In many primitive societies there was a "Mens' House" from time
immemorial. Here the leaders of the tribe meet, and admit members, using secret
ceremonies. It is certain that these Men's Houses had elements that resembled
Freemasonry and may have been one of the distant ancestors of
In the ancient world there were many organisations that have been given the
title of Ancient Mysteries, including the Mystery of Mythras, the Eleusinian
Mysteries (in Greece), and the Druids (in Britain). These associations had
secret ceremonies which some Masons have sought to link to Freemasonry. There is
little to support their arguments.
At the time of Christ, there exists in Palestine three religious sects - the
Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. The Essenes are the strictest with a
high moral code, a secret ceremony, and a great similarity in character to the
Craft today. It is sometimes argued that Christ was a member of the Essenes in
his formative years up to manhood when he commenced his general preaching. He
never spoke against the Essenes, but did against the Pharisees and Sadducees .
Upon the fall of the Roman Empire, many Collegia migrate to the island of
Como and preserve the Stonemasons' art. They later emerge as the Comocine
Builders to construct the many Cathedrals during the Middle ages from 500AD
until 1390 AD. This subject is still very much debated.
||• Prince Edwin, son of King Athelstan, calls and presides
over a meeting of Masons at York.
||• A group of organised operative stonemasons in Germany are
in existence. They are called the Steinmetzen, and some claim they are the
precursors of Freemasonry today.
||• Melrose Abbey Church is in the process of construction.
Traveling Masons leave their marks on some of the stones.
||• The Magna Carta is signed by King John,
establishing some basic rights for free and bonded men.
||• The Compagnonnage of France has been in existence for
several hundred years. Some suggestions have been made they they are the
foundation for modern Freemasonry.
||• The use of the word "lodge" appears in the records of the
Vale Royal Abbey.
||• The Statute of Labourers is passed. It regulates
the wages of workmen. It also prevents the escalation of wages due to the
shortage of experienced workers and the great amount of construction work
available. In this statute the words "mason" and "freestone" appear.
• A Tracing House is in use at Windsor Castle.
||• London Mason's Regulations are enacted. This
regulates the building trades of the period. It contains no mention of
organised groups of workers, but it does have the earliest records of
||• 13 Sheriffs are ordered by the Crown to send 568 Masons to
work on Windsor Castle.
||• The York Minster Mason's Ordinance is passed. It
is written in Middle English and contains the words "Masonn" and "Masoun".
||• The Masons' Company of London is represented at the Court
of Common Council. It must have been in existence for some years to be
entitled to this representation.
||• The Freemason and Mason Company of London is in existence,
probably as a craft Guild.
• The first known use of the word "Freemason" is recorded in the City of
London Letter Book H dated 9th August. The word is later stricken
off and replaced with the word "Mason".
||• The Regius Poem, or Manuscript, (also
known as the Halliwell Manuscript) is written or copied from older
manuscripts. It is written in Middle English, and is said to be based on the
Instructions for a Parish Priest or Urbanitas, a book of
instruction on deportment and hygiene.
||• The inventory of the Masons' Lodge at York Minster
contains two Tracing Boards.
||• The Cooke Manuscript is written. It is the second
oldest of the extant ancient manuscripts of Freemasonry.
||• "Masons of the Lodge" is mentioned in the records of
||• An ordinance is enacted confirming the ancient form and
custom of taking apprentices.
||• A Tracing House is in use at Westminster Abbey.
• The Worshipful Company of Masons of the City of London erects its first
||• Robert Stowell is appointed Master of Masons at
||• The term "Master Mason" appears after the name of William
Orchard at Magdalen College, Oxford.
||• The word "Freemason" appears for the first time in the
Statutes of England.
||• A municipal law is passed at St Giles, Edinburgh,
establishing the conditions of employment of Master Masons and co-workers.
||• The Act of Supremacy is passed abrogating the
Pope's authority and makes the King (Henry VIII) the head of the Church of
||• Francis I of France attempts to stamp out all Craft
||• The Masons' Company is incorporated at Newcastle and given
certain powers and duties.
||• The Grand Lodge No 1 Manuscript is written. Now
in the possession of the United Grand Lodge of England, this is the third
oldest of the existing Manuscripts relating to Freemasonry.
