FRINGE MASONRY IN ENGLAND
By BRO. ELLIC HOWE
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER with the concept of 'fringe' Masonry and the
names of Kenneth Mackenzie and Francis George Irwin was in 1961,
when I was baffled by almost everything relating to the origins and
early history of Dr. W. Wynn Westcott's extraordinary androgynous
Magical society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. A. E.
Waite suggested in his auto-biographical Shadows of Life and
Thought, 1938, that Mackenzie might once have owned the Golden
Dawn's legendary Cypher Manuscript, although this seems unlikely.
The provenance of this document is unknown and likely to remain so.
It was in the possession of the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, a founder
member of Q.C. Lodge, in 1886 and he gave it to Westcott in August
1887. Thereafter we are confronted with a lunatic story of
fabricated letters, invisible Secret Chiefs and, for good measure,
the introduction of a mythical German lady called Fraulein
Sprengel, otherwise the Greatly Honoured Soror Sapiens Dominabitur
Astris, allegedly an eminent 'Rosicrucian' adept. It was she,
according to Westcott, who gave him permission to operate the
Golden Dawn in this country. While all this is great fun for
amateurs of the absurd, it is outside the scope of this paper. (1)
Since Waite tentatively suggested that the Golden Dawn trail led in
the direction of Mackenzie, I followed it via his The Brotherhood
of the Rosy Cross, 1924, and there I first came across Irwin's
Certain statements made by Waite attracted my attention. 'For a
period of about twenty-five years, dating approximately from 1860,'
he wrote, 'the existence of amateur manufactories of Rites in
England is made evident by the facts of their output, for which all
antecedent history is wanting, except in a pseudo-traditional
sense, which is that of occult invention.' The convoluted prose
style is typical of Waite's writing. He inferred, too, that
Mackenzie was connected with what he called a 'manufactory, mint or
studio of Degrees'. He described Irwin as 'a believer in occult
arts within the measure of a thinking and reading person of his
particular mental class', adding that 'for the rest [he] was
satisfied apparently with the pursuits of spiritualism, to the
truth of which his circle bears witness in unpublished writings'.
Finally Waite mentioned that Irwin 'was a zealous and amiable
Mason, with a passion for Rites and an ambition to add to their
Waite antedated the 'studio of Degrees' by about ten years. My
belief is that Irwin was always far more preoccupied with
Freemasonry ('fringe' and otherwise) than with spiritualism.
Unable to make any headway with the Golden Dawn problem I turned to
other eccentricities. (3) I might never have returned to Mackenzie
et alii but for the fact that in the autumn of 1969 I was again
back in the Golden Dawn territory and fated to remain there for the
next two years. Then in October 1970 Bro. A. R. Hewitt, Librarian
of the United Grand Lodge of England, showed me a collection of c.
6oo letters which F. G. Irwin had received from twenty-five
different correspondents between 1868 and 1891. (4) The majority of
them were from Kenneth Mackenzie and Benjamin Cox. For the most
part they were written during the 1870s.
(1) See Ellic Howe, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary
History of a Magical Order, 1887-1923, London, Routledge & Kegan
(2) See A, E. Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, 1924, pp.
(3) These included a still uncompleted study ofthe Germanen Order
in relation to the prehistory of German National Socialism. The
G.O. (.fl. 1911-c. 22) was a pseudo-Masonic (and anti-Masonic!)
secret society with a psychopathic anti-semitic bias. By 19I4 it
had a dozen 'lodges' scattered throughout Germany.
(4) Irwin died on 26 July 1893. There is no reference in his will
to the disposal of his books and papers, but his widow presented
them to Grand Lodge in March 1894. Apart from the letters, which
are preserved in three small boxes, other documents from this
source are in 'special subject' folders under such headings as 'Sat
B'hai' and 'Swedenborg Rite'. There is also an interesting
collection of MS. rituals, all for pseudo-Masonic rites, in Irwin's
handwriting or copied for him by his friend Benjamin Cox. For a
check list of Irwin's correspondents see Appendix 1.
When I first read these letters I realised that it would now be
possible to document Mackenzie and Irwin, also the amateur
manufactories of rites, in greater detail than had been possible in
the past. Indeed, the correspondence threw new light upon the
whole area of 'fringe' Masonry during the late Victorian era.
The term 'fringe Masonry' is used here for want of a better
alternative. It was not 'irregular' Masonry because those who
promoted the rites did not initiate Masons, i.e. confer the three
Craft degrees or the Holy Royal Arch. Hence they did not encroach
upon Grand Lodge's and Grand Chapter's exclusive preserve.
The appearance during the second half of the nineteenth century of
various 'additional', 'higher' or 'side' degrees indicates a loose
interpretation of the last sentence in Article II of the Act of
Union in 1813. This merely stated that it was 'not intended to
prevent any Lodge or Chapter from holding a meeting in any of the
Degrees of the Orders of Chivalry according to the constitutions of
the said Orders'.
A Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees was formed in 1884. Rule
I of its original Constitution stated:
In view of the rapid increase of Lodges of various Orders
recognising no central authority and acknowledging no common form
of goverrunent, a Ruling Body has been formed to take under its
direction all Lodges of such various Orders in England and Wales
and the Colonies and Dependencies of the Bridsh Crown as may be
willing to join it.
It will be seen that submission to the Grand Council's authority
was a matter of choice.(1) Furthermore, it never occurred to Irwin
or Mackenzie and their friends to apply for, let alone accept, the
Grand Council's jurisdiction over their 'inventions'. (2)
The emergence of a variety of 'additional degrees' after c. 1860 -
those that later came under the authority of the Grand Council of
Allied Degrees, and the 'stray' rites in which Mackenzie & Co. had
a hand - happened at a time when the Craft was rapidly expanding in
England, with a consequent increase in the number of lodges. It
was coincidental that there was a widespread contemporary public
interest in spiritualism and alleged mediumistic phenomena. There
was no connection between the new spiritualist movement and
Freemasonry, but men like Mackenzie and Irwin, who were active in
'fringe' Masonry, were often spiritualists. Furthermore they and
many others in their particular circle were also identified with
occultism. They did not represent anything remotely like a mass
movement within Craft Masonry. We are merely confronted with a
small and amorphous group of men, most of whom knew one another.
The same names will be found time and again.
Since I have in turn referred to a Magical Society, i.e. the Golden
Dawn, mentioned Waite's hypothesis that Mackenzie might have had
some connection with its pre-history, and identified Irwin as a
believer in the occult arts, some may suppose that I have a
personal involvement with occultism. This is not the case. As a
historian of ideas I am solely concerned with the historical fact
of the persistent survival of beliefs which can be equated with the
concept of 'Rejected Knowledge', meaning knowledge which is
rejected by the Establishment at large because it is held to be
superstitious, lacking a rational basis, unscientific, and so on.
Astrology is a typical example.
This paper's subject matter is outside the main stream of the
history of Freemasonry in nineteenth-century England. However, it
concerns an obscure area which nobody else has hitherto wanted to
describe. And that, perhaps, is its only justification.
(1) In 1902 the Grand Council extended its authority and claimed
'the superintendence of all such Degrees or Orders as may hereafter
be established in England and Wales with, and by consent of, The
Supreme Council 33 degree, Great Priory, Grand Lodge of Mark Master
Masons, Grand Council of Roval and Select Masters and Grand
Imperial Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine, but not under
the superintendence of such governing bodies'. By this time there
was little or no interest in the creation of additional rites.
(2) Mackenzie and Invin were discussing the formation of a Council
of Side Degrees as early as 1875. On 11 June Mackenzie informed
Irwin that 'I have put the question as to a Council of Side Degrees
to my uncle Bro. Hervey [Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge
of England] and if he sees nothing improper in the matter I shall
have no hesitation in acting conjointly with yourself in putting
such a plan forward. It would in one way regulate the conferring
of these degrees', of which there are some 270 in existence and
thus prevent a good deal of imposture. . . . ' A day later letter
(4 February 1876) explains what Mackenzie had in mind. Groups of
these degrees would be successively available to Mark Masters, R.
A. Companions, and, according to seniority, to members of the A. &
A. Rite. Their projected Council was never formed.
My thanks are due to the Board of General Purposes of the United
Grand Lodge of England for permission to use material in Grand
Lodge Library, also to Bro. A. R. Hewitt, Librarian and Curator,
Bro. T. O. Haunch, Assistant Librarian, and Bro. John Hamill,
Library Assistant, for their help and countless acts of kindness.
I also express my gratitude to Bro. Harry Carr and Bro. Roy Wells
for their constant encouragement.
Four Brethren, in particular, have helped to smooth research's
sometimes stony path and I thank Bro. Cohn F. W. Dyer (Secretary
of Emulation Lodge of Improvement) for notes on Frederick Hockley
and John Hogg; Bro. S.W.V.P. Fletcher (Royal Somerset House and
Inverness Lodge No. 4) for delving at the Public Record Office and
Somerset House on my behalf; Bro. A. L. Peavot (Secretary of Oak
Lodge No. 190) for showing me the Lodge's minute book for 1870-1;
and Bro. P. M. Rae (Secretary of Lodce Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2,
Edinburgh) for the hours he spent searching in his own lodge's
minutes in quest of Kenneth Mackenzie's elusive name; and finally
Bro. Dr. Henry Gillespie, a member of my own Lodge (St. George's
No. 370) for metaphorically placing me in a position, in his own
inimitable way, to undertake this particular research.
My thanks are also due to Miss Sibylla Jane Flower, Miss Winifred
Heard (Chiswick District Library), Miss E. Talbot Rice (National
Army Museum, London), Mr. Christopher McIntosh, Mr. Gerald Yorke
(for the almost indefinite loan of S.R.I.A. material), Lieut.-Col.
J. E. South (Librarian, Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham),
Dr. F. N. L. Poynter (Wellcome Institute for the History of
Medicine), Mr. J. C. Morgan (Archives Dept., Westminster City
Library), The Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, and the City
Librarians at Birmingham and Bristol.
As so often in the past I have to thank old friends on the stain of
the London Library and the Warburg Institute, University of London.
GRAND LODGE AND THE RITE OF MEMPHIS
The History of the rite, which was of French origin, in England is
of interest for several reasons. For about seventeen years after
1850 in this country it was in the hands of Frenchmen. Up to 1859
it was possible that they only initiated their compatriots. It is
conceivable that Grand Lodge knew nothing about it until the latter
year when it learned, to its displeasure, of the existence at
Stratford, Essex, of a Memphis 'Craft' lodge whose members were all
British. Under the heading 'Answers to Correspondents' in its
issue of 14 October 1871 The Freemason stated that 'The Rite of
Memphis is the only so-called Masonic Rite which has incurred the
denunciation of the Grand Lodge of England.' This was because the
'Equality Lodge King of Prussia' at Stratford had never been
warranted by Grand Lodge and was therefore in every respect
irregular. It is unlikely that the rite still survived in England
under its French rulership as late as 187I. However, in i872 John
Yarker imported it from the U.S.A., but since he did not confer its
first three degrees, meaning that he did not initiate Masons, the
rite was not 'irregular'. On the other hand it was areatly
disliked by the Supreme Council 33 degree of the Ancient and
Accepted Rite which had already expelled Yarker in 1870. I will
refer to Yarker's extraordinary career in 'fringe' Masonry later.
The multifarious information - or more often misinformation - about
the early history of the Rite of Memphis, which has been
transmitted from one book or encyclopaedia to another, cannot be
condensed into a few lines. (1) The usual story is that it was
established with ninety five degrees by Samuel Honis at Cairo in
1814. He brought it to France in 1815 and a lodge ('Les Disciples
de Memphis') was founded on 30 April at Montauban by Honis, Gabriel
Mathieu Marconis de Negre and others. This lodge was closed on 7
March 1816 and Honis and Marconis de Negre conveniently disappear
from the scene. Next we encounter the latter's son Jacques-Etienne
Marconis de Negre, commonly known as Marconis, at Paris in 1838.
A few lodges were formed but it is evident that J.-E. Marconis,
Grand Hierophant 96 degree, failed to attract much of a following.
In 1841 the police intervened, no doubt after receiving a gentle
nudge from the Grand Orient or the French Supreme Council 33
degree, and the rite went underground until 1848, the
(1) Here I have mainly used Albert Lantoine, Histoire de la
franc-maconnerie francaise, Paris, 1925, pp. 287-97; articles or
references in The Freemason, 1869-72; Albert Mackey, An
Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Philadelphia, 1875 (not in Wolfstieg
but probably a more or less exact reprint of the first 1874
edition); and the 'historical' article on John Yarker's Antient and
Primitive Rite of Masonry in his periodical The Kneph, Vol. 1, No.
8, August 1881. The latter contains many misrepresentations.
'Year of Revolutions'. Then, under a more liberal regime, Marconis
was able to revive it. Lantoine (seefootnote 1, previous page)
inferred that the rite suffered a debacle totale in December 1851
and that Marconis then allowed it to 'slumber', furthermore that
its somnolence was permanent. This may well have been the case in
France, but there was an export market for a novelty that offered
a grand total of ninety-five degrees and during the next decade it
was sold - it is inconceivable that Marconis offered all those
degrees as friendly gifts - to the U.S.A., Egypt and Roumania. The
rite also reached England in 1850, but in the possession of
Frenchmen who had previously belonged to it in France. Their
status, both as 'Memphis' Masons and as individuals is of
considerable interest and I will refer to this later. Honis
surrendered the rite, or rather its corpse, to the Grand Orient in
1862 and relinquished any form of jurisdiction over it. The G.O.
regularised its French members by recognising them as Craft Masons
and placed all its higher degrees upon what it hoped was a
conveniently high shelf. Marconis, however, did not keep faith
with the G.O. and dispensed warrants outside France, claiming that
his renunciation only applied to France itself. He died on 21
November 1869, unregretted as far as the G.O. was concerned.
Grand Lodge first became aware of the rite's eastence in the autumn
of 1859, although it appears to have been quietly active here since
1850. On 24 October I859 the Grand Secretary, William Gray Clarke,
sent a circular letter to the Masters of all lodges in the English
constitution. This document included a facsimile reproduction of
a Memphis certificate issued by the 'Loge Egalite, O[rientl de
Stratford' from which the name of the recipient and various
emblematical devices had been deleted.(1)
The Grand Secretary's letter began: 'I am directed to inform you
... that there are at present existing in London and elsewhere in
this country, spurious Lodges claiming to be Freemasons.' He warned
Masters to be careful not to admit any irregular 'Memphis' Masons
to their own lodges and emphasised that 'the Brethren of your Lodge
... can hold no communication with irregular lodges without
incurring the penalty of expulsion from the Order, and the
liability to be proceeded against under Act 39, George III, for
taking part in the Meetings of illegal secret Societies'.
Some weeks later the Grand Secretary received a polite letter from
Stratford. It disclosed that the lodge there was being joined by
members of the artisan class who could not afford to join regular
lodges. The letter did not reveal that the heads of the rite in
England were French radical republicans who had fled from France in
1849-50 after Prince Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected President
of the Republic in December 1848. It is possible that the
Stratford lodge might have been 'political' to an extent uknown in
English Craft lodces, in which all political controversy was
forbidden (see Antient Charges, VI, 2). (2) The letter was signed
by Robert Meikle, Leamen Stephens, David Booth, Charles Ashdown,
Charles Turner, Stephen Smith and another whose name is illegible.
Its first paragraph follows:
Equality Lodge King of Prussia Stratford
The 4th day of December 1859 V.'. E.'. Sir and Brother,
As it appears from a Circular issued by the Board-for [sicl General
Purposes addressed to The Masonic body in England, that a great
misconception exists in the minds of the Members of that Board as
to the real objects and character of the Brethren comprising the
Equality Lodge at Stratford we are instructed by the W.M. and
Council of the Lodge to forward to you for the information of the
Board such facts as may be useful to make known at the Quarterly
communication. In the first place Stratford and its neighbourhood
contains a population of some thousands of Skilled Mechanics,
Artisans and Engineers, many of whom from their superior
attainments or from the exigiencies of Trade are called upon to
pursue their avocations in the various states of Continental Europe
or in our own colonial possessions (3) and to whom therefore the
advantages rising from Masonic Fraternity are of great consequence.
A desire therefore has long existed for the erection of a Masonic
Temple in this district and one or two abortive
(1) The certificate, with parallel texts in French and English, was
undoubtedly designed and printed in France. It is headed: 'Au Nom
du G .'. Conseil Gen .'. de l'Ordre Mac .'. Reforme de Memphis,
sous les auspices de la Gr .'. Loge des Philadelphes'. The
signatures of the seven lodge officers (Le Ven[erable] de la
L[oge], Le ier Surveillant) etc. were all of Englishmen. The
signatures of three 'Grand Officers' were those of Frenchmen.
(2) The analysis and discussion of various documents relating to
the Rite of Memphis in France and England, 1850-70, are reserved
for a separate article.
(3) There was a Memphis lodge at Ballarat, Australia, during the
attempts have been made for this purpose by Brethren in connection
with your G.L., the failure arising chiefly from the large sums
necessary for Initiations and raisings. The matter would probably
have rested here, had it not happened some eighteen months since
that several parties now Brethren of this Lodge were brought into
communication with a number of Foreign Brothers meeting in London
... We feel honoured therefore by our association with those
Intellectual and Honourable men to whom we owe our existence as a
body; we are sympathetic to their misfortunes, and regret the
causes that have made them exiles from their native land.
In 1869 almost ten years had passed since Grand Lodge issued its
warning that the Rite of Memphis was irregular. It still existed
in England although it cannot have had many members. The amnesties
of 1859 and 1869 had made it possible for its French brethren to
return to France. Robert Wentworth Little, the editor of the
recently established weekly periodical The Freemason (No. 1, 13
March 1869) and second clerk and cashier in the Grand Secretary's
office at Freemasons' Hall, referred to the rite in the issue of 3
April i869. An extract from his leading article follows:
We are induced to use very strong language in allusion to this
pretended rite, from the fact that its adherents have dared to
erect their 'ateliers' or workshops in the heart of London, and
because they now claim to be connected, on terms of amity and
alliance, with some Masonic bodies on the continent, notably with
one or two lodges in the south of France, and even with the Supreme
Council of the 33rd degree at Turin . . .
We grieve to learn, however, that doubtless in ignorance of this
caution [i.e. the Grand Secretary's warning in 1859], some members
of English lodges have given countenance to the 'Philadelphes', by
attending their soirees and balls, where, tricked out in fantastic
finery, as 'Hierophants of the Star of Sirius', 'Sovereign Pontiffs
of Eleusis' and 'Grand Masters of the redoubtable sacred Sadah',
these imposters libel the simplicity and purity of our noble Craft
... The gravest rumours are also in circulation as to the designs
of these intriguing 'Philadelphes', the most revolutionarv ideas,
it is said, have been broached in their mystic assemblies, and
Orsini like conspirators have been seen emerging from their dark
and dangerous dens. (1)
At the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held on 7 June 1871
the Rite of Memphis and, by implication, Little's name were
mentioned in the same context. The subsequent fracas was to occupy
Grand Lodge's worried attention until a year later.
THE RITE OF MISRAIN (OR MIZRAIM)
The annals of this rite, which reached England under somewhat
incongruous circumstances late in 1870, are not unlike those of the
Rite of Memphis. Once again we encounter a mainly French origin,
picturesque characters in the background and a monstrous collection
of degrees. But whereas Memphis was declared irregular as soon as
Grand Lodge learned that it was poaching in its preserves, Mismaim
was not officially attacked because it did not initiate Masons.
However, by today's more critical standards, on English soil it was
Whether or not the rite originated in Italy in 1805 with ninety
degrees - plus three more for its 'Secret Chiefs' - and was brought
to France in 1814 (or 1815) by the three Bedarride brothers is of
no great consequence. Any synthesis of the information available
from a variety of sources is likely to be inaccurate. Thus instead
of perpetuating traditional 'legends' my account of the rite's
background in France has been reduced to a few lines.
The Grand Orient declared the rite irregular in 1816. The police
visited Marc Bedarride, the eldest of the three brothers, in
September 1822 but found nothing suspicious. (Jacques Etienne
Marconis was briefly a 'Misraimite' before he revived Memphis in
1839. He was expelled at Paris in 1833 as J.-E. Marconis and again
at Lyons in 1834 under the name of de Negre). According to Lenhoff
and Posner (Internationales Freimaurer Lexikon, 1932, art.
Misraim-Ritus), like its Memphis rival the Rite of Mismaim was
repeatedly forbidden by the French authorities, but always rose to
the surface again. Indeed, for a brief period from 1882-90 the
Grand Orient gave it recognition. Its mother lodge in France, the
'Arc en Ciel' was still working as late as 1925.
(1) Felice Orsini (1819-58), Italian conspirator who attempted to
assassinate Napoleon III on 14 January 1858. He was guillotined.
The Memphis Freemasons were meeting at the Eclectic Hall, Soho, in
1871 (article on the Rites of Mismaim and Memphis signed R.E.X. in
The Freemason, 15 April 1871).
The Ancient and Primitive Rite of Misraim arrived in England - out
of thin rather than any other kind of air -late in 1870. The
Freemason reported on 31 December that a 'Supreme Council General
of the 90 degree, had been regularly formed here 'under the
authority conveyed in a diploma granted to the Ill. .'. Bro. .'.
Cremieux, 33 degree of the Rite Ecossais, and a member of the Grand
College of Rites in France'.
In England the rite's three Conservators-General, all 90 degree,
were the Earl of Limerick, Sigismund Rosenthal and Robert Wentworth
Little, who was then thirty years of age and, as I mentioned above,
employed in the Grand Secretary's office at Freemasons' Hall.
Little, as we will learn, was an energetic promoter of 'addidonal
The Rite of Misraim's inaugural meeting was held at the Freemasons'
Tavern on 28 December 1870 with Bros. Little, Limerick and
Rosenthal in the three principal chairs. The main items on the
agenda were to form the 'Bective Sanctuary of Levites' (named after
the Earl of Bective, who had accepted office as Sovereign Grand
Master), and to confer the 33 degree upon between eighty and a
hundred brethren who were present. After being admitted seven at
a time, the new 33 degree members elected six of their number to be
66 degree. It can be inferred that the three Conservators-General
had previously nominated themselves 90 degree. In the report in The
Freemason the name of Major E. H. Finney 90 degree also appears,
but without comment. The fact that he was not identified in any
particular manner was significant.
Almost without exception those present were members of the 'Red
Cross Order', meaning the Imperial, Ecclesiastical and Military
Order of the Knights of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine,
which Little had 'revived' in 1865. It was announced that the
Antient and Primitive Rite of Mismaim would be attached to the 'Red
Cross Order' for admistrative purposes. At this inaugural meeting
'the alms collected amounted to 2 pounds Os- 3d.' -say 6d. per
head -'and the brethren adjourned to supper, separating at an early
It is necessary to relate these 'Misraimic' events in London to the
current situation in France. Napoleon III had declared war on
Germany on in July 1870 and on 12 September surrendered at Sedan
with 104,000 men. By 19 September six German corps surrounded
Paris, which was effectively cut off from the outside world. A few
days earlier a government of national defence was formed in the
capital. The war, which continued, was conducted by a Delegation
of the government which had made its way to Tours a few days before
Paris was invested by the German armies. Between 19 September 1870
and until shortly after 28 January 1871 Paris had no normal postal
communication with the French provinces or abroad.
Isaac Adolphe Cremieux was a well-known lawyer and liberal
politician. At Tours, together with Leon Gambetta (a Freemason
since 1869), he was a leading member of the Delegation, which had
assumed the functions of a government-in-exile. On 8 December
1870, following the retreat of the Army of the Loire, Cremieux
decided to transfer the Delegation to Bordeaux. Furthermore, there
is documentary evidence that he was there on 28 December 1870, the
day when the inaugural meeting of the Rite of Misraim was held in
London. (1) This fact is important in relation to later events.
When postal communication with France was resumed, Bro. John
Montagu, Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council 33 degree,
whose offices were at Golden Square, wrote on 11 March 1871 to Bro.
Thevenot, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orient at Paris, to ask if
Cremieux had the G.O.'s authority to issue a diploma for the
establishment of the Rite of Misraim in London. Thevenot replied
on 24 March and emphatically stated that no one, including
Cremieux, had been given any such permission. (2) Montagu forthwith
sent copies of the correspondence to the editor of the Freemasons'
Magazine and Masonic Mirror. It would appear that its rival
publication The Freemason was not on Montagu's mailing list,
possibly because R. W. Little had a close connection with this
periodical. (3) The Freemasons' Magazine
(1) See S. Posener, Adolphe Cremieux (1796-1880), 2 vols., Paris,
1934, which is the standard biography. Posener reprinted the text
of a telegram despatched by Cremieux from Bordeaux to Paris
on 28 December. See Vol. II, p. 215.
(2) It will be noted that Montagu wrote to Thevenot at the Grand
Orient rather than to his own opposite number at the French Supreme
Council 33 degree, or even to Cremieux. The latter had been the
Supreme Council's Sovereign-Grand Commander (i.e. head) since 1869.
Here we encounter part of an extremely complex chapter in the
history of French Freemasonry - it concerns the current
relationships between the Grand Orient and the Supreme Council -
which cannot be discussed here. For Cremieux's Masonic career see
Posener, op. cit., Vol.II, pp. 164-7; A. Lantoine, La
Franc-Maconnerie ecossaise en France, Paris, 1931; and the
biographical note in Lenhoff and Posner, Internationales Freimaurer
(3) According to Little's obituary in The Rosicrucian and Masonic
Record, April 1878, he 'edited the earlier numbers of The
Freemason'. The date when he relinquished the editorship is not
and Masonic Mirror published the Montagu-Thevenot correspondence
without delay on 1 April 1871. The editor, or perhaps someone else
who wanted to stoke the fire, expressed a doubt whether 'any
authority had been given for the establishment of the Rite of
Mizraim [in London], which was then [in The Freemason of 31
December 1870] asserted to have been the case'. The writer
continued: 'The fact of Paris then being in a state of siege
prevented any enquiries being made on the subject.' Then a bomb
with a relatively short time-fuse was planted: ' . . . how long',
the writer asked, '[will] the Board of General Purposes ... permit
this systematic trading upon Masonry on the part of those in the
employ of Grand Lodge, whose connection with it gives a colour to
their misrepresentations, and which connection is most likely to
lead many to believe that these proceedings, if not authorised by
Grand Lodge, are at least sanctioned by it.'
A week later, on 8 April 1871, The Freemason published an unsigned
article headed 'The Rite of Misraim, by a Conservator-General 90
degree. This was undoubtedly written by Little. He began by
accusing the Supreme Council of the A. & A. Rite of having had
plans to annex the Rite of Misraim, presumably before the inaugural
meeting on 28 December 1870. (1) Indeed, he described the Supreme
Council's allegedly nefarious designs with a surprising lack of
moderation. These purple passages need not be reprinted, but
Little's account of what happened on 28 December is fascinating:
... a meeting of brethren desirous of establishing the Rite upon a
legal basis was held, and this meeting was attended by a pupil of
Marc Bedarride, the 'Premier Grand Conservateur' of the Order, and
who had received its degrees thirty-seven years previously from the
Great Chief himself. This distinguished brother assented to the
Rite being reorganised under his auspices, and without his presence
and leadership not a step in the matter was made by the present
Conservators-General. It is quite true that for reasons easily
understood by those who are acquainted with the inquisitorial
system pursued by the S. G. C. 33 degree, the illustrious brother
alluded to thought it expedient to keep his name out of sight until
the Rite was firmly consolidated, and it is equally true that he
sought cooperation and aid from Ill. Bro. Cremieux, 33 degree, of
France, who was then in London. It is further beyond question that
Brother Cremieux would have attended the inaugural meeting of the
'Bective Sanctuary' had he not been unavoidably prevented by urgent
However, on 28 December 1870 Crdmieux's 'urgent business' was being
conducted at Bordeaux. Little continued:
Bro.C., however, as a proof of his willingness to assist, sent to
the meeting his diploma as a member of the French Grand College of
Rites, and this diploma was placed upon the table during the
proceedings, and was examined by several out of the hundred Masons
present. It was also understood that Bro. C.'s diploma invested
him with the power to found rites or orders recognised by the Grand
Orient of France (the Rite of Misraim being one) in all countries
where no such rites existed, and this statement was accepted as
confirming and endorsing the previous action of the prime mover,
Marc Bedarride's pupil and friend.
Thevenot's letter to Montagu was brusquely brushed aside:
... in reality it is a matter of indifference, inasmuch as the
organisation of the Rite in England rests upon another and surer
foundation - its title being derived ... from the great Bedarride
himself, and not from any foreign jurisdiction however 'ancient and
As for the nature of the diploma which was 'examined by several out
of the hundred Masons present', one can only speculate. The
inference is that Little either manufactured it himself, or that
the document was faked for him by someone else.
