|Rivista di Massoneria - Revue de Franc-Maçonnerie - Revista de Masonerìa - Revista de Maçonaria|
|History Literature Music Art Architecture Documents Rituals Symbolism|
ÉTUDES MAÇONNIQUES - MASONIC PAPERS
by W.Bro. ALAIN BERNHEIM 33°
THE DATING OF MASONIC RECORDS
Throughout this paper the expression masonic dating codes describes the various ways by which freemasons expressed dates on documents drawn up for internal use when these dating methods differ from our present-day chronology.
Quite popular during the 18th and 19th centuries most of them became obsolete and are no longer used. Generally these codes are easy to decipher, though some can be rather intricate.
Since ascertaining dates is probably as useful as determining facts in the field of masonic research, a knowledge of such codes can be useful. Yet there is very little masonic literature relevant to this matter.
The present paper attempts to arrange masonic dating codes into rough categories and to provide practical methods of deciphering them, that is, converting dates written in a coded way into our present-day chronology.
Because of the limited length permitted for this essay and of its practical aims, little space will be devoted to the historical aspect of these codes; the reasons for their appearance and their fall into desuetude, and the examples given, will be restricted to the period 1723 – 1823.
Coded expressions generally tend to restrict the access of certain facts to small groups through the use of conventional, mostly secret, methods. This aspect seldom appears relevant to the use of masonic dating codes, the majority of 18th- and 19th-century documents being dated in clear (in our current chronology) as well as in one or several coded ways at the same time.
It seems more likely that for those masons who made use of them, the function of dating codes was either to express their actual or wishful ties to specific traditions or their dissimilarity from other masonic groups. From the point of view of historical research, this can be considered as an interesting source of information.
The knowledge of masonic dating codes also helps to ensure the actual date of a document when its clear date is either defaced or misprinted.
Lastly, when a clear dale and a coded one do not match, this knowledge can be a contributing factor in appreciating whether a document should be looked upon as genuine or not.
A. CLASSIFICATION AND DECIPHERMENT
The two main dating codes and a subsidiary one
Our current chronology, the one we use every day, provides one of the two main bases used by masonic codes. It is generally called the Gregorian Calendar (or New Style) because it was devised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Almost immediately introduced in the Catholic States of Europe, the change was only adopted in Great Britain in 1750 (Calendar Act) and put into operation two years later, whilst at the same time the beginning of the legal year was changed from March 25 to January l. In Scotland January 1 had been in use for New Year’s Day since 1600.
Masonic dating codes based on the Gregorian Calendar apply, separately or together, to years, months or days.
A completely different system exists in dating masonic documents with the help of the Jewish Calendar. In a way this is not a code because for orthodox Jews, familiar with this method of reckoning, such dates are perfectly clear and immediately understandable. But this does not apply to the great majority of us and we can consider the Jewish calendar as a code.
We shall later on (§ 2.) consider the main characteristics of the Jewish Calendar and discover that it constitutes an intricate system. Unfortunately, no masonic literature gives adequate information on this. Nowhere is it possible to find a simple method which permits the conversion of a date from one calendar system into another.
It is frequently stated that the Jewish New Year begins in September. This is true most of the time but not always; in the past ten years it was not the case either in 1978 or in 1986 (see Appendix 2). It is also stated that the Jewish Calendar is ‘the Calendar used in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite’ (Jones, Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium, p. 374 as an example, but the same assertion is to be found in Mackey’s and Coil’s Encyclopaedias as well as in various masonic reference books). This should be considered, at the very least, a misleading statement. The Constitutions of 1786, in their French or Latin versions, neither use nor make mention of the Jewish Calendar. The new Rite of 33 degrees appeared in the United States at the turn of the 18th century; its Supreme Council at Charleston on 10 October 1S02 appointed a committee to draft a circular letter ‘explanatory of the origin and nature of the Sublime Degrees of Masonry, and their establishment in South-Carolina’. Some eight weeks later this committee submitted its Report and the Council ‘was pleased to express the highest approbation’ of it.
The Circular throughout the two Hemispheres in which this Report was included, used the Jewish Calendar in three different places, but this was by no means the first use of this system of reckoning in a masonic document. The first documentary evidence (which probably does not mean its first use, see p. 23) was discovered by the present writer to be thirty-five years earlier, namely 1767, when Bro. Francken delivered a ‘Constitution and Patent’ to five freemasons, constituting them ‘into a Regular Lodge of Perfection (sic) by the name of INEFFABLE; to be held at the city of Albany, in the Province of New York’ (facsimile reproduction in the Yorston edition of Gould’s The History of Freemasonry, 1889, Vol. IV, facing p. 624).
In its authentic form the Jewish Calendar applies to the day, the month and the year together. But the date conversion proved too complicated for some of its users who introduced modifications. This will be considered on p. 28 under the name of the simplified Jewish code.
For a few years after 1793 another method of expressing a date is found on masonic documents. It was introduced by the government of the first French Republic, hence its name, the Republican Calendar (see p. 26); it can be considered as a code in as much as it is not readily understood by contemporary masons. French masons used it in France as well as in the United States where after 1793 many of them were refugees from the French colonies.
