Cama Lodge No. 2105, Province of Middlesex, UGLE.
(Extracts from the Centenary Booklet of the Lodge, 1985. The text has been preserved in its original form.)
The Camas were merchants and traders who came from Persia to settle down in India. They were Gujeral Parsees who spoke the Gujerati dialect. Some of the family came to London as merchants and traders and established the first Indian house of business in London in the name:
HORMUSJI MANCHERJI CAMA AND SONS
3 & 4 Great Winchester Street London.
The first Cama to become involved in Freemasonry was Khurshedji Rustamji Cama, born on 11th November 1831. As a Parsee whose faith rests, basically on the eternal struggle between right and wrong, he found the principals and tenets of Freemasonry much to his taste, and after a comprehensive education he travelled to China in 1850, and in 1854 was initiated into the Rising Star of Western India. The following year he travelled to England for business purposes, returning to India to become Junior Warden of his Lodge in 1860, Senior Warden in 1861 and Master in 1861 and 1862 - his work as Master being so outstanding he was re-elected for the second year.
In 1863 he became a Justice of the Peace - this at the early age of 32, and in the same year was appointed Provincial Grand Steward of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Scotland – Freemasonry having been introduced into India by the Scots and followed the Scottish Constitution. In 1864 he became Provincial Grand Secretary of Western India and continued his rise in Grand Rank in 1866 as Provincial Grand Junior Warden, in 1867 as Senior Warden and in 1868 Substitute Provincial Grand Master. At a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge held on 26th June 1869 he presided as Subordinate Provincial Grand Master - this at the early age of 37, and was the first time that an India and a Parsee had ever presided at Grand Lodge.
At a meeting of the Grand Lodge of All Scottish Freemasonry in India (there is no record of the actual date but it seems possible it was at the time when K. R. Cama had completed 50 years in Freemasonry i.e. around 1904) a unanimous resolution was passed in the following terms:
That on the occasion of the Rt Worshipful Brother Cama retiring from the office of Substitute Grand Master, this Grand Lodge desires to record the send of zealous and valuable services rendered by him to Scottish Freemasonry in India during a long term of years. Also that the same be engrossed on vellum and conveyed to him on St Andrew’s Day.
K.R. Cama died suddenly on the morning of 20th August 1909 at the age of 77. The Grand Master Colonel Forman at a meeting held in memory in September 1909 paid the following tribute:
Although a great man and worthy Mason has gone to his rest and his reward, his memory, his loyalty, his example shall not be forgotten. As one Brother, himself well nigh his equal in Masonic merit remarked to me a few days ago, ‘He may have had his fads and foibles, we all have, but this generation of Freemasons in India will never see his equal.’
It had always been assumed that our own Lodge has been formed in honour of K. R. Cama, but W/Bro L. W. Snow notes that after absorbing all the evidence it is more likely that the Lodge was named in order to perpetuate the name of the Cama family, and in particular W/Bro Dorabjee Pestonjee Cama who was to become our first Master. The Cama family were closely linked both in business and social affairs and though K. R. Cama was the first Cama to become a Freemason, many other members of the family followed him, seven Camas passing through our own Lodge, and it quite likely that members of the family remaining in India were members of K. R. Cama’s Mother Lodge, The Rising star of Western India, and other Indian Lodges, under the Scottish Constitution.
The Cama family firm had been dissolved circa in 1871, and there is no indication why this had happened, through it is noted that the head of the firm in London Pestonji Hormusji Cama had reached the age of 65, and it could be that there was no obvious successor among the other members of the family. Certainly the firm seems to nave been quite prosperous as on the dissolution a sum of nearly £15,000 was distributed among the charitable institutions with which P. H. Cama had been connected. In addition the firm setup a Trust Fund entitled "The Hormusji & Mancherji Cama Trust Fund", the interest to go to poor members of the Cama family and other Parsees. K. R. Cama himself was a Trustee of the fund from 1871 until his death in 1909.
K. R. Cama was not a member of our Lodge neither is there any indication that he attended the Ceremonies of Consecration. There is little doubt that his Grand Lodge duties took up a major part of his time, and of course, the journey to and from London from India was not the speedy and easy way that it is today. It was not until 1930 that his name was perpetuated in the formation of Lodge K. R. Cama No 1366 S.C. in Bombay, the first Master being Bro Rustom K. R. Cama, the Lodge being formed on the petition of Lodge Rising Star of Western India, into which K. R. Cama has been initiated in 1854.
