Author Topic: Conversations on Freemasonry: HENRY WILSON COIL, SR.  (Read 653 times)

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Conversations on Freemasonry: HENRY WILSON COIL, SR.
« on: June 06, 2011, 10:16:48 PM »
Conversations on Freemasonry



 Edited by Lewis C. Wes Cook




Stories that Freemasonry involved itself in national and international politics in England and France were first laid in that interesting century beginning with the war, instituted in 1642, between the British Parliament and Charles I and ending with the last effort of the Stuart dynasty to regain the throne of England in 1745, when Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, was finally repulsed and abandoned the cause. The several stories have been timed at various stages of that struggle, and their plots have differed as widely as their timing, but their mutual inconsistencies or improbabilities have not restrained their fabrication.

First; there was the tale that Oliver Cromwell founded the Society to help him best the House of Stuart.

Second; there was the story that James III, Pretender to the throne of England, or his followers founded or shaped the society as an aid to his recovery of that throne. There was hardly a limit to the variety of these stories.

Third; it was alleged that the Grand Lodge of England was partisan to, and cooperated with the House of Hanover, which succeeded that of the Stuarts.

Certainly, Freemasonry must have been a most intricate and versatile political machine to manufacture so many, such large, and such inconsistent schemes.

The following table of chronology will assist in relating these theories to the events of history:

1603: James VI of Scotland, first of the House of Stuart, ascended the throne of England as James I.

Charles I succeeded to the throne of England. War began between Parliament and Charles I. Charles I beheaded; the Commonwealth under began.

Cromwell died, succeeded by his son, Richard. Charles II assumed the throne.

James II succeeded to the throne. James II fled to France.

1624: 1642: 1649:

1658: 1660: 1685: 1688:


1689: William and Mary approved the Bill of Rights and assumed the throne.

1701: James II died.

1702: Queen Ann succeeded to the throne.

1704: George I, first of the House of Hanover, succeeded to the throne.

1715: Jacobite riots in England and Mar's Rebellion in Scotland in support of the Stuarts.

1745: The Young Pretender, Charles Edward, defeated at Culloden.


In 1746, the Abbe Larudan, a foe of Freemasonry, published his Les Franc-Macons Ecrasses, apparently the child of the author's imagination, in which he asserted that Cromwell, in 1648, at a dinner attended by Parliamentarians, Presbyterians, and Independents, first indicated his intentions to form such a society. The development of this scheme was related by the Abbe with particularity and in detail. Cromwell, he tells us, held his confidants in suspense for four days, after which, he consummated the enterprise in dramatic fashion. Conducting his guests into a dark room, he prepared their minds for what was to follow by a long prayer in which he pretended to be in communion with the spirits of the blessed. After this, he explained his purpose to found a society to encourage the worship of God and to restore peace. Informing the company that they must all pass through a certain ceremony, and, gaining their consent, he appointed a Master, two Wardens, a Secretary, and an Orator. The visitors were then removed to another room in which was a picture of the ruins of Solomon's Temple. They were next blindfolded, removed to another apartment and invested with the secrets, after which, Cromwell delivered a discourse on religion and politics, so impressing the novices that all sects united with Cromwell's army in forming a secret association to promote the principles of the love of God and liberty and equality among men, but the real objective of which was the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Commonwealth.

The Temple of Solomon, said the Abbe, was used as the symbol of glory or the primitive state of man, which, after some years, was destroyed by an army representing pride and ambition, the people being led away captive. Finally, the Freemasons were privileged to rebuild the Temple. The Order was divided into three degrees, the Master's degree having a Hiramic legend differing somewhat from that later adopted. The death of Hiram represented the loss of liberty, and the confusion among the workmen represented the state of the people who were reduced to slavery by the tyrants. Cromwell is then said to have spread the Society over England, Scotland, and Ireland, the members being first called Freemasons, then Levelers, then Independents, next Fifth Monarchy Men, and, finally Freemasons.

The Abbe Larudan, like other fabricators, fell into the trap of his own ignorance. He did not know that Elias Ashmole had been made a Mason two years before Cromwell's supposed theatrical performance, or that lodges had existed in most of the principal cities of Scotland before Cromwell was born, or that the Master's degree was unheard of, and the Hiramic Legend, too, until sixty-five years after Cromwell's death. The Abbe's absurd story appears to have been composed by paraphrasing Edward Ludlow's Memoirs in which he described Cromwell's intrigues for the organization of a new political party, but in which nothing was said about Freemasonry.


The oft-repeated claim that there was a connection between Freemasonry and the ill-fated House of Stuart purports, not to account for the origin of the Society, but to make it the political instrument of the Stuarts at various times between the middle of the 17th and the middle of the 18th century. The general theme has had a wide vogue, and has been presented in a variety of forms, often by the avowed enemies of the Order. It exhibits many deviations, running from the wildest and most unqualified charges of Masonic involvement in international intrigue, on through the supposed institution of the Hauts Grades by the Stuarts or their agent, the Chevalier Ramsay, to the mere suggestion that some of the Scots Master degrees were shaped in such way as to do honor to the Old or the Young Pretender.

The whole idea may have had its inception in a foolish and unsubstantiated remark made by John Noorthouck in editing the 1784 edition of the Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England. At least, it was not heard of prior to that year. It was there stated without any apparent reason or support that Charles II was made a Mason during his exile (1649-60) and took great interest in Freemasonry. Of course, there were no Masonic lodges on the Continent at that time.

Neither Calcott, Preston, Hutchinson, nor Smith, the principal English Masonic writers of the last half of the 18th century, mention the Stuart tale at all, but, later, it was taken up by Robison in Scotland and Ragon and Rebold in France. It was, of course, swallowed by Dr. Oliver, and was credited in somewhat emasculated form by Findel and Mackey.

The Abbe Barruel's History of Jacobinism, published in 1797, was an exceedingly bitter castigation of Freemasonry, so much so that it discredited itself. Though it exculpated the British Craft, it denounced Continental Freemasonry in the most uncompromising terms as a revival of the mediaeval Templars. The Abbe Barruel seems not, however, to have charged the Society with being the creature or the protege of the Stuarts.

