Provincial Grand Lodge of Dorset

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For Province P0060 - Province of Dorset.

10th

Oct. 2019

A Man, a Mason and a Soldier

Robert G.Cave was born in 1857 and Initiated into the Lodge of St. Cuthberga in 1885 and became Master in 1895. The Provincial Lodge of Dorset honoured him with the Rank of Grand Steward in 1894, Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1896, and Senior Grand Warden in 1901.

At the Lodge meeting in June 1901, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master presented him with a Past Master's Jewel, saying that it was 'a small mark of what we, as Masons, think of you; and not only as a Mason, but also as a man'.

When he was 18 years old, he joined the E Troop (Blandford) of the Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry and rose to become Sergeant. As an expert marksman he represented the Yeomanry in inter-Regimental shooting competitions and won many prizes.

When Queen Victoria urgently called for volunteers to back up the regular Army in what was becoming a disastrous South African (Boer) War, Robert Cave answered that call. After arriving there, his Regiment was quickly sent up to the front and he was amongst the first to cross the River Vaal and experience the bitter fighting that ensued. He was noted in several reports as being, 'the first out in the morning and the last back at night, looking after the needs of his men and comrades, however great the hardships, always ready, always cheerful'. His merit was recognised by the honour of a Commission from Queen Victoria that was announced in the 'London Gazette' on 28th December 1900. He had been appointed as Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.

During this time, he had earned himself the nickname of 'Come Along Boy(s)', clearly brought about from his leadership and support he had shown to his men. This stuck with him for the rest of his life, even at St. Cuthberga.

It would appear, although this requires confirmation, that he became ill whilst in South Africa – perhaps with Malaria. He was sent home in early 1901 and, when he arrived, he was given a tremendous reception in Wimborne Square on 6th May, mainly by the Brethren of St. Cuthberga who were led by WBro M.J.Luff and WBro Mortimer Heath. They congratulated him on his safe return and said that there were many things that the Lodge was proud of him for and how proud they were to be his Brother.

After the presentation, he was conducted by horse and carriage to the Vicarage at Sturminster Marshall, where the horses were removed and the carriage was then pushed by villagers and, according to the newspaper report of the day, also by 'some buxom damsels' to the village church for a service of thanksgiving for his safe return.

Then there was another reception and address given by the Vicar on the Village Green, before he was conducted to his home at East Almer Farm. On 4th July 1906, he married Amy Rachel Chilcott, widow of Dr. John Chilcott of Woolston, and the younger daughter of Henry Dunning from Sydling St. Nicholas.

They lived together on the farm at Almer until 1921 when they moved to Dorchester, due to his failing health. From 1919 to 1922, he represented the Sturminster Marshall Electoral Division on the Dorset County Council.

He died, following a long illness, on 3rd December 1926, aged 69. There were many mourners at his funeral and when it came to the Internment, the Freemasons threw sprigs of Acacia onto his coffin as a mark of high respect.

In September 2019, his gold and heavily engraved Past Master's Jewel was discovered by a Lodge member, Bro David Sims, in an antique jewellery shop in Wimborne. Immediately recognising it as such, he 'rescued' it from a fate of being melted down or sold. Its price tag was £390. At the Lodge meeting held on Monday 6th January 2020, the Jewel was presented to the Worshipful Master, WBro Daniel Martin, by the Jeweller, Mr Roger.

This Jewel has been lost and out of circulation since the early 1900's, but will once again take its honoured place in being presented to a future Distinguished Past Master.

The engraved inscription reads, 'Presented to WBro Lieut. Robert G.Cave……………by the Members of his Mother & Neighbouring Lodges as a mark of their esteem & in Admiration of his conduct as a Man & Mason & a Soldier. Jan 3rd 1901

(Thank you to Bro David Smith for his research into this article).

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