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By 1730 when the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk was installed (prior to the first papal condemnation of Freemasonry in 1738), there had been nine Grand Masters, six of them nobles. The first royal Grand Master was the Duke of Cumberland, grandson of George II, who was installed in 1782, with an Acting Grand Master, the Earl of Effingham, as his proxy. In 1787 both the Prince of Wales (the future George IV) and his brother William (the future William IV) were initiated. The patronage by the Royal Family of the new secret society was thenceforth assured. Queen Elizabeth II is the present Grand Patroness.
But all the while the royals were being courted to become titular leaders of Masonry, the process of transformation of the old masons’ guild continued. The Brotherhood was de-Christianized and the rituals of the various workings became formalized. Throughout the eighteenth century more and more pagan elements were brought in to replace the discarded faith.
The de-Christianization was largely accomplished by the Constitutions of Dr James Anderson, a Scottish Freemason who became a member of Original Lodge No 4. Anderson, a genealogist and a far from accurate historian, appears to have been put up to the task of settling the new form of the Craft by Dr Desaguliers who in 1723 presented the first version (there was a second version in 1738) to Grand Master the Duke of Montague when he, Desaguliers, had discreetly retired to the second position, that of Deputy Grand Master.
In Anderson’s constitution listing the new ‘Charges of a Free-Mason’, the first is the most striking and had the most far-reaching consequences. It stated: “Tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them [members of the Brotherhood] to that Religion to which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves.’
Anderson, in a long and fanciful historical preamble tracing Freemasonry back to Adam and quite unwarrantably naming many previous English monarchs as Masons, seeks to reconcile this radical departure with the spirit and tradition of the old guild by announcing, without any historical justification, that in ancient days masons had been charged in every country to be of the religion of that country where they worked - this despite the fact that virtually all the extant Old Charges were quite explicit in their Christianity.
The only reference to Christ is in Anderson’s preamble when, referring to the Roman Emperor Augustus, he notes ‘in whose Reign was born God’s Messiah, the great Architect of the Church’. In 1815 even this historical preamble was omitted from the Constitutions following the Union of the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’, described later, and during the years between 1723 and 1813 the invocation of the name of Christ in the endings of prayers gradually died out. In masonic quotations of scripture (e.g. 1 Peter ii 5; 2 Thess. iii 2; 2 Thess. iii 13) the name of Christ came to be deleted from the text. So, to Christians, the apostasy became complete. Masonry became vaguely Voltarian Deist, the ‘Great Architect of the Universe’ came to be invoked, and prayers ended with ‘so mote it be’.
After so much activity a period of comparative neglect now followed during which the politician and litterateur Horace Walpole, himself a Mason, wrote in 1743: ‘the Freemasons are in … low repute now in England … I believe nothing but a persecution could bring them into vogue again’.
There was ribaldry and mockery, and Hogarth, also a Mason, joined in making fun in his engravings of the self-indulging, self-important image the Brotherhood had earned itself. There was no persecution. Instead there was schism, partly in reaction to the de-Christianization of the Craft and other changes in its practice. Masons calling themselves ‘the Antients’, who had not formed part of the Grand Lodge of 1717, created in 1751 a rival Grand Lodge, also manned by aristocrats, which stood for the link with Christianity and certain other aspects of the old tradition which the ‘Moderns’, loyal to the 1717 Grand Lodge, had tampered with. The two Grand Lodges vied with each other to recruit provincial Lodges. To complicate matters there were also what the great masonic historian J. Heron Lepper called the ‘Traditioners’ who, while remaining under the jurisdiction of the London ‘Modern’ Grand Lodge, nevertheless did not follow its lead entirely.