The alleged complicity between Freemasonry and the House of Stuart seems first to have been presented by Professor John Robison of Edinburgh in his Proofs o f a Conspiracy against all Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on by the Secret Meetings of the Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies, published in 1797, in which it was asserted that the Jesuits united with the English lodges in order to reestablish the Catholic religion in England, and that there was cooperation between the Society and the Stuarts. Robison stated that the lodge at St. Germain, France, which James II attended, added the degree of Scottish Knight Mason, having, for its device, a lion wounded by an arrow, with a broken rope about its neck, lying at the mouth of a cave and manipulating some mathematical instruments which lay close by. A broken crown lay near a stake to which the lion had evidently been bound. He went on to say:

"There can be little doubt but that this emblem alludes to the dethronement, the captivity, the escape, and the asylum of James 11, and his hopes of reestablishment by the help of the loyal Brethren. This emblem is worn as the gorget of the Scotch Knight. It is not very certain, however, when this degree was added, whether immediately after King James' abdication or about the time of the attempt to set his son on the British throne."

In a second edition of his work, Robison completely exonerated British Freemasonry of any such conspiracy, thus, admitting inaccuracy if not recklessness in his original treatise.

By the middle of the 19th century, the tale had become widely credited. Dr. Oliver repeated it, seemingly following Robison, whose anachronisms he criticized, though he introduced others of his own. In his Historical Landmarks of 1846, he said (Vol. II, p. 7, 8)

"Freemasonry flourished during the reign of Charles II, and many new lodges were constituted in England. The King himself was initiated, and frequently attended the meetings of the fraternity; ...

"Toward the close of the seventeenth century, the followers of James II, who accompanied the unfortunate monarch in his exile, carried Freemasonry to France, . . . These lodges became the rendezvous for partisans of James and by this means they held communications with their friends in England thus giving a political character to the new degrees, which those of simple Masonry would not bear."

He then asserted that the learned, pious, and polite Chevalier Ramsay used Freemasonry to extend the interests of the Pretender by excluding new Masons who were not sufficiently partisan and by inventing new degrees; that, in the lodge chartered to Lord Derwentwater at Paris in 1725, Ramsay promulgated his manufactured degrees, and brought his system of Scottish Masonry into England, making an unsuccessful attempt to spread it there; and that, in 1745, the Young Pretender was received into the Royal Order of Scotland at Edinburgh and was made Grand Master, which office he exercised in France, there instituting the Rose Croix and other degrees, which was followed by opposition in Holland, by the decree of Louis XV, by Pope Clement's Bull, by the Edict of Berne, and by the act of the Synod of Scotland, all in opposition to Freemasonry.

Moss, usually a very careful and critical writer, in his History of Freemasonry of 1852, said:

". . . it is clear that Ramsay purposely introduced higher degrees in order to make a selection from the ranks of the brotherhood in the interests of the Stuarts, and to collect funds for the Pretender."

Ragon, in his Masonic Orthodoxy of 1853, was quite as absurd and even more explicit, saying that Elias Ashmole and others of the Rose Croix established new degrees based on the ancient Mysteries, the Fellow Craft degree being fabricated in 1648 and the Master's degree a short time later, but that the execution of Charles I caused modifications in the Third Degree and, about the same time, the Secret Master, Perfect Master, and Irish Master degrees appeared, Charles I being represented by Hiram; that the speculative members then worked secretly for the restoration of the Stuarts, and the Society took on a political tone, the Templar degrees being formed to teach revenge for the death of Jacques de Molai and, hence, the execution of Charles I; and that Ashmole changed the Egyptian character of the Master's degree to make it a Biblical allegory, both incomplete and inconsistent, but in such way that the sacred words of the three degrees should have initials identical with those of the name and title of the Grand Master of the Templars.

Findel, the most reliable writer thus far quoted, in his History of Freemasonry of 1861, gave a much deflated version of the story, saying merely that the Old Pretender having gone to Rome where Charles Edward was bom in 1720, a secret alliance was kept up between Rome and Scotland, in which the Jesuits played a prominent part, seeking to use Freemasonry to further the interests of the Roman Church but not to restore the Stuarts, for Freemasonry hardly existed in Scotland at that time. He continued:

"Perhaps in 1724 when Ramsay was a year in Rome, or in 1728, when the Pretender in Parma kept up an intercourse with the Duke of Wharton, a Past Grand Master, this idea was first entertained, and then when it was apparent how difficult it would be to corrupt the loyalty and fealty of Freemasonry in the Grand Lodge of Scotland founded in 1736, this scheme was set on foot of assembling the faithful adherents of the banished royal family in the Higher Degrees! The soil that was best adapted for this innovation was France, where the low ebb to which Masonry had sunk has paved the way for all kinds of new-fangled notions, and where the lodges were composed of Scotch conspirators and accomplices of the Jesuits. When the path had thus been smoothed by the agency of these secret propagandists, Ramsay, at that time Grand Orator (an office unknown in England) by his speech completed the preliminaries necessary for the introduction of the High Degrees; their further development was left to the instrumentality of others, whose influence produced a result somewhat different from that originally intended."

Rebold, who is not regarded as a careful investigator, in his History of the Three Grand Lodges of 1864, reverts to the earlier period, saying that, about the time of the decapitation of Charles 1, the Masons of England and Scotland labored for the restoration of the monarchy, for which purpose, they instituted two higher degrees and gave the Order a political character; and that, through the influence of the honorary members, who were men of high positions, Charles 11, who had been made a Mason during his exile, was enabled to recover the throne in 1660. He then states:

"Ramsay was a partisan of the Stuarts, and introduced a system of Masonry created at Edinboro' by a chapter of Cannongate-Kilwinning Lodge, in the political interests of the Stuarts, and with the intention of enslaving Freemasonry to Roman Catholicism."

Any one of these stories is as credible or dependable as any of the others, but they are quite inconsistent with each other and, in many respects, impossible. They are discredited by their anachronisms and show on their faces that they were based on idle tales and rumors. They all originated prior to 1865 and before the work of the critical historiographic school of 1860-85 had been felt, and when the history of Freemasonry, as current, still consisted almost entirely of fables.

