ORIGIN OF THE ROYAL ARCH
Robert Freke Gould
[Masonic Monthly, Vol. 1, pp. 6-9, July, 1882.]
In a recent deliverance, Bro. Jacob Norton has discussed at much length, the interesting problem which is stated above.
Our Brother makes numerous "points," but the leading one, or perhaps I should be more accurate in saying, his chief deduction from the evidence he submits, is the conclusion that the Royal Arch Degree was introduced into the "Modern" system by Preston's "Mother Lodge," the "Caledonian" (now No. 134), an early seceder from the "Ancients."
The reasons he adduces in favour of this supposition, are the following: A Chapter, afterwards their Grand Chapter, was established by the Moderns in 1765, and by an original regulation of this body it was provided:
"That the Companions belonging to, and having been exalted in the Caledonian Chapter, or any Chapter in the country or abroad, being properly vouched for, shall be admitted visitors in this Chapter on payment of 2s. 6d. each."
Bro. Norton then cites the prominence of a Bro. John McLean in the concerns of the newer institution, and his membership, some years afterwards, of the Caledonian Chapter, which latter he finds in a printed list of 1788-90 as No. 2 on the roll of "Modern" Chapters.
This Caledonian Chapter is next assumed to have been identical with the body of the same name, referred to in the regulation quoted above; and Bro. Norton argues that the Caledonian Lodge, having no doubt worked the Royal Arch whilst subordinate to the 'Ancients,' continued the practice under the 'Modern' sanction; and that the Caledonian Chapter — the connecting link between the Royal Arch Masonry of the rival systems — was the result.
In the first place, however, the Royal Arch Degree was at this period only conferred by the "Ancients" on whom they termed the "legal representative" of each lodge — to wit, the Master — and Preston's Mother Lodge, the "Caledonian," constituted by the "Ancients" in April, 1763, and by the "Moderns" in November, 1764, if we allow a slight margin for the period of uncertainty which must have preceded the apostasy, could hardly have had more than one or two brethren in its ranks, at the outside, eligible for the distinction of the Arch. Secondly, if we examine the Ahiman Rezons, or Books of Constitutions of the Ancients, for 1756 and 1764, there is to be found no allusion to a Chapter. The Royal Arch Lodge at Jerusalem is spoken of. Dr. Dassigny is quoted approvingly (it should be recollected that by this writer the degree is limited to rulers of the Craft), and brethren are pointedly referred to "who think themselves Royal Arch Masons without passing the chair in regular form."
In the next place, Bro. Norton's facts are a little awry, in regard to the earliest Chapter being identical with the No. 2 of 1788-90.
There is nothing whatever in the minutes of the "Modern" Society to warrant a belief that the original "Caledonian" ever came on its roll. Many Chapters, indeed, of this name were constituted. In a printed list in 1790, we find at the No. 11 — "Kilwinning or Caledonian Lodge: This Chapter is a revival of No. 2" — whilst No. 2 itself, in the same list (doubtless the Chapter cited by Bro. Norton), the "Caledonian" is thus referred to in the Grand Chapter register: "17 Sept., 1790. All the members of the Royal Cumberland Chapter, No. 8, I deemed to be members of this Chapter, by vote of the Grand or Royal Chapter, in consideration of their fidelity and zeal."
This may have been a promotion  "after the manner of the Ancients"; but, at all events, it is quite clear that in the shifting of numbers and the filling up of gaps on its roll, the Atholl practice was observed by the "Modern" Grand Chapter.
No. 1, the "Restauration Lodge, or the Chapter of the Rock and Fountain of Shilo," constituted in 1773, very soon lapsed into abeyance, and a note records; "Lay dormant until 1796, when it was revived by the officers of the Grand or Royal Chapter."
