Elizabeth St. Leger Aldworth

Masonic Biographies

Elizabeth St. Leger Aldworth

Born: Thursday, 01 January 1693
Died: Tuesday, 11 May 1773

Elizabeth St. Leger Aldworth was a famous female Freemason and patroness of the Craft whose honorable service to Masonry is worthy of emulation.

Colloquially referred to as "The Lady Freemason" by her peers, Brother Elizabeth St. Leger was a famous Freemason of her era, initiated into Freemasonry in 1712. She later married a fellow Mason, Brother Richard Aldworth, and became Brother Elizabeth Aldworth.

Freemasonry was an integral part of her family, and Elizabeth St. Leger was Initiated and Passed by the Lodge which regularly met at her house. Lodge membership included her sibling and father: Brother Arthur St. Leger. He would later become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1740. Her future husband was also a member of her Mother Lodge and was present on the night of her initiation.

Her family lived in an estate known as Doneraile Court, and on the evening of her entrance into the Craft, Elizabeth fell asleep in the library next to the room where the Lodge met for meetings. After awaking, she was an inadvertent witness to part of the Lodge proceedings. The Tyler of the Lodge noticed her presence and alerted the rest of the Brethren assembled. After a serious discussion, the Lodge elected to make her a Freemason. Thus, Brother Elizabeth became a member of her father’s Lodge in County Cork, Ireland. This was at least a decade before the founding of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which occurred in 1725.

Called a "Patroness of the Craft," Elizabeth was a dedicated and active Mason throughout the many years of her life. The records of First Lodge of Ireland note that Brother Arundel Hill was present at her initiation and often sat in Lodge with her. Brother Aldworth held the Fraternity in high-esteem, and it was later recallled:

She had such a veneration for Masonry that she would never suffer it to be spoken lightly of in her hearing...

Elizabeth even presided as Master of her Lodge and regularly led the Masonic Order of Procession in an open carriage. The Limerick Chronicle featured her in the publication writing: 

Whenever a benefit was given at the theaters in Dublin or Cork for the Masonic Female Orphan Asylum, she walked at the head of the Freemasons with her apron and other insignia of Freemasonry and sat in the front row of the stage box. The house was always crowded on these occasions. Her portrait is in the lodge-room of almost every lodge of Ireland.

Displayed prominently across Ireland, her Masonic portrait depicts Brother Elizabeth wearing a trowel pendent: the distinguishing jewel of an early Craftsman. She passed to the Eternal Grand Lodge in 1773 at the age of 80. Treasured by her brethren, the Freemasons of Cork later placed a memorial plaque in her honor at St. Finbarre's Cathedral.

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