Review of Freemasonry

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by Bro. Bob James
Discovery Lodge of Research
UGL of NSW & ACT, Australia


            This essay is concerned with Masonic historical research and with one particular research lodge. My reasons for closely examining the first years of this lodge, Quatuor Coronati or ‘Four Crowned Martyrs’ [QC], relate to its accumulated status as exemplar within English Masonry, and the light its story can throw on the tribulations of  fraternal studies. I use the term ‘fraternal’ studies deliberately, but these issues have particular significance for the current generation of Freemasons.     Also of importance to ‘modern’ Freemasons is a debate taking place within the pages of The Transactions of AQC, [AQC] about the nature and function of Masonic history. To assist clarity, I begin with what are my basic premises:

*The word ’History’ can refer to what happened, or to the records of what happened, or to interpretations of what happened. While what happened, the event, remains ‘true’, it remains un-knowable because, afterwards, we no longer have it to use as evidence, we have only record/s, and interpretation/s of records, which can never be true in the way the event itself was, and they may be partial, or partisan or totally in error, or all three. We will never know for sure how near to or how far from the truth of the event we are.

*A record or collection of records, or an interpretation can achieve such status as may cause it/them to be known as ‘the historical truth.’

*An interpretation or collection of interpretations may achieve ‘official’ status and may be imposed as ‘the necessary truth’ as long as ‘the authority’ retains credibility.

*More important than the claims to truth, are the tests of truth. Any interpretation claiming to be ‘the historical truth’ can be tested for legitimacy, for logical error, or factually. Any interpretation claiming to be ‘the scientific truth’ can be tested experimentally. Any interpretation claiming to have or to be ‘the divine truth’ cannot be tested and removes itself, by definition, from history.

            Correlation of Freemasonry with Creation and with every worthwhile event or personality since has been a well-known blight on Masonic learning, and many attempts have been made to counter or altogether remove it. It is often claimed that from its inception in 1717 Freemasonry embodied Enlightenment values, and in 1797, one of the first English-language periodicals emphasising Freemasonry was published with the title, The Scientific Magazine and Freemason’s Repository. Yet, in 1867, a letter writer, ‘Historicus’, wrote to the Editor of Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, (London) in the following terms:

…Masonic archaeology is at the present a standing reproach to our Order, and we seem to grow no wiser by the lapse of time, but parrot-like to repeat those time-honored, if mythic, claims to antiquity which are valueless, and worse than valueless, if not based on historical evidence.[i]

            This writer was responding to Masonic spokespeople citing scientific principles while simultaneously asserting that Freemasonry must be true because it was ‘the word of God’:

I had formed a plan in my own mind, which was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Freemasonry as a literary institution…to convince the reading public that Freemasonry…actually contained the rudiments of all worldly science and spiritual edification…The first step was to show the Antiquity of the Order; for this was the only basis on which all subsequent reasoning could be safely founded…I therefore published a work on the Early History and Antiquities of Masonry from the Creation to the building of  Solomon’s Temple.[ii] 

            In 1894, the Reverend Sayce, a founding member of the Palestine Exploration Fund, experienced archaeologist and stalwart of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, observed in his musings about disputes over ‘Biblical archaeology’:

(Let) us not forget that in one important respect at least, both the “Higher Critics” and the archaeologist are agreed. Both alike are seeking for the truth, and this truth is historical not theological. It is as historians and not as theologians that we must investigate the records of the Old Testament…[iii]

             QC has garnered the reputation of having been the first, serious attempt in the English-language to remove the blight, and, by surviving for a century plus, has apparently succeeded. Bro Beresiner asserted in 2007:

With the formation of (QC) express effort was made to establish a scientific or authentic school of masonic research and history. The founding members…were all recognised masonic scholars and from the start, the Lodge was able to contribute toward reliable and factual masonic research.[iv]

            Bro Dyer, a member of QC since 1971, evaluated the achievements of its first century, 1886-1986:

…By (their stated objectives the founders) established a new style of research into Freemasonry. It ignored baseless conclusions…of earlier authors and…became known as the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic students.

Through the members’ efforts the work of previous historians came under close scrutiny and much that had formerly been accepted as reliable was rejected.[v]

            Variations on this theme are easily found. In the 1972 discussion on a paper I intend to look at below, Bro Spurr asserted that the foundation of QC came about because there was perceived to be a need for a lodge where:

Masonic matters could be discussed and all theories carefully examined, to sift the wheat from the chaff, the fact from the fiction. Quatuor Coronati Lodge established itself as the place where bubbles were pricked and if anything was put forward as a fact it had to be proved by independent authorities.[vi]

            In the Masonic diaspora heavily influenced by UGLE and, in research matters, by QC, the belief that the struggle for ‘scientific and authentic’ history was fought and won by QC long ago has had to struggle with 20th century claims of the following sort:

…In order to gain a true conception of the origin and evolution of Freemasonry, its Signs, Symbols, and all its Rituals and Ceremonies, one must have also a knowledge of the origin and evolution of the Human Race, with all the Totemic Mysteries performed in Sign Language by Primitive Man…

…All the facts I have herein set forth can be verified as the truth by any Brother who will devote sufficient study and scientific research to the subject matter…[vii]

Similarly de-contextualised statements continue to be made by Freemasonry’s elders along the lines that:

…(Guided) by our Masonic principles…we can face the future with every confidence, firmly believing that truth and justice will always prevail, and that Freemasonry is truth and justice in all things.[viii]

Most recently, in 2012, a major report sponsored by UGLE on ‘The Future of Freemasonry’, based its conclusions on a-historical readings of the past three centuries, as for example:

…The ‘modern’ Freemasonry that was established by the UGLE, in which the ‘Antients’ who had initially rejected its authority were soon to be integrated…[ix]

and on equally-erroneous, supposedly-supportive statements such as:

…Looking at the past as a useful guide to explaining the present, the (Roosevelt Center for the study of Civil Society and Freemasonry) points out that:

‘Freemasonry was there at the origins of modern civil society often as the only

organization where there could be free discussion without fear of censorship and authoritarian control’.

            Assertions of this kind add to the confusion and the sense of unreality felt by otherwise sympathetic observers. Within QC there are clear signs of renewed debate about weaknesses, even failures in Masonic historical research, and into whether or not QC has succeeded in its mission. This is admirable, positive and long-overdue. To achieve results, it seems to this researcher, that the issues at stake need to be more clearly defined, the root cause better-understood, and the debate conducted much more overtly.


QC logo

Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London, No 2076, EC

            – Towards an Alternative Appraisal:

            A defence will be mounted that QC cannot be held accountable for every fantasy that sees the light of day, that there will always be individuals who will interpret ‘the evidence’ in strange ways. This is true, but Masons need to ask how has QC, among other Masonic authorities, created and sustained the atmosphere in which the fantasies continue to be published, read and believed?

            The free-wheeling attitude continues, it seems to me, because the atmosphere in which it can survive and thrive, created initially by Anderson’s mythical account in 1723, remains in place. Not only was Andersonian-history not challenged, it was adopted as ‘official’.

            A number of authors in recent issues of AQC have assayed the part played by esoteric ‘evidence’ in QC’s early work and the ways in which such interests can, today, be kept within useful boundaries.[x] A few others, such as Cooper, Prescott and Hamill, self-described as ‘a professional Masonic historian’, and currently engaged in writing the ter-centennial history of UGLE, have looked more quizzically:

The founders of (QC) coined the phrase ‘authentic or scientific school’ of Masonic research…(After) one hundred years…(have) they lived up to their claim?[xi]

The answer he gave was qualified:

In their voracious appetite for searching out evidence the answer is yes. In their treatment of that evidence I think the answer can only be a very qualified yes, particularly in their work on the origins of Freemasonry.

What bothered him most was

the basic premise…that Freemasonry developed directly out of operative masonry…In this they were behaving most unscientifically, seeking for evidence to prove their theory rather than seeking evidence and analysing it to see what could be deduced from it.

            Even here, the emphasis continues to be on the ‘what?’, ‘who?’, ‘how?’ and ‘when? rather than on the ‘why?’ - for example, ‘why has Masonry not changed?’

            The 2009 ‘inaugural address’ by WM Wade[xii] represents the latest ‘insider’ re-appraisal of QC. In it, the challenges facing QC[xiii] in the context of  debate between ‘academic historians’ and Masonic scholars were emphasised. A 2008 Conference convened specifically to discuss the Lodge, he reported, saw AQC’s role as ‘to communicate the latest research’, but made no mention of any need to critique. No-where does Wade consider that past practices within QC may have been flawed, even contradictory. He asserts that the latest fall in numbers in the ‘Outer Circle’ is due to QC being ‘subjected to the underlying trend in the total numbers of Freemasons’, in other words, the fall has nothing to do with anything QC may have done, or not done. He repeated the call of the conference:

(The) papers presented in the Lodge and published in AQC should endeavour to demonstrate the same standard of research and presentation as those required by academic journals.

            How is QC going to demonstrate an academic standard’? How is the ‘Editorial Committee’ to be assessed as qualified? In 1886, QC members assessed incoming work themselves. Academic journals have external readers to do this. No-where in his analysis is there a mention of ‘truth’ or any analogous term – integrity? proof of statements? and no-where is there any concern for the accumulation of findings, so that ignorance or mis-understanding might over time diminish.

            He notes that Knoop and Jones in the 1930’s and ‘40’s ‘startled’ academic reviewers with the quality of their studies. He also notes that Knoop’s last paper submitted to QC in 1948 was blocked, ‘for fear of causing offence’ and that no reason was given. How is such an affront to be prevented in the future?

            There are trite, ‘official’ answers to these questions but I had less-anxious views in mind. If Masonic research was already being conducted with the claimed principles foremost, a recent formal declaration prohibiting Masonic discussion of ‘the esoteric’ might be dismissed as the last growl of an irrational past.[xiv] But then it would not have been necessary for Jan Snoek at the First Edinburgh International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in 2007 to assert:

(We) have now entered a new phase in the historiography of Freemasonry, one in which much of its history needs to be re-written.[xv]

Andrew Prescott, scholar of Masonry as social history, worried in 2002:

 If we are at the beginning of a struggle to protect and restate the secular values of the Enlightenment, it is inevitable that the study of freemasonry, so much bound up with the creation of those values, will become of new relevance.[xvi] [My emphasis]

            He was thinking of recent attacks on Freemasonry by Islamic extremists but clearly they are not the only enemies of enlightened views. Prescott has opined that in contrast to the lively and outward-looking early work of QC, ‘the productions of modern masonic scholarship look tired and lacklustre’. He has labelled the recent past of QC as one of ‘ossification’, not because he sees that mistakes have been made but rather because there has been ‘a clash of historiographical traditions.’ I cannot be so circumspect or so abstract, if only because it is the ‘historiographical traditions’ which need unpacking.

            Masonic engagement with context, with ‘academic standards’ and with the idea that not all Masonic research need to centre on Freemasonry is apparent in the program for a one-day conference in 2012 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, in Massachusetts, USA, introduced as follows:

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day...The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for fresh interpretations of American society and culture.

It then lists the intended speakers and their topics:

·Jeffrey Tyssens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, “The Goatee’s Revenge: A Founding Myth and a Founder’s Cult in American Fraternalism”

·Yoni Appelbaum, Brandeis University, “The Great Brotherhood of Toil: The Knights of Labor as a Fraternal Order”

·Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, “The Shadow of the Pope: Anti-Catholicism, Freemasonry, and the Knights of Columbus in 1910s California”

·Samuel Biagetti, Columbia University, “A Prehistoric Lodge in Rhode Island? – Masonry and the Messianic Moment”

·Alyce Graham, University of Delaware, “Secrecy and Democracy: Masonic Aprons, 1750-1830”

·Bradley Kime, Brigham Young University, “Masonic Motifs in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

·Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, “The Significance of Fraternalism in Three Criminal Organizations of Late Nineteenth Century America: The Mollie Maguires, the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia”.

            Freemasonry is the only fraternal ‘strand’[xvii] which has utilised lodges of research to attempt clarification of its origins and development, and QC, as a pathfinder, has achieved much. But my reading of the history of Freemasonry has made me fearful that Snoek’s 2007 call may prove yet another false dawn, and that the prohibition on ‘the esoteric’ is a sign of a continuing problem powerful enough to frustrate attempts at necessary change. Even the Snoek articulation, which leaves Speculative Freemasonry at the centre of the fraternal dynamic, is being opposed by some Masonic ‘insiders’, as too radical or as un-necessary. Before going to the detail of QC, I turn to another Masonic ‘beginning’ for further illustration.           

            The ostensible date for Masonry’s formal birth as an organisation, 1717, has been under largely-unproductive scrutiny for many years. Take the following, typically de-contextualised account of the events of 1717 given by Brother Edward Schultz in 1912:

On St John the Baptist’s Day, June 24, 1717, an assemblage of Masons was held at the ‘Goose and Gridiron’ tavern in the city of London, in compliance with a resolution adopted by the four old lodges of London and some other old brethren, to revive Masonry which had fallen into great disorder, to revive the quarterly communications of the offices of Lodges, to hold an annual assemblage and feast, and to choose a Grand Master among themselves.[xviii]

In 1939, Brother George Maine interpreted the same events differently:

On June 24th, 1717, as a strategic move in the political game of chess between the Houses of Hanover and Stuart, the Hanoverians, just to accomplish their own selfish ends, gathered together four comparatively unimportant Masonic Lodges lying in the outskirts of London to form the Grand Lodge of London, the first Grand Lodge of Masonry. It was on that day that Freemasonry, all unexpectedly started on its world mission.[xix]

            The date, 1939, is a clue to why Maine was making his particular ‘refinement’, and speaking of a ‘world mission’. His suggestion that Freemasons might have acted strategically no doubt shook his audience, but the necessity for home-grown propaganda in the years 1939-45 helped to change perceptions both inside and outside the ranks of Freemasons. That Masonic ‘insiders’ would be influenced, however slowly, by material circulating on the ‘outside’ is to be expected, but for the most recent historians of Freemasonry who are increasingly not ‘insiders’ there is interest in just how and why some ‘insider’ accounts of this and other key Masonic events have changed over time – in other words what is the context?

