[Grand Lodge]
[Calendar] [Search] [Resources] [History] [Links] [Sitemap]


Fringe Freemasonry in England 1870-85

At the conclusion of the Paper, a hearty Vote of Thanks was accorded to Bro. Ellic Howe on the proposition of Bro. S. Vatcher, W.M., seconded by Bro. C. N. Batham, S.W. Comments were also offered by Bros. R. A. Wells and A.C.F. Jackson. The Vote of Thanks was carried by acclamation. A number of comments received subsequently are all reproduced below.

The W.M., Bro. Dr. S. Vatcher, said:

I rise to propose a well-deserved vote of thanks to Bro. Ellic Howe for his very original paper.

I expect all of you, like myself, were very intrigued to learn of the extra-curricular activities of Bro. Little, the clerk in the Grand Secretary’s office, in the promotion of occult side-degrees. Autres temps, autres moeurs!

We know, of course, that in the early days of the premier Grand Lodge, in the 18th century, if the numbers of Fellows of the Royal Society is any criterion, the study of science had been very popular among members of the Craft; and in those days science would have included Alchemy. But I think I am right in suggesting that the phrase in the ritual: 'The hidden mysteries of Nature and Science' made its first appearance in the 19th century, after the Union.

It is true that Prichard, in Masonry Dissected, 1730, had referred to:

'By Letters Four and Science Five
This G aright doth stand. . .'
but here a footnote makes it clear that the Science referred to was Geometry.

Preston, in his ’second Lecture' (see the late Bro. James’s paper, AQC Vol. 83, P. 203) dated c. 1812, gives the following:

Q. 'What are the principal objects of research in this degree?'
A. 'The study of the liberal arts and sciences'
but it seems to have been somewhat later that, for the first time, 'the hidden mysteries' (? the occult sciences) were mentioned.

Brethren, my resolution is before you and I will ask Bro. S.W. to second.

Bro. C. N. Batham, S.W., said:

I rise to second the Vote of Thanks that you, Worshipful Master, have just proposed to Bro. Ellic Howe. As a member of seventeen Masonic Orders, perhaps I may be looked upon as an authority on 'Fringe' Masonry, but let me deny that at once and say that almost all the information given in this paper is entirely new to me and I must emphasise, also, that I am not a member of any Order that has been condemned by Grand Lodge.

I am especially interested in Bro. Howe’s comments on the Rites of Memphis and Misraim. As far as the former is concerned, he says that it was a rite of 95 degrees and then mentions that Marconis, the Grand Hierophant was of the 96th degree. To avoid any confusion perhaps it should be made clear that there was a 96th degree reserved for the holder of this office and, in fact, according to some writers, there were 96 degrees plus a 97th so reserved.

When the Grand Orient of France placed the higher decrees of the Memphis Order on 'a conveniently high shelf', some lodges certainly continued to work the first three degrees, but they soon changed to one of the regular French Craft rituals and, although one sometimes hears it said that these Memphis degrees are being worked today, I have never succeeded in tracing a lodge that uses them.

The rite seems to have had somewhat greater success in the New World. It was very popular in Canada for a time and spread from there to Australia and New Zealand. In the United States it came under the control of a certain Harry J. Seymour, who was expelled from the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in 1865. He is said to have reduced it from 97 to 33 degrees with a view to making it a rival of the Rite that had excluded him. It was after this that it was reintroduced into England under John Yarker, but whether as 97 or 33 degrees I have not enquired. Perhaps Bro. Howe can enlighten me.

The Ancient and Accepted Rite was also involved indirectly with the Rite of Misraim, for it is said that its inventor, a Frenchaman [sic] named Lechangeur, had been refused admission into the former rite and compiled the latter as a rival to it. There are, in fact, definite borrowings not only from the Ancient and Accepted Rite but also from the Martinist, Hermetic and Royal Order of Scotland rituals. As indicated by Bro. Howe, it had only a limited success in England, though some writers contend that, for a time, it achieved rather more in Ireland.

I have not looked through the 96 Memphis degrees, nor the 90 Misraim degrees, nor have I any intention of so doing, but I have read the first three degrees of each rite. To an English Mason, accustomed to his Emulation, Taylor’s or whatever ritual it may be, they would seem strange, but they are very similar to certain Continental Craft rituals in use today and undoubtedly candidates were being initiated into Masonry and put through the three Craft degrees. I am surprised, therefore, that Grand Lodge did not outlaw these rites immediately and prohibit members of their staff from having any connection with them, even if the three degrees were not being worked here.

As far as the Swedenborgian Rite is concerned, it is refreshing to find a rite that was not invented by a Frenchman. Certainly it has been contended by some that it originated in France in 1783 as an offspring of the Illuminati of Avignon but this is unlikely and it seems certain that it was founded in America by members of the so-called 'higher' degrees, who were also members of the Swedenborg New Church.

From New York it spread to Canada, as Bro. Howe states, but I thought that from there it spread first to Bristol and then to Manchester. The warrants of these two Lodges bear the same date, I understand, but it was the Bristol Lodge that bore the name Emanuel and was subsequently given No. 1, whereas the Manchester Lodge bore the name Egyptian and was riven No. 2. This seems to indicate that Bristol was accorded priority. The point is not an important one, however, as after a brief initial success, when some dozen lodges were constituted, the rite disappeared from these islands.

With these few comments, I join you, Worshipful Master, in your appreciation of the amount of work undertaken by Bro. Howe in preparing this paper and more formally, in seconding the vote of thanks to him that you have proposed.

Bro. Roy Wells said:

Bro. Ellic Howe states that his paper deals with an obscure area which nobody else has hitherto wanted to describe, on which I must comment that it would be difficult indeed to find a Brother equally qualified for such a task. He is an acknowledged expert in this field, as his several writings confirm, and I am delighted that he has, once again, demonstrated his competence as an historian. He has used the term 'Fringe Masonry' for the want of a better alternative but what other title could be employed?

I found the paper extremely interesting, not only because of the breezy style he uses but mainly because of the connection some of those he mentions in the paper had with this Lodge in particular. He has shown us how fascinated with 'manufactured' or 'revived' extra degrees those Brethren were and how far away from the 'authentic school' they had strayed.

On this point the Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, who was one of the nine Founders of this Lodge, and who was himself described as 'a thorough-going professed Hermeticist', said of John Yarker: 1

'Bro. Yarker has identified himself with the "Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry" and so we are unable to follow him in such unknown paths; but when he was loyal to the degrees as generally worked in this country, we perused many of his communications with much interest and profit.'
Yarker joined the Correspondence Circle in May 1887 and was No. 77 on the list: he died in 1913. In the obituary notice it was said of him that 'his first contribution to Masonic literature was an article on "Military Masons" in the Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror in 1858'. It is obvious that he pursued his researches well into the hidden mysteries after that.

F.G.Irwin was not a Founder (even though Dr. Wynn Westcott said he was) but was elected to full membership of the Lodge at its second meeting on 7 April 1886 together with five other Brethren; it so happened that only one of the six was present. Westcott said of him:

'he was for many years a well-known figure among West of England Masons, and holder of high offices; he was a literary man to the core, and has left behind him a splendid collection of books upon Masonic and Hermetic subjects.'
Bro. R. F. Gould, the celebrated historian, also a Founder of this Lodge said of him:
'... there was scarcely a degree in existence, if within his range, that he did not become a member of. Indeed, he became late in life a diligent student of the French and German languages, in order that he might peruse the Masonic literature of each in the vernacular. He was also a collector of medals and an occasional writer on topics of interest to the Craft.'
So it seems that Irwin possessed a large Masonic library but wrote very little that had impressed those Brethren. Gould said that he left Gibraltar a few months after he, as W.M., and Irwin, as S.W., had revived the Inhabitants Lodge. They did not meet again until 1886, some twenty eight years later, in Q.C. Lodge.

