The Ancient Order of Free Gardeners (founded 1849)
In 1849 St Paul's Lodge of Free Gardeners in Lasswade invited delegates to a meeting in order to consider the establishment of a Grand Lodge. Five lodges attended. From this initiative was created the Ancient Order. The National Library of Scotland holds the Report of the 79th Annual Conference of the Grand Lodge of the Ancient Order of Free Gardeners, dated 1928, placing the origin of that body in 1849.
Minutes 1915-48 for the East of Scotland District No2 of the Order are in Edinburgh City Archives.
In 1912 three bodies described as the Ancient Order, the Western Order (St Andrews) and the 'Scottish Order' combined for the purposes of National Insurance Act approval creating for the purpose the Ancient Order of Free Gardeners (Scotland) National Insurance Association. However, each participating lodge (and order) maintained its own identity and traditions.
The Order first appears in the PO Directory in the 1880s as the Ancient Order of Free Gardeners located in Edinburgh and Leith. Grand Lodge was based at Good Templar Hall in Edinburgh. Seven lodges are named. Within five years it appears under the title Ancient Order of Free Gardeners and the Order's registered office became Oddfellows Hall, Forrest Road in Edinburgh although 'moveable meetings' were held in other places. It was still at Oddfellows Hall in 1958/9 when Edinburgh St Andrews was listed as the last remaining city lodge: it met at Shepherds' Hall in India Buildings. That was the last year the Order appeared.
This Order maintained close links with South Africa and at its demise the Order's artefacts went there. The Grand Lodge chartered South African lodges, which appear within the numbered lists of the Order. By 1912 the order had also chartered 91 lodges in Australia.