Spies, Mind-Readers, and Secret Societies

Some Scots Abroad in the Eighteenth-Century

Marsha Keith Schuchard, Ph.D.

Lecture given by Dr. Marsha Keith Schuchard at the Scottish Studies Centre, St. Andrews University, Scotland (February 2007).

I recently presented a paper at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, meeting at Oxford University, for a session called “Jacobites in Unusual Places.” My subject was “Jacobites and Freemasons in Sweden: Esoteric Intelligence and Exoteric Politics.” Before even giving the paper, I was told by one skeptical and rather rude conferee that the very title flew in the face of the accepted view of historians (i.e., Anglo-centric Whigs) that real Freemasonry began in London in 1717, when four small lodges joined together to form the Grand Lodge of England, dedicated to Newtonian science, Enlightenment rationalism, and the Hanoverian succession. Reinforcing his position is the official, published position of the current United Grand Lodge of England, which confidently affirms that the 18th-century Masons were not involved in politics and that there were no Jacobite versus Hanoverian rivalries within the fraternity. To quote John Hamill, official Grand Lodge spokesman, the notion of any Jacobite-Masonic conspiracy is a “romantic invention,” “nonsense,” and “just so much blowing in the wind.”

This stereotypical and out-dated view of Masonic history conveniently ignores the long, documented history of Freemasonry in Scotland, with records dating back to the 1590s—a history which has been brilliantly recounted by your own St. Andrews professor, David Stevenson. It also ignores the strong oral and written 18th-century European tradition that supporters of the Stuarts carried Scottish-style Freemasonry abroad during the Interregnum of the 1650s and after the Williamite revolution of 1688. When I mentioned to my critic that documents in Swedish archives reveal a Scottish-Swedish Masonic connection that played a major role in esoteric intelligence and exoteric politics, I was accused of inventing a “Nordic Da Vinci Code.” Fortunately, the on-going research of a new generation of historians in Scotland, Sweden, France, Russia, Poland, and other places of Jacobite refuge continues to reveal very real-world context for the alleged “romantic inventions” of Jacobite-Masonic political espionage and plotting.

I first stumbled into this murky world while working on a study of Emanuel Swedenborg, the 18th-century Swedish scientist and mystic, and his influence on William Blake and other British romantic poets. I soon learned that research into his life was like entering a series of Chinese boxes, for as soon as I felt confident that I had comprehended one level of his activity—such as his study of Jewish Kabbalism—the bottom would fall out, and I would be in another box—such as his Jacobite involvement—and then, oops, in another box—dealing with his Masonic associations. Oddly, the Swedish perspective sheds much new light on Scottish and Jacobite affairs, for material emerged that was not available in British sources and that revealed a strange, shadowy world of mystical meditation, prophetic trances, Kabbalistic coding, Hermetic alchemy, and other definitely non-rational, non-Enlightenment beliefs and practices. Moreover, these esoteric sciences were often employed to support a progressive political program, in which liberty of conscience—full religious toleration—would be achieved as part of a multi-national Jacobite diplomatic and military agenda. I have to admit, it does reek of the vapors of a Nordic Da Vinci Code.

To begin to trace this Scottish-Swedish tradition, lets go back to the 1630s, when Henry Adamson published The Muses Threnody, to welcome Charles I to Perth and to urge the kings support for much-needed architectural reconstruction. One passage in that poem had special ramifications into 18th-century Sweden:

For we be brethren of the Rosie Crosse,
We have the Mason word and second sight,
Things for to come we can foretell aright.
And shall we show what misterie we mean,
In fair acrosticks Carolus Rex is seen. . .

The Mason Word drew on Hebrew and Kabbalistic traditions of Jachin and Boaz, the free-standing columns in Solomons Temple, and it functioned as an identification signal between initiated Masons, both operative and speculative. As I have discussed in my book, Restoring the Temple of Vision: Cabalistic Freemasonry and Stuart Culture (2002), Scottish noblemen with architectural and/or Masonic interests, were the first in the British Isles to collect Rosicrucian literature in the early 17th century, and their interest in spiritual and practical alchemy allegedly had an influence on the development of Scottish Freemasonry. But what about the Perth Masons claim to possess “second sight,” and how did it become part not only of Scottish but Swedish Masonic tradition? Furthermore, how did it become part of the espionage equipment of hard-headed, tough-minded politicians and military men in the 18th century?