Irwin, however, was known to another of the Founders of this Lodge, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Charles Warren, whom he accompanied in his expedition to South Africa in 1884; by then Irwin was Adjutant of the Second Battalion, Gloucestershire Engineers (Volunteers) from which he retired with the honorary rank of Major.

R.F. Gould proposed the toast to the W. Master when Dr. Westcott reached the chair of this Lodge and said that Westcott had:

’studied the Kabbalistic philosophy of the Hebrews - the teachings of the Hermetic writers and the works of the Alchymists and Rosicrucians' and that he had written 'two excellent Papers read to the Q.C. Lodge "Freemasonry Illuminated by the Kabbalah" and "The Mosaic Tabernacle".'
I was more than a little intrigued to learn that the words Sat B'hai signify ’seven Feathers'-an allusion to a sacred bird which always flies in groups of seven - and I could hardly refrain from the thought that 'Birds of a feather flock together' is an expression that well applies in this case. Bro. Ellic Howe has undoubtedly brought several flights of fancy to our notice in this Paper and I have much pleasure in supporting the Vote of Thanks to him for his work in this connection.

Bro. T.O. Haunch writes.

I should like to join with the other speakers in congratulating Bro. Ellic Howe on this most fascinating paper and on his skilful distillation of the essence of it for delivery in the Lodge. The paper makes extraordinary reading and it is a somewhat sobering experience for us in Quatuor Coronati Lodge today to be reminded of the often wayward and bizarre interests of some of our Founders and early members. And this is only part of the story; it is continued in Bro. Howe’s new book The Magicians of the Golden Dawn, the publication of which happens to coincide with this meeting. In its pages one finds familiar names again cropping up, notably, of course, that of one of our Past Masters, Dr. William Wynn Westcott, and that of a former Librarian of Grand Lodge, Dr. William Hammond.

If we pride ourselves to-day in Q.C. Lodge that we have our feet firmly planted on historical ground, it does seem that some of our predecessors may occasionally have reached into the clouds. No such charge can be levelled at the author of this paper, however. His non-involvement with his subject matter would be self-evident from the paper even if it had not been affirmed by him. The way he now and then steps back and takes an amused and whimsical look at the antics of the characters on his stage shows that he has preserved the historian’s detachment from the strange realms that he has been exploring.

The reference in his Preface to the last sentence of the second of the Articles of Union raises broader issues which some brother might feel inclined to follow up. Just what was it intended to mean? What it says? That is, that the additional degrees could be worked at meetings of Craft lodges or Royal Arch Chapters as the Antients had done. It certainly does not seem to imply that these additional degrees and orders could be worked in separately existing masonic units. Their position after the Union was anomalous and ill-defined. As our late Bro. P. R. James has reminded us (AQC 75, P. 53) the Duke of Sussex cornered the headship of all the major orders, perhaps so that he could quietly sit on them until matters had sorted themselves out. When he died in 1843 restraints were off. Brothers Crucefix, Oliver and Udall, for example, lost no time in setting up their Supreme Council 33 °, to be followed during the latter half of the last century by the establishment of governing bodies for other degrees and orders.

An interesting question that arises in my mind from Bro. Howe’s paper is, 'Does the sort of thing he deals with go in hundred year cycles?' The latter part of the 18th century was fertile in the raising of a number of additional degrees some of which, like the Royal Arch, the Knights Templar etc., were to become thoroughly respectable and established, whilst others withered and died - just as a century later the more absurd creations of the Little-Mackenzie-Irwin 'manufactory' did not survive but some, with a more traditional or pseudo-historical basis, lived on and still do. If then these manifestations do go in cycles it seems that we are just about due for another. Certainly if one looks around there is ample evidence of a great deal of interest today in what Bro. Howe so aptly calls 'Rejected Knowledge', As an indication of this one need look no farther, for instance, than the books advertised on the back of the dust-jackets of Bro. Howe’s own book on the Golden Dawn, or Bro. Alex Horne’s King Solomon’s Temple in the Masonic Tradition. On the whole, however, I think that the resurgence of interest in occultism and mysticism will pass Freemasonry by and produce no masonic 'drop-outs' or fringe whimsies. The cold wind of economics would be likely to nip any new growth in the bud!

Bro. G. S. Draffen writes:

I have found Bro. Ellic Howe’s paper quite fascinating. From what he has said and described the paper might well be entitled 'The Lunatic Fringe of Freemasonry'. It is clear that Bro. Howe has struck a lode that can be worked for quite a long time before we know all that took place in the curious mélange out of which eventually sprang the present Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees.

I must, however, dispute Bro. Howe’s date for the arrival of the Antient and Primitive Rite of Misraim in England as being 'late in 1870'. That may be correct as fir as England is concerned but the Rite was certainly in existence in Scotland as early as the 1840s. Bro. Howe should read R.S. Lindsay’s 'The Scottish Rite for Scotland' (Edinburgh, 1958) wherein he will find details of the Misraim Rite as it was known in Scotland just prior to the formation of the Supreme Council for Scotland of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in August 1846. One of those who hoped (but did not succeed) to become a Founder Member was Dr. George Arno Walker Arnot of Arlary. Something of a 'degree-collector', Dr. Arnot was certainly a member of the 77th degree in 1842. These he received from one Alexander Deuchar on 23 November 1842. In a letter to A. J. Stewart, Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council he states that he received 'the remaining degrees of the Rite shortly after'. I think we have to dig much deeper to find out when the Rite of Misraim first arrived in Britain and under whose auspices.

The Swedenborgian Rite. Some years ago I began to write a possible paper for the Lodge on the subject of ’scottish Masonic Journals' and for this purpose I opened a file to collect data. On referring to that file I find a slip of paper under the entry for the Scottish Freemason of 1879, which gives a list of Lodges of this Rite as:

3St. John’sBaildon, Shipley, Yorks.
4SwedenborgHavant, Hants.
7CagliostroKeynsham, Somerset

This little slip goes on to state that the '69th degree of Hieroglyphic Master was conferred on V. J. Young on 26th April 1878'. Just where this took place is not stated. Nor do I have a copy of the relevant issue of the journal from which I took the note.

Yarker: something of a masonic mountebank, I fancy. Still he’s a personage who could, with advantage, be investigated more thoroughly than has been done as yet. Probably his reputation, as Bro. Howe suggests, has put off research into his activities and the same applies to Mathew McBlain Thomson - one of Irwin’s correspondents. Mathew McBlain Thomson finished his Masonic career by serving a sentence in the Federal Prison at Fort Leveanworth[sic] in the United States for selling Masonic degrees. A full account of his career will be found in Isaac Blair Evans, The Thomson Masonic Fraud, Salt Lake City, Privately Printed, 1922.

Thomson’s predilection for spurious masonry can be illustrated by an extract from the Scottish Freemason for August 1894 - Of which Thomson was the editor - in which is listed a 'Directory of High Grades'. Among those listed is 'The Royal Masonic Rite which is stated to include: The Ancient and Primitive Oriental and Egyptian Reformed Rites, 4th to 33rd Degree inclusive; Rite of Mizriam [sic] 4th to 90th Degree; the Supreme Rite of Memphis and the Egyptian Masonic Memphis, 4th to 96th Degree inclusive: the Oriental Order of Sat B'hai introduced into Scotland under Charter from the Sovereign Sanctuary of America.' The M.I.G.M. (presumably standing for Most Imperial Grand Master) is said to be a Lt-Colonel John Crombie. Three Sanctuaries are shown (1) The Sanctuary Chapter, Senate and Council (movable), (2) Oriental Chapter, Senate and Council in Aberdeen, (3) Scotia Chapter, Senate and Dundee. It is very doubtful if any of these bodies were anything else than a figment of Thomson’s imagination which seems to have rivalled Mackenzie’s.

