Email this page
Traduzca esta pßgina al espa˝ol
Traduire Cette Page A Franšais
▄bersetzen Sie Diese Seite Zu Deutsch


  Print this page



THE DEVELOPMENT OF FREEMASONRY

From Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania


We have no definite knowledge as to when the custom of admitting non-operatives to membership in a lodge of Masons was started. The earliest existing record of a non-operative Member is a reference to the presence of the Laird of Auchinleck at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary's Chapel, on June 8, 1600. Others were to follow with the passage of years. Most of these apparently occurred in Scotland. However, this theory may have come about because more records of Scottish Lodges existed than of those in England during the seventeenth century. In the minutes of at least five lodges in Scotland during the period 1650 to 1675, there are references to non-operative membership.

The first actual record in England of an Accepted or Speculative Mason, as non-operatives are usually called. is found in the diary of Elias Ashmole, under date of October 16, 1646, when he and Colonel Mainwaring became members of an operative Lodge held at Warrington in Lancashire. Some years later, on March 11, 1682, he attended a Lodge in Freemasons' Hall in London and witnessed the initiation of a very warm friend and five other gentlemen. In addition, there were present the Master of the Masons' Company of London and a number of those who were currently active and prominent in that organization. This fact lends credence to the supposition that in the Masons' Company was an inner circle who comprised what was probably a Speculative Lodge.

It is likely that by the beginning of the eighteenth century, just prior to the rise of Speculative Freemasonry, there were only about a score or two of active Lodges in England and probably no more than double that number in Scotland. It seems obvious that most of those Lodges, of which reliable records are available, had been admitting non-operatives to membership for quite a number of years. For example, the bylaws of the Lodge of Aberdeen  (Scotland) in 1670 were signed by 49 members, citing the occupation and rank of each. Of these, just 12 were trade(operative) masons. The others were: noblemen or gentlemen - 5, merchants - 9, wrights - 4, ministers - 3, slaters - 3, wig-makers - 2, surgeons - 2, glaziers - 2, together with a smith, an armorer, a book-maker, an attorney, a tutor, a professor and a collector of customs.

The transition from operative to non-operative was irregular in its pattern. Some Lodges changed rapidly, others slowly if at all. The principal and most important event in this transition period was the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England on St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1717.

At that time there were at least four Lodges located in or near London designated by their places of meeting as follows:

    1. the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St. Paul's Church-yard;
    2. the Crown Ale House in Parker's Lane near Drury Lane;
    3. the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden;
    4. the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.

Three of them are still in existence:

    1. Became Antiquity Lodge No. 2;
    2. Became Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No. 12 (its number being higher because of a reorganization);
    3. Not in existence.
    4. Became Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No. 4.

There is no contemporary record of the founding of this premier Grand Lodge in the world. Dr. James Anderson gives the principal account in the second edition of his "Constitutions" published in 1738. According to this account, representatives of the four Lodges previously enumerated, with some "Old Brothers, " presumably former members of Lodges no longer active, met at the Apple-Tree Tavern early in 1717. There, they decided to form a Grand Lodge and "revive" the Quarterly Communication and the Annual Assembly and Feast.

On June 24 of that year they met again, this time at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House. At that time, they established the Grand Lodge of England and elected Anthony Sayer, Gentleman, as Grand Master, with Captain Joseph Elliot and Jacob Lamball, Carpenter, as Grand Wardens. Anthony Sayer was followed as Grand Master by George Payne (1718), Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers (1719) and George Payne again in 1720. Then in 1721 the first of the succession of noblemen, the Duke of Montagu, assumed that office.

The original intention was to restrict the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge to London and Westminster, then an area of not more than three square miles. Of the four Lodges, apparently the one meeting at the Rummer and Grapes in Westminster had the most influential membership, being composed principally of Accepted and Speculative Masons.