It remains to identify the 'pupil of Marc Bedarride' who had
received the Misraim degrees thirty-seven years earlier, and who
'thought it expedient to keep his name out of sight', no doubt at
Little's behest. He was probably Major E. H. Finney 90 degree,
mentioned above, because apart from the three Conservators-General,
i.e. Little, the Earl of Limerick and Sigismund
(1) The Supreme Council may have had an obscure claim to the rite.
See Arnold Whitaker Oxford, The Origin and Progress of the Supreme
Council 33 degree of the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite for
England etc., Oxford University Press, 1933) PP- 37-40. Oxford
briefly mentioned the rite in connection with the Rose Croix
members of the Antiquity Encampment of Knights Templar at Bath in
Rosenthal, he was the only 90 degree recorded as being, present at
the famous meeting held on 28 December.
EMBARRASSING QUESTIONS IN GRAND LODGE
The publication of the Montagu-Thevenot letters and Little's
'defence' did not remain unnoticed. Three months later, at the
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on 7 June 1871, Bro. Sir
Patrick Colquhoun rose to his feet and asked a question.
'Whether Grand Lodge countenance the Rite of Misraim of 90 degree,
the Rite of Memphis and the Order of Rome and Constantine? and if
not, whether it be consistent with the position of a subaltern in
the Grand Secretary's office that he take a lead in these
unrecognised degrees?' This enquiry set the cat among the Masonic
pigeons because the 'subaltern' was none other than Robert
Wentworth Little who, although only thirty-one years of age, was
already a well known personality in the Craft. (1)
The lengthy deliberations at successive Quarterly Communications
and the Board of General Purposes' investigation of Little's
alleged activities need not be described here. However, the
Quarterly Communication's minutes show that some Grand Officers,
and Bro. Matthew Cooke (P.M. Globe Lodge No. 23) in particular,
had an incorrect or confused knowledge of the status of certain
Orders or additional degrees. It was Cooke who raised the
temperature at the next Quarterly Communication on 6 September
'Within the last six or seven years a great innovation has crept
in, that ought to be looked to or stopped before it grew to too
great a height', he declared. 'In the Book of Constitutions it is
held forth that it is not in the power of any man, or body of men,
to make innovations in the body of Masonry.' He then metaphorically
pointed an accusing finger at the clerks in the Grand Secretary's
office who, he said, 'on their own account formulate, tabulate, and
send abroad other degrees, and they make the office the place from
which they emanate.'
Bro. John Havers, P.G.W., protested that Cooke's remarks were
libellous. The Grand Master, clearly embarrassed, asked Cooke to
'moderate his language and confine himself to his motion'. In due
course Cooke moved:
That whilst this Grand Lodge recognises the private right of every
Brother to belong to any extraneous Masonic organisation he may
choose, it firmly forbids, now and at any future time, all Brethren
while engaged as salaried officials under this Grand Lodge to mix
themselves up in any way with such bodies as the Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite; the Rites of Misraim and Memphis; the
spurious orders of Rome and Constantine -, the schismatic body
styling itself the Grand Mark Lodge of England, or any other
exterior Masonic organisation whatever, (even that of the Orders of
Knights Templar, which is alone recognised by the Articles of
Union) under the pain of immediate dismissal from employment by
this Grand Lodge.
The Grand Mark Lodge of England could hardly be described as
schismatic because in 1856 Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter had
jointly decided that the Mark Mason's degree was a graceful
addition' to that of Fellow Craft. Furthermore, Grand Lodge had
not objected to the recent establishment of what Cooke loosely
referred to as 'the spurious orders of Rome and Constantine'.(2)
Cooke's motion was referred to the Board of General Purposes, whose
report to Grand Lodge, dated 22 November 1871, was discussed at the
Quarterly Communication on 6 December. The Board had thought it
desirable to circulate once again the previous Grand
(1) R.W. Little (1840-78) was initiated in the Royal Union Lodge
No. 382 at Uxbridge in May 1861 and was a founder of the Rose of
Denmark Lodge No. 975 (1863), Villiers Lodge No. 1194 (1867) and
Burdett Lodge No. 1293 (1869). He was also a joining member of
Royal Albert Lodge No. 907 (1862) and Whittington Lodge No. 862
(1867). In Royal Arch he was exalted in Domatic Chapter No. 177 in
1863 and was a member of other R.A. Chapters. These details
account for his career in Craft Masonry up to 1871. By 1878, when
he died, he was an honorary member of about ninety Lodges and
(2) The Imperial Ecclesiastical and Military Order of the Knights
of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine, now the Masonic and
Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine, was 'revived' by
Little in 1865 when he was only twenty-six years old. The Order
achieved an immediate popularity. Between May 1865 and September
1871 sixty-two Conclaves were chartered. Of these fourteen were in
Canada, eighteen in the U.S.A. and eight in India. The anonymous
author of a pamphlet recently published under the authority of the
Order's Grand Imperial Conclave in London refuted Little's
proposition that he had resuscitated an Order with a lengthy
previous history. See The History and Origin of the Masonic and
Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine, London, privately
Secretary's letter of 4 October 1859, also the facsimile of the
Memphis certificate, which warned the Craft not to have any
intercourse with irregular lodges. The Board had established that
Little had assisted on one occasion for twenty minutes or less 'at
a Meeting held on the premises of the Craft for purposes connected
with a Society not recognised by Grand Lodge', also that, on
several occasions payments had been made to and received by the
Clerk in question at the Grand Secretary's office for purposes not
connected with the Craft'. By and large he was white washed.
My brief summary of the discussions in Grand Lodge in 1871-2 omits
much relating to contemporary individual attitudes to the degrees
outside the Craft and Royal Arch. However, the minutes highlight
the fact that, pace Bro. Cooke, during the last few years 'a great
innovation had crept in', namely the introduction of so-called
additional degrees. It can be inferred, too, that Little was very
active in this territory. (1)
R. W. LITTLE AND KENNETH MACKENZIE
In 1866, the year after he 'revived' the Knights of the Red Cross
of Rome and Constantine, Little founded the Rosicrucian Society of
England, now the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, more familiarly
known as the Soc. Ros. or by its initials S.R.I.A. Unlike the 'Red
Cross Order', as it was often called, it did not represent an
'additional degree'. Then, as now, it was a Masonic study croup.
However, it had nine grades and worked its own brief rituals. At
this point I must emphasise that all my references to the
Rosicrucian Society or S.R.I.A. relate to its distant past. I know
little about its affairs and membership after 1914. Here I am
mainly concerned with Mackenzie's alleged participation in its
Important in the context of this study is that during its early
years it provided a meeting place for Master Masons who were
interested in one or other variety of 'Rejected Knowledge'. In the
1870s a fair number of its members can be identified as
spiritualists. A decade later Dr. W. Wynn Westcott, Dr. W. R.
Woodman (2) and S. L. MacGregor Mathers - in 1887 they became the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn's founding Chiefs - led the
Society in the direction of the western Hermetic tradition, e.g.
the study of the Cabbala and alchemical symbolism. In 1900
Westcott described its members as 'students of the curious and
mystical lore, remaining still for investigation, as to the work
and philosophy of the old Rosicrucians, Alchymists, and Mystics of
past ages'. (3)
When Madame Blavatsky settled permanently in London in 1887 a good
many members joined the Theosophical Society and at least thirty
were in the Golden Dawn at various times between 1887 and the early
1920s.(4) In effect, a small number of Freemasons whose interests
veered in the direction of spiritualism and occultism, tended to
find their way to the S.R.I.A. I cannot sufficiently emphasise that
it was a small-scale affair and catered for minority interests.
The average Freemason, and particularly the vast majority that did
not bother to read the Masonic press, would not even have been
aware that it existed.
As to the Rosicrucian Society's foundation, the traditional story,
as told by Dr. Westcott, is that Little found some old papers
containing 'ritual information' at Freemasons' Hall and enlisted
Mackenzie's help. (5) Westcott searched for these papers at Great
Queen Street in 1900 but was unable to find them. It is possible
that the documents were in German. If this was the
(1) In November 1872 Little was elected Secretary of the Royal
Masonic Institution for Girls. It is possible that a lobby was
organised on his behalf because he polled 305 votes, the other
three candidates sharing only fifteen between them. His departure
from the Grand Secretary's office clearly removed a source of
(2) Dr. W. R. Woodman (1828-91), a physician, was initiated in 1857
in St. George's Lodge No. 129 (now 112) at Exeter. He was
successively Grand Recorder and Grand Treasurer of the Red Cross
Order of Rome and Constantine. There was some overlapping of
membership between the two bodies.
(3) W. Wynn Westcort, History of the Societas Rosicruciana in
Anglia, London, privately printed, 1900, p. 31.
(4) Between March and August 1888 about forty people were initiated
in the G.D., which was open to members of both sexes. Of the
twenty-eight males who joined at that time no less than eighteen
were already members of the S.R.I.A. During the G.D.'s early period
(1888-92) it was a perfectly innocent little secret society which
worked half a dozen rituals composed by MacGregor Mathers, and
whose members studied the elements of so-called occultism. In 1892
Mathers began to teach the theory and practice of Rirual Magic to
a carefully selected minority. These thaumaturgic activities were
supposed to be most secret. There must have been leakages of
information because some highly respectable and senior members of
the S.R.I.A. resigned at this time.
5 W. Wynn Westcort, op. cit., p. 6.
case then Mackenzie, who had a first-class knowledge of that
language, would have been able to translate them. (1)
Mackenzie's help appears to have been important in another respect
because, again quoting Westcott: 'Little availed himself of certain
knowledge and authority which belonged to Brother Kenneth R. H.
Mackenzie who had, during a stay in earlier life, been in
communication with German Adepts who claimed a descent from
previous generations of Rosicrucians. German Adepts had admitted
him to some grades of their system, and had permitted him to
attempt the foundation of a group of Rosicrucian students in
England, who under the Rosicrucian name of the information that
might form a partly esoteric society.'(2) Westcott is also the
source of the information that Mackenzie received his Rosicrucian
initiation in Austria, 'while living with Count Apponyi as an
English tutor'. (3)
Westcott's, and by inference Little's, acceptance of Mackenzie's
alleged authority should be noted. It does not appear necessary to
take Mackenzie's supposed Rosicrucian affiliations very seriously.
Firstly, no contemporary Austrian or German 'Rosicrucian' group of
which he might have been a member can be identified. Secondly, it
can be established that, although he was abroad during his late
teens, he was in London from early in 1851 onwards, namely at least
ten months before his eighteenth birthday. It is unlikely that a
mere youth would be admitted to any initiatory society, hence his
own later claim to be a 'Rosicrucian adept' probably owed more to
invention than truth. Waite observed, seemingly not without
reason: 'On Rosicrucian subjects at least the record of Kenneth
Mackenzie is one of recurring mendacity.' (4)
Westcott did not join the Rosicrucian Society until 1880, two years
after Little's death, and there is no evidence that he ever met
him. He wrote, perhaps with intentional caution: 'The share of
Mackenzie in the origin of the Society depends at the present time
on his letters to Dr. Woodman (5) and Dr. Westcott, and on his
personal conversations during the years 1876-86 with Dr. Westcott.'
While Mackenzie may have helped Little to launch the Rosicrucian
Society in 1866, he was ineligible for membership because,
according to Westcott, 'he was not an English Freemason'. It is
doubtful whether he had ever previously been initiated under any
other Obedience. When he eventually joined Oak Lodge, No. 190, in
London four years later his career in Regular Freemasonry was to be
surprisingly brief. His preoccupation with 'fringe'-Masonic
aberrations had already begun.
Mackenzie's letters to F. G. Irwin contain interesting information
about the Rosicrucian Society's affairs during the 1870s. I have
used very little of this material, preferring to leave it to the
attention of the S.R.I.A.
CAPTAIN FRANCIS GEORGE IRWIN
The man whom A. E. Waite loftily described as 'a zealous and an
amiable Mason with a passion for Rites and an ambition to add to
their number' possibly deserves a less patronising appraisal. He
was born on 19 June 1828. Benjamin Cox mentioned the date in a
letter written in September 1885 when he discussed his own and
Irwin's horoscopes. Apart from the brief biographical
(1) It is conceivable that the papers referred to the late
eighteenth-century German 'Gold-und Rosenkreuzer Orden', an
offshoot of the Strict Observance. The Rosicrucian Society adopted
the latter's grade scheme and nomenclature, i.e. Zelator,
Theoricus, Practicus, Philosophus, etc. The grade names will be
found in the extraordinary table of so-called Rosicrucian degrees
in Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, 1877. Mackenzie wrote
that this information 'had never before been published ... and the
statements therein are derived from many sources of an authentic
character, but have never been collected before.' This was a
barefaced lie. He translated the complete table directly from
Magister Pianco (i.e. Hans Heinrich von Ecker und Eckhoffen), Der
Rosenkreuzer in seiner Blosse, 1781.
(2) W. Wvnn Westcott, op. cit., P. 6.
(3) ibid., Data of the History of the Rosicrucians, London, J.M.
Watkins for the S.R.I.A., 1916, p.8.
(4) A. E. Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, 1924, p. 566.
(5) When R. W. Little died in April 1878, Dr. W. R. Woodman
succeeded him as Supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society.
Westcott followed Woodman as S.M. when the latter died in December
1891. William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925) was initiated in the
Parrett and Axe Lodge, No. 814, at Crewkerne, Somersetshire, in
1871, soon after he qualified as a physician. He was then a
partner in an uncle's medical practice at nearby Martock. He was
invested as P.A.G.D.C. on 26 November 1877. In c. 1879 he moved to
London and 'went into retirement at Hendon for two years, which
were entirely devoted to the study of Kabalistic philosophy, the
works of Hermetic writers, and the remains of the Alchymists and
Rosicrucians' (AQC 38, 1925, P. 224).
(6) W. Wynn Westcott, History of the Societas Rosicruciana in
Anglia, London, 1900, P. 7.
note in AQC 1, 1886-8, the only source of information for his early
life is Robert Freke Gould's obituary notice in AQC 6, 1893. (1)
According to Gould he enlisted in the Royal Sappers and Miners on
8 November 1842 when he was fourteen years old. The Sappers and
Miners were then N.C.O's. or other ranks with Royal Engineer
officers. Members of the Corps were employed in various capacities
at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and the Lance-Corporal Francis
Irwin who received a bronze medal, a certificate signed by the
Prince Consort and a present of a box of drawing instruments was
probably our Irwin.(2) We next encounter him at Gibraltar in 1857.
On 3 June 1857 he was initiated in the Gibraltar Lodge (also known
as the Rock Lodge), No. 325, Irish Constitution. Gould, then a
young subaltern in the 31 st Regiment of Foot and a Master Mason of
two years standing, met Sergeant Irwin, now R.E., early in 1858
when he and another sergeant requested him to ask the D.P.G.M. for
permission for them to revive the defunct Inhabitants Lodge, now
No. 153. The lodge was resuscitated in February 1858 with Gould as
W.M. and Irwin as S.W. Gould's regiment soon left for South Africa
and Irwin succeeded him as W.M.. Gould mentioned that it was at
Gibraltar that Irwin first met Lieutenant Charles Warren, R.E., who
was initiated there in the Lodge of Friendship No. 278 on 30
December 1859. Gould recalled, too, that Warren had a great
respect for Irwin, both as a Freemason and a soldier. Many years
later Q.C. Lodge provided yet another link between these three men.
Irwin appears to have remained in Gibraltar until 1862 and from
there may have gone to Malta. He can next be traced at Devonport
(Plymouth), where he joined the St. Aubyn Lodge No. 954 on 11 April
1865. It is likely that it was he who introduced the Knight of
Constantinople degree to English Freemasonry in that year. (4)
In 1866 Irwin moved to Bristol. He had served in the ranks for
almost twenty-four years and on 7 May 1866 was appointed Adjutant
of the 1st Gloucestershire Engineer Volunteer Corps with the rank
of Captain. He was to remain at Bristol until his death in 1893.
When we encounter him in the first of Benjamin Cox's letters to him
in September 1868 he had been a member of the Craft for eleven
years and had just been installed as the first W.M. of St. Kew
Lodge No. 1222 at Weston-super-Mare, then a quiet seaside resort
about fifteen miles from Bristol. In 1869 he was appointed
P.J.G.W. in the Province of Somersetshire and in the same year was
made an honorary member of the Loge Etoiles Reunis at Liege,
Belgium. According to Gould ' . . . there was scarcely a degree in
existence, if within his range, that he did not become a member of.
Indeed, he became late in life a diligent student of the French and
German languages, in order that he might peruse the Masonic
literature of each in the vernacular'. A number of MS.
translations of French rituals' either in his own small and
distinctive handwriting or transcribed for him by the indefatigable
Benjamin Cox, bear witness to his knowledge of French.
The obituary published in the Bristol Times and Mirror upon his
death on 26 July 1893 referred to his great interest in Freemasonry
and suggested that 'he hardly occupied the position his education
and abilities qualified him for'.
K. R. H. MACKENZIE - EARLY LIFE AND CAREER TO 1872
If Mackenzie is remembered at all in Masonic circles today it is as
the compiler of The Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia which was published
in parts by John Hogg in 1875-7. A. E. Waite's disparaging remarks
about him in his New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, 1921, and The
(1) Gould's information concerning Irwin's military career is not
always accurate, hence a few corrections have been made.
(2) See T. W. J. Connally, The History of the Corps of Sappers and
Miners, 2 vols., 1855. About two hundred Sappers and Miners were
employed at the Great Exhibition, e.g. on maintenance work.
(3) When Q.C. Lodge was consecrated on 12 March 1886, Lieut.-Col.
Sir Charles Warren, G.C.M.G., F.R.S., was its first W.M. R.F.
Gould, whose famous History of Freemasonry, 6 vols., 1882-7, was
nearing completion, was another of the lodge's nine founder
members. On 7 April 1886 Irwin was one of the first six joining
members to be elected. He and Gould met one another for the first
time since i858 at the Q.C. Lodge meeting on 3 June 1886.
(4) The following is from F. L. Pick and G. Norman Knight, The
Pocket History of Freemasonry, 5th edition, 1969, P. 249: 'This is
a real "side" degree in the sensc that, many years ago, it was
customary for one Brother to confer it on another. He would take
him aside at the end of a Lodge meeting, for instance, administer
a simple obligation and entrust him with the secrets. The origin
of the degree is not known .... It first came to England in 1865,
brought to Plymouth from Malta by a military Brother, and three
Councils were erected there to work it in full form.' W. Hearder's
pamphlet Past Illustrious Sovereign of Knight of Constantinople
Jewel, 1916, records that 'on the 17th of January, 1865 ... the
Eminent and Perfect Illustrious Brother F. G. Irwin formed the
first Council at the St. Aubyn Lodge, Devonport, and several
eminent Masons were entrusted with the secrets of the Order, and
were elevated to the degree of Knights of Constantinople....'
Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, 1924, had intrigued me long before
I saw his letters to Irwin. When I read these documents, which
revealed and yet at the same time hid so much, I sensed that it
would be impossible to understand Mackenzie's role in 'fringe'
Masonry without knowing more about his early life. A brief passage
in a letter to Irwin (16 March 1879) showed that something had gone
wrong. 'At one time I was well off and kept my carriage and had
the world at my feet so to speak .... 'he wrote. My premise was
that the disappearance of the carriage and the world no longer
being at his feet might have a connection, however tenuous, with
his 'fringe'-Masonic interests during the 1870s and after. My
search for Mackenzie's trail now began.
Kenneth Robert Henderson Mackenzie was the son of Dr. Rowland Hill
Mackenzie and his wife Gertrude. She was the sister of John Morant
Hervey, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England from
August 1868 until ill-health compelled him to retire in 1879. He
was born on 31 October 1833. (1) According to the 1851 Census the
birth took place at Deptford in south-east London, but no baptismal
record can be found there. The Census entry also shows that his
mother was about twenty years old in 1833.
By 1834 the family was at Vienna where Dr. Mackenzie, who
specialised in midwifery, had a hospital appointment. (2) He
probably returned to London in 1840, although the annual membership
lists ofthe Royal College of Surgeons locate him at Vienna until as
late as 31 August 1842. (3) He was a general practitioner, first at
61 Berners Street (1841-3) and subsequently at 68 Mortimer Street,
Cavendish Square. Hence he had a West End practice. He held an
appointment as Surgeon to the Scottish Hospital and Corporation
(1845-52?), and by 1845 had been twice President of the German
Literary Society of London.
Kenneth Mackenzie was seven years old when his parents settled in
London in 1840. Furthermore, he must have been bilingual in
English and German. A passage from the Preface to his Tyll
Eulenspiegel translation, published by Trubner & Co. in 1859 as The
Marvellous Adventures and Rare Conceits of Master Tyll Owlglass,
indicates that he read German at a very early age. 'I well
remember how, as a very little boy, I made the friendship of the
[book's] lithe though clumsy hero', he wrote. In the Preface to
the second edition, dated Christmas Eve 1859, he mentioned that 'it
was almost the first book I ever possessed, and I remember to this
day the circumstances under which it was given to me.'
My belief is that he was largely educated abroad and that the
unusually wide range of cultural interests which he displayed
before he was twenty cannot have been merely the result of a period
spent in Count Apponyi's employment as a tutor. (See two pages
above.) The 1851 Census and the surprisingly erudite series of
seventeen contributions to ivotes and Queries in the same year
indicate that he was now (aet. 17-18) back in London and the
possessor of a polymathic storehouse of learning which could hardly
have been acquired at any contemporary British public or grammar
(1) The only evidence for the date and place of his birth are the
marginal notes made by Christopher Cooke on the same pages of two
interleaved and heavily annotated copies (Mrs. P. I. Naylor's and
my own) of his extraordinary autobiographical work Curiosities of
Occult Literature, London, privately printed, 1863. (This book's
title is misleading. It contains a detailed account of its
author's unsatisfactory relationship with Lieut. R. J. Morrison,
R.N. retd., a well-known contemporary professional astrologer and
promoter of dud companies. Under the pseudonym Zadkiel he edited
a widely-read annual prophetic almanac. See Ellic Howe, Urania's
Children: The Strange World of the Astrologer 1967, PP- 33-47.)
Cooke was acquainted with Mackenzie and both were enthusiastic
astrologers. Hence when Cooke wrote that Mackenzie was born in
London on 31 October 1833 at 10 a.m. the date is likely to be
correct since he would have learned it from Mackenzie himself.
(2) I have not been able to discover when and where Mackenzie
gained his first medical qualification. According to the London
Medical Directory for 1845 he was M.D. Vienna in 1834 and M.R.C.S.
England on 31 August 1840. This source reveals that he was
'Assistant Surgeon in the Imperial Hospital, Vienna (containing
4,000 beds), Midwifery Department'.
(3) On 23 May 1840 the Athenaeum published his translation of a
communication by his friend Professor Berres, of Vienna, on 'A
method of permanently fixing, engraving and printing from
Daguerrotype plates'. This may have been written at Vienna. An
article in the Lancet (9 January 1841) on 'Statistics of Multiple
Births' was completed at 21 College Street, Chelsea, on 9 December
1840. This was based on Vienna hospital records for the period
July 1839-July 1840 and was probably written just before he became
M.R.C.S. England. Thus the available evidence suggests that he was
in London from the summer of 1840 onwards.
(4) During 1851 Notes and Queries published communications from him
on such diverse topics as the location of a fragment of an oration
against Demosthenes, the presumed textual connections between
certain works by Sallust and Tacitus, observations on the works of
Homer, comments on a translation of Apulcius, and particulars of
the manuscripts of hitherto unpublished English seventeenth century
poems which he had discovered at the British Museum.
His 'A Word to the Literary Men of England' in Notes and Queries,
1 March 1851, proposed the foundation of a learned society whose
task would be to rescue old manuscripts in Greek, Latin,
Anglo-Saxon, Norwegian, Zend (an ancient language allied to
Sanscrit), and a dozen other middle-eastern and oriental tongues.
Some months later he reported that 'I have so far accomplished my
purpose, as lately, while residing on the continent, and also since
my return, to establish in Russia, Siberia and Tartary, Persia and
Eastern Europe, stations for the search after MSS. worth
The issue of Notes and Queries for 6 September 1851 shows that at
one time he was far from Austria and had visited the then remote
Prussian province of Pomerania, where he discussed the reputed site
of Julin with Count Keyserling, a member of a renowned Baltic
landowning family. (1) His 'Notes on Julin' contains a lengthy
translation from the German which could only have been achieved by
someone with a first-class knowledge of the language.
In the Preface to the second edition of his Tyll Eulenspiegel
translation he mentioned that even as a child he had literary
ambitions. His first important work was his translation of K. R.
Lepsius, Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethiopen, etc., 1842-5, 1852, which
Richard Bentley published in London in 1852 within a few months of
the appearance of the original German edition. (2) Discoveries in
Egypt, Ethiopia and the Peninsula of Sinai was a remarkable
performance for a nineteen year-old boy. Mackenzie's own
additional notes display an impressive knowledge of Latin, Greek
and Hebrew, also a familiarity with the current scholarly
literature relating to Egyptian antiquities. He was elected a
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in January 1854,
nine months before his twenty-first birthday. Membership of this
distinguished learned society cannot have been normally granted to
minors and it may have been given in recognition of his edition of
Lepsius's book. (3)
Mackenzie now began the career in letters which had been his
ambition as a child. In 1852 he supplied the articles on Peking,
America and Scandinavia for his friend the Rev. Theodore Alois
Buckley's Great Cities of the Ancient World, which was published by
George Routledge. In 1853 he helped the elderly and eccentric
Walter Savage Landor to prepare a new edition of his Imaginary
Conversations. (4) In the same year Routledge published his Burmah
and the Burmese, yet another surprisingly mature and self-confident
product. For Routledge in 1854-5 he edited translations from the
German (by other hands) of Friedrich Wagner's Schamyl and Circassia
and J. W. Wolf's Fairy Tales, Collected in the Odenwaid. Both these
books reflect his erudition. His scholarly inclinations are
particularly evident in his Tyll Eulenspiegel translation (1859),
with its admirable bibliographical appendix.
In a letter to Irwin (9 May 1878) he mentioned that he had written
'side by side with B. Disraeli for years and learned to love his
cordial frankness of heart'. The only identifiable period when he
could have had a literary association with Benjamin Disraeli was
when the latter was proprietor of the weekly periodical The Press.
This would have been during the early 1850s. (5)
Mackenzie was already interested in the 'Rejected Knowledge' area
by 1858, when he published (at his own expense) four issues of The
Biological Review: A Monthly Repertory of the Science of Life
(October 1858-January 1859). This periodical, which soon failed
for lack of support, was particularly concerned with mesmerism's
medical applications, homoeopathy, a novelty called
'electro-dentistry', and what Mackenzie described as 'the finer
(1) Julin was an ancient Wendish trading post and mentioned in 1075
as being the largest town in Europe. Mackenzie had visited Wollin,
which was assumed by archaeologists to be the probable location of
Julin. It was not far from Swinemund, later a popular Baltic
seaside resort and now in Polish territory.
(2) K. R. Lepsius was a renowned scholar and at that time had the
chair for Egyptology at the University of Berlin. In the German
edition the author's Preface is dated 2 June 1852, Mackenzie's
translation was reviewed in the Athenaeum as early as 21 August
1852. It appeared so soon after the original German text was
published that it is likely that Mackenzie had a copy of Lepsius's
manuscript long before 2 June 1852. Since Bentley would hardly have
conimissioned a youth still in his teens to translate such an
important work, my hypothesis is that Mackenzie, who was already an
enthusiastic Egyptologist, had attended Lepsius's lectures and had
persuaded him to allow him to translate the book.
(3) See the Society's Proceedings, first series, iii, PP- 48, 58,
98, 101, 111, 174 for details of his communications and exhibits in
(4) See R. H. Super, Walter Savage Landor, New York, 1954, passim.
(5) The only known run of this periodical in Great Britain is at
the Birmingham Public Library. The City Librarian informed me that
he was unable to trace any contributions signed by Mackenzie or
with his initials.
He was greatly interested in medical matters and like so many
occultists, then as now, dabbled with fringe medicine and
In December 1861 (aet. 28) he was in Paris and visited Eliphas Levi
(i.e. the Abbe Alphonse-Louis Constant, 1810-75), the author of
Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, 1856, and already renowned as an
authority on Magic. When Mackenzie returned to London he
immediately dictated an account of his two meetings with the Magus
to Frederick Hockley, then his close friend and mentor in
occultism.(2) According to Levi's unpublished correspondence,
quoted by his biographer Paul Chacornac, he found Mackenzie very
intelligent but excessively involved with Magic and spiritualism.
Until recently I supposed that Mackenzie's trip to Paris in 1861
was undertaken solely for the purpose of sitting at Eliphas Levi's
feet, but there may have been another reason. His father had moved
to Paris in 1857-8 and apparently never returned to London. (4)
So far I have discovered nothing edited, translated or written by
Mackenzie between 1859 and 1870, when James Hogg, & Son published
his translation of J. G. L. Hesekiel's The Life Of Bismarck. To
all intents and purposes he seems to have gone underground.
However, we do not entirely lose track of him, although
biographical information which has no connection with Freemasonry,
'fringe' or regular, must be relegated to a footnote. (5)
When Mackenzie's account of his two meetings with Eliphas Levi in
December 1861 was published with minor alterations in the April
1873 issue of The Rosicrucian, he mentioned that 'these hasty notes
of my conversations might never have been recorded at all had it
not been for the patience with which an equally profound occult
student in this country, Bro. F. Hockley, P.G.S., recorded them at
my dictation, a very few days after the interviews had taken
(1) He wrote to Irwin on 4 February 1876: 'I wish that I could
learn that Mrs. Irwin's health was reestablished on a firm basis.
If I knew the particulars of the complaint perhaps I could suggest
some thing as I cure everyone who chooses to consult me. I have a
peculiar knowledge of the properties of Sympathia - and I find them
rather increase in power than otherwise. I was brought up to
medicine under Dr. Hassall at St. George's Hospital, Hyde Park -
but I do not practice as I never took an English degree, although
I am "licensed to kill" anywhere out of England.' There is no
evidence in the registers at St. George's Hospital Medical School
that he ever registered as a student there. Perhaps he merely
'walked the wards' there as a matter of interest. His claim that
he had a foreign medical qualification was obviously the product of
an excessively lively imagination.
(2) Mr. Gerald Yorke possesses a manuscript version in Mackenzie's
handwriting: 'An account of what passed between Eliphas Levi Zahed
(Abbe Constant), Occult Philosopher, and Baphometus (Kenneth R. H.
Mackenzie), Astrologer and Spiritualist, in the City of Paris,
December 1861'. On the last page Mackenzie wrote: 'The foregoing
was committed to paper on Monday 10th December 1861 and was
transcribed by the undersigned on the 9th and 10th May 1863.' This
fair copy was written at 3 Victoria Street, Westminster. For the
significance of this address see footnote 5.
(3) There is a reference to Mackenzie's visit in Paul Chacornac,
Eliphas Levi, renovateur de l'occultisme en France, 1926, PP-
201-3. Levi's works were being read by members of the Rosicrucian
Society long before they were translated into English. See William
Carpenter's article in The Rosicrucian, January 1870, in which he
mentioned that Levi's books were 'very little known even among the
members of our mystic and secret orders' (p. 83). Carpenter may be
the source for the first printed reference in the English language
to the alleged occult significance of the Tarot cards (ibid., p.
(4) The Royal College of Surgeons membership lists, published
annually in mid-July, locate Dr. Mackenzie at Paris from 1858 until
as late as 1900. He was probably already dead by the late 1870s
since his son's letters to Irwin indicate that his aged mother was
a member of his household.
(5) MEMBERSHIP OF LEARNED SOCIETIES - The Preface to The Life of
Bismarck was written at 4 St. Martin's Court, Trafalgar Square, on
6 December 1869. This was the address ofthe Ethnographical Society
of London, which merged with the Anthropological Society of London
in 1871- Mackenzie joined the latter on 19 April 1864 and was an
active member until May 1870, although he paid no subscriptions
after 1868. In a letter to Irwin (24 September 1875) he referred
to the period when he 'was editing the Anthropological Review', but
his name cannot be found in any editorial capacity in contemporary
volumes of that journal. His connection with the Society of
Antiquaries also ceased in 1870 when his membership was cancelled
because his subscription was in arrears. He was a member of the
Royal Asiatic Society from 1855-61. Long after 1870 he was still
using the initials F.S.A. and M.R.A.S. after his name.
BOGUS ACADEMIC DISTINCTIONS - His claim to doctorates of philosophy
and law can hardly be genuine. His Preface to the translation of
J. M. Wolf's Fairy Tales, 1855, was signed by 'Kenneth R.H.
Mackenzie, Ph.D., F.S.A., M.R.A.S.' He also appears as a Ph.D. in
the 1856-7 Post Office directories. Thereafter he ceased to be a
Ph.D. and by c. 1873 had become a doctor of laws. The first six
issues of John Yarker's periodical The Kneph: Official Journal of
the Antient and Primitive Rite were edited by 'Bro. Kenneth R. H.
Mackenzie, IX degree, L.L.D. [sic], 32 degree'.
AT THE SAME ADDRESS AS JOHN HERVEY - His name appears
intermittently in the Post Office directories during the period
1857-64. His whereabouts would be only of passing interest except
for the fact that he was sometimes at the same address as his uncle
John Hervey (Grand Secretary, of the United Grand Lodge of England
(1868-79). Thus they were together at 35 Bernard Street, Russell
Square, in 1859 and at 3 Victoria Street, Westminster in 1864.
Hervey was listed as the Secretary of the Para Gas Company Ltd. at
that address in 1863-4.
Frederick Hockley (1808-85), an accountant by profession, was well
known in circles which cultivated 'Rejected Knowledge'. He was
about twenty-five years older than Mackenzie, who probably first
met him when he was editing the Biological Review in 1858-9. Apart
from his scrying experiments with crystals and so-called 'Magic
Mirrors', which were used to induce trance states, he was a
diligent copyist of old magical manuscripts. (1) He became a
Freemason rather late in life in 1864 (aet. 56), but his career in
the Craft was not without distinction. (2) He was also Mackenzie's
guru in occult matters. The time came, however, when his pupil
became tiresome. His letter to Irwin of 23 March 1873 explains why
Mackenzie's career had gone to seed, hence why he no longer had his
carriage and the world at his feet. Hockley wrote:
I have the utmost reluctance even to refer to Mr. Kenneth
Mackenzie. I made his acquaintance about 15 or 16 years since. I
found him then a very young man who having been educated in Germany
possessed a thorough knowledge of German and French and his
translations having been highly praised by the press, exceedingly
desirous of investigating the Occult Sciences, and when sober one
of the most companiable persons I ever met. Unfortunately his
intemperate habits compelled me three different times to break off
our friendship after 6 or 7 years endurance and since then he has
once so grossly insulted me in a letter than I cannot possibly hold
any communication with him. I regret this the more on a/c of his
mother who is a most estimable lady and his uncle our esteemed
Grand Secretary Bro. Hervey who has long favoured me with his
acquaintance ... I saw in the last issue of The Freemason his
marriage announced. I sincerely hope it will be the turning flood.
(3) Of course Mr. M.'s information is only derived from his
intimate knowledge of French and German, and when you have mastered
that difficulty, a vastly enlarged field of occult science will
furnish you with Original matter, as well as others ... I do not
know Mr. M.'s address but a letter thro' Bro. Kenning would
doubtless reach him.
Mackenzie at long last became a Freemason in 1870 when he was in
his thirty-eighth year. One might have expected that his uncle
John Hervey would have proposed him in one of his own lodges, but
this was not the case The minute book of Oak Lodge No. 190 reveals
that on 19 January 1870 he was proposed by the W.M., Bro. H. W.
Hemsworth and seconded by Bro. John Hogg ('acting Sec'.) for
initiation at the next regular meeting at Freemasons' Hall on 16
February.(4) He was not present on 16 February but was ballotted
for and Initiated at an Emergency Meeting on 9 March. (According to
the minute book he was an author and resided at Tavistock Place.
This was also John Harvey's address at the time.) He was Passed on
20 April and Raised on 18 May. He attended the lodge's next
meeting on 16 November and that was the last that the Oak Lodge
brethren saw of him. On 18 January 1871 the W.M. read a letter
from Mackenzie in which he stated that he wished to resign. The
minutes record that his resignation would be accepted 'after
payment of his fees in full'.
Thereafter his interest in Craft Freemasonry appears to have been
nil. His letters to Irwin contain only one reference to a visit to
a Craft lodge. Now a Master Mason he did not even apply for
membership of the Rosicrucian Society, which he had supposedly
helped to establish. It was no doubt R. W. Little who persuaded
him to accept honorary membership and he was admitted to the
Society's first or Zelator grade on 17 October 1872. (John Hervey
was made an honorary member in October 1870.)
(1) cf. his article in The Rosicrucian and Masonic Record, April
1877, on 'Evenings with the Indwellers of the World of the Spirits:
being a paper read at a Meeting of the Bristol Rosicrucian
College'. Westcott incorrectly attributed this to Irwin in his
History of the Societes Rosicruciana in Anglia, 1900, p. 18.
Hockley mentioned that in 1854 after working for thirty years with
crystals and mirrors he had prepared and consecrated a large mirror
'dedicated to a spirit known to me as C.A. [Chief Adept?], for the
purpose of receiving visions and responses to metaphysical
questions . . .' The inference is that Hockley was trying his hand
at scrying as early as 1824, when he was only sixteen years old.
This was long before the beginning of the spiritualist movement.
(2) Hockley was initiated in the British Lodge No. 8 in March 1864.
He joined Emulation Lodge of Improvement some weeks later and
attended its meetings with exemplary regularity until 1868. He was
elected to the Emulation committee in October 1866 but resigned
after his year as Master of British Lodge in 1868. He was J.W. of
Grand Stewards' Lodge in 1875 and its Secretary from 1877 until his
death in 1885.
(3) The 'last issue of The Freemason' did not refer to Mackenzie's
impending marriage. It had taken place the previous June.
(4) John Hogg, who was to publish Mackenzie's Royal Masonic
Cyclopaedia in 1875-7, came to London from Edinburgh in c. 1868.
He was initiated in Oak Lodge on 4 August 1869 but resigned in
March 1871. He published the Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry,
which purported to give the Emulation Working, in 1870. Thereafter
he specialised in Masonic publications.
When Mackenzie deigned to appear in Rosicrucian circles he had
recently married Alexandrina Aydon, aged twenty-three and fifteen
years his junior. She was the daughter of Enoch Harrison Aydon, a
civil engineer and member of the Craft, of 2 Axmouth Villas,
Cambridge Road, Chiswick. The ceremony was performed at the
Brentford register office on 17 June 1872. He and his wife
installed themselves at Oxford House, Chiswick Mall, whether in
rented rooms or as sole occupiers is uncertain. Furthermore, as we
will learn in due course, his drinking habits were now strictly
BENJAMIN COX AND THE FRATRES LUCIS
Benjamin Cox, F. G. Irwin's fidus Achates, was born on 28 May 1828.
When St. Kew Lodge No. 1222 was consecrated at the Assembly Rooms
at Weston-super-Mare on 7 July 1868 - Irwin was its first W.M. - he
was forty years of age and Chief Accountant of the local Board of
Health at an annual salary of 180 pounds. He was later promoted to
Town Accountant (Borough Treasurer). (1)
Cox quickly ascended the Masonic ladder. At an Emergency Meeting
of St. Kew Lodge held on 16 July 1868 he was ballotted for,
initiated and forthwith invested with the Secretary's collar and
jewel. Ignorant of the finer points of Masonic etiquette he soon
turned to Irwin for advice. On 16 September he wrote:
A member [i.e. Cox himself] having paid all dues and passed to F.C.
can he propose a candidate for Freemasonry or do [sic] that
privilege belong exclusively to M.M.'s [?]. I have purchased of
Bro. Breamer ... a M.M.'s apron. I suppose as a F.C. I can wear
such apron in a Lodge if I cover the rosette[s] on the flap until
I am raised. I must apologise for so many questions wishing to act
truly Masonic in all things.
Masonic activities were soon in full swing at Weston-super-Mare.
On 27 October 1868 Cox suggested to Irwin that 'if we intend to
work Craft, Mark and 2 Chivalric Orders it will occupy the whole of
the first Wednesday of every month ... only one sum being paid for
the whole day it will be cheaper for us while we retain the present
rooms to work any of the Orders on that day.' The inference is that
Cox was already a Mark Mason and had joined two Chivalric Orders.
One of them must have been the recently established Rose and Lily
Conclave No. 10 of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine.
In April 1869 Irwin received permission to form a Bristol College
of the Rosicrucian Society. Membership was to be restricted to
twelve including himself as Chief Adept. Cox, now indispensable for
such duties, was its Secretary. There was a snag in the person of
Bro. Major General Gore Boland Munbee, Indian Army (retired), who
brought a breath of Poona, where he had been a member of Lodge
Orion in the West, No. 415, to placid Weston-super-Mare. The
General succeeded Irwin as W.M. of St. Kew Lodge in 1870 and Cox
found him difficult. W.Bro. Munbee was a member of the Bristol
College and about to become its Celebrant, an office corresponding
to the W.M. of a Craft lodge. Cox wrote to Irwin on 19 December
I will do everything in my power to help work the College (Rosic.)
with any member you like to appoint Celebrant except Bro. Munbee.
I have fully made up my mind never to accept another office under
him (Masonically). I should have resigned some which I at present
hold, had not members pressed me not to do so ... I do not fall out
with the General because I can control my temper, yet sometimes the
remarks he makes is [sic] as bitter as wormwood.
If the General was a tartar, there were compensations. Cox was
appointed a Provincial Grand Steward on 16 September 1869 and was
soon to lay the foundations of his unusually large collection of
additional degrees. However, his letter of 31 December 1870 reveals
little enthusiasm for the latest novelty. 'I see that Bro. Little
has at last got hold of authority to work the Rite of Misraim', he
observed. 'What next? Good heavens 99 degree to work and then be
entitled to write [sign?] Sir Knt. "Bellowsblower". This will beat
Bro. Parfitt's "Rosi Crucis" by a long way.' (2)
By 27 February 1871 Cox was less contemptuous. Furthermore, he had
a few pressing favours to ask. He wrote, somewhat breathlessly:
(1) I know nothing about his earlier life except that he was the
author of A Compilation of Various Interesting Historical Facts ...
principally relating, to the Country of Somersetshire, published at
Weston-super-Mare in 1852.
(2)I have not been able to identify either Bro. Parfitt or his
Now I want you Bro. Irwin while in London to get permission to give
me the Order of Misraim [i.e. by communication]. Bro. [Dr. W. R.]
Woodman has offered to give it to me any time when I am in London
which I expect I will be there on a fortnight's official duty very
shortly, but I would much rather that you gave it to me because
every Order which I have taken has been given by you (except
sovereign R. Cross) if possible please get permission to give me
the 66 degree I will pay for the dispensation for same if one is
required. I suppose it would not be possible for you to get Bro.
Little to give me, through you a minor official Grand Council
collar at this meeting. I do not care so much for the honour but
I want to let Bro. [Major-General] Munbee see that I have friends
[underlined three times] elsewhere, and I am quite certain that you
can get me a Gd Ark Mariners collar from Bro. Edwards ... I should
very much like to receive the Order of the Kt. of Holy Sepulchre
[an appendant of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine], however I
am quite certain my interests will not be lost sight of by you.
The letter ends with an allusion to Cox's belief in astrology.
Within the past week he had given 'true judgments' in every case
out of the five submitted to him. '4 of the parties I never saw or
did not know of their existence until informed so . . .' He had
recently acquired a crystal and on 6 February 1871 wrote: 'I expect
full instructions for working the Crystal (which I have by me) this
day from Mr. Cross. (1) You seem undecided as to believing in
occult science. I have not a shadow of doubt in the matter.'
During the summer and autumn of 1873 Cox's letters to Irwin contain
allusions to the Ritual of the Knight of the Hermetic Cross. Irwin
was translating it, probably from the French, and Cox offered to
make a fair copy. He asked on 28 August if it had any connection
with John Yarker's Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry and on 1
October if it was part of Yarker's Rite of Memphis. (2) Irwin did
not satisfy his curiosity.
By 23 February 1874 Irwin must have already vaguely hinted at the
existence of a very secret affair called the Order of the Brothers
of (swastica symbol) and implied that Cox might be allowed to join
it. Thus when Cox wrote to Irwin on that day he proclaimed that
... the one desire of my heart is to become a member of some Order
wherein I may learn the mysteries of nature and truth so that I may
not only benefit myself but that of [sc. also] my fellow men. I
have, as you know, ever considered the knowledge of occult science
the one sure and safe means whereby we can obtain truth and wisdom.
I will be glad by your proposing me a member of the 'Order of the
Brothers of (swastica symbol) and will gladly pay the yearly sum
you have named, also pledge myself to my promise or O.B. under your
Cox appears to have supposed that the Order of the Brothers of
(swastica symbol) was Masonic because he added: 'I have sent you on
a separate paper a few of the degrees which I have taken in masonry
and which you can vouch for as correct.' (3) Above the list of
degrees someone wrote 'Useless'. The handwriting does not appear
to be Irwin's. On 9 March 1874 Cox wrote to Irwin to
(1) R. T. Cross (1850-1923), then a young professional astrologer.
He edited Raphael's Prophetic Messenger Almanack from 1875 until
(2) I have not been able to discuss Yarker's Masonic career and
'fringe' promotions in this paper, largely because of lack of time
to examine the available material. Today it is customary in
Masonic circles - and not least in QC Lodge - to raise a
disapproving eyebrow when Yarker's name is mentioned. However, he
deserves further srudy in a historical context. He was the joker
in the Masonic pack, an engaging maverick who fought impartially
with all-comers. The heterodox activities of Irwin, Mackenzie, and
after 1880 Westcott, escaped public criticism because they were
discreet. Yarker was a noisy fellow and therefore attracted
attention. It should be recorded that he was an early and
enthusiastic supporter of QC Lodge. In a letter to Irwin (5 May
1888) written soon after the Lodge's consecration, he declared; 'It
is a treat to me and a pleasure to find that there are still Masons
in existence who are above prejudices and I am very much interested
in Lodge 2076. It amounts almost to a revolution in Masonry.' AQC
contains no fewer than twenty-six articles contributedby him: the
first in 1886 and the last in 1912, shortly before his death in
(3) Cox stated that he was 'A Past Master in the Craft, a Principal
in the Royal Arch; and W. Master in Mark Masonry. Fellow of the
Masonic Archaeological Society. Member of the seventh grade of the
Rosicrucian Society of England. Past M.P.Sovr of the Red Cross of
[Rome and] Constantine and Knt of the Holy Sepulchre. Knt of the
Black Eagle and Knt of the Hermetic Cross. Member of the 18 degree
of the Ancient and Accepted Rite and Commander of Royal Ark
Mariners. Member of the Royal Ark Council of Advice to the Most W.
the Gd Mark Master for England, Wales and the Dependencies of the
British Crown. Past Provincial Grand Steward in Craft Masonry.
Provincial Senior Gd Mark Warden for Somerset, a Grand Steward of
the Grand Mark Lodge of England etc.' The Masonic Archaeological
Society was founded during the summer of 1868 with W. Hyde Pullen
as honorary secretary. The members of this precursor of QC Lodge
were not identified with 'Rejected Knowledge.'
express his pleasure that he had been accepted as a candidate for
the Order of (swastica symbol). By 28 March he was aware that
Order was known as the Frates Lucis. Furthermore he knew that
Irwin had recently been in Paris and had allegedly met members of
the Order there. He wrote: 'I am very glad to hear that you met
with such a warm reception from members of the Order in Paris.' (1)
The weeks passed by and the impatient Bro. Cox still knew little or
nothing about the Order except its name. Indeed, at one moment he
feared that his candidature had been rejected. He wrote to Irwin on
By mid day train I sent you MS. of Knt. of Hermetic Cross, &c....
I want to ask 3 questions: viz. 1. Is the Knt of Hermetic Cross and
the Fratres Lucis Order one and the same? 2. Is there any member of
the Fratres Lucis now living in Bath? Is it true that Bro. Bird [a
member of St. Kew Lodge who dabbled with astrology] and myself have
been rejected by the Fratres as unsuitable for the Order?
Irwin replied on 14 July:
TO ASPIRANTS ONLY - Strictly Confidential
1. Is the Knt of Hermetic Cross and the Fratres Lucis Order one and
the same? NO!!! It may have had some connection with it as had the
Rites of Cagliostro, Swedenborg, etc.
2. Is there any member of the Fratres Lucis now living in Bath?
There is no member of the English Temple now living in Bath ... if
a member of any Foreign Temple came to England I would be advised,
for there were only twenty-seven members five years ago so not much
difficulty in learning the whereabouts of each Bro. as we are bound
to keep our immediate Chiefs posted up in all our movements.
3. Is it true that Bro. Bird and myself have been rejected by the
Fratres as not being considered fitting candidates for the Order of
(swastica symbol)? It is not true!!! Something about the Order has
been communicated to Mr. Robert Cross [the astrologer who supplied
Cox's crystal - see above]. My attention was called to it and an
explanation is required.
Cox's letter of 27 July 1874 was apologetic: ' . . . you shall
never have cause again (for I will never speak of it again to any
one except yourself) to correct my indiscretion,' he wrote. Irwin
continued to keep him waiting. On 17 November Cox wrote: 'I am
glad there is a prospect of my receiving the first grade of the
(swastica symbol) as I am anxious to know more of its true
principles and real value.' A sentence in an undated letter from
Irwin to Cox reads: 'The (swastica symbol) shall be given you but
twill be a Great favour [both words underlined three times]. I
must at any cost keep my word.' The 'great favour' was granted in
In Grand Lodge Library there is a manuscript copy in Irwin's
handwriting of the 'Ritual of Fratris [sic] Lucis or Brethren of
the Cross of Light'. It is prefaced by a traditional 'history'
In Florence there now eusts, and has existed for a great number of
years a body of men who possess some of the most extraordinary
secrets, that ever man has known. Cagliostro learned from them
some of the most wonderful secrets in Magic and Chymistry, they
converse with those who have crossed the river.
The members of this society are bound by a solemn oath to meet once
a year, whether they are living or have passed the boundary. They
are ruled by an officer, styled Supreme and Sublime Magus ... The
brethren take Hebrew names. There are branches of the order in
Rome, Paris and Vienna. Vaughan (Dr.), Fludd, Count St. Germain,
Count Cagliostro, Mesmer, Swedenborg and Martinez de Pasquales were
members of the order as also Schussler.
They have made animal magnetism their chief study and have carried
it nearly to perfection. It was through being a member of this
society that Mesmer practised his healing power and founded his
Mesmeric Lodge on the principles of the Order.
Swedenborg derived his Rite from the same source, and from it Count
Cagliostro derived the knowledge that enabled him to found the
Egyptian Order; those three Rites represent three of the four
grades into which this society is divided.
When I read this delightful nonsense I recalled two little
duodecimo notebooks containing a record of Irwin's spiritualist or
scrying seances during the years 1872-3. His most interesting
communicator was none other than Cagliostro, in his day a notable
exponent of 'fringe' Masonry.
(1) There was no conceivable connection between Irwin's 'Brothers
of Light' and the eighteenth-century Fratres Lucis. See A. E.
Waite's The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, 1924, PP. 503-28.
On Sunday 19 (month omitted) 1873 Cagliostro told him that 'the
Crystal you have will be of little use. It is charged with an
antagonistic principle.' Cagliostro came again on 29 October
1873: 'I am afraid that at present I cannot give (u) anything to be
coninuous.' Thereafter, between 31 October and 9 November
Cagliostro communicated on four separate occasions and, according
to Irwin's 'Spiritual ournal', dictated almost word for word the
substance of the 'historical introduction' to the Fratres Lucis
ritual which I have quoted above.
The manuscript which Irwin chose to call a ritual merelv consists
of the notes for his scheme for a secret society of occultists.
Under the heading 'Ceremony' we only learn that the 'Aspirant is
conducted to a kind of labyrinth', and in due course 'invested with
the Cross of gold swastuca symbol) and enjoined to fit himself for
that state of mind of which it is the emblem'. It is uncertain
whether Irwin, in his imagination, intended to restrict membership
of the brotherhood to Master Masons or their discarnate spirits -
one must not forget that according to Cagliostro's utterings
membership continued after death! The information below has been
slightly condensed from his notes, and is not presented in its
'Only 81 members are permitted to belong to the first grade
connected with the Empire of Great Britain ... In the first degree
the number of officers is nine.
'There is now an annual fee of one guinea required. The Induction
fee for England is not yet settled.
'The fee for Initiation is made high for the purpose of deterring
persons from being. initiated out of mere curiosity. Half the fee
to be devoted to charitable purposes, and the other half to the
formation of a library. Meetings take place four times a year.
The obligatory meeting is in the month of June. At this the
Brethren are pledged to be present in body or in spirit.
'The aspirant is kept one year on probation ... during the term of
probation the aspirants are obliged to appear at all meetings
enveloped in a black mantle.
'The society is pledged to study the following subjects. Natural
Magic - Mesmerism -The Science of Death and of Life - Immortality
- The Cabala - Alchemy - Necromancy - Astrology - and Magic in all
'Annual dinner - cost 4s. The fare to consist of Bread, Butter,
Cheese, Confectionery, fruits and wine. The surplus money to be
added to the charitable fund.
This document, however nonsensical, is important because it throws
so much light on Irwin's character. Hidden within the disciplined
professional soldier - furthermore one who had served for years in
the Royal Engineers, a Corps whose functions are nothing if not
practical - we encounter a personality in which reality and fantasy
must always have been in some kind of conflict.
Irwin's Fratres Lucis must have been a very modest affair, meaning
that a handful of occultists, probably all Freemasons who were well
known to Irwin, became members. It is inconceivable, too, that it
was an international fraternity. It is difficult to believe that
there were 'twenty-seven members five years ago', as Irwin claimed
in his letter to Cox of 14 July 1874. This would have been four
years before 'Cagliostro', who was the product of Irwin's
subconscious mind, gave him the idea for the Order. In fact, apart
from Irwin I have only been able to identify three other members,
although there may have been a few more.
We know about Cox's intense desire to be admitted to the select
circle. On 9 January 1875 he announced his intention of coming to
Bristol, bringing with him an 'old Latin Bible for Ob[ligation]'.
Irwin was in no hurry to confer membership upon Mackenzie, perhaps
because he feared that he would get drunk at the annual dinner at
which, as we know, the 'Festive Board' was nothing if not frugal.
On 20 September 1875 Mackenzie wrote reassuringly: 'I never drink
spirits or wine if I can avoid them - only fourpenny ale,' and some
months later on 4 February 1876: 'As to Fratres Lucis I shall
indeed be obliged for the article and should also be glad to be a
member of the Brotherhood. I think you may trust me as to
temperance as I drink nothing but tea, coffee and very small ale
and not much of that - rarely wine - and never spirits - nor have
I done the latter since my marriage more than four years ago.' When
Frederick Hockley died in November 1885, Cox observed: ' . . .
there is now one member less of the Order of (swastica symbol).' He
seems to have implied that few were now left. Almost exactly two
years later Westcott was busy launching the Order of the Golden
Dawn, which had a far greater vitality - one might say elan - than
the Fratres Lucis ever achieved. (1)
(1) Westcott apparently did not serve his 'magical apprenticeship'
in the Fratres Lucis. In a letter written during the late 1950s to
Mr. Gerald Yorke the late Captain E. J. Langford Garstin, who was
active in one of the Golden Dawn's successor Orders after c. 1920,
mentioned that 'Hockley, Mackenzie and Irwin all disliked and
mistrusted S[apere] A[ude - i.e. Westcott], which is why he was
refused admission to the Fratres Lucis.' Something that calls
itself the Fratres Lucis still exists today. According to the
Aquarian Guide to Occult, Mystical, Religious, Magical London &
Around, London, The Aquarian Press, 1970, P. 19, 'this Order was
established in Florence in 1498, by representatives of many of the
religions and philosophies suppressed by the Roman Church'. Irwin
mentioned Florence in connection with the 'early history' ofthe
F.L. and it is extraordinary how this Florentine archetype has
survived to this day. 'The Brothers will find you when you are
ready, but it is no good looking for them,' the guide-book states,
and then provides a British Monomark accommodation address in
KENNETH MACKENZIE AND THE ROSICRUCIAN SOCIETY
The Rosicrucian Society's members experienced a more than usually
entertaining evening on 24 April 1873 when Mackenzie, who had
recently become an honorary member, read a paper describing his
visit to Eliphas Levi in December 1861. To commemorate the event
the Society thereupon elected Levi as an Honorary Foreign Member.
Mackenzie's text was forthwith published in The Rosicrucian. This
version is the same as the MS. one with one important exception.
In the latter Mackenzie recalled that Levi 'mentioned Sir Edward
Bulwer-Lytton as a gentleman of versatile talents, but of little
real knowledge in relation to the Cabala'. This was now amended to
read: ' . . . he rendered a tribute to the versatile knowledge of
Lord, then Sir Bulwer-Lytton, and returned to his favourite topic,
the Cabbala upon which he dwelt with emphasis.'