Bro. Brig. A.C.F. Jackson said:

This very interesting paper only touches on 'fringe' Masonry' in England and so deals with the arrival of the Rite of Misraim about 1870. This is not the first time, however, that this Rite got to the United Kingdom, as it appeared in Scotland much earlier. On 4 June 1845 there was a meeting of a body styling itself the ’supreme Grand Council of Rites' in Scotland under the leadership of a Dr. George Walker Arnott. He had already introduced the primitive Scottish Rite of Nemours, with its 33 degrees, and in that year, according to the Freemasons Quarterly Review (Vol. XII, P. 349) he also introduced the Order of Misraim, of 91 degrees, as well as the Ancient and Accepted Rite, Of 33 degrees - quite a formidable total. In due course, all but the last Rite disappeared and Arnott’s Council seems to have developed into the Supreme Council in Scotland.

Founders or inventors of 'fringe' degrees so often get their facts of history wrong. The Golden Dawn is a typical example of this. The quoted description by Dr. W. Wynn Westcott, that the members of this Order were ’students of the curious and mystical lore, remaining still for investigation, as to the work and philosophy of the old Rosicrucians, Alchemists and Mystics of past ages' is a hotch potch of dissimilar bodies. Rosicrucianism, deriving from the story of the life of Christian Rosenkreutz in the Fama Fraternitatis may be history, traditional legend, or a hoax by a Lutheran Pastor. Whichever it is, is immaterial, but the story is that of a small body of men of irreproachable piety whose life work was to heal the sick. To connect genuine Rosicrucianism with Hermeticism or Alchemy is merely to continue a 17th century distortion which has always been attributed to Rosicrucianism by its detractors. It is a pity that a man of Dr. Wynn Westcott’s erudition should have formed a fringe Order that continued such a myth.

A curious incursion into 'fringe degrees' took place in Jersey in the early 1860s. As it continued into the period covered by the paper, its story is worth recounting to complete the picture.

It was due to the same type of French radical republican whom the speaker mentioned in connection with the Rite of Memphis. However, in this case, most of the Frenchmen played a comparatively passive part. Refugees arrived in Jersey from France, after the coup d'étät of 1851 when Louis Napoleon seized power. Many were distinguished and some were already Freemasons. The best known was Victor Hugo, but there were others, then of almost equal importance. They visited the Jersey Lodges but a number, in addition to their advanced radical views, were atheistically inclined. There could therefore be few initiations of non-Masons among the refugees.

To provide such facilities, a movement started in the Jersey French-speaking Lodge, La Césarée. The leader was a colourful character, Philip Baudains. An Advocate of the Royal Court, he was also a popular Constable (that is Mayor) of St. Helier for many years. He was an experienced Mason, having been Vénérable (or Master) of La Césarée. in 1860 and 1861. He realised that was no chance of getting a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England for a Lodge that did not intend to open on the V.S.L., so he applied to the Supreme Conseil de France pour le Rite Ecossais. A Warrant was readily and quite irresponsibly granted, for a Lodge to be called Les Amis de L'Avenir.

It may be remembered that, at this time, this Supreme Council was not recognised by Grand Lodge though the far larger and rival Grand Orient was. To add fuel to a fire that was already starting to smoulder, the founders of the new lodge invited the Provincial Grand Master and other leading Brethren of Jersey to assist at the consecration. The P.G.M. promptly suspended the founders and forbade English Masons in Jersey to visit the Lodge.

The result was an appeal to Grand Lodge, which was lost after a spirited speech by Bro. Baudains who tried to declare a sort of Masonic U.D.I. 2 for Jersey. Having pointed out that there was already an Irish Lodge in Jersey, he said 'That the Island of Jersey is considered by Acts of Parliament as a foreign port ... being the last remnant of the ancient Duchy of Normandy and, as such, the Supreme Conseil de France was at liberty to found the said Lodge ... and further that the issuing of the Warrant for the above reasons is not, nor can be exclusively exercised by the Grand Lodge of England.'

Grand Lodge, so recently bothered by the Rite of Misraim, as described in the paper, would have none of this; and the appeal was dismissed by an unanimous vote.

This Lodge of the Ancient and Accepted Rite continued under the leadership of Baudains. Unfortunately, we do not know what ritual he used. He, and a number of his co-rebels, joined the local Irish Lodge and he became its Master in 1869. It seems likely too that the orders about visiting were as effective to the normal Jersey Mason as were those issued about a century earlier forbidding Moderns to visit Antient Lodges, and vice versa. In due course, there was an indignant letter by the Grand Secretary to all Jersey Lodges, but this was in 1873 by which time most of the refugees had returned to France and the Lodge had fulfilled its purpose.

Gradually, the rebels returned to the fold, Baudains not until 1888. It shows something of his position and character that he, once more, became Vénérable of La Césarée. and Senior Grand Warden of the Province. His statue still stands in the gardens in the centre of St. Helier.

Bro. A.J.B. Milborne writes:

Although 'fringe' Masonry is outside my immediate interests, I have read Bro. Howe’s paper with much enjoyment, particularly the informative footnotes concerning early members of the Lodge. I have often wondered how such a diverse group of men was brought together. The late Bro. Meekren learned some of the early Lodge gossip from Bros. Songhurst and Wonnacott when he was in England in 1920, and I wish that more was known about the personalities of the early members, the informal meetings held by them, and what went on behind the scenes. For example, there must have been some skirmishing before the battle of the degrees was fought in the Lodge.

Dr. Wynn Westcott was a member of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 329, Yeovil, from 1873 to 1880, and my mother told me that my father, who was the Master in 1876, often visited Lodges in the neighbourhood in his company.

A Sovereign Sanctuary of the Rite of Memphis was established in London, Canada, in 1882 under a Warrant issued by John Yarker. Bro. R. Ramsay was the Grand Master. Dr. Oronhyatekha is described as Past Grand Master in the first printed proceedings of the Rite, a copy of which is in my possession. Another active member was George Canning Langley, whose activities in this and many other 'fringe' bodies is the subject of a paper published by the Canadian Masonic Research Association (No. 54).

In his address to the Sovereign Sanctuary, the Grand Master stated that the Oriental Order of Apex or Sat B'hai was also established in Canada, and also the Swedenborgian Rite. The Grand Master of the latter body was Col. W.J.B. MacLeod Moore, Great Prior of the Knights Templar in Canada, and an active member of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galere?

Bro. Rudyard Kipling mentions in Something of Myself that Madam Blavatsky was known to his father, 'and with her would discuss secular subjects: she being, he told me, one of the most interesting and unscrupulous impostors he had ever met. This, with his experience, was a high compliment.'

Bro. J. R. Clarke writes:

I find it difficult to accept the assertion by Christopher Cooke that K.R.H. Mackenzie was born in 1833. It is true that it receives some support from the 1851 census, but whence was that information derived since no baptismal record can be found? Possibly from Mackenzie himself, who may have decided on this date for his own reasons when he had returned to England. Others of his statements are known to be unreliable, e.g. about his Ph.D. and LL.D.

