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The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in the United States often omits the and, while the English Constitution in the United Kingdom omits the Scottish), commonly known as simply the Scottish Rite (or, in England and Australia, as the Rose Croix[1] although this is only one of its degrees), is one of several Rites of Freemasonry. A Rite is a progressive series of degrees conferred by various Masonic organizations or bodies, each of which operates under the control of its own central authority. In the Scottish Rite the central authority is called a Supreme Council.

The Scottish Rite is one of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to the principles of Freemasonry.[2][3] It is also concordant, in that some of its degrees relate to the degrees of Symbolic (Craft) Freemasonry. In England and some other countries, while the Scottish Rite is not accorded official recognition by the Grand Lodge, only a recognised Freemason may join and there is no prohibition against his doing so. In the United States, however, the Scottish Rite is officially recognized by Grand Lodges as an extension of the degrees of Freemasonry. The Scottish Rite builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the Craft (or Blue) Lodge, through dramatic presentation of the individual degrees.


Scottish Rite jewel 18°

Legend of Jacobite origins

The seed of the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence on the higher degrees may have been a careless and unsubstantiated remark made by John Noorthouk in the 1784 Book of Constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of London. It was stated, without support, that King Charles II (older brother and predecessor to James II) was made a Freemason in the Netherlands during the years of his exile (1649–60). However, there were no documented lodges of Freemasons on the continent during those years. The statement may have been made to flatter the fraternity by claiming membership for a previous monarch. This folly was then embellished by John Robison (1739–1805), a professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, in an anti-Masonic work published in 1797. The lack of scholarship exhibited by Robison in that work caused the Encyclopædia Britannica to denounce it.[4]

German bookseller and Freemason, living in Paris, working under the assumed name of C. Lenning, embellished the story further in a manuscript titled "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry" probably written between 1822 and 1828 at Leipzig. This manuscript was later revised and published by another German Freemason named Friedrich Mossdorf (1757–1830).[5] Lenning stated that King James II of England, after his flight to France in 1688, resided at the Jesuit College of Clermont, where his followers fabricated certain degrees for the purpose of carrying out their political ends.[6]

By the mid-19th century, the story had gained currency. The well-known English Masonic writer, Dr. George Oliver (1782–1867), in his Historical Landmarks, 1846, carried the story forward and even claimed that King Charles II was active in his attendance at meetings—an obvious invention, for if it had been true, it would not have escaped the notice of the historians of the time. The story was then repeated by the French writers Jean-Baptiste Ragon (1771–1862) and Emmanuel Rebold, in their Masonic histories. Rebold's claim that the high degrees were created and practiced in Lodge Canongate Kilwinning[7] at Edinburgh are entirely false.[8]

James II died in 1701[9][10] at the Palace of St. Germain en Laye, and was succeeded in his claims to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones by his son, James Francis Edward Stuart (1699–1766), the Chevalier St. George, better known as "the Old Pretender", but recognized as James III & VIII by the French King Louis XIV. He was succeeded in his claim by Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charles"), also known as "the Young Pretender", whose ultimate defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 effectively put an end to any serious hopes of the Stuarts regaining the British crowns.

The natural confusion between the names of the Jesuit College of Clermont, and the short-lived Masonic Chapter of Clermont, a Masonic body that controlled a few high degrees during its brief existence, only served to add fuel to the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence in Freemasonry's high degrees. However, the College and the Chapter had nothing to do with each other. The Jesuit College was located at Clermont, whereas the Masonic Chapter was not. Rather, it was named "Clermont" in honor of the French Grand Master, the Comte de Clermont (Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Clermont) (1709–1771), and not because of any connection with the Jesuit College of Clermont.[11]

Estienne Morin

A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high-degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an "Écossais" lodge (Scottish Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Français, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high-degree Freemasonry was carried by French men to other cities in the Western hemisphere. The high-degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Écossais lodges there.

