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Portrait of
RW Bro Barron Lewis Barnett
from the foyer of Lodge Room No.4,
Masonic Centre, Ann St., Brisbane

Biography of RW Bro Barron Lewis Barnett
Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Province of Queensland, UGLE

Barron Lewis Barnett was born at No.2 Avaline Place, St Pauls, London on the 16th October, 1843. His father was a carrier and he and his wife, Sarah, had, as far as we know, two sons, Barron Lewis and Harold Lewis as well as a daughter, Lizzie. The children were well educated and raised in the Jewish faith and it is believed that Barron was a practising Jew.

At the age of 23, he migrated to Brisbane in 1866 and was followed soon after by his brother Harold. Barron commenced business as a merchant in Market St, Brisbane just behind the present AMP building which faces Eagle St.

By 1871, Barron Barnett under the land order scheme acquired 118 acres of land just off Simpson's Rd, in the Brisbane suburb of Bardon. Proceeding westward along Simpsons Rd, Bardon, crossing Ithaca Creek and then turning immediately right one enters Barnett Rd, which runs alongside the creek for about a kilometer and is named after Barron Barnett who at one time owned all the land in the vicinity.

By this time Barnett was mixing with well known citizens of Brisbane such as Gregory, Petrie and others. He became a Justice of the Peace and was appointed honorary Consul for Italy in the Colony of Queensland. In fact, later, in 1886, he was honoured by the King of Italy when conferred Cavaliere della d'Italia or Knight of the Crown of Italy for services rendered in this office.

Umberto I, King of Italy

Barnett's Masonic career began in 1869 when, on the 7th September he was initiated into Prince of Wales Lodge, Brisbane. He was passed on the 5th October and raised on the 2nd November, the same year.

In 1870 he was Inner Guard, Junior Deacon in 1871, Junior Warden in 1872, Senior Warden in 1873 and finally, Master of the Lodge in 1874, a position he also occupied in 1875.

He had joined the Royal Arch in 1871, being exalted in North Australia Royal Arch Chapter (No.796 English Constitution - E.C.) on the 16th March. He apparently joined the Prince of Wales Chapter soon after, becoming 3rd Principal in 1875 and 1st Principal in 1876.

In 1871, while Junior Deacon in Prince of Wales Lodge he was appointed District Grand Steward and the following year, 1872, was both District Grand Treasurer and District Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The following year he was District Junior Grand Warden and District Senior Grand Warden in 1875. (If such appointments seem today to be meteoric, in those days there were only 10 Lodges in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Queensland, E.C. and only three of these were based in Brisbane).

In April 1882, Barnett was appointed Deputy District Grand Master ranking second only to the District Grand Master, R.W.Bro.(later Sir) Augustus Charles Gregory.

In 1887, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, like many of his compatriots, Barnett returned to England. Here on 13th June 1887 he attended the Special Communication of the United Grand Lodge of England as the representative of the District Grand Lodge of Queensland and was honoured with the conferral of the rank of Past Grand Deacon by the Grand Master, HRH, The Prince of Wales.

He returned to Queensland in late 1887 with two things, the correct formula for the opening and closing of a District Grand Lodge and a "State Sword". The latter had, according to tradition been presented in 1734 to the Antient Grand Lodge of England by their Grand Master, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. It is understood that the blade had been the personal sword of Gustavus Adolphus (9 December 1594 6 November 1632), King of Sweden.

Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden

According to Bro.Booth, "It appears that either just prior to his return to England or just after his return to Queensland, Barnett disposed of his business interests and on 24th April 1888 he was elected a member of the Brisbane Stock Exchange and from then on was a Sharebroker with offices in Penny's Building at 287a Queen Street."

In the following years he worked assiduously for Freemasonry in Queensland. He was Master of Prince of Wales Lodge twice more in 1895 and 1896. He was held in such high esteem by that Lodge that the Brethren presented him with a fixed jewel representing the square in silver and ebony with the silver portion being suitably engraved.

He served District Grand Lodge untiringly: he consecrated or was involved in the consecration or dedication of the following Lodges or Masonic Halls: Laidley and Albion Lodges in 1888; Toowong and Southport Lodges in 1889; Fenwick Lodge in 1890; Hope Lodge at Allora in 1891; Phoenix Lodge in North Pine and Gatton Lodge in 1894; in 1895 Beauraba Lodge Pittsworth and laying the foundation stone for a new Masonic Hall for Raphael Lodge in Roma in 1895; 1897 saw him assisting in the consecration of Sandgate Lodge and the dedication of a Hall for Killarney Lodge; in 1901 there was Kilkevan Lodge, the dedication of a new Hall at Gympie; Prince Arthur Lodge was consecrated in 1902.