The date does not accord with other statements, such as those in Notes and Quotes, that by the time he was to be presumed to be seventeen he had established in several countries stations for the search of MSS., and that he had found hitherto unpublished poems in the British Museum. It is also very difficult to reconcile it with the wide range of his travels in early life, which are stated in the paper and which find confirmation in his communication to the Society of Antiquaries, for instance in the exhibition by him in 1854 of 'a Byzantine crystal vase purchased by him at Constantinople'. Further, if his mother were only aged about 20 in 1833 she would be little more than sixty when she was living with him as his 'aged mother' in the 1870s: was sixty really 'aged' one hundred years ago?

On the assumption that the date might be correct I thought it reasonable to expect that such an erudite prodigy would have received notice in such non-masonic publications as the Dictionary of National Biography and the Gentleman’s Magazine, but this is not so. I cannot find anything to confirm (or question or extend) the biographical particulars given in the paper, except in respect of his communications to the Society of Antiquaries. It is indeed difficult to sort out truth from fallacy in his account of himself. Nevertheless I would certainly not accuse anyone, especially a dead man, of 'a bare-faced lie', unless I were very sure of the facts. Is there any good evidence that when he wrote about the Rosicrucian degrees in 1877? Mackenzie had seen the work of 'Magister Pianco', published ninety-six years earlier. It is not exceptional for a research worker to publish something which he believes to be original only to find that he has been anticipated. Even the devil should be given his due. Mackenzie himself was much more courteous in 1862 when he commented in the Journal of the Society of Antiquaries on a contribution in that Journal in 1861 by a Dr. Forbes, which was similar to one he had himself made to the Illustrated London News of 1860.

There are two other points which it is perhaps worth mentioning. Mackenzie’s father was living in Paris in 1861 when the visit to EIiphas Lévi was made: and his removal from the Society of Antiquaries and his withdrawal from the Anthropological Society may have been caused by pecuniary difficulties consequent on the death of his father, which also resulted in his 'aged mother' going to live with him. There is no evidence that he followed any profession and the income from his publications would not keep him, and it is to be observed that after the departure of his father for Paris in 1858 his address was the same as that of his uncle in 1859, 1864 and 1870.

Bro. Will Read writes:

Bro. Howe attributes the 'invention' of the Order of Light to a Maurice Vidal Portman (1882) and says that in or about 1890 Portman handed the rite to Yarker who amalgamated some of its ritual with the Sat B'hai’s Perfection Grade. He states that:

Ultimately the Order of Light travelled across the Pennine hills to Bradford where it was gratefully received by certain members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Angelia. According to Westcott the rite was revived at Bradford by the Rosicrucian Adepts, Dr. J.B. Edwards and T.H. Pattinson, with Dr. Wynn Westcott as Chief of the Council of Instruction.'
This implies that the Order came to Bradford via Yarker.

Through the good offices of friends who are members of the August Order Light, I am able to say that the Order, as now practiced, was in fact founded ion Bradford, but their records make no mention of Yarker as an intermediary. They show that T.H. Pattinson and Dr. B.E. Edwards [not J. B. Edwards] were 'chosen' by Portman to revise the ritual and to establish the Order.

The Foundation Ceremony was held on 9 January 1902 in rooms in The King’s Arcade in the Market Street area of Bradford. This Arcade was demolished about 1939/40 when the Order acquired its own premise in Godwin Street, Bradford.

There were eighteen Founders, the first three being T. H. Pattinson, Dr. B.E. Edwards and Dr. Wynn Westcott, the then Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A.. Pattinson and Edwards were also members of that society, as, presumably, were the other fifteen. I understand however, that according to the records, at no time has membership of the S.R.I.A. been a pre-requisite to admission to the August Order of Light, but that to be a MM in good-standing has always an essential qualification.

The members who have given me this information tell me that there has been a resurgence of interest in the Order, particularly since it moved its place of meeting in 1971 from Bradford to York, and that the second Temple of Garuda was dedicated in London in September 1972.

As to the beliefs and practices of the Order, its members study the ancient mystic religions and cultures of the Orient - the oriental ideas of Theology and Cosmogony - and for this purpose hold special meetings at the Spring and Autunm Equinoxes. In its literature, a particular point is made that the August Order of Light is not to be confused with the Order called the ’sat B'hai' which, as Bro. Ellic Howe tells us, also held meetings at the Equinoxes.

In one of his footnotes, Bro. Howe, in referring to R. W. Little, says that the latter edited the earlier numbers of The Freemason but Bro. Howe did not know when he relinquished the editorship. Little certainly ceased his editorial work for The Freemason by 1873, for in that year Bro. Rev. A.F.A. Woodford was appointed Editor, an appointment which he held until 1885.

Bro. F. S. Cooper writes:

In associating myself with the congratulations to Bro. Ellic Howe on his most interesting and instructive paper, I would like to make a few comments on Bro. Francis George Irwin.

As he was initiated on 3 June 1857 in the Gibraltar Lodge, NO. 325, Irish Constitution, was installed as Senior Warden in the revived Inhabitants Lodge on 10 February following and became its Master in the following year, presumably in the [sic] February, he occupied the Master’s Chair twenty months from the date of his initiation.

William Williams was initiated in All Souls Lodge, Weymouth on 9 March 1810 and became the Master of that Lodge on 27 December 1811, twenty-one months later. He was appointed Provincial Grand Master for Dorsetshire on May 1812, twenty-six months after initiation.

William Tucker was initiated in the Unanimity and Sincerity Lodge, Taunton in September 1842, was appointed Senior Warden later in the same year and became the Master of the Lodge on the 28 December 1843, fifteen months later, as well as Founder Master of the Virtue and Honor Lodge, Axminster in the following year. He in turn became Provincial Grand Master for Dorsetshire on 21 August 1846, four years after his initiation.

William Williams however was Member of Parliament for Weymouth and belonged to a rich banking family who held estates in Dorset, where they had held positions of influence since 1471. William Tucker was a local magistrate and held an estate which had been in his family for over two hundred years. Taking into account the Victorian standards ofthe time, it is no mean achievement for a mere sergent of the Royal Sappers and Miners to have achieved the preferment of Master of his Lodge, twenty months after initiation.

Bro. Irwin received the rank of Major when he retired in 1884 as Adjutant of the 2 Bn. the Gloucestershire Engineers (Volunteers).

The first name in Appendix A, the list of Bro. Irwin’s correspondents, is that of Lt.-Col. William Alexander Adair of the Somerset Light Infantry Militia, Hetherton Park, Taunton. Lt.-Col. Adair was Provincial Grand Master for Somerset from 1864 until his resignation in 1869. In 1812 he was a Captain in the Somerset Regiment of Militia and on the outbreak of the Crimean War he volunteered for service and was commissioned in the Coldstream Guards in February, 1855. He was present at the Battle of Inkerman and the Siege of Sebastapol. He started a family tradition of service in the Guards which was to continue until the present day. His descendant, Major General Sir Allan Adair, our Deputy Grand Master, was commissioned 2nd. Lieut. in the Grenadiers and was later to command the 1st Guards Armoured Division in its dash through Nijmegen to Arnhem.

It would have been pleasant to have recorded that it was R.W. Bro. Adair who had appointed Bro. Irwin to the office of Pr.J.G.W. of Somerset. However he resigned from the office of Provincial Grand Master on 12 January 1869, nine months before Bro. Irwin’s appointment. However we can be sure that the honour was in token of the work carried out by Bro. Irwin during the Adair Mastership, and on the late Provincial Grand Master’s recommendation.

