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Gönderen Konu: THE ANDERSON STORY - 1  (Okunma sayısı 4912 defa)

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Aralık 07, 2009, 05:26:33 ös
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Four lodges in London (older city) and Westminster being a neighbouring town of the time, assembled in 1717 and assumed a common name as the Grand Lodge of London.

As regards the scope of telling this story to focus primarily on James Andenson, neither are we much interested in the past of those lodges nor the actual reason of establishing a new masonic body that was styled as a grand lodge.

In 1725, this institution of Modern Freemasonry altered its name as Grand Lodge of England.

The Grand Lodge of London has introduced to Freemasonry quite a different mode of organization with respect to its traditional structure that persisted for centuries. First of all, the autonomy of lodges was eliminated by creating a “central authority”. Despite not being said so yet, as regards the later terminology in Speculative Freemasonry the concept of “obedience” has been imposed.

This operation was made without announcing a general communication in the country, and was put in effect by ignoring the opinion of other lodges.

On the other hand, this new body calling itself “grand lodge” was following certain different aims with respect to those of the actual profession. It was renewing the principles by its own consent.

Lodges that were preserving the pure operative status could neither understand nor approve such an alteration.

Thus, most lodges in other regions of England opposed to this organisation.

They asserted that this institution doesn’t fit to the ancient traditions of Freemasonry that were sustained for centuries at all. They even accused this establishment referring to itself as “Grand Lodge of London” and claiming to be a masonic society by corrupting the esteemed status of the profession and the art. Petitions were made to persons close to the king in order provide extermination of this society.

Can this be referred to as the first antimasonic venture in history?

If the objectives of accepted masons that are said to have established the Grand Lodge of London would be taken into account together with those that supported them in the backstage, we may justify the attitude of the lodges that were trying to provide survival of their profession. Some of them that may have participated in the establishment of the grand lodge were not aware of the scope behind this action. However, it is of no doubt that many of them knew. The arrow was out of the bow. From now on, regardless of whatever the incurring cost may be, this new masonic institution having a speculative character should provide development as superior to the operative lodges. For that reason, it was necessary to situate the Grand Lodge of London on a much stronger foundation.

For this purpose, George Payne as the second grand master of the Grand Lodge of London necessitated a “constitution” to be prepared. This new constitution should be replacing the older ones that were mostly learned by hearing in Freemasonry.


Upon the instruction of the grand master in 1718, an attempt was made in the country to collect any available “ancient manuscripts” concerning Freemasonry.

As conceived from certain old manuscripts that were discovered at much later dates after those days and survived until the present, the said documents were covering the History of Freemasonry or the rules that masons and lodges were obliged to observe.

It couldn’t be determined whether the real purpose of collecting those was to contribute to the new and independent formation of Speculative Freemasonry by detaching it from the operative or to verify that the new institution actually bases on the principles of the ancient profession.

In fact, one of the known ancient customs of Operative Freemasonry maintained from time immemorial was avoiding to write down anything related to the profession. This was a mandatory precaution in order to protect the professional secrets. Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that this requirement was overruled in various places, primarily in England. From early 15th century on, some narrated certain matters, the rules that freemasons are obliged to observe during their works in particular. The number of such manuscripts was indefinite. However, it was known that they exist, even to the extent of the place or the possessor in England.

If the prevailing conditions in those days are considered, obtaining this information within such a short period of time as only one year is rather illogical. This denotes that a good investigation has been performed in advance at much earlier times. As a matter of fact, it is known that a preparation that took about 15 years was made in acquiring the organisation of Speculative Freemasonry.

Now, we come to the vital point in this matter: After a few months, the manuscripts that could be collected got destroyed in a fire incident.

Some authors asserted that this fire was a special set-up in order to show an excuse to the destruction of those “old manuscripts”. According to their claim, the glory of Speculative Freemasonry would be promoted by this means, and no longer would be depending on the rules of the operative era.

Despite can be no more than a rumour, this opinion may be basing on a truth. Because, after a couple of years elapsed, some other manuscripts that were unknown previously as existing were discovered. They were destroyed by being burnt in the fireplace. This latter incident has been verified in masonic literature.

How much use has been obtained from the collected old manuscripts during the preparation of the new constitution of Freemasonry?