He became heavily involved on behalf of District Grand Master Gregory in promoting the idea of a homegrown Grand Lodge.

For example, as recorded in "Some Notes on Freemasonry in Australasia from the earliest times to the present day" by R.W.Bro.W. F. Lamonby, Past Deputy Grand Master of Victoria and Past Assistand Grand Director of Ceremonies of UGLE - that

"Queensland up to 1904 was the only one of the seven Australasian colonies that had not erected an independent Grand Lodge.

True it is, that symptoms of a movement in that direction had now and again been visible, firstly in 1889. Eight years prior, moreover, a joint committee of the English, Irish and Scottish lodges was formed, with the object of feeling the pulse of the community. Sir A. C. Gregory entered into the controversy in a practical way.

Knowing that the Brisbane lodges in his district were averse to the separation, he commissioned his then deputy, Bro. Baron (sic) Lewis Barnett, P.G.D., and Bro. H. Courtenay Luck, P.D.S.G.W. now District Grand Secretary, and P.A.G.D.C. of England, to visit all the country lodges, and explain the position, with the result that, by a bare majority in each case, only two lodges expressed their agreement in the desire for self-government. The immensity of the task undertaken by the two brethren named may be guessed, when it is seen that many thousands of miles were travelled by rail, sea, and coach, covering a correspondingly great expenditure of time. Up to the latter part of 1905 it appeared to be extremely unlikely that the English lodges would sever their allegiance to the 'old country' for years to come."

Therefore, at the behest of his Grand Master, Barnett travelled extensively throughout country Queensland visiting Lodges in Townsville, Hughenden, Charters Towers, Ravenswood, Bowen, Barcaldine, Comet, Springsure, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Maryborough, Bundaberg and Gympie, a daunting schedule even on today's roads with today's transport facilities. His efforts in no small measure contributed to the formation some 16 years later of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland.

In the meantime, however, Barnett had suggested in the 1890s that the metropolitan lodges form themselves into a Lodge of Instruction, primarily, apparently, "for the instruction of visitors from country lodges." During 1903 the Lodge of Installed Masters as envisaged by Barnett more than a decade before was consecrated on 15th August, 1903 and granted a Warrant (No.3011) under the UGLE.

At about this time, Barnett announced "that he was returning to England on business but, if certain events came to fruition, he would return to Brisbane to live." The Foundation Members of the proposed Installed Masters Lodge met and unanimously agreed to change the name of the Lodge to Barron Barnett in recognition of his great service to Freemasonry in Queensland. At the same time they elected him Foundation Master of the Lodge.

And so, in 1903, Barron Lewis Barnett left the State of Queensland where he had lived for 37 years, for 34 of these as a Freemason. However, in 1905 he advised the District Grand Lodge that he would not be returning to Brisbane having decided to live in England and he tendered his resignation as Deputy Grand Master.

Member Lodges and District Grand Lodge subscribed an amount of 100 guineas for a memorial portrait to be commissioned from Bro.Oscar Fristrom and it now adorns the antechamber to Lodge Room No.4 in the Memorial Masonic Centre in Ann St.

Very little is know hereafter about the activities of Barnett. He did not pay dues to Prince of Wales and was struck off in 1918. Neither did he pay dues to Barron Barnett Lodge but the Lodge forgave these charges until 1925 when he was made an Honorary Member.

The UGLE informed the Lodge, through the Grand Secretary of UGLQ, that to the best of its knowledge, Barnett never joined any English Lodge and appeared to have lost interest in Freemasonry. When a Past Master of Barron Barnett Lodge, R.W.Bro.A.E.Harris visited London during war service in 1918, he called on Barnett and found him in good health. This is the only direct news known of Barnett after he retired to England. Apparently he lived for some years in London then shifted to Manchester. He returned to London where he spent his last years at 20 Talbot Square, Bayswater, Middlesex. He passed to the Grand Lodge Above at the age of 83 while living in a nursing home at Brondesbury, not far from Bayswater.

He died a batchelor, relatively poor, and intestate. He left effects valued at three hundred and ninety pounds to his sister, Lizzie Phillips who, according to Letters of Administration, resided out of England.

We can only remember Barnett, therefore, as a good and generous man and a Freemason who made a very significant contribution to Masonry in the State of Queensland.

(Excerpted, with additions by W.Bro.Don Barry, from a paper delivered by W.Bro.N.E.Booth to Barron Barnett Lodge in September 1979.)