On June 24, St John's Day, 1717, 4 apparently autonomous London lodges met
together to form what English-speaking Speculative Freemasons (SF's) accept as
the first and 'Premier' Grand Lodge of their Freemasonry, indeed the 'Mother and
Creator' of SF worldwide. Other reasons for the meeting are sometimes given:
(Anyone)...wishing to indulge in a religious or political
discussion would have been well-advised to make certain that the person to
whom he spoke was of the same mind...there was an obvious need for secret
societies...having carefully guarded signs for recognising other persons of a
similar persuasion...Surely it is reasonable to think that there was a desire
to establish Freemasonry [NB capitals] on a permanent and respectable basis
and how could this be achieved unless some governing body were created with a
well-known and revered figure at its head as Grand Master?327
There is a such a vast amount of literature which could be regarded as
relevant to this question, that no-one person is likely ever to be able to say
truthfully they had read everything which might be brought to bear, let alone
that they had assimilated its implications. In that mass, has been sufficient
cause for its general dismissal by scholars looking for definitive statements.
Others have seen a need for yet more research. I make no claims to even know
about everything relevant, let alone to have read it. I can only draw out what I
think are reasonable conclusions from what I have read, and make myself a target
for those whose knowledge will suggest I've been hasty, intemperate or 'have
only touched the surface.'
The advocates for 'origin' histories of SF other than one involving the
operative masons and guild heritage would seem to me to be either avoiding or
missing the point, which is: why a 'Grand Lodge' at all? From whence came the
idea of 'a Grand Lodge pro tempore in Due Form', the 'Quarterly
Communications', the 'Annual Assembly and Feast' whereat was to be elected 'a
Grand Master and Grand Officers', which are the terms apparently used in the key
resolution at that 1717 meeting.
Brothers with an inflated sense of SF's uniqueness suggest that creation of
its philosophy required a nurturing intellectual environment and stable social
conditions, which necessary situation was met historically with the Royal
Society (of London for Improving Natural Knowledge):
No other explanation is possible; regardless of how much the Grand
Lodge of England would deny it...The Royal Society was an exclusive
organisation that attracted men of learning and those who wished to explore
esoteric philosophy in a secure environment which proscribed arguments of a
religious or political nature, during these difficult and turbulent times and
when any kind of original thought could be very dangerous. In these conditions
it is easy to see why Speculative Freemasonry, with its concepts of tolerance,
intellectual integrity, moral truth and oaths of secrecy, would have been
attractive to these men.328
How could these ideas, a wish list rather than reality for the gentry in
question, attract anyone unless they, the ideas, were already in play? How could
'men of learning' be driven to 'explore esoteric philosophy' unless such was
already the basis of some operating institution?
For four years after the 1717 meeting very little activity was, publically,
noted. Official minutes exist from 1721, and some would point to these to
provide answers to the question 'What does a Grand Lodge do?' In fact very
little is known for sure. Newly-wrought 'Grand Lodge' positions besides 'Grand
Master' such as 'Grand Secretary' were in place by 1721, and shortly after one
'made' observer wrote that the brothers were finding it hard to 'find members
enough to perform the ceremony' of admission. Somehow John, Duke of Montagu, was
convinced he should accept the position of Grand Master, succeeding a
'gentleman', a tax inspector and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Those involved
in 1721 appear to have celebrated with their first public procession and:
Now Masonry flourish'd in Harmony, Reputation and Numbers; many
desir'd to be admitted into the Fraternity...Therefore the Grand Master was
obliged to constitute more Lodges.329
Reading between the lines would suggest that along with increased amounts of
administration went modish conviviality, wrangling over precedence in seating,
toasting and dress codes and attempts to replace independence with a
recognisable, hierarchically organised 'Order.'It would also seem reasonable to
assume that politics and religion were the most discussed of all 'lodge' topics.
Most of the lodges prepared to express allegiance to the new authority were
in London, where saturation would appear to have been reached before a general
decline became obvious in the 1740's. Haunch, SF historian of this period,
acknowledges GL administration was slack, a number of its decisions were inept,
and public ridicule 'reached new heights'.330
Some of the public derision is believed to have been sparked by brothers
disappointed at not sharing in what was believed to be a money-making scheme. A
Charity Fund for 'indigent and decay'd brethren' proved less popular than the
Annual Assembly and Feast where Grand Lodge's capacity to impose dress codes and
drink disciplines were first tested.
An anti-SF Papal Encyclical in 1738, re-newed Jacobite threats, 1745, and
hostilities with France added to a loss of momentum - Freemasonry had taken a
run 'and run itself out of breath.'331
Horace Walpole, a brother, said that the Freemasons were in so low repute in
1743 that 'nothing but a persecution could bring them into vogue again.'332
Varying degrees of resentment were directed at the Grand Officers, reactions
including the 'movement' known as the 'Antients' and a number of opposition
The 'Antients' were initially Irish SF's of 'irregular', ie independent
and/or self-instituted lodges, who looked for guidance to the Grand Lodge of
York, not London, as the home and origin of the 'purest and most ancient of
As Bullock says, a social history of English Freemasonry 'awaits a serious
study', but it is generally accepted that those who flocked to the 'Antients' as
soon as they were established (1751) and as their Grand Secretary (GS) began to
deride what he labelled 'the Moderns', were artisans and small traders (weavers,
shoemakers and tailors have been mentioned), what Bullock calls those 'who
lacked political power and social distinction.'
GS Dermott was a journeyman painter, 'obliged to work twelve hours a day for
a Master Painter', and when the 'Antient' rites spread to the US and other
colonies, newly-made brothers were more often than not plumbers, town
constables, even street sweepers and pig catchers.334
This 'second wave' of Freemasonry proved to be a major escalator of social
advancement for some, but the 'Antients' also actively encouraged the
establishment of military lodges, whereby Masonic fellowship was provided 'for
lower ranks of soldiers who could not mingle in polite local society.'335
The phenomenon of lodges in military regiments, for which Ireland's Grand Lodge
provided more Charters than any other, was two-faced as we will see, and raises
further questions about which SF reached the colonies. But the military's travel
arrangements and the need for less-rigid formations in the 'New World' suggests
that at least the flow of ideas of Locke, Rousseau, Hume and Voltaire was
through these regiments, and some non-military lodges, to the 'whole of colonial
administration, society and culture' along with lodge rituals, traditions,
opportunities and benefits:
The Freemasonry of the age was a repository for an imaginatively
stirring and potent idealism...It was largely through the lodges that
'ordinary' colonists learned of that lofty premise called 'the rights of man.'
It was through the lodges that they learned the concept of the perfectibility
of society. And the New World seemed to offer a species of blank slate, a
species of laboratory in which social experiment was possible and the
principles enshrined by Freemasonry could be applied in practice.336
The compromise by the 'Moderns' in the adoption of the 'Antient' ritual at
the time English SF Union was secured, 1813, was only possible after the Jacobin
threat was seen as removed from Britain. In the meantime, as Waite has observed:
The continent of Europe, but above all, France and Germany, was
like a garden planted everywhere with exotic flowers of Ritual. Between 1737
and 1777 the growth of Masonic Rites and Grades, and of Grades and Rites which
passed under the name of Masonry, however little they belonged thereto in the
facts of their purport and symbolism, is a thing without precedent in
Hamill and Gilbert338
in their recent summary of World Freemasonry argue that SF lodges were in
place in Continental Europe by the 1720's and that these were begun by
expatriate or travelling Britishers on their own initiative. One of these
self-constituted lodges was begun in Rome, without reference to any Grand Lodge,
by Jacobite rebels exiled from England after the 1715 uprising. Its activities
gave rise to what Hamill and Gilbert call 'the myth' that much of early
continental European Freemasonry was Jacobite-inspired and a means by which
information was passed back to England to secret supporters of the Jacobite
cause, ultimately leading to the 1745 rebellion led by Bonnie Prince
The spread of Freemasonry in Europe was facilitated by three
factors: the appointment of Provincial Grand Masters from England; lodges
begun from England becoming 'mother' lodges; and the issue of travelling
warrants by the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland to lodges in
regiments of the British Army.