            In 2002, MK Schuchard was invited to address QC. Not only not a Mason, Schuchard was a woman so this might have been a breakthrough for tolerance or a recognition that their control of the Masonic record had slipped and QC needed to come to grips with the ‘outsiders’. Bro Beresiner in 2007 applauded the invitation, seeing it as part of, in my terms, a re-contextualisation. Her approach to that pivotal event of June 24, 1717 can be imagined from her publisher’s description of  a foreigner who may or may not have been involved:

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) won fame and infamy as a natural scientist and visionary theosopher, but he was also a master intelligencer, who served as a secret agent for the French king, Louis XV, and the pro-French, pro-Jacobite party of "Hats" in Sweden. This study draws upon unpublished diplomatic and Masonic archives to place his financial and political activities within their national and international contexts.[xx]

            Her reception by the members of QC included cries of ‘balderdash’ and ‘rubbish’.[xxi] Published comments on her presentation included much of what one member described as ‘righteous ire and indignation.’[xxii] Her views are challenging but for this reason alone might have been warmly welcomed rather than warmly dismissed – on just what rational basis was anger justified? The generally-negative response was not a one-off - David Stevenson, also a non-Mason with challenging views, had received similar treatment from the members of QC, a little earlier, in 1994:

Stevenson was the first non-mason to be invited to address the lodge, the lodge meeting having been closed so that he could be admitted. (He) presented a… paper…emphasising the significance of the Scottish evidence and reflecting on the methodological implications of his work. His paper was very poorly received. The… tone of …comments was at best cool, at worst positively hostile...(All) the comments…evinced an unwillingness on the part of the lodge’s members to engage with primary evidence.[xxiii]

            Struggles over an official narrative are not new and not confined to fraternalism, of course. Eighteenth century Scottish philosopher, David Hume ‘sought to change fundamentally the practice of history.’[xxiv] In a letter to a friend, he wrote: ‘…Style, judgement, impartiality, care – everything is wanting to our historians…’ He was in the midst of the creation of what has come to be called the Whig theory of history, an interpretation only seriously questioned in the 20th century. But had ‘history’ suddenly become a prize to be fought over, and manipulated? Answer: No, but the potential rewards for the group or individual in control of ‘history’ were growing exponentially.

            It was the outside world which first appreciated that Speculative Freemasons were but one grouping involved in the 18th century’s largely covert manoeuvrings between the Hanoverians and those with alternative ideas of monarchy, but the process of inter-action is neither simple nor all one way. Objective ‘truth’ is not necessarily to be found in academe, nor only there. Non-Mason, Noam Chomsky risked a great deal during the Vietnam War by reminding us of the crucial role being played by intellectuals in the creation and maintenance of mythic histories, especially, at that time, by the apparently ‘liberal and objective experts’. These ‘new mandarins’ included many well-known historians, for example, Arthur Schlesinger who had described the bombing of North Vietnam and the massive escalation of US military commitment in early 1965 as based on a “perfectly rational argument”.[xxv] Linking an earlier conflict involving US oil interests, the 1930’s Spanish Civil War, with more recent history, Chomsky showed the combination of forces driving the allegedly ‘scientific, value-free language’ in schools and universities, parliaments and think-tanks:

I have concentrated on one theme – the interpretation of the social revolution in Spain – in one work of history, a work that is an excellent example of liberal scholarship…to show that a deep bias against social revolution and a commitment to the values and social order of liberal bourgeois democracy has led the author to misrepresent crucial events…to overlook major historical currents…and to a striking failure of objectivity.[xxvi]

            At the time, his insights into the involvement of intellectuals in the creation of history were little appreciated. Today, they are much closer to being commonly-held, at least by professionals trained to allow evidence to lead.   


Aims and Personnel:

            Quatuor Coronati [QC] met formally for the first time in January, 1886 and quickly gained a positive, wide-spread reputation throughout the English-speaking world. The major vehicle for that global reputation, its transactions, Ars Quatuor Coronati, began almost immediately and has continued to the present day, whereby QC continues to claim for itself the mantle of “Premier Lodge of Research.”[xxvii]

            If they had been intending only to change the way that Masonic research was done, as has been claimed, the founders had no need of a physical presence, an actual Lodge. They could have mailed their findings to one another, or had them published in journals, or if in need of immediate comment, they might have made presentations to any of the historical associations with which many of them were already involved.

In 1880, an editorial in The Freemason observed:

There are many German writers, and one or two Americans, who might be mentioned, but all have faults of deficient criticism. Bros D Murray Lyon, WJ Hughan, Gould, Woodford and Whytehead may all be cited in England as seeking to establish an English Masonic critical school, which endeavours to demonstrate that English Masons can carefully collate evidences, verify authorities, and write correctly and dispassionately…[xxviii]

            Personal details go some way towards explaining why they chose the lodge format - six had been initiated by their 25th year, both Warren and Gould before they were 20:

Warren                 b. 1840         Mason at 19           Aged 46 in 1886 

WH Rylands         b. 1847         Mason at 25                     39 in 1886

Gould                   b. 1836         Mason at 19                     50 in 1886

Woodford             b. 1821         Mason at 21                     65 in 1886

Besant                   b. 1836        Mason at 26                      50 in 1886

JP Rylands            b. 1846        Mason at 26                      40 in 1886

Pratt                      b. 1844        Mason at 32                      42 in 1886

Hughan                 b. 1841        Mason at 22                      45 in 1886

Speth                     b. 1847        Mason at 25                      39 in 1886


            Simpson (born 1823, initiated 1871), Bywater (b.1825, initiated 1846), Irwin (b.1829, initiated 1857) and Whytehead (b.1840, initiated 1872) were all very nearly founding members, and early in 1886 were given Member No’s 9, 10, 11 and 12, respectively. JP Rylands had resigned early in 1886 for unexplained reasons, an exchange of correspondence between himself and Speth having not survived.[xxix]

            The resumes published in QC at the time show ‘numerous contributions’ to Masonic and/or other journals, and considerable involvement in researching, writing and editing. However, three of the nine, Besant, JP Rylands and Pratt, were not noticeably active in a lodge, while Speth, the youngest, had only recently been introduced to Masonic research, as we will see. He and JP Rylands appear to have only become involved with the others in the early 1880’s.

            The lodge name came about ‘because of its connection with the craft of the operative stonemasons. The ‘Four Crowned Ones’ were allegedly martyred on 8 November, 302 AD, and had since been regarded throughout Europe as the patron saints of stonemasons. Installation meetings of QC still take place on the second Thursday in November, ‘this being the nearest practicable date to that of their martyrdom.’[xxx]

            The first draft of the lodge bye-laws/objects, drawn up in 1884 when QC’s warrant was applied for and received, and attributed to WH Rylands,[xxxi] had only 3 clauses, none of which make any reference to ‘a new approach’ to research:

            1. This lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted masons shall be called the ‘Quatuor Coronati’ in honor and perpetuation of the memory of ‘these holy martyres foure’…“(that) in this craft were of great honoure”.

            2. The following nine brethren as named in the Warrant of Constitution, dated 28 November, 1884, viz Bro Sir Charles Warren, WH Rylands, Walter Besant, JP Rylands, Revd AFA Woodford, RF Gould, SC Pratt, WJ Hughan and JW Speth, shall in future and for all time to be known as the founders of the lodge. They correspond in number to the five sculptors, Claudius, Castorious, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, and Simplicimus, who was by command of the Emperor Diocletian enclosed alive in leaden coffins and thrown into the sea, AD 287 for refusing to sculpture and idol; and to the four martyrs, Severus, Severianus, Carpropherus and Victorinus, who had shortly before been scourged to death with whips armed with lead for refusing to worship at the throne of Aesculapius. These nine saints were collectively known to our mediaeval brethren as the ‘four crowned martyrs.’

            3. The immediate object and purpose of the lodge is declared to be the pursuit and encouragement of archeological research, more especially as connected with Freemasonry and cognate subjects.[xxxii]

            Honouring the martyrs so emphatically put them at the heart of the enterprise but invited critical reaction - just what was the connection between the name and this 3rd bye-law? As an attempt to explain the reasoning behind the choice of name, the second clause still succeeds only to further mystify – how can nine become four? – and what is implied about QC’s approach to evidence in this emphasis on legend? Why is the research purpose of the Lodge, specifically ‘archeological research’, last in the list? And where has the issue of the martyr’s Catholicism gone? 

            The first meeting did not happen until January, 1886 because Warren, the WM-to be, had been despatched to South Africa at short notice by the British Government and the others chose to wait on his return. It would appear a great deal of discussion occurred in the interregnum. When published in 1887, QC’s greatly altered and extended ‘Aims’ had nine points.

The first was:

            1. To provide a centre and bond of union for Masonic students.

            The emphasis on the martyrs has been replaced with an aspiration for ‘brotherhood’. The word ‘centre’ suggests that a physical ‘coming together’ was considered of equal importance to a symbolic ‘bond of union’.

The second Aim was:

            2. To attract intelligent Masons to its meetings, in order to imbue them with a love for Masonic research.

Aims 3-7 were more outward-looking:

            3. To submit the discoveries or conclusions of students to the judgement and criticism of their fellows by means of papers read in Lodge.

            4. To submit these communications and the discussions arising thereon to the general body of the Craft by publishing, at proper intervals, the Transactions of the Lodge, in their entirety.

            5. To tabulate concisely, in the printed Transactions of the Lodge, the progress of the Craft throughout the world.

            6. To make the English-speaking Craft acquainted with the progress of Masonic study abroad, by translations (in whole or in part) of foreign works.

            7. To reprint scarce and valuable works on Freemasonry, and to publish Manuscripts, etc.

The last two returned to the idea of a strong centre:

            8. To form a Masonic Library and Museum.

            9. To acquire permanent London premises, and open a reading-room for the members.

            Again, there is no reference to a new approach. The use of ‘intelligent’ is significant. No-one was to be admitted if they could not show ‘a high literary, artistic or scientific qualification’. The founders had decided they each possessed this attribute, and were therefore qualified to be the bench-mark and to judge whether others met their standards. ‘Culling from the best material only’, newcomers were to submit an assessable ‘masterpiece’ before being admitted,[xxxiii] all of which implies that a new approach was not intended, rather, that Lodge QC was to continue doing what its senior founders had been doing for some time. There was no need for any change in approach because theirs was the best available.

            The group was, however, shaken immediately by the demands generated simply by its coming together. Bro Fenn of the Lodge of Emulation which supplied the jewels and the furniture used at the installation ceremony in January 1886, said at the time that he believed that QC had been formed ‘to settle knotty points in Masonic history’ but he noted that:

Bro Gould has (concluded) that these four martyrs, or five, or nine martyrs compressed into four had nothing whatever to do with Masonry…I notice from what fell from Brother Woodford before in his address that there is a difference of opinion between himself and Bro Gould…(but let us hope) in a satisfactory solution of some of those doubts which have lately disturbed the Craft. [xxxiv] [my emphasis]

            The published version of the Reverend Woodford’s address as Immediate Past Master, [IPM] contained his summation of the collective intentions:

(It) is proposed…to have papers read on subjects far-off or near, recondite or common place, to invite discussions…and to issue ‘Transactions.’ We trust that by this means we may help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation, may induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts, and subserve at the same time the increasing and healthy movement for the extension of libraries and museums in all lodges.[xxxv]

            Woodford was not advocating either a new approach or even the degree of rigour that Dyer has assumed. He was arguing that Freemasons needed to change their ways, certainly, but was hoping rather than asserting – ‘may help forward’, ‘may induce’ and so on – and not because previous research had been flawed but, as has been argued many times before and since:

…For thus it may chance that we shall be enabled to rescue contemporary Freemasonry from the charge frequently brought against it, that it sacrifices an intellectual study of Freemasonry proper to the more pervading requirements of the social circle, and that it is too easily contented with a routine of ritual on the one hand, and the pleasing exercise of hospitality on the other…[my emphasis]

            Whatever the aspirations, and whether a result of the late disturbances or not, only five of the founding nine attended the lodge consecration in January, 1886, to mingle with what was only a handful of others. From the second meeting the minutes differentiated attendees into ‘Members’ and ‘Visitors’. On 7 April, 1886, the first at which a paper was to be presented, 4 ‘founders’ and 1 ‘visitor’ attended.[xxxvi] Woodford, acting WM in Warren’s absence, postponed the paper to June ‘(on) account of the small attendance and the amount of business before the lodge.’ On 3 June, Gould gave the first paper, ‘On Some Old Scottish Masonic Symbols’ to 10 members and 5 visitors. At the 4th meeting, in September, 6 members attended with 9 visitors.

            In October, 1886, the Secretary, Speth, advised all members that the next meeting, in November, was special for more than one reason:

..The day in question has been kept by the Church for upwards of one thousand years as the Feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs, the earliest Patron Saints of the Craft and has been appropriately selected as the Annual Festival and Installation day of our Lodge…[xxxvii]

Beside the Installation the meeting would include the announcement of an ‘important and startling discovery’:

So far everything points to a meeting of exceptional interest…(In addition to Grand Lodge officers being in attendance)..a Paper for the occasion is in course of preparation by Prof T Hayter Lewis and though short, as his discovery is only in its initial stage, will be of surpassing interest. He has found in some ancient writings a distinct and unmistakeable allusion to the Hiramic Legend which carries us back several centuries beyond any pre-existing record of it.