Lord Lytton's connection with the Rosicrucian Society was an
involuntary one. On 14 July 1870 R.W. Little proposed 'that the Rt.
Hon. Lord Lytton be elected an Hon. Member of this Society and be
requested to accept the office of Grand Patron of the Order'.
A candidate for election to the Society had to be a Master Mason.
There is no evidence that Lytton was then or ever had been a member
of the Craft. Either Little had not bothered to enquire or
supposed that, whether or not Lytton was a Freemason, he had
received a genuine Rosicrucian initiation and was therefore
eligible for honorary membership. In his pamphlet Data of the
History of the Rosicrucians, 1916, Westcott wrote: 'In 1850 the
very old Rosicrucian Lodge at Frankfort-on-the-Main fell into
abeyance; in this Lodge the first Lord Lytton was received into the
Adeptship and became imbued with the ideas he displayed in his
novel "Zanoni" and other works' (p. 8). Nothing whatever is known
about this Lodge.
However, Lytton's name did not appear as Grand Patron in The
Rosicrucian until July 1872. Nobody informed him of the honour
that had been bestowed upon him. Indeed, he does not appear to have
known about it until the end of 1872 when, on 16 December, he wrote
a letter of complaint to John Yarker. It is impossible to suggest
why his Lordship should have written to Yarker, who was merely a
leading member of the Society's Manchester College, which was
founded early in 1871. Yarker, whose letters are notable for their
acerbity, despatched an uncharacteristically apologetic reply on 16
December. (1) Lytton conveniently died on 18 January 1873 and the
Society lost its involuntary Grand Patron.
Mackenzie now became a regular contributor to The Rosicruician.
Hitherto its editorial contents had been almost unbelievably dull,
and with the exception of his Eliphas Levi piece Mackenzie's
articles were no better. One would never suppose that they could
have been written by the 'bright young man' that Mackenzie
represented during the early 1850s. (2) He was appointed the
Society's Assistant Secretary General on 8 January 1874. His
correspondence with Irwin began ten months later and in the very
first of his letters (12 October 1874) he wrote- 'I certainly have
the lightest duties that ever fell to the lot of an Assistant
Secretary as Dr. W[oodman] does all the work and I only write
papers of more or less general interest.'
In the spring of 1875 the Society's affairs were in a state of mild
confusion. R. W. Little was threatening to resign and Dr. Woodman
was living at Exeter and too far away to be able to intervene
effectively. As for Little (according to Mackenzie on 9 April
1875): ' . . . he has so many irons in the fire it is impossible
for him to keep them all right. If he would take things more
coolly and not waste so much of his time in the Refreshment Room at
Freemasons' Hall it would be better.' (3)
(1) The letter is in the Lytton Knebworth Papers on loan to the
Hertfordshire County Record Office at Hertford. Miss Sibylla Jane
Flower, who is writing a biography of Lytton, told me that there
are no other papers of Masonic interest there.
(2) See 'The Hermetic Cross of Praise' (February 1873), 'The Aims
of Rosicrucian Science' (April 1874) and 'Roscrucianism: Religious
and Scientific' (November 1874).
(3) Some of Mackenzie's letters to Irwin of this period were
written on the heading of the Order of the Red Cross of Rome and
Constantine, whose office was at 17 Great James Street, Bedford
Row. Mackenzie was assisting Little, who was the Order's Grand
Recorder. Mackenzie retired from the scene in January 1875. 'I
have had so much trouble with Little and his arbitrary arrangements
... I was glad when he proposed to have a clerk at 8/- a week (more
than he paid me) to be there.'
Mackenzie's letter of 9 April 1875 indicates that he was now aware
that Frederick Hockley, his erstwhile friend and mentor, had been
proposed as a joining member of the Society's Metropolitan College.
Hockley, who lived in London, had been a member of Irwin's Bristol
College since January 1872. Quite recently Mackenzie had asked
Irwin to approach Hockley on his behalf; thus on 23 October 1874 he
wrote: 'Can you be a peacemaker between us? I am willing to do or
say anything to that purpose.' Hockley offered no olive branch.
Embarrassed at the prospect of being publicly snubbed by Hockley at
the Metropolitan College's meetings, and irritated by Little's
vagaries, his letter of resignation from the Society was read at
its Quarterly Convocation on 30 April 1875.
Six years later in a letter to Westcott (24 March 1881) Mackenzie
emphasised that his former fellow-members could scarcely be
considered as genuine Rosicrucians while he, of course, could claim
that distinction. This document illustrates Mackenzie's
occasionally paranoid temperament.
... I have always held aloof from the English Society of late
years. I possess the real degrees but I may not by my tenure give
them to any one in the world without a long and severe probation to
which few would consent to submit. It has taken me a quarter of a
century to obtain them and the whole of the degrees are different
to anything known to the Rosi. Society of England - those few who
have these degrees dare not communicate them.' Read H[argrave]
Jennings again (2) and [Bulwer-Lytton's] Zanoni. (3) Even Lytton
who knew so much was only a Neophyte and could not reply when I
tested him. How then could Little claim that he had them [i.e. the
degrees]? I know how many real Rosicrucians there are in the
When Mackenzie resigned from the Rosicrucian Society in the spring
of 1875 he was busy writing the first fascicule of his Royal
Masonic Cyclopaedia, a book whose current price in the antiquarian
market is out of all proportion to its value as a work of
MACKENZIE's ROYAL MASONIC CYCLOPAEDIA
The first edition of Albert Mackey's massive Encyclopaedia of
Freemasonry was published in the U.S.A. early in 1874. The Rev.
A.F.A. Woodford reviewed the book in The Masonic Mirror in May
(Vol. 1, No.ii), hence copies were circulating in this country by
12 October, when Mackenzie wrote in the first of his letters to
Irwin: 'I am engaged in preparing a new Masonic Cyclopaedia, of
which you shall hear more ere long.' It is likely that it was
Mackey's book which gave Mackenzie and John Hogg, his prospective
publisher, the idea for a less compendious work for the British
According to a prospectus issued in October 1874 the book was to be
issued in 'Six HalfCrown Parts, of 128 pages each' and publication
was scheduled to begin early in 1875. Mackenzie hoped to receive
permission to dedicate the work to the Prince of Wales (letter to
Irwin, 29 January 1875) but when the 'pretims' for the bound volume
were printed in 1877 it was his uncle, John Hervey, who was
accorded this token of respect.
It is unnecessary to discuss the Cyclopaedia's contents at any
great length. There was a wholesale process of pillage from
Mackey, whose articles were condensed and paraphrased. The
prospectus mentioned his indebtedness to other Masonic authors,
although he did not specify the titles of their books. (4) In some
respects the most interesting articles are those in which Mackenzie
displayed his inventive ability. Among the best examples, are 'The
Hermetic Order of Egypt' and 'The Rite of Ishmael', which will be
mentioned again later. The story of his quest for information for
his piece about Cagliostro reflects his 'scholarly' approach.
(1) Nor was Mackenzie prepared to reveal the allegedly arcane
secrets contained in the Tarot cards. In a letter to Westcott
about the Tarot (7 August 1879) he said: 'I am not disposed to
communicate the Tarot system indiscriminately although I am
acquainted with it. To do so would put a most dangerous weapon
into the hands of persons less scrupulous than I am.'
(2) He was referring to Hargrave Jennings's eccentric book The
Rosicrucians; Their Rites and Mysteries, 1870, which is nonsense
from start to finish. If Mackenzie supposed that Jennings knew
anything about the 'Rosicrucians' he was capable of believing
(3) Bulwer-Lytton's famous 'Rosicrucian' novel Zanoni, 1842, was
required reading for nineteenthcentury occultists. Cf. S.L.
MacGregor Mathers's reference to it in his Introduction to The Book
of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage, 1898.
(4) It can be inferred that he drew heavily upon J. C. Gadicke,
Freimaurer Lexikon, 1818, 2nd edit. 1831; G. B. Kloss, Geschichte
der Freimaurerei in England, Schortland und Ireland, 1847, and
Geschichte der Freimauerei in Frankreich, 2 VOLS., 1852-3; R.
Macoy, General History, Cyclopaedia and Dictionary, of Freemasonry,
New York, 1867, later editions 1869, 1872. His reliance on Mackey
is very obvious.
It will be recalled that in 1873 Irwin supposed that he was in
touch with the departed spirit of Cagliostro. In August 1875 it
occurred to Mackenzie to apply to Cagliostro, through Irwin, for
authentic biographical material. Thus on 29 August he wrote:
I have a request to make to you which may seem odd, but it is not
inappropriate. I have understood that you are in communication
with a Spt calling himself Cagliostro. Now I am very anxious in
the article I am writing concerning Joseph Balsamo, to bear very
much more lightly upon him than Carlyle, the Freemasons generally
and the Papalini have done ... If your spirit friend would
condescend to take an interest in the matter, not as a publicly
avowed spiritualistic matter, but simply by way of correction or
hints it would be very valuable. I cannot in the present state of
my wife's health institute spiritual seances just now. (1)
The article was completed by 17 September 1875 and Mackenzie hoped
that Irwin would read it to Cagliostro. 'Re Cagliostro article,'
he wrote. 'Of course I cannot say that the Count himself is to see
this, but I much want him to do so.'
Mackenzie corrected the last of the Cyclopaedia proofs early in
1877. He wrote to Irwin on 20 January: 'The Cyclo is finished. I
have nothing particular to do and feel like a fish out of water.
I think I shall take up my unfinished work on Railway Springs and
the Theory of the Spring in general and get it out.' He told Cox on
28 January that 'it is a purely practical work of an engineering
character with tables of formulae and differential calculus etc.'
He completed the manuscript by 26 February. The book does not
appear to have been published.
The Cyclopaedia was never critically reviewed in the British
Masonic press. Brief paragraphs were printed in The Freemason and
The Freemasons' Chronicle from time to time throughout 1875-7 but
these contained little more than the view that it was a 'wonderful
undertaking of benefit to all Masons' etc. etc. G. J. Findel, the
editor of the German Masonic periodical Die Bauhiitte reviewed the
first three fascicules early in 1876 and was content to ignore the
later ones. (2) His respect for Mackenzie's performance was
minimal, although the book had one redeeming feature: 'It is better
than similar books in English that have come our way,' Findel
wrote. As for Mackenzie: 'The author is a High-grade Mason (IX
degree), hence his predilection for aberrations and mystical
rubbish generally . . . ' (3) Findel's praise was reserved for
Kenning's Masonic Cyclopaedia and Handbook of Archaeology, edited
by the Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, which was published in 1878. Unlike
Mackenzie he publicly acknowledged his debt to Findel. This tactful
gesture did not pass unnoticcd. (4)
THE HERMETIC ORDER OF EGYPT
Mackenzie briefly referred to the Hermetic Order of Egypt in the
April 1874 issue of The Rosicrucian on p. 109: 'The Hermetic Order
of Egypt is one of a very exclusive character,' he
(1) The correspondence contains a number of references to
Mackenzie's and Irwin's involvement in spiritualism. The
quotations are from Mackenzie's letters. 'My mother is a very good
writing medium and my wife has the faculty but in a lesser degree
. . . ' (1 March 1875). Irwin's son Herbert, a medical student at
Bristol, died of an overdose of laudanum on 8 January 1879.
Thereafter there were frequent attempts to establish contact with
him. Irwin did not succeed and Mackenzie fared no better. 'With
reference to crystal-gazing I can only say it is a long and weary
business to develop the sight - even if the power exists ... my
wife has been too ill for any attempts on our part but we will try
from time to time to get news of poor Herbert' (28 February 1879).
Later, in 1882-3, Mackenzie was trying to contact him with the help
of an amateur medium. On 24 February 1883 he returned Herbert's
necktie and locket, which Irwin had sent to him for mediumistic
purposes, and wrote: 'The visions in the C[rystal] and Mirror
through her [the medium] took a widely different form from those
our friend Hockley [they were reconciled in 1878] and myself had
obtained and although interesting did not permit of departed
persons being summoned.' Finally on 4 February 1876 Mackenzie
mentioned that his house at 2 Chiswick Square - he and his wife had
recently moved from Chiswick Mall - was haunted. ' . . . not that
either of us care for that. She has no fear, and I am too much
accustomed to the ultra-mundane world.'
(2) See Die Bauhutte, Vol. XIX, 22 January, p. 29, and 19 February
1876, pp. 62-3.
(3) Mackenzie had been IX degree in the Rosicrucian Society, but
this was not a 'higher degree' in the accepted sense of the term.
According to the title-page he was 'Hon. Member of the Canongate
Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2, in Scotland', i.e. Edinburgh, where the
Cyclopaedia was printed by the consider the Commercial Printing
Company. In November 1876 the Lodge formed a committee to
possibility of publishing a bi-centenary history. The Lodge
resolved to offer Mackenzie honorary membership on 13 December.
Bro.P.A.Rae, its present Secretary, suggested in a letter to me
that I this may have been the first rather crafty step in a move to
persuade Mackenzie to undertake the work.' If the commission was
ever offered to him he did not accept it.
(4) See Die Bauhutte, Vol. XXI, 5 June 1878.
wrote. 'I have only met with six individuals who possessed it and
of these two were Germans, two Frenchmen and two of other nations.'
Irwin was in Paris during the autumn of 1874 and visited Eliphas
Levi. Unfortunately he forgot to ask Levi about the Order. When
he returned to Bristol he applied to Mackenzie for information.
Mackenzie replied on 23 October and was evasive. 'I can give you
very little information about the Hermetic Order of Egypt.
Constant [i.e. Levi] could have given you far more than I could -
he was one of my preceptors.' (1)
However, what could not be disclosed to Irwin was revealed at some
length in the Cyclopaedia where the Order was described as the
Hermetic Brothers of Egypt and as
an occult fraternity which has endured from very ancient times,
having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs and passwords, and a
peculiar method of instruction in science, moral philosophy and
religion. The body is never very numerous, and if we may believe
those who at the present time profess to belong to it, the
philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility,
and the power of communication with the ultramundane life, are part
of the inheritance they possess.
By the time the Cyclopaedia article was written the number of the
Order's members had been reduced to three. Mackenzie's further
'information' about the Brotherhood is of considerable interest
because here may be found echoes of the original legend of the
Rosicrucian Brotherhood as published in the Fama Fraternitatis R.C.
at Cassel in 1614. He did not claim that the Order had any Masonic
affiliations but then, after all, he had somehow to fill more than
seven hundred pages. The Cyclopaedia article continues:
The writer has met with only three persons who maintained the
actual existence of this body of religious philosophers, and who
hinted that they themselves were actually members. There was no
reason to doubt the good faith of these individuals - apparently
unknown to each other, and men of moderate competence, blameless
lives, austere manners, and almost ascetic in their habits. They
all appeared to be men of forty to forty-five years of age, and
evidently of vast erudition. Their conversation was simple and
unaffected, and their knowledge of languages not doubted.
So far this might be a portrait of Mackenzie as he currently saw
himself. He was then about forty-two years of age. He continued:
They cheerfwly answered questions, but appeared not to court
enquiries. They never remained long in one country, but passed
away without creating notice, or wishing for undue respect to be
paid to them. To their former lives they never referred, and, when
speaking of the past, seemed to say what they had to say with an
air of authority, and an appearance of an intimate personal
knowledge of all circumstances. They courted no publicity, and, in
any communications with them, uniformly treated the subjects under
discussion as very familiar things, although to be treated with a
species of reverence not always found among occult professors.
THE ORDER OF ISHMAEL
According to John Yarker's article on 'Arab Masonry' in AQC 19, P.
243, 'in 1872 the late Bro. Mackenzie organised the "Order of
Ishmael" of 36 degrees, the basis of which, he informed me, he had
from an Arab in Paris'. The introduction of a mysterious Arab is
so typical of Mackenzie that no further comment is necessary.
According to Mackenzie's Cyclopaedia the Order of Ishmael, or of
Esau and Reconciliation, had eighteen degrees divided into four
The government of the Order is vested in three supreme and equal
powers, respectively known as Patriarch, Priest and King. The
consent of all three must be obtained before the admission of any
candidate. The postulant must be of mature age, of good breeding
and education, and must not be a Roman Catholic ... It is not
necessary, on the continent, that he should be a Freemason, but if
so, many secrets are given to him not
(1) Levi died a few months later and could no longer be consulted.
Mackenzie referred to his death on 11 June 1875; 'I am sorry to
hear Eliphaz Levi has left us but I presume he would not be
difficult to find [i.e. at a spiritualist seance] as he was so well
known to those who preceded him and his contemporaries. I don't
know whether I can get at him through my wife, who is a medium, but
I will try.' The possibility of contacting Levi was mentioned as
casually as if, in a later day and age, Mackenzie hoped to
telephone him if he could find his number.
otherwise disclosed. Until very recent years there was a political
section to the Order, but this has been altogether suppressed, and
objects for which the Order exists consist of mutual aid,
instruction, and ceneral enlightenment. The Chiefs of the Order
reside habitually in the East, and two of the three chiefs must
always be east of Jerusalem. Branches of this Order, under
Arch-Chancellors, exist in Russia, Turkey, Greece, Austria, Italy,
Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain, Portugal, Africa,
and the United Kingdom.
Thus we encounter an Order with Secret Chiefs - a typical Mackenzie
elaboration - and busy in a dozen countries but unknown to the
Masonic world until Mackenzie's revelations were published in the
Cyclopaedia. It seems, however, that the Order had no ritual until
Mackenzie obliged by furnishing one. According to Yarker, it was
'far too lengthy for general practice' and MS. copies were so
costly that nobody wanted to pay for them. (1)
Letters written by Mackenzie to Irwin late in 1874 indicate that
the Grand Patron's representative (i.e. Mackenzie) hoped that Irwin
would become a member.
[23 October 1874]. As to the Rite of Ishmael, presuming you to have
taken the degree of Rose Croix, you would then begin to have
glimmerings of it ... The Rite has existed side by side with
Freemasonry for thousands of years and forms a completion by
working back to the Entered Appr: degree ... The ceremonies are of
a most august nature and teach the invariability of God, His
Providence, and the instability of Man.
[7 November 1874]. As to the Order of Ishmael I will do what I can
within the next few months but it is impossible to move in the
matter until the spring - annual meetings only take place and
properly speaking on the first of May. I may however as well
inform you that I hold an official position in that body for
England, and of course will be glad to forward your views ... In
your admission your Masonic rank will receive due recognition.
[6 December 1874]- We will talk about the Order of Ishmael when we
meet - several things have to be considered before the Ob[ligation]
can be given, as portions of the Koran have to be taken as of
authority. As however Saladin gave the rite to Coeur de Lion we
have good precedent for the admission of Christians.
Irwin may have been admitted to the Order in June 1875. (2)
On 29 August 1875 Mackenzie explained that 'the Ishmaelite degree
can only be given personally - it is impossible for anyone to
understand it otherwise - and it opens a field to all who embrace
its sublime teachings - to me it has ever seemed the highest point
and completion of Masonry, altho' it does not start from the same
Benjamin Cox was another potential recruit. On 21 November 1875 he
wrote: 'I do not think I shall oo to London next week - if I do so
it will be to see Mackenzie to receive the Order of Ishmael which
he promised to give me if I came to London.' He had not joined by
13 January 1877 when he remarked to Irwin: 'I am very glad that you
re ain communication with some other person than Mackenzie about
the Rite of Ishmael as Bro. M. has always [made] such a fuss about
With customers few and far between, the Order of Ishmael remained
in more or less cold storage until John Yarker inherited it after
Mackenzie's death in 1886.
KENNETH MACKENZIE-DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, 1875-83
Before dealing with Mackenzie's fringe-Masonic preoccupations
during the late 1870s - one of them, the Royal Oriental Order of
the Sat B'hai, was by far the most ludicrous promotion of the
period - some brief information about his domestic life is
necessary. His sources of income are unknown but he probably made
a very modest livinG, from miscellancous journalism. The
Cyclopaedia did not benefit him financially.
(1) This information is from a late and condensed recension of the
ritual (August 1907) formerlY in Yarker's possession but not in his
handwriting. Grand Lodge Library has recently acquired (F.E. Gould
Bequest) an apparently complete text which was copied for Irwin by
Benjamin Cox. Mackenzie's introductory 'History' and notes, dated
26 May 1872, describe him as 'Representative for Grand Patron'.
The ritual is unbelievably turgid.
(2) Grand Lodge Museum has four Order of Ishmael jewels which once
belonged to Irwin. According to the engraved legends he was
advanced to Guardian of the Temple IX degree on 20 June, Elevated
to Auxiliator 18 degree on 8 October, and Exalted to Providentia 27
degree on 8 November 1875. Finally on 8 January 1879 he was
Perfected to Chevalier of Darius, Prince of Ishmael 36 degree, on
8 January 1879.
On 13 August 1875, when he was busy writing the first fascicules,
he optimistically mentioned to Irwin that 'when this book is
finished, I shall, very likely, run over to Canada. My father in
law Harrison Aydon is carrying all before him and I am in
correspondence with my cousin Alexander Mackenzie the Prermier [of
Canada].' This statement led me up a long genealogical blind alley
because no relationship of any kind could be established. Perhaps
for Mackenzie any namesake was a 'cousin' and the Premier of Canada
a more than usually impressive one. (1) If Harrison Aydon returned
to London with his pockets lined with gold, neither Mackenzie nor
his wife appear to havc benefited.
During 1876 the Mackenzies moved from Chiswick to a more modest
address: 2 Mark Cottages, Staines Road, Hounslow. Whether or not
he could afford an occasional bet, it pleased him to forecast the
winners of the classic turf events. (2)
By August 1877 they had left 2 Mark Cottages and were at 1 Flint
Villas, Wellington Road, Hounslow. 'We have a carpenter's shop
next door in full work from 1/4 past 4 in the morning and shall
leave when I find another house,' he wrote. They endured the noise
until November 1880 when they moved to a quieter house in the same
road. They were next (1882-3) at 23 Ryder Terrace, Twickenham.
His uncle John Hervey died on 2 July 1880. 'He has been more of a
father to me than my own father,' he told Irwin a few months
carlier when Hervey would obviously not survive for long. Hervey
left about 4,000 pounds. His sister (Mackenzie's mother) was left
a life interest after a few modest legacies had been paid and
Mackenzie and a cousin were the residuary legatees in moiety.
Hervey's estate was not settled until September 1883.
At about this time Mackenzie acquired an eighty-six years lease of
a house in Twickenham for 400 pounds. He told Irwin that the
purchase had been made under good astrological aspects and that the
bank had lent him part of the money. On 25 October 1885, however,
he informed Invin that his financial prospects were dismal. 'When
my mother dies ... I and my wife will just have 35 pounds per annum
to live on, and what I precariously earn. The Freemasons have
never done a thing for me, though I have done much for Masonry, and
I don't expect they ever will ... I never hear of [Dr. W.R.]
Woodman for he deserted me when he found I was not my uncle's heir,
nor have I seen him since the day of the funeral of my uncle.'
During this period there was one redeeming feature. Frederick
Hockley had agreed to a reconciliation and in November 1878 invited
him to a meeting of Grand Stewards' Lodge.
THE ROYAL ORIENTAL ORDER OF THE SAT B'HAI
The Order of the Sat B'hai was not Mackenzie's invention, still
less Irwin's, although Mackenzie had a hand in the inflation of
this comic pseudo-Masonic balloon, which rose a few feet into the
air, wobbled briefly and then quietly collapsed without the average
member of the Craft knowing that the thing had ever existed.
The Sat B'hai's advent was obscurely heralded in a letter signed
'Historicus' which was published in The Freemason on 14 January
1871. The prose style is not unlike Mackenzie's. If so, he was
unaware that his misinformation referred to the 'rite' which was to
occupy so much of his time a few years later.
A brother informs us that a 34 degree of this rite is in existence
called the 'Apex', thus corresponding with the 90 degree of the
Ancient and Primitive Rite of Misraim. There are only three
holders of the 'Apex' in the whole world, who exist by the
succession of triplicate warrants from Frederick the Great of
Prussia, signed immediately after the Grand Constitutions. The
symbols are the cord and the dagger; the ceremonials are very
august, (3) and detail the legendary history and object of the
degree, which is to draw the funds and energies of all the councils
of the world to one great centre. Grave purposes are said to be in
view, but whether such is the expulsion of the Turks from
Constantinople, or the estabhshment of a single empire either on
the Continent or in America, is not known.
(1) Alexander Mackenzie (b. 28 January 1822 at Logierat,
Perthshire, d. 1892 at Toronto) emigrated to Canada in 1842. He
was elected a member of the first Dominion House of Commons in 1867
and was prime minister of Canada 1871-8.
(2) On 1 June 1887 he wrote: 'I have a method [astrological or
numerological?] of pitching on the right animals. Look at the
enclosed. It is not 12 o'clock yet, but I wrote these three names
down three days ago: Oaks, June 1, 1877. Three hours before the
race. Note whether I am right. 1. Muscatel, 2 Lady Golightly, 3
Placida.' Placida won the race, Muscatel came third and Lady
(3) Cf. Mackenzie's letter to Irwin of 23 October 1874 quoted on p.
265 above, in which he described the Order of Ishmael's ceremonies
as being 'of a most august nature'.
A letter correcting the inaccuracies perpetrated by 'Historicus'
appeared about a month later in The Freemason of 18 February 1871.
Whoever wrote it knew the substance of the Sat B'hai or Apex legend
much in the form in which it was subsequently developed.
THE APEX- 49 degree = 81 degree
A very serious mistake occurs in The Freemason of the 16th [sic]
ult., in which it is affirmed that 'there are only three holders of
the Apex in the world, who exist by a succession of triplicate
warrants from Frederick the Great', and that the symbols of the
degree are a 'Cord and Dagger'.
Now, brethren should not be precipitate in their revelations on the
subject of this climax of our Grand Historics-Masonic mysteries,
for I am in a position to assert, most emphatically, that the
warrants in question were not promulgated by Frederick the Great,
and that the three so-called Apexes were, in fact, no other than
the three sponsors of the ONE SUPREME APEX, whose very style
proclaims his crowning and solitary grandeur, and the succession of
whose high office comes by an Act of Grace on the part of the
existing Apex, who, under circumstances of the strictest solemnity,
and himself strictly veiled, transmits to his successor (if
practicable, in the presence of one or more of the sponsors) the
rituals of all other orders (some of which are scarcely known in
England), contained in an antique leaden casket cased in cedar of
Libanus (or Lebanon). By this means the Apex-elect is, if of one
of the lower degrees (but in no case under that of a P.M.) under a
So far, so good: this is a super-Masonic Order and the Apex-elect
must be a P.M. Furthermore, he has the status of a 'Secret Chief'.
This particular archetype made its Masonic debut in the German
'Strict Observance' (c. 1750) and in a non-Masonic context will be
found in Westcott's 'Golden Dawn' (The Secret Chiefs of the Third
Order) and in Theosophy a la Madam Blavatsky in the secret rulers
of the 'Great White Lodge'. The letter continues:
True enough, the Cord and Dagger are the symbols of the Sponsors,
but not of the one unapproachable Apex, for he has seven (hence the
con-fraternity [sic] known in the East as the Sat-bhae, seven
brothers), but which failed under a secret suspension of the then
(1845) Sublime Climax Apex, who, at that period, happened to be on
one of his tours of secret inspection in India.
From the nature of the office of the Grand Climax Apex, 81 degree,
it has been a time immemorial law that his name should never be
divulged nor his actual identity be known to any but a Sponsor.
Sometimes it happens, where Apex dies in any remote locality, his
successor cannot be known to the Sponsors, but the latter can
always identify the true Apex by the seven symbols which lead to
the leaden casket that crowns the mystic edifice, and which, with
reverence, I venture to assert I have seen, but it is not fitting
that I should say more.
There is a remarkable painting, of small size, called 'The Dream of
Apex'. It represents a man in a gloomy appartment, startled at the
appearance of a serpent; but for reasons inconvenient to mention,
the locality cannot be indicated.
As your correspondent is perhaps aware, the one Supreme Apex takes
in regular succession, as his symbol, one of the starry signs; but
these are not numbered as amongst the seven occult symbols.
Allow me to add, that 'the Frederick the Great' is not a warrant of
authority. The Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa certainly did issue
one, but under the superior inspiration of the Veiled Apex, who, at
that period, is supposed to have been a Venetian.
N. B - - - - E
Perhaps the most astonishing disclosure of all was the one
published in The Freemason of 29 June 1872 signed 'Sp-ns-r [i.e.
Sponsor], II'. 'It may be sufficent to say,' he wrote, 'that I
have seen the true jewel of 'Apex' the jewel can be heard as well
as seen.' The jewel probably incorporated a small bell which
The Royal Oriental Order of Sikha (Apex) and the Sat B'hai, to give
it its official title - was the brain child of Captain James Henry
Lawrence Archer (or Lawrence-Archer), Indian Army, although
Mackenzie did most of the donkey-work and received small thanks for
his trouble. John Yarker briefly referred to the Order's founder
and origins in The Arcane Schools, 1909, P. 242: 'This is a Hindu
Society organized by the Pundit of an Anglo-Indian regiment, and
brought to this country, about the year 1872, by Captain J. H.
Lawrence Archer.' In Hindi the word pundit or pandit means a teamed
man, one versed in philosophy, religion and jurisprudence,
alternatively a learned expert or teacher. In mlitary usage it
meant a native civilian who was employed to teach the British
officers of Indian regiments the Hindi language and to read the
Devanagri script. Nothing is known about the Pundit's 'Hindu
Society' or the nature of the notes, MSS. etc. which Archer brought
to England and which Mackenzie in due course attempted to 'work
Archer was born on 28 July 1823. He was gazetted Second-Lieutenant
in the 39th Foot Regiment in December 1840 (aet. 17) and served
with the 24th Foot Regiment throughout the Punjab Campaign in
1848-9. He went on half pay as a Captain on 1 January 1869 and
remained on the half pay list until his death in February 1889. He
was initiated in Masonry in India in 1851 (aet. 28) and later
became a joining member of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No. 2 at
The British Museum catalogue lists the titles of a dozen books by
him, e.g. genealogical studies, military histories, memoirs of
Indian campaigns, a work on the Orders of Chivalry etc. (2) As far
as the Sat B'hai was concerned he remained in the background.
Mackenzie used to complain that he was elusive, absent somewhere in
Scotland and not to be found. Only one letter written by Archer
survives in Grand Lodge Library. It was addressed to Irwin (6
April 1875) and because we do not know in what context it was
written its contents are obscure. Yarker mentioned that his salary
as a captain on half pay was only 127 pounds per annum, but he
must have had private means. Mackenzie inferred that Archer hoped
to make money out of the Sat B'hai.
The second of the three letters published in The Freemason in 1871
-2 may have been written by Archer. At that time he was not in
touch with Mackenzie, but he was already or soon to be acquainted
with Yarker. There is no evidence that Irwin ever met him, but he
was a member of the Captain's barely-hatched Order by the end of
1874. (3) When Mackenzie arrived on the scene in 1875 the Order
existed in name rather than in fact. It was he who was to wrestle
with the insoluble problem of placing this Hindu cuckoo in an
English fringe-Masonic nest. No one was better equipped for this
particular exercise in human folly.
On 18 January 1875 Mackenzie told Irwin that he had 'heard of the
Rite of Apex [i.e. the Sat B'hail and that is all.' Eleven days
later he asked Irwin for information about the rite for the
Cyclopaedia. Irwin referred him to Archer with whom he now began
to correspond. He joined the Order early in April and was
appointed one of the seven Arch Censors. 'I can say no more
because I know no more,' he told Irwin. Then on 22 April he wrote:
of course you know a great deal more about it than you have chosen
to say.' On 3 May he asked Irwin if he had 'the Code and Mystery
and other things'.' The Code contained information about the
Order's structure and its rules. John Yarker published what he
described as a revised edition of the Sat B'hai Code in 1886. The
text printed here in Appendix II is probably from this edition.
Early in April 1875 Irwin was already thinking of resigning.
Archer's letter to him of 6 April refers to this eventuality. The
postscript reads: 'I send you as requested 2 Codes and 2 Mysteries.
Kindly send a Post Card to Bro. Yarker to forward to you the third
copy of each which you require.' Hence Yarker was active in the
business in an administrative capacity. Mackenzie was beginning to
busy himself, perhaps rather officiously, in London. On io 10 May
For the present, until I learn what I want to know in the matter
... stick like grim death to a dead nigger in the Apex business.
All I can say now is that the matter is likely to move. Don't give
up your Censorship on any account. I have obtained some important
(1) See John Yorker's biographical article in The Kneph, Vol. II,
April 1882, P. 13O- I am indebted to Miss E. Talbot Rice, Research
Assistant to the Director of the National Army Museum, London, for
detailed particulars of Archer's military career.
(2) Lack of time has prevented me from inspecting Archer's books.
His Idone: or, Incidents in the Life of a Dreamer, 1852, published
when he was twenty-nine, might repay study.
(3) See the certificate in Grand Lodge Library dated the 'first day
of Winter Solstice 1874'. Irwin was given the 'spiritual and mystic
(4) This letter includes a reference to R. W. Lirde's Ancient and
Archaeological Society of Druids: 'Don't have anything to do with
the Druids. It is only Little in another form and what information
he has, he obtained from me. I paid some fees to the precious
order and have never heard anything more of it,' Mackenzie wrote.
According to the Cyclopaedia it was 'a quasi-Masonic body,
reconstituted by Bro. R. Wenrworth Little in October 1874 ...
Master Masons alone are admissible to this body which, it is to be
hoped, will show signs of vitality at some time not far distant.'
Mackenzie mentioned it again on 26 February 1877: 'I know I paid a
subscription and I was told the money was spent on a feed but I had
none of it.'
evidence in writing. Don't do more than stir Bros. Yarker and B.
Cox of Weston super Mare up.
His enquiries continued and on 17 May he advised Irwin: 'Pray let
us leave Apex alone for a little while longer. I assure you there
are strong reasons for it.' On 24 May he reported the receipt of a
letter from Archer. 'I would put myself in communication with
him,' he told Irwin, ' . . . and see what he says - pray don't
mention me at present. I don't want a Masonic fraud to be
perpetrated, verbum sap. Ask him what he is doing. It's pretty
muddled as it now stands.' BY 5 June he was beginning to show more
enthusiasm: 'Modifications will have to be made before Apex will be
of much Masonic service to us. But I think there is a brilliant
future. I will try and see Archer in a few days ... I had a letter
from Yarker recently but it does not seem to reveal anything very
definite about Apex. Have you a copy of the code [underlined three
times]? If you have not, I must send you one, or a printed copy can
be obtained from Bro. S.P. Leather, Civil Engineer, Burnley,
By 11 June 1875 Mackenzie's attitude was again ambivalent. He had
received a letter from Archer and had learned that 'there is a
ritual as well as the Code and Mystery'. He informed Irwin that he
had written to Archer and made various suggestions: 'Have pointed
out to him that English gentlemen cannot be governed by unknown
heads and advised him to call a meeting of Sponsors and Censors.
I did not mention names but (in confidence) I may tell you that I
might prevail upon Bro. Hervey to accept the fourth censorship,
So now the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England was
to be inveigled into the Apex scheme. Mackenzie did not object to
'Secret Chiefs' when they were of his own invention (cf. the Order
of Ishmael) but disliked the prospect of having to submit to their
authority when produced out of thin air by someone else, in this
By the autumn of 1875 a few recruits had presented themselves. On
19 October Mackenzie wrote: 'Bro. Ranking has joined the Order of
Apex, (2) also Colonel Ridgway. Something will have to be done in
this soon.' On 24 November he reported that 'Brother Col. Ridgway
is appointed Treasurer General of the Sat B'hai.' Next, on 27
January 1876 he wrote: 'I think there is every probability of Sir
William Feilden's brother Bro. J. Leyland Feilden joining the Sat
B'hai. It is high time that this was brought forward in a more
tangible shape, but there are so many influences at work that it is
very difficult to reconcile the elements.' However, at least a
little progress was being made because on 4 February he was able to
report: 'Rite of Apex is extending ... I am very carefully
selecting the members of the section I represent as Daksha. I only
wish for real Masons of studious habits, likely to render good
service.. . My uncle [John Hervey] thinks the Order likely to be of
great utility.' One wonders if the Grand Secretary supposed
anything of the sort.
At this point we are left in a state of suspension as far as Apex
or the Sat B'hai are concerned because the few surviving letters
for 1876 contain no references to either. In the meantime
Mackenzie had written an article about the Order which was
published in the Cyclopaedia probably in the fascicule which was
issued late in 1876. It commences:
ROYAL ORIENTAL ORDER OF THE SAT B'HAI - An order incorporated with
that of Sikha. It originated in India, and is so named after a bird
held sacred by the Hindus, and known to naturalists as the
Malacocerus grisius, whose flight, invariably in sevens, has
obtained for the rite the appellation of the seven (Sat) brethren
(B'hai). The last meeting in India was held at Allahabad (Pryaya
or Prag), in the year 1845. It is divided into seven degrees (but,
with Sikha, composed of the Sponsors, nine), the first being the
highest, i.e., 1. Arch Censor. 2. Arch Courier. 3. Arch Minister,
4. Arch Herald. 5. Arch Scribe. 6. Arch Auditor. 7. Arch Mute.
The last three degrees are, under certain limitations, open to both
sexes, but none but Master Masons are admitted into the first four
(1) Samuel Petty Leather was a close friend of John Yarker, who
lived nearby at Manchester, and active in all the latter's
fringe-Masonic promotions. In 1882 he was second in the hierarchy
of Yarker's 'Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry, inclusive of
Memphis and Misraim'. On 22 February 1875 when Irwin was already
doubtful about the Apex project he wrote: 'I indeed feel grieved to
hear you have had much trouble through "Apex" and think you will do
well to let it rest a while. There is one point in your letter.
You call it "The Rite of Apex". I have not looked upon "Apex" as
a rite. If I were to do so I should at once stop. I am not quite
clear on this point. There are already too many Rites in Masonry
- my rude objection to the introduction of ceremonial observances
was the fear that it might become a rite.'
(2) David Fearon Ranking was a member of the Rosicrucian Society in
1879. He joined Westcott's Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in
June 1892 but resigned soon after when he was made a bankrupt.
At the end of the article there is a statement which is 'typical
Mackenzie': 'The order is now firmly established in England and
Scotland, and has branches in America, Austria, and other
countries.' It is inconceivable that a rite which had not yet been
worked in England, because there were still no rituals, had already
been exported to America and Austria. Fignally, as might be
expected, 'the ceremonies are of an august nature'.
A.E. Waite once described Mackenzie as 'a shining light of
occultism hidden in a bushel of secrecy', or in words to that
effect. The source of the quotation escapes me, although I
remember it well. Irwin thought much the same and in a long and
critical letter written on 16 January 1877 referred to Mackenzie's
tendency to envelop everything in a cloak of mystery. The
following probably refers to the Order of Ishmael rather than the
There is no one more ready than myself to acknowledge your
intellectual powers. I am well aware that you could compile a
hundred Rituals each as good as the average of those in present
use, but you unfortunately appear to have a desire to surround your
proceedings with an air of mystery. Now this mystery is all right
and proper with the greater number of Masons ... but why persevere
with the mystery - or trying to mvstify one who has been admitted
to the innermost secrets of the sanctuary?
Irwin was referring to himself. As for the Sat B'hai:
The Rite of Apex would have spread rapidly in the most of England
were it not for this air of mystery. There was the groundwork for
much that was good and beautiful ... If the ceremony of the Sat
B'hai is not a beautiful one, it will not be that you are unable to
so form it, but that an air of mystery will be thrown over it -
that, to use a common expression, won't go down.
Mackenzie replied somewhat plaintively on 28 February: 'As to Apex,
Sikha, Sat B'hai or whatever you like best to call it, I have only
to say that I am trying my best to bring it on. But I do not find
there is much enthusiasm about it . . . ' On 3 March he explained
at some length the difficulty he was having in getting the rituals
into shape. One of his problems was that neither the Mutes nor the
Auditors, who were members of the two lowest degrees, had anything
to do, 'and until this is extricated from the Sanskrit original I
do not see how a ritual can be issued.' By 5 April he thought that
the Sat B'hai ritual was nearly finished: 'There is a separate
ceremony for each grade of the Order . . . ' On 9 August he
complained that his work was at a standstill because Archer was
away and could not be found. It seems that without Archer's
knowledge of Sanskrit no progress was possible. The position was
much the same in October and he had now quarrelled with Archer. He
knew, too, that some members were becoming restive, hence 'we
cannot expect others to take an interest in the Sat B'hai until we
give them something for their money . . . ' He was also now aware
that for Archer, at least, the Sat B'hai had a certain commercial
element: 'I am sorry that Bro. Archer's means are so slight that
he is forced to make money out of the Sat B'hai . . . ', he wrote
on 20 October.
Late in 1877 Bro. Charles Scott, of Omagh, Co. Tyrone in Ireland,
sent Irwin three indignant letters on the subject of Mackenzie and
the Sat B'hai within the course of five weeks.
[21 October 1877]. I know nothing of Apex more than I did three
years ago ... I assume that the Sat B'hai is a humbug devised to
raise the wind. Bros. Archer-and Mackenzie have fallen out. This
is plain by Archer's notes, so that Mackenzie is now Apex and
Ishmael and I suppose his fertile genius is conceiving something
else racy for the gulls.
[29 October 1877]. As for Apex I am washing my hands of it. It is
no use and only fit for gulls and dupes ... I can't introduce the
Order over here so I shall resign all connection with it.
[26 November 1877]. I wrote to Yarker withdrawing from Apex as I
could not understand it nor had I any opportunities of meeting
those who did ... It was only laughed at by my clever friends who
promptly refused to join a rite of very questionable benefit.
By 9 November 1877 Mackenzie had completed the following
1. Opening an Ashayam 7. Passing Scribe to Herald
2. Working and closing the same 8. Consecrating Herald as a
3. Initiation (general) 9. Entrusting a Courier
4. Admission of a Mute 10. Ceremony of Relegation
5. Passing a Mute to Auditor 11. Ceremony of Perfection
6. Advancing Auditor to Scribe 12. Various Lectures, Regulations
On 25 January 1878 he wrote more in sorrow than in anger to Irwin:
'I hear nothing at all from Bro. Yarker. Bro. Archer is mysterious.
You and Bro. Scott have, it seems, both resigned and from another
source I hear that Madam Blavatsky is the head of the Order! This
last item of news is "quite too awfully laughable".' He finally
admitted defeat on 27 January 1879: 'As to Apex I should not
trouble myself about it', he advised Irwin. 'I regard it as a
thing of the past.'
However, the Order of the Sat B'hai was not quite as moribund as
Mackenzie supposed. A few years later John Yarker ingeniously
amalgamated its Ceremony of Perfection with the ritual of a recent
novelty called the Order of Light.
THE 'KNIGHTS OF THE RED BRANCH'
There is a brief entry under this heading in Mackenzie's
Cyclopaedia. It reads: 'Established in Ulster, Ireland, B.C. 
go ... In 1760, there was a degree of that name given in an Orange
Lodge. It is still in existence as a side degree.'
For some reason which I am unable to fathom, Benjamin Cox, who does
not appear to have had any connection with Ireland or Ulster, was
the Order's Grand Chancellor in 1872. In Grand Lodge Library there
is a handwritten certificate, roughly printed by the 'do it your-
self' cyclostyle process, headed: 'Royal Order of Knights of Eri
and Red Branch of Knights of Ulster'. It was issued on 3 June 1872
to Irwin as 'Knight Grand Cross and Chieftain' etc., siped by R. S.
D. O'Donohue, and 'registered in the Archives of the Order by
Benjamin Cox, Grand Chancellor'. On the same day a similar
certificate was issued to Yarker's friend and colleague Samuel
Petty Leather in this case signed by Irwin.
There are occasional references to what Cox always called 'the Red
Branch' in his letters to Irwin. In 1877-8 he was busy trying to
design a certificate for the Order, in Gaelic and written in Irish
uncial characters. He informed Irwin on 7 August 1878 that he had
been unable to procure an Irish dictionary.
In a later letter to Irwin (25 November 1887) he wrote: 'Red Branch
- When you send me the final Ritual I will make another exact copy
therefrom. I have been thinking of nominating Bro.Capt. Nunn and
Bro. Lieut. Capell as Knights and Bros. Blackmore and Millard as
Esquires to serve under my Knightly [Person?].' The Captain and the
Lieutenant were both members of a local Volunteer unit.
Furthermore, all these prospective Knights and Esquires were
Freemasons ... six months later, in April 1888, they became the
founder members of the Golden Dawn's Osiris Temple at
Weston-super-Mare, of which 'Frater Crux Dat Salutem', i.e.
Benjamin Cox, was 'Hierophant'. (1)
THE RITE OF SWEDENBORG
There is no evidence whatever that the Swedish mystic Emanuel
Swedenborg (b. 1688 Stockholm, d. 1772 London) was ever a
Freemason, although some Masonic annalists of the distant past have
insisted that he must have been a member of the Craft. According
to Lenhoff and Posner (Internationales Freimaurer Lexikon, 1932)
the Rite which bears his name was founded in the U.S.A. in 1859 and
was soon exported to Canada. Mackey mentioned that it possessed
six grades in his Encyclopaedia, 1874: 1. Apprentice, 2. Fellow
Craft, 3. Master Neophyte, 4. Illuminated Theosophite, 5. Blue
Brother, 6. Red Brother. The third degree was, in fact, that of a
Master Mason, and since the Rite did not initiate Freemasons, only
the last three degrees were worked.
The Rite reached England by virtue of a Canadian charter, dated 1
July 1876, granted to 'John Yarker, Francis George Irwin and Samuel
Petty Leather ... to hold a subordinate Lodge and Temple ... in the
City of Manchester to be called the Emanuel Lodge and Temple No. 3,
and therein to confer the degrees of Enlightened, Sublime and
Perfect Phremasons upon such lawful Master Masons as they may deem
Since the rite was in possession of what might be described as 'the
old firm' it was only natural that Kenneth Mackenzie should be
appointed its Supreme Grand Secretary. Benjamin Cox would have
liked to have been Joint Supreme Grand Secretary - he was still a
Masonic pot-hunter even if he did declare two years later that 'I
care but very little if I never again attend a Lodge Meeting' - but
Mackenzie disagreed and proposed that he should be Provincial
Supreme Grand Secretary if the rite prospered.
(1) The Osiris Temple had a short life. Cox initiated eight male
members, all of them Freemasons, in 1888 and two more in 1890.
(2) Grand Lodge Library has a more or less contemporary MS. copy of
There was no great rush to join the rite but by the end of 1879
there were about a dozen lodges, all of them with probably minute
memberships, and a handful more were founded during the next few
years. Hence Mackenzie's duties were never very onerous. They
would have been enen easier if lodge secretaries had been more
punctilious in sending returns and remitting fees.
In April 1877 the Swedenborg Rite was still short of a Supreme
Grand Chaplain and Mackenzie suggested that the Rev. William
Stainton Moses should be invited to accept the office. At this
point in time fringe-Masonry gained an interesting new recruit
because Stainton Moses was one of the most prominent personalities
in the spiritualist movement. (1)
Whereas all the individuals we have so far encountered accepted
Freemasonry - 'fringe' or Reocular, or a combination of both - as
they found it, Stainton Moses wanted something different. It is
likely that his decision to accept the Swedenborg Rite's Supreme
Grand Chaplaincy was largely influenced by the prospect, as he
informed Irwin in August, 1877, of being able to form a lodge
entirely composed of 'spiritualists, Theosophists, (2) or whatever
you like to call them ... I desiderate for this purpose something
rather different from the ordinary Lodge, which meets four times a
year to work a stereotyped ritual, or to eat a heavy dinner'.
By August 1878 he had abandoned the hope of establishing a
spiritualist lodge within the framework of the Rite of Swedenborg
or even the now moribund Sat B'hai. He resigned from the Rite in
The Rite of Swedenborg lingered on in England until the early
1900s. By that time it was merely an item in John Yarker's stock
of rites for export abroad.
EXEUNT OMNES ...
Frederick Hockley, who had no connection with fringe-Masonry, but
knew Irwin and Mackenzie well, was the first to die (10 November
1885). His will included a legacy of 19 guineas to Mackenzie, who
followed him on 3 July 1886, shortly before his fifty-third
birthday. The deterioration in his handwriting in the last of his
letters to Irwin (20 November 1885) suggests that his health had
Latterly (1883-5) he had been tinkering with the formation of an
exclusive little 'club' called The Society of Eight, apparently for
the study of alchemy. Its prospective members in August 1883 were
Irwin, Yarker, the Rev. W. A. Ayton (3) and Frederick Holland,
whom Mackenzie described as 'a technically experienced chymist and
metallurgist', and who was a member of the Societas Rosicruciana in
In a letter to Irwin (24 August 1883) Mackenzie wrote: I fear that
Bro. Hockley is too advanced in years to join. I do not think
that Stainton Moses would do at all; there are reasons I cannot
enter upon. Dr. Westcott also will not do. If Holland gets him to
join I will at once retire.' By the end of 1885 he had quarrelled
with Holland and on 20 November told Irwin: 'Society of Eight quite
dormant, thro' Holland's fault.' Towards the end his relationship
(1) William Stainton Moses (1840-92) took Holy Orders in c. 1868
but resigned from a chaplaincy in the Isle of Man in 1872 when he
became interested in spiritualism and returned to London, where he
taught English at University College School. He was a founder of
the London Spiritualist Alliance, a frequent contributor to the
spiritualist press and for some years editor of Light. He was also
a wellknown private medium. When the Rosicrucian Society's Burdett
(London) College was founded in December 1867 its Fratres included
Stainton Moses and R. Palmer Thomas. The latter was later to be a
prominent member of the Golden Dawn.
(2) In 1877 the Theosophical Society, which was inaugurated in New
York in November 1875 was still hardly known in Great Britain.
However, there is evidence to show that H. P. Blavatsky's first
important book, Isis Unveiled, 1877, was being read in Rosicrucian
Society circles soon after its publication. The Society's
remarkable expansion did not begin until May 1887 when Madame
Blavatsky settled permanently in London. Stainton Moses was a
Fellow of the New York Theosophical Society in 1878 and one of the
few Englishmen to have any connection with it. He immediately
procured honorary membership for Mackenzie. Yarker met H. P.
Blavatsky when she was briefly in England at the end of 1878 and
appears-to have given her what purported to be a Masonic
initiation. The history of 'Co-Masonry' in this country began with
Yarker and continued under Theosophical Society auspices.
(3) William Alexander Ayton (1816-1909), Vicar of Chacombe,
Northamptonshire. He had an alchemical laboratory in his cellar
and was afraid that his Bishop would learn of its existence. He
was among the first to join the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
in 1888. W. B. Yeats, who met him in the G. D. milieu in 1890,
described him as 'an old white-haired clergyman, the most
panic-stricken person I have ever known' (Autobiographies, 1926,
pp. 227-8). S. L. MacGregor Mathers introduced him to Yeats at a
G.D. ceremony with the words: 'He unites us to the great adepts of
the past.' Ayton was invested as Provincial Grand Chaplain for
Oxfordshire in 1875.
Yarker cannot have been satisfactory. The obituary notice in the
latter's periodical The Kneph (August 1896) could hardly have been
briefer or more perfunctory.
Although one would suppose that the Sat B'hai was completely dead
and buried by 1885 both Irwin and Cox were keeping it going in a
small way in the West Country. On 15 December Cox wrote: 'I will
assist by taking No. 2 Censorship and I would suggest that Dr. Nunn
be asked to take the other ... there can be no harm in asking him,
the only objection is that he does not care much for occultism.'
Almost two years later Cox reported: 'Dr. Nunn intends to wear at
our Thursday's meeting his Sat B'hai jewel ... I forgot to say that
Bro. Dr. Nunn thinks that by wearing the jewel of the Sat B'hai at
our meeting it may be the means of others joining without outside
Irwin and Cox were still busy with the affairs of the Order of Eri.
On 12 December 1887 Cox expressed his admiration for Irwin's latest
version of its ritual: 'I think it is equal to any that I have ever
seen,' he wrote.
A week later he told Irwin that he had just received the second
part of the first volume of AQC. On 15 June 1888 he asked Irwin if
his appointment as local Secretary of QC's Correspondence Circle
had been confirmed. He was currently full of enthusiasm for
Westcott's newlyhatched Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Irwin,
on the other hand, was not. 'I am sorry to hear that you do not
care for the G.D. Order,' Cox wrote on 1 June 1888. By then he had
been corresponding with Irwin for almost twenty years. A few later
letters - the last of all was written in June 1890 - are of no
interest. Irwin died in July 1893 and Cox in December 1895.
Pamela Bullock - Soror Shemeber in the Golden Dawn - made a note of
his decease in a contemporary list of members.
By now John Yarker was the only important survivor of our original
coterie of enthusiasts for fringe-Masonry. However, the 'Most
Illustrious Grand Master General of the Antient and Primitive Rite
of Masonry (inclusive of Memphis and Misraim), 33 degree - 96
degree, 90 degree. P.M. of all Orders; Past Senior G.W. of Greece,
P. Gd. Constable of the Temple; Hon. 33 degree -96 degree in
America, Egypt, Italy and Roumania', and heaven knows what else,
was not a practitioner, in the strict sense of the word, in the
Mackenzie-Irwin 'manufactory, mint or studio of Degrees'. He was
essentially a collector of rites which, in later life, he patched
together with this or that fringeMasonic invention that had fallen
into his lap. Maurice Vidal Portman's August Order of Light offers
a typical example.
Portman's enthusiasm for Freemasonry, regular or fringe, did not
last for long. The Order of Light was launched without any audible
beating of drums in 1882. It had the same echoes of Hinduism as
the Sat B'hai, but with a Cabbalistic top-dressing. The Rev. W.
A. Ayton and Robert Palmer Thomas - the latter was later Frater
Lucem Spero in the Golden Dawn and well known to W. B. Yeats in
1900-1-were among the first to be entrusted with its secrets. In
or about 1890 Portman handed the rite to Yarker who amalgamated
some of its ritual with the Sat B'hai's highest 'Perfection' grade.
(2) Ultimately the Order of Light travelled across the Pennine
hills to Bradford, where it was gratefully received by certain
members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia who had been, or
perhaps were still running the Golden Dawn's local Temple, Horus
No. 5. According to Westcott, the rite 'was revived at Bradford by
the Rosicrucian Adepts, Dr. B. J. Edwards and T. H. Pattinson, with
Dr. Wynn Westcott as Chief of the Council of Iustruction'. (3)
One writer after another has accused Yarker of conducting a
pseudo-Masonic racket at Manchester, meaning for personal financial
profit. I am by no means convinced that this was the case. One
has only to read his periodical The Kneph (1881-95) to see that
over the years the income and expenditure of his Antient and
Primitive Rite were very small indeed. Nor do I believe that he
can have charged more than nominal amounts for warrants for rites
which were exported to overseas customers. He mentioned in The
Arcane Schools that he had recently issued a Swedenborg Rite
charter 'for a body in Paris and previously to Roumania and Egypt'
(P. 490). Mackenzie's Order of Ishmael ultimately fell into his lap
- Westcott was one of its 'Grand Officers' - but he did nothing
His most important export operation was in 1902 when he issued
Warrants for Memphis and Misraim and the Rite of Swedenborg to Dr.
Karl Kellner and the latter's friend Herr
(1) Edward Smith Nunn was not a physician but the headmaster of a
school at Weston-super-Aare called 'The College'. In spite of his
lack of enthusiasm for occultism he was initiated in the Golden
Dawn in April 1888. He died before September 1893.
(2) See Yarker's letters to Irwin of 10 July and 16 October 1890
(Grand Lodge Library), also his The Arcane Schools, 1909, P. 492.
(3) See W. W. Westcott, Data of the History of the Rosicrucians,
1916, P. 12.
Theodor Reuss in Germany. In the case of the Rite of Swedenborg
Westcott, who was then its Supreme Grand Secretary acted as an
intermediary. He also obliged Reuss by giving him a Warrant for a
Societas Rosicruciana in Germania. (1)
By the beginning of the new century the curtain had almost dropped
in front of the fringeMasonic scene in England. John Yarker was
still active at Manchester but with the approach of his seventieth
birthday in 1903 had probably lost much of his old fire. He died
on 30 March 1913. (1) The fight for the corpse of his Antient and
Primitive Rite is partially described in The Equinox, Vol. 1 No.
During the early 1900s Craft Masonry was in a particularly
flourishing condition. Furthermore, by now Grand Lodge was
undoubtedly actively discouraging peripheral innovations. In the
past the fringe affairs mentioned in this paper had clung like ivy,
although with shallow roots, to regular Masonry because their
inventors or promoters, who were all members of the Craft, depended
upon Masonic precedents, e.g. rituals and a hierarchy, for their
After c. 1885 a minority of Freemasons in search of esoteric
novelty tended to join the Theosophical Societv, where there was no
conflict with the authority of Grand Lodge. Irwin, Westcott and
the Rev. W. A. Ayton were all members of the T.S., and so, too,
were others who were in the S.R.I.A. and the Golden Dawn.
Referring to the Sat B'hai in The Arcane Schools Yarker wrote:
'Somehow its raison d'atre ceased to be necessary when the
Theosophical Society was established by the late H. P. Blavatsky'
I am incompetent to offer an authoritative diagnosis of the
'fringe' phenomenon because so many complex psychological factors
are involved. In a merely historical context I regard Irwin,
Mackenzie and others in their circle as the harbingers of the
notable expansion of public interest in occultism and afl varieties
of 'Rejected Knowledge' which began during the late 1880s. Here
the Theosophical Society played a particularly important role.
There was something like an underground explosion. Its waves can
be charted in Great Britain and France; they did not reach Germany
until the early igoos. The explosion was hardly noticed by the
Establishment, including Freemasonry's own Establishment.
Finally, once again I cannot too strongly emphasise that this
paper's subject matter deals with an essentially obscure sector of
recent Masonic history. On no account should the reader infer that
during the period 1870-85 there was ever a widespread interest
within the Craft in the activities of Mackenzie, Irwin & Co., the
proprietors of a 'manufactory, mint or studio of Degrees'.
(1) My supposition is that fringe-Masonry had previously been
almost non-existent in Germany. Kellner died in 1905 and Theodor
Reuss - perhaps this century's most fascinating pseudo-Masonic
adventurer - became the great German protagonist of irregular
Masonic promotions until his death at Munich in c. 1924. Reuss,
who was born at Augsburg in 1855, was initiated in London in the
Pilgrim Lodge No. 238 which, then as now, worked in the German
language. Most of the 'occult lodges' which proliferated in
Germany between 1920-33 - some were revived after 1945 - were off-
shoots of Reuss's Order of the Templars of the Orient (O.T.O.),
which was founded in c. 1906. For Reuss see, for example, his
periodical Oriflamme, 1902-15+; M. Kully, Die Wahrheir uber die
TheoAnthroposophie als Kultur-Verfallserscheinung, Basle, 1926;
Robert Landmann (i.e. Ackermann), Monte Verita Ascona, 1934 (for
Reuss's connection with Ida Hofmann's and Henri Oedenkoven's extra-
ordinary vegetarian colony at Ascona, a 'hippy conunune'
prototype); and Dr. Adolf Hemberger, Organisationsformen, Ritziale,
Lehren und Magische [!] Thematik der Freimaurerischen und
Freimaurerartigen Bunde im Deutschen Sprachraum Mitteleuropas,
privately printed by the author (typewriter facsimile), Frankfurt
am Main, 1971. This compilation reflects regular Masonry's ultimate
polarity. One cannot conceivably travel further away from our
conception of what the Craft means and represents.
(2) His will, a copy of which has recently been deposited in Grand
Lodge Library, is a typically abrasive document. He had 25 pounds
worth of shares in the Manchester Masonic Hall 'which pays 2% per
annum usually much of the earnings being swallowed by a Board of
Directors for salaries badly earned in the end no doubt the company
will be wound up and the building sold'. Then, 'in case [his
daughter] Edith or any of the others (i.e. daughters] should join
the Universal Co-Masons she is to take the choice of my many
valuable Masonic rituals'. A daughter-in-law was described as 'a
troublesome and greedy person', and elsewhere as 'an unmannerly and
CHECK-LIST OF F. G. IRWIN'S CORRESPONDENTS
This list includes the names of all the writers of the letters
preserved in Grand Lodge Library with the exception of Kenneth
Mackenzie and Benjamin Cox.
ADAIR, Lt.-Col. William ALEXANDER, Somerset Light Infantry Militia,
of Heatherton Park, Taunton. Two letters, 1873-7.
COOKE, MATTHEW, of London. One letter, 15 May 1865.
DALE, Dr. B.H. (not a Freemason), of Bristol. One letter, 11 July
1878, referring to Irwin's son Herbert's medical studies.
DAVIDSON, B. (not a Freemason), of Forres, Morayshire. Three
illegible letters, all November 1877, mainly about occultism.
GILLARD, W.S., of Sherborne. Eight letters, 1871-5, about local
HOCKLEY, FREDERICK, of London. Forty letters, 1872-8 (some
incomplete) including fourteen to Herbert Irwin.
KELLY, W., of Leicester. Author of Fifty Years' Masonic
Reminiscences, 1888. One letter, 29 January 1889, referring to
LEATHER, SAMUEL P., of Burnley, Lancs. Eleven letters, 1874-8.
Some relate to Yarker's Antient and Primitive Rite.
LITTLE, ROBERT WENTWORTH, of London. Three letters, 1869-73.
MACBEAN, EDWARD, of Glasgow. Eight letters, 1888-91. He joined QC
Lodge and Westcott's Golden Dawn in May 1888. He was also a member
of the S.R.I.A. and Yarker's A. & P. Rite.
MATIER, CHARLES FITZGERALD, Of Manchester. Four letters, 1871-7.
For biographical details see G. Blizard Abbott, Masonic Portraits,
MOSES, Rev. WILLIAM STAINTON, of London and Bedford. Eighteen
letters, 1877-81. See his article in Dictionary of National
MUNBEE, Major-General GORE BOLAND, Of Weston-super-Mare. Four
letters, 1871, and six undated.
SPENCER, W., of London. One letter, 1879. Proprietor of Spencer's
Masonic Manufactory. One letter, 1879.
THOMPSON, H., of London. Three letters, 1879. He was a collector
of Masonic books.
THOMPSON, M.McB., of Ayr. Four letters, 1890, on heading of Grand
Encampment of the Temple and Malta for Scotland.
TOMMY, G. (,not a Freemason), of Bristol. Eight letters, 1870-4,
mainly about spiritualism. He proposed that Irwin should be
mesmerised twice weekly to alleviate his insomnia.
TUCKEY, GEORGE, of Bristol. Four letters, 1874-8, also two undated.
(See also Mackenzie's letters to Irwin).
WILLIAMS, W., of Abergavenny. Seven letters, 1870-5, about Masonic
WOODFORD, Rev. A.F.A., of London. One letter, 31 October 1877.
WOODMAN, Dr. W.R., of London and Exeter. Three letters, 1876,
YARKER, John, of Manchester. Nineteen letters, 1871-90.
THE SAT B'HAI CODE
This document has been reprinted more for its psychological than
historical interest. It demonstrates the trouble that was taken to
perpetuate the whole Sat B'hai myth. The text is probably from
John Yarker's so-called 'revised edition' of 1886. It was
advertised for sale in the 1913 edition of his book The Arcane
Schools, 1909. It will be noticed that the particulars of the fees
are omitted, hence by that time the booklet was merely being sold
as a curiosity, no doubt 'for gulls or dupes', as Bro. Charles
Scott would have observed (see P. 270 above).
CODE OF THE ROYAL ORIENTAL ORDER OF SIKHA (APEX) AND THE SAT BHAI
RAHU REPRESENTATIVE OF ARTIRAM AND OF THE SAT BHAI OF PRAG
THE CODE OF SIKHA (APEX), &c.
(1) This Oriental Order embraces the Perfect Terrestrial Zone of
360 degrees, and the Mystic Zone inclusive of all others, and
occupies the highest point of the Masonic fabric. Therefore, while
under its benign influence, justice is done to all, and innovations
inconsistent with the grand principles of harmony, and a just
equality, regulated to the varied circumstances of the social
scale, are righteously condemned.
(2) This Paramount Order is divided into two, namely, that of Sikha
(Apex), the Supreme and Ultimate Mundane, and of the Sat Bhai of
(3) It is a fundamental principle, that there has been a regular
succession from the East of the whole Order; but more especially of
the Sat Bhai, and without this succession, the chief title of the
Order to universal respect could not exist. This being so, the
Sponsor by whom the succession has been kept up, and such Sponsors
as have been adopted into it, must in their dual capacity, as well
as individually, be incapable of deposition or supersession, for
without them, and the possession by the original Sponsor of the Red
Ribbon of the Order, there could not possibly be any succession,
and consequently there could be no Order.
(4) But, inasmuch as worldly considerations, in their narrow sense,
are alien to the spiritual instructions of the Sponsors, they have
been permitted to delegate their administrative and executive
powers, in large measure, to the Arch Censors, who are accordingly
charged with such duties, while the legislative function, and the
veto, personal as well as dual, remains with the former, as an
unalienable inheritance, within the Perfect Circle, as transmitted
by the Sat Bhai of Pryaya.
(5) At any moment of supreme peril to the occidental home of the
Order of Sikha (Apex), and of the Sat Bhai, it shall be the
imperative duty of the First Sponsor, who holds the Red Ribbon of
the Order, to summon the Arch Arbiter, the Second Sponsor, and one
Arch Censor, and in their presence to break the seal of the letter
from Prag, that contains the special mandate of the Lord of the
Perfect Circle, and of the Sat Bhai, such mandate being absolutely
irresistible, and of effect over the whole of this Code. And with
the exception of this one reservation, this Code shall be
irrevocable and incapable of abrogation, and the Sponsors, and Arch
Censors are charged with its application to the organisation of the
mystic subjects of the Lord of the Perfect Terrestrial Zone.
(6) Within the Perfect Circle, the mystic numbers Nine and Seven
are pre-eminent, and while the Lord of the Perfect Circle and the
Sponsors complete the higher number, the lower, under the immediate
influence of the Sat Bhai, is subdivided into seven classes,
namely:-(1). Arch Censors. (2). Arch Couriers. (3). Arch Ministers.
(4). Arch Heralds. (5). Arch Scribes. (6). Arch Auditors. (7). Arch
(7) The Arch Censors, being of the highest dignity of the Sat Bhai,
rule the six subordinate classes, and each, in his own
jurisdiction, is paramount. In this grade all are equal, and there
is no priority.
(8) Each Member of each Censorial Section of the six subordinate
classes, shall be known personaily only to his own Censor, and to
the Sponsors under the Lord of the Perfect Zone and in the chain of
secrecy as well as of responsibility (nccessary for the exclusion
of the uninitiated), every second link is locked downwards by
symbols, signs and countersignshence, the Arch Censor is only known
to his own Arch Couriers, each of the latter to his own Arch
Ministers, and so on.
(9) No one can be admitted to the four higher classes of the Sat
Bhai who has not been previously initiated in the Mystery of
Freemasonry; and it is a fundamental decree, that the classes Arch
Censor, and Arch Courier are closed against all but Master Masons,
and those of higher degree. But the three lower classes are open
to both sexes, at the discretion of each Arch Censor, within his
(10) In order to preserve the due relation between the various
grades, and to distinguish those of greater exaltation, a system of
numbers pervades the whole, so that each individual may be clearly
distinguished. But mystic names, conferred by the Sponsors,
pertain exclusively to the four higher classes of the, Sat Bhai;
the lower receiving only ordinary names. These numbers run thus,
throughout the combined Order of Sikha (Apex) and the Sat Bhai:-
Sikha Apex)-the Supreme Mundane 1
..................... 2/1 [In a circle.
Sponsors... ..................... 2/2 "
...[Dormant]......... 2/3 "
A. Censor .................. 3/1 3/2 3/3 &c.
[In a triangle.
A. Courier.................. 4/1 &c.
[In an ellipse.
A. Minister............... 5/1 &c.
[In a parallelogram.
A. Herald.................. 6/1 &c.
[In a lozenge.
A. Scribe.................. 7/1 &c.
A. Auditor................. 8/1 &c.
A. Mute.................... 9/1 &c.
Furthermore, to distinguish these grades within their special
Circles, the svmbol of each Arch Censor is prefixed to the number
of the inferior grade in the manner shown in plate 1, figure 1.
The Arch Courier 1, of Indra.
But as the A. C. has three symbols, the first is placed before the
Couriers, the second before the Ministers, and the third before the
(11) Each member of each grade nominates seven assistants, and
these seven, in like manner, seven probationers; but these receive
only the simple number of their superior, a red line, drawn
horizontally through which, indicates an assistant, and a red one,
vertically, a probationer. These auxiliaries qualify to become
Arch Mutes, but are not considered as within the Perfect Circle,
nor are they admitted to its mysteries; they, however, are taught
that the mystery came from Pryaya, and are employed to advance the
cause of universal harmony, and their authority is a brief
prescript signed by the immediate superior, by which their
subordination, on the pledged word, is secured.
(12) The Obligation, on the simple word of honour of the candidate,
in every class throughout the combined Order, is accepted as
sufficient. None but men of reputed honour, true to their word,
are admitted, and to such men, experience shows, that the pledged
word is as inviolable as the solemn oath, the latter as profane,
being excluded from the presence of the Lord of the Perfect Circle.
(13) Every member of the Order is bound to be in possession of a
mandate or commission, signed in cipher by the Sponsors, and
endorsed in like manner, by their respective Arch Censors,
according to the system of locked links.
(14) The Arch Censors are not necessarily known by their personal
names to each other, but they may hold congress, under the sanction
of the sponsors, for the discussion of important matters connected
with their own jurisdiction, and within its limits; but one
dissencient voice, whether the whole be present or not, shall
invalidate any regulation framed by such congress, and the veto of
the Sponsors, individual as well as dual, will have the same
effect, the object being to protect the perhaps farther seeing,
minority, a policy taught by the history of mankind.
(15) The Sponsors are to be furnished with quarterly reports,
commencing on the first day of each year, by each Censor, who in
like manner will- be furnished with the necessary report, by his
subordinates, and, a return of moneys due and paid, shall be
comprised in these reports, in addition to administrative details.
(16) These reports will be framed according to the nature of the
duties of each class thus: The Arch Censors have the
superintendence of the Masonic world, from 360 degree to 19 degree;
the Arch Couriers from 18 degree to 11 degree;- The Arch Ministers
from 10 degree to 4 degree; the Arch Heralds from 3 degree to 1
degree. The Arch Scribes are charged with fiscal details, the
payment of fees for charters, and conunissions to the Arch
Illuminator for materials and work supplied, and the fees on
admission, and exaltation, as settled, and regulated by the Arch
Censors, the latter being charged with a general supervision. The
Arch Auditors and Arch Mutes are charged with the collection of
important information from all sources, public and private.
The Sponsors receive no fees, but whatever is voted to them by the
Arch Censors, they may accept.
(17) The Arch Arbiter is the highest judicial functionary, and is
known only by his name within the Perfect Circle, but has no active
part or responsibility in the Order, and is superseded
(18) In each case when a superior is addressed, he must be
protected by his inferior against the expenses of a correspondence
which must necessarily be of vast extent, and which would be
oppressive to the superior.
(19) The offices of Arch Emissary, Arch Secretary, Arch Historian,
Arch Treasurer, Arch Auditor and Arch Illuminator are tentative,
the first, fourth, and fifth being extra to the Order. Of their
patronage, the first is in the gift of the Sponsors, the second and
sixth of the first Sponsor, or he who holds the Red Ribbon and Bell
of the Order, the third, fourth, and fifth, of the Arch Censors.
(20) Among the archives of the Order are many fragments of Oriental
antiquity, and these comprise various documents in the ancient
languages of the East. When required to secure in a printed form,
the Book of Sikha (Apex), and Legend of the Red Ribbon, the first
Sponsor will receive proposals from the Arch Censors with that end
in view, one grand object of the Order being to incite to a study
of the great truths contained in early Sanskrit literature.
(21) No member of the Order can be superseded or expelled, nor
shall he have the power to resign his office (and never his
membership) without the final sanction of the Sponsors, under the
advice of the Arch Arbiter, or Hindu referee.
(22) The R.O.O. of Sikha and the Sat Bhai is the only system of
Round or Natural Freemasonry.
(23) The signs and passwords of this Order are issued only by the
First Sponsor triennially, when they are changed at the Vernal
Equinox. No S.B. can share in the rites and councils of the Order
who is not in possession of the signs and passwords of the smaller
cycles. But the Illuminated who are in the innermost circle are
exempt from ordinary rules. An Arch Censor may be Illuminated
without preliminary perfection or maturity, and only the
Illuminated are eligible to succeed to the death vacancy of a
(24) The great Lotus Seal of the Order is common to the
Jurisdictions of the Order, but its custodian must be elected in
the jurisdiction, and subject to the confirmation of the First
(25) The Code of Sikha (Apex) is the sole law of the R.O.O., and is
immutable. But signs and passwords are tentative for fixed
periods, and bye-laws may be permitted tentatively by Rahu, as
representative of Artiram. Nothing is valid without the personal
and usual lay signature of the Arch Secretary to verity it.
(26) The Third Sponsor, as a rule, dormant, may, by the
proclamation of the First Sponsor, be called into activity and
duality with him, whereupon the Second Sponsor becomes for a season
or seasons dormant. No Sponsor can be also an Arch Censor, but he
may temporarily discharge the latter's functions.
(27) The Vemal Equinoxes for changing signs and Passwords are in
1877, 1875, 1878, 1881, 1884, 1887, 1890, &c.
(28) There are three Seals, viz. -The Great Lotus Seal; the Key
Seal of the Arch Secretary; and the First Sponsors Privy Seal;
There are also the Arch Censors' segmental Seals.
(29) No Ritual can be used which is not stamped with the Great Seal
of the Order produced in Ashayana. So also Perfected Sadhanams,
Marks, and Illuminated Sadhanams are invalid without the said seal
and the confirmation of the First Sponsor presiding in Ashayana.
The Order holds Ghonslas Ashayanas, and Nidams, to which there is
no admission without Mandate or Sadhanam. The latter is
ineffectual unless endorsed by the Arch Secretary in his usual lay
(30) No Sat Bhai can resign, but absolute ignoring of O.B., or any
notoriously gross act of dishonour involves de facto, loss of rank
to be signified by the First Sponsor and Arch Secretary.
(31) There may be more than one jurisdiction. That of the First
Sponsor is the paramount. Each may have its own A. Censors, &c.;
Segments may be exchanged.
(32) There are seven Provinces or an Heptarchy in England,
Scotland, and Ireland. Mahanathas rule these by charter under the
Great Seal of the Order. The Sponsors form the Court of Appeal of
these, but no Sponsor can receive an donative or fee of intrinsic
value. In their case gifts must be honorary, such as testimonials
(33) 'The Feathers of the Sat Bhai', Archaeological Tracts of the
R.O.O. may be under the editorship of any S.B. duly appointed.
The symbols, Paroles and countersigns, ancient and modern, of the
Royal Oriental Order of Sikha (Apex) and of the Sat Bhai of Pryaya.
(1) The Symbols of Sikha (Apex) are:- (1) The Mundane Egg. (2). The
Crossed Square within a Perfect circle. (3). The Fruit of the
Sacred Lotus. (4). The Harmonic Octave, expressed by its graphic
expression of a double shell. (5) The Anga. (6) A swan. (7) A Bull.
[plate 1, figures 1,2,3,4,5,6,7]. The Symbol of the Sat Bhai is
Seven Grey Feathers, 2,3, and 2
(2) The symbols of the Dual Sponsors are - (1).The Crescent Moon.
(2). The Signs of the Ascending and of the descending Node. Of the
first Sponsor-- (1). The Rose. (2) The Kamalata. (3) An Arrow. Of
the Second Sponsor--(1). An Unicorn's Horn. (2) The Amaranth. Of
the Dormant Sponsor--The Sun in eclipse.
The parole or pass-word to the Sponsors is ......... ; the sign,
touching the......... of the .........
(3). The Arch Censors are in the third yug symbolised by a Boar
avatar (plate 1, figure 18]. Their distinctive symbols are three
1. Indra I A Thunderbolt 2 A Lamp
2. Ganesha I An EIephant 2 A Conch
3. Agni I A Flame 2 A Lotus
4. Surya I A Wheel 2 Sunflower
5. Kartikeya I A Peacock 2 A Sword
6. Kama I A Parrot 2 A Bent Bow
7. Daksha I A Dexter Hand 2 An Ear
The pass-word to the Arch Censors is......... ; the sign, touching
the......... of the right .........
(4) The Arch Couriers are in the fourth yug, of which the symbol is
a lion-headed man. They have one distinctive symbol each placed
under their respective A. Censor's first symbol. The password to
this grade is......... ; the sign, touching the......... with
(5) The Arch Ministers are in the fifth yug, symbolised by two
interlaced triangles. They have one distinctive symbol each,
placed under their respective A. Censor's second symbol. The
password to this grade is......... ; the sign, touching
the......... of the.........
(6) The Arch Heralds are in the sixth yug, for which the symbol is
an antique crown. They have one distinctive symbol each, placed
under their respective A. Censor's third symbol. The password to
this grade is......... the sign, the palms.........
(7) The Arch Scribes are in the seventh yug. There are no symbols
in this grade, but the A. Ss. have distinctive numbers in the
Nagara character. Pass-word.......... No sign.
(8) The Arch Auditors are in the eighth yug. They have each a
Devanagri letter before their names, under the Minister's symbol.
No password. No sign.
(9) The Arch Mutes are in the ninth yug: They have each a letter in
the Devanagri character before their names and under the Herald's
symbol. No pass-word. No sign.
Nomenclature of the Arch Grades, under the Lord of the Perfect
Zone, 360 degree:-
1 Sponsor......... Rahu
2 Sponsor......... Ketu
3 Kamadyam......... [Dormant]
1 Arch Censor Indra 1 Arch Minister Dhanus
2 " " Ganesha 2 " " Mesha
3 " " Agni 3 " " Vrisha
4 " " Surya 4 " " Simha
5 " " Kartikeya 5 " " Makara
6 " " Kama 6 " " Kumba
7 " " Daksha 7 " " Karkata
1 Arch Courier Kuvera 1 Arch Herald Sanjaya
2 " " Vira Badra 2 " " Heri
3 " " Bhairava 3 " " Rama
4 " " Varuna 4 " " Nareda
5 " " Yama 5 " " Agastya
6 " " Garuda 6 " " Hotri
7 " " Aruna 7 " " Petri
1 Arch Scribe Pravaha 1 Arch Auditor Rad
2 " " Avaha 2 " " Tara
3 " " Udraha 3 " " Nadiyan
4 " " Samkaha 4 " " Ankhen
5 " " Vivaha 5 " " Kan
6 " " Parivaha 6 " " Udaka
7 " " Nivaha 7 " " Vayu
1 Arch Mute Kalga fem. Narangi
2 " " Pipat " Angur
3 " " Bat " Zaitun
4 " " Champa " Seb
5 " " Tulasi " Angir
6 " " Singarhar " Badan
7 " " Soma " Anar
(10) Oriental garments being disused, except the Grey Choga and
Cap, the only mark of membership is a red silk cord of three
strands, round the neck.
The general pass-word is.........
The colours of the Order are Red, Blue, White; those of Sponsors,
Red, Blue, Yellow; and of Segments, the Prismatic.
Under the supervision of the Arch Censors, Arch Treasurer, and Arch
Scribes, and extra to the Order.
(1) A reserve fund for charity, and the use of the intelligence
department, is to be formed.
(2) The Sponsors having renounced all Claim on the funds of the
Order, they may accept donations as offerings to Sikha (Apex)
without injury to the spiritual element, if voluntarily, and
unconditionally made by the Arch Censors.
(3) The Arch Censors and their subordinates are entitled to
remuneration for actual work done. The Arch Censors' regulations
must be accepted, if promulgated by the Seven in Congress, and
4) The Arch Secretary is entided to recompense for time and outlay.
(5) The Arch Illuminator is entitled to recompense for time and
outlay, in preparing charters or commissions, &c. His charges have
been allowed. For a parchment charter, if required illuminated,
one guinea; for a prescript or mandate, two shillings and sixpence;
and for symbols of Sponsors and Censors, each one shilling.
(6) The Arch Treasurer is entitled to a percentage on the funds,
the same to be fixed by the Arch Censors in Congress.
(7) The other Arch Officers receive remuneration according to
duties performed, or expenses incurred.
(8) The first Occidental Arch Censors, under the dispensation of
the Lord of the Perfect Zone, have entered the Circle free; but
their successors, and those of the grades under their jurisdiction,
are required to pay the following fees to the Arch Treasurer for
the Arch Censors:-
pounds s. d. pounds s. d.
A. Mute " " A. Auditor " "
A. Scribe " " A. Herald " "
A. Minister " " A. Courier " "
A. Censor pounds " "
These fees may be regulated from time to time.
To obviate the inconvenience of disclosing the titles of the Order
to the outer world, the postal address will be 'Secretary (or
other) of the Royal Oriental S. B. Order.'
Bro. A.R.Hewitt, Librarian and Curator of Grand Lodge, drew
attention to the following,
From the Grand Lodge Library and Museum:
F.G. Irwin's Ritual of Fratris Licis or Brethren of the Light, MS.
F. G. Irwin's 'Spiritual journal', 1873. IMS-
Jewel of the Senior Grand Warden, Rite of Swedenborg.
Ritual of the Ancient oriental order of Ishmael.
Four jewels of the order of Ishmael, formeriv belongin@ to Bro. F.
Facsimile of the Rite of Memphis Certificate issued by 'Equality
Lodge', meeting at the 'King of Prussia', Stratford, on the reverse
of which is printed a warning letter by the Grand Secretary, 1859,
together with the 'Lodge' reply.
Certificate of the Royal Oriental Order of Apex and of the Sat
Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, 1877.
Print of Bro. F. G. Irwin in K. T. Regalia, 1863.
Various examples of the Correspondence referred to by the Speaker.
At the conclusion of the Paper, a hearty Vote of Thanks was
accorded to Bro. Ellic Howe on the proposition of Bro. S. Vetcher,
W.M., seconded by Bro. C. N. Batham, S.W. Comments were also
offered by Bros. R. A. Wells and A.C.F. Jackson. The Vote of
Thanks was carried by acclamation. A number of comments received
subsequently are all reproduced below.
The W.M., Bro. Dr. S. Vetcher, said:
I rise to propose a well-deserved vote of thanks to Bro. Ellic
Howe for his very original paper.
I expect all of you, like myself, were very intrigued to learn of
the extra-curricular activities of Bro. Little, the clerk in the
Grand Secretary's office, in the promotion of occult side-degrees.
Autres temps, autres moeurs!
We know, of course, that in the early days of the premier Grand
Lodge, in the 18th century, if the numbers of Fellows of the Royal
Society is any criterion, the study of science had been very
popular among members of the Craft; and in those days science would
have included Alchemy. But I think I am right in suggesting that
the phrase in the ritual: 'The hidden mysteries of Nature and
Science' made its first appearance in the 19th century, after the
It is true that Prichard, in Masonry Dissected, 1730, had referred
'By Letters Four and Science Five
This G aright doth stand. . .'
but here a footnote makes it clear that the Science referred to was
Preston, in his 'Second Lecture' (see the late Bro. James's paper,
AQC Vol. 83, P. 203) dated c. 1812, gives the following:
Q. 'What are the principal objects of research in this degree?'
A. 'The study of the liberal arts and sciences'
but it seems to have been somewhat later that, for the first time,
'the hidden mysteries' (? the occult sciences) were mentioned.
Brethren, my resolution is before you and I will ask Bro. S.W. to
Bro. C. N. Batham, S.W., said:
I rise to second the Vote of Thanks that you, Worshipful Master,
have just proposed to Bro. Ellic Howe. As a member of seventeen
Masonic Orders, perhaps I may be looked upon as an authority on
'Fringe' Masonry, but let me deny that at once and say that almost
all the information given in this paper is entirely new to me and
I must emphasise, also, that I am not a member of any Order that
has been condemned by Grand Lodge.
I am especially interested in Bro. Howe's comments on the Rites of
Memphis and Misraim. As far as the former is concerned, he says
that it was a rite of 95 degrees and then mentions that Marconis,
the Grand Hierophant was of the 96th degree. To avoid any
confusion perhaps it should be made clear that there was a 96th
degree reserved for the holder of this office and, in fact,
according to some writers, there were 96 degrees plus a 97th so
When the Grand Orient of France placed the higher decrees of the
Memphis Order on a conveniently high shelf', some lodges certainly
continued to work the first three degrees, but they soon changed to
one of the regular French Craft rituals and, although one sometimes
hears it said that these Memphis degrees are being worked today, I
have never succeeded in tracing a lodge that uses them.
The rite seems to have had somewhat greater success in the New
World. It was very popular in Canada for a time and spread from
there to Australia and New Zealand. In the United States it came
under the control of a certain Harry J. Seymour, who was expelled
from the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in 1865. He is said to
have reduced it from 97 to 33 degrees with a view to making it a
rival of the Rite that had excluded him. It was after this that it
was reintroduced into England under John Yarker, but whether as 97
or 33 degrees I have not enquired. Perhaps Bro. Howe can enlighten
The Ancient and Accepted Rite was also involved indirectly with the
Rite of Misraim, for it is said that its inventor, a Frenchaman
named Lechangeur, had been refused admission into the former rite
and compiled the latter as a rival to it. There are, in fact,
definite borrowings not only from the Ancient and Accepted Rite but
also from the Martinist, Hermetic and Royal Order of Scotland
rituals. As indicated by Bro. Howe, it had only a limited success
in England, though some writers contend that, for a time, it
achieved rather more in Ireland.