Normally, an SF lodge was issued a warrant or authority by a Grand Lodge to
hold meetings at a place specified. The specifically-named 'travelling warrant'
was devised to allow regimental lodges to meet wherever they were stationed.
Often when they moved on, local residents with whom they had dealt and invited
to join petitioned in their own right for a 'stationary lodge.'
As far as SF of the type associated with that 1717 formation (of the London,
later English Grand Lodge) and now claiming millions of adherents world-wide,
ie, that associated with the 'United Grand Lodge of England of the Ancient, Free
and Accepted Masons', is concerned:
pure Ancient Masonry consists of 3 degrees and no more; viz, those
of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including
the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.
The reference to the Holy Royal Arch Degree has to do with disappointment
felt by the 'Antients' with what evolved after 1717 at the hands of Grand Lodge
officials. The above declaration of 'pure Ancient Masonry' is the first sentence
of Article II of the Act Of Union which in 1813 brought 'the two Grand Lodges of
Freemasons of England' into the 'United Grand Lodge of England.' This event did
not end disputation over the essence of 'the craft' nor stop its efflorescence.
The second sentence of Article II reads:
But this article is not intended to prevent any Lodge or Chapter
from holding a meeting in any of the degrees of the Orders of Chivalry,
according to the constitutions of the said Order.340
There is thus available to 'graduates' of English 'Craft Masonry' a kind of
extended family of Degrees. They include: ranks up to the 33 Degree of what's
known as the Scottish Rite, the nine-degreed York rite, a number of Cryptic
Degrees and Orders of Chivalry including Knights Templar Degrees. Outside that
again, there is another, vast world of idiosyncratic, mainly esoteric rites,
some of which are acknowledged by Grand Lodges other than London and some of
which are acknowledged by no-one other than their founders. A French author in
1861 listed more than 75 kinds and 1400 'degrees' of 'Masonry', 52 separate
'Rites', 34 quasi-Masonic Orders, 26 Androgynous Orders (ie admitting women) and
6 'Masonic Academies.' This was just at the beginning of a period when dozens
more new 'Degrees' and 'Orders' were established, many of them in 'the New
World', where it has often simply been assumed they were 'Masonic' in origin.
'Freemasonry' has been seen behind every fraternity and secret society
established since 1717 and at work behind every political and economic upheaval
since that time as well. Margaret Jacob, interested in the dynamics of the
Enlightenment whereby prevailing 'knowledge' explaining the world and its social
arrangements in terms of religious, ie Catholic faith, was subverted by ideas
based on 'natural philosophy', an emergent materialism, asked the question -
what part did the establishment of Freemasonry play in the questioning of
absolute power and the exploration of alternative forms of social
decision-making, necessarily involving a clash between the Roman Church's
teachings and the reformers?
Specifically, Jacob's reading of the years between 1717 and 1723 when SF
published its 'Constitutions' is that the London brethren were divided into
political factions and that Desaguliers, Anderson and other rational
Protestants finally prevailed. Hughenot refugee Desagulier may not have actually
written the ceremonies, but he and other escapees from Catholic persecution must
have given SF a Protestant-tinge which allowed it to merge with the Royal
Society, the Royal Court and engineering/commercial circles.
Desagulier, third Grand Master, held numerous patents and was awarded at the
age of 60 the Copley Gold Medal for his continuing experiments on bridge
construction, steam control and water supplies. He was Chaplain to the Duke of
Chandos and demonstrated his scientific findings before George II. Fellow
Hughenots brought many of the skills and manufacturing ideas which enabled the
industrial revolution to occur in their new country. John Senex, as one example,
was made SF's Grand Warden and a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year,
1727. Charts of the planets and constellations were his scientific speciality,
and for his 'improved' world globes he was recommended to the Society by Dr
The Jacob interpretation has placed SF within the world-wide struggles for
political and religious dominance between Spain, France, Holland, Germany and
England. One of her conclusions is that after William of Orange failed to
deliver on his 1688 promises, disillusioned Protestants including Orangeists,
formed secret societies to discuss an altogether new faith - a radical religion
involving pantheism, republicanism and rational philosophy - this she argues was
SF Mk 1.
Not only did they refuse to accept Christian doctrine, and indeed
reject the most basic assumptions of Christian metaphysics, they also
formulated an entirely new religion of nature and gave it ritualistic
expression within Freemasonry.341
Never entirely in control, the republican/pantheists were defeated within a
few years of establishing the Grand Lodge by others who nevertheless shared some
of the radicals' scepticisms about established religions and established
hierarchies. Thus, the Speculative Constitution required belief in a supreme
being, or a religion that all men could agree upon, not the established Church
and not even a specifically Christian God. Thus, SF Mk II:
Perhaps now we can see why, in the late eighteenth century and
well beyond, at a time of revolutionary upheaval, proponents of the ancien
regime fastened their paranoid theories of conspiracy around that very
institution. There was no Masonic conspiracy to subvert the established order;
but there certainly were Freemasons who from the early eighteenth century
onwards brought their discontent with the post-revolutionary order in England
on to the Continent and exported into northern Europe an institution that
could provide a social nexus for displaced idealists, political agents and
None of this is why Jacob believed the SFs were so important. She has argued
that 'Masonic' lodges were the sites of the production of modern civil
In other words, what was new and special about SF was that elections were
decided by ballot of representative assemblies and that decisions on candidates
were made on the basis of merit not social wealth or power. At the time this was
as radical as the argument for religious tolerance.
Within any given SF lodge tensions between harmony and egalitarianism must
have been rife and multi-faceted: tolerance vs freedom of speech; universalism
vs Christianity; populism vs the elitism of those in the know. The dilemmas
rarely lent themselves to clear analysis.
In practice, the choices of those in power within even a single lodge were
being made from conflicting, human essentials. Disputing brothers, equally
committed to SF, could 'see' totally opposed truths - the conviviality of 'the
south' could be decorous & moderate or grandiose & excessive, and the
rites of association could be simple or exotic and over blown. Similarly,
secrecy struggled with openness and public display; thrift struggled with a
desire for publicity; affluence struggled with simplicity as the mark of a
successful lodge; secularism and rationalism with mysticism; 'ancient' wisdom
with 'modern' wisdom; and levelling tendencies within a hierarchical structure.
After 200 years of both 'Grand Lodge' Freemasonry and industrialisation, a
percipient observer pointed out the key conflict within 'the [modern]
It can never be too often repeated that the Word is, in
Masonry, the symbol of Truth. This Truth is the great object of pursuit in
Masonry - the scope and tendency of all its investigations - the promised
reward of all Masonic labor...The loss of the Word is the loss of
Divine Truth, which in this age of scientific materialism is so patently
What this glosses, of course, is the possibility of more than one 'Divine
Truth', exactly the situation with which we are attempting to engage. My
enterprise, modest enough in ambition initially, found itself needing to unpick
seriously reinforced layers of historiographic selectivity. Fortunately, Norman
Davies, another recent scholar setting himself against the prevailing wisdom,
has already isolated three themes in what he has called 'the systematic state
propoganda' which set up 'the English myth.' Set running by Thomas Cromwell,
'clothed in golden words' by William Shakespeare, reinforced by the Protestant
Establishment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and set in stone by
the dominant 'Whig Interpretation' of history, the myth has involved:
- the denigration of the late mediaeval period;
- the deification of the English monarchy as a focus for the founding of
English Protestantism and of modern English patriotism; and
- the exclusion of all non-English elements in descriptions of the roots of
later British greatness.345
Obtaining Royal patronage was perhaps a cause as well as a result for
Desaguliers, et al, but did the Protestants at the heart of that perhaps first
Grand Lodge - aspiring, politically-astute 'creators' of SF - downplay what
operative rites came into their hands because they were a mere shadow of their
former selves, and therefore in need of rebuilding, as Gould suggested, or did
they deliberately conceal only those ideas which were, at the time,
dangerous? Were there in the discarded material even some ideas capable of
successfully transmitting, describing and explaining the heritage but which were
considered by these 'new men' to be embarrassing?