He expressed the opinion that:

It is probable that much of the discussion on the Paper will be of too esoteric a nature to print, for which reason it is considered that members will like to attend and take part in it – also to invite Brother students to be present on an occasion so noteworthy in the history of the lodge…

            For this November meeting, by which time the total of ‘members’ stood at 14, 8 members and 23 visitors attended. In hindsight, the ‘paper’ by Hayter-Lewis appears an act of desperation by Speth. He later wrote:

…The only unsatisfactory feature of our past history is the small number of London Lodge members…if…one or two of (these) fail us, the Lodge is reduced to very small dimensions. Were it not for the attendance of Correspondence Members and visitors the audience assembled would often be most discouraging…[xxxviii]

             The published version has the speaker, who had joined in June, 1886 to become the 14th member, describing his very brief contribution as the ‘mere outcome of some casual observations’ made to him some years before in a university Common Room by a fellow academic about a Jewish/Arabic manuscript, possibly of 14th century origin, but which neither could now adequately identify. In response to his suggestion that the ms displayed a clear reference to the Hiramic Legend, Gould pointed to more recent evidence which made it most unlikely that that element of ceremonial was introduced into English Freemasonry before the 1720’s. Speth bristled and asserted that ‘Brother Gould had failed to argue with his usual cogency’. He thought:

we might fairly conclude that if in the 14th century the Legend existed and was connected with the building art…our working ancestors probably knew something about it. But when in 1724 we found a similar idea pervading masonry, it was only fair to believe that it had descended in direct line and was not a new importation.[xxxix]

            For the December meeting, 8 members and 2 visitors attended. At the first 1887 meeting, with Westcott having become the 15th ‘full member’, 8 members and 7 visitors saw the first batch of applicants elected to the ‘Correspondence Circle’ [CC], 37 in all. Despite this new blood supply, the same meeting pattern continued - founding members rarely in attendance, a trickle of newly-elected ‘full members’, and an unpredictable number of ‘visitors’. A ‘Record of Attendance’ drawn up in mid-1887, when the member’s list had reached 17, shows that Gould and Speth were the only founders with 100% record, 8/8, while Warren had managed 3/8, and Besant only 1/8.[xl] Dyer notes that at this stage, before the Correspondence Circle was fully operational, neither Hughan nor Simpson, member No 9, thought QC could survive.

            As time went on, generation of a warm camaraderie within QC, and by extension within a new, and growing research community around the world was left increasingly to just Speth. Lodge Secretary for its first 15 years, he apparently answered every enquiry personally and at length, and instituted what were called ‘St John’s Cards’. Designed by Simpson and akin to Xmas cards these were sent to all members, including to all CC subscribers after it began operating, until the early 1890’s. He was Secretary of all the one-off efforts the group determined upon from time to time. Dyer’s list of his day-to-day work is itself substantial:

(The) organisation of meetings, with suitable papers to be presented; the actual running  of the lodge as a Masonic lodge; within a short time, the arrangement for the editing, printing and publishing of our Transactions, and the getting together of a group of semi-interested people who would buy and even read (them)…The lodge had no money…all the things I have mentioned cost money. A hundred years ago a lodge Treasurer [initially Besant] took no part in the mundane affairs of raising money and spending it. His duty was the actual custody of the funds…(The) raising and collection of the money, the accounting and book-keeping, and such financial planning as was done, all fell on the lodge secretary……And in case he should fiddle, they engaged a professional accountant as auditor, but neglected to take any concrete decisions on important matters, like engaging a room in London for the books, and to act as an office.

            Even this was not everything. In his acceptance speech, January 1888, Gould celebrated the newly-established ‘Outer Circle’ for more distant ‘searchers after Masonic truth’ and because its numbers had rapidly outstripped those of the ‘Inner Circle’ he asserted that students of all nationalities regarded QC as ‘the centre of Masonic light’. The responsibility ‘voluntarily assumed’ by QC was, he said, ‘as a general school of instruction’:

My ideal of such a lodge as ours is, is that it should represent an educational ladder in Masonry, reaching from the abyss of Masonic ignorance to the zenith to which we all aspire.[xli]

            Speth’s motion for a ‘Literary Society under the guidance and protection of the Lodge’,[xlii] had become in the hands of the committee a new class of members, the ‘Correspondence Circle.’ On Speth’s death in 1901, Gould credited his friend with ‘the cape stone of our present structure’ and ‘the most brilliant inspiration which has ever occurred to any votary of Masonic research’.[xliii] The usual commercial processes of book production and distribution were to be spurned in favour of the lodge network and again, Speth was left to sort out the practicalities. With no permanent premises he was forced to store at his house all unsold and donated publications. The Library alone had reached 3,000 volumes before he was able to relinquish it.

            Dyer commented on the consequences of Speth’s sudden demise in 1901:

…His death caused chaos…The life of the lodge depended on finding a paragon as nearly as possible in the mould of Speth…[xliv]

            Speth’s willingness to be the QC work horse may have shortened his life,[xlv] although his post-mortem in 1901 disclosed a heavily diseased heart, probably from his long involvement with smoking and the tobacco industry. In 1894 when presented with a handsome watch and chain for his decade of effort, he had responded:

…I have since the first, devoted myself heart and soul, body and mind to the welfare of our lodge; it has become the labour of my prime, the love of my manhood, and, I trust will prove my joy in old age.[xlvi]

            His was not the first loss. Woodford died in December, 1887, Irwin in 1893, Hayter-Lewis in 1898, and Simpson in 1899. Eight other non-founding members preceded him, while Besant and one other also died in 1901.


RF Gould and the Writing of Masonic History:

            Gould was responsible for some of the sharpest, published disputation within QC, yet he it was who delivered the first paper, and who was elected Worshipful Master [WM] when Warren stood down, after two terms. After his death in 1915 a colleague claimed:

…No member of the Fraternity has ever earned such widespread reputation; no member of the Craft has ever more thoroughly deserved the esteem in which his brethren held him…[xlvii]

            His Masonic fame rested principally on the success of the History of Freemasonry, published in separate volumes from 1882 to 1887, and subsequently revised and re-printed numerous times.[xlviii] The work was universally celebrated outside QC, within QC its reception appears muted but this may only be because later observers have not read enough of the fine print in the transactions. Tension might have originated in the fact that in 1882, in seeking permission to dedicate ‘the work’ to the Prince of Wales, Gould  acknowledged ‘the assistance of Bros DM Lyon, Grand Secretary, Scotland; the Rev AFA Woodford, PGC; and WJ Hughan, PGD’.[xlix] He again noted these three in a pre-publication flyer, ie before the 1st volume appeared in 1883. When published, however, the books carried only his name.

            Long-archived manuscripts in Speth’s handwriting were found in 1982 to be identical to chapters in The History on ‘The Steinmetzen’ and ‘The Craft Guilds of France’, whereupon the finder, UGLE Asst Librarian Hamill, wrote to QC’s Secretary:

…From documents I have recently re-discovered it would seem that Gould was guilty of more than mere discourtesy for evidence has come to light that he was not the author of at least two important early chapters, facts which beg the question of how much of the work was his own original research and writing. [l]

He was referring to a partial biography of Gould whose author, in 1980, had commented that Gould had seemed tardy in ‘acknowledging the great assistance afforded him by his friends’. Hamill disclosed:

…(I) was not aware that Speth had produced any major work apart from his papers to the Lodge. By a process of elimination I was drawn to Gould’s History, and there was the answer…(All) Gould had done was to alter Speth’s style to his own.

Hamill then, rhetorically, asked whether Gould’s actions were the reason The History was not awarded the Belgian Peeters-Baertson Prize in 1889, an award seemingly tailor-made for it.

            It is doubtful whether anyone close to QC would have been unaware of the co-authorship or of Gould’s appreciation. In the last pages of The History, written perhaps in 1886, among others who were not QC members, he specifically thanked Hughan ‘for his judicious counsel’, and Speth:

whose co-operation …was not circumscribed within these limits [the ‘foreign’ chapters] but extended to other chapters, and to the perusal of the latter half of the proofs. To this friend I stand under a peculiar weight of obligation, from his familiarity with several modern languages…[li]

He also specifically thanked Rylands, and Woodford:

the Doyen of British Masonic students, whose wise counsel, so often sought, has never been withheld, and whose ample library was placed freely at my disposal.

            Elsewhere his acknowledgments were equally clear. In an 1898 review of work by Speth he wrote:

I shall premise that the excellent paper read by Bro Speth [to QC], has no warmer admirer than myself. It is in every respect an ornament to the columns of [AQC] and one hardly knows whether to pay the greater tribute of respect to the patient industry of the writer, or to the masterly manner in which his arguments are arranged.[lii]

At the time of Speth’s death in 1901, Rylands spoke plainly:

(It) is…some slight consolation to us to think that to Speth’s labours Brother Gould was indebted for much of the lengthy chapters devoted to the French Trade Guilds, and Continental Freemasonry, included in the later volume of his monumental History.[liii]

            Gould, at the same service, recorded his thanks for the ‘great’ services rendered by the Secretary in the writing of The History. [liv] In 1915, a letter writer not of QC but claiming to have been ‘Gould’s closest Craft correspondent’ referred, inter alia, to ‘the notebooks and memoranda used by him and Brother Speth in compiling the great History’.[lv]

            Speth in 1881 and not long back from Cuba, had recorded his first tentative steps in research:[lvi]

When some months back, finding myself master of much spare time, I began to investigate the old Minutes of our Lodge, with a view to writing its history, my intention was merely to jot down a short summary of the principal events connected therewith – such as might perhaps cover a couple of sheets of foolscap, and would form a short paper to be read in Lodge, if deemed worthy of that honour.

He told how his curiosity had then taken hold:

As, however, my interest in our doings gradually increased, so did I find more and more difficulty in rejecting this fact and the other, until my notes alone formed quite a bulky paper. I then determined to make my history as exhaustive as in me lay, and soon discovered that this required the acquisition of more information than could be supplied from our own annals, involving me in researches for which my previous experience had hardly fitted me. The work, however, fascinated me…

            Newly inspired, Speth was, I believe, recruited to explore some foreign-language material but provided Gould with more complete accounts than were expected and Gould found himself only having to make minor adjustments. Perhaps the publisher was also pressing and he had insufficient time to adjust Speth’s texts, even had he wanted to.

            When awarding the Belgian prize, the trustees singled out The History for special mention. They explained it was ruled out of contention, with other works of ‘pure history’, by the wording in the prize-giver’s will appearing to refer to ‘books only which should explain and illustrate Masonic doctrines and principles.’ Their reference to Gould and The History concluded with:

Of all these works (submitted) the most important, without doubt, is the grand History of Freemasonry by RF Gould. But this work…although presenting the most complete picture of the external history of our institution, is dumb, or nearly so, respecting its internal history…We have thus been forced, in spite of well-merited admiration, to leave Bro. Gould’s History to gather the laurels which are its due, in some competition differing from our own.[Emphases in original][lvii]

            Although The History can be read in its entirety as a dissertation on research best practice, Gould himself was ambiguous. In Volume 1, published in 1883, in what amounts to his ‘Introduction’ he considered and dismissed guidelines provided by other scholars. He then says:

In the main, however, while carefully discarding the plainly fabulous narrations with which our Masonic system is encumbered, I am of opinion that the view to which Schlegel has given expression is the one we shall do well to adopt. He says:

“I have laid it down as an invariable maxim to follow historical tradition, and to hold fast by that clue, even when many things in the testimony and declarations of tradition appear strange and almost inexplicable, or at least enigmatical; for as soon as, in the investigations of ancient history, we let slip that thread of Ariadne, we can find no outlet from the labyrinth of fanciful theories and the chaos of clashing opinions.”[lviii]

            In his memoirs Gould praised none of his co-founders, instead celebrating as ‘leading scholars’, Begemann (joined CC 1887) Klein (joined QC 1889), Crawley (joined QC 1887) and D’Alviola (joined QC 1909):

(Each) of the four has not only greatly distinguished himself in the general highway of Masonic research, but has also in a manner peculiarly his own struck out for himself some new pathway or side track of enquiry, which if diligently pursued cannot but result in the recovery of a portion of the long lost learning of the Fraternity…           

            Gould appears to have been a tough but fair critic and much more concerned with debates over Masonic history than with authorship, and it is in the clash of ideas within QC that explanations of the Lodge’s early internal dynamic are to be found. In The History, Gould made clear he believed that organised Freemasonry, in 1717, was already less than it might have been due to important knowledge having been lost, rejected or suppressed. This crucial point appears to have been his alone and is unlikely to have survived if the work was not principally his. In Volume 1 of The History he wrote:

For the sake of convenience…the mythico-historical period of Freemasonry will be held to have extended to 1717…[lix]

            Since Speth’s voluminous correspondence appears to have been jettisoned, it is impossible to judge the level and magnitude of un-published disputation between the members. Insights into what applications for membership were made, which accepted, which rejected and why, would have been useful.


Gould’s Founder Colleagues:

            His ‘English Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodges, 1717’, his first attempt at Woodford’s ‘common place papers’, shows the depth of difference over even the most basic of ‘facts’. Delivered to QC in September, 1887, it began with ‘Oral Traditions’ from the time of St Albans, the first Christian martyr in Britain’,[lx] but even that ‘evidence’ he thought too ‘ancient’ and too speculative. Woodford begged to differ, saying he

was a heretic on a great many points laid down by (Gould) as law. He was a freemason who believed in the traditional teachings (and)..the many old legends…

Neither was he as ‘despondent’ as Gould

of the present state of Masonic knowledge. He could remember the time when Masonic lectures were very infrequent and unpopular affairs, when a syllabus of lectures was a thing unknown…[lxi]

            The St Johns cards issued each year from 1889 to sometime in the 1890’s reflect the presence of a fanciful, idealistic atmosphere within QC rather than a rigorously, historical one, something the decision of the Peeters-Baertsoen trustees underlined. In 1972, an approach typical of ‘insiders’’ struggles with these realities, repeatedly distanced ‘lunatics’ from ‘Freemasonry’, while simultaneously re-connecting them:

This paper’s subject matter is outside the main stream of the history of Freemasonry…However, it concerns an obscure area which nobody else has hitherto wanted to describe. And that, perhaps, is its only justification.

