Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

James Sandilands, 9th Lord Torphichen

James Sandilands, 9th Lord Torphichen was born 15 Nov 1759 and acceded to his father's title in 1765. He was an officer in the 21st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots Fusiliers) which fought at the battles of Hubbardton and Freemans Farm in Sept 1777, before meeting American troops who outnumbered them four to one in the Second Battle of Saratoga.

This led to General John Burgoyne surrendering to Major General Horatio Gates of the American Army on 17th October 1777. This was a very significant victory for the American Army and was one of the turning points of the American War of Independence.

The title of Lord Torphichen derived from Sir James Sandilands, the last Preceptor of Torphichen. Torphichen Preceptory became the Headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (which was established during the crusades) following their acceptance of King David I’s invitation in 1132 to them to come to Scotland. Torphichen is a small village about 18 miles to the west of Edinburgh.

The Preceptory was built in the 1140s, possibly on the site of an earlier Christian church.

During the 13th Century there were additions to the Preceptory, and the buildings which still stand today were first constructed in this period. The tower and transepts from this period remain, together with a number of domestic buildings including a hospital. After the Knights Templar were suppressed in 1312, their lands were transferred to the Knights Hospitaller.

There were then only two major Hospitaller sites in Britain, the other being the Priory of Clerkenwell in London, and both benefited greatly from this transfer of land. The church was extended again in the 15th Century and the foundations of the cloister are all that remain from this period.

William Wallace held his last parliament at Torphichen Preceptory, before the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. The only surviving document signed by Wallace was prepared at Torphichen Preceptory.

After the battle, King Edward I of England was brought to the Preceptory to have his injuries treated when his horse stood on him, when encamped at Polmont before the battle. The Hospitallers fought on the English side during the Wars of Scottish Independence. They withdrew after the Scots won the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, returning during the rule of Robert the Bruce.

The Hospitallers were suppressed as an order from 1554. However, Sir James Sandilands (1511-1596), the last Preceptor supported the Reformation and was a friend of John Knox. He was the second son of the seventh feudal baron of Calder. His predecessor, the second feudal baron of Calder, married Princess Jean, daughter of King Robert II of Scotland (1316-1390) who was grandson of King Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) (1274-1329). Thus Sir James Sandilands and in turn, Lord Torphichen were direct descendants of Robert the Bruce.

Sir James Sandilands surrendered the Hospitaller lands to the Crown, his distant cousin Mary Queen of Scots. As a token of the esteem in which the Queen held him, he was allowed to purchase the lands and received a title becoming the First Lord Torphichen.

James Sandilands, 9th Lord Torphichen was initiated into Freemasonry in Lodge Canongate Kilwinning in February 1786. In the minutes of the Lodge meeting on 7 December 1786, it is recorded that Lord Torphichen had been raised to the degree of Master Mason since the previous meeting.

This enabled him to take the office of Depute Grand Master at the St Andrew's Day Installation of Grand Lodge Office Bearers.

So far as we are aware, Lord Torphichen does not appear in any of Robert Burns’s writings, but as Depute Grand Master, he was present and signed the minute of 7 December 1786, when Grand Lodge visited Lodge Canongate Kilwinning He was most likely at the meeting of Lodge Edinburgh St Andrew on 12 January 1787 when The Honourable Francis Charteris, Grand Master Mason, toasted "Caledonia and Caledonia's Bard, Brother Burns". He was elected Master of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning in June 1787.

In the painting, Lord Torphichen, Depute Grand Master, stands next to The Honourable Francis Charteris, Grand Master Mason.