Note: The following material is a scanned-in
research resource; it is NOT intended as an exact reproduction
of the original volume. Due to computer display variances, page numbers are
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The History Of Freemasonry
Albert G. Mackey 33°
PART 2. - HISTORY OF
[Original Volumes /
- Organization of the Grand Lodge of England ......................... 877
- Was the Organization of the Grand Lodge
in 1717 a Revival?
- The Early Years of Speculative Freemasonry in England .... 903
- The Early Ritual of Speculative Freemasonry
- The One Degree of Operative Freemasons
- Invention of the Fellow Craft's Degree ....................................
- Non-existence of a Master Mason's Degree
Among the Operative Freemasons
- The Invention of the Third or Master Mason's Degree
Fac-simile Reprint of the
Charges of a Freemason, from original Edition of the "Book of Constitutions,"
A.D. 1723 ............ 994
- The Death of Operative and the Birth of
- Introduction of Speculative Freemasonry into France ..... 1017
- The Grand Lodge of All England, or the
Grand Lodge of York
- Organization of the Grand Lodge of Scotland ................... 1079
- The Atholl Grand Lodge, or the Grand Lodge of England
According to the Old Institutions
- The Grand Lodge of England, South of the Trent;
or the Schism of the Lodge of Antiquity .........................
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Faith, Hope, and Charity
Banner of the Knights Templar
Plate of Symbols
ORGANIZATION OF THE GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND
have now reached the most interesting portion of the history of Freemasonry.
We are getting away from the regions of legend and tradition, and are passing
into the realm of authentic records. And though at this early period there is
a sparseness of these records, and sometimes a doubtfulness about their
meaning, which will occasionally compel us to build our hypothesis on the
foundation of plausible conjecture and reasoning, still, to whatever
conclusions we may come, they will, of course, be more satisfactory to the
mind than if they were wrought out of mere mythical and traditionary
already been shown that the Guild or Fraternity of Freemasons from the
earliest period of its history had admitted into its connection persons of
rank and influence who were not workmen of the Craft.
this usage it followed the example of the Roman Colleges of Artificers, whose
patrons were selected to secure to the corporations a protection often needed,
from the oppressive interference of the government.
when after the decadence of the Roman Empire, architecture, which had fallen
into decline, began to revive, the Masons were employed in the construction of
religious edifices, the dignitaries of the Church naturally became closely
connected with the workmen, while many of the monks were operative masons.
Bishops and abbots superintended the buildings, and were thus closely
connected with the Guild.
usage was continued even after the Freemasons had withdrawn from all
ecclesiastical dependence, and up to the 18th century non‑operatives were
admitted into full membership of the Fraternity, under the appellation of
Gentlemen or Theoretic Masons, or as Honorary Members. The title of
Speculative Freemasons was a word of later coinage, though it is met with,
apparently with the same meaning, in one of the oldest Records, the Cooke MS.
But this is a solitary instance, and the word never came into general use
until some time after the organization of the Grand Lodge in 1717.
here used for the sake of convenience, in reference to the early period, but
without any intention to intimate that it was then familiar to the Craft. The
fact existed, however, though the special word was apparently wanting.
natural result of this commingling of Operative and Speculative Masons in the
same Fraternity, was to beget a spirit of rivalry between the two classes.
This eventually culminated in the dissolution of the Guild of Operative
Freemasons as distinguished from the Rough Masons or Rough Layers, and the
establishment on its ruin of the Society of Speculative Freemasons, which at
London, in the year 1717, assumed the title of "The Grand Lodge of Free and
without any authentic narrative of the rise and progress of the contentions
between the rival classes in England, because in that country the records of
the Operative Lodges before the close of the 17th century have been lost. But
the sister kingdom of Scotland has been more fortunate. There the minutes of
the Lodges of Edinburgh and Kilwinning exhibit abundant evidence of the
struggle for pre‑eminence which terminated in the year 1736 in the
establishment of the speculative "Grand Lodge of Scotland."
subject‑matter to be treated in this chapter is the history of the
establishment at London, in the year 1717, of the Grand Lodge of England, it
will be proper as a preliminary step that some notice should be taken of the
condition of Freemasonry during the first decade of the 18th century in the
south of England.
lodges then existing in the kingdom consisted, it is supposed, both of
Operative and non‑Operative members. We have positive evidence of this in some
instances, and especially as respects the lodges in London.
Preston gives the following account of the condition of the institution in the
beginning of the 18th century:
"During the Reign of Queen Anne, masonry made no considerable progress. Sir
Christopher Wren's age and infirmities drawing off his attention from the
duties of his office (that of Grand Master), the lodges decreased, and the
annual festivals were entirely neglected. The old Lodge of St. Paul and a few
others continued to meet regularly, but consisted of few members." (1)
Anderson, upon whose authority Preston had made this statement, says that "in
the South the lodges were more and more disused, partly by the neglect of the
Masters and Wardens and partly by not having a noble Grand Master at London,
and the annual Assembly was not duly attended." (2)
statement so often made by Anderson and other writers of his school, that
there was, anterior to the seventeenth year of the 18th century, an annual
Assembly of the Craft in England over which a Grand Master presided, has been
proved to be apocryphal, we must attribute the decline of Operative
Freemasonry to other causes than those assigned by Dr. Anderson.
heretofore attempted to show that the decline in the spirit of Operative
Freemasonry was to be attributed to the decadence of Gothic Architecture. By
this the Freemasons were reduced to a lower level than they had ever before
occupied, and were brought much nearer to the "Rough Masons" than was pleasing
to their pride of "cunning." They thus lost the pre‑eminence in the Craft
which they had so long held on account of their acknowledged genius and the
skill which in past times they had exhibited in the art of building.
whatever may have been the cause, the fact is indisputable that at the
beginning of the 18th century the Freemasons had lost much of their high
standing as practical architects and had greatly diminished in numbers.
year 1716 there were but four lodges of Operative Masons in the city of
London. The minutes of these lodges are not extant, and we have no authentic
means of knowing what was their precise condition.
do know that among their members were many gentlemen of education who were not
Operative Masons, but belonged to the class of Theoretic or Speculative
Freemasons, which, as I have previously said, it had long been the custom of
the Operative Freemasons to admit into their Fraternity.
Preston, in his Illustrations of Masonry, in a passage already
"Illustrations of Masonry," Jones's edit., 1821, p. 189. a (2)
"Constitutions," edit. 1738, p. 108.
speaking of the decline of the lodges in the first decade of the 18th century,
makes this statement:
increase their numbers, a proposition was made, and afterwards agreed to, that
the privileges of Masonry should no longer be restricted to Operative Masons,
but extend to men of various professions, provided they were regularly
approved and initiated into the Order."
this statement he gives no authority. Anderson, who was contemporary with the
period of time when this regulation is said to have been adopted, makes no
allusion to it, and Preston himself says on a preceding page that "at a
general assembly and feast of the Masons in 1697 many noble and eminent
brethren were present, and among the rest, Charles, Duke of Richmond and
Lennox, who was at that time Master of the lodge at Chichester." (1)
statement appears, therefore, to be apochryphal. Such a proposition would
certainly have been wholly superfluous, as there is abundant evidence that in
England in the 17th century "men of various professions" had been "regularly
approved and initiated into the Order."
Ashmole, the Antiquary, states in his Diary that he and Colonel Mainwaring
were initiated in a lodge at Warrington in 1646, and he records the admission
of several other non‑Operatives in 1682 at a lodge held in London.
Plott, in his Natural History of Staffiordshire, printed in 1686, states that
"persons of the most eminent quality did not disdain to be of the Fellowship."
first and second decades of the 18th century Operative Freemasonry appears,
judging from extant records, to have been in the following condition:
northern counties there were several lodges of Operative Freemasons, which had
a permanent character, having rules for their government, and holding meetings
at which new members were admitted.
Preston speaks of a lodge which was at Chichester in 1697, of which the Duke
of Richmond and Lennox was Master; there was a lodge at Alnwick in
Northumberland, whose records from
"Illustrations of Masonry," p. 189, Jones's edit.
are extant; (1) and there was at least one lodge, if not more, in the city of
York whose preserved minutes begin on March 19, 1712. (2) we have every reason
to suppose that similar lodges were to be found in other parts of the kingdom,
though the minutes of their transactions have unfortunately been lost.
London there were four operative lodges. These were the lodges which in 1717
united in the formation of the Speculative Grand Lodge of England, an act that
has improperly been called the "Revival."
the lodges mentioned consisted of two classes of members, namely, those who
were Operative Freemasons and who worked in the mystery of the Craft, and
those who were non‑Operative, or, as they were sometimes called, Gentlemen
ceremony of admission or initiation was at this time of a very simple and
unpretentious character. There was but one form common to the three ranks of
Apprentices, Fellows, and Masters, and the division into degrees, as that word
is now understood, was utterly unknown. (3)
the close of the 17th century the Operative lodges were gradually losing their
prestige. They were no longer, as Lord Lindsay has denominated their
predecessors of the Middle Ages, "parliaments of genius;" their architectural
skill had decayed; their geometrical secrets were lost; and the distinction
which had once been so proudly maintained between the Freemasons and the
"rough layers" was being rapidly obliterated.
Meantime the men of science and culture who had been admitted into their
ranks, thought that they saw in the principle of brotherhood which was still
preserved, and in the symbolic teachings which were not yet altogether lost, a
foundation for another association, in which the fraternal spirit should
remain as the bond of union, and the doctrines of symbolism, hitherto
practically applied to the art of architecture, should be in future directed
to the illustration of the science of morality.
Bro. Hughan has published excerpts from the minutes. See Mackey's "National
Freemason," vol iii., p. 233. (2) See Hughan's History of Freemasonry in York,
in his " Masonic Sketches and Reprints," p. 55. See also an article by him in
the Voice of Masonry, vol. xiii., p. 571 . (3) This subject will be fully
discussed in a future chapter on the history of the origin of the three Craft
degrees, and the statement here made will be satisfactorily substantiated.
afterward the successors of these founders of Speculative Freemasonry defined
it to be "a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by
Feeling that there was no congenial companionship between themselves and the
uncultured men who composed the Operative element of the Association, the
gentlemen of education and refinement who constituted the Theoretic element or
the Honorary membership of the four lodges then existing in the city of
London, resolved to change the character of these lodges, and to withdraw them
entirely from any connection with Operative or Practical Masonry.
in this way that Speculative Freemasonry found its origin in the desire of a
few speculative thinkers who desired, for the gratification of their own
taste, to transmute what in the language of the times would have been called a
club of workmen into a club of moralists.
events connected with this transmutation are fully recorded by Dr. Anderson,
in the second edition of the Constitutions, and as this is really the official
account of the transaction, it is better to give it in the very language of
that account, than to offer any version of it.
history of the formation of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of
England, is given in the following words by Dr. Anderson, who is said to have
been one of the actors in the event:
George I. entered London most magnificently on 20 Sept., 1714, and after the
rebellion was over, A.D. 1716, the few lodges at London, finding themselves
neglected by Sir Christopher Wren, thought fit to cement under a Grand Master
as the centre of union and harmony, viz., the lodges that met.
the 'Goose and Gridiron Ale‑house' in St. Paul's Churchyard.
the 'Crown Ale‑house' in Parker's Lane near Drury Lane.
the ' Apple Tree Tavern ' in Charles Street, Covent Garden.
the 'Rummer and Grapes Tavern' in Channel Row, Westminster.
and some old brothers met at the said Apple Tree, and having put into the
chair the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a Lodge) they constituted
themselves a Grand Lodge, pro tempore, in Due Form, and forthwith revived the
Quarterly Communication of the Officers of Lodges (called the Grand Lodge)
resolved to hold the Annual Feast and then to choose a Grand Master from among
themselves, till they should have the honor of a noble brother at their head.
John Baptist's day, in the 3d year of King George I., A.D. 1717, the Assembly
and Feast of the Free and Accepted Masons was held at the foresaid ' Goose and
"Before dinner, the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a Lodge) in the
Chair, proposed a list of proper candidates, and the brethren by a majority of
Anthony Sayer, Gentleman, Grand Master of Masons,
Joseph Elliott Mr. Jacob Lamball, Carpenter Grand Wardens,
being forthwith invested with the badges of office and power by the said
oldest Master, and installed, was duly congratulated by the Assembly who paid
him the homage.
Grand Master, commanded the Masters and Wardens of Lodges to meet the Grand
Officers every quarter in communication at the place appointed in his summons
sent by the Tyler." (1)
is the account of the transmutation of the four Operative to four Speculative
lodges, given by Dr. Anderson, who is believed, with George Payne, Esq., and
Dr. Desaguliers, to have been principally instrumental in effecting the
as are the details of so important an event which Anderson, as a contemporary
actor, might easily have made more copious, they suggest several important
points for our consideration.
that the change to be effected by the establishment of the Speculative Grand
Lodge was not too hastily accomplished.
first meeting in which it was resolved to organize a Grand Lodge took place
some months before the actual organization occurred.
Anderson says that the four lodges met in 1716 and "revived the Quarterly
Communication of the officers of lodges."
Preston says that they met in February, 1717, and that at this
"Constitutions," 1738 edition. pp. 109, 110.
meeting "it was resolved to revive the Quarterly Communications of the
is a more accurate statement than that of Anderson. The meeting in February,
1717, was merely preliminary. A resolution was adopted, or perhaps more
correctly speaking, an agreement was entered into, to organize a Grand Lodge.
But this agreement was not carried into execution until four months afterward.
There could have been no Grand Lodge without a Grand Master, and the Grand
Master was not elected until the 24th of June following. The apparent
disagreement of the dates assigned to the preparatory meeting, Anderson saying
it was in 1716, and Preston that it was in February, 1717, is easily
Anderson in his narrative used the Old Style, in which the year began on March
25th, consequently February would fall in 1716. Preston used the New Style,
which begins the year on January 1st, and thereby February fell in 1717. The
actual period of time referred to by both authors is really the same.
anonymous work (1) published in 1764 it is said that six lodges were engaged
in the organization of the Grand Lodge, but as the two additional lodges are
not identified, it is better to reject the statement as untruthful, and to
abide by the authority of Anderson, who, as Bro. Hughan says, "clearly wrote
at a time when many personally knew as to the facts narrated and whose Book of
Constitutions was really the official statement issued by the Grand Lodge."
fact that four lodges were engaged in the act of transmuting Operative into
Speculative Freemasonry by organizing a Grand Lodge, while admitted as an
historical fact by Lawrence Dermott, is used by him as an objection to the
legality of the organization.
form," he says, "what Masons mean by a Grand Lodge, there must have been the
Masters and Wardens of five regular lodges that is to say, five Masters and
ten Wardens, making the numbs of installed officers fifteen." (2)
although Dermott very confidently asserts that this "is well known to every
man conversant with the ancient laws, usages, customs, and ceremonies of
Master Masons," (3) there can be no doubt that this point of law so
dogmatically proclaimed was the
"The Complete Freemason, or Multa Paucis, for Lovers of Secrets." (2) "Ahiman
Rezon " p. 13. (3) Ibid., p. 14
invention of Dermott's brain, and is entitled to no weight whatever.
Grand Lodge which was established in 1717 was the first one ever known, it was
impossible that there could be any "ancient laws" to regulate its
noteworthy that each of these premier lodges met at a tavern or ale‑ house.
During the last century Freemasons' lodges in England almost universally had
their lodge‑rooms in the upper part of taverns. The custom was also adopted in
this country, and all the early lodges in America were held in the upper rooms
of buildings occupied as taverns.
custom of meeting in taverns was one that was not confined to the Masonic
Brotherhood. The early part of the 18th century was, in London, as we have
already seen, the era of clubs. These societies, established some for
literary, some for social, and some for political purposes, always held their
meetings in taverns. " Will's Coffee House " is made memorable in the numbers
of the Spectator as the rendezvous of the wits of that day.
will also be noticed that these four lodges were without names, such as are
now borne by lodges, but that they were designated by the signs of the taverns
in which they held their meetings. Half a century elapsed before the lodges in
England began to assume distinctive names. The first lodge to do so was
Friendship Lodge No. 3, which is so styled in Cole's List of Lodges for 1767.
difficulty or confusion, however, arose from this custom of designating lodges
by the signs of the taverns in which they held their meetings, for it seldom
happened that more than one lodge ever met at any tavern. "The practice," says
Gould, "of any one tavern being common as a place of meeting, to two or more
lodges, seems to have been almost unknown in the last century." (1)
the four taverns in which these four original lodges were held, and two of the
lodges themselves, namely, the "Apple Tree," where the design of separating
the Speculative from the Operative element was inaugurated, and the "Goose and
Gridiron," where that design was consummated by the organization of the new
Grand Lodge, particularly claim our attention.
"The Four Old Lodges," by Robert Freke Gould, p. 13.
will be more convenient while engaged on this subject to trace the fate and
fortune of the whole four.
this investigation I have been greatly aided by the laborious and accurate
treatise of Bro. Robert Freke Gould, of London, on the Four Old Lodges. After
his exhaustive analysis there is but little chance of unearthing any new
discoveries, though I have been able to add from other sources a few
lodge first named on Anderson's list met at the "Goose and Gridiron
Ale‑house," and it was there that, on the 24th of June, 1717, the Grand Lodge
of England was established. Elmes says that "Sir Christopher Wren was Master
of St. Paul's Lodge, which during the building of the Cathedral of St. Paul's,
met at the 'Goose and Gridiron' in St. Paul's Churchyard, and is now the Lodge
of Antiquity, acting by immemorial prescription; and he regularly presided at
its meetings for upward of eighteen years." (1)
Oliver says that Dr. Desaguliers, who may be properly reputed as the principal
founder of modern Speculative Freemasonry, was initiated into the ceremonies
of the Operative system, such as they were, in the lodge that met at the
"Goose and Gridiron," and the date assigned for his admission is the year
Larwood and Hotten in their History of Sign Boards, copying from a paper of
the Tatler, say that the Tavern was originally a Music house, with the sign of
the "Mitre." When it ceased to be a Music house the succeeding landlord chose
for his sign a goose stroking the bars of a gridiron with his foot in ridicule
of the "Swan and Harp," which was a common sign for the early music houses.
(2) I doubt the truth of this origin, and think it more likely that the "Swan
and Harp" degenerated into the "Goose and Gridiron" by the same process of
blundenng, so common in the history of signs which corrupted "God encompasseth
us" into the "Goat and Compasses" or the "Belle Sauvage" into the "Bell and
list of lodges for 1725 to 1730 contained in the Minute Book of the Grand
Lodge of England, Lodge No. 1 is still recorded as holding its meetings at the
"Goose and Gridiron," whence, however, it not very long after removed, for in
the next list, from 1730 to 1732, it is recorded as being held at the "King's
Arms," in St. Paul's Churchyard.
Elmes's "Sir Christopher Wren and his Times," quoted in the Keystone (2)
"History of Sign Boards," p. 445.
"King's Arms" continued to be its place of meeting (except a short time in
1735, when it met at the "Paul's Head," Ludgate Street) until 1768, when it
removed to the "Mitre." Eight years before, it assumed the name of the "West
India and American Lodge." In 1770 it became the "Lodge of Antiquity." Of this
lodge the distinguished Masonic writer, William Preston, was a member. In 1779
it temporarily seceded from the Grand Lodge, and formed a schismatic Grand
Lodge. The history of this schism will be the subject of a future chapter.
union of the two Grand Lodges of "Moderns" and "Ancients," it lost its number
"One" in drawing lots and became number's Two," which number it still retains,
though it is always recognized as the "premier lodge of England," and
therefore of the world.
"Goose and Gridiron Tavern" continued to be the place of meeting of the Grand
Lodge until 1721, when in consequence of the need of more room from the
increase of lodges the annual feast was held at Stationers' Hall. (1) The
Grand Lodge never returned to the "Goose and Gridiron." It afterward held its
quarterly communications at various taverns, and the annual assembly and feast
always at some one of the Halls of the different Livery Companies of London.
This migratory system prevailed until the Freemasons were able to erect a Hall
of their own.
second lodge which engaged in 1717 in the organization of the Grand Lodge, met
at the "Crown Ale‑house" in Parker's Lanes near Drury Lane. According to Bro.
Gould, it removed about 1723 to the "Queen's Head," Turnstile, Holborn; to the
"Green Lettuce," Brownlow Street, in 1725; (2) thence to the "Rose and Rummer"
in 1728, and to the "Rose and Buffer" in 1729. In 1730 it met at the "Bull and
Gate," Holborn, and appearing for the last time in the list for 1736, was
struck off the roll in 1740.
had ceased to exist before that year, for Anderson, in the list published by
him in 1738, says: "The Crown in Parker's Lane, the other of the four old
Lodges, is now extinct." (3)
third lodge engaged in the Grand Lodge organization was that which met at the
"Apple Tree Tavern " in 1717. It was there
Anderson's "Constitutions," 2d edit., p. 112. (2) Gould's "Four Old Lodges,"
p. 6. (3) Anderson's " Constitutions," 2d edit., p. 185.
in February of that year the Freemasons who were preparing to sever the
connection between the Operative and Theoretic Masons, took the preliminary
steps toward effecting that design. From the "Apple Tree" it removed about
1723 to the Queen's Head," Knave's Acre; thence in 1740 to the George and
Dragon," Portland Street, Oxford Market; thence in 1744 to the "Swan" in the
same region. In the lists from 1768 to 1793 it is described as the Lodge of
Fortitude. After various other migrations, it amalgamated, in 1818, with the
Old Cumberland Lodge, and is now the Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No. 12
on the roll of the United Grand Lodge of England. (1)
this third or "Apple Tree" Lodge, Anthony Sayer, the first Grand Master of
England, was a member, and most probably was in 1717 or had been previously
the Master. In 1723 he is recorded as the Senior Warden of the Lodge, which is
certainly an evidence of his Masonic zeal.
last of the four old Lodges which constituted the Grand Lodge met in 1717 at
the "Rummer and Grapes Tavern," Westminster. It moved thence to the "Horn
Tavern," Westminster, in 1723. It seemed to be blessed with a spirit of
permanency which did not appertain to the three other lodges, for it remained
at the "Horn" for forty‑three years, not migrating until 1767, when it went to
the "Fleece," Tothill Street, Westminster. The year after it assumed the name
of the Old Horn Lodge. In 1774 it united with and adopted the name of the
Somerset House Lodge, and met at first at the "Adelphi" and afterward until
1815 at "Freemasons' Tavern." In 1828 it absorbed the Royal Inverness Lodge,
and is now registered on the roll of the United Grand Lodge of England as the
Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No. 4. (2)
Payne, who was twice Grand Master, in 1718 and in 1720, had been Master of the
original Rummer and Grapes Lodge. He must have been so before his first
election as Grand Master in 1718, and he is recorded in the first edition of
Anderson as having been its Master again in 1723. At one time the lodge
received an important benefit from this circumstance, as is shown by the
following record taken by Entick from the Minutes of the Grand Lodge.
Gould, "Four Old Lodges,"p.7. (2) lbid
1747 the lodge, whose number had been changed to No. 2, was erased from the
Books of Lodges for not obeying an order of the Quarterly Communication. But
in 1753, the members having petitioned the Grand Lodge for restoration, Entick
says in his edition of the Constitutions that "after a long debate, it was
ordered that in respect to Brother Payne, late Grand Master, the Lodge No. 2
lately held at the 'Horn' in Palace Yard, Westminster, should be restored and
have its former rank and place in the list of lodges."
who was a scholar, had done much for the advancement of Speculative
Freemasonry, and the Grand Lodge by this act paid a fitting homage to his
character and showed itself not unmindful of his services to the Fraternity.
are the facts, well authenticated by unquestioned historical authorities,
which are connected with the establishment of the first Grand Lodge of
Speculative Freemasons, not only in England, but in the world. Seeing that
nothing analogous has been anywhere found in the records of Masonry,
irrespective of its unauthenticated legends and traditions, it is proper,
before proceeding to inquire snto the condition of the Grand Lodge immediately
subsequent to its organization at the "Goose and Gridiron Tavern," that the
much discussed question, whether this organization was the invention of an
entirely new system or only the revival of an old, and for a short time
discontinued, one should be fairly considered.
this important subject our attention will be directed in the following
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE GRAND LODGE IN 17I7 A REVIVAL?
been the practice of at Masonic writers from the earliest period of its
literature to a very recent day, to designate the transaction which resulted
in the organization of the Grand Lodge of England in the year 1717 as the
"Revival of Freemasonry."
Anderson, writing in 1723, in the first edition of the Constitutions, says
that "the freeborn British nation had revived the drooping Lodges of London,"
and in the year 1738, in the second edition of the same work, he asserts that
the old Brothers who met at the "Apple Tree Tavern" "forthwith revived the
Quarterly Communication of the Officers of Lodges, called the Grand Lodge."
statement has been repeated by Preston, Calcott, Oliver, and all the older
Masonic authors who have written upon the subject, until it has become an
almost universal belief among the larger portion of the Fraternity that from
some unknown or indefinite era until the second decade of the 18th century the
Grand Lodge had been in a state of profound slumber, and that the Quarterly
Communications, once so common, had long been discontinued, through the
inertness and indifference of the Craft, while the lodges were drooping like
the year 1717, owing to the successful efforts of a few learned scholars, such
as Desaguliers, Anderson, and Payne, the Grand Lodge had been awakened from
its sleep of years, the Quarterly Communications had been renewed as of old,
and the lodges had sprung into fresh and vigorous existence. Such was for a
long time and indeed still is, to a diminished extent, the orthodox Masonic
creed respecting the Revival of Freemasonry in the 18th century.
this creed, popular as it is, has within a few years past been ruthlessly
attacked by some of our more advanced thinkers, who are skeptical where to
doubt is wise, and who are not prepared to aces cept legends as facts, nor to
confound trading with history.
now it is argued that before the year 1717 there never was a Grand Lodge in
England, and, of course, there could have been no Quarterly Communications.
Therefore, as there had not been a previous life, there could have been no
revival, but that the Grand Lodge established in June, 1717, was a new
invention, and the introduction of a system or plan of Freemasonry never
before heard of or seen.
of these two hypotheses is the correct one, or whether there is not a mezzo
termine ‑ a middle point or just mean between the two ‑ are questions well
worthy of examination.
first inquire what was the character of the four Lodges, and indeed of all the
lodges in England which were in existence at the time of the so‑ called
"Revival," or had existed at any previous time. What was the authority under
which they acted, what was their character, and how was this character
affected by the establishment of a new Grand Lodge ?
the authority under which the four old lodges, as well as all others that
existed in England, acted, it must be admitted that they derived that
authority from no power outside of themselves "The authority," says Bro.
Hughan, "by which they worked prior to the advent of the Grand Lodge was their
own. We know of no other prior to that period for England." (1)
Preston admits that previous to the year 1717 "a sufficient number of Masons
met together within a certain district, with the consent of the sheriff or
chief magistrate of the place, were empowered to make Masons and practice the
rites of Masonry without Warrant of Constitution.'' (2)
Hughan substantially repeats this statement in the follow ing language:
body of Masons in any district or town appear usually to have congregated and
formed lodges, and they had the 'Ancient Charges' or Rolls to guide them as to
the rules and regulations for Masons generally. There were no Grand Masters or
Grand Lodges before 1716‑17, and so there were no authorities excepting such
as the annual assemblies and the 'Old Charges' furnished in England."
See Voice of Masonry, vol. xiii., p. 571. (2) Preston's "Illustrations," p.
admits that "there were laws for the government of the lodges apparently,
though unwritten, which were duly observed by the brotherhood."
view is confirmed, impliedly, at least, by all the Old Constitutions in
manuscript, from the most ancient to the most recent. In none of these (and
the last of them has a date which is only three years prior to the so‑ called
" Revival") do we find any reference whatever to a Grand Lodge or to a Grand
Master. ldut they repeatedly speak of lodges in which Masons were to be "
accepted," and the counsels of which were to be kept secret by the Fellows.
only allusion made to the manner of organizing a lodge is contained in the
Harleian MS., which prescribes that it must consist of not less than five
Freemasons, one of whom must be a master or warden of the limit or division
wherein the lodge is held.
this regulation we are authorized, I think, to conclude, that in 1670, which
is the date of the Harleian MS., nothing more was necessary in forming a lodge
in which "to make Masons or practice the rites of Masonry," as Preston gives
the phrase, than that a requisite number should be present, with a Master or
Warden working in that locality.
the Master, as the word is here used, meant a Freemason of the highest rank,
who was engaged in building with workmen under him, and a Warden was one who
having passed out of his apprenticeship, had become a Fellow and was invested
with an authority over the other Fellows, inferior only to that of the Master.
The word and the office are recognized in the early English Charters as
pertaining to the ancient guilds. Thus the Charters granted in 1354 by Edward
III. gave the London Companies the privilege to elect annually for their
government "a certain number of Wardens." In 1377 an oath was prescribed
called the "Oath of the Wardens of the Crafts," which contained these words:
"Ye shall swere that ye shall wele and treuly oversee the Craft of ____
whereof ye be chosen Wardeyns for the year." In the reign of Elizabeth the
presiding officer began to be called the Master, and in the reign of James I.,
between 1603 and 1625, the guilds were generally governed by a Master and
Wardens. The government of lodges by a Master and Wardens must have been
introduced into the guilds of Masons in the 17th century, and this is rendered
probable by the fact that in the Harleian MS. just quoted, and whose
coniectural date is 1670, it is provided "that for the future the sayd
Society, Company and Fraternity of Free Masons shall be regulated and governed
by One Master & Assembly & Wardens as the said Company shall think to choose,
at every yearely General Assembly."
similar officer in the Sullen or Lodges of the old German Freemasons was
called the Parlirer.
arrive, then, at the conclusion that in the 17th century, while there were
permanent lodges in various places which were presided over by a Master and
Wardens, any five Freemasons might open a temporary or "occasional" lodge for
the admission of members of the Craft, provided one of these five was either
the Master or a Warden of a permanent lodge in the neighborhood.
of no other way of reasonably interpreting the 26th article contained in the
nowhere, in any of the Old Constitutions, before or after the Harleian, even
as late as 1714, which is the date of the Papworth MS., do we find the
slightest allusion to any exterior authority which was required to constitute
either permanent or temporary lodges.
statement of Preston is thus fully sustained by the concurrent testimony of
the old manuscripts. Therefore, when Anderson in his first edition gives the
form of constituting a new lodge and says that it is "according to the ancient
usages of Masonry," (1) he indulges in a rhetorical flourish that has no
foundation in truth. There is no evidence of the slightest historical value
that any such usage existed before the second decade of the 18th century.
immediately after what is called the Revival the system of forming lodges
which had been practiced was entirely changed. Preston says that among a
variety of regulations which were proposed and agreed to at the meeting in
1717, was the following:
the privilege of assembling as Masons, which had been hitherto unlimited,
should be vested in certain lodges or assemblies of Masons convened in certain
places; and that every lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old
lodges at this time existing, should be legally authorized to act by a warrant
from the Grand Master for the time being granted to certain individuals by
petition, with the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in
Anderson's "Constitutions," 1st edition, p. 71.
that without such warrant no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or
have this regulation on the evidence of Preston alone, for according to the
unfortunate usage of our early Masonic writers, he cites no authority. It is
not mentioned by Anderson, and the preserved minutes of the Grand Lodge of
England extend no farther than the 25th of November, 1723.
as Preston gives it within quotation marks, and as it bears internal evidence
in its phraseology of having been a formal regulation adopted at or very near
the period to which Preston assigns it, we may accept it as authentic and
suppose that he had access to sources of information no longer extant. As the
Grand Lodge was organized in 1717 in the rooms of the lodge of which Preston
afterward became a member, it is very possible that that lodge may have had in
its possession the full records of that meeting, which were in existence when
Preston wrote, but have since been lost. (2)
events the "General Regulations," compiled by Grand Master Payne in 1720, and
approved the next year by the Grand Lodge, contain a similar provision in the
any set or number of Masons shall take upon themselves to form a lodge without
the Grand Master's warrant, the regular lodges are not to countenance them,
nor own them as fair Brethren and duly formed, nor approve of their acts and
deeds; but must treat them as rebels, until they humble themselves, as the
Grand Master shall, in his prudence, direct; and until he approve of them by
his warrant." (3)
compare the usage by which lodges were brought into existence under the wholly
Operative rules, and that adopted by the Speculative Freemasons after the
organization of the Grand Lodge in 1717, we will very clearly see that there
was here no revival of an old system which had fallen into decay and disuse,
but the invention of one that was entirely new and never before heard of.
next point to be examined in discussing the question whether
Preston, "Illustrations," p. 191. (2) Findel ("History," p. 140), says the
regulation was adopted at a later period, in 1723 This he had no right to do.
Preston is our only authority for the regulation, and his statement must be
taken without qualification or wholly rejected. Findel was probably led into
his error by seeing the General Regulation above quoted, which was very
similar This was published in 1723, but it had been adopted by the Grand Lodge
in 1721. (3) "General Regulations," art. viii. Anderson, 1st edition, p. 60.
the transactions of 1717 constituted a Revival will be the character of the
lodges before and after those transactions as compared with each other.
the 17th century, to go no farther back, and up to the second decade of the
18th, all the lodges of Freemasons in England were Operative lodges, that is
to say, the larger portion of their members were working Masons, engaged in
building according to certain principles of architecture with which they alone
had admitted among their members persons of rank or learning who were not
Operative Masons or builders by profession, but all their laws and regulations
were applicable to a society of mechanics or workingmen.
are no minutes in England, as there are in Scotland, of lodges prior to the
beginning of the 18th century. They have all been lost, and the only one
remaining is that of the Alnwick Lodge, the records of which begin in the year
the "Old Charges" contained in the manuscript Constitutions which extend from
1390 to 1714, of which more than twenty have been preserved, supply us
(especially the later ones of the 17th century) with the regulations by which
the Craft was governed during the ante‑revival period.
unnecessary to quote in extenso any one of these Old Constitutions. It is
sufficient to say that they bear the strongest internal evidence that they
were compiled for the use of purely Operative Masons.
were wholly inapplicable to any merely moral or speculative association.
Excepting those clauses which directed how the craftsmen were to conduct
themselves both in the lodge and out of it, so that the reputation of the
Brotherhood should not be injured, they were mainly engaged in prescribing how
the Masons should labor in their art of building, so that the employer might
be "truly served." The same regulations would be just as applicable, mutatis
mutandis, to a Guild of Carpenters, of Smiths, or any other mechanical trade,
as to one of Masons.
while these lodges were wholly Operative in their character and design, there
is abundant evidence, as I have heretofore shown, that they admitted into
their companionship persons who were not Masons by profession. The article in
the Harleian Constitutions, to which reference has just been made, while
stating that a lodge called to make a Mason must consist of five Free Masons,
adds that one of them at least shall be "of the trade of Free Masonry." The
other four, of course, might be non‑ operatives, that is to say, persons of
rank, wealth, or learning who were sometimes called Theoretic and sometimes
the laws enacted for the government of the Craft, no exceptional provision was
made in them, by which any difference was created in the privileges of the two
admission of these Theoretic Masons into the Fraternity did not, therefore, in
the slightest degree affect the Operative character of the Craft, except in so
far as that the friendly collision with men of education must have given to
the less educated members a portion of refinement that could not fail to
elevate them above the other Craft Guilds.
intimate was the connection between these Operative Freemasons and their
successors, the Speculatives, that the code of laws prepared in 1721 by
Anderson at the direction of the Grand Lodge, and published in 1723, under the
title of The Charges of a Free‑Mason, for the use of the Lodges in London, was
a transcript with no important variations from these Old Constitutions, or as
Anderson calls them, the "Old Gothic Constitutions."
these "Charges" have now been accepted by the modern Fraternity of
English‑speaking Freemasons as the basis of what are called the Landmarks of
the Order, to make them of any use it has been found absolutely necessary to
give them a symbolic or figurative sense.