These manuscripts are now collectively known under various names (the Gothic
Constitutions, the Ancient Charges, the York Constitutions, or the Old
Charges) and number over 110. Rather than repeat each one on this page, we
have compiled a separate listing of most of the Old Charges along with a few
notes of interest.
||• William Schaw, who became Master of the Works in Scotland
in 1584 AD, promulgated two sets of rules - the first (in 1598) regulating
the Masons of Scotland, the second (in 1599) giving the Lodge of Kilwinning
(No 0, GL of Scotland) supervisory powers over the Lodges of West Scotland.
It also uses the term "Fellow of the Craft".
||• The first record is made of the admission of a
non-operative Mason in a Lodge in Scotland. John Boswell, Laird of
Auchinlech, becomes a member of Lodge Edinburgh.
• The York Manuscript No 1, commonly called the York Rolls
(now in the possession of York Lodge No 236) contains the word "Freemason"
||• Elias Ashmole is born at Litchfield in England. A famous
historian, he is remembered by the Craft because of the entries in his
||• The Account Book of the London Masons' Company uses the
term "Acception" as a description of some members.
||• The records of the Worshipful Company of Freemasons of
London indicates that there were "accepted" and "operative" members.
||• John Stow, in his Survey of London, mentions the
"Company of Masons being otherwise termed Freemasons".
||• Lord Alexander, Sir Anthony Alexander, and Sir Alexander
Strachan are all made Masons at the Lodge of Edinburgh.
||• Sir Robert Moray is initiated by a group of Masons in a
Scottish regiment at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 20th May. This is the earliest
||• The Minutes of Mother Kilwinning Lodge go back to this
||• Elias Ashmole writes in his diary that he was made a
"Freemason" on 16th October.
||• The Harleian Manuscript is written about this
||• "The Company of Freemasons of the City of London" changes
its name to "The Company of Masons".
||• John Aubrey begins writing A Natural History of
Wiltshire in which he states that "the Fraternity of Free-Masons are
known to one another by certain signs and watch words, and other significant
words", and also described them as "adopted masons" and "accepted masons".
His History is not published until 1847.
||• The Royal Society is founded in London with many
Freemasons among its members.
||• The hall of the Worshipful Company of Masons of London is
rebuilt. It is believed that a speculative Lodge met in this building.
||• The records of Lodge Aberdeen begin. They show that some
members were speculative, and others were operative.
||• Dr James Anderson is born in Aberdeen, Scotland.
||• Elias Ashmole writes in his diary that he attends a Lodge
meeting at Masons Hall, London.
||• John Desaguliers is born in Rochelle, France.
||• Dr Robert Plot publishes his Natural History of
Staffordhire in which he ridiculed the Society of Freemasons. This
gives some proof that a symbolic Lodge was in existence at this time.
||• A Lodge of accepted Masons met at Trinity College, Dublin,
• Randel Holme III (a Chester genealogist and antiquarian) described an
association with members of the "Society called Freemasons".
• The "Society of Freemasons" is mentioned in a satirical speech in July at
the commencement of exercises of the University of Dublin.
||• The records of the Lodge of Melrose, between this year and
1695, use the term "fellowcraft"
||• The Edinburgh Register House manuscript states that Masons
have "words", "a grip", "signs", and "five points".
||• An anti-Masonic leaflet is published warning people
against the "Freed Masons".
||• The Haughfoot Lodge minute book commences on 2nd December.
||• Sir Richard Steel publishes and article in "The Tatler" (a
famous paper of the day) discussing certain people in which he says "They
have their signs and tokens like Free Masons" and "They have some secret
intimations of each like Free Masons".
||• The Hon. Elizabeth St Ledger (the famous "Lady Mason") who
was supposed to have eavesdropped at a Masonic initiation is given two
degrees. She later marries Richard Aldsworth and is also known under that
||• A meeting is held in the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles St
Covent Garden to discuss revival of the Quarterly Communications and an
||• The first Grand Lodge is formed on 24th June (St John the
Baptist's Day) in London by four Lodges meeting in the City of Westminster.