This first dating code family can be divided into three parts:
– the coding of the year,
– the coding of the month,
– the coding of the day.
1.1. The Coding OF THE Year
1.1.1. The +4000 code
This was the earliest masonic dating code used and one of the very few to have survived to the present day. It appears for the first time an the front-page of Anderson’s 1723 Constitutions preceded by the expression ‘In the Year of Masonry’ and was used again (see p. 13) on the front-page of the 1738 Constitutions (but with the addition of the word ‘Vulgar’). This addition illustrates the fact that between the 1723 and the 1738 editions, Anderson had changed his mind about the Christian and the masonic chronologies.
In the 1723 edition, at the beginning of the historical part (‘ADAM, our first Parent...’), Anderson wrote in the margin:
On page 24, next to the words ‘...AUGUSTUS CAESAR, (in whose Reign was born God's MESSIAH,...)’, Anderson wrote:
ln the 1738 edition the History also began with Adam, but with dates expressed thus:
A.M. or Year of the World I
*B.C, or before the Christian Era 400
accompanied by a remarkable foot-note (see p. 13).
On page 41 (seemingly on the authority of ‘The Hebrew CHRONOLOGY before the Christian Era, according to Usher, Spanheim, Prideaux, and other such accurate Chronologers’ mentioned on page X, at the end of ‘The Author to the Reader’) Anderson wrote:
‘After the Birth of Christ 4 Years, or when CHRIST was going in his 4th Year, The CHRISTIAN Era begins A.M. 4004. Commonly call’d ANNO DOMINI, 1.’
It is true that the various chronological indications, as well as the foot-note of page 2 of the 1738 Constitutions, are not always strikingly clear.
Part of the front page of Anderson’s Constitutions 1723
Part of the front page of Anderson’s Constitutions 1738
Note on page 2 of Anderson’s Constitutions 1738
‘Anderson is a tantalizing author. What did he mean ? – Did he know what he meant himself?’ commented the R. W. Bro. The Hon. W. R. S. Bathurst once in AQC 80 (1967).
But if we try to bring all these chronological indications together (see p. 12) they are coherent, in as much as Anderson was using in the same work four different main types of computation:
1. The Year of the World or Anno Mundi (A.M.) The World began on Year 1 equal to 4003 B.C.
2. The Year before the Christian Era Ending A.M. 4004 which Anderson equals with A.D. 1
3. The (Vulgar) Year of Masonry The World began on Year 1 equal to 4000 B.C.
4. The Year after Christ's Birth According to which Christ was born A.M. 4000 and... 4 B.C.!
How strange it is for us to see
That Christ was born in 4 B.C.
is a rhyming couplet quoted by Bro. Mendoza in AQC 94 (1981).
(1) Expressed: ‘Anno Mundi’ p. 3, A.M. from p. 4 on.
(2) Expressed: ‘Ante Christum.’ p. 3, ‘Ante Ch.' from p. 4 on.
Up to A.M. 4004, all dates are given in both chronological systems at the same time. A.M. 4004 is set alone by itself. The then following dates preceded by ‘An. Dom.’ (once by ‘A.D.’) are indicated according to our present-day chronology only.
(3) ‘...and here B.C. is not Before Christ but Before the Christian Era.’ (Note p. 2).
(4) ‘Therefore, tho’ according to the Hebrew Chronology of the old Testament and other good Vouchers, CHRIST was truly born in some Month of the Year of the World or A.M. 4000. yet these 4 Years added make 4004 Not before the Birth of Chrisr, but before the Christian Era.' (Note p. 2).
(5) ‘... and adding to (the Vulgar Anno Domini or Christian Era) not 4004 as it ought, but the strict Years before Chrisr's Birth, viz. 4000...’ (Note p. 2).
(6) ‘.... but the first Year of our A.D. or Christian Era, is A.M. 4004.' (Note p. 39).
‘The CHRISTIAN Era begins A.M. 4004. Commonly call’d ANNO DOMINI, l.' (p. 41).
(7) ‘But the MASONS being used to compute by the Vulgar Anno Domini or Christian Era 1737 and adding to it not 4004 as it ought, but the strict Years before Christ’s Birth, eiz. 4000 They usually call this the Year of MASONRY 5737 Instead of the accurate Year ——— 5740 and we must keep to the Vulgar Computation.’ (Note p. 2).
(8) ‘For the true Anno Domini or year after Christ’s Birth’ (1737) ‘is 1740.’ (Note p. 2).
In the wealth of dates and various abbreviations of both editions, no wonder that some mistakes or misprints occurred. Although A.M. and B.C. are meant to be used throughout the 1738 edition, three misprints (of which only one was taken under consideration in the Corrigenda at the end of the volume) tend to disconcert the reader : B.M. and A.C. on page 4, A.M. and A.C. on page 16 (this was mentioned in the Corrigenda) and on page 30 (this was not).
On page 39 of the same edition we read:
Before the Christian Era 37
Before the Birth of Christ 33
Besides the misprint 3367 (instead of 3967) we notice a difference of four years between the two last-given ways of reckoning. Then, on the very next page 40, Anderson writes:
Before the Chr. AEra 17
Before Christ’s Birth 14
whereby the difference between the Christian Era and Christ’s Birth is now only three years!