Many of these themes and paradoxes were embodied in Sir Robert Moray, the Scottish Freemason, who first served the nationalistic Covenanters and then Charles II’s royalists as a military strategist, political advisor, and scientific virtuoso—and whose correspondence has recently been published by David Stevenson. A founding member of the Royal Society of Sciences in London (and considered its “heart and soul”), Moray was a progressive-minded experimental scientist who also believed in second sight, Kabbalistic meditation, Hermetic alchemy, and other “occult” sciences. It is important to recognize that the conventional wisdom—promulgated by our same Whig historians—that alchemy and esotericism died out in the wake of “modern” scientists like Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton—has been discredited by scholars examining the full corpus of their works, which included their research into various “occultist” sciences. That many Scots and Swedes continued to believe in those sciences and in second sight did not mean that they were retrogressive or credulous. As recently as February 2007, major British scientists reported on “the brain scan that can read people’s intentions,” via new computer imaging techniques that “can probe people’s minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts” by identifying patterns in the brain that reveal “what a person planned to do in the near future.”

In the 1690s, the possibility of second sight or clairvoyance so intrigued John Locke—a paragon of rational enlightenment— that he sought information from his Scottish friend, the republican nationalist Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who recommended the Episcopalian Jacobite Dr. James Garden as a good source. Garden had already corresponded with John Aubrey about the phenomenon, and in 1694 Aubrey allowed Locke to copy Gardens account of the Highlanders gift of second sight. Garden asked Aubrey, in return, to send him an account of similar Rosicrucian phenomena in England. In Lockes manuscript transcription of Gardens letter, preserved in the Bodleian library, he wrote that second sight relates only to things which will shortly come to pass (within six years), and that the adepts see everything visibly before their eyes. The seers do not know where the gift comes from, but some have offered to teach it upon certain conditions. This offer perhaps explains the Scottish Freemasons claim to possess (or acquire through instruction) the gift of second sight.

Moreover, as a student of the Jewish Kabbala—with its techniques of mystical meditation and visualization—Locke may have recognized the similarities between the Scottish-acquired second sight and the Jewish-acquired prophetic trance. As a trained physician, who earlier studied under a Rosicrucian alchemist, Locke had long been intrigued by the dissection of Cardinal Richelieu, which revealed that his incredible powers of sight and hearing were made possible by an extraordinary number of optic and auditory nerves. He was also aware of the explanation of second sight made by the Scottish antiquarian Robert Kirk, who affirmed its reality but suggested that it might be “an extended form of natural eyesight,” like that of cats and lynxes at night or telescope-aided human sight.

Fletcher further recommended to Locke the work of the Scottish Jacobite Martin Martin, who was preparing a book on the Western Islanders, among whom the second sight, “or Faculty of foreseeing things to come, by way of vision,” was common among them. Fletcher encouraged Martin to send his preliminary reports to the Royal Society in London, and he assured Locke that he would be mightily pleased by what should be more properly called the “first or Prophetick sight.” Martin gave a naturalistic description of second sight, noting that “at the sight of a vision, the eye-lids of the person are erected, and the eyes continue staring until the object vanishes.” When one man sees a vision, “the inner part of his eye-lids turns so far upwards” that afterwards “he must draw them down with his fingers, and sometimes employs others to draw them down.” Though Martin could not learn how the gift was transmitted, he noted that the novices become skillful seers through some kind of discipline or training. Curiously, all of these students of this psychic gift or visualization technique were currently associated with or interested in Freemasonry; furthermore, the controversial 18th-century tradition that Locke sought initiation into Masonry in 1696 may have some basis in fact.

But, how does this relate to Swedish developments in Jacobite Freemasonry? Throughout the 17th-century, many Scots had served in Swedish armies, and some historians argue that the Scots infused notions of military masonry—such as that practised by Sir Robert Moray—into their Swedish regiments. During the 1650s, Moray was in touch with the Scottish agents who visited Sweden, seeking support for Charles IIs restoration. Several 18th-century German Masons, members of the Swedish Rite, claim that a Masonic lodge was established in Gothenburg in the 1650s, at a time when Scottish residents of the strategic port, such as the Macleans, were secretly supplying Charles II with ships and arms. We know that at least one Swedish military architect, Edouart Tessin, was initiated into a Masons lodge in Edinburgh in 1652, when serving under General Monk during the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland. Moreover, when Monk changed sides in 1659 and marched south to support Charles IIs restoration, Tessin went with him and subsequently entered the kings service. Tessin and his son helped construct the great sea mole at the new Stuart colony of Tangier, considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of the century.

In 1678 Edouart’s kinsman and fellow Swedish architect, Nikodemus Tessin, visited London, where he showed his drawings to Charles II and Christopher Wren, who were so impressed that they offered him royal employment. Nikodemus may have been initiated in London, for his son Carl Gustaf Tessin, said his father was always proud to call himself a “Master Mason.” Nikodemus moved on to Rome and Paris, and when he returned to Sweden, the Stuarts had been driven out by the Williamite invasion. He and his son became strong supporters of the Jacobites and reposititories of Scottish-Jacobite traditions of Freemasonry—traditions which took on new political significance in 1741, when Carl Gustaf served as Swedish ambassador in Paris.

Ambassador Tessin became the intimate friend of Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay, an expatriated Scot and advocate of mystical, chivalric Ḗcossais Freemasonry—a system of higher degrees developed by Jacobite exiles abroad. It was at Tessins residence that Ramsay informed him and their German visitors that the secret plan to restore Charles II “had first been spoken and decided in an assembly of Freemasons because General Monk had been a member and was able to bring it to fruition without incurring the least suspicion.” In Restoring the Temple of Vision, I have examined in detail the context of Monk and his Masonic associates and find that Ramsays little-known account does have historical plausibility. Certainly, Carl Gustaf Tessin and his Swedish-Jacobite collaborators believed that Stuart-style or Écossais Freemasonry should be exploited to further their domestic political and international diplomatic agendas. Moreover, Tessin and Ramsay believed that these networks had been developed decades earlier during the Swedish-Jacobite or Görtz-Gyllenborg plot of 1715-18.

During those turbulent early years of the Hanoverian succession, John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, labored to build a multi-national coalition—including Sweden, Russia, Spain, and France to overthrow George I, or the Elector of Hanover, as the Jacobites continued to scornfully call him. A brilliant and innovative architect, Mar had long been associated with operative Masons, and he now utilized his Masonic bonds with his cousin, Dr. Robert Erskine, physician and confidant to Czar Peter I of Russia. In Mars correspondence with Erskine and other Jacobites at the Russian court, the links established by “the Mason Word” between the Czar and his Scottish “brother mechanics” were mentioned. Mar also worked closely with Count Carl Gyllenborg, Swedish ambassador in London, and Baron von Görtz, Hostein diplomat and adviser to King Carl XII, to convince the Swedish king and Russian czar to support a Jacobite rising in Britain. According to Claude Nordmann, the pre-eminent historian of the extremely complicated international planning, several of the leading organizers of the plot utilized Scottish-style Masonic networks for secret communication, fraternal bonding, and mystical morale building. His argument is reinforced by the 18th-century memoirs of Elis Schröderheim, a high-ranking Ècossais Mason and state secretary to Gustaf III, a “Mason King” and strong supporter of the Stuarts. Schröderheim recorded that Görtz, troubled by British interception of the plotters correspondence, turned to Freemasonry to carry out his ambitious plans.

Meanwhile in Scotland, as Mar recruited troops for the 1715 rising, various volunteers—such as James Cunningham—sought visionary confirmation for their participation through mystical meditation and second sight. When Mars co-conspirator Ambassador Gyllenborg chose a Swedish volunteer to send from London to Paris to gather intelligence, he chose the young scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, who was allegedly initiated into Freemasonry while living and studying with scientists and craftsmen in London. Swedenborgs family were strong supporters of the Stuarts, and his studies in Hebrew letter-number transpositions, Rosicrucian allegories, mental telepathy, and physiognomy, not only gave him skills in code-making but in deciphering the inner thoughts of Hanoverian agents and spies at the French court.