[NB: In this section, the symbol # = a right angle,
the symbol [ ] = a
triangle squared on each side representing the well-known theorem of
the symbol [*] = an equilateral triangle.]
Women were 'officially' excluded from SFreemasonry because they were thought
unable to keep secrets and likely to introduce passion and division within
lodges. The lodge was, after all, to be harmonious and ordered, not disordered
or disfigured by the blood, the sweat and the tears of sexual tension or its
possibly violent consequences. As the new Science showed divine harmony becoming
rational harmony so the internal workings of lodge were supposed to reflect that
harmony, everything in its correct place, with each brother knowing and
accepting 'his' place.
Lipson has no doubt that women were deeply and broadly involved in industry
and industrial struggles from mediaeval times.346
An Australian SF scholar, Carter, has collected evidence disputing the numerous
reasons given by Grand Lodge over the years to justify the continuing exclusion
In the period immediately after 1717, the creators of SF had a choice since
their creation bridged the 'old world' and 'the new', the magical and the
rational. Perhaps, as I have suggested, the 'gentry' were fobbed of with
not-very-significant information. Perhaps the modish and the thrill seekers
flocking into transitional lodges were not interested in and jettisoned anything
difficult to understand. Perhaps the personalities involved conflicted over
essentials - esoteric and/or practical - and were forced into 'accomodations'.
At first glance, SF appears to have chosen rationality for its administration,
and magic for its content. But what would a more perceptive brother do, if he
did happen to uncover what we might call 'substantive secrets'? Not alternative
or Old Testament names for God but actual operatives' secrets? What then?
Such secrets may have involved the figuring processes which made the
cathedrals possible. Some may have disclosed the mathematics' mediterranean
origin. Would brethren like Ashmole or Desagulier make such secrets accessible
to everyone? The literature discloses no such broadcasts. Perhaps the reason for
the calamitous destruction of 'old charges' came about for the obvious reason -
that they disclosed information which these early SF decision-makers regarded as
not just politically damaging, for example a too Catholic phrasing, but as
capable of undermining the institutions which made their power possible. Did the
information passed on orally by mediaeval Masters to their Apprentices include
explanations relating divine and human 'creation', that is, were young men
introduced to lodge practice and to their craft through female sexuality?
Geometry was central to mediaeval stonemasons and would have been the area of
greatest emphasis in lodge instruction. Speculative Freemasons pay lip service
to geometry's importance but ignore it in practice. SF's symbolism is replete
with triangles and their derivatives, such as 5 and 6-pointed stars, with
circles, arcs and angles, but the mechanics of geometry, its theorems, do not
figure at all. This is intriguing.
Two articles in the English Grand Lodge's own research journal by Klein have
rarely been mentioned in the century since their publication.348
The first article, published in 1897, was called 'The Great Symbol', and the
second, in 1910, was called 'Magister - Mathesios'. Klein's opening sentences in
the second showed his intentions were:
- to show what the ancient craft usages were;
- to suggest the position held by principal officers in old lodges before
the revival of 1717;
- to explain why a certain change was made about 1730 resulting in the
present-day form; and
- to give a clue to the attraction that Speculative Masonry held for men of
learning from the 17th century on.
Klein does more even than this. He adds weight to the suggestion that
official SF gives observers only a cleaned-up version, after the blood, the
sweat and the tears have dried and those stuck-together pages have been torn
The title of Klein's second article translates as 'The Head of All Learning',
by which is meant geometry. The startling truth of which he reminded his readers
was that although geometry was stated in the 1723 Constitutions to be the
foundation of all Speculative Masonry, very few SF authors actually use it in
their explanations. He began:
The symbols, signs and SS [secrets] of our Fraternity were based
upon what I called [in his 1897 article, 'The Great Symbol'] "the Knowledge of
the #" [the right angle] and it is natural, therefore, to expect the
arrangement of the Lodge to be in accordance with the same principle.349
For this assertion to be true, Klein says, it is necessary that there be a
strongly-held belief system correlating with 'the knowledge of the #'[the right
angle]. This is provided by the religion of the operative masons. The #
symbolised Knowledge, but knowledge only attainable when it, the #, was
perfectly formed. Given a belief that heaven was manifest on earth and revealed
in all things, at least to those who knew how and where to look, it was believed
that 'the very existence of the Universe' depended on the perfect creation of
that perfect right angle.
The Operative Lodge, as the Universe, was marked out by three lights at the
extremities of the right angle in which places the three principal officers were
to be when the lodge was 'working.' The operative lodge master's seat was at the
corner of the angle. Today's Worshipful Master, as that Master Mason [MM] before
him, 'proves' his Lodge to be properly formed by means of the square he wears as
the symbol of his office.
In operative times, the secret of the # was passed to the MM when he became
master. In the 17th century, just the secret of the # was sufficient to attract
Elias Ashmole [among the earliest known candidates] and others to be initiated
as 'speculative masons', but by 1720 or so it was realised by outsiders that
there were other lost treasures to be uncovered. The belief had developed that
the 'Old Charges' revealed, not simply the workings of operative lodges, but the
geometrical and symbolic core of all learning. Besides showing a way forward for
science, 'Revealed Masonry' might also provide a path to spiritual enlightenment
and to a place in Paradise.
Klein suggested there were three rival forms of sacred knowledge in the
period, 1717-1730, and perhaps three different lodge settings in use also. He
suggested there were followers of the #, the Operative, which was dying out,
there were followers of the 'Modern Speculative', strongly in the ascendant and
represented by the Pythagoras theorem,[ ] and there were followers of a much
older speculative form, probably started in the 12th century, which he called
the Religio-Speculative, or Mystic, and represented by the equilateral triangle
[ * ]:
I think I can show that the new (1730) ceremony and legend contain
evidence of, and are meant to depict, the competition between these three for
supremacy in the third degree, resulting in the adoption of the Pythagorean
In the 12th century, as operative or 'craft' masonry became more important
and more complicated, lodges became more formal in shape and in their practice,
and became centres of learning, wherein MM's taught apprentices and 'Fellow
Crafts'. As monasteries and religious houses were the supporters and conservers
of geometry, which they needed to build their cathedrals, they were the logical
patrons of a developing Masonry:
It naturally followed that growing up alongside the Operative
there was a religious symbolism...which attached itself to the tools used by
Masons and formed the basis of Speculative Masonry.351
In these 'schools', it was discovered how to create a right angle by
bisecting the base of an equilateral triangle and drawing from that point to the
apex. This had been Euclid's first theorem. The [*] was perceived as the Divine
Logos or Word, which created the Universe, that is, the Lodge in the form of #.
The MM was thus symbolising the Sun.