"to work," which in the Operative Constitution signifies "to build," is
interpreted in the Speculative system as meaning "to confer degrees;" the
clause which prescribes that "all the tools used in working shall be approved
by the Grand Lodge" is interpreted as denoting that the ritual, ceremonies,
and by‑laws of every lodge must be subjected to the supervision of the Grand
Lodge. Thus every regulation which clearly referred to a fraternity of
builders has, in the course of the modifications which were necessary to
render it applicable to a moral association, been made to adopt a figurative
the significant fact that while in the government of Speculative Freemasonry
the spirit and meaning of these "Old Charges" have been entirely altered, the
words have been carefully retained is an important and irrefutable proof that
the Speculative system is the direct successor of the Operative.
when the Theoretic or Gentleman Masons had, in the close of the 17th and the
beginning of the 18th century, acquired such a preponderance in numbers and in
influence in the London lodges that they were able so to affect the character
of those lodges as to divert them from the practice of an Operative art to the
pursuit of a Speculative science, such change could not be called a Revival,
if we respected the meaning of that word. Nothing of the kind had been known
before; and when the members of the lodges ceased to pay any attention to the
craft or mystery of practical stonemasonry, and resolved to treat it
thenceforth in a purely symbolic sense, this act could be deemed nothing else
but a new departure in the career of Freemasonry.
ship was still there, but the object of the voyage had been changed.
we find a third change in the character of the Masonic society when we compare
the general government of the Craft as it appears before and after the year
change is particularly striking in respect to the way in which the Craft were
ruled in their Operative days, compared with the system which was adopted by
the Speculative Freemasons.
already been said that prior to the year 1717, there never were Grand Masters
or a Grand Lodge except such as were mythically constructed by the romantic
genius of Dr. Anderson.
only historical records that we have of the condition of Freemasonry in
England and of the usages of the Craft during the three centuries which
preceded the 18th, are to be found in the old manuscript Constitutions.
thoroughly careful examination of these documents will show that neither in
the Legend of the Craft, which constitutes the introductory portion of each
Constitution, nor in the "Charges" which follow, is there the slightest
allusion, either in direct language or by implication, to the office of Grand
Master or to the body now called a Grand Lodge.
can not be denied that there was an annual convocation of the Craft, which was
called sometimes the "Congregations" sometimes the "Assembly," and sometimes
the "General Assembly." We must accept this as an historical fact, or we must
repudiate all the manuscript Constitutions from the 14th to the 18th century.
In all of them there is an unmistakable allusion to this annual convocation of
the Craft, and regulations are made concerning attendance on it.
the Halliwell MS. says that "every Master who is a Mason must be present at
the general congregation if he is duly informed where the assembly is to be
holden; and to that assembly he must go unless he have a reasonable excuse."
precise words of this most ancient of all the Old Masonic Constitutions,
dating, as it does, not later than toward the close of the 14th century, are
every mayster, that ys a mason, Must ben at the generate congregracyon, So
that he hyt reasonably y‑tolde Where that the semble' schal be holde; And to
that semble' he must nede gon, But he have a resonabul skwsacyon.
Cooke MS., which is about a century later, has a similar provision. This
manuscript is important, inasmuch as it describes the character of the
Assembly and defines the purposes for which it was to be convoked.
states that the Assembly, or, as it is there called, the Congregation, shall
assemble once a year, or at least once in three years, for the examination of
Master Masons, to see that they possessed sufficient skill and knowledge in
important admission in this manuscript is that the regulation for the
government of this Assembly "is written and taught in our book of charges."
the subsequent Constitutions make a similar statement in words that do not
Harleian MS., whose date is about the last quarter of the 17th century, says
that Euclid gave the admonition that the Masons were to assemble once a year
to take counsel how the Craft could best work so as to serve their Lord and
Master for his profit and their credit, and to correct such as had offended.
And in another MS., much earlier than the Harleian, it is said that the
Freemasons should attend the Assembly, and if any had trespassed against the
Craft, he should there abide the award of the Masters and Fellows.
Assembly met that statutes or regulations might be enacted for the government
of the Craft, and that controversies between the craftsmen might be
both a legislative and a judicial body, and in these respects resembled the
Grand Lodge of the present day, but in no other way was there any similitude
between the two.
leaving out of the question the legendary parts which ascribe the origin of
this annual assembly to Euclid or Athelstan or Prince Edwin, which, of course,
are of no historical authority, it is impossible to believe that all these
Constitutions should speak of the existence of such an Assembly at the time of
writing, and lay down a regulation in the most positive terms, that every
Mason should attend it, if the whole were a mere figment of the imagination.
account for the mythical character of a legend, but we cannot for the mythical
character of a law which has been enacted at a specified time for the
government of an association, which law continues to be repeated in all the
copies of the statutes written or published for more than three centuries
establishment of a Grand Lodge with quarterly meetings and an annual one in
which a Grand Master and other Grand Ofiicers were elected for the following
year, we find no analogy to anything that had existed previous to the year
1717. We cannot, therefore, in these points call the organization which took
place in. that year a "Revival." It was, rather, a radical change in the
construction of the system.
Another change, and a very important one, too, which occurred a short time
after the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, was that which
had reference to the ritual or forms of initiation. During the purely
Operative period of Freemasonry it is now well known that there was but one
esoteric system of admission to the brotherhood of the Craft. This we also
know was common to the three classes of Masters, Fellows, and Apprentices.
There was, in fact, if we may use the technical language of modern
Freemasonry, but one degree practiced by the Operative Craft.
the Theoretic members of the London lodges dissociated from the Operatives in
the year 1717 and formed the Speculative system, they, of course, at first
accepted the old method of admission. But in the course of two or three vears
they adopted another system and fabricated what are now called the three
degrees of ancient Craft Masonry, each one of which was exclusively
appropriated as a form of initiation to one of the three classes and to that
one only. What had formerly been a division of the Fraternity into three
classes or ranks became now a division into three degrees. (1)
was a most important change, and as nothing of the kind was known to the Craft
in the years prior to the establishment of the Grand Lodge, it certainly can
not be considered a correct use of the word to call an entire change of a
system and the adoption of a new one a revival of the old.
W.P. Buchan, in numerous articles published in the London Freemason, about
1870, attacked what has been called the Revival theory with much vigor but
with exaggerated views. He contends that "our system of degrees, words, grips,
signs, etc., was not in existence until about A.D. 1717, and he attributes the
present system to the inventive genius of Anderson and Desaguliers. Hence he
contends that modern Freemasonry was simply a reconstruction of an ancient
society, viz., of some old Pagan philosophy. This he more fully explains in
"Before the 18th century we had a renaissance of Pagan architecture; then to
follow suit in the 18th century we had a renaissance in a new dress of Pagan
mysticism; but for neither are we indebted to the Operative Masons, although
the Operative Masons were made use of in both cases." (2)
is in this statement a mixture of truth and error. It is undoubtedly true that
the three degrees into which the system is now divided were unknown to the
Freemasons of the 17th century, and that they were an invention of those
scholars who organized the Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasonry, mainly of
Dr. Desaguliers, assisted perhaps by Anderson and Payne. But there were signs
of recognition, methods of government, legends, and some form, though a simple
one of initiation, which were in existence prior to the 18th century, which
formed the kernel of the more elaborate system of the modern Freemasons.
Hughan calls attention to the fact, if there were need of
is not necessary to enter at this time into an examination and defense of this
hypothesis, as the history of the fabrication of the three degrees will be
made the subject of a future chapter. (2) London Freemason, September 29,
proofs, in addition to what has been found in the authentic accounts of the
mediaeval Freemasons, that in the Tatler, published in 1709, is a passage in
which the writer, speaking of a class of men called the "Pretty Fellows," says
that "they have their signs and tokens like the Freemasons." (1)
fact, Bro. Buchan admits that the "elements or ground work" of the system
existed before the year 1717.
is in fact the only hypothesis that can be successfully maintained on the
Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasons, which was organized at the "Goose and
Gridiron Tavern" in London in the year 1717, was a new system, founded on the
older one which had existed in England years before, and which had been
derived from the Operative Freemasons of the Middle Ages.
not, as Hyneman (2) has called it, a Revolution, for that would indicate a
violent disruption, and a sudden and entire change of principles.
not a Revival, as most of the earlier writers have entitled it, for we should
thus infer that the new system was only a renewal without change of the old
was a gradual transition from an old into a new system ‑ of Operative into
Speculative Freemasonry ‑ in which Transition the later system has been built
upon the earlier, and the practical art of building has been spiritualized
into a theoretic science of morality, illustrated by a symbolism drawn
principally from architecture.
thus recognize the regular descent of the modern Speculative Freemasons from
their older Operative predecessors, and we answer the question which forms the
heading of the present chapter.
has been said that in one sense at least we may with propriety apply the word
"Revival" to the transactions of the early part of the 18th century. Operative
Freemasonry, and what very little of the Speculative element that had been
engrafted on it, had, we are told, begun to decline in England in the latter
part of the 17th century.
Voice of Masonry, April, 1873. (2) In a work abounding in errors, entitled
"Ancient York and London Grand Lodges," by Lem Hyneman, Philadelphia, 1872.
Its fallacies as a contribution to Masonic history have been shown bv the
incisive but courteous criticism of Bro. Hughan.
may rely on the authority of Preston, the fraternity at the time of the
revolution in 1688 was so much reduced in the south of England, that no more
than seven regular lodges met in London and its suburbs, of which two only
were worthy of notice. (1) Anderson mentions seven by their locality, and says
that there were "some more that assembled statedly." (2)
were, of course, all purely Operative lodges. Thus one of them, Anderson tells
us, was called upon to give architectural counsel as to the best design of
rebuilding St. Thomas's Hospital, (3) a clear evidence that its members were
this decline in the number of the lodges may possibly be attributed to local
and temporary causes. It was certainly not accompanied, as might have been
expected, with a corresponding decline in the popularity of the institution,
for if we may believe the same authority, " at a general assembly and feast of
the Masons in 1697, many noble and eminent brethren were present." (4)
admitting that there was a decline, it was simply a decline of the Operative
lodges. And the act of 1717 was not to revive them, but eventually to
extinguish them and to establish Speculative lodges in their place; nor was it
to revive Operative Freemasonry, but to establish for it another and an
entirely different institution.
arrive, therefore, again at the legitimate conclusion that the establishment
of the Grand Lodge of England in June, 1717, was not a revival of the old
system of Freemasonry, which soon after became extinct, but its change into a
remained of the Operative Freemasons who did go into the new association were
merged in the Masons' Company, or acted fhenceforward as individual craftsmen
unconnected with a guild.
Preston, "Illustrations. (2) Anderson, "Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 107.
(3) Ibid., p. 106. (4) Preston, " Illustrations," p. 189.
EARLY YEARS OF SPECULATIVE FREEMASONRY IN ENGLAND
feast of St. John the Baptist, the 24th of June, in the year 1717, the
principal members of the four old Operative Lodges in London, who had
previously met in February and agreed to constitute a Grand Lodge of Free and
Accepted Masons, assembled at the "Goose and Gridiron Tavern" in St. Paul's
Churchyard with some other old Masons, and there and then organized the new
was accomplished by electing a Grand Master and two Grand Wardens, after which
the Brethren proceeded to partake of a dinner, a custom which has ever since
been continued under the name of the Grand Feast.
written minutes in the record book of the Grand Lodge do not begin before
November, 1723, we are indebted for all that we know of the transactions on
that eventful day to the meager account contained in the 2d edition of Dr.
Anderson's Constitutions, with a few additional details which are given by
Preston in his Illustrations.
Preston cites no authority for the facts which he has stated. But as the
meeting of the Grand Lodge was held in the room of the lodge which afterward
became the Lodge of Antiquity, and of which Preston was a prominent member, it
is not improbable that some draft of those early proceedings may have been
contained in the archives of that lodge, which have been since lost. To these
Preston would naturally, from his connection with the lodge, have had access.
If such were the case, it is very certain that he must have made use of them
in compiling his history.
disposed, therefore, from these circumstances, together with the consideration
of the character of Preston, to accept his statements as authentic, though
they are unsupported by any contemporary authority now extant. (1)
first indication of a change, though not purposely intended, by which the
Operative system was to become eventually a Speculative one, is seen in the
election as presiding officers of three persons who were not Operative Masons.
Anthony Sayer, the first Grand Master, is described by Anderson in his record
of the election by the legal title of "Gentleman," a title which, by the laws
of honor, was bestowed upon one who can live without manual labor and can
support himself without interfering in any mechanical employment. Such a
person, say the heralds, "is called Mr., and may write himself Gentleman." (2)
"Anthony Sayer, Gentleman," as he is described in the record, was undoubtedly
a mere Theoretic member of the Masonic association and not an Operative Mason.
two Grand Wardens who were elected at the same time, one was Captain Joseph
Elliot. Of his social position we have no further knowledge that what is
conveyed by the title prefixed to his name, which would indicate that he was
of the military profession, probably a retired or half‑pay officer of the
other Grand Warden was Mr. Jacob Lamball, who is designated as being a
we see that the first three officers of the Grand Lodge were not Operative
members of the Craft of Masonry.
choice, however, of a Carpenter, a profession closely connected with that of
the Masons, affords proof that it was not intended to confine the future
Speculative society altogether to persons who were not mechanics.
succeeding election in 1718 George Payne, Esq., was elected Grand Master. He
was an Antiquary and scholar of considerable ability, and was well calculated
to represent the Speculative character of the new association.
Wardens were Mr. John Cordwell and Mr. Thomas Morrice. The former is described
as a Carpenter and the latter as a Stonecutter.
Preston is, however, sometimes careless, a charge to which all the early
Masonic writers are amenable. Thus, he says that Sayer appointed his Wardens.
But these officers were, like the Grand Master, elected until 1721, when, for
the first time, they were appointed by the Grand Master. (2) "Laws of Honor,"
the choice of these officers was an evident concession to the old Operative
element, the election of Payne was a step forward in the progressive movement
which a few years afterward led to the total emancipation of Speculative
Freemasonry from all connection with practical building. Northouck attests
that "to the active zeal of Grand Master Payne the Society are under a lasting
obligation for introducing brethren of noble rank into the fraternity." (1)
the very beginning the Grand Lodge had confined its selection of Grand Masters
to persons of good social position, of learning, or of rank, though for a few
years it occasionally conferred the Grand Wardenship on Operative Masons or on
craftsmen of other trades.
year 1719 Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers was elected Grand Master, and
Anthony Sayer and Thomas Morrice Grand Wardens. Desaguliers was a natural
philosopher of much reputation and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Sayer had
been the first Grand Master, and Morrice, who was a stonecutter or Operative
Mason, had been a Warden the previous year.
1720 Payne was again elected Grand Master, and Thomas Hobby and Richard Ware
were chosen as Grand Wardens. Hobby, like his predecessor, Morrice, was an
Operative Mason or stonecutter, and Ware was a mathematician.
1721 the Duke of Montagu was elected Grand Master. He was the first nobleman
who had served in that capacity, and from that day to the present the throne
of the Grand Lodge of England, as it is technically styled, has without a
single exception been occupied by persons of royal or noble rank.
this year the office of Deputy Grand Master was created, and the power of
choosing him as well as the Grand Wardens was taken from the Grand Lodge and
invested in the Grand Master, a law which still continues in force.
Accordingly, the Duke of Montagu appointed John Beal, a physician, his Deputy,
and Josiah Villeneau, who was an upholsterer, and again Thomas Morrice, his
Duke of Wharton, who was Grand Master in 1722, appointed Dr. Desaguliers his
Deputy, and Joshua Timson and James
Northouck's " Constitutions anno 1784," p. 207. Entick ("Constitutions," 1756,
p. 190) had made a similar remark.
Anderson his Wardens. Timson was a blacksmith and Anderson a clergyman,
well‑known afterward as the Compiler of the first and second editions of the
Book of Constitutions.
1723 the Earl of Dalkeith was Grand Master, Desaguliers again Deputy, and
Francis Sorrel, Esq., and John Senex, a bookseller, Wardens.
1717 to 1722 the claims of the Operative Masons to hold a share of the offices
had, as Gould (1) remarks, been fairly recognized. The appointment of
Stonecutters, Carpenters, and other mechanics as Grand Wardens had been a
concession by the Speculative members to the old Operative element.
1723 the struggle between the two, which is noticed in the records of the
society only by its results, terminated in the complete victory of the former,
who from that time restricted the offices to persons of rank, of influence, or
of learning. From the year 1723 no Operative Mason or workman of any trade was
ever appointed as a Warden. In the language of Gould, "they could justly
complain of their total supercession in the offices of the society.
silent progress of events shows very clearly how the Freemasons who founded
the Speculative Grand Lodge in 1717 on the principles and practices of
Operative Freemasonry as they prevailed in the four Lodges of London,
gradually worked themselves out of all connection with their Operative
brethren and eventually made Freemasonry what it now is, a purely Speculative,
philosophical, and moral institution.
the coalition of the four Lodges into one supervising body, the next step in
the progress to pure Speculative Freemasonry was to prevent the formation of
other lodges which might be independent of the supervision of the Grand Lodge,
and thus present an obstacle to the completion of the reformation.
could only be accomplished by a voluntary relinquishment, on the part of the
four Lodges, of their independency and an abandonment of their privileges.
conference at the "Apple Tree Tavern" in February, 1717, and that at the
"Goose and Gridiron" in June of the same year, were what, at the present day,
would be called mass‑meetings of the
"Four Old Lodges," p. 33.
They resembled in that respect the General Assembly spoken of in the old
manuscript Constitutions, and every Freemason was required to attend if it
were held within a reasonable distance, (1) and if he had no satisfactory
excuse for his absence.
Attendance at these conferences which resulted in the establishment of the
Grand Lodge was open, not only to all the members of the four Lodges, but to
other Masons who were not, to use a modern phrase, affiliated with any one of
Lodges," that is, the members of them, says Anderson, "with some old
Brothers." Preston calls them more distinctively Some other old Brethren."
Both of these phrases, of course, indicate that these "old Brethren" were not
among the members of the four Lodges, but were Freemasons who had either, on
account of their age, retired from active participation in the labors of the
Craft, or who had been members of other lodges which were then extinct.
preliminary meeting in February, they voted, says Preston, "the oldest Master
Mason then present into the Chair." Anderson, writing in 1738, adds "now the
Master of a Lodge," by which I suppose he meant that the oldest Master Mason
who presided in 1717 became in 1738 the Master of a Lodge. I know of no other
way of interpreting the significance of the particle "now." They then
"constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro tempore in due form."
"due form," I think, could have amounted to no more than a formal declaration
of the intention to establish a Grand Lodge, which intention was carried out
in the following June by the election of a Grand Master and Wardens.
Freemasons of America are familiar with the methods pursued in the
organization of a Grand Lodge in a territory where none had previously
existed. Here a certain number of lodges, not less than three, assemble
through their three principal officers and constitute a Convention, which
proceeds to the election of a Grand Master and other officers, directs the
lodges to surrender the Warrants under which they had been working to the
Grand Lodges from which they had originally received them, and then issues new
ones. The new Grand Lodge thus becomes " an accomplished fact."
most of the Constitutions that distance is defined to be not more than fifty
this was not the method adopted in the establishment of the Grand Lodge of
England in the year 1717. Instead of the representation of the four Lodges
being restricted to the Masters and Wardens of each, all the members, down to
the youngest Entered Apprentice, together with Masons who were not affiliated
with any lodge, met together.
chair, according to Preston, in the preliminary meeting in February had been
taken by the oldest Master Mason present. At this meeting the oldest Master
Mason, who at the same time was Master of one of the four Lodges, presided.
Then the Grand Lodge was duly organized by the election of its first three
now it became necessary to secure the sovereignty of the new Grand Lodge as
the future supervising body of the Craft, and to prevent any additional lodges
being established without its authority, so that the system might be perfected
in the future according to the method which was originally designed by its
the first regulation which was adopted at the meeting in June, 1717, was to
effect this object.
Hitherto, as we have already seen, the Operative Freemasons possessed a
privilege derived from the Old Constitutions of the Guild (and which is
formally enunciated in the Harleian MS.) of assembling in lodges for the
purpose of "making Masons" under very simple provisions. There was no
necessity for a Warrant or permission from a superior Masonic body to make
such an assembly legal.
now it was resolved that this privilege should be abolished. No number of
Masons were hereafter to assemble as a lodge without the consent of the Grand
Lodge, expressed by the granting of a Warrant of Constitution or Charter
authorizing them to constitute or form themselves into a lodge. Without such
Warrant, says Preston, no lodge should hereafter be deemed regular or
this regulation, however, the four Lodges which had cooperated in the
formation of the Grand Lodge were excepted. They, so long as they existed,
were to be the only lodges working without a Warrant and deriving their
authority to do so from "immemorial usage."
effect of this regulation was to throw an insurmountable obstacle in the way
of any new lodge being formed which was not Speculative in its character and
in perfect accord with the new system, from whose founders or their successors
it was to derive its existence.
it was the most fatal blow that had as yet been struck against the continuance
of the Guild of purely Operative Freemasonry. No purely Operative nor half
Operative and half Speculative lodges, we may be sure, would thereafter be
this time all lodges were to consist of Speculative Freemasons only and were
to form a part of the new non‑Operative system, of which the first organized
Grand Lodge was the head and exercised the sovereign power.
true that Preston tells us that long before this period a regulation had been
adopted by which "the privileges of Masonry should no longer be restricted to
Operative Masons," but allowed to men of various professions; and it is also
well known that there hardly ever was a time in the history of Operative
Freemasonry when Theoretic or non‑Operative persons were not admitted into the
this was taking a step farther, and a very long step, too. Membership in the
new society was no longer a privilege extended by courtesy to Theoretic
Masons. It was to be a franchise of which they alone were to be possessors.
Operative Masons, merely as such, were to be excluded. In other words, no
Operative Mason was to be admitted into the Fraternity because he was an
Operative. He was, on his admission, to lay aside his profession, and unite
with the others in the furtherance of the purely Speculative design of the
has continued to the present day, and so it must continue as long as the
system of Speculative Freemasonry shall last. Operative Freemasonry, "wounded
in the house of its friends," has never covered from the blow thus inflicted.
Operative Masonry, for building purposes, still lives and must always live to
serve the needs of man.
Operative Freemasonry, as a Guild, is irrecoverably dead.
impossible to say for how long a time the meetings of the Grand Lodge
continued to be attended by all the members of the particular lodges, or, in
other words, when these assemblies ceased, like those of the old Operative
Freemasons, to be mass‑meetings of the Craft.
the rapidly growing popularity of the new Order must have rendered such
meetings very inconvenient from the increase of members.
Anderson says that in 1718 Several old Brothers that had neglected the Craft
visited the lodges; some noblemen were also made Brothers and more new lodges
were constituted." (1)
Northouck, writing in reference to the same period, says that the Free and
Accepted Masons "now began visibly to gather strength as a body," (2) and we
are told that at the annual feast in 1721 the number of lodges had so
increased (3) that the General Assembly required more room, and therefore the
Grand Lodge was on that occasion removed to Stationers' Hall, nor did it ever
afterward return to its old quarters at the "Goose and Gridiron Tavern."
unwieldiness of numbers would alone be sufficient to suggest the convenience
of changing the constitution of the Grand Lodge from a mass‑meeting of the
Fraternity into a representative body.
was effected by the passage of a regulation dispensing with the attendance of
the whole of the Craft at the annual meeting, and authorizing each lodge to be
represented by its Master and two Wardens.
have no positive knowledge of the exact date when this regulation was adopted.
It first appears in the "General Regulations" which were compiled by Grand
Master Payne in 1720, and approved by the Grand Lodge in 1721. The twelfth of
these Regulations is in these words:
Grand Lodge consists of, and is formed by, the Masters and Wardens of all the
regular, particular lodges upon record, with the Grand Master at their head,
and his Deputy on his left hand, and the Grand Wardens in their proper
Preston says that the Grand Lodge having resolved that the four old Lodges
should retain every privilege which they had collectively enjoyed by virtue of
their immemorial rights, the members considered their attendance on the future
Communications of the Grand Lodge unnecessary. They "therefore, like the other
lodges, trusted implicitly to their Master and Wardens, resting satisfied
Anderson, "Constitutions," 2d ed., p. 110. (2) Northouck, "Constitutions," p.
207. (3) There were at that time twenty lodges, and the number of Freemasons
who attended the annual meetings and feast was one hundred and fifty.
no measure of importance would be adopted without their approbation." (1)
adds that the officers of the four old Lodges "soon began to discover" that
the new lodges might in time outnumber the old ones and encroach upon their
privileges. They therefore formed a code of laws, the last clause of which
provided that the Grand Lodge in making any new regulations should be bound by
a careful observation of the old landmarks.
unfortunate that in treating this early period of Masonic history Preston
should be so careless and confused in his chronology as to compel us to depend
very much upon inference in settling the sequence
may, however, I think, be inferred from the remarks of Preston, and from what
little we can collect from Anderson's brief notices, that the Grand Lodge
continued to be a mass‑meeting, attended by all the Craft, until the annual
feast on the 24th of June, 1721. At that communication Anderson records that
the Grand Lodge was composed of "Grand Master with hisWardens, the former
Grand officers, and the Master and Wardens of the twelve lodges." (2) In all
subsequent records he mentions the number of lodges which were represented by
their officers, though the Grand Feast still continued to be attended by as
many Masons as desired to partake of the dinner and, I suppose, were willing
to pay their scot. (3)
was, therefore, I think, not till 1721 that the Grand Lodge assumed that form
which made it a representative body, consisting of the Masters and Wardens of
the particular lodges, together with the officers of the Grand Lodge.
form has ever since been retained in the organization of every Grand Lodge
that has directly or indirectly emanated from the original body.
was another significant token of the total disseverance that was steadily
taking place between the Operative and the Speculative systems.
Hitherto we have been occupied with the consideration of the
"Illustrations," p. 193 (2) "Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 112. (3) The only
qualification for attendance on the feast was that the guests must be Masons:
therefore waiting brethren were appointed to attend the tables, "for that no
strangers must be there." ‑ "Constitutions," 2d ed., p. 112.
transactions recorded as having taken place at the annual meetings. We are now
to inquire when these meetings began to be supple. mented by Quarterly
an historical question presents itself, which, so far as I am aware, has not
been distinctly met and treated by any of our Masonic scholars. They all seem
to have taken it for granted on the naked authority of Anderson and Preston,
that the Quarterly Communications were coeval with the organization of the
Grand Lodge in the year 1717
this an historical fact? I confess that on this subject a shadow of doubt has
been cast that obscures my clearness of vision.
Anderson says, and Preston repeats the statement, that at the preliminary
meeting in February, 1717, at the "Apple Tree Tavern," it was resolved if to
revive the Quarterly Communications."
these two authorities (and they are the only ones that we have on the subject)
differ in some of the details. And these differences are important enough to
throw a doubt on the truth of the statement.
Anderson says in one place that in February, 1717, they "forthwith revived the
Quarterly Communications of the officers of lodges called the Grand Lodge."
Afterward he says that at the meeting in June, 1717, Grand Master Sayer
"commanded the Masters and Wardens of lodges to meet the Grand officers every
quarter in communication, at the place he should appoint in his summons sent
by the Tyler." (2)
Preston says that in February "it was resolved to revive the Quarterly
Communications of the Fraternity." (3) Immediately after he adds that in June
the Grand Master "commanded the Brethren of the four Lodges to meet him and
his Wardens quarterly in communication." (4)
according to Preston, the Quarterly Communications were to apply to the whole
body of the Fraternity; but Anderson restricted them to the Masters and
Wardens of the lodges.
two statements are irreconcilable. A mass‑meeting of the whole Fraternity and
a consultation of the Masters and Wardens of the lodges are very different
both are in error in saying that the Quarterly Communications
Anderson, " Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 109 (2) Ibid., p. 110. (3) Preston,
" Illustrations," p. 191. (4) Ibid.
FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY
revived," for there is no notice of or allusion to Quarterly Communications in
any of the old records which speak only of an annual General Assembly of the
Craft, and sometimes perhaps occasional assemblies for special purposes.
can be no doubt that such was the usage among the English mediaeval guilds, a
usage which must have been applicable to the Freemasons as well as to other
Crafts. "The distinction," says J. Toulmin Smith, "between the gatherings
(congregations) and general meetings (assemblies) is seen at a glance in most
of the ordinances. The guild brethren were bound to gather together, at
unfixed times, for special purposes; but besides these gatherings upon special
summons, general meetings of the guilds were held on fixed days in every year
for the election of officers, holding their feasts, etc." (1)
not see any analogy in these gatherings of local guilds to the Quarterly
Communications of the Grand Lodge spoken of by Anderson. The analogy is rather
to the monthly meetings of the particular lodges as contrasted with the annual
meeting of the Grand Lodge.
if, as Anderson and Preston say, the Quarterly Communications were "forthwith
revived" in 1717, it is singular that there is no record of any one having
been held until December, 1720. After that date we find the Quarterly
Communications regularly recorded by Anderson as taking place at the times
appointed in the Regulations which were compiled in 1720 by Grand Master
Payne, namely, "about Michaelmas, Christmas, and Lady Day," that is, in
September, December, and March.
word "about" in the 12th Regulation permitted some latitude as to the precise
day of meeting.
Accordingly, we find that Quarterly Communications were held in 1721 in March,
September, and December; in 1722, in March, but the others appeared to have
been neglected, perhaps in consequence of irregularities attendant on the
illegal election of the Duke of Wharton; in 1723 there were Quarterly
Communications in April and November, and the December meeting was postponed
to the following January; in 1724 they occurred in February and November; in
1725 in May, November, and December, and so on, but with greater regularity,
in all the subsequent proceedings of the Grand Lodge as recorded in the Book
of Constitutions by Anderson,
"English Guilds," p. 128, note.
and by his successors Entick and Northouck in the subsequent editions.
Looking at the silence or the records in respect to Quarterly Communications
from 1717 to 1720; then to the regular appear ance of such records after that
year, and seeing that in the latter year the provision for them was first
inserted in the General Regulations compiled at that time by Grand Master
Payne, I trust that I shall not be deemed too skeptical or too hypercritical,
if I confess my doubt of the accuracy of Anderson, who has, whether wilfully
or carelessly, I will not say, attributed the establishment of these Quarterly
Communications to Grand Master Sayer, when the honor, if there be any,
properly belongs to Grand Master Payne.
next subject that will attract our attention in this sketch of the early
history of the Grand Lodge, is the method in which the laws which regulated
the original Operative system were gradually modified and at length completely
changed so as to be appropriate to the peculiar needs of a wholly Speculative
the four old Lodges united, in the year 1717, in organizing a Grand Lodge, it
is very evident that the only laws which governed them must have been the
"Charges" contained in the manuscript Constitutions or such private
regulations adopted by the lodges, as were conformable to them.
was no other Masonic jurisprudence known to the Operative Freemasons of
England, at the beginning of the 18th century, than that which was embodied in
these old Constitutions. These were familiar to the Operative Freemasons of
that day, as they had been for centuries before to their predecessors.
never printed, copies of them in manuscript were common and were easily
accessible. They were often copied, one from another ‑ just as often,
probably, as the wants of a new lodge might require.
Beginning at the end of the 14th century, which is the date of the poetical
Constitutions, which were first published by Mr. Halliwell, copies continued
to be made until the year 1714, which is the date of the last one now extant,
executed before the organization of the Grand Lodge. (1)
take no notice here of the Krause MS., which pretends to contain the
Constitutions enacted by Prince Edwin, in 926, because I have not the least
doubt that it is a forgery of comparatively recent times.
all these written Constitutions, extending through a period of more than three
centuries, there is a very wonderful con. formity of character.
poetic form which exists in the Halliwell MS. was apparently never imitated,
and all the subsequent manuscript Constitutions now extant are in prose. But
as Bro. Woodford has justly observed, they all "seem in fact to be clearly
derived from the Masonic Poem, though naturally altered in their prose form,
and expanded and modified through transmission and oral tradition, as well as
by the lapse of time and the change of circumstances." (1)
these old constitutions contained, with hardly any appreciable variation, the
Legend of the Craft, which was conscientiously believed by the old Operative
Free Masons as containing the true history of the rise and progress of the
brotherhood, they embodied also that code of laws by which the fraternity was
governed during the whole period of its existence.
these Constitutions commenced, so far as we have any knowledge of them from
personal inspection, at the close of the 14th century, we are not to admit
that there were no earlier copies. Indeed, I have formerly shown that the
Halliwell Poem, whose conjectural date is 1390, is evidently a compilation
from two other poems of an earlier date.
Freemasons who were contemporary with the organization of the Grand Lodge held
those old manuscript Constitutions, as their predecessors had done before
them, in the greatest reverence. The fact that the laws which they prescribed,
like those of the Medes and Persians, had invested them with the luster of
antiquity, and as they had always remained written, and had never been
printed, the Craft looked upon them as their peculiar property and gave to
them much of an esoteric character.
false estimate of the true nature of these documents led to an inexcusable and
irreparable destruction of many of them.
Master Payne had in I718 desired the brethren to bring to the Grand Lodge "any
old writings and records concerning Masons and Masonry in order to show the
usages of ancient times." (2) These, it was suspected, were to be used in the
preparation and publication of a contemplated Book of Masonic Constitutions,
Preface to Hughan's "Old Charges of British Freemasons," p. 13. (2) Anderson,
"Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 110.
became alarmed at the threatened publicity of what they had always deemed to
Accordingly, in 1720, "at some private lodges," says Anderson, "several
valuable manuscripts (for they had nothing yet in print) concerning their
lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets, and Usages (particularly one writ by
Mr. Nicholas Stone, the Warden of Inigo Jones) were too hastily burnt by some
scrupulous brothers, that those papers might not fall into strange hands." (1)
Northouck, commenting on this instance of vandalism, which he strangely styles
an act of felo de se, says that it surely "could not proceed from zeal
according to knowledge."
course, it was zeal without knowledge that led to this destruction, the
effects of which are felt at this day by every scholar who attempts to write
an authentic history of Freemasonry.
object of Grand Master Payne in attempting to make a ‑collection of these old
writings was undoubtedly to enable him to frame a code of laws which should be
founded on what Anderson calls the Gothic Constitutions. Several copies of
these Constitutions were produced in the year 1718 and collated.
result of this collation was the production which under the title of "The
Charges of a Free‑Mason" was appended to the first edition of the Book of
is the first code of laws enacted by the Speculative Grand Lodge of England,
and thus becomes important as an historical document.
the date and the authorship we have no other guide than that of inference.
can, however, be little hesitation in ascribing the authorship to Payne and
the time of the compilation to the period of his first Grand Mastership, which
extended from June, 1718, to June, 1719.
title to these "Charges" it is said that they have been "extracted from the
ancient records of lodges beyond sea and of those in England, Scotland, and
Ireland, for the use of the lodges in London."
this admirably coincides with the passage in Anderson in which it is said that
at the request of Grand Master Payne, in the
Anderson, "Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 111.