Interestingly, Swedenborg’s major source for these techniques came from the discoveries of an earlier Scot, John Marr, a brilliant mathematician at the courts of James VI and I and Charles I. While reading Robert Hookes works, Swedenborg learned that Marr was intrigued by the angelic conversations recorded by John Dee, Queen Elizabeths chief intelligencer and a reputed Rosicrucian. When Dee died in 1509, Marr rushed to his house and investigated his papers, which Hooke later examined and presented his findings in a lecture to the Royal Society. Praising Marr as “an excellent mathematician and geometrician” and loyal servant to the Stuart kings, Hooke revealed Marrs decipherment of the Dees angelic conversations, which concealed real political figures and plots. While it was “primarily a magical system,” its Kabbalistical code enabled a person “to set out a secret message in what purported to be a confrontation between himself and spiritual creatures.”

While Swedenborg acted publicly as a student of the natural sciences, he acted clandestinely as a student of the political and diplomatic plotting involved in the Swedish-Jacobite plot. In his Camena Borea (1715), an allegorical poem that he began writing in Paris, he quoted a motto from John Dees Monas Hieroglyphica, which was repeated in various editions of the Rosicrucian manifestoes. This evidently functioned as signal to initiated readers that the mythological allegory to follow dealt with real political and military figures. Though he hinted that he chose this form so that “the hidden messages would be difficult to decipher,” he became almost too explicit in one fable, in which he compared himself to a seer who is converted into a little dog, who nips playfully at the feet of the court ladies, who “did not know that it could report their talk and their secret actions to its Master” and even nip at the “feet of Heroes and Military commanders,” so that it could “catch as closely as possible what they said between them.” In the poem he hinted further at his practice of physiognomy, which he called “the representation of the mind in the face”; at the same time, he included in his scientific writing “a method of conjecturing the wills and affections of mens minds by analysis.”

After the crushing of the Jacobite rebellion in 1716 and the exposure of the Swedish-Jacobite plot in 1717, Scottish agents in Sweden still believed that Carl XII would succeed in restoring James III. Thus, they were devastated when the great warrior king was killed (“by a dubious hand”) in 1718 in Norway, from where he had planned to launch his invasion of Scotland. The circumstances of his death provoked a host of conspiracy theories, especially when reports leaked out that General Carl Cronstedt had predicted it by a combination of geomancy and second sight. The arrest and execution of Görtz and the subsequent persecution of the kings loyal partisans, soon known as the Carolinians, allegedly led to the suppression of the Masonic military lodges within the Swedish army.

Though there is no evidence of Freemasonry in Sweden in the 1720s, by the 1730s the Jacobites were able to initiate sympathetic Swedes into their Éccosais lodges in France. Under the successive Grand Masterships of Sir Hector Maclean and Charles Radcliffe (later 5th Earl of Derwentwater, who initiated the Swedish diplomat Carl Scheffer), the Jacobites helped Tessin, Gyllenborg, and their partisans to establish in Sweden politically-active lodges that were infused with Chevalier Ramsays mystical and chivalric themes. Moreover, Ramsays report that General Monk utilized Scottish Masonry to effect the first Restoration encouraged the Swedes to believe that they could utilize Écossais Masonry to overthrow the pro-Hanoverian regime in Sweden and help the Jacobites achieve a second Restoration.

Once again, the Swedish Jacobites employed Swedenborg to undertake his peculiar style of esoteric intelligence gathering. Over the past years, Swedenborg had investigated the structure and chemistry of the brain, and he concluded that it produced auras or waves of magnetism that carried thought rhythyms, which could be deciphered by someone with more powerful cerebral auras. In his treatise “On Tremulation,” he wrote that a person can fall into the thought of another person and perceive what another is doing and thinking—”that is, that his membrane trembles from the other persons cerebral membranes.” Decades later, Swedenborgs admirers would claim that he thus discovered the principles of mesmerism or animal magnetism. Swedenborg was also fascinated by the capacity of a Scottish-descended friend, Adam Leijel, to achieve clairvoyant states. Working together as engineers and metallurgists at the Swedish Board of Mines, the two apparently experimented with trance induction. Swedenborg wrote that Leijel “was able, in the life of the body, to throw himself into a kind of ecstatic state,” in which he saw heaven and obtained visions of future events. His scientific conclusion that different cognitive and visualization capacities were located in specific brain locales, which could be deliberately activated, is still considered a major scientific breakthrough by todays neurologists.

