Observations on the History of Masonic Research

When we encounter the word archæology or archaeology, it immediately emotes images of men and women in broad-brimmed hats, perspiring under the oppressive heat of a middle-eastern sun, industriously unearthing the remains of a long-lost pharaoh’s tomb; or battling the vagaries of a northern clime whilst excavating the burial chamber of a fabled king, or indeed, locating the fossilised remains of long-extinct beasts from the past.

The definition of archaeology is the “scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture.” [1]

It further describes what form this study or analysis might take; the “archaeological record” may consist of: “artefacts, architecture, bio facts or Eco facts sites, and cultural landscapes.” It is considered both a social science, and a branch of the humanities. [2]

In a Masonic context, the term is little used today, but it was one frequently referred to by thinking Freemasons— particularly in the nineteenth century, when categorising what we might simply refer to today as Masonic research.

However, when one considers the aforementioned definition there is little doubt that the term is a perfectly apt one for what we as Masonic researchers attempt to do.

In the course of our researches, we do indeed delve deeply into the archaeological record, a record which is replete with archival records, lodge buildings, minute books, attendance records, photographs, books, past papers, and a myriad of other items; which help us comprehend the development of Freemasonry, and human society at large.

It aids us in seeing from whence we came, and with any luck, where we are headed as an ancient society, facing the many challenges of the modern age. In this paper, we will examine the emergence of Masonic research; chiefly in the British Isles, but also further afield, and its development over the years.

QUATUOR CORONATI LODGE 2076

Many brethren when considering the subject of Masonic research today, will immediately turn their minds to the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, No. 2076, London, which has long been considered the premier lodge of research in the world.

A petition to create this new lodge of research was submitted to the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, along with a covering note, on November 3, 1884.

The petitioners were nine in number and consisted of some of the most eminent Freemasons and Masonic literati of the day:

Sir Charles Warren; William Harry Rylands; Robert Freke Gould; Rev. Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford; Walter Besant; John Paul Rylands; Major Sisson Cooper Pratt; William James Hughan; and George William Speth.

The proposed name of the new Lodge was Quatuor Coronati, hence the fact there were a total of nine petitioners.

The Quatuor Coronati was a historic group of nine persecuted Christians, consisting of five sculptors, and four officers who were massacred during the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian, simply due to their professed faith.

This tragic group became known as the Four Holy, or Four Crowned Martyrs, (Quatuor Coronati) who later became the earliest patron saints of the Masons.

The petition found favour and a warrant was granted to the Lodge acknowledging them as number 2076 on the roll, and dated November 28, 1884. [3]

Major General Sir Charles Warren, who would later achieve fame as the police commissioner in office at the time of the notorious Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London, was the Lodge’s first Master, and consecration of the Lodge was delayed until January 12, 1886, due to the fact Warren was out of the country on a diplomatic and military mission.

 

charles warren
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The purpose of the Lodge was to bring together Masonic historians and researchers from around the world in common-cause, in investigating all aspects of the Craft and its appendant orders.

Brethren would submit well-researched papers to be read in person in the presence of other Lodge members, and thereafter subjected to critical peer-review.

The papers would then be published in annual transactions for the edification of not only the members, but the Masonic world at large. After a comparatively inauspicious start, the Lodge gained in strength, and whilst admission to full membership is selective (some might say elitist), in its first year it was decided to develop a literary society alongside the Lodge.

This was to become the Correspondence Circle, to which brethren from near and far could subscribe, in order to essentially benefit from the undoubted knowledge of the full members.

Members of the Correspondence Circle are entitled to attend meetings; have access to notable Masonic orators; obtain advice on all Masonic matters; and receive a copy of the Lodge’s annual transactions, contained within their annual organ, Ars Quatuor Coronaturum.

It can be seen therefore that the Lodge has a two-tiered membership structure, something which has drawn criticism from more independent Masonic researchers over the years.

In 1930, the notable esoteric Freemason, and prodigious Masonic author, F. de P. Castells, writing about research lodges in general, but no doubt with an eye on the Quatuor Coronati Lodge—with whom he apparently shared a mutual distrust, stated:

The Constitution of the Lodges of Research is peculiar, for they usually consist of Members of the Lodge, and Members of the Correspondence Circle, described as Associates.

The latter have not the same rights as the former; they are half-members, having only one foot in the Lodge. We might question the legality of this, or its consistency with Masonic principles.

Certainly, our Book of Constitutions knows nothing of either Correspondence Circle or Associates of a Lodge; it only speaks of members. It is an entirely new departure, which radically modifies our conception of a Masonic Lodge and its composition.

On the other hand, the fact that it has been allowed, tacitly or otherwise, implies that the innovating Lodges have powerful friends in Grand Lodges. [4]

Castells boldly concluded by saying:

We are under great obligation to our Lodges of Research, especially to the Quatuor Coronati Lodge. Their Transactions often are of absorbing interest, although usually what they publish relates to the Mason Craft and not to our Speculative Science. Indeed, there are cases when the Transactions contain papers on subjects that have not the remotest connection with any type of Masonry. [5]

Indeed, Castells’s theory on the genesis of speculative Freemasonry rested on his firm belief that the society’s philosophy and ritual developed from Kabbalist ancestors, and on that basis, the Royal Arch was the true inheritor of that tradition, and not the Craft.

Castells thus considered that the research lodges’ approach to the question was counterintuitive.

The members of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, pride themselves in taking a scientific, empirical approach to the study of Freemasonry, and most would claim to be hard-nosed historians. They are not interested in speculation, or flights of fancy, just cold, hard, facts.

This is what has come to be known as the authentic school of Masonic research. Castells’s approach would therefore be anathema to them.

In 1994, Past Master of the Lodge, Robert Gilbert, addressed this tirade from Castells years earlier. Citing how Castells was concerned by his offhand treatment at the hands of members at a meeting of the Lodge, and how he claimed it made his return less likely, Gilbert stated sardonically:

Such opinions are astonishing and it must seem to us almost incredible that they could have been aired in public. Used as we are to the paeans of praise that have been heaped on us since the consecration of the Lodge. [6]

Nevertheless, we would probably do well to also consider the words of another Past Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, Douglas Knoop, who wrote:

Actually, the imaginative school did not consist of writers utterly careless as to their facts, nor ought the verification of facts, which is characteristic of the authentic school, to be considered sufficient in itself and as excluding all need of imagination. Imagination as a substitute for facts is useless: as a guide to facts it may be invaluable. [7]

Gilbert also cautioned against research lodges resting on their laurels, when he quoted R.J. Meekan, speaking at a conference of Masonic librarians in Milwaukee in 1929, who stated that he wanted to “protest against the narrow view of what is proper in Masonic research,” and that “Masonic history has hardly risen above the level of mere chronicle.”

Meekan’s position seemed to be that too much emphasis was placed on foundation theory, and that minds had to expand in the quest for additional research opportunities; in order that, as Gilbert concluded, “we wish to be recognised as true historians.”

RESEARCH SOCIETIES

In addition to regularly warranted Masonic research lodges, there are also a large number of Masonic research societies throughout the world.

These carry out very much the same function as research lodges, but because they are generally not warranted by particular Grand Lodges, they enjoy a large degree of independence and autonomy.

One such society which has stood the test of time, and which is arguably the most prominent, is the Philalethes Society.

In his book, Seekers of Truth, Allan E. Roberts states that this society had its origin in what he calls “petty tyranny.” [8]

It seems that some Masonic leaders of the time, attempted to curb the imagination and freedom of Masonic writers and researchers of the day, who dared to stretch their minds to embrace new ideas and concepts related to the history of Freemasonry, and the Society was designed to disabuse these leaders of their long-standing shibboleths.

In essence, they refused to blindly toe the party line, and be hamstrung by dictact from on high. These men were not renegades; they were very bright individuals of integrity, who simply wanted to empirically research the truth, wherever that truth led them, and whatever it revealed.

The brethren who formed the Philalethes Society concluded that strength in numbers would make personal persecution from their leaders much less likely. One can only assume that such apparently contumacious attitudes bore some legitimacy at the time—at least in the view of some— but they bear no relevance to the modern Society. [9]

On October 1, 1928, a number of brethren met with the purpose of setting up a new society, devoted to fearless Masonic research:

George H. Imbrie, of Kansa City, Missouri, who was regarded as a leading Masonic writer of the period, and who would later become the Society’s first Executive Secretary;

Robert I. Clegg, of Chicago, Illinois, an Englishmen who had secured American citizenship. Clegg was a regular contributor to Masonic periodicals, and had the added advantage of having edited a number of technical journals. He did his literary reputation no harm whatsoever by completely revising Albert Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry. Clegg was the second President of the Society.

Cyrus Field Willard was another Masonic researcher of some repute, and he went on to hold several senior positions with the Society. A number of other interested brethren brought great prior experience to the enterprise.

Alfred H. Moorhouse of Boston, Massachusetts, was editor of The New England Masonic Craftsman;

Henry F. Evans, Denver, Colorado, was the editor of the Square and Compass, a journal which published many papers of excellence from the Society’s Fellows.

William C. Rapp of Chicago, edited the Chicago Masonic Chronicler. He would serve the Society as Vice-President. [10]

These brethren resolved to form a society which would protect all “isolated” Masonic writers from tyranny, and encourage them in their quest for truth and light.

There has been some debate about how the Society was named, but this was resolved in 1937 by founder member Cyrus Willard, who explained that he had recommended the name.