The three years difference between the (Vulgar) Year of Masonry and its accurate Year (see note 7, previous page) sounds puzzling, although it is logical. It was probably not quite convincing even for Anderson. On page 42 he writes:
In the Vulgar Year of Masonry 4014
tho’ the accurate Year is 4018
The expression ‘Year of Masonry’ which preceded the + 4000 year code on the front-page of Anderson’s Constitutions in 1723, is found four times in the Minute Book No 1 of :he premier Grand Lodge. These four examples would tend to show that at that time these words were not yet attached to a specific code:
1. ‘at London the 6th day of ffebruary 1728/9 and in the Year of Masonry 5732’ (QCA X, p. 98). The editor of this Minute Book, Bro. Songhurst, noticed here that ‘The Scribe first wrote the date as 5728'.
2. ‘at London this 9 th day of March 1728/9 and in the Year of Masonry 5728’ (QCA X, p. 99).
3. 'From our Lodge at Gibraltar the 19 th day of October 1729 & in the Year of Masonry 5728’ (QCA X, p. 114).
4. ‘Given under our hand and Seal of Office at London this fifth day of June 1730 and of Masonry 5730’ (QCA X, p. 125).
In France no masonic dating codes whatever are to be found on the earliest extant documents. The copies of the 1735, 1737 and 1743 Constitutions (issued under various titles) show only the use of the current chronology. This is true, too, for the Livre de la Loge qui se tient d la mille de tonnerre (the Coustos Lodge Minute Book) and for the copy of the Warrant delivered on 14 February 1737 to the Loge d’Aumont quoted in Vers la Lumiere, Juvanon, p. 134.
The first use of a masonic dating code in France, actually the + 4000 code, was found by the present writer at the end of a Warrant delivered by the Parfait Harmonic Lodge of Bordeaux to the Loge de Bergerac which is dated thus: Donné en Loge, l'an de la Lumiere, 5747 et suivant le calcul ordinaire, le troisieme du mois de juin, mil sept cens (sic!) quarante sept (‘Given in Lodge, the year of Light, 5747 and according to the usual computation, the third of the month of June, one thousand seven hundred & forty seven’). This original Warrant is presently in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, FM’ 8.
The same expression is found on a Warrant signed by (Etienne) Morin in Abbeville for La Parfaite Harmonie lodge delivered ‘the year of Lodge this 17th of the 8th month 5750’ (L’an de Loge ca 17' du 8' mois 5750) of which the original also is in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
This Warrant was delivered by ‘the Masters Inspectors of our Respectable Grand and Mother Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem located 51º 36' ‘North’, which could correspond, strangely enough, to Bristol!
The same expression occurs again in a Warrant delivered ‘by the Most Serene Grand & Metropolitan Lodge of Edinburgh Sovereign of all Lodges over the surface of the earth, to the Most Respectable Scottish Mother Lodge of France at the East of Marseille, 1751’, transcribed by Rene Verrier in his book Grasse-Tilly (1954): ‘Given (in) the year of lodge the 17th day of the 4th month’. This document emanated ‘from the Perfect Lodge of Scotland situated by 56º North Latitude’ which might correspond to Edinburgh.
One year later the expression ‘Year of Light’ (L’an de Lumière) 5749 is used in a letter written in 1749 by the ‘Perfect Lodge of Scotland of St. John of Jerusalem of Bordeaux’ (quoted by Alain Le Bihan in: Loges et Chapitres de la Grande Loge et du Grand Orient de France, p. 390).
The expression ‘Year of the Great Light’ (L’An de la Grande Lumiere) mentioned in Bro. Mendoza’s recent Inaugural Address (AQC 94, 1981), which he presumably found in the 1755 Statuts dresses par la Respectable Loge St. Jean de Jerusalem de l’Orient de Paris (published in The Freemason, July 1885 and in Villard de Honnecourt, Tome X, 1974) seems to have been used some three years earlier in a Craft document: the Reglements & Loix particulieres sent by lodge La Parffaite Union de la Martinique to the parffaite harmonic lodge in Nouvelle Orleans (Louisiana) on 16 July 1752 (L’An de la grande L’umière (sic) cinq Mille Sept cents cinquante deux... 16... Juillet) which was published in AQC 40, 1928, p. 108, by Bro. Sitwell.
In later French masonic documents we find quite a variety of expressions to qualify the year, whether it is coded or not.
– ‘this 29 April of the mysterious year 5757 and of the year of grace  1757’ (çe Vingt neufvième Avril de l’annee mistérieuse Cinq mille sept cent cinquante Sept et de l’an de grace Mille sept cent cinquante sept) on a Warrant delivered by the Tres Respectable Loge Ancienne Saint Jean de Toulouse quoted by Groussier in Documents relatifs à l’Histoire du G\ O\ D\ F\
– ‘ordinary style the 1 August 1758’ (stile ordinaire le 1er Aout 1758) in the confirmation by the Grand Lodge of France of a Warrant for the Lodge La Sagesse, also in Toulouse, quoted by Gaston Martin in Manuel d’Histoire de la Franc-Maçonnerie Française, p. 53.