This is unclear. The probable contents of these can only be guessed by analysing certain other old manuscripts that were discovered at much later dates. Accordingly, in contrary to what has been claimed, very few of the ancient customs of Operative Freemasonry were sustained in the new constitutions prepared by the Grand Lodge of London. These mostly consist of moral rules that are not related to organisation or administration.

In the Grand Lodge of London, the officers of lodges and the grand officers were being elected annually. Despite this was not written anywhere as a rule, it was tried to set down as a tradition for the future. As a matter of fact, both the First Grand Master Anthony Sayer and then George Payne stayed in this station for only one year. In 1719, Jean Théophile Désaguliers was elected.


During his time as the grand master, Désaguliers devised a proposal for the constitution that George Payne anticipated. In the following year, he handed this over to George Payne who was elected as the grand master once again. In the meantime the general assembly had discussed this project and rejected it by disapproving both the constituents and its reasoning.

On the other hand, the proposal that was rejected by the general assembly was lacking in various aspects with respect to the administration of the grand lodge. It was clear that obtaining the approval of the general assembly will not be so easy. Whereas, the grand lodge was under improvement, and urgent solutions were needed to various administrative problems. For this need, George Payne prepared a set of “general regulations” to be put in force immediately, and shall be endorsed to the constitution that is expected to be approved on a later date.

In the next annual general assembly in 1721, John the Duke of Montagu was elected as the grand master. In this meeting, the “general regulations” comprising the administrative rules of the grand lodge was approved and put in force. Whereas, the proposal concerning the constitutions was once again rejected. Nobody was against a new constitution, but both the appearance and the contents were being regarded as improper and insufficient.


Upon this situation, the Duke of Montagu assigned James Anderson to devise an influencing preface to the constitutions as well as correcting some points by making use of his own information. As regards the approach by Duke of Montagu, this constitution shouldn’t be pertaining only to those involved in speculative labours, but should be appreciated by those maintaining their profession in the building construction sector.

When James Anderson completed his studies, the grand master constituted a committee of 14 members, and asked them to examine Anderson’s version of the proposal. The committee didn’t pay much attention to the historical part included in the proposal as devised by Anderson. As a matter of fact, sources of historical information at that time were quite limited. Anderson asserted that he compiled most of the information in this part from the manuscripts that were lost in the fire incident, and the members of the committee had nothing more to say.

For this reason, errors in the historical accounts could not be avoided. In the section under the heading of “Approbation” in this book that follows the general regulations, it is mentioned that various historical errors were made in the past, nonetheless these were corrected in this book of constitutions.

However, leaving aside those unknown “corrections”, errors made in this book regarding historical facts are obvious. Such errors were disclosed at quite later dates, by researches and inquiries made in 19th century when history started to lead itself towards being a branch in science as well.

The proposal of the constitutions submitted to the general assembly once again was approved on 27 March in 1722 but it couldn’t be put in effect immediately.


At that time an important difficulty emerged in the grand lodge. Grand Master John Duke of Montagu was quite indisposed, and could not perform his duties. Therefore, in the general assembly of 24 June 1722 it was decided to elect another grand master, and Philip the Duke of Wharton was elected and installed to this office. However, there were many raising objections.

It was claimed that the rules were violated. This neither had anything to do with the character of the Duke of Wharton nor was it related whatsoever to his actual purpose in getting admitted to Freemasonry.

As a matter of fact, we see that Duke of Wharton leads an antimasonic activity in later years due to disapproving the approach and performances of the Grand Lodge of London.

Objections against the election of the Duke of Wharton as grand master was depending on the “general regulations” put in force in the time of George Payne. The new grand master had to be nominated by the one on duty, and then he should have been installed into his office by observing a specific ritual devised for this purpose. These were not performed. Therefore, many were thinking that the Duke of Wharton cannot be regarded as grand master.

Avoiding this dilemma took some time. It was necessary to wait for the Duke of Montagu to get better enough and be able to attend the general assembly. In the meantime Duke of Wharton demanded some alterations in the constitutions. Only a few of his views were agreed. In the general assembly of 17 January 1723, he was nominated in accordance with the current practice, and installed into his office as the grand master. The constitution having given the last form was approved once again and put into force.

Due to certain alterations made on these constitutions in later times, the date “1723” is pronounced whenever this original constitutions of Speculative Freemasonry is referred to.



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