At the birth of the Society, he had just completed reading a book entitled Souvenirs (Memories) by Henri Baron de Gleichen, who in the book had referenced the Philalethes Lodge in Paris.

This Lodge had a connection with the famous Count Cagliostro who had been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and convicted of being a Freemason.

Undoubtedly, this struck a chord with members of the burgeoning Society, and was in keeping with their ethos. The emblem chosen for the Society was the lamp of knowledge within the square and compass, which again, was much in keeping with the principles of the new Society.

The motto originally chosen for the Society was: There is no religion higher than Truth. This caused a bit of controversy with some members, as of course, it is also the motto of the Theosophical Society. [11]

In the nineteenth century, many Freemasons were also members of the Theosophical Society, but this was clearly a step too far for some at that time. The brethren eventually settled on the motto: Fiat Lux (Let there be light).

For the first fifty years of its existence the Society membership was selective in that prospective members were nominated by a Masonic writer who was already a member. The nominee would then be accepted or rejected by the Executive Committee.

This was eventually rescinded, and membership was opened to any Master Mason with knowledge to impart. [12]

The Society occasionally elects a member to become a Fellow of the Society. This is considered a great honour and privilege, and the highest honour that the Society can bestow.

Fellowship is restricted to forty-five at any given time, and is often less. The honour is conferred on a member who is judged to have provided meritorious service to the Society and/or Freemasonry in general.

The Society publishes researched literature within its quarterly publication the Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research & Letters.

As with all societies, the Philalethes Society has enjoyed peaks and troughs throughout its history; but today it is in a very strong position, with members worldwide, and is held in the highest estimation.

With due regard to the stated aims of this paper, it should be noted that British Freemasons enjoy membership of the Philalethes Society, and a number have been honoured by being elected Fellows of the Society.

We have provided details of prominent exemplars of Masonic research lodges and societies which hold a pre-eminent place in Masonic research history, by dint of their acknowledged excellence and longevity— but of course, they are by no means the only ones.

Masonic research lodges and societies proliferate throughout the world on a local, national, and international level, many focusing on particular orders of Freemasonry, and all do sterling work in keeping research at the forefront of our Masonic experience.

MASONIC JOURNALS

Prior to the advent of Masonic research lodge and societies, the only medium by which thinking Freemasons could satiate their need for a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge, was by means of reading the Masonic literature of the day: books, journals, and magazines.

The vast majority of magazines and journals proliferated from the late nineteenth century onwards, and the archives of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London retains many of them; some now available in digital form.

One of the earliest of these was The Freemasons Magazine which was available between 1793 to 1798, and ran to sixty-seven issues and 5431 pages over that six-year period.

There have been many more since, and whilst it is unnecessary to name them all, some of those were:

The Freemasons’ Quarterly Review;
The Masonic Mirror;
The Freemason;
The Masonic Examiner;
The Freemason’s Chronicle;
The Masonic Illustrated;
Freemasons Magazine;
Masonic Mirror;

 

These magazines, and others, ran up until the early twentieth century, and often one magazine would metamorphose into another.

The magazines usually covered the entire British Isles and followed a familiar format: an introductory editorial, followed by articles submitted by the magazine editor(s) and subscribers; a correspondence section; and a diary of upcoming events and stated meetings for both Craft and appendant bodies. [13]

In Scotland, the situation was somewhat similar, although given the obvious disparity in terms of population and lodge numbers, the number of Masonic periodicals and magazines was somewhat diluted. Between the period 1797 to 1958 for example, there was only fourteen such publications in that country.

As might be expected, most of these publications arose in the larger population centres of the country: the capital city Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

The one exception to this being the comparatively small seaside town of Ayr on the south-west corner of the country.

The titles of these publications were identical to those of their like-minded brethren south of the border:

The Masonic Mirror (Edinburgh 1797);
The Scots Masonic Magazine (Edinburgh 1833);
The Scottish Freemasons’ Magazine (Edinburgh 1863);
The Masonic News (Glasgow 1872);
The Scottish Freemasons’ Magazine (Glasgow 1875);
The Scottish Freemason (Glasgow 1877);
The Aberdeenshire Masonic Reporter (Aberdeen 1878);
The Masonic Gazette (Dundee 1888);
The Scottish Masonic Record (Glasgow 1891);
The Scottish Freemason (Ayr 1894);
The Masonic Magazine of Glasgow (Glasgow 1913);
The Dundee Masonic Magazine (Dundee 1914);
The Scottish Freemason (Glasgow 1935);
The Aberdeen Masonic Reporter (Aberdeen 1958). [14]

Since this writer is most familiar with matters in Scotland, we will now take some time to examine two of the foregoing Scottish periodicals in a little more detail. The following two are chosen, as the editors of these publications will feature prominently later, as we continue our history of Masonic research in the British Isles.

THE SCOTTISH FREEMASONS’ MAGAZINE (1863)

The third Scottish periodical of any note; this magazine was the first of them to meet with any sustained success.

The first issue was published in January 1863, and the last in April 1866. Until December 1865, the magazine was printed by H. Paton, 9, Princes Street, Edinburgh, on behalf of owner H.W. Finlay, who published it from their premises at 81, South Bridge, Edinburgh.

For a period, Finlay appears to have been the official stationer for the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The last four issues of the magazine were printed by Ballantyne, Roberts and Company, of Canongate, Edinburgh.

The editor of this magazine was one Anthony Oneal Haye (1838-1877), a very prominent Freemason in Edinburgh, and indeed further afield.

We will discuss this gentleman in greater detail later. There were four volumes of this magazine, the first three were completed, each containing twelve issues, the fourth and last, only four issues.

The magazine contained much of what was familiar in Masonic titles of the day, including reports on the Craft and various other appendant bodies. Indeed, noted Scottish Masonic scholar, G. S. Draffen, reported that with regards to the magazine’s reportage on the Royal Order of Scotland, and the Supreme Council for Scotland, the magazine contained more information than did the official Minutes of these bodies.

Haye, himself a poet and author of some repute, provided many of the magazine’s materials, which included serialisations of a number of his lengthier works, which also appeared in other magazines of the period.

The issues of the magazine from February to October 1864—as was the custom of the day— were edged in black, during the period of mourning for George Augustus Frederick John, sixth Duke of Atholl, who had passed away from neck cancer, and who had presided as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland for an extensive period. [15]

One of Haye’s confederates in this literary venture was Bro. Rev. Andrew R. Bonar, a highly-regarded church minister and Freemason, who contributed a number of quality articles to the publication, and who sadly died prematurely at the age of only forty-nine years in 1867. [16]

Although the magazine continued until 1866, Haye resigned his post as editor in April, 1865, due to the “proprietors interference with him.” [17]

THE ABERDEENSHIRE MASONIC REPORTER (1878)

This publication was originally an annual one, designed as a form of Year Book primarily to report on the details of the Masonic bodies meeting in and around the area of Aberdeen, with a greater emphasis on the area encompassed by the Masonic province of Aberdeenshire-East.

The publication was primarily under the charge of another prominent Freemason from that area, John Crombie (1833-1898), assisted by fellow chartered accountant, Alexander Inkson McConnachie, and Robert White.

McConnachie and White were Past Masters of Lodge St. Machar, No. 54, in that Province. Crombie and McConnachie were ubiquitous within Masonic circles in Aberdeenshire and beyond, both within the mainstream and what has been termed Fringe Freemasonry.

Crombie played an important part in Masonic research in the British Isles, and like the aforementioned Haye, we will discuss him in more detail later.

The Aberdeenshire Masonic Reporter was first published in 1878 by the Aberdeen Journal Office, Adelphi Court, Union Street, Aberdeen. As indicated, the first issue was essentially a directory or reference book, but thereafter the publication adopted a more educational outlook, providing details of general interest to brethren, as well as researched articles.

In 1881, the issue ran to seventy-seven pages, and contained an important paper by another notable and erudite Aberdeen Freemason, Dr. John Beveridge.

This paper described the development of Mark Masonry in England, through an irregular charter issued by a Royal Arch Chapter in Aberdeen.

The Reporter met its demise in 1881, chiefly due to the fact that both Crombie and McConnachie’s previously stellar Masonic careers, were terminated following a disciplinary dispute with the Grand Lodge of Scotland. [18]

BROTHERLY DISPUTATION

Masonic research can—and indeed should, result in heated debate. It is only thus that brethren can get to the nub of the matter, sort the wheat from the chaff, and arrive at the truth (if indeed the truth is assailable).

This must of course be done in a dignified and Masonic manner, and no brother should be verbally abused or ridiculed over his efforts in this regard.

A prime example of how this should be done is the aforementioned Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, members of which, having selected a paper to be read to the Lodge, will provide the author with an attentive ear, and respond in a dignified and constructive manner with well-considered and fair criticism.

Prior to the advent of Masonic research lodges and societies, this function was carried out to a large extent by many of the aforementioned Masonic magazines and periodicals.

Such matters might be discussed around the festive table by interested brethren once lodge business had concluded, but it is probably fair to say that for most Freemasons, their interest lay in performing ritual­— what has often been referred to as the degree mill— put the business behind them, and thereafter simply socialise with their brethren.

Brethren of the latter persuasion have often unkindly been referred to as fork and knife Masons, but it must be accepted that many Freemasons are wholly content with this state of affairs.

In nineteenth-century Britain, it is clear that many thinking Freemasons became discontented in having to pursue their educational interests at long-range through the journals of the day.

