Provincial Grand Lodge of Dorset

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For Province P0060 - Province of Dorset.

A Brief History of Thomas Dunckerley

The inaugural Provincial Grand Lodge for Dorset was 'held under the Banner of the Lodge of Amity' on the 24th June 1780 at Poole. Thomas Dunckerley was the first Provincial Grand Master for Dorset and held the position for 18 years.

The Lodge of Amity purchased a portrait of Thomas Dunckerley in 1783 for 5 guineas, and had it framed for three shillings and sixpence. This portrait hangs in the Lodge of Amity temple over the Secretary's table. It is one of two known portraits (as at 2000). Bombing during the second world war destroyed a third which hung in the West Gallery of Freemasons' Hall, Bristol.

Thomas Dunckerley, born 1724, the reputed son of Mr Dunckerley, a servant of the Duke of Devonshire and Mary Dunckerley, his wife, was a natural son of King George II by the same Mary Dunckerley, a fact of which he did not become aware, until after his mother's death, but which to his material advantage – he subsequently made much of. We are reminded of Dunckerley's royal parentage by his armorial seal which appears at the foot of the Charter of 'Amity Chapter'.

It is slightly damaged, but one may clearly discern the Royal Arms marked with the baton sinister. Surmounting the shield is the Royal Crest, and below it the motto Fato non merito . In 1767, George III granted him a pension of £100 a year, which afterwards increased to £800, with a suite of apartments at Hampton Court Palace.

At the age of 10, Dunckerley 'left school abruptly' and entered the Royal Navy, where continued in active service for nearly 30 years. When twenty years old he was appointed Schoolmaster on board the 'Edinburgh' and in 1747 attained the rank of Gunner. From 1757 to 1761 he acted in the double capacity of Gunner and Schoolmaster of H.M.S 'Vanguard' being present at the memorable siege of Quebec in 1759. It can readily be understood therefore, how very much at home Dunckerley would be in a seaport town such as Poole, and among Brethren, many of whom were merchants and sea-captains.

In 1774 he was called to the Bar, and had the gift for organisation with his intellectual ability.

(Extracts from the Lodge of Amity history, Brian J. Galpin, Lodge Secretary, November 2013)