Klein suggests great excitement amongst the mystic masons when they
discovered that the [*] was itself created by the intersection of two circles,
where the triangle's base was the line joining their centres. Joining the ends
of this line to the points of intersection of the arcs creates the Christian
symbol for Jesus, as it is for re-birth or re-generation. Though the same
triangles above and below that line obviously provide a representation of female
genitalia, a fact recognised as such in Arabic and European literature, this
correlation was disguised by the symbol being called vesica piscis or 'fish's
Klein quoted an early philosopher thus:
When you have discovered the meaning thereof, do not divulge it,
because the people cannot philosophise or understand that to the infinite
there is no such thing as sex.352
So, after social history, industrial relations and geometry353,
the next obvious gap in SF literature is a discussion of sex and gender.
According to Klein, the symbolism of the Gothic cathedrals and of the
Templars was Gnostic rather than Catholic, providing ample reasons for the
Templar Knight bankers to be pursued and destroyed. He believes that by the 16th
century the secret of the vesica piscis was already lost, its period of use, the
Gothic, being the Templar era. When they declined in influence, so did the
building program based on the knowledge they had been attempting to spread
Klein showed what he believed were the alternative lodge forms in use in
transitional lodges. The 'new' MM Degree (the third) created after 1717,
symbolically shows two things: the struggle between the new Speculatives and the
Mystics, who had already defeated the Operatives, and a new completion when the
superior knowledge of the Speculatives triumphed over all.355
The True Knowledge of the #, and its proving, necessitated changes in the
positions of the key lodge officers, and the removal of the Craft's festival day
from St John the Baptist Day to St John the Evangelist.356
Klein argues that in setting out the 'modern' degrees the new Speculatives
deliberately censored the sacred knowledge, and not long after were accused by
the 'Antients' of 'abolishing the old custom of explaining Geometry in the
Lodge.' Grand Lodge (of England) insisted that the Order had no need of the
mystical customs, which 'the Antients' insisted on retaining. While the 'modern'
Speculative form achieved numerical dominance, the three degrees, of Entered
Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, were widely regarded, even by some of
their own brethren, as deficient without the Royal Arch (RA) Degree.357
In 1813 the 'Moderns', seeking unity, and by then overwhelmingly Protestant,
accepted the 'Antient' forms, which included the RA degree. However, not
acceptable to anyone apparently was information relating sex and gender to the
Grand Architect of the Universe.
Grand Officers' actions were akin to a guild's guarding of the entrance to a
trade. They wanted to determine who the brethren would be, who the 'forrins'
were, what standards of 'working' were considered acceptable and when and how
the 'masterpiece' was to be examined. However, any Calvinist/pantheist
'take-over' of English SF was never total, and the issue of female freemasonry
has never gone away.
Setting the entry bar too high initially excluded some who desired
membership, being Londoners their claim to pre-eminence irritated non-Londoners,
being English they upset non-English brothers, and they angered many by
arbitrarily altering the ritual. A steep decline in members and lodges occurred
in the 1740's as SF suffered exposes, competition and a number of public
parodies, the best-known being the 1742 burlesque by the 'Scald Miserable
Masons'. Premier Grand Lodge responded by banning public SF processions in 1747
'to the annoyance of the rank and file'.358
This study began with public displays that were made to be seen. Essential to
the narrative, however, is the notion of 'secrecy', ie, keeping something
hidden, out of sight. Historians are happiest dealing with the obvious, the
visible, but seem to find mass public displays too visible. They are more likely
to treat ceremonies as decoration to a text rather than to analyse them as part
of it. Perhaps they don't know whether a display is the usually secret being
unveiled, or whether they are somehow being pressed to believe that it is and
the connection is altogether somewhere else, or whether there is no necessary
connection between the two arenas, the public and the private, that each
requires its own, distinct 'story'.
The benefit societies have always had secrets and they have always had
parades - what connection, if any, can be found?
It is difficult to track the public displays of specific trades but the
guilds, as Christian brotherhoods, took over the presentations of bible stories
from the clergy in the 13th century. On what became their annual Saint's Day, at
Easter or other special times, on moving wagons or in tableaux, trades portrayed
'the Great Story' - Creation/Crucifixion/ Resurrection/ Judgement. Each 'mistery
was a guild's chance to show its strength, continuity and adherence to custom in
an environment where symbols and allegories flourished:
Mediaeval society had a passion for order and symbol...Almost all
the average man knew of his faith was through what he could see. Ritual was
Contact with daily life introduced more naturalistic imagery as opposed to
the early mystical abstract symbols - which included fire, light, wax, water,
oil and incense. The adder was the image of the sinner, the lion often paired
with the lamb became the symbol of peace, and the dragon represented the
devil...Images with their all-seeing eyes and the cherished relics of saints
revealed a hidden inner life...360
At York, for example, among 54 separate 'acts' the Armourers were responsible
for presenting the story of Adam and Eve, the Shipwrights for Noah's Ark, and so
on. The costs incurred by the 'Master Mariners and Ship Pilots' Guild' in one
1483 example have survived:
Sixpence for minstrels, ninepence each for Noah and his wife, and
to Robert Brown for playing God - sixpence.361
Other material, from Coventry refers to a 'baner of velvet wrought wt golde',
'a sewt of vestments' and a 'canope of silk brodured wt golde', etc, etc.362
Buffoonery and local references were common but they were no mere entertainment:
'The Judgement' as acted by the mercers of York and the weavers of
Chester, is the concluding pageant of all the English cycles. Starting with
the Creation and ending with the general Judgement, the medieval playwrights
have dramatised the most significant scriptural events in which they believed
God's purpose for mankind is revealed.363
In the public 'cycles' such as 'Corpus Christi' numbers of performers and
behind-the-scenes organisers brought colour, symbolism and mechanical effects
together. Among the property of a Lincoln guild in 1564 was a 'citie of
Jerusalem with towers and pynacles', 'a fyrmament with a fierye clowde and a
duble clowde', 'a Hell mouth', 'a greate idoll with a clubb', and 'a tombe with
In the privacy of the lodge room, more dramatic effect could be created and more
poetic licence taken. This should not cause us to forget that 'order' as well as
'symbolism' was passionately sought by mediaeval audiences. In this context,
'order' means familiarity and repetition of the visual elements and of the
spoken words, not just because that approach makes popular acceptance more
likely but because it asserts that despite apparent material changes, in the
spiritual world where it matters nothing has altered and that therefore all is
really right with the world.
The importance of the words, oral or spoken, is a constant, and cautions
scholars from an over-emphasis of legal/bureaucratic language as a
'modern'innovation. The catechetic form (Q & A) would likely have been a
boon to non-literate initiates over centuries. It is known that the 1658 work
agreement signed by Perth (Scotland) operatives related the building of the
abbey of Scone to that of Solomon's Temple, a story which became part of their
lore rehearsed in catechetic (Q & A) form and on which degree candidates
would have been examined in secrecy.365
Blacksmiths being 'made' for the first time in the late 19th century received
printed cards relating the role of smiths in the contruction of the same
The symbolic death and resurrection at the centre of SF's rite 367
is not that of Jesus Christ, it is Hiram Abiff, King Solomon's master-builder,
standing in for the initiate. This provides a further clue that it was the
'lecture/s' delivered behind the closed doors of the lodge that tied-in the
particular trade to the story of a special journey, not the public,
for-mass-consumption, street performances.
In the secrecy of the lodge, the associative aspects of a citizen's personal
search and that of the Bible as a whole were more likely to be stressed.
A symbolic death and resurrection marked the admission of a candidate into
Catholic Orders such as the Benedictines well into 'modern' times.368
As far as we know, the emotional death and rebirth in the sex act did not.
What we know of the public regalia of London Companies from observers'
reports is at odds with the little we know of 'masonic' ceremonial, but some
useful comparisons can be made with known 'trade' ceremonial.