Many of them turned their attention to what was happening on the European continent with regards to Masonic research and education, particularly in Germany.

Noted German Masonic historian, Bro. J.G. Findel, was making great strides in that regard, and it caught the attention of some of the most notable Masonic scholars in Britain.

Brother Gottfried Joseph Gabriel Findel (1828-1905), was a nineteenth-century German Masonic historian, and editor of the Masonic Periodical Die Bauhutte (The Lodge).

He was the author of a well-respected and voluminous history of Freemasonry. In the course of research into his history, Findel travelled to England at the behest of an organisation called The Association of German Freemasons.

The purpose of his visit was to inquire into the validity of the York Constitution, a document believed to be of some Masonic import.

During his stay, he became acquainted with the Masonic literati of Britain, including: Anthony Oneal Haye, David Murray-Lyon, A.F.A. Woodford, W. Peck; and many other doyens of Masonic research in that country.

Findel was initiated into Freemasonry in Lodge Eleusis of Silence (Lodge Eleusis zur Verschwiegenheit) Bayreuth, Germany, in 1856. Undoubtedly, due to his activity and connections in Britain—particularly with William Peck of Hull, he was elected an honorary member of Minerva Lodge 250, Hull, England, August 10, 1864.

Like Scotsman A.O. Haye, he was considered by other Masonic historians (perhaps not surprisingly in his case), to be of the German philosophical school of Masonic research, which among other things, took a firmly theistic approach to the subject. 

Findel was honorary secretary of the aforementioned Association of German Freemasons, and was their leading light.

This organisation was founded at Potsdam, Prussia (often referred to as the Prussian Windsor) on May 19, 1861.

The stated aims of the organisation were: “…the advancement of Masonic science in all its comprehensiveness, and the establishment of everything which can tend to promote the prosperity of the Order, and draw the members more closely together in the bonds of friendship and brotherly love.” [19]

Freemasonry in Germany was fragmented into various Grand bodies, and the fact this organisation was centralised caused some concern and distrust amongst the hierarchy of the Grand bodies.

However, the organisation appears to have gone from strength to strength, and what was considered the elite of German Freemasonry joined its ranks.

As a result of his research forays into Britain, Findel was no doubt responsible for securing honorary membership of the Association for the leading lights of Masonic research in Britain, the aforementioned Haye, Murray-Lyon, Woodford, and Peck, and others such as, Dr. Hopkins, W.J. Hughan, J. Stevenson, and William Smith.

Findel was also president of a literary and philosophical society known as the Masonia, which met occasionally in Leipzig, Germany, and the Masonic press of the time in Britain made it clear that there was an intention to form an organisation in that country which would fulfil an identical function, and would be known as the Masonic Archaeological Institute of Great Britain.

We will discuss this organisation later. There appears little doubt that Findel exercised a great influence over his British peers, and was probably instrumental in helping them set up similar organisations to his in that country.

The association between Findel and Haye appears to have been a veritable meeting of minds. Both were advocates of what is often termed theistic Craft Freemasonry, which is to say, that they believed Craft Freemasonry to be strictly non-sectarian, open to all faiths who declared belief in a Supreme Being.

This put them into dispute with many of their peers, who held the equally firm view that Craft Freemasonry was firmly Christian in nature— and moreover, Trinitarian Christianity.

As might be imagined, this tended to give Haye and Findel a rather negative attitude towards some of the so-called higher degrees, which did require an affirmation of Christian belief from prospective members.

This was an issue which played out in the Masonic press of the day, and at times threatened to become less than Masonic.

Both Haye and Findel were often taken to task in the Masonic press for their theistic attitude towards the Craft.

One of their main antagonists was Brother H.B. White, a Past Master of the Lodge of Lights in Warrington, an avowedly Christian Freemason, who expressed his views confidently and stridently in Masonic journals.

The fierce debate was instigated by White in The Freemasons Magazine and Mirror of June 1, 1867, when he lamented the fact that much Masonic discourse was taken up with matters of Masonic jurisprudence which could, he thought, be quickly dispensed with by consultation with the appropriate authority.

In this, he complimented Anthony Oneal Haye for his articles in the magazine, which he claimed to take pleasure in, but at the same time, rather caustically stated that:

“I trust that he is not the only brother who can write in the same strain.”

Indeed, White may be implying here, that the magazine had received proportionally more from the pen of Haye than from any other.

White then proceeded to propose the following items for discussion, all related to the question of whether Freemasonry was— or was not, Christian in character:

1. That Freemasonry originated under the Christian dispensation.

2. That Christianity is the foundation and copestone of Freemasonry.

3. That although candidates for initiation are not required to express their belief in Christianity, yet no man can become a true Mason unless he is a Christian, and can perceive the connection between Masonry and Christianity.

4. That the so-called high degrees are mainly supported in consequence of a large body of Masons not perceiving that Christianity is an essential part of Craft Masonry; and that such want of perception is occasioned by the injudicious alterations in the lectures made at the time of the union of the two Grand Lodges. [20]

There is a possibility that White provided this submission in response to an article published in May of that year by Haye, in which he essentially derided the so-called higher grades, and emphasised his belief that Freemasonry was not based on Christianity.

He appeared to understand the likelihood of a backlash from this, when he observed that: “In viewing Masonry as I am doing, I am aware that I shall meet with little support or countenance from the members of the higher grades.” [21]

Thus, the gauntlet was thrown down, and as we shall see, readily picked up by those Freemasons of differing viewpoints. White had displayed the courage of his own convictions by penning a lengthy article in the July 28, 1866, issue of the Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror in which he categorically stated his belief in the Christian nature of Freemasonry:

“I unhesitatingly assert that the religion of all true Freemasonry on the face of the globe is Christianity; and that until a Freemason can discern Christianity in Masonry, he has not arrived at the true knowledge of his progression.” [22]

Whilst accepting the argument of many, that Freemasonry is considered universal and that its doors are open to all faiths, he offers a few examples of why he believes the Craft to be intrinsically Christian.

He points to the fact that in the first degree the candidate is exhorted to: “Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall have, knock and it shall be opened unto you,” this coming from the New Testament, and not the Old.

He further emphasised the fact that the Mason’s obligation is taken on the Holy Bible, and that much Masonic teaching relates to the New Testament of that book.

Of course, this is a fallacious argument today, as many brethren take their obligation on a volume of sacred law pertinent to their own particular faith.

White repeated his argument in a later issue of the magazine, when he once more stated: “I have previously declared my conviction that no man can become a true Mason unless he is a Christian, and the more I reflect, the more I study, the more I reason, I am the more convinced that in making such a declaration I am incontrovertibly right.” [23]

The arguments duly went back and forth, and in the February 15, 1868, issue of the same magazine, J.G. Findel took White to task stating:

“The deplorable effects of the higher degrees are shown […] by Bro. H.B. White, 18°, who, however, loses sight of the spirit and true meaning of that pure Freemasonry when he asserts that ‘no man can become a true Mason unless he be a Christian.’”

Findel objects to White’s assertions, and accuses him of having the “pride of a Pharisee” in claiming that all non-Christian Masons, are Masons in name only. Findel directs him to the first Old Charges of 1723, which clearly point out the universal nature of Freemasonry.

Findel concludes by stating that: “Freemasonry rests on love, which unites all men.” [24]

White duly responded to this, and whilst admitting he did not know if Findel was a Christian, he assumed from his comments that he was not.

White suggested that Findel’s pride had been wounded by the fact, that despite his being a noted Masonic historian; he failed to appreciate the simple and apparent truth he had enunciated.

White was unmoved by Findel’s opinion, and expressed his contentment to labour under the category which the illustrious German had afforded him. Acknowledging the professed universality of Masonic membership, White nevertheless concluded:

I believe that the non-Christian Mason, although the ‘true corner-stone’ is hid from him, and the key-stone of the Arch wanting, may yet by the imperfect light of nature and of science, and especially by the light of brotherly love, perceive and enjoy many of the beauties of Masonry, but I believe that it’s sublimest truths and beauties can only be realised and appreciated by those, who needing not other light, are blessed by the guidance of him who is the light of the world and the glory of his Father. [25]

In the March 14, 1868, issue of the periodical, Haye rather sarcastically wrote that “Bro. H.B. White gravely enunciates the startling doctrine that Freemasonry is Christianity.”

Haye challenged White to state a degree recognised by any of the home Grand Lodges that has Christianity as a basis, and reasonably states, that if Freemasonry is Christianity, then he would not be able to meet in lodge with Unitarians, Muslims, Hindus, or Chinese brethren. He concluded by asking, “What is Freemasonry?” [26]

Not surprisingly, this met with a response from Bro. White, who, a week later, wrote to the magazine denying that he had ever claimed Freemasonry was Christianity, stating;

“I have never sought to identify a human institution with Divine revelation. I have stated, and now repeat my belief, that Freemasonry is founded on Christianity and that no man can be a true Mason unless he is a Christian.”

White countered that the fact brethren of differing religions had in later years been admitted to the Craft, was no barrier to his belief in the Christian nature of the institution.

Indeed, he pointed out that every existing lodge owed its existence to a Grand Lodge in a Christian country. He reemphasised the fact that candidates took their oath on the Holy Bible, “the unerring standard of truth and justice,” and challenged Haye as to whether he would admit a Muslim or Hindu by this book.