There is no known record indicating when the Grand Lodge began to add new Lodges. The consensus seems to be that there was a lull for several years immediately after the formation. Likewise, it is uncertain whether the Lodges which joined the Grand Lodge in the first ten years were Lodges which were already in existence and active, or were those that had been dormant and were revitalized, or were established with the purpose of joining in the movement. Probably all three sources were involved. In any event it is interesting and significant to note that 12 Lodges were represented in 1721, with 25 on the list two years later when Dr. Anderson's first "Book of Constitutions" was approved for printing. In 1725 the records show a total of 64 Lodges, of which 50 were in London and five or six others adjacent thereto, with only four at a distance of more than 100 miles.

The "Book of Constitutions" printed in 1723 with a second edition in 1738, both compiled by Dr. Anderson, contained a very fanciful history, if it can be called that, together with the Charges and General Regulations. The history purported to trace Masonry from Adam through Noah, Moses, Solomon, Roman and early English sources to more recent kings of England and Scotland. Much of this is borrowed from The Old Charges. For many years historians accepted this account at face value and Masons generally believed it to be true.

The Charges were prefaced by the injunction that they be read at the admission of a new Brother, although it required several hours to do so. They contain rules of conduct and are divided as follows:

"I. Of God and Religion;

II. Of the Civil Magistrate Supreme and Subordinate;

III. Of Lodges;

IV. Of Masters, Wardens, Fellows and Apprentices;

V. Of the Management of the Craft in Working;

VI. Of Behavior

      1. in the Lodge while constituted;
      2. after the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone;
      3. when the Brethren meet without Strangers; but not in a Lodge formed;
      4. in the presence of Strangers not Masons;
      5. at Home and in your Neighborhood;
      6. towards a strange Brother."

The General Regulations cite the organization of Freemasonry in its various component parts, name the officers, indicate their duties, prescribe the method of operation and designate rules for the conduct of meetings. The manner of constituting a new Lodge is also included, together with a number of Masonic songs.

Although the original concept of the Grand Lodge was a limited geographical jurisdiction, its authority quickly became generally recognized throughout all England. This resulted in a number of noteworthy changes in the structure, philosophy and character, of Freemasonry.

The major alterations were:

    1. The Old Charges were revised to provide for the transition from operative to speculative Masonry.
    2. The Craft was systematized into a more or less unified body with regular meetings and definite rules under which to operate.
    3. Membership was opened to men of all trades, professions and callings, with no preference or precedence to those associated with the building industry.
    4. The "time immemorial" method of creating new Lodges was abandoned and Grand Lodge through its Grand Master retained authority in this.
    5. Agreement was reached that the Grand Master should be a member of the nobility.
    6. The Christian character of the fraternity was eliminated, and monotheism was adopted as the dominating fundamental in religious matters.
    7. The ritual was improved and expanded.

Much uncertainty exists concerning the ritual. In operative Masonry, it probably consisted of an obligation, the reading of the charges, and the explanation of certain grips and passwords.

At first, the terms Apprentice, Fellow and Master represented gradations or rank, rather than separate degrees. Later, it appears that different ceremonies were used for the Apprentices and the Fellows, and that this system was in vogue when the Grand Lodge of England was formed.

Within the next few years, the third degree was added to the ritualistic work. Its substance probably had been known previously to the fraternity as one of its subsidiary legends and then was included as an additional degree.

The establishment of the Grand Lodge of England was followed in due time by a Grand Lodge in the Province of Munster in Ireland in 1725, the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1730, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1731 and the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736.

In 1751 a new Grand Lodge was formed in England under the name of Grand Lodge of England "according to the Old Institutions." This new Grand Lodge was established by six Lodges composed of Irish Masons, less than one hundred in number, who had not affiliated with the original Grand Lodge of England. The members of the 1751 organization called themselves Antient York Masons. The name, "York Masons, " referred to the tradition relating to the supposed Grand Assembly of Masons at York in the year 926. The word "Antient" was intended to substantiate the claim that their ritual alone preserved the ancient customs and usages of the Craft. The members of the, Priginal Grand Lodge of England, constituted in 1717, were termed "Modern 'Masons" by these self-styled Antients. These terms "Moderns" and "Antients" persisted and came into common use.