As an instance of the confusion which prevailed, I may add that in October, 1773, a constitution was granted to the Bro. Maclean, of whom Bro. Norton speaks, and others, by the name of "The Most Sacred Lodge or the Chapter of Universality, No. 6." This Chapter does not appear at all in the printed list of 1790; but in a MS. note in the records I find at the No. 6:"Euphrates Lodge, or Chapter of the Garden of Eden"; thus indicating, that in all probability, Nos. 2 and 6 had changed places; the "Most Sacred Lodge," etc., of Bro. McLean becoming, it may be, the "Caledonian" Chapter, which fills the number in 1790?
I cannot agree with Bro. Norton, "that Laurence Dermott was the father of Royal Arch Masonry amongst the Ancients." This remarkable Masonic administrator was "admitted" to the degree of the Royal Arch in Lodge No. 26, Dublin, in 1746, the same year in which he served his Mastership. That the Degree or grade was worked in Ireland at this period, we already know from Dr. Dassigny's publication; and the supposition has much to recommend it, that the communication of the secrets of the Royal Arch was the earliest form in which any esoteric teaching was specially linked with the incident of Lodge Mastership, or, in other words, that the degree of the Royal Arch was the complement of the Master's grade. Out of this was ultimately evolved the degree of Installed Master, a ceremony unknown in the "Modern" system until the first decade of the present century, and of which I can trace no sign amongst the "Ancients" until the growing practice of conferring the "Arch" upon brethren not legally qualified to receive it, brought about a constructive passing through the chair, which by qualifying candidates not otherwise eligible, naturally entailed the introduction of a ceremony, additional to the simple forms known to Payne, Anderson, and Desaguliers.
A further reason why the Caledonian Lodge cannot be regarded as having brought over Royal Arch Masonry from the rival camp is afforded by the fact of William Preston never having taken this degree. He was closely connected with his mother-lodge for at least several years after 1764, and from an early period one of its leading members.
The names, indeed, of the brethren who formed the "Grand or Royal Chapter," forcibly suggest, that the idea of appropriating the degree emanated from the ruling spirits of the "Modern" Grand Lodge. Lord Blaney, the Grand Master, was "passed to the Royal Arch" in June, 1766, and officiated as presiding officer of the Chapter in the following July, on which latter occasion Bro. Haseltine (afterwards Grand Secretary) was "exalted."
In conclusion, I may add, that Bro. Norton is scarcely justified, by the evidence he has brought forward, in assuming that, with the exception of the "Caledonian" Chapter, there were not, "outside of the jurisdiction of the 'Ancients' any Chapters, either in this country or abroad, in 1765." There is, on the contrary, the same authority for believing that there were such bodies, as for conceding the prior existence of the "Caledonian" Chapter, viz., the recital of a regulation appearing in the Minutes of the "Moderns."
I am of opinion that the expression Chapter was coined by the "Moderns." It nowhere appears — at least I have not met with it — in any "Atholl" records before 1765, not, indeed, until several years later; and it seems very probable that the whole machinery of the Royal Arch was never adequately appreciated by the "Ancients," until the novelty was invested with so much importance by those who purloined it from them, and who decorated and embellished the degree with many fanciful alterations and additions of their own creation.
[Freemasons' Chronicle, 1893.]
In the transactions of the Quat. Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, Vol. VI., pt. 2, there is an article on the Ancient Stirling Lodge, from the pen of Bro. Hughan, which it will be convenient to consider in connection with the late reprint of Dr. Dassigny's Serious and Impartial Enquiry (1744); the "Introductory Sketch and Royal Arch Masonry, 1743-1893," prefixed to the same; and the review of both which appeared in the last number of the Transactions (vi. 77).
In Dassigny's work we meet with the oldest printed reference to the Royal Arch, and our Brother Hughan in the prolegomena, attached to the reprint, furnishes the fullest and best account of that degree which is known to me.
Before its appearance, the earliest Lodge records containing any allusion to the Royal Arch, were supposed to be those of the old Lodge at Fredericksburg, Virginia, which held a "Royal Arch Lodge" on 22nd December, 1753, when three Brethren were "raised to the Degree of Royal Arch Mason."
Bro. Hughan, however, has recently claimed, on behalf of the Lodge at Stirling, a priority of ten, or at the very least, eight years, over its American Sister, in connection with this degree, and the proofs by which his position is supported I shall next proceed to examine.
A Committee of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, reported — 21st March, 1818 — that "after very mature and deliberate consideration of the several documents produced in support of their respective claims, they find that the Chapters holding of the Supreme Grand Royal Chapter have produced satisfactory evidence of their having existed in the knowledge and practice of Royal Arch Masonry, and have held regular meetings as Chapters of that Degree, since the periods set against their respective names, as follows, viz.:
"Stirling Rock Royal Arch Chapter, from the 30th July, 1743; Enoch Royal Arch Chapter, Montrose, from the 18th January, 1765; Operative Royal Arch Chapter, Banff, from the 25th August, 1766; Linlithgow Royal Arch Chapter, from the year 1768."
My own opinion of the value of the "reports" of Committees on such points as the above is not a very high one, and I attach about as much importance to them as I do to the preambles of charters and Acts of Parliament. Moreover, in the case before us, the attestation ought certainly to be of the highest character that the subject will admit of, to induce us to believe that at Stirling, or anywhere else, regular meetings were held in 1743, as "Chapters" of the Degree.
This difficulty seems to have been felt by Bro. Hughan, for he says; — "Granting that the question as to the seniority of Stirling be left in abeyance so far as respects the Minute Book of 1743, the By-Laws of 1745 are still in evidence, and as they mention the term 'Exalting' [the reader will please take note that it is the 'Introductory sketch of R.A, Masonry, 1743-1893,' I am quoting from], and apply it to the 'Excellent and Super-Excellent' Degrees, the position is maintained all the same, for there is no other Chapter anywhere that can produce such testimony."
In the same "sketch" or prolegomena, Bro. Hughan observes; — "Bro. Brown [G. Scribe E. Scotland] has made and sent me an extract from the By-Laws of the Lodge at Stirling, dated the 14th day of May, 1745 ∴ The Dues were then as follows:
[Extract from the 8th By-Law.]
"Exalting Excellent and Super-Excellent, 5s. Knights of Malta, 5s."
"Bro. Brown says, 'that no direct reference to the Royal Arch could be found in this Minute Book from 1741 onwards, only Excellent and Super-Excellent,' but he believes that as a matter of fact Super-Excellent was the Royal Arch as then conferred in Scotland."
But on getting the actual Minute Book into his own hands, Bro. Hughan found that the word "Exalting" had been inadvertently imported into the above transcript (as it should not have been), thereby lengthening the already strong chain of presumptive evidence by an imaginary link.
The portion of the 8th By-Law cited in the foregoing remarks, should really read:
"Excellent and Super Excellent, five shillings sterling and Knights of Malta five shillings sterling."
But this is not all. The Code of Rules from which the last quotation has been carefully taken by Hughan, is not the original and separate Regulations of 1745, but a copy made about 1790.
Our Brother Hughan indeed says: "The transcript seems to have been made from an old copy, doubtless of 1745, as stated, for the writer was evidently unable to decipher some portions, and therefore left them blank; and the general style of the regulations would do very well for that year, so that appearances certainly favour the belief that the foregoing transcript [Supra] of about the year 1790 was made from the original code of 1745." (A.Q.C., vi., 109.)
But a proneness to embellish their text has been a leading characteristic of all Masonic copyists from the time of Dr. James Anderson down to within living memory, and by far the most potent argument used by Bro. Hughan in support of the fidelity of the transcription seems to me to be the absence of any doubt in his own mind with respect to the legitimacy of the entries which he has taken under his protection.
Nor should we forget that in the recent transcription of 1892, or 1893, the word "Exalted" was wrongly, though inadvertently tacked on to the others, and what must have been the result of pure accident in our own time, may well have been paralleled by a similar haphazard in the past.
The possibility, or as I should prefer to put it, the probability, of a "pious fraud" having been committed by the Stirling Brethren of A.D. 1790, must also be considered.
With the article under review, Bro. Hughan prints an Appendix (vi. 112), entitled Copy of "Charter" Made in 1822. This "Charter" appears at the end of the Minute-book — Stirling Lodge — and the last minute is dated August 10th, 1822. According to the "Charter," professedly made by "David the first by the Grace of God King of Scots,"
"itim That the free Masons in Stirling shall hold a Lodge for ever in the brugh of Stirling," etc.
"itim and that you mack instruck and teach the Masonry of St. Johns in all its pairts and secrets and as like Belted Knights and Cros leged Knights with armour," &c.
"Declared ∴ at Edinburgh The fifth day of March one thousand one hundred and forty seven years before these witnesses
"Prince, Henry my Son — Earle, John of Menteith — Earle, Duncan of Lennox — Herbert, Bishop of Glasgow — Robert, Bishop of St. Andrew Gregory, Bishop of Dunkell, and Walter de Ridale."
[ "To which is affixed the King's seal which is all defaced A correct coppy of the ancient Lodge Charter by a Brother "]
This pretended Charter is of course ridiculous nonsense, but as bearing upon the alleged entries of 1745, the remark may be made, that the Masons of Stirling who, so to speak, "swallowed a camel" in 1820 or 1822, were not likely to have strained over much "at a gnat," in 1790.
The terms Excellent, Super Excellent, and Knight of Malta, appear nowhere else in Masonic records, until well into the second half of the last century, and the appearance of the last title of all — Knight of Malta — in any records, professing to reproduce an actual entry of A.D. 1745, would be sufficient of itself to stamp such alleged "entry," and its surroundings, as apocryphal, upon my own mind.
Still, "all feet tread not in one shoe." There is no student among us who has done so much to disentangle the real history of the Royal Arch, from the confusion which has been mixed up with it, than our Bro. Hughan. To those who prefer sheltering their opinions under the authority of great names, there can therefore be no better than his own to rely upon. But I am fully persuaded that his ambition lies rather in the direction of so marshalling the evidence, that the facts may be made clear, than of arranging his proofs in such a manner as to fortify any conclusions that he may individually have arrived at.
In the Introductory Sketch, prefixed to the Serious and Impartial Enquiry, of Dr. Dassigny the rise and progress of what Laurence Dermott affirmed to be "the root, heart, and marrow of Masonry'," are fully and eloquently narrated, and those readers who have benefited by its perusal will, on turning to p. 108 of the current volume of Ars, find a further treat in store for them, under the title of The Ancient Stirling Lodge, by Bro. W. J. Hughan, P.G.D.
By a resolution of the Supreme Grand Chapter of England, duly confirmed on the 7th of February last, the portals of Royal Arch Masonry have been thrown open to all candidates for that Supreme Degree, who have served a qualifying period of four weeks in the rank or station of Master Masons.
Prior to this recent legislation, no brother could be received a member of the Royal Arch, in England, at a less interval than 12 months between the ceremonies of raising and exaltation.
For the Colonies, however, the qualifying period of service as Master Masons had been cut down from 12 months to four weeks, so far back as 1857, and the alteration was made because wherever English chapters were working side by side with Scottish or Irish ones, the great bulk of candidates for the Degree naturally acquired it in the latter, as it could be obtained in far less time than by making application to the former.
Freemasonry in the British Islands and Dependencies has made giant strides during the 19 years the Prince of Wales has been Grand Master. But the fact is a noteworthy one that the number of chapters and companions has certainly not increased pari passu with that of the lodges and brethren, i.e., in South Britain, and elsewhere under the English Constitution — or, to be more precise, within the Royal Arch jurisdiction, of which the G.M. of the Grand Lodge of England (if a companion) is ex-officio the First Grand Principal.
For this many reasons have been assigned, the chief one being that the appetite for new Degrees is keenest when men are young in Masonry, and that having taken a great many during their first year in the Craft, the hunger of a large proportion of brethren is so thoroughly appeased towards the end of it, as to render them quite indifferent to the attractions of any further ceremony whatever, for which they only become eligible as candidates at the expiration of 12 months' service in the grade of Master Mason.