White concluded;

“Is Jesus Christ the Great Architect and Grand Geometrician of the Universe? Is Christianity Truth? Is truth a leading principle of Freemasonry. When Bro. Oneal Haye has considered these questions, if he is still of opinion that Freemasonry is not founded on Christianity, I shall be glad to have his reply to his own question. What is Freemasonry?” [27]

In the March 28, 1868, edition of the same periodical, Haye continues the debate in a letter, which opens: “I feel it an ungracious duty to differ from Bro. H.B. White, and to maintain that Freemasonry is not founded upon Christianity.”

He insisted that whilst the first three degrees may have been formulated by Christians, he quotes a Masonic scholar Clavel, who claimed that the Royal Arch set of degrees were “concocted” in the eighteenth century by Jews.

Haye further claimed that the spirit of St. John’s Masonry was in evidence and practiced by “great minds” long before the Christian era. Moreover, he asserted that these same principles informed the teachings of the ancient Egyptians, followers of Eleusis, the Essenes, and indeed, the philosopher Confucius, who he quoted as saying:

“I teach you nothing but what you can learn for yourselves, the relationship between sovereign and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, the five cardinal virtues, universal charity, impartial justice, conformity to ceremonies and established usages, rectitude of heart and mind, and pure sincerity.”

Whilst acknowledging that the two Saint Johns were the Christian patron saints of the Craft prior to 1813, he posed the question as to why Jews had been admitted to the Craft prior to that, and how this fact could be squared with the notion that the Craft was a Christian institution.

He also highlighted the fact that brethren of different faiths were entitled to take their oath on the sacred volumes pertinent to that faith.

Haye again poses the question “What is Freemasonry?”, before explaining his understanding that it is a temple where men of every religion which professes a belief in a Supreme Being, and of every creed and colour, can meet on the level, in the pursuit of truth and justice, and where religion and politics are not discussed in open lodge.

Haye exhorts Bro. White to look at the charges of a Freemason, and challenged him to accept that the principles inherent therein, were known to man long before the advent of the Christian era.

Haye asserted that the purpose of Freemasonry is to encourage its adherents to live good and useful lives, whilst leaving their religious beliefs strictly to themselves. He concluded;

“Let us not remove our landmarks, neither change our principles, but still be our motto, ‘Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to all men.”’ [28]

In the same issue there is an indication that Haye is tiring of the debate, and in apologising to a correspondent using the pseudonym lover of the craft, he states, “…on the question of the upper degrees, I am sick of controversy.” [29]

In the next issue, H.B. White once again responded to Haye, stating that Haye’s assertions on the subject were essentially illogical, claiming that swearing a “Mahomedan” or a “Chinese” brother on anything other than the Holy Bible, which in his view was the only “unerring standard of truth and justice,” could not possibly be true.

Whilst accepting that Freemasonry may be considered true by its adherents in practice, only the Divine revelation of Christianity can provide the pure truth of the heart. White further considered that Haye had contradicted himself, in that, whilst believing that Freemasonry was not Christian, he terminated his latest correspondence by quoting what is essentially a Christian quotation. [30]

This prompted an intercession the following week by the noted Masonic scholar, William James Hughan (1841-1911), who was certainly a friend of Haye—and quite possibly White too.

Hughan appeared to side with Haye to a large extent, by stating that he did not believe Haye to have asserted that anything untrue could be seen as an “unerring standard of truth,” but simply that what the New Testament is to the Christian, the Koran is to the Muslim, the works of Confucius are to the Chinese, and the Bible is to the Jew.

He emphasised the fact that brethren need only profess a belief in a Supreme Being, and they can take their oath on the volume pertinent to their faith—under the auspices of their Grand Lodge. Hughan was careful to articulate his own view that Freemasonry is Christian, and contained Christian elements prior to the union of the Grand Lodges in 1813. [31]

One might think that this intervention by the learned Freemason might have calmed the situation, but one must take into consideration the pride of the antagonists. In December 1868, Haye returned to the columns of the same magazine, with a lengthy and detailed riposte to White’s letter of April that year.

In direct response to White’s incredulity as to the logic of his reasoning, Haye immediately stated the obvious fact that he and White belonged to different schools of Freemasonry and logic.

In response to White’s suggestion, that he had contradicted himself by using a Christian quote at the end of previous correspondence, Haye countered by saying that he was unaware “that the angels were Christians.”

Having referenced the fact that Jesus himself used quotes culled from differing philosophies, he then provides a detailed breakdown of the various faiths recorded in the membership figures for the Craft in 1866, which most certainly were not exclusively Christian.

Haye then postulated that by White’s logic nine-tenths of the human race were barred from becoming Freemasons. Haye then repeated his well-worn argument that membership of the Craft requires only a belief in a Supreme Being, and the immortality of the soul.

He then rather rudely suggested that so-called Christians would do well to emulate Hebrew brethren, who in his view, carried out charitable deeds in secret; without need of publicity—a fairly obvious imputation that Christians acted otherwise.

Haye then posed the following questions to White:

How did Freemasonry originate?

At what period?

Show that it is Christian, or allied to Christianity?

Point out a passage in the Grand Lodge of England Constitution that mentions Christianity?

What lodge or grand lodge proclaims itself to be Christian?

Point out in the three degrees anything peculiar to Christianity, and which was not represented in the mysteries ages before the coming of Christ?

Explain why a Jew is a Master of a lodge, and a Musselman a District Grand Master?

Haye concluded by stating: “Bro. White proclaims himself to belong to the 18th degree: can he point out anything Christian between the 4th and 17th inclusive? When he answers the above, I have a few more nuts for him to crack.” [32]

Predictably, a week later, White responded, opening his reply by berating Haye for taking nine months to respond to his earlier communication.

White again questioned Haye’s logic, adding that he was proud to belong to a different school of Freemasonry and logic than his nemesis.

White added the following questions to those he had already posed Haye:

“Is truth one of the leading features of Freemasonry? Is Christianity truth? Can a religion which ignores or denies Christianity be truth? Does the fact that a Mahometan considers the Koran the unerring standard of truth make it really so?”

Expressing apparent disgust at the tone of Haye’s question to him: “Does it follow because a man calls himself a Christian that he must necessarily be intolerant to all other creeds?’”

White seems to suggest that for Haye to even formulate that suggestion, confirms that the two protagonists surely did belong to different Masonic philosophies.

White then exhorted Haye to approach the question with an unbiased mind (a suggestion White may well have taken to himself it might be said), and invited Haye to consider the words of legendary Masonic scholar Dr. George Oliver (1782-1867), who had also declared his firm belief that Freemasonry was unquestionably Christian.

White pointed out that whilst Oliver accepted that there were elements of other faiths within the system of Freemasonry, they were placed there in a purely symbolic fashion, in order to help point to the fact, that there was a yet more perfect system— namely Christianity.

White ended this contribution by stating:

I conclude this discussion by declaring that it is my unalterable conviction that true Masonry is founded on Christianity, and that no man has fathomed its depths until he has arrived at the same conviction.

At the same time, I am free to admit my belief that the German philosophical school to which Bro. Haye appears to belong has nothing in common either with Christianity or revealed religion of any kind.  [33]

White informs Haye that he will take no further notice of his communications unless they are more Masonic and gentlemanly.

In the same issue, White received support from a correspondent calling himself Red Cross, who, after berating Haye for his sarcastic attitude towards White, suggests to Haye that if he became a real Rose Croix Mason, he would understand that within the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the fourteenth degree ended the Jewish, or Temple of King Solomon degrees, and that the seventeenth degree is Christian.

He was prepared to agree with Haye however, that Christianity was not to be found in Craft Freemasonry, and that it was only in the so-called higher degrees that “Judaism and Theism cease, and Christianity begins.” [34]

In the following week’s magazine, there was an apology from Haye for causing White any undue offence, and an explanation for the apparent nine months’ delay in replying to an earlier contribution from the latter.

Haye held firm to his own view that Freemasonry was not Christian however, stating that the question of truth is an open one, and that each faith has its own peculiar view on what that is. [35]

Later in this paper, we will examine further examples of this style of debate, both within the Masonic press of the day, and within the origin and evolution of some of the Masonic bodies coming to the fore at the time.

The foregoing correspondence does amply demonstrate the standard and quality of Masonic research and discourse in mid-nineteenth century Britain.

It can be seen that debate could easily become caustic, and descend into rudeness, and indeed behaviour verging on unmasonic.

It can be easily understood therefore, that brethren began to look for a more collegiate and intimate forum in which such matters could be discussed in an enthusiastic, committed, and lively manner— but with all parties subduing their passions.

In March, 1868, the noted Masonic scholar, William James Hughan, addressed this question in the Masonic press, stating:

Several Masons have been inquiring when the first meeting of the proposed Masonic Archaeological Institute is to be held, and are anxious to take part in it, so I am told. Probably, it will be soon, as the summer time is generally less suitable for Masonic matters than just now, or during the winter, so far as London is concerned.

Without doubt, such an institution is much wanted, and will be very useful and valuable to the fraternity. [36]

MASONIC AUTHORS’ SOCIETY AND LITERARY UNION

In 1999, the late Wallace McLeod, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Canada, in the Province of Toronto, and an eminent Masonic scholar of worldwide repute, addressed a gathering of the Grand Lodge on the subject of Masonic research.

In this, he averred, that possibly, the earliest organisation devoting itself to Masonic research was the Masonic Archaeological Society in London, which formed in 1869.

