Newly published list of Freemasons highlights extent to which inquiry may have been influenced
Over two million Freemason membership records dating from 1733 – 1933 have been released via the website Ancestry.com, and it is claimed that they shed light on one of the most controversial shipping inquiries of the twentieth century.
The Titanic – at the time the world’s largest passenger ship – was owned and operated by White Star Line. On its maiden voyage in April 1912 it collided with an iceberg, and sank. Over 1,500 people died, and around 700 survived the accident.
The ship was travelling at full speed in dead calm conditions (which made spotting waves hitting icebergs all the more difficult). It had also received iceberg warnings from other ships nearby.
When disaster struck, it took over two hours for the ship to sink, but there were so few lifeboats that less than half the passengers were able to board them.
Despite the catalogue of errors, the inquiry into the Titanic’s sinking exonerated the British Board of Trade, which allowed the ship to go to sea with an inadequate number of lifeboats, and the ship’s Captain, Edward Smith, of White Star Line, was also cleared.
But the masonic records indicate that almost all of those involved with the inquiry were Freemasons.
The judge, Lord Mersey, who oversaw the British Wreck Commissioner’s inquiry, was a Freemason, as were several leading investigators.
In addition, the president of the Board of Trade Sydney Buxton was also a Freemason. So too was the chairman of Harland and Wolff, the shipyard that built the Titanic, and so was one of the directors of the White Star Line.
Speaking to History.com, Nic Compton, the author of Titanic on Trial, said: “The Titanic inquiry in Britain was branded a ‘whitewash’ because it exonerated most of those involved. Only three passengers were interviewed, and they were all from first class.
“Even Captain Smith was exonerated on the grounds that most other ships at that time also sped through the ice at full speed with no serious consequences.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Diane Clements, director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry said: “The records demonstrate the extensive involvement which freemasons have had in British society.
“As Freemasonry approaches its 300th birthday in 2017, we are pleased to be able to provide access to details of past members.”
Home retail Group, the owner of Argos and Homebase, might be up for sale with a £1bn pricetag.
London has just been named the hardest place to sell a house in the UK.
Top London entrepreneurs tackle Britain’s talent issues