Was Your Sharrock/Shorrock Ancestor a Freemason
Searching for a Masonic ancestor can be rather a challenge, but can often reveal otherwise unknown information about an ancestor. If you do not have any indication from family tradition, regalia or artefact in your possession that your ancestor might have been a Freemason, it is impossible to start any research without some clue, such as a Lodge name and/or number, or an item of regalia or document, that might identify the Province where he was a member.
The origins of Freemasonry are lost in the mists of time. It is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies, and is concerned with moral and spirtual values. Freemasonry is not a secret society, as members are free to acknowledge their membership, and therefore there are records available that can be researched.
The United Grand Lodge of England has jurisdiction over 8661 Lodges in England, Wales, and the Channel Islands, which for administrative purposes are grouped into 47 provinces, based on the old Counties. The Grand Lodge publishes a Year Book, listing all its Lodges, with their meeting dates and places. Ireland and Scotland each have their own Grand Lodges.
England & Wales www.ugle.org.uk
County Record Offices keep Quarter Sessions Records which can be useful - In 1799, The Seditious Societies Act, Geo.III 39c.79, 1799, was introduced, as there was the deep suspicion of any organisation that required its members to take an oath not officially sanctioned by law. However, Freemasons meetings being seen as having largely a charitable purpose were not prohibited by the new law, provided that an annual certificate listing members and their addresses was sent to the Clerk of the Peace. This was carried out up until 1967, when the Criminal Law Act 1967 no longer required the annual certificates, or the accompanying registers of Lodges. Most of the returns sent to the Clerk of the Peace have been deposited in the Record Offices. A few may still be in the County Council archives.
Masonic Lodge Records - Local County Archives do keep some Lodge records, which can be viewed, but usually require written permission first from the Lodge Secretary. However, for further information on an ancestor, provided you know quite definitely that he was a Freemason, an approach to The Grand Lodge, is the next step. But, you must provide sufficient information that would assist a search of any records, and it could be that you may be referred at this stage to the appropiate Provincial Grand Lodge.
Sites such as Ancestry or RootsWeb, often have files from Masonic lodges and other Masonic information about individuals. The records at Ancestry include over 1.7 million names transcribed from Lodge records. Finding out this information will be the most helpful data you can have on them as it will open doors to the types of records that could be available to you. Records of over two million practising Freemasons dating back to the 18th century have been uploaded to Ancestry.co.uk. The records digitised from membership registers are held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London and the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Dublin.
Keep in mind that lodges get a lot of requests for help in genealogical searches, so be patient. Provide the lodge with as much information about your relative as possible, including full name, birth and death dates, and what kinds of clues as to his Masonic status you may have.
“Library and Museum is the repository for the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body of English freemasonry. Information about individual members is based on Annual Returns of members compiled by individual lodges and sent to Grand Lodge. The earliest such Returns date from the 1750s. These were used to create registers of members. Members are listed in the Registers under their lodge and according to their date of initiation or joining.”
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry offers three centuries worth of freemasonry records and artefacts. The staff here can help you search for your ancestor by name in thier digitised records but can also search outside of the digitised records pre-1750s or post-1921. There is a fee payable for staff searches in which the lodge is not known however if it is, then it is usually free.
If you know where your Ancestor lived and you suspect they might have been a Freemason then you can use google to find out what the local lodges in the area were or still are. Each Lodge usually has a secretary that can help with any enquiries and as each lodge is relatively independent then prices could vary between them. Please enclose a S.A.E.
England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1921 Ireland, Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Registers, 1733-1923.
There are Grand Lodges in varying jurisdictions. For example in the US There are Grand Lodges in each State. Similarly, there are Grand Lodges in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most countries round the world with their own records which might be available for research.
Other Fraternal Orders
There are many other fraternal Orders and many very similar to the Freemasons, which also have regalia, often very like Masonic regalia, where your Sharrock/Shorrock ancestor might have joined.
Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (Male only)
Grove House, Skipton Road, Harrogate, N.Yorkshire HG1 4LA
Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (Female only)
68 Great Cumberland Street, London W1H 6BS
International Co-Freemasonry (Male/Female)
Hexagon House, 37-39 Surbiton Hill, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 4TS
Order of Women Freemasons (Female only)
27 Pembridge Gardens, London W2 4EF
Independent Order of Oddfellows (Male/Female)
Odd Fellows House, 40 Fountain Street, Manchester M2 2AB