However, this is only partly true, as there was a very similar society in existence a couple of years earlier. We say partly true, as the earlier organisation did share commonality with the latter.

The Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror of June 8, 1867, reported on the creation of a society knowns as the Masonic Authors Society and Literary Union.

The piece reiterated the fact that brethren required a forum where they could come together in union to share discourse on all Masonic matters of mutual concern, and that prior to this, discourse had been carried out at a distance within the various Masonic periodicals of the day.

The overarching objectives of this Society was the so-called elimination of the doctrines and mysteries of Craft or St. John’s Masonry (by this they must have simply meant researching the meaning of Freemasonry), to wholeheartedly support the Grand Lodges; the annual production of a quality Masonic work, which would be affordable to all brethren; and to guard against any innovations to Craft Freemasonry.

This society was clearly designed to operate on a worldwide scale, and for that purpose was divided into five divisions: Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia.

The European division was to be further broken down into:

Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Prussia, Italy, Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway), Saxony (including all German Grand Lodges), Belgium, and the Netherlands.

It can be seen from this, that the Society’s plans were ambitious, and designed to conduct Masonic research on an international scale, and to unite the Masonic world in a common cause. Interestingly, the Society had its seat in Edinburgh, and its head— known as the President-General— was the ubiquitous Anthony Oneal Haye.

Of equal interest, is the fact that Secretary-General of the Society was Haye’s great personal friend, John Hugh Mackintosh Bairnsfather (1844-1918). As we shall learn later, at this time, Haye was the head—styled Magus Maximus —of a Rosicrucian Society, also headquartered in Edinburgh. Bairnsfather was Secretary-General of that Society also.

This fact is not without significance in the formation of the Masonic Authors Society. Treasurer-General of the latter Society was William Hunter, another notable Scottish antiquarian. [37]

The list of other office-bearers of the Masonic Authors Society is really a roll call of the most distinguished Freemasons of the period:

David Murray Lyon, Corresponding Secretary for Scotland;
William Alexander Laurie, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland;
John Morrison, Advocate;
William James Hughan, Corresponding Secretary for England;
Dr. Henry Hopkins;
Dr. John Pearson Bell;
William Smith, C.E.;
Richard Woof, F.S.A.;
George Bease, Masonic Record of Western India, Editor, Corresponding Member for Bombay;
W.H. Richardson, Masonic Review, Baltimore.

Noted American Masonic scholars, Dr. Albert G. Mackey, and Robert Morris, Past Grand Master of Kentucky, were to be Corresponding Members for the United States of America, and J.G. Findel, Leipzig, and Dr. Van Dalhen, Berlin, along with a number of other notable Freemasons were reported as acting in the same capacity for Germany.

The magazine reported that: “…no efforts will be spared by the Council to place the Society on a broad and representative basis.” [38]

The official organs of the Society were to be: Freemasons’ Magazine, England; Voice of Freemasonry, Masonic Review &c., America; Dei Baühutte, Leipzig; Masonic Record of Western India, Bombay.

The first work to be published by the Society was to be David Murray Lyon’s Notes on Mother Kilwinning.

The magazine concluded by stating that the Society could not fail but to improve the tone of Freemasonry, promote its core values, and provide charity, and a liberal faith not be found within organised religion.

It should be said, that at this time, Anthony Oneal Haye, President-General of the Society, had only been a member of the Craft for about eight years.

There is reason to believe however, that he had been a member of his Rosicrucian Society in Edinburgh prior to this, rising to become its Magus Maximus.

This may have provided Haye with a confidence which belied his comparatively tender years and inexperience.

During his tenure as head of the Masonic Authors Society, he was involved in heated debate in the Masonic press— a tendency which came to define him, and incurred the displeasure of those more senior to him in Freemasonry.

For early examples of this we turn again to the pages of the Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror. In the July 6, 1869 issue of that publication he crossed swords metaphorically, and perhaps ironically, with a couple of correspondents with whom he differed in matters connected to the history of the historical Knights Templar.

Haye’s adversaries wrote anonymously, one using a pen name consisting of a cross pattée, followed by an indication he was a member of the eighteenth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry; the other calling himself Knight Templar.

These correspondents were clearly indicating their membership of— and support for— the so-called, higher degrees of Freemasonry, with which, at times, Haye appeared to have issues.

It seems that Haye had asked the editors of the magazine to help readers identify who cross pattée was, in order to determine his Masonic qualifications. After cheekily asking John Bairnsfather, Secretary-General of the Masonic Author’s Society how long Haye had been a Freemason, cross pattée responded by saying, that unlike Haye, he had no desire to be identified as an author, or poet laureate of a Masonic lodge; that he had also been published in the magazine; and had partaken of some of the higher degrees.

He further stated that he believed himself to be as well-regarded as Haye. He then rather pointedly stated that he had never been blackballed from the Royal Order of Scotland; refused admission to the Rose Croix degree; and that he had never been involved in setting up spurious Rites mimicking the Ancient and Accepted Rite, which charged initiates one pound sterling for admission.

One can only infer from this, that he was suggesting Haye had been rejected for the higher degrees.

Cross pattée charged Haye with vanity, and compared the latter’s correspondence with other notable figures of the day, stating:

“…I am afraid the name of Oneal Haye does not carry with it that weight which its owner desires, I cannot say deserves.” [39]

Knight Templar was no less scathing of Haye, and in the same issue, he offered an insincere apology for suggesting that Haye was the self-appointed President-General of the Masonic Authors Society, and agreed that he was unable to prove that.

He then rather sarcastically declared that he was gratified to learn that Haye had only taken the position reluctantly. Clearly taking an opposing view to Haye concerning the historical Knights Templar, he questions why Haye attacked the Templars, suggesting that the reason might lie in the fact Haye had failed to gain admission to the thirtieth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry.

It is clear from this that Knight Templar was adopting the same line of attack as cross pattée. Knight Templar was clearly irked by the fact Haye believed the former’s theories on the subject should not be allowed to appear in print.

It should be noted that Haye had a keen interest in, and admiration for the historical Knights Templar, published two books on the subject—which were serialised in the Masonic press of the day—and as such, probably felt eminently qualified to take others to task for their views.

Knight Templar concluded by stating:

“… I may be permitted to remind him that egotistical bombast and self-assertion—the eternal ego visible in his writings, and the dogmatic teaching which he insists in forcing upon the readers of the Magazine only serve to bring into contempt both his writings and himself.” [40]

These differences are to some extent mirrored with regards to the fortunes of another Society to which Haye was attached, and which was also based in Edinburgh.

As indicated earlier, Haye rose to become head of this Society which was known as the Rosicrucian Society of Scotland.

The Grand Council of the Society sat in Edinburgh, and Haye was styled Magus Maximus. (Modern Masonic Rosicrucian Societies use the anglicized term Supreme Magus.)

Interestingly, aforementioned John Bairnsfather, was also Secretary-General of this Society. William James Hughan, and Robert Wentworth Little, noted Freemasons from England apparently travelled to Scotland to acquire the necessary grades to allow them to form a branch of Haye’s Society in England.

Hughan and Little received the grades between 1866 and 1867, and formed an English branch shortly thereafter. Little was installed as head of the Society in England, and matters progressed satisfactorily for a period, with the English Society following the rules and ritual of the Society in Scotland.

However, dissension developed, and members of the English branch became disillusioned with Haye’s Scottish ritual, which they believed to be too High Church, and Romanish, and therefore not in keeping with the Protestant ethos of the early seventeenth­-century German Rosicrucian manifestos— which Little’s brethren considered foundational. Little introduced a Masonic qualification for admission to the English Society, and a profession of belief in Trinitarian Christianity.

The Scottish Society required none of this, and this departure from established precedent no doubt invoked Haye’s displeasure.

In writing about his Rosicrucian Society in 1868, Haye stated:

The Rosicrucian Society has nothing to do with the Rose Croix, or Freemasonry in any of its degrees.

The Supreme Council, with the exception of myself is composed entirely of non-Masons […]

The Rosicrucian Society must not be confounded with its German bastard of the 17th century, which had its exponent in the ludicrous ‘Fama,’ and gave birth to the present Royal Arch degree […]

My principal object in writing this note is to disabuse the minds of the brethren that there is any connexion between the Rosicrucian Society and Freemasonry, and if any, body of men calling themselves Rosicrucian maintain the existence of such a connexion, they must be descendants of the bastards aforesaid. [41]

It seems highly likely that a number of those debating with Haye in the Masonic press of the day, were the same brethren who took Haye’s Rosicrucian Society in a totally new direction, and who fiercely debated with him concerning the question of whether Freemasonry was Christian in character.

THE MASONIC ARCHÆOLOGICAL SOCIETY

This is the Society referred to by Wallace McLeod in his 1999 lecture, and we find an early reference to it in the February 6, 1869, issue of the Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror.

Notwithstanding, the fact they are reporting on the inaugural meeting of the Society on January 29, the magazine describes the Society as important and flourishing.

As indicated earlier, this Society did contain members of Haye’s earlier Society in Edinburgh, including Haye himself; but as we shall see, it seems that this Society was conceived as a separate and distinct Society—albeit with similar aims and objectives.

This Society held its inaugural meeting at Freemasons Hall, London, on Friday, January 29, 1869.

Once again, the Society boasted the attendance of many of the great and the good, from Masonic society and beyond.