The Antients were better propagandists and were more interested in promotional activities, having as their Grand Secretary, Lawrence Dermott, to whose zeal, resourcefulness and brilliance much of the success of the Antients was due. He was the author of the Book of Constitutions for his Grand Lodge modeled somewhat after that of the Moderns, which he called "Ahiman Rezon", the ancestor of the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Under his active leadership, the Antient Grand Lodge grew in strength and importance, was recognized by, and established relationship with, the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, started Lodges in many countries and military organizations, and in some places eclipsed the premier (Moderns) Grand Lodge.

For a number of years following formation of the Antient Grand Lodge, considerable bitterness and animosity were exhibited on both sides as the two Grand Lodges moved forward in parallel but by no means harmonious pathways. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, most Members of both organizations deplored the disunity of English Masonry, saw the desirability of harmony in the order, and began to work toward that end.

In 1809 the Grand Lodge of the Moderns rescinded its rule forbidding the admission of Antient Masons in Modem Lodges. In the following year the Antients made similar concessions and committees were appointed to devise ways and means of effecting a complete reconciliation. Shortly afterwards, the Duke of Atholl resigned as Grand Master of the Antients and was succeeded by the Duke of Kent, whose brother, the Duke of Sussex, was then Grand Master of the Moderns; both of these men were sons of King George the Third.

The final ratification of the union of the two bodies took place on December 27, 1813 at Freemasons' Hall in London. The two Grand Lodges met in adjoining rooms and, after having opened in accordance with their own rites and ceremonies, marched into the main hall, headed by their respective Grand Masters. The procession composed of the two Grand Lodges marching side by side moved toward the East where the Grand Masters took seats on each side of the Throne. After prayer the Act of Union was read, proclaiming the establishment of "The United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England. " A so-called Lodge of Reconciliation had devised a system of forms, rites and ceremonies. These were adopted as the universal system for the United Grand Lodge and were pronounced true and correct. The Duke of Kent then placed his brother in nomination for Grand Master of the newly formed United Grand Lodge. The Duke of Sussex was unanimously elected.

In the Articles of Union, both sides made concessions, involving the sacrifice of some of the various points of ritualism and procedure, which for more than three-quarters of a century they had so strenuously upheld. Thus it was that peace and harmony once more prevailed in English Masonry.

One of the provisions of the Articles of Union stated that the first Lodges under each Grand Lodge would draw lots for priority of numbers, the loser to become No. 2, and all other Lodges to be numbered alternately. Luck was with the Antients and their Grand Master's Lodge took precedence. The Lodge of Antiquity of the Moderns, founded prior to the so-called "Rivival" of 1717, was assigned No. 2 in spite of its much greater age. The second Lodge of the Antients, Fidelity, became No. 3, and the next Modern Lodge, now called Royal Somerset House and Inverness, originally meeting at the Rummer and Grapes Tavern when the premier Grand Lodge was formed, was designated No. 4.

The Lodge of Reconciliation was organized to consummate the Union of the two Grand Lodges. It continued its work until 1816, revising the rituals and supervising the instruction of those who would take the prescribed work to the individual Lodges. It is generally supposed that the final ritual favored the system of the Antients to a considerable extent. This is uncertain, however, because no notes were taken. There was also some difference of opinion among the participants as to exactly what decisions were reached upon certain points of disagreement.

As a result there are, in the Grand Lodge of England, a number of workings, all of which are considered as acceptable and correct, two in particular receiving wide-spread approval:

    1. That of the Stability Lodge of Instruction founded in 1817.
    2. That of Emulation Lodge of Improvement established in 1823 .

Other popular rituals bear such names as West End, Oxford, Logic. The Grand Lodge of England insists on strict adherence to certain essentials and fundamentals, but it permits minor variations with respect to details.