Bro. Alex Horne writes:

Bro. Ellic Howe’s paper on Fringe Masonry is by far the most exotic paper we have had the pleasure of seeing in our Transactions of late, and the author is especially to be commended on his unbelievably meticulous documentation. It introduces us to a literature and correspondence on the subject that is not often accessible to readers interested in Masonic esoterics.

Yarker’s Antient and Primitive Rite is particularly of interest, in a sense, and perhaps more could have been developed on that subject, which is only briefly referred to here. Its inclusion of the titles Memphis and Misraim would lead one to infer that there was a connection with these two other Rites (Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry also has an article under the title of 'Antient and Primitive Rite of Freemasonry, otherwise of Memphis', leading to a similar inference), but perhaps this is incorrect on both counts, and perhaps Bro. Howe might elaborate and clarify.

Incidentally, readers interested in the last two mentioned Rites can obtain the rituals of the first Three Degrees of Mizraim in vol. 6 Part 1, and the first Three Degrees of Memphis in vol. 6, Part 2, as published by the Grand College of Rites of the U.S.A. (Grand Registrar, P.O. Box 15128, Chesapeake, Va., 2332O, U.S.A.) They have also published rituals of The Swedenborgian Rite, and Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite, among other fringe workings.

The reference to Mme. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society is also of interest, as something with which I happen to be intimately familiar. Here Bro. Howe’s second footnote on page 272, to the effect that Yarker 'appears to have given her what purported to be a Masonic initiation', I believe is incorrect on two counts. It is no doubt based on the Certificate which Yarker issued to her in the name of the Antient and Primitive Rite (the full text is given in Mackey’s Encyclopedia, s.v. 'Co-Masonry), but the Rite of Adoption is specifically mentioned in that document, and nothing is said of any alleged initiation. Masonic students have generally accepted this as nothing more than a Certificate of Adoption, and it is so accepted in an article in Yarker’s own paper The Kneph. Mme. Blavatsky’s knowledge of the inner working of Masonic Lodges both 'regular' and 'fringe', was not the result of any initiation, in Craft or any of the so-called 'Higher Degrees', which she flatly denied (the source for this statement presently escapes me; I think it was in one of her biographies). The further statement by Bro. Howe immediately following, to the effect that 'the history of "Co-Masonry" in this country began with Yarker and continued under Theosophical Society auspices', a statement made in the same breath with what has just gone before, would lead one to infer that Mme. Blavatsky had something to do with this Co-Masonry, but this inference, again, is unwarranted. Co-Masonry was not inaugurated till 1882, in France, and Mme. Blavatsky apparently had no part in this movement. But that she might have been sympathetic to it, at least in principle, almost goes without saying. It is true, however, that Co-Masonry is at the present time one of the subsidiary and unofficial activities of the Theosophical Society. (In their printed ritual, surprisingly enough, no distinction is made in the clothing of male and female candidates preparing for initiation.)

Again, thanks to Bro. Howe for a most interesting paper. A similar excursion into 'Fringe' Masonry on the Continent, if at all possible, would seem to be warranted.

Bro. M.J. Spurr writes:

I would like to add my congratulations to those already offered to Bro. Ellic Howe. His paper is on a subject which has interested me ever since I became acquainted with the Golden Dawn story about two years ago. On making further inquiries about the G.D. I discovered that Bro. Howe had both a book and a paper in preparation and I have been awaiting these with interest.

I do not think that it was a coincidence that Quatuor Coronati Lodge was established in 1886. The studies made by Little, Mackenzie, Waite and Yarker must have aroused general interest among Masonic historians, even if they disagreed; while the correspondence in the active Masonic press must have produced a counter-reaction which led to the foundation of a Lodge where Masonic matters could be discussed and all theories carefully examined, to sift the wheat from the chaff, the place where bubbles were pricked and if anything was put forward as a fact it had to be proved by independent authorities. The Masonic 'histories' of the type set out in the Constitutions were rejected and Anderson’s name anathematized - it would be true to say that it is only in the last few years that Anderson has been partly reinstated, excluding his 'history.' A number of the brethren mentioned in the paper were members of Quatuor Coronati Lodge but their influence, if any, was transient. If I am correct in thinking that Q.C. arose, even partially, though interest aroused by 'fringe masonry' this subject performed a service of far greater value than it can have intended.

Finally, a footnote to the paper. Reference is made to ’skrying.' While the word used in the context of this paper is more or less self explanatory, perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary (1914 edition) definition is of interest. This gives the verb 'to skry' as ’seeing images in pieces of crystal, water, etc, which revel the future or secrets of the past or present; to act as a crystal- gazer.'

I think that the value of Bro. Howe’s paper is to illuminate the background to a period when there was great interest, within a limited circle of friends, about occult and magical matters.

Bro. Brian Russell writes:

I have just been reading Bro. Ellic Howe’s most interesting paper and I would like to congratulate him on the amount of work which it would appear was necessary in order to produce this extensive report on an unusual subject. There are two Brethren whose names are mentioned in the paper who would appear to have been initiated in my own Lodge - The Lodge of Hengist No. 195. -i.e., S.L. McGregor Mathers, a Founder member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1887, and Frederick Holland, a prospective member of the Society of Eight in 1883. I must state that nowhere in our Lodge records does S.L. Mathers have the appendage 'McGregor.'

According to our Minute books, Samuel Liddell Mathers, clerk, was proposed as a Candidate by Bro. P.M., E. W. Rebbeck (i.e, W. Bro.) and seconded by Bro. Lane. Mathers was Initiated on 4 October 1877, Passed 15 November, Raised 30 January 1878. Except for 1881 he was regular in attendance as a member until he resigned 27 December 1882. On 2 December 1880 he sent a letter of apology for absence due to ill health. His first appearance in the year 1881 was on 6 October and he proposed a Mr. Frederick Holland of Inglewood Villas, Westbourne Bournemouth - Gentleman - as a Candidate. Holland was Initiated on 3 November 1881, Passed 1 December 1881 and Raised 5 January 1882. On 27 December 1881, Mathers was appointed Director of Ceremonies, the first such appointment made in this Lodge. At the Febuary 1882 meeting Mathers stood in as Senior Deacon. On 6 April he resigned as D.C. At the next meeting he asked the W.M. whether the Lodge would start a Lodge of Instruction. During the year there was some controversy in the Lodge as to the necessity of redecorating the Temple; Mathers supported this, but nothing was done about it.

At the Regular Lodge meeting on 5 February 1885 'Bro. Frederick Holland, Master of the Temple Rosicrucian College of England, read a paper on "Masonry as it was and as it is"' [sic]. Holland resigned from the Lodge of Hengist in March 1887 but he was named as Senior Warden on the Warrant of Horsa Lodge No. 2208 - Bournemouth, and this was constituted 18 October 1887. He was then a member of St. Cuthberga Lodge, Wimborne, No. 622.

Bro. Harry Mendoza writes:

Bro. Ellic Howe tells us that 'The Ancient and Primitive Rite of Misraim arrived in England -out of thin air rather than any other kind of air -late in 1870'. Bro. Songhurst seems to indicate 3 that in fact it arrived in 1817. Writing of Jean Baptiste Marie Ragon, he tells us that no less a person than the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England - the Duke of Sussex - was admitted by Ragon into the Rite on 14 February 1817 and invested with 'full powers for England, Scotland and Ireland'. He goes on to say:

'A document in the Library of the Grand Lodge of England dated 17th November, 1819, and addressed to the Duke by the members of the governing body in Paris gives a little more information concerning the connection of His Royal Highness with the Rite. The document informs him that at a meeting held in the previous month he had been appointed a Member of Honour of the Fourth Chamber. It asks for his protection and assistance in putting the order on a proper footing in England, as certain unauthorised Masons were endeavouring to work the degrees clandestinely, and states that Michel Bedarride, who was then in London, was the only person who could givcehim authentic particulars about the Order.'
It is not clear
(a) whether the Duke of Sussex sought membership or whether membership was thrust upon him - I suspect the latter;

(b) whether the 'admission' occurred in England or France; I suspect it was in the form of a 'communication' from France to England, and

(c) to what extent the Duke of Sussex could use his powers for ’scotland and Ireland', even if he had desired to do so.

