History of the Scottish Rite
Early References to “Scots Master” Degree
There are records of lodges conferring the degree of “Scots Master” or “Scotch Master” as early as 1733. A lodge at Temple Bar in London is the earliest such lodge on record. Other lodges include a lodge at Bath in 1735, and the French lodge, St. George de l’Observance No. 49 at Covent Garden in 1736. The references to these few occasions indicate that these were special meetings held for the purpose of performing unusual ceremonies, probably by visiting Freemasons.
Stuart Jacobite Influence
Many British expatriates, who were Scottish Jacobites and living in France during the early 1700’s, took an active part in high degree Freemasonry there and saw in its symbolism some hope for their political aspirations of a return of the Stuart to the thrones of England and Scotland. Because of its Stuart sympathies, it has been suggested that the Jesuit College of Clermont also had a hand in the development of the high degrees.
The seed of the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence on the higher degrees may have been a careless and unsubstantiated remark made by John Noorthouk in the 1784 Book of Constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of London. It was stated, without support, that King Charles II (older brother and predecessor to James II) was made a Freemason in Holland during the years of his exile (1649-60). However, there were no lodges of Freemasons on the continent during those years. The statement was undoubtedly made to flatter the fraternity by claiming membership for a previous monarch. This folly was then embellished upon by John Robison (1739-1805), a professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, in an anti-Masonic work published in 1797. The lack of scholarship exhibited by him that work even caused the Encyclopedia Britannica to denounce it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]A German bookseller and Freemason, living in Paris, working under the assumed name of C. Lenning, embellished the story further in a manuscript titled “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry” probably written between 1822 and 1828 at Leipzig. This manuscript was later revised and published by another German Freemason named Friedrich Mossdorf (1757-1830). Lenning stated that King James II of England, after his flight to France in 1688, resided at the Jesuit College of Clermont, where his followers fabricated certain degrees for the purpose of carrying out their political ends.
A German bookseller and Freemason, living in Paris, working under the assumed name of C. Lenning, embellished the story further in a manuscript titled “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry” probably written between 1822 and 1828 at Leipzig. This manuscript was later revised and published by another German Freemason named Friedrich Mossdorf (1757-1830). Lenning stated that King James II of England, after his flight to France in 1688, resided at the Jesuit College of Clermont, where his followers fabricated certain degrees for the purpose of carrying out their political ends.
By the mid-19th century, the story had gained currency. The well-known English Masonic writer, Dr. George Oliver (1782-1867), in his “Historical Landmarks,” 1846, carried the story forward and even claimed that King Charles II was active in his attendance at meetings — an obvious invention, for if it had been true, it would not have escaped the notice of the historians of the time. The story was then repeated by the French writers Jean-Baptiste Ragon (1771-1862) and Emmanuel Rebold, in their Masonic histories. Rebold’s claim that the high degrees were created and practiced in Lodge Canongate Kilwinning at Edinburgh are entirely false.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”274″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”277″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]James II died in 1701 at the Palace of St. Germain en Laye, and was succeeded in his claims to the British throne by his son, James Edward Stuart (1699-1766), the Chevalier St. George, better known as “the Old Pretender,” but recognized as James III by the French King Louis XIV. He was succeeded in his claim by Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charles”), also known as “the Young Pretender,” whose ultimate defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 effectively put an end to any serious hopes of the Stuarts regaining the British crowns.
James II died in 1701 at the Palace of St. Germain en Laye, and was succeeded in his claims to the British throne by his son, James Edward Stuart (1699-1766), the Chevalier St. George, better known as “the Old Pretender,” but recognized as James III by the French King Louis XIV. He was succeeded in his claim by Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charles”), also known as “the Young Pretender,” whose ultimate defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 effectively put an end to any serious hopes of the Stuarts regaining the British crowns.
The natural confusion between the names of the Jesuit College of Clermont, and the short-lived Chapter of Clermont which was a Masonic body that controlled a few high degrees during its brief existence, only served to add fuel to the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence in Freemasonry’s high degrees. However, the College and the Chapter had nothing to do with each other. The Chapter was named “Clermont” in honor of the French Grand Master, the Duc de Clermont, and not because of any connection with the Jesuit College of Clermont.