Noorthouck and Rebold stated that Charles II was made a Mason during his exile (1649-60) while Oliver asserted that this occurred during his reign after 1660, presumably, in England. Charles II was in exile at The Hague, but there were no lodges on the Continent at that time. That the King could have been made a Mason in an English lodge after 1660 or could have attended it regularly without exciting any comment is hardly short of ridiculous. Dr. Plot, writing at the close of the reign of Charles 11, evidently, had heard nothing of the latter's connection with the society.

Robison's statement that James II attended lodge at St. Germain and that the degree of Scottish Knight was added to the Three Degrees is so anachronistic as to show that he was simply romancing. Neither at the death of James II (1701) nor at the time of the effort to seat his son, James 111 (1715), were there any Three Degrees, nor did any kind of Masonry appear in France until 1725, nor any Scottish degree until after 1737.

Obviously false is Oliver's claim that followers of James II carried Freemasonry into France toward the close of the 17th century, or that a charter was granted to Lord Derwentwater for a Paris lodge in 1725, the first English lodge being chartered there between 1726 and 1732. Oliver also seems to place the decree of Louis XV and the Bull of Clement after 1745 and after the Young Pretender assertedly became Grand Master of France, but those edicts were issued in 1737 and 1738, respectively.

Ragon calls Ashmole a member of the Rose Croix, while Oliver states that this degree was instituted by the Young Pretender after 1745. Ragon is, of course, more than half a century out of time in crediting Ashmole with the creation of the Fellow Craft degree in 1648 and the Master's degree a short time later. He seems to have been followed blindly by Rebold.

Ragon got further out of step with the calendar by fixing the origin of Secret Master, Perfect Master, and Irish Master degrees about the time of the decapitation of Charles I, which was almost a century before any of those or any similar degrees were heard of.

Ragon states that the Templar degrees were formed to teach revenge against the Church for the death of de Molai, though Robison and Findel place Freemasonry in conjunction with the Church. Rebold's creation of the Scottish degrees in Cannongate-Kilwinning Lodge is so wholly unsubstantiated and is so inconsistent with the conduct of that lodge or any other lodge in Scotland as to need no refutation.

The Chevalier Ramsay plays a leading role in this medley of fancy, being cast in the role of an arch conspirator by Oliver, Kloss and Rebold, and as a mere accessory before the fact by Findel, who was an abler and more cautious historian. As a matter of fact, very little is known about Ramsay's Masonic activities. There is no evidence whatever that he was a partisan of the Stuarts, the whole theory to that effect being founded on the fact that he was a Catholic and tutored the two sons of the Old Pretender for some fifteen months at Rome. In Catholicity, he was very tolerant, and the brevity of his sojourn with the Stuart family certainly indicate no strong attachment to it. There is not a scrap of evidence that Ramsay created or helped create a single degree, except so far as his extraordinary address of 1737 may have inspired others to do so. Gould correctly says; "More dangerous and absurd speeches are still made in the Craft." We have no record of Ramsay's Masonic career before 1737 and, after his speech of that year, he disappeared from the Masonic stage and died six years later.

The connection of either English or Scots Freemasonry with the Stuarts is a figment conceived years after the Stuarts were in their graves. So far as known, none of them were Freemasons, the Young Pretender, the most likely candidate for that honor, having denied his connection with the society. There is no evidence whatever of any political activity in the lodges of England or Scotland, and, though some French lodges dabbled in matters of state, we do not know that they had any views on the Jacobite question, or, if so, what those views were.

There has been reserved for the last, Dr. Mackey's treatment of the subject which appears in his History of Freemasonry (II, p. 267), written about 1880. While all of the authors above quoted were operating in the dark, knowing practically nothing about the history of the society, Dr. Mackey had the advantage of the work of the realistic school, the effect of which was distinctly felt by that year. But about all that Mackey did with the Jacobite theory was to review the statements of prior writers, shear off those parts which had been shown to be plainly impossible, and adopt much of the rest. Here, as in some other places, Mackey seemed to labor between a bent to make Freemasonry interesting, if not sensational, and his effort to give weight to facts. He pretended to find but two pieces of tangible evidence to connect Freemasonry with the Stuarts, which were:

First; a charter purporting to have been issued by the Young Pretender in 1747, two years after his repulse at Culloden. This charter was for the formation, at Arras, France, of a "Sovereign Primordial Chapter of Rose Croix under the distinctive title of Scottish Jacobite." It read, in part, as follows

"We, Charles Edward, King of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland, and as such Substitute Grand Master of the Chapter of H, known by the title of Knight of the Eagle and Pelican, and since our sorrows and misfortunes by that of Rose Croix," etc.

But that document, even if genuine, loses much of its significance in view of the fact, by the constitution of the Royal Order of Scotland, which Mackey says this order was, the King of Scotland was hereditary Grand Master, and, therefore, James 111, then living, whether he was a Freemason or not, was Grand Master. It will be observed that Charles Edward was acting only as substitute for his father, though it is difficult to see how he could describe himself as king with his father alive. It is further to be observed that, in 1747, the struggle to regain the throne had been abandoned, so that anything occurring in that year is much too late to be a part of any Jacobite plot with or without Freemasonry. (See Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, titled Arras, Primordial Chapter of.)

Second; Mackey states that Lord Derwentwater (Charles Radcliffe), who was a pronounced Jacobite, presided over a lodge which met in 1725 at the house of one Hure in Paris, all of the members of which were Jacobites. That Derwentwater was fervently attached to the Stuarts is unquestioned, but Mackey goes far beyond the evidence when he states that this lodge was composed of Jacobites, for there is no record of its membership. Both Charles Radcliffe and his elder brother were condemned to death for complicity in the Jacobite rebellion in England in 1715. The elder brother was beheaded, but Charles escaped to France. In 1745, the latter, in attempting to join the Young Pretender in the fiasco of that year, was captured by the English and beheaded the following year.

Strange to say, Mackey, as well as preceding writers, failed to note that the Earl of Kilmarnock, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1742, was also beheaded in 1746 for participation in the rebellion. Scotland was a hot bed of Jacobitism and there was much of it in England. It is entirely possible that some Freemasons adherred to the House of Stuart, but that is a far cry from indicating any league of Freemasonry with that cause.

