Dr. Bro. David Harrison And
The Genesis Of Freemasonry
By Wor. Bro. Frederic L.
The Genesis of Freemasonry
by Dr. David Harrison explores the way in which Freemasonry developed in
England during the late 17th Century and all of the 18th
Century. The book takes us through The Three Transitional Periods of English
Freemasonry. Firstly, the transformation from Operative to Speculative during
the 17th and early 18th Centuries. Secondly, the
foundation of the London Grand Lodge in 1717 and the subsequent modernization
of the ritual. Thirdly, the schisms and rebellions within Freemasonry, which
forced the society to rebuild and reconcile in 1813.
Yes, the founding of the Grand
Lodge of England in 1717 is discussed. But even more revealing, we learn some
fascinating history of the players involved and their philosophical pursuits.
Prominent in the discussion is
Elias Ashmole, the first recorded English Speculative Freemason to enter into
an unknown Lodge in Warrington, Lancashire, in 1646. Warrington is Dr. David
Other interesting players in
this formation of English Freemasonry and its development are Dr. John
Theophilus DeSaguliers, Dr. John Anderson, Sir Christopher Wren, John Dee, Sir
Robert Moray, Francis Bacon, Inigo Jones, Isaac Newton, Alexander Pope, Thomas
Paine, Jonathan Swift, William Preston and many others. Of all of these
perhaps Dr. John Anderson and his “Book of Constitutions,” and Dr. John
Theophilus DeSaguliers who wrote and inserted the Third Degree into Masonic
ritual, stand out the most.
Weaved into all the
personalities of this era of English Masonic development was the philosophical
schools of thought that influenced Freemasonry and the schools of study that
linked onto the Craft.
Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers
So we learn about Kabbalism,
Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism and Druid culture. The schools of the Occult
figured prominently into the development of English Freemasonry – astrology,
numerology, magic, alchemy, necromancy to name a few. Balancing this was the
influence of science and Natural Philosophy.
Then there was the almost
worship of architecture and the fascination with the dimensions of King
Solomon’s Temple. This gave rise to the cult of Palladian Architecture and the
attempt to make St. Paul’s Cathedral a representation of Solomon’s Temple. Dr.
Harrison also provides his reader with a deep discussion of Masonic symbolism
and how symbols changed over time. Featured prominently in all the
philosophical, architectural, political, occult and religious discussions and
influence on Freemasonry was The Royal Society. Many early influential
Freemasons were also members of the Royal Society.
Although Lodges were prohibited
from engaging in politics, still the machinations of everyday life played into
the story of Freemasonry. Thus we see how the political interaction of
Royalists, Parliamentarians, Jacobites, Whigs, and Tories influenced who had
the upper hand in decision making within the Craft.
Not to be forgotten is the
book’s treatment of the ever changing world of Freemasonry. So we learn of the
battle between the Antients and the Moderns, The York Grand Lodge and The
Wigan Grand Lodge. The coming together, the reconciliation of English
Freemasonry in 1813 which resulted in the United Grand Lodge of England
culminates the story.
The Genesis of
Freemasonry is a book that came out of Dr.
Harrison’s Ph.D. thesis. Consequently, this work is free of legends, theories,
hypothesizes, speculation, suppositions, conjecture and other non-evidentiary
thinking. As Sgt. Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Give me the facts, nothing
but the facts.”
Here we have a book that is well
done, very complete and that covers most everything you ever wanted to know
about the who, what and where of the rise of English Freemasonry. It is by far
the best factual rendition of how English Freemasonry bloomed and became
everybody’s Mother Lodge. Do not miss adding this to your Masonic Library.
You can watch the
Phoenixmasonry Live interview with Dr. Havid Harrison at the link below: