The RISE and FALL of ENGLISH FREEMASONRY

Geo-Politics, Espionage and the Heroics of Empire

An Introduction

From the smoke-filled taverns of central London’s most notorious red-light districts in 1716 to the glamour and excitement of a gala dinner in July, 1886 where reporters jostled to catch a glimpse of ‘the glittering assemblage’ attending the Prince of Wales, is quite a leap. This is the rags to riches story claimed by English Freemasons [EFs] for their Order.

Their ‘creation myth’ is that members of four fraternal lodges, mainly working men, met over bread, cheese and ale to assess options for their struggling benefit society. With London awash with clubs and societies, competition for members was fierce, but, neither the clatter of tankards on rough wooden tables, nor the whistling, singing and jostling patrons all around deterred them from their purpose. These men were special, unique – or so it has been claimed.

Perhaps there were heated exchanges over ‘the Constitution’, perhaps there were surly losers and grinning winners – we have no records, nor first-hand accounts. We only have assertions written years later that this gathering of stonemasons, carpenters and like-minded drinking buddies agreed to begin meeting quarterly and to organise a year-ending feast at which they would elect their first-ever ‘Grand Master’.

What were they thinking? Or more to the point, what were they drinking ???

Yet more remarkable is the allegation that their idea was quickly taken up by scientists and gentry as a vehicle for religious tolerance and new, ‘enlightened’ philosophies. This allegedly led to transformation of the original, into a global phenomenon which matched the drive of the British Empire in vigour and ruthlessness. The reasons given for the influx of transformative, non-artisans into the original group – that they saw it as a suitable vehicle for their private meetings wherein they could indulge in obscure ceremonial and light, sociable exchanges – have never been convincing. The further argument that these ‘speculative’ Masons were, to a man, seekers of lost wisdom and the embodiment of values specific to ‘The Age of Enlightenment’, has been particularly troubling, and not just because of the contradictory nature of these two ideas. Only with difficulty can a search for ‘the ancient’ be aligned with the levelling, pro-reason and change-oriented dynamic of ‘the Enlightenment’. Nevertheless, brethren keep making the claim that this is what ‘Freemasonry’ does. Indeed, there seems to have been a recent resurgence of brethren doing so. For example: Batley in 2000 – ‘As an enlightened society, they [Freemasons] spearheaded the age of Enlightenment’ [i]; Curl in 1991: ‘There is no doubt whatsoever that Freemasonry played a central role in the Enlightenment’, [ii] and Weisberger’s 2001 adulatory insistence in QC’s annual ‘Transactions’ that a certain Reverend John Desagulier epitomised both EF’s moral stance and everything positive that the Enlightenment could be said to represent.[iii]

Over three centuries, the projected image of ‘Freemasonry’ has undoubtedly shaped assumptions among all its observers, and the dynamic of that inter-action is deserving of far more inquiry than it has yet received. The earliest attempts by outsiders to get at the apparent mystery of EF by claiming to ‘know’ its secret rituals appeared in the 1720’s. These exposes were supposedly snapped up by casual readers excited by the prospect of joining in the latest craze. Taking the unverified material at face value, hopefuls apparently memorised ‘the work’ they were told they would be expected to recite inside the lodge room. The then street buzz, apparently, was positive, but it was nowhere near what it was to become, especially among its supporters. In 1859, for example, a series of claims was made by WA Laurie, a Scot: ‘(Freemasonry) has existed from the remotest antiquity…(It) has extended to every corner of the globe, and embraced men of every rank, of every religion, and of every form of government…(It was) formed for the purpose of scientific improvement and (for) the exercise of mutual benevolence;…(It has patronised) and executed those magnificent structures which…have contributed to the utility and ornament of Nations.(etc)…’ [iv] Each of these is a remarkable claim, collectively, they are astonishing. ‘Grand Lodge’ [UGLE] did not contradict them, as far as I know. Equally astounding is the way in which claims of this sort have persisted even when their author has seemed to be aware of the need for supporting evidence. Back in 1859, Laurie specifically spurned all works previous to his, insisting that his contribution would ‘divest the history of Free Masonry of that jargon and mystery in which it has hitherto been enveloped, and substitute a historical and therefore reliable account…’ His claims were soon dismissed. J Murray Lyon in 1873, just fourteen years later, quoted from him and then wrote: ‘The time was when statements of this kind would have been accepted without challenge…but it is nowadays pretty generally believed that by such applications of the rose-tint of fiction the real features of the ancient fraternity are concealed.’ [v]

In 1884, just another decade later, unhappy with all that had gone before, English brethren set up their first lodge of research Quatuor Coronati [understood to refer to ‘Four Crowned Martyrs’, hereafter QC, and discussed below at length]. But the astounding claims for EF, and for ‘Freemasonry’ in general, continued into the new century. They changed, and in important ways, but they remained astounding – in 1909: ‘… (Defined)…as a union of all unions, an association of men, bound together in their struggles to attain all that is noble, who desire only what is true and beautiful, who love and practise virtue for its own sake, – this is Freemasonry, the most comprehensive of all human confederacies.’ [vi] In 1948, NSW’s Grand Master McDowell asserted: ‘(Guided) by our Masonic principles, with continuing faith in (God), united in the spirit of brotherhood, we can face the future with every confidence, firmly believing that truth and justice will always prevail, and that Freemasonry is truth and justice in all things.’ [vii]

The earliest inclination among insiders was to dismiss as untenable everything bearing the name of the rejected pioneer, or as in the Laurie case, everything on the subject that had gone before. This suggests an anxiety about how ‘Freemasonry’ was being perceived in the hands of the preceding scholar, and a hope that with each new claim, ‘the truth’ would finally be clear. The persistence of the cycle among insiders suggests anxiety remains and that the ‘historical and therefore reliable account’ has not yet been achieved. The variety of meanings for the term ‘enlighten/ment’, which will not be canvassed here, has assisted ‘insiders’ to make a case, but has not assisted clarity. It is sufficient here to say that the idea of a transition from darkness to light has been variously interpreted, the nature of ‘the light’ being always dependent upon the nature of ‘the darkness’ posed. Judgements of who was or are ‘enlightened’, therefore, have resided in the eye of the observer. Because of the nature of the planet’s last three or four centuries these terms are woven into two other sets of terms: one looking forward – ‘civilisation’, ‘industrialisation’, ‘modernity’, among others, the other looking backwards: ‘ancient’, ‘faith’, ‘tradition’, among others. Their slippery nature should not stymie examination of them, but rather should indicate a way forward, at least for students of their history. ‘The [capitalised] Enlightenment’, for example, has been a contested term and an account of that contest overlaps with the history of ‘Freemasonry’ and each is therefore a useful tool in an examination of the other.

I have to assume that EF, the organisation, has been no different from other vested interests with regard to self-perception, since I can think of no reason why it would be different. I have to assume that its image has been important to it, that it has assessed and modified its image over time, and that its credibility – the alignment of aspiration with reality – can and should be questioned as can that of any other organisation. It would seem reasonable to expect that a complete history of EF, written from the inside or not, would include actions it has taken to alter the way it has been perceived, and assessments of its motives for doing so. Professional historians were not so ignorant in 1859 that brethren’s claims could have survived serious scrutiny even then, but as relevant knowledges developed subsequently, a curious thing has occurred – most non-Masonic scholars have preferred to let the claims be, rather than undertake the necessary examination. The insiders claimed to be the keepers of a ‘truth’ which the non-initiated researchers, perhaps, wanted to be true. The insiders were therefore to be soothed with praise and platitudes, not confronted and possibly overturned. Of course, some of these apparently objective observers have proven to have been initiated brethren.

EF has not assisted in that enlightenment which is the non-partisan gaining and distributing of knowledge with the purpose of improving human welfare. UGLE has even refrained from assisting its ‘front-line defenders’ against well-resourced detractors, and it has made no effort to interpret for its members the numerous economic and social upheavals which have been test-beds for the ideals EF claimed to champion. And yet this organisation projecting an image of political neutrality, universal benevolence and unqualified truth has chosen sides in certain important struggles for wealth and power within the English/British polity. It’s notable that the thirteen decades of study carried out by QC have happened in spite of the decision-makers in Grand Lodge [UGLE] maintaining their silence about what was being said in its name. In fact, that august body gave QC the least possible help it could at its launch and none at all when it faced closure, even though Lodge QC had been widely welcomed by its initiated supporters and consistently feted as a global success.

Over the three centuries of EF’s existence, parts of the outside world have continued pursuit of ways to engage with, and therefore to better understand ‘the past’. Australia’s pre-eminent 20th century historian, Manning Clark, used to say that each generation re-writes the past to suit its ambitions. EH Carr shared this view. But for many in this sector there is much more involved than generational ambition. One person’s understanding of something she has just seen is unlikely to be universally accepted by other observers – this is the nature of things. But with HISTORY, ‘the record’ of the big events, events that have affected millions of people, there is keener competition, there is blood in the air. The history of how ‘history’ – studying and representing the past – has been understood is another useful and necessary tool. The fear and loathing of the Islamic State towards ancient ruins and monuments is only one sign of the importance we all invest in the struggle to control ‘the past’. We buy one newspaper over another because of its interpretation of past events, aka ‘the news’. We watch one commentator not another because it’s viscerally important to us to see and to hear our views being validated. We are outraged when some memorable building, reputation or ‘thing’ is damaged. The most stoic of us can be provoked into public protest by just the verbal desecration of a symbol, like a flag, or a memory, like someone’s attempt to argue an alternative view of the Gallipoli landing, the Battle of Britain or Custer’s Last Stand. There are, of course, power and influence and lots of money at stake. Supposed custodians of the past – journalists or historians – are as likely to be paid agents as objective referees of ‘the truth.’

As part of the Cold War after 1945, Western scholars insisted that, in contrast to the falsification and manipulation of the record by Nazi and Soviet historians, they practised historical accuracy, objectivity and truthfulness. EH Carr’s What is History? of 1961, and Elton’s The Practice of History, 1967, advocated rigorous examination of primary sources, in effect, re-asserted a need for a ‘scientific history’ because it was not yet in place anywhere. The lack of unanimity about what was involved in writing accurate history continued among non-Masons, if not within EF. Carr’s was a sociological view of history as the product of individuals, with each one necessarily different, while Elton’s response was that documents were everything, the motivations of particular historians nothing. During the Vietnam War, Noam Chomsky pointed out the crucial role being played by partisan intellectuals in the creation and maintenance of ‘the Western truth’. Styled ‘the new mandarins’, the West’s partisan ‘liberal and objective experts’ included Arthur Schlesinger who thought the bombing of North Vietnam and the massive escalation of US military commitment in early 1965 was “perfectly rational”.[viii] Linking those recent events with an earlier conflict involving US oil interests, the 1930’s Spanish Civil War, Chomsky showed the combination of forces driving the allegedly ‘scientific, value-free language’ in schools, universities, parliaments and think-tanks: ‘I have concentrated on one theme – the interpretation of the social revolution in Spain … (and) on (a) work that is an excellent example of liberal scholarship…to show that a deep bias against social revolution and a commitment to the values and social order of liberal bourgeois democracy has led the author to misrepresent crucial events…to overlook major historical currents…and to a striking failure of objectivity.’ [ix] At the time, his insights were highly controversial. Today, they are much closer to being commonly-held, at least by professionals committed to allowing evidence to lead. New fads, however, have continued to undermine their efforts, to a point in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, where the ‘dissolution of history’ as a suitable subject for serious study was contemplated: ‘In place of the optimistic belief in the progress of the discipline…historians at the end of the twentieth century are haunted by a sense of gloom.’ [x] None of these currents have surfaced in the EF insider literature.

The task I’ve set myself would already be complex enough if there were only two groups of Masonic historians to reconsider, insiders and outsiders. Attracted by the air of mystery and division, a third group, mainly conspiracy theorists, has conjured up a mix that reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, or Macbeth’s witches’ brew – a mix of known fact and egregious speculation, the whole obscured by clouds of verbal smoke and mirrors. I wonder sometimes if I’m engaged in unravelling the longest-running and most effective show of legedermain in all music-hall history. Yet, magicians, tricksters and con-men, and women, have featured, particularly in 18th and 19th century accounts which have argued links between the original Templars, the Illuminati and other Bavarian brotherhoods, and any number of global conspiracies. For more than one reason, this third group requires incorporation into the context along with the others.

Excited authors in all three groups, guilty of the very worst kinds of evidence-free assertions, have helped to obscure what useful data there is. Some, by aligning ‘Freemasonry’ only with the politics of sedition, have made it easy for ‘insiders’ to claim moral high-ground where it cannot exist – at the supposed point where non-politics equates with support of the status-quo. The extension of this, the idea that brethren act always and exactly in line with formula laid down by Grand Lodge, matches in silliness the idea that Masons have only ever been interested in undermining governments.

I am especially concerned that because the past literature contains so many unexamined assumptions that even the latest, non-initiated, non-partisan researchers are constructing new houses of cards, as flimsy as those erected earlier. This is a danger whether the scholars are sympathetic to ‘Freemasonry’ or not, the variety of conclusions reflecting the unsatisfactory nature of the previous scholarship.

A number of sociology-trained English academics have explored town and regional EF membership lists for occupational clusters and have drawn conclusions about social identity and networks of benevolence. They have rarely, if ever, done so in the light of local, detailed, political dynamics, with the result that conclusions have been trite: ‘The order provided contact, sociability and the exchange of information and support…in a manner which recognised social hierarchy.’ [xi] At this level of generalisation, it seems, ‘Freemasonry’ is a scientific aberration – a single entity that is never affected by its circumstances, but yet is not entirely inert. Among the few, politically-aware, delvers into the material, there has appeared a crucial division as to significance. There is blanket dismissal – Jonathon Israel asserted in 2006: ‘If our aim is to get to the heart of the Enlightenment as a decisively-important, world-historical phenomenon, arguably the least said about Freemasonry the better.’ [xii] And there are claims of an overwhelming importance – for example, Harland-Jacob’s, that the British Empire was a Masonic enterprise, (see below).

Margaret Jacob, pioneering US scholar who has earned hostility from some EFs for questioning ‘English primacy in world Masonic affairs’, has accepted at face value what French ‘Freemasons’ have said about themselves and the Order, to the extent that she has constructed a theory of ‘civil society’ on the strength of their published statements.[xiii] Kenneth Loiselle’s 2014 interpretation of male friendship in 18th century France is similarly doubtful. In an age of florid, expansive gestures, motivation is the first question, surely, when faced with one man’s statement to another, as for example: ‘…(I hope) to see and embrace you, to swear to you that I love you, that I adore you, to swear to you an eternal steadfastness…what I feel for you is what a passionate lover feels for his mistress in her absence.’ [xiv] Juan Cole has quoted from the same period a like-sounding sentiment of a French soldier about a comrade just deceased, which includes: ‘…Barbarous assassins have ripped away his life. Valiant, in the flower of his youth, good, sensible of glory and friendship, surrounded by esteem, covered with laurels, he fell to the weapons of cruel Bedouins.’ [xv] The difference is that Cole has noted that the eulogy is fraudulent – the ‘friend’ had committed suicide.

Loiselle’s naivete (ignorance?) is doubly relevant here for he has attached his theory of male-friendship directly to the culture in which EF formed: ‘The philosophes were particularly attracted to Hanoverian England’s freedoms of religion, opinion, and association, and Freemasonry, of course, embodied the latter…’ (Loiselle, 2014, p.22) He has referenced Voltaire and Montesquieu here and rightly so since their ‘anglo-mania’ was well-known, but the linking conclusion, ‘and Freemasonry, of course, embodied the latter…’ is entirely his, Voltaire, for example, not entering a lodge until just before his death.    Loiselle has in his introduction: ‘It was the masonic preoccupation with friendship that in fact distinguished the order from other modes of association.’ (Loiselle, p.29) In his conclusion he has the contradictory claim: ‘(It) is unlikely that Freemasonry was unique within the associational landscape of eighteenth century France. Other voluntary associations… resembled Freemasonry and also no doubt provided space to develop robust friendships that drew on similar moral themes and shared values.’ (Loiselle, p.251) In 2015, a Dutch scholar, Dorothe Sommer, has exported unexamined assumptions all the way to the Middle East. At the turn of the 19th century, she has asserted, social turmoil and political uncertainty ‘left Syria’s population longing for a new way to create a sense of common identity and solidarity.’ Her major conclusion is: ‘For many men, freemasonry in the form of a widespread network of various lodges throughout the area was perceived as a means of facilitating this bond. Thus, the phrase, ‘Unity is strength’, perfectly describes the efforts of Syrian Freemasons.’ [xvi]

Masonic membership does not automatically render a person the embodiment of the organisation’s stated principles and values. Personal involvements are rarely static or one-dimensional, and motivations vary from one ‘brother’ to another. Patterns in membership – age, geography, occupation, family – can be traced to time-specific circumstances. Leadership positions in Masonry and simultaneously in a variety of other fields – courts, markets, parliaments, military – indicate the existence of real-time relations which, in turn, normally denote politics and political influence. The ‘coincidence’ of EF’s first surge and decline happening during the years of Robert Walpole’s rise and fall (1717-1741) is too stark to be anything other than politics-based, even before a detailed context is available. I propose herein to ask how it came about that magistrates, party-hacks and what used to be called ‘place-men’, predominated in the first wave of initiates, but, then, for a long-time thereafter, and especially outside of England, how was it that military personnel were over-represented? It is politics, not the level of enlightenment in their policies which have been used to separate EF from other ‘Freemasonries’, in particular that of France, as will be discussed herein.

‘Freemasonry’ is not and has never been a single entity, even in a theoretical or conceptual sense, and real-time accounts of its various versions are far from being settled. Debates about the definition of the word flicker spasmodically, and whether ‘it’ began in 1716-23.[xvii] In general debate, there has been a mixing together of EF the organisation, which did not exist before 1717, and another entity, vague and in my view mis-named, written as ‘freemasonry’, but which should be the broader notion of ‘fraternalism.’ I accept that for most EF brethren, today, there is only one ‘Freemasonry’. For a few others, there is ‘regular Freemasonry’, to which they belong, and ‘irregular’, which they are prohibited from joining. They have little interest in ‘irregular Freemasonry’ and have even less understanding of it. Since ‘their Freemasonry’ prohibits discussion of religion and politics within lodge, they suppose that ‘irregular’ Masons probably discuss these matters. A few would know that ‘French Freemasonry’ has been a particular bugbear of EF and may know that French brethren have been actively involved in politics at times in the past. The distance between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular Freemasonries’ appears vast but since they can’t discuss the reasons, they are effectively excused from enquiring further. It is doubtful if they appreciate that the existence of competing ‘Freemasonries’ implies that someone, somewhere made a choice with which someone else disagreed.

The original choice made by EF was not straightforward, though it may have been made in a hurry. The total context began before 1716, and well before ‘the Antients’ contended with ‘the Moderns’, on which many authors have concentrated. Ironically, the choice EF made was not the obvious one, which an impartial observer might have thought would have been of greatest interest to it. This was the so-called Jacobite form of ‘Freemasonry’ which connected artisanal secrecy and pictorial/architectural symbolic meanings with a raft of speculative philosophies. This apart, to claim that EF is cut-and-dried, perfect and un-changing, is to strip it of its purpose as a motivator for curiosity, experimentation and learning. My curiosity began when I perceived EF’s dismissive approach to learning in general, and to its ‘recent’ past in particular: why would an organisation claiming to be concerned with enlightenment have such an un-enlightened view, and how had it come about? I have adopted Kant’s definition, viz that ‘enlightenment’ = ‘Man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.’ In EF’s hands, the term has been boiled down to the meanest, narrowest type of ‘self-development’, to any activity which might be labelled ‘self-actuated’. Kant was far more honest, his definition continuing: ‘Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.’ There is contained within this, not only a definition of a potential learner, but definition of any organisation to which the learner belongs and in which ‘learning’ is presupposed. He went on: ‘This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another.’ To be within the ambit of his term, the organisation EF would need to respect the given do’s and don’ts in its practise. It would be required to not restrict the learner in any way, and to do everything possible to take the learner from a state of irresolution to one of sturdy independence with all that that implies. Kant was no idle romantic. He was well-aware of the negative, political, religious, and economic pressures on someone seeking to understand: ‘The motto of enlightenment is therefore Sapere aude [Dare to be Wise!] Have courage to use your own understanding!’ [xviii]

It is doubtful whether any of the globe’s many varieties of Masonry can be considered to be, or to have been, enlightened in the Kantian sense. Jonathon Israel considered that: ‘…Although it did sometimes employ a rhetoric of equality, eighteenth-century French and German Freemasonry in reality hardly ever tried to erase distinctions between aristocracy and commoners, or between high bourgeoisie and the common man, rather such modes of sociability mostly sought to preserve and emphasise hierarchy in the context of their own rules and activities…’ [xix]

So, a higher truth, mere froth and bubble, sleight-of-hand or revolutionary humanism by another name – the question with ‘Freemasonry’ always has been what is real and what is not? It’s not necessary that English Grand Lodge Masons be seen as behind-the-scenes puppeteers engaged in social engineering for searching policy questions to be posed. Personally, I don’t suspect long-term, ‘New World Order’ type schemes – rather, a kind of movable feast, with EF being created and re-created on the run to serve the needs of altering circumstances.

We can be sure of one thing – that over three centuries, there have been deliberate attempts to deceive, to contrive, and to cover-up ‘Freemasonry’, alongside genuine, if mis-guided, attempts at explication. Some ‘plots’ have come from people fearful of the power of the reality, some have come from those benefitting from its operation. At different times, both have added to the fog of rumour, lies and innuendo about one very odd phenomenon.

The Hypothesis

I hypothesise that EF was a deliberate response to the political contest of the period 1716-1723 and that it came about through London’s Hughenot community seeking a quid pro quo with the administration. The principles espoused by EF, which should logically have prevented it from forming an alignment with either group, formed a cover story behind which a modus operandi evolved whereby EF, the Hughenot leaders and ‘the government’ worked together. I hypothesise that EF’s alignment with Whig/Hanoverian politics in the 1720’s and 1730’s set it on a path which could not thereafter be changed, a path which meant not only continued public support for governmental triumphs but support for and involvement in its military and secret activities, as well. The argument to be advanced here is that the strategy, if that’s what it is, no longer has any point. Up until the late 19th century, the close involvement of EF with the English/British state gave its discretion a strategic value. Since that time, when EF lost its practical importance to the administration, nothing UGLE might say was likely to damage or weaken those who once relied on its silence.

This essay can only be speculative. It will notice influential individuals along the way but it does not rest upon ‘famous Masons’ or on statistics. It rests upon two facts – EF’s alignment with specific governmental regimes, at its inception and at its second most significant moment, the Union of 1812-13. I surmise that no GL decision-makers have been able to remain at arms-length from ‘their government’. Scholarly insiders have insisted that Masons by definition are loyal subjects of whatever ‘government’ is in power. They have assumed that the Order’s prohibition on discussing religion and/or politics was directed at oppositional politics and therefore was introduced to prevent internal division. I surmise the prohibition was the reverse, that it was directed at preventing discussion of EF efforts supportive of government. But, in any event, where is the line to be drawn? Does it depend on the situation, the degree of the crisis, perhaps? And who is to decide what actions are OK, and which not? Evidence shows EFs sharing in celebrations of the State’s triumphs and assisting ‘government’ in numerous, public ways, eg by laying foundation stones. Is the prohibition set aside when these co-operations are being arranged? Expressing loyalty to the ruling regime publically, and not just participating in a staged event, is a political activity. How could loyal subjects, having stated their loyalty, not also participate in supportive activities behind the scenes or on the street – by making donations, by assisting with campaigns, by being part of the armed forces? Where does the line fall with regard to neutral activities? and who is to decide? how far would loyalists go in the name of ‘loyalty’? How far should they go?

There are no authoritative founding documents for EF before 1723 and few thereafter. The critical statement most quoted by curators of the status-quo to justify not talking about the social dynamics which birthed EF is taken from the Reverend Anderson’s 1723 Constitutions. He wrote that the religious injunction supposedly sworn to by operative, ie stone, masons: ‘the direct injunction of loyalty to God and Holy Church’, was replaced by decision-makers with the words: ‘’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige (brethren) to that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves.’ [xx] This phrasing has been used to argue that tolerance was central to EF and that it was the reason behind the later prohibition on all religious discussion in lodge. It has been further supposed that the wording used at the 1813 union of two competing strands of EF, the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’, was in the same vein, viz: ‘Let a man’s religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is not excluded from the order, provided he believe in the glorious architect of heaven and earth, and practise the sacred duties of morality.’ [xxi] The 1813 wording allegedly strengthened the intentions of the 1723 words to introduce a totally de-christianised lodge practice.[xxii]

In isolation, the statements are logically doubtful. When they are given context, more likely interpretations emerge. Before going to the detail, I use the work of some recent scholars to lay down that context.

THE RISE

PART ONE: The Purpose of English Freemasonry

The Scholars’ Breakthrough

When arguing the existence of a pre-1717 ‘freemasonry’, EF ‘insiders’ have meant either mediaeval stonemasons or some sort of proto-EF which is not the well-known, gild ‘fraternalism’. It remains unexplained how their version differs from the better-known form, but that is among the more minor problems faced by EF historians three centuries on. The mason ‘operatives’ supposedly had no spiritual relationship to their work and consequently their personal views have been dismissed as unimportant. The status of the gentry, the non-operatives who became ‘Freemasons’, especially the Grand Masters [GMs] have, on the other hand, been ruthlessly mined to support the official story.

In that tavern in 1716 London, the excitement aroused by those men and their astoundingly innovative thinking must have been immense. Whispers, shouts, alarm around the room, government spies hovering – what do we tell the boss ??? – cheap-jack printers scurrying to be the first on the street with the news – 

ARTISANS REVOLUTIONARY THINKING — GRAND MASTERS AND ANNUAL BOOZE-UP – ALL THE LATEST

But wait – no reports appeared, no announcements were made, no anonymous, ‘insider’ accounts – no information of any kind has appeared in the 300 years since to prove that that meeting even occurred. Those fraternal brothers must have bribed, intimidated and fought tooth-and-nail to ensure that not a single line of that club meeting appeared in any broadsheet or pamphlet, and that not a single informer managed to apprise his or her boss of this latest threat to harmonious labour relations. Talk about a SECRET SOCIETY !!!!

No such effort at press manipulation was needed when the ranks of aproned and bejewelled dignitaries paraded a century and a half later to consolidate the public image of the ‘Order of Ancient, Free and Accepted Freemasons’ in the minds of gawking onlookers.

No cover-up, either, another century and a half on, in 2015. The cheering and applause have now been replaced with Pythonesque nudge-nudge, wink-wink ribbings as the hacks of the media chortle knowingly over the hilarious photos of a ‘fake Masonic police force’ and the arrests of a mottled collection of fraudsters and wanna-bes in California.

The rise from nothing to a pinnacle of power and influence certainly deserves publicity. To then decline to the status of a prop for a publicity scam might be just the sad but predictable story of any organisation which grew up with the Empire and declined when that enterprise went into reverse. The British East India Company and the British & Foreign Bible Society come to mind as other examples. But EF’s rise was not straightforward and its fall is not without significance.

Although initially surprised and bemused at what hard evidence was showing them, three recent authors in particular, Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Ric Berman and Marsha Keith Schuchard, have been engaged in up-dating David Stevenson’s breakthrough effort to overcome long-standing Masonic mind-sets. It’s noticeable that to even dent the entrenched narrative, a series of texts has been needed. Stevenson wrote in his first title in 1988: ‘At times it may seem that I am unduly concerned to explain and prove points in a detailed way which some readers would be happy to be spared.’ In extenuation, he explained: ‘(In) a minefield as dangerous as masonic history has often proved to be, it is necessary to plot every step with the utmost care.’ [xxiii] The need for detail to counteract years of speculation remains, so beware if you are easily bored or are looking for an easy answer.

Stevenson was principally concerned to document the Scottish lodges which pre-dated the first English Grand Lodge, which event in 1717, as he says, caused many ‘insiders’ subsequently to assume that that was when all ‘Freemasonry’ began. He wrote as an outside observer but he was careful not to disturb the ‘usual’ London-based, EF narrative once he had established that it only began after the northern version. In 2007, Harland-Jacobs, also an outsider, was equally respectful of the post-1716 narrative while aiming her revisionist thesis in a different direction – that in growing from nothing to ubiquity, EF closely paralleled the British Empire, that the British Empire was, in fact, a Masonic enterprise. Her argument culminates, in a sense, with Lord Carnarvon, a high-ranking 19th century EF and Secretary of State for the colonies, whom she quotes saying that ‘Masonry…has reflected…and consolidated the British Empire’.[xxiv] She has researched his extraordinary scheme of what amounted to a World Parliament, and concluded that he saw his Masonic and his imperial duties as interdependent: ‘English Freemasonry might be viewed as a kingdom, and its policy, like that of a kingdom, had three great relations, foreign, colonial and domestic.’ The grandiose aim could have resulted in representatives from all parts of ‘our federation‘ coming together to deliberate on policy, and while a logical, Masonic counter-point to what the Empire had become by the last quarter of the century, it was, realistically, no more than wishful thinking.

For his part, Berman’s renovation of the ‘usual’ insider approach began with the argument that the new organisation, EF, ‘became a vehicle for the expression and transmission of (the originators’) political and religious views, and for the scientific Enlightenment concepts that they championed, and hence naturally attracted an aspirational membership.’ [xxv] As re-invention, his EF is thus both new and old. This is important to him though not in the same way it was to his initiated predecessors. By denying the context of EF, the earlier brethren hoped to convey the idea that ‘Freemasonry’ was timeless. Berman [xxvi] located the 1716-23 genesis of EF within London’s network of magistrates, gentry, parliamentarians and members of learned societies. His view, like that of Harland-Jacobs, is EF-centred but has more local real-politik. He has dared to treat EF’s originators as human beings, and to acknowledge that some have mud on their hands.

Stevenson’s and Schuchard’s arguments insist that any references to ‘free/masonry’ before 1717-23 can no longer be viewed simply as being about a ‘proto-type’ of EF. Though their reasonings are complementary their conclusions are very different. Schuchard[xxvii] has considerably extended the possibilities by engaging with a ‘school’ of scholars not used by the other three. She sees EF from its inception as the work of Whig, Hanoverian power-brokers campaigning by all means possible to surround and destroy an earlier Jewish-Scottish-Jacobite form of ‘Freemasonry’. Her Masonic ‘reality’ ties in with Stevenson’s but counsels reconsideration of the ‘fabulous fables’. For example, she believes that: ‘the conventional wisdom that Jacobitism was predominately a Catholic cause led to the omission and even suppression (by historians) of Protestant Sweden’s support of Stuart claims and contribution to Ecossais [aka Scottish] Masonry. (Schuchard, 2012, p.4.) Her work begins with Stuart kings still on the throne of England and locates EF inside the struggle to maintain and then to re-install that House.

Taken separately, these are exciting breakthroughs. Together, they point to an intriguing future. Each has hugely expanded the potential landscape for Masonic scholars to explore, but within their combined ambit, it is clear that the bulk of the geo-political world where the spread of ‘Freemasonry’ has been acclaimed is yet to be adequately examined and re-interpreted. Harland-Jacobs’ use of public ceremonial and her references to identity concerns are striking but no more so than Stevenson’s upsetting of EF assumptions or Schuchard’s and Berman’s reconstruction of families and communities to make their arguments. Making better sense of previously ill-fitting pieces of EF ‘evidence’, these authors have pointed to an even broader range of sources, Schuchard, for example, has waded into numerous non-English language areas where it is difficult to recall any English ‘insiders’ having preceded her. Already it seems clear, EF’s growth and transmission were never accidental, nor the results just of surface attractions for the sociable or the ambitious. Family alliances, military campaigns, corruption, espionage and counter-intelligence have all featured in the spectacular arc of EF to dizzying heights of power and influence, and in its decline.

Whatever came before it, EF the organisation, was created in the 18th century, not in the 17th and not in the 19th century. It was the creation of men living particular lives and having available to them life-choices consistent with their time and place. At the time, the society in which EF was created was in transition, as all societies are, but from a specific past to a specific future. London in 1717 was not a feudal society and was not an industrialised one, but had elements of both, elements recognisable as hangovers from an earlier time, and elements pointing to what might be the future.

 Berman 

Within ‘the interplay between Freemasonry, politics, philosophy and the cultural and economic inflexion point that was the scientific Enlightenment’, [xxviii] Berman asserts that EF was a deliberate creation of the Reverend Desagulier, a small number of other brethren from London’s Horn Tavern lodge, and their supporters: ‘In short, together with a core group of like-minded colleagues within Grand Lodge and its circle, Desagulier created a structure that combined latitudinarian religious tolerance with support for the parliamentary establishment, sociability and entertainment, and the quest for and disbursement of knowledge. These were ideas and concepts that can be considered rightly to be at the core of the English Enlightenment.’ (RB, 2013, p.58)

Into the ‘usual’ story, Berman has introduced geo-political dimensions, in particular, the Huguenot interest in the establishment of the Order: ‘The same if not greater sense of insecurity and drive for self-preservation was present in London’s Huguenot community…The majority (of the refugees from France) had settled in London and it was not coincidental that they were represented disproportionately within London Freemasonry and that its leadership…was a bulwark against the naked absolutism of France, Spain and much of continental Europe.’ (RB, 2013, p.3) This ‘community’ remains an undifferentiated mass in his hands, and in introducing today’s ‘believers’ to the idea of personal gain through the use of Masonic patronage, Berman has applied his insight selectively.

Berman acknowledges that EF’s ‘re-inventors’ needed to be, and were, unflinching supporters of the Hanoverian State. His magistrates, for example, were the ‘bulwark against the mob and any potential upsurge of treason’. It was ‘no coincidence that the more politically-sensitive cases were handled by trusted loyalists such as Charles Delafaye and Thomas de Veil, both ardently pro-Hanoverian and each a prominent Freemason.’ (RB, 2012, p.192) But, in spite of detailing some of the close connections linking the initiates, and concluding that the evidence shows that ‘Freemasonry became associated with the apparatus of state’, he has not developed the thought. In his version, the EF package was attractive in its own right and leading Whig politicians, from ‘Prime Minister’ Robert Walpole on down, and a flock of aristocrats, clamoured to be initiated. Berman has allowed that Desagulier’s self-interest meant that he happily accepted ‘sinecures’ offered to him by such prominent figures as the Duke of Chandos but he does not relate this to the claimed ideals of Masonry. He agrees that Chandos was not much interested in being a Freemason and that for him Desagulier’s value ‘lay chiefly in the utilitarian aspects of his scientific knowledge’, in other words, in the money that could be made. In Berman’s words, favours were ‘distributed to favoured members of the aristocracy, those within the inner circle of the London magistracy, and to close colleagues of Desaguliers, Payne and Folkes‘, but it is Desagulier, alone, to whom he attaches descriptors such as ‘largely motivated by self-interest’. (RB, 2012, p.192) This selective application of opprobrium – others are merely ‘aspirants’ for patronage or are simply exercising their prerogatives – allows him to maintain a cordon sanitaire around EF as a whole. The Order benefitted from Desagulier’s dynamism, Folkes’ networking and the social magnetism of noble Grand Masters, but it remained completely untouched by negative traits such as envy, greed or lust for power. EF, in Berman’s view, was a passive recipient of favourable circumstances, never an active participant with a capacity to choose or to negotiate. In one concluding paragraph, he attaches ‘enlightened’ to EF three times in eleven lines – in effect, arguing that EF was ‘enlightened’ because it embodied an alignment of personal and State agendas which, not only left no stain, but provided an overwhelmingly positive glow. This is the paragraph:

Desagulier’s approach to Freemasonry was bound up with personal philosophical and political objectives, and Grand Lodge provided a means by which these could be advanced. Largely motivated by self-interest, his pro-Hanoverian political views were shared by the Hughenot community as a whole and, more importantly, by many senior Whigs and entwined with Enlightenment theories and the natural rights of John Locke. The reinvention of Freemasonry as a bulwark of the Hanoverian status-quo and enlightened thought led to its embrace by the Whig establishment and many of those at its political core. And the forum it provided for education and entertainment resonated with its aspirant members to the extent that it could be regarded as an outpost of the scientific Enlightenment.(RB, 2012, p.192)

‘Noble Grand Masters’ were, in Berman’s view, always passive figure-heads. The work to which they were giving their support was carried out by ‘the back-room boys’, so he does not enquire into the processes whereby GMs were created or any links they might have had to the lower reaches of the administrative hierarchy. EF became ‘a fashionable club of consequence’, a popular ‘mass movement’ and ‘a social and political centre’ simply by a process of osmosis which ‘spurred its expansion into the gentry, the military, the professional classes and other aspirational groups.‘ (RB, 2012, p.193)

This is all significant context but it is clearly incomplete. There is not even a whiff of drama from within his lodges or his Grand Lodge, no sense of moral hazards or physical dangers, none of London’s delights and excitements, in short only tenuous attachment of EF to the City’s dynamics. The nature of the society in which Desagulier was working, and the political choices which he made in order to prosper in that society, are crucial to any understanding. An explanation of EF’s genesis needs to at least integrate Berman’s magistrates with such events as the South Sea Bubble, the two Bishop Atterbury Trials, and the Jacobite ‘plots’ of 1714-15 and 1721. Most of all, it must delve more deeply into the rampant corruption and swirling intrigues which were the period’s clearest political features. Dubious money, ruthless ambition and international politics are more useful explanatory elements for EF than enlightenment ideals.

Stevenson and Schuchard

   Stevenson has explained that the Reformation in Scotland resulted in operative lodges conforming to the newly-established, Protestant church from the beginning of the 17th century. Hermeticism and Rosicrucianism influenced stonemason practices, and, by extension, what subsequently became EF. In order that both transitions, from Scottish to English, and from operative to speculative ‘freemasonry’, would appear seamless and conflict-free, he referred only to individuals he believed fitted his narrative, such as Robert Moray. He emphasised how pre-1600 theories of the search for enlightenment/salvation became personal and individual, and how the search methods, eg, Masonic ceremonial, were denied religious significance as the price of State-acceptance. His insistence on a smooth historical passage diminished the value of his work which, at times, resembles ‘fabulous fable’ supported not by evidence but by ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’, and ‘surely’, as in: ‘Surely masons, and their lodges…would immediately see the supposed Rosicrucian Brotherhood as being in many ways similar to their own.’ (DS, 1988, p.102) and: ‘Placed in this context, the idea that masons could have seen themselves as part of the Rosicrucian quest becomes not just plausible but quite a likely development.’ (DS, 1988, p.103)

To rely as he did on Francis Yates for the substance of ‘the masonic idea’ – ‘religious toleration, emotional linkage with the medieval past, emphasis on good works for others, and imaginative attachment to the religion and symbolism of the Egyptians’ – was not a good idea. (DS, 1988, p.85) This essence is one articulation of what insiders have claimed for organised ‘Freemasonry’, and she, an earlier researcher of the esoteric enlightenment, knew no better than to accept what she was told by ‘insiders’, but it is still to be proven that it was their practice. Stevenson acknowledged: ‘Of course masons themselves must surely have been delighted and flattered by the links that could be made associating their craft with the Hermetic quest, for such connections could, if exploited, give their craft a unique status’ (DS, 1988, p.85), but this is as close as he gets to treating his characters as human.

In Schuchard’s more realistic view, the 1717-23 EF was entirely political, determinedly Protestant, and an explicitly Hanoverian conception, a reaction against Jacobite/Jewish/Esoteric domination of ‘Freemasonry’ before 1717. Her treatment, whatever further research will show, has less of the fabulous, and less of the pre-conception about it. Her ‘characters’ are more human, that is, more flawed, more prone to being tempted, robbed, humiliated, ambitious and/or venal. She has merged reasonable belief in the divine with understandably profane actions. Stevenson and others have treated these two worlds as separate but as though they are historically equivalent.

Drawing on previously unpublished archives, she has established that espionage was crucial to both sides of the conflict. Centring her study of the post-Stuart period on Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) she argues that this man ‘(who) won fame and infamy as a natural scientist and visionary theosopher’ was also a master intelligencer, that is, a secret agent, for Stuart restoration, for the French king, Louis XV, and for the pro-French, pro-Jacobite party of “Hats” in Sweden.’ [xxix] Her work is most contentious when she parallels esoteric with exoteric politics to illustrate the ‘political coding’ Swedenborg used to communicate with fellow pro-Jacobite activists. Jewish traditions and the experiments of Kabalistic, Hermetic and Rosicrucian explorers were the sources of their identity and of their codes: ‘(Robert) Hooke [of the RS] argued that [John] Dee (1527-1608) [adviser to Elizabeth I on all science/magical work] had learned from Trithemius’ Steganographia about the value of such a ‘celestial’ code for dangerous diplomatic and intelligence work.‘ (Emphasis in original – Schuchard, 2012, p.89) These linkages contextualise the mystic chivalry of warrior knights engaged in searches for God’s truth through trances, dreams, visions and righteous action, and they provide multiple, relevant cryptographic sources, such as religious/esoteric texts from across Europe and the Middle East, even China. Schuchard has: ‘After giving a learned history of cryptography and cipher-writing (drawing on the works of Hermes Trismegistus, Francis Bacon, and Trithemius), (Dr John) Wilkins [1614-1672 – Anglican clergyman and founding member of the RS]described techniques for making disappearing inks and special papers to conceal messages. The real masters of secret communication were the Jews, whose “parabolical” techniques even influenced Jesus.’ (Schuchard, 2012, pp.70-71)

The linkages also locate alchemists, believers in the paranormal and ‘natural philosophers’ alongside the political hard-heads on either side of the Masonic struggle, such as cryptographers, secret couriers and field agents. Her interpretation of Moray’s friendship with Wilkins is most interesting. A belief in the righteousness of the cause rationalised the use of military and diplomatic expertise in all their public and private aspects. Stevenson made a number of these connections but did not follow them up.

The Schuchard thesis for the post-1717 evolution of EF, which is returned to below, has thrown up a host of evidentiary issues some of which have already been seized upon by critics, and to some of whom she has responded.[xxx] Probably the hardest implication to accept is the idea that the establishment of EF in 1717-23 was a declaration of a war for which there has not yet been a peace treaty. EF’s administrative existence, away from its symbolic and charitable existences, can be ‘read’ as a campaign because that was the nature of the world in which it was born. The total context necessarily includes the English/British military machine and its programmed espionage. EF took up its position knowing that its world was one of plot and counter-plot with people’s lives in the balance. In Schuchard’s demonstration of Jewish artisanal beliefs and Solomonic mysticism in Scotland but on their way to ‘the New World’, spying is almost a side-issue. Showing that the espionage at the heart of the evolution of EF was entirely taken-for-granted by participants on all sides is perhaps her most important contribution.

Sir Robert Moray, initiated in 1641, is an example of how scholars’ views of the nature and function of EF change when espionage is added to the mix. He has been claimed by post-1723 EF administrations and ‘their’ scholars as a pioneering initiate of their form of ‘Freemasonry’. Schuchard locates him on the other side: ‘With Moray’s entrance on the political stage, a major actor in the Stuart Masonic drama began to play his provocative role…(His) talents were noticed by [the politically-astute French Cardinal] Richelieu, a learned patron of military and domestic architecture, who developed confidential relationships with master masons and their craftsmen.’ [xxxi] Moray’s military background, his Scottish nationalism and his known involvement with a number of conspiracies enable certain logical conclusions to be drawn which assist understanding of later evidence, such as military lodges and the training of Royal Engineers.[xxxii] His position in the army as Quarter-Master fitted his talents in ‘surveying and other mathematical and technical subjects’, (Stevenson, 1988, p.167; Schuchard, 2002, p.442) which in practice meant he was responsible for his commander’s front line espionage. Elias Ashmole, another of the pre-1717 ‘Freemasons’ claimed by the post-1717 literature, also mixed military involvement, interests in ‘mathematical and technical subjects’ with an esoteric approach to learning. Swedenborg had a similar mix of interests and Schuchard integrates his prosaic views with the esoteric. His ‘visionary’ skills relating to codes, cyphers and dreams, are, after all, no different to those claimed by Irish/Gaelic poets as practical means to conceal political activities from Hanoverian surveillance and repression.

These scholars have provided important context but more is needed. There is still the city of London, its citizenry and their day-to-day exchanges to consider. I return to these matters after looking at espionage in general.

What is Espionage?

Espionage begins and ends with intelligence gathering. We all do it in our daily lives, and it’s inevitable that governments do it, have always done it, and that it’s nearly always secret. States do it as a matter of course – the more expansionist or the more under threat the State (read the dominant, politically-active group) – the more likely it is to have paid spies. In an early case relevant to the present review, that of ‘the Holy Lands’ and the Hebrew Bible, even ‘ finding spies in the Hebrew scriptures is not difficult.’ (RM Sheldon, ‘Spies in the Bible’, Greenhill, 2007, p.117.) As with EF, personal agendas have affected scholarly interpretations. Spy history, for example, has been organised into ‘modern’ and ‘pre-modern’ espionage as though there are essentially different types. The 1994 work, The Secret War Against the Jews,[xxxiii] set the origins of the ‘modern intelligence network’ at around 1920. Others have argued that espionage is a mark of a modern State, for example, in Germany in the second-half of the 19th century: ‘(Bismarck) was endeavoring to create a modern nation state complete with media manipulation and mass armies, secret intelligence systems and devious diplomacy…’ [xxxiv] Writing in 2009, literary historian, Hampton asserted that ‘the cliche’ of diplomat as spy was a 15th-16th century innovation marking the arrival of a new, modern state-craft wherein words, their presentation and conventions surrounding them replaced a dynamic centred on the threat or use of physical force. (T. Hampton, Fictions of Embassy, Cornell UP, 2009, p.150.)
The ‘usual’ story provided by 20th century, patriotic English/British scholars has been that Germany and other European countries, being aggressively jealous of England/Britain, developed extensive networks and nurtured brilliantly innovative spy-masters, but despite having the resources and the motivation, ‘Britain’ was constantly being forced to catch up, since the English people, and therefore English governments, frowned on espionage:

In England…the Intelligence Department largely relied, in collecting military information on foreign countries and their armies, on a type of young officer neither unique nor unusual, who for the first time – and with considerable irresponsibility – was given active encouragement and payment for expenses to pursue interests with which the army refused to be associated…Since they were untrained amateurs, and few were ever properly briefed to obtain the answers to specific questions, they frequently got into trouble…[xxxv]

Revolutionary France, the ‘usual’ story goes, had an extensive surveillance network to hunt down refugee gentry, low-life informers, or politically ambitious conspirators, but it was only because a sense of outraged virtue developed in 19th century England, first in response to the terrors, and then to French methods generally that England had any spies to defend herself. Supposedly, it was not until the struggles with Napoleon prompted the formation of a Department of Military Knowledge [DMK] in Whitehall that ‘our’ military intelligence began. Two of DMK’s ‘agents’ were Colquhoun Grant, the first ‘Head of Intelligence’ and Sir George Murray, both of whom had been in Wellington’s group of ‘exploring officers’ and, so, were therefore Britain’s first spies. Haswell has insisted the DMK ‘lost its motivation’ when Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815, and made ‘no significant contribution to military knowledge’ for the next forty years. (JH, 1977, p.72) He has argued that a department to gather intelligence useful to the British Army had to be re-built after the Crimean War since ‘there was no intelligence link between the Foreign Office, the Admiralty and the War Office’ (p.83) and ‘nothing was known of central and south Asia.’ Porter was of similar mind but named government institutions which he believed pioneered ‘modern’ British intelligence-gathering in the 19th century. It is a revealing list: ‘(The) Foreign Office and the Diplomatic Service, the Colonial Office, the India Office, the Post Office, the Treasury, the Board of Trade, the East India Company and the Bank of England.’ (TF, 1984, p.6)

Porter has written that ‘blanket interception of certain categories of mail’ at the Post Office only began in the 1909-11 period and that the Special Branch was only then brought close ‘to being a proper domestic counter-subversive agency on modern lines.’ He ought to have known that from the time it was first established in 1657, the Post Office was empowered to detain, open, read and copy all and any mail items: ‘In 1657, upon the establishment of a regular post-office, it was stated in the ordnance to be the best means to discover and prevent many dangerous and wicked designs against the Commonwealth.[xxxvi]Stamping postal articles at receiving sites was later introduced so that authorities could better track the sender of an item which had later proved to be dangerous.

For Ferguson, ‘proper’ espionage systems are centralised and administered within a single government department, and that it was only: ‘(at) the start of the twentieth century,(that) British intelligence agents first began seriously to venture into the region they knew as ‘Arabia.’ [xxxvii] He had to acknowledge contrary evidence but qualified what it pointed to as an accidental ‘capability’: ‘Without really trying, nineteenth-century Britain possessed a superb and constantly improving capability for the collection of political, economic, military, naval, geographic, and scientific-technical information throughout the world.’ [xxxviii] When earlier efforts have been noted, a different ‘excuse’ with the same refrain has been employed: ‘Although England’s first prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole – in office from 1721 to 1742 – shared Defoe’s views on intelligence, and said it should be developed to the stage where no gun could be fired in Europe without England knowing why, his immediate successors did little to pursue his ideal….There was still something despicable about espionage…(JH, 1977, p.70) Before that again, ‘Espionage was at a low ebb’ before the Glorious Revolution of 1688, ‘since James (II) had inherited an intelligence system in which mistresses mattered more to the king than his ministers’[xxxix]

In fact, the Tudors were paranoid therefore they spied, everyone on everyone else. ‘Tudor society, if it was sure of nothing else, was certain that it lived on the brink of disaster.’ [xl] Only some of the fears were real but both the fantastic and the actual ‘demons’ were generated by unique circumstances – the centring of power in the hands of a single person, the lack of mechanisms for opposition voices to be heard, the existence of more supplicants than could possibly be accommodated, and characterisation of all struggles in Manichaean terms: ‘It was an age of profound foreboding born of vast but ill-understood demographic, economic and spiritual upheaval that found only partial and inadequate expression in institutional change….’ Protestantism was a peculiarly demanding and immoderate creed. ‘In the name of ecclesiastical purity and theological logic it reached back into the attic of time and historic authority and selected for disproportionate and special emphasis man’s depraved and fallen condition.’ The special enemy was ‘the Anti-Christ’, the whore of Babylon in Rome, but anxiety filled all corners. The more wealth a citizen had, the more insecure and the more suspicious she or he was. Conspiracies were conjured up by fevered imaginations or by malcontents eager to undermine those higher up the ladder. At the centre of the spiral of fear was ‘the ruler’, a single, divinely-ordained individual who could make or break lives on a whim, or a whisper. The path to security was a byzantine maze in which patronage was the only currency. Sycophancy and pretence were taught to children with their Latin lessons and in conversation. Since even those closest to the royal bed-chamber were likely to be paying out more than they were getting in, the likelihood of bankruptcy or debtor’s prison was a constant. When they felt threatened, Tudor responses were mostly hysterical and often brutal.

It is important to keep in mind that espionage has two, interlocked ‘faces’, one involved in collecting information not previously held, and the second involved in countering the collection of ‘our’ information by ‘the other side.’ Whether foreign or domestic, hostile or friendly, propaganda, aka ‘counter-intelligence’, is a kind of emotional blackmail, designed to keep citizens, ‘ours’ or ‘theirs’, from seeing the truth. After 1688, to counteract Jacobite intelligence activities in France ‘and the extensive French espionage system that supported them’, William of Orange had one of his own set up in Paris, ‘using his ambassadors to control it.’ These men were financed to employ whomever they thought was appropriate, including persons willing and able to broadcast, in prose or cartoons, what they were told: ‘(Both) Jacobites and government were so acutely aware of the worth of propaganda that the art was developed into a weapon of value to both sides. Poems, songs, broadsheets, plays and novels proved far more effective than siege guns or broadswords.’ (HD, 1999, p.161)

Publishers and printers have been integral parts of a program of counter-intelligence. The ‘Green Ribbon Club’ example is reasonably well known.[xli] Weil has noted: ‘William’s invasion of England in 1688 had been accompanied by a well-run public relations campaign, with justificatory pamphlets and declarations distributed at the moment of his landing, and so it would be reasonable to expect that the Jacobites would likewise time the appearance of their pamphlets…with an attempt to recapture the throne… (and the appearance of which caused such consternation…)(PoI, p.193) In the early 1700’s, Daniel Defoe was regarded as ‘a good pen’, today he would be called a ‘gun for hire’ – specifically employed to collect information on the temper of the citizenry, to disseminate the government view in tavern conversation, or to prepare pamphlets-on-demand which could be sold cheaply in the street. He needed training only in a spy’s accessories – cyphers and invisible inks. ‘The enemy’ to be exposed, embarrassed or physically defeated, might be anyone, anywhere.

Government agents operated within a recognisable but simple structure and if successful or could argue plausibly, were paid or otherwise rewarded. A ‘civil list’, including provision for ‘secret service funds’ was contained in annual budgets from Elizabethan times, while other terms have changed only slightly. ‘Scouragers’ were sent out by ‘Scoutmaster-Generals’ in war-time for reconnaissance, and ‘intelligencers’ for almost any purpose before the end of Tudor reign. Under James II, the ‘Scoutmaster-General’ became the ‘Quarter-Master General’ [QMG], while the governments of George III employed ‘messengers’ to get specific information, and Wellington sent ‘explorers’ against Napoleon. The term ‘secret service’ became common late in the 18th century, but had already appeared in 1699 as the title of a memoir by a State-employed ‘informer.’ The stirring events of 1688 when William and Mary replaced James II and chased him into exile would today be called ‘regime change’. The Duke of Marlborough’s QMG travelled ahead of his commander during the Wars of Spanish Succession, 1702-1713, recruiting ‘guides’ who were expected to supply any and all information on ‘the enemy.’

Rachel Weil’s study of the ‘state officials’ involved in securing the regime of William and Mary ‘from invasion or subversion’ after the 1688 ‘glorious revolution’ included: ‘members of central bureaucracies, like the Customs and the Post Office, (and) local officeholders, such as mayors, lord lieutenants of the county militia, constables and justices of the peace…Mayors, customs officers, or especially appointed ‘riding officers’ were called upon to check the passes of travellers.[xlii] Against today’s methods, this spying seems rudimentary – milk or lemon juice for ‘invisible writing’, for example – but as far as the purposes and the basic concepts are concerned, there is no ‘modern’ or ‘pre-modern’, sophisticated or rudimentary.

While the assertions often heard in the 19th and 20th centuries – that ‘English society has no need of surveillance networks‘, that ‘we pride ourselves on being free and having no need for underhand proceedings’ and ‘an Englishman is honest and open at all times‘ – remained constant, ‘the enemy’, the created monster, changed with the circumstances. Before 1688, English politicians plotted against their religious opponents, and used the fear of plots to advance their ‘party’ and their personal agendas, and they continued to do so afterwards. In the 19th century the enemy was firstly French, then Russian, then German, and later still Russian again. Amazingly, all possessed the precise characteristics which qualified them for the role of ‘monster’. If caught by their employer’s opponents, agents might be ‘turned’, disappeared, or arrested and, like as not, executed for treason. Should he or she survive, a ‘field operative’s’ shelf-life was soon exhausted and he or she moved on, perhaps to become a ‘spy-master’ or a more publically-identifiable official such as an attache, consul or diplomat. After retirement, the temptation to write one’s memoirs was often seductive and sometimes lucrative.

Whether at the level of Baden-Powell’s ‘drunken’ antics (below) to turn away a perimeter guard, the creation of disorder, or the blanketing of news outlets with counter-factual information, the intention of counter-intelligence is the same, to make something appear to be what it is not. The reverse of this, unmasking someone or something by realising that it is not what it purports to be, is what exposes ‘enemy agents’ to capture. Useful ‘intelligence’ can be gathered from public documents but government espionage is necessarily clandestine, as its operators take for granted that it is unwelcome, dangerous, and, in many cases, illegal and punishable by law. It often involves spying on potential or actual enemies, and thus has often been part of a military set-up, and used for military purposes, but can be used domestically. Before the 19th century there was little need to distinguish ‘military’ spies from ‘homeland security operatives’ or from any other kind. The earliest English magistrates, for example, wrote copious notes on persons coming and going in their immediate area, especially foreigners, and compiled reports on meetings for their various superiors. As government evolved to be centered on a city-based, office administration, rather than on a monarch, party-politics increased in importance, official denials became necessary and domestic surveillance, in particular, was rendered increasingly invisible.

During the 19th century, government spies, already inside the growing public service, became ’regular’ State employees. However, it was not changed conditions of employment which determined that ‘secret police’ and overseas-oriented military intelligence operations both disappeared from public sight at the same time, or that it became the norm for peace-time editorials to insist that English society did not condone and never had condoned surveillance of its citizens. Rather a literate readership and the proliferation of ‘investigative journalists’ made secrets harder to keep therefore they were buried more deeply and in different ways. Baden-Powell’s 1915 classification system of ‘agents’ was unusual only insofar as it was made public. From inside knowledge he was able to show that agents ranged ‘from ambassadors and their attaches downwards’ and that each had specific tasks:

Class One: Strategical and diplomatic agents, who study the political and military conditions in peace time of all other countries which might eventually be in opposition to their own in war.

Class Two: Tactical, military or naval agents, who look into minor details of armament and terrain in peace time.

Class Three: Field Spies – those who act as scouts in disguise to reconnoitre positions and to report moves of the enemy in the field of war.

A military spy himself, he knew all the tricks for evading capture such as feigning drunkenness if spotted ‘reconnoitering’ outside an off-limits facility. He believed from a young age that many of the necessary skills could be taught to children and adolescents. It was this which led him to the Boy Scouts. He also knew that some skills could not be taught at school. His list of clandestine activities engaged in by a 19th and 20th century ‘diplomat’, his ‘Class One’ spy included: ‘(The creation of) political disaffection and…outbreaks, such, for instance, as spreading sedition amongst Egyptians or in India amongst the inhabitants, or in South Africa amongst the Boer population to bring about an outbreak [a riot or demonstration], if possible, in order to create confusion and draw off troops in time of war…’ [xliii] Something hidden in plain sight, like the agent beneath the distracting persona of a flighty public official, is most easily rendered invisible if people are disinterested or careless, or, as Baden-Powell argued, if they can be convinced that it really is something else. Richard Kingston is regarded by some historians as ‘the best agent the (English) government ever had.’ Employed by various Secretaries of State after 1688, to assist William III consolidate his control, he was to his Jacobite critics, ‘a signifier of duplicity’. His brief included propaganda paid for and distributed by activists close to government if not in government, and was targeted at home audiences. He forged priestly qualifications, engaged in polygamy and went about the country ‘sometimes in the habit of a parson…at another time in lay garb’, ‘personating in one place a physician, and in another a discarded Jacobite officer.’ [xliv] Robert Harris has pointed out, in his recent, masterful re-telling of the Dreyfus affair, that after Napoleon’s time the French War Office was divided into four sections or departments, the second, concerned with ‘Intelligence’, was named the ‘Statistical Section’ and located away by itself in an ancient, grimy building that looked from the outside as though it was abandoned.[xlv] The CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia for years had a fingerboard from the main road indicating that it was the ‘Department of Roads.’[xlvi] The more expertly done in its creation and application, the greater is the effectiveness of the counter. The best examples of mis-information, of course, are those that go un-noticed at the time and for a period thereafter.