Thus far, the case is rather fragile, but Mackey relies on several other assumptions and arguments. Though denying that the Jacobites invented the Third Degree, he avers that they interpreted the Temple Legend as referring to the execution of Charles I and the hoped-for raising of the Stuart family back into power. He states that they called Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I and mother of James 11, the "widow," and, hence, that James 11 became the "widow's son," and a new substitute word, "Macbenac," was introduced which in Gaelic meant "a blessed son." He then refers to the names of the nine assassins as used in one of the French degrees, which were Abiram, Abidal, Akirop, Hobhen, Romvel, Gravelot, Guibs, Otterfut, and Scherkin, and says that Romvel was an anagram for Cromwell, and that Guibs stood for Adam Gib, an anti-Stuart clergyman of Edinburgh. Albert Pike, who also seemed to follow this theory, stated that Hobhen meant Bohun, the Earl of Essex, and that Gravelot meant Argyle. No one has suggested whom the names of the other assassins might represent.

Without citing any evidence, Mackey then follows the beaten path, asserting that Ramsay was an exponent of the Stuarts and manufactured the higher degrees, one of which was "Grand Scottish Mason of James VI," which he claims speaks for itself. He says that the word, "Jekson," is a significant word in one of the "Ramsay" degrees and is a corruption of "Jacquesson," or the son of James. He attaches importance to the degree of Heredom or Heredon, sometimes written, H.R.D.M., and fastens this order on Ramsay and the Stuarts, saying that, while, according to some, it means "holy house" or "Temple," according to others, it means "heritage," that is, the throne of England, the heritage of the Stuarts. In the rituals, Heredom was described as a "mountain situated between the west and the north of Scotland," and, hence, its insertion is traceable to Ramsay, because he was a Scotsman. But, there again, Mackey overlooked the obvious and failed to see that, while a Frenchman might locate such fictitious mountain in Scotland, it is hardly probable that an educated Scotsman like Ramsay would do so.

Mackey then states that, in 1748, the Rite of Veille Bra or Faithful Scottish Mason was created at Toulouse in remembrance of the reception given the Pretender's aid-de-camp, Sir Samuel Lockhart. Mackey eliminates both James II and James III from any and all Masonic schemes, but claims that Charles Edward was well qualified for such exploit. Summing up his conclusions, Mackey states:

"In the first place, it is not to be doubted that at one time the political efforts of the adherents of the dethroned and exiled family of the Stuarts did exercise a very considerable effect on the outward form and the internal spirit of Masonry, as it prevailed on the continent of Europe.

"In the symbolic degrees of ancient Craft Masonry, the influence was but slightly felt. It extended only to a political interpretation of the Legend of the Master's degree, in which sometimes the decapitation of Charles 1, and sometimes the forced abdication and exile of James II, was substituted for the fate of Hiram, and to a change in the substitute word so as to give an application of the phrase the `widow's son' to the child of Henrietta Maria, the consort of Charles I. The effect of these changes, except that of the word, which still continues in some Rites, has long since disappeared but their memory still remains as a relict of the incidents of Stuart Masonry.

"But the principal influence of this policy was shown in the fabrication of what are called the `High Degrees,' the `Hauts Grades' of the French. Until the year 1728 (sic) these accumulations to the body of Masonry were unknown. The Chevalier Ramsay, the tutor of the Pretender in his childhood, and subsequently his most earnest friend and ardent supporter, was the first to fabricate these degrees; although other inventors were not tardy in following in his footsteps."

Thus, are the wild stories formerly in circulation considerably deflated by Mackey, who, however, retains much pure romance for which there is no proof. Even Mackey's version fails to be persuasive. If Freemasonry was to be made a tool of the Stuarts, why were these efforts confined to the Continent where they could render little service in restoring a claimant to the English throne? Why were these socalled Jacobite degrees not pushed in England or, at least, in Scotland? If Ramsay was the instigator of, and infatuated by the idea, why did he wait more than ten years after leaving the employ of the Pretender at Rome before starting work? He severed connections with the Stuart family at Rome in 1725 and spent the following ten years in England and Scotland, becoming a member of the "Gentlemen's Society" of Spaulding and of the "Royal Society" and receiving the doctor's degree at Oxford, none of which actions announce him as a Jacobite but rather the contrary. Why was he not fabricating degrees all that while and confederating with adherents of the Stuarts in England, Scotland, and Ireland in each of which there were many Jacobites? We are asked to suppose that this ardent Jacobite allowed the years to slip by while the Stuart influence diminished and until as Andrews says (History of England, p. 442)

"Men no longer worried about the Act of Settlement; the most of the people wanted stable government, and with this guaranteed, cared little whether the King was a George or a James, a Hanovarian or a Stuart."

The story of the Jacobite plot is rather senseless, because all the Freemasons in the world at that time could have aided the Pretender very slightly in regaining the throne. What he needed was men at arms to attack and defeat the royal forces, a role for which Freemasons have never been noted. The rebellions of 1715 and 1745 were armed rebellions. When "Bonnie Prince Charlie" landed in Scotland in the latter year, he was accompanied by only seven friends. Surely, the Freemasons could have mustered a better showing than that if merely sympathetic conspirators were required. The Young Pretender immediately rallied around himself, not Freemasons, but Scots highlanders, great numbers of whom fell at Culloden. But few Englishmen responded to his call, for, as Cheyney says (History of England, p. 549)

"The Tories who had preached the divine right of kings did not put their principles into practice. Jacobitism proved to be a very weak sentiment in the face of the practical dangers of the rebellion."

That some of the Hauts Grades fabricated in France showed traces of Jacobite influence cannot be denied, but that is amply accounted for by the purely local and limited influence of friends of the Young Pretender who were instrumental in formulating those degrees. It shows no participation of Charles Edward, himself, and comes far from indicating any plot within the Fraternity.