There is much force in this contention, and the impartial student will incline to the belief that it would have been far better both for the Craft and Arch, if the bond between them had been loosened instead of tightened, at the memorable Union of the two Grand Lodges of England in 1813. According to the second Article of the Union:
"It is declared and pronounced, that pure Ancient Masonry consists of three Degrees, and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason (including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch)."
How, indeed, any "Order" or ceremony, which did not exist in the era preceding that of Grand Lodges, could be constituted a portion of "pure Ancient Masonry," it would be bootless to inquire, though the remark may be thrown out, that if one Grand Lodge could add to the system of Ancient Masonry, so could another. Therefore, while I deprecate the action of many American Grand Lodges in following on the lines of what is familiarly known as the "Massachusetts New Departure," nothing can really be urged against their including in the legitimate Masonic family the Knight Templars and others, providing only that the precedent established by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, is entitled to be regarded as a lawful exercise of its authority by that body.
Passing, however, from this point, which might detain us too long, let me proceed with the observation, that the ardour with which the Royal Arch was wooed in 1813, has finally resulted in its having been nearly stifled in the embrace of the Grand Lodge.
The Committee of General Purposes — Grand Chapter of England — has done excellent service in bringing forward and carrying to a successful issue the removal of a restriction which operated most prejudicially with respect to the diffusion and extension of the Degree. One further step is now only requisite in order that the trammels imposed by the legislation of 1813 and later years may be fully swept away, and that is the abrogation of the existing law under which actual or Past Masters of lodges are alone eligible to fill the principal chairs.
Originally, no doubt, or at least as far back as there is evidence to guide us, viz., in the year 1744, when Dr. Dassigny printed his Serious and Impartial Enquiry, the "Masters of the Royal Arch" — by which is to be understood all members of the Degree — were "an organised body of men who had passed the chair," i.e., the chair of a lodge, which at that time, certainly in England and Scotland, was filled and vacated without a ceremony of any kind. Ultimately, indeed, the Degree of Installed or Past Master would appear — as I wrote in the Freemason more than 10 years ago — to have been invented by the Schismatic Grand Lodge of England (or so-called "Ancients") to serve as a constructive passing of the chair, and thereby to qualify brethren for the Royal Arch, which could only be communicated to actual or Past Masters of lodges. In other words — the practice by the "Ancients" of conferring the Arch upon brethren not legitimately entitled to receive it, brought about a constructive passing through the chair, which by qualifying candidates not otherwise eligible, naturally entailed the introduction of a ceremony, additional to the simple forms known to Payne, Anderson, and Desaguliers.
But whatever secrets were then peculiar to Royal Arch Masonry, every candidate who was received within its pale, became acquainted with them all. The Degree was at first invariably conferred in the lodges, and it was not until comparatively late in the last century that chapters of the Order were established under the hierarchy of Principals.
For a long period the Degree of Past Master continued to be given in English chapters to all candidates for the Royal Arch, and the practice appears not to have been forbidden until 1826.
According to the Freemasons' Quarterly Review for 1837:
"By the laws of Grand Chapter, as revised February 5th, 1823, no previous office in the Lodge was required as a qualification for office in the Chapter. It was only necessary that a candidate should have been a Master Mason for a year, and that then he should in a particular manner obtain, what, until the recent alteration, was his passport to the Royal Arch. The laws of 1823 placed no further obstacle of the Craft in the way of the highest honour of the Chapter.
"Three years afterwards, viz., on March 2nd, 1826, it was resolved in the Grand Chapter: 'that no Companion should be elected to the principal chairs unless he be the actual or a Past Master of a Lodge.' This alteration of the laws was not uniformly attended to, up to 1834, as appears from a resolution of Grand Chapter on May 6th of that year, confirming and repeating the resolution of 1826."
Gleaning from earlier volumes of the same Masonic journal, I find the following: "It was resolved by the Grand Chapter — 'August 2nd, 1826 — that no Companion can be elected to the principal chairs, but a Master or Past Master, nor into the 2nd chair until he has served the 3rd, nor into the 1st, until he has served the 3rd and 2nd.' (F. Q. Rev., 1834).