– ‘vulgar Era’ (Ere vulgaire) on the Warrant delivered to the Lodge Saint Jean de Metz by the Grand Lodge of France (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) in 1762.
– ‘The masonic Year 5763, the 9 April 1763’ (L’An maçonnique 5763, le 9 april 1763) on a document joined to the Minutes of the adoption of the Statuts de l’Ordre 1763, also quoted by Groussier, Note 1 of his publication of these Statuts, relating the exclusion of Bro. Hardy.
– Writing in 1765 what would seem to be an official letter to the Grand Lodge of France, Etienne Morin dates his letter from the année M-que 5765 A.D. le 7 mars 1765 (quoted and transcribed by Choumitzky in St-Claudius No. 21, Compte rendu 1927 – 1928, p. 45).
– The same Etienne Morin in a Patente delivered by him to Antoine Charles Mennessier de Boissy, dates this document de l’ere chrétienne le ler juin 1770  after a (faulty) Jewish date (document transcribed in Official Bulletin of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Vol. X, p. 172), which constitutes to my knowledge the first appearance of this expression in a document in the French language.
Later documents will show some more expressions like: A. L., Anno Lucis (about which Bro. Mendoza spoke in his Inaugural Address (AQC 94, 1981) together with a + 4000 coded year-date; ‘Year of the (our) Lord’ or ‘Year of our Lord Jesus Christ’ together with an uncoded year-date.
1.1.2. The + 4003 code
Such a code (which might have been prompted by a sentence from Bro. Anderson (see supra), is found on documents relating to the Royal Order of Scotland quoted by Bro. R. S. Lindsay.
In his book, The Royal Order of Scodand (1972), Bro. Lindsay writes:
All Royal Order documents originally had the AD and AMH notation. The latter dating runs from 4003 BC. i.e., one year after the Creation of the World according to Archbishop Usher’s computation of 4004 B.C. The year less suggests that AMH stands for Anno Mundi Habitati (i.e., In the Year of the Inhabited World).
The documents quoted by Bro. Lindsay, pp. 39, 46, 48 & 57, refer to July AD 1750 AMH 5753.
1.1.3. The + 4004 code
But for the exception of the Rite of Misraïm, this code does not seem to have been used on the Continent. Its use in England is rather limited. In his Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium Bro. Bernard E. Jones mentions that ‘a lodge constituted in 1742 used to print its summons from an old plate bearing the words “constituted A.D. 1742, A.L. 5746”.’ (p. 374), but he does not mention the name of that lodge. He quotes, p. 275 of his Freemasons’ Book of the Royal Arch, the Charter of Compact bearing the dates: A. L. 5770 A.D. 1766. Bro. Wonnacott gave an example of it in connection with the Rite of Seven Degrees in London (AQC 39, 1926, p. 86): ‘26 July 5794 A.M.’ being at the head of a quoted document, Bro. Wonnacon writes in a footnote: ‘Anno Mundi. 1790 A.D. is intended.’
Lastly, in his before-mentioned paper, Bro. Mendoza quotes the text of one of the drafts ‘of the inscription that was to be used on the brass plate to be placed in the north-east corner of the first Freemasons’ Hall’ and this was: ‘In the Year of the World (or of Light) 5779.1775’.
A probably unique example of a masonic writer changing his mind and using the + 4004 code in the new printing of a text he had signed a few months before, in which the + 4000 code had been used, is Dr. Frederick Dalcho. He was a member of the committee of three brethren who had drafted the Circular throughout the two Hemispheres (mentioned above) approved by the Charleston Supreme Council on 4 December 1802. In the original print of this document (facsimile reproduction in Harris & Carter, History of the Supreme Council, Washington, 1964) all the dates of the narrative ‘historical’ part were given according to the + 4000 year code and were not preceded by any abbreviation. A few months later, the same text was reprinted in Charleston as part of an Appendix to an Oration which Bro. Dalcho had delivered ‘on the 21st of March, A.L. 5807, A.D. 1803.’ All the year dates were therein corrected according to the + 4004 code. There again no abbreviations precede the dates given in the text itself. But each of them is accompanied with a foot-note indicating A.D. and the clear year date (for instance 5806* – *A.D. 1802).
The only known document issued by the Supreme Council in Charleston which makes use of the +4004 code is the ‘Patent authorizing Mr. Delahogue to establish the Sublime Degrees in New Orleans’ (transcribed in the Official Bulletin of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Vol. VIII, p. 738) dated; ‘Anno Lucis 5808 and of the Christian AEra the 29th July 1804.’
In 1808, two Orations of Bro. Dalcho were reprinted in Dublin. This reprint included the Appendix to the 1803 Oration (Charleston edition), the +4004 code used for the dates of the Circular throughout the two Hemispheres and the same foot-notes.
