The joint Conference on the history of Freemasonry held by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 and Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge in England concluded Sunday. The Conference was dedicated especially to the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
Mark Tabbert reports that a paper was presented by Drs. Andrew Prescott and Susan Mitchell Sommers that, in his words, “conclusively proved that the Grand Lodge of England was not founded in 1717, but in 1721.”
The researchers have apparently discovered detailed minutes pertaining to the creation of the Grand Lodge of of London and Westminster (precursor to the Grand Lodge of England, and finally the UGLE) in 1721 at the back of one of London’s Lodge of Antiquity No. 2’s minute books. The minutes of that gathering describe a large and well organized event.
The Lodge of Antiquity is the descendant of the lodge that met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s churchyard, and one of the four original founding lodges that formed the Grand Lodge.
In addition, the minutes apparently state that the founding Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge of England was actually John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu, and not Antony Sayer, as was stated in Rev. Anderson’s 1723 Constitutions. Montagu has long been known as the first member of the nobility to serve as Grand Master, in 1721. But this paper upsets a rather substantial applecart of accepted Masonic history.
These newly discovered documents eliminate Sayer, George Payne, and John Theophilus Desaguliers from the lineup of first successive grand masters, along with moving the official founding date of speculative Freemasonry forward by four years.
There has always been very little written record of that early period, aside from Anderson’s account. So this discovery is of major importance. At the very least, UGLE may have to move their big banquet next year forward by four years…
There were some 160 delegates and guests in attendance at the Conference from around the world. The papers presented will be published next year, and members of the Q.C. Correspondence Circle will be able to purchase the book from Lewis Masonic at a substantial discount.
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