 The QC member explained that:

The term ‘fringe Masonry’ is used here for want of a better alternative. It was not ‘irregular’ Masonry because those who promoted the rites did not initiate Masons, ie confer the three Craft Degrees or the Holy Royal Arch. Hence they did not encroach upon Grand Lodge’s and Grand Chapter’s exclusive preserve.[lxii]

            In his last paragraph Howe no longer relied on a distancing qualifier, his research was simply into ‘recent Masonic history’:

Finally, once again I cannot too strongly emphasise that this paper’s subject matter deals with an essentially obscure sector of recent Masonic history.

            ‘Fringe Masonry’, whether legitimately labelled ‘lunatic’, ‘absurd’, and ‘unscientific’ or not, was popular in the decades before and after the founding of QC, and it is significant that a number of the Masons Howe views in this way were full members, Woodford, for example, while others were in the ‘Outer Circle’. His material, obscure or not, clarifies Gould’s minority position within QC.

            There were far more enthusiasts for ‘fringe masonry’ within QC than for the position Gould was attempting to elucidate. As well, there were others whose views could not claim to have been ‘scientific and authentic’ or verified by independent authorities yet went unchallenged because they were unremarkable at the time. Warren, who is not in Howe’s material said in his only paper to QC, ‘On the Orientation of Temples’, March, 1887:

…I am of opinion that the arrangements for the Lodge are derived from the worship in the temples which existed in Phoenicia before the building of Solomon’s Temple…Any persons elaborating a Masonic temple in the Middle Ages would never dream of putting the Master in the east…but it so happens that in the older temples the great image or symbol of the sun was placed in the East…[lxiii]

He acknowledged he had only opinions for many claims, but quoted from the Bible as though it was a primary, unimpeachable source and proof of Freemasonry’s antiquity:

…I put forward…that modern masonry is a combination of the mysteries of the Hebrews, the Phoenicians (including the Greeks) and the Egyptians, that it thus forms the chief of the triads running so remarkably through all Masonic lore…In a word I think there is not a doubt that in our order we are the direct descendants from the Phoenicians, who first moulded Masonry into its present form…[lxiv]

…If it were not so, I would not be here tonight to speak, for if we cannot trace our descent from the Phoenician craftsmen who worked on the Temple of Solomon, and if it be only an allegory, then our position descends from the sublime to the ridiculous…

Responses were muted from his fellow-founders. A visitor, Bro SL MacGregor Mathers, declaimed at length:

(inter alia)…(Surely) our Masonic Ritual is a type and symbol of the progress of each human soul, pressing ever onward, ever upward, till at last it soars aloft, and in that full and glorious Light of the East which shines on it, it finds that long-lost Master’s Word whereby it is united to its God; raised by that Great Grand Master’s Grip to an eternal life with Him.[lxv]

This brother does feature in Howe’s account:

During the (Order of the Golden Dawn’s) early period, (1888-92) it was a perfectly innocent little secret society which worked half a dozen rituals composed by MacGregor Mathers, and whose members studied the elements of so-called occultism. In 1892 Mathers began to teach the theory and practice of Ritual Magic to a carefully selected minority.[lxvi]

            The founder Gould regarded so highly, Woodford, had been editor of the London Freemason, and of The Masonic Magazine from 1873 to 1886. In December of that year he delivered a paper to QC, ‘Freemasonry and Hermeticism’, in which he discussed his interest in ‘Hermetic and Rosicrucian influences’. He concluded with:

(This) present theory…may not lead to the results some of us anticipate from it, when we have mastered the essential and imperative conditions of fact, evidence and certainty. [My emphasis]

            When ‘fact, evidence and certainty’ are emphasised any approach will sound rational, even legalistic. Gould thought the paper ‘valuable’, and Woodford’s further conclusion is neither ‘lunatic’ nor ‘absurd’:

…Freemasons especially are bound to be honest seekers after truth, and though the ascent to its great Temple may be difficult and tedious, approached by devious paths or fenced about by serious obstacles, we are bound to persevere…(Our) motto should ever be that of Hermeticism and Freemasonry alike in its high import and abiding obligation –

“Let Light and Truth prevail.”

            Contrasted with Warren’s faith in the Bible which results in his placing the conclusions before the examination, Woodford is, just marginally, emphasising the search over the hoped-for results. For him it was necessary to keep searching, and his preferred location for digging was not a secret. Shortly before his death in December, 1887, he sent a letter to close friend and fellow Mason:

Dear Brother Westcott,

With this I send MSS under seal, which I promised, in cipher. It confers upon the possessor who understands the meaning to grant the old Rosicrucian secrets and the grades of Heoos chruse, or Golden Dawn. Try to see old Soror ‘Sapiens dominabitur astris’ in Germany. She did live at Ulm. Hockley now being dead I know of no-one else who could help you.

Yours sincerely,

AFA Woodford.[lxvii]

            Westcott first attended QC as a full member, No 15, in December, 1886. He read his first paper to QC, ‘The Religion of Freemasonry Illuminated by the Kabbalah’ in September, 1887, and, as Secretary General of ‘Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia’ [SRIA] briefed readers of AQC on its work.[lxviii] For Westcott, the SRIA:

 is not a Masonic degree in any sense, although its members (fratres) are necessarily Master Masons, and a ritual of admission is made use of.[lxix]

The ‘famous early members’ of SRIA he names include RW Little, WJ Hughan, WR Woodman, FG Irwin and Kenneth Mackenzie. He notes that:

Dr WR Woodman is the present Supreme Magus, and TB Whytehead is head of the York (SRIA) College.

            Woodman was another early entrant into the “Outer Circle’ of QC, in June, 1887, when, in QC’s paper following Warren, Hughan’s ‘Connecting Links Between Ancient and Modern Freemasonry’ also sought to prove continuity of Freemasonry before and after 1717 and therefore ‘the antiquity of Freemasonry’:

…In other words, the evidence to be submitted may be our warrant for claiming that we belong virtually to the same society.[lxx] 

            This paper was the first supposedly delivered from ‘a non-masonic standpoint’ and aimed at providing accurate, overview material for a beginning scholar, Woodford’s ‘common place papers’. On this occasion, founding members spoke up, Rylands agreeing with Hughan, but Gould argued:

..In no Court of Justice would the evidence [just presented] be admissible, without direct proof of the actual existence at some time of Robert Padgett, to say nothing of minor legal points which would be freely raised.[lxxi]

            Hughan remained undeterred ’in spite of Bro Gould’s objections which were those that naturally arise in the mind of a Brother who had enjoyed a legal training’, while Speth objected to Gould’s having ‘failed in consistency.’

            Westcott delivered the following paper, ‘The Religion of Freemasonry, Illuminated by the Kabbalah’ in which he argued that Masonry’s key idea, monotheism, had had Jewish antecedents:

..Our ritual presents us with ample internal evidence that the mystery of the craft lies deeper than a mere scheme of moral maxims. Our ritual contains distinct prayers, addressed to the clearly defined one God.[lxxii]

Again, Gould strongly disagreed, taking exception to the paper’s main argument:

…(As) a matter of fact, in almost all the genuine documents of the Freemasons, direct invocations to the Trinity were found, and the existing Masons’ Creed was unknown before 1717-1723.[lxxiii]

            Speth attempted what he perhaps saw as a calming influence, saying that whatever may have been the primary origin of our craft, ‘its immediate past was bound up with the trade guilds.’ Succeeding Gould as WM in 1889, Simpson advocated research into Islam, Greek Societies, Ancient Egypt and African tribes. In his first paper as WM ‘The Worship of Death’ he ranged widely over many ‘pagan’ rituals marking transition to the next world and in which he claimed to see Masonic parallels. In reply, Rylands asserted that the WM had not met what he, Rylands, regarded as criteria for proof, while Gould expressed his doubts and counselled against jumping to conclusions.[lxxiv]

            Howe’s account can be mined for other background, It was a stash of letters between Irwin and Mackenzie which had alerted him to the possibility of writing his 1972 article for QC, and he notes that Little was

the editor of the recently-established [1869] weekly periodical, The Freemason, and (for a time) second clerk and cashier in the Grand Secretary’s office at Freemasons’ Hall.[lxxv]

            In March, 1888, with fellow signatories, Woodman and the afore-mentioned Mathers, Westcott issued the first charter for ‘The Esoteric (aka Hermetic) Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer’. Fifty initiates quickly joined, ‘the men heavily outweighing the women and drawn largely from Masonic lodges.’[lxxvi] Gilbert, another recent Masonic scholar, has this:

In Westcott’s day, almost every occultist (if a man) was also a freemason and a member of the Masonic Rosicrucian Society, the (SRIA). But that was essentially a study society with a series of simple graded ceremonies.[lxxvii]

            He described Woodman as having three principal occupations, medicine, Freemasonry and gardening, ‘and he pursued all three with vigour.’ Born in 1828 and following a career of police-surgeon, he joined SRIA in 1867:

Almost immediately he was appointed Secretary-General, and when the Society’s  journal, The Rosicrucian, appeared in July 1868 he acted as assistant editor under (Little)…Westcott later described Woodman as ‘an excellent Hebrew scholar, and one of the few English masters of the Hebrew Kabalah.’[lxxviii]

Gilbert also has this:

Benjamin Cox, the Borough Treasurer of the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare, had known Westcott in his days as a young pharmacist…in Somerset and had long been associated with him in a number of obscure Masonic Rites and Orders.[lxxix]

            Cox had ‘six of his local Masonic colleagues’ initiated into the Temple Isis-Urania during March 1888, and in October, Westcott issued the necessary authorisations for a second Golden Dawn Temple, Osiris No 4, in Cox’s home town. Howe’s asserted that ‘(it) was coincidental that there was a widespread contemporary public interest in spiritualism and alleged mediumistic phenomena’ at the time of QC’s establishment and that:

There was no connection between the new spiritualist movement and Freemasonry.

is contradicted by his own text. His conclusion that ‘the explosion’ of ‘public interest in occultism and all varieties of rejected knowledge’ sent waves through Great Britain and the European mainland does not match his claim that ‘the explosion was hardly noticed by the Establishment, including Freemasonry’s own Establishment.’[lxxx] In fact, he notes an important shift in Grand Lodge strategy during the early 1900’s with regard to ‘side degrees.’ The “appearance during the second half of the nineteenth century of various ‘additional’ or ‘side’ degrees” he relates to a ‘loose interpretation of the last sentence in Article 11 of the Act of Union of 1813’ and implies that the ‘fringe’ Masons did what they did just to take advantage of an apparent loophole. He dismisses as of no significance the attempt by Irwin and Mackenzie to have Grand Lodge set up a Council of Side Degrees from 1875, at a time when Mackenzie’s uncle, John Hervey, was Grand Secretary of UGLE, but he does record that in 1884 a ‘Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees’ was set up by UGLE. It’s Rule 1 was:

In view of the rapid increase of Lodges of various Orders recognising no central authority and acknowledging no common form of government, a Ruling Body has been formed to take under its direction all Lodges of such various Orders in England and Wales and the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Crown as may be willing to join it.[lxxxi]

            He consigns to a footnote the further information that in 1902, the obviously pragmatic UGLE extended its authority by claiming:

the superintendence of all such Degrees or Orders as may hereafter be established in England and Wales with, and by consent of, The Supreme Council 33^, Great Priory, Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters and Grand Imperial Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine, but not under the superintendence of such governing bodies.

Howe’s strategy of denigration reached the frivolous with:

…After c1885 a minority of Freemasons in search of esoteric novelty tended to join the Theosophical Society….

In support he quoted the usually much-maligned Yarker:

Referring to the Sat B’hai in The Arcane Schools Yarker wrote: “Somehow its raison d’etre ceased to be necessary when the Theosophical Society was established.”[lxxxii]

            Yarker was yet another early entrant into QC’s Correspondence Circle register, May 1887. Across 25 years, until just before his death in 1913, he attended QC meetings and contributed 26 papers, the first, early in 1888, being ‘The Unrecognised Lodges and Degrees of Freemasonry Before and After 1717’[lxxxiii]. In that year he wrote to Irwin:

It is a treat to me and a pleasure to find there are still Masons in existence who are above prejudices and I am very interested in Lodge 2076. It amounts almost to a revolution.[lxxxiv]

            There are no signs that proponents of what has been called ‘rejected knowledge’ conspired to capture QC and none that they attempted to undermine it. Rather, Irwin, Woodford, Westcott, Yarker and the others regarded their researches as legitimate grist for QC’s mills, and their views as worthy of discussion as any others. QC’s operations would certainly have been poorer without them, indeed they appear to have been a large part of the reason the Lodge survived its first few years.         

            Howe’s approach is only coherent as part of a personal belief that the content and essence of Freemasonry excludes belief in, or interest in the ideas he wishes to dismiss. Freemasonry has no such definitive statement. The only ‘objective’ difference between those ‘enthusiasms’ dismissed and those entertained is the degree of power and influence held or later accumulated. That some have been authorised by ‘the authorities’ is not proof of integrity of motivation or divine backing but only that in the relevant power struggle some have been more successful than others. Certainly, no single ‘enthusiasm’ can prove that it specifically represents the word or the intentions of God. Howe’s account is symptomatic of the confusion between what initiated brethren have been told they can discuss, and what is necessary for them to discuss if they seriously ‘seek light’.