Our own Lodge was involved in the consecration of Lodge K. R. Cama No 1366 by sending our good wishes and in February 1931 by the appointment of the Master for the time being to be an Honorary Member of our Lodge, and in return the W/Master of our Lodge was made in succession an Honorary Member of Lodge K. R. Cama in Bombay. We also presented the Lodge in Bombay with a silver match box as a Souvenir. One of the founder members was Spittama K. R. Cama who was W/Master of our Lodge in 1917.
The name Cama has thus been perpetuated in England as well as in India, and it is hoped that this brochure, on the occasion of our Centenary will remind our younger members of the dedication of K. R. Cama and the following members of the family who served Freemasonry in both countries.
Cama Lodge - The First Hundred Years
Formation of The Lodge
During the year 1885 some City Brethren, desirous of establishing a Masonic Lodge to meet during the summer months and in the vicinity of the Thames Valley, petitioned the Most Worshipful Grand Master for a Warrant or Charter, authorising them to found a Lodge to be called "Cama", in honour of a distinguished Indian Brother, a Past Master of that name, whom they wished also to be their first Worshipful Master.
The petition was prepared and signed by nine founders, recommended by the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of the Stewart Lodge No 1632 and duly forwarded to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex W/Bro Col. Sir Francis Burdett.
The Warrant was granted for the formation and consecration of Cama Lodge No 2100 to hold meetings at the Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court in the Province of Middlesex. The Minute, Record Book and Declaration Book were duly embossed with the number 2100, but, previous to consecration taking place, circumstances - not recorded - arose which rendered a change in the names of the Founders and Officers designated. The Warrant was returned to Grand Lodge. A second petition was then prepared, signed by the nine Founders and recommended by the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of the Henry Levander Lodge No 2048. This received the approval and recommendation of the most Worshipful Grand Master and a revised Warrant dated 30th August 1885 was granted for Cama Lodge No 2105 to be consecrated on 16th December 1885.
Meetings to be held in the months of April, June, July, August, September and October at the Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court.
FOUNDER MEMBERS were:
W/Bro Dorabjee Pestonjee Cama
W/Bro William Robert Palmer
W/Bro John Read
Bro Thomas Poore
Bro Hormusjee Dosabhai Cama
W/Bro N. D. Fracis
Bro John Church
Bro D. E. Dharwar
Bro S. M. Kaka
THE CEREMONIES OF CONSECRATION AND INSTALLATION were carried out by: -
The Right Worshipful Bro. Sir Francis Burdett Bart PGSW, PROV GRAND MASTER assisted by-
V/W Bro Raymond H. Thrupp PGADC Dep Prov. Grand Master.
V/W Bro J. F. H. Woodward PM. Prov. Grand Secretary.
W/Bro Henry Lovegrove PM PZ PPGSupt Works.
The Musical arrangements were under the direction of W/Bro John Read PM, PZ assisted by Bros Lacy, Friend, Dutton of St Pauls Cathedral Choir.
THE UNDER MENTIONED OFFICERS WERE APPOINTED: -
W/Bro Dorabjee Pestonjee Cama Worshipful Master Designate
W/Bro William Robert Palmer Senior Warden
W/Bro John Read Junior Warden.
Bro John Church Treasurer
Bro T Poore Secretary
Bro H. D. Cama Senior Deacon
Bro N.D. Fracis Junior Deacon
Bro D. E. Dharwar Inner Guard
Bro S. M. Kaka Director of Ceremonies.
Fees and Subscription:
Initiation Fee 7 guineas
Joining Fee 5 guineas
Founders Fee 5 guineas
Annual Subscription 3 guineas
Country membership (1894) 1 guinea
Indian List (Resident in India) ½ guinea
Before proceeding with our Lodge History, it may be of interest to consider our Founder’s reasons for meeting in the summer months and in the vicinity of the Thames valley. Evidence points to the fact that our Founders had in mind social as well as Masonic activities, as summer outings and banquets were arranged to include Ladies and friends in later years.