1718, "several old copies of the Gothic Constitutions were produced and
fact, we thus identify the collation of the Gothic Constitutions in 1718 with
the "Charges of a Free‑Mason," published in the first edition of the Book of
I feel any hesitation in ascribing this collation of the old Constitutions and
the compilation, out of it, of the "Charges" to Payne, whose genius lay in
that way and who again exercised it, two years afterward, in the compilation
of the "General Regulations," which took the place of the "Charges" as the law
of the Speculative Grand Lodge.
valuable services of George Payne in the incipient era of Speculative
Freemasonry have not received from our historians the appreciation which is
their just due. His reputation has been overshadowed by that of Desaguliers.
Both labored much and successfully for the infant institution. But we should
never forget that the work of Payne in the formation of its jurisprudence was
as important as was that of Desaguliers in the fabrication of its ritual. (1)
resume the history of the progress of Masonic law.
adoption in 1718 of the "Charges of a Free‑Mason," with the direction that
they shall be read as the existing law of the fraternity" at the making of new
brethren," (2) is a very significant proof of what has before been suggested
that at the time of the so‑called "Revival" there was no positive intention to
wholly dissever the Speculative from the Operative system.
"Charges" are, as they must necessarily have been, originating as they did in
the Old Constitutions, a code of regulations adapted only to a fraternity of
Operative Freemasons and wholly inapplicable to a society of Speculatives,
such as the institution afterward became.
Masters were not to receive Apprentices unless they had sufficient employment
for them; the Master was to oversee the
Dr. Oliver very inaccurately says in his "Revelations of a Square" that "at
the annual assembly on St. John's day, 1721, Desaguliers produced thirty‑eight
regulations," but distinctly states that these regulations were "compiled
first by Mr. George Payne, anno 1720, when he was Grand Master, and approved
by the Grand Lodge on St. John Baptist's day, anno 1721." The venerable doctor
had here forgotten the Ciceronian axiom ‑ suum cuique tribuere. (2) See the
title of the "Charges" in the first edition of the "Book of Constitutions," p.
or employer's work, and was to be chosen from the most expert of the
Fellow‑Crafts; the Master was to undertake the lord's work for reasonable pay;
no one was to receive more wages than he deserved; the Master and the Masons
were to receive their wages meekly; were to honestly finish their work and not
to put them to task which had been accustomed to journey; nor was one Mason to
supplant another in his work.
Operative feature is very plain in these regulations. They are, it is true,
supplemented by other regulations as to conduct in the lodge, in the presence
of strangers, and at home; and these are as applicable to a Speculative as
they are to an Operative Mason.
the whole spirit, and, for the most part, the very language of these
"Charges," is found in the Old Constitutions of the Operative Masons.
have, however, been always accepted as the foundation of the law of
Speculative Masonry, though originally adopted at a time when the society had
not yet completely thrown over its Operative character.
apply them to an exposition of the laws of Speculative Freemasonry, and to
make them applicant to the government of the Order in its purely Speculative
condition, modern Masonic jurists have found it necessary to give to the
language of the "Charges" a figurative or symbolic signification, a process
that I suspect was not contemplated by Payne or his contemporaries.
to work, is now interpreted as meaning to practice the ritual. The lodge is at
work when it is conferring a degree. To receive wages is to be advanced from a
lowes to a higher degree. To supplant another in his work, is for one lodge to
interfere with the candidates of another.
this way statutes intended originally for the government of a body of
workmen have by judicial ingenuity been rendered applicable to a society of
adoption of these "Charges" was a concession to the Operative element of the
new society. The Grand Lodge of 1717 was the successor or the outcome of an
old and different association. It brought into its organization the relics of
that oid association, nor was it prepared in its inchoate condition to cast
aside all the usages and habits of that ancient body.
the first laws enacted by the Speculative Grand Lodge were borrowed from and
founded on the manuscript Constitutions of the Operative Freemasons.
the inapplicability of such a system of government to the new organization was
very soon discovered.
years afterward Payne, untiring in his efforts to perfect the institution,
which had honored him twice with its highest office, compiled a new code which
was perfectly applicable to a Speculative society.
new code, under the title of the "General Regulations," was compiled by Payne
in 1720, and having been approved by the Grand Lodge in 1721, was inserted in
the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1723.
Anderson says that he "has compared them with and reduced them to the ancient
records and immemorial usages of the Fraternity, and digested them into this
new method with several proper explications for the use of the lodges in and
about London and Westminster. (1)
certainly is some evidence of the handiwork of Anderson in some interpolations
which must have been of a later date than that of the original compilation.
(2) But as a body of law, it must be considered as the work of Payne.
code has ever since remained as the groundwork or basis of the system of
Masonic jurisprudence. Very few modifications have ever been made in its
principles. Additional laws have been since enacted, not only by the mother
Grand Lodge, but by those which have emanated from it, but the spirit of the
original code has always been respected and preserved. In fact, it has been
regarded almost in the light of a set of landmarks, whose sanctity could not
legally be violated.
Payne, the second and fourth Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, is
therefore justly entitled to the distinguished reputation of being the
lawgiver of modern Freemasonry.
compare the Charges adopted in 1718 with the Regulations approved in 1721, we
will be struck with the great change that
Title prefixed to the General Regulations, in 1st edition of "Book of
Constitutions," p. 58. (2) This subject will be more fully discussed, and some
of these interpolations will be pointed out, when we come, in a future
chapter, to the consideration of the fabrication of the degrees.
have taken place in the constitution and character of a society that thus
necessitated so important a modification in its principles of government.
"Charges" were, as has already been shown, applicable to an association in
which the Operative element preponderated. The Regulations are appropriate to
one wholly Speculative in its design, and from which the Operative element has
been thoroughly eliminated.
adoption of the Regulations in 1721 was therefore an irrefutable proof that at
that period the Grand Lodge and the lodges under its jurisdiction had entirely
severed all connection with Operative Freemasonry.
may, indeed, make this the epoch to which we are to assign the real birth of
pure Speculative Freemasonry in England.
were, however, many lodges outside of the London limit which still preserved
the Operative character, and many years elapsed before the Speculative system
was universally disseminated throughout the kingdom.
minutes of a few of them have been preserved or recovered after having been
lost, and they exhibit for the most part, as late as the middle of the 18th
century, the characteristics which distinguished all English Masonic lodges
before the establishment of the Grand Lodge. Their membership consisted of an
admixture of Operative and Theoretic Masons. But the business of the lodge was
directed to the necessities and inclinations of the former class.
common feature in these minutes is the record of the indentures of Apprentices
for seven years, to Master Masons who were members of the lodge.
Speculative Freemasonry, which took rapid growth in London after its severance
from the Operative lodges, made slower progress in the provinces.
rapidity of growth in the city and its suburbs we have every satisfactory
evidence in the increase of lodges as shown in the official lists which were
printed at occasional periods.
in 1717, as we have seen, there were but four Lodges engaged in the
organization of the Grand Lodge.
were the only Lodges then in London. At least no evidence has ever been
produced that there were any others. These were all original Operative lodges.
Anderson says that "more new lodges were constituted" in 1719.
had been accurate in the use of his language, the qualifying adverb "more"
would indicate that "new lodges" had also been constituted the year before.
June, 1721, twelve lodges were represented in the Grand Lodge by their Masters
and Wardens, showing, if there were no absentees, that eight new lodges had
been added to the Fraternity since 1717.
September of the same year Anderson records the presence of the
representatives of sixteen lodges. Either four new lodges had been added to
the list between June and September, or what is more likely, some were absent
in the meeting of the former month.
March, 1722, the officers of twenty‑four lodges are recorded as being present,
and in April, 1723, the number had increased to thirty.
the number of lodges stated by Anderson to have been represented at the
Communications of the Grand Lodge does not appear to furnish any absolute
criterion of the number of lodges in existence. Thus, while the records show
that in April, 1723, thirty lodges were represented in the Grand Lodge, the
names of the Masters and Wardens of only twenty lodges are signed to the
approbation of the Book of Constitutions, which is appended to the first
edition of that work published in the same year.
Gould calls this "the first List of Lodges ever printed," (1) but I deem it
unworthy of that title, if by a "List of Lodges" is meant a roll of all those
actually in existence at the time. Now, if this were a correct list of the
lodges which were on the roll of the Grand Lodge at the time, what has become
of the ten necessary to make up the number of thirty which are reported to
have been represented in April, 1723, besides some others which we may suppose
to have been absent ?
Anderson did not think it worth while to explain the incongruity, but from
1723 onward we have no further difficulty in tracing the numerical progress of
the lodges and incidentally the increase in the number of members of the
Engraved lists of lodges began in 1723 to be published by authority of the
Grand Lodge, and to the correctness of these we may safely trust, as showing
the general progress of the Institution.
The "Four Old Lodges," p. 2.
first of these lists is "printed for and sold by Eman Bowen, Engraver, in
Aldersgate St." It purports to be a list of lodges in 1723, and the number of
them amounts to fifty‑one. In 1725 Pine, who was in some way connected, it is
supposed, with Bowen, issued a list for 1725, which contains, not the names,
for the lodges at that time had no names, but the taverns or places of meeting
of sixtyfour lodges, fifty‑six of which were in London or its vicinity.
November 27, 1723, the Grand Lodge commenced in its minute‑book an official
list of the lodges, which seems, says Bro. Gould, "to have been continued
until 1729." The lodges are entered, says the same authority, in ledger form,
two lodges to a page, and beneath them appear the names of members.
list contains seventy‑seven lodges. Supposing, as Gould does, that the list
extended to 1729, it shows an increase in twelve years of seventy‑ three
lodges, without counting the lodges which had become extinct or been merged
into other lodges.
next official list contained in the minute‑book of the Grand Lodge, and which
extends to 1732, the number of lodges enumerated is one hundred and two, or an
increase in fifteen years of ninety‑eight lodges, again leaving out the
examples are sufficient to show the steady and rapid growth of the society
during the period of its infancy.
is, however, another historical point which demands consideration. At what
time did the formal constitution of lodges begin ?
at this day a settled law and practice, that before a lodge of Masons can take
its position as one of the constituent members of a Grand Lodge, a certain
form or ceremony must be undergone by which it acquires all its legal rights.
This form or ceremony is called its Constitution, and the authority for this
must emanate from the Grand Lodge, either directly, as in America, or
indirectly, through the Grand Master, as in England, and is called the Warrant
Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, which are in force at the present
day, say: " In order to avoid irregularities, every new lodge should be
solemnly constituted by the Grand Master with his Deputy and Wardens." (1)
"Constitutions of the Ancient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons," p.124.
regulation has been in force at least since January, 1723, the very words of
the clause above quoted having been taken from the form of constitution
practiced by the Duke of Wharton, who was Grand Master in that year, and which
form is appended to the first edition of the Book of Constitutions.
Anderson says that in 1719 "more new lodges were constituted; " (1) and
Preston states that at the meeting of the Grand Lodge in 1717 a regulation was
agreed to that "every lodge, except the four old Lodges at this time existing,
should be legally authorized to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for the
time being, granted to certain individuals by petition, with the consent and
approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication; and that without such warrant
no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or constitutional." (2)
think that on the establishment of the new Grand Lodge, when the only lodge
then existing in London had united in the enterprise of modifying their old
and decaying system, and of renovating and strengthening it by a closer union,
it may be fairly conceded that the members must, at a very early period, have
come to the agreement that no new members should be admitted into the society
unless consent had been previously obtained for their admission. This would
naturally be the course pursued by any association for the purpose of
self‑preservation from the annoyance of uncongenial companions.
number of craftsmen availing themselves of the privilege of assembling as
Masons in a lodge, which privilege had hitherto been unlimited and, as Preston
says, was inherent in them as individuals, and which was guaranteed to them by
the old Operative Constitutions, there is, I think, no doubt that such a lodge
would not have been admitted into the new Fraternity in consequence of this
spontaneous and automatic formation.
new society would not recognize it as a part of its organization, at least
until it had made an application and been accepted as a co‑partner in the
primitive lodges which are said by Anderson to have been "constituted" between
the years 1717 and 1723 may or may not have originated in this way. There is
no record one way or the other.
Anderson, "Constitutions." 2d edition, p. 110. (2) "Illustrations," p. 192
is, I think, very certain that the present method of constituting lodges was
not adopted until a regulation to that effect was enacted in 1721. This
regulation is found among those which were compiled by Payne in 1720, and
approved the following year by the Grand Lodge.
a part of the eighth regulation, and it prescribes that "if any Set or Number
of Masons shall take upon themselves to form a lodge without the Grand
Master's warrant, the regular lodges are not to countenance them nor own them
as fair brethren and duly formed" until the Grand Master "approve of them by
his warrant, which must be specified to the other lodges, as the custom is
when a new lodge is to be registered in the list of lodges."
regulation was followed in 1723 by a form or "manner of constituting new
lodges," which was practiced by the Duke of Wharton when Grand Master, and
which was probably composed for him by Dr. Desaguliers, who was his Deputy.
would seem, then, that new lodges were not constituted by warrant until the
year 1721, the date of the Regulation, nor constituted in form until 1723,
during the administration of the Duke of Wharton. Prior to that time, if we
may infer from the phraseology of the Regulation, lodges when accepted as
regular were said to be "formed," and were registered in the "List of Lodges."
presumption derives plausibility from the authentic records of the period.
earlier "Lists of Lodges" authoritatively issued, there is no mention of the
date of Constitution of the lodges. In all the later lists the date of
Constitution is given. In none of them, however, is there a record of any
lodge having been constituted prior to the year 1721. Thus, in Pine's list for
1740, engraved by order of the Grand Officers, and which contains the names
and numbers of one hundred and eighty‑one lodges, four are recorded as having
been constituted in 1721, five in 1722, and fourteen in 1723. No lodge is
recorded there as having been constituted between the years 1717 and 1721.
an article published in Mackey's National Freemason in 1873 (vol. ii., p.
288), Bro. Hughan has said "that it is a fact that no constituted lodge dates
at an earlier period than the Revival of Masonry, 1717." I suspect my learned
brother wrote these lines currente calamo, and without his usual caution. It
will be seen from the text that there is no record of any constituted lodge
dating prior to 1721.
then, very clear that the system of constituting lodges was not adopted until
the latter year; that it was another result of the legal labors of Payne in
legislating for the new society, and another and an important step in the
disseverance of Speculative from Operative Freemasonry.
next approach the important and highly interesting subject of the early ritual
of the new institution. But this will demand for its thorough consideration
and full discussion the employment of a distinct chapter.
EARLY RITUAL OF SPECULATIVE FREEMASONRY
ritual is an important part of the organization of Speculative
Freemasonry. It is not a mere garment intended to cover the institution and
conceal its body from unlawful inspection. It is the body itself and the very
life of the institution. Eliminate from Freemasonry all vestiges of a ritual
and you make it a mere lifeless mass. Its characteristic as a benevolent or as
a social association might continue, but all its pretensions as a speculative
system of science and philosophy would be lost.
definition of this important and indispensable element in the Masonic system,
it may be said that the ritual is properly the prescribed method of
administering the forms of initiation into the society, comprising not only
the ceremonies but also the explanatory lectures, the catechismal tests, and
the methods of recognition.
secret society, that is to say, every society exclusive in its character,
confining itself to a particular class of persons, and isolating itself by its
occult organization from other associations and from mankind
general, must necessarily have some formal mode of admission, some meaning in
that form which would need explanation, and some method by which its members
could maintain their exclusiveness.
secret society must, then, from the necessity of its organization, be
provided with some sort of a ritual, whether it be simple or complex.
Operative Freemasonry of the Middle Ages is acknowledged to have been a secret
and exclusive society or guild of architects and builders, who concealed the
secret processes of their art from all who were not workers with them.
secret association, the old Operative Freemasons must have possessed a ritual.
And we have, to support this hypothesis, not only logical inference but
unquestionable historical evidence.
archaeologists have given us the examination or catechism which formed a part
of the ritual of the German Steinmetzen or Stonecutters.
Sloane MS. No. 3329 contains the catechism used by the Operative
Freemasons of England in the 17th century. A copy of this manuscript has
already been given in a preceding parts of the present work, and it is
therefore unnecessary to reproduce it here.
Sloane MS. has been assigned to a period between 1640 and
we may safely conclude that it contains the ritual then in use among the
English Operative Freemasons. At a later period it may have suffered
considerable changes, but we infer that the ritual exposed in that manuscript
was the foundation of the one which was in use by the
Operative lodges which united in the formation of the Grand Lodge in the year
new society did not hesitate to adopt, at first, the old laws of the Operative
institution, it is not at all probable that it would have rejected
ritual then in use and frame a new one. Until the Grand Lodge was securely
seated in power, and the Operative element entirely eliminated, it would have
been easier to use the old Operative ritual. In time, as the Operative laws
were replaced by others more fitting to the character of
new Order, so the simple, Operative ritual must have given way to the more
ornate one adapted to the designs of Speculative Freemasonry.
during the earlier years of the Grand Lodge, this old Operative ritual
continued to be used by the lodges under its jurisdiction.
precise ritual used at that time is perhaps irretrievably lost, so that we
have no direct, authentic account of the forms of initiation, yet by a careful
collation of the historical material now in possession of the Fraternity, we
unravel the web, to all appearance hopelessly entangled, and arrive at
something like historic truth.
not until 1721 that by the approval of the "Charges" which had been compiled
the year before by Grand Master Payne, the Grand Lodge
the first bold and decisive step toward the
See Part II., chap. xii., p. 626.
abolishment of the Operative element, and the building upon its ruins a purely
ritual used by the four old Lodges must have been very simple. It probably
consisted of little more than a brief and unimpressive ceremony of admission,
the communication of certain words and signs, and instruction in a catechism
derived from that which is contained in the Sloane MS. But I do not doubt that
this catechism, brief as it is, was greatly modified and abridged by the lapse
of time, the defects of memory, and the impossibility of trans mitting oral
teachings for any considerable length of time.
probable that Dr. Desaguliers, the great ritualist of the day, may have begun
to compose the new ritual about the same time that Payne, the great lawmaker
of the day, began to compile his new laws.
this ritual was we can only judge by inference, by comparison, and
careful analysis, just as Champollion deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics by
a collation of the three inscriptions of the Rosetta Stone.
this purpose we have a very competent supply of documents which
employ in a similar comparison and analysis of the primitive ritual of the
we have had the book called The Grand Mystery, which was published just a year
after the appearance of the first edition of
Anderson's Book of Constitutions.
Oliver, it is true, calls this production a "catchpenny." (1) It would be
great folly to assert that it did not contain some shadowing forth of what was
the ritual at the time of its publication. When, a few years aftenvard,
Prichard published his book entitled Masonry Dissected, which is evidently
based on The Grand Mystery, and in fact an enlargement of it, showing the
improvements and developments which had taken place in the ritual, Dr.
"Revelations of a Square," chap. ii., note 6. But in a posthumous work
entitled "The Discrepancies of Freemasonry," published by Hogg & Co. in 1874
(page 79), he treats it with more respect, and says that it was the
examination or lecture used by the Craft in the 17th century, the original
which, in the handwriting of Elias Ashmole, was given to Anderson when he made
his collections for the history contained in the "Book of Constitutions." All
this is very possibly correct, but as Oliver must have derived his information
from some traditional source in his own
possession solely, and as he has cited no authentic authority, we can hardly
make use of it as an historical fact.
Anderson replied to it in the pamphlet entitled A Defense of Masonry.
this work it will be remarked that Anderson does not directly deny the
accuracy of Prichard's formulas, but only attempts to prove, which he does
very successfully, that the ceremonies as they are described by Prichard were
neither "absurd nor pernicious."
truth is that Anderson's Defense is a very learned and interesting
interpretation of the symbols and ceremonies which were described by Prichard,
and might have been written, just in the same way, if Anderson had selected
the ritual as it was then framed on which to found his
accepted both of these works, as he gave them a place in his great work on The
Three Oddest Documents of the Masonic Brotherhood.
myself, I am disposed to take these and similar productions with some
of allowance, yet not altogether rejecting them as utterly worthless. From
such works we may obtain many valuable suggestions, when they are properly and
thinks that The Grand Mystery was the production of one of the
Masons, who was an Operative builder and a man not without some learning.
is probably a correct supposition. At all events, I am willing to take the
work as a correct exposition, substantially, of the condition of the ritual
time when it was published, which was seven years after what was called the
"Revival" in London.
will give us a very correct idea of the earliest ritual accepted by the
Speculative Masons from their Operative brethren, and used until the
of Desaguliers had invented something more worthy of the Speculative science.
Adopting it then as the very nearest approximation to the primitive ritual of
the Speculative Freemasons, it will not be an unacceptable gift, nor useless
in prosecuting the discussion of the subject to which this chapter
not often been reprinted, and the original edition of 1724 is very scarce. I
shall make use of the almost fac‑simile imitation of that edition printed in
1867 by the Masonic Archaeological Society of Cincinnati, and
the supervision of Brother Enoch T. Carson, from whose valuable library the
original exemplar was obtained.
title of the pamphlet is as follows:
Grand Mystery of Free‑Masons Discover'd. Wherein are the several
Questions, put to them at their Meetings and Intstallations: As also the Oath,
Health, Signs and Points to know each other by. As they were found in the
Custody of a Free‑Mason who Dyed suddenly. And now Publish'd for the
Information of the Publick. London .‑ Printed for T. Payne
Stationer's‑Hall 1724 (Price Six Pence) "
Peace be here. A. I hope there is.
What a‑clock is it? A. It is going to Six or going to Twelve. (2)
Are you very busy ? (3)
Will you give or take? A. Both; or which you please.
How go Squares? (4) A. Straight.
Are you Rich or Poor ? A. Neither.
Change rrle that. (5) A. I will.
The object of this reprint being only to give the reader some idea of
was the earliest form of the ritual that we possess, the Preface, the
Free‑Mason's Oath, A FreeMason's Health and the signs to know a Free Mason
have been omitted as being unnecessary to that end. The questions have been
numbered here only for facility of reference in future
remarks. (2) This may be supposed to refer to the hours of labor of Operative
Masons who commenced work at six in the morning and went to their noon‑meal at
twelve. This is the first indication that this was a catechism
originally used by Operative Free Masons. (3) Otherwise, "Have you any work? "
Krause suggests that it was the question addressed to a traveling Fellow who
came to the lodge. "Every Mason," say the Old Constitutions," shall receive or
Fellows when they come over the Country and sett them on work." ‑ Landsdowne
MS. (4) Halliwell, in his Dictionary, cites "How gang squares?" as meaning
"How do you do?" He also says that "How go the squares?" means, how
on the game, as chess or draughts, the board being full of squares. Krause
adopts this latter interpretation of the phrase, but I prefer the former. (5)
Here it is probable that the grip was given and interchanged. The mutilation
of this catechism which Krause suspects is here, I think,
evident. The answer " I will " and
In the name of, &c., (1) are you a Mason ? 9. Q. What is a Mason ? A. A Man
begot of a Man, born of a woman, Brother to a king.
What is a Fellow? A. A Companion of a Prince.
How shall I know that you are a Free‑Mason ? A. By Signs, Tokens, and Points
of my Entry.
Which is the Point of your Entry ? A. I hear (2) and conceal, under the
penalty of having my Throat cut, or my Tongue pulled out of my Head.
Where was you made a Free‑Mason ? A. In a just and perfect Lodge.
How many make a Lodge ? A. God and the Square with five or seven right and
perfect Masons, on the highest Mountains, or the lowest Valleys in the world.
Why do Odds make a Lodge ? A. Because all Odds are Men's Advantage. (4)
What Lodge are you of ? A. The Lodge of St. John. (5)
expression "In the name of, &c.," are connected with the interchange of the
grip. The answer to the question "Are you a Mason?" is omitted,
then the catechism goes on with the question "What is a Mason?"
The omission here can not be supplied. It was a part of the formula of giving
the grip. Krause suggests that the words thus omitted by the editor
catechism might be "In the name of the Pretender" or probably "In the name of
the King and the Holy Roman Catholic Church." But the former explanation would
give the catechism too modern an origin and the latter would carry it too far
back. However, that would suit the hypothesis
Krause. I reject both, but can not supply a substitute unless it were " In the
name of God and the Holy Saint John." (2) The Sloane MS., in which the same
answer occurs, says, "I heal and
conceal," to heal being old English for to hide. It is very clear that the
word hear is a typographical error. (3) Krause thinks that in this answer an
old and a new ritual are mixed. God and the Square he assigns to the former,
the numbers five and
to the latter. But the Harleian MS. requires five to make a legal lodge. (4)
We must not suppose that this was derived from the Kabbalists. The doctrine
that God delights in odd numbers, "numero Deus impare gaudet" (Virgil, Ed.
viii.), is as old as the oldest of the ancient mythologies. It is the
foundation of all the numerical symbolism of Speculative Freemasonry. We here
see that it was observed in the oldest ritual. (5) This hieroglyphic appears
to have been the early sign for a lodge, as the oblong square is at the
How does it stand ? A. Perfect East and West, as all Temples do.
Where is the Mason's Point ? (1) A. At the East‑Window, waiting at the Rising
of the Sun, to set his men at work.
Where is the Warden's Point ?
the West‑Window, waiting at the Setting of the Sun to dismiss the Entered
Who rules and governs the Lodge, and is Master of it ? A. Irah, Iachin or the
How is it govern'd?
Square and Rule.
Have you the Key of the Lodge ? A. Yes, I have.
What is its virtue ? A. To open and shut, and shut and open.
Where do you keep it ? A. In an Ivory Box, between my Tongue and my Teeth, or
within my Heart,
all my Secrets are kept.
Have you the Chain to the Key ? A. Yes, I have.
How long is it ? A. As long as from my Tongue to my Heart. (3)
find this question thus printed in all the copies to which I have had access.
But I have not the slightest doubt that there has been a
typographical error, which has been faithfully copied. I should read it "Where
is the Master's point?" The next question confirms my conviction. The Master
sets the Craft to work, the Warden dismisses them. This has
followed by the modern rituals. (2) Various have been the conjectures as to
the meaning of the word Irah. Schneider, looking to the theory that modern
Freemasonry was instituted to secure the restoration of the House of Stuart,
supposes the letters of
word to be the initials of the Latin sentence "lacobus Redibit Ad Hereditatem"
‑ James shall return to his inheritance. Krause thinks it the anagram of
Hiram, and he rejects another supposition that it is the Hebrew Irah,
reverence or holy fear, i.e., the fear of God. It may mean
but there is no need of an anagram. The wonted corruption of proper names in
the old Masonic manuscripts makes Irah a sufficiently near approximation to
Hiram, who is called in the Old Constitutions,
Aman, Amon, Anon, or Ajuon. The German Steinmetzen called Tubal Cain Walcan.
(3) Speaking of tests like this, Dr. Oliver very wisely says: "These questions
may be considered trivial. but in reality they were of great importance and
included some of the
How many precious Jewels ? A. Three; a square Asher, a Diamond, and a Square.
How many Lights ? A. Three; a Right East, South and West. (1)
What do they represent ? A. The Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
How many Pillars? A. Two; Iachin and Boaz.
What do they represent ? A. A Strength and Stability of the Church in all
How many Angles in St. John's Lodge ? A. Four bordering on Squares.
How is the Meridian found out ? A. When the Sun leaves the South and breaks in
at the West‑End of the Lodge.
In what part of the Temple was the Lodge kept ? A. In Solomon's Porch, (4) at
the West‑End of the Temple, where the two Pillars were set up.
How many Steps belong to a right Mason ? A. Three.
Give me the Solution. A. I will . . . The Right Worshipful, Worshipful Master
and Worshipful Fellows of the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence I came, greet
Great God to us greeting, be at this our meeting
profoundest mysteries of the Craft. . . . A single Masonic question, how
puerile soever it may appear, is frequently in the hands of an expert Master
of the Art, the depository of most important secrets." On "The
Masonic Tests of the Eighteenth Century " in his "Golden Remains," vol. iv.,pp.
14, 15. (1) The Bauhutten or Operative lodges of the Germans probably had,
says Krause, only three windows corresponding to the cardinal points, and the
three principal officers of the lodge had their seats near them so
obtain the best light for their labors. (2) This is ample proof that the
earliest Freemasonry of the new Grand Lodge was distinctly Christian. The
change of character did not occur until
adoption of the "Old Charges" as printed in Anderson's first edition. But more
of this in the text. (3) There is an allusion to strength in the German
Steinmetzen's catechism: "What is the Strength of our Craft?" Strength
continued to be
symbolized as a Masonic attribute in all subsequent rituals and so continues
to the present day. (4) An allusion to the Temple of Solomon is common in all
the old Constitutions. But no hypothesis can be deduced from this of the
Solomonic origin of Freemasonry. The subject is too important to be
discussed in a note.
with the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence you came, and you are. (1)
Give me the Jerusalem Word. (2) A. Giblin.
Give me the Universal Word. A. Boaz.
Right Brother of ours, your Name ? A. N. orM. Welcome Brother M. or N. to our
How many particular Points pertain to a Free‑Mason ? A. Three; Fraternity,
Fidelity, and Tacity.
What do they represent? A. Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth among all Right
Masons; for all
were ordain'd at the Building of the Tower of Babel and at the Temple of
How‑many proper Points? A. Five: Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Hand to Hand,
Heart to Heart, and Ear to Ear. (4)
Whence is an Arch derived ? A. From Architecture. (5)
is most probable that this answer was given on the three steps which were made
while the words were being said. (2) The "Jerusalem Word" was probably the
word traditionally confined to
Craft while they were working at the Temple, and the "Universal Word" was that
used by them when they dispersed and traveled into foreign countries. The old
"Legend of the Craft" has a tradition to that effect which was finally
developed into the Temple Allegory of the modern
rituals. (3) 0f this answer Krause gives the following interpretation ‑
"Perhaps the Tower of Babel signifies the revolution under and after Cromwell,
and the Temple of Jerusalem the restoration of the Stuart family in London" ‑
may be taken for what it is worth and no more, especially as the stories of
the Tower and the Temple formed prominent points in the Craft legend which was
formulated some two centuries at least before the time of Cromwell or of the
first glance this answer would seem to be adverse to the theory that the Third
was not known in the year 1717, unless it were to be supposed that the passage
was an interpolation made subsequent to the year 1720.
the fact is that, as Krause remarks these expressions were not originally a
symbol of the Master's degree (Meisterzeichen), but simply a symbol of
Fellowship, where heart and heart and hand and hand showed the loving‑kindness
of each brother. Afterward, under the title of "The Five
of Fellowship," it was appropriated to the Third Degree and received the
symbolic history which it still retains. (5) Here, say Schneider and Krause,
is a trace of Royal Arch Masonry. Not so. Architecture was the profession of
the Operative Freemasons and
naturally a point in the examination of a craftsman. Such as this catechism
How many Orders in Architecture ? A. Five: The Tuscan, Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, and Composite.
What do they answer ? A. They answer to the Base, Perpendicular, Diameter,
Circumference, and Square.
What is the right Word, or right Point of a Mason ? A. Adieu.
is this important document, but of whose real value different
opinions have been expressed. Oliver, as we have seen, calls it a
"catchpenny." This epithet would, however, refer to the motives of the printer
who gave the public the work at sixpence a copy and not to the original writer
against whom no such charge, nor no such mercenary
should be imputed. The Rev. Mr. Sidebotham, who reprinted it in the
Freemasons' Monthly Magazine, for August, 1855, from a copy found among the
collection of Masonic curiosities deposited in the Bodleian
Library, calls it "only one of the many absurd attempts of ignorant
pretenders;" but his attempts to prove absurdities are themselves absurd.
learned Mossdorf who, in 1808, found a copy of the second editions in the
Royal Library at Leipsic, which Dr. Krause reprinted in his Three
Documents of the Masonic Fraternity, designates it as a delicately framed but
very bitter satire against the old lodges in London, which had just
established the Grand Lodge. But a perusal of the document will
disclose nothing of a satirical character in the document itself, and only a
single paragraph of the preface in which the design of the institution is
underrated, and the depreciation illustrated by a rather coarse attempt at a
the preface was the production of the editor or printer, and must not
confounded with the catechism, which is free from anything of the kind. The
very title, which might be deemed ironical, was undoubtedly an assumed one
given to the original document by the same editor or printer
the purpose of attracting purchasers.
was the 2d edition, 1725, with which Mossdorf was acquainted, and to this were
annexed "Two Letters to a Friend," which are not contained in the 1st edition.
These gave him the opinion of the satirical character of
Steinbrenner, of New York, who has written one of our most valuable and
interesting histories of Freemasonry, (1) thus describes it, and has given it
what I think must have been its original title.
oldest fragment of a ritual or Masonic lecture in the English Language (2)
which we have met with is the 'Examination upon Entrance into a Lodge,' as
used at the time of the Revival."
Krause is the first writer who seems to have estimated this old
catechism at anything like its true value. He calls it a remarkable document,
and says that after a careful examination he has come to the conclusion that
it was written by one of the old Operative Masons, who was not without some
scholarship, but who esteemed Masonry as an art
peculiarly appropriate to builders only, and into which a few non‑Masons were
sometimes admitted on account of their scientific attainments.
thinks that this catechism presents the traces of a high antiquity, and
as its essential constituent parts are concerned, it might have derived its
origin from the oldest York ritual, probably as early as the 12th or 13th
not inclined to accept all of the Krausean theory on the subject of the
or of the antiquity of this document. It is not necessary for the purpose of
employing it in the investigation of the primitive ritual adopted by the
Speculative Freemasons when they organized their Grand Lodge, to trace its
existence beyond the first decade of the 18th century, though it
be reasonably extended much farther back.
statement in the preface or introduction, that the original manuscript was
printed, and had "been found in the custodv of a Freemason who died suddenly,"
may be accepted as a truth. There is nothing improbable
it, and there is no reason to doubt the fact.
Connecting this with the date of the publication, which was just seven years
after the establishment of the Grand Lodge, and only four years
what is supposed to be the date of the fabrication of
"The Origin and Early History of Masonry," by G. W. Steinbrenner, Past Master.