The Grand Lodge of England (GL of E)
||• Rev Bro John Theophilius Desaguliers is elected Grand
Master of the GL of E.
||• John, Duke of Montagu, is elected Grand Master of the GL
of E. This election bought much publicity and prestige to the Craft.
• On 24th June, the GL of E adopts a regulation that all regular Lodges are
required to secure a Charter from the Grand Lodge.
||• Dr James Anderson publishes the first edition of The
Constitutions of the Free-Masons.
||• The Gormogons, an anti-Masonic group, makes its first
• The Committee of Charity formed by the GL of E.
||• The Grand Lodge of Ireland is formed. (GL of I)
||• Prichard's Masonry Dissected is published. It is
the first expose of Masonic ritual, and is of great value in studying the
development of rituals used today.
• Martin Clare publishes his Defence of Freemasonry in answer to
• The Grand Secretary of the GL of I, John Pennell, publishes his version of
the Book of Constitutions.
||• The first travelling military Lodge is formed by the GL of
||• Freemasonry appears in Italy, and persecutions follow in
the city of Florence.
||• The Grand Lodge of Scotland is formed. (GL of S)
||• A Warrant is issued by Lord Derwentwater for the formation
of a Lodge in Sweden.
• On 6th September, the first Lodge meets in Germany.
||• Dr James Anderson publishes the second edition of The
Constitutions of the Free-Masons.
• A new edition of Masonry Dissected is published by Prichard.
• Pope Clement XII issues his Papal Bull In Eminenti on April 28th.
This is the first official edict of the Roman Catholic Church against the
||• Dr James Anderson dies.
• A committee meets in London to discuss proposed changes for Freemasonry.
This committee eventually developed into the Antient Grand Lodge.
||• Members of an English Lodge in Madrid are imprisoned.
||• The Grand Lodge of Germany is formed. (GL of G)
||• Freemasonry is introduced into Denmark. A duly constituted
Lodge, however, does not meet until 25th December 1745 when a Warrant is
issued by the GL of E.
• John Coustos is questioned and tortured by the Inquisition in Portugal
because he is a Freemason.
||• Fifield Dassigny publishes A Seeious and Impartial
Inquery into the Cause of the Present Decay of Freemasonry in the Kingdom of
Ireland. It contains the oldest printed reference to Royal Arch
||• John Coustos publishes The Sufferings of John Coustos
for Freemasonry, giving a first hand report of the methods of the
||• On 17th January, Joseph Torrubia (a Roman Catholic priest
living is Spain) secures permission from the Pope to become a Freemason so
as to find out who and what are Freemasons. As a result of his joining the
Order he complied a list of who belonged to the Order.
||• In March, Torrubia gives a list of 97 Lodges to the Grand
Inquisition, which caused the arrest and punishment of members by the
• Pope Benedict XIV issues his Papal Bull Providas on May 18th,
against the Craft.
• On 2nd July, King Ferdinand VI suppresses the Order in Spain.
• The Antient Grand Lodge of England (AGL of E) is formed on 17th July. This
was formally called a "schism" of the 1717 GL of E. It is formed by a group
of Masons opposed to the proposed changes to the Landmarks. The GL of E
becomes known as the "Moderns".
||• Laurence Dermott becomes Secretary of the AGL of E.
||• First known use of the term "Sublime Degree of a Master
Mason" in a certificate drawn by the GL of I.