There was another, later to prove most important, bone of contention between the Antients and the Moderns - the position of a masonic degree and associated working termed the Holy Royal Arch. This time it was the Moderns who objected to something new: some of the Antients had instituted this ‘fourth degree’, one of the first mentions of which is in 1746 when a prominent Irish Antient was ‘exalted’ to it. The Moderns claimed that this was a departure from unalterable tradition because the old craft, like other guild crafts, had known only a hierarchy of three degrees - Apprentice, Journeyman or Fellow, and Master Craftsman. Despite the Moderns’ objections, the Royal Arch ritual grew steadily in popularity. Perhaps the turning point in the dispute came as a result of Thomas Dunckerley, a natural son of George II, a keen Mason and a Traditioner among the Moderns, coming out as an enthusiast for Royal Arch, to which he was exalted - as Masons term initiation to the Royal Arch - according to his own report in 1754. Dunckerley looms large in masonic history and other prominent Moderns soon came to share his enthusiasm.
Eventually, in 1813, tired of their long quarrel, Antients and Moderns were reconciled, the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the Antients, giving way to the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the Moderns, who thus became the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. The Moderns gave way on Royal Arch, saving face by having it declared that this was no fourth degree but simply a culmination of the other three degrees, which completed the making of a Master Mason. The Antients for their part gave way to the Moderns in accepting the total de-Christianization of the Brotherhood.
The Union’s acceptance of Royal Arch workings is of great importance, for it completed in all essentials the structure of Freemasonry as it exists today. Just as the Moderns de-Christianized the movement, so with the acceptance of Royal Arch the Antients succeeded in introducing the undeniably occult - notably the invocation of the supposedly rediscovered long-lost name of God, discussed later in this book.
It is perhaps because the Freemasonic God, as revealed to Royal Arch Masons, is so far from being ‘that Religion to which all men agree’ that it was determined that Holy Royal Arch workings should not be conducted in Lodges but separately in ‘Chapters’ under the control of a Grand Chapter and not of Grand Lodge. In practice, the officers of Grand Lodge and of Grand Chapter overlap and today both bodies have their seat at Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street, Holborn. Moreover, Chapters usually meet in the Lodge temples to which they are attached, albeit on different evenings. Today about one in five Freemasons are Royal Arch ‘Companions’, these constituting a more fervent, more indoctrinated, closer-knit inner circle. With the acceptance of Royal Arch, the way was open for the conferment of the bewildering mass of further and even more exclusive degrees that now characterizes world Freemasonry.
During the period from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the time of the Union of Antients and Moderns in 1813, the rituals crystallized and came to approximate each other, although to this day there are a large number of somewhat different workings. The main rituals settled around the legend of King Solomon’s temple. The myth mimed in the Master Mason’s degree is the murder of Hiram Abiff, claimed to have been the principal architect of the temple, for refusing to reveal masonic secrets. The would-be Master Mason has to ‘die’ as Hiram Abiff and be ‘resurrected’ into Masonry. According to the myth mimed in the Royal Arch ceremony, a crypt is found in the foundations of the ruined temple in which is discovered the ‘omnific word’, the lost name of God. With the rituals, the oaths too became settled in the form they have today. Should he reveal the secrets of the Brotherhood, the Apprentice accepts, among other penalties, to have his tongue torn out; the Fellow Craft to have his heart torn from his breast; the Master Mason to have his bowels burned to ashes; and the exaltee to the Royal Arch accepts ‘in addition’ to have the top of his skull sliced off. But, as the rituals themselves express it, the ‘more effective penalty’ for doing anything displeasing to Masonry is to be shunned by the entire Brotherhood, a penalty adequate to bring a man to ruin, the more certainly so as Freemasonry expanded in every profession and every branch of society.
CHAPTER 4 Across the Seas and Down the Centuries (#ulink_442759ce-19d1-5ba7-850d-cfc9123e22df)
The Irish Grand Lodge was formed in 1725 and the Scottish the following year. The Scots proved at least as fervent missionaries as the English. As already mentioned, the movement had spread to the Continent at least by the third decade of the eighteenth century, often in very high society. Frederick the Great of Prussia is claimed to have been initiated in 1738, although one must be careful of accepting masonic claims of membership by the illustrious. There is no proof, for example, that Christopher Wren, often hailed as one of the brethren, was ever a member. Masonry, its undefined Deism so close to that of Voltairean rationalism, was soon the rage among the pre-revolutionary freethinkers in France: ironically, it may have been planted there by Jacobite exiles around 1725.
