Out of the blue – A £1,000 legacy

by Neill Rhodes

Out of the blue, The Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope No. 574 have recently received a legacy of £1,000 from the Estate of the late Ruth Kathleen Tobias which was a mystery as no one in the lodge could remember a “Tobias” being a member so an investigation was begun to try to find if there was a masonic connection.

As all the lodge records are stored under lock and key elsewhere from the lodge, a few of the brethren turned to the internet and the ancestry website to try to enlighten us and this is what they found, which is very interesting:

William Tom Tobias was a solider in the Army Ordinance Corps and it appears from the photograph that he was involved in the first part of WW1 as he has a 1914-1915 medal, which includes a ‘Mons Bar’ issued to those who served from the very outset.   The last medal is a long service medal granted after 18 years’ service; these were issued after 1930.

In the July-to-September quarter of 1914 he married a Lena Florence Brownsey in Cambridge and as we see here was later promoted to Warrant Officer. After leaving the army, the 1939 Register describes him as being:

  1. A managing clerk for the Newbury Building Society, and
  2. A retired warrant officer.

At some point in his career, he was initiated into the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope on 7th April 1936, aged 48, passed on 6th October and raised on the 2nd February 1937. He was never master of the lodge.

Lena and William had 4 children between them, Joan, Robert (who died in a flying accident), Ruth and Dorothy (who later married a John Roberts of Reading).

William passed away on 15th January 1961 whilst living in Earley, leaving an estate of £2,581. Probate was granted to his eldest daughter Joan (but not his wife who lived until 1979). Joan died a spinster at the same address, by which time her estate was worth £8,916. We must assume this legacy was passed to her younger sister Ruth, who in turn donated £1,000 to the lodge on her death.

It all raises a series of questions …

  • What was his military service?
  • What memory did Ruth have, which prompted her to leave £1,000 to the lodge? 

We may never know the answers to these questions, especially the one pertaining to why leave the lodge £1,000. The lodge has decided to share the good fortune and that the legacy will be passed to the 2023 Festival appeal.

WBro Paul Tomlinson, Secretary

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