• Alexander Slade publishes The Freemason Examin'd which is a
expose and claims the Craft's ritual is based on the Tower of Babel. Six
editions are published in five years.
||• Laurence Dermott publishes Ahiman Rezon - the
constitution of the Antients.
||• "Strict Union" reached between the GL of I and the
||• First Lodge is established in China by the GL of E.
||• William Preston publishes Illustrations of Free
Masonry which goes through seventeen editions by 1861.
||• "Strict Union" reached between the GL of S and the Moderns
(GL of E).
||• William Hutchinson publishes Spirit of Freemasonry
- the first book on Masonic philosophy expressing the view that the Craft is
a Chritsian association.
||• Masonic Hall is dedicated on Great Queen St, London,
||• The GL of E issues a Charter to African Lodge No 459 on
29th September. This is an African-American Lodge.
||• The Royal Masonic Institution for Girls is established in
||• The first Masonic journal in England, The Sentimental
and Masonic Magazine, is published monthly.
||• John Robison, a professor of the University of Edinburgh,
publishes Proof of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and
Governments of Europe carried on in Secret Meetings of the Freemasons,
Illuminati, and Reading Societies, Collected from Good Authorities.
||• The Royal Masonic Institution for Boys is established in
||• The English Parliament passes the Unlawful Societies
Act. Freemasonry is exempted from its provisions.
||• The Irish Masonic Female Orphan School is founded.
||• The Lodge of Promulgation is formed in England (and lasts
until 1811) to report on the differences between the ritual of the Moderns
and Antients. The "schism" has now be in existence for 58 years.
||• The Moderns and Antients become reconciled and form "The
United Grand Lodge of Antient, Free, and Accepted Masons of England" on 27th
December (St John's Day) - UGL of E.
||• The UGL of E, the GL of I, and the GL of S sign the
"International Compact" in which they agree on basic points of Freemasonry.
||• The new Book of Constitutions is issued by the
UGL of E.
||• The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland is formed.
||• the union of Royal Arch Chapters in England occurs.
||• William Preston dies. He left a substantial sum to the
Benevolent fund and also established a fund for the giving of an annual
lecture - still given England and called the Prestonian Lecture.
||• "Australian Social Mother Lodge No 260" is warranted in
Sydney by the GL of I on 6th January. Now known as Lodge Antiquity No 1 -
UGL of NSW & ACT.
||• Pope Pius VII issues his Papal Bull Ecclesiam on
Sept 13th, against the Craft.
||• The Grand Lodge of Wigan is formed by 4 erased Lodges in
Lancashire. It constitutes 6 lodges during its short existence which ceases
• The Irish parliament passes the Unlawful Oaths Act. It is directed at many
organisations, but 10 months after it is passes an announcement is made that
it is not intended to cover Freemasonry.
||• King Ferdinand VII of Spain decrees on 1st August the
death of all Freemasons without trial.
• "Lodge Leinster Marine No 266" is warranted in Sydney by the GL of I on
12th August. Now known as Lodge Leinster Marine No 2 - UGL of NSW & ACT.
||• Pope Leo XII issues his Papal Bull Quiograviora
on March 13th, against the Craft.
||• "Lodge Australia No 820" is warranted in Sydney by the UGL
of E on 21st June. Now known as The Lodge of Australia No 3 - UGL of NSW &
||• Pope Pius VIII issues his Papal Bull Traditi on
May 21st, against the Craft.
||• Pope Gregory XVI issues his Papal Bull Mirari on
August 15th, against the Craft.
||• The first Book of Constitutions is issued by the
GL of S - 102 years after it was formed.
||• The Grand Lodge Library is founded by the UGL of E.
||• The Benevolent Institution is founded for the aged and
needy Masons in England. It is the third charitable project of the Grand
||• James Halliwell discovers the Regius Manuscript
in the British Museum.
||• Inaugural meeting of "Maitland Lodge of Unity No 804" UGL
of E on 4th November. Now known as The Maitland Lodge of Unity No 4 - UGL of
NSW & ACT. It was the first country Lodge in NSW.
||• First Lodge formed in New Zealand.
||• Albert Mackey publishes A Lexicon of Freemasonry.