Freemasonry remains a power to be reckoned with in many European countries, France and Germany in particular. The French Grand Master today is Air Force General Jacques Mitterand, the President’s brother, and Free-masonry’s influence in politics is profound. François Mitterand owes much of his success in the 1981 election to influential Freemasons. Masonry has been closely identified with the Socialists for most of the last seventy years. According to Fred Zeller, Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France in 1971 and 1973, the 1974 presidential election would have been won by the Socialists had Valery Giscard d’Estaing not become a Freemason and colluded with sympathetic forces in the Brotherhood, which eventually persuaded French Freemasons that it was in their best interests to vote for Giscard. He was initiated into the Franklin Roosevelt Lodge in Paris the year of the election.
Italian Freemasonry, later to play a significant role in the unification of the country (Garibaldi was a Freemason), was established in Rome by Jacobite exiles in 1735 and was already a force by 1750. Masonry among Roman Catholic prelates was one reason for the repeated papal condemnations.
No country was too small for attention: Holland, Switzerland and Sweden all had keen and influential memberships in the eighteenth century. Continental Masonry reached as far as Russia: Tolstoy in War and Peace describes the different motivations of upper-class Masons during the Napoleonic Wars.
Freemasonry crossed the Atlantic to the colonies of the old empire very early on: George Washington’s initiation was in 1752. Today, the dollar bill bears not only Washington’s likeness but also the all-seeing-eye symbol of Freemasonry. Washington refused to become head of Masonry for the whole of the newly formed United States, and US Freemasonry came to be organized on a state-by-state basis. Today, each state has its own Grand Lodge. Royal Arch Chapters come under state Grand Chapters, the first mention of Royal Arch appearing in Virginia records of 1753. A few states followed the British lead and spread the Brotherhood abroad. For example, before the Second World War there were Lodges in China under Massachusetts jurisdiction, and it was Massachusetts that warranted the first Canadian Lodge in 1749.* (#ulink_f6b79d86-6e39-5fed-96f2-ccc328804dd5) No fewer than nine Canadian Grand Lodges were eventually formed. The United States proved a home from home for the Brotherhood. Eight signatories to the Declaration of Independence - Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Robert Treat Payne, Richard Stockton, George Walton and William Whipple - were proven Masons, while twenty-four others, on less than certain evidence, have been claimed by the Brotherhood. Seventeen Presidents have been Masons: Washington, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, both Roosevelts, Taft, Harding, Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Seventeen Vice-Presidents including Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson have also been brethren.
But the British - the founders of Masonry - remained throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the chief propagandists for the movement. Undaunted by the loss of the first empire and with it direct control over American Masonry, the British took Masonry with the flag as they created their second empire - the one on which the sun never set. For some years membership of the Lodges set up in the empire (grouped in ‘Provinces’ under English, Scottish or Irish jurisdiction) was confined to Europeans, apart from a handful of Indian princely exceptions. But after 1860, at first Parsees, then other Indians were brought into the Brotherhood. In British West Africa and the West Indies there were ‘black’ Lodges as well as ‘white’ Lodges (as in the USA), and eventually mixed Lodges were formed.
Associating the native upper and middle classes on a peculiar, profitable and clandestine basis with their white rulers, some historians believe, did much to defuse resentment of imperial domination. Despite his colour, any man rather better off than the mass of the people - who were not sought as members - could, by being a Freemason, feel that he belonged in however humble a way to the Establishment. Just how far Masonry reached is shown by the fact that on the small island of Jamaica there were no fewer than twelve Lodges, some in townships of little more than a couple of streets.