The conflict between the Moderns and Antients in England had its counterpart in America. Likewise the Union of 1813 affected materially the Grand Lodges of the United States. In Pennsylvania, however, the conflict was almost non-existent after the Revolution, as here Modern Lodges had practically ceased to exist and the Antients were in complete control.

There seems to be no good reason to believe that there were Masons among the first Quakers who settled in what is now the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, nor among the pioneers who preceded them. However, it was likely that not long thereafter, English, Irish and Scottish Masons began to arrive. Doubtless they made themselves known to each other and set up Lodges under what was termed the "time immemorial usage."

In those early days of the Fraternity, there were no lawfully warranted and duly constituted Lodges established in the American colonies under the authority of a Grand Lodge. The old customs and regulations of operative Masonry prevailed. They provided that a given number of Masons might assemble, open a Lodge, and practice the rites of Freemasonry. The required number is somewhat uncertain. Some of the old manuscripts specify five, others six, while at least one says seven or six with the knowledge and consent of a seventh. In any event, it is safe to say that Masonic meetings of this type were held in Philadelphia during the early part of the eighteenth century, just about the time the so-called "Revival" in England in 1717 led to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England. In fact, in 1715, John Moore, Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, wrote that he had "spent a few evenings of Masonic festivity with my Masonic brethren."

For some years, the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England had little effect upon the craftsmen residing in the Western Hemisphere. On June 5, 1730, however, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, the Duke of Norfolk, deputized Colonel Daniel Coxe of New Jersey as Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the two-year period beginning on June 24, 1730. Colonel Coxe was living at his home in Trenton during much of this period.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania Masons had not been inactive. In the issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette dated December 8, 1730, its editor, Ben jamin Franklin, not then a Mason, refers to "several Lodges of Free-Masons" having been "Erected in this Province. " The only record we now have of a Lodge in Philadelphia at that time is the account book of St. John's Lodge for the period 1731 to 1738.  This record is known as "Liber B" and is in the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

This record indicates that, as of June 24, 1731, there was a Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania with William Allen as Grand Master and William Pringle as Deputy. Since no other member-Lodge is mentioned, it seems likely that St. John's Lodge may have merely superimposed a Grand Lodge upon its own organizational structure and that the same officers served both bodies. This is very similar to the process by which the Grand Lodge of Munster, later called the Grand Lodge of Ireland, came into being in 1725.

On June 24, 1734, Benjamin Franklin became Grand Master of Penn sylvania. Prior to that time, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England had, under date of April 30, 1733, appointed Henry Price of Boston as Provincial Grand Master of New England "and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging. " Then in August of the following year, his deputation and powers were extended over all America.

The amendment of the original deputation evidently caused the Pennsylvania Brethren to feel that possibly their Grand Lodge lacked the authority which it formerly possessed, and that they should have a charter granted by Brother Price by virtue of his commission from Britain. A suggestion to that effect was made by Brother Franklin to Provincial Grand Master Price. Apparently, no action resulted from this letter and the Grand Master of Pennsylvania continued to operate as theretofore.

In 1742, Thomas Oxnard of Massachusetts was appointed as Grand Master for North America by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. From him, Franklin secured an appointment dated July 10, 1749 as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania, in spite of the fact that his former benefactor and sponsor, William Allen, had again been acting as the head of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for several years.

Many of the members assumed that Franklin's appointment superseded the old self-constituted Grand Lodge. However, when an appeal was made directly to the Grand Master of London, William Allen was appointed Provincial Grand Master and assumed that office at a meeting of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on March 13, 1750. This marked the end of the independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and its inception as a Provincial Grand Lodge affiliated with and deriving its authority from the Grand Lodge of England. At that time Benjamin Franklin resumed his former position as Deputy Grand Master.

Shortly afterwards the project of building a Lodge Hall in Philadelphia was undertaken. In 1755 Freemasons' Hall was erected on the south side of Norris (or Lodge) Alley, which extends west from Second Street and is parallel to and north of Walnut Street. This was the first Masonic Hall on the Western Continent. In the meantime two other Lodges had been established in Philadelphia (Nos. 2 and 3), both having begun their labors prior to 1759, although the exact dates are unknown.