            The SRIA, the ‘English’ Great Priory of Knights Templar[lxxxv], and English Freemasonry, itself, all happened because of the same sort of enthusiasm which was brought to ‘The Order of Eight’, ‘Fratres Lucis’ or ‘The Rite of Mizraim’, for the same mix of motives and on the same speculative, rather than rational, basis. Any or all of James Anderson, the Duke of Wharton, Thomas Stukeley, Oliver, Preston, Desaguliers et al could be considered questionable characters when seen in their full context, while quite a few of those on whom Masonry has been built have been called ‘unreliable’ and ‘un-truthful’ by other Masons at different times. For each of the ‘regular’ Orders, as for the so-called ‘fringe’ societies, there is a mix of lost, spurious or mythical documents, and there is a similar, defining ‘event’, which, happening virtually ‘out of the blue’, is afterwards regarded as unimpeachably the beginning of ‘official history.’ With ‘regular’ English Freemasonry it is 1717, with the English Conclave of Knights Templar it is 1792, with English Rosicrucians it is 1865, and so on.

            It is clearer now why Gould found issues with the arguments of most of his co-founders, but in all of this, what has happened to the claimed Masonic interest in Enlightenment values?


The War Office and the Pursuit of Truth:

            A majority of the founder’s enthusiasm for writing and talking about Freemasonry fitted neatly with their chosen careers. A number, like Warren, had spent their adult lives surveying, digging, writing about and fighting in British colonies or in areas intended for colonisation - Africa and ‘the Middle East’, Gibraltar, India and ‘the Far  East’. Adding careers to the personal details illustrates this:


Warren                   b. 1840    Army Engineer                         Mason at 19, 46 in 1886 

WH Rylands          b. 1847   Antiquarian                               Mason at 25, 39 in 1886

Gould                     b. 1836    Soldier, Barrister, Historian      Mason at 19, 50 in 1886

Woodford              b.1821     Army, Chaplain, Editor             Mason at 21, 65 in 1886

Besant                    b.1836    Author & PEF Secretary            Mason at 26, 50 in 1886

JP Rylands             b.1846     Barrister                                    Mason at 26, 40 in 1886

Pratt                        b.1844    Army Strategist/Instructor        Mason at 32, 42 in 1886

Hughan                   b. 1841   Author, Historian                      Mason at 22, 45 in 1886

Speth                      b. 1847    Tobacco executive                    Mason at 25, 39 in 1886


            Three of the first ‘intake’ of new members in April 1886 – Simpson (born 1823, given member number 9), Bywater (b.1825, 10) and Irwin (b.1829, 11) – had also emerged from this same world where the military and Masonry, in particular, overlapped.[lxxxvi] That they were very closely involved with one another Gould made plain:

When this Lodge was established Bro Bywater naturally became a member of it, and was the first brother who joined us. I am not forgetting that Bro Simpson is apparently the first joining member, but this brother we have always regarded as a founder, because the petition for a warrant would have borne his signature had he not been absent at the time as a war correspondent.[lxxxvii]

            These last three were of Woodford’s generation. He, nearly 30 years older than the youngest founders, had been an officer in the Coldstream Guards, but had resigned his commission to join the Church. The full matrix represented here – the military, Masonry, Christianity, archaeology – is not accidental. Neither is it accidental that while Speth was never considered suitable for the post, despite his considerable achievements and importance to QC, the first five WM’s – Warren, Gould, Simpson, Pratt and Bywater – were all ‘of the military’.

            Warren’s knighthood and the post of Master of QC were two parts of a single package. Unsurprisingly in that context, the operations of the Lodge waited while as Government ‘trouble-shooter’ he went to Africa in 1884.[lxxxviii] In his first address to QC he expressed his pleasure that he had participated in a lodge ‘under the Temple’ in 1869. His apparently meagre lodge attendance record from that point might suggest that his job had taken him away from Masonry, while his absences from QC after January 1886 might also imply he preferred his non-lodge duties. His career, in fact, shows his passions running in tandem.

            Prior to QC, his military record shows rapid promotion for carrying out what today would be called ‘military intelligence’ – not covert, in-disguise spying, but Government-sponsored mapping of and reporting on strategically-important areas, and, when required, the ‘advising’ of key individuals. Warren mapped and assessed the railway potential of Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula and reported in detail on the key island-fortress of Gibraltar which is where it seems he first met up with Gould, Simpson and Besant.[lxxxix] When put in charge in 1868 of the ‘surveys and explorations at Jerusalem’ Warren was described as ‘modest but thoroughly educated and indefatigable’ by a US author, Freemason and wealthy, amateur archaeologist, Rob Morris. [xc] Other authoritative writers on the archaeology of Jerusalem remain respectful of Warren’s work, for example:

(The) water shaft…known as Warren’s Shaft, after its discoverer, British Engineer Captain (later Sir) Charles Warren who is famous for his excavations of Jerusalem in the 1860’s…will introduce us to the complicated underground water system of ancient Jerusalem.[xci]

            Commercially-profitable tours to the Middle East were by mid-century generating a near-crush of enthusiastic amateurs and a frenetic atmosphere which ultimately produced everything from Arabic-styled fashions to Agatha Christie mysteries, but much more serious ambitions were behind the coalition of imperial, Masonic and Biblical adventurers. In an 1870 talk to the Royal Institution of Great Britain by (then) Captain Wilson, RE, published in the Freemason’s Magazine and Masonic Mirror it was explained:

The project of a systematic survey of the Peninsular of Mount Sinai, with special reference to the Mosaic record of the Exodus, owes its origin to the Rev. Pierce Butler, late Rector of Ulcombe, Kent…(A) fund was raised…The sanction of the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War was obtained, and the Survey was carried out under the direction of Col. Sir H James, RE., Director-General of the Ordnance Survey…[xcii] [My emphasis]

            Wilson is identified by the periodical editor as a ‘Brother’, the others in his party are not. The survey group consisted of Wilson, another Captain in the REs, not Warren, a Reverend Holland ‘who had already paid three visits to the Peninsular, and spent many months wandering over it on foot’, a ‘Mr Palmer’ who was a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge and ‘a gentleman well-known for his extensive knowledge of Eastern languages’, a ‘Mr Wyatt, who at his own expense, accompanied the party as Naturalist’, and four NCO’s of the Royal Engineers, one of whom ‘had previously been employed on the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem.’

            The decision-makers guiding the direction and shape of the Empire had been paying their own surveyors for centuries, but were pleased to have others do the work, to pay for it and to provide useful reports. The Royal Geographic Society, [RGS] for example, was:

one of the principal information agencies for the British Government as it sought to involve private capital in the expansion and consolidation of the Empire.

            In this case, ‘truth’ could and often did exemplify enlightenment values – rational, data-driven, objective – because that’s what the Navy’s captains, the War Office’s strategic analysts and policy-makers relied on to make their decisions. Surveyors and engineers were a vital part of the process:

(The) explosion of cartographic enterprise in early modern Europe was motivated by the specific requirements of powerful social formations – fiscal, dynastic, military, commercial and imperial. [xciii]

Meshed together were individuals, the offices of State and intellectual networks:

Understanding of the value and application of maps and geographical information, scientific knowledge, and inter-connecting memberships of learned societies all played a part.[xciv]

            The Middle East was an exception to the general rule – Arabs were a different set of ‘indigenes’ than the ‘primitive, spear wielding blacks’ further south. Palestine could not be colonised but it could be brought into the British sphere of influence.

            Given what we know of the pressures being applied by the various agents of empire, it’s not surprising that some indigenes fought back. Leading another expedition in the Sinai Professor Palmer was attacked and his whole party murdered. Warren was sent by the Admiralty in 1882 to discover the culprits which he did. In recognition, in 1883 he was made a Knight of Justice of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and in 1884 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In December, 1884 he was made HM’s Special Commissioner to assert British sovereignty over Bechuanaland in the face of German encroachments and Boer recalcitrance. Leading 4,000 men in ‘a military expedition’ he apparently achieved his aims without bloodshed and on his return in 1885 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George.  

            After his involvement with QC had begun and after he had taken up his London policing role, speculation about a Masonic connection with the Ripper murders stemmed from it being well-known he had two ‘hats’. But his time as London’s Police Commissioner coincided with other civil and criminal unrest. On one occasion, he observed from his ‘Chair of Solomon’, that is, as WM:

I have had many difficulties to contend with in the last few days, and have been a good deal harassed on your behalf, in securing the safety of the metropolis.[xcv]

            He was then referring, not to the Ripper murders, but to a number of protest demonstrations by London’s unemployed some of which had become physical. The unsolved murders and friction with his senior police colleagues may have led to his resignation in November, 1888, but after five months holiday, in 1889 he was seconded to Singapore for a period then was sent back to South Africa to fight the Boers.

            Imperialism necessarily involved state violence, and we know that missionaries for a time mediated and sought to calm reactions, but that some took the indigenous side, adding to the intellectual ferment. From the many publications written in the missions European philosophers based evolving interpretations of such issues as the origins of language, the development of private property and hierarchies in communal societies:

Missionaries were obliged to become skilled propagandists to raise funds for their costly evangelical endeavours and gladly supplied metropolitan thinkers with the data on the place and evolution of humanity in the world.

In the early nineteenth century this genre of literature…grew appreciably in size…[xcvi]

            This new knowledge fed into university departments and created new disciplines. ‘Anthropology’ for a time displaced ‘Geography’ as a major force. Theories about native peoples being obstacles to civilisation, or, alternatively, that they were cruelly suppressed by their rulers, or by slave traders, and needed to be saved were pushed in lectures and to Government. Some scholars mounted arguments connecting modern beliefs with the Old Testament and ancient Europe:

Educated churchmen in the outposts of Empire sought – and found –reflections of their own morality and belief systems, and a universality of religion in the behaviour and principles of primitive people.[xcvii]

            In other words, some, in studying ‘other worlds’, saw what they wanted to see. The executive of societies such as the RGS were, no doubt, genuine in their intentions but were unaware of their own deeply-ingrained, cultural biases. The scientific method and rational examination of evidence, ideas evolving from the beginning of the Enlightenment, were still a work in progress.

            Major religious conflict at ‘home’ was an inevitable element in the intense political and social changes simultaneously threatening and emboldening the Establishment. There were many aspects to this. In 1833 the British Government announced legislation claiming to determine the future of Church assets, eg Irish bishoprics. It was immediately declared ‘a National Apostasy’ by a group of influential dons centred on Oxford University who made a public stand of Anglo-Catholicism, and instigated what was called ‘the Oxford Movement.’ This sparked further reactions. Most relevantly, the Palestine Exploration Fund [PEF] was set up to defend the Old Testament from attacks ‘undermining the concept of the historical veracity of the bible’.[xcviii] The Fund’s official publications were somewhat less confrontational but what was clear was that they believed that more rather than less scientific method would ‘prove’ their faith:

The Palestine Exploration Fund was founded in 1865, for the sole purpose of ELUCIDATING AND ILLUSTRATING THE BIBLE.[xcix] [Emphasis in original]

This statement went on immediately to say:

It was proposed to effect this by a systematic exploration of the Holy Land, by excavation, by the collection of the traditions, manners, and customs of the people, and by an exhaustive research into the natural history, meteorology and geology of the country, the whole to be conducted under the direction of a Committee entirely undenominational. [my emphasis]

            It’s possible the Archbishop of York who chaired the establishing meeting, 22 June, 1865, believed that ‘the principles on which…the work of the society should be based’ would be matched by future actions. Besant, Secretary from 1868 until 1895 certainly believed that application of ‘the scientific method’ was appropriate. He wrote:

 It is, in fact, in recognition of these principles that the work has always been carried on. These [principles] were:

1. That whatever was undertaken should be carried out on scientific principles.

2. That the Society should, as a body, abstain from controversy.

3. That it should not be started, nor should it be conducted, as a religious society.[c]

Besant explained that:

The object of the first law was to ensure that the results of enquiry and exploration, whatever they might prove, should commend from the world the same acceptance as a new fact reported from a physical laboratory, and that the work should be faced in the same spirit of fearless investigation into the truth as obtains in scientific research. The conduct of the principal part of the work by officers of the Royal Engineers has effectually ensured this object…

And again:

(The Royal Engineers were) men whose official position and professional reputation, as well as the methods of research which they adopted, place their reports beyond question.

            He expressed ‘(the PEF’s) profound gratitude to the War Office for granting the services of the Royal Engineers’, in particular ‘Sir Charles Wilson…Sir Charles Warren’ and ‘Captain Conder, for fifteen long years the chief prop and mainstay of the Society; he is par excellence the Surveyor of the Holy Lands.’ This is ‘Conder, Snr’, father of ‘Conder, Jnr’ who joined QC in 1894, aged 33. When Hayter Lewis died in 1899, his biographer wrote of him:

…His principal work, The Holy Places of Jerusalem, illustrated by photos taken by Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (then Lieutenant Kitchener) is a most exhaustive study of the subject…He was for long an active supporter of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and with Sir CW Wilson, he annotated Propcopius’s account of the buildings of Justinian, and published the results…[ci]

            The achievements of the PEF ‘in illustration of the Bible’ were apparently regarded as quite spectacular. In 1890 a founding member, Reverend Sayce wrote:

(The) Bible lands (are) now better understood, better preserved, (and) better contextualised than for the previous 2000 years.[cii]

            The PEF was not un-denominational, and it could not prove the narrative of the Bible with regard to persons or events, but it could aim to achieve scientific objectivity with regard to landscape and buildings. It had taken its operation’s template from, among others, from the RGS, established in 1830. Managing without a lodge that body:

 held meetings at which papers were delivered, and a journal was published regularly. Membership doubled every decade, and in 1876, there were 3,000 members.[ciii]

Another model, the Victoria Institute, [VI] established in 1866, listed as its first ‘Object’, in 1874:[civ]

First: To investigate fully and impartially the most important questions of Philosophy and Science, but more especially those that bear upon the great truths revealed in Holy Scripture, with the view of reconciling any apparent discrepancies between Christianity and Science.