I have not looked through the 96 Memphis degrees, nor the 90
Misraim degrees, nor have I any intention of so doing, but I have
read the first three degrees of each rite. To an English Mason,
accustomed to his Emulation, Taylor's or whatever ritual it may be,
they would seem strange, but they are very similar to certain
Continental Craft rituals in use today and undoubtedly candidates
were being initiated into Masonry and put through the three Craft
degrees. I am surprised, therefore, that Grand Lodge did not
outlaw these rites immediately and prohibit members of their staff
from having any connection with them, even if the three degrees
were not being worked here.
As far as the Swedenborgian Rite is concerned, it is refreshing to
find a rite that was not invented by a Frenchman. Certainly it has
been contended by some that it originated in France in 1783 as an
offspring of the Illuminati of Avignon but this is unlikely and it
seems certain that it was founded in America by members of the
so-called 'higher' degrees, who were also members of the Swedenborg
From New York it spread to Canada, as Bro. Howe states, but I
thought that from there it spread first to Bristol and then to
Manchester. The warrants of these two Lodges bear the same date, I
understand, but it was the Bristol Lodge that bore the name Emanuel
and was subsequently given No. 1, whereas the Manchester Lodge bore
the name Egyptian and was riven No. 2. This seems to indicate that
Bristol was accorded priority. The point is not an important one,
however, as after a brief initial success, when some dozen lodges
were constituted, the rite disappeared from these islands.
With these few comments, I join you, Worshipful Master, in your
appreciation of the amount of work undertaken by Bro. Howe in
preparing this paper and more formally, in seconding the
vote of thanks to him that you have proposed.
Bro. Roy Wells said:
Bro. Ellic Howe states that his paper deals with an obscure area
which nobody else has hitherto wanted to describe, on which I must
comment that it would be difficult indeed to find a Brother equally
qualified for such a task. He is an acknowledged expert in this
field, as his several writings confirm, and I am delighted that he
has, once again, demonstrated his competence as an historian. He
has used the term 'Fringe Masonry' for the want of a better
alternative but what other title could be employed?
I found the paper extremely interesting, not only because of the
breezy style he uses but mainly because of the connection some of
those he mentions in the paper had with this Lodge in particular.
He has shown us how fascinated with 'manufactured' or 'revived'
extra degrees those Brethren were and how far away from the
'authentic school' they had strayed.
On this point the Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, who was one of the nine
Founders of this Lodge, and who was himself described as 'a
thorough-going professed Hermeticist', said of John Yarker: (1)
'Bro. Yarker has identified himself with the "Antient and
Primitive Rite of Masonry" and so we are unable to follow him in
such unknown paths; but when he was loyal to the degrees as
generally worked in this country, we perused many of his
communications with much interest and profit.'
Yarker joined the Correspondence Circle in May 1887 and was NO. 77
on the list: he died in 1913. In the obituary notice it was said
of him that 'his first contribution to Masonic literature was an
article on "Military Masons" in the Freemasons Magazine and Masonic
Mirror in 1858'. It is obvious that he ursued his researches well
into the hidden mysteries after that.
F.G.Irwin was not a Founder (even though Dr. Wynn Westcott said he
was) but was elected to full membership of the Lodge at its second
meeting on 7 April 1886 together with five other Brethren; it so
happened that only one of the six was present. Westcott said of
'he was for many years a well-known figure among West of England
Masons, and holder of high offices; he was a literary man to the
core, and has left behind him a splendid collection of books upon
Masonic and Hermetic subjects.'
Bro. R. F. Gould, the celebrated historian, also a Founder of this
Lodge said of him:
... there was scarcely a degree in existence, if within his range,
that he did not become a member of. Indeed, he became late in life
a diligent student of the French and German languages, in order
that he might peruse the Masonic literature of each in the
vernacular. He was also a collector of medals and an occasional
writer on topics of interest to the Craft.'
So it seems that Irwin possessed a large Masonic library but wrote
very little that had impressed those Brethren. Gould said that he
left Gibraltar a few months after he, as W.M., and Irwin, as S.W.,
had revived the Inhabitants Lodge. They did not meet again until
1886, some twenty eight years later, in Q.C. Lodge.
Irwin, however, was known to another of the Founders of this Lodge,
Sir Charles Warren, whom he accompanied in his expedition to South
Africa in 1884; by then Irwin was Adjutant of the Second Battalion,
Gloucestershire Engineers (Volunteers) from which he retired with
the honorary rank of Major.
R.F. Gould proposed the toast to the W. Master when Dr. Westcott
reached the chair of this Lodge and said that Westcott had:
'studied the Kabbalistic philosophy of the Hebrews - the teachings
of the Hermetic writers and the works of the Alchymists and
Rosicrucians' and that he had written 'two excellent Papers read to
the Q.C. Lodge "Freemasonry Illuminated by the Kabbalah" and "The
I was more than a little intrigued to learn that the words Sat
B'hai signify 'Seven Feathers'-an allusion to a sacred bird which
always flies in groups of seven - and I could hardly refrain from
the thought that 'Birds of a feather flock together' is an
expression that well applies in this case. Bro. Ellic Howe has
undoubtedly brought several flights of fancy to our notice in this
Paper and I have much pleasure in supporting the Vote of Thanks to
him for his work in this connection.
(1) Kennningds Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry, London, 1878.
Bro. T.O. Haunch writes.
I should like to join with the other speakers in conaratulating
Bro. Ellic Howe on this most fascinating paper and on his skilful
distillation of the essence of it for delivery in the Lodge. The
paper makes extraordinary reading and it is a somewhat sobering
experience for us in Quatuor Coronati Lodge today to be reminded of
the often wayward and bizarre interests of some of our Founders and
early members. And this is only part of the story; it is continued
in Bro. Howe's new book The Magicians of the Golden Dawn, the
publication of which happens to coincide with this meeting. In its
pages one finds familiar names again cropping up, notably, of
course, that of one of our Past Masters, Dr. William Wynn Westcott,
and that of a former Librarian of Grand Lodge, Dr. William Hammond.
If we pride ourselves to-day in Q.C. Lodge that we have our feet
firmly planted on historical ground, it does seem that some of our
predecessors may occasionally have reached into the clouds. No
such charge can be levelled at the author of this paper, however.
His non-involvement with his subject matter would be self-evident
from the paper even if it had not been affirmed by him. The way he
now and then steps back and takes an amused and whimsical look at
the antics of the characters on his stage shows that he has
preserved the historian's detachment from the strange realms that
he has been exploring.
The reference in his Preface to the last sentence of the second of
the Articles of Union raises broader issues which some brother
might feel inclined to follow up. Just what was it intended to
mean? What it says? That is, that the additional degrees could be
worked at meetings of Craft lodges or Royal Arch Chapters as the
Antients had done. It certainly does not seem to imply that these
additional degrees and orders could be worked in separately
existing masonic units. Their position after the Union was
anomalous and ill-defined. As our late Bro. P. R. James has
reminded us (AQC 75, P. 53) the Duke of Sussex cornered the
headship of all the major orders, perhaps so that he could quietly
sit on them until marters had sorted themselves out. When he died
in 1843 restraints were off. Brothers Crucefix, Oliver and Udall,
for example, lost no time in setting up their Supreme Council 33
degree, to be followed during the latter half of the last century
by the establishment of governing bodies for other degrees and
An interesting question that arises in my mind from Bro. Howe's
paper is, 'Does the sort of thing he deals with go in hundred year
cycles?' The latter part of the 18th century was fertile in the
raising of a number of additional degrees some of which, like the
Royal Arch, the Knights Templar etc., were to become thoroughly
restpectable and established, whilst others withered and died -
just as a century later the more absurd creations of the
Little-Mackenzie-Irwin 'manufactory' did not survive but some, with
a more traditional or pseudo-historical basis, lived on and still
do. If then these manifestations do go in cycles it seems that we
are just about due for another. Certainly if one looks around
there is ample evidence of a great deal of interest today in what
Bro. Howe so aptly calls 'Rejected Knowledge', As an indication of
this one need look no farther, for instance, than the books
advertised on the back of the dust-jackets of Bro. Howe's own book
on the Golden Dawn, or Bro. Alex Horne's King Solomon's Temple in
the Masonic Tradition. On the whole, however, I think that the
resurgence of interest in occultism and mysticism will pass
Freemasonry by and produce no masonic'drop-outs' or fringe
whimsies. The cold wind of economics would be likely to nip any
new growth in the bud!
Bro. G. S. Draffen writes:
I have found Bro. Ellic Howe's paper quite fascinating. From what
he has said and described the paper might well be entitled 'The
Lunatic Fringe of Freemasonry'. It is clear that Bro. Howe has
struck a lode that can be worked for quite a long, time before we
know all that took place in the curious melange out of which
eventually sprang the present Grand Council of Allied Masonic
I must, however, dispute Bro. Howe's date for the arrival of the
Ancient and Primitive Rite of Misraim in England as being 'late in
1870'. That may be correct as fir as England is concerned but the
Rite was certainly in existence in Scotland as early as the 1840's.
Bro. Howe should read R.S. Lindsay's 'The Scottish Rite for
Scotland' (Edinburgh, 1958) wherein he will find details of the
Misraim Rite as it was known in Scotland just prior to the
formation of the Supreme Council for Scotland of the Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite in August 1846. One of those who hoped (but
did not succeed) to become a Founder Member was Dr. George Arnot
Walker Arnot of Arlary. Something of a 'decree-collector', Dr.
Arnot was certainly a member of the 77th degree in 1842. These he
received from one Alexander Deuchar on 23 November 1842. In a
letter to A. J. Stewart, Grand Secretary General of the Supreme
Council he states that he received 'the remaining degrees of the
Rite shortly after'. I think we have to dig much deeper to find
out when the Rite of Misraim first arrived in Britain and under
The Swedenborgian Rite. Some years ago I began to write a possible
paper for the Lodge on the subject of 'Scottish Masonic Journals'
and for this purpose I opened a file to collect data. On referring
to that file I find a slip of paper under the entry for the
Scottish Freemason of 1879, which gives a list of Lodges of this
No. Name Location
1 Emmanuel Weston-super-Mare
2 Egyptian Manchester
3 St. John's Baildon, Shipley, Yorks.
4 Swedenborg Havant, Hants.
5 Edinburgh Edinburgh
6 Liverpool Liverpool
7 Cagliostro Keynsham, Somerset
8 Hermes London
This little slip goes on to state that the '69th degree of
Hieroglyphic Master was conferred on V. J. Young on 26th April
1878'. Just where this took place is not stated. Nor do I have a
copy of the relevant issue of the journal from which I took the
Yarker: something of a masonic mountebank, I fancy. Still he 's a
personage who could, with advantage, be investigated more
thoroughly than has been done as yet. Probably his reputation, as
Bro. Howe suggests, has put off research into his activities and
the same applies to Mathew McBlain Thomson - one of Irwin's
correspondents. Mathew McBlain Thomson finished his Masonic career
by serving a sentence in the Federal Prison at Fort Leveanworth in
the United States for selling Masonic degrees. A full account of
his career will be found in Isaac Blair Evans, The Thomson Masonic
Fraud, Salt Lake City, Privately Printed, 1922.
Thomson's predilection for spurious masonry can be illustrated by
an extract from the Scottish Freemason for August 1894 - Of which
-Thomson was the editor - in which is listed a 'Directory of High
Grades'. Anong those listed is 'The Royal Masonic Rite which is
stated to include: The Ancient and Primitive Oriental and Egyptian
Reformed Rites, 4th to 33rd Degree inclusive; Rite of Mizriam [sic]
4th to 90th Degree; the Supreme Rite of Memphis and the Egyptian
Masonic Memphis, 4th to 96th Degree inclusive: the Oriental Order
of Sat B'hai introduced into Scotland under Charter from the
Sovereign Sanctuary of America.' The M.I.G.M. (presumably standing
for Most Imperial Grand Master) is said to be a Lt-Colonel John
Crombie. Three Sanctuaries are shown (1) The Sanctuary Chapter,
Senate and Council (movable), (2) Oriental Chapter, Senate and
Council in Aberdeen, (3) Scotia Chapter, Senate and Dundee. It is
very doubtful if any of these bodies were anything else than a
figment of Thomson's imagination which seems to have rivalled
Bro. Brig. A.C.F. Jackson said:
This very interesting paper only touches on 'fringe' Masonry ' in
England and so deals with the arrival of the Rite of Misraim about
1870. This is not the first time, however, that this Rite got to
the United Kingdom, as it appeared in Scotland much earlier. On 4
June 1845 there was a meeting of a body styling itself the 'Supreme
Grand Council of Rites' in Scotland under the leadership of a Dr.
George Walker Arnott. He had already introduced the primitive
Scottish Rite of Nemours, with its 33 degrees, and in that Year,
according to the Freemasons Quarterly Review (Vol. XII, P. 349) he
also introduced the Order of Misraim, of 91 degrees, as well as the
Ancient and Accepted Rite, Of 33 degrees - quite a formidable
total. In due course, all but the last Rite disappeared and
Arnott's Council seems to have developed into the Supreme Council
Founders or inventors of 'fringe' degrees so often get their facts
of history wrong. The Golden Dawn is a typical example of this.
The quoted description by Dr. W. Wynn Westcott, that the members of
this Order were 'students of the curious and mystical lore,
remaining still for investigation, as to the work and philosophy of
the old Rosicrucians, Alchemists and Mystics of past ages' is a
hotch potch of dissimilar bodies. Rosicrucianism, deriving from
the story of the life of Christian Rosenkreutz in the Fama
Fraternitati's may be history, traditional legend, or a hoax by a
Lutheran Pastor. Whichever it is, is immaterial, but the story is
is that of a small body of men of irreproachable piety whose life
work was to heal the sick. To connect genuine Rosicrucianism with
Hermeticism or Alchemy is merely to continue a 17th century
distortion which has always been attributed to Rosicrucianism by
its detractors. It is a pity that a man of Dr. Wynn Westcott's
erudition should have formed a fringe Order that continued such a
A curious incursion into 'fringe degrees' took place in Jersey in
the early 1860s. As it continued into the period covered by the
paper, its story is worth recounting to complete the picture.
It was due to the same type of French radical republican whom the
speaker mentioned in connection with the Rite of Memphis. However,
in this case, most of the Frenchmen played a comparatively passive
part. Refuges arrived in Jersey from France, after the coup d'etat
of 1851 when Louis Napoleon seized power. Many were distinguished
and some were already Freemasons. The best known was Victor Hugo,
but there were others, then of almost equal importance. They
visited the Jersey Lodges but a number, in addition to their
advanced radical views, were atheistically inclined. There could
therefore be few initiations of non-Masons among the refugees.
To provide such facilities, a movement started in the Jersey
French-speaking Lodge, La Cesarde. The leader was a colourful
character, Philip Baudains. An Advocate of the Royal Court, he was
also a popular Constable (that is Mayor) of St. Helier for many
years. He was an experienced Mason, having been Venerable (or
Master) of La Cesaree in 1860 and 1861. He realised that was no
chance of getting a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England for a
Lodge that did not intend to open on the V.S.L., so he applied to
the Supreme Conseil de France pour le Rite Ecossais. A Warrant was
readily and quite irresponsibly granted, for a Lodge to be called
Les Amis de L'Avenir.
It may be remembered that, at this time, this Supreme Council was
not recognised by Grand Lodge though the far larger and rival Grand
Orient was. To add fuel to a fire that was already starting to
smoulder, the founders of the new lodge invited the Provincial
Grand Master and other leading Brethren of Jersey to assist at the
consecration. The P.G.M. promptly suspended the founders and
forbade English Masons in Jersey to visit the Lodge.
The result was an appeal to Grand Lodge, which was lost after a
spirited speech by Bro. Baudains who tried to declare a sort of
Masonic U.D.I. (1) for jersey. Having pointed out that there was
already an Irish Lodge in Jersey, he said 'That the Island of Jersy
is considered by Acts of Parliament as a foreign art ... being the
last remnant of the ancient Duchy of Normandy and, as such, the
Supreme Conseil de France was at liberty to found the said Lodge
... and further that the issuing of the Warrant for the above
reasons is not, nor can be exclusively exercised by the Grand Lodge
Grand Lodge, so recently bothered by the Rite of Misraim, as
described in the paper, would have none of this; and the appeal was
dismissed by an unanimous vote.
This Lodge of the Ancient and Accepted Rite continued under the
leadership of Baudains. Unfortunately, we do not know what ritual
he used. He, and a number of his co-rebels, joined the local Irish
Lodge and he became its Master in 1869. It seems likely too that
the orders about visiting were as effective to the normal Jersey
Mason as were those issued about a century earlier forbidding
Moderns to visit Antient Lodges, and vice versa. In due course,
there was an indignant letter by the Grand Secretary to all Jersey
Lodges, but this was in 1873 by which time most of the refugees had
returned to France and the Lodge had fulfilled its purpose.
Gradually, the rebels returned to the fold, Baudains not until
1888. It shows something of his position and character that he,
once more, became Venerable of La Cesaree and Senior Grand Warden
of the Province. His statue still stands in the gardens in the
centre of St. Helier.
Bro. A.J.B. Milborne writes:
Although 'fringe' Masonry is outside my immediate interests, I have
read Bro. Howe's paper with much enjoyment, particularly the
informative footnotes concerning early members of the Lodge. I
have often wondered how such a diverse group of men was brought
together. The late Bro. Meekren learned some of the early Lodge
gossip from Bros. Songhurst and Wonnacott when he was in England in
1920, and I wish that more was known about the personalities of the
early members, the informal meetings held by them, and what went on
(1) Unilateral Declaration of Independence [Ed.]
the scenes. For example, there must have been some skirmishing
before the battle of the degrees was fought in the Lodge.
Dr. Wynn Westcott was a member of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 329,
Yeovil, from 1873 to 1880, and my mother told me that my father,
who was the Master in 1876, often visited Lodges in the
neighbourhood in his company.
A Sovereign Sanctuary of the Rite of Memphis was established in
London, Canada, in 1882 under a Warrant issued by John Yarker.
Bro. R. Ramsay was the Grand Master. Dr. Oronhyatekha is described
as Past Grand Master in the first printed proceedings of the Rite,
a copy of which is in my possession. Another active member was
George Canning Langley, whose activities in this and many other
'fringe' bodies is the subject of a paper published by the Canadian
Masonic Research Association (No. 54).
In his address to the Sovereign Sanctuary, the Grand Master stated
that the Oriental Order of Apex or Sat B'hai was also established
in Canada, and also the Swedenborgian Rite. The Grand Master of
the latter body was Col. W.J.B. MacLeod Moore, Great Prior of the
Knights Templar in Canada, and an active member of the Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite. Que diable allait-il faire dans cette
Bro. Rudyard Kipling mentions in Something of Myself that Madam
Blavatsky was known to his father, 'and with her would discuss
secular subjects: she being, he told me, one of the most
interesting and unscrupulous impostors he had ever met. This, with
his experience, was a high compliment.'
Bro. J. R. Clarke writes:
I find it difficult to accept the assertion by Christopher Cooke
that K.R.H. Mackenzie was born in 1833. It is true that it
receives some support from the 1851 census, but whence was that
information derived since no baptismal record can be found?
Possibly from Mackenzie himself, who may have decided on this date
for his own reasons when he had returned to England. Others of his
statements are known to be unreliable, e.g. about his Ph.D. and
The date does not accord with other statements, such as those in
Notes and Quotes, that by the time he was to be presumed to be
seventeen he had established in several countries stations for the
search of MSS., and that he had found hitherto unpublished poems in
the British Museum. It is also very difficult to reconcile it with
the wide range of his travels in early life, which are stated in
the paper and which find confirmation in his communication to the
Society of Antiquaries, for instance in the exhibition by him in
1854 of 'a Byzantine crystal vase purchased by him at
Constantinople'. Further, if his mother were only aged about 20 in
1833 she would be little more than sixty when she was living with
him as his 'aged mother' in the 1870s: was sixty really 'aged' one
hundred years ago?
On the assumption that the date might be correct I thought it
reasonable to expect that such an erudite prodigy would have
received notice in such non-masonic publications as the Dictionary
of National Biography and the Gentleman's Magazine, but this is not
so. I cannot find anything to confirm (or question or extend) the
biographical particulars given in the paper, except in respect of
his communications to the Society of Antiquaries. It is indeed
difficult to sort out truth from fallacy in his account of himself.
Nevertheless I would certainly not accuse anyone, especially a dead
man, of 'a bare-faced lie', unless I were very sure of the facts.
Is there any good evidence that when he wrote about the Rosicrucian
degrees in 1877? Mackenzie had seen the work of 'Magister Pianco',
published ninety-six years earlier. It is not exceptional for a
research worker to publish something which he believes to be
original only to find that he has been anticipated. Even the devil
should be given his due. Mackenzie himself was much more courteous
in 1862 when he commented in the Journal of the Society of
Antiquaries on a contribution in that Journal in 1861 by a Dr.
Forbes, which was similar to one he had himself made to the
Illustrated London News of 1860.
There are two other points which it is perhaps worth mentioning.
Mackenzie's father was living in Paris in 1861 when the visit to
EIiphas Levi was made: and his removal from the Society of
Antiquaries and his withdrawal from the Anthropological Society may
have been caused by pecuniary difficulties consequent on the death
of his father, which also resulted in his 'aged mother' going to
live with him. There is no evidence that he followed any
profession and the income from his publications would not keep him,
and it is to be observed that after the departure of his father for
Paris in 1858 his address was the same as that of his uncle in
1859, 1864 and 1870.
Bro. Will Read writes:
Bro. Howe attributes the 'invention' of the Order of Light to a
Maurice Vidal Portman (1882) and says that in or about 1890 Portman
handed the rite to Yarker who amalgamated some of its ritual with
the Sat B'hai's Perfection Grade. He states that:
Ultimately the Order of Light travelled across the Pennine hills
to Bradford where it was gratefully received by certain members of
the Societas Rosicruciana in Angelia. According to Westcott the
rite was revived at Bradford by the Rosicrucian Adepts, Dr. J.B.
Edwards and T.H. Pattinson, with Dr. Wynn Westcott as Chief of the
Council of Instruction.'
This implies that the Order came to Bradford via Yarker.
Through the good offices of friends who are members of the August
Order Light, but their make no mention of Yarker as an
intermediary. They show that T.H. Pattinson and Dr.B.E. Edwards
[not J. B. Edwards] were 'chosen' by Portman to revise the ritual
and to establish the Order.
The Foundation Ceremony was held on 9 Januarvy 1902 in rooms in The
King's Arcade in the Market Street area of Bradford. This Arcade
was demolished about 1939/40 when the Order acquired its own
premis in Godwin Street, Bradford.
There were eighteen Founders, the first three being T. H.
Pattinson, Dr. B.E. Edwards and Dr. Wynn Westcott, the then
Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A. Pattinson and Edwards were also
members of that society, as, presumably, were the other fifteen. I
understand however, that according to the records, at no time has
membership of the S.R.I.A. been a pre-requisite to admission to the
August Order of Light, but that to be a MM in good-standing has
always an essential qualification.
The members who have given me this information tell me that there
has been a resurgence of interest in the Order, particularly since
it moved its place of meeting in 1971 from Bradford to York, and
that the second Temple of Garuda was dedicated in London in
As to the beliefs and practices of the Order, its members study the
ancient mystic religions and cultures of the Orient - the oriental
ideas of Theology and Cosmogony - and for this purpose hold special
meetings at the Spring and Autunm Equinoxes. In its literature, a
particular point is made that the August Order of Light is not to
be confused with the Order called the 'Sat B'hai' which, as Bro.
Ellic Howe tells us, also held meetings at the Equinoxes.
In one of his footnotes, Bro. Howe, in referring to R. W. Little,
says that the latter edited the earlier numbers of The Freemason
but Bro. Howe did not know when he relinquished the editorship.
Little certainly ceased his editorial work for The Freemason by
1873, for in that year Bro. Rev. A.F.A. Woodford was appointed
Editor, an appointment which he held until 1885.
Bro. F. S. Cooper writes:
In associating myself with the congratulations to Bro. Ellic Howe
on his most interesting and instructive paper, I would like to make
a few comments on Bro. Francis George Irwvin.
As he was initiated on 3 June 1857 in the Gibraltar Lodge, NO. 325,
Irish Constitution, was installed as Senior Warden in the revived
Inhabitants Lodge on 10 February following and became its Master in
the following year, presumably in the February, he occupied the
Master's Chair twenty months from the date of his initiation.
William Williams was initiated in All Souls Lodge, Weymouth on 9
March 1810 and became the master of that Lodge on 27 December 1811,
twenty-one months later. He was appointed Provincial Grand Master
for Dorsetshire on May 1812, twenty-six months after initiation.
William Tucker was initiated in the Unanimity and Sincerity Lodge,
Taunton in September 1842, was appointed Senior Warden later in the
same year and became the Master of the Lodge on the 28 December
1843, fifteen months later, as well as Founder Master of the Virtue
and Honor Lodge, Axminster in the following year. He in turn became
Provincial Grand Master for Dorsetshire on 21 August 1846, four
years after his initiation.
William Williams however was Member of Parliament for Weymouth
and belonged to a rich banking family who held estates in
Dorset, where they had held positions of influence since 1471.
William Tucker was a local magistrate and held an estate which had
been in his family for over two hundred years. Taking into account
the Victorian standards ofthe time, it is no mean achievement for
a mere sergent of the Royal Sappers and Miners to have achieved the
preferment of Master of his Lodge, twenty months after initiation.
Bro. Irwin received the rank of Major when he retired in 1884 as
Adjutant of the 2 Bn. the Gloucestershire Engineers (Volunteers).
The first name in Appendix A, the list of Bro. Irwin's
correspondents, is that of Lt.-Col. William Alexander Adair of the
Somerset Light Infantry Militia, Hetherton Park, Taunton. Lt.-Col.
Adair was Provincial Grand Master for Somerset from 1864 until his
resignation in 1869. In 1812 he was a Captain in the Somerset
Regiment of Militia and on the outbreak of the Crimean War he
volunteered for service and was commissioned in the Coldstream
Guards in February, 1855. He was present at the Battle of Inkerman
and the Siege of Sebastapol. He started a family tradition of
service in the Guards which was to continue until the present day.
His descendant, Major General Sir Allan Adair, our Deputy Grand
Master, was commissioned 2nd. Lieut. in the Grenadiers and was
later to command the 1st Guards Armoured Division in its dash
through Nijmegen to Arnhem.
It would have been pleasant to have recorded that it was R.W. Bro.
Adair who had appointed Bro. Irwin to the office of Pr.J.G.W. of
Somerset. However he resigned from the office of Provincial Grand
Master on 12 January 1869, nine months before Bro. Irwin's
appointment. However we can be sure that the honour was in token
of the work carried out by Bro. Irwin during the Adair Mastership,
and on the late Provincial Grand Master's recommondation.
Bro. Alex Horne writes:
Bro. Ellic Howe's paper on Fringe Masonry is by far the most exotic
paper we have had the pleasure of seeing in our Transactions of
late, and the author is especially to be commended on his
unbelievably meticulous documentation. It introduces us to a
literature and correspondence on the subject that is not often
accessible to readers interested in Masonic esoterics.
Yarker's Antient and Primitive Rite is particularly of interest, in
a sense, and perhaps more could have been developed on that
subject, which is only briefly referred to here. Its inclusion of
the titles Memphis and Misraim would lead one to infer that there
was a connection with these two other Rites (Mackey's Encyclopedia
of Freemasonry also has an article under the title of 'Antient and
Primitive Rite of Freemasonry, otherwise of Memphis', leading to a
similar inference), but perhaps this is incorrect on both counts,
and perhaps Bro. Howe might elaborate and clarify.
Incidentally, readers interested in the last two mentioned Rites
can obtain the rituals of the first Three Degrees of Mizraim in
vol. 6 Part 1, and the first Three Degrees of Memphis in vol. 6,
Part 2, as published by the Grand College of Rites of the U.S.A.
(Grand Registrar, P.O. Box 15128, Chesapeake, Va., 2332O, U.S.A.)
Thev have also published rituals of The Swedenborgian Rite, and
Cagliostro's Egyptian Rite, among other fringe workings.
The reference to Mme. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society is
also of interest, as something with which I happen to be intimately
familiar. Here Bro. Howe's second footnote on page 272, to the
effect that Yarker 'appears to have given her what purported to be
a Masonic initiation', I believe is incorrect on two counts. It is
no doubt based on the Certificate which Yarker issued to her in the
name of the Antient and Primitive Rite (the full text is given in
Mackey's Encyclopedia, s.v. 'Co-Masonry), but the Rite of Adoption
is specifically mentioned in that document, and nothing is said of
any alleged initiation. Masonic students have generally accepted
this as nothing more than a Certificate of Adoption, and it is so
accepted in an article in Yarker's own paper The Kneph. Mme.