Freemasonry of itself is simply a secret environment tended by its various Grand Lodges, an exclusive society within society, there to be used by its members largely as they wish. Hence its influence, political and social, can be quite different at different times and places. In the eighteenth century Masons were thin on the ground, but enough aristocrats, men of fashion and influence, were Masons to give the top Masons influence disproportionate to their numbers. And of course royal involvement ensured, as it does today, the impression of total reputability. Because of this, Freemasonry has been able to ignore all legislation dating from 1797 concerning secret societies and illegal oaths. Although regarded as subversive in some countries where the environment was less amenable, in eighteenth-century Britain the Brotherhood had the effect already alluded to - of reinforcing the development of constitutional monarchy under which its own Establishment could thrive.
Among the middle classes, though, Masonry was then too sparse in most areas to play any crucial role in local affairs. There was none of the tight-lipped apprehensive silence so common today. People could afford to ridicule the movement, and there was a lively trade in anti-masonic pamphlets. In fact, masonic ‘exposures’ may have done much to develop and harmonize the still unprinted rituals.
But the advantage of Masonry, in terms of cult, diversified friendships and straight worldly interest, had become evident to many. With the Union of 1813 the movement began to snowball: for the more Masons there are in any area or profession the more important it is to be a Mason if one is not to risk losing out, as a non-member of the ‘club’, in one’s business, one’s profession and one’s preferment.
Another factor was important: with the Industrial Revolution, social mobility began to increase. And Masonry, providing a ladder extending from the lower middle class to the Royal Family itself, offered great advantages to those who could learn how to climb it. There was also the loneliness of the new urban way of life: Freemasonry provided an enormous circle of instant acquaintances in most walks of life. Then too, the English public schoolboy could continue to be a public schoolboy in the intimacy of the Craft.
At the end of the eighteenth century only about 320 English Lodges had been warranted. About twice as many more were formed in the next half century, No 1000 in 1864. This number was doubled in the next twenty years, No 2000 being warranted in 1883. The next twenty years maintained this rate of growth with Lodge No 3000 opening in 1903, in which year Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the MP for Oldham, was initiated. All this nineteenth-century explosion resulted essentially from recruitment from the middle and professional classes.
With the First World War, which led to so many of quite humble background seeking better status, the rate of growth speeded dramatically. Lodge No 4000 was formed in 1919, and No 5000 only seven years later in 1926. The Second World War, for similar reasons, led to another such period of extraordinarily rapid growth - Lodge No 6000 being formed in 1944 and No 7000 in 1950.
In 1981, Lodge No 9003 was warranted. Even allowing for Lodges that have been discontinued, taking average Lodge membership at around sixty men, a membership of at least half a million can reasonably reliably be estimated for England alone. Official masonic estimates, as already stated, put the total for England and Wales at around 600,000.
As the recruiting ground for Freemasons is primarily the not directly productive middle and professional classes, it is clear that a very high proportion of these people, occupying key roles in British society - lawyers, Civil Servants, bank managers and so on - are Freemasons. In many fields nowadays the disadvantages of being left out of the ‘club’ are perceived as being too serious for a great many people to contemplate, whatever they may feel personally about the morality of joining a secret society, or about the misty tenets of speculative Freemasonry.
(#ulink_3e2c7c04-7c09-596f-a519-eaa7fc568835)The oldest masonic Lodge room in the USA dates from 1760 and is at Prentiss House, Marblehead, Massachusetts.
CHAPTER 5 The Thirty-Third Degree (#ulink_1905d9a2-76ea-54f2-b27d-934163003fee)
There is an elite group of Freemasons in England over whom the United Grand Lodge has no jurisdiction. These are the brethren of the so-called Higher Degrees, and even the majority of Freemasons have no idea of their existence.
