Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover found on Ebay was particularly interesting not only because of the sender, but also the recipient, and there was a connecting thread between the two that was not immediately apparent. It was sent from The Grand Lodge of Tasmania of Free and Accepted Masons and it had a pair of the red 1d and the green ½d KGV side face stamps with three examples of the Hobart, Tasmania, 26 OCT 17 postmarks, two examples of the machine roller cancel and one of a circular date cancel. It was addressed to Dr. W.A. De Wolf-Smith, P.O. Box 189, New Westminster, British Columbia, Dominion of Canada, North America (Figure 1).

A brief history of Masonry in early Van Diemen’s Land was available on the internet:
Amongst the arrivals in Hobart Town from Norfolk Island convict settlement in 1807/08, when that settlement was abandoned, were a number of Masons who belonged to a Lodge known as St Johns Lodge No 1. This Lodge did not possess a Charter but there is evidence that it existed both on Norfolk Island and later in Van Diemen’s Land. There is no record of meetings in Hobart Town but press reports between 1814 and 1820 give details of their activity.

In 1825 the 40th Regiment 2nd battalion South Lancashire arrived in Van Diemen’s Land having attached to it Thorntons Lodge No 284 Irish Constitution. It was a common practice for these travelling Charters to be attached to Regiments. There are records of this Lodge admitting civilians in 1825. This Lodge issued a Dispensation in March 1827 for a Civilian Lodge to be formed in Hobart Town. This Lodge was known as Tasmanian Lodge No 313 IC and it opened circa 1828, and was the first Civilian Lodge in the State.

In 1844 the Tasmanian Union Lodge was founded under the English Constitution and the first Lodge under the Scottish Constitution was formed in 1876. A number of provincial and district Grand Lodges from the 3 constitutions (English, Scottish and Irish) were formed over the years until the Tasmanian Grand Lodge was formed in 1890.

In 1890 there were 7 English, 7 Irish and 5 Scottish Lodges in Tasmania and representatives of these lodges met in the Hobart Town Hall on Thursday 26th of June and formed The Grand Lodge Tasmania by passing the following resolution: “That the undermentioned Lodges having agreed to aid in the formation of a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Tasmania, according to the Ancient Landmarks and Established Customs of Freemasonry…..”, thus the Lodge was born after 2 days of consideration on the 28th June 1890.

The addressee’s name in Canada was found with and without the hyphenated surname and I was able to confirm that he was a medical doctor, in fact a surgeon, with an interesting history as described in an obituary in 1947: Dr. William Andrew De Wolf-Smith died February 21 in Melrose Nursing Home, New Westminster, B.C., he was in his 86th year. Dr. DeWolf-Smith was born in New Brunswick of an old English family and came to New Westminster in 1888. His practice extended throughout the Fraser Valley (of British Columbia). He was among the first to give up his horse and buggy for an automobile. He was one of the physicians who fought the smallpox plague among the Delta Indians and was one of the first medical health officers of New Westminster. For years he was attached to the B.C. Penitentiary. A talented musician and patron of the arts, he was manager of the old Opera House and President of the New Westminster Operatic Society. He was active in the New Westminster Tennis Club. He had lived with his daughter, Mrs. Robert Smithwick, Sardis (B.C.), for the last few years”.

The Daily Columbian, 14 July 1892 page four, gave interesting information concerning De Wolf Smith’s role in the smallpox epidemic in Victoria B.C.: “The Health Committee of New Westminster met yesterday afternoon to discuss the situation in connection with the Victoria smallpox epidemic. The Mayor presided, and informed the meeting that he had instructed the C.P.N. Co’s agent to hold the Victoria steamer on her arrival until the Medical Health Officer could inspect the passengers…… Dr. De Wolf Smith, who was at the meeting, was instructed to inspect the boats and to use his own discretion as to what measures to adopt…… Dr. De Wolf Smith (was) to have one day at his office for vaccinating the public who need it. Poor persons will be vaccinated free…..”

From two sources, I learnt that De Wolf Smith was a Canadian freemason for an address had been delivered by the R(ight) W(orshipful) Bro(ther) De Wolf Smith on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the introduction of freemasonry into the Province of B.C., and a Canadian auction house had several covers for sale addressed to Grand Secretary De Wolf Smith, dated from 1909 up to 1936.

I am indebted to Chris Lyons, Assistant History of Medicine Librarian, Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal who expended considerable time and energy in providing much of the information concerning De Wolf Smith, who attended McGill University in 1883.

Addendum: A second cover addressed to W.A. de Wolf-Smith, Grand Secretary, Westminster, British Columbia sent from the Grand Secretary, Freemason Hall, Flinder’s Street, Adelaide, South Australia on 25 March 1915, has recently been seen. It had a black garter logo of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons on the flap.

Further Addendum (November 2009):  A cover was seen on Ebay  with a pair of green halfpenny and a single 2d KGV Head stamps posted with a roller Hobart cancel, date illegible.  It was addressed to Dr. De Wolf Smith in B.C., Canada.

A picture of Dr. De Wolf Smith was also found.

Addendum (March 2011):    Another cover was found addressed to Dr. De Wolf Smith and the red ‘ONE PENNY ROO’ stamp was cancelled with a roller postmark of MELBOURNE/ 11 JUN 14 12 15 A/ VICTORIA sent from the Grand Secretary, Freemasons’ Hall, Melbourne, addressed to him at New Westminster, British Columbia.  The reverse had no additional information. 

New information was found for William Andrew de Wolf-Smith (October 6, 1859-February 20, 1947) at the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon.  He died at the Melrose Hospital, B.C. and he was survived by one daughter.   Additional information from the same site is shown below.  

Categories: Health Sciences, People