            While they showed the same concern to prioritise Scriptural truth, its other six aims were similarly clearer and more concerned with finding the best answer than those enunciated later by QC. The VI also considered the formality of a lodge unnecessary but aimed at, and actually put in place a structure intended to provide the same educational and social resources as QC would later attempt:

Second: To associate men of Science and authors who have already been engaged in such investigations, and all others who may be associated in them, in order to strengthen their efforts by association, and by bringing together the results of such labours, after full discussion, in the printed Transactions of an Institution; to give greater force and influence to proofs and arguments which might be little known, or even disregarded, if put forward merely by individuals.

Third: To consider the mutual bearings of the various scientific conclusions arrived at in the several distinct branches into which Science is now divided, in order to get rid of contradictions and conflicting hypotheses, and thus promote the real advancement of true Science…(etc)

Fourth: To publish Papers read before the Society…with full reports of discussions…(etc)

Fifth: …(To) make the results known by means of Lectures of a more popular kind, and to publish such Lectures.

Six: To publish English translations of important foreign works…(etc)

Seven: To found a Library and Reading Room…(etc).

            Annually, its Transactions were sent to members and ‘associate members’. Up to 1874-75, an unbroken stream of interpretations of issues such as Darwinism, the Geometry of Crystals, Metaphysics, and Scepticism had gone out. ‘People’s Editions’, priced 3d, included the titles ‘Rules of Evidence and the Credibility of History’, ‘On Buddhism’ and ‘On the Principles of Modern Pantheistic and Atheistic Philosophy’. Others published separately included ‘Prehistoric Traditions and Customs in Connection with Sun and Serpent Worship’, 1875, and ‘A True Key to the Assyrian History, Sciences, and Religion’. Published in 1869, this has as leading illustration a drawing captioned ‘The Foundation of Freemasonry: The Word Upon the Cubical Stone.’[cv]

            QC had other predecessors. In 1869, a report in The Building News began:

Some quarter of a century ago there was a society formed called the Society of the Freemasons of the Church, for the study of mediaeval freemasonry and buildings.[cvi]

The writer was introducing the first meeting of the Masonic Archeological Institute being held at Freemasons Hall in London:

Although the membership of the Institute is restricted to Freemasons, it is not conducted as a Masonic organisation, but as a simple literary society on the same basis as the other archeological associations with an annual subscription of half a guinea. Transactions will be issued of such papers as are considered suitable for publication…The society contemplates the formation of collections of books, MSS, prints, drawings, paintings, charters, seals and of all  illustrations of the objects of their researches.

            That excluding restriction, ‘such papers as are suitable for publication’, is a far cry from the inclusive talk of ‘facts’ and of resolving ‘contradictions and conflicting hypotheses’. This society was being fostered by the building committee of Grand Lodge not Grand Lodge proper, so not surprisingly, the likely topics to be pursued centred on:

…mediaeval architecture and guilds, secret societies, Templarism, gnostic symbols,the mysteries of ancient initiation, and the wide range of symbolism in all ages…Grand Lodge, which has been sluggish, has opened a Library to its members, and another Masonic body, the Supreme Council, has formed a curious library in Golden-Square…

            It was clearly possible for UGLE to have become better than ‘sluggish’ by the 1880’s, and even to have urged QC on with generous support of premises and staff. The record shows this did not happen. In addition to not providing any budget for its newest lodge, the ‘Authorities of Freemasons Hall’ did not think it important that QC observe the meeting dates it had chosen, and insisted on either a change of dates or the Lodge’s removal to other premises.[cvii] Neither the possibility of ‘rescuing Freemasonry’ nor ‘a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences’ had impressed. Determined to retain the central London venue for its meetings, the ‘Inner Circle’ of QC rationalised its own absenteeism from QC meetings by saying that distance and the difficulties of London transport were causing the low number of members attending meetings. Its saving grace was to be the Masonic network in which it was embedded, but this was, at the same time, the cause of its long-term failure.

            One frustrated, apparently serious researcher believed the controlling faction at the top of the English Craft in the middle of the nineteenth century was not interested in Masonic learning, whether by an old or a new approach. Henry Melville, who had fled to Sydney, there asserted that both Dr Oliver and Dr Crucefix listened attentively to what he had to say but that both being of advanced age had advised him to consult with Grand Secretary White and/or the Grand Master, Lord Zetland. He says that his requests for appointments were not answered:

From the manner in which Dr Oliver wrote, it is evident that there were at the time two Masonic factions. I had ranged myself, without being aware of it, against the powerful one of Zetland and White, and was immediately considered by the ignorant party as a would-be innovator…

            He asserted that all he wished to do was to hand over his findings concerning the ‘lost mysteries of Freemasonry’ to someone, anyone who might be interested. From talking to other Masons in London he came to understand that the Zetland-White faction was known as the ‘Beef-Eaters’ ‘in consequence of their ‘gaudy outside show’, resembling in pomposity the well-known warders of the tower’:

(Similar) animosity to that which lately disgraced masons and masonry in this colony[cviii] was at the time raging with full virulence among the members of the Grand Lodge in London. This feeling ultimately exterminated scientific masonry, so far as the Grand Lodge of England is in question, and the Zetland ‘beef eaters’ triumphed over their more intelligent brethren.[cix] [My emphasis]

            ‘Enlightenment values’ include access to relevant information and a little later in the 1850’s came the brouha-ha around what was essential secrecy and what needed to be in the public domain for ‘citizen members’ to be fully active participants. The discovery of new knowledges, as in Palestine, is one part of this requirement, another is the breaking down of walls around information kept hidden only to enhance the power of particular cliques. Recently, Newman has explored the controversy around UGLE’s attempts to stop reports of their mid-19th century debates being published, something as, he says, we would today take for granted:

In giving publicity to the affairs of Freemasonry and to the activities of Grand Lodge (The Freemasons Magazine) was drawing attention to contemporary controversies and allowing a wider audience than the restricted circle of London Freemasonry to play a fuller part in the politics of the Craft.[cx]

Warren in 1886 had alluded to earlier, unsuccessful efforts he had made to establish a lodge ‘for prosecuting the science of Masonry’:

… In 1862 it was proposed to establish a lodge in the Royal Engineers, with very much the same design (as QC), but yielding to the advice of the Grand Secretary of that day the scheme was abandoned….[cxi]

He had continued:

…In 1873, with our Treasurer Bro Besant and others, I endeavoured to form a Masonic (Archeological) Society by means of which papers on Masonic subjects might be read and printed, but this project also had to be given up.

            Simpson was another QC founder involved in this earlier attempt which he dates to ‘about the year 1871’ and agrees it was formed ‘with the same objects in view’ as QC. Documents he provided show that it’s organisational approach in that year was more similar to that of the VI, above, with vice-regal Patron and a numerous Council, and that:

The Object of this Society is the advancement of those branches of Archeological knowledge and research which, either directly or indirectly bear upon Masonry.[cxii]

Documents dated 1872 show a pertinent change:

The object of this Society is to promote the interests and to elevate the standing of Freemasonry, by systematic and scientific investigations into the early history of the Craft, and the origin and meaning of Masonic symbols, rites and traditions.

            The terms ‘systematic and scientific’ again might be presumed to invoke the rigour of objectivity, but as the document continued, unexamined conclusions were made the point from which research was to begin thus nullifying the whole exercise:

Hitherto, there has been a wide-spread uncertainty among Masons as to the antiquity of the order; and it is to be lamented that, in many instances, the spare funds of the members, instead of being devoted to the promotion of the interests of the Craft, have been absorbed in convivialities…

As it is believed that the memorials of Freemasonry scattered throughout the world, in the form of ethnic tradition and symbolism, are of greater antiquity than the most ancient historical monuments, it is proposed to have papers read and published on the following…

1. The connection of Freemasonry with the religion and symbols of primeval men.

2. The connection of Masonic symbols with the astronomical systems, and with mythical or pre-historic chronology.

3. Traces of Freemasonry in the traditions, symbols, religious rites, and systems of initiation among existing races of savages.

4. Connection of Masonic symbolism with the primeval traditions of our race respecting Paradise and the Deluge.

5. Connection of Masonic symbolism with the sacred structures of all ages.

It went on to claim:

…As the Masonic Archeological Institute is the only body of its kind in existence, it is intended, if possible, to extend its operations to every portion of the globe where craft Masonry is practised, especially throughout the Colonies.

A volume of Transactions will be published, and will be forwarded, post free, to the members annually.

            This was the primary antecedent of QC, providing the bulk of its template, down to its unexamined assumptions. There was one thing missing, spelled out in a subsequent response to Simpson by Besant:

The Society languished…chiefly, I believe, for want of the cohesive and attractive power of a Lodge which it never became…I have always felt…that there is an immense amount of information…which could be collected and put together from a Masonic point of view. It was this conviction…which also made me join the Quatuor Coronati, which you [Speth] are rapidly developing into the kind of Institute which I…thought to make of (the Institute).[cxiii][My emphasis]


QC’s Legacy:

            Initial responses to the Correspondence Circle were encouraging. From its inception in 1887 it was entirely Speth’s responsibility and he reported with delight that 150 applications for membership arrived very soon after the first Transactions had been posted. Initial thoughts for only one hundred copies of the annual volumes quickly expanded to 250 and then to 500, with expectations of further and similar increases.[cxiv] The names and numbers of applicants, who were without exception voted by the ‘Inner Circle’ on his say-so onto the Member’s Register, reached a thousand by 1890 and by 1900 was approaching 3,000.[cxv]

            The applicant figures are, however, unreliable indicators of actual member numbers simply because the ‘drop out rate’ was high. But because an application and 1-years subscription were sufficient to trigger copies of the Transactions beyond the first year, the executive realised that:

The dues outstanding are enormous in their total of nearly GBP700…There are over seven hundred brethren who have not paid their subscription for 1900, and over four hundred who have not paid for 1899![cxvi]

            The executive were instinctively reluctant to concede that they themselves might have questions to answer. Either a distant war or the apathy of other people was to blame. Speth in 1900:

The (falling off in applicant numbers) is probably to be attributed in some measure, to the minds of Englishmen being pre-occupied, during recent times, by matters which have drawn away their attention from Masonic study.. But we feel that, in a lesser degree, it may also be due to a slackness on the part of our members, who have not taken every available opportunity of bringing our society before their Masonic friends…

            Speth’s successor, WH Rylands, in 1905 showed that the number of CC members added for each of the years 1888 to 1899 had been in the hundreds, the highest being 388 in 1888 and 304 in 1895. From 1900 to 1905, however, the numbers had plateaued and actually declined in 1900, 1902 and 1903. As the 1900 Committee had done, the new Secretary blamed the declines on causes outside QC’s control:

There have been 6071 names on the CC list since it was first started. The  (negative) years were of course due largely to the South African War…It looks as though we are once more on the upward grade but there is a big annual leakage due to deaths and apathy, and although we have had over 300 additions this year the net gain is only 46.[cxvii]

Five years after Speth, Secretary Rylands was harsher in his judgement:

..Apathetic brethren are of course no use to us, not only because they do not care to read but because they do not pay their subscriptions. It would be kinder if they were to resign…

He pointed out that the number of active CC members had not increased since 1893, even though GL records showed the potential:

…There are 2490 lodges on the register of Grand Lodge of England. Assuming average membership to be 30 would give 74700 Masons… According to latest statistics there are in the United States 12637 lodges with 1,011,547 members and in all Canada 674 lodges with 50,878 members. We have on our CC list 250 in the US, 35 in Canada.

            Out in the colonies, in 1893 Queensland, for example, ‘Local Secretary’ Bro Spiers sent a circular to all CC members in that State. It included:

…It will be within the recollection of most of you that, at the beginning of 1891, ‘The Circle’ in Queensland consisted of only 3 members. During that year the number increased to 41. In the past year [1892] 30 new members have been admitted, bringing our muster roll…up to 71…The membership is made up as follows:- 1 District Grand Lodge, 9 Lodges, 2 Royal Arch Chapters, 1 Literary Society and 58 Brethren.

He noted that in 1893 ‘Queensland has nearly as many members as the whole of the other Australian Colonies together’,[cxviii] and:

….(Compared) with the number of Freemasons in Queensland, our list of members…is only 1.7 per cent of the active membership.[cxix]

He believed that ‘the motto of every Craftsman should be ‘Educate, Educate, Educate’:

…Were every member of the Fraternity a student, even in ever so limited a sense, we should have fewer complaints of leakage in membership, small attendance at Lodge meetings, and lukewarmness generally.

            Speth possibly perceived from the first that subscriptions from distant members as a lifeline might keep QC afloat, but that it was a lifeline with inbuilt dangers – if inflow of subscriptions didn’t keep pace with the totality of costs involved in servicing the increasing membership, QC would run at a loss, and eventually would have to be wound up. But because QC was dependent on the ‘Correspondence Circle’ he was loath to impose realistic fees. In April, 1894, he was publicising the fact that:

(a) Candidate for membership in the Correspondence Circle is subject to no qualification, literary, artistic or scientific…He is subject to no joining fee…(and the) annual subscription is only half-a-guinea (10/6d)

            In 1913, notices placed around the world in Masonic periodicals showed a revised system was still intended to attract by its cheapness rather than reflect the real cost of the product:

The joining fee is 21/- which includes the first years subscription…Each member receives the profusely illustrated and handsomely printed Transactions…which are issued in three parts each year…[cxx]

            The example of QC had prompted a significant number of similar lodges to form. Speth in 1892 thought:

It must be very gratifying to every member of our Association to know that our efforts to awaken an enlightened interest in the antiquities and literature of the Craft are producing tangible results throughout the world. The establishment of Literary Lodges and Societies…in the Punjab, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and elsewhere, all avowedly inspired by our example, has been recorded in our Transactions..