Bro.T.O. Haunch has been kind enough to look for the document referred to above, but has not been successful in finding it. However, the authority of Bro. Songhurst, a past Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, is not to be lightly dismissed. It certainly points to somebody in Grand Lodge having knowledge of the rite some fifty-three years earlier than indicated by Bro. Howe.

There is also reference to the Rite of Misraim in the History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, 4 where we learn that their Grand Master (the Duke of Leinster) was admitted to the Rite. The date is not given, but it would appear to be before 4 October 1838, on which date the Constitution of the Supreme Grand Council of Rites was read in Grand Lodge (Ireland). The author of the History suggests 5 that

'the Rite of Mismaim was only included that it might be quietly suppressed, as it was allowed to die of inanition'.
Another reference to the Rite of Misraim is found in the Freemasons' Magazine and Masonic Monitor. In the issue dated 1 September 1860 the following appears:
Misraimite Masonry. Is Hiram Abiff recognised under of Misraim? He is.......'
I would also like to raise one other point. Quoting Bro. Howe again, on the Rite of Misraim, 'However, by today’s more critical standards, on English soil it was an aberration'.

This prompts the questions:

(a) when did Grand Lodge adopt their 'more critical standards'? and

(b) did the events outlined by Bro. Howe influence Grand Lodge in adopting these standards ?

The answer to the questions may be difficult to establish, but two surprising facts emerged in my attempt to find an answer. Firstly, proposal forms for initiation are first mentioned in the 1920 Book of Constitutions. At that date they bore no question regarding membership of 'quasi-masonic or other organisations." Secondly reference to 'quasi-masonic or other organisations' appears in the Book of Constitutions for the first time as late as 1940 - at which date it also appeared on the proposal forms. Obviously these matters had been discussed earlier by Grand Lodge, but the lateness of the dates surprised me.

Bro. R. E. Parkinson writes:

I should like to add my congratulations to Bro. Ellic Howe for his masterly exploration of a fascinating byway of Masonic research. He queries the date ascribed to the Knights of the Red Branch-90 B.C. This was the name given to the bodyguard of the Kings of Ulster about the beginning of the Christian era, resisting attacks from the south, and recorded in the earliest of Irish sagas. This was handed down through the ages verbally, and was not recorded in writing till the ninth or tenth century. The headquarters of the kings of Ulster were at Emain Macha - now Navan Fort, a few miles south of the city of Armagh. Nearby is another earthen fortress. Known to this day as Creeveroe - Craobh Ruadh - or the Red Branch.

Some seventy odd years ago a small volume Lays of the Red Branch, by Sir Samuel Ferguson, was published in London by Fisher Unwin, and in Dublin by Sealy, Bryers and Walker. Copies may still be available in the British museum and other London Libraries.

On 18 November 1922, a collection of certificates belonging to the late Brother Maurice L. Davies was exhibited before the Lodge of Research, No. CC, in Dublin. (Transactions, 1922, pp. 92-93.) There were thirteen in all, including certificates of

(1) M.M., 891. Enniskillen, dated 10 October 1856.
(2) P.M., Drum, Co. Monaghan, 2 September 1869.
(3) Mark Master Mason and Royal Arch Mason, 891, Enniskillen, dated 7 July 1857. (One cetificate only for the two degrees.)
(4) Knight Templar, 184 Drum, dated 20 March 1867.
(5) M.M., Affiliation certificate to Mother Lodge Kilwinning, Scotland, dated 15 February 1883
(6) M.M., Grand Lodge of Scotland, certificate for Mother Lodge, Kilwinning No. 0, dated 3 March 1887
(7) Rite of Memphis. Grand Council of Ancient Rites under the Grand Chapter of the Great Bear, sitting at Bath, Somersetshire, certifying Bro. Davie to be an Expert Master of the Symbolic Lodges, and many other degrees. Dated 28 April 1878, and signed by John Yarker, 33 ° - 96 °.
(8) Rite of Memphis, 33 ° Manchester, dated 24 February 1875, and signed by John Yarker, 33 ° -96 °.
(9) Royal Oriental Order of Sikha and the Sat-B'hai (East Indies) dated 23 September 1877.
(10) Rite of Memphis. Raised to Prince Patriarch, Grand Expert General, dated 13 September 1880
(11) Rites of Mismaim and Memphis, Raised to Grand Inspector, Sublime Prince 95 ° of the Rite of Memiphis; and an Absolute Sovereign Grand Master 90 ° of the Rite of Misraim, and Chief of the four Series thereof from the 1st to the 90th and last degree; dated 30 September 1880.
(12) Subordinate Certificate of the National Lodge, Roumania, 33 ° to 90 °, dated 15 May 1881
(13) The Superior Certificate for same, as Hon. Member for Life of the Supreme Council 33 ° of Roumania.
Brother Davies is registered in Grand Lodge of Ireland books as Maurice L. Howard Davies, in Lodge 891, Enniskillen, 3 October 1856. He affiliated to Lodge 184, Drum, Co. Monaghan, on 12 March 1867, and to Lodge 120, Dublin, in March 1869.

When the Grand Lodge of Ireland invented the Warrant, in 1731-32, it was necessary to word the document very widely. Freemasonry was still evolving, and owing to the then difficuities of communication, it was extremely difficult for Grand Lodge to exercise full control of Lodges at a distance from Dublin. See History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, vol.11, ch.IV.' Hence, it was later argued that it was lawful to confer any degree whatsoever under the authority of the Grand Lodge Warrant, alone. The form of the Warrant, and its wording remained unchanged until 1817, when Grand Lodge adopted a form which has remained substantially unchanged till the present day. This laid it down that the Master and Wardens, and their successors should

... at all times hereafter pay implicit observance to, and act and conduct the affairs of the same in strict conformity to the now existing Laws of Masonry and to such other Laws and Regulations for the government of the Craft as shall or may at any time hereafter be issued by the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ireland or in default thereof then and in such case, reserving unto the said Right Worshipful Grand Lodge the full power and lawful authority of annulling and cancelling these presents or of otherwise proceeding in the premises as to them shall seem meet.
Nevertheless, such Lodges as worked under Warrants issued before this revision continued to claim the right to work any degree under the authority of the Grand Lodge Warrant alone.

By the end of the eighteenth century, practically every Irish Lodge worked the Royal Arch and Knight Templar Degrees as a matter of course. Two Rose Croix Chapters, Prince Masons, as we prefer to call them in the city of Dublin, have been at work continuously since 1782. Many other degrees are mentioned in Lodge Minute Books, of which little has survived except the names; many of these survived, certainly in country Lodges, till well into the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

The Order of Misraim appears in Ireland with the visit of one of the Bédarride brothers early in 1820, ("The Order of Misraim in Ireland", Thomas E. Johnston, Trans. Lodge CC, Dublin, 1949- 1957.) The only evidence surviving are copies of a few letters between the Duke of Leinster and John Fowler in the latter’s letter book. By February 1821 Bédarride had constituted a complete council of seventeen members of the 77 °; the Duke and Fowler, 90 °; Bro. Dumoulin, 89 °; Bro. Norman, who succeeded Fowler as D.G.M. in 1825, 88 °; ... Bro. P. Mitchell and Bro. Trim, 87 ° also Bro. Jamar, a Frenchman residing in Dublin who possessed that degree before. In the previous May, Bros. Dr. Herville, Signor Annelli, Bros. Dumoulin and Trim, of the Original Chapter of Prince Masons had received the 77 °.