New York, 1864. (2) When Steinbrenner wrote the above the Sloane MS. No. 3339
had not been discovered. And yet it is doubtful whether it and the original
manuscript of "The Grand Mystery" are not contemporaneous.
three degrees; and comparing it with the Sloane MS. 3329, where we shall find
many instances of parallel or analogous passages; and seeing
the Sloane MS. was undeniably an Operative ritual, since its acknowledged date
is somewhere between the middle and the close of the 17th century; considering
all these points, I think that we may safely conclude that the original
manuscript of the printed document called The
Mystery was the "Examination upon Entrance into a Lodge" of Operative
following inferences may then be deduced in respect to the character of this
document with the utmost plausibility:
That it was a part, and the most essential part, of the ritual used by the
Operative Freemasons about the close of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th
century, and if anything was wanting toward a complete ritual it was
supplemented by the Sloane MS. No. 3329
That it was the ritual familiar to the four Lodges which in 1717 united in the
establishment of the Speculative Grand lodge of England.
That on the establishment of that Grand Lodge it was accepted as the ritual of
the Speculative Freemasons and so used by them until they
perfected the transition from wholly Operative to wholly Speculative
Freemasonry by the fabrication of degrees and the development of a more
philosophical ritual, composed, as it has always been conjectured, by
Desaguliers and Anderson, but principally always by the former.
premised these views, we may now proceed to investigate, with some prospect of
a satisfactory result, the character and condition of Speculative Freemasonry
so far as respects a ritual during the earliest
of the Grand Lodge.
first place, it may be remarked that internal evidence goes to prove that this
catechism is appropriate solely for Operative Freemasons. It was undoubtedly
constructed at a time when Speculative Freemasonry, in the
sense, was not in existence, and when the lodges which were to use it were
composed of Operatives the Theoretic members not being at all taken into
is very clearly shown by various passages in the catechism. Thus,
Question 2 alludes to the hours of labor; Question 3 is an inquiry whether the
brother who is being examined is in want of work, because the old Operative
Constitutions directed the Craft "to receive or cherish strange Fellows when
they came over the country and set them to work." Hence,
view of this hospitable duty, the visitor is asked if he is busy, that is to
say, if he has work to occupy and support him.
Questions 18 and 19 make reference to the time and duty of setting the men to
work, and of dismissing them from labor.
Questions 14 and 21 refer to the square and rule as implements of Operative
Masonry employed in the lodge. Question 27 speaks of the ashlar, and 43 and 44
of the orders of architecture. All of these are
subjects appropriate and familiar to Operative Masons, and indicate the
character of the catechism.
next point that calls for attention is that in this Operative ritual there is
not the slightest reference to degrees. They are not mentioned nor alluded to
as if any such system existed. The examination is that of a Freemason, but
there is no indication whatever to show that he was a Master, Fellow, or an
Apprentice. He could not probably have been the last, because, as a general
rule, Apprentices were not allowed to travel.
German Steigmetzen, however, sometimes made an exception to this regulation,
and the Master who had no work for his Apprentice would furnish him with a
mark and send him forth in search of employment.
similar custom prevailed among the English Freemasons, of which
is no proof for or against, the wandering Apprentice woulds on visiting a
strange lodge, doubtless make use of this catechism. There is nothing in its
text to prevent him from doing so, for, as has already been
there is no mention in it of degrees.
does not seem to be any doubt in the minds of the most distinguished Masonic
scholars, with perhaps a very few exceptions, that in the Operative ritual
there were no degrees, the words Apprentice,
Fellow, and Master referring only to gradations of rank. It is also believed
that the ceremonies of admission were exceedingly simple, and that all these
ranks were permitted to be present at a reception.
According to this catechism a lodge consisted of five or seven Masons,
does not say that they must be all Master Masons.
Sloane M S. says that there should be in a lodge two Apprentices, two
Fellow‑Crafts, and two Master Masons.
Statutes of the Scottish Masons explicitly require the presence of two
Apprentices at the reception of a Master.
Old Constitutions, while they have charges specially for Masters and Fellows,
between whom they make no distinction, have other "charges in general" which,
of course, must include Apprentices, and in these they
commanded to keep secret "the consells of the lodge," from which it is to be
inferred that Apprentices formed a constituent part of that body.
been usual to say that from 1717 to 1725 there were only
Apprentices' lodges. The phraseology is not correct. They were lodges of
Freemasons, and they so continued until the fabrication of a system of
degrees. After that period the lodges might properly be called Apprentice
lodges, because the first degree only could be conferred by them, though
Fellow‑Craft and Master Masons were among their members, these having until
1725 been made in the Grand Lodge exclusively.
fact that this ritual, purposely designed for Operative Freemasons only, and
used in the Operative lodges of London at the beginning of the
century, was adopted in 1717 when the four Lodges united in the organization
of a Grand Lodge, is, I think, a convincing proof that there was no expressed
intention at that time to abandon the Operative
character of the institution, and to assume for it a purely Speculative
the word "expressed" advisedly, because I do not contend that there was no
such covert intention floating in the minds of some of the most cultivated
Theoretic Freemasons who united with their Operative brethren
these Theoretic brethren were men of sense. They fully appreciated the
expediency of the motto, festina lente. They were, it is true, anxious to
hasten on the formation of an intellectual society, based historically on an
association of architects, but ethically on an exalted system of moral
philosophy; they perfectly appreciated, however, the impolicy of suddenly and
rudely disrupting the ties which connected them with the old
Operative Freemasons. Hence, they fairly shared with these the offices of the
Grand Lodge until 1723, after which, as has been shown, no Operative held a
prominent position in that body. The first laws which they adopted, and which
were announced in the "Charges of a Free Mason,"
compiled by Payne and Anderson about 1719, had all the features of an
Operative Code, and the ritual of the Operative Freemasons embodied in the
document satirically called The Grand Mystery was accepted and
by the members of the Speculative Grand Lodge until the fabrication of degrees
made it necessary to formulate another and more philosophical ritual.
is not necessary to conclude that when the system of degrees was composed,
most probably in 1720 and 1721, principally by Dr.
Desaguliers, the old Operative ritual was immediately cast aside. In all
probability it continued to be used in the lodges, where the Fellow‑Crafts and
Masters' degrees were unknown, until 1725, the conferring of them
been confined to the Grand Lodge until that year. There were even Operative
lodges in England long after that date, and the old ritual would continue with
them a favorite. This will account for the publication in 1724, with so
profitable a sale as to encourage the printing of a second
edition with appendices in 1725.
the newer ritual became common in 1730 or a little before, and the able
defense of it by Anderson in the 1738 edition of the Book of Constitutions
shows that the old had at length been displaced, though
of its tests remained for a long time in use among the Craft, and are
continued, in a modified form, even to the present day.
early Operative ritual, like the Operative laws and usages, has made an
impression on the Speculative society which has never been and
will be obliterated while Freemasonry lasts.
next feature in this Operative ritual which attracts our attention is its
well‑defined Christian character. This is shown in Question 29, where the
Lights of the Lodge are said to represent "The Three Persons, Father, Son, and
Originating as it did, and for a long time working under ecclesiastical
control, being closely connected with the Church, and engaged exclusively in
the construction of religious edifices, it must naturally have become
earliest times, when the Roman Catholic religion was the prevailing faith of
Christendom, Operative Freemasonry was not only Christian but Roman Catholic
in its tendencies. Hence, the oldest of the manuscript Constitutions contains
an invocation to the Virgin Mary and to the Saints. In Germany the patrons of
the Freemasons were the Four Crowned Martyrs.
when in England the Protestant religion displaced the Roman
Catholic, then the Operative Freemasons, following the sectarian tendencies of
their countrymen, abandoned the reference to the Virgin and to the Saints,
whose worship had been repudiated by the reformed religion, and invoked only
the three Persons of the Trinity. The Harleian
Almighty Father of Heaven with the Wisdom of the Glorious Sonne, through the
goodness of the Holy Ghost, three persons in one Godhead, bee with our
beginning & give us grace soe to governe our Lives that we
come to his blisse that never shall have end."
the other manuscript Constitutions conform to this formula, and hence we find
the same feature presented in this catechism, and that in the ritual used when
the Grand Lodge was established the three Lights
represented the three Persons of the Trinity.
Operative Freemasonry never was tolerant nor cosmopolitan. It was in the
beginning ecclesiastical, always Christian, and always sectarian.
the differences that define the line of demarcation between
Operative and Speculative Freemasonry, this is the most prominent.
Theoretic Freemasons, that is, those who were non‑Masons, when they united
with their Operative fellow‑members in the organization of a Grand Lodge, did
not reject this sectarian character any more than they
the ritual and the laws of the old association.
the non‑Masonic or non‑Operative element of the new Society was composed of
men of education and of liberal views. They were anxious
in their meetings a spirit of toleration should prevail and that no angry
discussions should disturb the hours devoted to innocent recreation. Moreover,
they knew that the attempt to revive the decaying popularity of Freemasonry
and to extend its usefulness would not be successful unless
doors were thrown widely open to the admission of moral and intellectual men
of all shades of political and religious thought. Hence, they strove to
exclude discussions which should involve the bitterness of partisan politics
or of sectarian religion.
Anderson describes the effect produced by this liberality of sentiment when he
says, speaking of this early period of Masonic history:
"Ingenious men of all faculties and stations, being convinced that the cement
of the lodge was love and friendship, earnestly requested to be made Masons,
affecting this amicable fraternity more than other societies then often
disturbed by warm disputes." (1)
it was that the first change affected in the character of the institution
which the ultimate separation of Speculative from Operative Freemasons was
foreshadowed, was the modification of the sectarian feature which had always
existed in the latter.
Therefore, in 1721, the Grand Lodge, "finding fault" with the "Old Gothic
Constitutions" or the laws of the Operative Freemasons, principally, as the
result shows, on account of their sectarian character, instructed Dr. Anderson
"to digest them in a new and better method."
task was duly accomplished, and the "Charges of a Freemason," which were
published in the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, announce for the
first time that cosmopolitan feature in the religious sentiments of the Order
which it has ever since retained.
"Though in ancient times," so runs the first of these " Charges," "Masons were
charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation,
whatever it was; yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to
that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to
consequence of this declaration of tolerance, the ritual which was framed
after the old Operative one, exemplified in The Ground Mystery, ceased to
derive any of its symbolism from purely Christian dogmas,
it can not be denied that Christian sentiments have naturally had an influence
upon Speculative Freemasonry.
the institution, in all the countries into which it has since extended, has
always, with a very few anomalous exceptions, been true to the
declaration made in 1721 by its founders, and has erected its altars, around
which men of every faith, if they have only a trusting belief in God as the
Grand Architect of the universe, may kneel and worship.
before this sentiment of perfect toleration could be fully developed, it
necessary that the tenets, the usages, and the influence of the Operative
element should be wholly eliminated from the new society. The progress toward
this disruption of the two systems, the old and the new,
have to be slow and gradual.
"Book of Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 114.
justly has Bro. Gould remarked that "Speculative Masonry was, so to speak,
only on its trial during the generation which succeeded the authors
Revival. The institution of a society of Free and Accepted Masons on a
cosmopolitan and unsectarian basis was one thing; its consolidation, however,
opposed as its practical working showed it to be to the ancient customs and
privileges of the Operatives, was another and a very different affair." (1)
Therefore, as a matter of sheer policy, and also because it is probable that
no intention of effecting such a change had, in the beginning, entered into
the minds of the future founders of Speculative Freemasonry, it was deemed
necessary to continue the use of the simple ritual which had so long been
familiar to the Operatives, and it was accordingly so continued to be used
until, in a few years, the opportune time had arrived for the fabrication of a
more complex one, and one better adapted to the objects of a Speculative
appears, then, to be clearly evident that the Operative ritualwas practiced by
the Grand Lodge from 1717 until 1721 or 1722, and for a
longer period by many of the lodges under its jurisdiction, it is proper that
we should endeavor, so far as the materials in our possession will permit, to
describe the character of that ritual.
Masonic scholars who have carefully investigated this subject do not now
express any doubt that the rite practiced by the mediceval Freemasons of every
country, and which, under some modifications, was used by the Operative
Freemasons when the Grand Lodge of England was established, was a very simple
one, consisting of but one degree.
fact, as the word degree literally denotes a step in progression, and would
import the possible existence of a higher step to which it is related, it
would seem to be more proper to say that the Operative rite was without
degrees, and consisted of a form of admission with accompanying esoteric
instructions, all of which were of the simplest nature.
Master, Fellow, and Apprentice were terms intended to designate the different
ranks of the Craftsmen, which ranks were wholly unconnected
any gradations of ritualistic knowledge.
"The Four Old Lodges," p. 33.
Masters were those who superintended the labors of the Craft, or were,
perhaps, in many instances the employers of the workmen engaged on an
edifice. Paley suggests that they were probably architects, and he says that
they must have been trained in one and the same school, just as our clergy are
trained in the universities, and were either sent about to different stations
or were attached to some church or cathedral, or took up
permanent residence in certain localities. (1)
description is very suitable to the most flourishing period of Gothic
architecture, when such Craftsmen as William of Sens or Erwin of Steinbach
were the Masters who directed the construction of those noble
of architecture which were to win the admiration of succeeding ages.
the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, when there was a decadence in
the old science of Gothic architecture, every Fellow who
appointed by an employer or selected by his brethren to govern a lodge and to
direct the works of the Craftsmen, became by that appointment or selection a
know that this usage was for some time observed by the Speculative
Freemasons, for in the form of constituting a new lodge as prescribed in 1723
by the Duke of Wharton, who was then Grand Master, it is said that the Master
who is to be installed, "being yet among the Fellow‑Craft," must be taken from
among them, and be inducted into office by the Grand
Master; by which act he became a Master Mason, and not by the reception of a
degree; and the investiture of certain additional secrets. (2)
Fellows were workmen who had served an apprenticeship of several
and had at length acquired a knowledge of the trade. They constituted the
great body of the Craft, as is evident from the constant reference to them in
the Old Constitutions.
Apprentices, as the etymology of the word imports, were learners.
were youths who were bound to serve their Masters for a term of five or seven
years, on the condition that the Master shall instruct them in the trade, that
at the expiration of their term of service they might be admitted into the
rank or class of Fellows.
there was but one ceremony of admission common to all
"Manual of Gothic Architecture," p. 209. (2) See the form in the 1st edition
of Anderson, p. 71.
classes of the Craft, it follows that there could be no secrets of a ritual
character which belonged exclusively to either of the three classes, and that
whatever was known to Masters and Fellows must also have been communicated to
Apprentices; and this is very evident from the well‑ known fact that the
presence of members of each class was necessary to
legal communications of a lodge.
Mason Word is the only secret spoken of in the minutes of the Scotch lodges,
but the German and English rituals show that there were other words and
methods of recognition besides an examination which
constituted the esoteric instructions of Operative Masonry.
most important of these points is, however, the fact that at the time of the
organization of the Grand Lodge in 1717, and for a brief period afterward,
there was but one degree, as it is called, which was known to
Operatives, and that for a brief period of three or four years this simple
system was accepted and practiced by the founders of Speculative Freemasonry.
the discussion of this fact involves a thorough investigation, and can
treated at the close of a chapter.
inquiry, so far as it has advanced, has, I think, satisfied us that the
Operative ritual was that which was at first adopted by the founders of
afterward, they discarded this ritual as too simple and as unsuitable to their
designs, they were obliged, in the construction of their new system, to
develop new degrees.
task, therefore, to which our attention must now be directed, is first to
demonstrate that the primitive ritual accepted in 1717 by the Speculatives
consisted of but one degree, if for convenience I may be allowed to use a word
not strictly and grammatically correct; and, secondly, to point out the mode
in which and the period when a larger ritual, and a system of degrees, was
these must be the subjects of the two following chapters.
ONE DEGREE OF OPERATIVE FREEMASONS
articles of union agreed to in 1813 by the two Grand Lodges of
England, the "Moderns" and the "Ancients" as they were called, it was declared
that "pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more." If by
Ancient Masonry it was intended to designate the system then existing, and no
other and earlier one ‑ if the character of antiquity was to be circumscribed
within the one hundred preceding years, or thereabouts ‑ then the declaration
might be accepted as an historical truth. But if it was designed to refer by
these words to the whole period of time, within
included the era of Operative, and of combined Operative and Speculative
Freemasonry, as well as that later one when pure Speculative Masonry alone
prevailed, then the assertion must be considered as apocryphal and as having
no foundation in authentic history.
judgment on this subject were to be formed merely on the complete silence of
the Old Records, we should be forced to the conclusion that until the close of
the second decade of the 18th century, or about the year 1720, when the
Speculative element was slowly disintegrating itself from the Operative, there
was only one degree known as the word is understood in the present day.
have evidence that the Operative Freemasons of Scotland in the 15th
century adopted, to some extent, the secret ceremonies observed by the
medieval builders of the continent. (1) we may therefore refer to the records
of the Scotch lodges for a correct knowledge of what was the degree system
practiced, not only in Scotiand but on the continent, at that period.
See Lyon, "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 234. This is evident from,
the charter granted to the Masons and Wrights of Edinburgh in 1475, copied by
Lyon (p. 230) from the Burgh Records of Edinburgh, where reference is made for
their government to the customs "in the towne of Bruges."
have abundant evidence by deduction from the records of the old Scottish
lodges that there was in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries only
degree known to the brotherhood.
were, it is true, three classes or ranks of Masons, namely, Masters, men who
made contracts and undertook the work of building for employers; Fellow‑Crafts
or Journeymen employed by these Masters; and Entered Apprentices, who were
received that they might be taught the art
building. But this difference of rank involved no difference of esoteric
instruction. There was but one ceremony and one set of secrets for all, and
common to and known by everyone, from the youngest Apprentice to
oldest Master. This is plainly deducible from all the Old Records.
in the Schaw statutes, whose date is December 28, 1498, it is enacted as
that na maister or fellow of craft be ressavit nor admittit without the
of sex maisters and twa enterit prenteissis the wardene of that lodge being
one of the said sex."
same regulation, generally, in very nearly the same words, is to be found in
subsequent records, constitutions, and minutes of the 16th and
what deduction must be drawn from the oft‑repeated language of this statute?
Certainly only this, that if two Apprentices were required to be present at
the reception of a Fellow‑Craft or a Master, there could have
no secrets to be communicated to the candidates as Fellow‑Crafts or Masters
which were not als ready known to the Apprentices. In other words, that these
three ranks were not separated and distinguished from each other by any
ceremonies or instructions which would constitute
degrees in the modern acceptation of the term. In fact, there could have been
but one degree common to all.
this subject Bro. Lyon says: "It is upon Schaw's regulation anent the
reception of Fellows or Masters, that we found our opinion that in primitive
there were no secrets communicated by lodges to either Fellows of Craft or
Masters that were not known to Apprentices, seeing that members of the latter
grade were necessary to the legal constitution of
communications for the admission of Masters or Fellows." (1)
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 23.
confirmed in this conclusion by what is said in the same Old Records of the
Mason Word and what was connected with it appeared to constitute
only secret known to the Masons of the centuries preceding the 18th. It was,
however, not simply a word, but had other mysteries connected with it, as is
apparent from an expression in the minutes of the Lodge of
Dunblane, where it is said that two Apprentices of the Lodge of Kilwinning
being examined on their application for affiliation, were found to have " a
competent knowlsedge of the secrets of the Mason Word." (1)
secrets consisted also probably of a sign and grip. Indeed, the
records of Haughfort Lodge in 1707 state the fact that there was a grip, and
it is known that as early as the 12th century the German Masons used all these
modes of recognition. (2)
was also a Legend or Allegory, nothing, however, like the modern
of the Third degree, which connected the Craft traditionally with the Tower of
Babel and the Temple of Solomon. This Legend was contained in what we now call
the Legend of the Craft or the Legend of the Guild. This is contained, with
only verbal variations, in all the old
manuscript Constitutions. That this Legend was always deemed a part of the
secrets of the brotherhood, is very evident from the destruction of many of
those manuscripts by scrupulous Masons in 1720, from the fear,
Anderson expresses it, that they might fall into strange hands.
whatever were the secrets connected with the "Mason Word," there is abundant
evidence that they were communicated in full to the Apprentice on his
we have the evidence of the Schaw statutes that two Apprentices were required
to be present at the reception of a Mason or a Fellow‑Craft. Then the minutes
of the Lodge of Edinburgh for 1601, 1606, and 1637, referred to by Bro. Lyon,
(3) show that Apprentices were present during
making of Fellow‑Crafts. Again, we find the following conclusive testimony in
the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, adopted December 27, 1760:
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 417.
The English Masons in the beginning of the 18th century, and I suppose before
that penod, had two words, the "Jerusalem Word" and the "Universal Word." See
the Examination in the last chapter. The German Masons also had two words, at
least. (3) "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 74.
Master Masons and Entered Prentises, all of us under. seryvers, doe here
protest and vowe as hitherto we ehave done at our entrie when we received the
benefit of the Mason Word," &c. (1)
all of which we are authorized to entertain the opinion, in the
language of Bro. Lyon, who has thoroughly investigated the subject, so far at
least as relates to Scotland, "that 'the Word' and other secrets peculiar to
Masons were communicated to Apprentices on their admission
lodge, and that the ceremony of passing was simply a testing of the
candidate's fitness for employment as a journeyman." (2)
English lodges of the same period, that is, up to the beginning of the 18th
century, we find no indications of the existence of more than one
common to the whole Craft. The Apprentices, however, do not occupy in the old
English Constitutions so conspicuous a place as they do in the Scotch. We can,
for instance, find no regulation like that in the
statutes which requires Apprentices to be present at the making of
the oldest of the English Constitutions which have been unearthed by the
labors of Masonic archaeologists ‑ namely, the one known as the Halliwell MS.,
the date of which is supposed to be not later than the
of the 15th century ‑ we find indications of the fact that the Apprentices
were in possession of all the secret knowledge possessed by the Masters and
Fellows, and that they were allowed to be present at
meetings of the lodge. Thus, the thirteenth article of that early Constitution
gef that the mayster a prentes have Enterlyche thenne that he hym teche, And
meserable poyntes that he hym reche, That he the crafte abelyche may conne,
Whersever he go undur the sonne." (3)
is, if a Master have an Apprentice, he shall give him thorough instruction,
and place him in the possession of such points as will enable him to recognize
the members of the Craft wheresoever he may go. He
be invested with the modes of recognition common to all, whereby a mutual
intercourse might be held. It
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 423. (2) Ibid., p. 233 (3) Halliwell
MS., lines 240 ‑ 244.
not that he was to know just enough to prove himself to be an
Apprentice, but he was to have such knowledge as would enable him to recognize
in a stranger a Fellow‑Craft or a Master ‑ in other words, he was to have all
that they had, in the way of recognition.
more important admission, namely, that the Apprentice was permitted to be
present at the meetings of a lodge of Masters and Fellows, and to participate
in, or at least be a witness of, their private transactions, is found in the
third point of this same Constitution, which is
thrydee poynt must be severele, With the prentes knowe hyt wele, Hys mayster
cownsel he kepe and close, And hys fellowes by hys goode purpose; The
prevystye of the chamber telle he no mon,
the logge whatsever they done; Whatsever thon heryst or eyste hem do Telle hyt
no mon, whersever thou go; The cownsel of halle and yeke of boure, Kepe hyt
lvel to gret honoure, Lest hyt wolde torne thyself to blame, And brynge the
craft ynto gret schame." (1)
is, the Apprentice was directed to keep the counsel of his Master and Fellows,
and to tell to no one the secrets of tlle chamber nor what he should see or
hear done in the lodge. (2)
to keep the counsel of "hall and bower," a medizeval phrase
denoting all sorts of secrets, and all this he was to observe lest he should
bring the Craft into shame.
do not think we need anything more explicit to prove that Apprentices were
admitted to share the secrets of the Fellows and be
present at the meetings of the lodge, all of which is a conclusive evidence
against the existence of separate degrees.
same reference to Apprentices as being in possession of the secrets of the
Craft, which they were not to communicate unlawfully, is found in
subsequent Constitutions, as late as 1693. In the York Constitutions, first
published by Bro. Hughan in his History of Freemasonry in York, under the
title of "The Apprentice
Halliwell MS., lines 275‑286. (2) Similar to this is "The Apprentice Charge"
contained in the Lodge of
MS., the date of which is 1680. It says that the Apprentice "shall keep
counsell in all things spoken in lodge or chamber by fellowes or free masons."
Charge," it is said that "he shall keepe councell in all things spoken in
or Chamber by any Masons, Fellowes or Fremasons."
Masonic student, while carefully perusing the Old Records of the English
Masons and comparing them with those of the Scotch, will be struck with one
important difference between them. In the Scotch
Statutes, Constitutions, and Minutes, the Apprentices assume a prominent
position, and are always spoken of as a component and necessary part of the
the Schaw statutes prescribe the fee for the admission of Fellow‑
Crafts, followed immediately by another prescribing the fee for the admission
of Apprentices; twice in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (1706 and 1709)
it is recorded that a notary who was appointed for the purpose of acting as
"clerk to the brethren masons" was initiated as Jane
entered Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft," (1) and lastly, Apprentices were
required to be present at the admission of Fellow‑Crafts and Masters.
think, therefore, that the most eminent Masonic historians of the present
have been justified in the conclusion to which they have arrived after a
careful examination of old documents, that until a short time after the
organization of the Grand Lodge in the year 1717, there is no evidence of
existence of more than one degree; that all the secrets were communicated to
the Apprentices, and that the ceremony of passing to a Fellow‑Craft was simply
a testing of the candidate's fitness for employment as a journeyman. (2)
Hughan says that "no record prior to the second decade of the last
century ever mentions Masonic degrees, and all the MSS. preserved decidedly
confirm us in the belief that in the mere Operative (although partly
Speculative) career of Freemasonry the ceremony of reception was
most unpretentious and simple character, mainly for the communication of
certain lyrics and secrets, and for the conservation of ancient customs of the
another place the same distinguished writer says: "I have carefully
perused all the known Masonic MSS. from the 14th century down to A.D 1717 (of
which I have eitherseen the originals or
Lyon, " History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 43. (2) Such is the opinion of
Bro. Lyon. See "History of the Lodge of
Edinburgh," p. 233, (3) Voice of Masonry, vol. xii., June, 1874, p. 340.
certified copies), and have not been able to find any reference to three
Findel says: "Originally it seems there was but one degree of initiation in
the year 1717; the degrees or grades of Apprentice, Fellow,
Master were introduced about the year 1720." (2)
Lyon, also, who has thoroughly investigated the customs of the early Scottish
lodges, in referring to the Schaw statute, which required two
Apprentices to be present at the admission of Fellows, says that in 1693 "the
lodge recognized 'passing,' i.e., a promotion to the fellowship, simply as an
'honour and dignity.'" And he adds:
the communication by Mason Lodges of secret words or signs
constituted a degree ‑ a term of modern application to the esoteric
observances of the Masonic body ‑ then there was under the purely Operative
regime only one known to Scotch lodges, viz., that in which, under an oath,
Apprentices obtained a knowledge of the Mason Word and
that was implied in the expression." (3)
Dr. Oliver, who, of all writers, is the least skeptical in respect to Masonic
traditions, acknowledges that there is no evidence of the existence of degrees
in Freemasonry anterior to the beginning of the 18th century.
only living Masonic scholar of any eminence who, so far as I am aware, denies
or doubts this fact is the Rev. Bro. W. A. Woodford, and he asserts his
opinion rather negatively, as if he were unwilling to doubt,
positively as if he were ready to deny the fact, that the old Operative system
consisted of but one degree.
Bro. Woodford is one whose learning and experience entitle his opinion on any
point of Masonic history to a deferential consideration, it
be proper to examine the weight of his arguments on this subject.
year 1874 Bro. Hughan proposed, in the London Freemason, to defend in future
communications three historical statements against anyone who should oppugn
Cited by Lyon in "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 211. (2) "History of
Freemasonry," p. 150, Lyon's Translation. (3) Lyon, " History of the Lodge of
Edinburgh," p. 23.
these statements was made in the following words:
references to Masonic degrees (as we understand the term now) never occur in
the ancient minutes; no rituals of degrees prior to 1720 are in existence, and
whatever esoteric customs may have been communicated to Craftsmen before the
last century, they do not appear to
necessitated the temporary absence of either class of members from the Lodge."
this challenge Bro. Woodford responded in a subsequent number of the same
gist of our learned Brother's argument in reply appears to be that
though, as Vaughan asserts, there may be no ritual evidence of the existence
of the three degrees before 1720, yet "such a proposition need not be
understood as asserting that they did not exist, but only that, so far, we
have no ritual evidence of their distinct existence as now."
logical conclusion, it appears to me that such a disposition of the question
is wholly untenable. It was an excellent maxim of the schools, which has been
adopted in philosophy, in physical science, and in law,
"of things which do not appear and of things which do not exist, the reasoning
is the same." (3)
only arrive at a correct judgment when we are guided by evidence; without it
no judgment can be reasonably formed.
Hedge, in his excellent manual of logic, says: "The proof that the Romans once
possessed Great Britain is made up of a rariety of independent arguments: as
immemorial tradition; the testimony of historians; the ruins of Roman
buildings, camps, and walls; Roman coins,
inscriptions, and the like. These are independent arguments; but they all
conspire to establish the fact." (4)
if we apply this method of reasoning to the question of the existence of
Masonic degrees prior to the year 1720, we shall see clearly how
completely the affirmative proposition is without support. We have no
immemorial tradition, no historical testimony, no allusion in old documents,
such as the manuscript Constitutions, the minutes of the Scottish or of the
very few English lodges that are extant, nor in the
English or German Freemasons, which tend
London freemason, June 27, 1874. (2) Ibid., July 27, 1874. (3) De non
apparentibus et de non existentibus, eadem est ratio. (4) "Elements of Logic,"
by Levi Hedge, LL.D., Boston, 1827, p. 74
prove the existence of degrees in the old system of Operative Freemasonry. On
the contrary, we have abundant evidence in these Constitutions and minutes
that the secrets of the Craft were common to the three classes, and that
Apprentices were required to he present at the
admission of Masters.
other argument of Bro. Woodford is, that, "notwithstanding the Scotch lodges
had an open court for their members, that does not preclude the possibility of
the existence of other secrets and separate degrees."
possible, but it does not thence follow that it is true. In this investigation
we seek not possibilities but facts, and, as Bro. Woodford, usually so careful
and so accurate in his historical and archaeological
inquiries, has supplied no proof of the hypothesis which he has advanced, it
must be accepted as a mere assumption, and may be fairly met with a contrary
the remarks of Bro. Hughan himself, in reply to the argument of Bro.
Woodford, are so conclusive and throw so much light upon this interesting
subject that I can not refrain from enriching the pages of this work with the
very words of this eminent authority in Masonic archaeology. (1)
what do the old lodge minutes say on this subject ? we have had
authorized excerpts from these valuable books published (with few exceptions).
The whole of the volumes have been most diligently and carefully searched, the
result made known, and every Masonic student furnished with the testimony of
these important witnesses, all of which,
the 16th century to the first half of the second decade of the 18th century,
unite in proving that there is no register of any assembly of Masons working
ceremonies or communicating 'secrets' from which any
portion of the Fraternity was excluded or denied participation; neither can
there be found a single reference in these lodge minutes to justify one in
assuming 'three degrees' to be even known to the brethren prior to A.D.
1716‑1717. (2) Of course, there can be no doubt as to what may be
grades in Ancient Masonry, Apprentices had to serve their 'regular time'
before being accounted Fellow‑Crafts, and then subsequently the office
Contained in article in the London Masonic Magazine for August,
(2) The learned Brother makes here a rather too liberal admission. I have
found no evidence of the existence of three degrees in the year 1717, and it
will be hereafter seen that their fabrication is assigned to a later date.
position of Master Mason was conferred upon a select few; but no word is ever
said about 'degrees.' All the members were evidently eligible to attend at the
introduction of Fellow‑Crafts and Master Masons, as well as at the admission
of Apprentices; and so far as the records throw light on
customs of our early brethren, the Apprentices were as welcome at the election
and reception of Masters ‑ as the latter were required to participate in the
initiation of the former.
are quite willing to grant, for the sake of argument, that a word may
been whispered in the ear of the Master of the lodge (or of Master Masons) on
their introduction or constitution in the lodge; but supposing that such were
the case (and we think the position is at least probable),
'three degrees' are as far from being proved as before, especially as we have
never yet traced any intimation, ever so slight, of a special ceremony at the
'passing' of Fellow‑Crafts, peculiar to that grade, and from which Apprentices
have overlooked such a minute, we shall be only too glad to acknowledge the
fact; but at present we must reiterate our conviction, that whatever the
ceremonies may have been at the introduction of Fellow‑ Crafts and Master
Masons anterior to the last century, they were not such as to require the
exclusion of Apprentices from the lodge meetings; and in the absence of any
positive information on the subject, we are not justified in assuming the
existence of 'three degrees of Masonry' at that period; or,
other words, we can only fairly advocate that two have existed of which we
have evidence, and whatever else we may fancy was known, should only be
advocated on the grounds of probability. If the proof of 'three
degrees' before 1717 is to rest on the authority of the Sloane MS. 3329, we
shall be glad to give our opinion on the subject.
all respect, then, for our worthy Brother, the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, whose
exertions and contributions to Masonic literature have
continuous and most valuable for many years, we feel bound to state we do not
believe according to the evidences accumulated that the 'three degrees were
distinct grades in the Operative Order; but that the term Apprentice,
Fellow‑Craft, and Master Mason simply denoted
Masonic, relative, or official positions.'"
then, there was originally but one degree, the one into which Freemasons of
every class or rank were initiated, according to a very simple form, upon
their admission to the Craft, it follows that the degree
Fellow‑Craft and Master Mason must be of comparatively recent origin. This is
legitimately a logical conclusion that can not, I believe, be avoided.
so, then the next question that we have to meet and discuss is as
time and the circumstances of the fabrication of these degrees
INVENTION OF THE FELLOW‑CRAFT'S DEGREE
having been satisfactorily shown, first, that during the existence of pure
Operative Freemasonry there was but one degree, or ritual, of admission,
system of secret working in a lodge, which was accessible in common to all the
members of the Craft, Apprentices as well as Fellows and Masters; secondly,
that in the year 1717, when the Speculative element
to assume a hitherto unknown prominence, though it did not at once attempt to
dissever the connection with the Operative, the Grand Lodge then formed,
accepted, and practiced for some time this system of a single degree; and
thirdly, that in the year 1723 we have the authentic
documentary evidence of the "General Regulations " published in that year,
that two degrees had been superimposed on this original one, and that at that
time Speculative Freemasonry consisted of three degrees; it
follows as a natural inference, that in the interval of six years, between
1717 and 1723, the two supplemental degrees must have been invented or
must be here remarked, parenthetically, that the word degree, in reference to
the system practiced by the Operative Freemasons, is used
in a conventional sense, and for the sake of convenience. To say, as is
sometimes carelessly said, that the Operative Freemasons possessed only the
Apprentice's degree, is to speak incorrectly. The system
practiced by the Operatives may be called a degree, if you choose, but it was
not peculiar to Apprentices only, but belonged in common to all the ranks or
classes of the Fraternity.
the Speculative branch wholly separated from the Operative, and
divisions of the Order, then properly called degrees, were invented, this
ritual of the latter became the basis of them all. Portions of it were greatly
modified and much developed, and became what is now known as the First degree,
though it continued for many years to receive increments
invention of new sym. bols and new ceremonies, and by sometimes undergoing
important changes. Other portions of it, but to a less extent, were
incorporated into the two supplemental degrees, the Second and the
it was that by development of the old ritual, and by the invention of a new
one, the ancient system, or, conventionally speaking, the original degree of
the Operatives, became the Entered Apprentice's degree of the
Speculatives, and two new degrees, one for the Fellow‑Crafts and one for the
Master Masons, were invented.
the important and most interesting question recurs, When and by whom were
these two new degrees invented and introduced into the modern system of
answer to this question which, at this day, would probably be given by nearly
all the Masonic scholars who have, without preconceived prejudices, devoted
themselves to the investigation of the history of Freemasonry, as it is
founded on and demonstrated by the evidence of
authentic documents, combined with natural and logical inferences and not
traditionary legends and naked assumptions, is that they were the invention of
that recognized ritualist, Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers,
the co‑operation of Dr. James Anderson, and perhaps a few others, among whom
it would not be fair to omit the name of George Payne. The time of this
invention or fabrication would be placed after the formation of the Grand
Lodge in 1717, and before the publication of the first edition of
Book of Constitutions in 1723.
time and manner of the fabrication of the Fellow‑Craft's degree the writers
who have adopted the theory here announced have not paid so much attention as
they have to that of the Master Mason. Recognizing the
that the two supplementary degrees were fabricated between the years 1717 and
1723, they have not sought to define the precise date, and seem to have been
willing to believe them to have been of
after as careful an investigation as I was capable of making, I have been led
to the conclusion that the fabrication of the degree of Fellow‑ Craft preceded
that of Master Mason by three or four years, and that the
of Speculative Freemasonry had been augmented by the addition of a new degree
to the original one in or about the year 1719.
is documentary evidence of an authentic character which proves the existence
of a "Fellow‑Craft's part" in the year 1720, while it is not
the year 1723 that we find any record alluding to the fact that there was a "
in a chronological point of view, it may be said that the single degree or
ritual in which, and in the secrets of which, all classes of
workmen, from the Apprentice to the Master, equally participated, constituted,
under various modifications, a part of Operative Freemasonry from the earliest
times. The possession of those secrets, simple as they were, distinguished the
Freemasons from the Rough Layers in England,
the Cowans in Scotland, and from the Surer, or Wall Builders, in Germany.
degree, in its English form, was the only one known or practiced in London in
the year 1717, at the era which has incorrectly been called the
"Revival." The degree of Fellow‑Craft, in the modern signification of the word
degree, was incorporated into the system, probably a very few years after the
organization of the Grand Lodge, and was fully recognized as a degree in the
year 1719, or perhaps early in 1720.
