Mr. Thomas Rowan, John St., has a treasured possession in the form of a Masonic Certificate belonging to his great grandfather, William Meneray, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars. The certificate, which is in much the same form as the certificate issued to Masons of the present day, was issued by the Grand Lodge of Ireland at Dublin on July 21st 1809, through St. John Lodge No 520. The parchment which is in a good state of preservation, is bisected by a perpendicular rule. To the left of this one may read the certificate in English, while to the right it is printed in Latin text. William Meneray, as we have just stated, was a soldier and he probably owed his life to the fact that he was a Mason and carried his certificate in the breast pocket of his uniform. In the centre of the parchment are two black marks, which it has been ascertained were caused by a bullet that passed through the tin box and certificate. The box however checked the speed of the missile so effectively that Mr. Meneray was only slightly wounded. The certificate was forwarded to Mr. Rowen from Winnipeg by W.H. Meneray, another grandson with the following explanatory note:-
This Masonic Certificate of our great grandfather, William Meneray, Royal Horse Artillery, was found in an old trunk by Sada Leslie a few years ago. We understand that he fought in the Nederlands Campaign under the Earl of Chatham, in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington, and also in the campaign of 1815 that ended in the Battle of Waterloo.
In one of the numerous battles of the above wars he was wounded, and you will remember the tradition in the family that his life was saved by some papers carried in the pocket of his tunic (contained in a light tin case).
The black mark in the parchment was caused by a bullet striking and driving the tin through it. It was with considerable effort that the parchment was gotten out in the condition we see it.
When the certificate came to my hand in the year 1905 AD I wrote to the Grand Secretary of the A.F. & A.M. of Ireland to have the certificate confirmed by his records in Dublin.
He answered as follows:
“Wm. Meneray was duly made a Master Mason July 21st, 1809, a further historical record not being kept at that time.”
During the trouble in Ireland, immediately following the above date, the Warrant of his lodge, St. John 520, was stolen. Some time in the year 1830 the Warrant was found in the little town of Dawn, Scotland, where clandestine Masons were being made.
Yours very Truly,
P.S.- This Certificate is said to be one of the oldest in existence in
Canada and is greatly prized by Masons.
Like many other British soldiers, Meneray came to Canada after the Napoleonic wars and was granted 200 acres of land at Toronto, or Muddy York as it was then called. One of his sons, John Meneray, lived at Four Corners, Trafalgar township, and it was here that Mr. Rowan’s mother, Annie Meneray, spent her girlhood.
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