1.1.4 The + 6000 code
The first use of this code seems to be found in France. Its earliest use was found by the present writer on documents pertaining to the lodge La Sagesse in Toulouse, quoted in the Manuel d’Histoire de la Franc-Maçonnerie Française (1932) by Bro. Gaston Martin. A first Warrant delivered in Paris ‘With the leave of His Most Serene Highness the Count of Clermont, prince of the blood, Master of all the regular lodges in France’ signed among others by Jean Pierre Moët, ‘Master of the Lodge The Secret (,) Scottish elected Master and Knight of the East’ stresses the point that Bro. Maison, therein named as Worshipful Master of the lodge, ‘has been reported by several travelling Brethren as working in the three degrees without any innovation’ (sur les attestations de divers freres voyageurs qui l’ont vu travaillé (sic) dans les Trois grades, sans aucune innovation). It is thus dated: ‘this 10 July of the masonic year 5775 and of the year of grace 1757’. Bro. Gaston Martin inserted a sic after 5775 because this date looks very much like a mistake for 7757 in so far as the immediately following confirmation of the said Warrant is dated : ‘Year of Masonry 7758 and of the ordinary style the 1 August 1758.’ This last document is also the first one signed by the notorious Lacorne as ‘Substitute of the Grand Master’.
This +6000 code is found again on the first folio of the Registre du President de la Grande Loge des Maîtres de I’Orient de Paris, ditte de France dated thus : du 19 mai 7760 (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, FM1 96) and also on the Liste ancienne et nouvelle des Maitres des Loges Regulieres de la Ville de Paris et du Roiaume de france..., dated : L’an Maçonnique 7762 of which a facsimile reproduction was published by Bro. Etienne Gout in Les Cahiers de I’Homme-Esprit, 2-1973, 06240 Beausoleil, France.
The same code appears a little later on a Warrant delivered in America by Bro. Francken (see § 2.3.) to the Lodge of Perfection in Albany (NY) in 1767, and on Patents he delivered to Bros. Hays, Stringer and van Rensselaer in 1768. It is used in the Francken Manuscripts (1771 & 1783), the Constitutions and Laws of the Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Masons in Baltimore found in the Eckel papers, dated: ‘in the year of Masonry 7792’, quoted by Schultz, History of Freemasonry in Maryland, 1887, p. 334.
It was frequendy found on documents between 1797 and 1811 in South Carolina and in Louisiana and then disappeared.
One possible reason for the use of this +6000 code which, during the 18th century, produced dates which began with a double 7, could be attributed to the symbolic value of this number. It would also account for its disappearance shortly after 1800, year dates thus coded beginning then with 78.
1.1.5. The +530 (531) code
According to some reference books (Mackey’s and Coil’s Encyclopedias, Lennhoff & Posner’s Lexikon) a +530 year code would have been used on Royal Arch documents and named Anno Inventionis (A.I.) or preceded by the expression ‘In the Year of the Discovery’.
The present writer could not find any documents originating in the 18th or the beginning of the 19th century substantiating this statement with the one exception of ‘A diploma issued by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland... dated Anno Domini, Anno Lucis, and Anno Inventionis’ without further specifications. This quotation from Bro. Bernard E. Jones in his Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium, p. 374, implies that this diploma was issued in 1816 at the earliest. The date of the founding of this masonic body is accepted as 1816, as stated by the same author in his Freemasons’ Book of the Royal Arch, p. 220.
In this last-named book, Bro. Jones says that ‘What is still thought to be the earliest minute definitely recording a Royal Arch Exaltation (in America) is of ‘“Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons” in Fredericksburg, Virginia, of the year 1753 (year of Masonry 5753)...’ He also reproduces, facing p. 144, the ‘Charter of the Cana Chapter, Colne, No. 116... one of the earliest granted...’ on which the expressed dates are: ‘A.L. 5773 A.D. 1769’.
Bro. Jones gives no example of a +530 code in this book wholly devoted to the Royal Arch.
On three Patents delivered by Bro. Francken to Bros. van Rensselaer, Hays and Stringer in 1768, a +531 code is used preceded by the expression ‘Year of the Restoration’. For instance, the first of these Patents (quoted in the Official Bulletin of The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction. Vol. II, part 2, p. 186) is dated thus : ‘... of the year 7768, of the restor’n 2299, Equall to the 1st of June, 1768’. This is, of course, the Prince of the Royal Secret’s Rite (or Morin’s Rite). 2299 = 1768 + 531.
The same code is also included in the ‘Form of a Submission’ drawn up for the use of ‘the Thrice Illustrious Brother David Small’ in the Francken Manuscript 1783 (fº 309): ‘... of the restoration 2314. Equal to the 30th day of October 1783’. 2314 =1783 + 531.
The same expression, but with a +530 code, is found in the Baltimore documents quoted by Schultz (see § 1.1.4.). Two different lines appear then on American documents : one is first found in 1794 on the Patent delivered by Moses Cohen to Hyman Isaac Long in Jamaica. It uses ‘Year of the Restoration’ together with dates of the Jewish Calendar. It was frequently used in South Carolina and is still found in Louisiana as late as 1813.
The other line is attested by the Patent issued by Barend Moses Spitzer to John Mitchell in Charleston, quoted in the ‘Holbrook Register’ (see C. Tentative Application 1.) in 1795. The words ‘Year of the Restoration’ there precede the +4000 code.