After many editions this develops in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.
||• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Qui Fluribus
on Nov 9th, against the Craft.
||• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Quibus quantisque
Malis on April 20th, against the Craft.
||• "Sydney - St Andrews Lodge No 358" is warranted in Sydney
by the UGL of S on 4th August. Now known as Lodge St Andrew Twilight No 7 -
UGL of NSW & ACT.
||• J.G.Findel publishes A History of Freemasonry,
the first English edition of which appears in 1865.
||• Between 21st and 24th May, Guiseppe Garibaldi unites all
Masonic groups on Italy.
• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Quanta Cura on Dec 8th,
against the Craft.
||• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Multiplires Intern
on Sept 25th, against the Craft.
||• A Lodge is formed in Japan by the UGL of E.
||• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Apostolicae Sedis
on Oct 12th, against the Craft.
||• Pope Pius IX issues his Papal Bull Esti Multa on
Nov 21st, against the Craft.
||• Gould's History of Freemasonry is published.
||• Pope Leo XIII issues his Papal Bull Humanum Genus
on April 20th, against the Craft. This is the last Papal Bull directed
against Freemasonry. Over a period of 146 years a total of 13 Bulls were
||• Quatuor Cononati Lodge No 2076 (UGL of E) is constituted.
It is to become the premier research Lodge in the World. Its first
Transactions were published in 1888, and have been published yearly
||• The United Grand Lodge of NSW is formed.
||• Pope Leo XIII establishes an Anti-Masonic Bureau.
• Edward Conder publishes Records of the Hole Crafte and Fellowship of
Masons in London.
||• Leader Scott (Lady Lucy Baxter) publishes The
Cathedral Builders in which she tries to show the missing link between
the Masons of ancient times and the Freemasons of her day.
||• Bro Rev Joseph Fort Newton writes The Builders
for the Grand Lode of Iowa - a copy of which is given to all new Masons.
This book is still popular today.
||• On 13th Feb, the Grand Fascist Council issues its first
resolution against Freemasonry.
||• The Salvation Army issues a "confidential" communication
to its officers expressing opposition to secret societies.
• The Fascists confiscate property of the Craft in Italy.
||• The Lateran Treaty is made between the Pope and Mussolini.
• Bro Eugen Lennhoff publishes The Freemasons which was translated into
English in 1934.
||• The Portugal Police order that all Masonic meetings are
||• King George VI of England invested as Past Grand Master of
the UGL of E.
• Knoop, Jones, & Hamer publish The Two Earliest Masonic Manuscripts.
• Knoop, Jones, & Hamer publish An Introduction to Freemasonry.
||• Knoop & Jones publish A Short History of Freemasonry
||• Knoop & Jones publish The Genesis of Freemasonry.
||• The Spanish Government includes an item in its budget to
spend over $100,000 for the maintenance of a special tribunal to suppress
||• Bernard E. Jones publishes A Freemasons Guide and
||• The January issue of the English magazine Theology
publishes are article entitled "Should a Christian be a Freemason?" by the
Rev Walton Hannah. The article creates a storm within the Anglican Church.
||• The Grand Lodge of the State of Israel is consecrated by
the GL of S on 20th Oct.
||• The Rev Walton Hannah publishes the anti-Masonic book
Masons by Degrees.
• Pick & Knight publish The Pocket History of Freemasonry.
• Freemasons are imprisoned in Spain.
||• Dr Mauro Baradi (PGM of the Philippines) is opposed by the
Roman Catholic Church from holding public office on the grounds that he is a
||• The Feb 23rd issue of the Christian Science Monitor
has a long favourable article about Freemasonry.
• The High Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church petitions the Minister of the
Interior to withdraw government recognition of Freemasonry.
• The Church of Nazarene states that it is opposed to Freemasonry.
• The Oct 8th issue of Life magazine is devoted almost entirely to
||• The Grand Lodge of Japan is formed.
• A court in England rules that Freemasonry is not a religion.
• The Lutheran Church fails to achieve unity at a meeting due to the
opposition of one group of its members to membership of Lodges by members of
• Bernard E. Jones publishes The Freemason's Book of the Royal Arch.
• Paul Nettl publishes Mozart and Masonry.
||• 21 Freemasons are imprisoned in Spain, without trial,
under the 1st March 1940 law.
||• A further 14 Freemasons are imprisoned in Spain.