The three Lodges in Philadelphia, St. John's, No. 2 and No. 3, were, of course, affiliated with the premier or original Grand Lodge of England, commonly called the Moderns. A fourth Lodge, the last we know to be established by the Moderns, was warranted by Grand Master Allen in June 1757, meeting in the tavern of Jeremiah Smith instead of assembling in Freemasons' Hall as did the other three Lodges. Soon afterwards the rumor spread in Masonic circles that this newly formed Lodge was working in the Antient way rather than the Modern. On September 13, 1757, members from the older Lodges attended a meeting of Lodge No. 4 and ascertained that the ritualistic work was indeed that of the Antients. The matter was reported to Grand Lodge and the officers of Lodge No. 4 were summoned to appear before representatives of that body. At that meeting, they freely admitted that they were Antient Masons and refused to consider a change in their manner of working. Their Warrant was immediately withdrawn, but the Lodge continued in operation even though it was without a Warrant.

To remedy the absence of a Warrant, Lodge No. 4 petitioned the Grand Lodge of the Antients in London and, under date of June 7, 1758, was warranted as Lodge No. 1 of Pennsylvania and No. 69 of England. A short time later, however, the Lodge assumed the number "2" leaving No. 1 for the Grand Lodge which was soon to be established. This formed the nucleus from which our present organization has directly evolved. Lodge No. 2 is still in existence.

Whereas the original Grand Lodge of Moderns in Pennsylvania had been ultra- conservative and relatively inactive, the new Grand Lodge of the Antients, under William Ball as Grand Master, was progressive and quite alert to its opportunities of disseminating Masonic light and knowledge. During its entire career, the Modern Grand Lodge never had more than four constituent Lodges at any one time. On the other hand, from the date of its establishment up to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Antients granted Warrants to sixteen Lodges. Three were in Philadelphia, four elsewhere in Pennsylvania, five in Maryland, one in New Jersey, two in Delaware and one in Virginia.

During the Revolution, twenty-seven other Lodges were warranted. Of these, nine were in Pennsylvania (one of them in Philadelphia), two in New Jersey, three in Maryland, two in South Carolina, one in Virginia, two in Delaware, one English Army Lodge and seven American Army Lodges.

Throughout its early history the Grand Lodge (Antients) granted Warrants for Lodges in other states and countries in which no Grand Lodges had been formed. For this reason we find in the name of our Grand Lodge not only the word "Pennsylvania" but also the additional expression, "and Masonic jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. " The last Warrant for a Lodge outside the boundaries of the Commonwealth was granted on February 6, 1832 to a Lodge located at Montevideo, Uruguay. Prior to that date, of the 224 Warrants issued, 68 were for Lodges outside of Pennsylvania, including nine in a Provincial Grand Lodge of San Domingo.

As, previously noted, there was great rivalry and considerable friction between Antients and Moderns in Pennsylvania, as was the case nearly everywhere else. This was intensified by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. In this State, the Modern Lodges, to a considerable degree, were composed of ultra- conservatives who were inclined to be Loyalists. A large majority of the Members of the Antients, however, espoused the cause of Independence.

By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Modern Lodges had practically disintegrated with the result that in 1813 and thereafter when, in jurisdictions throughout the world, Moderns and Antients were being reconciled and united, that was unnecessary here in Pennsylvania where the Antients reigned supreme. Hence, the ritualistic changes and compromises resulting from the Reconciliation of 1813 did not affect the work in this State, and Pennsylvania Masons continued to work in the pure Antient way.

After the termination of the Revolution and the advent of peace, the spirit of independence was in the air. Not only, political and economic independence, but fraternal as well. At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, held on September 25, 1786, a resolution was unanimously adopted to the effect that the. Grand Lodge ought to be independent of the Grand Lodge of England. The minutes end with the notation: "This Lodge acting by virtue of a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England was closed forever."