The Lodge was usually opened in the morning of the July or August meeting, and closed within the hour, after which the Brethren joined the Ladies for lunch. Then followed the trip up the river by steam launch, a break for afternoon tea and the return trip to the Mitre for a banquet and entertainment. A saloon carriage would be reserved on the Hampton Court-Waterloo steam hauled train for the party, and it would be expected that the Railway Company would make appropriate reductions in the fares.
The Mitre was renowned for its food, wines, cuisine and service. Senior and may we say, more aged members of the Lodge will no doubt recall the old world charm of the Mitre, the front of which would be a mass of blue wisteria in the late summer and the well kept lawn which ran down to the Thames at the Bridge. This lawn was popular for taking tea when ceasing labour and going to refreshment, and so idealic was the setting that on one occasion your historian (W/Bro Snow) when inner Guard lost track of time and with his guest had to seek admission after the Brethren had returned to labour.
The Mitre itself is historic, in that many years before the Lodge was founded it was but an Inn, and when Royalty came to stay at Hampton Court Palace, overflow of staff were logged in the Mitre Inn. The original bow front window of the Inn was carefully removed extensions and renovations, and replaced inside to form the hotel reception desk.
The First Year
W/Bro Dorabjee Pestonjee Cama, the first Master of Cama Lodge No 2105, was indeed a most remarkable man and Freemason, being a member of more than a dozen Lodges, Chapters etc. In 1869 during the course of a journey around the world he was initiated into the Courage and Humanity Lodge No 392, Calcutta, India.
Seventeen years later he became our first Master and Grand Lodge also honoured him with the office Grand Treasurer in the same year. He marked the honour bestowed upon him with the presentation of a set of Grand Treasurer’s undress clothing. Among his many charity contributions both he and Mrs Cama were patrons of the four noble charitable institutions, RMBI, RMIG, RMIB and the Mark Benevolent Fund. It is also recorded that both served the office of Stewards at the different Festivals.
At the second and third meetings of the Lodge, following the consecration, he presented the Lodge with the Secretary’s Jewel, whilst W/Bro W. R. Palmer gave the Bible, Silver Square and Compasses, and it has been recently discovered, the hand painted tracing boards. W/Bro John Read presented the velvet cushion on which the Volume of the Sacred Law rests.
The third meeting in June 1886 makes interesting reading in that two joining members were admitted and five candidates initiated, obligated separately. The senior candidate a Mr. A. P. Quicke so became the first child of the Lodge and went on to become Worshipful Master some four years later. Bro John Church (Treasurer and Founder) found it necessary to resign as business took him to Edinburgh and the Worshipful Master took on his duties for the next year or so.
W/Bro John read who had been in charge of the music at the Consecration ceremony and was then Junior Warden Designate was honoured by Provincial Grand Lodge with Grand Organist honours (MDSX) and the Lodge marked the occasion by presenting him with the appropriate clothing.
The Bye-Laws were approved for printing and Bro Tracis presented the Lodge with Ballot Box and Balls, also the Alms Chest the latter being in use today. The Senior joining member at the June 1886 meeting was W/Bro Jehangir K. R. Cama, Grand Organist of the Grand Lodge of All India, who was a nephew of our first W/Master.
At the end of the first year a testimonial with suitable inscription, on vellum was voted for the W/M to mark his year in the chair, his services to the Lodge and as a token of the esteem and respect by which he was held by the Brethren.
Two of the year’s Initiates who had been duly passed and raised rendered resignations as they were leaving the country. A founder Bro S. M. Kaka also resigned for the same reason, and another Founder Bro H. D. Cama also went abroad. In later years there was to be an Indian country list for those leaving the U.K. – the subscription being half the Country Members Rate.
Of the first fifty Brethren some 30% appeared to be of Indian nationality, so what might appear to be a high rate of resignations may not be really unexpected.
(The history of the Lodge goes on in great length, and the details are of little specific interest. But one facet which must be noted, is that during the many decades when the Camas were active in the Lodge, it played an important role in initiating Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsees, who came to England for personal reasons, largely for university studies. Invariably, on completion of their stay they would return to India. This is why the Lodge had the special "Indian List (Resident in India) ½ guinea" category of membership, compared to those who had to pay an annual subscription of 3 guineas, and country membership of 1 guinea. – Editor)
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