Amongst those present were:

James Glaisher, F.R.S., President of the Royal Microscopical and Meteorological Societies;

Hyde Clark, Corresponding Member of the German Oriental Society, American Oriental Society, and Royal Society of Northern Antiquarians;

Charles Hutton Gregory, F.R.S.; President of Institute of Civil Engineers,

William Smith, C.E.;

R.J. Spiers, F.S.A., Oxford;

George Lambert, P.M.;

A.S. Gnosspilius;

Hyde Pullen, D.P.G.M., Isle of Wight, Secretary, Supreme Council;

F.W. Marchant;

Joseph A. Horner, Member Masonic Author’s Society;

Thomas Middleton;

J.S. Leigh;

Hall Grigor (of Robertson’s Lodge, Cromarty);

Henry Grissell, S.G.D.;

George Barlow;

W.J. Norfolk;

George Kenning,;

Henry Melville;

Edward Palmer;

Wharton P. Hood;

R.P. Spiers;

W. Trego;

John R. Sharp;

A. Sooboda;

Henry Bridges, D.P.G.M., Somersetshire;

Franz Thimm;

L.EW. Rees;

J. Sharp;

Anthony Oneal Haye, President General Masonic Authors Society, P.M., P.Z., &c., &c.,

Corresponding Member of the German Society, and others.

The fact that two of those attending: Joseph A. Horner, and Anthony Oneal Haye, are pointedly referred to as members of the Masonic Authors Society, does tend to suggest that the Masonic Archaeological Society was a separate and distinct Society, with its roots in England— but possibly aided by the earlier Society headquartered in Scotland.

The Earl of Dalhousie, then in his twenty-fifth year as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, patron of the Society, was unable to attend due to the fact he was spending his winter in Cannes in the south of France.

In his absence, James Glaisher, Chairman of the Council of the Institute, was called to chair the meeting; with Anthony Oneal Haye, and Hyde Pullen acting as Honorary Secretaries.

In addition to the Earl of Dalhousie, further apologies were received from other distinguished brethren, whose attendance was apparently thwarted by distance and inclement weather. [42]

The first order of business for the fledgling Society was called by chairman Glaisher, who requested that the honorary secretaries’ intimate what donations had been made to the Society.

Hyde Pullen informed the assembly that several valuable books had been presented to the Society by Brothers Hughan, Marchant, and Haye.

This was ordered to be recorded in the Minutes and copies forwarded to the generous donors.

Glaisher then introduced Bro. Hyde Clarke to the audience, and just before the latter presented his inaugural address to the members, he informed them that the Society would ably supply Masonic research and discourse to all thinking Freemasons—particularly those who had served many years in office, and had learned all they could from Masonic ritual.

He suggested that the activities of the Society would enable those who had effectively retired from active service in their lodge, to pursue their studies further, alongside brethren of similar stamp and ability.

The hope was that such activity would retain those brethren who might otherwise leave Masonic society.

Brother Hyde Clarke then regaled the members with an address which apparently met with great approbation.

Clarke opened his address by proposing that the subject of Freemasonry held a fascination, for its members certainly— but also for those outside the institution— not only due to its apparent mysteries, but the very fact it explored faculties of the human mind familiar throughout the ages.

His view was that, whilst Freemasonry may not be descended from ancient times, many of the lessons inherent in its teachings have exercised the human mind for millennia.

In his view, Clarke considered that Masonic research had often been hampered by great pretensions to antiquity— justified to some extent by genuine history, but greatly exaggerated at the same time.

An example of this he averred, could be found in the fact that many symbols are seized upon as offering proof of antiquity, when in actual fact these symbols can be found in all ages, and in many faiths through the ages, and are often acquired for purely illustrative purposes.

Clarke also highlighted a problem—which continues to this day: that brethren were becoming disillusioned from not finding anything to retain their interest in the Craft, and that members became jaded with the constant repetition of sometimes abridged ceremonial.

With regard to Masonic benevolence, he remarked on how it was difficult for a professional person, with his own financial provisions set in place, to become actively interested, or engaged in charity within a Masonic context.

He lamented that loss of members could be experienced at all stages of a Masonic career: some soon after initiation; a few manage to persevere through several degrees; others leave after experiencing office in lodge, afterwards finding that the lodge no longer fulfils them.

In an apparent reference to what nowadays are unkindly referred to as knife and fork Masons, Clarke accepted that eating and drinking might suffice for many Freemasons, but that for others, their appetites required something considerably more substantial, stimulating, and edifying.

Clarke further lamented the fact that the best members of the Craft often quit, leaving what he terms the least desirable behind.

This occurs through a process of: indifference, absenteeism, and finally alienation. In his view, this inevitably meant that those left behind, have no interest in intellectual advancement, despite their tenacity in other aspects of lodge life and charity.

Notwithstanding, he appreciated that Masonic society had drawn together many men from around the world in brotherly love, and whilst the understandable reluctance within British Freemasonry to engage in religion or politics diminishes the positive role that Freemasonry has in other countries, its many benefits cannot be understated.

Whilst welcoming the move from tavern to a proper Masonic hall, and the acquirement of libraries of books, he expressed exasperation at the lack of resources, which stunted the growth of Masonic research— not only in his own country— but in younger countries such as the United States of America, who were required to reproduce what they could from scant British sources, and in France and Germany, where they were forced to confine researches to within their own countries.

Clarke wanted to see a drive towards examining the histories of those responsible for building up the Masonic system; thorough and critical examination of: books, newspapers, letters, and internal Masonic documents, external influences on the Craft; indeed, anything that would prevent Masonic research entering the realm of speculation, and false history.

In this, we can perhaps see the advent of what would become known as the authentic school of Masonic research.

In his address, Clarke also covered the question of the genesis of Freemasonry; from operative masonry, to speculative Freemasonry, and whether there was a direct lineal descent, or whether it developed from political considerations or expediency.

In this, he appeared to favour an influence from the European Continent, and cited the Rosicrucians as one possible example of this, along with the likes of the Templars, Mussulmans, and Gnostics.

He suggested that these theories were certainly worthy of some form of auxiliary study. Clarke contended that what Lodges or Chapters of Instruction were for the routine; the Archaeological Society would be for higher purposes.

In this sense, he believed that the instruction contained within the Archaeological Society could serve the purpose of helping brethren master the theory, by which they would be better enabled to carry out the practice, and thus, return to the lodge with greater enthusiasm.

The purpose of the Society in his view, was to bring good men and truth seekers together, in a spirit of friendly cooperation, to discourage rancour, for the benefit of not only the Craft, but also the wider community.

In this, we can discern seeds being sown for future Masonic research societies, which would be erected on the same sound principles espoused by their predecessors.

Clarke concluded his lecture by saying:

“Such are what we acknowledge as the true purposes of Freemasonry; and if we succeed by means of this Institute in cultivating these, we shall have attained an ample inducement to exertion and a legitimate justification for its foundation and maintenance.” [43]

Today, we retain many of the inherent problems that Clarke and his brethren did, so many years ago, and it is imperative that we continue to develop strategies to combat those problems, and retain Masonic research at the forefront of our activities.

Following a number of votes of thanks to all those who had made the inaugural meeting possible, the chairman announced that the next meeting would take place about the end of February and would be announced in The Freemasons’ Magazine. (It was duly held on Friday, February 26, 1869.)

The paper to be read at that meeting would be the “Ritual of the Three Degrees used by Frederick the Great.” to be delivered by Bro. George Lambert.

It was then reported that the following papers would be read during the current session:

“Description of an old Church at Hamburg of the Knights Templars era” by Bro. Gnosspilins.
“The Secret Societies of Mexico”, by Bro. Bollaert.
“The Arkite Theory, as found in the Ancient Mysteries”, by Bro. William Smith.
“The Druids, their History and Doctrines”, by Bro. Anthony Oneal Haye.

Once the formal part of proceedings concluded, the members spent the remainder of the evening examining documents and old parchments that Bro. Anthony Oneal Haye had brought along to the meeting for the perusal and edification of the brethren.

On their report on proceedings, the Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror expressed their pleasure that the inaugural meeting had been a great success, and expressed confidence that the Institute would prove its value to Freemasonry for some time to come.

MASONIC ARCHÆOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF SCOTLAND

This organisation was based in the city of Aberdeen, in the north-east of Scotland. The two principals of the Institute were John Crombie and Thomas Lawrence Shaw.

Both men were ubiquitous within Freemasonry in Aberdeen, and active participants in most of the mainstream Masonic Orders extant in the city at the time. Crombie was a chartered account, and Shaw, a court officer.

The objectives of this particular group, appear to have been identical to the present-day Grand College of Rites of the United States of America, [44] in that their interests appeared to lie in the searching for, and preservation of, Masonic and quasi-Masonic rituals.

The insignia of this group contained a number of Masonic symbols, including: square and compasses, keystone, triple tau, double-headed eagle, skull and crossbones, and the Kneph of the Masonic Rite of Memphis Misraim.

Both Crombie and Shaw were noted for their interest in esoteric aspects of Freemasonry, which brought them into the orbit of Freemasons in the United Kingdom who were of similar persuasion.

These associations were also aided by the fact both were involved in Masonic Rosicrucianism—as were many esoteric Freemasons of the time.

Their most important association in this regard was with the noted English esotericist and Freemason, Francis George Irwin, who, like Crombie and Shaw, was a Masonic Rosicrucian.

In a letter relating to the business of the Institute, dated December 28, 1887, Shaw writes to Irwin concerning a fledgling quasi-Masonic organisation called the Knights of Constantinople.