In 1744, as Swedish-Jacobite plotting accelerated, Swedenborg experimented with Kabbalistic meditation techniques, in which he regulated his breathing and heart-beat until he reached a state of visionary trance. In the process, he made a psychic breakthrough in which he believed that he communicated with spirits and angels, who revealed to him the true motives and false deceptions of many political figures involved in current intrigues. He kept a strange journal of his dreams, in which he recorded in a spiritual code—much like John Dees—his fears and hopes for the upcoming invasion project. In May 1744, while residing in Holland, he was initiated by Jacobite and Scottish agents into the higher Masonic degrees, which he called “a mystical series” and which were reserved for participants in the most secret projects. He recorded the mysterious ceremony, in which he was blindfolded, wrapped in a shroud, plunged into darkness and then into light, finally welcomed with an embrace, and declared to be an “honest Jacobite.” He also recorded his dangerous work to construct a sort of Trojan horse, which could bring in soldiers and weapons to capture the city. At this time, Tessin, Scheffer, and the Swedish Masons were indeed arranging the shipments of Swedish soldiers and cannons from Holland to Scotland.

Swedenborg then moved to London, where he lived in virtual incognito and continued to record his experiences in his dream code. He feared that his papers had been meddled with and that he was vulnerable to arrest. But, anyone who read his diary would think him a harmless enthusiast (like John Dee) or deranged “nutter.” In June 1745, as the Swedes prepared to support Prince Charles Edward Stuarts projected invasion of Scotland, Swedenborg wrote an emotional, messianic treatise, in which he echoed Ramsays millenarian Masonic themes and employed the kind of Scriptural quotations used in current Jacobite codes. Thus, “Jova hath called me . . . a servant, to bring to him the Jacobites”; “he hath redeemed the Jacobite, and will deliver him from prison . . . I will gather thee from the west and east. I will command the north, that it give up.” At this time, the Swedes were greatly concerned about the arrest of Sir Hector Maclean, the former

Écossais Grand Master, who was privy to their invasion plans, and who was transferred from Edinburgh to the Tower in London. Swedenborg then made provocative references to the arrival of the prince and the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. The splendor of Jova “came into the Temple by way of the gate looking to the east—he showed the place of the throne . . . the prince he shall settle in the sanctuary.—The northern gate”; and afterward, “returning from the places of exile, they shall build up Jerusalem gloriously; and therein shall be built a temple, a splendid structure that shall endure for everlasting ages.” In July 1745 Swedenborg sensed that he was “on thin ice” in London, and he suddenly left for Sweden, just weeks before the Stuart prince arrived in Scotland in August.

As the Jacobite rebels surprisingly defeated the government’s forces, propagandists on both sides published prophecies made by second-sighted Scots. Most popular was The Chronicle of Charles, the Young Man (1745), attributed to the Earl of Kilmarnock, former Jacobite Grand Master, who claimed that the prophecies of John the Scribe were being fulfilled by Charles Edward. The Hanoverians countered with The Young Pretender’s Destiny Unfolded (1745), featuring the visions of John Ferguson, a Highland seer, who forecast the beheading of the defeated prince and the executions of his followers. The government believed that this publication “disheartened” many of “the Vulgar,” and “hindered them from joining that mad Enterprize.” By September, when Charles Edward and his Highlanders triumphantly entered Edinburgh, one of Swedenborg’s visions took on a peculiar resonance, and it sheds new light on a controversial tradition, which was long believed by Swedish Freemasons. The sources of the tradition were Swedish soldiers, who marched with Prince Charles until the terrible defeat at Culloden in April 1746, and Scottish soldiers who subsequently fled to Sweden.

In a letter sent from Edinburgh on 30 September 1745, the Duke of Perth wrote to Lord Ogilvie about a secret ceremony in Holyrood Palace:

It is truly a proud thing to see our Prince again in the Palace of his Fathers, with all the best blood of Scotland around him. He is much beloved of all souls, and we cannot fail to make pestilent England smoke for it . . . on Tuesday, by appointment, there was a solemn Chapter of the ancient chivalry of the Temple of Jerusalem, held in the audience room—not more than ten Knights were present, for since my Lord of Mar demitted the Office of Grand Master, no general meeting has been called, save in your North Convent. Our noble Prince looked most gallantly in the white robe of the Order, and took the profession like a worthy knight; and. . .did vow that he would restore the Temple higher than in the days of William the Lyon. Then my Lord Athol did demitt as Regent, and his Rl Highness was elected G Master. I wrote you this knowing how you love the Order . . .