On the following day, the representatives of the various Lodges reconvened and established the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on an entirely independent basis with the election, as Grand Master, of William Adcock who had been Provincial Grand Master. Of the Lodges affiliated with the Grand Lodge on that momentous occasion, nine (Nos. 2, 3, 9, 19, 21, 22, 25, 43 and 45) are still in existence within the jurisdiction. The declaration of Pennsylvania's independence was accepted in a very gracious and fraternal manner by the Antient Grand Lodge of England, and the subsequent relationship between the two coordinate Grand Lodges has always been most friendly and cordial.

Here is a recapitulation of the history of Grand Lodges having jurisdiction over Pennsylvania:

    1. the independent Grand Lodge of 1731 with William Allen as Grand Master.
    2. The Grand Lodge headed by Benjamin Franklin, established by authority of Provincial Grand Master Oxnard in 1749.
    3. The Provincial Grand Lodge of 1750 with William Allen again as Grand Master, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge (Modern) of England.
    4. The Provincial Grand Lodge warranted in 1761 by the Antient Grand Lodge of England with William Ball as Grand Master.
    5. The independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, our present Grand Lodge, established on September 26, 1786.

For forty years Freemasonry in Pennsylvania made steady progress in numbers, in influence for good, in benevolence and in the esteem of its contemporaries. This advance came to a sudden end in the so-called "Morgan Incident, " that led to the Anti-Masonic agitation during which the opponents of Freemasonry used every means available in their attempt to wreck the Fraternity. This antagonism toward the Fraternity was particularly vicious in the northeastern states, and its detrimental effects were not completely overcome in some localities for a period of fifteen to twenty years.

The principal personage in this tragedy was William Morgan. The scene was Batavia in western New York; the year 1825. Morgan claimed to be a Mason, having either joined a Lodge or otherwise obtained considerable Masonic information while employed in Canada. He was a worthless sort of fellow and reputed to have been drunk much of the time. He became highly incensed when he was not permitted to become a charter member of a new Royal Arch Chapter being formed at Batavia in 1826. Because of his anger and his need of money, he agreed to furnish a local printer all the information necessary for the publication of an expose of Freemasonry.

When news of this enterprise became known, the Masons of the community were greatly excited and much perturbed. Morgan became concerned by the threats made against him, and finally agreed to accept a farm in Canada and never return to the United States. After accepting money in lieu of a farm, Morgan disappeared. The printer, Miller, and his friends claimed that Morgan had been kidnapped and murdered by the Masons in order to prevent the betrayal of their secrets. Many fantastic stories gained circulation and a storm of protest arose. When at length the Masons wanted to produce Morgan in order to calm the uproar he was nowhere to be found. The incident was propagandized far and wide and became commonly known as "The Morgan Affair." The outcry against Freemasonry became nationwide and was brought into politics, the churches and practically all kinds of businesses, until Masons were being harassed in every way possible.

In Pennsylvania, the crest of the storm came in 1835 when Joseph Ritner, a prominent Cumberland County Anti-Mason, was elected as, Governor of the Commonwealth on an Anti-Masonic ticket. Under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, an investigation into Freemasonry and other so-called secret societies was started. Members such as George M. Dallas, afterwards Vice-President, former Governor George Wolf, Francis R. Shunk, later Governor, and numerous other men of unquestioned character and patriotism defended the Fraternity vigorously and energetically. After a time the excitement and passions subsided and then disappeared.

This sad affair took a heavy toll and by 1845, when the storm was practically over the number of Lodges in Pennsylvania had been reduced to 45, with less than 2, 000 Members in good standing. Those who were left were tried and true, and had proven their loyalty and their zeal. With such Brothers as a nucleus, the Fraternity has progressed to the present day.

Back To Top





Back To Masonic History
Back To Page One

 No ę Copyright.
"Corky" .
Free To Use.


All material in this site may be used
to educate everyone, Masons and
non-Masons alike about Freemasonry

 

Page Crafted By Corky
pineilse@swbell.net

The Pine Island Webwright