We will discuss this organisation in greater detail later in this paper, but this was an organisation which Irwin had introduced to the country. In this letter, Shaw informs Irwin that he was in the process of preparing a patent for John Crombie, similar to one that he had sent to a Brother Bird in England. Shaw required to know what armorial device and motto Bird had used, and what seal he would use as The Seal of the Supreme Council of England of the Order.

Shaw asks that Bird then leave the preparation of the seal to him. He further requests that he be given Bird’s crest, or adopted crest, to place on the Knight with a plumed helmet, and Bird’s motto to place on the circle on the top in place of Excelsior St. Aubyn.

It seems that Bird was head of the Knights of Constantinople in England, and Shaw was attempting to prepare a similar crest and device for Crombie who was to occupy the same position in Scotland.

In closing, Shaw points out to Irwin, that Bird had overlooked acknowledging receipt of his own patent. [45]

In an earlier letter, dated September 1, 1887, Shaw had written to Irwin concerning a number of matters, but in that letter reported that the Knights of Constantinople were progressing well in Scotland.

There were thirty members at that time, with seven more to be initiated at a meeting the following evening—with three or more for a subsequent meeting. Shaw reported on a proposal to constitute a second Council of Knights, not as a rival to the existing Council, but as a travelling body which would organise other Councils in Scotland.

Shaw further stated that there might be a need to organise a Supreme Council in Scotland, but that the Scots would not move to do so without the blessing of the Mother Council in England.

From the later letter, it is apparent that the English brethren did authorise such a move. In the letter of September 1, 1887, Shaw also reported to Irwin that he had been contacted by a Dr. Peters of Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Peters was clearly aware that Shaw was a member of Masonic Rosicrucian Colleges in both Aberdeen and Edinburgh, and he was curious to know if there was any connection between these Colleges, and a Rosicrucian organisation of which he was a member.

Peters claimed to belong to a Free Council of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross or Rosicrucians which met in New York. Peters further claimed that his group considered themselves part of the twelfth-department George David Brown, Rochester, New York—Brown being a former General of the organisation.

Peters also claimed that Giuseppe Garibaldi (a famous Italian general) was a former Supreme Chief of this particular organisation. Brown had apparently disappeared three years previously, and was thought to have died in Paris.

The organisation had become rudderless from that time. Asking Irwin if he had any knowledge of such an organisation, Shaw also asked for his advice on how best to answer Peters’s inquiry.

Shaw also intimated that he was hoping to obtain from Dr. Peters, the ritual for another quasi-Masonic organisation known as the Knights of Pythias. It was subsequently established that there was no connection between the aforesaid Rosicrucian bodies.

Shaw reported on this to Irwin in his letter of December 28, 1887, in which he further reported that he was to be given a copy of the ritual of the Rosicrucian body in New York, and that this particular body required no Masonic qualification, having been founded in the 1860—spreading to New York from San Francisco.

Lastly, Shaw reports that he is also to receive a copy of the secrets and ritual of the Knights of Pythias, which Peters assured him were based upon Schiller’s Die Bürgschaft. (The Pledge.) [46]

We will now proceed to examine a couple of the quasi-Masonic organisations which the Masonic Archæological Institute of Scotland played an integral part in introducing to the British Isles, which essentially resulted from their members’ keen interest in fringe Freemasonry—or what others might prefer to regard as rejected knowledge. [47]

MEMPHIS, MISRAIM, AND ROYAL RITES

The Memphis and Misraim Rites promoted by the likes of John Yarker (1833-1913), appear to have their origin in continental Europe and the United States of America, but have a mixed and confusing pedigree.

It is not the purpose of this paper to furnish a detailed history of both Rites; but they were initially separate.

The Rite of Misraim seems to have been around since the eighteenth century, and was suffused with alchemical, occult, and Egyptian references.

It was promoted in Europe in around 1803 by brothers Joseph, Marc, and Michel Bedarride, but appears to have fallen into disrepute in 1817.

Frenchman Gabriel-Mathieu Marconis de Negre is said to have come into possession of the archives of a lodge established by a roving Egyptian priest in Mantauban, France in 1815.

De Negre subsequently introduced a system which came to be known as the Rite of Memphis which conferred a total of ninety-six Degrees.

His son, Jacques-Etienne Marconis de Negre appears to have introduced the Order into the United States of America in 1856. In any event, the Rites were merged during the nineteenth century.

An American by the name of Henry (Harry) Seymour succeeded as head of the Rite of Memphis in 1861. However, De Negre surrendered the Rite to a Grand body in France in 1862, and this appears to have necessitated Seymour travelling to France to receive a fresh patent.

There remains some doubt concerning the legitimacy of an authorisation that Seymour claimed to have received from the Grand body in France in 1862.

In any event, the Order continued in the States, and Seymour authorised Calvin C. Burt of Chicago to work the Rite in America.

At some stage, Burt and Seymour parted from each other, due to Seymour reducing the Rite from ninety-six degrees to thirty-three. It is believed that Seymour did this to compete with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite which also had a thirty-three Degree system.

In 1879, Burt initiated Darius Wilson into the Rite making him a member of what was styled the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis for America, which conferred a total of ninety-six degrees.

Burt permitted Wilson to promulgate the Rite in America, and Wilson—who had been very successful in creating benefit societies in the country— eagerly set about doing so.

He travelled the country, charging fees and admitting men into the organisation.

Wilson subsequently split from Burt, and in Boston created his own Rite, which he called the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Royal Masonic Rite for the United States of America.

This organisation subsumed all assets of the former Rite, and Wilson formally dissolved Burt’s Rite. Mainstream Masons decried Wilson’s organisation, and he was warned by the Grand Master of Illinois not to practice the three Craft degrees of Masonry within his Rite.

Wilson replied claiming that his Rite was akin to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and in that respect had similar entitlement to convey these degrees.

Wilson took his road show throughout the country, and in a style similar to that of a snake oil salesman, peddled his degrees to various interested parties. One such interested party was Professor Albert Leighton Rawson—an author and artist, and a prominent Freemason from New York.

Rawson sponsored a speech Wilson gave at the Grand Opera House in the city, despite the negative publicity his guest had been receiving elsewhere. [48]

About fifty men attended Wilson’s lecture on his Royal Masonic Rite of which he claimed to be Grand Master General.

A number of prominent Masons who were billed as attending did not turn up, and only six of the reported thirty-three were there—some of the others claiming that their names had been used without their permission.

Wilson appeared surprised at the absence of those billed as attending, and stated that he had not come to the city looking for trouble, and challenged anyone to prove that he had ever done anything un-masonic—but if they could— he would authorise his lawyer to reward them with one thousand dollars.

He then waxed lyrical about his Order claiming that its roots were in Egyptian history, and that Moses himself was a perfect pontiff, which corresponded with the eighty-eighth degree of his Rite.

Wilson then led his guests through the history of Freemasonry, from its alleged origin in Egypt, by way of the Roman Colleges of Builders, through to the Masons of England, and eventually the Grand Lodge of England.

Wilson averred that the charters issued to the present Rites of Misraim and Memphis in the United States of America were invalid as they had been issued: “Without the proper authority, a duly authorised convention or a mandate of a king.”

He then told his audience that at a Convention held on December 8, 1885, between all the bodies authorised to convey the fourth to the ninety-sixth degree, it was agreed that:

“…all the lower bodies should be permitted to exercise to the full their rights in this democratic Masonic body, and take part in the selection of the officers to be there and then selected.”

This he said, led to the formation of the Royal Masonic Rite, which was now flourishing in the States and a number of other countries, and contained many advantages for ordinary Masons.

He claimed that most of those present at the Convention were pleased with the outcome, with the exception of one head of a rival organisation.

At this point, someone in the audience got to their feet, and said: “Doctor there are profanes present.” Wilson informed him he was aware of this and that he had no intention of divulging the Order’s secrets.

Another man then asked Wilson if the charter, over which a Doctor Alexander B. Mott had begun court proceedings against him in order to recover, was actually amongst documents arrayed on the table in front of him.

Wilson advised the enquirer that he would leave his lawyer to answer that question. Wilson’s lawyer, a Mister Winsor, walked to the platform carrying a number of documents.

At this point, Charles Sotheran, an occultist, and a founder of the Theosophical Society, asked to peruse the charter.

He was permitted to do so, following which he got to his feet waving the document about saying:

“Dr. Wilson, this original charter of the Rite of Mizraim and Memphis is my property, and I have been looking for it for a good many years. It was given to me by the late Leon Hyneman, and I lent it to Harry J. Seymour who never returned it to me.”

Rather bizarrely, Wilson then claimed that the charter was worthless, and that Sotheran was welcome to it.

However, Wilson’s lawyer insisted upon its return, and it was passed back to the lawyer. Wilson then continued promoting his Rite, offering the fourth to the thirty-third degree for ten dollars, and the fourth to the ninety-sixth for fifteen dollars. [49]

In March 1902, the Grand Lodge of New York brought Masonic charges against Wilson for trying to recruit members to lodges purportedly chartered by a grand lodge in Ohio which was headed by a Justin Pinney and which was derived from a body known as the Cerneau Scottish Rite.

Citing his membership of regular Masonic bodies in New York, Wilson countered that he was simply storing Masonic literature, and revealing opportunities available to Freemasons.

He also claimed that he held the rank of Grand Commander in an alternative Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite which was chartered by the Grand Council of Rites in Scotland.