Most Freemasons who have been raised to the 3rd Degree to become Master Masons believe they are the top of the masonic ladder. As novices they were Entered Apprentices. They were then ‘passed’ as Fellow Craft Masons and finally ‘raised’ as Masters. The very name Master has connotations of supremity. If Master Masons have ambition it will usually be to achieve office within their Lodge - eventually, with good fortune and the passing of years, to become Worshipful Master of their mother Lodge (the Lodge to which they were first initiated into Masonry). Those who have their eyes fixed on higher office will aim for rank in their Provincial Grand Lodge or in the United Grand Lodge itself. But even the Grand Master of all England is only a Freemason of the 3rd Degree. The three Craft degrees form the entire picture of Masonry for most of the 600,000 ‘uninitiated initiates’ of the Brotherhood in England and Wales.
3° Master Mason
2° Fellow Craft
1° Entered Apprentice
The ‘Masters’, who form the largest proportion of Freemasons, are in most cases quite unaware of the thirty superior degrees to which they will never be admitted, nor even hear mentioned. This is the real picture, with the three lowly degrees governed by Grand Lodge and the thirty higher degrees governed by a Supreme Council.
These thirty degrees, beginning with the 4th (that of Secret Master) and culminating in the 33rd (Grand Inspector General), are controlled by a Supreme Council whose headquarters are at 10 Duke Street, St James’s, London SW1. Nobody walking down Duke Street from Piccadilly is likely to suspect the true nature of what goes on inside the building, even if he or she happens to notice the small plate to the right of the entrance which says, ‘The Supreme Council. Ring once’. Built in 1910-11, this imposing Edwardian mansion with fine neo-classical features might easily be taken for a consulate or the headquarters of some private institute. Nor do people thumbing through the S-Z section of the London Telephone Directory get any clue from the entry sandwiched between Supreme Cleaners and Supreme Die Cutters: ‘Supreme Council 33rd Degree … 01-930 1606’.
Nobody looking at that fine but anonymous house from outside could suspect that behind its pleasing façade, beyond the two sets of sturdy double doors and up the stairs there is a Black Room, a Red Room and a Chamber of Death. To high Masons, the house in Duke Street is known as the Grand East.
Members of Craft Freemasonry - that is, all but a few thousand of England’s Masons - often argue that Freemasonry is not a secret society but ‘a society with secrets’. Although the argument is in the end unconvincing, it has its merits. But no such case can be made out for the wealthy society-within-a-society based at 10 Duke Street.
One of the regulations of ordinary Craft Freemasonry is that no Mason may invite an outsider to join. Anyone wishing to become a Freemason must take the initiative and seek two sponsors from within the Brotherhood.* (#ulink_599be38b-f149-591b-953a-421df57b6816) The position is reversed for Freemasons of the 3rd Degree who wish to be elevated to the Higher Degrees. Initiation is open only to those Master Masons who are selected by the Supreme Council. If a representative of the Supreme Council establishes a contact with a Master Mason and concludes that he is suitable, the Candidate will be offered the chance of being ‘perfected’ and setting the first foot on the ladder to the 33rd Degree. But only a small proportion, even of the limited number of Freemasons who take the first step, progress beyond the 18th Degree, that of Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom. With each Degree, the number of initiates diminishes. The 31st Degree (Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander) is restricted to 400 members; the 32nd (Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret) to 180; and the 33rd - the preeminent Grand Inspectors General - to only 75 members.