Finally, the Third or Master's degree was added, so as to make the full
complement of degrees as they now exist, between the years 1720 and 1723 ‑
certainly not before the former nor after the latter period.
this theory we have, I think, documentary evidence of so authentic a
character, that we must be irresistibly led to the conclusion that the theory
Lyon, in his History of thve Lodge of Edinburgh, cites a record which has a
distinct relevancy to the question of the time when the Second
originated. It is contained in the minutes of the Lodge of Dunblane, under the
date of December 27, 1720, which is about sixteen years prior to the
establishment of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
minute records that a lawyer, and therefore a Theoretic Mason, who had
formerly been entered, had, after a due examination, been " duely passed from
the Squair to the Compass and from ane Entered Prentiss to a Fellow of Craft."
In commenting on this minute, Bro. Lyon says:
would appear from this that what under the modern ritual of the Fraternity is
a symbol peculiar to the Second Degree, was, under the system which obtained
in Scotland prior to the introduction of the Third
Degree, the distinctive emblem of the Entered Apprentice step ‑ and what is
now a leading symbol in the degree of Master Mason, was then indicative of the
Fellow‑Craft, or highest grade of Lodge membership.'' (1)
authentic record surely corroborates the theory just advanced that
Fellow‑Craft's degree was formulated in London after the year 1717 and before
the close of the year 1720. Here, I think, we are warranted in pursuing the
following method of deduction.
first notice of the degree of Fellow‑Craft being conferred in
Scotland, as a degree, occurs in the record of a lodge in the last days of the
year 1720; and if, as we know from other sources, that Scotland derived the
expanded system of degrees from the sister kingdom; then it
reasonable to suppose that the degree must have been given in Scotland at as
early a period after its fabrication in England as was compatible with a due
allowance of time for its transmission from the lodges of the latter kingdom
to those of the former, and for the necessary
preparation for its legal adoption.
degree must, of course, have been practiced in London for some time before it
would be transmitted to other places, and hence we may accept the hypothesis,
as something more than a mere presumption, that the
degree had been invented by Desaguliers and his collaborators on the ritual of
the new Grand Lodge in the course of the year 1719, certainly not later than
the beginning of the year 1720.
Between the 24th of June, 1717, when the Grand Lodge was established,
the end of the year 1718, the period of less than eighteen months which had
elapsed was too brief to permit the overthrow of a long‑existing system,
endeared to the Craft by its comparative antiquity. Time and
opportunity were required for the removal of opposition, the conciliation of
prejudices, and the preparation of rituals, all of which would bring us to the
year 1719 as the conjectural date of the fabrication of the Second degree.
highly probable that the degree was not thoroughly formulated and
legally introduced into the ritual until after the 24th of June, 1719, when
Desaguliers, who was then Grand Master, and the Proto‑Grand Master, Sayer, who
was then one of the Grand Wardens,
reference is here made to the subsequent disseverment of the Third degree
which resulted in the composition of the Royal arch degree, as that subject
will be here‑ after fully discussed.
from their official positions, sufficient influence to cause the
acceptance of the new degree by the Grand Lodge.
gather very little, except inferentially, from the meager records of Anderson,
and yet he shows us that there was certainly an impetus given to the Order in
1719, which might very well have been derived from the
invention of a new and more attractive ritual.
Anderson says, referring to the year 1719, that "now several old brothers,
that had neglected the Craft, visited the lodges; some noblemen were also made
brothers, and more new lodges were constituted."
record of the preceding year tells us that the Grand Master Payne had desired
the brethren to bring to the Grand Lodge any old writings concerning Masonry
"in order to shew the usages of ancient times."
Northouck, a later but not a discreditable authority, expanding the
language of his predecessor, says that "the wish expressed at the Grand Lodge
for collecting old manuscripts, appears to have been preparatory to the
compiling and publishing a body of Masonical Constitutions."
see in this act the suggestion of the idea then beginning to be entertained by
the Speculative leaders of the new society to give it a more elevated
character by the adoption of new laws and a new form of ceremonies. To guide
them in this novel attempt, they desired to obtain all
accessible information as to old usages.
now, some of the older Operative Craftsmen, becoming alarmed at what they
believed was an effort to make public the secrets which had been so
scrupulously preserved from the eyes of the profane by their
predecessors, and who were unwilling to aid in the contemplated attempt to
change the old ritual, an attempt which had been successful in the fabrication
of a Second degree, and the modification of the First, resolved
throw obstructions in the way of any further innovations.
will account for the fact recorded by Anderson that, between June, 1719, and
June, 1720, (1) several valuable manuscripts concerning the ancient "
regulations, charges, secrets, and usages "
Dr. Anderson, in his chronological records, counts the years from the
installation of one Grand Master in June to that of the next in June of the
"burnt by some scrupulous brothers, that those papers might not fall
records do not say so, in as many words, but we may safely infer from their
tenor that the conflict had begun between the old Operative Freemasons who
desired to see no change from the ancient ways, and
more liberal‑minded Theoretic members, who were anxious to develop the system
and to have a more intellectual ritual ‑ a conflict which terminated in 1723
with the triumph of the Theoretics and the defeat of the Operatives, who
retired from the field and left the institution of
Speculative Freemasonry to assume the form which it has ever since retained,
as "a science of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols," a
definition which would be wholly inapplicable to the old Operative system.
minute of the Dunblane Lodge which has been cited through Bro. Lyon, it was
said that the candidate in being advanced from an Entered Apprentice to a
Fellow‑Craft had "passed from the Square to the Compass."
curious and significant that this expression was adopted on the
Continent at a very early period of the 18th century, when the hautes grades
or high degrees began to be manufactured. With the inventors of these new
degrees the Square was the symbol of Craft Masonry, while
Compass was the appropriate emblem of what they called their more elevated
system of instruction. Hence, instead of the Square which is worn by the
Master of an Ancient Craft Lodge, the Master of a Lodge of Perfection
substitutes the Compasses as the appropriate badge of his
Ancient Craft Masonry, with whose history alone we are now dealing, the
Compass is at this day a symbol peculiar to the Third degree, while it would
seem from the above‑cited minute that in the beginning of
18th century it was appropriate to the Fellow‑Crafts.
commenting on this phrase in the record of the Lodge of Dunblane, Bro. Lyon
makes the following remarks:
some it will appear to favor the theory which attributes the existence of the
Third degree to a disjunction and a rearrangement of the parts of
the Second was originally composed."
no objection to accept this theory in part. I believe, and the hypothesis is a
very tenable one, that when the Second degree was fabricated, the secrets, the
ritual, and instructions which were formerly comprised in the single degree
which was then given to the whole Craft, indiscriminately, to Apprentices, to
Fellows, and to Masters alike, were divided between the two degrees which were
then formulated, with certain
additions; and that subsequently, when the Third degree was invented, there
was a further disintegration, and a portion of that which had constituted the
"part of a Fellow‑Craft " was, with many new points, transferred to that of
thus, by what I believe to be a tenable hypothesis, sought to fix the time of
the first expansion of the old ritual of the Operatives, which was for a short
time made use of, in all its simplicity, by the Speculative Grand
next step in this expansion was the fabrication of the Third or Master Mason's
degree. To the time when this important event took place and to the
circumstances attending it we are now to direct our attention. This shall
therefore be the subject to be treated in the following chapter.
NON‑EXISTENCE OF A MASTER MASON'S DEGREE AMONG THE OPERATIVE FREEMASONS
history of the origin of the Third or Master's degree ‑ that is, so much of it
as refers to the precise time of its invention ‑ has, at this day, been
involved in much doubt, and been the source of earnest controversy in
consequence of the searching investigations of recent scholars, whose incisive
criticism has shown many theories to be untenable which were
held to be plausible.
within a few years the opinion was universally entertained that the Third
degree must have been in existence from the time of the invention of the
Masonic system, and at whatever period that event was placed, the
doctrine was held as indisputable that the First, the Second, and the Third
degrees must have had a contemporaneous origin, no one preceding the other in
point of time, but all springing at the same epoch into form and practice.
theory that Freemasonry originated at the Temple of Solomon was for
long time a universally accepted proposition, constituting, in fact, the
orthodox creed of a Freemason, and conscientiously adopted, not merely by the
common and unlearned masses of the Fraternity, but even
Masonic scholars of distinguished reputation.
Consequent upon this theory was another, that at the same time the Master's
degree was invented and that the builders of the Temple were divided into the
same three classes distinguished as de. greed which
constitute the present system of Freemasonry.
theory was derived from the esoteric narrative contained in the modern ritual
of the Third degree. If this narrative is accepted as an authentic history of
events which actually occurred at that time, then there
be no more difficulty in tracing the in vention of the Third degree to the
time of King Solomon than there can be in placing the origin of Freemasonry at
the same remote period.
unfortunately for the repose of those who would be willing to solve a
difficult problem by the Alexandrian method of cutting the Gordian knot,
rather than by the slower process of analytical investigation, the theory of
the Temple origin of the Master's degree has now been repudiated by
all Masonic scholars. A few may be accepted who, like Bro. Woodford, still
express a doubtful recognition of the possibility that the legend may be true.
Bro. Woodford, referring to the Temple legend, says: "As there is no
priori reason why an old Masonic tradition should not be true in the main, we
see no reason to reject the world‑wide story of King Solomon's protection of a
Masonic association. Indeed, modern discovery seems to strengthen the reality
of our Masonic legends, and we should always, as it
appears to us, distinguish between what is possible and probable and what is
actually provable or proved by indubitable evidence." In reply to this it must
be remembered that of all the arguments in favor of an event,
possibility of its occurrence is the weakest that can be adduced. In
dialectics there is an almost illimitable gulf between possibility and
actuality. A hundred things may be possible or even probable, and yet not one
of them may be actual. With the highest respect for the scholarship of
reverend Brother, I am compelled to dissent from the views he has here
expressed. Nor am I prepared to accept the statement that "modern discovery
seems to strengthen the reality of our Masonic legends." A
contrary opinion now generally prevails, though it must be admitted that the
modern interpretations of these legends have given them a value, as the
expression of symbolic ideas, which does not pertain to them when accepted, as
they formerly were, as truthful narratives.
Temple legend, however, must be retained as a part of the ritual as long as
the present system of Speculative Freemasonry exists, and the legendary and
allegorical narrative must be repeated by the Master of the lodge on the
occasion of every initiation into the mysteries of the Third
degree, because, though it is no longer to be accepted as an historical
statement, yet the events which it records are still recognized as a myth
containing within itself, and
Kenning's "Masonic Cyclopedia," art. Temple of Solomon, p. 612.
independent of all question of probability, a symbolical significance of the
mythical legend of the Temple, and of the Temple Builder, must ever remain an
inseparable part of the Masonic ritual, and the narrative must
repeated on all appropriate occasions, because, without this legend,
Speculative Masonry would lose its identity and would abandon the very object
of its original institution. On this legend, whether true or false,
whether a history or a myths is the most vital portion of the symbolism of
interpretation of a legendary symbol or an allegory it is a matter of no
consequence to the value of the interpretation whether the legend be
or false; the interpretation alone is of importance. We need not, for
instance, inquire whether the story of Hiram Abif is a narrative which is true
in all its parts, or merely a historical myth in which truth and fiction are
variously blended, or, in fact, only the pious invention of some
legendmaker, to whose fertile imagination it has been indebted for all its
sufficient when we are occupied in an investigation of subjects connected with
the science of symbolism, that the symbol which the
is intended to develop should be one that teaches some dogma whose truth we
can not doubt. The symbologist looks to the truth or fitness of the symbol,
not to that of the legend on which it is founded. Thus it is that we should
study the different myths and traditions which are
embodied in the ritual of Freemasonry.
when we abandon the role of the symbologist or ritualist, and assume that of
the historian ‑ when, for the time, we no longer interest ourselves
lessons of Masonic symbolism, but apply our attention to the origin and the
progress of the institution, then it really becomes of importance that we
should inquire whether the narrative of certain supposed events which have
hitherto been accepted as truthful, are really historical or
mythical or legendary.
therefore, when the question is asked in an historical sense, at what time the
Third degree was invented, and in the expectation that the reply will be based
on authentic historical authority, we at once repudiate the
story of its existence at the Temple of Solomon as a mere myth, having, it is
true, its value as a symbol but being entitled to no consideration whatever as
an historical narrative.
however, most unfortunate for the study of Masonic history that so
writers on this subject, forgetting that all history must have its basis in
truth, have sought rather to charm their readers by romantic episodes than to
instruct them by a sober detail of facts. One instance of this kind
cited as an example from the visionary speculations of Ragon, a French writer
of great learning, but of still greater imagination.
Orthvodoxie Mafonnifue he has attributed the invention of all the degrees to
Elias Ashmole, near the end of the 17th century. He says that the degree of
Master Mason was formulated soon after the year 1648, but that the
decapitation of King Charles I., and the part taken by Ashmole in favor of the
House of Stuart, led to great modifications in the ritual of the
degree, and that the same epoch saw the birth of the degrees of Secret Master,
Perfect Master, Elect, and Irish Master, of all of which Charles the First was
the hero, under the name of Hiram. (1)
Assertions like this are hardly worth the paper and ink that would be
consumed in refuting them. Unlike the so‑called historical novel which has its
basis in a distortion of history, they resemble rather the Arabian Tales or
the Travels of Gulliver, which owe their existence solely to the
imaginative genius of their authors.
there are some writers of more temperate judgment who, while they reject the
Temple theory, still claim for the Third degree an antiquity of no certain
date, but much anterior to the time of the organization of the
Lodge in the beginning of the I8th century.
Bro. Hyde Clark, in an article in the London Freemasons' Magazine, says that
"the ritual of the Third degree is peculiar and suggestive of its containing
matter from the old body of Masonry," whence
concludes that it is older than the time of the so‑called Revival in 1717, and
he advances a theory that the First degree was in that olden time conferred on
minors, while the Second and Third were restricted to adults.
view of the origin of the degrees can only be received as a
Maconnique," par J. M. Ragon, Paris, 1853, p. 29. (2) "Old Freemasonry before
Grand Lodges," by Hyde Clark, in the London Freemasons' Magazine, No. 534.
assumption, for there is not a particle of authentic evidence to show that it
has an historical foundation. No old document has been yet discovered which
gives support to the hypothesis that there were ceremonies or esoteric
instructions before the year 1719 which were
conferred upon a peculiar class. All the testimony of the Old Records and
manuscript Constitutions is to the effect that there was but one reception for
the Craftsmen, to which all, from the youngest to the oldest Mason,
true that one of the Old Records, known as the Sloane MS. 3329, mentions
different modes of recognition, one of which was peculiar to Masters, and is
called in the manuscript "their Master's gripe," and another is called "their
gripe for fellowcrafts."
many Masonic manuscripts which, within the last few years have been discovered
and published, this is perhaps one of the most important and interesting.
Findel first inserted a small portion of it in his History of Freemasonry, but
the whole of it in an unmutilated form was subsequently
published by Bro. Woodford in 1872, and also by Hughan in the same year in the
Voice of Masonry. It was discovered among the papers of Sir Hans Sloane which
were deposited in the British Museum, and there is
numbered 3329. Bro. Hughan supposes that the date of this manuscript is
between 1640 and 1700; Messrs. Bond and Sims, of the British Museum, think
that the date is "probably of the beginning of the 18th century." Findel
thinks that it was originally in the possession of Dr. Plot, and that it
one of the sources whence he derived his views on Freemasonry. He places its
date at about the end of the 17th century. Bro. Woodford cites the authority
of Mr. Wallbran for fixing its date in the early part of that
century, in which opinion he coincides. The paper‑mark of the manuscript in
the British Museum appears to have been a copy of an older one, for Bro.
Woodford states that though the paper‑mark is of the early part of the 18th
century, experts will not deny that the language is that of the
He believes, and very reasonably, that it represents the cerernonial through
which Ashmole passed in 1646.
this is the only Old Record in which a single passage is to be found
by the most liberal exegesis, can be construed even into an allusion to the
existence of a Third degree with a separate ritual before the end of the
second decade of the 18th century, it may be well to quote such passages of
the manuscript as appear to have any bearing on the
methods of recognition for Fellow‑Crafts and Masters is thus described in the
gripe for fellow craftes is grasping their right hands in each other,
thrusting their thumb naile upon the third joynt of each others first Fing'r;
masters gripe is grasping their right hands in each other; placing their four
fingers nailes hard upon the carpus or end of others wrists, and their thumb
nailes thrust hard directly between the second joynt of the
and the third joynt of the first Finger; but some say the mast'rs grip is the
same I last described, only each of their middle Fing'rs must reach an inch or
three barley corns length higher to touch upon a vein y't comes from the
indication is to be found in this passage of the existence at the time of
three degrees and three separate rituals. All that it tells us is that the
Fellow‑Crafts were provided with one form of salutation and the Masters with
another, and we are left in uncertainty whether these forms used by
class were unknown to the other, or whether the forms were openly used only to
distinguish one class from the other, as the number of stripes on the arm
distinguish the grades of non‑commissioned officers in the
the latter was the use would appear evident from the fact that the close of
the passage leaves it uncertain that the "gripes" were not identical, or at
least with a very minute difference. "Some say," adds the writer, "the
Master's grip is the same" as the FellowCraft's ‑ "only" ‑ and
he gives the hardly appreciable variation.
is another passage which appears to show that no value was attached to the use
of the grip as marking a degree, though it might be employed to distinguish a
rank or class.
"Another salutation," says the manuscript, "is giving the Masters or fellows
grip, saying the right worshipful the mast'rs and fellows in that right
worshipful lodge from whence we last came, greet you, greet you, greet
well, then he will reply, God's good greeting to you, dear brother."
take it that all that is meant is that the Masters saluted with the grip
peculiar to their class, and the Fellows that peculiar to theirs. But what has
become of the Apprentices ? Did they salute with the grip of the
Fellows or that of the Masters? If so, they must have been acquainted with one
or both, and then the secret instruction incidental to the condition of
degrees and a distinct ritual must be abandoned, or the Apprentices
not admitted to the privileges of the Craft, and were debarred from a
recognition as members of a lodge.
the following questions and answers decide that point. They are contained in
the manuscript, and there called "a private discourse by way
question and answer."
Where were you made a mason ?
a just and perfect or just and lawful lodge.
What is a perfect or just and lawful lodge ?
just and perfect lodge is two Interprintices two fellow crafts, and two
Mast'rs, more or fewer, the more the merrier, the fewer the better chear, but
if need require five will serve, that is, two Interprintices, two fellow
crafted and one Mast'r on the highest hill or the lowest valley of the world
without the crow of a cock or the bark of a dog."
was no lodge of Master Masons, nor of Fellow‑Crafts, nor of Entered
Apprentices, as they have been distinguished since the establishment of
degrees. It was simply a lodge of Freemasons to legalize and perfect
character it was necessary that representatives of all the classes should be
present. The Apprentices forming a part of the lodge must have been privy to
all its secrets; and this idea is sustained by all the Old Constitutions and
"Charges" in which the Apprentices are enjoined to
the secrets of the lodge.
manuscript speaks of two words, "the Mast'r Word" and " the Mason word." The
latter is said to have been given in a certain form, which is described. It is
possible that the former may have been communicated to
Masters as a privilege attached to their rank, while the latter was
communicated to the whole Craft. In a later ritual it has been seen that there
were two words, "the Jerusalem Word" and "the universal word," but
were known to the whole Fraternity. The Sloane MS. does not positively state
that the two words used in its ritual were like these two, or that the
Master's was confined to one class. It is, however, likely that this Word was
a privileged mark of distinction to be used only by the Masters,
possibly known to the rest of the Fraternity. How else could it be given in
the lodge where the three classes were present ? Bro. Lyon has arrived at the
same conclusion. He says: " It is our opinion that in primitive
there were no secrots communicated by Lodges to either fellows or craft or
master's that were not known to apprentices, seeing that members of the latter
grade were necessary to the legal constitution of communications for the
admission of masters or fellows." (1) The
argument, indeed, appears to be unanswerable.
Word might, however, as has been suggested, have been whispered by the Master
communicating it to the one to whom it was communicated. If this were so, it
supplies us with the origin of the modern Past Master's
degree. But even then it could only be considered as a privileged mark of a
rank or class of the Crafts men and not as the evidence of a degree.
merely suggest, but I will not press the argument, that it is not
impossible that by a clerical mistake, or through some confusion in the mind
of the writer, "Mast'r Word" may have been written for "Mason Word," an
expression which has been made familiar to us in the minutes of the Scottish
lodges, and which is the onlv word the secrecy of which is
required by the oath that is contained in the manuscript. On the other hand, "
Master Word " is a phrase not met with in any other manuscript, Scotch or
"Oath," which forms a part of the Sloane MS., supplies itself the
strongest proof that, during the period in which it formed a part of the
ritual, that ritual must have been one common to the three classes; in other
words, there could have been but one degree, because there was but one
obligation of secrecy imposed, and the secrets, whatever they
must have been known to all Freemasons, to the Apprentices as well as on to
the Master. The "Oath" is in the following words:
Mason Word and everything therein contained you shall keep
secret, you shall never put it in writing directly or indirectly; you shall
keep all that we or your attenders shall bid you keep secret from man, woman
or child, stock or stone, and never reveal it but to a brother or in a Lodge
of Freemasons, and truly observe the charges in the Constitution; all this
promise and swear faithfully to keep and observe, without any manner of
equivocation or mental reservation, directly or indirectly; so help you God
and the contents of this Book."
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 23.
"Mason Word," with the secrets connected with it, formed a very prominent part
of the ritual of the Scotch Freemasons, though there is no reference to it in
any of the English manuscripts except in the Sloane.
fact, so important was this word considered as to be sometimes figuratively
employed to designate the whole body of the Fraternity. Thus, in a record of
the Musselburgh Lodge, in December, 1700, where complaint is made of the great
disorders into which the lodge had fallen, it
said, among other evils, that the practice of Fellow Grafts encouraging
Apprentices to take work as journeymen, " at last, by degrees, will bring all
law and order and consequently the Mason Word to contempt " (1) ‑
evidently by a figure of speech, it is meant that the Fraternity or Craft of
Masonry will be brought to contempt.
Lodge of Edinburgh, which was the principal Lodge of Scotland, and whose
records have been best preserved, the Masons or employers
up to the beginning of the 18th century, the dominant power, and seldom called
the Fellows or Craftsmen of an inferior class, who were only journeymen, into
controversy between the Masters and journeymen, which led, in
to the establishment of a new lodge, are faithfully de scribed by Bro. Lyon
from the original records. (2) It is sufficient here to say that one of the
principal grievances complained of by the latter was in respect to the giving
of the Mason Word, with the secrets connected with it and the
arising from it. The Masters claimed the right to confer it and to dispose of
the fee, so to speak, of initiation.
Finally, the controversy was partially ended by arbitration. The "Decreet‑
Arbitral," as is the Scottish legal phrase, or award of the arbitrators made
on January 17, 1715, has been recorded, and has been published by Bro. Lyon.
The only point of importance to the present subject is that the arbitrators
decreed that the journeymen Masons, that is, the Fellow‑
Crafts, should be allowed "to meet together by themselves, as a Society for
giving the Mason Word and to receive dues therefor."
this fact it is clearly evident that the knowledge of the
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 175.
Ibid., p. 140
Word" and the secrets pertaining to it formed no part of a degree exclusively
confined to the Masters, but that all esoteric knowledge in connection with
this subject was also the property of the Fellow‑Crafts,
the Apprentices, too, because it has been shown that they were required to be
present at all lodge meetings.
expression, "Mason Word," which is common in the Scottish lodge records, has
been, so far, found only in one English manuscript, the
3329. But as the theory is now generally accepted as having been proved, that
the Scottish Freemasons derived their secrets from their English brethren,
there can hardly be a doubt that the regulations relative to this Word must
have been nearly the same in both countries.
this was the case after the organization of the Grand Lodge of England, there
can be no doubt. It is proved by the visit of Dr. Desaguliers to Edinburgh in
1721, and long before. Bro. Lyon was aware of that visit.
had, from other considerations, expressed the opinion " that the system of
Masonic degrees which for nearly a century and a half has been known in
Scotland as Freemasonry, was an importation from England." (1)
this "Mason Word" was, either in England or Scotland, we have, at
day, no means of knowing. But we do know from the records of the 17th century,
which have been preserved, that it was the most important, and in Scotland
perhaps the only, secret that was communicated to the
Word," says Bro. Lyon, "is the only secret that is even alluded to in the
minutes of Mary's Chapel, or in those of Kilwinning, Acheson's Haven, or
Dunblane, or any other that we have examined of a date prior to the erection
of the Grand Lodge." (2)
know also that in England, in Scotland, and in Germany, the giving of the Word
was accompanied by a grip and by the communication of other secrets.
know also, positively, that this Word and these secrets were bestowed upon
Fellows as well as Masters, and also, as we have every
to infer, upon Apprentices.
Besides the proofs that we derive from old Masonic records, we have a right to
draw our inferences from the prevalence of similar customs among other crafts.
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 153 (2) Ibid., p. 22.
the carpenters, wrights, joiners, slaters, and other crafts who were connected
in the art of building with the Masons, were called in Scotland "Squaremen,"
and they had a secret word which was called the
Word." This word, with a grip and sign, was communicated to both journeymen
and apprentices in a ceremony called the "brithering." A portion of this
ceremony which was performed in a closely guarded
apartment of a public‑house was the investiture with a leather apron. (1)
not doubt that the communication of the "Mason Word and the secrets pertaining
to it" was accompanied by similar ceremonies in Scotland, and by a parity of
reasoning also in England.
final conclusion to which we must arrive from the proofs which have been
adduced, is that as there was no such system as that of degrees known to the
mediaeval Operative Freemasons, that no such system was practiced by the
Speculative Freemasons who in 1717 instituted the
Lodge of England, until at least two years after its organization; that in
1719 the two degrees of Entered Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft were invented; and
that subsequently the present system of symbolic or ancient
degrees was perfected by the fabrication of a new degree, now recognized as
the Third or Master Mason's degree.
what precise time and under what circumstances this Third degree was invented
and introduced into the Grand Lodge system of modern
Freemasonry, is the next subject that must engage our attention.
Lyon's "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 23.
INVENTION OF THE THIRD OR MASTER MASON'S DEGREE
have seen that up to the year 1719 the Masonic ritualistic system consisted of
but one degree, which was common to the whole. and the
secrets of which were communicated to the Apprentice at his initiation, or as
it was, perhaps, more properly called, in reference to the paucity of
ceremonies, his admission. At that time Desaguliers and his collaborators
originated a Second degree, to be appropriated to the Fellow‑Crafts. To do
this it was necessary, or, at least, it was deemed expedient, to disintegrate
the primitive degree and out of it to make two degrees, those of Entered
Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft.
short time ‑ how long is to be hereafter seen ‑ the Masonic system consisted
of two degrees, and the summit of the system was the Fellow‑ Craft's degree.
this time the Fellow‑Crafts began to take a prominent place in the business of
Masonry, and the Apprentice lost some of the importance he
obtained in early times as a component part of the Craft and an equal
participant with Masters and Fellows in its secrets. He was permitted, it is
true, to be present at the meetings of the lodge, and to take his share in
business (except, of course, where candidates were to be "passed "), and even
to vote in the Grand Lodge on the question of an alteration of the "General
Regulations," but the offices were to be held and the lodge represented in the
Grand Lodge by Fellow‑Crafts only. Of this there is abundant evidence in
first edition of Anderson's Constitutions contains "the Charges of a
Free‑mason, extracted from the Records of Lodges beyond Sea." The
date when these "Charges" were compiled is not known. It must have been after
1718, for they distinctly refer to the Fellow‑Craft's degree, and it must have
been before the beginning of 1723, for that is the year of their publication.
It is, however, certain from their phraseology that when
were compiled for the use of the lodges, the Fellow‑Craft's degree had been
instituted, but the Master's degree was not yet known. For this reason I am
inclined to place the date between 1718, in which year
Anderson tells us that "several old copies of the Gothic Constitutions were
produced and collated," and 1721, when he submitted his manuscript, including
the "Charges" and "Regulations" to the Grand Lodge. There is no date prefixed
to the "Charges," but I think it not improbable that they
constructed by Payne in 1720, at the same time that he compiled the "General
Regulations." It is certain that they must have been in existence on December
27, 1721, when a committee was appointed by the Grand
to examine them and the Constitutions. And this date sufficiently accounts for
the fact that there are no allusions in them to the Master's degree.
"Charges," therefore, give us a very good idea of the status of Apprentices
and Fellow‑Crafts in English Masonry at the time when the
consisted of two degrees, and the "part of Master" had not yet been composed.
Charge IV. it is said that if the Apprentice has learned his art, he then may
in due time be made a Fellow‑Craft, and then if otherwise qualified
become a Warden and successively Master of his lodge, the Grand Warden, and at
length the Grand Master.
we see that at that time the Fellow‑Craft was at the summit of the Fraternity
so far as degrees and qualifications for promotions in rank were
concerned. Nothing is said of the degree of Master; it was still simply as in
primitive times ‑ a gradation of rank.
same Charge we are told that "no Brother can be a Warden until he has passed
the part of a Fellow‑Craft, nor a Master (1) until he has acted
Warden; nor Grand Warden until he has been Master of a lodge; nor Grand Master
unless he has been a Fellow Craft before his election."
very evident that at this time there could be no degree higher than
of the Fellow‑Craft. If there had been, that higher degree would have been
made the necessary qualification
That is, Master of a Lodge, as the context shows.
these high offices. We are not without the proof of how these
"Charges" would have been made to read had the degree of Master Mason been in
existence at the time of their compilation.
Notwithstanding that Speculative Freemasonry owes much to Dr. Anderson, we are
forced to reluctantly admit that, as an historian, he was
inexact and inaccurate, and that while he often substituted the inventions of
tradition for the facts of history, he also often modified the phraseology of
old documents to suit his own views.
1738 he published a second edition of the Book of Constitutions, a
which, although at first perhaps carelessly approved, was subsequently
condemned by the Grand Lodge. In this work he inserted a copy of these
"Charges." But now the Master's degree had been long recognized and practiced
by the lodges as the summit of the ritual.
let us see how these "Charges" were modified by Dr. Anderson in this second
edition, so as to meet the altered condition of the Masonic system. The
Apprentice is no longer admonished, as he was in the first
edition, that his ambition should be to become a Fellow‑Craft and in time a
Warden, a Master of a Lodge, a Grand Warden, and even a Grand Master. But in
the copy of 1738 he is told that "when of age and expert he may become an
Entered Prentice, or a Free‑Mason of the lowest degree,
upon his due improvement a Fellow‑Craft and a Master Mason."
in the "Charges" of 1720, (1) it is said that is "no brother can be a Warden
until he has passed the part of a Fellow‑Craft."
"Charges" of 1738, it is said that "the Wardens are chosen from
the Master Masons."
Charge V. of 1720 it is directed that "the most expert of the Fellow Crafts
shall be chosen or appointed the Master or Overseer of the Lord's Work."
same Charge, published in 1738, it is prescribed that "a Master
only must be the Surveyor or Master of Work."
what else can be inferred from this collation of the two editions (which, if
deemed necessary, could have been much further extended),
that in 1720 the Fellow‑Craft was the highest degree,
assume this date for convenience of reference, and because, as I have already
shown, it is probably correct.
that after that year and long before 1738 the Master's degree had
let us try to get a little nearer to the exact date of the introduction of the
Third degree into the Masonic system.
Constitutions of the Free‑Masons, commonly called the Book of Constitutions,
was ordered by the Grand Lodge, on March 25, 1722, to be
printed and was actually printed in that year, for it was presented by Dr.
Anderson to the Grand Lodge "in print" on January 17, 1723. So that although
the work bears on its title‑page the imprint of 1723, it must really
considered as having been controlled in its composition by the opinions and
the condition of things that existed in the year 1722.
in the body of this book there is no reference to the degree of Master Mason.
