Kilmacolm lies in rolling hills behind Greenock and Port Glasgow. The village and its surrounding area are steeped in much history and antiquity. It was known to have been inhabited by Stone Age settlers, traces being found dating to
1,600 B.C. Bronze Age people immigrated to the area, bringing with them improved techniques in pottery, agriculture and stock breeding. These were followed by the Romans who constructed a cavalry fort at nearby Whitemoss, from where they patrolled what is now Kilmacolm and the surrounding area.
An early Christian settlement was created in the area around the 7th – 8th century A.D. The name Kilmacolm appears to confirm the local legend that St. Columba, on his missionary travels, actually visited the area bearing his name. Kilmacolm is derived from the Scottish Gaelic for “Church Of My Columba”. “Cill” = Church; “mo” = of my; “Colm” or “Coluim” = Columncille or Columbus. The spelling “Kilmacolme” was recorded in 1205. Other spellings have included “Kilmacolmbe” in 1695, and even Kilmalcolm, which led some to believe an erroneous connection to King Malcolm.
This early Christian settlement slowly developed into a hamlet and from thence to the status of a small Village. The first record of social and charitable activity in the developing community is, appropriately enough, in the minutes of a Masonic Lodge in 1776, some 129 years before Lodge Sir Michael applied for its Charter. The minutes of Lodge Greenock Mounstewart Kilwinning record that “on the 5th August 1776 the Lodge met in Kilmacolm to pay the compliment to the Brethren residing in that Parish. Many Loyal Toasts were drunk and songs sung before the Members departed. The sum of ten shillings was left in Bro. William McKenzies hand, to be distributed to the poor householders of Kilmacolm”. This is an early example of Masonic Charity within the community, which example Lodge Sir Michael has followed since its Consecration in 1905.
With the expansion of industry and trade on Clydeside and the extension of rail links between Glasgow, Kilmacolm, Greenock and Gourock, Kilmacolm was becoming an area where industrialist were to build country homes and mansions. It was perhaps inevitable that amongst the incoming residents and workers to the expanding village, that there would be a number of Freemasons. These Brethren, wishing to enjoy Masonic Fellowship, and play their part in developing the social and charitable fabric of the community, were determined to constitute a Lodge in Kilmacolm.
In January 1905, WM. Wills Wilson, Master Mason of Lodge Houston, St Johnston No 242, PM of Lodge Caledonia, No 490, Mumbai, India, Past Senior Grand Warden, District Grand Lodge of India, and other Master Masons “in good standing” of the Lodges mentioned against their respective names, being anxious to commence and carry on their Masonic Labours, petitioned the Grand Lodge for a Charter Constitution and Erection empowering them to meet a regular Lodge at Kilmacolm, by the name of Sir Michael.
This petition was submitted to all Lodges in the Province throughout January and February, meeting with unanimous approval in all. The Petition was then submitted to Provincial Grand Lodge on Tuesday 11th April, where it was unanimously agreed to recommend submittal to Grand Lodge. The petition was received in Grand Lodge on 15th April 1905.
The Petition stated that the Lodge was to be called Sir Michael. A better choice could not have been made. Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet of Ardgowan, member of parliament and Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire was also a very active and enthusiastic Freemason. He was an initiate of Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No 12, Provincial Grand Master of Scotland for nine years (1873-1882), a member of the Supreme Council Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite from 1875-1891 and Sovereign Grand Commander of that body from 1891-1893.