‘Year of the Restoration’ reappears with the + 530 code only in 1813 in New York mostly on documents relating to the founding of a second American Supreme Council there ; documents which were drawn up by Bros. Emanuel DeLaMotta and J. J. J. Gourgas.
1.1.6. The – 1313 (1214) and – 1118 (1119) codes
In a rather thick book entitled La Franc-Magonnerie Templière et Occultiste (Paris 1970), Rene Le Forestier states (p. 112) that during the elaboration of the Strict Observance system, namely between 1751 and 1755, a specific chronology was devised by van Hund and his associates according to the following code: 11 March 1313 (not 1314) was taken as the date of Jacques de Molay’s immolation and accordingly documents were dated by subtracting 11 days from the month date and subtracting 1313 from the year date. ‘Therefore 12 January 1755 became 1 January 442 and 3 July 1756, 22 June 443.’
In his otherwise most instructive critical note, fully quoted by Bro. Chetwode Crawley in his paper ‘The Templar Legends in Freemasonry’ (AQC 26, 1913), Bro. Begemann means (pp. 68 & 69) that the dates given by von Hund with the – 1313 code were the result of mistakes for 1314. This is probably not the case and documents quoted by Runkel in the first volume of his Geschichte der Freimaurerei in Deutschland show a – 1313 code in documents from 1772 (p. 289) as well as a – 1314 one in 1766 (p. 249). Le Forestier himself gives examples of – 1313 (p. 193) in 1772 and – 1314 in 1767 (p. 175) but does not comment on these code differences.
Some documents enacted by the Strict Observance also used a – 1118 or – 1119 code alluding to the date of the foundation of the Order of the Temple, preceded or not with the letters AOF. This should probably be understood as : Ao. (Anno) Fundationis.
The abbreviation A.F. is found on documents emanating from the ‘Illustrious College of Heredon, Knights of K.H. of Ireland’. But there we find a mixed type of dating code which will be further considered under B. The Code ‘Cocktails’. The unusual spelling Heredon does not seem to be a misprint : it happens twice (p. I and p. IV) in the previously-mentioned Dublin edition of Dr. Dalcho’s Orations, 1808.
The ‘Statutes of the Royal, Exalted, Religious and Military Order of H.R.D.M. Grand Elected Masonic Knights Templars K.D.S.H. of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes &c.’... Revised and confirmed with sundry Alterations on the 10th Day of April, AO 1809’ published by Bro. Jackson in AQC 89 (1976), show quite a variety of dating codes:
§ a + 4004 one with the prefix A.L. (5813),
§ a – 1118 one with the prefix A.O. (691),
§ a – 1314 one with the prefix A.C. (495).
On p. 217 these two letters, A.C., are rendered thus: ‘A. Cœd.’. No latin word begins with these four letters (Coed) and one might assume that the copyist intended to write Cæd., meaning Anno Cædis, or year of death, referring to J. de Molay. The Patent of Constitution granted by Thomas Dunckerley for ‘a Conclave or Chapter of Encampment’ in Bristol on ‘this 1st Day of January Anno Lucis 5795’ quoted by Bro. Ward after a copy made by Bro. Cecil Powell, AQC 73 (1961) p. 84, has ‘Anno Cædis 477’.
It is strange that the title of these Statutes indicates AO 1809 as the date of their revision, but this might be a misprint for A.D., as the A.O. (Anno Ordinis) is afterwards given as 691.
It is probably worth mentioning that 1314 is an important date not only in the Templar’s History but in the Royal Order of Scotland one’s as well, as being the Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (see Lindsay, The Royal Order of Scotland, pp. 19-21).
1.1.7. Sundry codes
Further codes are alluded to in various books such as : a +1000 code which should correspond to Anno Depositionis, used in Royal and Select Masters documents; a +2000 code found on Royal Arch documents of Irish origin, quoted in Jones Freemasons’ Book o( the Royal Arch, p. 216: ‘In Ireland, this 11th Day of May 1795 & of Royal Arch Super Ext. Masonry 3795.’ But in his paper ‘Ireland and the R.A. Degree’ (AQC 79, 1966, p. 188), Bro. R. E. Parkinson having checked forty-four manuscript certificates, 'ranging in date from 1783 to 1845’, gives quite a variety of dating codes and writes: ‘A certificate granted by a Lodge in the 27th Foot, dated 1787, gives the Epoch of R.A.M. as 2000 B.C., and of Super Excellent Masonry, 2900 B.C.’
– 1743 the Lodge Aux trois Etoiles flamboyantes (Three flaming Stars) in Neuchatel (now in Switzerland, then a Prussian principality) received from the Très Juste et Parfaite Loge aux Trois Globes (in Berlin) a Warrant dated thus; ‘... Le neuvième Jour du Cinguième Mois, I’An de notre Style MMDCCLI...’ (the Ninth day of the Fifth Month, the Year of our Style MMDCCLI). This Warrant in the French language was recently published in the Bundesblatt (1984, Nr. 10) of the Grosse National-Mutterloge ‘Zu Den Drei Weltkugeln in Berlin (which joined the United Grand Lodges of Germany in 1959). This code seems to be almost unique. That coded date, MMDCCLI or 2751, is equal to the clear date 1743. The ‘Year of our Style’ alludes to : 2751 – 1743 = 1008. This might be construed as the date of the completion of Solomon’s temple, which is given in Anderson’s Constitutions as 1004 B.C.