It is true that on page 33 the author speaks of is such as
admitted Master Masons or Masters of the Work," by which expression he
evidently meant not those who had received a higher degree, but those who in
the "Charges" contained in the same book were said to be "chosen or appointed
the Master or Overseer of the Lord's
and who the same Charge declares should be "the most expert of the
contrary, when speaking of the laws, forms, and usages practiced in the early
lodges by the Saxon and Scottish kings, he says: Neither
was conveyed nor the manner how, can be communicated by writing; as no man can
indeed understand it without the key of a Fellow‑ Craft." (2)
that in 1722, when this note was written, there was no higher degree than that
of Fellow‑Craft, because the Fellow‑Crafts were, as being at the
of the ritual, in possession of the key to all the oral and esoteric
instructions of the Craft.
by the spirit of the "General Regulations," printed in the first edition of
Anderson's Constitutions, I am induced to place the invention of
Third degree in the year 1722, although, as will be hereafter seen, it did not
get into general use until a later period. The investigations which have led
me to this conviction were pursued in the following train, and I
that the reader, if he will follow
Its preparation by Dr. Anderson had been previously directed on September 29,
1721. This and the date of its publication in January, 1723, lead us
irresistibly to the conclusion that the work was written in
(2)Anderson's "Constitutions," 1st edition, p. 29, note.
same train of investigation with me, will arrive at the same conclusion. In
pursuing this train of argument, it will be unavoidably necessary to
some of what has been said before. But the subject is so important that a
needful repetition will be surely excused for the sake of explicitness in the
"General Regulations" were published in the first edition of the Book
Constitutions, edited by Anderson. This edition bears the imprint of 1723, but
Anderson himself tells us that the work was " in print " and produced before
the Grand Lodge on the 17th of January in that year. Hence, it is evident that
although the work was published in 1723, it was
actually printed in 1722. Whatever, therefore, is contained in the body of
that work must refer to the condition of things in that year, unless Anderson
may (as I shall endeavor to show he has done) have made some slight alteration
or interpolation, toward the end of 1722 or the very
beginning of 1723, while the book was passing through the press.
shown by the sold Charges," whose assumed date is 1720, that at that time the
degree of Fellow‑Craft was the highest recognized or known
Speculative Freemasonry, and I shall now attempt to prove from the "General
Regulations" that the same condition existed in 1722, the year in which those
"Regulations" were printed.
"General Regulations" consist of thirty‑nine articles, and throughout
whole composition, except in one instance, which I believe to be an
interpolation, there is not one word said of Master Masons, but the only words
used are Brethren and Fellow‑Crafts ‑ Brethren being a generic
which includes both Fellows and Apprentices.
it is said (art. vi.), that "no man can be entered a Brother in any particular
Lodge or admitted to be a Member thereof without the unanimous consent of all
is, no man can be made an Entered Apprentice, nor having been
elsewhere, be affiliated in that particular lodge.
(art. vii.), "every new Brother, at his making, is decently to cloath the
Lodge." That is, every Apprentice at his making, etc.
word "Brother," although a generic term, has in these instances a
specific signification which is determined by the context of the sentence.
making of a Brother was the entering of an Apprentice, a term we still use
when speaking of the making of a Mason. The Fellow‑Craft was
admitted, or, as Ashmole says in his Diary, "admitted into the Fellowship of
referring to the nomenclature of the Scottish lodges "of the olden time,"
says, that the words "made" and "accepted" were frequently used
indicating the admission of Fellow‑Crafts, but he adds that the former was
sometimes, though rarely, used to denote the entry of Apprentices. He states,
however, that toward the end of the 17th century these words gave way to the
expression "passed," to indicate the reception of a
Fellow‑Craft, and that the Lodge of Mary's Chapel, at about that time, used
the word "accepted" as equivalent to the making or passing of a Fellow Craft.
But the Schaw statutes of 1598, which are among the very
of the Scottish records extant, employs the word "entered" in reference to the
making of an Apprentice, and received or "admitted" in reference to the making
of a Fellow‑Craft.
think, however, that in the English lodges, or at least in the "General
Regulations" of 1720, the words "making a Brother" meant, as it does in the
present day, the initiation of an Entered Apprentice, and that Fellow‑ Crafts
were "admitted." The word 'passed" soon afterward came into use.
this explanation of certain technical terms which appeared to be
necessary in this place, let us proceed to examine from the document itself
what was the status of Fellow‑Crafts at the time of the compilation of the
"General Regulations" by Grand Master Payne, in 1720, and their
adoption in 1722 by the Grand Lodge. From this examination I contend that it
will be found that at that period there was in Freemasonry only two degrees,
those of Entered Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft.
will be admitted that in a secret society no one has such opportunities of
undetected "eavesdropping" as the guardian of the portal, and hence, the
modern ritual of Freemasonry requires that the Tiler shall be in possession of
the highest degree worked by the body which he tiles.
the 13th General Regulation prescribes that a Brother "who must be
Fellow‑Craft should be appointed to look after the door of the Grand Lodge."
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 76.
may be argued that the Grand Lodge always met and worked in the
Entered Apprentices' degree, and that Apprentices as well as Fellow‑ Crafts
were present at its communications.
admit the fact, and acknowledge that from this point of view my argument would
be untenable. But why was not the office of Tiler entrusted to an
Entered Apprentice ? Because, if there were three degrees at the time, it
would have been manifestly improper to have bestowed this trustworthy and
responsible office on one who was in possession of only the lowest. And if it
was prudent and proper, as I suppose will be admitted, that it
have been bestowed on one of the highest degree, why was it not given to a
Master Mason ? Simply, I reply, because there were no Master Masons, as a
degree class, from whom the selection could be made. As
laws of every lodge at the present day prescribe that the Tiler must be a
Master Mason, because the Third degree is the highest one known to or
practiced in the lodge, so the laws of the Grand Lodge in 1723, or the
"General Regulations," required the Tiler to be a Fellow‑Craft because
Second degree was the highest one known to or practiced in the Grand Lodge at
that time. It would seem hardly to need an argument to prove that if the Third
degree had been in practical existence when these
"Regulations" were approved by the Grand Lodge, they would have directed that
the guardian of the door should be in possession of that degree.
Another clause in this 13th Regulation is very significant. The Treasurer and
Secretary of the Grand Lodge are permitted to have, each, a clerk,
is directed that he "must be a Brother and Fellow‑Craft." Again, and for a
silnilar reason, the officer is selected from the highest degree. Had the
Third degree been known at that time, these assistants would surely
been chosen from among the Master Masons; for if not, theywould have had to be
sometimes entrusted with the records of the transactions of a degree of which
they had no right to possess a knowledge.
14th Regulation it is prescribed that in the absence of the Grand
Wardens the Grand Master may order private Wardens, that is, the Wardens of a
subordinate lodge, to act as Grand Wardens pro fempore, and then, that the
representation of that lodge in the Grand Lodge may be
preserved, the lodge is to supply their place, not by two Master Masons, but
"by two Fellow‑Crafts of the same lodge, called forth to act or sent thither
by the particular Master thereof."
fact that the second was the highest degree known in the early part
year 1723 is confirmed by the formula inserted in the first edition of the
Book of Constitutions, and which is there entitled "the Manner of Constituting
a New Lodge, as practiced by his Grace the Duke of Wharton, the present Right
Worshipful Grand Master, according to the
ancient usages of Masons." It was, according to Anderson's record in the
second edition, presented to the Grand Lodge and approved on January 17, 1723.
It is therefore a fair testimony as to the condition of the degree
question at that date.
this formula it is said that 'the new Master and Wardens being yet among the
Fellow‑Craft" the Grand Master shall ask his Deputy if he has examined them
and finds the Candidate well skilled, etc. And this being
answered in the affirmative, he is duly installed, after which the new Master,
"calling forth two Fellow‑Craft, presents them to the Grand Master for his
approbation," after which they are installed as Wardens of the lodge. (1)
I think, is conclusive evidence that the degree of Fellow Craft was
the highest known or used. In January, 1723, it did not require a Mason to be
more than a Fellow‑Craft to prove himself, as Wharton's form of Constitution
has it, " well skilled in the noble science and the Royal Art,
duly instructed in our mysteries, and competent to preside as Master over a
25th of these "General Regulations" it is directed that a committee shall be
formed at the time of the Grand Feast, to examine every person
bringing a ticket, "to discourse him, if they think fit, in order to admit or
debar him as they shall see cause." It was, in fact, an examining committee,
to inquire into the qualifications of applicants for admission to the annual
meeting of the Grand Lodge. The members of such a
committee must necessarily have been in possession of the highest degree
practiced by the Grand Lodge. It is very evident that a Fellow‑ Craft was not
competent to examine into the qualifications and attainments of a Master
Mason. Yet the Regulation prescribes that to
Anderson's "Constitutions," edition of 1723, pp. 71, 72.
committee "the Masters of lodges shall each appoint one experienced and
discreet Fellow‑Craft of his lodge."
there is evidence in these "Regulations," not only that Fellow‑Crafts were in
1723 appointed to the responsible offices of Tilers, Wardens, and Committees
of Examination, but that they were competent to fill the next to the highest
office in the Craft. The 17th Regulation says that " if the
Grand Master be sick, or necessarily absent, the Grand Master may chuse any
Fellow‑Craft he pleases to be his Deputy pro tempore."
I think, is as conclusive proof as legitimate logical deduction can
produce, that at the beginning of the year 1723, which was the date of the
publication of these "Regulations" for the governrnent of the Grand Lodge, the
degree of Fellow‑Craft was the highest practiced by the Grand Lodge, and that
the degree of Master Mason was not then known or
recognized in the system of Speculative Freemasonry. A Fellow‑Craft presiding
over Master Masons would indeed be a Masonic anomaly of which it would require
something more than a blind reverence for the claims of antiquity to extort
citations that I have made seem to me to leave no doubt on the mind. The whole
spirit and tenor of these "General Regulations," as well as the "Form of
Constituting a new Lodge," which is so closely appended to them as to make, as
it were, a part of them, go to prove that at the time
were approved by the Grand Lodge, which was on January 17, 1723, there were
but two degrees recognized in Speculative Freemasonry, namely, those of
Entered Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft; and that at that
the degree of Master Mason constituted no part of the system.
Anderson himself placed the same interpretation on these passages, and was
perfectly aware of the deduction to be made from them, is evident from the
fact that when he next published these "General
Regulations," which was in the second edition of the Book of Constitutions, in
1738, at which time there is no doubt of the existence of the Master's degree,
he almost invariably changed the words "Fellow‑ Craft" to "Master Mason."
accordingly, we find that in 1738 the Wardens, the Tiler, and the Assistant
Treasurer and Secretary were required to be Master Masons. The change had
taken place, and the Third degree had been adopted between the years 1723 and
those who deny this theory and contend that the Third degree is of greater
antiquity, and was known and practiced long before the beginning of the 18th
century, would quote against my argument the words contained in the 13th
Regulation, which words are as follows:
Apprentices must be admitted Masters and Fellow‑Craft only here (in the Grand
Lodge) unless by a dispensation."
candidly admit that if this passage be proved to be a genuine part of the
original "General Regulations," compiled in 1720 by Grand Master Payne
approved in 1723 by the Grand Lodge, the question would be decided at once and
we could no longer doubt that the Third degree was in existence not only in
1723, but three years before, that is, in 1720.
do not hesitate to assert that this passage is an interpolation by
Anderson and Desaguliers, made for a certain purpose, and I think that this
assertion is capable of critical proof.
criticism there are two methods of determining whether a suspected
passage in an ancient work or an old document is genuine or spurious.
first method is by the collation of other editions or manuscripts. If, in the
examination of an ancient manuscript, a certain passage is found which is not
met with in any other manuscripts of an anterior or a
contemporary date, it is deduced from this collation that the passage is an
interpolation by the writer of that particular manuscript, because if it were
genuine and a part of the original writing it would have been found in all
older manuscripts, from one of which it must have been copied.
by this method of reasoning that the most eminent Biblical critics have
arrived at the conclusion that the celebrated passage in the First Epistle
General of St. John (v. 7) is an interpolation. Since it is not found in any
earlier Greek manuscripts of the Epistle, it must, they argue, have been
subsequently inserted, perhaps from a marginal commentary, either carelessly
or designedly, by some later copyist whose error has been
followed by all succeeding scribes. This is criticism from external evidence.
there are other instances in which it is not possible to collate the book or
manuscript which contains the suspected passage with others of an earlier
date. Where there is but one copy extant there can, of course, be
comparison. In such cases it becomes necessary to determine whether the
passage be genuine or spurious by what the critics call the method by internal
suspected passage is found to contain the expression of opinions
we are led to believe from the known character of the author, he could not
have uttered; or, if the statements which it sets forth are plainly in
conflict with other statements made in the same work; or if it be found in
of the work where it does not harmonize with the preceding and following
portions of the context; or, in short, if the whole spirit and tenor of the
other writings of the same author are in unmistaken opposition to
spirit and tenor of the passage under review; and, above all, if a reasonable
motive can be suggested which may have given occasion to the interpolation,
then the critic, guided by all or most of these reasons, will not hesitate to
declare that the suspected passage is spurious; that it
no part of the original book or manuscript, and that it is an interpolation
made subsequent to the original composition. This is criticism from internal
by this method that the critics have been led to the conclusion that a
certain passage in the Antiquities of Flavius Josephus, in which he eulogizes
Jesus, was not written, and could not have been written, by the Jewish
historian. Not only does its insertion very awkwardly interrupt the
continuity of the narrative in which the author was engaged at the time, but
the sentiments of the passage are wholly irreconcilable with the character of
Josephus. As a Pharisee, at least professedly, he was influenced by all the
prejudices of his sect and his nation against the new
of Christians and its founder. Such a man never could have vouched, as the
writer of this passage does, for the Messiahship, the miraculous powers, and
the resurrection of Jesus.
it is now believed by nearly all scholars that the passage was
interpolated as a "pious fraud" by some early Christian who was anxious to
enlist in favor of his religion the authority of one of the most eminent of
now my purpose to apply these principles to an investigation of the
passage in the "General Regulations" which furnishes any evidence of the
existence of the Third degree at the time when they were compiled.
copy of the "General Regulations" contained in Anderson's Constitutions of
1723 is the first edition; as the original manuscript copy is
and as there were no previously printed copies, it is impossible, through
comparison and collation, to prove from external evidence that the passage
referring to the Third degree is spurious.
must then have recourse to the second method of critical investigation, that
is, by internal evidence.
submitted to this test, the suspected passage fails, I think, to maintain a
claim to genuineness.
Although the first edition of the Constitutions is now readily accessible in
consequence of its numerous reprints, still, for the sake of convenience to
the reader, in the discussion I shall copy the whole of the paragraph in which
the suspected passage is contained, marking that passage by
passage will be found in the first paragraph of Article XIII. of the "General
Regulations," and is in these words:
the said Quarterly Communications, all Matters that concern the Fraternity in
general, or particular Lodges or single Brothers, are quietly,
sedately, and maturely to be discours'd of and transacted: Apprentices must be
admitted Masters and FellowCraft only here unless by a Dispensatson. Here also
all Differences that can not be made up and accommodated privately, nor by a
particular Lodge, are to be seriously
considered and decided; And if any Brother thinks himself aggrieved by the
decision of this Board, he may appeal to the annual Grand Lodge next coming,
and leave his Appeal in Writing, with the Grand Master or his
Deputy, or the Grand Wardens."
not prepossessed with the theory of the antiquity of the Third degree who will
look at this paragraph will, I think, be struck with the suspicious
incongruity of the clause in italics in relation to the parts that
precede and follow it. I will endeavor to demonstrate this point as follows:
13th Article of the "General Regulations" is divided into eight paragraphs.
Each of these paragraphs is wholly independent and homogeneous in respect to
its subject‑matter. Each is devoted to the
consideration of one subject only, to the exclusion of all others.
the first paragraph relates to matters that concern lodges and private
brethren, such as differences that can not be settled otherwise
by the Grand Lodge. The second paragraph relates to the returns of lodges and
the mode and manner of making them. The third relates to the charity fund and
the most effectual method of collecting and disposing of money for that
purpose. The fourth to the appointment of a Treasurer and
Secretary for the Grand Lodge, and to their duties. The fifth to the
appointment of a clerk for each of those officers. The sixth to the mode of
inspecting their books and accounts. The seventh to the appointment of a
to look after the door of the Grand Lodge. And the eighth provides for the
making of a new regulation for the government of these officers whenever it
may be deemed expedient.
it will be seen, from this synopsis, that each of these paragraphs
embraces but one subject. Whatever is begun to be treated at the opening of a
paragraph is continued without interruption and without the admission of any
other matter to its close.
methodical arrangement has, in fact, been preserved throughout the
of the thirty‑nine "Regulations." No Regulation will be found which embodies
the consideration of two different and irrelevant subjects.
uniformly is this rule observed that it may properly be called a peculiar
characteristic of the style of the writer, and a deviation from it becomes,
according to the axioms of criticism, at once suspicious.
this deviation occurs only in the first paragraph of the 13th Article, the one
which has been printed above.
paragraph, as originally written, related to the disputes and
difference which might arise between particular lodges and between single
brethren, and prescribed the mode in which they should be settled when they
could not "be made up and accommodated privately." Leaving
the lines which I have printed in italics, we will find that the paragraph is
divided into three clauses, each separated from the other by a colon.
first clause directs that all matters that concern the Fraternity in general,
particular lodges or single brethren, "are quietly, sedately, and
maturely to be discoursed of and transacted" in the Grand Lodge. It is to
questions that might arise between lodges and brethren ‑ questions which in
modern phraseology are called grievances ‑ that the clause evidently
refers. And in the Grand Lodge only are such questions to be discussed,
because it is only there that they can be definitely settled.
second clause continues the same subject, and extends it to those differences
of brethren which can not be accommodated privately by the
of which they are members.
the third clause provides that if the decision made by the Grand Lodge at its
Quarterly Communication is not satisfactory to the parties interested, it may
be carried up, by appeal, to the Grand Lodge in its
it is evident that this whole paragraph is intended to explain the duties of
the Quarterly Communication as a Board of Inquiry in respect to matters in
dispute between lodges and between the Craft, and the
paragraph itself calls the decision of the Grand Lodge on these occasions the
"Decision of this Board."
in this way, this first paragraph of the 13th Article is entirely congruous in
all its parts, refers to but one subject, and is a perfect
specimen of the style adopted by the compiler and pursued by him in all the
other portions of the "Regulations" without a single exception ‑ a style
plain, simple, and methodical, yet as marked and isolated from other
as is the Doric roughness of Carlyle or the diffusiveness of De Quincey from
the manner of composition of other authors in a more elevated class of
we insert the passage printed in italics between the first and second clauses,
we will at once see the incongruity which is introduced by the
as it is between the first and second clauses, it breaks the continuity of the
subject. A regulation which refers to the differences and disputes among the
Craft, and the mode of settling them, is disjointed and
interrupted by another one relating to an entirely different subject ‑ namely,
the initiation of Master Masons and Fellow‑Crafts.
has the subject of initiation to do with that of fraternal or lodge
disputes? Why should a regulation relating to degrees be mixed up with another
of a totally distinct and different character?
Judging, as we are not only authorized but compelled, as critical observers,
to do, from the style of the compiler of the "Regulations" and
uniform custom pursued by him, we feel certain that if this passage formed a
genuine part of the "Regulations," he would have placed it in an independent
paragraph. That this has not been done affords a strong presumption that the
passage is an interpolation, and that it formed no
of the "Regulations" when compiled about the year 1720, most probably by Grand
Master Payne, at the same time that he compiled the "Charges" printed in the
more suspicious is the fact that except in this passage there is not in
"General Regulations" the slightest allusion to Master Masons or to the
Master's degree. As has already been shown, the whole spirit and tenor of the
"Regulations" is to the effect that the highest grade in
Freemasonry at that time, and the one from which all officers were to be
selected, was that of Fellow‑Craft. It is impossible to believe that if, at
the time of the preparation of the "Regulations" and their approval by the
Grand Lodge, the degree of Master Mason was in existence, it would
been passed over in such complete silence, and all important matters referred
to a subordinate degree.
I again deduce the conclusion that at the time of the compiling of these
"Regulations" and their approval by the Grand Lodge, the Third
was not in existence as a part of Speculative Masonry.
then I assume as a logical deduction from these premises that the clause in
the first paragraph of the 13th General Regulation is an
interpolation inserted in those "Regulations" between the time of their being
approved and the time of their final passage through the press.
barely possible that the suspected clause may have been inserted in the copy
presented to the Grand Lodge on March 25, 1722, for
examination and approval, and have escaped the attention of the reviewers from
the fact that it was obscurely placed in the center of a paragraph relating to
an entirely different subject. Or the Committee may have concurred with
Desaguliers and Anderson in the policy of
anticipating the control of the degree when it should be presented to the
Craft, by an ante factum regulation.
that as it may, the passage formed neither then nor at any time thereafter a
genuine part of the "General Regulations," although from its
appearance in the printed copies it was as a mere matter of course accepted as
a part of the law. It was, however, soon afterward repealed and a regulation
was adopted on November 22, 1725, which remitted to
Master and Wardens, with a competent number of the lodge, the power of making
Masters and Fellows at discretion.
questions next arise, by whom, at what time, and for what purpose was this
interpolation inserted ?
whom ? I answer, by Anderson at the instigation of Desaguliers, under
direction and with whose assistance the former had compiled the first edition
of the Book of Constitutions. (1)
what time ? This question is more difficult to answer than the preceding one.
At the communication of the Grand Lodge, September 29, 1721,
Anderson was ordered to prepare the Book of Constitutions. On December 27,
1721, the manuscript was presented to the Grand Lodge and referred to a
committee. On March 25, 1722, the Committee reported
the work was ordered to be printed. On January 17, 1723, Anderson produced the
new Book of Constitutions, which was again approved, "with the addition of the
Ancient manner of constituting a lodge."
between September, 1721, when the book was ordered to be
prepared, and March, 1722, when the work was approved and ordered to be
printed, the passage could not have existed as a regulation, because, in the
first place, it was directly antagonistic to the body of the work, in which
there is no mention of the Third degree; (2) but, on the contrary, it
distinctly stated that the FellowCrafts were in possession of all the secrets,
and they alone could understand them. (3) And, secondly, any such regulation
would come in direct conflict with the "Manner of
Constituting a Lodge" approved at the same time, and which, completely
ignoring the Master's degree, directed the Master and Wardens to be selected
from among the Fellow‑Crafts of the lodge. The Master's degree could not have
been known at that time as a part of the system of
This edition is dedicated to the Duke of Montague, not by Anderson, but by
Desaguliers, with an air of patronage to the author, as if it were a work
accomplished by his direction. (2) In describing the Temple of Solomon,
Anderson, it is true, enumerates
the workmen " 3,600 Princes or Master Masons, to conduct the work according to
Solomon's directions." (Page 10.) But it is very clear that these were simply
"Masters of the Work" ‑ the "Magistri Operis" of the
Operative Freemasons ‑ skilled Craftsmen appointed to superintend the bands or
lodges of workmen engaged in the construction of the building. (3) In a note
on a page of the "Book of Constitutions," Anderson says: "No man can indeed
understand it (Masonry) without the key of a Fellow‑
Craft." Certainly, he at that time knew nothing of a higher degree. This
passage was probably written in 1721, when he was directed by the Grand Lodge
to compile a "Book of Constitutions." Much of the proposed
was then in manuscript.
Freemasonry, and no regulation in reference to it was therefore necessary.
Anderson has by implication admitted the soundness of this reasoning, because
when he published the second edition of the Constitution in
the Third degree being then a recognized part of the system, he changed the
words "Fellow Crafts" whereever they occurred in the "Charges," as indicating
the highest degree in the "Regulations," and in the "Manner of Constituting a
Lodge," to the words "Master Mason."
think, therefore, that the suspected clause was inserted in the 13th
Regulation at the beginning of the year 1723, just before the work was issued
from the press. There was neither time nor opportunity to make any other
changes in the book and its appendices, and therefore this
stands in reference to all the other parts of the Constitutions, Regulations,
etc., in all the incongruity which I have endeavored to demonstrate.
what purpose? The reply to this question will involve the
determination of the time at which the Third degree was introduced into the
ritual of Freemasonry. The theory which I present on this subject is as
suspected clause which has been under consideration be admitted
no genuine part of the Book of Constitutions, then it must follow that there
is not the slightest evidence of the existence of the Third degree in the
Ritual of Speculative Masonry up to the year 1723.
now very generally admitted that the arrangement of Freemasonry
the present system of three degrees was the work of Dr. Desaguliers, assisted
by Anderson, Payne, and perhaps some other collaborators. The perfecting of
this system was of very slow growth. At first there was but
one degree, which had been derived from the Operative Masons of preceding
centuries. This was the degree practiced in 1717, when the so‑ called
"Revival" took place. It was no doubt improved by Desaguliers, who was Grand
Master in 1719, and who probably about that time began his
ritualistic experiments. The fact that Payne, in 1718, "desired any brethren
to bring to the Grand Lodge any old writings and records concerning Masons and
Masonry in order to shew the usages of antient times," (1) exhibits a
disposition and preparation for improvement.
"Book of Constitutions," 2d edition, 1738.
First and Second degrees had been modeled out of the one primitive degree
about the year 1719. The "Charges" compiled in 1720 by Grand Master Payne
recognize the Fellow‑Craft as the leading degree and the
from which the officers of lodges and of the Grand Lodge were to be selected.
The same recognition is found in the "General Regulations," and in the
Constitutions which were printed in 1723.
this time we find no notice of the Third degree. The "particular lodges "
conferred only the First degree. Admission or initiation into the Second
degree was done in the Grand Lodge. This was perhaps owing to the fact that
Desaguliers and the inventors of the new degree were
unwilling to place it out of their immediate control, lest improper persons
might be admitted or the ceremonies be imperfectly performed.
1722 I imagine that Desaguliers and his collaborators had directed their
attention to a further and more complete organization.
Operative Masons had always had three different ranks or classes of workmen,
but not degrees in the modern Masonic sense of that word. These were the
Masters, who undertook the work and superintended it;
Fellow‑Crafts or Journeymen, who did the manual labor; and the Apprentices,
who were engaged in acquiring a knowledge of their handicraft.
the "Revival," in 1717 (I use the term under protest), Desaguliers had divided
the one degree which had been common to the three classes
two, making the degrees of Entered Apprentice and Fellow‑Craft. It is not to
be supposed that this was a mere division of the esoteric instruction into two
parts. All is here, of course, mere guess‑work. The rituals were
and there is no memorial of them left except what we can learn from The Grand
Mystery and the Sloane MS. 3329. But we may believe that taking the primitive
degree of the Operatives as a foundation, there was built upon it an enlarged
superstructure of ceremonies and lectures. The
catechism of the degree was probably changed and improved, and the "Mason
Word," as the Operatives had called it, with the secrets connected with it,
was transferred to the Second degrees to be afterward
transferred to the Third degree.
this, Desaguliers continued to exercise his inventive genius, and consummated
the series of degrees by adding one to be appropriated to the highest class,
or that of the Masters. But not having thoroughly
perfected the ritual of the degree until after the time of publication of the
Book of Constitutions, it was not probably disseminated among the Craft until
the year 1723.
Second degree, as we have seen, had been invented in the year
Its ritual had been completed, but the Masters of the lodges had not yet
become so well acquainted with its forms and ceremonies as to be capable of
managing an initiation.
lodges, therefore, between 1719 and 1723, did not confer the Second
degree. They were not restricted from so doing by any regulation, for there
were no regulations on the subject enacted until the approval of the Book of
Constitutions by the Grand Lodge in January, 1723. Besides, if there had been
any law restricting the conferring of the Second degree lo
Grand Lodge, Desaguliers would not have violated the law, which was of his own
making, by conferring it in 1721 in a lodge in Edinburgh.
fact undoubtedly is, that the lodges did not confer the Second degree
consequence of a usage derived from necessity. Dr. Desaguliers and his
collaborators were the only persons in possession of the ritual, and therefore
qualified to confer the degree, which they always did in the Grand Lodge, for
two reasons: first, for their own convenience, and
secondly, because they feared that if the ceremony of initiation was intrusted
to the officers of the lodges who were inexperienced and unskillful, it might
be mutilated or unsatisfactorily performed.
meantime Desaguliers had extended his labors as a ritualmaker,
had invented a supplementary or Third degree. But as is said of a cardinal
whose appointment the Pope has made but has not yet announced to the college
of Cardinals, the degree was still in petto. The
knowledge of it was confined to Dr. Desaguliers and a few of his friends.
absolutely impossible that the degree could have been known generally to the
members of the Grand Lodge. For with the knowledge that the establishment of
such a degree was even in contemplation, they
not have approved a series of regulations which recognized throughout the
Second or Fellow‑Craft as the highest degree in Speculative Freemasonry, and
the one from which Grand Masters were in future to be selected.
code of laws was about to be established for the government of the Craft ‑ a
code expressly appropriated to the new system of Speculative Freemasonry,
which by this time had completely dissevered itself from the Operative
code was to be published for the information of the Fraternity, so that
Freemason might know what was to be henceforth his duties and his rights. Law
was now to become paramount to usage, and if there were no positive regulation
which restricted the conferring of the Second
to the Grand Lodge, it would, if permanently adopted as a part of the new
system, fall into the hands of the Masters of the particular lodges.
was an evil which, for the reason already assigned, was, if possible,
avoided. It would also apply to the Third degree, which, though not yet in
practical existence, was, soon after the adoption of the "General
Regulations," to be presented to the Grand Lodge and put in working order.
Therefore, anticipating the dissemination of the Third degree, and being
desirous to restrict it as well as the Second, by a positive law, to the Grand
Lodge, he, with Anderson, interpolated, at the last moment, into the 13th of
the "General Regulations" the words, "Apprentices must be
admitted Masters and Fellow‑Craft only here, unless by dispensation."
is a serious charge to make against any writer of good reputation, and it
would be an act of great temerity to do so, unless there were ample proof to
sustain it. But I think the arguments I have advanced, though only
on legitimate inferences and the internal evidence afforded by the document
itself, have shown that this passage could never have formed a part of the
"Regulations" as originally compiled by Payne and afterward
approved and adopted by the Grand Lodge.
while we pay all due respect to the memory of Dr. Anderson, and hold in
grateful remembrance his zeal and devotion in the foundation and advancement
of Speculative Freemasonry, it is impossible to concede to
the possession of those virtues of accuracy and truthfulness which are
essential to the character of an historian.
motive of Desaguliers and Anderson for inserting the interpolated clause into
the "General Regulations" was to prevent the two new
degrees from falling into the hands of unskilled Masters of lodges, until by
future experience they should become qualified to confer them.
(Facsimile reprint from the original edition of the "Book of Constitutions.")
History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful
the Use of the LODGES.
LONDON: Printed by WILLIAM HUNTER, for JOHN SENEX at the Globe, and JOHN
at the Flower‑de‑luce over‑against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet‑Street.
Year of Masonry 5723 Anno Domini
History, Laws, Charges, Orders, Regulations, and Usages,
Right Worshipful FRATERNITY of
Accepted Free MASONS;
their generaI RECORDS, and their faithful TRADITIONS of many Ages.
Admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the Master or Warden shall begin, or order
some other Brother to read as follows:
our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the great Architect of the
Universe, must have had the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry, written
on his Heart; for even since the Fall, we find the Principles of it in the
Hearts of his Offspring, and which, in process of
have been drawn forth into con
THE CHARGES OF A
EXTRACTED FROM The ancient RECORDS of LODGES beyond Sea, and of those in
England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the use of the Lodges in LONDON:
making of NEW BRETHREN, or when the MASTER shall order it.
General Reads, viz.
GOD and RELIGION
the CIVIL MAGISTRATE Supreme and Subordinate.
MASTERS, Wardens, Fellows, and Apprentices.
the Management of the Craft in working
the Lodge while constituted.
After the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone.
When Brethren meet without Strangers, but not in a Lodge
Presence of Strangers not Masons.
Home, and in the Neighbourhood
Towards a strange Brother,
Cocerning GOD and RELIGION.
Mason is oblig'd, by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly
understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious
Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to
be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now
thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in
all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be
good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or
Persuasions they may be‑distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of
Union, and the Means of conciliating true
Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance.
the CIVIL MAGISTRATE Supreme and Subordinate.
Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides
works, and is never to be concern'd in Plots and Conspiracies against the
Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior
Magistrates; for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and
Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been
dispos'd to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and
Loyalty, whereby they practically answer'd the Cavils of their Adversaries,
and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourish'd in Times of
Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel
against the State, he is not to be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he
may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime, though
the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and
no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time
being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains
LODGE is Place where Masons assemble and work: Hence that
Assembly, or duly organizd Society of Masons, is call'd a Lodge, and every
Brother ought to belong to one, and to be subject to its By‑Laws and the
GENERAL REGULATIONS. It is either particular or general, and will be left
understood by attending it, and by the Regulations of the
General or Grand Lodge hereunto annex'd. In ancient Times, no Master or Fellow
could be absent from it, especially when warn'd to appear at it, without
incurring a severe Censure, until it appear'd to the Master and
Wardens, that pure Necessity hinder'd him.
Persons admitted Members of a Lodge must be good and tre Men, free‑born, and
of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen, no Women, no immoral or scandalous
Men, but of good Report.
MASTERS, WARDENS, FELLOWS, and Apprentices.
Preferment among Masons is grounded upon real Worth and personal Merit only;
that so the Lords may be well served, the Brethren not put to Shame, nor the
Royal Craft despis'd: Therefore no Master or Warden is
by Seniority, but for his Merit. It is impossible to describe these things in
writing, and every Brother must attend in his Place, and learn them in a way
peculiar to this Fraternity: Only Candidates may know, that no Master should
take an Apprentice, unless he has sufficient Imployment
him, and unless he be a perfect Youth, having no Maim or Defect in his Body,
that may render him uncapable of learning the Art, of Serving his Master's
LORD, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow‑Craft
time, even after he has served such a Term of Years as the Custom of the
Country directs; and that be should be descended of honest Parents; that so,
when otherwise qualify'd he may arrive to the Honour of being the WARDEN, and
then the Master of the Lodge, the
Warden, and at length GRAND MASTER of all the Lodges according to his Merit.
Brother can be a WARDEN until he has passd the part of a Fellow‑ Craft; nor a
MASTER until he has acted as a Warden, nor a GRAND‑
until he has been Master of a Lodge, nor Grand Master unless he has been a
Fellow‑Craft before his Election, who is also to be nobly born, or a Gentleman
of the best Fashion, or some eminent Scholar, or some curious Architect, or
other Artist, descended of honest Parents, and
of singular great Merit in the Opinion of the Lodges. And for the better, and
easier, and more by honourable Discharge of his Office, the Grand‑Master has a
Power to chuse his own DEPUTY GRAND‑MASTER, who must be then, or must have
been formerly, the Master of a particular
and has the Privilege of acting whatever the GRAND‑MASTER, his Principal,
should act, unless the said Principal be Present, or interpose his Authority
by a Letter.
Rulers and Governors, Supreme and Subordinate, of the ancient
are to be obey'd in their respective Stations by all the Brethren, according
to the old Charges and Regulations, with all Humility, Reverance, Love, and
the Management of the CRAFT in working
Masons shall work honestly on working Days, that they may live creditably on
holy Day; and the time appointed by the Law of the Land, or confirm'd by
Custom, shall be observ'd;
most expert of the Fellow‑Craftsmen shall be chosen or appointed
Master, or Overseer of the Lord's Work; who is to be call'd MASTER by those
that work under him. The Craftsman are to avoid all ill Language, and to call
each other by no disobliging Name, but Brother or Fellow; and to behave
themselves courteously within and without the Lodge.