The Order was suppressed in 1822 in France by the civil powers, and one would imagine that the Duke of Leinster and John Fowler realised what self seeking frauds the Bédarride brothers were. It was included in the Supreme Grand Council of Rites, set up 28 January 1838, as the governing body of the Higher Degrees from the Prince Mason upwards, but was evidently allowed to die of inanition; the last survivor was the Duke himself, who died in 1874. This Grand Council of Rites survived until 1905, as the supreme governing body of the Prince Masons, and independent of the Supreme Council, 33 °. In that year, owing to difficulties with other Supreme Councils throughout the world, it surrendered to the 33 °, but still survives as subordinate governing body, the Grand Chapter of Prince Masons. (Hist., G.L.I., vol. II P. 332.)

In Grand Lodge Minutes for 7 December 1882, thirteen members from Limerick were cited as having set up a body of the Ancient and Primitive Rite; seven had severed their connection with that Rite, but the replies of six others were deemed unsatisfactory. These were Maurice L. Davies, William F. Lawlor, Auguste Mouillot, John H. Southwood and Thomas W. Fair. In the Minutes for February 1883, the name of William S. Studdert is added, and replies from Bros. Fair, Lawlor and Mouillot were deemed satisfactory, and no further action was taken against them. The remaining four were suspended from the Rights and Privileges of Freemasonry during the pleasure of Grand Lodge. One of these, Charles Minch Wilson, was actually present in Grand Lodge, and, in spite of earnest appeals from prominent Brethren, including the Deputy Grand Master himself, persisted in remaining obdurate.

So, today in Ireland, no degree may be practised save with the approval of Grand Lodge, and one under the authority of a governing body likewise approved. Admission to the A. & A. Rite is confined to Knights Templar, who, with the A. & A. Rite, are recruited by invitation only, and each step is regarded as a reward for services to the Masonic Order only.

I gather that the Bédarride brothers were also active in England and Scotland around 1820.

R.W. Stubbs writes:

Bro. Howe is to be warmly congratulated on his paper which makes good reading in itself, and brings back to life persons and movements of past generations It has done more than most of my recent reading to convince me that we are perhaps not quite so silly as some of our Masonic forebears, for none of the present day fringes of Masonry (from which mercifully the United Grand Lodge of England is spared) can be so inept as the bodies which he has taken so much trouble to describe. There is however always the fear that this clear portrayal might encourage some 20th century students to believe that there is something worth salvaging in the follies of Mackenzie, his friends, his rivals and his enemies, for the gap between 'fringe' and 'lunatic fringe' is narrow. I do not believe that this is likely, but if it were to be a result of this paper, Bro. Howe would have done the Craft some disservice.

I recognised the name, E. H. Finney, in the paper and have consulted the registers of Grand Lodge and my own Oxford records. There were two of them, probably father and son: the son was initiated in the Churchill Lodge, No. 478, in 1869, aged 24: he gave as his address 9, Godolphin Road, London. At that age and with no College he was probably not an undergraduate: he fades out very soon. The elder has a more varied masonic career. He was initiated in the Lodge of Harmony, No. 309 (then 387) in 1854 when there was a sudden influx into the Lodge of joining members: he was exalted in Chapter of Friendship No. 319 (now 257) in 1856. We next hear of him as a Major on half pay) living in Charles Street, London, and joining Lodge of Harmony, No. 255, in 1867, and the Churchill in 1869 by which time he had been installed in the Coeur de Lion Preceptory, No. 29, in 1868: he fades out of all of them within five years. The juxtaposition of names in 255 and 478 suggests that he was a friend of R.W.Bro.Colonel H.A. Bowyer, Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire, and holder between 1857 and 1869 of four offices in the Supreme Council. Initiated as late as 1854 rather puts him out of court as the pupil of Bédarride who had received his Misraim degrees thirty-seven years before 1871.

It would be interesting to learn, and I come away from a close perusal of the paper without any inking of it, what induced these Brethren to set up this succession of minuscule Masonic empires. It does not seem to have been a desire for notoriety or even for money: was it perhaps Satan’s other secret weapon, idleness? It is difficult to believe that any of them can have conned themselves or their associates into a belief that anything useful to mankind, the Craft, or even themselves was going to emerge.

Perhaps the fairest, even if unkind, description of the whole lot of them is Masonic hippies.

I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in the subject to read also J.M. Roberts’s The Mythology of the Secret Societies: he has done as good a debunking job as Bro. Howe.

Bro. Ellis replies:

I am indeed grateful for the interest which my paper evidently aroused, and especially to the Worshipful Master for proposing a vote of thanks and to Bro. Cyril Batham for seconding it.

Bro. Vatcher mentioned that 'in the early days of the premier Grand Lodge, in the 18th century, if the number of Fellows of the Royal Society is any criterion, the study of science had been very popular with members of the Craft; and in those days science would have included Alchemy.' My own impression is that by the 1750s interest in Alchemy was at a very low ebb in Great Britain. On the other hand many educated men were still fascinated by astrology. I have identified three contemporary Fellows of the Royal Society, all of them eminent mathematicians, who practised it.

Bros. Batham, Draffen, Jackson, Horne, Mendoza and Parkinson all provided welcome additional information about the Rites of Memphis and Misraim or their eventual amalgamation in John Yarker’s Antient and Primitive Rite. I was aware that the Rite of Misraim had found its way to Ireland long before R. W. Little launched it in England in 1870, but said nothing because I was unwilling to burden either myself or my readers with a potentially inconclusive excursion up a difficult bypath. Bro. Draffen now reveals that it was also known in Scotland during the 1840s-

In the case of these two rites (Memphis and Misraim) and their original promoters (Marconis père et fils and the Bédarride brothers) we are confronted with one of the nineteenth century 'fringe' areas which appears to deserve investigation in depth. By comparison with the ephemeral follies discussed in this paper both had a long and complicated history. However, much of what we know about their annals in France and elsewhere merely consists of bits and pieces of isolated information, much of which is untrustworthy because successive writers have accepted previous statements without subjecting them to any really critical scrutiny. In his comments Bro. Alex Horne suggests that 'a similar excursion into "Fringe" Masonry, on the Continent, if at all possible, would seem to be warranted'. As far as the nineteenth century is concerned, a detailed study of the Rites of Memphis and Misraim would help to fill this gap. Much of the research, however, would have to be undertaken in France.

Like Bro. Batham I have heard that the Memphis degrees are still being worked. Geneva has been mentioned in this context but I have no evidence. I cannot answer his question about Yarker and the Memphis (or Antient and Primitive Rite?) degrees with any certainty. But see Yarker’s periodical The Kneph, Vol. I, No. 8, 1881, where the Illustrious Grand Master General’s (i.e. Yarker’s) historical article is more likely to confuse than enlighten.

With reference to Bro. Alex Horne’s query (see his second paragraph), my inference is that Yarker combined the two Rites, i.e. those of Memphis and Misraim) as the Antient and Primitive Rite.