Estienne Morin and his Rite of 25 Degrees
A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an “Ecossais” lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Francais, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a Patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him “Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World.” This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or “Ecossais”, degree lodges. Later copies of this Patent appear to have been embellished, probably by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies. The authenticity of the enlarged powers named in later copies of Morin’s Patent is further weakened by the Declaration of the Grand Lodge of the 3 Globes at Berlin (q.v.)
Early writers long believed that a “Rite of Perfection” consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret,” and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself “The Council of Emperors of the East and West.” The title “Rite of Perfection” first appeared in the Preface to the “Grand Constitutions of 1786,” the authority for which is now known to be faulty. It is now generally accepted that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is, therefore, more properly titled “The Rite of the Royal Secret,” or “Morin’s Rite.”
Morin returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue, where, armed with his new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766 when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a “Grand Chapter” of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston.
Henry Andrew Francken and his Manuscripts
The one man who was most important in assisting Morin in spreading the degrees in the New World was a naturalized French subject of Dutch origin named Henry Andrew Francken. Morin appointed him Deputy Grand Inspector General as one of his first acts after returning to the West Indies. Francken worked closely with Morin and, in 1771, produced a manuscript book giving the rituals for the 15th through the 25th degrees. Francken produced at least two more similar manuscripts, one in 1783 and another about 1786. The second and third of these manuscripts included all the degrees from the 4th through the 25th.
A Loge de Parfaits d’ Écosse was formed on 12 April 1764 at New Orleans, becoming the first high degree lodge on the North American continent. Its life, however, was short, as the 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded New Orleans to Spain, and the Catholic Spanish crown had been historically hostile to Freemasonry. Documented Masonic activity ceased for a time and did not return to New Orleans until the 1790s.
Francken traveled to New York in 1767 where he granted a Patent, dated 26 December 1767, for the formation of a Lodge of Perfection at Albany. This marked the first time the Degrees of Perfection (the 4th through the 14th) were conferred in one of the thirteen British colonies. This Patent, and the early minutes of the Lodge, are still extant and are in the archives of Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction.
While in New York, Francken also communicated the degrees to Moses Michael Hays, a Jewish businessman, and appointed him a Deputy Inspector General. In 1781, Hays made eight Deputy Inspectors General, four of whom were later important in the establishment of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in South Carolina: Isaac Da Costa Sr., D.I.G. for South Carolina; Abraham Forst, D.I.G. for Virginia; Joseph M. Myers, D.I.G. for Maryland; and Barend M. Spitzer, D.I.G. for Georgia. Da Costa returned to Charleston, S.C., and established the “Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection” in February 1783. After Da Costa’s death in November 1783, Hays appointed Myers as Da Costa’s successor. Joined by Forst and Spitzer, Myers created additional high degree bodies in Charleston and, by 1801, the Charleston bodies were the only extant bodies of the Rite in North America.
Birth of the Scottish Rite
Although most of the thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite existed in parts of previous degree systems, the Scottish Rite did not come into being until the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1801.
Isaac De Costa, one of the deputies commissioned to establish the Rite in other countries, formed Scottish Rite bodies in South Carolina in 1783, which eventually became, in 1801, The Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. All extant Scottish Rite bodies derive their heritage from this body, directly or indirectly.
In 1813 the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Jurisdiction of the United States, was formed.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, 29 December 1809, Albert Pike is asserted within the Southern Jurisdiction as the man most responsible for the growth and success of the Scottish Rite from an obscure Masonic Rite in the mid-1800’s, to the international fraternity that it became. Pike received the 4th through the 32nd Degrees from the American Masonic historian, Dr. Albert G. Mackey, in Charleston, S.C., in March 1853, and, in that same year, Pike was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas.
At this point, the degrees were in only a rudimentary form, and often only included a brief history and legend of each degree as well as other brief details which usually lacked a workable ritual for their conferral. In 1855, the Supreme Council appointed a committee to prepare and compile rituals for the 4th through the 32nd Degrees. That committee was composed of Albert G. Mackey, John H. Honour, W. S. Rockwell, C. Samory, and Albert Pike. Of these five committee members, Pike did all the work of the committee.
In March 1858, Pike was elected a member of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and in January 1859 he became its Grand Commander. The War between the states interrupted his work on the Scottish Rite rituals. After the War, he moved to Washington, DC, and in 1868 his revision, and de-christianisation, of the rituals was complete. Pike also wrote lectures for all the degrees which were published in 1871 under the title “Morals & Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite”.