The purposes of intelligence-gathering and of counter-intelligence flow directly from circumstances, while methodologies change with advances in knowledge. The Vatican has had sophisticated spy networks locating ‘heretics’ for centuries, as many other spiritually-inclined ‘rulers’ had before it. The Kings and Queens of England were not alone among European monarchies in having their spy-masters manipulate religious themes [xlvii] for political gain. The explosive mix of a need to believe in some power larger than oneself and a need to be personally dominant was not a gift from the English to the world. Neither was that other mix of opposites – a lust for public displays of power and the use of secret means to obtain them. While espionage and propaganda, aka ‘manipulation of public opinion’, are not recent inventions, neither are they universals, and they have been subject to the frictions of time and of fashion just like everything else. In King Henry VIII’s reign, Catholicism was said to be tainted with superstition and trickery, as foreign and unpatriotic. When Jesuit ‘agents’ came to England to attempt recovery of the nation for Roman Catholicism, they were quickly rounded up by Walsingham’s counter-intelligence operatives. [xlviii]

It was 16th century alchemist and astrologer John Dee who first used the term ‘the British Empire’ and argued for its expansion. In support of the evolving narrative, it was necessary that God change sides: ‘Protestant scholars such as John Leland and John Bale searched the historical record for proof of England’s special place within Christendom. In Queen Elizabeth’s reign this nascent sense of nationhood would peak in the belief that the English were an elect people, a new Israel en route for the promised land.’ [xlix] Englishness was defined as Protestant, as brutally and militantly anti-Catholic. In the era of the new Gloriana, ‘the religious figleaf and anthropomorphic trappings placed upon the naked realities of power’ could be directed at other ‘foreigners’. In 1845, a Scottish journalist wrote about a spy who had survived field operations to become Governor of Hong Kong at the time of the First Opium War: ‘For years it has been the custom of the Anglo-Indian Government to employ enterprising young officers as semi-political agents in the different Oriental States. Unprotected by the sacred character of ambassadors, yet raised far above the odious character of spies, they have to trust to the weight of the English name, and their own bravery, self-possession, and address for their protection against the treachery and cruelty of the people of Northern and Eastern Asia and their rulers.[l] ‘Treachery and cruelty’ were what the societies of ‘northern and eastern Asia’ did as a matter of course, but that English ‘people (and) their rulers’ did not. ‘English’ ambassadors were ‘sacred’, all spies were ‘odious’ so, of course, ‘we’ didn’t have any of those, and ‘our’ ‘semi-political agents’ were, by definition, brave and confident and had as their protection ‘the English name.’ The language eventually over-reached. After ‘the hero industry’, it generated entertainment bonanzas for Hollywood and the parodies of Monty Python.

The scientific backing necessary for all State-run espionage operations has all but disappeared from accounts by English academic historians, along with the espionage itself. So-called ‘progress’ from at least the time of Roman road-building for the better movement of troops has been driven by military/security concerns. The more rational scientists are always among the first recruits by security for clandestine activities and by the military for bigger and better weapons. On the other hand, ‘science’ in general has been selectively and routinely manipulated by Masonic historians, among others, for propaganda purposes. Emphasising Desagulier’s apparent interest in hydraulics, for example, to claim that his primary interest in propagating ‘Freemasonry’ was to advance human welfare through understanding and tolerance, leaves out a great deal, either from ignorance or from an intention to muddy the waters.

Today, as in the 17th century, espionage begins with the collection of verbal or written ‘evidence’ about crimes committed or about to be committed that can be sufficient for a conviction, or removal from the scene. Otherwise, espionage was, and is, mostly about tracking people’s movements and connecting someone’s presence at a particular place with known events. In the 17th century, the better-organised ‘spymasters’ mapped a region and the people in it to explain past occurrences and sometimes to predict possible future ones, something which happens today, electronically. Data might be held in abeyance waiting for an opportune moment, or it might be widely and immediately distributed to other ‘spy masters’ but the information gained was power then and is power now.

Espionage is a shape-shifter, capable of altering at a personal or organisational level, as circumstances change. Historians need to assume it has happened and look for its disguises and its foot prints, rather than assume non-existence on the basis of it not being immediately visible. England/Britain has not been alone in sanitising the image of its military, in hiding its spooks, or in re-casting past defeats as inspirational matter for future recruiting campaigns. But though often still denied, the English ‘State’ has been at the forefront of secret intelligence gathering and its necessary corollary of ‘counter-intelligence’ for a very long time. It is doubtful if the Empire would have happened at all if espionage had not been utilised.

Scholars can apply a kind of cost-benefit analysis: who benefitted by the intelligence gathering operation? who lost? was the trail covered over at the scene, or re-cast for public consumption? Historians’ interpretations have often been based on what was said or written by participants when a healthy scepticism might discover much more in their actions. Placement of slanted ‘intell’ in newspapers, for example, requires only sympathetic, desperate or corrupt journalists or proprietors, and bribes of, often, very small amounts. The forerunners of CID, MI5 and the rest have been subject to budgetary constraints, re-organisations and administrative false starts as any other arm of ‘government’. Treasury budgets for English ‘Secret Service’ activities have been drawn up since at least the time of Charles I for application both ‘at home’ and abroad. But it does not follow that the tax-payer was always the source of the funds and historians need to be alert to the possibilities.

Following ‘the money trail’ can bring an investigator to non-government beneficiaries, including some who saw an opportunity for commercial gain. Others with a vested, but disguised interest in the success of the exercise, say, the creation of an heroic view of Empire, were at times in a position to contribute directly to the intelligence-gathering. English Freemasonry was one such group. Overt intelligence gathering institutions such as the Royal Society [RS] and the Royal Geographic Society [RGS] were among other entities having strong, mutually-beneficial relationships with the branches of government directly concerned with both the hero-industry and espionage. Inevitably, the official historiographies of such organisations are flawed, that of EF being just one example.

Systematic influencing of the media today requires at least a team of people, eg those collected together in ministerial offices. Their task can be the deflection of public attention, or its manipulation with spun or false information. It implies a deliberate, long-term, considered operation of the sort that only large organisations can conduct. Apart from the quantities of resources applied and the methods used in gathering and transmitting the ‘data’, there is nothing new here, either. This is not to say that there is nothing to ‘see’ in the process. The data collection, its distribution and the uses to which it is put shows a particular community in action. Snapshots of the process as it is happening are unique to times and places. In Royal courts, where factions were engaged equally in gathering and seeking out information to further personal, political and religious ends, there was fodder for mischievous gossips as there was for geo-political intrigues. [li] The 19th century was different only in that trustworthiness of governments became a major, if elusive issue, and the enhanced power of journalists to dismantle careers and alter the direction of history meant added numbers of players and increasingly complex webs. ‘War correspondent’ was an official title only from the 19th century but the idea was not new. It was just another ‘overseas’ or foreign ‘agent’.

One well-researched account of English espionage begins with: ‘In (Walsingham’s) day, [ie during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign] ambassadors were virtually diplomatic spies.’ [lii] Numerous accounts of the Tudor espionage network show its global reach and its meshing of military with diplomatic eyes and ears to achieve London’s requirements.[liii] That the English network was just one of many and that linkages were fluid is often hidden. A case in point, Robert Shirley is sometime described as an ‘English diplomat’ but more often ‘traveler and adventurer’. His Wikipedia profile includes: ‘…Shirley travelled to Persia in 1598, accompanying his brother, Anthony, who had been sent …with 5000 horses to train the Persian army according to the rules and customs of the English militia and to reform and retrain the Persian artillery…In 1608 Shah Abbas sent Robert on a diplomatic mission to James I of England and to other European princes for the purpose of uniting them in a confederacy against the Ottoman Empire…Shirley’s third journey to Persia was undertaken in 1627 when he accompanied Sir Dodmore Cotton the first British ambassador to the Kingdom of Persia…’[liv]

Oliver Cromwell had ‘secret agents’ as far afield as the West Indies as part of his ‘Great Western Design’. John Thurloe is known to have been his spy-master.[lv] Charles II sent spies abroad, in addition to a raft of the better-paid ‘envoys’ or ‘ambassadors’ to Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe. ‘By the early 1620’s’, one recent scholar of Venetian intrigues has found, ‘a Europe-wide system of permanent embassies was already well established…Resident ambassadors represented the authority and interests of their masters…(They were expected) to gather information, in other words, to engage in extra-diplomatic activities…In pursuit of such information, ambassadors frequently ran networks of informants…hence, the famous, contradictory description of ambassadors as honorable Spies.’ [lvi] [Emphasis in original] Among many other examples is that of the Spanish Hapsburgs. At the end of the 16th century, during what was called the Twelve Years Truce, this regime was seen as the European benchmark for ‘the craft’ of espionage. Carter has assessed English efforts in 1600 as ‘generally quite poor’ in comparison with ‘the far-flung, well-organised, extremely effective network for gathering information’ of the Hapsburgs:

(The) government of the Spanish Netherlands received secret intelligence constantly…from reports of rowdiness in the taverns of Brussels (which was considered incompatible with orderly government), to reports of the perennial plots to suborn one or other of the Spanish garrisons, to detailed accounts, often complete with diagrams, of newly invented siege engines the Dutch reportedly planned to use against Antwerp.[lvii] Whether and by how much England had to catch up, Sir Charles Wotton (1568-1638), English ambassador to Venice for extensive periods, is best-known perhaps for his description of a diplomat as ‘a good man sent abroad to lie for his country.’ He was a known supporter of the Stuarts and reported back ostensibly to James I, but fled England when his main employer the Duke of Essex was scooped up by rival operatives.

London was a major focus of many of the powers ‘large and small’ ‘whose representatives flocked to the court of James I seeking alliances or arbitration or on some other business. Knowledge of their activities and of a wide range of other matters were indispensable to the conduct of Spanish affairs.’ In addition, there was ‘a constant stream of English envoys going forth to deal with Denmark, Sweden and Poland, Venice, Savoy and the Turk; the secrets of these missions Spain needed to know.’ (Carter, 1964, p.5) Diplomatic spies were rarely arrested, but were often ‘recalled’ at times of crisis. Carter refers to numbers of ‘free-lance spies…independent of resident envoys, and their effectiveness, including the volume of intelligence they sent, (which) was greatly enhanced by peacetime conditions, not least of which was the operation of a regular mail service.’

The importance of mailed intelligence made control of any postal system, or even one branch ‘node’, a valuable commodity. During the period of European conflict now known as the Thirty Years Wars, 1618-48, Alexandrine, Countess of Taxis ran the post office in Brussels which, researchers have assessed as possibly ‘the first Black Chamber in Europe’: ‘Black Chambers were the hidden offices of secret intelligence units, staffed by an elite group of polymaths and scribes allotted their own compartmentalised task, whether translation, short-hand, cryptanalysis, or forging seals, signatures and other marks that authenticated a document.[lviii] If all went well, a letter could be opened, copied, resealed and inserted back into the mail flow within hours, without addressee or sender ever noticing any tampering had occurred. A Dutch version has been detected by assiduous examination of the relevant archives for the period of the War of Spanish Succession and afterwards, 1707-15. Russian systems of surveillance of its citizens, and of its visitors, were long-standing, Sweden’s position between treacherous, ambitious neighbours meant its government established secret communications with potential friends and foes, and no doubt there were others.[lix]

The label, ‘Black Chamber’ has not as far as I know been attached to the English equivalent but that’s what it was by the mid-part of the 17th century – ‘(an) intelligence team, concealed in a separate quarter of the daily post office, (which) extracted information from the mail of foreign diplomats in a bold and systematic manner.’ In 1657, regulations formalised the ‘rigorous inspection’ of English mail in line with Continental systems, and a man familiar with conspiracies, cyphers and the methods of counter-intelligence was chosen as ‘Post Master General’. Of a level with the army rank of ‘Quarter Master General’, John Wildman’s duties were specifically domestic clandestine intelligence gathering and the forwarding of regular reports. [lx] Oliver Cromwell had had his own ‘agents in streets, markets, homes of known Royalists, and the Court in exile’. A collection of the papers of his Secretary of State, John Thurloe, published in 1742 and pre-dating Cromwell’s accession to power, demonstrated a vast network of ‘intelligencers’ throughout the Kingdom and Europe from 1638. Reports, at times in cypher, reached him by all manner of means, on all manner of subjects, including assassination attempts and their agent’s penetration of the other side’s circles of acquaintances. A Lord Broghill in Edinburgh wrote to Thurloe in 1656:

…I told you in my last, how I had engaged one Captain Maitland, an intelligencer of the Lord Lorne’s and MacNaughton’s, to be my intelligencer, and sent you a copy of a fresh letter from the Lord Napier to some intimate friend here, etc. Likewise that he was gone to the Lord Lorne, to receive his despatch to C.S. [Charles Stuart] which Maitland had engaged to bring me…

…My intelligencer I last sent for Flanders arrived at Amsterdam, the 25th of April, from whence I had a letter from him in cypher, to this effect, that Middleton is there in the town; that he has struck in with him, and learned from him, that he holds a strict intelligence with his friends in Scotland; that his intelligencers are Sir Archibald Primrose, and Mr John Fletcher, both of this town, and notorious malignants; that though they are very wary, yet I may now light upon their letters in the post-office especially in ships which puts to and fro between Holland and Scotland. He bids me also look in the letter-office of London for any packets directed for Mr William Davidson…[lxi]

Internal references indicate that at least a thousand persons were registered as either friendly or hostile and therefore able to be identified by numbers only. Lists must have been in circulation among trusted persons. In 1656, ‘A Letter of Intelligence from col Bampsylde’ to Thurloe included: ‘…For the question you ask in one of your letters, what advantage 869 can receive by intelligence from 1037, I can only answer that the secret affairs of all the catholic states in Christendom are conveyed thither, and weighed in the balance of the Church’s interests…(etc)…’ (T Birch, 1742, Vol 5, pp.513-14) A Captain Goodson, at sea, wrote requesting the services of ‘an ingenious man…perfect in the Spanish tongue, so far as to read all written hands, and to write it himself; for want whereof we cannot make use of those papers and letters which we take or intercept…‘ (T Birch, 1742, Vol 5, p.153)

Setting up a ‘Trade’ or ‘Cultural’ Office was a perfect cover for espionage efforts in a foreign country and remains a popular disguise today, six centuries after the Swedish, Dutch and British East India Companies first planted national flags and around which they claimed diplomatic immunity. Catherine II of Russia, ‘Catherine the Great’, was reportedly more sanguine about lodges or activist individuals with a Rosicrucian bent to their ‘Freemasonry’ than those endorsing ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’.[lxii] During what Douglas has called the ‘Jacobite Spy Wars’, William of Orange was so bothered by assassination possibilities that he set a close friend, William Bentinck, the task of upgrading ‘his secret service’. Bentinck’s quickly organised, ‘efficient espionage network’ sent John Macky off to Paris to see what James II and his supporters were doing following their defeat in Ireland. The early warning that this agent was able to provide resulted in defeat of the French invasion fleet at La Hogue and in his appointment as ‘inspector of the coast from Harwich to Dover to prevent treasonable correspondence from passing between England and France.’ While Macky was a ‘State-employee’ in all but name, and although there was no HO bunker at Whitehall, he was free to sub-contract out tasks as he saw fit. For instance, he had two women travel regularly to Paris as trinket sellers to the Stuart Court where they collected gossip and observed comings and goings. (HD, 1999, p.4)

It was not accidental that English Freemasonry [EF] came into existence as an organisation at the time that it did, but the ‘usual’ story, that London stonemasons met and determined to revive some old, ‘operative’ customs and to establish a Grand Lodge which would oversight their subsequent gatherings, is charming hokum. That, approximately six years later, those lodges had been seamlessly transformed by Westminster’s elite and related professionals into an organisation capable of administering a burgeoning network of enlightened agents of tolerance and good will is beyond ridiculous. What, then, do I suggest was the catalyst, the motivator, the ‘magic ingredient’?

Back then, all protagonists with their born-to-rule noses above the hard-scrabble street were engaged in high-stakes gambles, and in real-time ‘cloak-and-dagger’ exchanges. Some died in back alleys, others suffered public executions, others again, not necessarily the most honourable, achieved power and wealth. Any story of the Masonic 1700’s in London without that reality as starting point must be a cover-up – but of what?

PART TWO:

Espionage and English Freemasonry

By comparison with the Tudors, Hanoverians were relatively considered and pragmatic, but it was a matter of degree. Their ruthless outbursts happened less regularly and were better controlled. Greater confidence and a better-defined national purpose encouraged belief that problems could be solved. After the great fire, London had bounced back quickly and had become a vortex, sucking in people and goods from all over the known world. In 1690, records show that 73% of apprentices given the ‘freedom of the city’ were from outside London, in 1700 76% of England’s commerce with the world was passing over its wharves. The prevailing mood was that foreigners were everywhere and that everything was for sale – as John Bunyan noted – houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts were just so many tradeable items.[lxiii] The court remained the market place, but was no longer the only possible place a deal could be negotiated. Opportunities, including for intrigue, had increased but ‘secret agents’ were now regarded as inevitable rather than an excuse for paranoia.

Realists have described the political life of 1720’s England as having ‘the sick quality of a “banana republic”, ‘ wherein ‘predators (fought) for the spoils of power’, and where rational, bureaucratic rules and forms did not exist. Loyal lieutenants attended their patrons seeking ‘some post in which they could milk some part of the public revenue…The plum jobs of political office – notably that of Paymaster-General, upon the tenure of which the Earl of Ranelagh, the Duke of Chandos and Sir Robert Walpole all founded their wealth – were worth fortunes.’ The Whigs, in the 1720’s, were ‘a curious junta of political speculators and speculative politicians, stock-jobbers, officers grown fat on Marlborough’s wars, time-serving dependants in the law and the Church, and great landed magnates.’ [lxiv] The Duke of Chandos, ‘England’s richest man’, who hired Desagulier as chaplain in 1714, was among Walpole’s strongest supporters and a major player in the game of power and privilege: ‘Vigilant and ruthless in his business ventures, he engaged ceaselessly in speculation in land and stocks…Always obliging to Walpole…he was one of those whose liberty and property Walpole’s regime existed to preserve.’ [lxv] He was, as well, an investor in the slave trade. Lecky’s 19th century account asserted that Walpole ‘bribed everyone’, including ‘the King, the Queen, (and) Dissenters’, and ‘(Secret) service money during his administration (was devoted) to the direct purchase of members of Parliament’:

Bribery was ingrained in English politics long before…Walpole. Speakers of the House of Commons, Secretaries of the Treasury, Paymasters of the Forces, Chancellors of the Exchequer, Secretaries of State, had all been convicted of bribery…Burnet assures us that (bribery) was in full force at the election of 1701…[lxvi] The system of patronage was developed further in EF’s formative years: ‘(Walpole) ran bribery and corruption on an industrial scale. There were bribes (previously), of course, but nothing to touch the systematic rottenness, tally lists of hard cash, military and civil places, the benediction of snug livings to younger sons, the outright purchase of power in a myriad of little deals which was Robert Walpole… (The corrupt) system…was, if not his creation, his life work of perfection and augmentation.’ [lxvii]

There was always space in London for a new dining club where the rich and powerful could meet, but EF was not going to be useful to London’s oligarchs if it stood against greed, corruption or self-indulgence, or if it espoused Catholicism or even a broad-handed tolerance. EF has claimed for itself religious diversity and political neutrality, some critics have insisted that it was a nest of men committed to one Party and one religion – Field’s study of the Kit-Kat Club [KK] and its personnel, views EF as one of KK’s many imitators: ‘The earliest members were all men of property (and), loyal to the Hanoverian crown…’ [lxviii] A third, more accurate view, is that EF was a roiling mass of competing egos, aspirations and principles, including around the only points of contention where self-interest could be put on hold: religion – Roman, Dissent or High Anglican – and ideology – Whig or Tory. These were the poles around which all policy, including that of royal succession, revolved and which determined who among the hundreds of contenders starved, ran up crippling debts or drank and feasted into the night. In addition to sociable self-promotion and patronage-seeking, both of which must be assumed,[lxix] what was required if EF was to succeed as a popular ‘watering-hole’ was an ‘x-factor’ which could provide benefits to one side or the other.

I can’t assume that a mutually-satisfying arrangement with the Walpole Whigs or with their opponents was achieved quickly, because of the ambiguous nature of the memoirs and contemporary records of the time. But clearly, if EF had seriously attempted a moral crusade in line with its claimed ideals, it would have been in opposition to the decision-making oligarchy and would have been harassed if not closed down.

Schuchard’s thesis is that EF was established to counter a ‘Freemasonry’ already in place, which was a mix of Jewish kabala and practices of Scottish operative stonemasonry. After being ousted in 1688, the Stuart family and its supporters developed a network of conspirators across Europe united in opposition to the Hanoverian usurpers and in a belief that ‘Freemasonry’ could provide a peace and stability, based more on Leibnizian tolerance than Newtonian mechanics. Geo-politically their plotting involved negotiated alliances between Sweden, Russia and Jacobite forces to counter Prussian/Hanoverian intentions in northern Europe. The plotters believed a major reason for the failure of their attempted uprising in 1715 was the spread and efficiency of the English espionage system which intercepted too easily and too often their postal messages and deciphered their codes too quickly. They sought a more secure means of communication in ‘a system of non-traceable and largely non-written communication that utilised all the “Masonic” tricks of secrecy – oaths, finger signs, body postures, symbolic language, disappearing inks, trick papers, etc.’ There is much more to her speculations and there are numerous points where universal agreement is not assured. But for this reader, she has convincingly linked military, industrial and architectural calculations with mystical interpretations of geometry, astronomy and astrology, with the result that her ‘Freemasonry’ attains credibility.

That an invasion force was being readied to cross from Sweden to Scotland in 1717, became known to the London establishment, and, realising the threat was real, the alternative Masonic order was established, Defoe was commissioned to produce two major pamphlets exposing the plot, and a number of diplomats were arrested, despite conventions of immunity.[lxx] The famous London meetings of 1716-17 were, then, to plan a takeover, to devise a transformation and to display loyalty to Hanover. In November that year, King Charles XII of Sweden died. Once again, the Jacobite plotters had to re-calibrate and to regroup.

One crucial gap in the Schuchard thesis needs further context. Exactly how and why did the Hanoverians choose ‘Freemasonry’ as their weapon of choice? At the political level, Desagulier was just another place-hunter. He gained his first grip on the greasy pole at Oxford University when pressure removed his tutor, Keill, a Tory, cryptographer and Jacobite-supporter, and he was given the position. Attracted to court and parliamentary circles, he perhaps benefitted for a time from his lectures proving valuable to Walpole and his cohorts but he could only ever be an outsider looking in, always needing to impress powerful men who were self-serving and venal. Blueprints for steam pumps and water closets rapidly decrease in value once they have been displayed. Berman details his paid lecture tours to provincial Britain and to Europe where, he emphasises, Desagulier was a Hughenot among many Hughenots. He notes a number of known or suspected spy/diplomats but does not make what I think is the key connection.[lxxi]

To be politically and financially viable, a new organisation such as EF, had to have substance and a public purpose. It could not be just an idea or collation of ideas. At some point, proponents would have to demonstrate the idea’s usefulness to its potential regulators and its potential consumers. Perhaps it was hatched in a Cabinet meeting, or over a plate of roast beef, but eventually it had to be presented to a larger group by its initial creator/s. The sociable Whig elite already had the Kit-Kat Club [KK] and if scientifically-inclined they already had the RS. By 1717, the KK was on its last legs, its fabled sense of brotherhood eaten out from the inside by resentments and jealousies between winners and losers in the competition for patronage. Limited to forty members, ‘its congenial, alcohol-mellowed atmosphere’ had been a key venue since the 1690’s for formulation of Whig policy, parliamentary tactics, propaganda campaigns and street protests. It was not however an organisation about which many generalisations can be made. One early KK member, Mathew Prior, was a diplomat/spy for the opposition who became part of the Tory administration’s peace negotiations to end the War of Spanish Succession in 1711. Neither Parliament nor other diplomats were informed of these talks and when he ‘returned to England from his first mission under a false name [and in disguise]a port official arrested him as a suspicious character’.[lxxviii]
The RS was more of a façade than a reality, too, as none of the royals since 1688 had been especially concerned to nurture it and after 1677 no report appeared for forty years. Rather than being a refuge for unalloyed reasoning, it was one more prize to be fought over, any funds or commissions it might bestow being dependent on which faction at court or around the parliamentary lobbies had the larger numbers. The number of votes in its elections was small and whenever there was more than one candidate the result was, probably, determined by who was prepared to pay more. This is all documented and acknowledged to be so.[lxxii] Schuchard has emphasised the chauvinism and the factional in-fighting experienced by visitors to the RS, a number of whom withdrew their energies.[lxxiii]

Neil Kamil’s work[lxxiv] has detailed how the Hughenot community made itself financially viable while remaining desperately insecure as refugees in countries which didn’t necessarily want them. In London, for example, their goldsmiths and furniture-makers brought French aesthetics with them and made high quality items sought after by wealthy citizens but which were seen as threats by local artisans. The immigrants, prior to Walpole, had often had to defend themselves against charges of breaching guild regulations, of being diseased, of being counterfeiters, alchemists and worse. On a number of occasions, their shops and houses were set upon and destroyed. But having lived under threat for generations they had developed clandestine survival mechanisms. Not only did their furniture and decorative items, for example, carry trade secrets but they also carried coded messages from suppliers to agents or family members still on the mainland. This is the point of conjunction which I surmise EF was developed to embody.

Someone, perhaps Desagulier, perhaps other Hughenot community leaders, sought government protection, and the administration saw advantages in maintaining the new commerce, and value in the secret networks. Negotiations achieved what I call ‘the EF solution’, a combination of ritualised conviviality, religious and political allegiance, and the all-important underground networks. In a single entity, the agendas of the administration and the Hughenot were brought together and provided with a cover story. The Hughenot traders gained protection, an enhanced entre into gentry society, and resources to augment their networks; while the administration gained established agents and ‘safe houses’ throughout Europe, a further vehicle for its clandestine activities, and insider access to luxury goods. At a stroke, EF had legitimacy, a missionary purpose, which in the circumstances it could argue was totally moral and progressive, and the benefits of being in partnership with two powerful, outward looking allies.

For the Hanoverians to choose the name ‘Freemasonry’ despite it being a site of opposition strongly implies that the bundle of notions which it carried was so well-regarded that it was necessarily the entity which had to be secured.

That Walpole’s dominance of the 1720’s and 1730’s was a result of his earthy pragmatism and capacity to charm people, his control and skillful use of the secret service budget to achieve his ends, is generally agreed among scholars of Georgian politics.[lxxv] To retain office he also needed to be better informed than his enemies, locally and abroad. Records show that in EF’s first flush, Grand Lodges appeared in Edinburgh and Dublin, and then at those royal courts of mainland European dynasties, about which English power-brokers needed to be best informed – Germany, Poland, Austria, France, Sweden and Russia. Schuchard has provided plausible argument that the English system of code-breaking was extremely effective against Jacobite plots, and that Walpole used Desagulier, among others, as travelling, Masonic go-between in trips abroad.[lxxvi] Other intelligence that in the 1720’s Russia was sniffing the spicy winds from the east and thinking of an Indian entrepot, and had already built and manned ‘observation posts’ along its southern borders, doubtless spurred Walpole to look to his agents in Europe, in the Ottoman Empire and in what became ‘India’. Other speculative lodges suddenly appeared in these areas after 1723.

It is unlikely that London’s Grand Lodge paid all the costs involved in these extensions abroad, or even the major part. Who did pay would have depended on who was ‘encouraging’ who, and whether the Order, the Hughenot leadership, the government or the King was the employing agency – one anecdote as evidence: ‘Secret correspondence was linked to the practice of secret meetings. These provided an opportunity to circumvent official channels, as in 1722 when at the height of the Atterbury Crisis, Destouches the French envoy, dined with Melusine von der Schulenberg, Duchess of Rendal, George’s long-time mistress, who said she would get him a secret audience with the King.’ [lxxvii]

Close association of Protestant/Hanoverian EF, ie the post-1723 ‘gentry-EF’ organisation, with government-funded espionage programs is the only possible explanation for the notable series of prohibitions placed on ‘Freemasonry’ by mainland, anti-Walpole, rulers over the period of Walpole’s regime. They also suggest this was the period when the initial idea of EF was in operation, and mark the point at which it faced its first crisis: ‘In 1736, Frederick I of Sweden prohibited Freemasons from meeting under pain of death. Masonic assemblies were abolished in France the following year and the Inquisition closed the English lodge meeting in Rome. In 1738, Pope Clement XII’s Papal Bull against Freemasonry was published and Charles VI also issued an edict prohibiting Masonry in the Austrian Netherlands. Poland followed in 1739 when Augustus III…proscribed Masonic meetings…and in 1740 Philip V of Spain issued a decree… (condemning Masons) to the galleys. (RB, 2012, p.60) The savagery of the punishments is a marker of the seriousness with which the threat of EF as a vehicle for Protestant/Hanoverian spies was viewed. A certain John Coustos, usually identified by EF as merely a ‘Freemason’, was arrested in 1741 in Portugal on charges of ‘heresy and espionage’, tortured and sentenced to five years in the galleys. Released after five months as a result of ‘diplomatic pressure’ he returned to England, and prepared accounts of his travails dedicated to Lords Stanhope and Holles, both Secretaries of State. (RB, 2012, p.182)
It is inevitable that the lives of EF’s Grand Masters during the Walpole regime will be re-examined but they are probably of little significance in the inter-national context. In the following list of the first nineteen GMs, those asterisked were either KK members, sons of members or otherwise closely related to members. In place over the period 1721-1740 they were, in the main, undistinguished figureheads as Berman has argued. But he has also implied that they were paragons of all the virtues. He asserts that the very first GM, Montague, demonstrated to his noble friends that the Order was ‘acceptable, morally, intellectually and politically’, and thus a number of them ‘were willing to become’ EF’s ‘titular head’. In the context this is an untenable contradiction. Many of the GMs were known drunks, gamblers and brothel-creepers, only one or two were concerned with science, and most spent their time striving for advantage in a licentious and profligate era:

John, 2nd Duke Montague*        1721    Master of Great Wardrobe: Walpole’s Cabinet, 1730-42.

Philip, 1st Duke Wharton*         1722      Nominally Jacobite

Francis, 5th Earl of Dalkeith,    1723   Scot Known for ‘low company’

Charles 2nd Duke Richmond*     1724-5   Scot  Cricketer George II’s Lord of Bedchamber Fought Jacobites in ’45

James Hamilton, Lord Paisley     1726   Authored book on magnetism

William, 4th Earl of Inchiquin    1727    Irish   MP

Henry, 3rd Baron Coleraine        1728    MP     Antiquarian

James, 4th Baron Kingston*       1729    French-born

Thomas, 8th Duke of Norfolk     1730   Jacobite ?

Thomas, Lord Lovell              1731    MP 1722-29, PMG of UK 1733 -59

Anthony, 6th Viscount Montague* 1732   ‘Power behind notorious rotten borough’

James, 7th Earl of Strathmore       1733   Scot       Nothing known

John, 20th Earl of Crawford      1734   Soldier   Died fighting Jacs in 1745

Thomas, 2nd Viscount Weymouth 1735  Keeper of Hyde Park, Ranger of St James Park

John, 4th Earl of Loudun        1736   Scot   C-in-C & Gov of Virginia    Fought Jacobites

Edward, 2nd Earl of Darnley     1737 Irish Lord of Bedchamber to P of Wales    Anti-Walpole Whig

Henry, Marquis Carnarvon          1738 Son of Duke of Chandos, MP 1727-41 Master of the Horse to P of Wales

Robert, 2nd Lord Raymond          1739   Nothing known

John, 3rd Earl of Kintore         1740   Nothing known

Montague, GM in 1721, is one of those whose papers ‘lack any material mention of Freemasonry’. They do disclose his financing an unsuccessful expedition to colonise islands in the West Indies and his close participation in the ceremonial at the coronations of Georges I (1714) and II (1727). His father-in-law was the Duke of Marlborough, though it is not at all clear that he saw any battlefield action. (Berman, 2012, pp.124-131)   The second GM, Philip Wharton, has been treated either as an impetuous, young fool or glossed over in the official record. The ‘usual story’ that he usurped the top position by calling his friends to a meeting and having them install him as GM which coup was then ratified by the executive, makes one wonder just how the organisation was being run. Wharton was already well-known to be dissolute and socially difficult before he became GM and his quick entry and exit from EF implies that GL arrangements with the parliament and with Hughenot leaders was still in negotiation and perhaps were only secured because of Wharton’s intransigence. When he queried a GL vote against him in 1723 concerning his successor, he was defeated by just one vote in 85, 43 to 42, which result Berman applauds: ‘Wharton’s exodus from Grand Lodge can be categorised as a key event that cemented the pro-Hanoverian and the pro-Whig nature of (EF)’. (Berman, 2012, pp.136-143)

In addition to being in receipt of royal sinecures reserved for trusted supporters such as ‘Lord of the Bedchamber’, a number of these nineteen men were involved in the operational side of the administration’s work. Three served as MPs, one in Walpole’s Cabinet for a substantial period, and one was PMG for 26 years, a long time to be intercepting mail and to have control of such a major, secure income. None of those known to be of Jacobite persuasion or suspected of being so were in these positions. One career soldier, Crawford, was killed fighting ‘the rebels’ in 1745, two others fought on the government side. A number of these GMs have ‘Custos Rotulorum’ among their ‘posts’. This old grace and favour position placed them at the head of a regional civil hierarchy as the ‘Keeper of Records’ and made them, among other things, the instruments by which ‘their’ magistrates were created. As the PMG and the MP’s were, they are likely, therefore, to have been especially valuable to Walpole and to Brother Charles Delafaye whose career shows him as JP, Magistrate and Under-Secretary of State and therefore at the centre of the hugely-corrupt legal system. At this time, power to direct espionage normally resided with two Secretaries of State and their Assistant-Secretaries, such as Delafaye. A Hughenot, he had been the government link to whom Daniel Defoe had sent his clandestine reports from Scotland in the first years of the century, the recipient of sinecures, and was otherwise extremely well-connected, in particular, to the Duke of Newcastle. Berman has concluded that he was Walpole’s spy master with freedom to operate domestically and abroad. He was, in Berman’s account, both ‘loyalty personified’ and one of ‘Desagulier’s principle Masonic colleagues and collaborators’. He was so well-trusted and his position so vital to all involved, he was given a seat both in the Commons and in Grand Lodge.[lxxix] As ‘Judge Advocate’, examining magistrate and Secretary to the Commission of Chief Justices, he was in a position to skew justice to protect the law-makers against those who suffered most from its application.

Among the administration’s chief domestic targets were ‘the Blacks’, described as such from their night-time disguise and from the Black Act of 1724 which was used to destroy them. Depending on one’s point of view, they were either ‘armed and dangerous criminal gangs’ or remnants of rural communities defending a way of life from aristocratic land holders determined to fence and exploit previously common land. The Black Act and its extensions over the next decade were the pieces of legislation which took England/Britain into the 19th century with over two hundred designated crimes carrying the threat of capital punishment. The ‘crimes’ included damaging a fish-pond, killing or maiming cattle, cutting down trees, sending anonymous letters considered threatening, hunting red deer, and poaching of hares, conies or fish.[lxxx] Opposition within the initiated brotherhood could be dealt with in the same manner and was, albeit less drastically – surveillance first, then secret reports to government, and threat of arrest and suspension from the Order.[lxxxi] Berman notes a Desagulier motion at GL designed to safeguard ‘their security against all open and secret enemies to the Craft.’ (RB, 2012, p.157) He didn’t follow the logical implications of this.

 After Walpole

During the 1740’s and 50’s, EF had to re-engineer itself. Berman has summarised the problem as he saw it: ‘(EF, the organisation) became arrogant and self-obsessed …disaffection grew, becoming so considerable that by the end of the (1740’s) around a quarter of London’s lodges were expelled or erased from the register, while others seceded or chose to remain independent.’ (RB, 2013, p.4) He has focused, as most others have done on the Irish working class in London, the gentry-EF’s rejection or harsh treatment of those artisans who sought to join it, and an alternative ‘Freemasonry’ which its long-serving Grand Secretary Dermott named ‘the Antients’. The Hughenot community fade at this point from Berman’s attention, because, it seems, he believes they assimilate into the local population. Kamil believes they were largely transient and were, in the main, only in the UK on their way to the Americas.[lxxxii] Their English numbers were never huge but the importance of this community in EF’s genesis makes further demographic research crucial.

I surmise that the Hughenot dynamic in English government espionage survived Walpole’s fall. Espionage remained indispensable,  and the evidence argues that EF and the military worked together more closely and that the Court was more directly involved in what would today be called ‘operational matters.’ Most immediately, EF found itself infiltrated by Jacobites and supporters of the earlier Freemasonry.  This was dealt with, ruthlessly. A ‘contingent of foreign diplomats’ participated in the February, 1741, ‘Cavalcade and Grand Feast’ in London, consequent on the GM’s installation. [lxxxiii] After the 1745 rebellion had failed, this GM, Morton, was arrested by French officials, presumably on orders from London and imprisoned in the Bastille. A Scot, he was of known Jacobite inclination when elected. Desagulier was either out of favour or disillusioned with Walpole and appears to have at least flirted with the Jacobite Masons by participating in their procession mocking the gentry-EF on March 19th of 1741, known as the ‘Scald Miserable Procession’. Interestingly, given the 1736 Swedish prohibition on ‘Freemasonry’ the Swedish Ambassador to London walked with Desagulier at this event. It is believed Desagulier was subsequently abandoned by his erstwhile friends and died in poverty. [lxxxiv]

Attempts by Walpole’s political opponents to bring an indictment against him while he was in office had failed. After his resignation in 1742, a Secret Committee, packed with his opponents, was appointed to enquire into his administration. The substance of the case against him, according to a sympathetic biographer in the Dictionary of National Biography, rested on the last of the charges – ‘peculation and profusion in the expenditure of secret-service money’. Leadam argued that ‘there was no evidence whatever’ of Walpole taking any of this money for himself, and that as far as unnecessary or excessive use of the money was concerned, the charge was proven to the satisfaction of the Committee members only by: ‘…the comparison of a carefully selected decade, 1707–17, during which the secret-service money expended was no more than 338,000l., with the decade 1731–41, when it amounted to 1,440,000l.’ Leadam sought to justify the expenditure of such huge amounts of secret service money overseas with: ‘…much of this money was well laid out… for Walpole was better furnished with information from the continent than any of his predecessors.’ [lxxxv] His account has provided one further incident: ‘…(With the crown) of Poland (vacant, the continent had been) plunged… into a war, in which the emperor was rapidly succumbing before the combined forces of France, Spain, and Sardinia. His appeals for help enlisted the German sympathies of the [English] queen…(and) king. Walpole…was resolute for non-intervention…The emperor, furious…despatched Strickland, bishop of Namur, to London to intrigue…at court. Strickland began by tampering with Harrington, the secretary of state, with whom he had a long and secret conference…’

The domestic, oppositional EF, ‘the Antients’, in mid-century gave the other EF a new name, ‘the Moderns’, to suggest a loss of contact with an original, ‘honorable’ motivation. The ‘usual’ account of the conflict is based on ritual differences but Berman asserts, as RF Gould has done, that it had more to do with social standing: ‘..(The) original (GL) stagnated, the number and membership of Antients lodges … climbed…in part (because of) the particular circumstances of the Irish immigrant community…(as) a response both to their social and Masonic alienation and to that of the lower and middling and working class more broadly…(The) rival ‘Antients’ Grand Lodge…differed fundamentally in terms of its social and economic function, and in the composition of its membership.’ [lxxxvi]

From 1751, when ‘the Antients’ formed their Grand Lodge, to 1813, when unification brought the factions back together, their leadership berated the gentry-EF for damaging the fraternity by removing certain allusions and symbols from the common rite. This has become over time the only explanation offered for them having claimed freedom from ‘head office’ and, usefully for the myth-makers, has buried the politics. Berman has shown that ‘Antient Freemasonry’ was ‘from its earliest years’ an association of friends, neighbours and co-workers, ‘the large majority of whom lived and laboured’ close to one another. These EFs were more concerned with the financial security fraternalism could offer than with elegant conviviality, status or secret work overseas. They formed recognisable ‘mutual benefit funds’ which were much closer to the pre-1717 operative guilds in form and function than ‘the Moderns’, and much closer to fraternities such as the Odd Fellows, Druids and the ‘United Watermen’s Friendly Fund’, proliferating around them. This ‘lower class’ membership was unwelcome to London’s gentry and to ‘gentry’ Freemasons on the European mainland where ‘the Jacobite’ Freemasonry remained strong.

Pitt, the Elder, a dominant but ambiguous parliamentary figure over the four decades, 1737 – 1778, is not known to have had any interest in ‘Freemasonry’, but in various official positions, including as the forces’ Paymaster-General he had ‘a personal role’ in ensuring the espionage networks developed in line with his aggressive Empire-building policies. [lxxxvii] A war economy, increased importance of ‘the Orient’, and the shift from mostly maritime to more land-based colonisation in the Americas and Australasia, forced changes in espionage methodologies, against which class rigidities, in the army for example, acted as the only major retardants. The sense of English/British superiority already in place turned decidedly evangelical and heroic with mixed, but clearly anti-Enlightenment results. Obviously part of ‘the government’, EF could safely continue to claim that its loyalty pledge was politically neutral. For their part, any Jacobite Masons still plotting the downfall of the regime, anti-gentry EFs such as ‘the Antients’, or French brethren supporting revolution were all acting in breach of their commitment to remain loyal to ‘the government’ whatever it might be. This was also the case with ‘Moderns’ in France working against the French status quo, attempting to gain advantages elsewhere in Europe, or to brethren in the US fighting for independence.

The Regimental Lodges 

The ‘usual’ EF story has Masonic lodges travelling with regiments from at least 1732 as a positive link between ‘Freemasonry’ and ‘the government’. Berman has rightly emphasised their importance but EF literature is mostly coy about them. Many insiders don’t refer to them at all, others are unconvincing: “Officer Freemasons saw the potential of the Craft to foster the esprit de corps and strengthen the bond along the chain of command” is one favourite explanation. “For individual soldiers’, it has been argued, ”in addition to the self- improving aspects inherent in membership, the benevolent nature of the Order in the days before widespread insurance surely would have been an added attraction.” Because the first GL to issue charters to regiments was the Irish, it has been put forward that: ‘Given the turmoil that existed in England, and that it was relatively easy to get a warrant under the Irish constitution, it is hardly surprising that Dublin was the first port of call for Army regiments that were on the move and wished to open a lodge.’ Baigent and Leigh have further argued these lodges created a ‘climate in which dynamic young soldiers – such as James Wolfe – could advance themselves, regardless of caste.[lxxxviii] They have argued that England/Britain lost the American colonies because of unwillingness of ‘Freemasons’ on both sides, but particularly on the militarily more skilled and better armed ‘British’ side, to fight as ruthlessly and as cleverly as they did in other theatres. (B&L, 1998, Chap 16, espec pp.287-293)

Taken together, these published assertions are contradictory – the lodge inhabited the regiment as a whole, it was the initiative of the commanding officer, it was held in the officers’ mess, it excluded the lower ranks, it was begun and energised by the rank-and-file, it was just like a stationary lodge and needed to make annual returns, its documentation is rare, etc, etc. Neither do the ‘usual’ accounts explain why some of these lodges have been designated ‘Officer Lodges’, and some not, nor what implications followed for lodges which were in the Indian Army and/or under the nominal control of the East India Company. These regimental lodges were not self-financing so who was paying for their lodge ‘accoutrements’ and at what point were regiments given permission to include lodge trunks in regimental baggage – trunks which contained the sorts of ceremonial items which brought prison if paraded by trade-oriented fraternities?

Importantly, the essential question has been dodged – why ‘regimental lodges’ at all? What is the connection between war and Masonry? Why not accountancy lodges, medical lodges or foot-stool makers lodges? The idea that EF lodges full of Irishmen were regarded as the best and only answer to the need for loyalty in those conflicted times is laughable, and becomes doubly so when ‘the Antients’, the oppositional form, are introduced into the equation.

Almost the only account of the regimental lodges by a significant EF historian, RF Gould’s Apron and the Sword of 1899, attempted no explanation for their existence except to say that almost all of those he’d traced were begun in the lower ranks. He did spend time on the reasons for their ‘decay’ acknowledged as having occurred after the two camps re-united, that is, during 1812-13. With assistance from his then-QC colleagues, his tabulations showed that the proportion of Military to Civil Lodges at ‘the Union’ was one to twelve. In 1878 this had fallen to one in three hundred and to one in eleven hundred in 1899. He dismissed the explanation popular at the time that the army after Waterloo, 1815, had gone from a war to a peace footing. He noted that shortly after ‘the Union’, regulations for military lodges were passed by the new, combined Grand Lodge forbidding initiation of civilians or any soldier more-lowly ranked than corporal, and commented: ‘It might therefore, at first sight, appear that the prevalence of lodges in the British Army was very seriously affected by the junior Grand Lodge of England [ie ‘the Antients’] ceasing to exist as an independent institution.’ [lxxxix] In his first formulation in 1880, Gould had made the case more forcefully: ‘With fusion of the Grand Lodges in 1813, the decadence of Military Masonry commenced. A ‘working man’s’ Grand Lodge no longer existed…The schismatic body became wholly merged in the older and more fashionable organisation, while the latter disposed of a formidable rival, by adopting all the novelties and innovations which, for more than half a century, it had vehemently denounced.’ (Gould’s emphases) [xc]

That military lodges were tried but judged inappropriate by Prussia, France and the United States of America, and probably other countries, indicates that comparative studies could be useful. The other founders of London’s Research Lodge, QC, Gould’s colleagues, appear to have dropped the subject when the research began to show that the preponderance of these lodges had not been chartered by ‘the Moderns’, the gentry-run EF. The majority had been registered in Ireland, just when the Army was recruiting lots of Irish labourers and when ‘the Moderns’, the gentry-led EF, was most out of favour with those men. Time spent considering the involvement of these ‘travelling lodges’ in the power dynamic between ‘the Antients’ and ‘the Moderns’, between officers and the other ranks, or as a means of advancement would probably be wasted as they appear to have been an acknowledged failure, at least as cultural facilitators. No doubt there are exceptions, but ‘the Mess’ was either a replacement for them or evolved out of the same idea and proved more practical.

Time-lines for known regimental lodges do not fit any of the ‘usual’ conclusions. For example, Harland-Jacobs’ 2007 version described military lodges as an innovation by the Irish Grand Lodge to ‘facilitate the spread of Freemasonry abroad’ and to gain a ‘head-start on their rivals’ in London and Edinburgh.[xci] Just what race the Irish GL/‘the Antients’ believed they were engaged in, she doesn’t say. Her answer might be that they sought to have their alternative version of ‘Freemasonry’ established at ports of call before any other version. However, the ‘Antients’, although Irish-based, were not administered from Dublin but from London by non-gentry brethren, they were not in existence before 1751, two decades after the first known military lodges officially appeared, and ‘the Antients’ were not aligned with the Irish GL until 1758. The idea of the military lodges being part of a competitive strategy within ‘Freemasonry’ doesn’t fit, either, with her over-riding insistence on a singular ‘British’ Freemasonry. Contrary to what other recent, non-Mason scholars like Bullock have done, she has not questioned EF’s projected image of itself. Her interpretation does have EF’s 18th century administration at its centre from its beginning: ’As military lodges crisscrossed the globe…the metropolitan grand lodges adapted their administrative structures to facilitate the fraternity’s global diffusion…Specifically, they added nodes to Freemasonry’s growing bureaucratic network by expanding the number of provincial grand lodges…For all the British jurisdictions, the provincial grandmaster served as the grand master’s representative in a locality (much as colonial governors represented the crown abroad)…(p.38)…(Deficiencies) aside, the provincial grand lodge system (allowed) metropolitan authorities both to extend (the network) and to oversee it.’…(p.40)

The image she has given of efficiency, order and stability is how EF wishes all of its past to be regarded and, as I’m surmising, the ‘bureaucratic network’ is the part of EF which is co-ordinating with Government operations, including espionage. The other part of EF, where the officers and ranks interact is very different. Before QC, ie before 1886, scholars had not shied away from the informality and the rowdiness of EF’s past, even if they left it in footnotes or otherwise played it down. ‘Freemasonry’, in reality, was not orderly, regulated, neat and tidy at its inception any more than it was undivided. Its main attraction for many soldiers was as the Army was – not the ritual, not the symbolism, not the claimed ideals, but the conviviality and opportunities for plunder and adventure. [xcii] These are realities which undermine the ‘usual’ answers to questions around security and a need for steadiness under fire. Military personnel were sent wherever ‘government’ thought necessary, but for the 18th century and earlier, the process was not straightforward. To emphasise one point only – for any regiment or naval vessel to carry with it ‘a secret society’ which may or may not be trustworthy would have required authorisation at a reasonably high level, but whose? The determining decision for any regimental lodge to travel into a conflict zone was, surely, not made by a Grand Lodge, or a lodge ‘Master’, but by the ‘Commanding Officer.’ It would help if this officer was also an EF, since if a lodge was not known and authorised at GL/Ministerial level, discovery would inevitably mean charges of disloyalty, perhaps treason, and could invite the death penalty. Being ‘unfashionable’ or a loyalist, would be the least of a secret brother’s problems. No such cases, even anecdotally, have come to light. I conclude that authorisations were made at a very senior level but that evidence relating to the process has been suppressed, perhaps by being rendered archivally invisible.

An interpretation of EF which gives geo-politics its due, does not necessarily render lodge idealism impossible, nor prevent a set of principles being the common bond across wide geographic areas, or huge numbers of people. It only insists on the likelihood that EF/military conformity came after ‘the Union’, when gentry-EF had re-established its overall control. The prominence of Irish brethren in EF’s first century of military endeavour is unsurprising but has implications. Embracing the music and the opportunities to sing, to dance, laugh and to fall about, were at the heart of all the earliest fraternal expressions, Masonic and non-Masonic. Regimental lodges were migratory in nature, ie from tavern to tavern, well before they went ‘off-shore’. Initially, they were informal ‘clubs’ and, probably, ‘tolerated’ by those in command, since line soldiers would not have remained if the music and the rum were denied them. It is precisely because the officers were more likely to be from ‘the Moderns’ that internal tensions are certain to have been high, and that much ‘negotiation’ must have gone on about the clash of attitudes. What has survived is evidence supporting the idea that centralised order and stability were imposed from London on a fraternalism already in place, but the fact that the process took well over a century to succeed has been suppressed. Harland-Jacobs’ provincial ‘nodes’ were the means of inserting Masonic ‘mercantile/diplomatic/spies’ into off-shore locations from the 18th century but their real-time experiences before 1812-13 would have been very messy, frustrating affairs. I surmise a struggle at GL level and in local lodges between conviviality and political efficacy until in the 19th and 20th centuries, the military lodges disappeared, or conformed to the disciplines of professionalization and to the requirements of EF’s evangelical, counter-narrative. The ‘Antient’ ‘regimental lodges’ proved unsatisfactory, especially to gentry-EF officers, who began operating exclusive ‘officers’ lodges on ‘the Moderns’ registers from the 1780’s. It was only after ‘the Union’ that regulations relevant to ‘military masonry’ appeared, whereupon the exclusive lodges proliferated.

My interpretation takes support from the remarkable level of involvement of the royal family with gentry-EF and the military from the accession of George III and throughout the period known as ‘Old Corruption’. Neither George I (1660-1727) nor George II (1683-1760) are known to have been initiated brothers but they were heavily involved with the military and with European affairs: ‘George [I] had an experience of European power politics that Anne [his predecessor] lacked. On the other hand (he) could not speak English, and all relevant documents from his …ministers were translated into French for him…George spent long periods abroad in his native Hanover…His visits in 1716, 1719, 1720, 1723 and 1725 were lengthy…'(Black, 2014, p.27). George II was yet more Germanic in temperament and, it seems, preferred cards, hunting and the military. Neither appear to have played any public role with either the EF though George II’s eldest son was initiated in 1737. Of three sons of George II known to have been initiated by the 1760’s, two were given ‘Past Grand Master’ rank in the ‘Moderns’ in 1767, while the third, Henry, was their GM from 1782 until his death in 1790. Known for his frugality and piety as much as for his debilitating porphyria, George III had numerous children, who were educated either at home or, in the case of sons, in Germany, where six were initiated into ‘Freemasonry.’ His three brothers were also prominent Masons. Collectively, this royal family was vehemently opposed to claims for any reforms under the rubric ‘people’s rights’. At the peak of English/British aristocracy, it was severely Protestant and strongly opposed to Catholic emancipation.

A well-known episode of EF involvement in European politics is from George III’s reign. English Ambassador and an EF, Goodricke’s ‘greatest triumph’ came in 1765 when he helped to secure the defeat of the pro-French ‘Hat Party’ in ‘the notoriously corrupt’ Swedish diet elections. This made an ‘implantation’ of English lodges easier as part of a mission to ‘consolidate British influence’ and ‘undermine the French’. In Prescott’s words: ‘Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Sweden became an important diplomatic forum for Britain, particularly to cultivate Russia. Sir John Goodricke’s mission to Sweden was accompanied by a vigorous attempt to establish freemasonry (sic) under the English Grand Lodge there and to drive out French freemasonry.’ (AP, 2012, p.185, p.193) The French-aligned politicians regrouped, the Hats won the diet elections of 1769, whereupon ‘the Moderns’ in London soured matters by unilaterally claiming the right to act as a Supreme Grand Lodge, and to over-ride Sweden’s appointment of a ‘Provincial Grand Master’ in Russia. This, in Prescott’s words, was ‘imperialist’ which it was, (p.199) but he allows no hint of ‘underhand’ methods to attach to either English diplomats or to EF-initiated brethren. The twists and turns in Swedish affairs were ‘doubtless partly influenced by the changes in Britain’s world status’ and probably also ‘affected by internal masonic considerations, principally the rivalry with the Antients Grand Lodge’, but this is as far as speculation takes him.

George III’s second son, Frederick, Duke of York, was thrust into the British army at a very early age, appointed to high command at the age of 30, and was involved in a ‘notoriously ineffectual campaign’ during the ‘War of the First Coalition’ which followed the French Revolution. Later, as Commander-in-Chief during the Napoleonic Wars he adroitly re-organised the British army, putting in place ‘vital administrative and structural reforms.’ The fourth son, father of the future Queen Victoria, was initiated into a German lodge in 1790, the year the Duke of Wellington was admitted into an Irish lodge. As the Duke of Kent, he lived abroad from 1791 to 1800, rising to be General and Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in North America. He arbitrarily abolished all ‘Modern’ lodges in Canada in 1790 in order to achieve a kind of Union there, and was then ‘chosen’ to serve as GM of ‘the Antients’ which he did from 1791 until 1800. He was then appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office with explicit orders to ‘restore discipline among the drunken troops’ but was withdrawn after a time for being too enthusiastic. He replaced the Scottish Duke of Athol as Grand Master of the ‘Antients’, his predecessor ‘choosing’ to resign before the 1813 Union. He then declined the offer of the Grand Mastership of the new entity. He died in 1820 and when the young Queen was married she was ‘given away’ by his younger brother, the Duke of Sussex. He, George III’s sixth son, Prince Augustus Frederick, was made Deputy Grand Master of ‘the Moderns’, or as they were then known, ‘the Prince of Wales Masons’, in 1801. He had been initiated in Berlin only three years before, in 1798, and then rushed through the following degrees. Subsequently, he was elected and re-elected Grand Master of the new entity, the UGLE, every year from 1813 until his death in 1843.

In his excellent account of the interplay between the factions of London’s gentry politicians and ‘the street’, US scholar Rea has explained the infamous libertine and agitator from this period, John Wilkes, as more of a pawn than an independent player: ‘By 1762, (the Earl of Bute, then Chief Minister) had learned the secret of organising coffeehouse spies and was rapidly becoming proficient in the art of establishing a government press.’ [xciii] For setting out a factional line, individual writers received up to 300L per year out of ‘secret service funds’ which averaged between 30,000L and 40,000L pa: ‘As members came up for parliament, every effort was made “to silence or intimidate the printers of newspapers, libels and satiric prints.” Those who could be frightened were made aware of the strong arm of the government; those whom threats left unmoved were purchased whenever possible.’ [xciv] The Wilkes-episode, during which a majority of London’s voters defied the established factions and ‘their’ Parliamentary system, has not figured in any EF-insider history as far as I know, but it would appear to involve, at the very least, use of propaganda campaigns and street demonstrations by a number of fraternal societies, including ‘the Antients’, to assail ‘the Moderns’ for political reasons.[xcv]

The ‘widespread use’ by Whig and Tory governments of pensions and sinecures ‘to bribe, reward or buy’ domestic political supporters had been successful so why would it not be continued. The five decades from 1780 have been singled out for particular notice. [xcvi] For what another author has labelled ‘a spy culture’, [xcvii] the term ‘Old Corruption’ was first applied by early 19th-century reform-minded activists such as William Cobbett and John Wade. As with the Walpole-decades, the scandalous behaviour of many of the nation’s leaders, going well beyond the merely non-respectable debauchery to corruption of the legal system and the infliction of misery and injustice on innocent people, did not produce regret among the gentry-brethren in charge of ‘the Moderns’. Rather, the term neatly showcases a period of close involvement of the upper reaches of ‘the Moderns’ with the royal family and its culmination in neutralisation of the ‘Antients’ by ‘the Union’ of 1812-13.

Mystic poet and artist, William Blake wrote of the unpopularity of ‘the American War’ in England and noted that ‘Freemasons’ were fighting George III. [xcviii] When Enlightenment rhetoric first appeared in English-language literature, it came, not from acclaimed EF insiders, but from alienated radicals, for example, in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and The American Crisis, and his later Rights of Man, or in the remarks of Benjamin Franklin. US brethren have, since 1776, credited their initiated antecedents in the revolutionary government with everything good about their nation: ‘…We, as Masons, should cherish with pride the fact that Masonry was most intimately interwoven in the building of the grandest country on the face of the globe. Surely the hand of Providence was with our forefathers in that great and glorious undertaking.’ [xcix] For any Mason, anywhere, to insist that a single, universal ‘Freemasonry’ existed and that its brethren, wherever they were, must be politically neutral under any and all circumstances was and is politically opportunist, at best. A universal ‘Freemasonry’, to be feasible, would need to possess a flexibility akin to that claimed by all protagonists in bloody conflict, ie, that ‘God is on Our Side’. Tolerance, peaceful adherence to the rule of one’s society, belief in equality, and all the other alleged Masonic-defining virtues, would have to reside within all regimes, whether radical, conservative, or any others for which a ‘brother’ made the claim. Notions of universal values and a global template notwithstanding, different ‘Freemasonries’ were developing. US ‘Freemasonry’ was evolving quite differently to that of England, and differently again to that in France. In addition to the likely Irish-Jacobite influence from regimental lodges, the most popular ‘Freemasonry’ practised in the US was filtered through a number of mainland European cultures before entering the US by way of its southern ports. Interested readers are referred, firstly, to an 1890 account [c] and only then to more recent publications. The 1927 US pamphlet quoted above continued: ‘The American ideal of government was, with few exceptions, promulgated and achieved by members of our Fraternity. And when the reader will have finished reading this book, he will have found that ours is truly a Masonic government.’ This is not only a politically partisan statement, it is a claim to uniqueness by one group of Masons on the basis of ‘their’ Masonry.

French circumstances were generating a version of ‘Freemasonry’ which ‘the Moderns’ publically repudiated.[ci] Home grown enemies, such as Lord Edward Fitzgerald, were plotting with suspected agents of the French Directory, [cii] while religious implications of ‘the Enlightenment’ and its socio-political content – republicanism, free education for all, free speech and free movement, universal suffrage and free access to libraries and museums – provided a degree of alignment of French brethren with US ‘rebels’, and with nationalists in other jurisdictions. It was the English Order’s denial of these ‘foreign’ values which allowed it to escape the opprobrium of revolutionary involvement cast on mainland brethren by Abbe Barruel and John Robison.[ciii] Domestic unrest and general panic brought on by the events in France from 1789 have been used to justify the coercive, anti-seditious legislation passed into law in the 1790’s and, more generally, the cleaving of loyalists to stability and the established order before all else. Pitt, the Younger, has been portrayed as a reluctant war-maker and an unwilling despot. He is quoted as saying that he alone stood between an aroused rabble and the rule of law.[civ] The evidence is that the system of government-run espionage in place was centralised and professional, as those terms were understood at that time, that it was sophisticated and, as we have seen, that it was of long standing. Military commanders continued with their own locally applicable spy networks, despite London becoming more cognisant of the benefits of common purposes. Generals Amherst and Wolfe in Canada are well-known examples, as Silas Deane, diplomat and politician, is an example of a US spy-master.[cv] Amherst’s journals record his collecting, collating and interpreting information gained from spies, deserters, prisoners-of-war and captured enemy documents. ’I kept my operations secret,’ this long-time EF wrote. The Duke of Wellington interviewed and hired ‘special agents’ as required.

Critic Haswell has lamented that, in contrast to Washington’s ‘proper, centralised organisation’, the British over-relied on ‘casual’ sources – ‘loyalists, disaffected rebels, and anyone else who might volunteer it’…‘They certainly had a few spies…who used codes and invisible inks to pass details of American forces, morale and plans to the British General Gage.’ (JH, 1977, pp.58-9) He saw only British ad-hocery even when admitting: ‘During practically the whole of the War of Independence, from 1776 until the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown in October, 1781, (Dr Edward) Bancroft supplied Lord Wentworth at the British Foreign Office with far more detailed information of America’s international relations and foreign policy than ever reached either the Second Continental Congress (in Virginia) or the American Commander-in-Chief, George Washington…’ [cvi] This ‘Lord Wentworth’ was ‘Paul Wentworth’, well-connected ‘plantation owner’ and ‘stockbroker’ in London and Paris, and sometimes ‘New Hampshire’s colonial agent in London.’ This man has been assigned so many different careers, one has to suspect all his public credentials. He was Bancroft’s link to Baron Eden and Lords Suffolk and Weymouth in the English cabinet. Having agreed to spy, Bancroft had been supplied with a species of ‘invisible ink’ for his weekly letters. Haswell continued: ‘George III who took a great personal interest in espionage, for a time gave every encouragement to Bancroft who thoroughly enjoyed being a spy…When he returned to Paris he took with him carefully prepared material provided by his English spymasters.’ Eden, later the first Baron Auckland, was Under-Secretary for State in Lord North’s cabinet, and later Special Envoy to Paris, Ambassador to Spain and the Netherlands, and Joint Post-Master General in Pitt the Younger’s cabinet. He was ‘closely associated’ with Major John Andre, the man who helped ‘turn’ Benedict Arnold, later executed by the US ‘rebels’, and with Henry Clinton, the eventual British Commander-in-Chief in North America, whom US sources credit with a spy network from New York early in the campaign.[cvii] All of Eden’s ministerial positions carried with them authority to employ ‘secret service’ agents. Clinton, Wolfe and Eden are known to have been ‘Freemasons’, of the gentry version. Many other commissioned officers are known to have been initiated, though whether before or after they paid for their commission is not known.

Correspondence between King George III and ‘his’ Ministers reveals very close tracking of the government’s spies overseas. It shows that Bancroft was a known ‘double agent’ and that Wentworth was also paid but not trusted. The King observed to Lord North, December of 1777 of documents they were discussing:’…I cannot say I look upon intelligence from Mr Wentworth with more degree of certainty than as it is confirmed by others; he is an avowed stock-jobber, and therefore, though I approve of employing him, I never let that go out of my mind. I cannot say his dispatch, which I return, contains anything to build on, but it convinces me that Bancroft is entirely an American, and that every word he used on that occasion was designed to deceive…’ A further letter has the King retorting: ‘The intelligence from Bancroft may not be entirely false, though it is certainly greatly exaggerated, for to intimidate has ever been one of his chief aims.’ [cviii] A footnote at p.94 of the correspondence states ‘Bancroft was on the pay of both the English Cabinet and Congress.’ Wentworth helped Bancroft make money on the London exchange from early knowledge of General Burgoyne’s defeat in Canada, and both were involved with peace negotiator and known spy, Benjamin Franklin in Paris,[cix] where Bancroft was made Secretary to the American Commission. Neither appear to have suffered any legal consequences for their actions, Bancroft retiring to Essex.

With peace restored, the activities of diplomat/spies once more centred on Europe’s power shifts, possible alliances and preparations for future wars. French author, Mirabeau’s notes for his sponsors, a Parisian bankers’ ring, provide detailed accounts of the court of the ailing Frederick of Prussia over two years, 1786-7. Their only relevance, here, is the information Mirabeau gives about the English diplomatic/spy team on site to act in London’s interests – Sir James Harris, 1746-1820, (later Lord Malmesbury), and his consular assistants, Dalrymple and Ewart. The French group included influential Masons and politicians – Talleyrand, Duc d’Orleans, etc – in a concentration of ‘money, of intellect and of secret intrigue’ that made it ‘one of the principal forces of France’ in the pre-revolutionary period. Mirabeau, having proved his worth to the group with a series of devastating political pamphlets aimed at the group’s opponents at home, was sent to Berlin. There, ‘through the relations of the [Lodge]Amis Reunis…(which) had a secret way of acting’, he was to spy out the land, ‘politically, for the benefit of Calonne [a central figure in the group] and the government; – (and) financially, for that of his friends who had their eyes fixed on Frederick the Great’s hoarded millions…’ [cx]

The best known allegations of conspiracies threatening European stability and the traditional order came out of this period: ‘(In Germany, secret societies) arose from among the masonic lodges, with well-defined and advanced programs,‘ eg the Illuminati, and the German Union which was ‘intended to be a secret trade-guild of publishers’ to monopolise ‘public opinion and publishing profits.‘ Characters in the mix include the Count Cagliostro and a Benedictine monk, Dom Maurus. The first I leave for the present, as for the second – from Mark Dilworth’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Biography, Wikipedia has compiled a profile which includes:

Alexander Horn, (1762–1820), was a Scottish Benedictine monk who became a British secret agent and diplomat. His work contributed to the birth of the conspiracy theory of the illuminati.

  Horn was born in the village of Oyne, County of Aberdeen. In 1772, at the age of ten, he was accepted as an oblate by the Scots Monastery in Regensburg, Germany, an imperial abbey in the capital which was then the seat of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire. About 1782, when he had come of age, he was admitted to the monastic community as a monk and given the religious name of Maurus and was ordained a Catholic priest around 1785. He was an esteemed librarian at the monastery by 1790, while at the same time working as the Regensburg agent for the British ambassador in Munich. He cultivated close ties with the Thurn and Taxis family and other influential people in the region. Despite being a monk, his social life led to him being described as a “wild young fellow”. Horn wrote anonymously, condemning France’s activities in undermining the Holy Roman Empire. He supplied the material that formed the core of John Robison’s 1797 allegation of an international conspiracy of freemasons, illuminati and Jacobins. In 1799 he travelled to England, meeting with members of William Pitt’s government including Earl Spencer. He subsequently used his bibliographical expertise to acquire rare books and manuscripts for Spencer’s Library. When in 1802 the Eternal Diet of Regensburg, under pressure from Napoleon Bonaparte, determined to secularise all property of the Catholic Church within the Empire, the Scots Monastery was uniquely successful in avoiding this fate. Horn and his abbot, Charles Arbuthnot, (the last abbot of the monastery) lobbied Jacques Macdonald and Jacques Lauriston, Scottish Catholic generals in the French army. He was by now the official British agent in Regensburg and further appealed to the British government. The Scots Monastery was exempt from German church authorities coming under the sole authority of Holy See and the two monks successfully obtained the support of the Cardinal Protector of Scotland in Rome. An express exemption was made in favour of the Scots Abbey, although it was not allowed to take any new novices. In 1804 Horn became the official Charges d’Affaires following the expulsion of the British ambassador in Munich at the instance of Napoleon.

It is not known if the Thurn and Taxis family was still in control of ‘the Black Chamber’ described above. The organised buying up and physical reconstruction of 15th century books in the 18th and 19th centuries was an extension of the idea behind that espionage – capture, re-assess and re-shape ‘the past’ – in this case by State-funded museums and major libraries like the Bodleian.[cxi]

An Austrian government-funded research project is currently exploring the over 900 reports submitted by Horn to Whitehall over 15 years. Mirabeau published his otherwise secret despatches in 1789, perhaps because he needed the money, and other writers, exercised by the momentous events in Paris, picked up on his Masonic assertions. Scottish Professor of Natural History and Secretary of the Royal Society of Scotland, John Robison, translated and developed the Abbe Barruel’s argument that ‘the Freemasons’ were centrally involved in the revolutionary turmoil. Perhaps he was a Catholic, too, and was networking with both Horn and Barruel who were at least partly motivated by animus towards the opponents of Catholicism. The Reverend Dodd, who wasn’t, attempted rebuttal of the charges at the dedication of London’s Freemason’s Hall in 1793 by making other claims: ‘…For though it [EF] might owe to the wise and glorious King of Israel some of its many mystic forms and hieroglyphic ceremonies, yet certainly the art itself [Freemasonry] is coeval with Man, the great subject of it. Nay, it may be well stiled coeval with Creation; when the Sovereign Architect raised on masonic principles, this beauteous globe.…(etc)’.[Emphases in original][cxii]

French consular officials who happened to be committed to the republic sought a new diplomacy at this time in line with changes being made to the calendar, to forms of address and so on. In place of intrigue and secrecy they sought openness and straight talking but like other changes introduced after 1789 these aspirations did not endure.[cxiii]

Harland-Jacobs in 2007 believed that ‘Freemasons contributed to… (a) “face-lift” of the British monarchy in the aftermath of the American War.’ In another place, she asserted that ‘Freemasons’ efforts to cultivate relationships with the royal family paid off during the second half of the 1790’s’ when the government’s ‘Unlawful Societies Act’ of 1799 appeared to threaten it along with other oath-giving, secret societies.[cxiv] Such claims are mis-guided. The 1799 Act and similar attempts to muzzle street protests were put in place because of the unpopularity of the monarch, his family and ‘his’ government, expressed for example by an assassination attempt in October, 1795, which is not in her account, along with the huge numbers protesting the passing of the ‘Treasonable Practices Bill’ in November, the same year. No doubt, the French excesses were feeding into the fear and the outbursts of passion on all sides. But declarations of loyalty by aristocratic EFs do not equate to an unqualified ’freely given assent and praise of his subjects’, no matter how much the GL executive might wish it to be so. Harland-Jacobs allows that ‘his sons’ were ‘scandalised and unpopular’ and ‘often the brunt of public ridicule if not contempt’, but insists: ‘(Even) though individual members of the royal family departed from respectable mores in their own lives, they nevertheless represented an institution and an ideal that was deemed inherently respectable. Thus Freemasonry’s association with the royal house, despite the princes’ tarnished reputations, did bring prestige to the Craft.’ Erdman’s interpretation has the alternative: ‘…George III did not attempt to ignore (the people’s) Parliamentary representatives. He simply bought them. Taking over the Whig machinery of bribery and electoral manipulation, he effectually disintegrated the Whigs and surrounded himself with ‘friends.’[cxv]

The continued closeness of the royal family with gentry-EF brought criticism to both. The Gentleman’s Magazine of June, 1794 attacked ‘Freemasonry’ by reviewing a second French-published book that argued the central role of ‘the Order’ in the revolutionary mayhem across the Channel. It ridiculed ‘the several pretensions to a high antiquity, and to an honourable origin, to which many of today’s Freemasons still lay claim.’ Re-printed in The Freemason’s Magazine, the piece drew a rebuttal which addressed none of the substantive issues.[cxvi] This paper, published in London from June, 1793 to 1798, is of interest here precisely because it was both a highly politicised journal and a Grand Lodge response to criticisms of both the Royal Family and of gentry-EF. Its major articles, including those of apparent general historic interest, such as ‘Events in the Life of Roman Emperor Julian’ and ‘A General History of China’, articulated a superiority of English/British institutions over those of any other nation. It insisted ‘English Freemasonry’ was deserving of the same regard because of the closeness of the Order with ‘the national character.’ The first issue was illustrated by ‘Mather Brown, Esq, Historical Painter to Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of York.’ Featured prominently were the texts of two ‘Declarations’ moved unanimously by the Modern’s Grand Lodge in February, 1793 and signed by ‘William White, GS; Lord Rawdon, Acting GM; and Peter Parker, DGM’. ‘Lord Rawdon’, afterwards as Earl of Moira, acted as GM of the Moderns until 1812, and Acting GM for Scotland, 1806-1808. He was a particular friend of the Prince Regent, the King’s eldest son, later George IV, and a potential ‘Chief Minister’ until they fell out and he was ‘banished’ to India. The above ‘Declarations’ claimed that a need existed for political comment, not by the newspaper but by the Modern’s Grand Lodge: ‘(It is written that we don’t go into religious or political discussion) A crisis, however, so unlooked for as the present, justifies to our judgement a relaxation of that rule, and as our first duty as Britons superseding all other considerations we add, without farther pause, our voice to that of our fellow-subjects, in declaring one common and fervent attachment to a government of King, Lords and Commons, as established by the glorious revolution of 1688.’ [cxvii]

It is hard to conceive a more partisan statement. It is not just supportive of the nation’s government in general terms but of that religious and political arrangement brought into being in 1688. Specifically addressed to King George III as ‘the immediate instrument of (Britannia’s) prosperity and power’, it continued: ‘(We) exult in possessing at this time, the wisest and best-poised system the world has ever known…’ Concerning English Freemasonry it asserted: ‘(Pervading) as we do, every class of the community and every walk of life, and disseminating our principles wherever we strike root, this address may be considered as speaking, in epitome, the Sentiments of a People.’

The second declaration, thanking the Prince of Wales for ‘condescending’ to hand the first to the King, wishes: ‘Britain triumphant and her enemies abased. May her acknowledged superiority, returning peace, and the grateful reverence of rescued nations, perpetuate the fame of her virtues, the influence of her example, and the weight and authority of her dominion.’

Headlined as ‘Lord Malmesbury’s Embassy’, long despatches from this spy/diplomat in various European capitals to Whitehall are quoted verbatim in a number of editions. In every issue there are also detailed debates from the House of Commons, including lengthy speeches by opponents of the government such as Charles Fox: ‘…Never did the crown exercise its authority against the rights of the people more effectually than during the last two years. It had created new crimes, and new treasons, abridged the liberty of the subject, and assumed a military power at which our ancestors would have shuddered…’ [cxviii] A ‘House of Commons’ report for 23 Dec, 1797 showed: ‘The House in a Committee of Supply voted 180,000l for the French clergy and laity; 150,000l for Foreign Secret Service for 1797.’ This same newspaper’s roundup of each year’s events regularly included sensitive but loyalist, political matters, such as: ‘26 April, (1798) A strong detachment of the Guards marched to Kent, for the purpose of embarking on a secret expedition at Margate.’ [cxix] The originating proprietor, JW Bunney was bankrupt by November of 1793, the magazine nevertheless continuing until 1798 when its title page disclosed ‘George Cawthorn’ as the editor and publisher, albeit with a different title. The attempt to shift the direction of its appeal as The Scientific Repository and Freemason’s Magazine was no more successful perhaps because of its continued attempts to propitiate ‘the great and the good’. In its July, 1797 issue a ‘Biographical Sketch of His Royal Highness Prince William Frederick of Gloucester (with Portrait)’ eulogised a man known privately as ‘Silly Billy’ but whose lucky birth, as the nephew of the King and his son-in-law, meant he was afforded positions he had no chance of earning. From 1811 to his death in 1834 he was Chancellor of Cambridge University and in 1812 he was offered the throne of Sweden, opportunities not hindered by the fact that in 1797 he had been initiated into Britannic Lodge No 17: ‘notice of which being given to the Grand Lodge by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Grand Master, April 13th, it was resolved unanimously:

That in testimony of the high sense the Grand Lodge entertains of the great honour conferred on the Society by the initiation of Prince William of Gloucester, His Royal Highness be presented with an apron lined with blue silk, and in all future processions do rank as past Grand Master.’ [cxx]

Researchers have determined that 62,000l was spent by Treasury Secretary, John Robison [no relation to other], to buy 33 seats in 1780, and 30,000l to buy 19 seats in 1784. There are documented cases where ministers and their cabinet officials falsified documents in order to keep the truth hidden.[cxxi] The Reverend Knox, headmaster and well-known essayist, circulated in the 1790’s a text attacking all aristocratic corruption, but centred on the Pitt Government. Although re-published outside England, the author’s name was not disclosed until after his death in 1821. Called The Spirit of Despotism it reiterated ‘honest Whig’ attacks on the ‘luxury, corruption and effeminacy’ endemic in the ‘modern commercial culture of which Britain provided the most advanced and therefore the most degenerate example.’ The aristocracy was insolent, disinterested in learning or public virtue and, it maintained, disconnected from ‘the middle and lower classes.’ The institutions that should defend the public good, such as the House of Commons, had become part of the corrupt system: ‘the best emoluments in the church, in the law, in the army, in the navy, are reserved to secure implicit votes in favour of corruption.’ Knox observed that ‘the spirit of despotism’ had worsened as a direct result of the war with France and ‘loyalist hostility to the rise of the popular movement for the reform of parliament.’ His many examples began with the ‘growing government interference in the conduct of newspapers’ by which it was: ‘propagating principles unfavourable to the people’s rights,…palliating public abuses, varnishing ministerial misconduct, and concealing facts in which the people are most deeply interested,’ so that the press had become ‘a powerful engine of oppression’ to serve ‘the purposes of slavery’; the dissemination of suspicion and ‘false alarms’ about imaginary conspiracies against the constitution. The government’s secret service account supposedly forced the opposition to set up its own mechanism for bribing newspapers: ‘On 17 July, 1784, for example, the London Evening Post and the St James Chronicle each received 100l from the taxpayer, and this was matched by 200l of Foxite money for the General Advertiser. A snapshot taken in 1790 shows the Treasury controlling nine dailies, including the Morning Herald and The Times, while the opposition ran the Morning Chronicle and four others.’ [cxxii] Surviving accounts, in Hilton’s words, assert that in the early 1790’s the government spent about 5,000 a year on press ‘subsidies’, and that ‘the two most alarmist papers’, The Sun and The True Briton were both started with ministerial help in 1792-3. Alarmist deliberately, since it was believed that exaggerating threats of insurrection aided their sponsor’s election hopes. With perhaps a quarter of a million readers, London’s pressmen and publishers ‘became thoroughly embroiled in party warfare.’ In 1784, the Morning Post was bribed by Treasury to support Pitt ‘the Younger’, but five years later, ‘the Prince of Wales inveigled it back into opposition.’[cxxiii]

Government duplicity, both Whig and Tory, involved far more than use of tax-payers’ contributions ‘to subsidise the ministerial press…and to carry on election campaigns.’ (WR, 1983, p.64) Knox was concerned with: ’the revival of jacobitism among Tories and high churchmen, attempting to defend the monarchy by proposing a definition of loyalty as loyalty to the king only, or even to the government for the time being, not to the whole constitution or to the public interest…and the growing influence of lawyers in parliament…invariably exercised in favour of the government and which threatened the integrity of both the legislature and the judiciary.’ [cxxiv]

A 2006 scholar returned to the evidence gathered by Knox and others showing the politicisation of public spaces and concluded: ‘The coffee house, by long convention a space where conversation even about politics was protected from political surveillance; the dressing of hair, too unimportant to be thought of as a political issue; the cottage, imagined as a space removed from public and political conflict, even the king’s private character…all suddenly became part of the arena of politics. (JB, 2006, p.14) Concluding this review, Barrell believed: ‘…The conversations, the correspondence, the private papers, of avowed and suspected radicals, became subject to various kinds of formal and informal surveillance. Not even their domestic conduct was free from inspection or malicious fabrication, first and most noticeably in the scandalous biography of Tom Paine written by the loyalist propagandist George Chalmers under the pseudonym ‘Francis Oldys’. (JB, 2006, pp.245-6). A later Paine-biography has documented the swarms of English spies following and reporting on just this one man, and being rewarded for their efforts.[cxxv] Paine could not be put on trial, at least not in person, for his book, The Rights of Man, but he could be burned in effigy. Hundreds of ‘loyalist festivals’ were staged to counter the effects of his riposte to Edmund Burke’s anti-revolutionary essay. Paine’s words were read far and wide, especially in Ireland and Scotland, provoking hundreds of responses. Another review of the newspapers of the period has concluded that choreographed or not, planned centrally or not, the loyalist initiatives ‘helped to consolidate the propertied classes’ allegiance to the political order’: ‘(Incidents) where loyalism was elaborately choreographed suggest that (they)… met with considerable scepticism (and) may explain why the loyalist experiment was itself short-lived (and gave) way to a volunteer movement that ensured that internal dissent might be met with armed regiments captained by the propertied… (Conservatives) could be assured that the superficial bonhomie of festive paternalism would be adequately policed.[cxxvi] [My emphasis] Other contemporary observers, including the novelist Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), wrote about wide-scale vote and electorate buying, leading to paralysis of the parliamentary process, as a core of Whig and Tory grandees manipulated results so that they rarely faced a genuine opposition. When George III was shot at on his way to open Parliament in 1795 newspapers reported that 500 constables were mobilised by the civil authorities, while in 1820 the well-known Cato St Conspiracy was disclosed by ‘Home Office spies’ recruited by the Chief Clerk at Bow St, John Stafford. His duties included giving the agents their orders and receiving their reports.
What is now called ‘insider knowledge’ must have been widespread in establishment circles since, for example, the Archbishop of Canterbury was aware beforehand that the Royal Proclamation of May 1792 ‘was intended to spread alarm.’[cxxvii] In November of that year Treasury solicitors laid plans for the future prosecution of seditious libellers, and local agents were appointed to collect the necessary evidence. Soon afterwards, the government established an Alien Office under the wing of the Home Secretary: ‘(Its) ostensible function was counter-espionage, but it quickly spread its surveillance from foreign spies to suspected rebels at home. According to one of its agents, William Wickham, it constituted “a system of preventive police…Without bustle, noise or anything that can attract public attention, Government possess here the most powerful means of observation and information…that was ever placed in the hands of a free government.” [cxxviii]
As in the earlier periods, there are no known signs of regret or opposition to the administration from within ‘the Moderns’, the gentry-EFs. There is only the excessive adulation, already cited. The only possible conclusion from all of this is that any English institution aligning itself with the English administration before, during and after the wars with Napoleon was choosing to align itself with reactionary forces known to be corrupt, anxious to preserve their influence and opposed to the principles now referred to as ‘Enlightened’. Given that this alignment had by then been in place for a century, one has to accept that ‘the Moderns’ were so deeply embedded within the circles of corruption that they were themselves tainted beyond repair.
Hone has examined the 1790-1820 metropolitan London surveillance ‘systems’, some of them quite new, and concluded that among reasons why details have been hard to come by, were that the relevant government official/s and the areas each had responsibility for often changed. Another was that the organisational methods used varied with the individual. Details of ministerial disbursement of ‘secret service money’ remained under tight control despite expansion of the range of its uses. At one end of the spectrum, reporters in port towns could be given access to a ‘press release’ concerning Royal Navy departures ‘on secret service’, but, involving far more money, the Ambassador to France before 1789 was employing ‘all means possible to increase internal troubles’ including ‘spending money on a large scale for the purpose of stirring up revolution.’[cxxix] Any published figures can only be indicative. Examples seen were brief and used the heading ‘Other’ a lot. Three junior ministers – George Rose (Treasury), Bland Burges (Foreign Office) and Frances Freeling (Post Office) masterminded links with the press. In his examination of the paid espionage work of poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, Johnston has noted that Home Office Records show that in 1795 the Duke of Portland, with his under-secretary, William Wickham, head of the new Alien Office, and the Bow Street magistrate, Richard Ford, put into operation ‘an elaborate new system of payrolls and payoffs’ designed to consolidate Westminster’s control over the heretofore ‘loose system of unpaid magistrates, honorary local officials, Bow Street “runners”, and informers of all stripes.’[cxxx] Secret service funds for overseas use, authorised by relevant cabinet ministers were remitted to agents and informers via Continental banks. In the so-called ‘Cold War’ decade between the hot conflicts with the US and those with revolutionary France and then Napoleon, energy had been put into nullifying French influence in ‘the Lowlands’, Belgium and the Dutch Republic: ‘The object was to win votes not battles and they could be won by influence, propaganda or purchase, all methods which were likely to cost money. In addition it was necessary to know, in order to be able to forestall, the moves of the opposing side, and this also involved expenditure. The money for such activities naturally came from secret service funds.’ From the Hague Lord Malmesbury paid for reports from agents in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Vienna, Genoa, Dunkirk and elsewhere.[cxxxi] An English/British ‘eye’ in Berne trained on Paris was focused by the trusted William Wickham there as charge d’affaires: ‘‘On one calculation the Foreign Office spent 665,222l on His Majesty’s Secret Service operations in the 1795-9 period as compared with 76,759l in the previous five years. (Wickham and James Talbot his successor at Berne) were responsible for 80% of all secret service money spent by British envoys in Europe during the period 1790-1801, and in addition there were a number of hidden or camouflaged accounts, many of which have never been brought to light.’ These, no doubt, included the likes of Father James Robertson, used by the Iron Duke to carry secret messages in Europe. [cxxxii] [My emphasis]

Another English/British ‘diplomat’ named Francis Drake actively recruited ‘agents’ across southern Europe but was compromised by a counter intelligence operative employed by Napoleon’s spymaster, his Minister of Security, M. Fouche. Napoleon was a keen student of English espionage methods, and had Fouche institute a domestic, counter-intelligence system involving 30,000 police blanketing the country and, of course, extensive use of counter-intelligence and propaganda. [cxxxiii] A number of foreign spies were caught, but Fouche found that he had obtained a massive data base on French citizens which he used as a personal political weapon. One well-hidden FO expense was a large pension paid to a French royalist agent, D’Antraigue, until he was murdered in London in 1812.[cxxxiv] One of England’s earliest heroes and just one among many gentry-EFs, the Duke of Wellington was indebted to his best friend, Lord Castlereagh for his preferment into the army. He returned the favour by employing Castlereagh’s brother, Charles Stuart, as his Adjutant-General on the Iberian Peninsular. Later, as the Iron Duke’s ambassador, this gent built up a strong spy network around the port of Bayonne. A first hand observer believed that Wellington’s Quartermaster on the Peninsular, John Waters, was ‘the most admirable spy that was ever attached to an army.’ The skills described resemble those taught to the fictional Kim much later in India: ‘(He could assume different characters) But what made him more efficient than all was his wonderful power of observation and accurate description, which made the information so reliable and valuable to the Duke of Wellington. Nothing escaped him. When amidst a group of persons he would minutely watch the movement, attitude and expression of every individual that composed it, in the scenery by which he was surrounded he would carefully mark every object – not a tree, not a bush, not a large stone escaped his observation, and it was said that in a cottage he noted every piece of crockery on the shelf, every domestic utensil and even the numbers of knives and forks that were got ready for use at dinner.’ [cxxxv]

In the South and East

   The ‘British Library Guide to India Office Records – Central Asia’ remarks a major change in government policy around 1800: ‘From the late 18th century the motivation for British activity became…less concerned with the pursuit of trade per se and more concentrated on the establishment and maintenance of diplomatic and strategic links in the geo-political area surrounding and including the sub-continent.’ And: ‘Throughout the 19th century, the security of India’s Northwest and Northern boundaries, trans-frontier trade and political intelligence on events beyond the border became a dominating factor in the making of British Foreign policy. (1998, updated 2009, ‘Introduction – Pre-20th century’) (My emphases) Scholars of espionage have taken this to mean that from this point any English/British spies were employed overseas – probably in ‘the Great Game’ – and that whatever they did, it had little to do with ‘home’ politics and absolutely nothing to do with ‘Freemasonry’. Further, that legislative changes after 1815 had ameliorated the effects of corruption and the cultural air in which it had bred.

For their part, any number of authors have studied the BEIC and managed not to notice the presence of espionage, nor even of much secrecy.[cxxxvi] Little has been made of the claim by one 18th century critic that ‘the Company’ had from its inception in 1600, ‘industriously, and, till lately, very successfully covered their transactions with a veil of secrecy’. Corruption trials in the English/British parliament of Robert Clive and Lord Hastings accelerated the shift of Indian policy away from the BEIC towards Whitehall and a shift from ‘Ministry espionage’ to ‘Government espionage’ leading, eventually, to a fully professional spy service. The 1782 Act setting out regulations for how ‘secret service money’ was to be authorised, issued and receipted if used, otherwise returned, meant that from that year a ‘secret service’ budget for the BEIC was formulated annually and submitted to the House of Commons [HoC] as part of the ‘Forward Estimates’ for discussion and approval. Again the figures are only indicative as to actual amounts and vague as to intended purposes. In a resolution of 13 September, 1783, the BEIC Board in London established an ‘Indian Political Department’ (IPD) to help “relieve the pressure” on the administration of Warren Hastings in its “secret and political business”. In 1784, it only just managed to prevent the Pitt Cabinet taking control of all its political activities. Clause 14 of a draft Act drawn up by Lord Dundas at the Board of Control proposed to give ‘His Majesty’s Ministers’ the power ‘to issue secret orders to the Governments in India, concerning the levying of war or the making of peace.’ [cxxxvii] This was subsequently amended to authorise the passing of ‘secret orders’ to India through a three-man ‘Secret Committee of Directors’ each of whom was required from 1786 to swear an oath that he would not inform the other directors of any decisions taken: ‘… Hitherto, a small ‘Committee of Secrecy’ had undertaken such tasks only in wartime, although a [different] ‘Secret Committee’…had long organised sailing instructions and protection for Company ships (BoE, HB, 2006, pp.186-7). In 1785 Dundas set up a further ‘Secret Board of Control’ which, until 1805, took over the task of liaising with the Secret Committee of Director’s about ‘the more important India business.’ (CHP, 1961, p.50.) Immediate administrative adjustments were required when Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798-99 caught the local English spies by surprise, but just where in the government papers would the requisition figure for the subsequent adjustments appear? It was the Secret Committee of the BEIC which alerted cabinet of the Corsican’s probable destination before informing the three Indian ‘presidencies’ at Madras, Bombay and Calcutta of plans to send 4,000 troops immediately.[cxxxviii] The Company directors back ‘home’ often muttered about ‘secret service’ moneys appearing in their ledgers without their being consulted and without their having any power to find out how ‘approved’ moneys had been spent.

Land-based, 18th century ‘lodge/s’ outside Europe were unlikely to be the stable, a-political enclaves of conviviality and progressive values that they are assumed to have been. More likely, they continued to operate as they had in Europe as sites of intrigue, informal intelligence gathering and influence-peddling, with the addition of cultural opportunities not normally available in English schools. Indicative of military/mercantile priorities among the earliest ‘envoys’, George Pomfret, about whom absolutely nothing else is known, was appointed ‘Provincial Grand Master of East India’ [PGM] in 1728 by London’s GM Kingston. Pomfret was succeeded in 1729 by Captain Ralph Farr Winter, a BEIC ship’s captain, who in 1730 in Calcutta established the “East India Arms” as Lodge No. 72. He supposedly “sent from his Lodge in Bengal, a chest of best arrack for the use of the Grand Lodge in England”, and 10 guineas for the Masonic Charity. In Calcutta, among few known facts, ‘Freemasons’ supported a school built in 1731 by a Mr Bourchier for European and Eurasian children who wore uniforms similar to those worn at the Blue Coat School in London. These nods to respectability, benevolence and stability are the cover story. I surmise a number of approaches were being tried combining EF, military force, commercial and diplomatic initiatives, and Christian missions. One approach, the travelling regimental lodge, I suspect, grew out of a need to recruit town and farm labourers for service overseas and, only circumstantially, held within it a spore of ‘Freemasonry’.

China had long been the fount of fantastic tales and lucrative trade in exotic goods. Interdiction of the caravans along the Silk Road by Ottoman raiders in the mediaeval period had had major geo-political consequences for Europe and had provided sound reasons for trading companies to have had diplomat/spies throughout the region for as long. Some brethren in EF had long mused about the Levant, ie the eastern Mediterranean coastal regions from Anatolia to Egypt. Internal debates, around the 1731 novel, “Séthos” and around Count Cagliostro’s introduction of an Egyptianized rite in Paris in 1785 overlapped with talk of trade or cultural potentialities, as in the Royal Society, when the possibility was raised of an eastern origin for ‘freemasonry’, and just what that might mean. Speculation fed on speculation and fantasy on fantasy but ‘modern’ scholars have been very selectively-dismissive with evidence.

Within Walpole-era circles, little thought had been given to the religious possibilities of an extension of ‘Freemasonry’ globally. Yet in London, in 1720, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had deemed it expedient to print the New Testament and Psalter in Arabic for use in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia and Egypt. A century later, increasing numbers of missionary enterprises were ‘reaching out’ to indigenes. Some no doubt were genuine, some were peddling ‘fire-water’ or worse, while some were covers for government intelligence-gathering initiatives and were ‘run’ by British Consuls, such as Alexander Drummond in Turkey from 1747. His diplomatic appointment coincided with his authorisation by the GL of Scotland as PGM for areas both north and south of the Mediterranean. That France, for example, had signed treaties with Persia in 1708 and 1715, of course, had nothing to do with these moves.

Harland-Jacob’s thesis concerning the Empire/EF parallel is mostly concerned with ‘the colonial’ and ‘the domestic’ and almost not at all with ‘the foreign’, eg, the Middle East, but the policy distinction is actually between white, english-speaking brethren, and ‘the others.’ The literature already marks the difference, referring, for example, to ‘Lord Moira initiating Mirza Abul, Persian Ambassador in 1776’, rather than ‘a lodge was established at xyz under the English Constitution into which abc was welcomed and initiated’ which is how EF’s colonial/domestic efforts are introduced. The sparse details of the first emphasise the foreignness of the diplomat and his status and invite reflection on politico/historical realities, not a benign charitable program. However, the literature, in this case a paper by Prescott, a scholar sympathetic to EF, does not provide the context, which is that the period, 1747-1794, in Persia has been described by other scholars as ‘bloody and destructive.’ [cxxxix] The Middle East was not just another photo-opportunity whereby the locals could be impressed with the dignity and power of a public processional which is a large part of how Prescott, and Harland-Jacobs, have explained EF’s modus operandi. But neither was it simply the site of contexts and issues a bit different to those in Ottawa, Sydney or Cape Town because non-white, non-english language speakers were involved. Harland-Jacobs would have had to write a very different book to accommodate ‘the foreign’ into her thesis, which she ought to have done since at least the eastern Mediterranean was the focus of imperial and EF anxieties for almost the whole of EF’s three centuries.

In 1858, a young EF and soldier named Irwin, addressed Gibraltar’s ‘Inhabitant’s Lodge’ on ‘ancient Freemasonry’: ‘…Guided by designs laid down by the Great Architect, Noah was enabled to construct that first masterpiece of Geometrical Science – the Ark – in which…the knowledge of time, God and the secrets of our Order (were) preserved to be transmitted for the good of future generations.’ [cxl] This can be dismissed as fanciful, but with Gould and Warren, and perhaps Woodford, in his regimental lodge audience, Irwin had further insisted: ‘…Much more could be adduced to show that the Arabs practised Masonry during the time in which their power was established in Europe, (for example) that at this moment it is very well known in all those countries where the Moslem faith predominates…’ (CM, 2007, pp.203-4) This observation has been dismissed out-of-hand with the rest which is unfortunate for a number of reasons.

European interest in ‘Egyptian’, ‘Islamic’ or ‘Arabic’ rites before Napoleon may have arisen from traveller’s observation of the ‘abundant’ secret societies which in 1965 Landau accepted had existed in Egypt for a very long time, and which appear to have been labelled ‘Freemasonry’ to suit the imperial colonisation process. These societies were, supposedly, ‘ancient and local rites’ from Dervish Orders and Muslim guilds ‘with their own secret signs of recognition’. Kedourie, a long-time scholar, asserted that ‘It cannot be doubted’ that Al-Afghani, an important if elusive anti-British activist late in the 19th century, ‘saw in masonry a modern extension of ancient Islamic heterodoxy.’ [cxli]

Further, QC-founder Gould quoted from The Times of 1881 to the effect that ‘there is in existence a widely-spread system of “Moslem Political Freemasonry”: ‘This has five sub-divisions, one of which – the powerful confraternity of Sidi Abdel Kader of Chiliani – possesses a college at Kairwan’. A footnote provided the information that Kairwan, ‘long the capital of Moslem Africa, and formerly a place of great literary eminence, is still considered a sacred town’. The original bearer of the confraternity’s name lived in the 11th century, was a descendant of Mahomet, and was considered a holy man and saint. Gould’s account of ‘Freemasonry’ disregards non-European material from this point. [cxlii] In the nineteenth century, the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and of Antioch always chose their members from ‘the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, an old monastic Order, which in its modern form, dates from 1662.’ [cxliii] [My emphasis]

Any non-European fraternities, vibrant or not, in place when colonisers arrived would have provided a strong reason for the use of ‘Freemasonry’ as a social lubricant. Even dim but collective memories of a fraternal past would have assisted the newly-arrived to argue a degree of compatibility with influential locals at the point of contact, when differences, not similarities, would have been uppermost in many minds. One could argue ‘Freemasonry’ was chosen by Europeans as a suitable vehicle for their aspirations precisely because the notion of fraternalism was of long-standing.

Power disparities at cultural flash-points and the relative values placed on types of information can affect how, and whether, mutually useful information flows. Commercial transactions require product knowledge to take place, imperial decision-makers put a higher priority on geo-political intelligence – place, distances, centres of administration, key individuals, etc. In what is now called Central Asia/Middle East, pre-European communities saw their information-gatherers ‘instrumentally’, ie they were a means to an end, an approach which would have been recognised by Europeans. But the reasons the intelligence was gathered were very different. Indian spy systems, for example, were intended to serve a whole community. They were ‘flexible and adaptable’ and depended on ‘informal networks of knowledgeable people’ – from holy men, mid-wives, astrologers and exorcists to traders, surgeons and artisans: ‘Indian statesmen had long been concerned with good intelligence gathering, regarding surveillance as a vital dimension of the science of kingship – networks of running spies, newswriters and knowledgeable secretaries’ Their aim was not to create a police state which monitored the political attitudes of subjects, so much as to detect moral transgressions among their officers and the oppression of the weak by the powerful.[cxliv] In the 18th and 19th centuries, the system’s enormous scale and scope were perfect for the British to adopt, but the whole was weak enough to be taken control of and changed. The Resident at Hyderabad, James Kirkpatrick, within a short time of arriving in 1795 was receiving intelligence from cleaners, concubines, harem guards and the Nizam’s official historian, as well as from agents within the French military encampment.[cxlv] He was making use of a traditional way of life to achieve new ends. The later ‘Great Game’ of spy vs spy on the icy slopes and wind-swept plains of Central Asia and the bribery of camel-drivers between Egyptian bazaars were not new but they were not entirely old either. In mid-century, ‘as the busiest junction of British and Indian interests, the Commissariat Office acted as a kind of intelligence centre. The ante-rooms and verandahs of the Cawnpore’s Commissariat swarmed with spies, some under contract to the military and civil authorities. Entire castes dedicated themselves to spying. There were reckless men who hired themselves out as messengers and learned to carry infinitesimal coded notes in the cracks of their bamboo staffs, in their hair, between their teeth, under especially cut flaps of skin, or even in more private parts of their anatomies…The contractors themselves were expected to provide the British with not only supplies but with intelligence.’[cxlvi]
The intelligence was not just collected, it was used to imperial advantage, including to bring about that component of diplomatic-spy work noted by Baden-Powell, what we now call ‘regime change’. Instructions rarely needed to be written down, much would have been understood by ‘brothers in arms’ but where better to plot the alienation of one royal faction or the undermining of another than an exclusive, secretive lodge meeting? Interpretations by indigenous historians not bound by race or instinct to the imperial chariot have listed what they regard as the intended goals of surveillance networks set up with ‘Machiavellian coolness and calculation’, for example by Sir John D’Oyley (1774-1824) in what is now Sri Lanka:
to ascertain the identity of the important Kandyan noblemen and aristocrats who were not well-disposed towards the king, and to fan their feelings of ill-will to the sovereign;
to ascertain the names of the members of the Kandyan court who remained loyal to their monarch, and wherever possible to neutralise them;
to secure the trust and support of the sangha or Buddhist clergy;
to gain a comprehensive knowledge of strategic points of the realm and of the various secret routes leading from the Maritime provinces by which they could be reached, and Kandy itself approached;
to obtain information regarding personal antipathies and clan rivalries among the leading families in the Kandyan Provinces;
to originate and bring into existence in the remotest part of the king’s dominions such situations and tensions among the people as might justify British intervention;
to find out the exact military strength, supplies, arms and ammunition available for the defence and protection of Kandy;
to obtain information regarding the whereabouts of hiding-places in which the royal treasure was usually hidden during political upheavals;
and last but not the least important, to convey through various agencies, British liquors of all sorts to the king.

Non-Military Lodges

Reports to London’s 19th century EF periodicals of Indian EF jurisdictions were inter-changeable with those coming from the BEIC’s administrative ‘presidencies’. For example in 1839: The Provincial Grand Master for Western India wrote that while lodges were succeeding, ‘the dispersion of so many military brethren from Bombay, must, as in other parts of India, occasion temporary checks to Masonic operations.’ [cxlvii] These are not regimental lodges, with travelling charters, these are lodges already known to have initiated BEIC officials and civil servants. The notion of ‘agency’ is still in place but military involvement with EF has long since shifted from being EF within regiments to the reverse – service personnel inside non-regimental EF. Any list of military ‘agents’ for the gentry-EF who were not initiated at home and were not in defined ‘regimental lodges’ would include the future governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, who was initiated in Bombay in 1793. His Masonry supposedly led to visionary policies among the convicts, gaolers and embryonic capitalists at Botany Bay. Rather, his initiation was a strategic reaction to a broader phenomenon:

– Great Power competition was transforming the rift between the ‘Antients’ and ‘Moderns’ into one between English and non-English ‘Freemasonries’;

– Control of a unitary ‘Freemasonry’ was becoming part of local, national, and global rivalries;

– French ‘Freemasonry’ was expressing itself in socially progressive ways, as the gentry-EF was interpreting ‘Freemasonry’ in socially reactionary ways;

– Continental and ‘American’ governments and ‘their’ Grand Lodges were engaged in joint ‘recruiting drives’;

– Supported by the House of Hanover, gentry-EF was shoring up its image as the mother of all ‘Freemasonry’ and as the Empire’s strongest supporter, a movement which came to fruition at ‘the Union’.

Geo-political rivalry is the context in which Napoleon’s alleged‘ introduction of Freemasonry’ into Egypt and his appointment of loyalists to high status positions in both government and ‘Freemasonry’ needs to be seen. Non-military lodges were better-placed to operate as ‘safe houses’ for the exchange of sensitive information between belligerents. The French lodge, Neuf Soeurs, in Paris was one such place of contact during the US war for Bancroft, Franklin and other agents.[cxlviii] Sir Robert Wilson (1777-1849), a military surveyor and diplomat/spy, set down in his memoirs his use while in action of his Masonic membership. This soldier was with the Russian Army in Moscow when Napoleon was turned around and in Spain and Portugal when Wellington was engaged in the same enterprise. He was sidelined for a time for publishing warnings that Russia was intent on capturing India and the Indies. Hopkirk credits him with the creation of ‘the Russian bogey.’ He was Gibraltar’s Governor in the 1840s. In 1805 he recorded making a sketch while on patrol of the ‘Great Cairo’ and later submitting it with a report which remarked that the fortress was not defensible. On the same day, June 9, he referred to meeting a Mameluke Bey, just returned from Gizeh: ‘where he had been sent on an important secret mission, the purport of which was only known to the general and myself, therefore not to be mentioned or even hinted at, at home…’ [cxlix] The following November he was similarly engaged in San Salvador and wrote:

(p.277, November 16, 1805)’…Here I have found the greatest advantage from masonry. No sooner had I declared myself than houses, horses, servants, all things, were put at my disposal, for the institution is held in the highest estimation, because the laws and bigotry persecute the professors with fire and sword. I dare not now mention the names of those who devoted themselves to my service but some of the chief members of government have in private made me their acknowledgements.’

Another of the 19th century’s earliest Empire and EF heroes, Stamford Raffles, wrote, around 1810, of ‘the splendid prospect’ of: ‘the total expulsion of the European enemy from the Eastern Seas, and [of] the justice, humanity and moderation of the British Government, as much exemplified in fostering and leading on new races of subjects and allies in the career of improvement as [in] the undaunted courage and resolution of British soldiers in rescuing them from oppression.’ [cl] This was his self-serving justification to his superiors including Lord Minto of his bloody, racist invasion of Java in 1811. His subsequent, post-invasion initiation into ‘a small, select Lodge’ on a coffee plantation owned by a Dutchman, who just happened to be the ‘Master of the Lodge’ has been celebrated by EF insiders as totally without duplicity or artifice of any kind.[cli] Lord Minto, Governor-General of India 1807-1812, had apparently ‘sponsored’ Raffles into gentry-EF and Raffles then just happened to meet with William Daendels, appointed that same year by Napoleon to be the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Whereupon, Daendels, being ‘so worried by the possibility of Masonic conspiracies’, had new club rooms, the Harmonie, built for expatriates to meet openly and fraternally. In that same spirit, Raffles, allegedly, had the building completed with public funds. Non-Masonic historians have done little better with these layers of illusion.[clii]

Raffles was unusual among military/Masonic heroes in recognising that the maxim, ‘knowledge is power’, extended to artefacts. Having humiliated the Javanese people in 1812 he then sought to conquer their past by, in Hannigan’s words, ‘annexing the island’s history’, and making it ‘his own vassal state.’ He had his underlings plunder Javanese flora and fauna, its artworks and its literature for relocation. He sent his military engineers to survey ancient temples in order to capture them as well as the island’s myths and legends for repackaging. European theft of indigenous culture, whether the Elgin Marbles, Australian aboriginal bark paintings or Cleopatra’s Needles, was just another element of colonisation’s appropriation of its victims’ lives. To the victor went not only the power to appropriate knowledge about a people, but also the power to write that people into a history which set out the European version, even of themselves. Raffles wrote in Java: ‘(In) the intercourse between enlightened and ignorant nations, the former must and will be the rulers.[cliii] His ruthlessness was at odds with Macaulay’s benign view of Whiggery and with that of EF’s claims of universality and tolerance. Rather than make him a poor example of an Englishman, or of English Freemasonry, his words evidence imperialist and gentry-EF attitudes.[cliv] His immediate superior General Robert Brownrigg made sure that the European community on the island were given only a negative view of the entrenched rebel leader and were therefore totally supportive of the unnecessary, particularly brutal campaign which followed the King’s capture. (B&YG, 1999, pp.147-8.)

Writing in the 1880’s UGLE insider Gould saw no need to distinguish ‘diplomatic’ from ‘Masonic’ when describing ‘foreign’ activities seven decades earlier: “His Excellency Mirza Abdul Hassan Khan”, Persian Ambassador to Great Britain, in 1809 travelled to London on an English war-ship with Sir Ousley Gore, Baronet, as his Mehmander, ‘an officer of distinction’ whose duty it was ‘to receive and entertain foreign princes and illustrious personages’. On June 15, 1810, Mirza Khan was made ‘Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England.’ In the same year, Sir Ousley Gore was appointed British Ambassador to the Shah of Persia and was ‘granted an English patent as Provincial Grand Master [PGM] to that country.[clv] This Persian diplomatic mission reportedly set London social circles ablaze – ‘the women are quite mad’ about the ambassador Hassan Khan who had ‘considerable charm, a neat turn of phrase, good looks and flowing silk robes which besotted London crowds, high and low.’[clvi]

At the time Gould was writing, there was nothing known of an English lodge in Persia in 1809, and none were known to have been ‘established by any other external authority’. As far as was known, Mirza Khan was not a ‘Freemason’ at all until initiated by Lord Minto in 1810, and was therefore ineligible to be made a Past Grand Master. Gould was no innocent in these matters and he thought the interlocked diplomatic/Masonic workings were for mutually beneficial, political ends. Presumably, government funds – ‘secret service money’ – were used when visits to London of such strategic importance occurred. Gould doesn’t mention that Mirza Khan was paid 1,000 rupees a month from 1810 until his death in 1846 by the ‘political department of the East India Company.’ As the official in charge of Persian foreign affairs, Mirza Khan was to have this amount from the British Ambassador, Sir Ousley Gore, if that gent was ‘satisfied with (Khan’s) conduct of affairs.’ [clvii] After his return to Iran, Mīrzā Khan worked closely with Gore who added Mīrzā Šafī, the prime minister, to the British payroll (F.O. 60/7 1812, letter no. 16) Gore’s immediate instructions had been to safeguard the British and Russian interests and enable the Russians to face the Napoleonic army without being disturbed by Iran. After Napoleon had been defeated, neither the paymaster nor the recipients appear to have attempted to promote lodge expansion which would indicate that that wasn’t the point of the initiations. Gould doesn’t mention either that Askar Khan Afshar, ‘leader of a diplomatic mission to Europe’ had been initiated the previous year ‘into the mother lodge of Philosophic Scottish Rite’ by the Grand Orient of France, in Paris. At his ceremony, Napoleon’s Secretary of State had spoken of ‘the alleged oriental origin of masonry and its latter-day return to its birthplace through the efforts of Iranian masons’: ‘By (the initiate) this pure light will return to its ancient cradle.’ The English/British establishment had a double reason to respond – the local origin of ‘Freemasonry’ was being challenged and other nations, using the same methods, were gaining influence in Persia.

Travel, exploration and conquest were exponentially increasing the volume of information which needed to be processed by ‘home’ governments and their advisors, inevitably multiplying potential for disagreement over interpretations. Where 18th century BEIC officials had entered into indigenous life to understand it, to enjoy its pleasures and to obtain its hidden meanings, the ‘19th century way’ included seeking information from the terrain in order to control it militarily. At the same time, evangelical Christians argued that acquired ‘subjects’ needed to be saved from themselves with ‘our’ education and ‘our’ religion. A Director of the BEIC, Charles Grant in 1787 described Hindus as ‘a universally and wholly corrupt’ people and this remark has been used as a time-marker for a change in attitude.[clviii] Grant, (1746 – 1823), was, in time, to become Chairman of BEIC, an influential MP and an energetic member of the Clapham Sect, a group of social reformers which included William Wilberforce and the later Lord Shaftsbury. John Shore, 1st Baron Teignmouth (1751-1834) and Governor of India from 1793 to 1797, was also the first President of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and so on. (MtE, pp.142-155.) This was rarely turn-the-other-cheek Christianity, this was active, aggressive proselytising, with a Bible in one hand and a sword or a Cooper ‘pepperbox’ pistol in the other. The practicalities of empire-building with reason and science could mean the Bible stayed out of sight until ‘the heathen’ were subdued, but ‘our Book’ shouldered ‘theirs’ aside, forcing compromises and hybrid solutions which, history tells, were not always successful. In brief, spy-masters were seeking more sophisticated surveillance methods and administrators more accurate and up-to-date information, while others were turning to the ancient past for verification of knowledge they believed they already had. In either case, EF had instrumental value.

An apparent turning back towards the past by EF after 1813 included genuine curiosity about what was potentially new knowledge, but other brothers like Raffles were capturing symbolic markers to shore up preconceptions. David Stevenson has backgrounded hermeticism and the cult of Egypt which he believed entered into Scottish Masonry in the early modern period. (DS, 1988, pp.82-87) By the time the actual hieroglyphs were deciphered by a Frenchman in 1822, attitudes among the broad public included both spiritual and scientific curiosity but when the sphinx, the obelisk and the Great Pyramid enclosing an all-seeing eye (the Eye of Horus) became more prominent in EF they were as much consumer items as keys to enlightenment. Thomas Pettigrew, surgeon to the English Grand Master, the Duke of Sussex, and an antiquarian held parties at which he unrolled and autopsied mummies for the entertainment of his guests, later publishing a history of his findings. In Kensal Green Cemetery, while Sussex’s tomb was built of dour, understated Aberdeen granite, a number of GL-EFs, including that of Peter Thomson, who was directly involved in the 1813 union, had headstones with Egyptian motifs. Later on, the famous ‘Egyptian Room’ at London’s revamped Crystal Palace, 1852-4, was a collaboration of EFs, while English brethren were central to the transportation of a ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’ obelisk from Egypt to London in 1878 and its erection on the Thames Embankment.[clix]

Cartography

By 1800, the British Army’s Ordnance Department was complaining that ‘to improve military technology’ and to ‘keep…abreast of foreign scientific and military developments’, its entrenched procedures, including its ‘two hundred-year-old Decyphering Branch’, needed renewal. Napoleon and Wellington, both militarily trained on the Continent, complained of the abysmal state of their, home-grown intelligence-gathering systems. The need to know ‘what is over the hill’ – the Iron Duke’s phrase for ‘what my opponent is thinking’ – remained their immediate priority. There was always the fear that ‘his’ skills were getting ahead of ‘ours’. A theme in the competitive drumbeat for government was now ‘directed’ intelligence. Emerging military theory after the loss of the US colonies was saying a man could be more effective, for a longer time, if he was better prepared beforehand. Skills to fit circumstances could therefore be better taught ‘at home’ and refined ‘on site.’ The British Library has commented that not only was this adjustment ‘mainly political,’ but it was no-longer about Europe – it was about ‘which tribes might be plotting to overthrow some ruler and what might be the effect on border tribes.’ (BL Guide to Records)

Proficiency in appropriate languages needed time to develop as did back grounding in a culture or a region. Upgrades in specialisations – translator, code-breaker, engineer, gunner, active spy, sleeper spy – needed more complex information and better teaching methods. Trigonometry and geometry were essential in the front line but when that agents were ‘undercover’, their ability to measure by eye, to determine angles of shell trajectories, to conduct survey and cartographic work quickly and effectively, required better-focused skills.[clx] Usable, coherent intelligence needed a base in statistical/geographic/economic and sociological descriptions which, in turn, needed field agents who could draw maps, collect data and generally pass through or investigate specific areas without raising storms of protest.

A 1997 study of how cartography defined the Empire in the 19th century began with the assertion that ‘Imperialism and mapmaking intersect in the most basic manner’. Its author convincingly argued: ‘Without good political and military intelligence the British could never have established their rule in India or consolidated the dominant international position of the United Kingdom.’ [clxi] Surveyors and engineers had long been the means of giving shape and form to what otherwise were ‘trackless wastes’ of ocean, highland, jungle or desert. They were of special value to government precisely because, in theory, they exemplified the secular search for ‘truth’, what, in the 19th century was commonly called ‘science-based knowledge’. Their reports and briefings were always, in theory, rational, data-driven and objective, because that’s what, in theory, the Navy’s captains, the War Office’s strategic analysts and government policy-makers had to have to be effective.

Government authorisation and funding was needed for the systemisation and the teaching of the new skills. The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India [GTS] was a project of William Lambton, an infantry officer, who in 1799-1800 convinced the Madras administration to provide the first funds. George Everest, a young artillery officer, was Lambton’s first assistant at the GTS and his successor in 1823. In 1829, Lord Ellenborough, (1790-1871) Governor of India and member of the Duke of Wellington’s Ministry, issued orders for the routes by which an invader might enter India to be thoroughly explored and mapped. The GTS produced maps of the borders of the British colonies in India and in the process measured Everest, K2 and Katchenjunga. But in 1800, except for the artillery school at Woolwich no institution for the education of military officers existed in Britain. In 1801, after overcoming considerable opposition, a skilled swordsman and cavalry officer, John Le Marchant convinced Parliament to vote £30,000 and to appoint him ‘lieutenant-governor’ of a Royal Military College. Over the next nine years he trained the officers who served under Wellington in the Peninsular War against Napoleon. Promoted and sent back to active service by the Duke of York he was killed at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812. His initiative eventually became Sandhurst. A similarly colorful start was made to a new direction offered by the BEIC’s Military Seminary established at Addiscombe in 1809.[clxii] Fraud had been discovered in the selection processes at the earlier Hayleybury College set up ‘for cadets, assistant surgeons, free mariners, and volunteers for the Bombay marine and Bengal pilot service’. The Reverend Thomas Malthus was among its staff from 1805 to teach History and Political Economy. A House of Commons Select Committee issued reports on the cheating, a number of appointments were ‘annulled’ and the whole of ‘the Court’s patronage’, hitherto with the Shipping Department of the Company, was ‘in future to be examined and passed by the Select Committee superintending the [Addiscombe] Seminary, recently appointed.’ No lodge was established within the grounds but a number operated in close proximity.

In 1809, Wellington, made clear his belief that ‘order and discipline (was) the key to military success.’ In Harland-Jacobs’ words, he sought ‘to engender obedience, loyalty, passivity and a lack of inquisitiveness among the rank and file.’ [My emphasis] He firmly believed that the army would function most effectively if its structure and internal workings mirrored Britain’s social hierarchy. UGLE in 1813 was clearly in agreement. As already noted, it determined that no warrant would be issued for a new regimental lodge ‘without the consent of the commanding officer’, forbade initiation of civilians into military lodges, and barred admission of any soldier below the rank of corporal, except as a serving officer or by dispensation from the GM. Any privates who were admitted were relegated to the role of servants in newly-formed “Officers’ Lodges’.

By 1817, Addiscombe had admitted 427 ‘Artillery and Engineer gentlemen cadets’ and had sent 338 out to India, a result with which Lord Minto had expressed himself well-satisfied. In that year, an attempt was made to wind back its programs, one Company Director saying that BEIC’s civil servants were only required ‘to weigh tea, count bales and measure muslin.’ Malthus issued a pamphlet defending the Seminary in all its parts, quoting Minto, and the then Marquis of Wellesley from 1800 when his ‘prototype’ college at Fort William in Calcutta was being set up: ‘(No) more arduous or complicated duties of magistracy exist in the world, no qualifications more varied and comprehensive can be imagined than those which are required from those persons.’ Established languages, Latin and French were by then being taught alongside Hindustani, with mathematics, fortifications, astronomy, landscape drawing, military surveying and civil drawing. Espionage was not named in the curricula. However, a new Superintendent at Addiscombe in 1824, RL Houston came from the Indian Army where, among other postings, he had been in charge of ‘Guides’ and of the ‘Intelligence Department’. He introduced what was later described as ‘the pernicious system of espionage’ which, in situ, meant sergeants were authorised ‘to observe the movements of the cadets’ during sport and recreation and to report to staff immediately any infringement of the rules ‘regarding smoking, entering public houses’ and the like. The system was removed after a short ‘trial’. For the 1894 author of the College’s history nothing more likely to destroy all self-respect among ‘the youngsters’ could have been devised: ‘The only reason I can give for the failure of this system to ruin the cadets is that (they) were imbued with such manly and generous feelings throughout that it was impossible to destroy them.’ [clxiii] He crowed in 1894 that ‘(The) [BEIC] Chief Engineers, are, or have been Addiscombe men…The heads of the Great Survey Department are still Addiscombe cadets.’ (HV, 1894, p.8)

This new breed of engineer is of interest: ‘(The) explosion of cartographic enterprise in early modern Europe was motivated by the specific requirements of powerful social formations – fiscal, dynastic, military, commercial and imperial.’ [clxiv] In the words of another recent scholar, the operators of the 19th century, rational approach lost touch with their indigenous ‘subjects’ in statistics, strategies and map lines. Speaking about India: ‘The British elite created a myth of a bourgeois colonial community comprised only of themselves, which subsequently engendered the greater, more potent, and more ambiguous myths of Raj, of the White Man’s Burden, and of the never-setting Sun.’ (MtE, p.30) Local knowledge was to be waved aside.