Blavatsky's knowledge of the inner working of Masonic Lodges both
'regular' and 'fringe', was not the result of any initiation, in
Craft or any of the so-called 'Higher Degrees', which she flatly
denied (the source for this statement presently escapes me; I think
it was in one of her biographies). The further statement by Bro.
Howe immediately following, to the effect that 'the history of
"Co-Masonry" in this country began with Yarker and continued under
Theosophical Society auspices', a statement made in the same breath
with what has just gone before, would lead one to infer that Mme.
Blavatsky had something to do with this Co-Masonry, but this
inference, again, is unwarranted. Co-Masonry was not inaugurated
till 1882, in France, and Mme. Blavatsky apparently had no part in
this movement. But that she might have been sympathetic to it, at
least in principle, almost goes without saying. It is true,
however, that Co-Masonry is at the present time one of the
subsidiary and unofficial activities of the Theosophical Society.
(In their printed ritual, surprisingly enough, no distinction is
made in the clothing of male and female candidates preparing for
Again, thanks to Bro. Howe for a most interesting paper. A similar
excursion into 'Fringe' Masonry on the Continent, if at all
possible, would seem to be warranted.
Bro. M.J. Spurr writes:
I would like to add my congradulations to those already offered to
Bro. Ellic Howe. His paper is on a subject which has interested me
ever since I became acquainted with the Golden Dawn story about two
years ago. On making further inquiries about the G.D. I discovered
that Bro. Howe had both a book and a paper in preparation and I
have been awaiting these with interest.
I do not think that it was a coincidence that Quatuor Coronati
Lodge was established in 1886. The studies made by Little,
Mackenzie, Waite and Yarker must have aroused general interest
among Masonic historians, even if they disagreed; while the
correspondence in the active Masonic press must have produced a
counter-reaction which led to the foundation of a Lodge where
Masonic matters could be discussed and all theories carefully
examined, to sift the wheat from the chaff, the place where bubbles
were pricked and if anything was put forward as a fact it had to be
proved by independent authorities. The Masonic 'histories' of the
type set out in the Constitutions were rejected and Anderson's name
anathematized - it would be true to say that it is only in the last
few years that Anderson has been partly reinstated, excluding his
'history.' A number of the berthren mentioned in the paper were
members of Quatuor Coronati Lodge but their influence, if any, was
transient. If I am correct in thinking that Q.C. arose, even
partially, though interest aroused by 'fringe masonry' this subject
performed a service of far greater value than it can have intended.
Finally, a footnote to the paper. Reference is mae to 'skrying.'
While the word used in the context of this paper is more or less
self explanatory, perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary (1914
edition) definition is of interest. This gives the verb 'to skry'
as 'seeing images in pieces of crystal, water, etc, which revel the
future or secrets of the past or present; to act as a crystal-
I think that the value of Bro. Howe's paper is to illuminnate the
background to a period when there was great interest, within a
limited circle of friends, about occult and magical matters.
Bro. Brian Russell writes:
I have just been reading Bro. Ellic Howe's most interesting paper
and I would like to congratulate him on the amount of work which
it would appear was necessary in order to produce this extensive
report on an unusual subject. There are two Brethren whose names
are mentioned in the paper who would appear to have been initiated
in my own Lodge - The Lodge of Hengist No. 195. -i.e., S.L.
McGregor Mathers, a Founder member of the Hermetic Order of the
Golden Dawn in 1887, and Frederick Holland, a prospective member of
the Society of Eight in 1883. I must state that nowhere in our
Lodge records does S.L. Mathers have the appendage 'McGregor.'
According to our Minute books, Samuel Liddell Mathers, clerk, was
proposed as a Candidate by Bro. P.M., E. W. Rebbeck (i.e, W.Bro.)
and seconded by Bro. Lane. Mathers was Initiated on 4 October 1877,
Passed 15 November, Raised 30 January 1878. Except for 1881 he was
regualr in attendance as a member until he resigned 27 December
1882. On 2 December 1880 he sent a letter of apology for absence
due to ill health. His first appearance in the year 1881 was on 6
October and he proposed a Mr. Frederick Holland of Inglewood
Villas, Westbourne Bournemouth - Gentleman - as a Candidate.
Holland was Initiated on 3 November 1881, Passed 1 December 1881
and Raised 5 January 1882. On 27 December 1881, Mathers was
appointed Director of Ceremonies, the first such appointment made
in this Lodge. At the Febuary 1882 meeting Mathers stood in as
Senior Deacon. On 6 April he resigned as D.C. At the next meeting
he asked the W.M. whether the Lodge would start a Lodge of
Instruction. During the year there was some controversy in the
Lodge as to the necessity of redecorating the Temple; Mathers
supported this, but nothing was done about it.
At the Regular Lodge meeting on 5 February 1885 'Bro. Frederick
Holland, Master of the Temple Rosicrucian College of England, read
a paper on "Masonry as it was and as it is"' [sic]. Holland
resigned from the Lodge of Hengist in March 1887 but he was named
as Senior Warden on the Warrant of Horsa Lodge No. 2208 -
Bournemouth, and this was constituted 18 October 1887. He was then
a member of St. Cuthberga Lodge, Wimborne, No. 622.
Bro. Harry Mendoza writes:
Bro. Ellic Howe tells us that 'The Ancient and Primitive Rite of
Misraim arrived in England -out of thin air rather than any other
kind of air -late in 1870'. Bro. Songhurst seems to indicate (1)
that in fact it arrived in 1817. Writing of Jean Baptiste Marie
Ragon, he tells us that no less a person than the Grand Master of
the United Grand Lodge of England - the Duke of Sussex - was
admitted by Ragon into the Rite on 14 February 1817 and invested
with 'full powers for England, Scotland and Ireland'. He goes on
'A document in the Library of the Grand Lodge of England dated 17th
November, 1819, and addressed to the Duke by the members of the
governing body in Paris gives a little more information concerning
the connection of His Royal Highness with the Rite. The document
informs him that at a meeting held in the previous month he had
been appointed a Member of Honour of the Fourth Chamber. It asks
for his protection and assistance in putting the order on a proper
footing in England, as certain unauthorised Masons were
endeavouring to work the degrees clandestinely, and states that
Michel Bedarride, who was then in London, was the only person who
could givcehim authentic particulars about the Order.'
It is not clear
(a) whether the Duke of Sussex sought membership or whether
membership was thrust upon him - I suspect the latter;
(b) whether the 'admission' occurred in England or France; I
suspect it was in the form of a 'communication' from France to
(c) to what extent the Duke of Sussex could use his powers for
'Scotland and Ireland', even if he had desired to do so.
Bro.T.O. Haunch has been kind enough to look for the document
referred to above, but has not been successful in finding it.
However, the authority of Bro. Songhurst, a past Secretary of
Quatuor Coronati Lodge, is not to be lightly dismissed. It
certainly points to somebody in Grand Lodge having knowledge of the
rite some fifty-three years earlier than indicated by Bro. Howe.
There is also reference to the Rite of Misraim in the History of
the Grand Lodge of Ireland, (2) where we learn that their Grand
Master (the Duke of Leinster) was admitted to the Rite. The date
is not given, but it would appear to be before 4 October 1838, on
which date the Constitution of the Supreme Grand Council of Rites
was read in Grand Lodge (Ireland). The author of the History
suggests (3) that
'the Rite of Mismaim was only included that it might be quietly
suppressed, as it was allowed to die of inanition'.
Another reference to the Rite of Misraim is found in the
Freemasons' Magazine and Masonic Monitor. In the issue dated 1
September 1860 the following appears:
Is Hiram Abiff recognised under of Misraim?
I would also like to raise one other point. Quoting Bro. Howe
again, on the Rite of Misraim,
'However, by today's more critical standards, on English soil it
was an aberration'.
This prompts the questions:
(a) when did Grand Lodge adopt their 'more critical standards'? and
(b) did the events outlined by Bro. Howe influence Grand Lodge in
adopting these standards ?
(1) AQC Vol.17, page 101.
(2) R.E. Parkinson. History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, Vol.
II, P. 221.
(3) ibid, P. 331.
The answer to the questions may be difficult to establish, but two
surprising facts emerged in my attempt to find an answer. Firstly,
proposal forms for initiation are first mentioned in the 1920 Book
of Constitutions. At that date they bore no question regarding
membership of 'quasi-masonic or other organisations." Secondly
reference to 'quasi-masonic or other organisations' appears in the
Book of Constitutions for the first time as late as 1940 - at which
date it also appeared on the proposal forms. Obviously these
matters had been discussed earlier by Grand Lodge, but the lateness
of the dates surprised me.
Bro. R. E. Parkinson writes:
I should like to add my congratulations to Bro. Ellic Howe for his
masterly exploration of a fascinating byway of Masonic research.
He queries the date ascribed to the Knights of the Red Branch-90
B.C. This was the name given given to the bodyguard of the Kings of
Ulster about the beginning of the Christian era, resisting attacks
from the south, and recorded in the earliest of Irish sagas. This
was handed down through the ages verbally, and was not recorded in
writing till the ninth or tenth century. The headquarters of the
kings of Ulster were at Emain Macha - now Navan Fort, a few miles
south of the city of Armagh. Nearby is another earthen fortress.
Known to this day as Creeveroe - Craob
Ruadh - or the Red Branch.
Some seventy odd years ago a small volume Lays of the Red Branch,
by Sir Samuel Ferguson, was published in London by Fisher Unwin,
and in Dublin by Sealy, Bryers and Walker. Copies may still be
available in the British museum and other London Libraries.
On 18 November 1922, a collection of certificates belonging to the
late Brother Maurice L. Davies was exhibited before the Lodge of
Research, No. CC, in Dublin. (Transactions, 1922, pp. 92-93.) There
were thirteen in all, including certificates of
(1) M.M., 891. Enniskillen, dated 10 October 1856.
(2) P.M., Drum, Co. Monaghan, 2 September 1869.
(3) Mark Master Mason and Royal Arch Mason, 891, Enniskillen,
dated 7 July 1857. (One cetificate only for the two degrees.)
(4) Knight Templar, 184 Drum, dated 20 March 1867.
(5) M.M., Affiliation certificate to Mother Lodge Kilwinning,
Scotland, dated 15 February 1883
(6) M.M., Grand Lodge of Scotland, certificate for Mother Lodge,
Kilwinning No. 0, dated 3 March 1887
(7) Rite of Memphis. Grand Council of Ancient Rites under the
Grand Chapter of the Great Bear, sitting at Bath,
Somersetshire, certifying Bro. Davie to be an Expert Master
of the Symbolic Lodges, and many other degrees. Dated 28
April 1878, and signed by John Yarker, 33 degree - 96 degree.
(8) Rite of Memphis, 33 degree Manchester, dated 24 February
1875, and signed by John Yarker, 33 degree -96 degree.
(9) Royal Oriental Order of Sikha and the Sat-B'hai (East Indies)
dated 23 September 1877.
(10) Rite of Memphis. Raised to Prince Patriarch, Grand Expert
General, dated 13 September 1880
(11) Rites of Mismaim and Memphis, Raised to Grand Inspector,
Sublime Prince 95 degree of the Rite of Memiphis; and an
Absolute Sovereign Grand Master 90 degree of the Rite of
Misraim, and Chief of the four Series thereof from the 1st
to the 90th and last degree; dated 30 September 1880.
(12) Subordinate Certificate of the National Lodge, Roumania, 33
degree to 90 degree, dated 15 May 1881
(13) The Superior Certificate for same, as Hon. Member for Life
of the Supreme Council 33 degree of Roumania.
Brother Davies is registered in Grand Lodge of Ireland books as
Maurice L. Howard Davies, in Lodge 891, Enniskillen, 3 October
1856. He affiliated to Lodge 184, Drum, Co. Monaghan, on 12 March
1867, and to Lodge 120, Dublin, in March 1869.
When the Grand Lodge of Ireland invented the Warrant, in 1731-32,
it was necessary to word the document very widely. Freemasonry was
still evolving, and owing to the then difficuities of
communication, it was extremely difficult for Grand Lodge to
exercise full control of Lodges at a distance from Dublin. See
History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, vol.11, ch.IV.' Hence, it
was later argued that it was lawful to confer any degree
whatsoeverunder the authority of the Grand Lodge Warrant, alone.
The form of the Warrant, and its wording remained unchanged until
1817, when Grand Lodge adopted a form which has remained
substantially unchanged till the present day. This laid it down
that the Master and Wardens, and their successors should
... at all times hereafter pay implicit observance to, and act and
conduct the affairs of the same in strict conformity to the
nowexisting Laws of Masonry and to such other Laws and Regulations
for the government of the Craft as shall or may at any time
hereafter be issued by the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ireland
or in default thereof then and in such case, reserving unto the
said Right Worshipful Grand Lodge the full power and lawful
authority of annulling and cancelling these presents or of
otherwise proceeding in the premises as to them shall seem meet.
Nevertheless, such Lodges as worked under Warrants issued before
this revision continued to claim the right to work any degree under
the authority of the Grand Lodge Warrant alone.
By the end of the eighteenth century, practically every Irish Lodge
worked the Royal Arch and Knight Templar Degrees as a matter of
course. Two Rose Croix Chapters, Prince Masons, as we prefer to
call them in the city of Dublin, have been at work continuously
since 1782. Many other degrees are mentioned in Lodge Minute
Books, of which little has survived except the names; many of these
survived, certainly in country Lodges, till well into the third
quarter of the nineteenth century.
The Order of Misraim appears in Ireland with the visit of one of
the Bedarride brothers early in 1820, ("The Order of Misraim in
Ireland", Thomas E. Johnston, Trans. Lodge CC, Dublin, 1949- 1957.)
The only evidence surviving are copies of a few letters between the
Duke of Leinster and John Fowler in the latter's letter book. By
February 1821 Bedarride had constituted a complete council of
seventeen members of the 77 degree; the Duke and Fowler, 90 degree;
Bro. Dumoulin, 89 degree; Bro. Norman, who succeeded Fowler as
D.G.M. in 1825, 88degree; ... Bro. P. Mitchell and Bro. Trim, 87
degree also Bro. Jamar, a Frenchman residing in Dublin who
possessed that degree before. In the previous May, Bros. Dr.
Herville, Signor Annelli, Bros. Dumoulin and Trim, of the Original
Chapter of Prince Masons had received the 77 degree.
The Order was suppressed in 1822 in France by the civil powers, and
one would imagine that the Duke of Leinster and John Fowler
realised what self seeking frauds the Bedarride brothers were. It
was included in the Supreme Grand Council of Rites, set up 28
January 1838, as the governing body of the Higher Degrees from the
Prince Mason upwards, but was evidently allowed to die of
inanition; the last survivor was the Duke himself, who died in
1874. This Grand Council of Rites survived until 1905, as the
supreme governing body of the Prince Masons, and independent of the
Supreme Council, 33 degree. In that year, owing to difficulties
with other Supreme Councils throughout the world, it surrendered to
the 33 degree, but still survives as subordinate governing body,
the Grand Chapter of Prince Masons. (Hist., G.L.I., vol. II P.
In Grand Lodge Minutes for 7 December 1882, thirteen members from
Limerick were cited as having set up a body of the Ancient and
Primitive Rite; seven had severed their connection with that Rite,
but the replies of six others were deemed unsatisfactory. These
were Maurice L. Davies, William F. Lawlor, Auguste Mouillot, John
H. Southwood and Thomas W. Fair. In the Minutes for February 1883,
the name of William S. Studdert is added, and replies from Bros.
Fair, Lawlor and Mouillot were deemed satisfactory, and no further
action was taken against them. The remaining four were suspended
from the Rights and Privileges of Freemasonry during the pleasure
of Grand Lodge. One of these, Charles Minch Wilson, was actually
present in Grand Lodge, and, in spite of earnest appeals from
prominent Brethren, including the Deputy Grand Master himself,
persisted in remaining obdurate.
So, today in Ireland, no degree may be practised save with the
approval of Grand Lodge, and one under the authority of a governing
body likewise approved. Admission to the A. & A. Rite is confined
to Knights Templar, who, with the A. & A. Rite, are recruited by
invitation only, and each step is regarded as a reward for services
to the Masonic Order only.
I gather that the Bedarride brothers were also active in England
and Scotland around 1820.
R.W. Stubbs writes:
Bro. Howe is to be warmly congratulated on his paper which makes
good reading in itself, and brings back to life persons and
movements of past generations It has done more than most of my
recent reading to convince me that we perhaps not quite so silly
as some of our Masonic forebears, for none of the present day
fringes of Masonry (from which mercifully the United Grand Lodge
of England is spared) can be so inept as the bodies which he has
taken so much trouble to describe. There is however always the fear
that this clear portrayal might encourage some 20th century
students to believe that there is something worth salvaging in the
follies of Mackenzie, his friends, his rivals and his enemies, for
the gap between 'fringe' and 'lunatic fringe' is narrow. I do not
believe that this is likely, but if it were to be a result of this
paper, Bro. Howe would have done the Craft some disservice.
I recognised the name, E. H. Finney, in the paper and have
consulted the registers of Grand Lodge and my own Oxford records.
There were two of them, probably father and son: the son was
initiated in the Churchill Lodge, No. 478, in 1869, aged 24: he
gave as his address 9, Godolphin Road, London. At that age and with
no College he was probably not an undergraduate: he fades out very
soon. The elder has a more varied masonic career. He was initiated
in the Lodge of Harmony, No. 309 (then 387) in 1854 when there was
a sudden influx into the Lodge of joining members: he was exalted
in Chapter of Frienship No. 319 (now 257)
in 1856. We next hear of him as a Major on half pay) living in
Charles Street, London, and joining Lodge of Harmony, No. 255, in
1867, and the Churchill in 1869 by which time he had been
installed in the Coeur de Lion Preceptory, No. 29, in 1868: he
fades out of all of them within five years. The juxtaposition of
names in 255 and 478 suggests that he was a friend of
R.W.Bro.Colonel H.A. Bowyer, Provincial Grand Master for
Oxfordshire, and holder between 1857 and 1869 of four offices in
the Supreme Council. Initiated as late as 1854 rather puts him out
of court as the pupil of Bedarride who had received his
Misraim degrees thirty-seven years before 1871.
It would be interesting to learn, and I come away from a close
perusal of the paper without any inking of it, what induced these
Brethren to set up this succession of minuscule Masonic empires. It
does not seem to have been a desire for notoriety or even for
money: was it perhaps Satan's other secret weapon, idleness? It is
difficult to believe that any of them can have conned themselves or
their associates into a belief that anything useful to mankind, the
Craft, or even themselves was going to emerge.
Perhaps the fairest, even if unkind, description of the whole lot
of them is Masonic hippies.
I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in the subject
to read also J.M. Roberts's The Mythology of the Secret Societies:
he has done as good a debunking job as Bro. Howe.
Bro. Howe writes in reply:
I am indeed grateful for the interest which my paper evidently
aroused, and especially to the Worshipful Master for proposing a
vote of thanks and to Bro. Cyril Batham for seconding it.
Bro. Vetcher mentioned that 'in the early days of the premuer
Grand Lodge, in the 18th century, if the number of Fellows of
the Royal Society is any criterion, the study of science had
been very popular with members of the Craft; and in those days
science would have included Alchemy.' My own impression is that by
the 1750s interest in Alchemy was at a very low ebb in Great
Britain. On the other hand many educated men were still fascinated
by astrology. I have identified three contemporary Fellows Of the
Royal Societv, all of them eminent mathematicians, who practised
Bros. Batham, Draffen, Jackson, Horne, Mendoza and Parkinson all
provided welcome additional information about the Rites of Memphis
and Misraim or their eventual amalgamation in John Yarker's Antient
and Primitive Rite. I was aware that the Rite of Misraim had found
its way to Ireland long before R. W. Little launched it in England
in 1870, but said nothing because I was unwilling to burden either
myself or my readers with a potentially inconclusive excursion up
a difficult bypath. Bro. Draffen now reveals that it was also
known in Scotland during the
In the case of these two rites (Memphis and Misraim) and their
original promoters (Marconis pere et fils and the Bedarride
brothers) we are confronted with one of the nineteenth century
'fringe' areas which appears to deserve investigation in depth. By
comparison with the ephemeral follies discussed in this paper both
had a long and complicated history. However, much of what we know
about their annals in France and elsewhere merely consists of bits
and pieces of isolated information, much of which is untrustworthy
because successive writers have accepted previous statements
without subjecting them to any really critical scrutiny. In his
comments Bro. Alex Horne suggests that 'a similar excursion into
"Fringe" Masonry, on the Continent, if at all possible, would seem
to be warranted'. As far as the nineteenth century is concerned,
a detailed study of the Rites of Memphis and Misraim would help to
fill this gap. Much of the research, however, would have to be
undertaken in France.
Like Bro. Batham I have heard that the Memphis degrees are still
being worked. Geneva has been mentioned in this context but I have
no evidence. I cannot answer his question about Yarker and the
Memphis (or Antient and Primitive Rite?) degrees with any
certainty. But see Yarker's periodical The Kneph, Vol. I, No. 8,
1881, where the Illustrious Grand Master General's (i.e. Yarker's)
historical article is more likely to confuse than enlighten.
With reference to Bro. Alex Horne's query (see his second
paragraph), my inference is that Yarker combined the two Rites,
i.e. those of Memphis and Misraim) as the Antient and Primitive
Bro. Harry Mendoza has produced a conundrum relating to J.-M. Ragon
(1781-1862) admitting the Duke of Sussex to the Rite of Misraim on
14 February 1817. According to Lenhoff and Posner, Internationales
Freimaurer Lexikon, 1932 (art. Misraim-Ritus), the Grand Orient
condemned the Rite as irregular in that year, hence presumably
after 14 February. According to the article on Ragon, in the same
source in February 1817, he would have been W.M. or I.P.M. of the
recently formed and later well-known 'Les trinisophes' Lodge at
Paris. The document from which Bro. Songhurst quoted cannot be
found; the nature of Ragon's association with Michel Bedarride
cannot be accurately established ... and the researcher goes round
Bro. R. E. Parkinson referred to the Bedarride brothers as
'self-seeking frauds'. But can this accusation be substantiated? Or
were they - and perhaps Marc Bedarride in particular - merely
misguided enthusiasts? The latter's long-winded De l'Ordre
maconnique de Mismaim, 2 vols., 1845, gives the impression that it
was written by a harmless lunatic rather than a self-seeking fraud.
Bro. Brig. A.C.F. Jackson criticised Westcott for his misuse and
misunderstanding, despite his erudition, of the words 'Rosicrucian'
and 'Rosicrucianism'. In fairness to Westcott, it's not surprising
that he perpetrated (in c.1887-8) the usual occultist nonsense
about the 'old Rosicrucians' and their alleged teachings because no
scholarly research in this area had yet been attempted. A. E.
Waite's The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross was not published until
1924 and, in default of any alternative, it achieved the status of
a standard work, at least in English. The first important German
scholarly publications did not appear until later, e.g. those by R.
Kienast in 1926 and W.-E. Peuckert in 1928. However, the recent
publication of Dr. Frances A. Yates's brilliant The Rosicrucian
Enlightenment (London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972) has given
'Rosicrucian' studies a new dimension and her book is warmly
commended to Brethren who are interested in this area.
Bro. J. R. Clarke found it difficult to accept the evidence which
I supplied for Kenneth Mackenzie's birth date, i.e. 31 October
1833. His death certificate confirms the year. Bro. Clarke was
puzzled because Mackenzie's youthful intellectual virtuosity was
not commemorated in the Dictionary of National Biography. However,
I tried to make it clear that Mackenzie never fulfilled his early
promise and was already a spent force by 1860 (aet. 27 or
thereabouts). Brother Clarke also chided me for accusing Mackenzie
of having perpetrated a 'barefaced lie' in connection with his with
claim that the extraordinary table of so-called Rosicrucian degrees
in his Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, 1875, represented the fruits of
his own industrious research. I can only repeat that Mackenzie
made a literal translation of the table published in 1781 in Der
Rosenkreuzer in seiner Blosse.
Bro. Will Read kindly made enquiries about the Order of Light,
which still exists today, from Brethren who belong to it. I did
not imply that the Order came to Bradford via Yarker but merely
recalled the latter's earlier connection with it. Bro. Read is
able to inform us that the Order in its present form was founded at
Bradford on 9 January 1902. According to A. E. Waite (New
Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, 1921, Vol.II, pp. 214-5) it was
dormant before 'it came into the hands of certain Masonic Brethren
at Bradford,' i.e. in 1902. Waite observed that 'they
reconstructed it in all respects', hence presumably without the Sat
B'hai material which Yarker had interpolated.
The Rite of Swedenborg (see P. 371): I will deal with Bro.
Batham's question first. The Canadian Charter dated 1 July 1876
was for the Emanuel Lodge and Temple No. 3 at Manchester. With or
without reference to Canada, Emanuel Lodge No. 1 was warranted at
Bristol on 13 January 1877. This Lodge them removed to Weston super
Mare on 30 May 1877. At Manchester the Egyptian Lodge No. 2 also
received its warrant on 13 January 1877. The note preserved by
Bro. Draffen referring to the '69th degree of Hieroglyphic Master'
does not have any connection with the Rite of Swedenborg.
I am grateful to Bro. Alex Horne for correcting my statement that
Yarker gave Madame Blavatsky 'what purported to be a Masonic
initiation' when she was briefly in England at the end of 1878.
There is a blurred and almost illegible reproduction of the
certificate which Yarker issued to her on 24 November 1877 in the
name of the Antient and Primitive Rite in The Golden Book of the
Theosophical Society ... 1875-1925, edited by C. Jinarajadasa,
Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1925. The certificate's
complete text will be found in 'The Author of Isis Unveiled defends
the validity of her Masonic Patent' in the first volume of The
Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, edited by A. Trevor Barker,
The Rite of Adoption was specifically mentioned in the certificate
which declared H. P. B. to be an 'Apprentice, Companion, Perfect
Mistress, Sublime Elect, Scotch Lady, Chevaliere de Rose Croix ...
and a Crowned Princess of Rite of Adoption'. The recent
publication of Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled had created a mild
sensation in esoteric' circles and it is likely that Yarker
expressed his admiration of the book by presenting its author with
the certificate in question.
Bro. M. J. Spurr's belief that I am writing a paper on Westcott's
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for presentation to Q.C. Lodge is
incorrect. Now that The Magicians of the Golden Dawn has been
published my interest in this 'folly' has evaporated.
find it difficult to agree with the substance of Bro. Spurr's
second paragraph which begins: 'I do not think that it was a
coincidence that Quatuor Coronati Lodge was established in 1886.'
Firstly we must eliminate the names of R. W. Little and A. E.
Waite. Little did not even pretend to be a Masonic historian while
A. E. Waite did not join the Craft until 1902, long after Q.C.
Lodge was founded. We are thus left with Yarker, whose scholarly
interests must be taken seriously in relation to the standards
which prevailed at that time. Nor do I find it possible to accept
that 'Q.C. Lodge arose, even partially, through interest aroused by
Bro. J. W. Stubbs is somewhat apprehensive lest my paper might
encourage a Brother with more imagination than sense to believe
'that there is something worth salvaging in the follies of
Mackenzie, his friends, his rivals and his enemies for the gap
between "fringe" and "lunatic fringe" is narrow.' He continued 'I
do not believe that this is likely, but if it were to be a result
of this paper, Bro. Howe would have done the Craft some
Like Bro. Stubbs I do not believe it likely that any misguided
Brother will attempt to salvage anything from the Victorian
rubbish-heap discussed in my paper. The risk of this happening in
the 1970s appears to be infinitesimal, even inconceivable. These
'fringe' and sometimes 'lunatic fringe' activities happened in a
social, sociological and, for that matter, Masonic climate which
was utterly unlike the one with which we are familiar.
Bro. Stubbs wondered 'what induced these Brethren to set up a
succession of minuscule empires?' My own theory is that in the
absence of spectator sports, golf, bridge, television and radio,
automobiles, packaged tours and charter flights, and much else
which we now associate with the idea of leisure, their activities
on or beyond the fringe of regular Masonry represented absorbing
hobbies. To use a current expression: 'They did their own thing'.
I do not agree with Bro. Stubbs' proposition that it would be fair,
although unkind, to describe my gentry as 'Masonic hippies'.
Mackenzie, Irwin, Cox, Yarker & Co. were not hippies in the sense
in which we now understand the word. I would regard them, rather,
as Masonic romantics. This loosely-knit fringe 'movement' was the
product of a very small coterie of enthusiasts who used Masonry as
a springboard for their own fantasies.