Bro. Harry Mendoza has produced a conundrum relating to J.-M. Ragon (1781-1862) admitting the Duke of Sussex to the Rite of Misraim on 14 February 1817. According to Lenhoff and Posner, Internationales Freimaurer Lexikon, 1932 (art. Misraim-Ritus), the Grand Orient condemned the Rite as irregular in that year, hence presumably after 14 February. According to the article on Ragon, in the same source in February 1817, he would have been W.M. or I.P.M. of the recently formed and later well-known 'Les trinisophes' Lodge at Paris. The document from which Bro. Songhurst quoted cannot be found; the nature of Ragon’s association with Michel Bédarride cannot be accurately established ... and the researcher goes round in circles.

Bro. R. E. Parkinson referred to the Bédarride brothers as ’self-seeking frauds'. But can this accusation be substantiated? Or were they - and perhaps Marc Bédarride in particular - merely misguided enthusiasts? The latter’s long-winded De l'Ordre maçonnique de Mismaim, 2 vols., 1845, gives the impression that it was written by a harmless lunatic rather than a self-seeking fraud.

Bro. Brig. A.C.F. Jackson criticised Westcott for his misuse and misunderstanding, despite his erudition, of the words 'Rosicrucian' and 'Rosicrucianism'. In fairness to Westcott, it’s not surprising that he perpetrated (in c.1887-8) the usual occultist nonsense about the 'old Rosicrucians' and their alleged teachings because no scholarly research in this area had yet been attempted. A. E. Waite’s The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross was not published until 1924 and, in default of any alternative, it achieved the status of a standard work, at least in English. The first important German scholarly publications did not appear until later, e.g. those by R. Kienast in 1926 and W.-E. Peuckert in 1928. However, the recent publication of Dr. Frances A. Yates’s brilliant The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972) has given 'Rosicrucian' studies a new dimension and her book is warmly commended to Brethren who are interested in this area.

Bro. J. R. Clarke found it difficult to accept the evidence which I supplied for Kenneth Mackenzie’s birth date, i.e. 31 October 1833. His death certificate confirms the year. Bro. Clarke was puzzled because Mackenzie’s youthful intellectual virtuosity was not commemorated in the Dictionary of National Biography. However, I tried to make it clear that Mackenzie never fulfilled his early promise and was already a spent force by 1860 (aet. 27 or thereabouts). Brother Clarke also chided me for accusing Mackenzie of having perpetrated a 'barefaced lie' in connection with his with claim that the extraordinary table of so-called Rosicrucian degrees in his Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, 1875, represented the fruits of his own industrious research. I can only repeat that Mackenzie made a literal translation of the table published in 1781 in Der Rosenkreuzer in seiner Blösse.

Bro. Will Read kindly made enquiries about the Order of Light, which still exists today, from Brethren who belong to it. I did not imply that the Order came to Bradford via Yarker but merely recalled the latter’s earlier connection with it. Bro. Read is able to inform us that the Order in its present form was founded at Bradford on 9 January 1902. According to A. E. Waite (New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, 1921, Vol.II, pp. 214-5) it was dormant before 'it came into the hands of certain Masonic Brethren at Bradford,' i.e. in 1902. Waite observed that 'they reconstructed it in all respects', hence presumably without the Sat B'hai material which Yarker had interpolated.

The Rite of Swedenborg (see P. 371): I will deal with Bro. Batham’s question first. The Canadian Charter dated 1 July 1876 was for the Emanuel Lodge and Temple No. 3 at Manchester. With or without reference to Canada, Emanuel Lodge No. 1 was warranted at Bristol on 13 January 1877. This Lodge them removed to Weston super Mare on 30 May 1877. At Manchester the Egyptian Lodge No. 2 also received its warrant on 13 January 1877. The note preserved by Bro. Draffen referring to the '69th degree of Hieroglyphic Master' does not have any connection with the Rite of Swedenborg.

I am grateful to Bro. Alex Horne for correcting my statement that Yarker gave Madame Blavatsky 'what purported to be a Masonic initiation' when she was briefly in England at the end of 1878. There is a blurred and almost illegible reproduction of the certificate which Yarker issued to her on 24 November 1877 in the name of the Antient and Primitive Rite in The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society ... 1875-1925, edited by C. Jinarajadasa, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1925. The certificate’s complete text will be found in 'The Author of Isis Unveiled defends the validity of her Masonic Patent' in the first volume of The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, edited by A. Trevor Barker, London, 1933.

The Rite of Adoption was specifically mentioned in the certificate which declared H. P. B. to be an 'Apprentice, Companion, Perfect Mistress, Sublime Elect, Scotch Lady, Chevaliere de Rose Croix ... and a Crowned Princess of Rite of Adoption'. The recent publication of Madame Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled had created a mild sensation in esoteric' circles and it is likely that Yarker expressed his admiration of the book by presenting its author with the certificate in question.

Bro. M. J. Spurr’s belief that I am writing a paper on Westcott’s Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for presentation to Q.C. Lodge is incorrect. Now that The Magicians of the Golden Dawn has been published my interest in this 'folly' has evaporated.

I find it difficult to agree with the substance of Bro. Spurr’s second paragraph which begins: 'I do not think that it was a coincidence that Quatuor Coronati Lodge was established in 1886.' Firstly we must eliminate the names of R. W. Little and A. E. Waite. Little did not even pretend to be a Masonic historian while A. E. Waite did not join the Craft until 1902, long after Q.C. Lodge was founded. We are thus left with Yarker, whose scholarly interests must be taken seriously in relation to the standards which prevailed at that time. Nor do I find it possible to accept that 'Q.C. Lodge arose, even partially, through interest aroused by "fringe Masonry".'

Bro. J. W. Stubbs is somewhat apprehensive lest my paper might encourage a Brother with more imagination than sense to believe 'that there is something worth salvaging in the follies of Mackenzie, his friends, his rivals and his enemies for the gap between "fringe" and "lunatic fringe" is narrow.' He continued 'I do not believe that this is likely, but if it were to be a result of this paper, Bro. Howe would have done the Craft some disservice.'

Like Bro. Stubbs I do not believe it likely that any misguided Brother will attempt to salvage anything from the Victorian rubbish-heap discussed in my paper. The risk of this happening in the 1970s appears to be infinitesimal, even inconceivable. These 'fringe' and sometimes 'lunatic fringe' activities happened in a social, sociological and, for that matter, Masonic climate which was utterly unlike the one with which we are familiar.

Bro. Stubbs wondered 'what induced these Brethren to set up a succession of minuscule empires?' My own theory is that in the absence of spectator sports, golf, bridge, television and radio, automobiles, packaged tours and charter flights, and much else which we now associate with the idea of leisure, their activities on or beyond the fringe of regular Masonry represented absorbing hobbies. To use a current expression: 'They did their own thing'.

I do not agree with Bro. Stubbs' proposition that it would be fair, although unkind, to describe my gentry as 'Masonic hippies'. Mackenzie, Irwin, Cox, Yarker & Co. were not hippies in the sense in which we now understand the word. I would regard them, rather, as Masonic romantics. This loosely-knit fringe 'movement' was the product of a very small coterie of enthusiasts who used Masonry as a springboard for their own fantasies.


(1) Kennning’s Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry, London, 1878. <
(2) Unilateral Declaration of Independence [Ed.] <
(3) AQC Vol.17, page 101. <
(4) R.E. Parkinson. History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, Vol. II, P. 221. <
(5) ibid, P. 331. <

Reprinted with permission of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, UGLE in Volume 85 for the year 1972. [p. 242.] Footnotes renumbered as endnotes.


© 1871-2017 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: March 16, 2001