PART THREE: In the Reign of Queen Victoria

 

Neither acceptance into nor advancement in military officer ranks were yet based entirely on merit. Whereas Sir John Malcolm, an aggressive commander at the turn of the century was ‘concerned with collecting the raw materials for the analysis of society’ and ‘systematising that information and drawing conclusions from it…’, his successor as Superintendent of the Indian Navy, Sir Robert Oliver, saw no need for such things. The ‘relative sophistication’ of Malcolm’s ‘historicism and his use of numismatics, oriental philology, and non-European historiography (marked) a sharp contrast’ to writers of the previous generation.[clxv] As head of the Indian Navy he had ‘encouraged’ resourceful and energetic officers during lulls to get out and explore. But Oliver, who succeeded him in 1838, was described as ‘an old officer of the old school’. He was a disciplinarian who wanted nothing to do with science or anything beyond the ‘rule of thumb.’ Somewhere around twenty of Malcolm’s surveys were immediately shut down. ‘Instruments’ were withdrawn or not-maintained, and no notice was taken of papers forwarded to government. Any man attempting to do more than the Naval Manual required was treated with contempt and red-hot displeasure.[clxvi]

The gentry-EF still involved interlocking families, but now the easy movement was between commerce and cocktails on the green, and from diplomatic small-talk at race-meetings to the War Office and Cabinet meetings to discuss security. In 1821 a summary ‘of all Monies Expended Touching any proceedings respecting Her Majesty the Queen [Caroline] from the year 1817 to the present’, included 18,100/15/- of ‘secret service money’. When invited to provide evidence against her, by a Secret Committee set up by her husband, George IV from whom she was estranged, Captain Joseph Burton, one of her security detail, refused and was ‘stood down’, effectively sacked, on half-pay. Burton had gone from Wellington’s staff to serve as aide-de-camp in India to Lord Bentinck, off-spring of William III’s spy-master. Well-performed against Napoleon in Sicily and Italy, Burton’s service records provide no detail, the gaps implying clandestine activities. Best man at his wedding in 1820 was Mountstuart Elphinstone, a member of a family soon to have very close links to Queen Victoria, and another diplomat/spy. Among sensitive topics of conversation were ‘the Jewish problem’ and the dilemma of Palestine. That they were discussed we can be sure. David Green, one of ‘Her Majesty’s Gentleman at Arms’, said in an 1846 lodge meeting in England that he had travelled widely in Egypt and Nubia [now in Sudan] and ‘had always found Freemasonry a passport to the best society’ and that it had ‘procured him advantages which he could not possibly have received from any other source.’ [clxvii]

Despite being an initiate of a number of the more explicitly Christian Orders of Masonry, UGLE’s Grand Master Sussex side-lined them for the three decades of his Grand Mastership supposedly because he was keen on EF’s universal, religious tolerance. Consequently, EF scholars have struggled to explain the apparent ‘re-appearance’ of these Orders after his death.[clxviii] What is known show Sussex was a keen scholar but not a deep or radical thinker. He was very conservative, not at all forward-looking and far less concerned with current affairs than his father had been. In the House of Lords he voted against the abolition of slavery. At some point he began thinking his way towards an integration of ‘Freemasonry’ and Christianity, not ‘universal tolerance’ as EF has claimed since. The words used at the time of ‘the Union’, over which he presided, made concessions to the Antients’ negotiating position and gestured towards a universalist approach. Maintenance of the Protestant hegemony however remained the over-riding requirement. To achieve genuine religious ‘universality’, a great deal more would have been required including a canvas of the views of Catholics, Buddhists, Baptists and other non-Anglican faiths.

Just before ‘the Union’ was promulgated, a Swedish envoy met with him to urge that since ‘Freemasonry’ in both countries operated under royal patronage and protection Grand Lodge should not ‘entertain’ possibly disloyal, that is working class, elements. Increased memberships, principally in England/Britain, and often of seamen and other artisanal types moving backwards and forwards across the North Sea, were disturbing the ‘aristocratic’ brethren of ‘the Swedish Rite’ who suspected seditious and radical ideas were flowing their way. The envoy reported back to the Swedish king, that Sussex had said he desired ‘to reform English Freemasonry’. As an example of how ‘false brethren (were) diluting the purity of the order’ the diplomat noted that: ‘(Here, in England) exists a lodge of only Jews. Lately the Duke has disallowed its meetings, and done so on my pointing out the impropriety of their workings. (Prescott, 2014, p.209) ‘Jew/ish’ were virtual synonyms at this time for ‘the poor and the working class’. Sussex followed up the conversation by letter, agreeing that he wished to reform everything ‘in those mysteries which is not immaculate’ but lamented that his favoured changes ‘are not well known in this country and cannot be introduced without proper guidance.’ He emphasised that he had to proceed prudently ‘because of the number of individuals with which I have to deal, and the infinity of extravagant opinions among them.’ Prescott believes Sussex was interested in the Swedish ritual because of the light it might throw on the ‘hidden allegory of religion’. He demonstrated his priority by commissioning a Bro Higgins to seek information that might show that ‘freemasonry preserved the secrets of this ancient religion, of which Christianity was a blasphemous perversion.’ (Prescott, 2012, p.210) In this, Sussex was dabbling in areas similar to those pursued by 18th century EF scholar, Stukely, [clxix] who sought links between Stonehenge and the origins of ‘Freemasonry’.

Of importance is the fact that Louis Loewe, student of oriental languages, became the Duke’s Hebrew lecturer and Oriental linguist in 1839: ‘Undoubtedly (the Duke) was very devout, spending upwards of two hours daily in the study of Holy Writ… (He) read Hebrew with a gentlemen learned in the holy tongue.’ [clxx] By the time of his death, it seems Sussex was a strong believer, not in Christianity and EF as they were, but in what they might be. In 1843, The Christian Observer published an undated letter he had written to the Reverend Adam Clarke about his belief in the divine origin of the Scriptures, ‘which contain matters beyond human understanding.[clxxi] His belief seemed to be that ‘Christianity (was) the greatest gift to mankind’ but that its potential remained unrealised – perhaps he had in mind a reformed form of Anglicanism based on the Old Testament and to which Jews could convert without loss. The closure of a Jewish lodge and the substitution at the Union ‘of Moses and Solomon for the two Saints John as the Two Great Parallels of Masonry’ were indicative of his long interest and he was ‘famous for his friendship with the Jews and his interest in Jewish charitable causes’, [clxxii] but he was also aware how such a long term goal would be opposed. After his death, ‘the Jewish question’ achieved explosive importance.

Sussex refrained from pronouncing on domestic issues – Catholic relief, collapse of the old Tory Party, middle class suffrage, a young and female queen, Irish unrest, imperial ‘interventions’ – EF’s politics were clear and settled. Yet the public were not content, and governments continued to need intelligence on the opposition, foreign or domestic, and to need influence in the media. A protest meeting about the cost and the disbursement of London’s Metropolitan police in 1833 was reported at length in some papers: ‘(One speaker claimed that) the police system was altogether one of ‘spying’ and worthy of the most despotic Continental governments. (Hear, hear) He calculated that the total number of police spies, and in daily operation, was about 400. (Shame, shame) In Lambeth, there were constantly two police spies in plain clothes.’ Colonel Evans denounced the police system at great length,…The system was altogether one of military and political espionage; and it became the people themselves to combine and to get rid of it by every legitimate means…’[clxxiii] [My emphases]

In June, 1842, the Christian Observer reflected on the continuing problem of ‘bribery in elections’: ‘The opprobrious and demoralising practice of Bribery at Parliamentary elections has at length come before the legislature and the nation, in so rampant an attitude that we begin to hope some really efficient effort will at length be made to abolish it…’ In August, it observed of the official enquiry: ‘The disclosures upon the subject of bribery at elections are most painful and disgraceful.’[clxxiv] In 1844, a furore erupted over the letters of Italian nationalist Mazzini being opened in London and the contents reported ‘to a foreign government’, a tumult which led to a House of Lords enquiry into ‘(the) system of espionage in the General Post Office, St Martins Le Grand, (which) is comparatively unknown to the public.’ Newspapers registered outrage and shared some of what they had known for years. When first established in 1657, the Post Office had been empowered to detain, open, read and copy all and any mail items. [clxxv]…During the Secretaryship of Sir Francis Freeling, [from 1797 to 1836 – met with above] the opening of letters posted in London for the Continent, as well as those from the provinces passing through the Foreign Office, was carried on to a great extent, and we know (says a correspondent) to a certainty that there are now in the Post Office more than one individual who, in carrying letters and packets which had been opened and re-sealed in the ‘Espionage office’ to the Inland Offices, have found the wax on violated letters and packets sticking to their hands, from its having had insufficient time to cool.’ [clxxvi]

Matthew Arnold of Rugby School thought ‘secret societies’ a pagan threat to Christianity, and Prime Minister Disraeli was soon to declare they posed a threat to European governments. According to him, secret societies ‘covered Europe with a network like that of the railways’ [clxxvii] and he later wrote a book, Lothair, to set out his concerns. Thomas de Quincy wrote nostalgically about one society, the Essenes, and enterprising editors published a rag bag of ‘secret snippets’ with a scary cover and made themselves some money. The agent of the threat was invariably ‘foreign’ a place which, in the case of writers from Disraeli to Chesterton and Conrad began at Calais. The ‘mysterious East’ had been forcefully de-mystified by the armies of Albion, now it was the turn of ‘darkest Africa’ to be ‘discovered’, ‘opened up’ and turned into entertainment as ‘The Curse of the Pharos’. Rider Haggard’s ‘She’ and Jules Verne’s ‘Tigers and Traitors’ came later.

 

Who Killed Stoddart and Conolly?

 

At least the author of the 1990 book, The Great Game, Peter Hopkirk, was alive to the irony of his book’s title. It is a name originally given to the Central Asian phase of the murderous struggle between espionage networks, mainly Russian and English/British. Participant memoirs have explained that the official cover story was that agents were on vacation ‘hunting wildlife’ and thus the whole spying thing was ‘a game.’ The devil-may-care attitude and a sense of selfless abandon in the name of orders from ‘Higher Up’ allowed a reasonable pride to be manipulated into a rhetoric of bombast. Ure’s 2009 collection summarising agents’ memoirs begins in 1810 with ‘Henry Pottinger – the Make-Believe Holy Man’ and concludes with ‘Percy Sykes – the Daring Bounder’ who traversed Persia in the 1890’s and 1900’s and became a crucial player in the pre-1914 diplomatic manoeuvrings. Their personalities and their fates varied, but all have been publicised as passionate believers in the need to risk everything and to endure anything to achieve the goals they had set. On one occasion, Pottinger travelled from Bombay deep into Persia disguised variously as a Muslim, horse-dealer, Sunni holy man and down-on-his-luck European merchant, in order to assess the likelihood of Napoleon’s armies invading India from the north-west. He wrote later that he and his fellow-traveller quickly realised that they would have to dig more deeply into their disguises: ‘(We) completely metamorphosed ourselves, by having our heads shaved and adopting the entire native costume.’ [clxxviii] Disguises were standard for field ‘agents’, as were means to conceal and, when necessary, to destroy dangerous ‘intelligence’. Buddhist ‘prayer wheels’ were useful in this regard, and for surreptitiously measuring distances. Ure rightly pointed out that ‘it was not just on the frontiers of India’ but ‘wherever the tentacles of the British Empire extended’ that young men were engaged in this work.

Henry Pottinger’s official biography is an example of another kind of cover story. It provides no detail of his activities between arrival in India and his being knighted: ‘(He) had gone to India in 1803 with ‘the Coy’, was created a baronet in 1842, for his work with the Treaty of Nanking, and a Privy Councillor in 1844…was a friend and confidante of Lord Palmerston. He was a political agent in Cutch (1836-40), envoy, plenipotentiary and superintendent of British Trade in India (1841-43), the first Governor of Hong Kong (1843-44), Governor of the Cape of Good Hope (1846) and Madras (1847-54). It was Pottinger who stirred a journalist to write in hyperbolic admiration: ‘For years it has been the custom of the Anglo-Indian Government to employ enterprising young officers as semi-political agents in the different Oriental States. Unprotected by the sacred character of ambassadors, yet raised far above the odious character of spies, they have to trust to the weight of the English name, and their own bravery, self-possession, and address for their protection against the treachery and cruelty of the people of Northern and Eastern Asia and their rulers’ .[clxxix]

Another of these youths, whom we’ve already met, Mountstuart Elphinstone, (1779-1859) had gone from the Duke of Wellington’s staff to travel through Afghanistan disguised as a Muslim but described as a ‘political officer’.[clxxx] It is not known if this Lord Elphinstone, the 4th son of the 12th Lord Elphinstone, was an initiated brother, as many of his male relatives were, but records do have him preparing for initiation. As ‘Resident’ at Pune in 1817, he kept a daily diary of the movements of other spies. He interrogated merchants travelling through the area and he had his own agents following the Maratha ruler wherever he went. (MtE, p.69.) ‘Agent’ Elphinstone then became Governor of Bombay, 1819-27 and a prolific writer and correspondent. During his stint he was asked to produce all government records on a matter. He complied except for ‘two secret despatches, the disclosure of which (might have thrown) light on the channels through which intelligence was received.’ He retired ‘home’ at the age of fifty, co-founded the RGS and became a member of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Press reports and palace announcements tracked his nephew, John, the 13th Lord Elphinstone, (1807-1860) acknowledged love of Queen Victoria’s early life and ‘banished’ to India twice ‘to protect the monarchy’. An initiated brother, he was appointed by GM Sussex in 1840 to the post of Provincial Grand Master [PGM] of EF lodges in the Madras ‘Presidency’ of which he was also the political and diplomatic ‘chief officer’.[clxxxi] His combining of the two roles, the first time for Madras, was welcomed as ‘the beginning of a new era’ and of obvious benefit to ‘Masonic arrangements which never prosper so well as when they are protected by the sanction of authority.’[clxxxii] Some few years after he had left Madras, the lodges there were said to be ‘in a consumptive state’ and its brethren looking back nostalgically at ‘the palmy days of Lord Elphinstone.’ A third Elphinstone, Howard (1829-1891) also trained as a Royal Engineer and undertook missions as a spy/diplomat. He was then appointed to the Topographical and Survey Department while still in his twenties. Winner of a VC in the Crimea, he was selected as governor of the Queen’s third son, Arthur, and became her aide-de-camp and ‘most trusted confidante’ after the Prince Consort’s death in 1861.[clxxxiii] His position meant he was one of a number of the Queen’s European agents up until his death.

Hopkirk began The Great Game with: ‘On a June morning in 1842, in the Central Asian town of Bokhara, two ragged figures could be seen kneeling in the dust in the great square before the Emir’s palace…’ The figures were British Army officers, Arthur Conolly and Charles Stoddart. What their captors thought of them is clear: ‘Their arms were tied tightly behind their backs and they were in a pitiful condition. Filthy and half-starved, their bodies were covered with sores, their hair, beards and clothes alive with lice…’. Stoddart and Conolly were not conquistadores looking for gold or adventurers trying to sell whisky to ‘the ignorant natives’; they hadn’t been stealing artefacts and they hadn’t been inciting rebellion or threatening invasion, so why were they being humiliated, and then executed where they knelt? The ‘usual’ story, often told, is brief and uncomplicated. Colonel Stoddart in 1838 went to Bokhara to persuade the Emir to free Russian slaves and to sign a treaty of friendship with Britain. This was supposed to weaken Russian pretexts for moving into the area. Inevitably, he was regarded with suspicion and seized. In 1841, Captain Conolly, in attempting to secure Stoddart’s release, was also seized and thrown into the same pit. After months of erratic treatment at the hands of the Emir, and against a background of an English/British military invasion of Afghanistan, they were taken into the public square and asked if they would convert to Islam. When they refused their heads were sliced from their bodies.[clxxxiv]

The rules of engagement between warring parties demanded different responses from captors depending on whether the captives were in uniform, held diplomatic passes, or were ‘secret agents.’ Baden-Powell later wrote of what he could expect if he had been detected conducting espionage: ‘The government promised to give no help whatever to its servants if caught.’ The 1842 government in London seemed to know not long afterwards that the two men had died. But it acted in such a secretive way and appeared so little interested in their fate that newspapers began asking questions and reporting that travelers were claiming to have recently seen them alive. There were people who tried to save Stoddart and Conolly, some even offering to go to Bokhara to rescue them. When asked to assist these attempts ‘the government’ refused. The only known effort it made, actually worsened the situation and made the deaths more likely. One of the men trying desperately to help them was a mysterious ‘Captain Grover.’ Shortly after the publication of a book highly critical of the apparent apathy of government, he died, suddenly.

Bokhara, on the ancient line of trade known as the Silk Road, is part of Uzbechistan today, but was once ‘the intellectual centre of the Islamic world’. In 1842 it was in a buffer zone between Russia and India, but, as Hopkirk has said, the two died ‘4,000 miles from home, at a spot where today foreign tourists step down from their Russian buses…’ While Stoddart had been initiated into EF, Conolly apparently had not, though he was a graduate of Addiscombe.

colonel stoddart
Colonel Stoddart

captiain conolly
Captain Conolly

Conolly had sailed to India as a typically impressionable, sixteen year old ‘Company’ cadet. On board, he had heard the newly appointed Bishop of Calcutta evangelizing, and thereafter he dreamed of winning Muslims over to a “kindlier” view of Christians, the first step, in his view, of propagating the Gospels to them. In 1839, he wrote to Sir Henry Rawlinson: ‘If the British Government would only play the grand game … Inshallah! The expediency, nay the necessity of them will be seen, and we shall play the noble part that the first Christian nation of the world ought to fill.’ From late 1829 to January 1831, in disguise as ‘Ali Khan’, he had returned from leave by way of Moscow through the Caucasus and Central Asia to India. In 1834 an account of this trip established his reputation with the RGS as a ‘traveler and writer’. His secret report concluded with his warning that if Russia ever gained control of Herat, an invasion of India would be possible from Persia. He argued that the best defensive bulwark for India was ‘an independent, united Afghanistan.’ His uncle, Sir William Macnaghten, Secretary of the BEIC’s Political and Secret Department, was one of the brains trust which subsequently produced the idea of an invasion of Afghanistan with the intention of replacing the then emir with a more compliant one.

Stoddart, beside being in the army, was a very enthusiastic RGS member. He had written to the Secretary, Captain Washington, in 1837 that he was doing everything he could to promote the Society and urging others to ‘note every matter likely to be valued by our society.’ He wrote that the Shah of Tehran was delighted with what, in hindsight, was a cartographic version of a Trojan Horse: ‘(The) Shah takes an unusual interest in geography and invariably is pleased at any of the officers here going about the country to lay down routes. He went over all the maps one after the other, read the names in the English letters, gave us all he knew about the countries…One of my students translated and copied Arrowsmith’s Central Asia (that part of it under the domain of the Shah) into Persian very neatly…’ [clxxxv] Reportedly ‘a staunch and forthright officer’, Stoddart was known for his aggressive piety and an ‘abrasive temper always being at flash point’. In his army uniform, he had carried a ‘cease and desist’ message to a local Shah then beseiging Herat, threatening the loss of the British Government’s ‘friendship’. This had apparently worked. The siege of the town had immediately been lifted adding, no doubt, to his confidence and sense of power. Major Eldred Pottinger his superior at Herat then sent him to Bokhara with instructions from Lord Palmerston at the Foreign Office to ‘urge the Emir to cease his slave raids and to free those already in captivity’. Other chiefs were being paid ‘compensation’ for loss of plunder derived from their raids and for otherwise showing ‘better behaviour.’ The chief at Bokhara was, however, his own man, something ‘intelligence’ was not yet sufficiently sophisticated about to take into account. Nor was it able to predict the fissionable effects of contact with Stoddart. Added to these errors of judgement, the letter of introduction he carried to Bokhara was addressed to a Minister no longer in the post. It went with its carrier into the infested pit.

As designated envoy to the intended royal court at Kabul, McNaghten included himself in the cavalcade which rode into Afghanistan ostensibly to celebrate successful diplomacy. Chief among his ‘political staff’ was Alexander Burnes, newly knighted like Macnaghten, and anticipating being installed as Political Resident at Kabul, salary GBP3000 pa. While garrisoned at Kabul, Macnaghten heard of Stoddart’s incarceration and proposed to Palmerston in London, a scheme whereby Stoddart might be retrieved. Palmerston, said to be ‘playing a long game’, was not moved to agree to the ‘naïve proposal’ which would have seen a force sent against the Emir at Bokhara. At this point, Conolly took it upon himself to intervene. A vilified ‘adventurer’, Josiah Harlan, was on hand. Not a believer, he watched the Kabul negotiations break down and wrote an account which was published before the tragedy had played itself out: ‘Sir William Macnaghten was a self-conceited gentleman, who marched into Afghanistan with the air of Bombastes Furioso, advocating to the governor-general a system of policy which has wrought the reward that cruelty, false faith and criminal duplicity will ever receive.’ [clxxxvi] The talks might have succeeded, he went on, ‘if officers had been diplomatically astute and conciliatory, but the political affairs of the English had again fallen into the hands of still less competent agents: a young lieutenant of the Bombay Artillery, [Burnes] who is remarkable for obstinacy and stupidity; and an old invalid of high character and imbecilic mind.’ Exposed by their Afghani opponents as ill-informed and unprepared, Macnaghten, Burnes, Charles and Arthur Conolly, and Stoddart, all subsequently died horrible, unnecessary and futile deaths in this one campaign which ended in retreat and humiliation. Eldred Pottinger died of a fever shortly after. The ‘imbecilic’ Commander-in-Chief, yet another Elphinstone, died in captivity, while another of the brains trust, Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India had a heart attack when informed of the outcome.

Burnes was an enthusiastic EF in a family of enthusiastic Masons. In the Indian Army at 16, he was fluent in Hindi and Persian by the time he was 21, and his promotion had been swift. A letter to The Times, after his death claimed that his friends included ‘Lord Ellenborough, Lord Munster and the late Governor of Bombay Sir James Carnac.’ He and his brother, Charles, also an initiated EF, were among the first overrun at Kabul, in 1841 when the locals threw off the emir the British had imposed on them. Another brother, James, was Provincial Grand Master for the Western Provinces of India in 1842. Five brothers in all had followed their father into EF.[clxxxvii] Succeeding Lord Auckland, Ellenborough’s first action in office was to welcome back the ‘Army of Retribution’ which had ruthlessly and immediately followed up the debacle in December, 1842. He ordered ‘a great junketing’ as ‘a massive manifestation of British power, both civil and military[clxxxviii]

Back in London, the first rumours that Stoddart and Conolly had been executed appeared in the press at the end of January, 1843. These were followed by a very detailed ‘leak’ which appeared in some papers on 14 February, 1843. Questions were asked in parliament in late-August to which the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel replied that he believed the two were dead and that no cause would be served by further inquiry. Yet another shadowy figure, Captain Justin Shiel, was here described as ‘Her Majesty’s representative in Bokhara’, an odd position to hold in the circumstances, and one which has proved impossible to substantiate. Attempted intervention by agents other than Conolly appear to have been considerable, thus it would seem that the apparent lethargy of government was a screen to cover them. One, James Abbott, had also been tasked with convincing the khans to release Russian slaves held in the area. After 1842 his name, like that of Shiel, was rarely mentioned, as he had been sent on to observe Russian posts further west. He is one of the many ‘field agents’ recorded in studio portraits done of them in ‘native’ disguise at the time.

In July, 1843, the Reverend Joseph Wolff offered his services to ‘military officers’ via a letter to a newspaper. He asked only that his travel expenses to and from Bokhara be paid.[clxxxix] The mysterious ‘Captain Grover’ responded. They met and talked.

Joseph Wolff
Joseph Wolff

Born in Bavaria in 1795 and described as ‘unprepossessing, small of stature, with a flat homely face’ Wolff had married into the Walpole family and was thus well-connected. He was also cross-eyed, with a reputation for argumentative quirkiness, yet on one trip to Washington his reputation was so broadly known and admired he was called upon to address the US Congress. He had met with Conolly in India where his missionary work from Gibraltar, Malta and Jerusalem to Georgia, Bokhara and Thibet was apparently thought of positively.[cxc] ‘Captain Grover – Unattached’, is shown on publications as a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Institute of Great Britain, and of the Congress of Italian Science. A family friend, he believed that he would not survive if he went as a civilian and asked for official permission to travel to Bokhara wearing his army uniform. He was rebuffed. He wrote and published a pamphlet in 1843 critical the government. He recounted his sessions with Foreign Office officials and described the documents he had been shown, one of which was the only acknowledged step taken by government to have the men released. It was a letter from Lord Ellenborough to the Emir in which the pair were described as ‘innocent travellers’. Grover was horrified at this term, believing it would have convinced the Emir that the two were spies and hastened their deaths. He clearly had some idea how these matters worked. Grover and Wolff then called a meeting at his house where it was agreed to go public. The Bokhara Committee was established in September to raise funds for an expedition by Wolff whose integrity and bravery were considered proven and vital to a successful outcome. The Committee included high ranking military men, such as Major-General Sir James Bryant, Captain Downes, FRAS and the Royal Navy, and Admiral Sir Edward Codrington (1770-1851).[cxci] Whether these men were critics of government, men with time on their hands, or had been delegated by their superiors to keep an eye on developments is unclear. Grover’s connections with them were left unexplained. Others on the committee were James Silk Buckingham, travel writer, journalist and critic of the BEIC who had been expelled from India in 1823, Lewis Tonna, an evangelical advocate of Jewish causes and Acting-Director of the United Services Institute, Captain William Moorsom, military engineer and rail-line surveyor, and Sir Joseph Copley, 4th baronet of the family which funded the Copley Medal awarded by the Royal Society.

At this first meeting, Grover accused the government of ‘most culpable negligence’ and expressed the hope that it might be shamed into an official inquiry. A Lieutenant-Colonel Humfrey, seconding the motion, ‘strongly (condemned) the indifference betrayed [sic] by Her Majesty’s ministers.’ In the meeting hall were between 80 and 100 gentlemen, including the President of the Society of Civil Engineers, the brother of Sir Alexander Burnes, ‘and several military and civil officers of the East India Company.’ Wolff knew that great risks were involved, and stated his intention, when he met the Emir, to wear ‘his robes as a Protestant clergyman and his doctor’s hood.’ Later he claimed that this ploy saved his life. On his expedition, he wrote to the Committee and its Secretary, Grover, made his letters available to the newspapers, the PM and cabinet ministers. In late-1843 while Wolff was still making his way inland, the editor of the West Kent Guardian rallied behind what had already become a sacred ‘mission’: ‘,,,(The) mind clings with fondness to the most distant hope of rescuing our two enterprising fellow-countrymen from bondage, if they still be in existence. And if Wolff will really undertake a journey to Bokhara on so hallowed a mission we should think it a duty to further his object by all the means in our power’. [cxcii] [My emphases]

In Bokhara, Wolff weathered the Emir’s incredulity, and wrote in the Emir’s presence and largely at his direction, that Stoddart had been executed because of his repeated disrespectful attitudes, his converting to Islam and then re-converting to Christianity, and his saying that letters would come from England acknowledging him as an official ambassador, something which hadn’t happened after 14 months. Conolly had been executed on the same day because he’d been encouraging the Khans of Khiva and Khokan to make war against Bokhara. By April 1845, Wolff was back in London and recovered from ‘a dangerous illness’ and was able to give a public meeting a full account of his exertions. He thought that beside Stoddart and Conolly, six other British officers and one Italian had been executed in the recent past, either by the Emir at Bokhara or by his neighbouring khans. In the book of his rescue mission, Wolff, without further explanation, described a meeting with ‘Soleiman Khan [Governor of Khoy], who is a freemason, though a Muhammedan‘. Wolff was not a Mason at the time, so why would he present this information? Describing another encounter, Wolff told how ‘Hakim Beyk, the Goosh-Bekee of Bokhara…pressed me to his heart, kissed (me) for about ten minutes, pinched my hands and fingers, as I suppose, (for I am no Freemason) the Freemasons do.’[cxciii] As far as I know, kissing and touching is not part of EF. English Masonic signs of recognition are not used willy-nilly, and again as far as I know, are not of that sort. If the two Moslems were just making their usual greeting to him Wolff should have known that, having travelled extensively in the area before. But if he didn’t know the signs, why mention ‘the Freemasons’? Did the two Moslems assume he was ‘a Freemason’ because he was European? Or was there a ‘Freemasonry’ in Asia which was entirely indigenous with its own signs. In earlier books he had remarked on similar meetings with ‘oriental’ Masons – in Shiraz in 1824, and Azerbaijan in 1831.[cxciv] He joined EF in 1846, not long after his return from Bokhara. In 1848 he was honoured by a Chapter of ‘English Royal Arch Freemasons’ (which is different to the Craft though connected to it – see below). An official statement thanked him: ‘…In delivering Dr Wolff his diploma [Royal Arch membership] the First Principal said the companions felt proud of having it in their power to testify the high respect and honour they consider due to him for his courage and philanthropy in the great cause of humanity evinced in his journey to Bokhara in the years 1843-5, to ascertain the fate of Colonel Stoddart and Captain Conolly which feeling, he believed, universally prevailed in the masonic world.’ [cxcv]

A report in the London Standard not long after Stoddart’s death accepted as true the rumours that he had adopted Islam at some point in his captivity, effectively undermining assertions of his stoicism. In summarising his career, it revealed an earlier clandestine operation: ‘He was indefatigable in the pursuit of general and professional knowledge, and was present within the French lines at the siege of Antwerp…’ The writer emphasised his piety: ‘…(His) talent, character and enterprise (are) mourned…as a sincere Christian and a soldier devoted to his Sovereign and country…Deeply devout in his principles and conduct, unshaken under his severe trials, and even acknowledging in them a spiritual blessing…[cxcvi] A year later, another report asserted that he could have escaped ‘if he had had the will’ but that he refused, saying ‘that he had scruples about escaping without an order from the English Government, being a man of exceedingly strict notions of duty.’ The Army source, a Lieutenant Eyre, said that he accepted this intelligence, ‘having seen authentic documents.’ [cxcvii] An 1860 correspondent to the RGS wrote that another Italian, Giovanni Orlando, had been executed in 1849 having been held for seven years as ‘watchmaker and astronomer’ at the Emir’s court.[cxcviii]

It seems reasonable to conclude that Stoddart’s ‘Englishness’ was the determining factor in his death, and by extension, in that of Conolly’s. It is unlikely that as the sword fell either was thinking of green sporting fields of great Public Schools where boys became leaders, duty-bound to uphold the honour of ‘the Empire’. But their religious stoicism, their sense of superiority and their involvement in the blood and iron of the Empire were from a single template. The ‘Army of Retribution’, immediately assembled and sent to Kabul to wreak violent havoc and mayhem, could not restore the shattered idea of feringhee invincibility in the region, [cxcix] but back home a counter-narrative was brought to bear. One periodical provided this ‘spin’ on the debacle: ‘…The unwarlike hesitation of the troops at Jellalabad having been misinterpreted by some of the Afghan chiefs in the neighbourhood…it became necessary that General Pollock should chastise the most refractory. Detachments were therefore sent out, which soon brought these worthies to their senses, and obliged them to pay the sums due to the revenue…’ [cc] The editor of The Era was not alone in regarding the Afghanis as naughty children in need of severe ‘chastisement’ but not all advocates of ‘England & Britishness to the World’ had the army in mind.

 

Dr Oliver and the Reverend Crucefix

 

Dr George Oliver (1782-1867) – Anglican cleric, EF and prolific author – saw a two-pronged threat in ‘modernism’, to his faith and to ‘his Freemasonry’. He determined to deal with it by bringing them together. He recalled, towards the end of his life: ‘I had formed a plan in my own mind, which was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Freemasonry as a literary institution…to convince the reading public that Freemasonry…actually contained the rudiments of all worldly science and spiritual edification…’ In his mind there was only one way: ‘…The first step was to show the Antiquity of the Order; for this was the only basis on which all subsequent reasoning could be safely founded…I therefore published a work on the Early History and Antiquities of Masonry from the Creation to the building of Solomon’s Temple.’ [cci] In effect, he was claiming to merge Masonry’s ‘scientific’ and ‘spiritual’ faces into one entity which was ‘Christianity’. He reported a conversation he had had with a fellow-Mason who thought that ‘an adherence to Christianity would reduce (Freemasonry) to a narrow-minded and sectarian institution which every good Mason ought to discountenance and abjure’. Oliver’s response was absolute: ‘Sectarian!…Christianity alone is universal. Before its powerful and unbounded influence all created things must ultimately succumb. Nations will be weighed in the balances; societies will be dissolved; institutions rent asunder…nothing will run parallel with Christianity but that one great Christian and Masonic virtue charity or brotherly love.’

Under construction by this influential propagandist was the idea that England’s moral superiority and English Freemasonry’s pre-eminence were in line with both the natural and the scientific order in their modern form.[ccii] His continuing popularity in EF, despite the un-worldliness of some of his writings, show he was articulating a strengthening trend, one which allowed a selective spinning of ‘the Enlightenment’ in the Order’s favour or a side-stepping of it altogether. EF would subsequently claim adherence to scientific principles, and that EF must be true because it was ‘the word of God’, a contradiction which rendered real-time Masonic history, ie context, unnecessary, but which allowed discussion of current politics because they were neither political nor religious. This development of Stukely’s views replaced his vague statements about the ‘ancient, natural religion’ with assertions that Christianity was that religion and Protestantism its realisation, ‘the true religion’. An 1870’s lodge address by the District Grand Warden of British Burmah began: ‘‘Brethren – Our constitutions wisely prohibit the discussion of all political and religious topics within our lodges…To (prove the two topics are actually analogous) is now my object, and I trust, speaking to a Lodge of Christian Masons, you will not only see yourselves, but impress on future additions to our order, that one of the great designs of Masonry is true religion…’ [cciii] This speaker was not attempting to undermine the dual prohibitions but to justify them by breaking them, ie, arguing that Masons would not be breaking any ban if they claimed a ‘truth’ which was unchanging, somehow immutable. The ‘true religion’ of course, required close attention to only one text, the (Protestant) Bible: ‘…Therein are you taught the duty you owe to God, your neighbour and yourself…It survives all changes, itself unchanged; it sees all things decay, itself incorruptible …the word of the Lord endureth for ever; and that’s the Book Freemasonry urges you to believe, to study and to accept.’

Oliver’s beliefs married the idea of generous exchanges of socially-aware and open-ended information with fundamentalist certainty that there was only one possible conclusion to such exchange. With the Order divinely-sourced, he believed himself empowered to claim for ‘Freemasonry’ any event he liked, for example: ‘It is also worthy of remark, that in the book of Leviticus…it will be clearly observed that Moses uses the expression, ‘We must assist our brethren”…from which it might be concluded that Moses was also initiated in Masonic rites…’ [cciv] His biblical fundamentalism helped the conclusion to emerge that any example of ‘brotherly love’, wherever located, could be cited as evidence for Masonry’s universalism. An article in the 1845 Freemasonry’s Quarterly Review, was headed ‘FREEMASONRY IN CHINA’, even though it began with a denial that ‘the Triad Society’, the subject of the piece, was ‘a Masonic Fraternity.’[ccv] In the 1880’s some Masons seriously entertained the idea that Australia’s stone-age inhabitants knew and communicated Masonic signs.[ccvi]

One of his first writings to be published, Scopwickiana, was an intimate description in 1838 of ‘his’ village done in response to a suggestion in Blackwood’s Magazine that ‘priests might write about their parishes for the enjoyment of their readers and the benefit of posterity’. Oliver stressed the need for a parish priest to study the “manner, habits, propensities and amusements of his flock”’ so that ‘knowing their wants, weaknesses and infirmities, he may so shape his course as to lead them by easy steps to the systematic practice of piety and virtue in this world, which will contribute to their everlasting happiness in the world to come.’ [ccvii] Scopwickiana was probably the work which brought him to the attention of Dr Crucefix, energetic Grand Lodge officer (of UGLE) and publisher from 1833 of the Freemason’s Quarterly Review [FQR] which was intended to: ‘provide freemasons under the English Constitution throughout the world with information about the Craft, both as to background and current affairs.’ [ccviii] [My emphasis] Oliver strongly supported the FQR ‘whose aims accorded so closely with his own view’, including, presumably, its reports of parliamentary.[ccix] Sussex and others at UGLE did not share his views. Oliver was dismissed from his position as DPGM of Leicestershire in 1842 and Crucefix was being threatened with expulsion from Masonry altogether when Sussex became ill. [ccx](On) balance the final verdict must…be that though he [Crucefix] served Freemasonry well, the methods he used provoked a long-lasting reaction against the very kind of openness about the Craft which he, Oliver and others were striving to achieve…’ [ccxi] It is a non-sequitur to blame these two men for the general lack of openness within EF, and a larger error not to take into account the context. Sandbach blamed the tensions within EF on Crucefix’s advocacy of a hospice for old and frail brethren. The evidence argues that the source of Sussex’s ire was that he was being observed and commented upon, something Crucefix introduced with his first issue. While stating his allegiance to the prohibitions on discussions of politics and religion, Crucefix disregarded them in commentaries. He used the GM’s own speeches to make debating points and after his 1843 death, he, Crucefix, quoted from Sussex obituaries.

The commitment to ‘openness’ Oliver shared with Crucefix was not to open-ended Enlightenment-style learning.[ccxii] An 1837 editorial of his regretting the death of William IV but celebrating the ascent to the throne of Queen Victoria began: ‘The British Empire is rejoicing in the advent of a new reign, and the nations of the world behold with admiration a Maiden-Queen, surrounded with all the chivalry of her triple kingdom, enfencing her diadem with a panoply of wisdom, strength and beauty. [ccxiii] To his own rhetorical question ‘Is a Mason unconcerned (about this event in the ‘profane’ world)?’ Crucefix answered: ‘No, he is proud that ‘the Lady of England’ is a Mason’s daughter, and encourages the fond hope that his youthful Queen will deign to become the patroness of the Order.’ This was part of a report of a Special Grand Lodge meeting called by GM Sussex to read a remonstrance he intended to send to his royal relative. An hyperbole-ridden statement of a GM to his relatives, it is, if newspapers of the day are to be believed, remarkably mendacious. Because of his unsanctioned wedding in 1793, Sussex had been discriminated against by his father who annulled the marriage, and then disregarded by his brothers and forced to carry out his various duties on a much-reduced stipend. In his message to Victoria, Sussex eulogised her, but also all his brothers and his uncle’s wife, the Queen Dowager, as paragons of all the virtues, well beyond any requirements of etiquette or politeness. He referred to the Order: ‘In the meek, humble and honest confidence that, as Freemasons, we have not degenerated from our ancient purity…’ On another occasion, Crucefix lectured Masons in Bengal about their lodge practice and, using partisan, political terms, argued the need for a Provincial GM: ‘…Bonaparte directed his strongest efforts against India and was by the aid of our valiant army and navy, under the direction of Providence signally defeated. Subtle and crafty was the (Russian) design, stealthy the pace, and wary the way of the executor..’.[ccxiv] A number of prominent EFs in India recorded their thanks and their warm regard for Crucefix in response. The rupture point with Sussex was an clearly hypocritical accusation made by Crucefix that the GM had broken the prohibition on political discussion. Crucefix repeated the charge after Sussex’s death: ‘As Freemasons, we are inhibited from entering into political observations; for what we re-publish from authentic sources, as we deserve no praise, so we incur no responsibility…On the 19th March, [1840] the Grand Master of Masons, in a vast assembly, where perhaps not twenty Masons were present, very coolly and deliberately pledged the whole Craft to certain views of a religious and political nature…’ [ccxv] He was referring to a meeting of the Religious Freedom Society in Freemasons’ Hall called to oppose a parliamentary bill which would extend Church establishment, ie increase State funds to the established church. Sussex had pledged his and EF’s total agreement with the meeting’s sentiments, whereupon Crucefix argued: ‘(This) declaration of the Grand Master was totally at variance with his obligation, and the deliverance of such sentiments by him was likely to subvert the existence of the Order itself…’ He asked rhetorically: ‘Have any measures been taken to bring such conduct before the Grand Lodge? No! it appears he may do wrong with impunity…(etc)’. Responses in ‘the public press’ from Masons and non-Masons for weeks afterwards supported his interpretation.

Both Crucefix and Sussex breached the prohibition in these exchanges, if the prohibition is applicable outside a lodge meeting. There are many Masons who believe it is. More important than the brouhaha about what was ‘political statement’ and what was not, was a section of the document of June, 1840, also repeated in 1843, which set out what Crucefix thought ‘Masonic openness’ was: ‘We aver, then, that there is too much of pretence in the assumed immunity of our order from the general examination of the ‘profane world’ as if, forsooth, the polity of Masons were not as amenable to public censure or approval as that of other bodies…It is the province of society to see that we perform our self-imposed trust with faithfulness, and it is the duty of a Masonic journalist to obtain the purification of the order by the exercise of public opinion, whenever violence is done to Masonic principles.’ In this, Crucefix appeared to be representing ‘modernity’ banging on the door of UGLE’s temple. Those inside were being given the chance to come out and engage him in sensible conversation, or to remain cloistered. The known evidence shows that UGLE remained behind closed doors, while energetically-established colonial lodges in the antipodes withered from lack of meaningful support. The ‘usual’ conclusion has been that Sussex and Grand Secretary White were simply not interested in affairs outside London, whereas, perhaps they were dealing with more critical issues, issues which directly related to the Sussex view of religion.

 

Back in Asia

 

English/British military heroics did not suddenly become a ‘selling point’ for editors in the late 19th century. Neither was Imperial glory something invented for the special purpose of defeating the Zulus. When the rallying cry of ‘the honourable Britisher’ and his ‘bull-dog spirit’ were high-lighted in late-Victorian ‘culture’ it was a manifestation of media manipulation changing in response to altered circumstances. The First Opium War and the First Afghan War, both concluded in 1842, had had very different outcomes. Seen from Whitehall, the one was at least militarily successful, the second was a complete disaster. Chinese barriers to English/British opium sellers who wanted gold, tea and other local product were overrun by stratagem, gun boats and deceit. Somewhat south of Bokhara, four and a half thousand retreating British and Indian soldiers, plus 12,000 of their camp followers, were overrun or died from starvation and cold, in abject disarray and harassed by desert tribesmen. The three-year campaign was summed up in an 1843 memoir from Chaplain G.R. Gleig as: ‘a war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it. Not one benefit, political or military, was acquired with this war. Our eventual evacuation of the country resembled the retreat of an army defeated.’ [ccxvi] The need for public reassurance stirred popular concern for the morality of Empire but also noticeably quickened and exaggerated the impulse to hero-worship as justification. Stoddart and Conolly have a claim to consideration as the tragic originals behind the ‘boys’ own tales’ so popular throughout the 19th-20th centuries. Their executions were the first to become ‘home’ media sensations. The reading public was being encouraged to enthuse over the not-entirely new genre of political polemic as travel book which grew quickly as ‘agents’ realised the commercial potential. Public celebrations, imperial awards and ceremonial acknowledgements proliferated. By the last quarter of the 19th century, mere claims of success in Africa produced near-hysteria among hero-worshippers. Dr Livingstone, medical missionary and explorer, was ‘revered as a near-saint, epitomising every moral virtue – a myth in his own life’ even while records existed showing that though possessed of undeniable bravery, endurance and self-sacrifice, he failed as a missionary, as an explorer and as a husband and father. As one biographer has said, ‘to have questioned (Livingstone’s) greatness in 1874’, which is when he died and was given a State funeral, ‘would have seemed sheer perversity.’

The Pollock Medal presented to the outstanding Addiscombe student after 1842 carried an inscription which began: ‘To commemorate eminent services, Cabul 1842 Treachery avenged – British honour vindicated…’ The editor of The Christian Observer was torn. On the one hand: ‘(From) the first we could not but regard our late hostile enterprises in Central Asia as unjust, and not even recommended by the most short-sighted expediency.’ [ccxvii] But on the other, conquest warmed the patriotic heart, proved that ‘we’ were the righteous, and made conversions possible on a massive scale. In a summary, ‘View of Public Affairs’ for 1842, he acknowledged his dilemma: ‘…(The) pacification of the East, by the splendid successes of Her Majesty’s arms in China and Afghanistan, we mourn while we rejoice, for in neither instance had we a righteous quarrel. We were the wrongdoers in both cases…Who but must hope, and confidently believe, that these pacific inlets to the vast empire of China will be the means of facilitating the introduction (of)…the arts and the commerce of the most enlightened nations; and with them…the Holy Scriptures and the instructions of Christian teachers…for we know that the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever King of kings and Lord of lords; Hallelujah, Amen.’ [My emphasis] [ccxviii] The ‘arts and commerce’ were, of course, already being introduced. An editorial in the Leeds Times lamented: ‘(We) are paying a very dear price to secure a market for the East India Company’s opium. The legislators who force opium into China at the sword’s point, and exclude corn from Great Britain by the same means, should say very little about ‘gospel light’ or religion, except they mean to earn the character of vile hypocrite.’[ccxix]

According to a long-held doctrine ‘the restoration of the Jews’, the fulfilment of the prophecies about the Last Day was indivisibly linked to the return of the Jews to the land of their fathers, to which they had an inalienable right. Their physical and religious “restoration”­ that is, the end of their diaspora, their gathering in Palestine, and their acceptance of the Christian gospel – was conceived of as an essential component of the divine plan for human redemption and as a prerequisite for the advent of the Kingdom of Christ. When Napoleon landed in Egypt in 1799 and marched his army toward Palestine it appeared to some he had been chosen to carry out God’s will. But with his defeat, many Britons ‘saw’ that the onus was now on England. Could ‘the English/British’ be the chosen ones? “Gentile Zionists” broke into English politics in 1840 when Palmerston, as Foreign Secretary, perhaps influenced by Lord Shaftesbury, tried to win the Ottoman Sultan over to the idea of a “return” of the Jews, arguing that they should be allowed to settle in Palestine. Since 1838 a British consulate operated in Jerusalem, the first diplomatic appointment to Palestine. In 1839, the Church of Scotland sent a mission to report on the condition of Jews, at that time a minority, in Palestine. During the 1840s many British journalists, clerics, politicians, colonial officials and military officers demanded Jewish colonies or even a Jewish state under British protection, and protection for British strategic and commercial interests in the region. In May, 1842, The Christian Observer celebrated what it believed was a recent, major change of mind in ‘its’ church: ‘We rejoice at…all…symptoms of increased zeal and vigour in our beloved national Zion and her offspring in other lands. They are proofs, we would trust, that the Lord of hosts is with us; that he God of Jacob is our refuge.’ The editor lamented the time when the Church of England was taunted for its inertness, ‘the Romanist especially urged that we could not be a true branch of Christ’s Church because we lacked a missionary spirit,’ but, pointing to a recent leader in the Morning Chronicle, rejoiced again: ‘A great change has come over the hierarchy of England. Instead of standing aloof from Bible and Missionary schemes…they are now moving forward with zeal and activity unknown since the Reformation.’ [ccxx] In government and military circles strategic concerns were being debated with suitably-coloured religio/ethical imperatives.

By mid-century, more visitors were crowding the streets of Jerusalem during holiday seasons than there were residents. Religious and biblical-archaeological interest in the ‘Holy Land’ was supported by national associations that had confessional, scientific, and political orientations and, sometimes, their own publishing houses. Each “Eastern crisis” triggered a wave of sermons, pamphlets, books, projects and political demands. “Britons rejoice!” said a pamphlet during the Crimean War: ‘It will fall to you to lead the long dispersed members of the neglected race of Judah back to their beautiful land and, by planting in their homeland a colony (whose bond to its protector cannot be doubted) put another obstacle in the path of the menacing intruder[i.e., Russia].’ Advocacy of restoration was not necessarily based on regard for the welfare of the Jewish people. A wide variety of beliefs, from an abstracted reverence for the area to hopes of extending the Empire, were involved. The truth of the Bible was paramount, the creation of a Jewish State and the identity of ‘God’s Chosen People’ were more contentious. Concern for Russian Jews, beset by poverty and by pogroms, did not result in ‘the west’ opening its doors to them. ‘Restoration’ was a way to provide assistance without locating ‘them’ next door.

The convergence of church and military power brokers with academics and ‘field scientists’ in pursuit of shared geo-political goals has often been over-looked: ‘(Understanding) the value and application of maps and geographical information, scientific knowledge, and inter-connecting memberships of learned societies (to the Empire is vital)…[ccxxi] Like many of London’s ‘learned societies’, the Royal Geographic Society [RGS] started as a dining club, where select, (males only) members held informal debates on current scientific issues and ideas. Originally the Geographical Society of London, from 1830 it aimed to promote the ‘advancement of geographical science’, later absorbing the older African Association, which had been founded by Sir Joseph Banks in 1788, the Raleigh Club and the Palestine Association. Founding members included Sir John Barrow, Sir John Franklin and Sir Francis Beaufort and was under the initial patronage of King William IV. From 1830 to 1840 it met in the rooms of the Horticultural Society which helps to explain its little-known involvement in the theft of the tea technology from China. The Indian tea industry, source of huge profits for favoured merchants and of enhanced strength for ‘the Empire’, was made possible by planned but secret co-operation of elements of the military, governmental and, in its case, horticultural networks. A brief description by the author of a popular account included: ‘Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter – and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China – territory forbidden to foreigners – to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea…’ [ccxxii] The Society was directly involved with, and its members profited hugely from, what Victorian attitudes now insisted could not be named ‘espionage’. In the words of Sir Richard Burton, Captain Joseph Burton’s son: ‘In May, 1849, the late Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, formerly Superintendent of Indian Navy, in conjunction with Mr William John Hamilton, the President of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, solicited the permission of the Court of Directors of the Honorable East India Company to ascertain the productive resources of the unknown Somali Country in East Africa.’ [ccxxiii] In 1859, the year the RGS was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria, the Freemasons Monthly &Masonic Mirror [FM&MM] noted Lord John Elphinstone’s recommendation of ‘Lieutenant JD Kennelly of the Indian Navy, and Secretary of the Bombay Geographical Society, for employment as explorer in North-Eastern Africa in the regions just visited by Captains Burton and Speke’. The Poona Observer described ‘Mr Kennelly’ as ‘a fine, athletic, active man, in the prime of his life. He was ‘familiar with … astronomical and meteorological instruments and goes most liberally supplied therewith.’ A draughtsman and naturalist, Dr Sylvester was to accompany him.[ccxxiv] Thus, this Society, and its ‘sub-branches’, worked covertly with ‘the government’ to their member’s personal benefit and for Imperial advance. The alliance invested in the work of better-known names – Burton, Darwin, Livingstone, Scott, Speke and Stanley – and a host of unknowns as well. Richard Burton has named numerous young naval officers who were ‘permitted’ by Malcom in the decade 1828-38, ‘to undertake the task of geographical discovery, retaining their rank, pay, and batta’ whilst the expenses of their journeys, including the vessels used, ‘were defrayed by contingent bills’, ie, by the tax payer as costs of government. ‘All papers and reports submitted to the local government were favourably received, and the successful travellers looked forward to distinction and advancement.’ The Maldives, the Red Sea, shipping hazards and potential ports from the Bosphorus to the Moluccas, were examined during time of comparative peace with commerce and strategy equally in mind. The RGS, in effect, was: ‘one of the principal information agencies for the British Government as it sought to involve private capital in the expansion and consolidation of the Empire.’ Without any ritual as far as is known, the RGS did what English Freemasonry’s first research lodge would later attempt to do, namely it: ‘held meetings at which papers were delivered, and a journal was published regularly. Membership doubled every decade, and in 1876, there were 3,000 members.’ [ccxxv]

General Charles Napier conquered the Indian province of Sindh in 1843: ‘Precise information about Intelligence operations by British officers under Napier is limited. It is known that he used ‘native agents’ as infiltrators, but the little Richard [Burton] revealed about his personal activities in disguise is so similar to the published accounts of Conolly, Burnes, Pottinger, et al that it is impossible to conclude anything other than that, precisely because of his linguistic abilities, Richard was recruited specifically to provide similar information.’ [ccxxvi] Staff officers were still expected to keep the ranking officer ‘informed of every move the enemy have made in the shortest possible time’,[ccxxvii] other tasks required other skills. Burton and his life-long friend, Captain Walter Scott, aka the ‘Bombay Engineer’, were sent by Napier ‘on an elaborate tour of the Sind’ before the military campaign began: ‘Dressed in native costume, to keep off the barking dogs, but not really in disguise, they checked on all the old Ameer forts, and listened for signs of rebellion.’ (Brodie, 1971, p.74.) Burton was an Empire loyalist and skilled at gathering knowledge but he was not always a tactful diplomat. As he grew older, he seemed more brusque, impetuous, a ‘gunboat colonial’. As a spy he seemed to have been a constant worry to his superiors and colleagues. His Army training to gather what the PEF (see below) would call ‘detailed drawings’ of ‘churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and tombs, etc’ grew to be an obsession. He is credited with knowing 29 distinct languages many of them Central Asian. He was amazingly adept at taking on the dress, the accent and the mannerisms of the people with whom he mingled. He underwent adult circumcision specifically to ensure he could not be exposed as a fraud in Islamic holy places. When bored, his way of impressing government was to bombard them with intelligence based on surveillance – voluminous reports, drawings and memos – with ‘requests’ to be re-employed in the Survey Department of the India Office.

Perhaps frustration and anxiety resulted from his knowing even more than his seemingly ‘frank’ stories disclosed. With regard to his famous, supposedly self-indulgent sojourn to Mecca, the Blue Book on Turkey, referring to 1877 and to ‘Mahommedan Secret Societies’ has: ‘…Meetings are accordingly held at Mecca at the time of the pilgrimages…In no case do the Governments venture openly to oppose these societies. The usual plan is to watch them carefully; and for this purpose a whole staff of well-selected and well-paid Mussulman agents are kept up, to act as a sort of detective police exercising a close surveillance over each society…’ [ccxxviii] In the 2001 printing of ‘The Arabian Nights’ the publishers continued to label Burton as ‘explorer, linguist and writer’. The reluctance to give espionage its due and to analyse it as seriously as any of his other accomplishments has been explained: ‘It is because it is venal, and invariably underrated by those who employ it, that the Intelligence Service is always a thankless job.’ [ccxxix] In one place in his diary Burton says that ‘When the day shall come to publish details concerning disbursement of secret service money in India, the public will learn strange things.’[ccxxx] In another place, describing a villainous Mullah, he says that this gent ‘will bear with him one of those state secrets which in this country are never committed to paper.’ [ccxxxi] Lovell has the quote: (p.85): ‘(Freemasonry) was an organisation to which most of his brother officers and, for a time, Richard himself, belonged.’ He closely studied Sufism and concluded that it was ‘the Eastern parent of Freemasonry’. Lovell’s text has the further, astonishing remark that ‘the dreaded and feared Sheikh Mohammed ebn Dhuki’ of the Wuld Ali tribe, in other words, a desert dwelling Bedouin tribal leader, whom the Burtons visited early in 1871 ‘was a Freemason.’ No further information is provided except that after the Burtons stayed calm in the face of a frontal charge by howling tribesmen on horseback, they were both welcomed by the riders who dismounted and kissed their hands. (p.545) This, no doubt, is the explanation of Wolff’s Arabic greeting, above.

English-language scholars researching Masonry in the Middle East have assumed any references to the Order must mean ‘it’ was European in origin and though that version was a feared, secret society, any conspiratorial intent came from non-Europeans. Allegedly conducted in full European form but in secret, it was the eastern brethren’s motives which made it conspiratorial, and because EF could not be impugned, they have aligned the conspiring ‘natives’ with Continental Masonry, usually French: ‘At its most basic level, Freemasonry offered a world-view based on progressive humanism. In its founding constitution, the Grand Orient de France, the French Masonic order with arguably the greatest international impact, firmly rooted itself in such an outlook:…(There) was a natural sympathy between Freemasonry and French revolutionary ideals, and it is no wonder that generations of nineteenth century reformers found themselves closely allied with Freemasonry ideals.’ [ccxxxii] Malkum, son of Mirza Abdul Khan who was met earlier, had followed his father’s career pathways and, as he recollected later, in a Persian ambassadorial trip to Paris ‘to regulate the consequences of the brief Anglo-Iranian [Anglo-Persian] War of 1856’ he was included in a mass initiation into Lodge Sincere Amitie. The Grand Orient of France [GOF], whose lodge this was, was supposedly kept under close control by Napoleon III, ‘almost as an organ of the state,’ to the extent that the Emperor had secured the position of GM for his cousin, Lucien Marat.[ccxxxiii] Quite reasonably, the GOF was suspected of viewing local lodge ceremonies ‘as an ideal means for the dissemination of French culture and civilisation.’ (Algar, 1970, p.280) Malkum wrote in his memoirs that he had studied ‘the religious, social and political systems’ of Europe, including ‘the various sects of Christendom’ and ‘secret societies and freemasonries’ [my emphasis – NB the plural] and ‘conceived a plan (incorporating) the political wisdom of Europe with the religious wisdom of Asia.’ [ccxxxiv]

A different chronology was published in 1989 by Karim Wissa who began his account of ‘Freemasonry’ in Egypt with Lodge Isis established in Alexandria in 1800 by Napoleon’s General Kleber.[ccxxxv] Kleber was assassinated soon after, the lodge had collapsed by 1804, three years after the French army had withdrawn. Further, Wissa has found that in the 1840’s a group of scholarship students were despatched to Europe to study the various sciences, languages and letters. A resulting ‘Lodge of the Pyramides’, established in Cairo in 1845 by GOF, proved popular among elite Egyptians, including religious leaders, and led to other lodges being established and a ‘District Grand Lodge’ in Alexandria in 1856. His reference to ulamas being Masons is at odds with references elsewhere to that group’s vociferous opposition but all imply that the lodge was neither secret nor overly concerned with ritual. An allegedly secretive lodge attributed to Malkum Khan in Tehran from 1858 was held at the home of a Persian scholar opposed to Arabs and Islam, and perhaps for this reason was closed down in 1861 when serious unrest broke out. Christians were targeted by locals and local police staged a crackdown. Emir Abd-el-Kadir later claimed to have saved Christians from other Mussulmen [Moslems] during these ‘troubles’ and to have been consequently admitted into the ‘Lodge of the Pyramids’. [ccxxxvi]

A third alternative downplayed the importance of all Europeans. An on-the-spot cotton merchant, John Ninet, wrote in 1883 that ‘as early as Said Pasha’s reign [from 1854] I was invited to join a lodge of Oriental Freemasons at Alexandria, and the movement has since become very general.’ He explained further: ‘This lodge had nothing to do with the European lodge of Egypt called ‘the Pyramids’, nor did its members recognise any European Orient in their organisation.’…Ever since I have known Egypt I have known of secret societies there. Their origin may, I believe, be traced to the visits of Indian Mahometans to Azhar [Cairo] University where they were always cordially received, and where they developed those ideas of freemasonry so common throughout Asia.’ [ccxxxvii] It may be that Ninet has attached the term ‘freemasonry’ to non-Masonic fraternities, as was occurring with Chinese triads, while the Indian thread has not been researched as far I know. In any event, the 1850 references expose the spy/diplomat struggles among the Powers and their continuing use of ‘Freemasonry’ for clandestine purposes. Whatever Malkum Khan thought he was doing, the Powers were bent on conquest and trade and were working through proxies using whatever inducement seemed to work – bribes, blackmail or flattery.