A description of the 1553 Lord Mayor's procession has:
First were two tall men bearing two great streamers of the
Merchant Taylor's arms,...all they in blue silk, and then came two great
'wodyn' armed with two great clubs all in green and with squibs burning, with
great beards and side hair,...and then came men in blue gowns and caps and
hose and blue silk sleeves...and then came a devil, and after that came the
bachelors (yeomanry) all in livery and scarlet hoods.369
Unwin tells us that in the non-religious craft 'pageants', mobile displays
such as the skinners' 'Forest of Wild Beasts' and 'the Grocers' Island' remained
largely unchanged for centuries. 'Masterpieces' were sometimes carried with
trade paraphenalia and effigies of their patron saints. A late 17th century
'Maiden Chariot of the Mercers' reminds me of 19th century trade certificates
and 20th century displays such as the patriotic presentations for the British
Empire, for May Day and Eight Hour Day:
(A young, beautiful woman dressed in rich robes with a coronet,
sceptre and shield) Surrounding...her Roman chariot...sat Vigilance, Wisdom,
Chastity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, (etc, etc) This immense pageant which
was 22 feet high, was drawn by nine white Flanders horses..370
The well-known Guild Parade at Preston, an English Midlands town, was held
from 1332 until the 20th century, near to the Feast of the Decolation of St John
the Baptist. A relevant section announcing, in the 17th century, the
'Solemnization of the Guild', read:
Upon Munday next after the Decolation of St John Baptist, about 8
in the morning, all the Companys of Trades, with the Wardens of each Company
in their Gowns and long white wands, each Company ranged into 2
fyles, the flags of each Company displayed, and variety of musick
attending each Company, march regularly up and down the streets, wayteing for
the Gild Mayor's attendance.
This prompted a reaction which provides a little more information:
And the young men within the Town, not being as yet free to Trade
of themselves, have a Captain and Leftenant of their own, their ensign being
the Towns Arms, a Flagg with the Holy Lamb; and they march and attend in the
like order as aforesaid, with their drums and musiq.371
Whether 'official' or 'unofficial', these participants carried flags with
recognised symbols, made music, and likely finished with riot and mayhem, since
Saint's Days 'ended frequently in a manner not very consistent with their
Unwin's descriptions of the highly-embroidered pall-cloths of the Company of
Saddlers ('crimson velvet with a centre of yellow silk') and of the Company of
Fishmongers ('centre slip of running flower of gold network, bordered with red
on a ground of gold wrought with religious pictures') suggest a kinship with the
well-known marching banners of the 19th and 20th centuries' friendly/trade
societies. The London-based society of coach and harness makers in 1702 bought a
funeral pall for use by members.372
Judging by contemporary illustrations, working stonemasons of the 13th, 14th
and 15th centuries often laboured without aprons, but examples of them in use do
Salzman's textual material relating to ornate 'livery', including gloves, gowns
and aprons of master masons provided by employers and built into contracts as
incentives in the 13th and later centuries, is not clear with regard to shape or
However, the provision of apparel by employers, sometimes to work in, as marks
of status or gifts to workmen for jobs completed, is quite clear. On celebratory
occasions operatives wore white leather aprons and white gloves, probably to
emphasise they were not at work.
The leather apron was common to many trades but when distinguishing colours
and variations such as decorative embellishments first appear on the aprons of
operatives is uncertain.375
A barber's 'flag of his profession' was his 'checque party-colored apron' in the
17th century. Besant's London in the Eighteenth Century tells of
carpenters at work wearing white aprons and a brown paper cap, butchers a blue
coat and apron, the brewers' draymen leather aprons and a red cap, bakers
wearing all white, including a cap, and so on:
The apron, indeed, was the symbol of the servant and the
craftsman; it belonged in varied form to every trade.376
George has observed for the same century:
(Trades) had their own customs, their own localities, often a
distinctive dress and much corporate spirit (shown for instance in the
customary obligation to attend the funeral of a fellow-workman).377
Mayhew reported on 1850's work-clothes the colors of which are clearly not
arbitrary or accidental:
The working dress of the curriers is generally very thick blue
flannel trowsers and jacket, strong coarse shirts, and blue flannel
Working aprons have clearly been replaced with 'special' aprons for public
ceremonial occasions in the 19th and 20th centuries, at least, but our
understanding of them is minimal.(see below)
SF scholar Jones tells us that the word 'apron' was originally 'napron',
French for 'cloth'.379
The word appears in guild charters. A 1908 Concise Cyclopeadia of
Freemasonry has the following entry:
The apron of a speculative Freemason is directly descended from
that worn by his operative predecessor. Until quite recent times operative
masons wore long leather aprons reaching nearly to the ankles, with the fall
held up by a thong of leather passed round the neck and fastened by two thongs
tied around the waist in front.380
The first 'speculative' aprons were roughly shaped pieces of leather
decorated as the owner thought appropriate. Only gradually did the well-known
very neat, square version emerge. For example, a Hogarth engraving, 'Night',
drawn in 1738 shows a drunken Freemason heading home still wearing a scarf with
square attached and a long, possibly white apron.381
Dermott ridiculed the SF fashion-conscious, he called the 'Moderns' by claiming
they were loath to wear aprons at all, as it caused them to resemble
'mechanicks.' Unable to avoid doing so inside the lodge, the gentlemen
apparently turned the offending items upside down.382
Amongst such London gentry at least, understatement in normal street dress
was still in the future. Aprons would not have been needed to indicate social
status, since '(extravagance) of attire was the keynote of the century...blue
and scarlet, green and gold, crimson and purple were the daily wear of the
Fashionable dress was known to be often determined by membership of a club,
so that in addition to the usual wigs, lace cuffs, patches and buckles, 'diehard
Tories', for example, displayed their allegiance by way of a waistcoat of light
blue silk with gold buttons, bordered round with yellow silk, and a dark blue
frock-coat with a broad orange-velvet cape with still more buttons three inches
in diameter, on which was inscribed 'October Club.'383
The colorful 'costume', not necessarily the same thing as regalia, of at
least one SF lodge guardian or 'tyler' has been described. Whether this was
uniform for tylers is not known. A Lodge Master on one occasion is reported
wearing 'a yellow jacket and blue breeches' to a theatre.384
These colours and their arrangement, yellow above blue, were said to represent
the bi-metal compass.
And yet when London Grand Lodge held the first SF public procession in 1721,
by passing from its meeting place at the Kings Arms tavern in St Paul's
Churchyard, restaint was in order - as GL's chronicler Anderson has it: 'on Foot
to the Hall in proper Clothing and due Form'.385
Other attempts at description, sometimes with illustrations, show SF's walking
in pairs with very little, if any 'paraphenalia.'386
Twenty years later, participants in the SF St John's Day procession are recorded
travelling, not on foot, but in coaches with banners and musical
Bullock has argued that by the 1740's the SF brethren were recognised as the
elite and that no musical accompaniments or extra 'paraphenalia' were required
to make the point. He argues that when SF aprons were worn in public388
the use of lamb skin not cow or bullock leather was intended to underline a
simple, 'gentry' statement.
On 17 March, 1731, the (SF) Premier Grand Lodge ordered that only the Grand
Master, his Deputy and Wardens were to embellish the basic white leather apron,
which fell from the waist, with blue silk trim. Matching blue ribbons around
their necks would be used for their gold 'jewels' of office. Stewards during
their year in office could use red apron trim while Masters and Wardens of
particular lodges would line theirs only with white silk:
But presently a custom grew up of ornamenting the plain white
leather with all sorts of Masonic emblems and devices, and during the
eighteenth century the utmost diversity in aprons prevailed, which however was
checked at the Union of 1813, for the Constitutions of 1815 provided for
uniformity of aprons in English Lodges.
