The Ancient Grand Lodge of England, as it is known today, or The Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons (according to the Old Constitutions granted by His Royal Highness Prince Edwin, at York, Anno Domini nine hundred and twenty six, and in the year of Masonry four thousand nine hundred and twenty six) as they described themselves on their warrants,was a rival Grand Lodge to the Premier Grand Lodge of England. It existed from 1751 until 1813 when the United Grand Lodge of England was created from the two Grand Lodges. They are now called the Antients, in contrast to the Moderns, the original Grand Lodge which its critics, notably Laurence Dermott, said had moved away from the ritual of Scotland, Ireland, and now the Antient Grand Lodge. This Grand Lodge was also informally called the Atholl Grand Lodge because the Third and Fourth Dukes of Atholl presided over it as Grand Masters for half of its 62-year existence.
Although the Grand Lodge never spelled Antient with a 't', the convention was followed by the Moderns, and continues to be used by United Grand Lodge. Some confusion arises from the Ancients' own documentation. Their seals are inscribed Grand Lodge in London of Free and Accepted Masons According to the Old Institution(s), while in their masonic certificates, issued to new members, they called themselves the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England according to the Old Constitutions.
From about 1721, the new Grand Lodge which had been formed in London in 1717, and would soon spread to the rest of England, Wales, and abroad, pursued a policy of self-publicity and expansion that did not always sit well with other Freemasons. They abandoned the old methods of "drawing" lodges with chalk, (erased with a mop) in favour of tape and portable metal letters.In 1735 they refused admission to the Master and Wardens of an Irish lodge who claimed to be a deputation from Lord Kingston, then Grand Master of Ireland and past Grand Master of the English Grand Lodge. The Irish masons were offered admission if they would accept the English constitution, which they refused. In the 1730s the English Grand Lodge had changed their ritual to stay ahead of public exposures. During this period, London absorbed many economic migrants from Ireland. Those who were already masons were often repelled by the changes introduced by the English Grand Lodge, and either formed their own lodges, or joined one of the many unaffiliated lodges in the capital. In 1751, five of these, and a sixth that had just been formed, united to form a rival Grand Lodge, which quickly became an umbrella organisation for the other unaffiliated lodges in England.
This success must be seen as a triumph of the energy, wit, and sheer belligerence of their second Grand Secretary, Laurence Dermott. Most of what we know of him comes from the minutes of Grand Lodge and from his book of constitutions. The Grand Committee met on the first Wednesday of every month, and on 5 February 1752, Dermott replaced John Morgan as Grand Secretary. The next month he dealt with the "Leg of Mutton" masons, two men who had initiated masons into the Royal Arch for the price of a leg of mutton, but on examination by Dermott, knew nothing of the degree. They also claimed to teach a masonic method of achieving invisibility. In April he persuaded his brethren to replace Morgan's bye-laws with those of his own lodge in Dublin. June saw Dermott installing the Grand Officers. The lodge met as usual on Wednesday 2 September, and were treated to a lecture on their ritual by Dermott. Due to the change that year from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, the next day was Thursday 14 September, losing 11 days. The actual business of the lodge was conducted at an "emergency" meeting on the 14th, ensuring both dates appeared in the minutes.
Dermott gave them a book of constitutions, inexplicably entitled "Ahiman Rezon, or a Help to a Brother". It was modeled on Spratt's Irish Constitutions, which in turn were modeled on Anderson's constitutions. The introductory history was replaced by a satirical account of Dermott's attempt to write a better one (which would trace Freemasonry to before the Creation). The publication of the first edition, in 1756, may have been delayed until the society had found a noble sponsor to act as Grand Master. He arrived in the form of the Earl of Blessington, who had already served as Grand Master in Ireland. The second edition, in 1764, compared the ancient practices of the new Grand Lodge with the works of the "Moderns". The older Grand Lodge had been castigated as the "Moderns" since the 1720s, and the term is still used today. Dermott's characterisation of the Moderns is scathing and satirical, and with each succeeding edition during his lifetime, more scorn is heaped on the society that deviated from the established landmarks of the order, and whose greatest masonic symbols were the knife and fork. After his death, in 1791, successive editors of Ahiman Rezon progressively excised the insults.
The Ahiman Rezon, although divisive, proved popular, and the Ancients flourished. They were recognised by the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, who continued to view the innovations of the Moderns with suspicion. A low point in relations between the two Grand Lodges was reached in the 1770s, when William Preston, then assistant Grand Secretary of the Moderns, attempted to poison the relationship between the Ancients and the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
After Dermott's death, the two Grand Lodges moved slowly towards union. The need for unity was underlined during the Napoleonic wars, when the leaders of the Ancients, Moderns, and the Grand Lodge of Scotland acted together to prevent their lodges becoming proscribed organisations.However, the actual process of unification did not start until 1811, when the Moderns started the administrative process of returning their ritual to a form acceptable to the other British Grand Lodges. The final union was in the hands of two sons of the King, the Duke of Sussex, the Grand Master of the Moderns, and the Duke of Kent. Kent had already effected a union in Canada by simply abolishing the Moderns, and merging their lodges with those of the Ancients. The new Grand Lodge, the United Grand Lodge of England, retained the infrastructure of the Moderns, and the ritual of the Ancients.
