M.E. Comp. Wm. Keith
M.E. Companion William Keith was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and was a native of Belfast. He was exalted in R.A.C. 293 and had been a fellow traveller with M.E. Companion Sydney Hanna since both were foundation members of Ashlar R.A.C. 528 in 1923.
He was first elected to District Grand Chapter in 1940 as District Grand Second Principal and in 1941 succeeded M.E. Companion Hanna as District Grand Registrar in which office he served till his appointment as District Grand First Principal on 27th September, 1957—again in succession to M.E. Companion Hanna.
He was succeeded as District Grand Registrar by R.E. Companion R. J. Walker, M.B.E. On 8th February, 1958, he was installed as Grand First Principal and proved a worthy member in an illustrious succession.
His services to Masonry over a long number of years have been great and widely directed and have been recognised generally by his progress to the 30°, and to Royal Arch Masonry especially by his appointment in 1956 as Representative of the Grand Chapter of Louisiana at the Supreme Grand Chapter of Ireland. He had received many honours in other branches of the Masonic Order.
M.E. Companion Keith is also a foundation member of Ribblesdale R.A.C. 631 in Antrim which Chapter recognised his appointment as Grand First Principal by presenting him with a Past King’s Jewel in gold and Ashlar Chapter presented him with his sceptre.
He presided over the District Chapter for the first time on 1st March, 1958, and announced that R.E. Companion David A. Rea had agreed to accept appointment as his Deputy.
The District Chapter continued to prosper under his wise and kindly leadership and already two new Chapters have been constituted—• R.A.Cs. 113 Killyleagh and 200 at the Mount. The latter conferred honorary membership on him as their first Chapter business.
His period of office had already seen significant changes affecting R.A. Masonry generally and in the District, viz. the changes in his title and that of the other members of the Council; the allocation of particular Chapters to the supervision of District Grand Inspectors; the formation of two additional R.A. Classes of Instruction; the simplification of the procedure under which Candidates are admitted to Chapters in the District and the requirement of a unanimous ballot for admission on exaltation or affiliation.
He was the first District Grand King with District Grand High Priest and Chief Scribe to complete the Council and thus bring these offices in District Grand Chapter into line with the titles of corresponding offices in Supreme Grand Chapter and Subordinate Chapters.
On 1st June, 1960, he presented the District Deputy Grand King; Treasurer and Registrar with beautiful jewels of office in gold suspended from silk crimson neckcords and requested that they should wear them at Convocations and R.A. Festive Boards and other functions.
This generous and thoughtful action was typical of the man and was received with much enthusiasm by the Companions and deep gratitude by the recipients.
The happy atmosphere which pervaded the Convocations of District Grand Chapter under his genial predecessor had been maintained and the Companions throughout the District sincerely trust that he would be spared for many years to continue as the District Grand King.
M.E. Companion William Keith died on 2nd December 1965.