At the very time Freemasonry was, according to some, plotting to restore the House of Stuart, it was, according to others, in league with the House of Hanover, represented by George I (1714-27) and George II (1727-60), and was flattering the reigning dynasty in order to show its opposition to the deposed family. The sole circumstance upon which this assertion seems to be based is that the Grand Lodge, beginning with the Duke of Montague in 1721, always chose its Grand Masters from among the nobility. But it seems to be overlooked that, within two years, the Grand Lodge placed in the Chair, the unstable Duke of Wharton, who may have been a papist, a Jacobite, and a Hanovarian at different times in his career. At least, he was not noted for his steady attachment to anything, and, in fact, forced himself into the Chair by a sort of rebellion within the Grand Lodge.

But the idea of royal favor and patronage of the society was much older than the Grand Lodge itself. The Gothic Legends, for more than two centuries, had related how the King of Babylon, Nimrod, Solomon, Charles Martel, Athelstan, and the Royal Edwin had esteemed Masons and given them charges. Upon this base, Dr. Anderson greatly expanded the fanciful history of Masonry and added many names of imperial dignity, so that the Craft came to be called the "Royal Art." To perpetuate this royal sanction was quite natural and needs no explanation other than purely Masonic legend and tradition.

To this may be added the disposition of Englishmen to court royal or noble patronage for every association or movement which dared aspire to prominence or which could hope for such encouragement. The primacy and superiority of the nobility has been ingrained in British institutions for centuries.

The same thing occurred in other countries. Royal Dukes headed the Grand Orient of France, Frederick the Great founded the Grand Lodge of all Prussia by his royal edict, the Kings of Sweden and Denmark were made hereditary Grand Masters, and the same doctrine prevailed in the Royal Order of Scotland.

The Hanovarian Theory was fabricated of trivial circumstances, and other facts pointing quite as directly to the opposite conclusion were overlooked.


There is no evidence that Freemasonry spurred the French Revolution. It is true that some lodges, at an early period, undertook the academic study and discussion of political principles and, inevitably, came to make practical applications of their conclusions and finally dabbled in matters of state. Doubtless, some French Freemasons were divided upon the issues leading to the Revolution much as were those on the outside of the Fraternity. If some lodges were socialistic, it is equally true that many others were aristocratic. The royalist element was certainly at the head of the Order from the time of the accession of the Duke d'Antin to the East in 1738. He was followed in 1743 by the Count of Clermont, a member of the royal family. From about 1758 when the Emperors of the East and West arose, French Masonry was dominated by the aristocratic element, and the origin and great popularity of the chivalric orders in that country is entirely inconsistent with any supposed plebeian or socialistic or revolutionary spirit as an influential factor.

From 1773 to the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, the Duke de Chartres, later the Duke of Orleans and a member of the royal family, was Grand Master of one of the rival Grand bodies of French Masonry. If French Masons were revolutionists, they must have sadly misjudged their associates, for the Reign of Terror extinguished virtually all of the lodges and ended the lives of many Paris Masters. The Duke of Orleans, in order to save himself, adopted the name, "Egalite" (Equality), renounced Freemasonry, and declared his sympathy with the Revolution, but the mob beheaded him on the guillotine in 1793.

When quiet was restored, French lodges revived and, perhaps, more than ever toyed with political matters, but this seems to have been rather a toadying or catering to the favor of those who, from time to time, rode the crest of the political wave, having apparently no other purpose than to promote the prestige of the lodges. This conduct had too little consistency about it to constitute any sort of political policy, for any person or party that seemed likely to shed some luster on the society was adherred to. The conduct was humiliating rather than conspirational.


The American Revolution is far enough gone to permit many things to be said about it with little fear of contradiction, so that there has been a marked tendency among writers of popular works on Freemasonry to lend the impression that Colonial lodges were hotbeds of revolt. Though not expressly stated, the inference is created that the War was fought largely by Freemasons on one side and nonMasons on the other.

It is a bit significant that the American Civil War, which was caused by feelings not fundamentally different from those which instituted the Revolution, that is, the claim that constitutional limitations had been exceeded and the ties of consanguinity severed, thereby justifying revolt, has produced no such Masonic literature. No wreaths have been placed by Masonic writers upon the graves of those Freemasons who participated in that secession. There has been no tendency to romance about the patriotism, loyalty, and heroism of our Confederate brethren, no search to identify with the Fraternity those whose connections were doubtful. If revolt against what is deemed to be tyranny or oppression is a Masonic virtue, its luster ought not to be dimmed by the failure of the enterprise. Indeed, that very event calls for laudation, since success brings its own reward. Though there has been an effort to extoll Freemasonry by identifying it with the winning side in the Revolution, there has certainly been no similar purpose to laud those who wore the Gray. The fact is that, in all wars of the past two centuries, Freemasons, often prominent Freemasons, have fought on both sides, some for and some against the king, some for and some against liberation, some for and some against aggression, some for and some against imperialism, some for and some against secession, and some for and some against all other things that wars are supposed to be fought about. Fathers, sons, brothers, and Freemasons often fight under different standards, and the explanation of it is as clear as the explanation of why men wage wars at all.

Before and during the Revolution, some Freemasons were loyalists and some were patriots. They were divided much as families are often divided under such circumstances. In general, the wealthier classes were loyal to the King, while the middle and lower classes, farmers, mechanics, and laborers, were the backbone of the revolt. It is doubtless true that the majority of Colonial Masons were for the cause of liberty, not because they were Masons or because of any policy of the Fraternity, but because most Masons, like most of the population, were of the less wealthy class. In order to show that Freemasons played an unusually prominent part in the movement, it would be necessary to show that a larger proportion of Freemasons than of others were patriots, which is impossible to do.

The impression that Freemasonry dominated the Revolution or that the Revolution dominated Freemasonry has grown out of the natural demand in this country for books on Masonry, as well as on general history, which deal with that stirring period from the American viewpoint. We would hardly expect a widespread sale of books which contained encomiums upon the Tories or upon those Freemasons who fought under the banner of George 111. There must have been many Freemasons, both officers and men, in the British forces, for sea and field lodges, especially the latter, were numerous, almost all British regiments having traveling lodges and some of them having several.

Since no effort has been made to compile a list of Tory Masons or those participating in the Revolution on the British side, we are confined to such outstanding personalities as could not escape attention.