            A new lodge, St Alban No 38 was set up in Adelaide in 1888 specifically ‘to follow in the steps of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London’:

The aims of the promoters:- To cultivate a higher standard of Masonic work; to promote literary effort and the diffusion of Masonic lore and knowledge, and to offer membership to those brethren whose tastes and acquirements may desire the advantage of a congenial fellowship.[cxxi]

            In 1893 Sydney’s Masons began planning a Masonic Musical and Literary Society ‘wherein it was claimed ‘all points of interest could be freely and fully discussed.’ This evolved not into a research lodge but into the current Masonic Club which provides accommodation and a venue for social events. It was not until 1913 that a Lodge of Research, No 290, was consecrated in Sydney, a commentary at the time crediting the State’s Grand Master with having ‘exercised a healthy influence in the direction of Masonic Research’. In his address, the lodge’s first WM, Heighway, was more cautious than celebratory, more narrowly focused than broad-ranging:[cxxii]

In commencing work in such a lodge some doubt might arise in the minds of the members as to the subjects suitable, as to their ability to handle the subject, and as to the length of the papers.

            Because it was necessary, in his view, that ‘we must avoid subjects which will lead to unkind and uncharitable controversy’, he had asked the Secretary ‘to establish a register of subjects suitable for discussion.’ QC’s original intentions, bland as they were, were being further restricted and sanitised.

            Not surprisingly, then, the 20th century Masonic literature is filled not with celebration of ‘a new approach’ to Masonic research but with editorials such as the following from Western Australia:

 (It) is indisputable that the intellectual, the intelligent, the cultured thinker, the brainy business man does not come to the front in the Craft to the extent that he should, and that dullness and mediocrity are altogether too frequently prominent.[cxxiii]

Or from The Illinois Freemason:

…The curse of our present system is ignorance…One trouble…is that we are not teaching Masons to think, but to remember, and so long as it is possible for a man to stand up and recite ritual by the yard, and receive the plaudits of admiring friends, he has very little desire to search after those things which go to build the fraternity…[cxxiv]

Recall Woodford’s articulation of the hope that QC Lodge of Research might ‘rescue Freemasonry’:

…For thus it may chance that we shall be enabled to rescue contemporary Freemasonry from the charge frequently brought against it, that it sacrifices an intellectual study of Freemasonry proper to the more pervading requirements of the social circle, and that it is too easily contented with a routine of ritual on the one hand, and the pleasing exercise of hospitality on the other…[my emphasis]

            The more candid parts of Dyer’s narrative tell how close QC came to foundering in the period 1928 to 1951. The 1952 Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee shows that despite the previous 12 months having seen the highest ever annual increase in applicants elected to the CC, 585, the total of active members was only 3,058, and QC’s finances remained in crisis. In January, 1952, the executive circulated a plea for help, fearing the situation, first acknowledged as dire in 1947, ‘might necessitate the surrender of its Warrant and a consequent cessation of its work.’[cxxv] Dyer insists that in the face of escalating, post-war cost inflation, steadying and influential secretaries managed by 1973 to increase CC numbers to over 12,000.[cxxvi] But it was at that precise time that Woodford’s ‘common place papers’ re-emerged.



            With the benefit of hindsight, it’s possible to see that when QC’s group of nine came together they had given no thought to the possible consequences of their various ambitions, that none of the necessary infrastructure was in place, and, more worryingly, in its first decades there was no serious attempt to put any in place. They had nothing of what today would be called ‘a business plan’. Having not come together on the basis of expertise in the writing and administration of educational programs, they did not think to recruit on that basis.

            The many practical issues forced into view by the lodge’s birth were left to Speth to solve. By 1900 he was reduced to pleading for an absolute minimum - ‘intelligent discussion’ of the need for permanent premises and adequate staff:

…So far we have all been more or less talking at random, without any clear idea before us of what we want or what it will cost. If the Brethren of the Committee care to favour me with written observations on these notes, they could then be digested, collated, and brought before the Committee on some future occasion.[cxxvii]

            The founders collectively constructed a vice around QC and set the squeeze in motion by setting the subscription rate too low to cover their costs. Further, they locked themselves in to the printing and distribution of a substantial record each year to all ‘members’ many of whom had not paid, and who then had to be pursued.

            Woodford’s ‘common place papers’, revived by Harry Carr in the 1970’s, and Gould’s educational ‘ladder’ are an excellent case in point. The extension beyond basic research into a broader range of educational initiatives was a logical thing for QC to contemplate, but successful implementation of such an extension required then and still requires more than wishful enthusiasm.

            The initial success of even the first step on ‘the ladder’ quickly showed itself to be out of reach, and within two decades of 1886 external reasons for failure of the whole ladder were being canvassed. In 1904, Gould lamented the lack of home-produced ‘broadly educational materials’, while applauding the efforts of the Supreme Council of the A&A Scottish Rite in the USA, especially those of Sovereign Grand Commander, James Richardson, who had resigned from his position as a US Senator in order to pursue Masonic Education.[cxxviii]

            Gould’s thoughts of QC can, perhaps, be gained from notes he prepared for the establishment of ‘Masonic Veteran Societies’, the first of which ‘the Scottish Masonic Veteran Association’, he introduced in 1912 as ‘a Guild or Fraternity’:

…We are to meet for the purpose of good fellowship, and in order that our interchange of Masonic sentiment and recollections…may…spread a little Masonic light…it has been determined…that the Association shall have a literary as well as a social side, so that…we shall likewise meet for the purpose of promoting and fostering Masonic Research.[cxxix]

            Failure of QC to institute, in 1886 or since, ‘proof by independent authorities’ has had perceptible consequences within Freemasonry. One is a continuation of the much-bemoaned lack of curiosity among Freemasons, and the resultant ‘pervading requirements of the social circle’. Another is a return of the wildest, most improbable ‘histories’ in the transactions of research lodges, including the correlation of an unidentified entity, ‘Freemasonry’, wholly or in part, with ‘ancient times’. A variant is the argument that the only purpose of Masonic research is to establish that Masonic ‘truth’ equals Masonic ‘tradition’:

…Thus, though it may seem that all this critical examination of the traditional history of Freemasonry must result in dissent, deletion, and end in denial and destruction, in reality, the reasoned study of the development of the Craft through the centuries, by confirming the undeniable antiquity of Masonic motives and practice, supporting the verisimilitude of many ritualistic legends, illustrating the symbolical meaning of the whole structure – all this analysis, testing, repair and reconstruction, places the edifice on a more assured and firm basis… [cxxx]

            These all flow from QC’s failure to institute a ‘new approach’ involving rigorous examination of what’s actually involved in a ‘scientific and authentic history.’ A 2011 Townsville (Qld) Masonic Study Circle’s Newsletter has only one item as content, a reprint from The Canadian Craftsman and Masonic Record, of February, 1894, called ‘Pre-Historic Freemasonry.’ The earlier author asserted that ‘in this progressive age’, much new information has been brought to light on the past, including that of Freemasonry:

(Sufficient) has already been obtained to cause a revision of our old beliefs and a practical rewriting of the history of the Craft.[cxxxi]

            This is Snoek’s call 120 years later, the repetition made necessary by the events of the intervening period. There are important differences between the two: no-where in the Canadian ‘paper’ is there any new information, or any sign of an original thought by this 1894 ‘Grand Orator’. However, the fact that the members of Townsville Study Circle in 2011 had nothing to add, had nothing worth reiterating in their own archives and had no reflections on the Circle’s experience since Bro Spiers’ efforts for Queensland in 1893, speaks volumes.

            What QC has done, more than any other organisation in the English-speaking Masonic world, is to create an expectation that Masonic research can be, and ought to be conducted with the strictest rules of evidence in mind. I have this expectation, it is the underlying motivation in the wish-projections of those like Dyer who have claimed that QC has already actualised the ambition, and it was clearly in Bro Wade’s mind.

            It is not needlessly negative to say that QC’s founders were focussed on personal agendas, and not on the task in front of them. A close reading of their personal backgrounds and of the QC records explain why, a hundred years on, rigorous, myth-free research remains a goal to be attained.

            As long as Masonic histories were created ‘in-house’ and read only by ‘believers’, problems of credibility have seemed minor and ‘the Masonic story’ seemed under control. ‘The official record’ was a weapon, as well as a prize but any scrutiny and ‘refining’ could be conducted behind closed doors. In more recent times, control of the record has shifted so far away from the ‘insiders’, the designated authorities, to be near to coming under the control of ‘the outsiders’, non-Masonic researchers.

            With a deal of hindsight, it can now be seen that from the 18th century tug-o-wars over fraternal history have been intensifying because of increasing competition between the fraternals for members, status and political influence. It can now be better appreciated why secret societies proliferated at this time and how even the idea that they might be active in tense, political situations generated a threatening mystique influencing peoples’ perceptions.[cxxxii] In other words, the partisan ‘histories’ and the broader invisibility of fraternalism can be understood if they are located within the context of that competition between fraternal societies, and between fraternal ‘Orders’. As the broader context changed, the competing histories were changed, and were forced to change to remain competitive.

            How QC dealt with these issues and where the continued struggle has left Masonic lodges of research have been questions providing the motivation for this essay. Vigorous debate and close scrutiny of interpretations are to be applauded. What is worrying is that vigorous debate and close scrutiny of interpretations are only the first steps in what’s required by a search for ‘historical truth’, and that Prescott is right to point out that the struggle to have Freemasonry ‘engage with primary evidence’ is not yet won. In my terms, ‘re-contextualisation’ requires a great deal more of Freemasonry than just an invitation to begin hostilities. Or to paraphrase Chomsky, it seems:

Freemasons are still misrepresenting crucial events, overlooking major historical currents and suffering from a striking failure of objectivity.

            It’s very important, and only fair, to say that QC alone has the momentum and the gristle to effect this overdue change within the English-speaking Masonic world. I guess I can only hope that this time around, Freemasonry, the organisation, and QC will fully embrace Enlightenment values pertaining to accuracy, the scientific method and the rules of evidence.


Appendix 1

Published lectures in Volume 1, Transactions:

Those with dates were presented orally in Lodge, the others were communicated.

Vol 1, Pt 1 (1886-87):

            On Some Old Scottish Customs – Gould, June, 1886

            The Steinmetz Theory Critically Examined – Speth, September, 1886

            On an Early Version of the Hiramic Legend – Hayter Lewis, November, 1886

            Freemasonry and Hermeticism – Woodford, December, 1886

            On the Orientation of Temples – Warren, March, 1887

Vol 1, Pt 2 (1887):

            Connecting Links Between Ancient & Modern Freemasonry, from a non-masonic standpoint – Hughan, June, 1887

            The Religion of Freemasonry Illuminated by the Kabbalah – Westcott, September, 1887

            The Quatuor Coronati [Legend of] – Woodford

            English Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodge (1717) – Gould, November, 1887

            The Apostle St Paul, a Mason – Tendler

Vol 1, Pt 3 (1888):

            The Three-Fold Division of Temples – Simpson, January, 1888

            Indian Relics – Spainhour

            The Unrecognised Lodges & Degrees of Freemasonry Before & After 1717 – Yarker

            Shall I Be a Mason? – Tempels

            A Few Thoughts on the Effigy of Reputed Grand Master of Freemasons in Winchester Cathedral – Jacob

            Ignatius Aurelius Fessler – Beck

            A Word on the Legends of the Compagnonnage – WH Rylands, March 1888

            Two New Versions of the Old Charges – Speth, March 1888

Vol 1, Pt 4 (1888):

            Scottish Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodges – Speth, May, 1888

            The Roman Legend of the Quattro Incoronati – Forbes

            An Attempt to Classify the ‘Old Charges’ of the British Masons – Begemann

            Kaiser Wilhelm as a Mason – Speth

            Masters’ Lodges – Lane, June, 1888

            The ‘Quatuor Coronati’ Abroad. A Visit to the Hague and Brussels – Speth

Vol 1, Pt 5 (1888):

            Scottish Freemasonry in the Present Era – Macbean

            Notes on the Relations Between the Grand Lodges of England & Sweden in the Last Century – Kuppferschmidt


[i] ‘Historicus’, to Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, 19 Jan, 1867, p.49.

[ii] R Sandbach, quoting G Oliver’s ‘Valedictory Address’, 1850, in Priest and Freemason the Life of George Oliver, Aquarian, 1988, p.33.

[iii] A Sayce, “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments, London, Socy for Promoting Christian Knoweldge, 1894, p.25.

[iv] Y Beresiner, ‘’Masonic Research…that profit and pleasure may be the result.’, AQC, Vol 120, 2007, p.114.

[v] ‘Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076’, Transactions, Vol 121 for 2008, p.v.

[vi] ‘Bro. MJ Spurr’, discussing E Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85’, AQC, Vol 85, p.289.

[vii]  A Churchward, The Origin and Evolution of Freemasonry Connected with the Origin and Evolution of the Human Race, Allen & Unwin, 1920, p.8.

[viii] GM F McDowell, GM NSW,  in M Kellerman, From Diamond Jubilee to Centenary, UGLE, 1990, p.1.

[ix] Section headed ‘The Future of Freemasonry’, in Report entitled, The Future of Freemasonry, 2012, from p.37.

[x] R Gilbert, ‘William Wynn Westcott and the Esoteric School of Research’, AQC, Vol 100, pp.6-32; the further references in this paper and the comments are very useful.

[xi] J Hamill, ‘Masonic History and Historians’, AQC, Vol 99, 1986, p.1, p.4.

[xii] J Wade, ‘QC and AQC: The Challenges We Face’, AQC, Vol 123, 2010, p.13.

[xiii] J Wade, ‘QC and AQC: The Challenges We Face’, AQC, Vol 123, 2010, p.2.