In 1722 Lord Mar had indeed established in Scotland “a new military order of knighthood,” which was called “the restoration order.” With the approval of James VIII and III, the Order aimed to restore to Scotland “its ancient military spirit” and to reward “the chiefs of the clans” who “act heartily in our service.” As a close friend and collaborator of Chevalier Ramsay, Mar may have infused Masonic elements into this order. After Mars death in 1732, the Grand Masters Maclean and Derwentwater tried to transform their Masonic lodges into an order of chivalry. By 1738 hostile stories appeared in the popular press accusing these “new knights” of attempting to revive the Knights Templar and employing magical and heretical rites to enhance their powers.

Though the authenticity of Perths letter to Ogilvie has been disputed by anti-Jacobite Masonic writers, the story was evidently carried to Sweden by Magnus Wilhelm Armfelt, a veteran of Culloden, who returned to his Swedish regiment, and by Lord Ogilvie, who fled to Gothenburg, where he was welcomed by the Swedish Masons who also tried to send a rescue mission for “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” When he arrived in France, Ogilvie’s new regiment, composed of Scottish exiles and visiting Swedes, practiced special Stuart Masonic rites, which were also carried to Sweden. That Charles Edward did indeed serve as the titular head of the Royal Order of Écossais Masonry, in collaboration with the Duke of Clermont, Grand Master of France, is documented in French and English correspondence in the 1760s and 70s. But nowhere was the belief in his Grand Mastership stronger than in Sweden.

In the 1770s, King Gustaf III and his brothers, the Dukes of Soudermania and of Ostrogothia, who had been moulded as royalist Masons by Carl Gustaf Tessin and the Grand Master Carl Scheffer, corresponded with Charles Edward, and they affirmed his role as Chief of the Templar Order. In 1776 Ostrogothia visited the prince in Italy and received from him a patent naming the Swedish duke “his Vicar in all the Lodges of the North.” When the American rebels declared Independence from Britain, Gustaf III and Charles Edward greatly admired them, and the English government panicked at reports that the Stuart prince planned to travel to America to support them. There is evidence that he received letters from American patriots asking him to become titular head of the new country while they worked out a new constitution. Many Jacobite Masons believed this was a chance for a re-run of the 1745 rebellion, and Charles Edward studied the 16th-century prophecies of Nostradamus which seemed relevant to his role, along with the Swedish king, in overturning Hanoverian rule in Britain and her colonies.

Impressed by the American victory over the British king, George III, Gustaf III travelled to Florence in 1783, accompanied by Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, son of the Swedish soldier who marched with the prince in 1745-46. Armfelt recorded his admiration for the elderly prince, who reminisced about the heroism and loyalty of his Highland soldiers, which Gustaf III hoped to infuse into his own military. During the long hours they spent with Charles Edward, the Swedes evidently discussed the prince’s role in the Masonic ceremony performed (allegedly) in the sanctuary of Holyrood Palace. According to Gustafs secretary Schröderheim, the Swedish king’s main aim was “the re-establishment of the sanctuary,” and “he worked on mysteries with the Pretender in order to raise the Temple of Jerusalem.” Prince Charles was flattered by Gustafs reverent attitude towards him, and he gave the Swedish king a certificate naming him current co-adjutor and then successor to the Grand Mastership of the Masonic Order of the Temple in the event of his death. The document was signed with the prince’s Masonic sigil and a Templar cross.

Horace Mann, the long-time British ambassador in Florence, privately mocked the “Duke of Vandalmania” (Ostrogothia) and his older brother Gustaf III, and he was puzzled by their Masonic transactions. He had learned about them from a suborned French participant in the Swedish entourage, and he described them in a letter to his colleague John Udny, consul in Leghorn:

His Swedish Majesty . . . has taken other steps, which though they may appear ludicrous, are not less certain. It is supposed that when the Order of the Templars was suppressed and Individuals persecuted, some of them secreted themselves in the High Lands of Scotland and that from them, either arose, or that they united themselves to the Society of Free Masons, of which the Kings of Scotland were supposed to be Hereditary Grand Masters. From this Principle the present Pretender has let himself be persuaded that the Grand Mastership devolved to him, in which quality, in the year 1776, He granted a Patent to the Duke of Osgtrogothica (who was then here) by which he appointed him his Vicar of all the Lodges in the North . . . the King of Sweden during his stay obtained a Patent from the Pretender in due form by which he has appointed his Swedish Majesty his Coadjutor and Successor to the Grand Mastership of the Lodges in the North, on obtaining which . . . the King expressed his greatest joy.

