Edward Kelly Purnell MBE was the fourth Worshipful Deputy Master, and Founding Secretary of the Old Wellingtonian Lodge.
‘Prang’ Purnell was a scholar, school master, and historian.
He went to Wellington in 1861 where he earned his nickname, but sadly the reasons do not survive. He spent time in both the Lynedoch and the Combermere, and was made a College Prefect. He gained a scholarship to Magdalene College, Cambridge, before returning to Wellington as an Assistant Master. He also taught at a minor public school in Slough during the Great War. He finished a noted history of Magdalene in 1904 whilst teaching at Wellington that is still available today, and was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Purnell was initiated in to Wellesley Lodge No 1899 in Crowthorne, a lodge shared six other members with this Lodge: Philip Napier-Jones, Frederick Lawrence, Freeling Lawrence, Lord Dorchester, Joseph Bevir, Vernon Seymour Bryant.
He was a strong supporter of Berkshire masonry, helping found Heather Lodge No 3131, and joining Berkshire Masters Lodge No 3684. His contribution to the Province was recognised with his being made Provincial Senior Grand Warden. He also joined Arrow Lodge No 2240 and Bagshot Lodge No 4804.
He was the founding secretary of the OW Lodge from 1909 to 1919 (with the exception of his year in the chair). Never having been much of a lodge for oration, it is telling that during the early years only two speeches are recorded in the Minutes – that of the Grand Master, and the vote of thanks to Purnell, noting “his unfailing tact, energy, and kindliness”.
His year as Deputy Master was extraordinary in many ways, and his installation set the tone. It was attended by Sir Edward Letchworth, an Honorary Member and the Grand Secretary, accompanied by the Grand Director of Ceremonies. The reason for this deputation was the raising of HH Prince Maurice of Battenberg, for which the Grand Secretary took the chair, and the GDC took the office of Senior Deacon.
The minutes include a report from the Standing Committee at the end of the Purnell's year, the busiest year in our history: the Lodge had witnessed eight meetings, including 3 emergency meetings, at which there were seven initiations, seven passings, and six raisings. There were 89 members, and the Lodge had joined Public Schools Charity Union.
As a footnote Purnell appointed his son, and fellow Founder, also called Edward Kelly Purnell (much to the confusion of would be lodge historians), as a steward.