In Paris in the year 1761, a patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him "Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World". This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or "Écossais", degree lodges. Later copies of this Patent appear to have been embellished, probably by Morin, to improve his position over the high-degree lodges in the West Indies.[12]:31–45

Morin returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue. Based on his new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766, when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a "Grand Chapter" of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston.[13]:16

Rite of 25 Degrees

Early writers long believed that a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, (the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret", and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite), had been formed in Paris by a high-degree council calling itself "The Council of Emperors of the East and West". The title "Rite of Perfection" first appeared in the Preface to the "Grand Constitutions of 1786", the authority for which is now known to be faulty.[12]:75–84

It is now generally accepted that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is more properly called "The Rite of the Royal Secret", or "Morin's Rite".[12]:37

However, it was known as "The Order of Prince of the Royal Secret" by the founders of the Scottish Rite, who mentioned it in their "Circular throughout the two Hemispheres"[14] or "Manifesto", issued on December 4, 1802.[15]

Henry Andrew Francken and his manuscripts

Henry Andrew Francken, a naturalized French subject born as Hendrick Andriese Franken of Dutch origin, was most important in assisting Morin in spreading the degrees in the New World. Morin appointed him Deputy Grand Inspector General (DGIG) as one of his first acts after returning to the West Indies. Francken worked closely with Morin and, in 1771, produced a manuscript book giving the rituals for the 15th through the 25th degrees. Francken produced at least four such manuscripts. In addition to the 1771 manuscript, there is a second which can be dated to 1783; a third manuscript, of uncertain date, written in Francken’s handwriting, with the rituals 4–25°, which was found in the archives of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lancashire in Liverpool in approximately 1984; and a fourth, again of uncertain date, with rituals 4–24°, which was known to have been given by H. J. Whymper to the District Grand Lodge of the Punjab and rediscovered about 2010.[16] Additionally, there is a French manuscript dating from 1790-1800 which contains the 25 degrees of the Order of the Royal Secret with additional detail, as well as three other Hauts Grades rituals; its literary structure suggests it is derived from a common source as the Francken Manuscripts.[17]

Scottish Perfection Lodges

A Loge de Parfaits d' Écosse was formed on 12 April 1764 at New Orleans, becoming the first high-degree lodge on the North American continent. Its life, however, was short, as the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded New Orleans to Spain, and the Catholic Spanish crown had been historically hostile to Freemasonry. Documented Masonic activity ceased for a time. It did not return to New Orleans until the late 1790s, when French refugees from the revolution in Saint-Domingue settled in the city.[13]:16

Francken traveled to New York in 1767 where he granted a Patent, dated 26 December 1767, for the formation of a Lodge of Perfection at Albany, which was called "Ineffable Lodge of Perfection". This marked the first time the Degrees of Perfection (the 4th through the 14th) were conferred in one of the Thirteen British colonies in North America. This Patent, and the early minutes of the Lodge, are still extant and are in the archives of Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction.[13]:16 (The minutes of Ineffable Lodge of Perfection reveal that it ceased activity on December 5, 1774. It was revived by Giles Fonda Yates about 1820 or 1821, and came under authority of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction until 1827. That year it was transferred to the Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction.)

While in New York City, Francken also communicated the degrees to Moses Michael Hays, a Jewish businessman, and appointed him as a Deputy Inspector General. In 1781, Hays made eight Deputy Inspectors General, four of whom were later important in the establishment of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in South Carolina:

  • Isaac Da Costa, Sr., D.I.G. for South Carolina;
  • Abraham Forst, D.I.G. for Virginia;
  • Joseph M. Myers, D.I.G. for Maryland;
  • Barend M. Spitzer, D.I.G. for Georgia.

Da Costa returned to Charleston, South Carolina, where he established the "Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection" in February 1783. After Da Costa's death in November 1783, Hays appointed Myers as Da Costa's successor. Joined by Forst and Spitzer, Myers created additional high-degree bodies in Charleston.[13]:16–17

Physician Hyman Isaac Long from the island of Jamaica, who settled in New York City, went to Charleston in 1796 to appoint eight French men; he had received his authority through Spitzer. These men had arrived as refugees from Saint-Domingue, where the slave revolution was underway that would establish Haiti as an independent republic in 1804. They organized a Consistory of the 25th Degree, or "Princes of the Royal Secret," which Masonic historian Brigadier ACF Jackson says became the first Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite.[12]:66–68 According to Fox, by 1801, the Charleston bodies were the only extant bodies of the Rite in North America.[13]:16–17

Birth of the Scottish Rite

Although most of the thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite existed in parts of previous degree systems,[18] the Scottish Rite did not come into being until the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at CharlestonSouth Carolina, in May 1801 at Shepheard's Tavern at the corner of Broad and Church Streets (the tavern had been the location of the founding of Freemasonry in South Carolina in 1754). The Founding Fathers of the Scottish Rite who attended became known as "The Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston".