• H.V.B.Booth publishes The Royal Order of Scotland.
||• The Grand Lodge of India is formed by the UGL of Em the GL
of I, and the GL of S.
• Harry Carr publishes Mother Kilwinning Lodge.
• Robert L. Duncan publishes The Reluctant General - a biography of
||• Liberty Lodge No 70 formed in Biaritz, France as a
travelling Lodge to serve Spanish Freemasons.
• H.C.Ronins-Landon publishes Mozart and the Masons - new light on the
Lodge of Crowned Hope.
• Harry Carr (editor) publishes Minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh
||• Knoop, Jones, & Hamer publish Early Masonic Catechisms
• H.L.Haywood publishes Masonic Essays.
||• On 29th Dec, Bishop Mendez Arceo of Mexico, expresses his
view at Vatican II that Roman Catholics should make peace with the
Freemasons of the World.
• Harry Carr (editor) publishes Collected Prestonian Lectures.
• Alec Mellor (a Roman Catholic) publishes Our Separated Brethren - The
Freemasons. He later becomes a Freemason and a member of Phoenix Lodge
of Research No 30 (GLNF).
• Discussions were held in England as to whether to modify the ancient
penalties of the Craft degrees.
||• The BBC presented a program entitled Freemasonry - The
Open Secret purporting to be an expose of Freemasonry.
||• The UGL of E celebrated its 250th anniversary, and
publishes Grand Lodge:1717-1967.
||• Bro Harry Carr meets with Cardinal Heenan in London on 8th
March to discuss the relationship of Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic
Church. As a result of these discussions, the anti-Masonic tracts sold in
Roman Catholic churches in London are removed from the stacks.
||• The Masonic Book Club is formed in Bloomington, Ill, USA
and publishes its first book in 1970 - a facsimile of the Regius Poem.
• A Pocket History of Freemasonry by Pick, Knight, & Smith is
||• Bro Harry Carr has several more conferences with Cardinal
Heenan. This leads to a friendly relationship developing between the Craft
and the Roman Catholic Church. On 26th April it is rumoured that the Church
is about to change its rule about barring Masonic membership to its members.
• King Solomon's Temple in the Masonic Tradition by Alex Horne is
• Early French Exposures by Bro Harry Carr is published.
• Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, which is generally believed to
contain Masonic themes, is examined by Jacques Chailley and his comments
||• A Register of Grand Lodges Active and Extinct by
George Draffen is published.
||• A Commentary on Masonic Ritual (2nd Edition) by
E.B.Cartwright is published, with comments by Bro Harry Carr.
• Emulation - A Ritual to Remember by C.F.W.Colin is published.
||• The Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (as
the Roman Inquisition was renamed by the Pope in 1965) sends a letter to
the various Episcopal Conferences on 19th June informing them that Cannon
2335 prohibiting its members from joining Freemasonry is to be interpreted
to apply to such groups as are opposed to Church.
||• A Freemason at Work by Bro Harry Carr is
||• Several Prince Hall Lodges in South Africa give up their
Charters from the USA and join the regular Craft in South Africa.
• Quatour Coronati Lodge publishes in facsimile the 1723 and 1738 editions
of Anderson's Constitutions in one volume.
• 600 Years of Craft Ritual by Bro Harry Carr is published.
||• The Craft in the Far East by Bro Christopher
Haffner is published.
• The York Legend in the Old Charges by Alex Horne is published.
• Prince Hall, Life and Legacy by Dr Charles Wesley is published
and reviewed in AQC vol 90, pp 306-322.
||• Pope John Paul II visits Chicago while the Grand Lodge is
in session. The Grand Master and Grand Wardens, by special invitation,
attend a Mass conducted by the Pope in Grant Park.
• Freemasonry is banned in Iran. Several Arab nations assume an anti-Masonic
stance under the erroneous belief that the Craft is controlled by the Jews.
||• Rose Croix - A History of the Ancient and Accepted
Rite for England and Wales by A.C.F. Jackson is published.