Master, knowing himself to be able of Cunning, shall undertake the Lord's Work
as reasonably as possible, and truly dispend his Goods as if they were his.own;
nor to give more Wages to any Brother or Apprentice
he really may deserve.
the Master and the Masons receiving their Wages justly, shall be faithful to
the Lord, and honesty finish their Work, whether Task
Journey, nor put the Work to Task that hath been acoustom'd to
shall discover Envy at the Prosperity of a Brother, nor supplant him, or put
him out of his Work, if he be capable to finish the fame; for no Man can
finish another's Work so much to the Lord's Profit, unless he be thoroughly
acquainted with the Designs and Draughts of him that began
Fellow‑Craftsman is chosen Warden of the Work under the Master, he shall be
true both to Master and Fellows, shall carefully oversee the Work in the
Masters Absence to the Lord's Profit; and his
Brethren shall obey him.
Masons employ'd, shall meekly receive their Wages without Murmuring or Mutiny,
and not desert the Master till the Work is finish'd.
younger Brother shall be instructed in working, to prevent spoiling the
Materials for want of Judgment, and for encreasing and continuing of Brotherly
the Tools used in working shall be approved by the Grand Lodge.
Labourer shall be employ'd in the proper Work of Masonry; nor shall Free
Masons work with those that are not free, without an urgent
Necessity; nor shall they teach Labourers and unaccepted Masons, as they
should teach a Brother or Fellow.
the Lodge while constituted.
are not to hold private Committees, or Separate Conversation,
without Leave from the Master, nor to talk of anything impertinent or
unseemly, nor interrupt the Master or Wardens, or any Brother speaking to the
Master: Nor behave yourself ludicrously or priestingly while the Lodge is
engaged in what is serious and solemn; nor use any
unbecoming Language upon any Pretence whatsoever;
pay due Reverence to your Master, Wardens and Fellows, and put them to worship
Complaint be brought, the Brother find guilty shall stand to the
and Determination of the Lodge, who are the proper and competent Judges of all
such Controversies, (unless you carry it by Appeal to the GRAND LODGE) and to
whom they ought to be referr'd, unless a Lord's Work be hinder'd the mean
while, in which Cafe a
particular Reference may be made; but you must never go to Law about what
concerneth Masonry, without an absolute Necessity apparent to the Lodge.
Behaviour after the LODGE is over and the Brethren not gone.
may enjoy yourselves with innocent Mirth, treating one another
according to Ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any brother to eat
or drink beyond his Inclinations or hindering him from going when his
Occasions call him, or doing or saying anything offensive, or that may
an easy and free Conversation; for that would blast our Harmony, and defeat
our laudable purposes. Therefore no Private Piques or Quarrels must be brought
within the Door of the Lodge, far less any Quarrels about Religion, or
Nations, or State Policy, we being only, as
Masons, of the Catholick Religion above‑mention'd; we are also of all Nations,
Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolv'd against all politicks, as
what never yet conduc'd to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor
will. This Charge has been always strictly enjoin'd and observ'd; but
especially ever since the Reformation in BRITAIN, or the Different and
Secession of these Nations from the Communion of ROME.
Behaviour when Brethren meet without Strangers, but not in a Lodge
are to salute one another in a courteous manner, as you will be instructed,
calling each other Brother, freely giving mutual Instruction as shall be
thought expedient, without being overseen or over
and without encroaching upon each other, or derogating from that respect which
is due to any brother, were he not a Mason: For though all Masons are as
Brethren upon the same Level, yet Masonry takes no Honour from a Man that he
had before; nay rather it adds to his Honour,
especially if he has deferv'd well of the Brotherhood, who must give Honour to
whom it is due, and avoid ill Manners.
Behaviour in Presence of STRANGERS not Masons.
shall be cautious in your Words and Carriage, that the most
penetrating stranger shall not be able to discover or find out what is not
proper to be intimated; and sometimes you shall divert a Discourse, and manage
it prudently for the Honour of the worshipful Fraternity.
Behaviour at HOME, and in your Neighbourhood.
are to act as becomes a moral and wise Man; particularly, not to let your
Family, Friends and Neighbours know the Concerns of the Lodge, &c. but wisely
to consult your own Honour, and that of the ancient Brotherbood, for Reasons
not to be mention'd here. You must also consult
Health, by not continuing together too late, or too long from home, after
Lodge Hours are past; and by avoiding of Gluttony or Drunkenness, that your
Families be not neglected or injured, nor you disabled from
Behaviour towards a strange Brother
are cautiously to examine him, in such a Method as Prudence shall direct you,
that you may not be impos'd upon by an ignorant false Pretender, whom you are
to reject with Contempt and Derision, and
of giving him any Hints of Knowledge.
you discover him to be a true and genuine Brother, you are to respect him
accordingly; and if he is in want, you must relieve him if you can, or else
direct him how he may be reliev'd: You must employ
some Days, or else recommend him to be employ'd. But you are not charged to do
beyond your Ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, that is a good Man and
true, before any other poor People in the same Circumstances.
FINALLLY, All these Charges you are to observe, and also those that shall be
communicated to you in another way; cultivating BROTHERLY LOVE, the Foundation
and Cape‑stone, the Cement and Glory of this ancient Fraternity, avoiding all
wrangling and Quarrelling, all Slander and
Backbiting, nor permitting others to slander any honest Brother, but defending
his Character, and doing him all good Offices, as far as is confident with
your Honour and Safety, and no farther. And if any of them do you Injury, you
must apply to your own or his lodge; and from thence
may appeal to the GRAND LODGE at the Quarterly Communications and from thence
to the annual GRAND LODGE, as has been the ancient laudable Conduct of our
forefathers in every Nation; never taking a legal
but when the Case cannot be otherwise decided, and patiently listening to the
honest and friendly Advice of Master and Fellows, when they would prevent your
going to Law with Strangers, or would excite you to put a speedy Period to all
Law‑Suits, that so you may mind the Affair of
MASONRY with the more Alacrity and Success; but with respect to Brother or
Fellows at Law, the Master and Brethren should kindly offer their Mediation,
which ought to be thankfully submitted to by the
contending Brethren; and if that Submission is impracticable, they must
however carry on their Process, or Law‑Suit, without Wrath and Rancor (not in
the common way) saying or doing nothing which may hinder Brotherly Love, and
good Offices to be renew'd and continu'd; that all may
the benign Influence of MASONRY, as all true Masons have done from the
Beginning of the World, and will do to the End of Time.
so mote it be
were not long, it appears, in becoming qualified, or at least the
of their qualification were soon dispelled, for we find that on the 22d of
November, 1725, less than three years after its appearance in the Book of
Constitutions, the Regulation was rescinded, and it was ordered by the Grand
Lodge that "the Master of a lodge, with his Wardens and a
competent number of the lodge assembled in due form, can make Masters and
Fellows at discretion." (1)
might be argued that although the words "Master Mason" may be an
interpolation, the rule regulating the conferring of the Second degree
well have formed a part of the original "Regulations," seeing that they were
not compiled until after the invention of the Second degree.
the argument founded on the incongruity of subjects and the awkward
interruption of their continuity in the paragraph occasioned by the insertion
of the suspected words, is applicable to the whole passage. If the internal
evidence advanced is effective against a single word of the passage on these
grounds, it is effective against all.
Bro. Lyon, in his History of the Lodge of Edinburgh, (2) has supplied us with
an authentic document, which presents the strongest presumptive evidence of
three facts. 1. That the Second degree had been invented before the year 1721,
and at that time constituted a part of the new
Speculative system. 2. That in the English lodges there was no positive law
forbidding the conferring of it by them, but only a recognized usage. 3. That
in the year 1721 the Third degree had not been invented.
year 1721 Dr. Desaguliers paid a visit to Edinburgh and placed himself in
communication with the Freemasons of that city.
record of the most important Masonic event that occurred during that visit is
preserved in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh for the 24th
25th of August, 1721. This record has been published by Bro. Lyon in his
history of that lodge. It is in the following words:
Maries chapped the 24 of August, 1721 years, James Wattson, present deacon of
the Masons of Edinbr., Preses. The which day Doctor
Theophilus Desaguliers, fellow of the Royall Societie, and chaplain in
Ordinary to his Grace, James, Duke of Chandois. late Generall Master of the
Mason Lodges in England,
Anderson's "Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 161.
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 151.
in town and desirous to have a conference with the Deacon, Warden, and Master
Masons of Edinbr., which was accordingly granted, and finding him duly
qualified in all points of Masonry, they received him
Brother into their Societie."
upon the 25th day of the sd. moneth the Deacon, Wardens, Masters, and several
other members of the Societie, together with the sd. Doctor Desaguliers,
haveing mett att Maries Chapell, there was a
supplication presented to them by John Campbell, Esqr., Lord Provost of Edinbr.,
George Preston and Hugh Hathorn, Baillies; James Nimo, the asurer; William
Livingston, Deacon‑convener of the Trades thereof, and George Irving, Clerk to
the Dean of Guild Court, and humbly craving to be
admitted members of the sd. Societie; which being considered by them, they
granted the desire thereof, and the saids honourable persons were admitted and
receaved Entered Apprentices and Fellow‑Crafts
sicklike upon the 28th day of the said moneth there was another petition given
in by Sr. Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, Barronet; Robert Wightman, Esqr.,
present Dean of Gild of Edr.; George Drummond, Esq., late Theasurer thereof;
Archibald M'Aulay, late Bailly there; and Patrick
Lindsay, merchant there, craveing the like benefit, which was also granted,
and they were receaved as members of the societie as the other persons above
mentioned. The same day James Key and Thomas
servants to James Wattson, deacon of the masons, were admitted and receaved
entered apprentices, and payed to James Mack, Warden, the ordinary dues as
such. Ro. Alison, Clerk."
agree with Bro. Lyon that "there can be but one opinion as to the nature
object of Dr. Desaguliers's visit to the Lodge of Edinburgh." And that was the
introduction into Scotland of the new system of Masonry recently fabricated by
himself for the lodges of London. That he conferred only the First and Second
degrees is to me satisfactory proof that the Third had
says "it is more than probable that on both occasions (the two meetings of the
Lodge recorded above) the ceremony of entering and passing would, as far as
the circumstances of the lodges would permit, be
conducted by Desaguliers himself in accordance with the ritual he xvas anxious
to introduce." (1)
"History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 153.
is undoubtedly true; but why did he not complete the instruction by
conferring the Third degree ? Bro. Lyon's explanation here is wholly
was not," he says, "till 1722‑23 that the English regulation restricting the
conferring of the Third Degree to Grand Lodge was repealed. This may account
for the Doctor confining himself to the two lesser degrees."
Lyon, usually so accurate, has here unaccountably fallen into two important
the regulation alluded to was not repealed in 1723 but was only promulgated in
that year. The repeal took place in 1725.
next error is that the restriction was confined to the Third degree, while in
fact, if we accept the passage in the "General Regulations" as genuine, it
restricted, as we have seen, the conferring of both the Second
Third degrees to the Grand Lodge.
Therefore, if Desaguliers had considered himself as governed by this
regulation (which, however, was impossible, seeing that it had not been
enacted until after his visit to Edinburgh), he would have been restrained
conferring the Second as well as the Third degree.
he conferred the Second degree in a lodge of Edinburgh, notwithstanding the
usage in London of conferring it only in the Grand Lodge, may be accounted for
on the very reasonable supposition that he
not consider that the English usage was binding on Scottish Masons.
Besides, there was, at that time, no Grand Lodge in Scotland, and if he had
not conferred the degree in a lodge, the object of his visit would have been
frustrated, and that was to introduce into the sister kingdom the new
of Speculative Freemasonry which he had invented and which had been just
adopted in England or rather in London.
that he should have taken a long and arduous journey to Edinburgh (a
journey far more arduous than it is in the present day of railroads) for the
purpose of introducing into the Scotch lodges the ritual invented by him for
English Freemasonry, and yet have left the task uncompleted by omitting to
communicate the most important part of the degree which was
summit, is incomprehensible, unless we suppose that the Third degree had not,
at that time, been invented.
the language of the "General Regulations" receives the only interpretation of
which they are capable, it is evident that in the beginning
year 1723, when they were published in the Book of Constitutions, the degree
of Fellow‑Craft was the highest degree known to the Freemasons of London.
the belief of all Masonic scholars, except a few who still cling with
or less tenacity to the old legends and traditions, that the Third degree can
not be historically traced to a period earlier than the second decade of the
18th century. It has not, however, been hitherto attempted
anyone, so far as I am aware, to indicate the precise time of its invention.
general opinion seems to have been that it was first introduced into the
ritual of Speculative Freemasonry a very short time after the organization of
the Grand Lodge in London, in the year 1717. But I think
have conclusively and satisfactorily proved that the actual period of its
introduction as a working degree was not until six years afterward, namely, in
the year 1723, and after the publication of the first edition of
Book of Constitutions, and that the only passage referring to it in that work
or in the "General Regulations" appended to it, was surreptitiously inserted
in anticipation of its intended introduction.
first writer who questioned the antiquity of the Third degree as
conferred under the Grand Lodge was Laurence Dermott, the Grand Secretary, and
afterward the Deputy Grand Master of that body of Freemasons which, in the
year 1753, seceded from the legal Grand Lodge of England and constituted what
is known in Masonic history as the
Lodge of Ancients," the members thus distinguishing themselves from the
constitutional Grand Lodge, which they stigmatized as "Moderns." In the second
edition of the Ahiman Rezon, published in 1764,
has, in the part called "A Philacteria," the following statement in reference
to the Third degree: (1)
the year 1717 some joyous companions who had passed the degree of a craft
(though very rusty) resolved to form a lodge for themselves, in order (by
conversation) to recollect what had been
formerly dictated to them, or, if that should be found impracticable, to
substitute something new, which might for the future
This statement is not contained in the 1st edition, published in 1756.
for Masonry amongst themselves. At this meeting the question was asked,
whether any person in the assembly knew the Master's part, and being answered
in the negative, it was resolved nem. con. that the deficiency should be made
up with a new composition, and what
fragments of the old order found amongst them, should be immediately reformed
and made more pliable to the humours of the people."
should be unwilling to cite the unsupported testimony of Dermott for anything
in reference to the "Modern" because of his excessive partisan
spirit. But the extract just given may be considered simply as confirming all
the evidence heretofore produced, that after the year 1717 a "Master's part"
or Third degree had been fabricated. Dermott's details, which were
intended as a sneer upon the Constitution Grand Lodge, should pass for
Dermott's assertion that the true Master's degree, as it existed before the
Revival, was in the possession of the Grand Lodge of the Ancients, as it was
called, it is not only false, but absolutely absurd, for if
Ancients were in possession of a Third degree which had been in existence
before the year 1717, and the Moderns were not, where did the former get it,
since they sprang out of the latter and carried with them only
knowledge which they possessed as a part of that Grand Lodge ?
Oliver, notwithstanding his excessive credulity in respect to the myths and
legends of Freemasonry, has from time to time in his various writings
expressed his doubts as to "the extreme antiquity of the present arrangement
of the three degrees." (1) In one of his latest works (2) he admits that
Desaguliers and Anderson were accused of the fabrication of the Hiramic legend
and of the manufacture of the degree by their
seceding contemporaries, which accusation, he says, they did not deny. (3)
says: "Originally, it seems, there was but one degree ot initiation in the
year 1717. . . . The introduction of the degrees of Fellow‑Craft and
Mason took place in so imperceptible
State of Freemasonry in the 18th Century. Introduction to his edition of
Hutchinson. (2) "The Freemason's Treasury," Spencer, 1863. (3) This is an
example of the carelessness with which Masonic writers
accustomed to make their statements. The "seceding contemporaries" of Oliver
consisted simply of Laurence Dermott, who first made the accusation, and when
he made it, both Desaguliers and Anderson were dead.
manner, that we do not know the accurate date. No mention is made of
before 1720, even not yet in the Book of Constitutions of 1722. (1)
not, however, concur with this learned German writer in his hypothesis that
the Third degree originated as a reward for Masonic
merits, especially to be conferred on all the brethren who had passed the
chair from 1717 to 1720. Doubtless, as soon as it was invented it was
conferred on all who were or had been Masters of lodges, but Findel places too
low an estimate on the design of the degree. I think rather that
intended by Desaguliers to develop the religious and philosophic sentiment in
Speculative Freemasonry which it was his intention to establish. It is
probable that the "eloquent Oration about Masons and Masonry," which Anderson
tells us he delivered before the Grand Lodge
1721, but which is unfortunately lost, contained a foreshadowing of hls views
on this subject.
Hughan, who is of the very highest authority on all points of the documentary
history of English Masonry, settles the question in the
following remarks: (2)
sublime degree of a Master Mason, alias the 'Third degree,' may be very
ancient, but, so far, the evidence respecting its history goes no farther back
than the early part of the last century. Few writers on the
subject appear to base their observations on facts, but prefer the
'traditions' (so called) derived from old Masons. We, however, give the
preference to the minutes and bylaws of lodges, as all of which we have
seen, traced, or obtained copies of, unequivocally prove the degree of Master
Mason to be an early introduction of the Revivalists of A.D. 1717. No record
prior to the second decade of the last century ever mentions Masonic degrees,
and all the MSS. preserved decidedly confirm
the belief that in the mere Operative (although partly speculative) career of
Freemasonry the ceremony of reception was of a most unpretentious and simple
character, mainly for the communication of certain lyrics and secrets, and for
the conservation of ancient customs of
cites a MS. (No. 23,202) in the British Museum showing that the rules of a
Musical and Architectural Society formed in
"History of Freemasonry," Lyon's Translation, p. 150.
See Voice of Masonry for August, 1873.
February, 1724, in London, required its members to be Master Masons. This
might be, and yet the degree not have been fabricated until January, 1723.
also cites the minutes of a lodge held at Lincoln (England). From
minutes it appears that in December, 1734, the body of the lodge consisted of
Fellow‑Crafts; and when the "two new Wardens, as well as several other
Brothers of the lodge, well qualified and worthy of the degree of Master had
not been called thereto," the Master directed a
of Masters to be held for the purpose of admitting these candidates to the
as Bro. Hughan says, the lodge at that time worked the degree only at
intervals. And he concludes, I think, correctly, that as there was a
prescribing the fee when a "Brother made in another lodge shall be passed
Master in this," that "all lodges had not authority or did not work the degree
in question." I suppose they had the authority but not the
this shows that the Third degree in 1734 was yet in its infancy.
provision contained in the "General Regulations," which restricted the
conferring of the Second and Third degrees to the Grand Lodge was rescinded on
November 22, 1725, and yet we see that nine years
afterward the Third degree was not conferred in all the lodges.
a singular circumstance that in 1731, when the Duke of Lorraine was made a
Mason in a special lodge held at the Hague, notwithstanding that
Desaguliers presided over it, he received only the First and Second degrees,
and came afterward to England to have the Third conferred upon him.
first evidence of the Third degree being conferred in Scotland is in the
minutes of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge in a minute dated March 31,
degree is first referred to in the minutes of St. Mary's Chapel Lodge under
the date of November 1, 1738, when George Drummond, Esq., an Entered
Apprentice, "was past a Fellow‑Craft and also raised as a Master
in due form." (2)
According to Bro. Lyon, possession of the Third degree was not at this period
a necessary qualification to a seat in the Grand
Lyon, "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 213. (2) Ibid., p. 212.
of Scotland. For thirty years after its introduction into Mary's Chapel it
conferred no rights in the management of the lodge that were not possessed by
not, in fact, until the year 1765 that Master Masons alone were qualified to
Continental Speculative Masonry having derived its organized existence from
the Grand Lodge of England, must necessarily have borrowed its forms and
ceremonies and ritual from the same source, and consequently received the
Third degree at a still later period.
all that has been said, I think that we are fairly entitled to deduce the
When the four old Lodges of London met on June 24, 1717, at the "Goose and
Gridiron Tavern" and organized the Grand Lodge of England,
was but one degree known to the Craft, to the esoteric instructions of which
all Freemasons were entitled.
Between 1717 and 1720, in which latter year the "Charges" and probably the
"General Regulations" were compiled by Grand Master
a severance of this primitive degree into two parts was effected, and the
Second or Fellow‑Craft's degree was fabricated, the necessary result being
that what was left of the primitive degree, with doubtless some modifications
and even additions, was constituted as the Entered
Third degree, called that of the Master Mason, was subsequently fabricated so
as to complete the series of three degrees of Speculative Masonry as it now
Third degree, as an accomplished fact, was not fabricated before
close of the year 1722, and was not made known to the Craft, or worked as a
degree of the new system, until the beginning of 1723.
inventor or fabricator of this series of degrees was Dr. John
Theophilus Desaguliers, assisted by Anderson and probably a few other
collaborators, among whom I certainly would not omit the learned antiquary,
George Payne, who had twice been Grand Master.
coming to these conclusions I omit all reference to the Legend of the
Degree as to the time or place when it was concocted, and whether it was
derived by Desaguliers, as has been asserted, from certain Jewish rabbinical
writers, or whether its earliest form is to be found in certain traditions of
the mediaeval Stonemasons.
DEATH OF OPERATIVE AND THE BIRTH OF SPECULATIVE FREEMASONRY
GROWTH, says Dr. South, "is progress, and all progress designs, and tends to
the acquisition of something, which the growing thing or person is
yet possessed of."
apothegm of the learned divine is peculiarly applicable to the history of that
system of Speculative Freemasonry which, springing into existence at the
"Apple Tree tavern," in London, at the close of the second decade
18th century, made such progress in the acquisition of new knowledge as to
completely change its character soon after the beginning of the third decade.
have seen that it was derived from an older institution whose objects
altogether practical, and whose members were always engaged in the building of
public edifices. But there were other members of the guild who were not
Operative Masons, but who had been admitted to the privileges of membership
for the sake of the prestige and influence which
Fraternity expected to obtain from their learning, their wealth, or their
unprofessional brethren, who were at first called Theoretic Masons or Honorary
members, but who afterward assumed the title of Speculative
Freemasons, began even in the very outset of what they were pleased, most
inaccurately, to call a Revival, to exercise an unexpected and detrimental
influence on the Operative Guild.
influence was so exerted that Operative Freemasonry was gradually
extruded from the important place which it had so long occupied, and finally,
in and after the year 1723, ceased entirely to exist.
gradual transformation from Operative to Speculative Free masonry is one of
the most interesting points in the history of the institution, and is
worth our careful consideration.
more wonderful is the change from the insignificant acorn to the majestic oak,
than was this expansion of a guild of workingmen, limited in their design and
their numbers, into a Fraternity of moralists and
philosophers, whose object was the elevation of their fellow‑men, and whose
influence has extended into every quarter of the civilized world.
Operative Freemasonry, which flourished in the Middle Ages and long
as an association of skillful builders who were in the possession of
architectural secrets unknown to the ruder workmen of the same craft, and who
were bound to each other by a fraternal tie, no longer exists. Like the
massive cathedrals which it constructed, it has crumbled into
Speculative Freemasonry, erected on its ruins, lives and will always live, a
perpetual memorial in its symbols and its technical language of the source
whence it sprang.
inquire how the one died and how the other was born.
on the 24th day of June in the year 1717 certain Freemasons of London met at
the "Goose and Gridiron Tavern" and carried into effect the arrangement made
in the previous February, by organizing a Grand Lodge, it is not to be
presumed that any other idea had at that time
entered their minds than that of consolidating the four Operative Lodges of
which they were members into one body. The motives that actuated them were to
produce a stronger union among the Craft than had
previously existed, each lodge having hitherto been independent and isolated,
and also to enlarge their numbers and to increase their influence, by throwing
the door more widely open to the admission of gentlemen who were not otherwise
connected with the Craft.
fact is that the fashion then prevailed to a remarkable extent in London for
men of like sentiments or of the same occupation to form themselves into
clubs. The Freemasons, both Operative and Theoretic, in thus uniting, were
doing nothing else than following the fashion, and were
instituting a club of a more elevated character and under a different name.
the consolidation of the four Lodges was called a Grand Lodge, a title and an
organization which had previously been unknown to English
is not worth while to repeat the argument so often advanced, and by which
Masonic scholars have satisfied themselves that no Grand Lodge ever existed in
England before the year 1717.
was no thought, at that early period, by those who were engaged in the
organization, of changing to any greater extent the character of the society.
It was still to be a Guild of Operative Freemasons, but consisting more
largely in proportion than ever before of members who were not
the revival in 1717," says Dr. Oliver, "the philosophy of the Order was seldom
considered, and our facetious brethren did not think it worth their while to
raise any question respecting the validity of our legends; nor did
concern themselves much about the truth of our traditions. Their principal
object was pass a pleasant hour in company with a select assemblage of
brethren; and that purpose being attained, they waived all inquiry into the
truth or probability of either the one or the other." (1)
scanty records of the transaction, which Dr. Anderson, our only authority, has
supplied, make no mention of those distinguished persons who afterward took a
prominent part in affecting the transmutation of
Operative into Speculative Freemasonry, and who were indeed the founders of
the latter system.
said, though I know not on what authentic authority, that Dr. Desaguliers, the
corypheus of the band of reformers, had been admitted
years before into the honorary membership of the Lodge which met at the sign
of the "Rummer and Grapes," and which was one of the four that united in the
formation of a Grand Lodge.
this be true, and there are good reasons for believing it, it can not be
doubted that he was present at the organization of the Grand Lodge, and that
he took an active part in the proceedings of the meetings both in February and
in June, 1717.
Neither the names of Payne nor of Anderson, who subsequently became
collaborators of Desaguliers in the formation of Speculative Freemasonry, are
mentioned in the brief records of those meetings. If they were present or
connected with the organization, the fact is not recorded. Payne first appears
in June, 1718, when he was elected Grand
Master; Desaguliers in 1719, when he was elected to the same office. This
would tend to show that both had been for some years in the Fraternity, since
new‑comers would hardly have been chosen for those positions.
"Discrepancies of Freemasonry," p. 13.
not so certain that Anderson was a Freemason in 1717. It is not improbable
that he was soon afterward admitted, for in September, 1721, he acquired such
a reputation in the society as to have been selected by
Duke of Montagu, who was then the Grand Master, to digest the old Gothic
Constitutions, a task of great importance.
thing, however, there can be no doubt, that no one of these three persons, who
were afterward so distinguished for their services in
Speculative Freemasonry, had in 1717 been prominently placed before the Craft.
In the selection of an officer to preside over the newly established Grand
Lodge, the choice fell, not on one of them, but on a comparatively
insignificant person, Mr. Anthony Sayer. Of his subsequent
Masonic career, we only know that he was appointed by Desaguliers one of the
Grand Wardens. He is also recorded as having been the Senior Warden at one of
the four original Lodges after he had passed the Grand
Mastership. He afterward fell into financial difficulties, and having received
relief from the Grand Lodge, we hear no more of him in the history of
to Desaguliers, to Payne, and to Anderson that we are to attribute the
creation of that change in the organization of the system of English
Freemasonry which gradually led to the dissolution of the Operative element,
and the substitution in its place of one that was purely Speculative. The
three were members of the same lodge, were men of
education, (1) were interested in the institution, as is shown by their
regular attendance on the meetings of the Grand Lodge until near the middle of
the century, and were all zealously engaged in the investigation of the old
records of the institution, so as to fit them for the prosecution of
peaceful revolution which they were seeking to accomplish.
the multitudinous books contributed by Dr. Oliver to the literature of
Freemasonry, is one entitled The Reversions of
John Robison, a professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh, wrote and
published in 1797 an anti‑masonic work entitled "Proofs of a Conspiracy
against all the Religions and Government in Europe," etc., the falsehoods in
which, unfortunately for the author's reputation, were
extended by French and Dutch translations. In this book he says of Anderson
and Desaguliers that they were "two persons of little education and of low
manners, who had aimed at little more than making a pretext, not altogether
contemptible, for a convivial meeting." (P. 71.) This is a fair
specimen of Robison's knowledge and judgment.
Square, which contains much information concerning the condition of the ritual
and the progress of the institution during the early period now
consideration. Unfortunately, there is such a blending of truth and fiction in
this work that it is difficult, on many occasions, to separate the one from
but fair, however, to admit the author's claim that his statements are
be accounted fabulous and without authority because its contents are
communicated through an imaginary medium," for, as he avers, he is in
possession of authentic vouchers for every transaction.
vouchers consisted principally of the contents of a masonic diary
by his father, who had been initiated in 1784, and was acquainted with a
distinguished Freemason who had been a contemporary of Desaguliers. With this
brother the elder Oliver had held many conversations, as well as with others
of the 18th century. The substance
these conversations he had committed to his diary, and this came into the
possession of his son, and is the basis on which he composed his Revelations
of a Square.
Oliver had given in marginal notes or otherwise special references
diary and to other sources which he used as authorities for his statements, I
do not hesitate to say that The Revelations of a Square would, by these proofs
of authenticity, be the most valuable of all his
I am disposed to accept generally the statements of the work as authentic, and
if there be sometimes an appearance of the fabulous, it can not be doubted
that beneath the fiction there is always a considerable substratum of truth.
According to Oliver, Desaguliers had at that early period determined to
renovate the Order, which was falling into decay, and had enlisted several
active and zealous brethren in the support of his plans. Among these were
Sayer and Payne, the firsf and second Grand Masters, and Elliott
Lamball, the first two Wardens, with several others whose names have not
elsewhere been transmitted to posterity. (1)
is nothing unreasonable nor improbable in this statement. It is very likely
that Desaguliers and a few of his friends had seen and deplored the
decaying condition of the four lodges in London.
"Revelations of a Square," ch. i., p. 5.
also likely that their first thought was that a greater degree of success and
prosperity might be secured if the lodges would abandon to some
the independence and isolation of their condition, and would establish a bond
of union by their consolidation under a common head.
Whatever views might have been secretly entertained by Desaguliers and
friends in his confidence, he could not have openly expressed to the Craft any
intention to dissolve the Operative guild and to establish a Speculative
society in its place. Had such an intention been even suspected by the purely
Operative Freemasons who composed part of the
membership of the four lodges, it can not well be doubted that they would have
declined to support a scheme which looked eventually to the destruction of
their Craft, and consequently the organization of a Grand
would never have been attempted.
am not willing to charge Desaguliers with such duplicity. He was honest in his
desire to renovate the institution of Operative freemasonry, and he believed
that the first step toward that renovation would be the
consolidation of the lodges. He expected that an imperfect code of laws would
be improved, and perhaps that a rude and unpolished ritual might be expanded
Farther, he was not, it may be supposed, prepared at that time to go.
Whatever modifications he subsequently made by the invention of degrees which
at once established a new system were the results of afterthoughts suggested
to his mind by a sequence of circumstances.
the change from Operative to Speculative Freemasonry was of
gradual growth, we know from the authentic records that are before us.
year 1717 we find an Operative guild presenting itself in cold simplicity of
organization as a body of practical workmen to whom were joined some honorary
members, who were not Craftsmen; with an
imperfect and almost obsolete system of by‑laws; with but one form of
admission; with secrets common to all classes, and which were of little or no
importance, for the architectural and geometrical secrets of the
medieval Craft had been lost; and finally with an insignificant and unpolished
ritual, a mere catechism for wandering brethren to test their right to the
privileges and the hospitality of the Fraternity.
years after, in 1723, this association of workmen has disappeared,
its place we find a new society which has been erected on the foundations of
that edifice which has crumbled into ruins; a society that has repudiated all
necessary knowledge of the art of building; to which workmen may be admitted,
not because they are workmen, but because
are men of good character and of exemplary conduct; with a well‑ framed code
of laws for its government; with three degrees, with three forms of
initiation, and with secrets exclusively appropriated to each; and
rituals which, produced by cultured minds, present the germs of a science of
Operative Freemasonry no longer wields the scepter; it has descended from its
throne into its grave, and Speculative Freemasonry, as a living
has assumed the vacant seat.
the transmutation was gradually accomplished we know, for six years were
occupied in its accomplishment, and the records of that period, brief and
scanty as they are, unerringly indicate the steps of its
June, 1717, to June, 1718, under the administration of Anthony Sayer,
Gentleman, as Grand Master, there are no signs of a contemplated change. He
was not, if negative evidence may be accepted as the index of his character,
the man to inaugurate so bold an enterprise.
efforts seem to have been directed solely to the strengthening and confirming
of the union of the Operative lodges by consulting at stated periods with
June, 1718, to June, 1719, George Payne presided over the Craft.
discover the first traces of a sentiment tending toward the improvement of the
institution. Old manuscripts and records were anxiously sought for that the
ancient usages of the Craft might be learned. In preparing for the future it
was expedient to know something of the past.
result of this collation of old documents was the compilation of the "Charges
of a Freemason," appended to the first edition of the Book of Constitutions.
The composition of this code is generally attributed to
Anderson. Without positive testimony on this point, I am inclined to assign
the authorship to Payne. He was a noted antiquary, and well fitted by the turn
of his mind to labors of that kind.
Desaguliers was Grand Master from June, 1719, to June, 1720, His
administration is made memorable by the first great change in the system.
examination of the old manuscripts which had been collected by Payne must have
shown that the body of the Craft had always been divided into two classes,
Apprentices and Fellows, who were
distinguished by the possession of certain privileges as workmen peculiar to
lodge they assembled together and partook equally of its counsels. But the
prominence of the Fellows in rank as a class of workmen and in
numbers as constituting the principal membership of the four old Lodges, very
probably suggested to the mind of Desaguliers the advantages that would result
from a more distinct separation of the Fellows from the Apprentices, not by a
recognition of the higher rank of the former as
workmen, because if a Speculative system was to be established, a
qualification derived from skill in the practical labors of the Craft would
cease to be of avail; but a separation by granting to each class a peculiar
of initiation, with its accompanying secrets.
fact, also, that in some of the old manuscripts, which were then called the
"Gothic Constitutions," copies of which had been produced as the result of the
call of Grand Master Payne, there were two distinct sets of
"Charges," one for the Masters and Fellows and one for the Apprentices, would
have strengthened the notion that there should be a positive and distinct
separation of the two classes as the first preparatory step toward
development of the new system.
step was taken by Desaguliers soon after his installation as Grand Master.
Accordingly, in 1719, he modified the one degree or form of initiation or
admission which had been hitherto common to all ranks of
part of the degree (but the word is not precisely correct) he confined to the
Apprentices, and made it the working degree of the lodge. Another part he
enlarged and improved, transferred to it the most important secret, the MASON
WORD, and made it a degree to be conferred only on
Fellow‑Crafts in the Grand Lodge; while the degree of the Apprentices thus
modified continued as of old to be conferred on new candidates in the lodge.
it was that in the year 1719 the first alteration in the old Operative
took place, and two degrees, the First and Second, were created.
