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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

GL of Scotland: The First Speculative Freemason

If you have a Facebook account, check out the recent posting from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, entitled "The First Speculative Freemason." 

The accepted holder of that august position has long been said to be Elias Ashmole, but this article points out that he "was not the first Speculative Mason. Nor was he the second, third, or even tenth!"

The belief that Ashmole was the first Speculative Freemason is based on the argument that Ashmole was not a stonemason and did not (apparently) join a stonemason's Lodge. However, this argument does not hold water simply because it presumes that a stonemason cannot also be a Speculative Freemason. Whilst a stonemason erected buildings during his working day when he went to his Lodge in the evening he did not 'build' anything, nothing physical at least. Why being a stonemason meant he could not be a Speculative Freemason is not explained by those using that argument. 
The first Speculative Freemasons were William, Lord Alexander, his brother Anthony Alexander (the King’s Maister o’ Wark – Master of Works) and Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton. They were Initiated on 3rd July 1634, in the Lodge of Edinburgh, (a stonemasons' Lodge) that is more 12 years before Elias Ashmole...

To read the whole article, CLICK HERE. 


  1. Well written, informative article. For those interested, a similar detailed study and analysis of the topic from an English Masonic point of of view is found in the book, "York Mysteries Revealed",by the late WBro. Revd Neville Barker Cryer. Revd Cryer was a Past Master of Lodge Quatuor Coronati, No.2076.😇

  2. The enclosed is an extract from my lecture "A History of St John Freemasonry" and indicates my own thinking on the operative/ speculative journey at least in Scotland. For greater detail I recommend Prof David Stevenson's excellent "The Origins of Freemasonry Scotland's century 1590-1710".

    "The path to what we know as Masonry today, ‘a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory
    and illustrated by symbols’ or speculative masonry is another lecture. But briefly, it is my argument that Scottish
    Freemasonry was influenced by two major intellectual movements namely the renaissance 1450-1600, the
    rebirth of learning after the dark ages of Rome rule and the Protestant reformation1540-1600. The two
    significant philosophies that impacted on the development of Scottish Masonry from operative Guildism to
    speculative Freemasonry, were Hermetics, the study of ancient mysteries especially, the study of ancient Greek
    and Egyptian philosophy at the new Universities in Scotland. St Andrews 1413, Glasgow 1457, Aberdeen
    1495, Edinburgh 1583.
    The second significant intellectual tradition of the renaissance was the focus on architecture: architecture both as
    a practical art (Cathedrals, palaces, castles etc) but also as a metaphor for human spiritual development. The
    body became as a temple of and for man. Man became a builder of his own temple to the glory of God. Man
    was his own architect: building his own life and assisting in the design and building of his fellow man.
    This idea crossed over into Reformation theology. Protestants could, should take personal responsibility for
    their own lives in a personal relationship with their God, rather than seeing the world as built by Priests and
    Bishops with only the priesthood being able to intercede on behalf of man and God." T.M Cross PM


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