  • John Mitchell - Received a patent April 2, 1795, from Barend Moses Spitzer granting him authority as Deputy Inspector General to create a Lodge of Perfection and several Councils and Chapters wherever such Lodges or Chapters were needed. Born in Ireland in 1741, he came to America at an early age. He served as Deputy Quartermaster General in the Continental Army, and was the first Grand Commander of the Supreme Council.
  • Frederick Dalcho - A physician, he served in the Revolutionary Army and was stationed at Fort Johnson. He formed a partnership in 1801 with Dr. Isaac Auld, another of the original members. He was an outstanding orator and author. In 1807 he published the first edition of Ahiman Rezon. He became an editor of the Charleston Courier, was a lay reader and deacon in the Episcopal Church, and in 1818 was ordained as a priest.
  • Alexandre Francois Auguste de Grasse, known as Comte de Grasse-Tilly. He was born in France as the eldest legitimate son of François Joseph Paul de Grasse, a French admiral known as a hero of the American Revolution for defeating the British fleet in the Battle of the Chesapeake. He inherited his father's title, and likely had the highest social ranking of the original eleven founders. He was the youngest of the members and was named to become the Grand Commander of the West Indian Islands. After Napoleon came to power, de Grasse returned to France and resumed his military career. He also extended Freemasonry, establishing the Supreme Council of France and councils in other European cities.
  • Jean-Baptiste Marie de La Hogue - He was a native of Paris who had lived in Saint-Domingue until the revolution there; father-in-law of de Grasse, he was a founding member of La Candeur Lodge in Charleston.
  • Thomas Bartholemew Bowen - Was the first Grand Master of Ceremonies of the new Supreme Council. He was a Major in the Continental Army and a printer by trade.
  • Abraham Alexander - Was one of the first Sovereign Grand Inspectors General. He was born in London in 1743, and immigrated to Charleston in 1771. He was a prominent Sephardic Jew and had been described as "a Calligraphist of the first order"; he was elected as the first Grand Secretary General.
  • Emanuel de la Motta - A Sovereign Grand Inspector General. Also a Sephardic Jew, he was by trade a merchant and auctioneer. He was a member of Friendship Lodge and was reported to be devoted to the study of Jewish literature and Masonry.
  • Isaac Auld - An eminent physician, associated in medical practice with Dr. Dalcho. He was a strong Congregationalist.
  • Israel de Lieben - A Sovereign Grand Inspector General and the first Grand Treasurer General. He was born in Prague and emigrated to the United States at 21. He was known as "the liberal-headed Jew", who was "tolerant in his religious opinions" and was considered to be intelligent, enterprising, liberal and generous.
  • Moses Clava Levy - Born in Krakow, Poland, he was a prosperous merchant, was generous and helpful to the unfortunate, and devoted to his adopted city and country.
  • James Moultrie - the only native South Carolinian among the original members. He was a physician, and according to Albert Pike, "was one of the foremost Citizens of South Carolina".
  • Isaac Da Costa, another Sephardic Jew, was one of the deputies commissioned to establish Morin's Rite of the Royal Secret in other countries; he formed constituent bodies of the Rite in South Carolina in 1783. These are considered to have become in 1801, The Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. All regular Scottish Rite bodies today derive their heritage from this body.

Subsequently, other Supreme Councils were formed in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) in 1802, in France in 1804, in Italy in 1805, and in Spain in 1811.[19]

On May 1, 1813, an officer from the Supreme Council at Charleston initiated several New York Masons into the Thirty-third Degree and organized a Supreme Council for the "Northern Masonic District and Jurisdiction". On May 21, 1814 this Supreme Council reopened and proceeded to "nominate, elect, appoint, install and proclaim in due, legal and ample form" the elected officers "as forming the second Grand and Supreme Council...". Finally, the charter of this organization (written January 7, 1815) added, “We think the Ratification ought to be dated 21st day May 5815."[20]

Officially, the Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J. dates itself from May 15, 1867. This was the date of the "Union of 1867", when it merged with the competing Cerneau "Supreme Council" in New York. The current Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, was thus formed

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