Entered Apprentice now ceased to be a youth bound for a certain number of
years to a Master for the purpose of learning the mysteries of the trade. The
term henceforth denoted one who had been initiated into
secrets of the First degree of Speculative Freemasonry, a meaning which it has
ever since retained.
former times, under the purely Operative system, the Masters of the Work,
those appointed to rule over the migratory lodges and to
superintend the Craftsmen in their hours of labor, were necessarily selected
from the Fellows, because of their greater skill, acquired from experience and
their freedom from servitude.
when the Theoretic Freemasons, the Honorary members, began to be
dominant party, in consequence of their increased number, their higher social
position, and their superior education, it was plainly seen that any claim to
privileges which was derived from greater skill in the
practical art of building, from the expiration of indentures and from the
acquisition of independence and the right to go and come at will, would soon
Operative members only could maintain a distinction between
themselves founded on such claims. The Theoretic members were, so far as
regarded skill in building or freedom from the servitude of indentures, on an
equal footing, everyone with all the others.
Desaguliers and his collaborators were anxious to retain as many as
could of the old usages of the Craft. They were not prepared nor willing to
obliterate all marks of identity between the old and the new system. Nor could
they afford, in the infancy of their enterprise, to excite the opposition of
the Operative members by an open attack on the ancient
customs of the Craft.
they determined to retain the distinction which had always existed between
Fellows and Apprentices, but to found that distinction, not on the possession
of superior skill in the art of building, but in the possession of
Second degree having been thus established, it became necessary to secure the
privileges of the Fellows. These in the old system had inured to them by usage
and the natural workings of the trade; they were
be perpetuated and maintained in the new system by positive law.
Accordingly, in the following year, Payne made that compilation or code of
laws for the government of the new society which is known as the "General
Regulations," and which having been approved by the Grand
was inserted in the Book of Constitutions.
been already abundantly shown that the whole tenor of these "Regulations" was
to make the Fellow‑Crafts the possessors of the highest degree then known, and
to constitute them the sole legislators of
society (except in the alteration of the "Regulations") and the body from
which its officers were to be chosen.
the first step in the separation of Speculative from Operative
Freemasonry was accomplished by the establishment of two degrees of initiation
instead of one, and by making the Fellow‑Crafts distinct from and superior to
the Apprentices, not by a higher skill in an Operative art, but by their
attainment to greater knowledge in a Speculative science.
four years this new system prevailed, and Speculative Freemasonry in England
was divided into two degrees. The system, in fact, existed up to the very day
of the final approval, in January, 1723, of the Book of
First degree was appropriated to the initiation of candidates in the
particular, or, as we now call them, the subordinate lodges.
Second degree conferred in the Grand Lodge was given to those few who felt the
aspiration for higher knowledge, or who had been elected as
Masters of lodges or as officers in the Grand Lodge.
Operative members submitted to the change, and continued to take an interest
in the new society, receiving in proportion to their numbers a fair share of
the offices in the Grand Lodge.
the progress of change and innovation was not to cease at this point. The
inventive genius of Desaguliers was not at rest, and urged onward, not only by
his ritualistic taste and his desire to elevate the institution into
higher plane than would result by the force of surrounding circumstances, he
contemplated a further advance.
"Circumstances," says Goethe, in his Wilhelm Meister, "move backward and
forward before us and ceaselessly finish the web, which we ourselves
in part spun and put upon the loom."
Desaguliers, with the co‑operation of other Theoretic Freemasons. had united
the four Operative Lodges into a Grand Lodge, a body until then unknown to the
Craft; he had established a form of government with which
were equally unfamiliar; he had abolished the old degree, and inventedtwo new
ones; and yet it appears that he did not consider the system perfect.
contemplated a further development of the ritual by the addition of
another degree. In this design he was probably, to some extent, controlled by
Fellow‑Crafts had been invested with important privileges not granted to the
Entered Apprentices, and the possession of these privileges was
accompanied by the acquisition of a higher esoteric knowledge.
the privileges which had been acquired by the Fellow Crafts were those of
election to office in the Grand Lodge and of Mastership in a subordinate
not unreasonable to suppose that the Fellows who had been elevated
these positions in consequence of their possession of a new degree were
desirous, especially the Master of the lodges, to be farther distinguished
from both the Apprentices and the Fellowv Crafts by the
acquisition of a still higher grade.
Besides this motive, the existence of which, though not attested by any
positive authority, is nevertheless very presumable, another and a more
philosophic one must have actuated Desaguliers in the further development of
his system of degrees.
seen that the old Operative Craft was divided into three classes or ranks of
workmen. To the first and secede of these classes he had appropriated a degree
peculiar to each. But the third and highest class was still without one. Thus
was his system made incongruous and
give it perfection it was necessary that a Third degree should be invented, to
be the property of the third class, or the Masters.
possible that Desaguliers had, in his original plan, contemplated the
composition of three degrees, or it may have been that the willing acceptance
of the First and Second by the Craft had suggested the invention of a Third
this as it may, for it is all a matter of mere surmise and not of great
importance, it is very certain that the invention and composition of the
ritual of so philosophic a degree could not have been the labor of a day or a
week or any brief period of time.
involved much thought, and months must have beer occupied in the
labor of completing it. It could not have been finished before the close of
the year 1722. If it had, it would have been presented to the Grand Lodge
before the final approval of the Book of Constitutions, and would then have
received that prominent place in Speculative
Freemasonry which in that book and in the "General Regulations" is assigned to
the degree of Fellow‑Craft.
that time the degree was so far completed as to make it certain that it would
be ready for presentation to the Grand Lodge and to the Craft in
course of the following year.
the Book of Constitutions was finally approved in January, 1723, and
immediately afterward printed and published, Desaguliers being desirous of
keeping the new degree under his own control for a brief
period, until its ritual should be well understood and properly worked,
anticipated the enactment of a law on the subject, and interpolated the
passage in the "General Regulations" which required the Second and
degrees to be conferred in the Grand Lodge only.
Logical inferences and documentary evidence bring us unavoidably to the
conclusion that the following was the sequence of events which led to the
establishment of the present ritual of three degrees.
1717 the Grand Lodge, at its organization, received the one comprehensive
degree or ritual which had been common to all classes of the Operative
they continued to use, with no modification, for the space of two years.
1719 the ritual of this degree was disintegrated and divided into two parts.
One part was appropriated to the Entered Apprentices; the other, with some
augmentations, to the Fellow‑Craft.
that time until the year 1723 the system of Speculative
Freemasonry, which was practiced by the Grand Lodge, consisted of two degrees.
That of Fellow‑Craft was deemed the summit of Freemasonry, and there was
nothing esoteric beyond it.
this system of two degrees the Book of Constitutions, the "General
Regulations," and the "Manner of Constituting a new Lodge" were framed. When
these were published the Craft knew nothing of a Third degree.
year 1723 Dr. Desaguliers perfected the system by presenting the Grand Lodge
with the Third degree, which he had recently invented.
degree was accepted by the Grand Lodge, and being introduced into the ritual,
from that time forth Ancient Craft Masonry, as it has since been called, has
consisted of these three degrees. (1)
can be little doubt that this radical change from the old system was
pleasing to the purely Operative Freemasons who were members of the Grand
Lodge. Innovation has always been repugnant to the Masonic mind. Then, as now,
changes in the ritual and the introduction of new
degrees must have met with much opposition from those who were attached
traditionally to former usages and were unwilling to abandon the old paths.
1717 to 1722 we find, by Anderson's records, that the Operatives must have
taken an active part in the transactions of the Grand Lodge, for
that period they received a fair proportion of the offices. No one of them,
however, had been elected to the chief post of Grand Master, which was always
bestowed upon a Speculative.
from the year 1723, when, as it has been shown, the Speculative system had
been perfected, we lose all sight of the Operatives in any further proceedings
of the society. It is impossible to determine whether this was the result of
their voluntary withdrawal or whether the
Speculatives no longer desired their co‑operation. But the evidence is ample
that from the year 1723 Speculative Freemasonry has become the dominant, and,
indeed, the only feature of the Grand Lodge.
Robert Freeke Gould, who has written an elaborate sketch of the
history of those times, makes on this point the following remark, which
sustains the present views:
1723, however, a struggle for supremacy, between the Operatives and the
Speculatives, had set in, and the former, from that time, could justly
complain of their total supercession in the offices of the Society." (2)
then, in the year 1723 that we must place the birth of Speculative
Freemasonry. Operative Masonry, the mere art of building, that which was
practiced by the "Rough Layers" of England and the wall builders or Murer of
Germany, still remains and will always remain as one of the useful arts.
The dismemberment of the Third degree, which is said to have subsequently
taken place to form a fourth degree, has nothing to do with
discussion. (2) "History of the Four Old Lodges," p. 34.
Operative Freemasonry, the descendant and the representative of the mediaeval
guilds, ceased then and forever to exist.
died, but it left its sign in the implements of the Craft which were still
preserved in the new system, but applied to spiritual uses; in the technical
terms of the art which gave rise to a symbolic language; and in the
ineffaceable memorials which show that the new association of
Speculative Freemasonry has been erected on the foundations of a purely
INTRODUCTION OF SPECULATIVE FREEMASONRY INTO FRANCE
SPECULATIVE Freemasonry having been firmly established in London
its environs (for it did not immediately extend into the other parts of
England), it will now be proper to direct our attention to its progress in
other countries, and in the first place into the neighboring kingdom of
unauthentic and unconfirmed statements of Masonic scholars, until a
recent period, had thrown a cloud of uncertainty over the early history of
Freemasonry in France, which entirely obscured the true era of its
introduction into that country.
Moreover, the accounts of the origin of Freemasonry in France made by
different writers are of so conflicting a nature that it is utterly impossible
to reconcile them with historical accuracy. The web of confusion thus
constructed has only been recently disentangled by the investigations of
English writers, conspicuous among whom is Bro. William James Hughan.
proceeding to avail ourselves of the result of these inquiries into the time
of the constitution of the first lodge in France, it will be interesting
present the views of the various authors who had previously written on the
year 1745 a pamphlet, purporting to be an exposition of Freemasonry, was
published in Paris, entitled Le Sceau Rompu, ou la Loge ouverte aux profanes.
In this work it is stated that the earliest
introduction of Freemasonry into France is to be traced to the year 1718. This
work is, however, of no authority, and it is only quoted to show the
recklessness with which statements of Masonic history are too frequently
Abbe Robin, who in 1776 published his Researches on the Ancient and Modern
Initiations, (1) says that at the time of his writing
sur les initiations anciennes et modernes," par l'Abbe Rxxx. The work, though
printed anonymously, was openly attributed to
by the publisher.
memorial of the origin of Freemasonry in France remained, and that all that
has been found does not go farther back than the year 1720, when it seems to
have come from England. But of the date thus ascribed he gives
authentic evidence. It is with him but a surmise.
in 1815, in his Acta Latomorum, gives the story as follows, (1) having
borrowed it from Lalande, the great astronomer, who had previously published
it in 1786, in his article on Freemasonry in that
immense work, the Encyclopedie Methodique.
year 1725 is indicated as the epoch of the introduction of Freemasonry into
Paris. Lord Derwentwater, the Chevalier Maskelyne, M. d'Henquelty, and some
other Englishmen, established a lodge at the
of Hure, the keeper of an ordinary in the Rue des Boucheries. This lodge
acquired a great reputation, and attracted five or six hundred brethren to
Masonry in the space of ten years. It worked under the
auspices and according to the usages of the Grand Lodge at London.
has left no historical monument of its existence, a fact which throws much
confusion over the first labors of Freemasonry in Paris."
record of the year 1736, he says that "four lodges then existed at
which united and elected the Earl of Harnouester, who thus succeeded Lord
Derwentwater, whom the brethren had chosen at the epoch of the introduction of
Freemasonry into Paris. At this meeting the Chevalier Ramsay acted as Orator."
Clavel, in his Histoire Pittoresque de la Franc‑Maconnerie, (3) says that
according to certain English and German historians, among others Robison and
the aulic counsellor Bode, Freemasonry was introduced into
by the Irish followers of King James II., after the English revolution in
1688, and the first lodge was established at the Chateau de Saint Germain, the
residence of the dethroned monarch, whence the Masonic association was
propagated in the rest of the kingdom, in Germany and
acknowledges that he does not know on what documentary evidence these writers
support this opinion; he does not, however, think it altogether destitute of
Latomorum, ou chronologie de l'Histoire de la Franc‑Masonnerie
Francaise et Etrangire," p. 21. (2) Ibid., p 51 (3) Chapter III., p. 107.
Robison, to whom Clavel has referred, says that when King James, with many of
his most zealous adherents, had fled into France, "they took
Freemasonry with them to the continent, where it was immediately received by
the French, and was cultivated with great zeal, and in a manner suited to the
tastes and habits of that highly polished people." (1)
Leaving this wholly apocryphal statement without discussion, I proceed to
Clavel's account, which he claims to be historical, of the introduction of
Freemasonry from England into France.
first lodge, he says, whose establishment in France is historically proved, is
the one which the Grand Lodge of England instituted at Dunkirk
year 1721, under the title of Amitie et Fraternite. The second, the name of
which has not been preserved, was founded at Paris in 1725 by Lord
Derwentwater, the Chevalier Maskelyne, Brother d'Heguerty, and
other followers of the Pretender. It met at the house of Hure, an English
tavern‑keeper or restaurateur in the Rue des Boucheries in the Faubourg Saint
Germain. A brother Gaustand, an English lapidary, about the same time created
a third lodge at Paris. A fourth one was established
1726, under the name of St. Thomas. The Grand Lodge of England constituted two
others in 1729; the name of the first was Au Louis d'Argent, and a brother
Lebreton was its Master; the other was called A
Marguerite; of this lodge we know nothing but its name, which was reported in
the Registry of the year 1765. Finally there was a fourth lodge formed in
Paris in the year 1732, at the house of Laudelle, a tavern‑ keeper in the Rue
de Bussy. At first it took its name from that of the street
which it was situated, afterward it was called the Lodge d'Aumont, because the
Duke of Aumont had been initiated in it. (2)
in his Orthodoxie Maconnique, asserts that Freemasonry made its
appearance in France in 1721, when on October 13th the Lodge l'Amidie et
Fraternite was instituted at Dunkirk. It appeared in Paris in 1725; in
Bordeaux in 1732, by the establishment of the Lodge l'Anolaise No. 204; and on
"Proofs of a Conspiracy," p. 27.
review of the Report made in 1838 and 1839 to the Grand Orient of France by a
Committee, which is contained in the French journal La Globe (tome I., p.
324), states that "cette loge fut regulierment constituee par la Grande Loge
d'Angleterre, le 7 Mas, 1729, sous le titre distinctif de Saint‑Thomas au
1732, the Lodge of la Parfaits Union was instituted at Valenciennes. (1)
other French authorities, not, however, Masonic, have given similar
Dictionnaire de la conversation et de Za Lecture it is said that Freemasonry
was introduced into France in 1720 by Lord Derwentwater and the English. The
Grand Masters who succeeded him were Lord d'Arnold‑Esler and the Duc d'Autin,
the Comte de Clermont‑Tonnerre and
Duc d'Orleans. In 1736 there were still only four lodges in Paris; in 1742
there were twenty‑two, and two hundred in the provinces. (2)
Larousse, in his Grand Universal Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century, (3)
repeats this statement as to dates, simply stating that the first lodge in
France was founded at Dunkirk in 1721, and the second at Paris in 1725, by
has written, in his Histoire des Trois Grandes Loges, a more
detailed statement of the events connected with the introduction of
Freemasonry into France. His narrative is as follows:
was not until 1725 that a lodge was for the first time founded at Paris by
Lord Derwentwater and two other Englishmen, under the title of St.
Thomas. It was constituted by them in the name of the Grand Lodge of London,
on the 12th of June, 1720. Its members, to the number of five or six hundred,
met at the house of Hure, a tavern‑keeper in the Rue des Boucheries‑Saint
Germain. Through the exertions of the same English
gentlemen a second lodge was established on the 7th of June, 1729, under the
name of Louis d'Argent. Its members met at the tavern of the same name, kept
by one Lebreton. On the 11th of December of the same
third lodge was instituted, under the title of Arts Sainte Marguerite. Its
meetings were held at the house of an Englishman named Gaustand. Finally, on
the 29th of November, 1732, a fourth lodge was founded, which was called Buci,
(4) from the name of the tavern in which it held its
meetings, which was situated in the Rue de Buci, and was kept by one Laudelle.
This lodge, after
Maconnique," p. 35. (2) "Dictionnaire de la Conversation," art. Franc‑Maconnerie,
136. (3) "Grand Dictionnaire Universal du XlXme Siecle," par M. Pierre
Larousse. Paris, 1872. (4) This is evidently a mistake of Rebold for Bussy.
initiated the Duke d'Aumont, took the name of the Lodge d'Aumont.
Deroventwater, who, in 1725, had received from the Grand Lodge of
plenary powers to constitute lodges in France, was, in 1735, invested by the
same Grand Lodge with the functions of Provincial Grand Master. When he left
France (in 1745) to return to England, where he
after perished on the scaffold, a victim to his attachment for the House of
Stuart, he transferred the full powers which he possessed to his friend Lord
Harnouester, who was empowered to represent him as Provincial Grand Master
during his absence.
four lodges then existing at Paris resolved to found a Provisional Grand Lodge
of England, to which the lodges to be thereafter constituted in France might
directly address themselves as the representative of the Grand Lodge at
London. This resolution was put into effect after the
departure of Lord Derwentwater. This Grand Lodge was regularly and legally
constituted in 1736 under the Grand Mastership of Lord Harnouester." (1)
is the story of the introduction of Speculative Freemasonry into
France, which, first published by the astronomer Lalande, has been since
repeated and believed by all French Masonic historians. That a portion of this
story is true is without doubt; but it is equally doubtless that a portion of
it is false. It will be a task of some difficulty, but an absolutely necessary
one, to unravel the web and to distinguish and separate what is true from what
names of three of the four founders of the first lodge in Paris present a
hitherto insurmountable obstacle in the way of any identification of them
historical personages of that period. The unfortunate propensity of French
writers and printers to distort English names in spelling them, makes it
impossible to trace the names of Lord Harnouester and M.
to any probable source. I have made the most diligent researches on the
subject, and have been unable to find either of them in any works relating to
the events of the beginning of the 18th century, which have been within my
Derwent‑Waters, as the title is printed, was undoubtedly Charles Radcliffe,
the brother of James, the third Earl of Derwentwater
"Histoire des Trois Grandes Loges," par Em. Rebold, p. 44.
had been beheaded in 1715 for his connection with the rebellion in
year, excited by the Old Pretender, or, as he styled himself, James III.
Charles Radcliffe had also been convicted of complicity in the rebellion and
sentenced to be beheaded. He, however, made his escape and fled
continent. At first he repaired to Rome, where the Pretender then held his
court, but afterward removed to France, where he married the widow of Lord
Newburghe and remained in that city until the year 1733. He then went for a
short time to England, where he appeared openly, but
afterward returned to Paris and continued there until 1745. In that year the
Young Pretender landed in Scotland and invaded England in the attempt, as
Regent, to recover the throne of his ancestors and to place
father upon it.
Charles Radcliffe, who had assumed the title of the Earl of Derwentwater on
the demise of his nephew, who died in 1731, sailed on November 21, 1745, for
Montrose in Scotland, in the French privateer Soleil, for the purpose of
joining the Pretender. He was accompanied by a large number
Irish, Scotch, and French offiers and men. On the passage the privateer was
captured by the English ship‑of‑war Sheerness, and carried, with its crew and
passengers, to England.
December 8th in the following year Radcliffe was beheaded, in
pursuance of his former sentence, which had been suspended for thirty years.
Lord Harnouester, who is said by the French writers to have succeeded the
titular Earl of Derwentwater as the second Grand Master, I
been unable to find a trace in any of the genealogical, heraldic, or
historical works which I have consulted. The name is undoubtedly spelled
wrongly, and might have been Arnester, Harnester, or Harnevester. The change
made by the Dictionnaire de la Conversation, which converts it
only adds more confusion to that which was already abundantly confounded.
Maskelyne is an English name. It was that of a family in Wiltshire, from which
Nevil Maskelyne, the distinguished Astronomer Royal, born in
was descended. But I am unable to identify the Chevalier Maskelyne, of the
French writers, with any person of distinction or of notoriety at that period.
equally at a loss as to M. Hugetty, a name which has been variously
as Heguetty and Heguelly. The name does not, in either of these forms,
indicate the nationality of the owner, and the probable transformation from
the original forbids the hope of a successful investigation.
fact alone appears to be certain, and fortunately that is of some
importance in determining the genuineness of the history.
titular Earl of Derwentwater was a Jacobite, devoted to the interests of the
fallen family of Stuart, and the English, Irish, and Scotch residents
Paris, with whom he was on terms of intimacy, must have been Jacobites or
adherents of the Stuarts also. The political jealousy of the British
Government at that time made it unpleasantly suspicious for any loyal subject
to maintain intimate relations with the Jacobites who were
in exile at Paris and elsewhere.
fact will be an important element in determining the genuineness of the
authority claimed to have been given to Lord Derwentwater by the Grand Lodge
German historians have generally borrowed their authority from the French
writers, and on this occasion have not shown their usual thoroughness of
Lenning simply states that the first lodge of France was founded at Paris in
1725, and that it was soon followed by others. (1)
Gadicke had previously said that Freemasonry was introduced into France from
England and Scotland in the year 1660, but while it flourished in England it
soon almost entirely disappeared in France. Afterwards in the year 1725,
England again planted it in France, for in that
three Englishmen founded a lodge in Paris which was called the English Grand
Lodge of France. (2)
is a little more particular in his details, but affords us nothing new.
says that "it is impossible to determine with any certainty the period of the
introduction of Freemasonry into France, as the accounts handed down to us are
very contradictory, varying from the years 1721, 1725, 1727, to 1732. In an
historical notice of the Grand Lodge of France,
addressed to her subordinate lodges, there is a statement specifying that Lord
Derwentwater, Squire Maskelyne, a lord of Heguerty and some other English
noblemen, established a lodge in Paris in 1725, at Hure's Tavern.
der Freimaurerei." (2) "Freimaurer‑Lexicon."
supposed to have been the first who received a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of
England. It is recorded that other lodges were established by these same
authorities, and amongst others the Lodge
d'Aumont (au Louis d'Argent) in 1729, in la Rue Bussy at Laudelle's tavern,
the documents bearing the date of 1732 as that of their foundation." (1)
who has written a special work on the history of Freemasonry in
France, supported as he says by reliable documents, (2) adopts the statements
made originally by Lalande in the Encyclopedie Methodique, and which were
repeated by successive French writers.
the whole, we get nothing more from the German historians than
we already had from the French.
come next to the English writers, whose information must have been better than
that of either the French or German, as they possessed a written history of
the contemporary events of that period. Therefore it is
on them we are compelled to lean in any attempt to solve the riddle involved
in the introduction of the Speculative institution into the neighboring
kingdom. Still we are not to receive as incontestable all that has been said
on this subject by the earlier English writers on
Freemasonry. Their wonted remissness here, as well as elsewhere in respect to
dates and authorities, leaves us, at last, to depend for a great part on
rational conjecture and logical inferences.
Oliver, the most recent author to whom I shall refer, accepts the
narrative of the institution of a lodge at Paris in 1725, and adds that it
existed "under the sanction of the Grand Lodge of England by virtue of a
charter granted to Lord Derwentwater, Maskelyne, Higuetty and
other Englishmen." (3)
Elsewhere he asserts that the Freemasonry which was practiced in France
between 1700 and 1725 was only by some English residents, without a charter or
any formal warrant. (4) In this opinion he is sustained
Committee of the Grand Orient already alluded to, in whose report it is stated
that "most impartial historians assert
"Geschichte der Freimaurerei," Lyon's Translation, p. 200. (2) "Geschichte der
Freimaurerei in Frankreich, aus achten Urkunden
dargestellt," von Georg Kloss. Darmstadt, 1852. (3) "Historical Landmarks,"
vol. ii., p. 32. (4) "Origin of the Royal Arch," p. 27.
from 1720 to 1725 Freemasonry was clandestinely introduced into France by some
author of an article in the London Freemasons' Quarterly Review, (1) under the
title of "Freemasonry in Europe During the Past Century," says that "the
settlement in France of the abdicated king of England, James II., in the
Jesuitical Convent of Clermont, seems to have been the
introduction of Freemasonry into Paris, and here it was (as far as we can
trace) the first lodge in France was formed, anno 1725." The writer evidently
connects in his mind the establishment of Freemasonry in France with the
Jacobites or party of the Pretender who were then in exile
that kingdom, a supposed connection which will, hereafter, be worth our
(or rather Sir David Brewster, who wrote the book for him) has, in his History
of Freemasonry, when referring to this subject, indulged in that
of romantic speculation which distinct guishes the earlier portion of the work
and makes it an extravagant admixture of history and fable.
makes no allusion to the events of the year 1725, or to the lodge said
have been created by the titular Earl of Derwentwater, but thinks "it is
almost certain that the French borrowed from the Scots the idea of their
Masonic tribunal, as well as Freemasonry itself." (2) And he places the
of its introduction at "about the middle of the 16th century, during the
minority of Queen Mary." (3)
all that has hitherto been said about the origin of Speculative Freemasonry,
it will not be necessary to waste time in the refutation of
untenable theory or of the fallacious argument by which it is sought to
support it. It is enough to say that the author entirely confounds Operative
and Speculative Freemasonry, and that he supposes that the French soldiers who
were sent to the assistance of Scotland were initiated into
Scotch lodges of Operative Masons, and then brought the system back with them
Preston passes the subject with but few words. He says that in 1732 Lord
Montagu, who was then Grand Master, granted a deputation for
constituting a lodge at Valenciennes in French Flanders, and another for
opening a new lodge at the Hotel de Bussy, in Paris." (4)
New Series, anno 1844, p. 156. (2) "History of Freemasonry " p. x 10. (3)
Ibid., p. 109. (4) "Illustrations," Jones's edition, p. 212.
word "new" might be supposed to intimate that there was already an older lodge
in Paris. But Preston nowhere makes any reference to the Derwentwater lodge of
1725, or to any other, except this of 1732. We
nothing more of the origin of Freemasonry in France from this generally
approach an earlier class of authorities, which, however, consists only of Dr.
Anderson and the contemporary records of the Grand Lodge at London.
1738 Dr. Anderson published the second edition of the Book of Constitutions.
In the body of the work, which contains a record, frequently very brief, of
the proceedings of the Grand Lodge from 1717 to June, 1738, there is no
mention of the constitution of a lodge at Paris, or in any
part of France.
"List of the lodges in and about London and Westminster," appended to the
work, (1) he records that there was a "French lodge," which met at the "Swan
Tavern" in Long Acre, and which received its warrant June 12,
In the list its number is 18.
fact is only important as showing that Frenchmen were at that early period
taking an interest in the new society, and it may or may not be connected with
the appearance, not long afterward, of a lodge at Paris.
list of "Deputations sent beyond Sea" (2) it is recorded that in 1732 Viscount
Montagu, Grand Master, granted a Deputation for constituting a lodge at
Valenciennes, in France, and another for constituting a lodge at
Hotel de Bussy, in Paris.
According to the same authority, Lord Weymouth, Grand Master in 1735, granted
a Deputation to the Duke of Richmond "to hold a lodge at his castle d'Aubigny,
in France." (3) He adds, referring to these and to other
instituted in different countries, that "all these foreign lodges are under
the patronage of our Grand Master of England." (4)
is all that Anderson says about the introduction of Freemasonry into France.
It will be remarked that he makes no mention of a lodge
constituted at Dunkirk in 1721, nor of the lodge in Paris instituted in 1725.
His silence is significant.
who succeeded Anderson as editor of the Book of Constitutions,
"Constitutions," 2d edition, p. 186. (2) Ibid., p. 194.
Ibid., p. 195 (4) Ibid., p. 196.
third edition of which he published in 1756, says no more than his
predecessor, of Freemasonry in France. In fact, he says less, for in his lists
of "Deputations for Provincial Grand Masters,'' (1) he omits those
granted by Lords Montagu and Weymouth. But in a "List of Regular Lodges,
according to their Seniority and Constitution, by order of the Grand Master,"
(2) he inserts a lodge held at La Ville de Tonnerre, Rue des Boucheries, at
Paris, constituted April 3, 1732, another at
Valenciennes, in French Flanders, constituted in 1733, and a third at the
Castle of Aubigny in France, constituted August 12, 1735. He thus confirms
what Anderson had previously stated, but, like him, Entick is altogether
silent in respect to the Dunkirk lodge of 1721, or that of Paris in 1725.
Northouck, who edited the fourth edition of the Book of Constitutions, appears
to have been as ignorant as his predecessors of the existence of any lodge in
France before the year 1732. From him, however, we gather
facts. The first of these is that in the year 1768 letters were received from
the Grand Lodge of France expressing a desire to open a correspondence with
the Grand Lodge of England. The overture was
accepted, and a Book of Constitutions, a list of lodges, and a form of
deputation were presented to the Grand Lodge of France.
second fact is somewhat singular. Notwithstanding the recognized existence of
a Grand Lodge of France it seems that in that very year there
lodges in that country which the Grand Lodge of England claimed as
constituents, owing it their allegiance; for Northouck tells us that in 1768
two lodges in France, "having ceased to meet or neglected to conform to the
laws of this society, were erazed out of the list."
be that these were among the lodges which, in former times, had been created
in France by the Grand Lodge of England, and that they had transferred their
allegiance to the Grand Lodge of their own country, but
omitted to give due notice of the act to the Grand Lodge which had originally
next source of information must be the engraved lists of lodges published,
from 1723 to 1778, by authority of the Grand
"Constitutions," by Entick, p. 333.
Ibid., p. 335. This list bears some resemblance to Cole's engraved list for
1756, but the two are not identical.
of England. Their history will be hereafter given. It is enough now to say,
that being official documents, and taken for the most part from the
Book of the Grand Lodge, they are invested with historical authority.
earliest of the engraved lists, that for 1723, contains the designations (1)
of fifty‑one lodges. All of them were situated in London and
Westminster. There is no reference to any lodge in France.
list for 1725 contains the titles of sixty‑four lodges. The Society was
extending in the kingdom, and the cities of Bath, Bristol, Norwich, Chichester,
and Chester are recorded as places where lodges had been
constituted. But no lodge is recorded as having been created in France.
list of lodges returned in 1730 (in number one hundred and two), which is
contained in the Minute Book of the Grand Lodge, (2) a lodge is
recorded as being at Madrid in Spain, the number 50 being attached, and the
place of meeting the "French Arms," which would seem almost to imply, but not
certainly, that most of its members were Frenchmen. (3) Lodge No. 90 is said
to be held at the "King's Head, Paris." This is the
mention in any of the lists of a lodge in Paris. The name of the tavern at
which it was held is singular for a French city. But as it is said by Bro.
Gould to be copied from "the Minute Book of the Grand Lodge," it must be
considered as authoritative.
next find an historical record of the institution of lodges in France by the
Grand Lodge of England in Pine's engraved list for 1734. (4) Bro. Hughan has
said that the first historical constitution
that time lodges were not distinguished by names, but by the signs
taverns at which they met, as the "King's Arms," the "Bull and Gate," etc. (2)
The list is given in Bro. GouldΖs "Four Old Lodges," p. 50. (3) This lodge met
on Sunday, a custom still practiced by many French
lodges, though never, as far as I know, by English or American lodges. Le
Candeur, an old lodge of French members, in Charleston, S. C., which had its
warrant originally from the brand Orient of France, always met on Sunday, nor
did it change the custom after uniting with the Grand Lodge
South Carolina. (4) A transcript of Pine's list for 1734, copied by Bro.
Newton of Bolton from the original owned by Bro Tunnen, Provincial Grand
Secretary of East Lancashire. This transcript was presented by Bro. Newton to
Hughan, who published it in the "Masonic Magazine for November, 1876. He also
republished it in pamphlet form, and to his kindness I am indebted for a copy.
This list had been long missing from the archives of
lodge at Paris is that referred to in Pine's list of 1734; but the lodge No.
90 at the "King's Head," recorded as has just been shown in the Grand Lodge
list of 1730, seems to have escaped his attention.
list for 1734 contains the names of two lodges in France: No. 90 at the
d'Argent, in the Rue des Boucheries, at Paris, which was constituted on April
3, 1732, and No. 127 at Valenciennes in French Flanders, the date of whose
Warrant of Constitution is not given.
Pine's list for 1736 these lodges are again inserted, with a change as to the
first, which still numbers as 90, is said to meet at the "Hotel de Bussy, Rue
de Bussy." The sameness of the number and of the date of Constitution identify
this lodge with the one named ln the list for 1734, which met at the
d'Argent, in the Rue des Boucheries.
list for 1736 contains a third lodge in France, recorded as No. 133, which met
at "Castle Aubigny," and was constituted August 22, 1735.
Pine's list for 1740 the three lodges in France are again recorded as before,
one in Paris, one at Valenciennes, and one at Castle d'Aubigny, (1) but the
first of them, formerly No. 90, is now said to meet as No. 78, at the Ville de
Tonnerre, in the same Rue des Boucheries. This was apparently a
of name and number and not of locality. It was the same lodge that had been
first described as meeting as No. 90 at the Louis d'Argent.
Benjamin Cole's list for 1756 the lodge's number is changed from 78 to 49,
under the same old warrant of April 3, 1732, it continues to meet at "la Ville
de Tonnerre," in the Rue des Boucheries.
unnecessary to extend this investigation to subsequent lists or to those to be
found in various works which have been mainly copied from the engraved
of Pine and Cole. Enough has been cited to exhibit incontestable evidence of
certain facts respecting the origin of Speculative Freemasonry in France. This
evidence is incontestable, because it is derived from and based
official records of the Grand Lodge of England.
The date of the Constitution of this lodge in the list for 1736 is August 22d.
In the present and in subsequent lists the date is August 12th. The former
date is undoubtedly a typographical error,
the custom of the Grand Lodge to issue annually an engraved list of the lodges
under its jurisdiction. The first was printed by Eman Bowen in 1723; afterward
the engraver was John Pine, who printed them from 1725 to
and perhaps to 1743, as the lists for that and the preceding year are missing.
The list for 1744 was printed by Eman Bowen; from 1745 to 1766 Benjamin Cole
was the printer, who was followed by William Cole, until 1788, which is the
date of the latest engraved list.
engraved lists," says Gould, τwere renewed annually, certainly from 1738, and
probably from the commencement of the series. Latterly, indeed, frequent
editions were issued in a single year, which are not always found to
harmonize with one another." (1)
want of harmony consisted principally in the change of numbers and in the
omission of lodges. This arose from the erasures made in consequence of the
discontinuance of lodges, or their failure to make returns. It is not to be
supposed that in an official document, published by authority and for the
information of the Craft, the name of any lodge would be inserted which did
not exist at the time, or which had not existed at some previous time.
not, therefore, unless we might reject the authority of these official
as authoritative documents, and thus cast a slur on the honesty of the Grand
Lodge which issued them, refuse to accept them as giving a truthful statement
of what lodges there were, at the time of their publication, in
France, acting under warrants from the Grand Lodge at London.