While the Armed Forces are strongly represented in ordinary Freemasonry, the ‘Antient and Accepted Rite of the Thirty-Third Degree’ is particularly attractive to military men. Grand Inspectors General (i.e. members of the Supreme Council) have included Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis, successively Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East and Allied Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean in the Second World War; Major-General Sir Leonard Henry Atkinson; Brigadier E. W. C. Flavell; Lieutenant-General Sir Harold Williams; Brigadier General Edward Charles Walthall Delves Walthall; and scores more in the last two decades. Before his retirement in 1982 the Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander (the most senior Freemason of the 33rd Degree in England and Wales and Head of the Supreme Council) was Major-General Sir (Herbert) Ralph Hone, KCMG, KBE, MC, TD, and so on. There is no mention of Freemasonry in his entry in Who’s Who, which lists every other decoration, award and distinction he has earned in his eighty-seven years, although becoming Britain’s highest Freemason can have been of no little consequence to him. In masonic matters he would dispense with all the other abbreviations and simply sign himself, Ralph Hone, 33. Born in 1896, he is also a Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
He was wounded during the First World War while serving with the British Expeditionary Force, went on to practise as a barrister-at-law in Uganda and Zanzibar in the 1920s, becoming Resident Magistrate in Zanzibar in 1928 and Crown Counsel of Tanganyika Territory two years later. In the thirties he was Attorney-General and Acting Chief Justice of Gibraltar, and Attorney-General of Uganda between 1937 and 1943. After serving as Chief Legal Adviser, Political Branch, and then Chief Political Officer, GHQ Middle East, he was appointed to the General Staff of the War Office in 1943. After the war he was Chief Civil Affairs Officer in Malaya for a year before becoming Secretary-General to the Governor-General of Malaya and then Deputy Commissioner-General in South-East Asia. In 1949 he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of North Borneo. At the end of five years there he spent seven years as Head of the Legal Division of the Commonwealth Relations Office. This took him into 1961 when he returned to the Bar. Among other posts at home and abroad in the next fourteen years he was a Constitutional Adviser to R. A. Butler’s Advisers on Central Africa, to the South Arabian Government and the Bermuda Government. He was Standing Counsel to the Grand Bahama Port Authority until his retirement in 1975 at the age of seventy-nine. He succeeded Most Puissant Brother Sir Eric Studd, Bt, OBE, 33, as Sovereign Grand Commander.
This, then, was the man who - at the time The Brotherhood was completed for New English Library - was truly Britain’s highest Freemason, whatever might be said of the Duke of Kent, the current Grand Master of Craft Masonry. Page 40 shows the hierarchy over which the Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander presides, with the Duke of Kent’s sub-hierarchy way down low.
Although in 1936, 1947 and 1967 Major-General Sir Ralph Hone held grand rank in the United Grand Lodge, and has achieved distinction in many fields, he is one of that brand of men who attain power without notoriety or fame. Few of the many hundreds of Freemasons I have interviewed had even heard of him, and of those few only five knew of him in his secret role as the highest Mason of the highest Degree. These five were all initiates of the Ancient and Accepted Rite: two Sovereign Princes Rose Croix of Heredom (18th Degree); one of the 180 Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret (32nd Degree); a 33rd Degree Grand Inspector General; and a former Grand Inspector Inquisitor of the 31st Degree who had renounced Freemasonry, in order, he said, to become ‘a true and living Christian’. But beyond the fact that Major-General Sir Ralph was the preeminent member of the Supreme Council, none of them would say any more either about the man himself or about the rituals, the degrees or the administration of the Rite.
Sir Ralph’s successor is Harold Devereux Still, former Grand Treasurer and Junior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England, and Grand Treasurer and Grand Scribe Nehemiah of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England. He also attained the rank of Grand Master of the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.
The Brotherhood attracts men of distinction in the judiciary and legal profession, as will be seen later. One such man is His Honour Judge Alan Stewart Trapnell, who was appointed to the Circuit Bench in 1972. He is a Craft Freemason of grand rank, having been Assistant Grand Registrar in 1963, Junior Grand Deacon in 1971 and Senior Grand Deacon in 1979. In 1969 he became Assistant Grand Sojourner of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Freemasons. All these details are listed in the Masonic Year Book, which is now very difficult for non-Masons to come by. What is not mentioned is that he is a Freemason of the 33rd Degree and Grand Inspector General for Middlesex.
Although Craft Freemasonry is worldwide in the sense that it exists in most parts of the non-Communist world, and even underground in parts of the eastern bloc, it has no international organization. The Ancient and Accepted Rite of the Thirty-Third Degree is the only cohesive masonic group run on truly international lines. The Supreme Council in London is one of many Supreme Councils in various parts of the globe, of which the senior is the Supreme Council of Charleston, USA, which effectively operates a worldwide network of Freemasons in the most powerful positions in the executive, legislature, judiciary and armed forces as well as the industry, commerce and professions of many nations.