While Hopkirk has concluded that ‘there was no shortage of intrepid young officers‘ eager to risk their lives beyond the frontier ‘filling in the blanks on the map’, [ccxxxviii] certain areas were considered too dangerous after 1842 even for the most fool-hardy of Europeans. No accounts are known of this policy adaptation being applied anywhere other than on the sub-continent but there are probably a great number of undiscovered intelligence-gathering efforts secreted in an archive’s bottom drawer. One has to wonder when a published, relatively bland account of Russian/British exchanges casually informs the reader that the narrator, Captain Burnaby, arriving at a township in Central Asia, Petro-Alexandrovsk, found a telegram waiting for him from his Commander-in-Chief, HRH the Duke of Cambridge, instructing him to stop what he was doing and go immediately to a rendezvous in European Russia.[ccxxxix] Such a meeting of a telegraphic message from ‘head office’ and its intended recipient in a very remote location argues a level of organisation and of technology not normally associated with field operatives. Burnaby was, among other things, part of the little-known Corp of Guides which carried out missions on the Indian-Afghan border regions. It appear to have been set up and led for all its operational years by one officer, Harry Lumsden who was, of course, an enthusiastic EF.[ccxl] The Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904) was the seventh son of George III and a career soldier who became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in 1856. His four decades in that job and his innate conservatism have been blamed for the lack of preparedness the army showed in its end-of-century conflict with the Boers. (see below)

To overcome the unacceptable level of danger felt to be inherent for Europeans operating: ‘hillmen of exceptional intelligence and resource, specially trained in clandestine surveying techniques…(were) dispatched across the frontier disguised as Muslim holy men or Buddhist pilgrims…For their part, the Russians used Mongolian Buddhists…’. These ‘pundits’ were allegedly hand-picked and, like the fictional ‘Kim’, were rigorously trained to secretly note, and sketch where appropriate, landscapes, edible flora and fauna, locations of tribes, their leaders and numbers of fighting men. Honestly described as ‘spies’ or ‘secret agents’ in their closed files, they were to assess the defensive capabilities of fortifications, and possible routes for attack or withdrawal. Captain, later Sir, T G Montgomerie, senior officer in the Survey Department and Lumsden’s boss, planned their activities, and was perhaps the model for Kipling’s ‘Colonel Creighton’, Kim’s spy-master. Montgomerie wanted his work and that of his ‘native surveyors’ to be recognised publically and would not accept the FO view that security was an issue. There is evidence that at least one was murdered as a result of Montgomerie’s eagerness to be published in RSG reports.[ccxli]

Abandoned by his parents when he was six, Kipling was initiated into Lodge Hope and Perseverance at Lahore in 1885, aged just 19. His stories provide the evidence that he regarded the Craft as a fitting vehicle for his enthusiastic, imperial myth-making. At the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897 he became ‘the first poet to command a mass audience.’ He loved cricket, supported women’s right to equality and later, as the ‘Poet Laureate of the Empire’, flirted with fascism in a love-hate relationship with Germany. In his hands, the cultural diversity of colonial EF became the source of ‘the White Man’s Burden.’ Inevitably, he loathed post-Gladstonian Liberalism but thought the Scouts ‘the best thing outside boarding schools that [had] ever been invented.’ His father had been curator of a real museum and appeared as a fictionalised character in Kim, and was a probable source for surveillance information as Kipling was growing up. It is not far-fetched to suggest that Kipling, senior, was a ‘field agent’ and that this secret was too big for Kipling, junior, to keep to himself, and thus the book.

Published in 1901, Kim is still advertised as showing how ‘a young Irish orphan…is picked up by the British and groomed for service in the British Secret Service’. In it, the bastard son of an Irish Freemason and therefore someone eligible for the benefits available through the local Masonic Orphanage system, ‘Kim’ initially prefers to continue his ‘street Arab’ life in which he is depicted as resourceful, cunning and observant. These qualities convince a British Army officer, a ‘Colonel Creighton’, that he is worth the risks of training in British field intelligence methods. Kim’s intuitive aptitude in disguises, coded messages, and with drugs and poisons are enhanced by formal training in mathematics. At graduation, his spymaster provides him with a revolver to use in self – defence and he is given to understand that few if any questions will be asked should he use it against ‘his’ enemies, who turn out to be Russian surveyors of the north-western mountain passes. Rather than an author’s imaginings, this is a story by an author reporting what he knew. At a time when Britain supposedly had no stomach for ‘underhand methods’ and no official surveillance networks, Kipling was exposing what he’d learnt as a journalist on the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore and The Pioneer in Allahabad. In the story, Kipling has all the costs of Kim’s training donated by ‘a holy man’ who supposedly wished to return Kim’s kindness to him. This is obviously another cover-story. Kim’s formal education and his subsequent, relative affluence are predicated on the notion that ‘the Anglesi sahibs’ routinely used these intelligence-gathering methods and routinely recruited locals, including some quite young and vulnerable, for use as professional spies. The real-life model for Kim’s older friend, ‘Lurgan Sahib’, came to light when, in his obituary, ‘Jacob of Simla’, was described as having been ‘a most valuable helper of the political secret service.’ [ccxlii]

THE FALL

PART ONE: Biblical Archaeology as Geo-Masonic Politics

The popularity of the Crucefix/Oliver editorials was a straw in the wind. Some on ‘the Dais’ may have recognised that renewal of GL personnel was overdue but thought the stirring breeze no more than that. When it began to blow in earnest, reaction was so entrenched that even the minimal, generational change which occurred had to be engineered.

The long-serving Grand Secretary White, who had succeeded his father in the position, had been shrugging off complaints about his administration for years, [ccxliii] while GM Zetland, successor to Sussex from 1843, was what today would be labelled ‘a colourful personality’, more likely to be found at the race-track than in pursuit of his Masonic duties. By mid-century, these two were presiding over a situation variously described as mis-management, nepotism and apathetic disregard of EF affairs. Study of even the cloistered sort that Sussex had pursued was not a priority. Zetland refused an offer of a book dedication from Oliver in 1848 saying ‘(As) a general principle I am much averse to publications on Masonry.’ [ccxliv] In 1849, a scholarly brother who had been working in Australia, William Melville, tried handing his findings concerning the ‘lost mysteries of Freemasonry’ to Drs Oliver and Crucefix. Both advised him to consult with Grand Lodge. Melville later told how his requests for meetings with GL personnel were not even answered. He concluded that: ‘from the manner in which Dr Oliver wrote, it is evident that there were at the time two Masonic factions. I had ranged myself, without being aware of it, against the powerful one of Zetland and White, and was immediately considered by the ignorant party as a would-be innovator…’ From talking to other EFs in London he came to believe that the Zetland-White faction was known as the ‘Beef-Eaters’ ‘in consequence of their ‘gaudy outside show’, resembling in pomposity the well-known ‘warders of the tower’ and in the process creating substantial ‘animosity’: ‘This feeling ultimately exterminated scientific masonry, so far as the Grand Lodge of England is in question, and the Zetland ‘beef eaters’ triumphed over their more intelligent brethren.’ [ccxlv] [My emphasis]

The UGLE under Zetland had revived public displays, a device not used for a century. In Prescott’s words: ‘Such events (as Mason-led parades at community events) vividly encapsulate the ideological and philosophical character of British freemasonry [sic]…It is deeply engaged with the monarchy and aristocracy, and, above all, it has an intimate relationship with the churches, and in England particularly with the established Anglican churches.[ccxlvi] He has noted that the most recent of emigre French Masons were deeply shocked by the innovation: ‘For French freemasons [sic] arriving in Britain as refugees after Louis Napoleon’s coup d’etat in 1851 such scenes were astonishing, and in their opinion bore little relationship to freemasonry. Many were republicans and freethinkers…They also found the cost of English freemasonry prohibitive…’ Costs of being an EF were on the rise, anyway, but the temptation to display out-of-the-ordinary regalia was strong. Once Sussex had gone in 1843, a ground swell had built up to ‘regularise’ three ‘extra degrees’ then outside the formal definition of ‘Freemasonry’ set down at the 1812-13 declaration of unity. Oliver and Crucefix were strong advocates of the explicitly Christian Templar and Rose-Croix Degrees and in 1850 a Scottish Lodge made an incursion into UGLE’s home territory of London and claimed the freedom to work ‘the Mark Degree’.[ccxlvii] The agitation had significant implications and was resisted, but ambitious opportunists saw a weapon to use against White, whose removal they ‘assisted’ in 1855-56, by which time ‘the entire English Craft (was) in a state of insubordination and discontent’. [ccxlviii]

The two decades after White was removed have been described by a recent EF-scholar, Jim Daniel, as a period of ‘transformation of the Craft and the extra-Craft degrees and their relationships’. Other recent researchers have interpreted the period as a revitalisation, an awakening of the Order by more efficient, more forceful voices, many of them outside London. These researchers have used the ‘Mark Degree’ to symbolise the change but have not agreed about causation. Daniel has argued that long before his resignation in 1870, Zetland was surrendering influence to a younger group which included the later Lord Amherst, the Reverend Portal and the Tory MP, Lord Carnarvon: ‘Between 1856 and 1875 a small group of powerful, enthusiastic, youthful and – in the main – aristocratic Freemasons took control of Grand Lodge and shook it out of the torpor that had set in during its consolidation [after the Union].’ [ccxlix] Prescott has made anonymous ‘social forces’ the key cause of changes from 1856: ‘(The) Mark Grand Lodge was the product of a specific historical moment and of the immediate social and political crisis which characterised the years 1855-56. It reflected a broadly-based antagonism towards the old-fashioned, aristocratic and London-orientated values that were represented by men such as Zetland…’ [ccl] Prescott has also drawn a parallel between the criticisms of Grand Lodge in the new group’s paper, the Masonic Observer and Grand Lodge Chronicle, and broader dissatisfaction with the War Office: ‘In 1856, a new Masonic periodical was established…whose tone was perhaps the most acerbic of any…before or since, but which (reflected) the kind of rhetoric which was commonplace at the end of the Crimean War.’ [ccli] A third representative of this UGLE-sympathetic group, Newman, has credited a different periodical and different personnel: ‘In giving publicity to the affairs of Freemasonry and to the activities of Grand Lodge, (The Freemasons Magazine) was drawing attention to contemporary controversies and allowing a wider audience than the restricted circle of London Freemasonry to play a fuller part in the politics of the Craft.’ [cclii]

A perhaps disgruntled observer much closer to the action, the editor of The Masonic Examiner, in 1870 remembered a ‘takeover’, that he thought more pragmatic and less glamorous, by two separate groups: ‘…Somewhere about 1850 the Mark Degree was, again, coming into favour, and as the ceremony in ‘the hangman’s knot’ was and still is of the most meagre description, Brothers Henry George Warren and Hughes took it in hand and re-cast the ritual…A small knot of Conservatives…not seeing their way clearly to preferment did their best…to embarrass Grand Lodge and turn (it) into a veritable bear-garden…This ‘Observer Party’ ultimately made a dash at the Mark Degree and secured it.[ccliii] HG Warren [no relation to Sir Charles Warren, below] was first editor of the short-lived, The Freemason’s Magazine, but being less wealthy he changed his editorial line from critical to positive when Grand Lodge offered him a Prestonian Lectureship in 1859 and other opportunities to retrieve his financial position.[ccliv]

Born in 1830 at Grosvenor Square in London, Carnarvon was educated at Eton and Oxford, and was then appointed to various government positions mainly to do with ‘foreign affairs’, before becoming Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1866, at age 36. When he was absent from London or otherwise engaged, his neighbour, the Reverend George Portal, kept him informed about Masonic developments. The 4th Lord Carnarvon, he was only initiated into ‘the Craft’ in February 1856 aged 25, when his ‘Observer’ group confronted the leadership of UGLE with their new, superior view of EF. An unusual degree of co-ordinated organisation, rather than spontaneous enthusiasm, is apparent. Two lodges were formed and named after him in 1857, barely a year after he took his first step as an ‘Entered Apprentice’. His initiation was attended by Lords North and Amherst and enthusiastically remarked by the FM&MM: ‘It is a matter of sincere congratulation to the Craft that so talented a nobleman and practised a debater as the Earl of Carnarvon should have joined the Masonic body. His advent may be looked upon as giving hope of a new era in the conduct of the business of Grand Lodge.[cclv] Just 15 months later, he became Worshipful Master of the Westminster and Keystone Lodge, No 10, and ‘owing to the interest taken in the installation’, both GM Zetland and DGM Panmure attended, with numerous ‘Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge Masters’. For the banquet, attended by over two hundred people: ‘(Freemasons’ Hall) was most elegantly decorated for the occasion, with the choicest of flowers, and the most elegant vases and epergnes…’ (FM&MM, June, 1857, p.4) On this occasion, Carnarvon pointedly praised Zetland’s period in office, and was praised in return. UGLE’s dogmatic handling of Canadian Freemasonry’s move to independence in late-1855 gave the ambitious malcontents an issue on which to campaign for change.[cclvi] For the next three decades, in alliance with the Prince of Wales, Carnarvon’s was the most influential voice in English Freemasonry.

There were benefits for anyone attached to Carnarvon’s rising star, but the Reverend Portal was an enthusiastic EF before his younger ally and appears to have cleared the way for Carnarvon, rather than to have attached himself to that gentleman’s wagon as it passed.[cclvii] Portal entered into the ‘extra Craft’ degrees of the Knights Templar and of the A&A Rite not long after he joined the Craft in 1848. He was a High Church Anglican, and Daniel has remarked that the numerous priests of this faith who were following the same path at a time when Anglo-Catholicism was under attack ‘suggests that they were attracted by the ancient and “romantic” tradition… particularly by its relatively colourful ritual.’ [cclviii] Portal joined the Mark Degree, in 1856, in order, it seems, to participate in the inauguration of that rite’s Grand Lodge that year as part of a strategy of showing UGLE how a GL should be run. This GL of Mark Master Masons, followed UGLE’s example of regal leadership, Lord Leigh being its first GM, and Carnarvon its second, in 1860, just four years after his initiation.

The just-quoted ‘insider’ scholarship has made no criticism of Carnarvon or his immediate clique. Lesser mortals can be accused of ‘invention’ and of ‘being a law unto themselves’ but no such chicanery can, apparently, be attributed to the tallest of the poppies.[cclix] The first issue of The Masonic Observer , perhaps edited by Portal, was strategically astute, historically loose and overblown with self-importance: ‘…Among the circumstances which have imperilled English Freemasonry and have prevented a return to our ancient position of internal harmony and external credit, none have been more serious than the absence of the Country Lodges from the General Council of the craft…’ [cclx] [My emphases] The genuflection to EF’s assumption of an ancient heritage – ‘our ancient position of internal harmony’ – sits oddly alongside the assertion that the presence of Country Lodges in future Quarterly Assemblies would go a long way towards saving EF from its ‘imperilled’ position. The language in the statement of perils facing EF could have come from the War Office: ‘Our colonial dependencies are on the eve of dissolution, our foreign brethren are suffering persecution; disorganisation and misrule exist at home’. To my eye, none appear amenable to repair by an increase in the number of delegates.

Carnarvon’s role in Tory governments, to shape responses to colonial affairs, was evident in his first major speech to Grand Lodge. He repeatedly referred to ‘our colonial policy’ – Canadian lodges are ‘in rebellion’ and are only to be saved or ‘reprieved’ if they stay ‘loyal’, that is, remain under London’s control – as though independence from ‘Mother England’s’ loving embrace was akin to sudden death by execution. The alignment of EF politics with national politics had not been articulated so clearly before. The Canadian lodges might have a say in the selection of ‘their’ Provincial Grand Master, he asserted, but the MWGM should make the decision, for:‘(The) necessity (is) of maintaining the due dependence and allegiance of the Canadian lodges to the Grand Lodge of England. I wish to see the Grand Lodge the fountain of appeal – the source of our great policy, and the sole arbiter; I wish to see all the allegiance due to the Grand Lodge preserved, but I would surrender to the Provincial Grand Lodge all the minutiae of local business.’ The first Observer editorial ended on a note which in other hands would have sounded seditious: ‘A grave question remains: are those worthy to be entrusted with the supreme power, who first ruin our affairs, and then conspire against our liberties? Cannot an Executive be found who will be true to Grand Lodge?’ The group sought to break the grip of the metropole on UGLE, but it’s clear it didn’t want to see power of decision-making devolve any further than Grand Lodge. The assemblage of delegates must, of course, come to London to be heard and could be swayed by pomp and circumstance.

The coincidence of certain events in royal affairs with Carnarvon’s ascendancy in EF and his alliance with the youthful Prince of Wales (1841-1910) is significant. Before his death in 1861, Albert, the Prince Consort, was both deeply interested in politics and concerned that his wife’s naivety might allow the Cabinet to increase its prestige over the royal prerogatives he was keen to maintain. In attempting to be better informed and to better advise Victoria he became the target of criticism, much of it anonymous. To some, he was an inappropriate German influence, to others he was a secret and hostile manipulator of the government to which he had sworn loyalty. He was viciously attacked in 1853-54 over leaks of his ‘secret communications’ with foreign governments and with ‘his’ government’s diplomatic representatives abroad. In offering advice to key ambassadors he had, supposedly, undermined government policies, caused Lord Palmerston to be temporarily dismissed as Foreign Secretary and had delayed a forceful British response to Russian moves against Turkish possessions. News outlets in January 1854 were saturated with commentaries attacking ‘a distinguished personnage’ but, as though in passing, also attacked the government for a lack of war-readiness. For some, Albert was the stalking horse rather than the target. In the event, France and Britain declared war on Russia in March and halted its advances in the Crimea. The campaign which ended in 1856 was symbolized for many by the charge of the Light Brigade down the wrong valley.[cclxi] The reading public was, of course, not told that the Queen had her own surveillance networks for spying on her own children or that: ‘The marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter to the future King of Prussia (had as its) main purpose to place a political agent and spy at the heart of the Prussian Court…’ [cclxii] Neither was it told that she was deeply enmeshed in Imperial politics and was constantly briefed about government espionage and counter-intelligence. The Queen’s Consort collided with the Scottish Masonic establishment in 1851 and again in 1861 when he accepted invitations to lay foundation stones of public buildings in Scotland. The GM, Duke Atholl, having failed to convince Albert of the benefits of being initiated had protested that ‘by ancient royal ordnances’ he, the GM, was the designated stone-layer of all public buildings ‘within the Scottish realm’. Albert had on both occasions ignored the protest.[cclxiii]

Numerous, overtly political articles appeared in the 1850’s, ’60’s and ‘70’s, in the pages of the three major EF periodicals operating in London, The Freemason, the Masonic Mirror, and the FM&MM, and all were narrowly partisan. Their coverage included regular ‘Reports from Parliament on Bills and Debates’. Simply headed, ‘Imperial Parliament’, 1850’s items included: ‘The Queen’s (opening) speech stated that Parliament was called together in order that its assistance measures might be taken for carrying on the war with vigour and effect. The exertions of the army and the navy hitherto had been beyond all praise…etc…’ [cclxiv] The UGLE-friendly Masonic scholars just quoted have had nothing to say about this phenomenon or about controversies of the time which probably made both the new and the old guard at GL uncomfortable, the opium trade, for example. This was a warm topic of discussion among Dissenters, Dean Trench in October 1857, railing about ‘the curse of India and the East India Company’s traffic in opium’ as the cause of troubles in England. It was a hideous fact, he preached, that ‘revenue was raised upon the vice, the misery, the degradation, in fact the ruin of the soul and body of a vast portion of the human race.’ In the same year, the Bishop of Victoria, in Manchester for a meeting of the Church Missionary Society, set out the full horror of the trade – the scorn for Chinese government wishes and law, the use of smugglers, the large scale bribery of district mandarins, and the complicity of the English/British government at all stages by virtue of BEIC involvement and the need to subsidise the costs of the Indian commissariat. There was also the effect on missionary work: ‘(On) the universal testimony of missionaries in China (opium) was declared to be most destructive to the health, the morals, the social prosperity, and the national resources of Chinese, (and) presenting a serious obstacle in the way of Christian Missions…reflecting discredit and reproach upon the Christian character of Great Britain, by whose complicity…that great evil was mainly promoted and upheld.’ He went on: ‘The opium system was so intermixed and interwoven with… legitimate commerce that…not a few members of (my) flock and personal friends in China, men of benevolent disposition and of the highest respectability in the private intercourse of social life, were implicated…’[cclxv] The editor of the Hereford Times knew why Indian service was so popular despite its drawbacks: ‘The East India Company were obliged to keep an enormous military establishment, and a large portion of their revenue went in giving high salaries for efficient European agents.’[cclxvi]

In the light of Carnarvon’s ‘Masonic Parliament’ as disclosed by Harland-Jacobs (above), it’s worth asking what Carnarvon’s options were for EF. He might have opened UGLE up to greater scrutiny, and encouraged unrestricted study. New areas of learning were being opened up in the non-Masonic world in what was, after all, ‘the Age of Discovery’ with high levels of public interest in regard to the curious, the scientific, the ‘modern’. In an age of industry, and of debates over everything from the origins of life to the possibilities of domestic furniture, Carnarvon might have invoked the original ‘Royal Society’ model and brought industrial/scientific experimentation back to lodges. Given his interest in the colonies and their progress towards ‘civilisation’ he might have encouraged the study of the different versions of ‘Freemasonry’. The possibility of pre-1717 ‘Freemasonry’ having evolved outside England was being discussed and he would have suffered no criticism if he had introduced this topic into his speeches. The brethren in the various ‘Statistical and Topographical Departments’ were being trained in languages other than English and pushed to understand ‘foreign’ cultures. The possibilities were endless, the potential rewards for him personally and for EF were enormous.

The evidence shows that he chose to do none of these things. He was a Conservative by birth, by training and by inclination. It’s not that he, or UGLE were un-interested in ‘current affairs’, they were vitally interested, but in uncontrolled learning they saw only threats to their privileged position. EF was to be protected, the brethren were not to be encouraged to explore and the interests of UGLE were what UGLE said they were. A library had been included in the constitution of an 1830’s ‘Grand Lodge Club’ proposal but the idea had failed to gain momentum. In June, 1865, with Zetland still GM, German scholar Findel urged establishment of a Masonic archive in London and was supported by Bro Cooke in the Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, [FM&MM]. An authoritative-sounding correspondent thundered: ‘MASONIC ARCHIVES AND MASONIC LIBRARY- I have read with deep interest the propositions of our learned Bro Matthew Cooke on these heads, but I can perceive very strong objections to these Jesuitical schemes, and looking to the present and prospective state of our funds, I think it is the duty of the Grand Lodge authorities to set their faces against such innovations.’ [cclxvii] A few weeks later the same pseudonymous writer expressed his opposition at greater length: ‘MASONIC ARCHIVES AND MASONIC LIBRARY – The more I think of these monstrous propositions of Bro Matthew Cooke, the more must I and every brother who is consistently opposed to innovations in Masonry object to them, as being calculated to produce very grave results, perhaps far beyond what the concocters themselves anticipate. To introduce anything new into Masonry must be regarded as next door to removing landmarks. To remove archives from the secrecy becoming our mystic Order, in which they have reposed for a century or half a century, and thereby reposed into landmarks, is to remove landmarks, and Grand Lodge ought to lift up its voice against such abuses…(etc over three pages)’ The outcome accorded with this writer’s apparent desire – UGLE did not ‘impose’ a library committee on EF, even to oversight its collection of ‘donations’. In this atmosphere, the long-standing use of spies in ‘the Holy Lands’, since Joshua, Herod and the rest, was not likely to surface.

What was founded in 1865 was the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, a response to the publication of On the Origin of Species. It was, more generally, a response to the public’s supposedly uncritical acceptance of scientific pronouncements. Its objective was to defend “the great truths revealed in Holy Scripture … against the opposition of Science.” Its Aims and Objects included the founding of a Library and Reading Room, and began with

First: To investigate fully and impartially the most important questions of Philosophy and Science, but more especially those that bear upon the great truths revealed in Holy Scripture, with the view of reconciling any apparent discrepancies between Christianity and Science. [cclxviii]

Six other aims showed its primary concern was to emulate the methods of science in order to have theology taken as seriously as science and scientists were. Its first annual meeting attracted the Bishop of London, the Earl of Shaftsbury and Lord Argyll. In structure it was an approximation of what QC would later attempt. Annual Transactions, sent to members and ‘associate members’, up to 1874-75, included interpretations of Darwinism, the Geometry of Crystals, Metaphysics, and Scepticism. ‘People’s Editions’ were produced, priced 3d, on, for example, ‘Rules of Evidence and the Credibility of History’, ‘On Buddhism’ and ‘On the Principles of Modern Pantheistic and Atheistic Philosophy’. Others published separately included ‘Prehistoric Traditions and Customs in Connection with Sun and Serpent Worship’, and ‘A True Key to the Assyrian History, Sciences, and Religion’. This had as leading illustration, a drawing captioned ‘The Foundation of Freemasonry: The Word Upon the Cubical Stone.’ [cclxix] [My emphasis]

Much later, Charles Warren recalled a failed effort to establish a lodge ‘for prosecuting the science of Masonry’: ‘… In 1862 it was proposed to establish a lodge in the Royal Engineers, with very much the same design (as QC), but yielding to the advice of the Grand Secretary of that day the scheme was abandoned….[cclxx] In 1872 he tried again with the Masonic Archaeological Society, an off-shoot of the Masonic Archaeological Institute [MAI] which see below. Between those two attempts he was involved with the Palestine Exploration Fund [PEF].

 

The Palestine Exploration Fund

 

The ‘usual’ story of PEF is that it was set up explicitly to defend the Old Testament from attacks by ‘Higher Criticism’ said to be ‘undermining the concept of the historical veracity of the bible’. [cclxxi] It brought together academics, archaeologists and soldiers and provided a template of inter-connections that was duplicated in Lodge QC, two decades later. It is therefore the most interesting of the ‘learned societies’ which preceded EF’s first lodge of research. But among its other objectives, the PEF was a cover for government espionage which, in the context – Biblical veracity and myth-making – is not at all surprising.

The Archbishop of York chaired the first, public meeting, on 22 June, 1865. The original idea, in fact, came from the Dean of Westminster and was broad in scope, seeking to provide factual information in the areas of archaeology, manners and customs, demographics, languages and other related areas. The Dean, Arthur Stanley, was already a controversial figure and when, in April, 1865 the first press notices about the PEF appeared, they all began by quoting from ‘a paper’ for which they gave no author. The publicity information argued the need for funds to carry out research in ‘the Holy Land’ and said that an influential committee had already been formed and a secretary, George Grove, appointed.[cclxxii] Clearly, other meetings had been held but who was behind it? Press reports mentioned two prior events that had relevance.

One was a survey ‘on the surface’ at Jerusalem recently completed by ‘Captain Wilson, RE’ and party, financed by ‘the private liberality of a single person’. The second event was the visit by the Prince of Wales to a mosque at Hebron, which visit, it was said, had ‘removed a centuries-old barrier to the entrance of Christians’ and which had ‘thrown open the whole of Syria to Christian research.’ The financial backer of Wilson’s work was perhaps Baroness Burdett Coutts, who was reportedly keen to improve sanitary conditions in Jerusalem, or perhaps it was the recently-appointed Dean Stanley, who had accompanied the Prince to Syria. An immediate precedent seems to have been an ‘Assyrian Excavation Fund’ which in 1863 had been set up with public funds with Prince Albert as its patron and a subscriber. In that year, Stanley had been elected to the Royal Society, been ‘appointed by the Crown’ to the deanery at Westminster and had married Lady Bruce, the sister of Lord Elgin, then Governor-General of India. Briefing notes from the ‘Topographical Department’ of the War Office revealed the confluence of interests: ‘An accurate contoured survey of Jerusalem and its neighborhood being considered necessary for the purpose of carrying out certain projected works for improving the sanitary state of the city, and also for the proper discussion of many interesting questions connected with its ancient topography, the Dean of Westminster, on the part of the Bishop of London and other philanthropic persons applied to the Secretary of State for War for a party of non-commissioned officers and sappers from the Ordnance Survey to be allowed to make the required survey, stating at the same time that he was prepared to pay the cost of the survey.’ [cclxxiii] The RS and the RGS having voted GBP100 each to the costs, Lord de Grey at the War Office ‘consented’ to their request, whereupon ‘Captain Wilson, RE with three non-commissioned officers and two sappers’ had been sent out in September, 1864. Wilson’s was a rising star but not in Biblical archaeology or EF. Born 1836, educated in Liverpool and then at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, CW Wilson was commissioned as an officer in the RE’s in 1855. In 1858, he was selected to be secretary of the sensitive North American Boundary Commission set up to define and map the Canadian-US borders and thus secure the Dominion of Canada against possible annexation from the south. The PEF was founded while he was in Palestine and when he returned, the PEF Committee engaged him to carry out a ‘feasibility study’ for a proposed Survey of Western Palestine and to identify suitable sites for future exploration. In November 1865, his party landed in Beirut and surveyed their way south to Palestine, planning the Great Mosque of Damascus along the way. From January to April 1866, he carried out reconnaissance and survey work in Palestine, paying particular attention to the archaeology and ancient synagogues of the region. One report notes that the collected intelligence provided ‘the making of about fifty maps’ with ‘detailed drawings’ of ‘churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and tombs, etc’. [cclxxiv] Below the surface of Jerusalem he gave his own name to ‘Wilson’s Arch’. In 1866, he was appointed to the Ordnance Survey of Scotland and, in 1867 he joined the PEF Committee. In 1868, he ‘volunteered’ to take part in an Ordnance Survey of Sinai with a ‘Capt. H.S. Palmer’. Their report contains chapters on the route of the Israelites and the prehistoric and Byzantine archaeology of the region.

In 1870, as newly-promoted Director of the Topographical Department and Assistant Quartermaster-General in the Intelligence Department, he was invited by Gladstone’s reforming Secretary of State for War, Cardwell, to suggest ‘the best means’ of turning the Topographical Department to ‘the greatest account.’ Viscount Cardwell, was in the process of abolishing flogging in the army and otherwise raising the status of the private soldier. In 1870 he abolished ‘bounty money’ for recruits and discharged known bad characters from the ranks. He pulled 20,000 soldiers out of self-governing colonies, like Canada, which learned they had to defend themselves. Accepted by an especially-convened committee chaired by Lord Northbrook, then Under-Secretary for War: ‘Captain Wilson’s memorandum of 30 April, 1870 ranks as one of the most significant documents in the history of British military intelligence. Only two pages long, this extraordinary memorandum was concise yet comprehensive…’ [cclxxv] Disturbed by the easy German victory over France which was happening as he wrote, Wilson provided the impetus for moving military intelligence to the next level by critiquing what then existed within the WO and urging renovation in the ‘three major functions of intelligence work at the strategic and tactical levels: collection, processing/analysis, and dissemination/reporting.’ In 1873, ‘his’ Department became the ‘Intelligence Branch of the War Office’ headed by Major-General Sir Patrick MacDougall: ‘Until at least 1886, the planning/operational element of the Branch’s work was secondary in importance and at times almost insignificant compared to its intelligence role.’ (TF, 1984, p.47)

In an 1870 talk to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, (then) Captain Wilson, RE, gave the official version of how PEF surveys had evolved as a synthesis of academia, Church and State: ‘The project of a systematic survey of the Peninsular of Mount Sinai, with special reference to the Mosaic record of the Exodus, owes its origin to the Rev. Pierce Butler, late Rector of Ulcombe, Kent…(A) fund was raised…The sanction of the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War was obtained, and the Survey was carried out under the direction of Col. Sir H James, RE., Director-General of the Ordnance Survey…’ [cclxxvi] ‘Sir H James’ was then Wilson’s boss and chief intelligence officer. In its report of this talk, FM&MM identified Wilson as a ‘Brother’ and explained that, with other REs, ‘his’ party included a Reverend Holland ‘who had already paid three visits to the Peninsular, and spent many months wandering over it on foot’, a ‘Mr Palmer’ who was a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge and ‘well-known for his extensive knowledge of Eastern languages’ and a ‘Mr Wyatt, who at his own expense, accompanied the party as Naturalist’.

‘Mr Palmer’ aka ‘Professor’ EH Palmer, of the British Syrian Exploration Fund, at Cambridge University, was another EF.[cclxxvii] In 1873, a paper of his, on ‘Secret Sects in Syria’, was published in the PEF Quarterly Review. In his version of the Sinai journey he thanked his brother, ‘Captain HE Palmer of the Royal Engineers’ and exposed its clandestine aspect: ‘…We were dressed in Arab fashion; but, except in places where such concealment was absolutely necessary, we made no secret of our European appurtenances.’ (p.389).[cclxxviii] Charles Warren was in the audience for Wilson’s talk, having returned home in 1870 with reports for PEF and a long-term proposal for the “Holy Land”. He suggested that it be placed under the supervision of a company, modelled after the East India Company, for twenty years. The company would guarantee to pay the Ottoman government in Constantinople a sum equivalent to the current tax income of Palestine and would pay the government’s creditors a portion of the interest that was due. The company’s task would be to settle Jews in the country, step by step, so that Palestine would ultimately come under their ownership and control.

Walter Besant, 1836-1901, who went on to help found QC, became PEF Secretary in 1868 and remained until 1895, solidly-anchoring it as the major connection between EF and the WO. His role included co-ordination of the web of ‘operatives’ working in Palestine. He later expressed the PEF’s ‘profound gratitude to the War Office for granting the services of the Royal Engineers, (in particular) Sir Charles Wilson…Sir Charles Warren (and) Captain Conder, for fifteen long years the chief prop and mainstay of the Society; he is par excellence the Surveyor of the Holy Lands.’ The RE’s skills were essential to the PEF: ‘(The Royal Engineers were) men whose official position and professional reputation, as well as the methods of research which they adopted, place their reports beyond question. In retrospect, the PEF considered: The conduct of the principal part of the work by officers of the Royal Engineers has effectually ensured (our) object…’ Since the reverse was also the case – the PEF was essential to the work of the RE’s and to military intelligence more generally – the procedure of having both secret and public reports continued. Warren was sent to Dover to command the 10th Company of Royal Engineers, and was not part of the ‘large-scale survey of the whole country’ for which the PEF employed the third RE named by Besant, above, Claude Reignier Conder, (1848-1910)

Seconded in the usual way and put in charge of this survey he worked with Charles Tyrwhitt Drake (1846-74), described in the Dictionary of National Biography (Vol 15) as a ‘naturalist and explorer in the Holy Land’. Youthful asthmatic bouts had allowed him time to pursue draughting skills and to learn Arabic. Having built up his physique, he passed the winters of 1866–7 in Morocco, the winter of 1868 in Egypt and the following spring in the Sinai. Here he met Wilson and the ‘Sinaitic Ordnance Survey’ and subsequently visited the places they had mapped. After a few months in England he returned in 1869 with ‘Professor Palmer’ to explore on foot an area from the Canal through the desert of the Tih, the Negeb, from the mountains on the west side of the Arabah, to the previously unknown parts of Edom and Moab. After visiting Palestine, Syria, Greece, and Turkey, he returned to England, but in 1870, he investigated for the PEF the inscribed stones at the biblical site of Hamáh. With the Burtons he then trekked through the volcanic regions to the east of Damascus, and the highlands of Syria. For the next two years he worked with Conder for the PEF. He is recorded as ‘Acting Secretary’ in 1873 of the ‘Royal Solomon Mother Lodge, No 293’ which was chartered at Rob Morris’s request by the Grand Lodge of Canada to meet in Jerusalem. The Charter had been previously refused by numerous jurisdictions including the USA and England. In 1872 Drake wrote: ‘I can only say that it would be a most splendid thing if the [Ottoman] government could overcome its aversion to selling land to foreigners. With the right guarantees, a great portion of this land [Palestine] would find a favorable market, and then the peasants [read Arabs] now there would either be cleared away or transformed into useful members of society, while the increased income of the Turkish government would be very considerable.’ [cclxxix] He died on 23 June 1874 at Jerusalem from an infection. The book of his work with the Burtons, Unknown Syria, was published in 1872. Walter Besant published a memoir, the Literary Remains of Charles T Drake, in 1877 with an ‘Introduction’ by the Burtons.[cclxxx] After Drake’s death, Conder had the support of a school friend, ‘Lieutenant Kitchener’ who he influenced to learn Hebrew.

An earlier influence on the younger man had been a Captain RH Williams, from Chatham’s ‘School of Military Engineering’: ‘As they talked, rode and worshipped together, Kitchener came to love more ritual and to give a higher place to the Eucharist.’ Williams was a High Churchman. ‘Ferment in the Church of England over vestments, incense and lights had led to a Royal Commission which had ruled against many of the pre-Reformation practices which were being re-introduced by the Oxford Movement, to which Kitchener became an enthusiastic adherent.’ He was initiated into an Anglican ‘Guild of the Holy Standard’, was sent to Aldershot where he dined with the Elphinstones, and sometimes with ‘Chinese’ Gordon, who was about to be Viceroy of the Sudan with ‘powers greater than those of the Viceroy of India.’ [cclxxxi] Kitchener was sent to map Cyprus and to Asia Minor with CW Wilson before joining Conder. ‘Mapping Ottoman Palestine with Bible, theodolite, compass and spade’, Conder and Kitchener produced enough publishable material for eight bestselling volumes. Among their finds was a ‘crucial’ piece of evidence in the search for proofs of the Bible’s veracity. This was a wall inscription, found in 1881, and reconstructed by the Reverend Sayce, a co-founder of the PEF, who from this point became the megaphone for the PEF cause. [cclxxxii]

Besant, trained as for the church, became a mathematics teacher, had retired sick and begun a writing career. Beside novels, he prepared all of PEF’s publications, wherein he espoused the Society’s claim to be applying ‘the scientific method’: ‘It is, in fact, in recognition of these principles that the work has always been carried on. These [principles] were:

* That whatever was undertaken should be carried out on scientific principles.

* That the Society should, as a body, abstain from controversy.

*That it should not be started, nor should it be conducted, as a religious society’. .[cclxxxiii] Besant explained that: ‘The object of the first law was to ensure that the results of enquiry and exploration, whatever they might prove, should commend from the world the same acceptance as a new fact reported from a physical laboratory, and that the work should be faced in the same spirit of fearless investigation into the truth as obtains in scientific research.’ Nullifying these assertions, at least as far as the religious basis of EF was concerned, the work’s conclusions were in place before research had begun: ‘The Palestine Exploration Fund was founded in 1865, for the sole purpose of ELUCIDATING AND ILLUSTRATING THE BIBLE.’ [cclxxxiv] [Emphasis in original] Echoing Oliver’s resolution of the EF dilemma, it claimed Christian faith and the Bible would be proven by more, not less rigour: ‘It was proposed to effect this by a systematic exploration of the Holy Land, by excavation, by the collection of the traditions, manners, and customs of the people, and by an exhaustive research into the natural history, meteorology and geology of the country, the whole to be conducted under the direction of a Committee entirely un-denominational.’ [My emphasis]

The Rev Oliver died in 1867 and avoided the nasty ‘Sensation Novels’ which in that year proved that pandering to public thirst for oddities could be commercially viable. They played on mass fears of the unknown and on a willingness to be sexually titillated while questioning the place and nature of religion. They were one form a freed-up information industry might take. In 1867, too, ‘Historicus’, Henry Melville, complained to the Editor of FM&MM that little had altered within EF with regard to ‘scientific history’: ‘…Masonic archaeology is at the present a standing reproach to our Order, and we seem to grow no wiser by the lapse of time, but parrot-like to repeat those time-honored, if mythic, claims to antiquity which are valueless, and worse than valueless, if not based on historical evidence.[cclxxxv] Fittingly, in 1867, (Charles) Warren was commissioned to follow up the Wilson expedition by proving the prevailing theory, known as ‘Ferguson’s’, ‘beyond any doubt’ but as Besant later recalled: ‘…From the very first his excavations went against (Fergusson)…He showed that the Haram Area [which Fergusson had claimed was the site of ‘the Temple’] was surrounded and contained by a huge wall…(The) rock-levels of the Haram Area…proved that the south-west corner was a steep slope…(The) followers of Fergusson were not discouraged. These new difficulties were added to the old, and the theory was still accepted…’ [cclxxxvi] Not yet thirty, Warren was described in 1868 as ‘modest but thoroughly educated and indefatigable’ by US author, Freemason and wealthy, amateur archaeologist, Rob Morris.[cclxxxvii] In his first address to QC, Warren expressed his pleasure that he had participated in a lodge ‘under the Temple’ in, he thought, 1869.[cclxxxviii] More likely in 1868, this gathering could not have been less regular and there were no follow-up meetings. Morris was regarded by UGLE as highly irregular having been involved with the Order of Mithraim and with having founded a ‘vicious Order’ called ‘The Conservators’. Nevertheless, Warren’s work continues to be respectfully mentioned by today’s archaeologists. [cclxxxix] Besant praised it in the 1875 book for the PEF, Our Work in Palestine : ‘So long as an interest in the modern history of Jerusalem remains, so long as people are concerned to know how sacred sites have been found out, so long will the name of Captain Warren survive.’ [ccxc] The survey maps, the sketches of buildings, military or not, and the apparently mundane information about weather, wells, plants and animals, customs and languages were all grist to the espionage mills.

 

The Masonic Archaeological Institute

 

 

Early in 1869, a report in The Building News backgrounded another initiative, the Masonic Archaeological Institute [MAI] while providing a brief reference to an even earlier, unsuccessful initiative: ‘Some quarter of a century ago there was a society formed called the Society of the Freemasons of the Church, for the study of mediaeval freemasonry and buildings. It included several professional men of standing, most of them not Freemasons, and held several meetings but had only a brief existence.’ [ccxci] The first meeting of the MAI, in 1869, was held at Freemasons Hall in London, and was addressed by Bro Hyde Clarke who has claimed credit for the idea.[ccxcii] Already a celebrated engineer, author, editor and philologist, Hyde Clarke is someone about whom more should be known.[ccxciii] The MAI had the nominal support of the Building Committee of UGLE, which apparently sought ‘to give more intellectual vigour to Freemasonry’ by exploring the recent past. The proposed curriculum was broader than ‘mediaeval freemasonry and buildings’, and included: ‘…mediaeval architecture and guilds, secret societies, Templarism, gnostic symbols, the mysteries of ancient initiation, and the wide range of symbolism in all ages…’ One observer of this meeting in February 1869 noted that: ‘Grand Lodge, which has been sluggish, has opened a Library to its members, and another Masonic body, the Supreme Council, has formed a curious library in Golden-Square…’ The apparent change in attitude towards book learning was being stimulated by competition for recognition within EF which is discussed below. The same reporter went on: ‘Although the membership of the Institute is restricted to Freemasons, it is not conducted as a Masonic organisation, but as a simple literary society on the same basis as the other archaeological associations with an annual subscription of half a guinea. Transactions will be issued of such papers as are considered suitable for publication…The society contemplates the formation of collections of books, MSS, prints, drawings, paintings, charters, seals and of all illustrations of the objects of their researches.’ John Yarker, of whom more below, later claimed to have been a member in 1869,[ccxciv] while Woodford and Besant and perhaps Hughan were also involved. Another within QC’s founding circle, Simpson, was involved ‘about the year 1871’. Simpson remembered that it had been formed ‘with the same objects in view’ as the later QC. Documents he provided showed that its original organisational approach was close to that of the VI, with vice-regal Patron and a numerous Council, and that: ‘The Object of this Society is the advancement of those branches of Archaeological knowledge and research which, either directly or indirectly bear upon Masonry.’ [ccxcv] Importantly, MAI documents dated 1872 show a significant change in emphasis. ‘Freemasonry’ had become the first priority, not ‘knowledge and research which …bear upon’ as previously: ‘The object of this Society is to promote the interests and to elevate the standing of Freemasonry, by systematic and scientific investigations into the early history of the Craft, and the origin and meaning of Masonic symbols, rites and traditions.’ Use of the terms ‘systematic and scientific’ again might be presumed to invoke the rigour of objectivity, but as the document shows, unexamined conclusions were now made the beginning point for research, thus nullifying the exercise as far as ‘objectivity’ was concerned: ‘Hitherto, there has been a wide-spread uncertainty among Masons as to the antiquity of the order; and it is to be lamented that, in many instances, the spare funds of the members, instead of being devoted to the promotion of the interests of the Craft, have been absorbed in convivialities…

As it is believed that the memorials of Freemasonry scattered throughout the world, in the form of ethnic tradition and symbolism, are of greater antiquity than the most ancient historical monuments, it is proposed to have papers read and published on the following…

* The connection of Freemasonry with the religion and symbols of primeval men.

* The connection of Masonic symbols with the astronomical systems, and with mythical or pre-historic chronology.

* Traces of Freemasonry in the traditions, symbols, religious rites, and systems of initiation among existing races of savages.

* Connection of Masonic symbolism with the primeval traditions of our race respecting Paradise and the Deluge.

* Connection of Masonic symbolism with the sacred structures of all ages.

It went on to claim: ‘…As the Masonic Archaeological Institute is the only body of its kind in existence, it is intended, if possible, to extend its operations to every portion of the globe where craft Masonry is practised, especially throughout the Colonies. A volume of Transactions will be published, and will be forwarded, post free, to the members annually.’ This model provided the bulk of QC’s later template, including its unexamined assumptions. Only MAI’s lack of ‘lodge status’ was regretted in a subsequent response to AQC by Besant: ‘…The Society languished…chiefly, I believe, for want of the cohesive and attractive power of a Lodge which it never became…I have always felt…that there is an immense amount of information…which could be collected and put together from a Masonic point of view. It was this conviction…which also made me join the Quatuor Coronati, which you [Speth] are rapidly developing into the kind of Institute which I…thought to make of (the Institute).'[My emphasis] [ccxcvi]

The reference to a ‘Masonic point of view’ coincided with EF outbursts against French Masonry (below). It is also the point in time when the word ‘archaeology’ began to appear in the Masonic periodical literature as synonym for ‘history’.[ccxcvii] When in 1888 Simpson boasted of his place in the QC founding group it was in terms of continuity, not innovation: ‘…We have, I am delighted to say, passed the initial stage of uncertainty, our scheme of a Masonic Archaeological Lodge is already established on a sure footing, and we now look to the future…’ [ccxcviii] and of AQC : ‘Our publication has become an important journal of Masonic Archaeology…’ In almost all cases, where the word was used by these men, Middle Eastern or Biblical diggings were meant.

Warren at his 1886 Installation dinner recalled how he was involved with what would appear to be an attempt to revive the MAI, perhaps even to use a lodge format for it: ‘…In 1873, with our Treasurer Bro [Walter] Besant and others, I endeavoured to form a Masonic (Archaeological) Society by means of which papers on Masonic subjects might be read and printed, but this project also had to be given up.’ [ccxcix]

 

Carnarvon and EF Declare War

 

It will seem a long bow to argue a link between an internal spat in an ‘irregular rite’ in the southern United States and London’s home of EF. It will seem an unacceptable stretch to locate both in global geo-politics. Years of context-free ‘Masonic history’ have rendered any politics-to-EF linkages invisible, but an extraordinary period in the history of EF, melodramatic and over-wrought in many ways, now results in its separation from its imperial partner and the exposure of both to the realisation that they had over-reached and were falling back to earth.

When in March, 1869, RW Little, ‘second clerk and cashier’ in the office of his uncle John Hervey, UGLE’s Grand Secretary, began editing The Freemason, he saw a call to arms.[ccc] The publisher, ‘with the sanction of the Earl of Zetland, MWGM of England’ was George Kenning, an ambitious printer and regalia-maker. On the surface the magazine was a remarkable departure for UGLE, but it was one which cost that body no effort, financial or other. Within a year it had doubled in size and claimed a circulation of half a million readers a year, and though this claim is impossible to verify, its success was obvious and its influence as the apparently sanctioned voice of UGLE was great. Whether Little, Hervey or UGLE as a whole had initiated the venture is unknown but it had been launched to meet a threat and the auguries were good.

A seemingly innocuous Masonic event had occurred in 1868. The Grand Orient of France (GOF) had recognised the ‘Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the State of Louisiana’, a body in competition with and therefore not recognised by the ‘Grand Lodge of (Northern) Louisiana’ [GLL], already in place. The GOF action constituted a violation of Masonic conventions relating to territorial jurisdiction, but the GLL was most upset by the new body admitting men ‘regardless of race or colour’ something it was not prepared to do. In 1869, the GOF ruled that no colour, race or religion should be used to disqualify a candidate for initiation. The GLL withdrew recognition from the GOF, and called on other American Grand lodges to do the same.

Racial discrimination in the US remained hugely-divisive in the wake of the Civil War, 1861-65. Numerous fraternities were splitting along ‘colour lines’. Adherence to Enlightenment values might have put EF on the side of the angels in the parallel debate rolling through Europe, but a complacent UGLE chose to maintain its backward-looking stance, and to deny reason and common sense. Was not its international reach proof that it was vitally alive and secure from competitors? Did it not have the support and mutual respect of the greatest empire the world had ever seen? The incongruous mix of Bible and Empire provided rhetorical justification but in the steaming boiler room strategic considerations and personal interests were delivering increased amounts of colour and movement and diminishing amounts of usable power. EF was like the British Army which was now in the hands of a man whose contribution has been retrospectively summarised: ‘Deeply devoted to the old Army, he worked with the Queen to defeat or minimise every reform proposal, such as setting up a general staff. His Army became a moribund and stagnant institution lagging far behind France and Germany. Its weaknesses were dramatically revealed by the poor organisation at the start of the Second Boer War’ (1899-1902)’ [ccci] Prescott has noted that The Freemasonwas closely linked to the more conservative wing of English Freemasonry’ and that: ‘The enthusiasms of the editors and publisher…are apparent from the long series of articles… (seeking) to demonstrate that the Anglo-Saxons were a lost tribe of Israel and that the British Empire was the fulfilment of the divine mission of the chosen people.[cccii]

UGLE was beset by a pincer movement for which it was unprepared. Internally, it was being pressured to re-define ‘Freemasonry’, externally, its claim to be ‘the Premier Freemasonry’ and therefore to be the adjudicator and guiding hand in disputes between ‘sub-branches’ was being threatened. In the Middle East, in particular, its involvement with imperial policy meant it was having to wrangle feisty, recalcitrant ‘Freemasonries’ which it really didn’t want even to acknowledge. Jurisdictions in the colonies, in the USA and France were claiming Masonic independence to match their political revolutions.

Alongside ‘the Craft’ and the recently ‘regularised’ Mark degrees, brethren in other Orders and Degrees were chafing under the euphemisms used to describe their ambiguous status – terms like ‘unrecognised’, ‘irregular’ and ‘fringe’. Little and a friend, WJ Hughan, were not put off by the confusion but had thrown themselves into learning about as many of these off-shoots as possible and had enthusiastically joined the agitation for their ‘regularisation’. Initiated an EF in 1863 at age 22, Hughan collected Bibles and quickly established a reputation around the magazine as ‘the expert’ historian. ‘(Within) 4 years of his initiation (he) had been advanced in the Mark (Degree), Perfected in the Rose Croix, Exalted in the Holy Royal Arch, Installed as a Knight Templar, Admitted into the Rosicrucian Society, Advanced and Promoted in the Royal Order of Scotland, and Installed in the Red Cross of Constantine.[ccciii] Little’s first issue provided his full address as presiding ‘Sir Knight’ and President of the re-established Palatine Preceptory of Instruction, Order of Knights of the Red Cross and Constantine, an Order he is credited with having revived in 1865. His publisher, Kenning was among the ‘Knight-Companions’ in his audience as he made his address, in the process provoking brethren from other chivalric Orders. In a tangle of distraught logic and fanciful assertions which, journalistically, ought to have resulted in his immediate sacking, Little claimed that he regarded ‘Freemasonry as a pure system of ethics which contains every element that can constitute real greatness and goodness in life…’ His major conclusion alluded to the crisis which had aroused him: ‘…I will not attempt to deny that designing men may have abused the privileges of Freemasonry by inventing pseudo Masonic degrees, which reflected disgrace upon Christianity by preaching a spirit of intolerance and fulminating anathemas on all who were outside the narrow boundaries of their belief. But that such an objection can be sustained against degrees originating in England amongst the founders of modern Freemasonry and now practiced by English Masons I cannot for a moment believe…’ [ccciv] [Emphases in original]

It’s not clear to which degrees he was referring. The 1813 Act of Union had set down a base definition of EF – ‘Freemasonry’ was to consist of three Craft degrees and the Royal Arch Degree [RA]. The RA was an inducement to ‘the Antients’ to agree to the settlement but it was also a favourite with many on the gentry-EF negotiating panel. There were three other major reasons which made even this compromise impractical: it had a large, built-in, loop-hole; there were other degrees and Orders operating which had influential members; and the demarcations between those defined ‘in’ and those defined ‘out’ were not clear. As its footnotes have faded from memory, the importance of this agreement has been exaggerated. It did end over half a century of dis-union and did seem to provide a clear-cut, enforceable situation, namely that UGLE was bound never to regularise any other Orders or degrees in the future. However, the loop-hole – that UGLE agreed it would not prohibit the continued working of chivalric degrees – meant the declaration was immediately undermined and was never stable. A half century on and the 1813 decision was null and void.

Hughan’s curiosity and his comparative openness led him to publicise some relevant history as a new compromise was taking shape: ‘…We are told that the (Christian ‘Red Cross Knights of Palestine’ Degree) was patronised during last century by several excellent Masons, whose connection with Freemasonry was of much value to the institution. Bros. James Galloway (one of the chief promoters of Royal Arch Masonry under the ‘Moderns’), James Heseltine (Past Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary) William White [Senior, Grand Secretary from 1780, succeeded by his son]… (and) HRH the Duke of Sussex (who) was installed “Grand Master for and during his natural life.”…[cccv] Hughan had discovered that Sussex had contemplated reform of the confusion of degrees by bringing together all but one of the Chivalric Orders. He had intended issuing a warrant ‘empowering the Red Cross Knights of Palestine’ to work ‘all the inferior degrees in Masonry, except the RA and Templars.’ [My emphasis] This would have resulted in an EF with only two entities, ‘the Craft’ and ‘the Red Cross Knights’ and would have prevented incursion by ‘foreign’ rituals such as the A&A Rite. Hughan revealed: ‘…For our part, we are no enthusiastic admirer of Masonic Chivalric degrees at all, and although a member of many, would join in voting their funds to be devoted to the charities of the Craft, and their meetings be at an end, provided a greater interest would be taken in purely Craft Masonry, and our charitable institutions be more generally supported than they are…’ [Emphasis in original]

To end the new wave of unrest the Reverend Portal, Hughan and some others advocated amalgamation of all into a ‘Council’ but insisted that it was up to ‘the irregulars’ to come up with a resolution: ‘…There ought to be no antagonism between Orders which profess to have kindred objects, and which are supposed to be swayed by similar principles. We go further, we say there must not be – and if the degrees which are at present unrecognised in England cannot speedily arrive at a definite alliance between themselves, it will be the most remarkable proof of their inanity ever provided…’ [cccvi] [Emphases in original] No public guidance came from UGLE, but Hughan urged that ultimate power remain with that entity: ‘In order to prevent any subsequent institution or “revival” of other degrees, it would be well to secure from (Craft) Grand Lodge the power to prevent any other degrees being worked…than those sanctioned, on pain of certain penalties for disobedience; and thus without actually recognising any degree beyond the Craft, the Grand Lodge may virtually be of great weight and service in promoting union, regularity, and progression as in Ireland.’ [cccvii] Hostility was apparent between purist ‘Craft’ brethren, who thought the 1813 agreement should be maintained, and advocates for a broader definition. Greater hostility was manifested by supporters of ‘the Scottish Rite’ who apparently believed that, at the very least, its significance would be diminished by acceptance of other rites into the circle. Hughan in response said: ‘…that no Supreme Council of the 33# [ie, the A&A Rite] would ever have been suffered in England during the life-time of the Duke, and accordingly, no such body was established – (until it came about)… under American authority (in) December 1845……The fact is, that the introduction of the fantastic degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Rite into England dislocated and destroyed the Ancient York working, which comprised everything that is really interesting in the pseudo-Scottish rite…’

In July, of 1870, Little listed the advantages he believed were to be gained from ‘a federation of the various Masonic jurisdictions in England’ – ‘more regularity in conferring the degrees’, ‘better discipline…in each of the bodies’ and ‘unquestionably powerful’ influence through united action ‘on any point.’ These advantages are all political in nature and are all directed at greater conformity and predictability, while sanctioning entry of all the rites being ‘worked’, whether ‘regular’ or not. He claimed to have founded the ‘Ancient and Primitive Rite of Misraim in England’, the inaugural meeting of which at the Freemasons’ Tavern, was attended by between eighty and one hundred brethren. Misraim, like Memphis was in Egypt. The Earl of Limerick, society artist, Sigismund Rosenthall and Little occupied the three principal chairs. Other meetings being held to produce ‘mutual treaties of alliance’ between the strongest contenders for regularisation included, as delegates from ‘the Red Cross of Constantine Order’, Little, Hughan and GS Hervey, while members of the ‘Observer’ group can be perceived representing ‘the Grand Lodge of Mark Masters’.[cccviii]

The signed conventions rendering what previously had been ‘irregular’ into ‘not-irregular but not recognised Masonry’ were made public in July 1871. Little made the most of the new compromise: ‘…By a mutual arrangement and understanding between the various governing bodies, the formation of petty Masonic jurisdictions in future will be effectually checked, and the unseemly spectacle will no longer be presented to the Craft of the assumption of high-sounding designations and supreme authority by men whose neglected education and inferior social position utterly unfit them for any but the most subordinate station.’ [cccix] [My emphasis] Further sense of the agreements can be gained from Clause V of the ‘Convention between the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, the Supreme Grand Chapter 33#, and the United Orders of the Temple and Hospital’: ‘V. All judgements, decrees or sentences shall be communicated to the supreme authorities of all the contracting parties, and shall be valid and executory without question or further process, and no appeal, error or review shall lie against such judgements, decrees or sentences, which shall ipso facto become the judgement, decree or sentence of all the parties hereto.’ Under the arrangements, each of the constituent elements could claim to be standing alone while being actually dependent on UGLE in so far as the Craft degrees were the mandatory requirement before enrolment in any of the others. Almost immediately there were repercussions.

 

Civil War

 

Yarker was dismissed from the A&A Rite for promoting rites that had lost out in the scramble and were to remain ‘irregular’.[cccx] One of his critics defended his assertion of ‘Freemasonry’s’ general lack of democracy: ‘…Bro Yarker objects to (his) expulsion on the ground that the Supreme Council, 33# [of the A&A Rite] is a self-elected body, and lays down the dictum that it is usually good Masonic law that the governed should have some voice in the election of high functionaries. Perhaps Bro Yarker will tell us what part Craft Masons have in the election of their Provincial Grand Masters, what power they possess in the election of Grand Officers and Provincial Grand Officers; and what voice the general body of Craft Masons have, except by delegation, in the election of the WM Grand Master.’ [cccxi] Yarker claimed the Supreme Council of the A&A had no ‘accrediting diploma, (only) the self-created function of receiving fees.’ This critic sneered at the low fees charged by Yarker and his colleagues in their ‘irregular’ operations: ‘The (Supreme) Council derives its charter from the Supreme Grand Council, Northern Jurisdiction, United States, which charter can be seen by any member of the high degrees, at the offices of the SC, No 33#, Golden Square London.

In a similar situation, Little had the more useful connections. In 1871, he conducted a rite, believed to have been the Rite of Misraim, in the GL building whereupon professional musician and sometime scholar, Bro Matthew Cooke, charged him as a part of GL with having ‘a conflict of interest.’ Allegations of corruption against all office workers of UGLE quickly became part of the exchanges. Cooke’s purpose can be better appreciated through his tabled resolution: ‘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 Mizraim 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 Order of Knights Templar…) under the pain of immediate dismissal from employment by this Grand Lodge.’ [cccxii] In the heated, lengthy but ultimately inconclusive debate which ensued, the Reverend Woodford chose to describe Cooke, initially without naming him, as ‘a bedlamite’ who had run amuck ‘like a hog in armour’ and who had chosen to pour ‘the torrent of his foul, though imbecile, anathemas upon the heads of honourable men.[cccxiii] When he did name Cooke, it was to further calumniate him: ‘Under ordinary circumstances, we should pass over, with deserved contempt the utterances of Bro Matthew Cooke upon any question affecting Freemasonry but, in the interests of truth and justice, we are compelled – though with loathing and disgust – to analyse the mass of verbiage, yclept his ‘speech’ at the last Quarterly Communication…’ [cccxiv] UGLE’s own Board of General Purposes investigated and found only a minor charge proved against Little. Whether he was pushed or jumped is not clear but Woodford replaced him as editor of The Freemason.

