Arms has since been changed, the Family Arms of Col. Moore still form a part of the Arms of Sovereign Great Priory.
In 1886 and 1887, believing that Australia was unoccupied territory, he granted dispensation for Priories to be set up at Melbourne, Victoria. This led to conflict with the Parent Body in England and after much protesting, the Great Priory was faced with an edict of non-intercourse with England. On his death in 1890, the Great Priory lost no time in dealing with the situation by withdrawing the Australian Warrants and restoring amicable relations with England. It also took steps toward the same with Scotland. It likewise made the Order of Red Cross one of the recognized Orders of this Jurisdiction, in order to promote closer relations with the United States.
He closed his earthly career at Prescott, Ontario, on September 10, 1890, in his 80th year, having served a total of more than thirty-six years as head of the Templar Order in Canada. Assisted by the Ogdensburg Encampment of Knights Templar, a funeral service was held at Prescott. His remains were laid to rest in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal. The Templars of Coeur de Lion Preceptory paid the last tribute of respect. On 1st September, 1921 an appropriate ceremony took place at the grave of Col. Moore. After a brief service, a floral Triple Cross was placed on his grave. In 1922, Sovereign Great Priory appropriated the sum of $100.00 to make certain necessary repairs to the monument over the grave of Colonel Moore and entered a contract for the upkeep of this site. On 1st September, 1923 the Preceptories of Montreal visited Mount Royal Cemetery and placed floral Triple Crosses on the graves of five Past Grand Masters, namely, Moore, Tressider, Whyte, Stevens and Gordon.
Colonel Moore did not neglect, by any means, the Craft or other branches of Freemasonry. In 1854 he was elected Grand Senior Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada and in the same year he founded Corinthian Lodge in Ottawa and was its first Master. At the Convocation of Grand Chapter in 1863, he was elected to the chair of Grand H.
The establishment of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Canada is also to be attributed to Colonel Moore’s indefatigable zeal.While on a visit to the United States in 1863, he visited New York and there received the degrees of the Rite and Hon. Membership in the Supreme Council.
On May 6th, 1868, a dispensation was granted, and confirmed by a patent issued later, but of the same date, authorizing him to establish Chapters and Consistories at London, Hamilton and Toronto: July 1868 -London Sov. Chapter Rose Croix, Toronto Sov. Chapter Rose Croix, Moore Sov. Consistory. This was issued by the Supreme Council of England and Wales. In 1868, he was made an active member of the Supreme Council for England and Wales, and was appointed as its Deputy for the Province of Ontario and Quebec. At the same time authority was also given to Robert Marshall of St. John, N.B. in association with Colonel Moore and Thos. Douglas Harington to establish the Rite in the Maritime Provinces. Col. Moore and his associates moved toward the establishment of a Supreme Council for Canada, under the direction of T. Douglas Harington as Sovereign Grand Commander. In 1874 Col. Moore was appointed the representative of the Supreme Council of England and Wales, and also the Supreme Council of Greece.To Moore, may also be credited the establishment of the Order of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine, the degree of Royal Ark Mariner and three minor rites. He was a Past Grand Master of the Cryptic Rite and a member of the Royal Order of Scotland.
In 1875 he founded a Canadian College of Rosicrucian Society, deriving his authority from H. I. Highness, Prince Rhodocanakis Chevalier of the Civil Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England.It should be said here that Colonel Moore, in his writings from 1860 to 1890, a period of thirty years, evidenced a wide reading and deep knowledge of Templar History, ritual and doctrine, and made himself an outstanding figure throughout the Templar world. In this way he strengthened the importance of the Canadian body in the eyes of the world and made it difficult to deny him or the Great Priory of Canada their petitions and requests. Colonel Moore was twice married. His first wife was Mary Munro and his second wife was Emily Susan Barber. Of his four children, a son William and a daughter Mary survived two girls who died early. Mary was well known for many years as a writer and contributor to Canadian and English periodicals, and later as the wife of Leonard Rees of London, England. In April 1919, Captain William MacLeod Moore was accidentally killed in Belgium, and his death broke a line of family soldiers going back almost two hundred and sixty years.
Hon. John V. Ellis, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council said, and I quote, “Brother Moore was known as a warm-hearted courteous gentleman of a kindly, loving disposition by all those who were privileged to come in contact with him.” He ever manifested the genuineness of his Masonic principles and his undying devotion to the Order. His name will belong remembered as one of the most cultured Masons of his day. Albert Pike, his lifelong friend wrote of him, “He had the air and manner of a soldier, always free from arrogance, or self-sufficiency, being invariably a dignified and courteous gentleman, vera simplicitate bonus. Candid, frank and sincere, altogether a man of the old pattern and withal a most kindly, lovable man. Not smiled upon by fortune in the later years of life, not free from vexations, annoyance and heavycrosses, yet he bore his disabilities of old age with equanimity as a wise man should, and to the last, stoutly resisted any innovations of the Knights Templar Order of Canada, these seeming to him, deprivations that would vulgarize it.
[from National Archives of Canada, by Marilyn E. Armstrong- Reynolds of the Pre-Confederation Archives Section and updated in 1994 by Patricia Birkett of the Social and Cultural Archives Section.]
Canadian Templarism dates from 1782, when an encampment (later, preceptory) is known to have existed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1800, a second Templar warrant was issued under the authority of Craft Lodge No. 6 at Kingston, Upper Canada. Neither of these lodges flourished, however, and the continuous history of the movement should actually be dated from 7th October, 1855, when Captain William James Bury McLeod Moore (fl. 1831-d. 1890) of the 69th Regiment, an ardent freemason, exchanged the dormant Craft Lodge warrant for a new warrant to establish the Provincial Grand Conclave at Kingston, Canada West, under the name of Hugh de Payens. On 11th May, 1868, the Provincial Grand Conclave’s name was formally changed to the Grand Priory of Canada. At the Annual Meeting of the Grand Priory on 7th July, 1884 the organization became a Supreme and Independent body under the title of the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada, Knights Templar.