It is further stated, that on June 13th, 1833, the Committee of Grand Chapter "explained the alteration (recently) considered advisable.
"1st, As respected the installation of Principals in the several chairs, and
"2nd, Such alterations as were necessary on the introduction of a M.M." (Ibid.)
In 1835, there was formed a Committee of Promulgation, but that the new system did not work very smoothly is evidenced by the proceedings of the Grand Chapter on November 4th of that year:
"The Committee reported that a 1st Principal elect had intimated his intention to work the Chapter according to the old and not according to the recently promulgated system.
"Declared, that the ceremonies recently adopted by the several Grand Chapters are the ceremonies of our Order, which it is the duty of every Chapter to obey." (F. Q. Rev., 1835.)
A little later (1837) a Bro. Robt. Leigh, P.M. 327, writes; "I believe it will be found that many Companions, even since 1834 have been placed in the chairs without its ever having been suspected that they should have served as the actual Master of Lodges, they having passed the chair and taken the Degree of Past Master in their way to the Chapter." (Ibid, 1837.)
The Past Master's Degree continued to be conferred in Provincial and Foreign Chapters long after the practice had been put an end to in London. Indeed, so late as April 3rd, 1857, when I was myself exalted in the Melita Chapter, Valetta, then 437, now 349, the minutes record — as I learn from Bro. Broadley's History of Freemasonry in Malta — my "having first passed the chair of W.M."
To sum up this portion of my article — according to the Regulations of the Grand Chapter of England at the present time of writing:
I. The Grand Master of English Freemasons, the Grand Secretary, and certain other Grand Officers of the Craft (if duly qualified) are to hold corresponding positions in the Grand Chapter;
II. Every Chapter must be attached to some warranted lodge and distinguished by the same number; and,
III. Candidates for the Degree of R.A. must be Master Masons of four weeks' standing. To which may be added, that no ceremonies are worked in the chapters, but the Royal Arch itself, except the Installation of Principals, each of whom must have been previously installed in the chair of a regular lodge.
The Degree, if we may credit the eleventh volume of what was at the time — now half a century ago — the leading journal of the Craft, was planted (or replanted) with no slight difficulty on the other side of St. George's Channel. According to this publication: "In 1813, Royal Arch Masonry could scarcely have been known even by name in Ireland. For when the Earl of Donoughmore, the then Grand Master, adopted the suggestion of his illustrious colleague, the Grand Master of England, and promulgated the direction that Craft Masonry should consist of only three Degrees, including the Royal Arch, the ensuing Grand Lodge peremptorily demanded of his lordship what he meant by the innovation of adding to Masonry what was not understood to exist. A vote of censure was actually passed on the Earl of Donoughmore, who frankly said that he was innocent of any knowledge whatever of Royal Arch Masonry." (F. Q. Review, 1844.) This vote of censure, it may be added — on the same authority — was a commutation of the sentence originally proposed, which amounted to no less than the expulsion of the Grand Master from Masonry altogether.
The above story may or may not be entitled to our confidence. Several years ago I had some correspondence with the late Bro. S. B. Oldham, Dep. G. Sec. and Treas., Grand Lodge of Ireland, on the subject, and, so far as I recollect, while distrusting the statement in the F. Q. Review, he was unable, nevertheless, to positively affirm it to be incorrect, owing to the minutes of the Grand Lodge for a long period of years having been lost or purloined. A new History of Irish Masonry is, however, understood to be in course of preparation, and the able Brother who has taken it in hand, Dr. F. C. Crossle, Prov. G. Sec, Down, will no doubt tell us at the proper time all that he has gleaned from official (or other) documents with regard to the rise and progress of the Royal Arch Degree.
At the present moment the G.M. and the Deputy Grand Secretary and Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, are the King and Registrar respectively of the Grand Chapter. The centralising policy which is the leading characteristic of Irish Masonry I must pass over almost without remark. It will be sufficient to say that, besides the Arch, the Christian Degrees, the Encampments (or Preceptories), the so-called Colleges of Philosophy, and indeed every Degree or Rite which — with or without reason — is recognised by the official hierarchy as Masonic, are in close touch with the Grand Lodge.