Relaxed but increasingly structured use of public 'paraphenalia' by SF's in '
shared 'community' events can be mapped, where 'spontaneous invention' is
clearly mixed with some customary items. A report of the 1738 procession to lay
the stone for the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary lists only SF's and other 'persons
of quality and distinction' in 'proper clothing and jewels.' A 1753 parade to
lay the stone of the Edinburgh Royal Exchange stresses the order of march, as
1) Operative Masons not belonging to any lodge present.
2) A band of French Horns
3) The Lodges present arranged..., including a 'Lodge of Journeymen
4) Gentlemen Masons belonging to Foreign Lodges
5) A band of Hautbois [oboes]
6) The Golden Compasses carried by an Operative Mason.
7) Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer and Grand Clerk.
8) Three Grand Stewards with their rods.
9) Three Grand Stewards with their rods.
10) The Golden Square, Level and Plumb, carried by three Operative
Masons..and so on...389
The operatives were there ostensibly to hand the appropriate tools to the
Grand Officers, but no doubt also to keep an eye on how the actual business was
done, an acknowledgement of their continuing social significance.
SF's use of white aprons, gloves and stockings appear towards the end of the
century. Black ribbons were added to Grand Officers' white sashes and hatbands
in funerals while officers of the lodge of the deceased carried white wands. A
1775 funeral procession was headed by the lodge tyler with sword, and ending
with the pall-bearers, 'the Body with the regalia placed thereon and two swords
crossed', thence 'the mourners, two stewards and a tyler.'390
'Rules for Public Ceremonies, including the Laying of Foundation Stones' were
included in SF's 1815 Constitutions. There, besides dress codes and walking
arrangements, an official order of march was set down, beginning:
Two Grand Tylers with drawn swords
Brethren not members of
any lodge, two by two
The lodges according to their numbers
the Grand Stewards Lodge
Officers of Grand Stewards lodge
Builder with the mallet
Grand Superintendent of works
with the plan
Grand Director of Ceremonies
Secretary with book of constitutions on a cushion..etc
Albert Mackey's 1867 Lexicon of Freemasonry provided the following
description of what a post-1813 apron had to be:
The masonic apron is a pure white lambskin, from fourteen to
sixteen inches wide, and from twelve to fourteen deep, with a fall about three
to four inches deep; square at the bottom, without ornament, and bound in the
symbolic degrees with blue...391
The three 'Craft' degrees were then to be indicated as follows - the Entered
Apprentice - plain white apron without ornament; Fellow Craft - apron has two
sky blue rosettes at the bottom; Master Mason - apron has additional rosette on
the fall and has sky-blue lining and edging, and silver tassels. The tassels
were supposedly the evolved form of the long thongs or ribbons which originally
held the apron around the waist.392
In public, did SFs initially stand out with plain garb and silent walking
because of the influence of a core of influential Calvinists and Puritans? Was
it the secretiveness or the self-conscious dignity of the brethren which
provoked the parodies? And was the Calvinist grip only broken inside the
SF lodge room, by that other face of the mediaeval guild, conviviality?
Where discipline was likely first imposed and where its effects show most
clearly with all of the trades under review is the period after the parade. What
used to be general merry-making in the streets rounding off the saint's day was
eventually confined within a hall of some sort until, in the 20th century,
serious speeches towards strategic ends totally squeezed out the pranks, the
quips and the ribald songs.
The consumption of alcohol and the degree to which it permeated work places
and life in general, especially during the 18th century, has been much written
about. George suggests it had a particularly vicious and socially subversive
role in London, rather less so in the provinces. She also argues that many of
the social reforms which, by the early 19th century, were clearly achieving
improvements in public health, social stability and working class welfare were
arrived at cumulatively by legislative changes put in place during this century
- such things as the Marriage Act of 1753, variations in debtor law, the
introduction of charity schools, vaccination, and the improved policing of
licensing, prison and other regulations. But she begins by quoting observers who
believed that the problem of alcohol consumption only became significant in the
In April 1721 the Government was concerned to discover certain
'scandalous clubs and societies of young persons' whose object was blasphemy
and the denial of religion, as to which there was much rumour and little
evidence. The Westminster justices were ordered to investigate...They failed
to find the clubs, but took occasion to represent that in their opinion the
immorality of the times was due to gaming houses, play houses and the great
increase of alehouses and spirit shops..This they "humbly offer" is "the
principall cause of the increase of our poor and of all the vice and
debauchery among the inferior sort of people, as well as of the felonies and
other disorders committed in and about this town."394
There is no doubt institutional corruption was widespread, levels of income
varied enormously even within the one profession or trade, extreme poverty
co-habiting with comfortable livings, as did generalised flouting of the law for
personal gain with felony for survival. The loss of authority by the Roman
Church played a major but subtle role, but instability would appear to have been
a way of life. Vagrancy, vagabondage, murder, robbery and rapine were
widespread, if not commonplace. Throughout the kingdom inns were at once the
staging posts for travellers and havens for criminality. When the received
wisdom seems to be that 'London life centred round the tavern, the alehouse and
how to weight SF claims that their new 'club' was different, even to this
It would seem reasonable to conclude that at least some early 18th century SF
lodges were indistinguishable from other convivial clubs of the time:
Eighteenth century masonic gatherings being associated with the
drinking of many toasts and no clear-cut distinction between lodge ceremonies
and after-proceedings having as yet developed, the convivial aspect of
freemasonry probably continued very much to the fore until the end of the
century or even later.396
Another SF observer has conceded:
We can no longer be in any doubt that the Freemasons Lodges which
arose in 1717 were nothing else but a new sort of club; does not the Book of
Constitutions state that the newly initiated 'found in the Lodge a safe and
pleasant relaxation from intense study or the hurry of business, without
politics or party.'397
Genteel writers warm to the idea of pleasant relaxation being the
characteristic feature of this 'new' thing, despite speculative records showing
that after 1717 lodge Rules were no more successful at keeping argument out of
lodge than they had been before 1717.398
Neither the genteel 'club' image nor the also commonly-held image of an
artisanal 'club' as noisy and undisciplined, can be applied without
The Great Lodge at Swaffham in Norfolk...was simply a club
consisting of all the political leaders of the local independent whigs.399
This 'Great Lodge' may not have been kosher SF but records of the first
provincial SF lodge constituted by Grand Lodge, at Bath in 1724, show gamblers,
lay abouts and other 'well-to-do' wastrels joining because of the fun and
Aubrey, speaking in approx 1659, is often quoted: 'We now use the word Clubbe
for a sodality in a tavern'.401
One SF author believed:
The history of Masonry...makes it clear that the innkeeper of any
establishment where lodges met was a prominent factor in the future of those
lodges...English speculative Masonry at its inception...was little more than a
tavern affair of tradesmen and artisans and remained so until 1767 when Thomas
Dunkerly and the Duke of Beaufort combined to inject a wider and more noble
purpose into the Craft.402
Included in the agenda for this 'noble purpose' was a move of lodge meetings
from 'squalid ale houses' to inns where dining rooms or private bars were
Another SF author has come to see that whatever other agendas were in play,
the artisanal membership of 3 of the original 4 London lodges was probably
intending to form a 'benefit society' when they agreed to associate with the
fourth, 'made up of well-to-do men':
(In) the minds of many (of the brethren in the early 1700's) the
expectation of a sickness and burial benefit was inseparable from the idea of