[xiv] UGL of NSW & ACT, ‘Esoteric Research and Practice’, Circular to be Read in Open Lodge, 12 May, 2010.

[xv] J Snoek, ‘Researching Freemasonry: Where  Are We?’, 2007, p.19 (Version published by Sheffield University’s Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism),

[xvi] A Prescott, ‘ The Study of Freemasonry as a New Academic Discipline’, Collected Studies in the History of Freemasonry 2000-2002, Uni of Sheffield, p.36.

[xvii] For explanation of ‘fraternal strands’ see B James, They Call Each Other Brother, Griffin, 2010. For a brief review of the book see J Acaster, ‘Review’, AQC, Vol 123, 2010, pp.290-2.

[xviii] E Schultz, ‘Origin of Freemasonry’, Paper read at 125th Anniversary Celebration of GL of Maryland, Baltimore, 1912, p.1.

[xix] G Maine, ‘Desagulier and the March of Militant Freemasonry’ Speech to GL of Washington, 1939, p.4.

[xx] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Secret Agent on Earth and in Heaven: Jacobites, Jews, and Freemasons in Early Modern Sweden, Brill, 2011.

[xxi] MK Schuchard in personal communication in 2011.

[xxii] M Schuchard, ‘The Masonic Journey of Emanuel Swedenborg’, AQC, Vol 115, 2002, p.65.

[xxiii] A. Prescott, ‘The Old Charges Revisited’, Centre for Research into Freemasonry, U of Sheffield, 2001. Stevenson’s presentation to QC, member’s comments and his responses are at D Stevenson, ‘Confessions of a Cowan’, AQC, Vol 107, 1994, pp.53-84.

[xxiv] ‘DH 1753’ quoted in History Today, June, 2011, p.

[xxv] N Chomsky, ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’, in American Power and the New Mandarins, Pelican, 1969, p.258

[xxvi] Chomsky, 1969, as above, p.103.

[xxvii] See for discussion, J Wade, ‘QC and AQC: The Challenges We Face’, AQC, Vol 123, 2010, p.13.

[xxviii] ‘The Present Position of English Masonic Archeology’, The Freemason, 10 April, 1880, p.1.

[xxix] Dyer suggests that JP Rylands removed to the north of England to practice law – The History of the First 100 Years of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 2076, 1986 (typescript), p.14.

[xxx] Editorial Note, AQC, Vol 121, 2008, p.v.

[xxxi] Dyer, The History of the First 100 Years of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 2076, 1986,(typescript) in which he ascribes the 1884 draft to WH Rylands. The ‘Proposal of Bye-Laws for the Lodge Quatuor Coronati’, Nov, 1884, in Uncatalogued Folder at Freemasons Library and Museum, London, appears to be by Speth.

[xxxii] Comparatively recent, Masonic background information is available on Speth, at D Peabody, ‘GW Speth’, AQC, Vol 120, 2007, pp.2-25; Warren, at A Jackson, ‘Sir Charles Warren’, AQC, Vol 99, 1986,  pp.167-189; Woodford at J Seed, ‘AFA Woodward’, AQC, Vol 93, 1980, pp.118-128; Gould at F Cooper, ‘Robert Freke Gould’, AQC, Vol93, 1980, pp.98-117. 

[xxxiii] Quote from ‘Report of Permanent and Audit Committee’, December, 1887, p.1. ‘Masterpiece’ in Speth’s ‘Report of the Permanent Committee’, Sept, 1886.

[xxxiv] Fenn, as above, p.7.

[xxxv] Woodford, AQC, Vol 1, 1886, p.6.

[xxxvi] Gould later gave an account of this ‘unpromising condition’ – ‘Addenda’, AQC, Vol 3, Pt 3, p.183.

[xxxvii] Circular 5, 11 Oct 1886, copy in uncatalogued folder, Freemasons Library and Museum, London.

[xxxviii] AQC, 1887, p.86.

[xxxix] AQC, 1886, p.27.

[xl] ‘Record of Attendance – Names in Class Order…’, in Minutes of QC Lodge, p.38.

[xli] Gould, as above, p.66.

[xlii] AQC, Vol 1, p.28.

[xliii] AQC, Vol XIV, Pt 2, p.101.

[xliv] Draft version, 1986, in LF2076, Freemason’s Library and Museum, London, pp.1-2.

[xlv] Died 14 April, 1901, see ‘In Memoriam: GW Speth’, AQC, Vol xiv, Pt 2, pp.97-104, for depth of loss felt.

[xlvi] ‘Presentation to Bro GW Speth’, The Freemason, 17 Nov, 1894, p.203.

[xlvii] Bro W Ch Crawley, ‘In Memoriam – Bro RF Gould, PGM’, The Freemason, 10 April, 1915, p.657.

[xlviii] See A Hewitt, ‘RF Gould’s ‘History of Freemasonry’ A Bibliographical Puzzle’, AQC, Vol 85, 1972, pp.61+.

[xlix] Gould to Grand Secretary, UGLE, 7 Sept, 1882, in ‘Biog Folder – RF Gould’, Library/Museum, Freemasons’ Hall, London.

[l] J Hamill to Batham, then Sec of QC, 10 Feb, 1982, ‘RFG Folder’, Library/Museum, UGLE.

[li] R Gould, ‘L’Envoi’,  The History of Freemasonry, Vol 6, 1887, p.469.

[lii] R Gould, ‘Free and Freemasonry’, The Freemason, 10 Sept, 1898, p.171.

[liii] WH Rylands, AQC, Vol xiv, Pt 2, 1901, p.99

[liv] ‘In Memoriam – George William Speth’, Masonic Pamphlets, No 2, Vol 16 , April, 1901, p.8.

[lv] JM Dow, ‘In Memoriam’, The Freemason, Vol 54, p.569, 10 April, 1915, quoted by ‘FJ Cooper’ to ‘John’, 6 August, 1979, copy at ‘Gould’ folder, UGLE Library & Museum. See also Dow to ‘Sir Edward Letchworth’, 6 August, 1915, in same folder.

[lvi] Quoted by Rylands in above, p.98.

[lvii] ‘The Peeters-Baertsoen Prize’, AQC, Vol 3, pp.120-21.

[lviii] Schlegel’s Philosophy of History, 1835, quoted by R Gould, The History of Freemasonry, Vol 1, 1883, p.5.

[lix] Gould, 1883, as above, p.2.

[lx]  AQC, 1887, p.67.

[lxi] Woodford, as above, p.70, p.73.

[lxii] E Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85’, AQC, Vol 85, p.243.

[lxiii] Warren, as above, p.7.

[lxiv] AQC, 1886, p.42.

[lxv] AQC, 1886, p.45.

[lxvi] E Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85’, AQC, Vol 85, p.250, fn.4.

[lxvii] R Gilbert, ‘The Golden Dawn Scrapbook, Weiser, 1997, p.26.

[lxviii] W Westcott, ‘The Rosicrucian Society of England’, AQC, Vol 1, Pt 2, 1887, p.54. His paper begins on p.55.

[lxix] W Westcott, ‘The Rosicrucian Society of England’, AQC, 1886, p.54.

[lxx] Hughan, AQC , Vol 1, Pt 2, p.50.

[lxxi] As above, p.50.

[lxxii] Westcott, as above, p.55.

[lxxiii] Gould, as above, p.58.

[lxxiv] Rylands, AQC,  Vol 2, p.40.

[lxxv] Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry’,  AQC, Vol 85, p.246.

[lxxvi] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.34.

[lxxvii] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.5.

[lxxviii] Gilbert, 1997, as above, pp.72-3.

[lxxix] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.36.

[lxxx] Howe, AQC, Vol 85, as above, p.274.

[lxxxi] Howe, AQC, Vol 85, p.243, and fn.1.

[lxxxii] Howe, AQC, as above, p.274.

[lxxxiii] AQC, Vol 1, Pt 3.

[lxxxiv] Howe, AQC, Vol 85, p.258, fn.2.

[lxxxv] F Smyth, Brethren in Chivalry, Lewis Masonic,  1991.

[lxxxvi]  W Rylands, ‘In Memoriam: Sir William Besant’, AQC, Vol xiv Pt 2, p.107.

[lxxxvii] ‘Addenda’, AQC, Vol 3, Pt 3, p.182.

[lxxxviii] For some detail on his govt assignments and his loss of Masonic enthusiasm after the Spion Kop affair, see Jackson, ‘Sir Charles Warren’, AQC, Vol 99, 1986, from p.171.

[lxxxix] See papers, incl PRO 30/57/5, ‘Sinai Peninsula Survey and London Politics’, Kitchener Papers, 1884.

[xc] R Morris, Freemasonry in the Holy Land, 1876, pp.419-427.

[xci] H Shanks, Jerusalem An Archeological Biography, Random House, 1995, p.14.

[xcii] C Wilson, ‘On the Ordnance Survey of Sinai’, Freemason’s Magazine and Masonic Mirror, 6 August, 1870, p.105.

[xciii] N Etherington, ‘Introduction’, Mapping Colonial Conquest, UWAP, 2007, p.1.

[xciv] V Forbes & M Hercock, ‘Charting the Way to Empire – the Hydrographic Office’, in N Etherington, 2007, as above, p.39.

[xcv] Warren, Nov meeting, 1887, in AQC, Vol 1, p.73.

[xcvi] P Harries, ‘Anthropology’, in N Etherington, ed, Missions and Empire, OUP, 2005, p.238-9.

[xcvii] Harries, 2005, as above, p.240.

[xcviii] See AH Sayce, “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments, London, Socy for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1894.

[xcix] Palestine Exploration Fund, (Walter Besant), Palestine Exploration Fund, nd, text implies 1876, London, p.1.

[c] W Besant, Thirty Years in the Holy Land, Published for the PEF, London, 1895, p.12.

[ci] JT Perry, ‘The Late Thomas Hayter Lewis, FSA’, J of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 14 Jan, 1899, p.161.

[cii] A Sayce, Fresh Light From the Ancient Monuments, Religious Tract Socy, 1890.

[ciii] J Gooding, ‘The Politics of a Panorama’, in N Etherington (ed), Mapping Colonial Conquest – Australia and Southern Africa, UWAP, 2007, p.74.

[civ] The following information on the Victoria Institute taken from ‘The Victoria Institute - 1874’, shown as Pamphlet 7 in bound collection, Masonic Pamphlets, Vol 7, UGLE. Copy at London Freemasons Museum and Library.

[cv] Pamphlets 7 and 8 in Masonic Pamphlets, Vol 7, UGLE.

[cvi] ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, The Building News, 5 February, 1869, p.110.

[cvii] AQC, 1886, p.49.

[cviii] He is referring to NSW to which he fled when rejected in London – see B James, They Call Each Other Brother, Griffin Press, 2011.

[cix] H Melville, ‘Henricus’, The Lost Mysteries of Freemasonry, Sydney, 5857 (1857), p.viii.

[cx] A Newman, ‘Masonic Controversy and The Freemasons’ Magazine’, AQC, Vol 122, p.190. See also R Sandbach, ‘Robert Thomas Crucefix, 1788-1850’, and J Hamill, ‘The Sins of Our Masonic Fathers’, both in AQC Vol 102, 1989, p.134, and p.247, respectively.

[cxi] Warren, response to toast after his installation, ARS Quatuor Coronaturum, Vol 1, 1886, p.8; see note at Howe, p.258, fn 3.

[cxii] W Simpson, ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, AQC, Vol 2, pp.124, 128-130.

[cxiii] W Besant, ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, AQC, Vol 2, p.158.

[cxiv] Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee, December, 1887, p.1.

[cxv] Unsigned, un-dated (1905?), handwritten note in ‘QC’ folder at UGLE Library/Museum, and headed ‘Correspondence Circle’ accumulates the numbers in QC Minutes.

[cxvi] ‘Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee’, AQC, Vol xiv, Pt 2, p.2.

[cxvii] Unsigned, undated note (1905?), as above.

[cxviii] Addition by Spiers, 12 April, 1894, to Circular, from Speth, April, 1894, copy in Freemasons Hall Library/Museum, London.

[cxix] Letter, Brother J Spiers’ to CC Members in Qld, 1 Jan, 1893 – copy in Folder LF 2076, Freemasons Library & Museum, London.

[cxx] The South Australian Freemason, 12 April, 1913, p.9.

[cxxi] ‘South Australia’, in Transactions, Vol 3, 1888, p.64, quoting The South Australian Freemason.

[cxxii] ‘Lodges of Research’, The Freemason, (London), 18 July, 1914, p.119.

[cxxiii] Editorial, The WA Freemason, 15 December, 1912, p.18.

[cxxiv] Quoted by The WA Freemason, 15 Dec, 1912, p.21.

[cxxv] See Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee, 1952, in Folder LF 2076, at Freemasons Hall, London, where also see Circular, dated 7 January, 1952; letter from Grantham to QC Sec Batham, 21 Jan, 1977, in Folder LF 2076.

[cxxvi] Notes, by CFW Dyer, perhaps for 1986 Dinner, nd, 6 pp.

[cxxvii] GW Speth, 23 Feb, 1900, ‘Notes for the Consideration of the Committee’, at LF2076, Freemasons Museum and Library, London.

Recycle & Papers Relating to Freemasonry, Belfast, 1913.

[cxxix] RF Gould, ‘Masonic Veteran Societies’, reprinted as pamphlet from The Aldershot Army and Navy Lodge Journal’, July 1912. Copy in Folder LF 2076, UGLE Library & Museum, London.

[cxxx] Anon, The Masonic Order of the Secret Monitor, Cambridge, 1950, p.32. (Printed for Private Circulation – Copy sighted London Library and Museum of Freemasonry).

[cxxxi] Masonic Studies Circle Network, Townsville, Qld, 29 Sept, 2011, Vol 25, No 3, p.1.

[cxxxii] J Roberts, The Mythology of Secret Societies, Paladin, 1974.

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