In 1823, the mishandling of grievances of a few Lancastrian masons led to an attempt to revive the Ancients in what has come to be known as the Wigan Grand Lodge. Mistrust of the new Grand Lodge was already simmering when the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Manchester in 1818 asked that the book of constitutions be amended to state that a lodge must hand back its warrant if membership falls below 7, instead of the 5 stated.Further concern was shown when some masons in Bath were told that it was "not desirable to make the Number of (Royal Arch) Chapters in any place equal to the Number of Lodges." The low minimum implied that it was possible to run a lodge without Deacons, in the manner of the Moderns ritual, and the Ancients had looked on the Royal Arch as the fourth degree, making the formation of a Chapter the duty of every lodge. These queries, prompted by a concern as to a creeping return, or even imposition, of Modernism on old Ancient's lodges, were ignored by Grand Lodge. This led to a more strongly worded remonstrance in 1820. As the local province failed to deal with increasing animosity, in 1822 the 34 masons who signed the last document were suspended by Grand Lodge, and one Liverpool lodge was erased. Although many of the rebels returned to the fold or left masonry altogether, the harshness of their treatment drew support from other lodges in the North West of England. A new Grand Lodge was formed in Liverpool in 1823, calling itself the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England according to the Old Constitutions. From 1825, it met only in Wigan. As the original dispute was gradually forgotten, its twelve or more lodges were re-absorbed by UGLE, although the last did not rejoin until 1913. It ceased to function as a Grand Lodge in 1866.
Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients.
The history of Freemasonry encompasses the origins, evolution and defining events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. It covers three phases. Firstly, the emergence of organised lodges of operative masons during the Middle Ages, then the admission of lay members as "accepted" masons or speculative masons, and finally the evolution of purely speculative lodges, and the emergence of Grand Lodges to govern them. The watershed in this process is generally taken to be the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. The two difficulties facing historians are the paucity of written material, even down to the 19th century, and the misinformation generated by masons and non-masons alike from the earliest years.
In Freemasonry, regularity is one of the factors by which individual Grand Lodges judge whether to recognise one another for the purposes of allowing formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level and visitation by members of other jurisdictions. Each individual Grand Lodge determines which other Grand Lodges it considers Regular.
William Preston was a Scottish author, editor and lecturer, born in Edinburgh. After attending school and college he became secretary to the linguist Thomas Ruddiman, who became his guardian on the death of his father. On the death of Thomas, Preston became a printer for Walter Ruddiman, Thomas' brother. In 1760 he moved to London and started a distinguished career with the printer William Strahan. He became a Freemason, instituting a system of lectures of instruction, and publishing Illustrations of Masonry, which ran to several editions. It was under Preston that the Lodge of Antiquity seceded from the Moderns Grand Lodge to become "The Grand Lodge of All England South of the River Trent" for ten years. He died on 1 April 1818, after a long illness, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.
The Ancient and Primitive Rite, also called the Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Mizraim, is a Masonic Rite. First popularized by John Yarker, it is generally considered clandestine by Masonic organizations within the UGLE framework.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing Masonic lodge for the majority of freemasons in England, Wales and the Commonwealth of Nations. Claiming descent from the Masonic grand lodge formed 24 June 1717 at the Goose & Gridiron Tavern in London, it is considered to be the oldest Masonic Grand Lodge in the world. Together with the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland, they are often referred to by their members as "the home Grand Lodges" or "the Home Constitutions".
The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second most senior Grand Lodge of Freemasons in the world, and the oldest in continuous existence. Since no specific record of its foundation exists, 1725 is the year celebrated in Grand Lodge anniversaries, as the oldest reference to Grand Lodge of Ireland comes from the Dublin Weekly Journal of 26 June 1725. This describes a meeting of the Grand Lodge to install the new Grand Master, The 1st Earl of Rosse, on 24 June. The Grand Lodge has regular Masonic jurisdiction over 13 Provincial Grand Lodges covering all the Freemasons of the island of Ireland, and another 11 provinces worldwide.
The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, formally The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdictions Thereunto Belonging, is the premier masonic organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge claims to be the oldest in the United States, and the third oldest in the world after England and Ireland, having been originally established as the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1731. This claim is disputed by both the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and the Grand Lodge of Virginia.