Mann went on to describe Gustaf III’s plan to solicit funds from the lodges of Templar Masons to support their Stuart Grand Master, and he noted the continuing efforts of the Duke of Brunswick and rival German Masons to get information and legitimation from the prince. However, for a 43-year diplomatic resident of Florence, a former member of the English-Whig lodge in the city, and the employer of many anti-Jacobite spies, Mann revealed an astonishing ignorance about developments in Ḗcossais Masonry. In concluding his report to Udny, he wrote:

I must own that I never thought that the Society of Freemasons was looked upon in Germany to be of such importance, as to excite the ambition of two such Princes to be at the head of them, and more especially in virtue of a Substitution void of the least power in the person who grants it, nor should I have given credit to it had I not had the best authority for every circumstance of what is herein related.

It seems that the intense secrecy, oral communication network, and almost indecipherable codes maintained by the Jacobites and their Swedish successors had been so successful that this master intelligencer for successive British secretaries of state had the Masonic wool (and apron) pulled over his eyes.

When the no longer “bonnie” Prince Charlie passed away in 1788, Mann had been dead for two years, so he was no longer able to report on the “ludicrous” consummation of the Swedish Jacobites’ long-held Masonic dream. Gustaf sent a royal messenger to Florence to collect the Grand Master’s patent from Charles Edward’s natural daughter Charlotte. He also hoped to arrange a marriage between her and the Duke of Ostrogothia, but her death some months later thwarted his attempt to preserve the Stuart royal blood line. Despite the scoffing of English diplomats and later Whig historians, the Swedish king believed that by assuming the Grand Mastership of the Masonic Order of the Temple, he was fulfilling an “antient” Scottish-Swedish tradition. And, as new documents emerge from international diplomatic, royal, and Masonic archives, we face a surprising possibility—he may have been right.

Gustaf III and his brother, Duke Carl of Soudermania, utilized Ḗcossais Freemasonry as an instrument of state and diplomatic strategy, while they spread the Swedish Rite into the enemy territories of Russia, Prussia, and even the British Isles. Both men studied and practiced the esoteric themes and rituals of Stuart-style Masonry, which they believed enhanced their political and military power. Prophets who claimed to possess second sight and spirit-communication often attended sessions at court and in the senate. A secret Masonic sanctuary (like that of Holyrood?) was established in the royal palace, and Soudermania (as acting Grand Master) wore a satin robe elaborately embroidered with the Sephirotic Tree of the Kabbala. One initiate recorded: “In a small circle of brethren that gathered around the king and duke, more noble objects of our works occurred. They embraced religion, communion with the underworld, with spirits, politics, morals, and alchemy.” A hostile critic complained that “Freemasonry became the surest way to good luck and success. It was holier than religion; they now discussed the visions of Swedenborg; in the Masonic lodges there was a Highest Priest and ceremonies at the Altar.”

As the Swedish royals strengthened the role of Ḗcossais Masonry at home and abroad, several important courtiers travelled from Stockholm to Avignon, where they underwent the grueling initiation rituals of the Illuminés, an eclectic group of Scottish exiles, Polish nationalists, Russian theosophers, and English Swedenborgians who joined millenarian Frenchmen in a collective effort at spiritual world revolution. The initiates received the prophecies of a Kabbalistic oracle, expressed in combinations of Hebrew letters and numbers, which revealed sweeping changes to the world order. Over the next decades, many of these former devotees of Jacobite Masonry became Jacobin radicals, as revolutionary brotherhoods of United Scotsmen, United Irishmen, United Englishmen, and Swedenborgian universalists utilized “antient” Scottish- Masonic techniques and networks in their attempts to overturn repressive regimes and rebuild the Solomonic Temple in an egalitarian New Jerusalem.