The Earl of Zetland had been succeeded in 1870 as Grand Master by perhaps EF’s most controversial figure, George Robinson. His relations with Carnarvon, et al, and his role in the compromise deal are not yet researched. On the face of it, he was kept well away from the decision-making process.  Born at 10 Downing Street in 1828 while his father was Prime Minister, in 1849 at age twenty-two, he was initiated into the Christian Socialist movement. He was an MP from 1854 until 1859, when upon the death of his father, he was seated in the House of Lords as Lord Ripon. In 1859 he was Palmerston’s Under-Secretary of War and in 1863, was appointed Secretary of War. He succeeded Sir Charles Wood as head of the Indian Office in 1866 and under Prime Minister Gladstone in 1868 became President of the Privy Council. He led a delegation of goodwill in 1870-71, not to France, or to Germany, which might have been expected from the Anglo-Saxon and Royal connections, but to the USA where hand-picked delegates vigorously sought to cement friendship ‘on behalf of Queen Victoria…between the great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race’. [My emphasis] Ripon then headed the 1871 American/British commission to settle the claims resulting from the Civil War in the United States, the primary claims coming from attacks by United States and Confederate naval vessels upon British commercial ships. Upon completion of this work he was made Marquis of Ripon. When reciprocal delegations came to London, Hughan and Woodford advised US Templar Knights against publically processing in England, not, they said, because their military look might be misconstrued at a time when Europe was again at war, but because EFs rarely if ever paraded in public.[cccxv] Woodford regarded US brethren more highly than local EFs and was euphoric: ‘We have frequently had occasion to refer to the splendid organisation of American Masonic bodies, and have even incurred the wrath of certain quidnuncs at home for the outspoken manner in which we have…Lord Ripon’s Masonic reception at Washington so strongly corroborated (our opinion) that thoughtful English Masons are beginning to enquire whether our English system is all perfection? Whether the want of cohesion – nay, the ill-disguised hostility unhappily existing – between some of the branches of English Freemasonry, is worthy of our ancient reputation and renown, or consistent with the progressive tendencies of the age?’ [cccxvi]

The orchestrated progress of the Prince of Wales continued. Three of the royal princes were Masons after the Queen Victoria’s eldest son ‘took’ the twelve degrees of the Swedish Rite in Stockholm over two days in 1868. Subsequently, he involved himself in seven English lodges, but just one year after initiation he was ‘elected’ a Past Grand Master making him second to the GM. When he attended the December 1869 UGLE meeting, his first, he was reportedly greeted with ‘rapturous cheers’ by the ‘muster’ of 660 brethren, many of whom were no doubt reacting to his brother’s escape from an assassination attempt in Sydney in March the previous year. In 1871, he was brought to a lodge other than a Grand Lodge for the first time and he and Carnarvon were made ‘honorary members’ of the Jerusalem Lodge. This provoked press commentary on anomalies in EF: ‘The Prince of Wales, for example, is a Past Grand Master and a Masonic Knight Templar; yet the degree of Knight Templar is not ‘recognised’; the Earl of Carnarvon is Deputy Grand Master, and Past Grand Master of the Mark Degree, yet the Mark Degree is not ‘recognised’, though no man can be a member of either Order who is not a Freemason first; what is called Mark Masonry furnishes perhaps the most curious anomaly of all, for while in Scotland and Ireland it is held to be an essential portion of Freemasonry, in England it has a separate jurisdiction and a separate Grand Lodge.’ [cccxvii]

In September 1874, the Order and partisan journalists were convulsed with news that GM Ripon had resigned from EF after converting to Roman Catholicism. Rather than take the opportunity to enter into public discussion, UGLE chose to publically express regret that Lord Ripon had moved on and to thank him for his past services and, privately, to continue its fierce allegiance to the English/British political State. The brethren, at first shocked into silence, were confronted into a temper by organs of the RC Church exulting. One reaction from the brethren was to insist that his loss was of no account: ‘…Never has English freemasonry witnessed before such a spectacle of universal tranquility and contentment, of material prosperity and of universal development.’ [cccxviii] Leading articles exchanged abuse across the religious divide, some summarising Ripon’s allegedly undistinguished political career, mental instability and his predilection for ritual: ‘Lord Ripon’s religious views were of the Ritualistic school…and it is only logically following out that system for his Lordship to be landed in the Church of Rome.’ The Times shrieked to find that a man ‘in the full strength of his powers’ had renounced his ‘mental and moral freedom’: ‘To become a Roman Catholic and remain a thorough Englishman are – it cannot be disguised – almost incompatible conditions.’ [cccxix] The Catholic Westminster Review referred to the ‘cap, bells and motley’ of EF, otherwise known as ‘the Craft of the evil one’, while the Pall Mall Gazette joined with: ‘(Englishmen) consider that a man who adopts such a creed [Roman Catholicism] cannot be a good Englishman, not because he has been disloyal to an English institution, but because he holds views which if carried out would injure the English nature.’ The Saturday Review described ‘Freemasonry’ as a ‘trifle’, contradicting a well-connected brother who hinted: ‘The political state of a country will always exercise a powerful influence on the form of its Masonic Government.’ [cccxx]

The media sniping continued, but GL and Carnarvon moved quickly on a replacement after what he called a ‘most unfortunate and…most astonishing secession.’ The PoW was offered the post, and in true English/British military style agreed to ‘step up and fill the gap’.[cccxxi] GM of ‘the Craft’ from then until he became King Edward VII in 1901, the PoW was also ‘made’ the highest officer in the ‘extra’ Orders – of the ‘Knights Templar’ in 1873, the ‘Royal Arch, 1874, of the Ancient and Accepted Rite in 1874, and of ‘the Mark’ in 1886. In 1883 Carnarvon, who had been made Pro GM in 1875, credited him with having ‘brought greater depth and breadth to the foundations of English Freemasonry, and introduced into it elements which had contributed much to its credit and strength.’ [cccxxii]

 

War With France and Germany

 

However the revised 1871 agreement was produced, one at least of UGLE’s political priorities was achieved. Its new line in the sand excluded rites which had a Gallic aroma, most obviously the Primitive Rite of Memphis. [cccxxiii] Allegedly created by Samuel Honis in Cairo in 1814, perhaps with inspiration from Cagliostro’s 18th century Egyptian Rite, it had been promoted by a father and son, Marconis de Negre, in France and Belgium, where it was worked until suppressed by police in 1848, the year in which uprisings swept across Europe. Revived again, French refugee Freemasons brought the rite to London and formed La Grande Loge des Philadelphes which had its constitution ratified by the Conseil Supreme l’Ordre Maconnique de Memphis in January, 1851. Its members originally worked 95 ‘Memphis’ degrees but, in response to political developments, determined to work only the three Craft degrees from April, 1857. Charles Bradlaugh, prominent English freethinker and agitator joined this lodge in March, 1859, whereupon the Grand Secretary of the UGLE, in October, 1859, sent a letter to every lodge WM within the UGLE jurisdiction: “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 specifically named ‘Memphis’ Masons. In 1860, the editor of the FM&MM declared: ‘We are astonished that any Mason should recommend a new degree to the brethren, and we sincerely hope that no attempt will be made to introduce such humbug into England.’ [cccxxiv] He had in mind one particular ‘humbug’, a rite recently ‘invented’ in New York by a Bro Dr Horwitz and applauded by the editor of The Masonic Chronicle: ‘The rite…hails from Egypt, once the nurse of art and science. It is Masonic in character, elucidating to its votaries, who must be Masons, the principles which Masonry inculcates. This ‘Oriental Rite’ commences the work at the 34th degree, thus interfering in no way with those already established.’ In November, 1866, the declaration opening Philadelphe lodges was altered to read: ‘In the Name of Reason and of Universal Fraternity.’

An 1869 contributor to The Freemason reflected on a Charles Bradlaugh lecture on ‘Freemasonry’ in the New Hall of Science. Bradlaugh, taken up in greater detail below, was the leading free thought lecturer of his time. The motto of his newspaper, The National Reformer, was seen by his critic, ‘Cryptonomous’, ie KRH Mackenzie, ‘sufficiently plain and straightforward’ to be quoted in full: ‘I conceive it to be the duty of students in every science to uphold nothing dogmatically, but simply to find out what is true, no matter what existing theory they may demolish. For so only can science be built upon a firm foundation, and truth be glorified.’ [cccxxv] ‘Truth’, unfortunately, is relative and subjective, and there is warning enough in Bradlaugh’s suggestion that it can be ‘glorified’, but MacKenzie wanted to make a different point. First, he allowed: ‘It is true, by the researches of modern Masonic historians, that the history of the order or Fraternity may be fairly shorn of its mythical glories…’ He then immediately negatived this optimistic aspiration with yet another version of the assumed ancient, pre-historic heritage: ‘…still, it has been superimposed and founded upon a much older system. In its essence it is no new invention, any more than the saint-worship of Papal Rome is other than a revival of the polytheism of Classical Rome…’ Denying Bradlaugh’s assertion that ‘Freemasonry’ was of little importance in England, he embraced the grandest illusion of all, the one which brings together the myths of imperial and Masonic grandeurs: ‘The position of Freemasonry at the present day has an exact analogy with those ancient (Eleusinian) rites. The statesmen, warriors and philosophers – the leaders of action and thought – the poets and orators – show everywhere that they were affiliated to some great and secret body which inspired them with patience, hope, mutual forbearance and charity;…’ His opinion touching on the major political controversy of the day was predictably jingoistic but he showed his acuity by linking two unlikely Masonic allies: ‘I have frequently said…that in nations politically free, as England and the United States…be said to be, any admixture of politics becomes unnecessary. Not so among nations who have still their Freedom to achieve. Such nations have a sacred right to employ secret associations for the attainment of similar benefits…The Freemasons certainly inculcate love of humanity, national freedom, and individual justice. They would be unfit to exist as a powerful and growing body were this not the case…’ [My emphases]

A writer in The Freemason, ‘At Home and Abroad’ of December 1869, maintained that lodges which allowed ‘religious and social questions’ to be debated, allowed ‘rash utterances in favour of democracy and scepticism’ to be made, or allowed ‘political discussions’ to proceed, must be ‘communistic’ and their brethren must be bloodthirsty ‘anarchists and atheists’. Masonic errors were, of course, only found on ‘the Continent’, ‘in French Lodges, Italian Lodges, aye, and even German Lodges.’ (My emphasis) In contrast, EF was true, divinely inspired and manifested ‘the harmony’ which naturally existed between ‘Masonic precepts and the broadest principles of free thought and action’. Those continentals, the editorialist insisted: ‘have lost the true essence of Freemasonry…they have wilfully severed themselves from that great family of brethren which, thanks to the vast increase of the Anglo-Saxon race, now encircles the earth, and…holds the future in its grasp.’ [cccxxvi] This was from previously-jailed, Chartist agitator, self-taught writer and editor, William Carpenter. Described in the New England Freemason (USA) as ‘a remarkable man’[cccxxvii] Carpenter was another who identified his ‘British’ race with ‘the lost tribes of Israel’ and who thought he could map the latter’s epic journeys across Europe.

In January, 1870, Hughan began a long series in The Freemason on ‘Masonic Historians’ with Brother Findel of Leipzig as ‘No 1’. Many so-called ‘histories of Freemasonry’ had already been attempted but Hughan argued that ‘to write a really impartial and universal work on the Order’ had not been possible until very recently. Oliver and Rebold had been pioneers but: ‘(it) has been reserved for Bro Findel of Leipzig to approach the nearest to perfection as a Masonic historian…(His is) the best, the fullest and most accurate History of Freemasonry extant.’ (Hughan’s emphasis)[cccxxviii] Hughan noted that the first Masonic periodical, Die Freymaurer (The Freemason) on record had been published in Leipzig on the 4th of January, 1738. He acknowledged that ‘up to the commencement of the present century few but Germans’ wrote ‘intelligently’ on the origin of ‘the Fraternity’ and credits a string of Prussian researchers to whom ‘we are indebted’: ‘…It will…be seen that Bro Findel is not in sympathy with those who seek to veto the study of Masonic history, or with those who would like their feeble cries to drown the results of free enquiries into the origin of the society, concerning which, even to this very day, the most confused, ridiculous and discordant opinions prevail, utterly opposed to facts of history.’ (The Freemason, 8 Jan, 1870, p.1) Hughan agreed with Findel that ‘what is now being generally admitted’, that the Craft originated in the ‘Building Fraternities of the Middle Ages’, was an assertion first made in Germany, and he approvingly quoted Findel’s assertion that Masonic history ‘has acquired of late years a sure foundation upon scientific principles’: ‘…From the materials, slowly, surely and regularly prepared, far back in the twilight of the Middle Ages, and carefully cherished down to posterity by the old Building Associations of Germany and England, arose a new and beautiful creation.’ (My emphasis) (The Freemason, January 15, 1870, p.1) One of Findel’s intentions was to rid Freemasonry of ‘all that does not pertain to the three Craft Degrees‘ and he boldly asserted that no document existed anywhere that showed the existence of any ‘Haut-Degree’ before 1740. Hughan allowed that this was probably true.

Findel upset many EF’s by pointing out that ‘nothing has been done in England towards the investigation of the history of Freemasonry’ since the 18th-century and that it was German and French researchers ‘who have provided the evidence for the copying of the stonecutters by Freemasons from 1717.’ The book’s introduction by a colleague included a suggestion that since ‘historical science’ had been ‘somewhat neglected’ by them for the last 30 or 40 years, English brethren ‘doubtless will thank Brother Findel for imparting to them the fruits of his and his predecessor’s indefatigable studies’. The deep flaws within even Findel’s view of what amounted to ‘historical science’ show in his definition of ‘Freemasonry’: ‘This union of all unions, this association of men, bound together in their struggles to attain all that is noble, who desire only what is true and beautiful, who love and practice virtue for its own sake – this is Masonry. It is the most comprehensive of all human confederacies and therefore the purest and sublimest form of human association…’ [cccxxix]

French Freemasons, on an upward swing which would see their numbers double from 1862 to 1889, were debating which form of democratic government suited their purposes. The GM, an Army general, resigned at their 1870 Assembly and endorsed his successor, a school teacher, as a loyal and trustworthy man with government authorities, as was required. The two then supported the fraternity being asked to vote on a resolution that, if passed, would ‘suppress the office of Grand Master’, ie, declare the position to have no further relevance. Babaud-Laribier, the in-coming GM, emphasised the need for the brethren to seriously consider their decision, while making clear that he was personally in favour of the suppression. He emphasised two essential conditions which in the future should be non-negotiable, namely, the independence of lodges, and the simplicity of the administration: ‘Is it not evident, my brethren, that there still exists a considerable amount of error, prejudice, injustice and misery?…preserve your liberty, your independence of thought, I do not advocate we form a clique or a party – we should not fall into the error of an enervating and brutal centralisation. Each lodge should progress the learning most appropriate to it – be it agricultural, a library, or lectures, or professional instruction…’ [cccxxx]

On July 19th 1870, the government of France, in order to bolster its sagging electoral support in Paris and other major towns, declared war on the Prussian Empire, only to suffer a humiliating defeat, whereupon the German army advanced at will and quickly surrounded Paris. Early in 1871, Carnarvon threatened ‘the masonic press’ with loss of all GL information if it continued to express ‘political opinions’ concerning the fighting in France.[cccxxxi] Defiant citizens declared the Paris Commune into being in March, 1871, at which point the French government ‘invited’ its conquerors into the city to help it put down the uprising. On 21 April, 1871, a number of French Freemasons made a last-ditch attempt at conciliation between their conservative government and the revolutionary socialists who were pushing ahead with social reforms and lobbying for a republic to replace the monarchy. The brethren were received coldly by the President, Thiers, who assured them that, though Paris was already ‘given over to destruction and slaughter’, the law had to be enforced. Heavy fighting ensued but the poorly-armed citizens were no match for the disciplined soldiery and their cannon. Defiant Freemasons resolved to plant their ‘colours’ on the city’s ramparts in support of the Commune. On the 29th, 10,000 of the brethren representing 55 lodges, marched to the Hôtel de Ville, headed by Grand Masters in full insignia and with lodge banners. The procession then went, through the boulevards and the Champs Elysées, to the Arc de Triomphe, where the banners were raised. On the Porte Maillot the Versaillese [government] soldiers ceased firing, and the commander, himself a Freemason, received a deputation of brethren, and suggested a final appeal to Versailles. The Government, however, declined to further discuss the matter and ordered the fighting to continue which it did until the last communards were dead, imprisoned or had fled.

In July, the English Masonic press reported in full the address from the French GM, Bro L Babaud-Laribier to all lodges under his jurisdiction. In the midst of the dual crises, to his nation and his ‘Freemasonry’, he urged brethren to keep in mind that it was ‘Freemasonry’s strength and glory ‘to march in the advance guard of progress’ and to establish institutions which will be picked up later by ‘the outer world’, that the Order was ‘a refuge always open to free thought’ and ‘an ideal sociability’ for those with the welfare of human kind at heart. Following the example of ‘the Encyclopedia’ – ‘Didn’t the doctrines [of the Enlightenment] develop first in our Temples?’ – he reminded his audience that ‘universal suffrage’ was proclaimed in the Craft long before it was an issue ‘in the outer world’: As the smoke cleared and the Parisian dead were carted away, at a banquet in the west of England, Carnarvon ‘took occasion to contrast the happy condition of England with the present lot of France. Alluding to the recent events in Paris, he characterised the proceedings of the insurgents as the most horrible and detestable conspiracy against law and order and everything that made human society good and noble and generous. (Cheers)...’ [cccxxxii] This tickled the ego of his audience whose self-regarding glow increased as he continued: ‘…He thought these events had read us the melancholy lesson that however great our civilization, unless there were morals and religion, all that civilization failed. (Loud cheers) In conclusion, he advised them to cling to all our old institutions, and foremost among them all, the ancient and hereditary monarchy – the Queen and Crown. (Loud and enthusiastic cheers)…’ He maintained his righteous anger. In 1873 he wrote: ‘…Thus it comes to pass within less than a century, almost every political buttress and institution in France has gone, and…Frenchmen stand on the naked howling plain of pure democracy.’ [cccxxxiii]

Destruction of the Paris Commune and the GM’s conversion and replacement by the Prince of Wales appeared to justify the political commentary in EF periodicals. The Reverend Woodford argued that notice of the State visit of the Czar to London in May 1874 in the Freemason was permissible because EF obedience to civil authority extended to giving due reverence to a foreign ruler: ‘We English Freemasons are not politicians, and it never can be repeated too often, or remembered too carefully, that with politics…we have no concern whatever. Indeed so careful are we to maintain the golden mean of neutrality…we should not allow…political addresses on one side or the other, even as paid advertisements… But…there are some events in the world’s history which seem to lift themselves above the domain of mere party politics, and which we may fairly deal with…Now, it appears to us that the visit of the Emperor Alexander II to this country is just one of those events…For in truth, the Emperor Alexander II comes to us invested not only with that Sovereign rank which as loyal Englishmen, we have been taught to value and revere…’ [cccxxxiv]

Another editorial in The Freemason, of June, 1876, concerning ‘Whit-Monday’s Holiday’ argued for the social value of this holiday and berated the British Museum for refusing entry of women with babies. The text included: ‘…As Freemasons we rejoice in all that affects the social happiness, and comfort and welfare of the People…(We) have a right, and we mean to exercise it…to express our humble opinion on all matters which relate to the social progress of our own ‘good folk’ or of humanity at large.’ From its inception in 1875, another Masonic periodical, the Freemasons’ Chronicle, dealt with parliamentary politics, sympathised with trade unions and with education reform. Its editor believed that ‘…the occasional discussion of social questions, in a free and impartial style in the pages of a journal devoted to the interests of the Craft, cannot but be beneficial.’ [cccxxxv]

In 1877, Carnarvon led a UGLE Special Committee to report on the reasons for the changes in the declaration instituted by the Grand Orient. RF Gould was a member.[cccxxxvi] The Report formalised what became known as ‘The Great Schism’, a declaration by UGLE that the GOF was ‘irregular’, on the grounds that it allowed religious freedom of choice. On September 14th, 1877, GOF voted to eliminate from its constitution the article reading: “Freemasonry has for its principles the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and the solidarity of mankind” and to substitute the following: ‘Whereas Freemasonry is not a religion and has therefore no doctrine or dogma to affirm in its constitution, this Assembly has decided and decreed that the second paragraph of Article 1, of the Constitution (above quoted) shall be erased, and that for the words of the said article the following shall be substituted: 1. Being an Institution essentially philanthropic, philosophic, and progressive, Freemasonry has for its object, search after truth, study of universal morality, science and arts, and the practice of benevolence. It has for its principles absolute liberty of conscience and human solidarity. It excludes no person on account of his belief, and its motto is ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.[cccxxxvii]          The A&AS Rite which was strong in France determined to retain the requirement that members swear belief in a supreme Deity. At the next annual session of the GOF, in 1878 a move was made on the ritual. A committee was directed to report with recommendations for the following session. In September, 1879, upon report of the committee, a new ritual was adopted wherein all reference to the name and idea of God was eliminated, but liberty was given to the Lodges to adopt the new or old rituals as they should see fit. In that year, Woodford responded to Findel’s published support for the GOF: ‘…Despite Bro Findel’s sneer at our “benevolence” [ie, charity, which had been threatened by a bank failure] we wish other Masonic bodies would do as much, for no one who studies the question can doubt for a moment that the last movement in France, despite its loud professions, is purely political and communistic…We are sorry to see an able brother like Bro Findel lose himself, as Sterne would put it, in the ‘sty’ of communistic and un-believing dirt. ‘ [cccxxxviii]

In 1884 a ‘Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees’ was set up by UGLE to take control of yet more, ‘irregular’ degrees and Orders. Its Rule 1 was: ‘In view of the rapid increase of Lodges of various Orders recognising no central authority and acknowledging no common form of government, 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 British Crown as may be willing to join it.’ [cccxxxix] In 1902, UGLE extended its authority even further by claiming: ‘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^, Great Priory, Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters and Grand Imperial Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine, but not under the superintendence of such governing bodies.’ Re-arrangement of the entities making up EF hardened the governance principles of hierarchy and centralisation, physically and symbolically. ‘The Mark’ established its head office in Great Queen Street and the A&A Rite did likewise, in Golden Square, neither far from UGLE’s temple.

 

 

 

‘Mr Palmer’, the 1882 Invasion of Egypt

and the Road to Khartoum

 

The story of ‘Mr Palmer’ and his death in Egypt in 1882 at unknown hands has similarities to that of Stoddart and Conolly, and prompts the same question: who was ultimately responsible? As in 1842 Afghanistan, a British military invasion supported by clandestine activities brought about thousands of deaths, initially on the Egyptian side but followed by many British soldiers and their auxiliaries. As in 1842, government agents disappeared ‘on mission’, whereupon a stranger in London offered his services to fill the gap left by apparent government inaction. And as in the earlier case, intervention proved futile, the agents eventually turning up dead.

Early in this research, I thought to link the 1842 and the 1882 events simply because in both cases, EF-involvement surfaced early. Pursuit of the 1882 ‘Palmer’ context then revealed that his death, like those of the 1842 victims, happened in a side-show away from the main arena. Palmer and party were collateral damage, their story lost long since in the bombast and lies around an imperial turning point, in the latter case the British occupation of Suez. But like those in Afghanistan, the events in the North African big-top have had repercussions to the present day.

The 1842 deaths produced comparatively little fall-out. In contrast, mountains of newspaper commentary and books by participants appeared after 1882 and more again after Gordon’s death at Khartoum in 1884. Among scholars, diplomats and military personnel the events of that period have been the source of a continuing debate – their origins, their operational course and their consequences. The total number is enormous. Despite this, further exploration of the murkier, diplomatic/spy area will yet, I believe, reveal new connections and intrigues involving the English/British governments and UGLE. In most of what may be called ‘the 19th century diplomacy of the Mediterranean’ literature, Masonic connections have not been seriously appraised so even basic chronology is not clear. But because ‘Freemasonry’ has been assumed to be straightforward, assumptions have been made and contradictory conclusions have been drawn. This brief foray concentrates on Egypt and the closely connected Masonic/political machinations apparent in just this one jurisdiction.

Earlier, I referred to diplomatic/Masonic exchanges between European capitals and ME centres. In 1867, one of the 1845 students, (above) the youngest son of M Ali Abd al-Halim and his heir presumptive, was made GM of the Egyptian Grand Orient [GONE]. UGLE’s relationship with this and other GLs, in Turkey, Greece, etc, is not clear, but London’s immediate response was to name the son GM of a new EF District and to have him installed. Suddenly, the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople changed the rules of succession in favour of the incumbent’s grandson. The father, M Ali Abd al-Halim, vowed to use the lodges in a political campaign to overthrow the usurper, but he lost out and was exiled in 1868. The positive status of ‘Freemasonry’ apparent in this account is not always matched in others. The much-quoted 20th century scholar, Kedourie, who appears not to have been a brother, made no distinction between ‘Freemasonries’ in his writings: ‘In the Middle East at this time, freemasonry and freethinking seemed to have (been) closely linked…To be a freemason was to show one’s dislike of orthodox, traditional religion, the power it gave to [the ulama] and the hatreds and divisions it promoted and perpetuated in society.” He has quoted Egyptian Jurji Zaydan to the effect that: ‘As for the vulgar mass…it is useless to ask how deeply engrained in their minds was hatred and contempt for the sect of the masons… If they wished to describe how heinously atheistical or hypocritical somebody was, they found no better term to describe him than the word, ‘freemason’.’ Kedourie again: ‘The secret subversive work of Oriental masons was indeed known to Oriental rulers and troubled them.’ [cccxl]

Lane’s English Masonic Records, 1717-1894 show no EF lodges in Egypt before 1861, with all being established between then and 1873, and they show no breaks in transmission. Lodges named after Zetland, Hyde Clarke and Lord Dalling, otherwise Henry Lytton Earl Bulwer (1801-1872) are in the list. He was uncle of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton (1831-1891), also a diplomat, one-time British Ambassador to Turkey and son of novelist and alleged occultist, Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) who was brother of ‘Lord Dalling’. An EF insider wrote in 1969:‘(In 1871 some) native Masons…associated with Bulwer Lodge applied for and obtained a Warrant for a lodge to be worked in Arabic, and to be reserved for non-Europeans, under the name ‘Kawkab-el-Sharq’. ‘Kawkab al-Sharq’ is Arabic for ‘Star of the East’ which lodge name appears in Lane’s list. Unfortunately, there are no records of this ‘native’ Lodge prior to 1907; they are supposed to have been burnt.

 

L Zetland,                         met 1867 – 1890,   Alexandria

L of St John and St Paul,          1867 – 1882, Alexandria

St John’s Lodge,                    1862 – 1877,  Alexandria

Hyde Clarke L,                      1865 – 1869, Alexandria

Bulwer L of Cairo                    1865 -1891,     Cairo

Grecia L                                1866 -1891,    Cairo

Egyptian L                              1867 -1882,    Cairo

L La Concordia                        1868 -1890,   Cairo

Star of the East                        1871 -1888,   Cairo

Ramleh L                                1873-1882      Ramleh

 

An Italian, SA Zola was appointed by the then-Khedive Ismail in 1872 to head GONE, Zola in return declaring that the lodges ‘would not meddle in the country’s politics.’ Zola has been credited with having established the first Italian lodge of the A&AS Rite, (consolidated as we have seen in the US in 1845) in Alexandria in 1849 but his reason for being there at that time is unknown. In 1873, Zola threw down a further gauntlet to UGLE by decreeing that the A&A/Scottish Rite would be replaced with the Memphis Rite. He ‘was further authorised to assume the title of Grand Hierophant, 97th Degree,’ the supreme office of the rite.[cccxli] In 1875 he brought together ‘the Scottish’ and the Memphis Rite in GONE which was declared the official federal diet [ruling body] for all Egyptian lodges. An 1883 London Masonic paper backgrounded a revival in that year of English lodges by saying: ‘Ten years ago one of the most prosperous lodges in Cairo was the Bulwer…By an unfortunate coincidence, nearly all its active members left Cairo six years ago and the meetings of the lodge ceased…’ This 1883 report claimed however that: ‘As a matter of fact, English Masonry has been long predominant in Egypt as its laws, rituals and principles have been adopted by the Grand Lodge of Egypt over which MW Bro Borg the British Vice Consul at Cairo, now most worthily presides.’ The Grand Lodge of Egypt was included for the first time in the family of ‘European Grand Lodges’ by UGLE in its official 1878 calendar, recalling the GOF decision of 1877 and the resulting ‘Great Schism’ (above). An English lawyer who was at once a Mason, a close observer of the invasion and an important participant in its legal consequences wrote a book about his involvement. In it he observed: ‘There is a vast difference between the principles and practice of ‘Freemasonry’ in England and on the continent of Europe.’ After explaining that ‘our own system’, by which he meant EF, ‘embraces nothing more exciting than charity and good fellowship’, all non-EF, which he called ‘foreign Masonry’, was ‘an appropriate and convenient arena for political discussion, and both political and religious activism’.[cccxlii] Broadley, on the spot, was certain that: ‘The two creeds’, by which he meant English and ‘foreign’ Freemasonry, ‘have absolutely nothing in common but a few outward and visible signs, which convey to the minds of those who use them very different significations.’ He spelled out what he had observed in the period 1877-78: ‘In Egypt the tenets of continental Masonry, with its republican watchwords of Fraternite, Liberte. Egalite, had evidently overshadowed for a time at least a strong English element which once prevailed in her numerous lodges.’ The ‘overshadowing’ is more accurately a loss of lodge influence which just happens to correspond with published opinion that the Khedive Ismael was taking Egypt into bankruptcy and needed to be rescued. Consequently, the Khedive ceded control of his treasury, customs, railways, post-offices and ports to a joint Anglo-French bureaucracy, at which point prominent activists for Egyptian independence entered the fray: ‘About this time (1877), at the suggestion of al-Afghani, (Muhammad Abduh) joined the Masonic Order of the Eastern Star, [sic] affiliated with the headquarters in England. Its membership included three hundred of the most prominent men in the country.’ [cccxliii] Wissa, in 1989, wrote that al-Afghani first joined an Italian lodge but English Consul, Rafael Borg, had him shift to ‘Star of the East’ whereupon Borg declared that lodge to be free and independent of Zola’s remit and the control of GONE. However, al-Afghani appears to have recognised the differences between the Freemasonries for when he was made ‘President’ in 1878 he moved the lodge back under French patronage. He encouraged his religious students to join and sought ‘to turn the lodge into cells of political agitation.’: ‘According to Makhzumi, the (lodge) members were divided into several committees to serve as liaisons with government departments. One was entrusted with admonishing… the War Minister to treat justly those Egyptian officers who had been on duty in the Sudan. Others were assigned to the Ministers of Justice, Finance, Public Works, etc., asking them to treat Egyptian civil servants with fairness and equality. These officials were resentful of Europeans who were receiving three or four times their salaries for the same positions and amounts of work.’ [cccxliv] Wissa asserts that EF lodges sought to attract less-radical Egyptians by way of the joint controls on Egyptian budgets in 1878 wherein speculation in land was permitted and financial assistance to cotton growers was introduced. None of this is apparent in the regular reports published in the English Masonic journals.

While providing French watchwords, Broadley was thinking of recent Italian politics: ‘Although none of the National Brotherhood, a large number of their subordinates were amongst (continental Masonry’s) most active and zealous members. Sheik Abduh had been Master of his Lodge and many of the Deputies of the Egyptian Chamber had hastened to join the craft.‘ Why had they done this? ‘The ‘hungry after justice’ as Rifat (also a Mason) usually described the Egyptian patriots, found a strange fascination in the mystic tie…and believed the same machinery which had helped the Italians in their struggle for freedom and unity would materially assist the Egyptian cause.’ (My emphasis) Sommer’s 2015 book on ‘Freemasonry’ and the Ottoman Empire is mostly about Tripoli. Her interpretation emphasises unity and does not gel with that of Broadley’s which emphasises a clear division between EF and ‘Continental Freemasonry’. His personal legal and Masonic careers for the years 1876 to 1883 were centred on Malta and Tunis, and at least as reported in the English Masonic press, they do not reflect the division he wrote about in his book. Tunis and Malta are 500 miles apart but over the period he maintained numerous Masonic commitments in both places, and in England. The Orders and degrees with which he was involved range from the Craft, through Royal Arch and Mark Masonry, to the Cryptic Council, Rosicrucians and ‘The Order of Lawrence the Martyr.’ The published reports detail his enthusiasm, almost obsession, for establishing EF where it seems not to have been before, and for bringing with him on the journey a high-powered mix of locals and mainland Europeans whose original Masonic allegiance, their ‘mother lodge’, is varied and includes the Grand Lodge of Turkey which appears to have been declared ‘irregular’ previously by UGLE. [cccxlv]

In 1878, al-Afghani was expelled, apparently from ‘Freemasonry’ altogether, but by who is not clear. French and English officials seemed to have co-operated on this matter, too. Kedourie has suggested that his expulsion was from a French-registered, ‘Scottish’ lodge, ie the A&A Rite, whereupon he either joined or began a GOF lodge. In any event, Al-Afghani set up a political party, ‘The Free National Party’ supposedly using ‘Freemasonry’ as its basis, and according to Wissa: ‘(The FNP) played a great part in removing Ismael Pasha [the then Khedive] and bringing in Tawfik (or Tewfik) Pasha.’ (Wissa, 1989, p.149, and fn 41) This new Khedive was initially an ally of the reformers whose leader, M Arabi/Urabi was his Minister for War. The events which followed provided a fortuitous excuse for British forces to move in and claim suzerainty over Egypt, an occupation which itself provided cover for ‘Mr Palmer’ and party to leave Cairo without fanfare and disappear over the horizon. Out-manoeuvred and his Egyptian army decimated in August-September, 1882, al-Arabi, the reluctant hero who had become de facto embodiment of the dreams of Egyptian liberty, was arrested and handed over to the ‘native’ justice system. His supposed C-in-C, Tewfik who had commanded him to fight the British changed sides mid-campaign and now sought his head.

Broadley was then hired by a certain Wilfred Blunt to go to Cairo to defend el-Arabi and other Egyptian captives. In his book Broadley wrote that interference with his efforts came, not from British officials whom he generally praises, but from other Egyptians aligned with the Khedive Tewfik, and/or Turkish officials seeking to maintain Ottoman influence. He recorded that ‘At every period of…my stay in Egypt, and more particularly at every acute crisis through which the fate of Arabi passed, I received a series of anonymous letters giving me many valuable hints, and informing me of all that was going on in the enemy’s camp. A great majority of them bore unmistakeable signs of a masonic origin…’ (My emphases) His informant, whose identity he does not pursue in the book, was clearly a brother with access across jurisdictions, legal and Masonic, and in clear breach of his obligation to be neutral.

The sometime Cambridge professor, ‘Mr Palmer’ had considerable scholarly achievements in his CV and he had worked hard to spread the Christian gospel. He had translated the Koran into English and the New Testament into Hindustani, Arabic and Persian for the British and Foreign Bible Society, and he had completed histories of Jerusalem. He had skills, too, in legerdemain, mesmerism, and was a raconteur, poet and painter. In mid-1882, he was supposedly commissioned by the London newspaper, Evening Standard, to gather publishable material ‘about the character, power and… movement of the Sinai Arabs’. A more recent explanation of his task, by a Masonic scholar, claimed: ‘Palmer volunteered to travel from Gaza to Suez to ascertain the mood of the Bedouins and to act as principal interpreter to Admiral Sir William Hewitt, who was commanding naval operations in the Red Sea.[cccxlvi] With Palmer was Captain Gill, RE, who had also supposedly volunteered. He was actually another ‘asset’ from the military’s Intelligence Department, and had the familiar background history. He had escaped with his life only by good luck in 1873 when with a fellow officer, Valentine Baker, [see Ure] he had been ‘exploring’ Persian Central Asia, ‘recording every angle in the road for mile after mile.’[cccxlvii] A second military ‘volunteer’, a Lieutenant Charrington, was from Admiral Hewett’s staff which means he had been brought in from Naval Intelligence at Hewett’s direction. These three and a small support group had not returned when in October, a letter to The Times, from a Colonel Yule, RE, Ret, complained on behalf of ‘the ladies of Captain Gill’s family’. They had heard nothing of the expedition for a month and wanted to know what ‘the government’ was doing, if anything about the party’s disappearance. Two days later a letter appeared from an interested observer, offering to go to Arabia and to ‘help in such way as lay in my power.’ The writer, Wilfred Scawen Blunt, has left more biographical detail than ‘Captain Grover’ of the Stoddart and Conolly incident but appears no less mysterious. A relative of Charrington’s added to public discontent: ‘The government appears to have behaved in a very half-hearted manner in their endeavours to rescue the missing men, and for ten weeks they seem to have given Admiral Hewitt no definite instructions on how to proceed.’ He claimed that ‘blue-jackets’ ought to have been sent in immediately but ‘the government’ had missed its chance. The distressed families denied Blunt the necessary authorisations. Charrington’s brother, also a Lieutenant, was granted a visa for Egypt but he could speak none of the relevant languages and he had no knowledge of the area or of the Bedouin. One letter writer noted that ‘the government’ had shown one sign of stirring, they had authorised Colonel Warren ‘to offer a reward for information or a ransom for their recovery’, but insisted that ‘Mr Blunt is the one man in the whole of England best qualified to undertake the task’. [cccxlviii]

By the 27th October, newspapers were reporting that the whole party was dead. Supposedly travelling in secret, they had been ambushed, murdered and their bodies left to rot, on the orders of ‘the Governor of Nakhl’, almost due west of the Canal. ‘Cairo Correspondent’, the unnamed author of the story, claimed that the main purpose of the expedition had been to obtain camels for the army and that ‘Professor Palmer had hoped to be able to persuade some of the Bedouins to lend help to the Khedive and to take an active role against Arabi.’ This ‘informed source’ was still not being honest. ‘The gold which he carried with him, and which must have been a tempting booty…may have been intended to give force to his persuasions.’ The source said that ‘Captain Gill had been charged with the special task of cutting telegraph wires which run across the Syrian desert and connect Egypt with Constantinople.

Walter Besant emerged as a close friend of Palmer and quickly produced a massive eulogy to him in which was a quote from Gill’s journal: ‘August the 6th – Met Palmer. He has travelled much in the Sinaitic Peninsular and knows all the Arab sheikhs. He has just come from among them, and is hopeful of bringing about 50,000 Arabs over to us for 25,000l…’ [cccxlix] In his 1902 Autobiography Besant was a little more open: ‘…In 1882 when the trouble with Egypt began, and the Suez Canal was threatened, (Palmer) undertook for the Government a journey in the Sinai Desert in order to keep the Arabs quiet. He went out alone, disguised as a Syrian Effendi, he travelled through the desert in the summer heat, he saw sheikh after sheikh, and made them promise not to harm the canal; he arrived safely at Suez, his mission accomplished. He had however to take some money to his new allies, and was treacherously murdered by a party of Arabs sent from Cairo for the purpose…’ [cccl]

Though no version cited so far has used the word ‘bribe’, it is clear that that was what Palmer’s instructions involved. English vanity required it to be unsaid, but the use of ‘inducements’ for commercial/political advantage was wide-spread, one of the canal bond-holders, Lord Rothschild offering al-Arabi GBP4,000 to leave Egypt before the invasion. I presume inducements were used to ‘turn’ Tewfik, an initiated brother, Britain not wishing to see any strengthening of Egyptian independence. Lord Wentworth in the Lords in 1883 described the party as ‘secret agents in an enemy’s country in time of war’.[cccli] Blunt watched a bevy of politicians in the House of Commons lie about the whole affair and concluded: ‘…The English intelligence department had…taken secret measures of a kind which is always employed in modern warfare but never avowed…That [British General] Wolseley’s advance was helped by bribery has always been indignantly denied but it is time the truth was authoritatively told…’(WB, 1907, p.302) [ccclii] Blunt wrote later that the shooting of the Palmer party had been ‘an act not of common murder but clearly of warfare’ and: ‘one which should certainly have been covered by the amnesty, the business the disguised officers were on giving them the character of spies.’ [cccliii]

WS Blunt is officially recorded as ‘a diplomat’ but only until 1869 after which extensive travels led him to begin importing Arabian stud horses into England, a business which depended on good relations with both the sellers in the desert and the English public. But his biographer has noted his being sent on a ‘Secret Imperial Mission’ in 1880, details unknown. Before the invasion, he had lobbied strenuously for the reformers and had brought a reactionary barrage down on his head. In Parliament and in the press he was labelled a traitor, instructions for his arrest should he attempt to re-enter Egypt were issued, even if he arrived ‘in disguise’, and his letters from London to al-Arabi were intercepted and read by Malet, (1837-1908) an English consular official.[cccliv] After the invasion he claimed to have been a friend of Palmer, as Grover had with Stoddart, and to have great expertise in the region, as Wolff had done in 1842.

He went on the offensive when his offer of help was refused by the family. He had access to Palmer’s diaries, perhaps through Besant, and used them to assert that, recently married and in financial difficulties, he had been plucked from civilian life, given the journalist cover story and thrust back into the desert specifically to bribe Arabs whom he knew from previous visits: ‘…The [British] attack on Egypt from the side of the Suez Canal had been resolved on by our War Office and Admiralty early in the year and it was determined about the middle of June to prepare the way betimes by a large operation of bribery, especially among the Eastern Bedouins.’ [ccclv] The timing here is important.

The Palmer mission was authorised in late-June, after French and British war ships had been positioned off Alexandria and after troops had begun preparing for action around the Canal. Extensive street rioting and shelling of al-Arabi’s fortifications of Alexandria, 11-13 July, were followed by the port’s occupation by marines. The main invasion of Cairo and the Canal on 5 August routed the Egyptian forces which retreated to defend the city which was taken in September. The meeting of 6 August with Gill occurred after Palmer had brought news back to Cairo from his talks with desert sheiks and was the date he was given the gold which they had told him was wanted before they would enter the conflict on the British side. The authorising of the money implies someone, probably Wolseley, thought the tribesmen were still needed at that late date. The consequences prove that British intelligence was flawed and that security was lax but perhaps the local agents believed they had already done enough to gain the Canal.

The riot which supposedly provoked the British naval bombardment of Alexandria, and the follow-up invasion by 40,000 men fits the B-P explanation in his handbook for ‘Class One’ spies (above): ‘(The creation of) political disaffection and…outbreaks, such, for instance, as spreading sedition amongst Egyptians or in India amongst the inhabitants, or in South Africa amongst the Boer population to bring about an outbreak, if possible, in order to create confusion and draw off troops in time of war…’ [ccclvi] What we might call the ‘Baden-Powell’ hypothesis is that the sequence of events – unrest, naval bombardment of Alexandria, assertions in London newspapers that European lives were in danger, followed by a land invasion ‘to secure the canal’ – was contrived locally. Palmer’s mission to bribe the Egyptian Bedawin to reject Arabi’s overtures was, in the event, of no account. The 1894 text prepared by Warren and Besant has a last letter from Palmer to Besant, dated 22 July, 1882. It spoke of ‘the Arabs all in a state of devildom’, and of his having to dodge Turkish and Egyptian soldiers: ‘It is a queer sensation to have one’s throat in constant jeopardy, but I don’t mind it as I feel quite cool and sure of success. Explanation is quite out of the question…I expect a man in from Suez tomorrow with letters and then I shall know my plans better. I hope he won’t get killed, because if the Egyptians get hold of my letters things won’t be nice for me……Lord Northbrook said that he looked upon my task as the most important one to the success of the campaign…I am the only European on Egyptian territory who is not under the protection of the guns of the fleet.’

Blunt later claimed that in 1881 he had been ‘sent to (Cairo to) notify Sir Edward Malet, the British agent, as to the Egyptian public opinion’. He interviewed al-Arabi and then reported to Malet and Lord Cromer, who as Evelyn Baring had been among CW Wilson’s colleagues earlier at the WO. Baring/Cromer wrote in Cairo in 1882 that there were only two options, ‘Blunt’s or Colvin’s’. He was never going to support Blunt’s approach but this is an astonishing nod to Blunt’s efforts and connections. In a 1200-page memoir published in 1908 to justify his belief that Britain’s duty was to maintain its occupancy of Egypt against the nationalists, he was critical of three men whose oppositional importance he equated – ‘Blunt, Gladstone and Gordon’. Sir Auckland Colvin (1838-1908) in Egypt since 1879 had succeeded Cromer as Comptroller-General when he, Cromer, was sent in mid-1882 to India to sort out finances there. Gladstone and his Cabinet had not been able to resolve their internal differences and the local diplomat/spies, had advocated only one option: ‘(Colvin) from the beginning of 1882 both shaped and interpreted events to hasten and justify intervention… Malet, strongly influenced by Colvin’s views…became increasingly hostile to the nationalists (and advised) the Foreign Secretary that, unless strong action was taken, Egypt would soon be ruled by a military clique dedicated to the overthrow of European influence. [My emphasis] The Pall Mall Gazette, ‘said by Blunt to be the only paper that Gladstone read attentively’, had Colvin as its correspondent in Egypt while The Times used as its main source C. F. Moberly Bell ‘who had considerable business interests in Alexandria and whose opinions on policy were shaped by a well-informed friend – Colvin….Thus, all the official information reaching London during 1882 fitted the requirements of the forward party in the cabinet perfectly…(Hopkins, 1986, p.383) Bell was another EF.

Blunt knew about press manipulation: ‘Reuter [the News Service] especially was the servant and mouthpiece of the English Agency and the telegrams despatched to London were under [Foreign Office] censorship. This sort of manipulation of the organs of public news in the interests of our diplomacy exists in nearly all the capitals where our agents reside, and is a potent instrument for misleading the home public. In ordinary times our officials have had complete authority both as to what news should be sent to London, and what news, received from London, should be published in Egypt. It is very necessary that this, the true condition of things, should be steadily borne in mind by historians when they consult the newspaper files of these years in search of information.’ (WB, 1907, p.134)

Cromer had been private secretary to his cousin, Lord Northbrook, the incoming Viceroy of India in 1872. In 1883, he was back at the Canal and in charge: ‘From 1883, when he was appointed British agent and Consul-General, until 1907, Baring was virtually the ruler of Egypt.’ (TF, 1984, p.43, p.50, fn, 21) According to the report in the English Masonic press in 1883 already quoted, ‘one of the early effects of the British Military Expedition to Egypt’ was a revival of ‘Masonic bodies working under the (GLE)’.[ccclvii] In her sceptical, ‘political biography’ of al-Afghani, US academic Keddie speculated that the use of ‘masonic symbols and slogans, including the masonic triangle and dots’ in an anonymous threatening letter in 1883 to Malet at Cairo was from him or one of his circle but she took this claim no further. [ccclviii] The known EF lodges peter out again in the 1880’s when their job was perhaps perceived as done, but ‘Freemasonry’ did not disappear.[ccclix] The British Foreign Office in Egypt, which meant Cromer, Malet and Colvin, continued to ‘monitor’ all known Masonic activists and to ‘examine’ Masonic periodicals: ‘Documents studied by Elie Kedourie leave little doubt that, for example, the British Foreign Office had increased its tendency to view local masonic activities in the Ottoman Empire mainly in political terms. In Cairo, specifically, the British occupation regime was becoming concerned enough about nuances in diverse masonic loyalties…to wonder if a special relationship with masons in Egypt was not necessary if only to assure useful monitoring of the Ottoman Grand Orient.’ [ccclx] (My emphasis)

Moberly Bell was called home to the metropolis in 1890 to manage The Times. His replacement and other ‘connections’, including those at The Spectator, were wined and dined by Cromer to ensure continued co-operation.[ccclxi] The number of English/British agents ‘on hand’ – military/diplomatic/ commercial/indigenous is still to be totalled but I have no doubt that it was high. The geo-political stakes were considerable and competition for ‘intelligence’ was intense. We have already met a number of the military agents and noted that their shared backgrounds included the survey and cartography skills of RE, the networking advantages of EF and English gentry circles, and strong Bible-based Christian beliefs. Most advocated ‘Jewish restoration’, a few sought ‘Arabia for the Arabs’:

 

Gordon                 RE & Mystic Christian

Warren                 EF & RE

Gill                      RE & Anglican   EF?

Palmer                  EF & Christian   EF?

Conder                RE & Christian   EF?

Kitchener            EF & RE & High Anglican

Burton                  EF

CW Wilson          EF & RE

 

It would be a remarkable coincidence if these men were in Egypt for other than espionage purposes, and if the lodges were not part of their brief. Some are known: ‘The 1882 Egypt expedition benefitted from very full military intelligence, carefully gathered during a previous shooting and tourist trip by one Major AB Tulloch, who, together with the very young Kitchener, both in disguise, also conducted a clandestine railway reconnaissance.’ [ccclxii] Conder joined Wolseley in Cairo as deputy assistant adjutant and quartermaster general in the ‘intelligence department’ and worked alongside Kitchener. After 1882 he was invalided home.[ccclxiii] A Memorial plaque to Palmer and Captain Gill unveiled in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral claimed they had been ‘travelling on public duty when they were treacherously and cruelly slain’.[ccclxiv] Gill’s intelligence gathering experiences were described as the travels of an enthusiast: ‘(He) entered the Royal Engineers in 1864. Being a man of great energy and enterprise, with both the taste for travel and the means of gratifying it, he had gained considerable reputation as an explorer of the unknown districts of Central Asia…’ (AH, 1894, pp.5-6) After leading an ordnance survey of Ireland, which no doubt had strategic intentions, Wilson from 1879 to 1882 had been Consul-General in Anatolia, with Kitchener as one of his vice-consuls. His obituary in 1905 recorded that ‘while in Anatolia he was sent on a special commission to Bulgaria, Roumelia and Asia Minor. For these services he was made a KCMG.’ It went on: ‘When the troubles in Egypt were brewing in 1882, Sir Charles Wilson volunteered for special service…and his splendid work in the intelligence branch of the British force resulted in his appointment as Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General…’ [ccclxv] Their Commander, Sir Garnett Wolseley, also an EF, already held the title of Adjutant General. It might seem that this collection of committed EF Christians were on hand in Egypt because they had been hand-picked by Wolseley or perhaps had responded to some sort of fraternal pledge each had made with Wolseley. But, according to Snook, a military historian and serving officer, these men were not Wolseley’s greatest favourites, his ‘Ring’: ‘ He was notorious for making repeated use in his campaigns of the same circle of talented subordinates…(Not) content with merely mobilizing the Ring every time he took to the field, (Wolseley) was also inclined to request the services of composite units of hand-picked men…’. Those in his inner circle included Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir Redvers Buller, Sir Frederick Stephenson and Henry Brackenbury – officers who had served with him since the Crimea or in Africa. They made up one of the last examples of a General’s personal clique, or what Walpole’s favourites knew as patronage. The first two named were known EFs, while Brackenbury later became the first Director of Military Intelligence from 1886 when that position was created on the back of the work done by Wilson and Baring at the Topographical Department.[ccclxvi] Wolsley’s superior, the Duke of Cambridge, was, in Wolseley’s view, ‘the old crocodile’, but it was he who thought Wolseley’s approach ‘prejudicial to the wider interests of the service.’

Blunt was sure that: ‘(Our) government had special reasons for resenting their [Palmer and his party] deaths and after the war was over an English officer (Warren, was sent into the region to exercise British justice)…This duty he performed by driving into Suez some scores of Bedouins, men, women and children, and selecting out of them five for hanging while the rest were detained for many months in prison as hostages for more important personages still at large.’ In apparent recognition of his success, in 1883 Warren was made a Knight of Justice of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. As his training insisted he do, he kept detailed notes and he and Besant helped another military colleague, Captain Haynes, to prepare a positive account of this expedition. Published in 1894 and dedicated to Lord Northbrook, First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of the invasion, it was introduced with the following: ‘…Perhaps the time has not yet come to tell the whole truth concerning this expedition. Things are known – I do not speak of things connected with his instructions, his powers or the Government – which are not easy to prove, yet are very well known to a few. It is sufficient here to say that the real murderers of this scholar and of the two gallant officers who fell with him were not the wretched men who were rightly hanged for being the tools, but others.’ [ccclxvii]

Warren was accompanied by two hundred troopers and other support people: ‘(The) question arose whether we should be within the law in arresting any Bedoui in disguise who might come by stealth into Suez, (we found) this would not meet with opposition from the Egyptian authorities, provided that we took reasonable precautions to avoid arresting the wrong person…’ He was ‘resourceful’: ‘It would be out of place to describe the secret service Colonel Warren organised in this matter, but success very soon resulted from his operations…’ (AH, 1894, p.52) The text continued in this vein: ‘(The) Bedouin viewed with amazement the precision with which Colonel Warren achieved success after success in his enquiry. Entirely unacquainted with his methods of weighing the evidence of all who had anything to say about the matter, of piecing together, and extracting the true from the false by minute and continual comparisons of one man’s evidence with another…(Days) upon days of patient, pitiless examination and cross-examination…with a scribe recording everything said.’ (AH, 1894, p.150) Biblical descriptors were attached to desert geography. Mt Serbai is described as ‘God’s choice of the spot where His chosen people should worship Him’, and Jebel Musa as ‘the pulpit Rock of the Law-giver (Moses).’ (AH, 1894, p.192) The party was obviously not just looking for suspects, but also gathering detailed figures of possible ‘fighting men’ which each tribe might put into the field, figures only relevant to future military activity. Palmer had speculated 50,000. Warren concluded the figure was closer to 6,000: ‘On January 17 (1883) we commenced a compass-survey of Wadi Sadr [where the deaths occurred] making at the same time a careful examination of the ground which resulted in the discovery of many mementoes of the murdered men…The location of the actual site of the ambush was fixed by the finding of a stain of blood on the road which led up to the wadi.’ (AH, 1894, p.218)

Warren was to be the arrested men’s prosecutor in court but supposedly from considerations of a possible conflict of interest, that job was undertaken by Burton for the five days of the trial. He had been in the consular ‘sinecure’ of Trieste since 1873 from where he had continually appealed to influential persons asking to be sent back to Afghanistan. He promised that six months work would reveal all that government needed to know about Russian intentions. One known letter was to Queen Victoria’s ‘secret envoy’, General William Wilde. Lovell, Burton’s biographer, was surprised by the informal tone of this letter, ‘for it points to an acquaintance which has never been explored…Why should Richard write to this man…unless somehow he had been advised of intelligence missions…then under discussion?’ (Lovell p.591) Lovell notes Palmer’s friendship with the Burtons, that Palmer had been an ‘agent’ before 1882, and that Burton, though at Trieste, had initially been tasked with finding the party: ‘(Richard) had last seen Palmer eighteen months earlier…Then, Palmer was engaged in gathering intelligence for the British Army, and as a result of this meeting Richard began noting appropriate information.’ [ccclxviii] In Burton’s words: ‘We agreed that I should go to Ghazzah and search the northern road for the 21 fugitive murderers. I did so, made all my arrangements and was ready to start when I received at Jaffa another (telegram) inviting me to return to Trieste. So I damned them all and did. This is simply making a fool of me. They wanted my name while the House of Commons was sitting and then – nothing. (L, 1998, p.674

Kitchener later wrote: ‘Colonel Sir Charles Warren’s energetic action in the capture and bringing to justice of the perpetrators of the crime has created a deep impression (among the Arabs) and I consider the whole peninsular is now, for foreign travellers, as safe as, if not safer than, it was previously.’ (AH, 1894, p.272, quoting from Kitchener’s Seir and Moab.)In the House of Commons, however, it was claimed: ‘…Colonel Warren had not scrupled, by the use of duplicity, force, or torture, to extort confessions, or pseudo-confessions, from those incriminated persons.’ The responsible Minister did not respond. Lord Northbrook defended Warren for his ‘gallantry, determination, good judgement, and a perfectly judicial mind.’ The personal attacks continued – ‘The ambush by which Professor Palmer was captured’ was explained as: “natural resistance to the invasion and spydom, and bribery and treachery of the Mission”. The murder of Professor Palmer and his companions was characterised…as the justifiable exaction of the penalties of war upon spies, and the proceedings of the Government in demanding and carrying out justice…resulted in what was termed “bloody judicial murder.’ (AH, 1894, pp.268-70) Prime Minister Gladstone initially sought to put al-Arabi on trial and execute him, portraying him as “…a self-seeking tyrant whose oppression of the Egyptian people still left him enough time, in his capacity as a latter-day Saladin, to massacre Christians.” After glancing through the man’s captured diaries and other evidence, he found there was little with which to “demonize” ‘Arabi in a public trial. The charges were down-graded, he admitted to rebellion and was sent into exile.

A Commission was appointed to advise on the re-organisation of Egyptian civil society. The then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Dufferin, 1826-1902, was appointed to head it and Wilson was seconded to assist him. Again, Wilson was ‘thanked by the government’, in this case, ‘in connection with the trial of Arabi (Urabi) Pasha’. Dufferin’s background was that of a typically, well-connected diplomat/spy in the ME. He had done a little biblical archaeology in the 1860’s, had tried his hand at hieroglyphics and had explored the Baltic Sea by sailboat.[ccclxix] He had, no doubt, been part of the local effort to facilitate the invasion and has been credited with ensuring al-Arabi didn’t hang and thereby calmed Egyptian concerns. His published Report and paraphrases it received in the press exemplify English/British imperialism at its most stark and its most seductive – extreme arrogance and assumed superiority dressed up in the language of duty and altruism: ‘we interfered against our will’, ‘we could not shirk our duty to others’ and ‘we have the best systems of governance, the Egyptians are incapable, its only right that we give them a perfect Constitution, an efficient police force “to enforce civil law and watch over civil rights”, and ‘tribunals to offer them that protection from arbitrary authority they have never before known’. (My emphases) [ccclxx]

Kitchener who is believed to have joined one Cairo lodge in 1883 and others thereafter had been invited by the PEF to work in the Sinai with a geologist, ‘a Professor Hull’, when ‘the Mahdi’ (‘the Chosen One’) began rampaging through the Sudan, overwhelming an Army detachment sent against him and threatening the enclave of Khartoum. Appointed ‘Special Commissioner for the Arabs’ and given command of 1,500 men, Kitchener ‘gathered intelligence and secured the loyalty of tribes by the careful distribution of subsidies.’ Following the same strategy which had brought Palmer and his party undone, he was authorised to deliver bribes of up to GBP10,000.[ccclxxi] The invasion of the Canal area had made the British government morally responsible for law and order along the Nile, and while Gladstone continued to insist Britain’s intention was to withdraw as soon as possible, his men on the ground either had other ideas or were confounded by circumstances. Home from the Sudan where he’d been Viceroy, 1873-1880, ‘Chinese’ Gordon, was feted a hero and then asked by his friend ‘Elphi’, Howard Elphinstone, to take his commission – command of the Royal Engineers at Mauritius. Gordon was in place only a few months before the Belgian King sought again to send him to Basutoland. Lord Ripon, Viceroy-designate to India offered him the post of Secretary which he accepted and then resigned soon after getting to the sub-continent. In 1882-3 he was in Palestine supposedly tracing Biblical events and locations for his own benefit. In January, 1884, he was in Brussels being prepared by the Belgium King when he was ‘summoned’ to London. There, he was briefed and immediately despatched ‘by the mail for Brindisi’ to somehow ‘retrieve’ the besieged troops and residents under threat at Khartoum.[ccclxxii] His state of mind, the Army’s intelligence and administrative deficiencies, the state of the Nile and the Mahdi’s unexpected skill combined to keep him in the town until any retreat had become impossible. When a decision was eventually taken in London to try to rescue him with another Wolseley-led force, Kitchener and Wilson were again involved in the Intelligence Department. A detachment commanded by Wilson was first to reach Khartoum but was two days too late. Snook’s version blames Wolseley for the failure, while the General’s reports blasted other people from Gladstone down. He especially blamed Wilson who was returned to Ireland and to survey work.