The Presiding Officer in an Irish Chapter is styled King, which corresponds with First Principal in some other jurisdictions. The three principal officers are obligated, but the King is required to be an actual or Past Master. This, as Bro. Chetwode Crawley, S.G.D., G. Lodge of Ireland, informs me, is only of very recent introduction.
Every candidate for the Degree must be a Master Mason of six months' standing, and is required to become a Mark Master Mason by way of further preliminary. There is no ballot for the Mark, which is held to be included as an honorary' Degree under the chapter warrant. The Excellent and Super-Excellent Degrees form part of the Royal Arch, and thereby differ from the Mark, which is usually taken a month or so before exaltation.
The Royal Arch in Scotland is worked under the direction of a Grand Chapter, established in 1818, which has always been entirely independent of the Grand Lodge.
Assuming the plea of emergency to be accepted, as it generally is, there is nothing to prevent a Scottish brother from being raised at one sederunt (or meeting), and exalted a few minutes afterwards. The only requirement of the chapter being, that the candidate should be a Master Mason, and whether his standing as such can be measured by years or moments is wholly immaterial. If he has already received the "Mark" in lodge, the chapter merely "affiliates" him, otherwise it confers that Degree, sitting as a Mark lodge. Next, the chapter sits as an "Excellent Master's" lodge (working a further ceremony), and finally as a Royal Arch chapter.
Formerly there were three preliminary Degrees — Mark, Past, and Excellent — but that of (constructive) Past Master has now for some years been discontinued.
Separate chair secrets are imparted to the three Principals at their installation, and generally in a severely concise form, each ceremony lasting for a few minutes only. A companion can be elected to the First Chair without having previously filled the others, and on such occasions the secrets pertaining to all three are communicated to him. The Principals are not required to have sat as actual Masters of lodges.
Besides the Supreme Grand Chapter erected (as above stated) in 1818, there is another organisation which claims the right of controlling the Royal Arch Degree in Scotland. This is the Early Grand Scottish Rite, formerly called the Early Grand Mother Encampment of High Knight Templars, Scotland.
The laws of the rite are entitled the "General Statutes and Ordinances enacted for the government of Red, Black, Green, and White Masonry" [in Scotland].
Prefixed to these laws or "statutes" is an "Historical Sketch" (1893), from which I shall next quote, premising, however, that I do not in any way vouch for the accuracy of the statements presented, and merely cite them (in an abridged form) as resting entirely on the good faith and credibility of the compiler.
According to this "Historical Sketch" — during the latter part of the 18th century a variety of Degrees — Red, Black, Green and White — were worked in the lodges. But in the year 1800 the Grand Lodge of Scotland passed a resolution forbidding the practice, and limiting the control of the lodges to the first Three Degrees. Whereupon the votaries of the "high grades" applied to their fratres in Ireland, who had an established Grand Encampment, for charters, and soon between 40 and 50 encampments were at work in Scotland, under warrants issued by the "Early Grand Encampment of Ireland." In 1811-12, however, Alexander Deuchar, of Edinburgh Encampment, No. 31 (Irish "Early Grand" Jurisdiction), established a schismatic body, which he styled the "Supreme Grand Conclave of Scotland." This conclave continued to work the Red and Black under one head, as had been customary under the Irish "Early Grand." Hence arose a further division, and in 1818, the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter sprang into existence as the spawn of a schism — being in fact the illegitimate grand-daughter of the Irish Grand Encampment. The "Deuchar" Grand Conclave may here be permitted to drop out of the narrative.