Another has written:
Although Masons are taught not to look upon the great Fraternity
they have entered as in any way a benefit society, there is no doubt that in
the early years of the Craft in this country [UK] many private lodges partook
very largely of the nature of a trade union and friendly society or club, for
the mutual encouragement of the brethren in their respective callings and for
support and relief in times of distress.404
By 1731 all eighty three, alleged purely speculative lodges affiliated with
Premier Grand Lodge were paying into a central fund for the relief of poor and
distressed masons. Individual lodges also cared for their own memberships,
buried their dead and looked after widows.405
Gould was perceptive:
Frequently the lodge, besides its normal functions, also
discharged those of a benefit society...Virtually they were trades-unions, and
in one instance a regulation enacts that the 'proposed' must not 'occupy any
business which may interfere or (clash) with (that of) any member already
SF historian Haunch was not prepared to go this far. Simply not bothering
with the idea that the four initiating lodges could have been operative in
character, he nevertheless allowed that:
(The) overwhelming impression remains that Grand Lodge came into
being in a convivial, gregarious society...The main resolution of the
preliminary meeting..(was)..'to hold the Annual Assembly and Feast'..(it is
not until late in 1723 that we find Grand Lodge first legislating for the
regulating of the Craft)..407
SF historian Rickard has described all 'benefit societies' from this
time, including SF, as 'spontaneous combinations of handicraftsmen and labourers
for the purpose of providing against the accidents of life by means of mutual
'Clubs' would have been limited in membership by the size of tavern spaces,
the minimal furniture including a chamber pot and a punch bowl, whatever
Some, no doubt, were 'extremely rumbustious', likely to add to out-goings rather
than in-comings with 'the making' of candidates forming a relatively minor part
of the proceedings, as would concern for the shape of the 'lodge room' or talks
on architecture or science. Some, no doubt, if not thoroughly 'Calvinised' were
set up to serve a specific purpose and were not at all riotous. Crane saw the
range as being from 'clubs of wits, gaming clubs, merchant clubs, medical clubs'
to clubs of a seriously scientific and philosophic bent.410
The landlord's tasks could be extensive on an SF 'lodge' night - deliver by
hand the meeting notices, guard the door, provide clay pipes and all
refreshments and food, clean up the broken glass and other debris, collect and
store regalia, candelabra, minute books, jewels, working tools, etc - 'in other
words, he might act as all of secretary, treasurer, tyler and steward of the
lodge until these offices were separately established.'411
Since evidence shows that a popular tavern might serve as 'lodge' on the same
night or successive nights for members of a Joiners Company, of SF, and/or of a
'free and easy' club, where one ended and another began was not necessarily of
concern to the participants.412
And where one observer might see the inevitable roistering, for another 'hard
nosed politicking' and conviviality were 'complementary and mutually
reinforcing'. In the eyes of different observers, 'club' might imply a drunken
assembly, a gathering of labourers chatting about their jobs, a 'local sick
society', a seditious assembly, or the lodge of a 'speculative' Order. The more
serious the intentions, the more 'private' the assembly wished to be, and the
more emphasis was placed on a door 'tyler' and on membership qualifications.
The next step in the evolution was not necessarily a move out of the tavern
and into a specially-built 'Masonic Temple or 'Oddfellows Hall'. A number of
lodges, including SF are known to have located in what were being progressively
called 'Trades Halls' where 'a host of enthusiastic and willing workmen'
required little persuasion 'to go from labour to refreshment, and from
refreshment to labour again'.413
'Sick-club' rather than 'box club' or just 'club' in the title can flag a
change in emphasis, but the Rules, where they exist are a better guide to
overall intentions. The 18th century examples indicate that mixing artisans,
gentlemen and clerics was intensifing the clash of conviviality with discipline,
that medical science was beginning to be recognised, that societies were
beginning to take vigorous measures to combat malingering by sending a surgeon
or an apothecary as 'sick visitor', and that reactions by the authorities were
becoming a concern, on a number of levels.
An increased emphasis on accountability, the written record and the use of
lawyers for conflict resolution resulted in rules being written with more of an
eye to meeting procedure and the nature of members' duties and responsibilities.
In 1752, the wording of Rules concerning lodge-behaviour was different to that
used 400 years before but was about the same kinds of personal indiscretions. NB
use of 'Club Room':
If any Member should come into the Club Room drunk during the
hours of meeting, or shall swear or curse, or speak any ill-language, or
promote gaming, or lay wagers or challenge to work, fight, push or strike in
anger, or talk of state affairs, or speak any unseemly thing against the Crown
Head..(he).shall pay twopence or be excluded.414
By the end of the 18th century, Rules commonly refused entry to persons
working in dangerous and 'official' occupations, eg, soldiers, sailors,
sheriff's officers or their agents, such as bailiffs. This reflects a concern to
minimise pay-outs by excluding dangerous occupations, which of course forced
specialisation within memberships, but it also points to a gathering crunch
point at which a choice had to be made of hostility to authorities and their
minions, or unalloyed loyalty and respectability.
The language of each set of Rules reflected a lodge's particular concerns.
Societies with sea-faring members often contained Rules such as:
If any member shall be taken by a foreign enemy in time of war, or
by any pirate in time of peace and imprisoned, the sum of six shillings shall
be paid to his wife...and if any member be impressed into His Majesty's
Service, his wife and family shall receive two shillings and sixpence per week
during the time he is in such service.415
The rules also reflected concern with the very real potential for mayhem. A
newspaper account read:
A few evenings since, a party of jovial mechanics being assembled
at a public house...from business they ascended to politics, till disputes ran
so high, that every man began to look for a weapon to enforce his arguments,
or to defend himself..(etc)416
In practice, all 'lodges' continued to need a safe place for their funds. In
the 18th century, a sea-chest or a trunk, a secure tin under the publican's bar
or a locked drawer in someone's house, 'the box' from gild times, functioned, on
occasion, as a common name for the societies themselves. The Scottish Hospital
in London grew out of a 'Scottish Box' instituted in 1613 and used by Scottish
traders and craftsmen in London during the Great Plague of 1665.417
And in the published Rules of another society we read:
This box being founded by Lord Alva, 7th January, 1678, as an
Incorporation of Shoemakers in Abbey of Cambuskenneth, is now turned into a
Friendly Society, for the relief of indigent Members, under the same
Batham, 1991, as above, p.35.
Rylands, 'The Origins of Contemporary Freemasonry', Veritatem Petite - The
Research Lodge New South Wales, Vol 17 No 5, Feb, 2001.
Haunch, 'The Formation', Grand Lodge, 1717-1967, Oxford UP, 1967, p.57.
Haunch, as above, pp.88-9.
Jones, Compendium... (as above), 1965, p.206. For independent lodges
and 'alternative' Grand Lodges, see R Wells, The Rise and Development of
Organised Freemasonry, Lewis Masonic, 1986, Ch 19.
Baigent and R Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge, Corgi, 1990, p.286; see
also early chapters of S Knight, The Brotherhood, Granada, 1984.
Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, University, 1973, p.440.
Hamill & R Gilbert, World Freemasonry, Aquarian, 1991, p.43.
Hamill & Gilbert, 1991, as above, pp.43-47.
Mendoza, 'The Articles of Union and the Order of Chivalry', AQC, Vol
93, 1981. See also J Webb, 'The Order of St John and Its Relationship to
Freemasonry', AQC, 91, 1979.
Jacob, 1981, as above, p.23.
Jacob, as above, p.225.
Jacob, Living the Enlightenment, OUP, 1991, cover blurb.
Evans, A History of the York and Scottish Rites of Freemasonry, Masonic
Service of the USA, 1924, p.7.
Davies, The Isles, Macmillan, 1999, p.426.
Lipson, 1915, as above, pp.316-320.
