Buying a Chapter jewel on eBay sprung a surprise for our Provincial Communications Officer Stuart Pearcey – discovery of a family member he’d never heard of!
He was Bernard Shipley, who’d been a member of Industry Lodge and the Chapter of St John in Scunthorpe, where Stuart is a member of St Lawrence Lodge.
”It was the strangest set of circumstances,” said Stuart. “When I joined the craft I noticed that my great uncle W Bro W H ‘Will’ Leaning had been master of Industry Lodge in 1933. That’s why I was so interested when Chris Watkin from Doric Lodge in Grantham saw his PM jewel for sale. I bid on it, but was outbid and wasn’t able to buy it.
“As a ‘consolation prize’ I was able to buy a Past Z jewel from the same seller; the jewel worn by E.Comp Shipley. I would have been happy enough with that – but imagine my surprise when I discovered a scrap of paper amongst the packaging; it was a letter written at Christmas 1957, and it revealed that Bernard had been the grandson of W Bro Leaning, known in the family as Uncle Will. The jewel had been a Christmas gift!
Uncle Will had written: “To dear Bernard,
Please accept the Masonic emblem as a token of my deep respect for you, and I hope you will wear it on all occasions at festive functions. It will bring you no disgrace but an added pleasure and also remind you of your fraternal Grandpa, whose great interest in your future welfare has been crowned with such success.
I remain, your loving Grandpa, WH Learning
P.S. May I add dear Grandma, same good words”
”It turns out that not only was I unaware of the family connection to Bernard, but so were other members of the family! I shall wear the jewel with pride, but in the meantime the link that’s been uncovered begs the question ’Are there any other family members I have yet to meet? They could be living just round the corner..,”