1.2. The coding of the month
1.2.1. The March = 1st month code
This code was frequently used on documents issued in France or by French Brethren. The first month of the given year, which is mostly indicated as part of the + 4000 year code, refers to the month of March, not January. Consequently the 12th month of the masonic year 5772 should be decoded as February 1773, not 1772.
Even experienced masonic authors got confused with this. Under Calendar we can read in Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (p. 173 of the 1956 printing): ‘Thus, the 1st of January, 1872, would be styled, in a French Masonic document, the 1st day of the 11th Masonic month, Anno l.ucis, 5872.’ The correctly coded year should be 5871.
Or in Bro. Lindsay’s The Scottish Rite for Scotland (1958), p. 41: ‘This he (Grasse-Tilly) had certainly achieved by 21st February 1801 – if not before – because the official Bulletin of the Supreme Council 33º for the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction U.S.A. in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite lists the names at that date of the office-bearers of a Supreme Council 33º for the French West Indies...’. The French document referred to by Bro. Lindsay bears the following date: le 21e Jour du 12e mois de I’an Maçonnique 5801 and this means 21 February 1802, not 1801 (Bideaud Register transcribed in the Official Bulletin... Vol. VI, No. 1, 1884, p. 431).
1.2.2. The June = 1st month code
This code was very seldom used but it is essential to take its existence into consideration before decoding any month preceded with the expression: ‘the Xth month of...’
Its use was prescribed by the Règlements de la Très Respectable et Parfaite Loge d’Ecosse (Regulations of the Most Respectable and Perfect Scottish Lodge) constituted in St. Pierre de la Martinique (French Windward Islands) on 24 June 1750 (typewritten transcription by Bro. Sitwell, QC Lodge Library, Reference Z4 No. 13381 A, published in Villard de Honnecourt, Tome X, 1974) whose article 37 prescribed: ‘The month of June is the first month of the Scottish Lodge.’ The French Minutes preceding these Reglements indicate that they had been drawn up on the model of Règlements handed over by the Most Respectable and Perfect Lodge of Scotland in Bordeaux.
Several documents from the Sharp Collection presently in the Library of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (Lexington, Mass.) and of which a microfilm set is deposited at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, bear this type of coded month date as well as a clear date. For instance, a letter from the Mother-Lodge in Bordeaux (document No. 33) is dated thus: ‘20 February 1752, 20th day of the 9th month 5751’. Disregard of this code is responsible for some wrong date indications in Bro. James Fairbairn Smith’s paper ‘The Rise of Ecossais Degrees’ (Ohio 1965), for instance pp. 15 and 29.
One should always keep in mind that a coded indication such as: ‘the 1st month of’ almost always uses the ‘March is the first month’ code, but that a possibility does exist that the ‘June is the first month’ code was used. There is no certain way to knowing which, except the origin and the period at which the document being considered was issued. But it should never be decoded according to a ‘January is the first month’ code (as Bro. Smith does on various occasions) because such a code was not in use.
Moreover in masonic as well as in non-masonic French documents issued in the 18th century, the months September, October, November and December were very often written down thus: 7ber, 8ber, 9ber and Xber.
1.3. The coding of the day
1.3.1. The uncoded expression
It very often happens that the day is expressed thus : 23rd day of the Xth (first or second &c.) month. This is not a code and should be taken as the real date of the month, that is 23 March (or April &c.) converting only the coded indication of the month (see § 1.2.1.).
1.3.2. The coded expression
A completely different problem arises when the following type of expresson occurs: The Xth day of the Yth week of the Zth month.
In a recent paper published in Chroniques d’Histoire Maçonnique No. 32, 1st Semesters 1984, Paris, Bro. Etienne Fournial notices that this type of coded dating puzzles most masonic historians. Even the very competent Alain Le Bihan seems reluctant to decode such datings.
Fournial states that the first day of the week should be regarded as Sunday. The Minutes of the Founding of the Grand Orient de France by the Grande Loge Nationale (1773) which were published in 1931 by Bro. Arthur Groussier, prove this theory to be wrong. Groussier had the capital idea of reproducing some of these Minutes in facsimile, so there is no question as to the accuracy of his transcript. Most of the Minutes are dated in clear as well as with the above-mentioned code. These dates show unmistakably that the first day of the week was Monday for that code.
An interesting example of an extreme case is given by the ‘MINUTES of the tenth assembly of the National Grand Lodge of France on Wednesday 2 June 5773... The 3rd Day of the last week of the 3rd month of the Year of the True Light 5773’ (PROCES-VERBAL de la dixieme assemblée de la gr. Loge Nat. de france du mercredy 2 juin 5773... Le 3e jour de la dernierre semaine du 3e mois de I’an de la V.L. 5773 [Groussier, p. 82]).