Sir John Johnson, Provincial Grand Master of New York, fled the country at the outbreak of the War, as did also the Master, Junior Warden, and Secretary of St. Patrick's Lodge of New York. Sir John, later, commanded the royal forces in western New York and he and Guy Johnson, former Master of St. Patrick's Lodge, fought for the King throughout the War. Col. Walter Butler was a Freemason in Johnson's army, and Joseph Brant, a civilized Indian and a Freemason, assisted Gen. Johnson in maintaining an alliance with the Indian tribes.

At Philadelphia, the Junior Warden and Secretary of Lodge No. 3 (Ancient) went over to the British, and the Master of that Lodge was suspected of entertaining like sentiments. William Allen, Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania (Modern), put himself under the protection of Lord Howe and endeavored to raise a regiment for the British army. Edward Shippen of Lodge No. 1 (Modern) at Philadelphia, Chief Justice of the state, was a prominent Tory and father-in-law of Benedict Arnold. Captain William Cunningham, a Freemason in Howe's army, was instrumental in saving some of the property of Lodge No. 2 at Philadelphia, which had been ransacked and looted.

At Princeton, New Jersey, Capt. William Leslie, a Freemason in Howe's army, was killed in action, and was buried with Masonic, as well as military honors by his American brethren.

In the South, we find Egerton Leigh, Provincial Grand Master of South Carolina, fleeing to the protection of the British. In the first attack on Charleston, South Carolina, in 1776, the British fleet was commanded by Admiral Parker, a Freemason. At Camden, South Carolina, the British administered two resounding defeats to the Colonials, one on August 16, 1780, the other on April 25, 1781. The Earl of Moira, one of the most valued and best beloved of English Freemasons, who afterwards became Acting Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England from 1790 to 1812 and Grand Master of Scotland in 1806, led one wing of Cornwallis' army in the first battle and was in sole command of the British forces in the second. He was an able administrator as well as soldier and, for his services in India commencing in 1813, was made Marquis of Hastings, and died in 1826 while Governor of Malta.

At the outbreak of the War, there were upwards of 100 lodges in the Colonies, but, of all these, St. Andrew's Lodge at Boston is the only one which has left any record of a pronounced sentiment for or against the Revolution. In the absence of better authority than any thus far presented, we must conclude that the vast majority of Colonial lodges adherred to the Masonic percept which discountenanced participation in such matters. As above stated, Freemasons were influenced by their financial, social, or political conditions or views, and membership in the Fraternity had little or nothing to do with their actions one way or the other.

A prominent example of how members of the same lodge took different stands is afforded as early as 1761 in First Lodge of Boston. Jeremy Gridley of that Lodge and Provincial Grand Master, was also Attorney General of the Colony and won, on behalf of the Crown, the celebrated case concerning writs of assistance (search warrants to discover contraband), but James Otis, a member of the same lodge, immortalized his name on this side of the Atlantic by his courage and ability in arguing the case for the citizens and challenging the validity of the act of Parliament instituting such writs.

In 1775, Richard Gridley, a member of Second Lodge at Boston and a brother of Jeremy, who had died in 1767, was the engineer under Washington in charge of the entrenchments around Boston and set the guns which drove the British out of that city. On the other hand, Thomas Brown, Secretary of both First and Second Lodges, was a Tory and fled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, upon the abandonment of Boston by the British.

John Rowe, who became Provincial Grand Master of the Moderns at Boston upon the death of Jeremy Gridley in 1767, was one of the wealthiest merchants of the city and, if not a Tory, was so lukewarm as to incur popular disfavor. He expressed disapproval of such unlawful acts as the Boston Tea Party, as did also Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, the latter not, however, being a Freemason.

First Lodge at Boston was more aristocratic than most other lodges, being composed largely of the mercantile and professional classes. St. Andrew's Lodge is supposed to have been formed by those who were not attracted by, and, perhaps, were not invited into the more exclusive atmosphere of First Lodge. The Scots Lodge often extended the hand of Masonic fellowship to its more estimable rival but was as often repulsed, although this may have been due in part to the difference in Grand Lodge allegiance of the two bodies.

There can be no doubt that St. Andrew's Lodge, which met at the Green Dragon Tavern, was almost unanimously in sympathy with the Colonial cause. To it belonged Dr. Joseph Warren, Provincial Grand Master of that branch, who fell at Bunker Hill, Paul Revere, the courier of the Revolution, John Hancock, and John Rowe, nephew of the Provincial Grand Master of the same name. The younger John Rowe is credited with suggesting the Boston Tea Party by expressing wonder as to "how tea would mix with saltwater." The Sons of Liberty met at the same tavern, which was called by the Governor of the Colony a "nest of sedition," and, later, by Daniel Webster, the "Headquarters of the Revolution."

The minutes of St. Andrew's Lodge show that, at the annual meeting on St. Andrew's Day, Nov. 30, 1773, the lodge had to be adjourned for lack of attendance because "consignees of tea took up the brethren's time." At the next meeting night, December 16, only five members were present, the absentees undoubtedly attending the Tea Party which was held that evening aboard the merchantmen at anchor in the harbor. At the foot of the brief minutes for that night, the Secretary or someone else filled the rest of the page with large capital T's.

The loss of their beloved Grand Master Warren undoubtedly cemented the brethren of St. Andrew's Lodge more closely and increased their patriotic fervor. The older Modern Provincial Grand Lodge lost prestige as the War progressed and, for a few years, practically became dormant.

In order more accurately to appraise the influence of Freemasonry, if any, in the Revolution, we must distinguish between occurrences before and after the commencement of hostilities at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, because, naturally, there was, afterward, little room for one to remain neutral. Thereupon, most Freemasons, like most other people, joined the Colonial cause. We have information of only a few Freemasons who were prime movers in the revolt before actual hostilities began. These were all men of prominence whose names became emblazoned on the pages of our history..

Washington stands preeminent. Though he felt and expressed indignation at the conduct of the Crown, he was no radical or firebrand, but hoped for a more conciliatory attitude on the part of the British government. He sat in both the First and Second Continental Congresses and counselled moderation but firmness.

Franklin was the ambassador of the Revolution, spending many years in England and France seeking conciliation in the one and armed intervention in the other.

Paul Revere was more than the courier of the Revolution; he was the mechanic and artisan of the Revolution, his services in the production of material of war being so essential that he was never allowed to participate in military campaigns. He later became Grand Master of Massachusetts.