There are many organisations and orders which form part of the widespread fraternity of Freemasonry, each having its own structure and terminology. Collectively these may be referred to as Masonic bodies, Masonic orders or appendant bodies of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry and women have a complex relationship, which can be readily divided into many phases with no demonstrable relationship to each other until the 20th century. A few women were involved in Freemasonry before the 18th century; however the first printed constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of England appeared to bar them from the Craft forever.
Anthony Sayer, on 24 June 1717, at the formation of the first Premier Grand Lodge of England of freemasons at London, the members present elected as their first Grand Master "Anthony Sayer, Gentleman". He further served Grand Lodge as Senior Grand Warden under John Theophilus Desaguliers.
There are a number of masonic manuscripts that are important in the study of the emergence of Freemasonry. Most numerous are the Old Charges or Constitutions. These documents outlined a "history" of masonry, tracing its origins to a biblical or classical root, followed by the regulations of the organisation, and the responsibilities of its different grades. More rare are old hand-written copies of ritual, affording a limited understanding of early masonic rites. All of those which pre-date the formation of Grand Lodges are found in Scotland and Ireland, and show such similarity that the Irish rituals are usually assumed to be of Scottish origin. The earliest Minutes of lodges formed before the first Grand Lodge are also located in Scotland. Early records of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 allow an elementary understanding of the immediate pre-Grand Lodge era and some insight into the personalities and events that shaped early 18th century Freemasonry in Britain.
Laurence Dermott was born in Ireland and became a Freemason in 1741. He held various offices before being installed as Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 26 in Dublin on 24 June 1746. He moved to London in 1748, possibly working as a journeyman painter, and possibly with a view to expanding his father's business. He would later work as a wine merchant, like his father. He was married to Elizabeth Dermott but his will does not list any children. He lived in Aldgate, Mile End and Stepney. He served as Grand Secretary of the Ancient Grand Lodge of England from 1752 to 1771. He wrote and published the Book of Constitutions of this Grand Lodge for the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, which he titled the Ahiman Rezon. Above all, it was Dermott's drive and tenacity that is credited with turning an association of six London lodges in 1751 into a viable and successful Grand Lodge, with lodges throughout England and the colonies.
The Book of Constitutions of this Grand Lodge or Ahiman Rezon was a constitution written by Laurence Dermott for the Antient Grand Lodge of England which was formed in 1751. The formation of the Ancient Grand Lodge brought together lodges and Masons who, believing themselves to be part of an older, original Masonic tradition, had chosen not to ally themselves with the previously formed Moderns Grand Lodge of 1717.
The organisation known as the Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the 'Grand Lodge of London and Westminster'. Originally concerned with the practice of Freemasonry in London and Westminster, it soon became known as the Grand Lodge of England. Because it was the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be created, convention calls it the Premier Grand Lodge of England in order to distinguish it from the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Constitutions, more usually referred to as the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, and the Grand Lodge of All England Meeting at York. It existed until 1813, when it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England.
The Holy Royal Arch is a degree of Freemasonry. The Royal Arch is present in all main masonic systems, though in some it is worked as part of Craft ('mainstream') Freemasonry, and in others in an appendant ('additional') order. Royal Arch Masons meet as a Chapter; in the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch as practised in the British Isles, much of Europe and the Commonwealth, Chapters confer the single degree of Royal Arch Mason.
Tracing boards are painted or printed illustrations depicting the various emblems and symbols of Freemasonry. They can be used as teaching aids during the lectures that follow each of the Masonic Degrees, when an experienced member explains the various concepts of Freemasonry to new members. They can also be used by experienced members as reminders of the concepts they learned as they went through the ceremonies of the different masonic degrees.
Royal Arch Masonry is the first part of the York Rite system of the Masonic degrees. Royal Arch Masons meet as a Chapter, and the Royal Arch Chapter confers four degrees: Mark Master Mason, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason.
Freemasons historically celebrate two feasts of saints who are both named John. The feast of John the Baptist falls on 24 June, and that of John the Evangelist on 27 December, roughly marking mid-summer and mid-winter. During the Eighteenth Century, the Premier Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Ireland favoured the day of John the Baptist, while the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Ancient Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of All England at York installed their Grand Masters on the feast day of John the Evangelist. The United Grand Lodge of England was formed on 27 December 1813.
Freemasonry in Scotland in Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland comprises the Scottish Masonic Constitution as regular Masonic jurisdiction for the majority of freemasons in Scotland. There are also Lodges operating under the Scottish Masonic Constitution in countries outside of Scotland. Many of these are countries linked to Scotland and the United Kingdom through the Commonwealth of Nations and prior colonies and other settlements of the British Empire although there are several lodges in countries such as Lebanon, Belgium, Chile and Peru, which do not have such connections.