Kitchener remained in the area. He ‘wore the Arab dress and fell into the Arab type of courtesy so effectively that even his blue northern eyes did not betray him. Above all, he sympathised with the Arab character; and in a thousand places sprinkled over the map of North-East Africa he made friends for himself and therefore enemies for the Mahdi.…’ He followed Warren into the governorship of the Red Sea Territories, in practice little more than the Port of Suakin in the late 1880’s. Having become Sirdar of the Egyptian Army in 1892 – with the rank of brigadier-general and then major-general, in 1896 he finally had his chance to lead British and Egyptian forces ‘up the Nile’. After his defeat of the Mahdi army, Kitchener was made Aide-de-Camp to the Queen and appointed a Knight Commander of the Bath: ‘(He) was a soldier of considerable energies, most of which were channelled into the furtherance of his career. He was a dedicated imperialist who believed that he was waging war…in the name of civilisation, a consideration which did not prevent him from treating his enemies with extreme ruthlessness.’

Blunt, still barred from the region, bombarded the London papers with allegations of the Army’s brutalities, the burning of water wheels, the filling in of wells, and, in general, creating social mayhem. He was later able to list the rewards given to Wolseley, Colvin and others, for what he rightly called ‘the Egyptian blunder.’ [ccclxxiii] He went on to publish other ‘secret histories’ to expose government policies for Africa, India and Ireland. He witnessed what he called the ‘revolt of the Egyptian peasantry’ against the increasing debt being placed on them by British expansionist activities. He argued that Gladstone’s idealistic hopes for a reversal of repressive policies in India by his appointment of the ex-Grand Master of EF, Lord Ripon, as GG in 1883 were obstructed and reversed by orchestrated attacks which Gladstone was unable or unwilling to repulse: ‘The attacks against Lord Ripon were certainly encouraged by the Anglo-Indian officials; and presently they were repeated in the press at home…The “Times” took up the attack; the Cabinet was alarmed for its popularity, and the Queen was shaken in her opinion of her Viceroy’s judgement. Lord Ripon was left practically alone to his fate.’ [ccclxxiv] Surviving the personal attacks by compromising on his intended reforms Ripon in 1884 returned to the UK where he involved himself in Irish affairs. From 1892 he was Secretary for the Colonies.

THE FALL

Part Two: Captain Charles Warren and Lodge of Research QC

Sporadic concern had been expressed by citizens, who included EFs, about problems ‘at home’ caused by industrialisation, but in 1883-4 working class poverty became a major social question when WT Stead turned the Pall Mall Gazette into a journal of crusade. His was a response to a small, anonymous pamphlet, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, published in 1883 and credited with awakening the ‘social conscience of the churches’ to a contradiction at the heart of mid-Victorian economic and cultural complacency. [ccclxxv] For England’s middle and upper classes of ‘the late 1860s and early 1870s the liberal utopia had never seemed nearer’ but it was radically undermined ‘by the spectre of the East End “residuum”, their anxiety only increasing when the ‘journalistic depictions of G. R. Sims and Andrew Mearns, and the social research led by Charles Booth, revealed the residuum’s persistence and proliferation in the face of, by then, substantial charitable and State attempts to eradicate it’. [ccclxxvi] ‘Outcast London’, the families of casual labourers caught in a cycle of endemic poverty, was a ‘demoralized’ community ‘cast adrift from the salutary presence and leadership of men of wealth and culture.’ These people were ‘a potential threat to the riches and civilization of London and the Empire’. [ccclxxvii] I have to assume QC members discussed the suffering, strikes and riots on its door-steps, since member No 13 on the QC Register, Riley, authored an 1888 article in the Freemason’s Chronicle arguing ‘Modern Freemasonry’ was by its very nature ‘a social and moral reformer’: ‘…Freemasonry is capable of making us all wiser and better men – better husbands – better fathers and better citizens. There are no good aspirations and no benevolent or charitable tendencies that it does not encourage: hence its capacity to instil into our hearts moral lessons that we must carry home, and…feel present in all the concerns of our daily life…We want…those… members who strive to understand our whole system, practice Freemasonry, and whose lives shine as living exemplars of our true principles…’ [ccclxxviii]

There is no evidence in the published documents that Lodge QC, No. 2076, was even aware it had a domestic context. But at least one founder could not ignore the reality. Walter Besant, was by the 1880’s, like his sister-in-law, Annie, personally involved in attempting practical solutions. And like hers, his concerns pre-dated the 1883 media frenzy over homelessness. Already a successful writer and while continuing to work as PEF Secretary, he wrote a number of utopian novels and involved himself in work to improve the lives of London’s poor. Knighted in 1895, he was the social observer and reformer that QC collectively was not. His 1882 fantasy novel of slum regeneration, All Sorts and Conditions of Men, imagined a ‘Palace of Delight’, a place for working class recreation and education. No mention of this book has ever appeared in AQC, though his conception led directly to the building of London’s People’s Palace, with which he became heavily involved.[ccclxxix] In 1884, the charitable Beaumont Trust began gathering donations to begin construction in Mile-End Road, Whitechapel. Donations dried up in a mid-decade recession and the plans ‘drifted further and further’ from his original ‘Palace of Delight’ towards middle class notions of a makeshift vocational experiment. In 1886, working with the Salvation Army, he proposed a conference on ‘Women’s Labour’ at almost the same time that Annie Besant was lecturing on ‘Slums and the Men Who Made Them’. Their parallel concerns might have generated mutual respect, even collaboration. Their physical paths may have crossed before 1887 when their conceptions of ‘Freemasonry’ clashed in very dramatic circumstances.

This is again ironic as in his many writings there are indications that Walter’s youthful enthusiasm for EF had waned and that, in his maturity, QC was not high on his list of priorities. In the 4th edition of a work he co-authored with Palmer on Jerusalem, he wrote: ‘…(This was first) written in the years 1870 and 1871…(I) was then one of those whom the vexed questions of the Holy City and its topography still held enchained…’ [ccclxxx] In the ‘Preface to the First Edition’ appeared this sceptical disclaimer: ‘…There is nothing sacred about the actors in this long story we have to tell, and we have not thought it necessary to invest them…with an appearance of sanctity because they fought for the City of Sacred Memories, or because they bore the Cross upon their shoulders. We have endeavoured to show them as they were…always men and women, never saints.’ [ccclxxxi] His autobiography has his involvement with Freemasonry as an afterthought: ‘…There were many other societies in which I was interested…On my return to England I joined a lodge. I have never been an enthusiast for the rites and ceremonies of the (Craft), but I have always understood its great capabilities as a social and religious force…(It) has developed a species of doctrine, vague and without a defined creed, which is to some of its members a veritable religion…’ [ccclxxxii] A recent reviewer of his 1882 book has marked his consciousness of Hebrews and their language ‘as the lingua franca of ancient Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Phoenicia, and Judea (which) is not surprising given Besant’s Christian Zionism (SC, p. 212). [One of his fictional creations] Angela refers to Fagg [perhaps Besant himself] as ‘a Hebrew scholar’ whose research took place in the British Museum.’

The Museum’s Reading Room in 1889 was, apparently, an egalitarian space with ‘wonderful accessibility’ for a wide spectrum of visitors, traversing boundaries of class, nation, gender, and occupation: ‘For some it is a workshop, for others a lounge; there are those who put it to the highest uses, while in many cases it serves as a shelter, — a refuge, in more senses than one, for the destitute.’ The Room, visited much earlier by the likes of brother Matthew Cooke, had become ‘a multipurpose sphere, a knowledge factory, a club, an asylum’, which like the BM as a whole, contrasted with men-only clubs such as QC in its approach to gender and in its openness to current affairs: ‘…(Many of the) women (who) were readers at the British Museum… participated in activist work through publications, speeches, or forms of organizing on behalf of poor East End workers.’ These women included Beatrice Potter (later Webb), Eleanor Marx, and Annie Besant.

Walter wrote very little about his immediate family – his brother Frank is only vaguely recognised – while ‘not even the slightest hint’ is given of his sister-in-law.[ccclxxxiii] Shy, methodical Frank had been ordained by the Bishop of Winchester in 1865, and the next year had met Annie Wood whom he wed in 1867. Almost immediately they had realised their incompatibility. An avid reader of tracts and sermons as a girl, Annie Besant was an early questioner of the Bible, but her increasingly violent husband, she later said, was horrified or ‘sanctimoniously rebukeful’ of her maturing attitudes. She was helped out of physical and emotional depression by a friend’s introduction ‘to the works of humanistic liberals and ‘Broad Churchmen’ such as John Stuart Mill and JFD Maurice’, and by a doctor who brought and discussed books on anatomy, physiology and science: ‘When this physical crisis was over, Annie determined on her future course of action…She decided to take every Christian dogma as taught in the churches, and analyse and examine it for demonstrable truth.’ [ccclxxxiv] In 1871, she ventured into a meeting in London where the recently expelled Reverend Voysey was preaching. He had decided he was a theist rather than an Anglican Christian. That is, he believed in the existence and unity of a God who is both immanent and transcendent in the world and with whom there is the possibility of a personal relationship, but he no longer believed in many of the doctrines and dogmas of the modern church. Annie apparently believed that her brother-in-law would have understood her situation. She has an anecdote in her Autobiography which suggests that he thought ‘all educated persons must hold the views’ she published in 1873, but it seems Walter refused to support her. He provided for his nephew’s education, her son, but appears to have worked behind the scenes to curtail her public progress.[ccclxxxv]

Her collaborator after 1874 in atheism and free thought matters, Charles Bradlaugh, founded the National Secular Society in 1866, was its first President and organised its Hall of Science in 1868. Another determined survivor, in his case, of the military, social ostracism, bankruptcy and an alcoholic wife, he introduced Annie to public speaking on a broad range of reforms, including women’s suffrage. Their meetings were as often broken up by the police as by infuriated opposition groups.[ccclxxxvi] In Bradlaugh’s paper, women’s rights, birth control, European politics and racial discrimination jostled with exchanges over moral and religious issues. He and Annie stood together publically but her views of EF are not known. His membership of the GOF was initially accepted by an EF lodge, and thus by UGLE, but then vehemently repudiated.[ccclxxxvii]

Bradlaugh had eyed a parliamentary seat from at least 1867, but his health was already weakened by years of privation and long working hours when he was ‘permitted’ to take his seat in 1886. Still in debt, he was to die soon after, in 1891, but as ‘Bradlaugh MP’ he abandoned street activism. For this, he was roundly abused by a new generation of socialists, anarchists, free thinkers and self-declared workers’ champions, among whom were many like Annie who had determinedly become highly-educated and were able to make effective use of the newly available information. She was one of the first women admitted into London University, achieving first class honours in Botany, but was then barred from the city’s Botanical Gardens.[ccclxxxviii] Her frenetic routines of speaking and pamphleteering involved her with GB Shaw, William Morris and similarly powerful men but although physically attractive herself and an advocate of birth control, she retained the prudish, even ‘school-marmish’ attitudes of her upbringing towards her more bohemian colleagues. She was a constant provider of amazement and notoriety for ‘the tabloids’, but remained intent on finding personal answers to her original questions – where does truth lie? who can I trust? Among the radicals, class, gender and race-based distrust were rife. Marxist Communism was denigrated as ‘a foreign school’ by English members of the Democratic Federation who thought ’most of the socialists, (Karl Marx, Leibnecht, Engels) were Germans, (and) mostly insolent and intolerant’.[ccclxxxix]

 

Germaniphobia

 

Learned journals show Germans setting the pace in a number of research areas, eg Schliemann in mid-century archaeology. Throughout the 19th century, German Masonic historiographers strenuously objected to EF’s insistence that it knew best. Genteel tussles between them warmed further after the Prussian victory in 1870–71. Diplomatic struggles were reflected in street protests at German immigrants, many of whom were Jewish. When the young Kaiser Wilhelm came to power in 1888, he dismissed Chancellor Bismarck and sought to increase Germany’s influence through an aggressive policy known as ‘Weltpolitik’. The resulting naval ‘arms race’ heightened tensions and generated further waves of unease, some expressed in literary form, eg, in the ‘invasion novel’ such as The Battle of Dorking, in which Britain was threatened by German forces. There was money to be made by stirring this pot, too. In 1894 Alfred Harmsworth, later Viscount Northcliffe, commissioned rabid, anti-German author William Le Queux to write the serial novel The Great War in England in 1897, which featured Germany, France and Russia combining to crush Britain. In 1896, the Kaiser congratulated President Kruger of the Transvaal for resisting the ‘Jameson Raid’, an opportunist intervention by a poorly-organised force, inspired by Cecil Rhodes if not at his direction, to take Johannesburg from the Boers. Penman, writing in 1967, thought that the Jameson Raid ‘blasted…to bits’ the Masonic camaraderie of Rhodes and Dutch members of his Goed Hope Lodge. A British administrator in Africa in the 1890’s wrote: ‘…The Jameson Raid converted the dislike, which was growing up between the British of South Africa and of the United Kingdom on the one hand, and the Boers of the Transvaal on the other, into a positive hatred.’ Among other consequences, ‘Freemasonry’ in South Africa was lumped with secret societies such as the incipient Broederbond and abrogated by the powerful Dutch Reform Church. Nevertheless, the most noticeable national grouping other than English/British among QC’s earliest contributors and participants was that of ‘Germans’.

Anticipating QC’s establishment, an April, 1880 Rev Woodford editorial in The Freemason observed:‘…There are many German writers, and one or two Americans, who might be mentioned, but all have faults of deficient criticism. Bros D Murray Lyon, WJ Hughan, Gould, Woodford and Whytehead may all be cited in England as seeking to establish an English Masonic critical school, which endeavours to demonstrate that English Masons can carefully collate evidences, verify authorities, and write correctly and dispassionately…’ [cccxc] He wrote later in that same year: ‘…One fact is very remarkable for the Masonic student, – the onward and rapid steps of Christian Masonry. It is rapidly assuming a very leading position, and it is possible that this movement, this recurrence to the earlier teaching of Christianised Guilds, without intolerance of other teachings, is destined to be a “mark” of the age in which we live…’ [cccxci] In 1881 he wrote at greater length: ‘It is well known to many Masonic students…how important a part, in the history of the German Steinmetzen, for instance the legend of the ‘Quatuor Coronati’ plays…Bro Findel has based mainly on this fact the derivation of English Freemasonry from German. But a critical analysis of his argument by no means supports so hasty a conclusion…’ [cccxcii] His 1886 Oration in opening QC allowed that it was the Steinmetzen who had had the four martyrs as their ‘earliest patron saints’, but that Findel’s 1870’s assertion that the legend of Quatuor Coronati was ‘proof of the German origin of English Freemasonry’ could not be sustained.[cccxciii]

Famed English historian, Trevelyan, before the 1914 War lamented that ‘the historians of today were trained by the Germanising hierarchy’ to regard “history” not as a ‘story’ but as a ‘science’. In Evan’s words, Trevelyan thought: ‘the Germanising tendencies of the period…were authoritarian and hierarchical, and unsuited to the liberal intellectual traditions of (England).’ [cccxciv] For Lodge QC to have instituted in the 1880’s a fact-based approach to Masonic research, let alone to achieve a wholly ‘scientific’ history of Freemasonry, it would have had to have been decades ahead of most professional English historians. In the context, the name taken by Lodge 2076 in the 1880’s was a raspberry, a finger of provocation at German historians and German Freemasonry.

Speth, QC’s first secretary, was quite adamant in his chapter on the German stonemasons in Volume 1 of Gould’s The History: ‘That the first seeds of architecture in Germany were planted by the Christian missionaries [ie from outside Germany] is indisputable’.[cccxcv] His certainty after only a short study of the material is remarkable. In his first, and QC’s second presentation in 1886, he set out to demolish the Steinmetzen connection and end all thought of an EF debt to German history.[cccxcvi] He believed that he could ‘expose’ the scholars ‘inventing’ the connection: ‘For this purpose I propose to glance at the works of those authors who have contributed to this theory.’ The fact that the well-known Bro Mackey and others in the US had adopted the Steinmetzen theory only showed their gullibility, in his view. Even on the page, Speth’s paper seems melodramatic, and very heated: ‘…(We) may conclude that Fallon’s followers were endowed with all the blind unquestioning faith of little children, but were free from their awkward propensity to ask untimely questions.’(p.23)

In 1889, his translation of an article by Cramer, ‘The Origins of Freemasonry’ followed his unsigned review that year of the German’s larger text. The review asserted a ‘fundamental difference’ between two distinct ‘Freemasonries’, no longer pre- and post-1717, but ‘Germanic’ and ‘British’ and therefore different because of the different natures of the people involved: ‘For (German Masons) it is not sufficient that Freemasonry is. (That being) without definite plans of a comprehensive sort (it only tends) to the amelioration of humanity. They want to know where they are going, why they are going there, and (then) to follow this path…’ [cccxcvii] [My emphasis] Bro Cramer, he paraphrased, thought Freemasonry should be ‘a great world and manners-reforming society’, a band of missionaries trained to execute ‘social science reform’: ‘He gives instruction for testing the candidates, perfect instructions in their way, but which would…(exclude) 99 out of every 100 English masons… Having acquired these members…the lodge must first form them to its purpose. The discipline includes the practice of severe self-examination daily, and, worst of all, the submission of one’s actions to the criticism of the brotherhood.’ Teutonic and by definition therefore, extreme, Cramer’s Masonry was not to be entertained: ‘…We in England are a practical people, providing for each case as it arises, and not much given to analysis or determination of the eternal fitness of things. In this spirit we have grasped Freemasonry. It has grown and developed amongst us – it is not now, in its essence and nature, what it was 150 years ago – but we have never deliberately or consciously given it a tendency this way or the other…’

Cramer’s account of Masonry’s origins detailed English religious and political strife during the 17th and 18th centuries and concluded that: ‘We can now no longer be in doubt that the Freemasons Lodges which arose in 1717 were nothing else but a new sort of Club…’ Initially intent on showing a-political, tolerant sociability in action, ‘(the) young institution…entered upon a lengthened period of decadence and schism.’ Of special note in German eyes was that: ‘… No encouragement, no indications to intellectual pursuits was afforded the new lodges, no support, not even the ritual, a knowledge of which was nevertheless expected of all the members…’ (Schiffman quoted by Cramer)… ‘(Such) it has remained in England to the present day; the first charge has been slightly altered as regards its verbiage, but respecting Freemasonry and its purpose it is not one whit more explicit than in 1723.’ (p.108) In AQC, Speth dismissed Cramer’s central thesis as ‘too visionary and impracticable for Englishmen’: ‘…The theory there expounded is not absolutely new – it has long been held by a large school of German thinkers…(May) we be preserved from following the French train of thought, whilst as regards Germans it is very fine and praiseworthy, but totally unlike anything that Freemasonry ever was, or is, or probably will be.‘ [cccxcviii]

RF Gould, better known than Speth as a Masonic historian, was equivocal. In The History he referred to the Steinmetzen, and to EF’s possible German origins, only to send readers to Chapter 3 (Speth). In Lodge QC’s first paper, ‘On Some Old Scottish Customs’, he treated ‘Scottish Masonry as something distinct and different from the Freemasonry of England’ and sought support for his position in a quotation ‘bearing upon the much-disputed point whether the Masonry of these Islands received at any time a Gallic or a German tinge’: “The conquest of the South [in 1066] of course changed its position towards the North, England became Normandized, while Scotland not only retained her old Teutonic character but became a place of refuge for the Saxon fugitives.” [cccxcix] In his memoirs much later, Gould pointedly praised none of his co-founders, instead celebrating four ‘leading scholars’, the first of which was German: Begemann, Klein, Crawley and D’Alviola. But despite Gould’s saying that he thought Begemann’s work was ‘masterly’, and despite nine of this German brother’s papers being considered suitable for The Transactions between 1886 and 1908, Begemann was never admitted to ‘the Inner Circle’ of QC. Translation of his painstaking work into the origins of Scottish, Irish and English Masonry was continually stalled within QC and at times he was overtly denigrated. Up until 1971, his contributions were often excluded altogether from indexes produced by QC. Bernheim has detailed this sorry tale and concluded that even a ‘belated tribute’ given by Knoop and Jones in the 1943 Transactions and in their 1946 book, The Genesis of Freemasonry, was problematic. His suggestion of the underlying cause seems overly generous to EF: ‘…Begemann transgressed one unwritten law of Quatuor Coronati Lodge – only native historians may exert critics about the masonic history of their own country – which goes so far that a kind of self-censure results in most English members refraining from commenting upon Scottish and Irish masonic history.’ [cd]

 

Warren as Imperial Policeman

 

Thoughtful scholars have linked the Home Rule movements in South Africa and Ireland, but not on espionage grounds. Carnarvon’s scheme to protect ‘white civilisation’ in Africa collapsed in 1878, as had been predicted when he proposed it. As British Colonial Secretary in 1874 he had imposed ‘his’ Canadian system of confederation on the various states of Southern Africa to prevent a “general and simultaneous rising of Kaffirdom against white civilization.” No worse than other Whitehall-based schemes to safeguard control of the Cape, his plan was especially badly implemented. [cdi] Whatever the detail of the policy, local knowledge was not considered important, the indigenous networks were not regarded as usable, and the field was left to missionaries who brought a different approach: ‘(In Africa there) was a powerful body of Christian philanthropists who believed that these [indigenous] races could be raised to standards of education and conduct which would place them alongside Europeans.’ [cdii] Theories about native peoples being obstacles to civilisation, or, alternatively, that they were cruelly suppressed by their rulers or by slave traders and needed to be saved, were pushed to Government, in public lectures, to government and in universities where they became new disciplines such as anthropology. [cdiii] Dr Livingstone’s successor at the London Missionary Society, a passionate advocate of indigenous rights, the Reverend John Mackenzie, was made Deputy-Commissioner for the Transvaal by the re-elected but divided Gladstonian Cabinet trying very hard to avoid a costly military intervention. But, ‘his actions pleased no-one.’ [cdiv] Having succeeded in his part of the Egyptian project, Warren, in December, 1884, was made HM’s Special Commissioner to assert British sovereignty over Bechuanaland. Leading 4,000 men in ‘a military expedition’ he achieved his aims, apparently without bloodshed. But since he had employed Mackenzie as his adviser, something which probably shows his own religious loyalties, Rhodes sulked, negotiations broke down and the situation spiralled into further intransigence. Gladstone was put out by the electors, Warren, recalled by Tory leader Salisbury, returned to London at the end of 1885 as Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George and as Liberal Party candidate for Sheffield.

QC Lodge had been given its charter, which allowed it to begin operating, in 1884, but because the other founders chose to wait on Warren’s return from Bechuanaland, it was not ‘consecrated’ until he was back in the country and his parliamentary bid had failed. His installation as Worshipful Master [WM] of QC took place on 12 January, 1886, his appointment ‘to command the troops’ and ‘administer the civil government’ at Suakin [Red Sea port for the Sudan] became known on the 19th January, and he was back in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 29th, two days after the Salisbury Tory Government chose to cede office back to Gladstone and the Liberal Party.

Opposed to Home Rule, Salisbury had been informed that further Fenian bombings were imminent. With almost its dying breath his government removed the roadblock on Bradlaugh taking his seat in the House and allowed itself to be defeated in a minor vote. Salisbury was confident that a Gladstone/Parnell alliance could not hold, and allowing the GOM and the Liberals to wear the consequences of increasing unrest could well result in a Tory return to office with both Irish agitation and the Liberal opposition tarnished beyond repair. ‘…Lord Salisbury’s game was ‘risky and devious’…:‘to lure the Liberal leadership into a trap from which it could not escape, thereby emasculating it whilst protecting the Union [with Ireland] which he always believed Britain had a debt of honour to defend.’ [cdv]

On his party’s brief return to power in mid-1885, Carnarvon had been made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, his time in office remarkable only for a conflict over personal veracity between himself and leading Irish MP, Parnell whom he had met ‘secretly’, supposedly at the request of Howard Vincent, outgoing Director of the CID.[cdvi] The Tory leader, Salisbury thought Carnarvon ‘a Tory magnate of the old school, reliable and, more importantly, amenable.’ [cdvii] The Prime Minister would later loudly ‘deny he had any knowledge of the Mayfair meeting – at the same time binding Carnarvon to silence.’ After that Ministry gave way to Gladstone’s early in 1886, Carnarvon, with no official government position, undertook a world trip ‘for his health’ ostensibly at the behest of his Grand Master, the Prince of Wales. Daniel has disputed Harland-Jacobs’ claims that:

* on his visit to South Africa (in 1887) “his… imperialist and Masonic agendas merged”,

* he travelled as “an official representative of” and “enthusiastic ambassador’ for the Imperial Federation League, and

* at “Every step along the way he rallied Freemasons to the cause of the Imperial Institute.[cdviii]

Daniel has argued that ‘Carnarvon did not exploit Freemasonry while in South Africa for the promotion of specifically colonial or imperial ideas.’ [cdix] The punishing schedule of travel/visits/speeches he undertook there over 13 days, and the substance of the speeches he gave suggests otherwise. Daniel devalued his own case by basing his assertions on rhetoric, not evidence. For example, he baldly asserted: ‘As Freemasons, the members of the ‘Dutch’ and English Constitutions in South Africa had no political, national or imperial agendas…’ The rest of this sentence, asserting that: ‘…(Masons’) mutual desire to promote social morality, and their ability to transcend their ‘racial’ differences, were values and strengths that Carnarvon could play to and support, as a Freemason, and as a statesman.’ is an attempt, among other things, to de-contextualise this ‘statesman’ by removing from consideration the hugely volatile arena in which he was moving. But, having contended that Masons have no agenda, Daniel then asserted that the Masonic ‘strategy’ which Carnarvon was pursuing would strengthen South Africa and thus assist in ‘the maintenance of the empire.’(p.147) A few pages before, Daniel was happy to note that after installing the Prince of Wales as GM in 1874 he had advised that worthy in the following year to uphold a request by two English Masons at the Cape to divide the Province, ‘masonically’, into Districts, in order to: ‘improve local administration, stymie the ‘English’ masons who had begun to think about forming a United Grand Lodge of South Africa, and prevent … control of the Craft in South Africa…(falling)…into Dutch hands.’ (p.139) These are profoundly political motivations.           Neither was there any separation between Carnarvon’s Masonry and his imperial politics when in January, 1887, QC Secretary Speth distributed a ‘Circular No 8 – Confidential’ to all QC members announcing that the GM had approved Carnarvon’s idea of ‘a great representative Meeting of English Freemasons in Masonic clothing’ being called to ‘agree to an “Address of Congratulations to Her Majesty for the Jubilee Celebrations, 1887.’ [cdx] Being ‘…fully confident none are more loyal and devoted to their Sovereign than the Freemasons who owe allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England…’ the author invited a ‘voluntary subscription’ for ‘the erection of the proposed Imperial Institute of the United Kingdom, the Colonies, and India.’ The Circular’s concluding paragraph directed all lodges to consider the Institute proposal. In March, Speth announced that QC members had voted 10-2 against ‘the proposal.’[cdxi] Considering that their loyalty was not in doubt, the vote must reflect the members’ lack of resources.

Warren’s appointment to Suakin came in the wake of the ‘Drummond Wolff Commission’ to Egypt, which is important here only because a report by ‘the Cairo correspondent’ for The Times of a meeting in January 1886 between the Khedive, the Ottoman Sultan Muktar Pasha, and Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, son of the Reverend Joseph Wolff of Bokhara fame, included this comment: ‘…(All) parties having taken solemn vows of secrecy, the results are shrouded in mystery…In fact, each of the distinguished personages being a Freemason it is believed that the proceedings were as important and as impenetrable as those of any “close tyled lodge.” ‘ If this ‘correspondent’ is Moberly Bell, a Mason, the report’s intention is to satirise ‘from the inside’ an unwanted political development. In a second report, Wolff, described as ‘a Freemason of the deepest dye and founder of the Primrose League’, is said to be shrouding the talks in lodge-like secrecy which the correspondent suggests means that what is happening behind the screen is of no account. [cdxii]

On 8 February, rioting around Trafalgar Square caught the authorities off-guard. It was followed by two days of shadow-boxing in a deep fog: ‘…Shops were closed and boarded up, and the police went around warning tradesmen to expect new attacks…The gates of Downing Street were shut and special precautions were taken at government offices…Troops were confined to barracks in the company of magistrates who were to read the Riot Act when the mob approached.’ [cdxiii] Barely unpacked in Suakin, Warren was informed that the Chief Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police had resigned on 26 February and that the position was his. Queen Victoria approved his appointment on 13 March and he arrived back at Dover on the 30th March to begin another totally unexpected, but this time, desk-bound job.

The London Metropolitan Police, formed in 1829, included a designated Detective Branch by 1842, and in 1877, a Criminal Investigation Department. Warren assumed the Commissioner’s role in 1886 when it was generally believed that London’s detective force, 400 men in summer and 700 in winter, mostly pursued ‘embezzlements, forgeries and other similar matters’. Only as an aside was it admitted that: ‘…It also does a great deal of government work, both for the British crown and for the governments of foreign countries…The foreign correspondence is an important item…’ Porter, in 1987, argued that Britain had had no ‘political police’ before they were forced upon a reluctant administration by late-19th century Fenian plots against London and Queen Victoria. His narrow focus explained the origins of what he called ‘the Vigilant State’ by focusing on ‘detectives charged with keeping a watch on potential subversives’ and ‘with preventing or punishing…political crime’.[cdxiv] He claimed that the lack of such a body before 1877 reflected British confidence that its citizens and its governments ‘played fair’ and that its free press was sufficient watchdog against underhand doings. He quoted Charles Dickens who apparently also believed: ‘We have no political police, no police over opinion. The most rabid demagogue can say whatever he chooses…He speaks not under the terror of an organised spy system…It is not so across the Channel. (BP, 1987, p.2) According to Porter, Victorians at mid-century believed the best answer to revolutionary subversion was to have no State surveillance: ‘Britain’s security lay in the fact that her people were contented; the obverse of this was that the Continent’s insecurity was its own fault…’ (p.3)

The 1882 Phoenix Park murders in Dublin, near civil war conditions in Ireland and fatal bombings in 1881, 1883, 1884 and 1885, had signalled a new level of domestic threat. The thought of Jubilee celebrations and the Queen’s well-known refusal to deny her public a chance to see her were further reasons for ‘special police arrangements’ in the metropolis. Living what was the deepest economic depression for decades close by UGLE’s offices, the lot of the London poor had deteriorated to the point where protest should have been expected but it appears attention of the authorities was on incoming Irish not desperate residents. The incomplete evidence appears to show that competing security units impeded one another’s efforts but that during Warren’s term in office various government-paid spies, informants and agent provocateurs managed to derail the plans of genuine plotters by getting them to associate with, among other things, a make-believe assassination attempt on Queen Victoria in 1887.[cdxv] ‘Persons of interest’ include faux bombers who prospered and genuine bombers who blew themselves up, were arrested or died suspicious deaths. As QC began to meet, tensions were high, prejudice was rampant and titillation and fear were so obvious they were exploitable. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde achieved cult status immediately it was published in 1886. Quickly brought to the stage its nightly audiences were happily terrified by ‘(the) transformation of the (lead actor) from Jekyll to Hyde…relying solely on changes in posture, facial expression and gait, (and probably lighting). It is likely that this feat of stagecraft exacerbated the prevailing fear…[cdxvi]

Warren’s appointment to head the police was welcomed by the Home News which thought that it gave ‘general satisfaction’: ‘Nobody but a soldier, trained and accustomed to deal with large bodies of men, could possibly discharge the functions of such a post…(His) varied experience in…administration…afford ample guarantees for the efficiency and success of his approaching reign in Scotland Yard.[cdxvii] Stead, an EF and evangelical Christian, also waxed positive as editor of the Pall Mall Gazette: ‘…We need hardly say how delighted we are with this appointment…From excavating the Temple at Jerusalem he is called to take in hand the restoration of discipline and efficiency in a force which has got sadly out of hand.’ [cdxviii] He expressed his great surprise when he was told of the choice made by Gladstone’s Home Secretary: ‘Mr Childers has, we frankly admit, taken away our breath by his selection of Sir Charles Warren…We never believed it possible that any Home Secretary could have taken so bold, so daring a step as this…’ Stead believed Warren was ‘a stern, just, incorruptible, religious man’ who brought Oliver Cromwell to mind, ‘a kind of belated Ironsides, born in a century which has but scant sympathy with his Puritan ideals’ :‘…What a time there will be at Scotland Yard. Alas, for the drunken superintendents, the superannuated officials and the incompetents everywhere…On all questions of social reform, education, the housing of the poor, etc, he is probably as advanced as any man below the gangway in the House of Commons…’ This last remark is especially ironic. It presumes Warren had been handed an opportunity to intervene in the downward spiral of appalling living conditions, massive unemployment and widespread political unrest. It was being suggested that he had a chance to bring his military experience and his compassion ‘for the natives’ to bear. These hopes were as poorly-grounded as the hopes that Lodge of Research QC would introduce science-based research. His appointment as Police Commissioner was not a result of his politics, his military experience, his religion, because he was next in line of seniority or because of his Masonic connections. It resulted simply from a very unusual set of circumstances, and his short stay in the job showed that the political fates had not finished with him.

With fear and loathing abroad and an orchestrated scandal engulfing Parnell, Gladstone lost office over his Irish policies in July, 1886, and, this time, seemed finished. The Times early in 1887 chose to publish forged material defaming Parnell which it certainly knew was fake since it had been coaching the forger and journalist, the unstable Richard Piggott. Its go-between, another of its journalists, Edward Houston was secretary of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union and had begun mobilising Orange opposition late in 1885 when Gladstone first began seriously entertaining the possibility of Home Rule legislation. Warren, appointed by a Liberal and only months in the job, now faced a triumphant Salisbury, the man who thought him flawed. As his second, part-time job, he had the task of launching an alleged new era in EF history.

 

Warren and the ‘Ripper Murders’

 

The crimes labelled ‘the Ripper Murders’ were not isolated incidents, but media focus on them above other attacks on women produced fear and loathing on a world-wide scale – a Kansas City newspaper reporting in October, 1888: ‘London has been more stirred up by the Whitechapel murders than by any crime committed in many years. The fact that so many women could be slaughtered, evidently by the same hand, and the murderer for so long a time elude the London police is a surprise to Londoners, who believe that they have the best police force in the world.’ [cdxix] Resources used in the investigation are unclear, obscured by secrecy around security demands and by the fact of there being two distinct police commands – the City of London and the Metropolitan police. Accounts show that detection methods involved little if any systematic accumulation of evidence, in the manner of the RE’s or of ‘Sherlock Holmes’: ‘…The hope and ambition of every East-End policeman – myself included – was to catch the Ripper red-handed. This seemed the only way. There was small chance of the killer being caught and convicted through circumstantial evidence. Of such evidence there was virtually none..’.(NC p.15) By default, blame for the culprit’s non-apprehension has fallen largely on Warren. US crime-writer, Patricia Cornwall referred to him in 2002, as ‘foolish’, as ‘a brusque, arrogant man who wore elaborate uniforms’ and whose answer to everything ‘was political subterfuge and force.’ She emphasised disguises adopted by the man she believed was the killer, Walter Sickert, and her marshalling of circumstantial evidence is well-managed, but in singling out ‘the Commissioner’ for censure she has ignored the political dynamics, especially the effect of the Fenian troubles which she does not mention at all. [cdxx]

The first murder commonly ascribed to ‘the Ripper’ occurred on 31 August, 1888, with a further four up to 8 November, the same evening Simpson was installed as the third WM of QC. Warren missed that ceremony but was not actively pursuing the killer, either. What evidence there is appears to show that he had been sidelined and kept away from this and other major investigations. He is known to have attended only one ‘Ripper’ scene but from that single event has been fashioned a great deal. At the location of the 30 September murder he erased graffiti referring to ‘Juwes’. When asked why he’d removed this potential clue, he replied that having wished to see the site for himself he had then acted to avoid possible local backlash against Jewish residents. One can only wonder at the motivation behind his desire to protect them. No photograph was taken in the haste to remove the words. They were copied down by hand but don’t appear to have been circulated or the site further examined. Having lost any evidentiary and forensic value it might have had by its removal, the ‘message’ appears to have played no further part, either in CID investigations or in the calls for his dismissal when they came. These are two quite remarkable absences.

Afterwards it was claimed that the police involved had been thorough, and conscientious: [cdxxi]…The efforts of the Metropolitan Police to catch the killer of Elizabeth Stride [30 September] were colossal. The members of the International Working Men’s Club were immediately searched, their clothes examined and statements taken. Some 80,000 leaflets appealing for information were distributed, in addition to house-to-house enquiries. The local common lodging houses were visited and 2,000 lodgers searched. Eighty people were detained at police stations, and enquiries were made into the movements of around 300 more..’ (NC, pp.30-1). None of this ‘circumstantial evidence’ appears to have survived. Neither it nor any other sign of ‘thorough and conscientious’ investigation has surfaced in any known retrospective analysis of the case, of which there have been many. But then, participant police memoirs have disagreed even about the number of ‘Ripper Murders,’ (NC, p.53.) while the broader ‘Ripper literature’ has rarely, if ever, gone beyond clichés to explore, for example, the street gangs of the time, police involvement, or government espionage endeavours gone wrong. The 1910 memoirs of a career ‘counter-intelligence operative’ named Anderson insisted a Polish Jew was responsible [cdxxii] but went no further than to say the police were unable to gather the necessary evidence: ‘…Having regard to the interest in the case, I am almost tempted to disclose the identity of the murderer…But no public benefit would result from such a course, and the traditions of my old department would suffer…’ (NC, p.48) This Anderson was the official ‘handler’ in Whitehall of the ‘undercover agent’, Thomas Beach, aka ‘Le Caron’ used by government in both the 1880’s counter-terrorist effort against Parnell and the Irish bombers, and in the successful penetration of an earlier Fenian plan to invade Canada, in 1870. In his memoirs, Beach described himself as having been a ‘military spy’ for 25 years.[cdxxiii] A Protestant zealot and an Orangeman, Anderson’s background from 1866, when he was first involved in summarising ‘all confidential reports and secret information’ at Dublin Castle for the then Home Secretary, and what is known of working arrangements within ‘the force’, point to Warren being a frustrated bystander rather than the man in charge.

In probable response to Warren’s intervention on 30 September, four events occurred in quick succession. On 8 October, Stead began a series of critical articles about the police and on 8 November Warren’s reply appeared in Murray’s Magazine. Mathews, Salisbury’s Home Secretary, immediately rebuked him, whereupon he resigned. Stead, fellow Mason and Christian that he was, had reversed his previous, strong advocacy of the benefits of discipline and had charged Warren with having attempted to militarise the force to the detriment of crime detection, and to having centralised control in his hands to the detriment of morale, initiative and community rapport: ‘… Sir Charles Warren is a very able General and a very excellent man, but…presiding over the Criminal Investigation Department is like a hen attempting to suckle kittens…Battalion drill avails nothing when the work to be done is the tracking down of a midnight assassin, and the qualities which are admirable enough in holding a position or dispersing a riot are worse than useless when the work to be done demands secrecy, cunning, and endless resource.’ [cdxxiv] In November, House of Commons debaters dissected his resignation. One sympathetic, fellow military officer thought him ‘a man rigidly careful of his duty’: ‘(I) would ask the House to consider the view such a man would take when a person invaded a province in which he believed that person had no right to interfere. In his letter to the Home Secretary Sir C. Warren said he would not have accepted the post of Chief Commissioner if he had believed someone outside might interfere with his duty.’ Another, less sympathetic, argued that: ‘After the disturbance in February, 1886, a Committee was appointed to consider whether the Metropolitan Police force should be reorganized. That Committee recommended the appointment of four chief constables (and) that the persons selected should be men of good social position who had seen service in the Army or Navy… Sir C. Warren quickly acted upon the recommendation of the Committee…We had a warning against the appointment of a military man as Chief Commissioner because the military profession was clannish, and a soldier would be sure to appoint military men to fill subordinate offices. The appointment of these chief constables (has) been a great mistake.’

Some of the known evidence can be read as proof that he was a stiff, upper-class warrior with little, human interest in, or concern for ‘the lower orders’. This image is most clearly seen in his determination to crush civil dissent in November the previous year, ‘Bloody Sunday’, when he apparently deemed it necessary to bring in the controlling determinants he knew and understood best. Waves of baton-wielding police, some on horseback, followed by massed charges of the Life Guards and the Scots Guards, rolled indiscriminately over peaceful and unarmed people, four of whom subsequently died. His own words a year later and after thirty months in the job can be cited. He wrote in Murray’s that: ‘London has for many years past been subject to the sinister influence of a mob stirred up into spasmodic action by restless demagogues.’ [cdxxv] He seems to have rated the Bantu, who could be educated and protected if not ‘saved’, above the poorer inhabitants of London and to have concluded that military force was more appropriate in a disturbed English city than on the veldt. His reflections on ‘The Police of the Metropolis’ in Murray’s have been described recently as ‘a combination of extreme tedium…and a proper whinge’: ‘The newspaper mockery had clearly driven this former soldier, unused to public oversight, well past breaking point.’ [cdxxvi] This interpretation is not convincing. He had experienced a severe Parliamentary pasting before and had been under public scrutiny for a number of years before 1888. It seems more likely that his life’s education had been too narrow. It seems he did really only see three urban groups – the mob who remained incapable of being improved, the citizens ‘who have the political power’, and ‘the executive’ who have all the decision-making responsibility. His view was that for over a century, it had been ‘the mob’ which, alone, had had the capacity to control the metropolis. The ‘three days’ reign of terror’ in February, 1886 had proved this, he wrote, but November, 1887, when enough citizens – special constables – had ‘rallied round’ the police to successfully clear Trafalgar Square, had been ‘almost…the first time in this century’ that ‘the mob’ had been defeated. In defending the need for efficiency and discipline, he asserted the uniformed police, not detectives, were the key to crime prevention, if they were administered well, knew their duties and carried them out effectively: ‘…The genius of the English race does not lend itself to elaborate detective operations similar to those said to be practised on the Continent…Englishmen learn to trust each other…(On) the Continent…(young) people grow up to distrust and watch each other, and there is a natural detective system thus established….’ (CW, in MM, p.587)

In his hierarchical world, where decision-making power is naturally in the hands of ‘the best and the brightest’, education must be oriented to goals set by ‘the executive’ and any discontent comes from ‘the mob’ and not from ‘real’ citizens. He thought it possible that critics were slandering the police to provoke release of sensitive information, but not only does his account not mention internal police arrangements, it makes no mention of any reason for secrecy beyond generalities. He realised that ‘factual information’ was needed before citizens could make ‘correct choices’ but seems to have assumed that ‘they’ already knew what that was. He has no idea of compromise, of the possibility of negotiating with dissenters, or of the value of sharing opinions. The horrific murders appear to have left him unmoved, and he appears unaware of the brewing industrial conflict. Italian and French anarchists had made London a network centre during the 1880’s and were closely observing the dockers’ agitation which led in 1889 to a major strike.[cdxxvii] His was the view of someone trained to do one job, who lacked curiosity and who knew only what his class knew about the rest of the world.

He appears to have been behind bloodhound trials in October, 1888 while his visit to the 30 September crime scene smacks of a frustrated man attempting to find his place, or perhaps to assert his authority. Immediately after his resignation, The Times recounted the impossible situation Warren believed he had been in as Monro, his ‘Assistant Commissioner’, received preferential treatment: ‘…Since Mr Monro’s transference to the Home Office matters have become worse. Sir Charles complains that, whereas he has been saddled with all the responsibility, he has had no freedom of action, and in consequence his position has become daily more unbearable…’ [cdxxviii] It was against his wishes that the detective force and the beat police were being separated, conceptually as well as physically: ‘…Latterly, in spite of (his) remonstrances…the control of the Criminal Investigation Department has been withdrawn more and more from Whitehall-Place. Every morning for the last few weeks there has been a protracted conference at the Home Office between Mr Monro, Mr Anderson, and the principal detective inspectors, and the information furnished to the Commissioner in regard to these conferences has been, he states, of the scantiest character.’ He may have been side-lined because his superiors thought him blinkered or incompetent but it is more likely that because he was a known ‘Liberal’ he was not trusted by the Salisbury government after Gladstone’s mid-1886 fall. Having been kept out of the inner circle of decision-making, he became in the end a suitable scapegoat. Monro, Jenkinson and (Robert) Anderson – all of whom can be described as ‘spy masters’ – had connections and supportive ‘sponsors’ in higher places, Jenkinson, for example, being Salisbury’s nephew.

In the group of EF’s/RE’s/diplomat spies who had been in Egypt earlier, Warren was the least likely to flout rules, to dress as an Arab and to go into perilous situations. He was not a Wilson, or a Burton or a Kitchener. Neither was he strictly an ‘India man’ favoured for homeland policing. The policy pre-supposed they had already proved themselves adept at gathering information, keeping secrets and in using secret communications, such as cyphers. Experience with Asian ’secret societies’ helped Munro, a ‘dour, sun-burned Scot’ become head of London’s CID in 1884, succeeding Howard Vincent: ‘(An) obscure colonial administrator on leave from Bengal where, so the Home Secretary informed the Queen, much of his work as inspector-general of police was ‘to deal with secret societies.’ He had shown great zeal in pursuing the Wahabi conspiracy. The Irish should be no more vexatious to handle than Muhammadan fanatics.’ [cdxxix] The Daily Telegraph editorialised in very similar fashion on 29 November, 1888 when Monro was promoted to succeed Warren: ‘Mr. Monro, (chosen on the strength of his Indian record)…well justified (his selection) by the skill with which he followed up and brought to justice the Home Rule dynamiters, as he had long ago, in India, detected and defeated the Wahabi conspirators.’ By ‘long ago’ must be meant the 1860’s and 70’s when a series of ‘Wahabi Trials’ resulted in a number of men being exiled to the Andaman Islands. They were accused of anti-British activities, today they are commonly seen as ‘freedom fighters’. The term ‘Wahabi conspiracy’ has latterly been attached to the colonial administration, and very recently to the US government to assert underhand tactics.

Monro’s reputation in India, as far as it can be determined, was that of a strict disciplinarian. The arrangements for public safety during her Majesty’s procession to Westminster Abbey, and in connection with the other celebrations of the Jubilee Year, were his. Working with Warren during 1886-7 had proved frustrating for both men, afterwards, Monro, Jenkinson and Anderson all wrote self-serving memoirs. Warren wrote nothing, or at least nothing has appeared retrospectively from him. Interestingly, Monro and Jenkinson soon followed Warren out of the force, both to follow spiritual paths, while Anderson, the Ulster and Orange Order loyalist and ‘secret service’ careerist, pursued Christian millenarian tomes in his retirement. A fourth figure of interest, the Irish-born Roman Catholic William Melville was also publicity-shy. Part of London’s Special Branch from 1882, and heavily involved with the Yard’s counter-intelligence work throughout the 1880’s, in 1892 he was made head of the Special Branch and a further decade later became M15’s first spymaster and originator of the pseudonym ‘M’. Otherwise, a century and more later, a deep, official secrecy remains over the events of the 1880’s. In seeking records relating to the work of yet another ‘insider’, and another of Salisbury’s nephews, Balfour, a biographer found: ‘The papers relating to secret service activity during Balfour’s term of office as Chief Secretary [1886-1891] were originally classified under the Hundred Year Rule, but have recently been re-classified to keep them secret in perpetuity…’ [cdxxx]

As an exposed woman among men constantly attempting to pull her down and damage her, Annie Besant must have often feared for her life. She achieved heroic status among her fellow-protesters by standing her ground in Trafalgar Square on that Sunday in November but inclusion in the English imperial pantheon was never going to happen, despite Reynold’s Newspaper describing her as ‘the most advanced and perhaps the most brilliant Englishwoman of her day in public life.’ [cdxxxi] In the collision of views in Trafalgar Square, representing the City, the Empire and English Freemasonry, Warren was retribution and reaction, the closed option. Against his stolid officialdom and that of his class, Annie had flung her passionate, but ambiguous dissent. In the day’s aftermath, she had defended those arrested and had urged further effort. She had then briefly pursued educational change, winning a seat in 1888 on the London School Board over a member of a wealthy, conservative Jewish family: ‘Mrs Besant is in the field against Mr Montefiore, and Mr Lewis Lyons has addressed a manifesto in Yiddish to the Jewish working men on her behalf. Mr Lyons has considerable influence with his class in the East-end, and he explains what the School Board is and why they should choose Mrs Besant very plainly in their own plain jargon. The Jewish workmen already know Mrs Besant as an earnest social reformer.’ [cdxxxii] The instance of ‘trade union’ activism for which she is best-known came in this post-Trafalgar period, and even it shows a personal, spiritual quest was uppermost in her mind. Stead joined her in 1888 to establish The Link periodical and to agitate for pay increases and less-dangerous working conditions for the women employed in making phosphorus matches. (AN, Chs 2, 3 of Pt 4) The Link espoused ‘a new Church, dedicated to the service of Man’ and claimed to be a voice for the voiceless. Its organisation was secretive, ultimately hierarchical and non-democratic, ie, it followed the common, 19th century fraternal model with ‘Centres’, ‘Circles’ with ‘captains’, and a member’s pledge. (AN, p.264) That effort ceased in June of 1889 when she declared that without spiritual awakening human activity lacked meaning. She had come to believe her public position was untenable and that short-term political ‘fixes’ were a futile dead-end: ‘Mrs Besant sees no hope for the future of society in anti-sweating laws, nor any possibility of making the world at large happier by the spread of education…(She) is a pessimist where she was formerly an optimist…To cultivate the mind of the oppressed workman is to burden him with a new misery…’

Warren’s belated appointment to Singapore in 1889 added another layer to the conspiracy theories. Where London had serial killers and Irish conspirators, his new posting had Chinese gangs, whose alleged ‘Masonry’ has suggested to some that his combination of military and police experience and secret society expertise was in demand. In fact, the Societies Ordnance of 1888-9 [cdxxxiii], that is, before he was appointed, had already delivered what was considered a decisive blow and it appears he was sent east only to ‘oversight’ the military establishment. Masonically, he was very active and introduced some of the town’s rich and powerful Europeans to a Philosophic Society which, in structure, resembled QC. It did not take long, however, for him to find ‘hot water’ with the Singapore establishment, its nature being a good guide to how he was occupying his time: ‘ It began last year with (his) sudden, and, it was said, rude withdrawal of an officer who was aide-de-camp to the Governor, the officer being ordered to resume his regimental duties…More recently, on the Queen’s birthday no regular troops were allowed to attend a review by the Governor, as is usual…, and the ceremony was attended only by the volunteers.’ [cdxxxiv]

 

 

Research Lodge QC at Work

 

Prescott believed, at least in 2001: ‘The establishment of Quatuor Coronati Lodge… can be seen as an integral part of the late nineteenth-century adoption of a more scientific approach to historical research, based on the critical examination of documentary evidence.’ [cdxxxv] The first ‘Aims and Objects’ for QC were drafted in 1884 and attributed to WH Rylands. [cdxxxvi] They had only 3 clauses, none of which make any reference to a scientific, even a new approach to research:

  1. This lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted masons shall be called the ‘Quatuor Coronati’ in honor and perpetuation of the memory of ‘these holy martyres foure’…“(that) in this craft were of great honoure”.
  2. The following nine brethren as named in the Warrant of Constitution, dated 28 November, 1884, viz Bro Sir Charles Warren, WH Rylands, Walter Besant, JP Rylands, Revd AFA Woodford, RF Gould, SC Pratt, WJ Hughan and JW Speth, shall in future and for all time to be known as the founders of the lodge. They correspond in number to the five sculptors, Claudius, Castorious, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, and Simplicimus, who was by command of the Emperor Diocletian enclosed alive in leaden coffins and thrown into the sea, AD 287 for refusing to sculpture and idol; and to the four martyrs, Severus, Severianus, Carpropherus and Victorinus, who had shortly before been scourged to death with whips armed with lead for refusing to worship at the throne of Aesculapius. These nine saints were collectively known to our mediaeval brethren as the ‘four crowned martyrs.’
  3. The immediate object and purpose of the lodge is declared to be the pursuit and encouragement of archaeological research, more especially as connected with Freemasonry and cognate subjects.[cdxxxvii]

The ‘Four Crowned Ones’ had been regarded since their deaths as the patron saints of European stonemasons. Putting legendary martyrs at the heart of the enterprise invited a critical reaction – just what was the connection between the name and the 3rd bye-law? As an attempt to explain the reasoning behind the choice of name, the second clause succeeded only in further mystifying – how can nine become four? Taken together the three aims summarised recent, conflicted history of EF – the first and second pinned the identity of the Lodge to a myth which for the previous four decades had been associated with the notion that EF did not begin in England. The third represented an attempted ‘escape hatch’ from this implication.

These Aims remained in draft and were never published. In 1887, nine totally new ‘Aims’ displayed the result of three years of concentrated thought on the dilemma. They removed some difficulties but resolved nothing. Because they were made public they have dominated subsequent perceptions.

The first aim was:

  1. To provide a centre and bond of union for Masonic students.

The emphasis is now on an aspiration for ‘brotherhood’. The word ‘centre’ suggests that a physical location was considered to be of equal importance to a symbolic ‘bond of union’.

The second Aim was:

  1. To attract intelligent Masons to its meetings, in order to imbue them with a love for Masonic research.

Aims 3-7 were more outward-looking:

  1. To submit the discoveries or conclusions of students to the judgement and criticism of their fellows by means of papers read in Lodge.
  2. To submit these communications and the discussions arising thereon to the general body of the Craft by publishing, at proper intervals, the Transactions of the Lodge, in their entirety.
  3. To tabulate concisely, in the printed Transactions of the Lodge, the progress of the Craft throughout the world.
  4. To make the English-speaking Craft acquainted with the progress of Masonic study abroad, by translations (in whole or in part) of foreign works.
  5. To reprint scarce and valuable works on Freemasonry, and to publish Manuscripts, etc.

The last two returned to the idea of a strong centre:

  1. To form a Masonic Library and Museum.
  2. To acquire permanent London premises, and open a reading-room for the members.

There is still no reference to a new or a scientific approach, and with explanation of the legend has gone any emphasis on archaeology. A whisper of the previous ‘Aims’ lingered in the decision that each year’s installation meetings would take place on the second Thursday in November, ‘this being the nearest practicable date to that of their martyrdom.’ The new, seemingly precise aims imply that a collective aspiration to objectivity has won out, over, say, personal ambition, religious faith and/or English/British nationalism. But if their main aim in joining forces had been to change the way that Masonic research was done they had no need for an actual physical presence, a lodge room. They could have mailed their findings to one another, or had them published in journals, or if in need of immediate comment, they might have made presentations to any of the historical associations with which they were involved. That they chose to charter a lodge of the EF jurisdiction tells us that their primary allegiances were to that Masonic form and to all that that form stood for.

The published version of the Reverend Woodford’s first address as Immediate Past Master, [IPM] contained his summation of QC’s collective intentions: ‘(It) is proposed…to have papers read on subjects far-off or near, recondite or common place, to invite discussions…and to issue ‘Transactions.’ We trust that by this means we may help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation, may induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts, and subserve at the same time the increasing and healthy movement for the extension of libraries and museums in all lodges.’ [cdxxxviii] There is little assertiveness about this – ‘may help forward’ and ‘may induce’. Woodford was not signalling a new approach, either, or even a degree of rigour. Freemasons needed to change their ways, but not because previous research had been flawed but rather:‘…(for) thus it may chance that we shall be enabled to rescue contemporary Freemasonry from the charge frequently brought against it, that it sacrifices an intellectual study of Freemasonry proper to the more pervading requirements of the social circle, and that it is too easily contented with a routine of ritual on the one hand, and the pleasing exercise of hospitality on the other…’ [My emphasis]

Prescott has also described QC in terms redolent of a small, cosy club: ‘The ethos and activities of QC lodge in its early years were reminiscent of the local archaeological and antiquarian societies in which many members of the lodge were also active.’ The involvement of the Society of Antiquaries in EF had begun in the 1720’s (RB, 2012, p.183) and of QC’s founders only two were formally ‘antiquarians’, but Prescott has suggested that: ‘The antiquarian influence on the lodge is evident in the procedure adopted from the earliest days of the lodge whereby members commented on and added to papers presented in lodge.’ Rather, QC was a creature of a specific context, a context dominated by the fact that the majority of its founders had been friends and comrades in uniform and in EF for much of their adult lives. The nine were remarkably similar in social class, ie, middle class, the two knights, Warren and Besant, earning the honour rather than inheriting it. Their youthful enthusiasm for ‘Freemasonry’ – six had been initiated by their 25th year, both Warren and Gould before they were 20 – explains why they chose to institute a new lodge. (The obvious omission from the known biographies of all of these men is their religious affiliation.)

Warren            b. 1840      Mason at 19           Aged 46 in 1886

WH Rylands    b. 1847       Mason at 25                     39 in 1886

Gould                b. 1836       Mason at 19                     50 in 1886

Woodford        b. 1821       Mason at 21                     65 in 1886

Besant              b. 1836       Mason at 26                     50 in 1886

JP Rylands      b. 1846       Mason at 26                     40 in 1886

Pratt                b. 1844       Mason at 32                     42 in 1886

Hughan            b. 1841       Mason at 22                     45 in 1886

Speth                b. 1847       Mason at 25                     39 in 1886

 

Once QC was established, an intending member had to show ‘a high literary, artistic or scientific qualification’, a somewhat amorphous attribute. ‘Culled from the best material only’, each new applicant was supposed to submit an assessable ‘masterpiece’.[cdxxxix] The founders had among themselves determined that they had already qualified by way of their careers. They felt that they, collectively or individually, were not to be questioned about that decision or about their status as bench-marks against which others would be judged. Adding career summaries shows the strong army representation, the rarity of Warren’s R/E status, the shared interest in biblical research and the Palestine Exploration Fund [PEF].

Warren               b. 1840   Army (R/E), PEF                          d.1927

WH Rylands     b. 1847   Biblical scholar, SoA                  d.1922

Gould               b. 1836   Army, Barrister, Historian,           d.1915

Woodford         b.1821   Army, Chaplain, Author/Editor   d.1887

Besant             b.1836     Teacher, Author, PEF                     d.1901

JP Rylands      b.1846     Barrister, S of Antiquaries            d.1923

Pratt                 b.1844   Army                                              d.1919

Hughan             b. 1841   Author, Mgr, Biblical Scholar        d.1911

Speth               b. 1847   Tobacco executive                         d.1901

The clear exception with regard to shared backgrounds, Speth, does not appear to have had any military, espionage or archaeological experience. The youngest, he was also of German parentage. He was apparently never considered suitable for the post of WM despite, as we shall see, his considerable achievements oversighting QC’s operations. Belatedly, he was given GL rank in 1896 when his extensive Masonic background and that of his father were published.[cdxl] JP Rylands resigned late in 1886 and little of his background is known. [cdxli]

When taking over from Warren as WM of Lodge 2076 at the end of 1887 Gould happily dilated on his predecessor’s ‘untiring perseverance, courage and ability’ in his early explorations of Palestine for the War Office and PEF, his ‘tact, discrimination and zeal’, and his ‘conspicuous bravery and boldness’ when engaged on a string of Government duties in Africa. Gould had had at least a decade under fire himself, though again little is known. When he was made ‘Senior Grand Deacon’ in 1880 it was noted that: ‘…Bro Gould was gazetted to a commission in the Army in 1855, and retired by the sale thereof in 1865…(he served in China against the Taipings) Bro Gould was called to the Bar in 1868, and is a member of the Western Circuit..’ .[cdxlii] Woodford, nearly 30 years older than the youngest founders, was the eldest son of a Field Marshall who had been Governor of Gibraltar, where Woodford Junior had been welcomed into the ‘Inhabitants Lodge’, which as we have seen was a key point of connection. An officer in the Coldstream Guards for a period, he had resigned his commission to become a cleric, and then an editor.[cdxliii]

The nine did not consider themselves the complete founding group. Members 10, 11, and 12 who joined in April 1886, emerged from the same world as the majority, [cdxliv] while in age were all closer to Woodford than Speth:

Simpson b 1823, init 1871,   War Artist & Author       No 10 (given 9)   d.1895

Bywater b.1825, init 1846,   Saddler/UGLE               No 11 (given 10) d.1911

Irwin     b.1829, init 185x ,   Sapper/RE                     No 12 (No 11)     d.1893

As already noted, Irwin was a soldier stationed on Gibraltar where he had prevailed on Gould in 1858 to help him revive the Rock’s ‘Inhabitants Lodge’. Warren arrived on Gibraltar shortly after. From ‘the ranks’ rather than the officer class, Irwin succeeded Gould as WM of that lodge when the latter’s regiment was sent to South Africa. Irwin remained on Gibraltar for the next decade but went with Warren to Bechuanaland in 1883 before returning to work with volunteer regiments in England. Retiring with the rank of Major, he agreed to join QC when Gould urged him to put his name forward in January, 1886: ‘…As I am writing against time, & the whole preparation for the consecration has fallen on my shoulders – perhaps you will agree to be proposed, leaving quite an open question, as to final acceptance, on hearing further details. Sir C Warren, Hughan and myself are all anxious that you should join us…’ [cdxlv] Bywater had been a member of the MAI, above, in 1870, another key point of connection, while Woodford, Simpson and Besant, definitely, and Hughan probably, participated in that body.