In 1773 the first Monday in June was the 7th and the last Monday in May the 31st. According to the code ‘Monday is the first day of the week’, May 31st was coded as the first day of the last week in May and, as a consequence, Wednesday 2 June, coded as ‘the 3rd day of the last week of the 3rd month’ although June should be taken as the 4th month !
Two Tables next page show an easy way of decoding such indications :
Let us try to decode the date ‘the third day of the last week of the third month 5773’ with these two Tables.
1. We know that 5773 = 1773.
2. Table 2 shows C as Dominical Letter for 1773.
3. Table 3 shows digit 2 at the intersection of the third horizontal line (C) with the fifth column (3rd month = May).
This shows that the first Sunday in May 1773 was May 2. Accordingly the last Sunday in May was May 30 and the last Monday in May, May 31. This was the first day of the last week in May 1773. The ‘third day’ of that week was June 2, the date indicated in the Minutes quoted above.
All the various methods of expressing a date in a masonic document which have been described up to now, are codes, all of which are based on our present-day chronology, the Gregorian Calendar.
In French Freemasonry during the 18th century, the classical masonic dating code was made out of :
§ a clear indication of the day (‘the Xth day of... ’),
§ a coded indication of the month with March as the 1st and February as the 12th month,
§ a coded indication of the year with the +4000 code.
An entirely different way of dating masonic documents will now be considered : the Jewish Calendar.
DATE OF THE FIRST SUNDAY OF A MONTH
Table 6 - Gregorian Calendar
 Good general information on this subject in the Encyclopaedfa Britannica under Calendar & Chronology. Also in Der Freimaurer-Kalender oder Wie alt isr die Welt? in: Das Tau (Zeitschrift der Forschungsloge Quatuor CORONATI, Bayreuth, Nr. I/19S2, pp. 19 – 27) by Bro. Allan Oslo.
 A diverting point of view in Gustave Bord, La Franc-Afagonnerie en France des origmes d 1815 (190S), p. 277: 'The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite under the pretext of dating since the Stuart's restoration, uses the Jewish era and adds 3760 years (annus mundr') to the Christian era.’
 The expression Lan de grace (‘The Year of grace') is used on the Stamps et Rdglemenrs du Premier Soueerain Chapitre de Rose-Croix (established in Paris 17 June 1769). The text is fully quoted in Alain Le Bihan, Francs-Masons et Ateliers Parisiens de la Grande Loge de France au XVIII' siecle (Paris, 1973), pp. 429 – 433 (see AQC 83, 1970, p, 331, Bro. Hewin’s comments on these Srarucs in his review of Bro. Lindsay’s The Royal Order of Scotland).
 The expression ‘of the Christian Era’ is found at least twice on the transcriptions of 1813 documents by Bro. Baynard (Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Vol. I, p. 177, facsimile of the original document p. 176) and by Bro. Harris (History of the Supreme Council, Vol. 1, Appendix IX, p. 375, facsimile of the original document p. 120). The strange thing is that the originals, which are very legible, say in both cases: ‘Of the vulgar Aera’. But in the case of Bro. Harris’s book this Appendix IX is actually an enlarged facsimile reproduction of several pages of the Official Bulletin No. Vll of the Southern Jurisdiction (from p. 303 on) alhough this is not mentioned in the book itself. Now the Official Bulletin had made its transcription not from the original document but from a booklet 'Documents upon Sublime Free-Masonry in the United States of America...’ issued 1823 in Charleston by Bro. Joseph M’Cosh who was since 1822 an active member of the Supreme Council in Charleston. The date modification seems to have been made there for the first time.
In 1905, on page 66 of his book The Ancient Accepted Scoaish Rite of Freemasonry, William Homan reproduced in facsimile a printed version of that same document which he describes, p. 67, as,“an extract from the original circular... issued in 1813, by the Supreme Council for the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction, United States of America.’ This document, says Homan, page 65, ‘contains marginal notes by IlL '. J. J. J. GOURGAS, 33º...’ The very legible Gourgas annotation says this : ‘NB. This is a copy of the one republished in London by the Supreme Gd Council of 33 for England & Wales in 1846.’ This London reprint has ‘of the Christian Era’ same as the M’Cosh booklet. But it is diverting to state that Harris did not bother to compare both of these with the original manuscript which he reproduces p. 120 of his History of the Supreme Council !
 This +4004 code was until recently in use in Scotland. The Grand Lodge of Scotland Year Book 1985 shows, facing p. 64, a cenificate drawn up by the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No. 1 dated thus: ‘A.D. 1917 A.L. 5921’.
 A note at the end of a Grand Orient Circular Letter dated ‘12th day of the 6th month of the year of the true light 5774’ (= 12 August 1774) says: ‘In order to set up uniformity and accuracy with regard to dates, the G. ‘.O.'. has decided not to mention the weeks any more, & invites you to do the same.’ (facsimile reproduction in AQC 47 (193B), Part 1). Jn his book mentioned ’, Le Bihan (pp. 9, 41, 237, 299, 332) quotes dates coded with days, weeks and months, but does not auempt to decode them.