Samuel James Way: Freemason Grand Master
South Australian Freemasonry began before the founding of the new colony when a group of intending settlers petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a new lodge to enable them to practice their Freemasonry and initiate others in their new country. The South Australian Lodge of Friendship No.613 met twice in London to initiate new members before the ships set sail. Members included the deputy surveyor general G.S. Kingston, John Morphett, R.D. Hanson, Thomas Gilbert, Robert Gouger, and Daniel Wakefield.
In the first ten years, two new lodges were formed, many members were initiated and freemasons began their mission to promote charity. By 1883 there were 33 Masonic lodges in South Australia, and a committee was formed to propose the formation of the Grand Lodge in order to choose their own rulers and manage their own affairs.
Way first joined Freemasonry in 1862 when he was initiated in the Lodge of Harmony. In 1871 he lapsed or "called off", re-joining as an active member in February 1884. On 16th April 1884, a convention of delegates assembled at the Masonic Hall, Flinders Street, and passed a resolution establishing the Grand Lodge of South Australia. Despite Way only attaining the rank of Inner Guard, he was considered to be an outstanding citizen and was elected at Most Worshipful Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of South Australia. He ruled the Grand Lodge of South Australia for a total of over thirty years, being elected and Installed as Grand Master 26 times.
In 1889 Way abdicated his position in favour of the newly appointed Governor of SA, the Rt Hon. Lord Kintore, serving instead as Pro Grand Master. Way was re-elected Grand Master upon Kintore’s return to England in 1895.
In 1897, the same year that Way became the first Australian to be appointed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, he presented a jubilee address to H.M. Queen Victoria on behalf of the Grand Lodges of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand at a meeting of 7000 Masons held at the Albert Hall. The Grand Master, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, who presided at this meeting, conferred on Way the rank of Past Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England. Way was subsequently knighted and created a baronet in 1899.
- ‘Freemason South Australia & Northern Territory
- ‘Samuel James Way, Chief Justice, Lt. Governor S.A., & Grand Master’
- Kent Henderson. The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia. Melbourne: Ian Drakeford, 1988
Toast to Samuel Way by Lord Kintore
following Kintore’s election as Grand Master
The South Australian Freemason June 6, 188, p. 6
“Brethren, it is common knowledge that whatever your Grand Master does he does well, and that whatever he undertakes he carries through. Were this not common knowledge I should say that the satisfactory condition of the Grand Lodge under his rule is proof positive of the accuracy of these premises. Brethren, I think his career in Freemasonry and the profession of the law is a splendid example of what rewards are in store as the result of solid honest work. I know no better advice to give to a young man in South Australia who is just embarking in life than to take example by your Grand Master, by the Chief Justice of the colony, and remember whatever he does that ‘Where there’s a will there’s a Way.'