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The first English exposure (it included a catechism) was issued without a title in a London newspaper in April 1723 (EMC, pp. 71-75).[i] Prichard's Masonry Dissected, last exposure of the early group, was issued in October 1730. These English exposures did not include a dialogue for Opening and Closing the lodge.


Three Distinct Knocks, Or the Door of the most Antient Free-Masonry... (April 1760) is dedicated 'To the Right Worshipful Company of Irish Masters' and includes, p. 6, the following sentence:  « Then I was invited to an Irish Lodge [in London]... which is the whole subject of this Book ». TDK is the first exposure written in English which includes a dialogue for Opening the lodge,  separated from the catechism part which is entitled 'Lecture' and 'Reasons'. TDK describes  Closing as « very much the same as Opening » and quotes only one sentence from it. TDK is  very different from the texts of the English exposures (1723-1730) and of the French ones  (1737-1751), it resembles contemporary English ritual in many respects, it includes many  features which did not exist then in contemporary Continental rituals and which, up to this day,  do not exist in them, except when lodges practise a translated English ritual.


Two years after the issue of TDK, J&B or An Authentic Key to the Door of Free-Masonry was issued in London (March 1762). Its second 'Corrected' edition issued in October 1762 added Both ANTIENT and MODERN to the preceding words of the title-page. Its first degree proceeds from two distinct sources : one is TDK which it reproduces « almost word for word » [ii] ; the other is the Herault's pamphlet (December 1737) in its original narrative form and rhythm but with important differences in wording.


English commentators of J&B have tried to explain the contradictory details included in the dialogue part (Opening and Lecture) and in the narrative one. They noted - sometimes with reluctance - the near identity between the dialogue parts of J&B and those of TDK on one hand, and on the other the near identity between the narrative part of J&B and what they identified as  Burd's A Master-Key to Free-Masonry, an excellent translation into English of one third of the Trahi (1745), printed in London in February 1760, two months before TDK was issued.


Harry Carr wrote : « During the next 30 years [after the first issue of Prichard's MD]... nothing of importance in this field was published in England; throughout that period there is no English evidence to be found of the ritual development that must have been taking place side-by-side with the growth of the lodges. » (EFE, p. XI).[iii] However in his comments upon the Démasqué (London, 1751), he wrote : « ... the description of the ceremonies, the titles of some of the Officers... and many other details of the procedures described by Wolson... cannot be reconciled with what is known of English Lodge practices at that period. For these reasons, it seems likely that the work [the Démasqué] represented French rather than English Freemasonry... » (EFE, p. 419, my italics).


Comparing Jachin and Boaz (1762) with Three Distinct Knocks (1760) in his Commentary to facsimile reprints of both exposures (Masonic Book Club, 1981), Harry Carr wrote first: « Several writers have charged the J. & B. compiler, justly perhaps, with having plagiarized most of his material from TDK. That may be an exaggeration... » (p. 179). He wrote further that « the problems on the authenticity of Jachin and Boaz involve three main questions ». The second one is « Why did the compiler [of J&B] use so much of the catechism of Three Distinct Knocks ? » (p. 181) and his answer (p. 185) is that « apart from the words in the E.A. and F.C.degrees, the two rituals [of the Moderns and of the Antients] were virtually identical ». His third question, « Why did he [the compiler of J&B] use the opening narrative section containing practices that were foreign to English procedure ? » (p. 181), is answered thus : « the compiler's reasons for quoting procedures unknown in English usage are not easily explained » (p. 185) and then Harry Carr enumerates over two pages (pp. 186-7) « those details and procedures that were unknown in English practice » (my italics in the last three quotes).


One is forcibly reminded of John Hamill's words which however were applied by him to the founders of Quatuor Coronati Lodge « 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 » (AQC 99, 1985, p. 4).


The 'virtual' identity of the rituals of the Moderns and of the Antients is contradicted by half a century of bitter hostility in England (as well as in North America), illustrated by the following example : the author of A Defence of Free-Masonry, a pamphlet published in London in 1765, says how he would like Dermott to be buried, and amongst other details suggests :  

... I would have his Corpse preceded by Ancient Masons, of the following Professions or Callings, viz. Scavengers and Nightmen, who would bear upon their Poles the Ensigns of his Order, viz. the Cross Pens, pendant, in green, red or yellow Ribbands, or any other tawdry Colour he is now most fond of, and a dirty Leather Apron, lined and bordered with the same Colour, on which may be wrote, in as legible Characters as possible, AHIMAN REZON. The Deacons Rods to be carried by two Chimney-Sweepers, and the Columns by a walking Poulterer who retails Rabbits &c. in the Streets and a brawny Chairman, all of the same Country, and likewise Ancient Masons... The Hearse to be followed, not by his Relations, but by as many Nightmen as there were Builders in Solomon's Temple... After the funeral is over, his Friends (if he has any) may surround the Valley, sing Mass, and set up a Howl according to the Custom of their Country.[iv]


English Freemasonry was exported to Paris in two successive ‘waves’. The first one (before or about 1725) through Jacobite exiles (the famous trio Derwentwater, MacLean, Heguerty), the second one (September 1734-1736) through the Duke of Richmond, Desaguliers, Coustos and others. Differences between ‘Original French’ and ‘Prichard French’ catechisms are probably related with this double origin.[v] If the Herault's pamphlet was the French translation of an English aide-mémoire belonging to an English freemason living in Paris or brought from England to France by a French freemason, it would explain why it reappears (with modifications having developped over a period of some fifteen to twenty-five years) as the narrative part of the Démasqué (EFE, pp. 428-435) and of the English exposures of the 1760s. If one agrees with the writer that Openings and Lectures from the second series of English exposures are exclusively those of the Antients - which were 'based on Irish practice'[vi] -, then the narrative parts of the Démasqué and of J&B likely describe the 'working' of the premier Grand Lodge.


Each in their own way, all these late exposures are genuine ones. However ceremonies described in the Démasqué (and in its English translation issued in 1766, Solomon in all his Glory) and in TDK apply respectively to one Grand Lodge only, while J&B and Shibboleth were made out of bits and pieces by compilers adding together two distinct and different sources without caring much for the inner logic of the result.




[i] Abridged references. MD : Masonry Dissected ; TDK : Three Distinct Knocks ; J&B : Jachin and

Boaz ; EMC : The Early Masonic Catechisms, transcribed and edited by Douglas Knoop, G. P.

Jones and Douglas Hamer, second edition edited by Harry Carr (1963) ; EFE : The Early French

Exposures, edited by Harry Carr (1971); AQC : Ars Quatuor Coronatorum

[ii] S.N. Smith, AQC 56, 1943, p. 5. « The change of the order of the Words made only in the second

edition of J&B is a supplementary proof of the fact » (ibid., p. 11).

[iii] It might have been clearer to qualify the sentence with words such as : provided one accepts as

evidence Prichard's Masonry Dissected (1730) and TDK (1760). If one doesn't, the discussion

stops immediately for want of material. If one does, however, isn't one bound to accept it as it stays

and as a whole ?

[iv] A Defence of Free-Masonry was reproduced in facsimile in Henry Sadler’s Masonic Reprints and

Revelations (London, 1898).

[v] About the differences between ‘Original French’ and ‘Prichard French’ catechisms, see my paper in AQC 106, 1993, ‘Masonic Catechisms and Exposures’, p. 149.

[vi] Colin Dyer, AQC 98, 1985, p. 122.