Submission to the Human Rights Commission, 19 April, 2000, by P Carter, and
his paper to 1999 Wollongong Conference of ASSLH, 'Women and Freemasonry'; E
Dixon, 'Craftswomen in the Livre Des Metiers', Economic Journal, No 18,
Vol v, from p.209.
for one mention H Evans, A History of the York and Scottish Rites of
Freemasonry of Freemasonry, Masonic Service of USA, 1924, p.vii.
Klein, 'Magister Mathesios', AQC, 1910, p.107.
Klein, 1910, as above, p.109.
L Vibert, 'The Interlaced Triangles of the RA', AQC, Vol 80, 1967
(reprinted from 1936) pp.328-330, where this well-respected Masonic researcher
confesses all esoteric explanation linking the geometry with the faith of
Freemasonry has been lost. See also R Wells, Some Royal Arch Terms
Examined, Lewis, 1978, pp.70-71.
an accessible history of this Degree, see pp.1-15 of 50th Anniversary
publication, 'History'(?), of Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of
NSW, 1939; or A Ough, 'The Origin and Development of Royal Arch Masonry...'
AQC, Vol 108, p.188.
the 'Scald Miserable Masons' in 1742, see 'April 18' in W Hone, The
Everyday Book, 1827, reproduced 1878, Vol 2, p.262.
Lambert, quoted in M Robinson, The Spirit of Association, Murray, 1913,
Bucknell, Entertainment and Ritual 600 to 1600, Stainer and Bell, 1979,
Brydon, The Guilds the Masons and the Rosy Cross, Roslyn Chapel Trust,
Fretton, 'Ancient Guild Pageantry at Coventry', Oddfellows Magazine,
Oct, 1881, p.260.
Cawley, Everyman and Mediaeval Miracle Plays, Dent, 1974, p.189. See
also 'June 2', in W Hone, The Everyday Book, 1827, reproduced 1878, Vol
Westlake, as above, p.51; Bucknell, 1979, as above, Ch 3.
the Newcastle reference see W Hone, The Everyday Book, 1827, reproduced
1878, Vol 1, p.378; Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry, 1988, p.211.
Dickens, The English Reformation, Fontana, 1967, p.14; Cawley, 1974, as
Gould, The History.., Vol III, p.228.
Unwin, The Gilds and Cmpanies of London, 1963 (orig 1908), p.274.
Unwin, as above, p.272.
Pick, 'Preston - the Gild and the Craft', AQC, Vol 59, 1948, p.100.
Information from Lister, 8/2000, UK FSRG.
Salzman, as above, Plates 6, 7 and 10.
Gould, The History of Freemasonry, Grange, 1887, pp.302-3, where
numerous other examples; and Salzman, as above, p.47.
is described as 'a tobacco worker's apron' appears, undated and unsourced in
Cowan, Finlay and Paul, Scotland Since 1688, Cima, 2000, p.44. See,
also undated, a 'Guild of Coopers' apron, from Limerick at B Loftus,
Marching Workers, Arts Council of Ireland & the Irish Congress of
Trade Unions, 1978, p.27; photo of 'Cork Masons' at St Patricks Day, 1956,
p.30; and text references, same publication.
W Hone, The Everyday Book, 1827, reproduced 1878, Vol 1, p.627, for the
barber; B Jones, pp.449-50, for some material, including quote from Besant;
see also Jones, p.52 for 14th century reference to red caps and 'other
liveries of dyed ffrustyan' (later fustian) for 'impressed masons.'.
George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century, Kegan Paul, 1930, p.157.
Thompson & Yeo, as above, p.558.
Jones, 1950, as above, p.451.
Hawkins, A Concise Cyclopeadia of Freemasonry, London, 1908, p.23.
Uglow, Hogarth, Faber & Faber, 1997, p.311.
Bullock, p.89; Gould, History.., v.4, p.238.
Whiteley, Wesley's England: A Survey of XVIIIth Century Social and Cultural
Conditions, Epworth, 1945, p.93.
the Lodge Master, L Edge, 'A Short Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Irish
Freemasonry', AQC, 26, p.138 ; for the tyler, AQC, 29, p.233; SF
lodge uniforms were seriously discussed - see AQC 29, p.388.
Haunch, 1967, as above, p.57.
Firminger, 'The Members of the Lodge at the Bear and Harrow', AQC, Vol
48, 1939, p.137. See a 'bare-bones' 'Second Grand Anniversary Procession'
illustration, 1730's Boston?, at S Bullock, Revolutionary Brotherhood,
Uni of North Carolina Press, 1996, p.54; and D Flather, 'The Foundation
Stone', AQC, Vol 48, 1939, from p.212, where also see illustrations of
Freemasons in pairs.
Gentlemen's Magazine, Vol IX, 1740, p.270.
Flather, 'The Foundation Stone', AQC, Vol 48, 1938, espec pp.222-229.
Jones, 1950, p.488.
Mackey, A Lexicon of Freemasonry, Philadelphia, 1867, p.41.
Hawkins, as above, p.231.
George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century, Kegan Paul, 1930 - the
whole can be read with profit, Ch's 4-6 most relevant here.
Order Book, Westminster Sessions, Ap. 1721, quoted at George, 1930, as
above, p.31, with her introduction.
George, 1930, as above, p.273.
Knoop (Professor of Economics Uni of Sheffield) & G Jones (Reader in
Economic History Uni of Sheffield), The Genesis of Freemasonry, QC
Correspondence Circle, London, 1978, p.6.
Cramer, 'The Origin of Freemasonry' quoted in Rickard, as above, p.177.
Again, see James comment, 1966, as above, and the records of Bath Lodge
referred to there.
Brewer, 'Personality, Propoganda and Ritual: Wilkes and the Wilkites', in
Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Accession of George III,
CUP, 1976, and espec pp.194-6 from which quote and information in preceding
Comment by P James following E Ward, 'Anderson's Freemasonry Not Deistic',
AQC, Vol 80, 1966, pp.41-2.
Quoted by F Levander, 'The Collectanea of the Rev Daniel Lysons, Pt 11',
AQC, 29, p.8.
Gotch, 'The Role of the Innkeeper in Masonry', AQC, Vol 101, 1988,
Jones, as above, p.486; see also p.168; and J Hamill, 'And the Greatest of
These is Charity', AQC Vol 108, p.162.
Wonnacott, 'The Friendly Society of Free and Acepted Masons', AQC, 29,
Durr, 1987, as above, p.92.
Gould, The History..., as above, Vol 4, p.469.
Haunch, 'The Formation', Grand Lodge, 1717-1967, as above, pp.50-51.
Rickard, 'Oddfellowship', Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge,
Vol XL, 1928, p.176.
Gotch, 'The Role of the Innkeeper in Freemasonry', Ars Quatuor
Coronaturum, Vol 101, 1988, p.213.
Crane, 'The Club of Honest Whigs', WMQ, Vol 23, 1966, p.210.
Gotch, as above, p.216.
Brewer, Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Accession of George
III, CUP, 1976, p.149, p.195.
Strang, Glasgow and Its Clubs, Griffin, 1856, pp.432-3, refers to a
Lodge of 'Freemasons' there in 1804.
'Rules and Orders to be observed by a Friendly Society Meeting at the House of
Mr George Westwood, at the Sun Inn at Hitchin, in the County of Hertford,
Begun the fifth day of March in the Year of Our Lord, 1752', in Goldsmiths
Kress Library of Economic Literature, mfm, p.8.
Robinson, 1913, as above, p.145.
Leeds Mercury, 5 April, 1800.
Robinson, The Spirit of Association, Murray, 1913, p.142.
Wording printed under the title 'Articles of the Friendly Society of the
Shoemakers of the Abbey of Cambuskenneth' dated 1802, and included on
Goldsmith Kress Library of Economic Literature mfm, copy at University of
Newcastle Library, Index Available. Ludlow has other examples - see pp.740-2.