After due trial, Wilson was expelled from the Grand Lodge of New York, and thus denied all privileges which such membership afforded him. The Tripilite Council of the Grand Council of Rites in Scotland headed by Sovereign Grand Master Peter Spence issued an edict preventing him from instigating any further lodges—although Wilson refused to accept the edict, claiming the Council had no power over him to do so.

Wilson was arrested on occasion for alleged fraud in relation to his peddling of Masonic degrees, but appears never to have been convicted of any crime; although he did, in his declining years, provide a written agreement that he would desist from selling Masonic degrees—without actually admitting any wrongdoing earlier in his career. [50]

Accordingly, we see that the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Freemasonry had a very colourful, chequered, and schismatic history.

The Rite’s origins in France appear undisputed; but from there, charters were passed around by an assortment of characters, and were promulgated in all parts of the world.

It appears to have entered the United Kingdom in 1872 by a charter from the American Harry Seymour, given to John Yarker, who had been given the degrees earlier by Benjamin D. Hyam.

Yarker was installed as Grand Master General of Great Britain and Ireland. Charters were granted for chapters in London, Manchester, Havant, and Dublin; and later, in Burnley and Aberdeenshire. [51]

However, as indicated earlier, there is a suggestion that Seymour misappropriated his charter from a fellow American. The aforementioned John Crombie from Aberdeen was head of a Royal Masonic Rite in his native city, and is known to have received authority from America to introduce other degrees into the country, including those of the Order of the Eastern Star.

His Rite seems to have had a similar lineage to that of John Yarker’s, but was introduced into Scotland by a different route, under a charter from said Darius Wilson.

In the 1893/94 Post Office Directory for Aberdeen, Col. John Crombie is recorded as Grand Master of the Royal Masonic Rite in the city, with Thomas Lawrence Shaw noted as his Grand Secretary.

In parenthesis, it is further emphasised that the Rite embraced all orders and degrees beyond the Craft Lodge. This entry is very interesting indeed, as it also records that Crombie was Grand Master and President of the Royal Scottish Rite of Adoption, with Shaw once again his Grand-Secretary.

It also records that no less a personage than Major F.G. Irwin was his Deputy Master and Vice President. [52]

Irwin was a highly influential Freemason in the United Kingdom; an occultist, he was also a member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, and the Fratres Lucis, and is often credited with being associated with an earlier manifestation of what would become the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Once again, we have to note the close association persons with such interests had over time and place.

A previous Post Office Directory for Aberdeen suggests that Thomas Lawrence Shaw may have been a member of John Yarker’s original Rite in the United Kingdom.

It was noted earlier that a chapter had been set up in Aberdeenshire. In the Directory for 1875‑76, under a heading of Ancient and Primitive Rite Masonry, 33rd and last Degree, Shaw is recorded as Grand Examiner General, for the Sovereign Sanctuary of London, and Provincial Grand Master for Aberdeen, Kincardine and Banff. [53]

This indicates that this Rite only operated within the thirty-three degrees. However, it would seem that by 1893, Darius Wilson’s incarnation of the Rite, with the full ninety-six Degrees, had entered Scotland and bore sway in Aberdeen—with Shaw now a member of that rival group.

There is some evidence of the earlier schism(s) affecting the Rite in Scotland. John Yarker published a magazine entitled The Kneph, which covered the workings of both the Ancient and Primitive Rite, and the Swedenborgian Rite. On their website, the Masonic Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon has a piece concerning this publication in which it states:

On another front, the 1889 edition warns bodies of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry in Great Britain and Ireland against admitting members from Scotland.

Another Ancient and Primitive body chartered by one Wilson in Boston had sprung up in Scotland, in competition to Yarker’s Rite. [54]

Aforementioned John Crombie was a Grand Master of the Early Grand Encampment of Knights Templar in Scotland between 1889 and 1891.

At a meeting of that body’s Grand Master’s Council held in Kilmarnock, Scotland, on October 27, 1906, a decision was made to break their connection with Dr. Darius Wilson in the United States of America, due his peddling of spurious Masonic degrees there, the connection “having been made and circulated under essential error.” [55]

This helps confirm that Crombie was operating his Royal Masonic Rite in Aberdeen under a charter from Darius Wilson.

KNIGHTS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

This degree is now part of the Allied Masonic Degrees, and was apparently worked in the United States of America, as early as 1831.

The famous English Freemason and occultist Francis George Irwin (1828-1893), is reputed to have received the degree in Malta. It is permissible for one individual to confer the degree on another.

In 1864, Irwin resided in Devonport, England, and began visiting the recently established Masonic lodge there: St. Aubyn, No. 954.

As he was the only person in England qualified to transmit the degree, he conferred it on a number of brethren of that Lodge. According to precedent, as Irwin had introduced the degree to the country, he established himself as the governing authority of the degree.

On January 18, 1865, Irwin, chaired a meeting of the Aubyn Lodge members in which he entrusted a number of the brethren with the secrets of the degree, creating them Knights of Constantinople.

He subsequently appointed the following brethren as officers of the First or Saint Aubyn Council of the Knights of Constantinople: Samuel Chapple, Horace Byron Kent, John R. H. Spry, Vincent Bird (aforementioned) and Philip B. Clemens.

At the same meeting, several other prominent Freemasons were admitted to the degree, including a Brother Shuttleworth, the Grand Vice-Chancellor of the Masonic Knights Templar of England.

At a meeting the following month, several more active Freemasons were added to the number, this time including Bro. William James Hughan, who had been initiated into the Saint Aubyn Lodge, and who of course went on to fame as a Masonic writer and historian.

On Thursday, January 18, 1866, the officers of the established St. Aubyn Grand Council (which developed from the first Council), opened a meeting of the Grand Council at the Masonic Booms, Quay Street, Truro.

This was apparently in response to a petition from Bro. William Hughan and three others, who wished to establish Fortitude Council, in Truro, Cornwall.

At this meeting, a large number of brethren indicated their desire to become members of the Council, and sixteen were intrusted and elevated, and subsequently dubbed Knights of Constantinople.

Grand Council nominated Hughan to be Illustrious Sovereign of the newly-established Council, and once the nomination was approved, he was duly enthroned.

The following Knights were then invested as officers for the ensuing year by Hughan:

Sir Knights,
W. Tweedy, Chief of the Artisans;
F.M. Williams, M.P., Master Artisan;
S. Holloway, Prelate;
T. Chirgwin, Master of Finances;
T. Solomon, Prefect of Palace;
W.J. Johns, Master of Despatches;
Edward Moore, Seneschal;
J. Middleton, Marshall;
William Boase, Captain of Guard;
G.A. Elliott, First Herald;
J. Ralph, Second Herald;
William Lake, Sword Bearer;
R. Bodilly, First Standard Bearer;
T. Tregaskis, Second Standard Bearer;
William Rooks, Purveyor;
William Wyatt, Sentinel.

Following the ceremony, the Sir Knights enjoyed a banquet, presided over by Illustrious Sovereign, William Hughan, supported by the Illustrious Grand Sovereign, Francis George Irwin; Samuel Chapple, Grand Chief of the Artisans; H.B. Kent, Grand Master Artisan; Vincent Bird, Grand Prelate; all members of the Grand Council. Sir Knight T. Chirgwin acted as Vice-Chairman.

Pleasure was expressed concerning the rapid extension of the degree in England, especially since it had only recently been introduced to the country.

It was reported that warrants had been granted for councils in Chatham, Truro, and Hong Kong. Of course, as we saw earlier, the degree eventually made its way to Aberdeen in Scotland, where it was also enthusiastically received.

The degree is of Christian character, and utilises similar themes to that of another Christian Order—The Red Cross of Constantine— and may therefore be considered a branch of Constantinian Freemasonry.

The lessons of the Order teach universal equality, and the jewel of the degree is a cross surmounted by a crescent. [56]

CONCLUSION

This paper demonstrates that in mid-nineteenth century Britain, Masonic discourse took place at a distance and through the relatively anonymous medium of the Masonic press of the day.

It was probably due to this fact, that the discourse could occasionally become fractious, and uncourteous— oftentimes bordering on un-masonic.

This, almost inevitably, led to a desire amongst the brightest Masonic minds of the day, to put such research on a more organised, face-to-face, and fraternal footing; leading to the formation of several Masonic research lodges and societies, many of which continue to thrive today.

This did not result in a dilution of the nature and quality of the debate—indeed, the feedback and criticism of the research carried out by brethren continues to be subjected to careful scrutiny and question.

However, such criticism is now subject to keen oversight, and is designed to be constructive, helpful, and encouraging.

For as long as there are brethren keen to shine a brilliant light on the myriad aspects of Freemasonry, we can be confident that Masonic research lodges and societies will continue in their eternal quest.

Article by: Kenneth C. Jack

Kenneth C. Jack  FPS is an enthusiastic Masonic researcher/writer from Highland Perthshire in Scotland.

He is Past Master of a Craft Lodge, Past First Principal of a Royal Arch Chapter, Past Most-Wise Sovereign of a Sovereign Chapter of Princes Rose Croix.

He has been extensively published in various Masonic periodicals throughout the world including: The Ashlar, The Square, The Scottish Rite Journal, Masonic Magazine, Philalethes Journal, and the annual transactions of various Masonic bodies.

Kenneth is a Fellow of the Philalethes Society, a highly prestigious Masonic research body based in the USA.

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