James Otis was the early counselor of the Revolution, his name being one of the first to shine in the cause of liberty.

John Hancock represented the wealthier mercantile class, and his courage is all the more creditable, because that stratum of society was, by no means, united in his support.

John Rowe the younger is said to have inspired the first overt act of revolt, the Boston Tea Party.

Jonathan W. Edes of St. Andrew's Lodge allowed his printing office to be used as a rendezvous for the "Indians" who conducted the Tea Party.

Joseph Warren, a physician, was the first prominent man to fall before British fire, and his death aroused the indignation of, and fanned the spirit of resistance in his fellow patroits.

Col. Henry Purkett of St. Andrew's Lodge, an officer in the Colonial army, was the last survivor of the "Indians." He declared that the plans for the Tea Party were initiated and matured in St. Andrew's Lodge and that its members were the leaders in the enterprise.

Following the outbreak of hostilities and during the six years of the War, many names were added to the list of Colonial patriots who were known to be Freemasons and of others who, there is strong reason to believe, joined the Fraternity. It must be remembered that lodge records of that period were not kept with the care or completeness of the present day, and those that were written have, in many instances, long since disappeared. Often extraneous evidence has to be relied upon, and advantage has sometimes been taken of the uncertainty to make unsupportable claims of Masonic affiliation on the part of various characters in the great drama. Even Gould falls into error by following overenthusiastic American authors who stated that all but three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons.


According to the investigations of Ronald E. Heaton of Morristown, Pennsylvania, a recognized authority on the subject, there were nine Freemasons among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as follows:

1. John Hancock of St. Andrew's Lodge at Boston.

2. Benjamin Franklin of the original Tun Tavern Lodge at Philadelphia in 1730 and later Deputy Provinical Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

3. William Hooper of Hanover Lodge, Masonsborough, North Carolina.

4. William Whipple of St. John's Lodge, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

5. Joseph Hewes, recorded as a visitor to Unanimity Lodge No. 7, Edenton, North Carolina.

6. Robert Treat Payne, recorded as present in Grand Lodge, Roxbury, Massachusetts, June 26, 1759.

7. Richard Stockton, Charter Master of St. John's Lodge, Princeton, New Jersey, in 1765.

8. George Walton of Solomon's Lodge No. 1, Savannah, Georgia. 9. William Ellery of First Lodge of Boston.

Other Freemasons who furthered the Colonial cause but were without military records were: Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg Lodge and Provincial Grand Master of Virginia and President of the First Continental Congress; Edmund Randolph of Williamsburg Lodge and member of the national Congress of 1779; John Pulling Jr., who signaled from the church steeple the advance of the British at Boston; Perez Morton, who preached the oration at the funeral of Joseph Warren; Robert Livingston, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and was afterwards Grand Master of New York; John Cruger, Mayor of New York City; Samuel Kirkland, later founder of Hamilton College; and Grand Master Montfort and his Deputy, Cornelius Hartnett, of North Carolina, who were proscribed by the British.

Those in the military service of the Colonies who are known to have been Freemasons are: Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys; Lieut. Boyd, who was murdered by Indians despite the efforts of Joseph Brant to save him; Col. Aaron Burr, who fought at Quebec and Monmouth; Joel Clark, Master of American Union Lodge No. 1, who was in the Battle of Long Island; Richard Caswell, afterwards Grand Master of North Carolina, commander of the militia of that colony; Amos Doolittle of Hiram Lodge No. 1 of New Haven, Connecticut, who was at the skirmish at Lexington; Major Gen. Johann De Kalb, who commanded the reserves and was killed at the Battle of Camden; Col. Richard Gridley, who was engineer in charge of the entrenchments at Boston; Col. Peter Gansevoort Jr., of Union Lodge of Albany, New York, who was in command of Ft. Stanwix; Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who commanded the army in the Carolinas; Gen. Mordecai Gist of Maryland Military Lodge and afterwards Grand Master of South Carolina, who commanded the Maryland militia; Nathan Hale, who was executed as a spy, saying that his only regret was that he had but one life to give for his country; Gen. Nicholas Herkimer of St. Patrick's Lodge, New York, who lost his life at Ft. Stanwix; Col. Robert Howe of North Carolina; Col. Hambright; Henry Knox, who fortified Dorchester Heights, resulting in the taking of Boston; Thaddeus Kosciuzko; Lafayette; Gen. Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts Lodge, who was in command at Charleston, South Carolina, and received the surrender of Lord Cornwallis' sword; Gen. Harry Lee; Capt. Lenoir; Gen. Richard Montgomery, who captured St. John's and Montreal; Gen. Hugh Mercer of Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia, who was killed at Princeton; Col. John McKinstry of Hudson Lodge No. 13, New York, whose life was saved by the Indian, Joseph Brant; Daniel Morgan of the Riflemen; Col. MacDowell; Lieut. James Monroe, who was afterwards President; Gen. Israel Putnam; Gen. Rufus Putnam of American Union Lodge No. 1; Gen. S. H. Parsons of the same Lodge; Col. Thomas Procter of Military Lodge No. 3 of Pennsylvania, who was in the Battle of Oriskany; Gen. John Sullivan of St. John's Lodge, Portsmouth, later Grand Master of New Hampshire, who was commander of the militia of that colony; Lord Stirling, a division commander in the Battle of Long Island; Gen. Philip Schuyler, who opposed Burgoyne; Gen. John Starke, who did not leave Molly a widow; Col. Abraham Swartout of King Solomon's Lodge, Poughkeepsie, New York, who was in the Battle of Ft. Stanwix; Col. Sevier; Gen. Sumter, the "Swamp Fox"; Baron Von Steuben of Trinity Lodge No. 12, New York; Gen. David Wooster of Hiram Lodge No. 1, New Haven, Connecticut; Col. Seth Warner of Union Lodge No. 1, Albany, New York, who was with Montgomery at Montreal; Col. Marinus Willett, who was at the Battle of Ft. Stanwix; Col. Otho Williams; Gen. William Washington; and, lastly, Gen. Benedict Arnold, who was one of Washington's most dependable and intrepid commanders until his treason in 1780 when he deserted to the British and afterwards conducted raids in Virginia and Connecticut.


The Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States consisted of fifty-five delegates, of whom, 14 are known to have been Freemasons at that time, six becoming such afterwards. There is some evidence, not conclusive, that twelve others belonged to the Fraternity. It is quite certain that twenty-two of the delegates never were Freemasons. Of the fifteen known to have been Freemasons, five did not sign the instrument.

The fourteen Freemasons in the Convention were: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Edmund Randolph, John Blair, David Brearley, Gunning Bedford Jr., Oliver Ellsworth, Rufus King, John Dickinson, James McClurg, Jacob Broom, William Pierce, William Houstoun, and Daniel Carrol. Randolph, Blair, Brearley, and Bedford had been or were to become Grand Masters.

Those six delegates who became Masons subsequent to the Convention were: William R. Davie Jr., Dr. James McHenry, John F. Mercer, William Patterson, Jonathan Dayton, and Dan St. T. Jenifer, although it is possible that Dayton was a Mason as early as 1787.

Those who may or may not have been Masons are: Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Baldwin, William Blount, James Madison, Nicholas Gilman, John Lansing Jr., George Mason, George Read, Elbridge Gerry, and George Wythe.

It is always best to adhere as closely as possible to truth. Nothing will conform to a fact but another fact. This advice is especially appropriate to Masonic authors, for Freemasonry has often been cast in a false light, and has had to apologize for distortions of its history or doctrines by Masonic writers, though it has never had to do so for its own deeds. By making Freemasonry out as an active agent to promote the American Revolution, writers were encouraged to assert that it instigated that of France. The latter theory was lent some color by the political activities of lodges on the Continent of Europe, which, however, seem to have been little more than meddlesome. From this revolutionary thesis, was deduced the anti-Masonic program of General von Ludendorff and wife, following World War I, which was siezed upon by Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler to impose misery and suffering upon Masons and Masonry throughout a large part of Europe. Then, Masonic writers had to protest vehemently that Masonry had no political leanings at all.

Something similar happened in religious matters. Masonic authors made Masonry a religion, and some identified it with sun-worship, sex-worship, and other pagan cults until the Roman Catholic Church and even the Protestant clergy condemned it as heretical, false, and anti-Christian. Thereupon, Masonic writers had to recant by proceeding to prove that Masonry was not a religion at all but only religious.

The charitable activities of the Craft were stressed until the impossibility of administering outside charity unless lodge dues were to be inordinately raised became glaringly apparent, so that most Grand Lodges actually forbade the use of lodge funds for non-Masonic purposes.

Masonic authors made extreme applications of what they called the "universality" of Freemasonry and, basing their argument upon
the theme of the brotherhood of man, asserted that the Society admitted men of all colors, races, and creeds, notwithstanding the obvious fact that some colors, races, and creeds are systematically excluded, though not by any express, universal law. This has produced various explanations and pretexts, none consistent or convincing.

One will understand Freemasonry best by closely observing what Grand Lodges or even lodges actually declare and do, rather than by accepting the statements of writers who describe Freemasonry as what they think it ought to be or even try to make it more interesting by making it more sensational. ... asonry.htm

After the Revolution of 1905, the Czar had prudently prepared for further outbreaks by transferring some $400 million in cash to the New York banks, Chase, National City, Guaranty Trust, J.P.Morgan Co., and Hanover Trust. In 1914, these same banks bought the controlling number of shares in the newly organized Federal Reserve Bank of New York, paying for the stock with the Czar\'s sequestered funds. In November 1917,  Red Guards drove a truck to the Imperial Bank and removed the Romanoff gold and jewels. The gold was later shipped directly to Kuhn, Loeb Co. in New York.-- Curse of Canaan

Offline Wimpy

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Re: Conversations on Freemasonry: HENRY WILSON COIL, SR.
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 10:50:14 PM »
Your finds are filling up my hard drive, CSR.  The Hebrew-Egyptian post led me to the site and that .pdf is 57 pages!

All great information.  Thanks!
I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.

Offline CrackSmokeRepublican

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  • Posts: 6783
Re: Conversations on Freemasonry: HENRY WILSON COIL, SR.
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 11:13:40 PM »
Quote from: "Wimpy"
Your finds are filling up my hard drive, CSR.  The Hebrew-Egyptian post led me to the site and that .pdf is 57 pages!

All great information.  Thanks!

I just come across these things. It's a lot like a puzzle... or a criminal mystery... threads and links just turn up... This one was written by a famous historian on Masonry so it reads a little light but he does drop a few clues... (and the CSR is 100% Not Jewish and 100% Not Masonic - FWIW)   ;)

About the Library & Museum

The Henry Wilson Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry is named after noted Masonic author and Brother Henry Wilson Coil.

The author of eight books, Coil’s most notable work is Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (1961, revised in 1996), the last well-known Masonic encyclopedia published by an American author.

Founded in 1996 with a generous contribution from Henry Wilson Coil, Jr., the library and museum collections and archives cover centuries of Masonic history as well as more than 150 years of Freemasonry in California.

Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry
California Masonic Memorial Temple
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108


The Library has more than two thousand volumes relating to all aspects of Masonry, and we continually make additional acquisitions.

The collection includes books on subjects that have influenced, or been influenced, by Freemasonry, as well as rare Masonic books, such as early ritual monitors and almanacs, and rare bibles dating from the 16th century.

Visitors are welcome to browse the collection and conduct research at the Library. Borrowing is limited to Master Masons residing in California and to select scholars. Rare materials may be viewed at the Library with special permission from the Collections Manager, but cannot be removed from the premises. ... /index.htm
After the Revolution of 1905, the Czar had prudently prepared for further outbreaks by transferring some $400 million in cash to the New York banks, Chase, National City, Guaranty Trust, J.P.Morgan Co., and Hanover Trust. In 1914, these same banks bought the controlling number of shares in the newly organized Federal Reserve Bank of New York, paying for the stock with the Czar\'s sequestered funds. In November 1917,  Red Guards drove a truck to the Imperial Bank and removed the Romanoff gold and jewels. The gold was later shipped directly to Kuhn, Loeb Co. in New York.-- Curse of Canaan