Thomas Batson, DGM

Thomas Batson served as Grand Warden in 1729 and 1730, and as Deputy Grand Master from 1731-33. A practicing barrister at the Inner Temple, Batson was George Payne’s brother-in-law and like so many at the helm of Grand Lodge in the 1720s and 1730s, a member of the Horn Tavern and a government loyalist.

Thomas Coke (1697–1759), Lord Lovell, Grand Master in 1731, appointed Batson his Deputy and this was followed by a government appointment in 1733 as Commissioner of Bankrupts, a highly lucrative role.

Lord Lovell, one of Walpole’s neighbours in Norfolk, was wealthy with an annual income exceeding £10,000 and a vast estate at Holkam Hall. He was also part of the Duke of Richmond and Duke of Montagu’s social set. He had been elected for Norfolk in 1722 and was a loyal Walpole supporter. Like other overtly political Grand Masters, including Lord Inchiquin, Lovell was honoured accordingly and appointed a Knight of the Bath when the Order was established in 1725 and sworn a Privy Councillor. Government patronage gave him the role of joint Postmaster General with an annual stipend of £1,000 and joint control of local patronage throughout the country. He was raised to the peerage in 1728 and to an earldom in 1744, becoming Earl of Leicester. He is portrayed as such above.

Lovell initiated Robert Walpole into freemasonry and raised the Duke of Lorraine at Walpole’s Houghton Hall. Both underline the political utility of Freemasonry on the European stage.