On the 22nd June, 1822, Frater Robert Martin, of No. 33 Encampment, presented a petition from Nos. 28 (Muir Kirk), 39 (Ayr), and 40 and 42 (Kilmarnock), to the "Early Grand" of Ireland, praying that the Scottish Encampments might be erected into a Sovereign jurisdiction. The request was granted, and Fra. Martin appointed Provisional Grand Master — a nomination which was ratified at a representative meeting of the Scottish Encampments in July, 1822. This brother retained the office until 1857, and has had 12 successors, from one of whom, Bro. Matthew McB. Thomson, of Ayr (1877-81), I have derived all the information I possess with regard to the history of the Early Grand Scottish Rite, and which I relate on his authority and on that of books and documents he has been so obliging as to send for my perusal.
Subsequently to 1822 a schism befell the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter at Edinburgh (erected 1818) in the form of a Glasgow off-shoot, best known as "Donald Campbell's General Grand Chapter." The new Grand Chapter sought a union with the Grand Encampment (of Scotland), but the negotiations fell through owing to irreconcilable differences in working. The fate of the Glasgow Grand Chapter is not disclosed by any papers before me, but it must have long since died out, or ceased to exist as an independent body.
The first event of real importance in more modern times was a resolution of the Grand Encampment in 1880, "deliminating the powers of Grand Encampment and the Grand Council of Rites, enumerating the Degrees to be controlled by each, and handing over the control of Red Masonry to the 'Early Grand Mother Chapter,' — the three bodies working in harmony with each other and having many ties in common."
In 1891 a committee was nominated by the Supreme Grand Chapter at Edinburgh (erected 1818) to confer with one from the "Early Grand," and to endeavour to arrange a union between the two bodies. This came to nothing, and a second conference took place at the Central Hotel, Glasgow, on February 15th, 1893, with apparently no happier result, though the negotiations are seemingly not yet exhausted, as in the "Historical Sketch" before me, "It is hoped, for the sake of Masonic unity, the strayed sheep [meaning the Supreme Grand R.A. Chapter of Scotland] may be brought back to the Early Grand fold."
The 3rd of the Statutes and Ordinances of the Early Grand Mother Chapter is as follows:
"The Early Grand Mother Chapter recognises the Degrees of Funeral Master, Fellow Craft Mark, Master's Mark, Architect, Grand Architect, Master of the Blue, Past Master, Royal Ark Mariner, Fugitive Mark, Link and Chain, Jacob's Wrestle, Scarlet Cord, Brotherly Love, Royal Master, Select Master, Most Excellent Master, Excellent Mason, Super-excellent Mason, Holy Royal Arch, and the installed degrees of Noah, J., H., and Z."
The Grand Encampment in its 5th Statute,
"Recognises and controls the Degrees of Knight of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine, Knight of St. John the Evangelist, K.H.S., Knight of the Christian Mark, Knight of the Holy and Illustrious Order of the Cross, Pilgrim, Knight Templar, Mediterranean Pass or Knight of St. Paul, and Knight of Malta."
The 7th Statute of the Scottish Grand Council of Rites runs:
"The degrees of Green and White Masonry as recognised by the S.G.C. of Rites are; The Green, Prince of Babylon, Prince Mason, Knight of the Black Cross, Knight of Bethany, Knight of the White Cross, Knight of Patmos, Knight of Death, Knight of the Rosy Cross, Knight of the Black and White Eagle, the White, Priestly Order of the Temple or White Mason, Priest of the Sun, Priest of Eleusis, Mother Word or Royal Secret."
The number of Degrees worked under the "Early Grand Scottish Rite" is as follows; Chapter Series, 4th to 22nd; Encampment ditto, 23rd to 31st; Green and White ditto, 32nd to 44th; total, 41.
To obviate any possible misunderstanding, let me here state, before concluding my remarks on Scottish Capitular Masonry, that the Supreme Grand R.A. Chapter (1818) is, so far at least as I am aware, the only governing body of the degree which is recognised as such (or in any way whatsoever) by the Grand Chapters of other jurisdictions. But the existence of the "Early Grand," which claims the right of controlling the Royal Arch in Scotland, is nevertheless a fact that cannot be got rid of by ignoring it.
- No. 2 was originally constituted at Manchester as the "Euphrates Lodge, or the Chapter of the Garden of Eden," 14th July, 1773.↩