The English working of the Rite - sometimes known by the code name Rose Croix from the title of the initiate to the 18th Degree - differs from the American in one basic respect. In England and Wales only a few of the 33 degrees are conferred by special ritual, while in the USA each degree has its own initiation ceremony. In this country, the 4th to 17th Degrees are conferred at once and in name only during initiation of the selected Freemason to the 18th Degree. To the few who rise higher than the 18th Degree, the 19th to 29th are conferred nominally during the ritual of initiation to the 30th Degree - that of Grand Elected Knight Kadosh or Knight of the Black and White Eagle. Degrees above the 30th are conferred singly. No initiate can rise highter than the 18th Degree without the unanimous agreement of the entire Supreme Council.
(#ulink_e55a9b51-fb61-5a9f-adbb-74dfc59834c2)This, at least, is the theory - and United Grand Lodge staunchly maintains that it is the practice. In reality most Entered Apprentices are recruited by existing Masons they know personally.
PART TWO The Police (#ulink_ec93a269-5f11-5881-9f36-5e98e5c79a48)
CHAPTER 6 The Great Debate (#ulink_53bd87ea-f86c-5847-9cc2-a71b1b37c2c5)
‘The insidious effect of Freemasonry among the police has to be experienced to be believed.’
With these words, David Thomas, a former head of Monmouthshire CID, created a storm of protest in 1969 and reopened a debate that had started nearly a century before, when a conspiracy involving masonic police and masonic criminals brought about the destruction of the original Detective Department in Scotland Yard.
Since then allegations of masonic corruption within the police have been rife. The Jack the Ripper murders in the East End of London in 1888 were perpetrated according to masonic ritual and a subsequent police cover-up was led by the Commissioner and Assistant Commisioner of the Metropolitan Police, both Freemasons.
There have been allegations of charges being dropped against criminal Masons by police Masons; of unfair promotions on the basis of masonic membership and not merit; of non-Masons being hounded out of the service; of livelihoods ruined; of blackmail and violence; of discipline eroded by a system in which a Chief Superintendent, Commander or even on occasion an Assistant Chief Constable or Chief Constable can be made to kneel in submission before one of his own constables; and, in recent times, of robbery and murder planned between police and criminals at Lodge meetings.
It is almost certainly true that the corruption which led to Operation Countryman, the biggest investigation of police malpractice ever mounted in Britain, would never have arisen had a masonic City of London Police commissioner in the 1970s not turned a blind eye to the activities of several desperately corrupt Freemasons under his command.
And in the purges that took place at New Scotland Yard in the early 1970s, masonic police up to the rank of Commander were found to be involved in corrupt dealings with masonic criminals.
The debate about Freemasonry in the police began in 1877 with the sensational discovery that virtually every member of the Detective Department at Scotland Yard, up to and including the second-in-command, was in the pay of a gang of vicious swindlers. The corruption had started in 1872 when Inspector John Meiklejohn, a Freemason, was introduced at a Lodge meeting in Islington to a criminal called William Kurr. Kurr had then been a Freemason for some years. One night at the Angel, Islington, the two masonic brothers exchanged intimacies. Kurr was operating a bogus ‘betting agency’ swindle and was sorely in need of an accomplice within the force to warn him as and when the Detective Department had sufficient information against him to move in. Meiklejohn agreed to accept £100, nearly half his annual salary, to supply information.
The Detective Department at Scotland Yard had been set up in 1842. In the 1870s there were only fifteen detectives to cover the entire capital. These were under the command of the legendary Superintendent Frederick Williamson, described by one writer as a man of ‘the strictest probity, and of great experience and shrewdness’. Under Williamson, the most senior detectives in London were Chief Inspector George Clarke, Chief Inspector William Palmer and Chief Detective Inspector Nathaniel Druscovitch - all Freemasons.
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