Of the first four WM’s – Warren, Gould, Simpson and Pratt – three were, or had spent time as career soldiers. The fourth, Simpson was popularly known as ‘Crimean Simpson’ because his skills as war artist and journalist first came to prominence in that war. He had worked with Warren and Besant from at least 1865 and was apparently so connected with royalty that he was on chatting terms with Queen Victoria. The fifth WM and member No 11, Bywater, was a life-long EF, appears to have had neither military nor archaeological experience but his given career background again seems deliberately vague.[cdxlvi] His role as Grand Sword Standard Bearer at Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations is insufficient explanation for Gould saying in 1888 that: ‘When this Lodge was established Bro Bywater naturally became a member of it, and was the first brother who joined us. I am not forgetting that Bro Simpson is apparently the first joining member, but this brother we have always regarded as a founder, because the petition for a warrant would have borne his signature had he not been absent at the time as a war correspondent.’ [cdxlvii] Bywater had been a member of UGLE’s Board of General Purposes, ie the inner circle, from 1870. He is often listed as ‘saddler’ but in 1855, at age 30 he is recorded as assigning ‘all his personal estate and effects’ to a currier and a ‘bridle cutter and harness maker’ on behalf of creditors. In other words he appears to have been made bankrupt and to have left the horse/leather business. His father was a well-connected horse trainer and gambler and may have financed his son into the building/real estate business. To gain his researcher status, Bywater, Jnr, prepared and had published a history of his lodge, Athelstan, in 1869, and an essay on Laurence Dermott, 18th century Secretary of ‘the Antients’ in 1884. In 1888, he, Warren, Woodford and a contributing non-member, Woodman, were given GL status.

Again with the exception of Speth, the overlaps of past involvement with one another, through the military, biblical archaeology and EF Grand Lodge are so clear that the members up to Irwin, No 12, can be regarded as the de facto founding group. By comparison, military backgrounds and archaeological expertise are almost non-existent among their immediate successors. The clearest example of the abruptness of the change, is that No 14, Hayter-Lewis, stands out in the cohort of successful applicants from 13 to 32 as the only one with a background close to the initial members. He belongs to Woodford’s generation and had strong links to the founding group and to other figures featured in this account. His obituary in 1898 included: ‘…His principal work, The Holy Places of Jerusalem, illustrated by photos taken by Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (then Lieutenant Kitchener) is a most exhaustive study of the subject…He was for long an active supporter of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and with Sir CW Wilson, he annotated Procopius’s account of the buildings of Justinian, and published the results…’ [cdxlviii] The known, brief details of the twenty members after Irwin, all of whom were proposed before the end of 1888, are:

Whytehead     b.1840, init 1872 NZ   (UK by 1874) Solicitor     No 12   d.1907

Hawkins,               (resigned – no reason given – returned later)

Riley,               b.1842, init 1866,                                                   No 13   d.1901

Hayter-Lewis   b.1818, init 1877           Univ Architect, Antiq      No 14   d.1898

Chapman             (elected June, 1886 – did not take up m’ship – no reason given)

Westcott,            b.1848 init 1871,           Coroner,                         No 15   d.1925

Lane                  b.1843 init 1878,           Accountant                   No 16 d.1899

Chetwode-Crawley b 1844 init 1872,       Univ Admin?               No 17 d.1916

Budden              b. 1830 init 1838,             Tailor                           (no No) d.1887

Ball                   b.1850 init 1883             Rev/Assyriologist       No 18   d.1908

Burford-Hancock(Kt) b.1839 init 1876     Army/Col Admin         No 19   d.1895

Kelly                  b.1815 init 1838             Accountant                   No 20   d.1894

Whymper           b.1845 init 1872           Brewery manager        No 21   d.1893

Castle                 b. 1842                                  RE’s/Barrister             No 22   d.1912

Macbean            b. 1845 init 1883                                                   No 23   d.1919

Goldney   (Kt)  b. 1845 init 1868                                                 No 24   d.1921

Williams            b. 1820 init 1846           Chemist/phrenologist     No 25   d.1892

Kupferschmidt    b. 1839 init1875                                                  No 26   d.1901

Finlayson           b. 1836 init 1863                                                   No 27   d.1891

Clarke (Kt)         b. 1846 init 1877             Architect/Curator         No 28   d.1911

 

Lodge QC was not conceived as a break with the past, rather it was set up to enable its founders to continue doing what they had been doing. They were the seeming proof that they knew best and they laid down a template from their past. But, by the time of QC’s first meetings as a lodge, the ‘johnny-come-lately’, Speth, with help from Gould, was already having to fill a sizable void which had developed, and to use skills which the better-known founders did not possess. Speth was not part of the template. He was not the person to nurture what the older members had derived from their shared experiences, but the background he did bring to the job was what QC needed to survive. The founders had brought what was necessary to get QC established but the world in which their enthusiasms had had currency was passing if not already gone, and the ‘history’ they had learnt was conducive of illusions, not authentic history. Further, their meeting place, in Central London, was not ‘a cosy club’ for sitting quietly and cogitating, it was a tense battle-ground. As they signed their names to the Charter authorising their meetings, perhaps they felt the Empire was strong and would endure despite obvious contests, but they could not have thought the city was a place of joy and open heartedness. For men past their prime, it must have been a trial to even attend meetings. Woodford, QC’s first ‘Past Master’, died in December, 1887, Irwin in 1893, Simpson in 1899, Speth in 1900 and when Walter Besant passed in 1901, the year Queen Victoria died, the flag of Empire and of English glory was well and truly at half-mast.

Further, despite all the shared experiences, internal tensions were apparent at QC’s first meeting. Bro Fenn, attending from the Lodge of Emulation which supplied the jewels and the furniture used at the installation ceremony, said he believed that QC had been formed ‘to settle knotty points in Masonic history’ but noted that: ‘Bro Gould has (concluded) that these four martyrs, or five, or nine martyrs compressed into four had nothing whatever to do with Masonry…I notice from what fell from Brother Woodford before in his address that there is a difference of opinion between himself and Bro Gould…(but let us hope) in a satisfactory solution of some of those doubts which have lately disturbed the Craft’. [cdxlix] Besant, though QC’s Treasurer, was mostly absent, Warren had his other commitments meaning he also missed most meetings, Irwin and Hughan were both disillusioned and in poor health, Woodford was battling bankruptcy and old age, and Gould and his wife were in very straitened circumstances.

Only five of the nine listed as founders attended the lodge consecration in January, 1886. They mingled with just five others. The second meeting, on 7 April, 1886, when the minutes differentiated attendees into ‘Members’ and ‘Visitors’, and the first at which a paper was programmed, was attended by only 4 ‘founders’ and 1 ‘visitor’.[cdl] Woodford, acting WM in Warren’s absence, postponed the paper to June ‘(on) account of the small attendance and the amount of business before the lodge.’ On 3 June, Gould gave the first paper, ‘On Some Old Scottish Masonic Symbols’, to 10 members and 5 visitors. At the 4th meeting, in September, 6 members attended with 9 visitors. In October, 1886, Speth as Secretary, advised all members that the next meeting, in November, was special since: ‘…(the) day in question has been kept by the Church for upwards of one thousand years as the Feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs, the earliest Patron Saints of the Craft and has been appropriately selected as the Annual Festival and Installation day of our Lodge…’ [cdli] It was also intended that the meeting would announce an ‘important and startling discovery’: ‘…(In addition to Grand Lodge officers being in attendance)…a Paper for the occasion is in course of preparation by Prof T Hayter Lewis and though short, as his discovery is only in its initial stage, will be of surpassing interest. He has found in some ancient writings a distinct and unmistakeable allusion to the Hiramic Legend which carries us back several centuries beyond any pre-existing record of it.’ In hindsight, the ‘paper’ by Hayter-Lewis appears an act of desperation by Speth. He later wrote: ‘…The only unsatisfactory feature of our past history is the small number of London Lodge members…if…one or two of (these) fail us, the Lodge is reduced to very small dimensions. Were it not for the attendance of Correspondence Members and visitors the audience assembled would often be most discouraging…’ [cdlii] By this November meeting the total number of ‘members’ stood at 14, but only 8 attended. The audience was augmented with 23 visitors which suggests that it was not outside events or the weather which prevented members from attending.[cdliii] For the December meeting, 8 members and 2 visitors attended.

A ‘Record of Attendance’ drawn up in mid-1887, when the member’s list had reached 17, shows that Gould and Speth were the only founders with 100% record, or 8/8 meetings, while Warren had managed 3/8, and Besant only 1/8.[cdliv] Clearly, cameraderie was not being generated within QC which was close to death. It was Speth who came up with the idea of a research community outside London, indeed anywhere it could be found. His original motion for a ‘Literary Society under the guidance and protection of the Lodge’,[cdlv] became in the hands of the executive committee a new class of members. At the first 1887 meeting, with Westcott having become the 16th ‘full member’, 8 members and 7 visitors elected the first ‘Correspondence Circle’ members, [CC] 37 in all. This second transfusion of new blood, this time via the mailing lists, had a mixed effect on meeting numbers. They continued to show founding members rarely in attendance, a trickle of newly-elected ‘full members’ and an unpredictable number of ‘visitors’ but the improved chances of survival emboldened inner core. In his acceptance speech as the second WM, in January 1888, Gould celebrated the newly-established ‘Outer Circle’ as a home for more distant ‘searchers after Masonic truth’. Since its numbers had rapidly outstripped those of the ‘Inner Circle’ he insisted that ‘students of all nationalities’ must be seeing QC as ‘the centre of Masonic light’. The responsibility ‘voluntarily assumed’ by QC was then, he said, ‘as a general school of instruction’: ‘My ideal of such a lodge as ours is, is that it should represent an educational ladder in Masonry, reaching from the abyss of Masonic ignorance to the zenith to which we all aspire.’ [cdlvi]

 

Gould’s History of Freemasonry

 

The sharpest, published disputation during QC’s early years centred on Gould, yet he was the first to deliver a paper and he was elected Worshipful Master when Warren stood down after two terms. After his death in 1915 a colleague claimed: ‘…No member of the Fraternity has ever earned such widespread reputation; no member of the Craft has ever more thoroughly deserved the esteem in which his brethren held him…’ His reputation and continued Masonic fame have rested principally, not on QC, but on the success of The History of Freemasonry, published in a number of volumes from 1882 to 1887 and subsequently revised and re-printed numerous times. The volumes were celebrated as they appeared, but, over time, rumours have gnawed at the issue of its authorship. In 1982 long-archived manuscripts in Speth’s handwriting were found to be identical to chapters in The History on ‘The Steinmetzen’ and ‘The Craft Guilds of France’, whereupon the finder, UGLE Assistant Librarian Hamill, wrote to QC’s Secretary: ‘…From documents I have recently re-discovered it would seem that Gould was guilty of more than mere discourtesy, for evidence has come to light that he was not the author of at least two important early chapters, facts which beg the question of how much of the work was his own original research and writing.’ [cdlvii] Hamill referred back to a partial, 1980 biography of Gould whose author had commented that Gould had seemed tardy in ‘acknowledging the great assistance afforded him by his friends’. Hamill disclosed: ‘…(I) was not aware that Speth had produced any major work apart from his papers to the Lodge. By a process of elimination I was drawn to Gould’s History, and there was the answer…(All) Gould had done was to alter Speth’s style to his own.’ Hamill then asked whether Gould’s actions were the reason The History was not awarded the ‘Peeters-Baertson Prize’ in 1889, an award seemingly tailor-made for it.

When awarding the prize, the Belgian trustees had actually singled out The History for special mention and explained that it was ruled out of contention, with other works of ‘pure history’, by the wording in the prize-giver’s will. This referred to ‘books only which should explain and illustrate Masonic doctrines and principles’ and confined the Prize to the title ‘which…best…spread and (consolidated) the empire of Masonic principles’. Of all the works submitted ‘the most important, without doubt, is the grand History of Freemasonry by RF Gould. But this work…although presenting the most complete picture of the external history of our institution, is dumb, or nearly so, respecting its internal history…We have thus been forced, in spite of well-merited admiration, to leave Bro. Gould’s History to gather the laurels which are its due, in some competition differing from our own.’ [cdlviii]

In the last pages of The History, written perhaps in 1886 or early in 1887, Gould had thanked Hughan, ‘for his judicious counsel’, Rylands, and Woodford, who he described as: ‘the Doyen of British Masonic students, whose wise counsel, so often sought, has never been withheld, and whose ample library was placed freely at my disposal.’ He made particular mention of Speth whose: ‘co-operation…was not circumscribed within these limits [the ‘foreign’ chapters] but extended to other chapters, and to the perusal of the latter half of the proofs. To this friend I stand under a peculiar weight of obligation, from his familiarity with several modern languages…’ The clearest possible statement was made by Hughan in 1887 when reviewing the last volume. After providing background, including the importance of Findel’s earlier account and the invitation from ‘Bro Jack’, the publisher, for a text, he said: ‘Bro (Gould), on the promise of hearty co-operation from his collaborators (especially Bro Speth and myself) undertook the duty, and has now finished his herculean labours, to the great satisfaction of the numerous brethren who have gladly assisted him in searching for information, and to the expressed joy of many Craftsmen, at home and abroad, who now have a History of Freemasonry to consult, far ahead of any hitherto published in England or elsewhere.’ [cdlix] Hughan was very clear: ‘Of course, no one could possibly achieve such labour unassisted, but throughout, Bro Gould has preserved his independence, and has always held the reins. It is emphatically his History, and to him and to him alone is the credit due…’ No-one close to QC could have been unaware of the collaborations or, in spite of the title page’s assertion of a single author, of Gould’s appreciation. In 1901, at Speth’s memorial service, and in a number of obituaries Gould recorded his thanks for the ‘great’ assistance rendered by the Secretary in the writing of The History.[cdlx] Rylands also spoke plainly: ‘(It) is…some slight consolation to us to think that to Speth’s labours Brother Gould was indebted for much of the lengthy chapters devoted to the French Trade Guilds, and Continental Freemasonry, included in…his monumental History.’

Gould had been publishing research results well before Speth came on the scene. His Four Old Lodges, for example, dates from 1879. Retired for some years from Cuba’s plantations, Speth’s first tentative research steps were in 1881:‘When some months back, finding myself master of much spare time, I began to investigate the old Minutes of our Lodge, with a view to writing its history, my intention was merely to jot down a short summary of the principal events connected therewith – such as might perhaps cover a couple of sheets of foolscap, and would form a short paper to be read in Lodge, if deemed worthy of that honour.’ He told how his curiosity had then taken hold: ‘As, however, my interest in our doings gradually increased, so did I find more and more difficulty in rejecting this fact and the other, until my notes alone formed quite a bulky paper. I then determined to make my history as exhaustive as in me lay, and soon discovered that this required the acquisition of more information than could be supplied from our own annals, involving me in researches for which my previous experience had hardly fitted me. The work, however, fascinated me…’

The arrangement of chapters in ‘The History’ appears arbitrary and un-systematic. Even to readers not conversant with the literature the arrangement must appear odd, with the same headings, eg ‘The ‘Old Charges’, in a number of places. To a more knowledgeable reader, many questions would leap to mind – eg, why the separation of ‘Mediaeval Operative Masonry’ from ‘The Old Charges’ and from the mainland European chapters which directly concern ‘mediaeval operatives’? These separations are aligned, not with logic, but with EF predilections. Chapter 1 begins with a personal credo. It seeks support in the approach of a German predecessor who had claimed to have escaped ‘fanciful theories’ by calling on ‘tradition’: ‘(While) carefully discarding the plainly fabulous narrations with which our Masonic system is encumbered, I am of opinion that the view to which Schlegel has given expression is the one we shall do well to adopt. He says:

“I have laid it down as an invariable maxim to follow historical tradition, and to hold fast by that clue, even when many things in the testimony and declarations of tradition appear strange and almost inexplicable, or at least enigmatical; for as soon as, in the investigations of ancient history, we let slip that thread of Ariadne, we can find no outlet from the labyrinth of fanciful theories and the chaos of clashing opinions.” ‘

It is clear that neither Gould’s credo nor his aspiration advocated a scientific approach, indeed that ‘traditional history’ had a higher value in his mind than ‘authentic’. Later on the same page, he indicated: ‘The design of the present work is to embody in a single publication the legendary and the authentic histories of the craft…(My) general conclusions will be as novel as I trust they may prove to be well founded.’ (HF,1, p.2)

 

Speth – Crisis Manager

 

In 1860, a brother in the US, Jacob Norton had discussed with Woodford the ignorance of English Masons. He remained frustrated enough in 1880 to base a wholesale criticism of UGLE on the state of its ‘library’: [cdlxi] ‘We have all heard about Masonry being a science, an art, a royal art, etc, but if the Grand Lodge library was an index of our scientific knowledge, we would be pronounced as a body utterly ignorant of the meaning of the word science. The bookcase which holds the Grand Lodge library is about a yard-and-a-half wide, containing about six or seven shelves. These books were not collected by the present generation of Masons…and (in) this century the Grand Lodge (has) donated ten pounds…Such being the case, it is no wonder that English Masons were, and are, woefully ignorant of Masonic history…(To) whom are we indebted for (the) new Masonic light? Not to English Masonic writers, but to the industry and intelligence of our German brethren…’ [Writer’s emphases] Writing from Boston he quoted from The Freemason’s Quarterly Review for March 1846, reporting an even earlier attempt to get UGLE to fund a Library. Previous to that again, GBP100 had been granted for a library and though it had had obvious support, the project had fallen away: ‘…After a lapse of so many years there was nothing but empty shelves, and no prospect of any books; this was discreditable to the Grand Lodge and a disgrace to those to whom the collection was intrusted…’ In 1846 Crucefix had seconded the motion for an annual grant of GBP20 but then, and for years after, implementation of the idea was repeatedly stalled and deflected. In 1880 Norton concluded his reportage with an impassioned plea that UGLE realise how far it was slipping behind. It needed to fund ‘the right men’ and suitable facilities to encourage broad-ranging research. In 1888, Secretary Speth applauded the donation of over six hundred titles to ‘our library’ but noted that ‘this valuable collection’ remained ‘difficult of access’ which was very diplomatic of him since the books were all stored in his house: ‘This Library should be installed in central London premises, open at all times…But London premises are costly, while the Lodge is poor, and will always remain so, because its funds will never be allowed to accumulate…’ [cdlxii] In 1892, Gould ‘celebrated’ the personal sacrifice of a volunteer librarian Sadler who had ‘achieved wonders’ with the GBP25 which had been voted in 1880 to get a QC Library underway. Like Norton, Gould was in a position to compare London’s niggardly attitude with positive examples manifest elsewhere, eg, in Iowa and New York.[cdlxiii] Sadler, incidentally, was another illustrative case of early internal problems. One of the few who attended the January 1886 Lodge consecration and one of the first applicants for the ‘Correspondence Circle’, he published Masonic Facts and Fictions in 1887 which contradicted Gould’s ‘schismatics’ view of the Antient Grand Lodge. He was not admitted a full member of QC until 1903, a delay attributed by some to Gould’s churlishness.[cdlxiv] In hindsight, it’s possible to see that when QC’s founding group came together they had no thought for the possible consequences of their various ambitions. For example, they had not thought of administrative infrastructure. More worryingly, in QC’s first decades there was no serious attempt to put any in place. They had had no ‘business plan’, and they did not recruit anyone who knew anything about educational programs. QC’s birth had forced many practical issues into view but they were left to Speth to solve.

Secretary for QC’s first 15 years, Speth apparently answered every mail enquiry personally and at length. He also instituted what were called ‘St John’s Cards’. Designed by Simpson and akin to Xmas cards, these for a number of years, were sent to all members, and all CC subscribers. Charged to carry out all the one-off efforts the executive group determined upon from time to time as well as all the day-to-day work, Speth’s load was considerable. Commercial book production and associated distribution chains were spurned in favour of the lodge network which left Speth with the task of sorting out the details. With no permanent premises he found he had to store at his house all unsold and any donated publications. ‘The Library’ alone had reached 3,000 volumes before he was able to relinquish it. Dyer has calculated his work load: ‘(The) organisation of meetings, with suitable papers to be presented; the actual running of the lodge as a Masonic lodge; within a short time, the arrangement for the editing, printing and publishing of our Transactions, and the getting together of a group of semi-interested people who would buy and even read (them)…The lodge had no money…all the things I have mentioned cost money. A hundred years ago a lodge Treasurer [initially Besant] took no part in the mundane affairs of raising money and spending it. His duty was the actual custody of the funds…(The) raising and collection of the money, the accounting and book-keeping, and such financial planning as was done, all fell on the lodge secretary…

…And in case he should fiddle, they engaged a professional accountant as auditor, but neglected to take any concrete decisions on important matters, like engaging a room in London for the books, and to act as an office.

From a situation of no involvement with the founders’ circle, Speth became administratively indispensable to QC. His major help in the earliest frantic days came from Gould. These two travelled ‘overseas’ in 1888 on invitations from Dutch and Belgian ‘fans’. Despite continued controversies in those countries over Masonic involvement in social issues, deemed by some to be ‘political’, they were welcomed ‘tumultuously’. They presented the first CC ‘jewel’ to the Belgian scholar, Tempels, a confirmed anti-political Mason. An 1892 US article recorded Speth’s Masonic career and described him as: ‘Originally one of (QC’s) founders, he has, since its institution been its leading spirit, and by his executive ability and untiring energy has built it up to proportions never dreamed of at the outset.’[cdlxv] In 1894 when presented with a handsome watch and chain for his decade of effort, Speth responded: ‘…I have since the first, devoted myself heart and soul, body and mind to the welfare of our lodge; it has become the labour of my prime, the love of my manhood, and, I trust will prove my joy in old age.’ [cdlxvi] A US correspondent in 1897 remarked Speth’s central importance by introducing a pamphlet of ‘formulations’ with the thought: ‘If the new theory of the descent of English Freemasonry propounded by Brother George W. Speth, of Lodge Quatuor Coronati is true…’ [cdlxvii]

Speth’s attitude towards ‘average’ English brethren was damning: ‘…You ask me to give you some idea how American Masonry strikes the average English Craftsman. Well, in the first place, I think the average Englishman, with that insular self-sufficiency which is so truly charming a trait in his character, knows very little about American Masonry, and cares, if possible, still less…(He)has not the faintest suspicion that your organization and arrangements differ from those he is accustomed to, about as much as chalk from cheese. He lives in a delightful state of blissful ignorance, which it were pity to needlessly disturb…’ [My emphasis]…’ In an 1898 review Gould wrote: ‘I shall premise that the excellent paper read by Bro Speth [to QC], has no warmer admirer than myself. It is in every respect an ornament to the columns of [AQC] and one hardly knows whether to pay the greater tribute of respect to the patient industry of the writer, or to the masterly manner in which his arguments are arranged.’ [cdlxviii]

By 1900 Speth was reduced to ironic pleading – that he would be happy if he could get even ‘intelligent discussion’ of the need for permanent premises and adequate staff: ‘…So far we have all been more or less talking at random, without any clear idea before us of what we want or what it will cost. If the Brethren of the Committee care to favour me with written observations on these notes, they could then be digested, collated, and brought before the Committee on some future occasion.’ [cdlxix] It was clearly possible for UGLE to have realised the work being done had value and to have nurtured premises and staff rather than ignore the obvious need. The record shows that in addition to not budgeting for its newest lodge, nor for impecunious members like Woodford[cdlxx], the ‘Authorities of Freemasons Hall’ did not even think it important that QC observe the meeting dates it had chosen, and insisted on either a change of dates or a removal to other premises.[cdlxxi] Neither the possibility of ‘rescuing Freemasonry’ nor ‘a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences’ had impressed UGLE. Determined to retain the central London venue for its meetings and its tenuous connections with GL, the ‘Inner Circle’ of QC rationalised absenteeism from lodge meetings by blaming distance and the difficulties of London transport. Its saving grace initially was the international Masonic network in which as a lodge it was embedded. Much later, with its future again on the line, QC was again disappointed by UGLE. Faced in 1952 with having to let a long-time office worker, a ‘Miss Johnson’ go, one brother ‘felt impelled to offer to make myself responsible for her pension when Lodge funds ran out.’ [cdlxxii]

On his death in 1901, Gould credited his colleague with the CC as ‘the cape stone of our present structure’ and ‘the most brilliant inspiration which has ever occurred to any votary of Masonic research’.[cdlxxiii] Speth’s willingness to be the QC work horse may have shortened his life,[cdlxxiv] although his post-mortem in 1901 disclosed a heavily diseased heart, probably from his long involvement with smoking and the tobacco industry. Dyer commented on the consequences of his sudden demise: ‘…His death caused chaos…The life of the lodge depended on finding a paragon as nearly as possible in the mould of Speth…’ [cdlxxv] This at least was an honest statement. Not much else of what has been published about QC’s success has been. Woodford’s successor as editor of The Freemason contended in 1889: ‘…With (its) programme, every particular of which has been strictly adhered to, it is not to be wondered at that Lodge Quatuor Coronati is fast becoming that exponent of true Masonic working which has been so long needed to stay the devastation of the true principles of the Order, of late years almost effaced by innovations and departures from ancient customs. No true Freemason…can fail to rejoice in having so representative a body of what Freemasonry should be…’ [cdlxxvi] (My emphases)

Celebrated Arkansas-born Mason, Albert Pike, agreed in a letter to Gould that ‘blissful ignorance’ was widespread but thought it ‘not strange that so low an estimate should be put upon Masonic authorship, for most Masonic works are irredeemably worthless…’ [cdlxxvii] A polymath and auto-didact, Pike hoped that Gould’s fears for QC in mid-1888 would not be realised: ‘…I regret the failure of any plan or organisation intended to elevate and intellectualize Free-Masonry and shall therefore be very sorry if your forebodings or fears in regard to the future of [QC] are prophetic…(If QC) falls into decay, it will be a grave misfortune befalling the Masonry of the world, and a great pity and shame.’ [cdlxxviii] In his 1890 letter to Freemason’s Chronicle, in which he publicised QC’s success in attracting applicants into its ‘Correspondence Circle’ Gould warned that ‘a continuous supply of papers of a certain standard’ was ‘the rock a-head’ which QC should dread: ‘(Of the twenty four ‘chief features’ of the first Volume of Transactions) the brethren by whom they are written are only fifteen in number, and one of them is neither a member nor an associate…(while) fourteen out of the…twenty four were the work of five contributors only.’ Five were by Speth, and two each by Gould and Woodford, and one each by Warren, WH Rylands and Hughan. A further three ‘articles’ were Speth translations. None are by Besant, Pratt, or JP Rylands. Eight were contributed by independent scholars or from ‘corresponding members’.

It is fair to conclude that by the time of QC’s launch, a number of the founders were very close to the end of their active lives and had little more to contribute. The formative exchanges were behind them, conclusions had been drawn and disputants had agreed to differ, mostly in silence. Their ‘cultural’ attitudes, shaped, buffed and polished during their working careers produced no analysis of the sort Crucefix called ‘current affairs’ half a century earlier, so that there is nothing on London or the colonies. Most intriguingly there is nothing on the religious fundamentalism of the Boers which might well have been interesting grist for QC’s Bible-oriented mill. Given the shared backgrounds of the founders the absence of essays on the work of the PEF is remarkable. The Transactions show at least as many speculative as ‘evidence-driven’ essays, with the speculations being largely esoteric. The founding group appears to have had a common view as to what was to be omitted, but political bias was not excluded. None of the twelve papers by founders are on English history after 1717, and only one on ‘Freemasonry’ after 1717. Speth on the pre-1717 atmosphere wrote: ‘…Dr Sacheverell was a champion of the intolerant High Church Party. A notorious sermon preached by him on the 5th November, 1709, at St Paul’s was, after a tedious trial, condemned to be burned by the common hangman.’ [cdlxxix] There was no formal prohibition on recent history, or on history closer to home. This is shown by three examples by non-founders, as are the only two on comparatively recent European history. The eight papers based on non-English materials, including two on Scotland, were all readings, albeit limited, of political and social history. The major papers in the next three volumes of the Transactions exhibit the same small number of founders as authors and the bulk being contributions from non-founders.

Two other matters generated internal agitation. The first was the politics of membership, the second was what is called today ‘esoteric Freemasonry’.

 

Membership Politics and its Financial Consequences

 

Canvassing for candidates for the ‘Inner Circle’, supposedly prohibited, occurred from inauguration. Speth was better-placed than most members to influence developing situations, for example, writing to Irwin in 1889: ‘…I will see that Bro De Ridder [‘Driver’?] is elected on the 3rd January – Will you kindly get him to fill up the enclosed form then everything will be in order.’ [cdlxxx] He appears to have failed on this occasion, as ‘De Ridder’s’ name does not appear subsequently. [‘Driver’ does appear briefly as a CC member] Perhaps refining his lobbying skills, Speth wrote to all members in 1891: ‘Captain AH Markham, RN, CB, is a candidate for the full membership of the Lodge, and his petition is backed by Brothers RF Gould, and the WM. He has been a member of the Correspondence Circle since January 1889, and it must be quite needless to remind you that he was the leader of the last Government Expedition to the North Pole.[cdlxxxi] ‘Captain Markham’ appears in the membership list as ‘No 33 – Sir Albert Hastings Markham’, where it is also noted that he was not initiated into Masonry until 1886. Internally-circulated letters show Speth had also pressed hard in the matter of Warren’s successor as WM. His ‘Circular 12’ explicitly recommended Gould: ‘for whom I personally intend voting…I trust no brother will regard this letter as in the light of a canvas, but there is no other way of eliciting the wishes of our scattered members, and it seems desirable on all grounds that those unable to attend should not be left wholly without voice in so important a matter.’ [cdlxxxii]

Hughan wrote to a membership candidate, Malden, in 1895: ‘Just a line to say you have unanimously passed the Com [Permanent Committee] sub-rosa and will be proposed at the meeting in March…(You) are as good as elected, only all is ‘under the rose’ just now…I lost my last…but Lane & I this time have been successful. [My emphasis] [cdlxxxiii] Irish brother, Chetwode-Crawley, kept Sadler abreast of developments concerning the latter’s situation – in 1895 he wrote: ‘…There is no man alive who so well deserves it. But for your original researches and your independence of thought and word, the views I hold could not have been entertained, much less maintained.’ [cdlxxxiv] – and then in 1903: ‘…You have passed the ballot, but each of the other two received three adverse votes, and it will be intimated to them that they will have to write Essays, just as the operatives had to construct masterpieces, before being raised to the full membership.’

Warren initially hoped that admission into the ‘Correspondence Circle’ would be by election, like QC, and from the ranks of Master Masons, ‘otherwise we may be flooded with persons we do not wish for’.[cdlxxxv] The original proposal was in ‘Circular 6: (19 Nov 1886)…The plan which has suggested itself to us is…as follows. All Master Masons shall be eligible for election as corresponding members on an annual payment of 10/-. They shall be entitled to receive gratis and periodically copies of our Summonses, Circulars and Transactions.’ [cdlxxxvi] Speth had quickly realised the folly of this and insisted that QC had to have as many ‘Associates’ as possible: ‘…The advantages (of the CC) to our lodge will be an increased income, without which we must remain at a standstill, an assured market for our publications, an enlarged circle from which to draw recruits, and enhanced means of keeping in touch with the Masonic universe.’ [cdlxxxvii] [My emphasis] He informed Irwin in 1887: ‘…The fact is we do want the money and unless something is known against an applicant, he is admitted as a matter of course. Our Transactions will cost about GBP35pa to print and the Correspondence Circle was invented chiefly to provide the funds…’ [cdlxxxviii]

He knew that neither UGLE nor QC’s own members were going to supply the shortfall. Gould, Woodford and Hughan all suffered privation in the 1880’s. A ‘Hughan Testimonial’, really a request for donations in 1884, raised GBP250 in six months.[cdlxxxix] Woodford was declared bankrupt in 1885-6 with no known response from QC or from UGLE. Speth organised and drove the attempt to rescue Gould from poverty when The History was pirated by US publishers. ‘The Gould Testimonial Fund’ was introduced to the Lodge in January 1889 and 10-0-0 was immediately voted to it by members. In 1891, a note from Speth recording that Gould: ‘through an unavoidable misfortune, has been reduced to the lowest verge of poverty and distress…Bro Gould is 56 years old, has a wife and is absolutely penniless.’ Contributions noted in August, 1891 included: ‘W Besant 3-3-0; WJ Hughan 1-1-0; Irwin 2-2-0; Speth 10-0-0; Westcott 1-1-0’. A further plea by Circular was made in February 1892, and again in 1894 when Speth commented: ‘unless successful, nothing can save our brother from the last resort of the indigent’. Gould had pointed out in a letter to The Times that the unchanged, pirated version of his work showed: ‘dishonesty in literary matters is unblushingly practised by the members of what is commonly supposed to be a “Society of Brothers”… (The) American publisher as well as the three persons who allow their names to appear as my “assistants” are all of them Freemasons.’ [cdxc]

The total pages in AQC show its internal expansion and convey the level of extra work and extra costs involved:

Vol I       amounted to 217pp. + 30pp of Index etc,

Vol II                         182pp. + 30pp Index, etc

Vol III                       200pp. + 40pp Index, etc.

Vol IV                       248pp. + 50pp of Index

 

Measured in pages pa, 1886 had 34 pages,

1887 –     52 pp,

1888 –   133 pp, + indexes

1889 –     185 pp, + indexes

1890 –     200 pp, + indexes

1891 –     248 pp, + indexes.

The increase in numbers of ‘index’ pages was due to the expansion of the Correspondence Circle, and Speth’s attempt to list each member by name, number, location and Masonic status. Initial responses to the Correspondence Circle were encouraging. In 1887 Speth reported with delight that 150 applications for membership arrived very soon after the first Transactions had been posted. Initial thoughts for only one hundred copies of the annual volumes quickly expanded to 250 and then to 500, with expectations of further and similar increases.[cdxci] The names and numbers of applicants, who were without exception voted by the ‘Inner Circle’ on his say-so onto the Member’s Register, reached a thousand by 1890 and by 1900 was approaching 3,000.[cdxcii] In 1890 Gould expressed great surprise at the high ‘take-up’ rate into the CC: ‘We thought the numbers might run into three figures – and they did with a rapidity which astonished us…’ [cdxciii] He reported that as of May, 1890, 908 CC ‘memberships’ had been taken out, consisting of: ‘15 Governing bodies, 102 Lodges and Chapters (69 British Isles and 33 Foreign), 5 Libraries or Institutions (non-Masonic) and 886 brethren (537 BI and 349 Foreign).’ He happily listed by name the many ‘eminent’ Freemasons on the list and noted that: ‘Of the professions the medical one is the most largely represented (29)…the clergy (28), military (23), editors of Masonic magazines (7), professors (5).’ Speth in 1892 was justifiably up-beat: ‘It must be very gratifying to every member of our Association to know that our efforts to awaken an enlightened interest in the antiquities and literature of the Craft are producing tangible results throughout the world. The establishment of Literary Lodges and Societies…in the Punjab, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and elsewhere, all avowedly inspired by our example, has been recorded in our Transactions…’ [cdxciv]

These figures are unreliable indicators because the drop-out rate was very high. An application and 1-years subscription were sufficient to trigger copies of the Transactions beyond the first year, but it was only in 1900 that the executive realised the extent of the problem: ‘The dues outstanding are enormous in their total of nearly GBP700…There are over seven hundred brethren who have not paid their subscription for 1900, and over four hundred who have not paid for 1899!’ [cdxcv] The executive did not concede that it might have questions to answer, and they didn’t blame their Secretary. Either the South African war or the apathy of other people was to blame. Speth wrote in 1900: ‘The (falling off in applicant numbers) is probably to be attributed in some measure, to the minds of Englishmen being pre-occupied, during recent times, by matters which have drawn away their attention from Masonic study.. But we feel that, in a lesser degree, it may also be due to a slackness on the part of our members, who have not taken every available opportunity of bringing our society before their Masonic friends…’ Speth’s successor, WH Rylands, in 1905 showed that the number of CC members added for each of the years 1888 to 1899 had been in the hundreds, the highest being 388 in 1888 and 304 in 1895. From 1900 to 1905, however, the numbers had plateaued and actually declined in 1900, 1902 and 1903. As the 1900 Committee had done, the new Secretary blamed the declines on causes outside QC’s control: ‘There have been 6071 names on the CC list since it was first started. The (negative) years were of course due largely to the South African War…It looks as though we are once more on the upward grade but there is a big annual leakage due to deaths and apathy, and although we have had over 300 additions this year the net gain is only 46.’ [cdxcvi] Five years after Speth, Secretary Rylands was harsher in his judgement, but only of others: ‘...Apathetic brethren are of course no use to us, not only because they do not care to read but because they do not pay their subscriptions. It would be kinder if they were to resign…’ He pointed out that the number of active CC members had not increased since 1893, even though GL records showed: ‘…There are 2490 lodges on the register of Grand Lodge of England. Assuming average membership to be 30 would give 74700 Masons… According to latest statistics there are in the United States 12637 lodges with 1,011,547 members and in all Canada 674 lodges with 50,878 members. We have on our CC list 250 in the US, 35 in Canada’.

Out in the colonies, in 1893 Queensland, for example, ‘Local Secretary’ Bro Spiers had sent a circular to all CC members in that State. It included: ‘…It will be within the recollection of most of you that, at the beginning of 1891, ‘The Circle’ in Queensland consisted of only 3 members. During that year the number increased to 41. In the past year [1892] 30 new members have been admitted, bringing our muster roll…up to 71…The membership is made up as follows:- 1 District Grand Lodge, 9 Lodges, 2 Royal Arch Chapters, 1 Literary Society and 58 Brethren.’ He noted that in 1893 ‘Queensland has nearly as many members as the whole of the other Australian Colonies together’,[cdxcvii] but ‘….(Compared) with the number of Freemasons in Queensland, our list of members…is only 1.7 per cent of the active membership.[cdxcviii] He believed that ‘the motto of every Craftsman should be ‘Educate, Educate, Educate’ : ‘…Were every member of the Fraternity a student, even in ever so limited a sense, we should have fewer complaints of leakage in membership, small attendance at Lodge meetings, and luke warmness generally.’

Speth had perceived from the first that subscriptions from distant members might keep QC afloat, but that as a lifeline it had inbuilt dangers – if inflow of subscriptions didn’t keep pace with the totality of costs involved in servicing the increasing membership, QC would run at a loss, and eventually would have to be wound up. But he was scared to impose realistic fees. In April, 1894, he was publicising the fact that: ‘(a) Candidate for membership in the Correspondence Circle is subject to no qualification, literary, artistic or scientific…He is subject to no joining fee…(and the) annual subscription is only half-a-guinea (10/6d)’ In 1913, notices placed around the world in Masonic periodicals showed a revised system was still intended to attract by its cheapness rather than reflect the real cost of the product: ‘The joining fee is 21/- which includes the first year’s subscription…Each member receives the profusely illustrated and handsomely printed Transactions…which are issued in three parts each year…’ [cdxcix] The more candid parts of Dyer’s narrative tell how QC came closest to foundering in the period 1928 to 1951. The 1952 Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee showed that despite the previous 12 months having seen the highest ever annual increase in applicants elected to the CC, 585, the total of active members was only 3,058, and QC’s finances remained in crisis. In January, 1952, the executive circulated a plea for help, fearing that the situation, first acknowledged as dire in 1947, ‘might necessitate the surrender of its Warrant and a consequent cessation of its work.’ [d] Dyer insists that in the face of escalating, post-war cost inflation, industrious secretaries had managed by 1973 to increase CC numbers to over 12,000.[di] The then-Secretary/Editor Carr, needing writers as well as funds to keep QC going, again proposed a separation of ‘complex, perhaps new work’, from ‘scissors and paste’ papers, ie, Woodford’s ‘common place papers’ re-visited. They would be: ‘specially designed for reading in Lodges and Lodges of Instruction, Study Circles, etc, to serve as a basis for discussion, and to promote a lively interest in the Craft.’ [dii] [AQC emphasis] Obscured by its Latin Title, ‘Miscellanea Latomorum’, this initiative failed even its overt aims, and, again, failed to provide a solid basis for lodge education.

Out in the diaspora, QC appeared for a short time as a novel and an appropriately optimistic initiative, especially where the Empire was receiving closest attention, in Africa and Asia. It was not accidental that the second Grand Lodge to join the Correspondence Circle was the District GL of the Punjab at Lahore, the location of Kipling’s ‘mother lodge’. Initially, the example of QC prompted a significant number of similar lodges to form. They have either failed altogether or they have been constipated in delivery. In 1893 Sydney’s recently-combined ‘British’ Masons began planning a Masonic Musical and Literary Society ‘wherein’, it was claimed, ‘all points of interest could be freely and fully discussed.’ This ‘evolved’ into a Masonic Club which provided only accommodation and a venue for social events. It was not until 1913 that a Lodge of Research, No 290, was set up. In his address, the lodge’s first WM, Bro Heighway, was more cautious than celebratory, more narrowly focused than broad-ranging: [diii]In commencing work in such a lodge some doubt might arise in the minds of the members as to the subjects suitable, as to their ability to handle the subject, and as to the length of the papers.’ Because it was necessary, in his view, that ‘we must avoid subjects which will lead to unkind and uncharitable controversy’, he had asked the Secretary ‘to establish a register of subjects suitable for discussion.’ QC’s lack-lustre intentions were being further restricted and sanitised. The example can be multiplied and the consequences measured.

However QC’s efforts are rated, very little enlightenment has been visible amongst the Masonic masses. English-language Masonic literature is filled, not with celebration of ‘a new approach’ to Masonic research but, with defeatist editorials, such as the following from 1912 Western Australia: ‘(It) is indisputable that the intellectual, the intelligent, the cultured thinker, the brainy business man does not come to the front in the Craft to the extent that he should, and that dullness and mediocrity are altogether too frequently prominent.’ [div] Or from The Illinois Freemason: ‘…The curse of our present system is ignorance…One trouble…is that we are not teaching Masons to think, but to remember, and so long as it is possible for a man to stand up and recite ritual by the yard, and receive the plaudits of admiring friends, he has very little desire to search after those things which go to build the fraternity…’ [dv] A 2011 Townsville (Qld) Masonic Study Circle’s Newsletter has only one item as content, a reprint from The Canadian Craftsman and Masonic Record, of February, 1894, called ‘Pre-Historic Freemasonry.’ The earlier author asserted that ‘in this progressive age’, much new information had been brought to light on the past, including that of Freemasonry: ‘(Sufficient) has already been obtained to cause a revision of our old beliefs and a practical rewriting of the history of the Craft.’ [dvi] This amounts to the same call as that made in 2007 by Professor Snoek at an International Conference on the History of Freemasonry – ‘sufficient is available for a re-writing of EF history’. But no-where in the Canadian ‘paper’ is there any sign of an original thought by this 1894 ‘Grand Orator’ or any suggestion that a re-write was underway. That the members of Townsville Study Circle in 2011 had nothing to add, had nothing worth reiterating in their own archives and had no reflections on the Circle’s experience since Bro Spiers’ efforts for Queensland in 1893, speaks volumes.

In 1888, HJ Whymper, Member No 21, had provided QC with the perfect opportunity to tackle the issue. A brewery manager who worked largely in India, he was also a book collector who had married the Reverend Oliver’s daughter. In 1888, his The Religion of Freemasonry aimed ‘to draw attention of Freemasons’ to the presence of non-Christian members in Indian lodges, and to EF’s ‘original religious principles’ which he asserted were based on ‘Christian Catholicity’, [here using ‘catholic’ in the sense of ‘universal’ or ‘broad-based’]: ‘It is believed that, in a well-meant but mistaken effort to let Freemasonry be all things to all men, this principle has been overlooked. Already we find that some Masons deny it altogether, asserting that all distinct profession of Christianity was abandoned in 1717, when the Grand Lodge was founded.’ Speth, in reviewing the book for AQC, believed the author had succeeded in showing ‘in a very complete manner’ that Freemasonry’s connection with the Bible was ‘so intimate as not to admit of its divorce’: ‘(He) has shown in detail that in the first instance Freemasonry was essentially Christian and Trinitarian; that at the period known as the Revival, in 1717, a determined effort was made to give to Freemasonry a tone of universality…and…with only very partial success to eliminate all Christian teachings from the Constitutions and Ritual.’ [dvii] QC publicised the book, but perhaps because Hughan had written a contrary ‘Introduction’, it only just made Speth’s 1890 ‘reading list’.[dviii] Certainly QC chose to otherwise ignore Whymper’s linked challenges, that of non-Christians entering the Craft, and that of the identification of the Craft with Christianity. When the author died in 1893, his research, most of which was little-known, was applauded but never re-printed. An 1890’s author set down equally bluntly the essential fault-line within EF as a whole: ‘…Unfortunately, many members of the Masonic fraternity… endeavour to pervert its Christian character by advocating theories under the cover of science or criticism, to undermine truth. They eagerly seize upon any new discovery, physical or moral, to use against Christianity….’ (Stilson, Concordant Orders, p.743)

Nevertheless, the label, ‘authentic history’ has been repeatedly attached to the corpus of QC’s work, eg, in 1972, Bro Spurr believed that QC had come about because there had been a need for a lodge where: ‘Masonic matters could be discussed and all theories carefully examined, to sift the wheat from the chaff, the fact from the fiction.’ He then claimed: ‘Quatuor Coronati Lodge established itself as the place where bubbles were pricked and if anything was put forward as a fact it had to be proved by independent authorities.[dix] In 1986 Bro Dyer, a member of QC since 1971, wrote: ‘…By (their stated objectives the founders) established a new style of research into Freemasonry. It ignored baseless conclusions…of earlier authors and…became known as the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic students. Through the members’ efforts the work of previous historians came under close scrutiny and much that had formerly been accepted as reliable was rejected.’ [dx] A 1964 ‘insider’ essay appraised QC as having been too strictly ‘factual’: ‘The founders of our QC, who were faced with the task of bringing the inquiries into the past of Masonry within reasonable limits and purging it from the wild speculations in which many of their predecessors indulged…tended to adopt a very rigid attitude. In my opinion, they pressed this healthy reaction too far in the opposite direction, refusing to accept anything which could not be supported by documentary and factual evidence.’ [dxi]

Other 20th century AQC essays repeat the ‘wild and far-fetched theories’ of previous times, most obviously that the Bible is a verified document, or at the very least that it contains sufficient ‘incontrovertible facts’ to be used as a beginner’s guide. The reasons for the persistence of the unscientific approach are clear and encompass every facet of the ‘usual’ EF history. A 1964 essay provided readers with Secretary Carr’s opinions about where eight decades of QC dithering had brought EF. There could only be ‘opinions’, since QC still had no means of determining which ‘facts’ were incontrovertible. He set out ‘three of the important phases in our history’ beginning with what he thought had been fashionable within QC a century before, an idea ‘praiseworthy in intention, but historically unrealistic’:’…The idea…was to trace the beginnings of the Craft right back to the dawn of history…(However) nobody was ever able to find the slightest evidence that might bridge the gap between those ancient societies and ours…Nowadays we begin our story, not with wild and far-fetched theories, but with the details that we can prove, and so we start…in the year 1356, when we have the first evidence – in England – of the beginnings of mason trade organisation…’ [dxii] His exposition is replete with ‘perhaps’, ‘maybes’, ‘it seems certain that’ and numerous unsupported assumptions.

 

The Issue of Esotericism

 

Back before QC hove into view, RW Little was so keen on them that he invented, adapted or revived any rite he could find entangled in the stories of ‘Freemasonry’. Attributed to him, KRH Mackenzie and to Hughan in various accounts [dxiii] in the period 1865-67 is what has been described as ‘the British revival of ritual magic’. This was ‘Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia’ [SRIA]. Supposedly not so much a degree but ‘a Masonic study circle’ the: ‘(SRIA) represented…an English Masonic elite gathered for the purpose of studying the cabbala, the hermetic texts, and other arcane wisdom of the ancient and mediaeval world.’ [dxiv] For Woodford, ‘intellectual study of Freemasonry proper’ had to include esotericism. In December of 1886, he expounded on ‘Freemasonry and Hermeticism’ to QC. His conclusion was: ‘…Freemasons especially are bound to be honest seekers after truth, and though the ascent to its great Temple may be difficult and tedious, approached by devious paths or fenced about by serious obstacles, we are bound to persevere…(Our) motto should ever be that of Hermeticism and Freemasonry alike in its high import and abiding obligation – “Let Light and Truth prevail.” Gould’s paper, ‘English Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodges, 1717’, in September 1887, was an attempt at what Woodford had called ‘common place papers’. It was based, he asserted, only on ‘what we know’ and eschewed theory but even it showed up differences within QC over the most basic of ‘facts’. He began with the ‘Oral Traditions’ from the time of St Albans, the first Christian martyr in Britain’,[dxv] which he thought too ‘ancient’ and too speculative. Woodford begged to differ, saying he ‘was a heretic on a great many points laid down by (Gould) as law. He was a freemason who believed in the traditional teachings (and)…the many old legends…’ [dxvi] Gould’s responses then and at the later dinner attempted joviality. He asserted that as the very best of friends, differences with the older man were ‘of the nature that usually occurred between husband and wife’: ‘(My) admiration for Bro Woodford’s ability was now greater than ever because, although (I) endeavoured to keep clear of controversial facts…Bro Woodford had yet managed to disagree with (me).’ However, his despondency about the then current situation was clear: ‘Our London Lodges are, to a great extent, select and expensive dining-clubs; and in the Provinces…though the feasting is on a more reduced scale, the entire instruction communicated to inquiring brethren consists of a smattering of ritual and ceremonial.’ The published German material was troubling him: ‘Of English Masonry, it has been said, and not without great show of reason, that it now only retains the shell of which our German brethren possess the kernel.’ In December, 1887, shortly before his death with only Gould at his bedside, Woodford sent a letter to another close friend and fellow Mason:

Dear Brother Westcott,

With this I send MSS under seal, which I promised, in cipher. It confers upon the possessor who understands the meaning to grant the old Rosicrucian secrets and the grades of Heoos chruse, or Golden Dawn. Try to see old Soror ‘Sapiens dominabitur astris’ in Germany. She did live at Ulm. Hockley now being dead I know of no-one else who could help you.

Yours sincerely,

AFA Woodford.[dxvii]

Westcott first attended QC as full member, No 16, in December, 1886. He argued in 1888 that lectures and discussions should only occur when the Lodge was ‘in the Third Degree’, ie when only Master Masons were present. As a well-known coroner, he might have been an advocate of forward-looking science and of evidence-based expositions but he was another esotericist and scholar of the alleged Hebrew origins of ‘Freemasonry’. His suggestion had implications for published reports of discussions as well as for who could attend QC, but it failed in the face of Speth’s insistence there were more pressing problems.[dxviii] Westcott read his first paper to QC, ‘The Religion of Freemasonry Illuminated by the Kabbalah’ in September, 1887, and, as Secretary General of ‘Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia’ [SRIA] briefed readers of AQC on its work.[dxix] His paper argued that Masonry’s key idea, monotheism, had Jewish antecedents: ‘..Our ritual presents us with ample internal evidence that the mystery of the craft lies deeper than a mere scheme of moral maxims. Our ritual contains distinct prayers, addressed to the clearly defined one God.’ [dxx] For Westcott the SRIA: ‘is not a Masonic degree in any sense, although its members (fratres) are necessarily Master Masons, and a ritual of admission is made use of.’ [dxxi] In his ‘briefing’ he noted that ‘Dr WR Woodman is the present Supreme Magus, and TB Whytehead is head of the York (SRIA) College.’ Whytehead was QC member No 12. Woodman was another early entrant into the “Outer Circle’ in June, 1887.

At that month’s meeting, June 1887, Hughan’s paper, ‘Connecting Links Between Ancient and Modern Freemasonry’ sought to prove evidence-based continuity, and therefore ‘the antiquity of Freemasonry…In other words, the evidence to be submitted may be our warrant for claiming that we belong virtually to the same society.’ [dxxii] As ‘evidence’ for links between pre-and post-1717 ‘Freemasonry’, Hughan asserted ‘numerous resemblances’ between the ‘Old Charges’ and ‘the ordinary usages of the Freemasons of today’. In response, Woodman regretted, perhaps whimsically, that: ‘(No) more can we believe that the Father of the human race held a Grand Lodge in the Garden of Eden; neither that Noah, its second father, performed the rites of the Craft in the Ark, with the lion and the elephant alternately acting as Grand Tyler…’ [dxxiii] But he said, despite Hughan’s reference to the earliest ‘written evidence of the existence of a regular meeting of a Lodge of Freemasons like ourselves…I shall, as the lawyers say, without prejudice, continue to claim the Royal Solomon as one of our early Grand Masters…(Though) written proof is not actually forthcoming of the names of those who formed the several Lodges…there is a considerable amount of incontrovertible evidence that Masonic Lodges of a thoroughly practical character were then in existence. Hughan argued that his claim of continuity was ‘capable of being tested by archaeologists and historians, be they Masons or non-Masons’, an approach lauded in retrospect as objective, which of course it is not. Putting forward a testable hypothesis is part of the scientific method but it is only the first step. Scientists test their own hypotheses and provide their results for others to test, along with the path to their results. Without having tested his own evidence, Hughan’s conclusion is no less an act of faith than Woodman’s, or than Woodford’s was in 1870. On this occasion, founding members spoke up, Rylands agreeing with Hughan, but Gould argued:‘...In no Court of Justice would the evidence [just presented] be admissible, without direct proof of the actual existence at some time of Robert Padgett [in Hughan’s paper], to say nothing of minor legal points which would be freely raised.’ [dxxiv] Hughan remained undeterred ’in spite of Bro Gould’s objections which [he said] were those that naturally arise in the mind of a Brother who had enjoyed a legal training’.

In March 1887, Warren, in his only paper to QC, ‘On the Orientation of Temples’, a repeat of a paper he had given to the Historical Society in 1875, said: ‘…I am of opinion that the arrangements for the Lodge are derived from the worship in the temples which existed in Phoenicia before the building of Solomon’s Temple…Any persons elaborating a Masonic temple in the Middle Ages would never dream of putting the Master in the east…but it so happens that in the older temples the great image or symbol of the sun was placed in the East…’ [dxxv] He acknowledged he had only opinions for many of his claims, but quoted the Bible as a primary, unimpeachable source and proof of Freemasonry’s antiquity: ‘…I put forward…that modern masonry is a combination of the mysteries of the Hebrews, the Phoenicians (including the Greeks) and the Egyptians, that it thus forms the chief of the triads running so remarkably through all Masonic lore…In a word I think there is not a doubt that in our order we are the direct descendants from the Phoenicians, who first moulded Masonry into its present form…If it were not so, I would not be here tonight to speak, for if we cannot trace our descent from the Phoenician craftsmen who worked on the Temple of Solomon, and if it be only an allegory, then our position descends from the sublime to the ridiculous…’ [dxxvi]

The published responses from his fellow-founders are muted but a visitor, Bro SL MacGregor Mathers, is shown declaiming at length, finishing with: ‘…(Surely) our Masonic Ritual is a type and symbol of the progress of each human soul, pressing ever onward, ever upward, till at last it soars aloft, and in that full and glorious Light of the East which shines on it, it finds that long-lost Master’s Word whereby it is united to its God; raised by that Great Grand Master’s Grip to an eternal life with Him.’ [dxxvii] In Howe’s 1972 account of ‘lunatic’ Masonry in the early QC, Mathers stands out: ‘During the (Order of the Golden Dawn’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 Ritual Magic to a carefully selected minority.’ [dxxviii] In March, 1888, with fellow signatories Woodman and Mathers, Westcott issued the first charter for ‘The Esoteric [aka Hermetic] Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer’. Fifty initiates quickly joined, ‘the men heavily outweighing the women and drawn largely from Masonic lodges.’[dxxix] Gilbert, recent Masonic scholar, has this: ‘In Westcott’s day, almost every occultist (if a man) was also a freemason and a member of the Masonic Rosicrucian Society, the (SRIA). [dxxx] Another of the Woodford generation, Woodman had followed a career of police-surgeon. He had joined SRIA in 1867: ‘Almost immediately he was appointed Secretary-General, and when the Society’s journal, The Rosicrucian, appeared in July 1868 he acted as assistant editor under (RW Little)…Westcott later described Woodman as ‘an excellent Hebrew scholar, and one of the few English masters of the Hebrew Kabalah.’ [dxxxi] Gilbert has noted: ‘Benjamin Cox, the Borough Treasurer of…Weston-Super-Mare, had known Westcott in his days as a young pharmacist…in Somerset and had long been associated with him in a number of obscure Masonic Rites and Orders.’ [dxxxii] Cox had ‘six of his local Masonic colleagues’ initiated into the Temple Isis-Urania during March 1888, and in October, Westcott issued the necessary authorisations for a second Golden Dawn Temple, Osiris No 4, in Cox’s home town.      Tobias Churton who has written extensively about hermeticism in EF has speculated that ‘The Order of the Golden Dawn’ was infiltrated by English/British spies who ‘assisted’ it to shatter internally. Aleister Crowley and Mathers were the two suspected members. Churton has pointed to evidence that these two, because of their belief in ‘legitimate royal houses’, were involved in what has been called ‘the Carlist Plot’ in 1898-1899. [dxxxiii] After Crowley’s death in 1947, clear evidence emerged of his espionage background, during the 1914-18 War in mis-information programs for the Allies, and during the 1939-45 War as advisor on the Nazi’s occult beliefs. No better cover story can be imagined than one asserting that he was ‘depraved’, ‘treacherous’, and, all up, ‘the wickedest man in the world.’ [dxxxiv] Yarker, intransigent dabbler in ‘irregular degrees’ was yet another early entrant into QC’s Correspondence Circle, being registered in May 1887. Across 25 years, until just before his death in 1913, he attended QC meetings and contributed 26 papers, the first, early in 1888, being ‘The Unrecognised Lodges and Degrees of Freemasonry Before and After 1717’[dxxxv]. In that year he wrote to Irwin: ‘It is a treat to me and a pleasure to find there are still Masons in existence who are above prejudices and I am very interested in Lodge 2076. It amounts almost to a revolution.’ [dxxxvi]

‘Crimean’ Simpson might have been dismissed by scholars such as Howe for the same reasons that the members of the ‘lunatic fringe’ have been declared ‘lunatic’. When, for example, he succeeded Gould as WM in 1889, his first paper was ‘The Worship of Death’ on ‘pagan’ transition rituals to the next world in which he claimed to see Masonic parallels. Rylands in reply, asserted that the paper had not met what he, Rylands, regarded as criteria for proof, while Gould also expressed his doubts and counselled against jumping to conclusions.[dxxxvii] On the page, Simpson’s paper is no more and no less scientific than any other. He seems to have been a genuine ‘seeker after truth’ but he had spent three decades exploring matters which were not amenable to systematic examination: ‘The library which he left contained a collection, probably unrivalled in private hands, of scarce books on eastern and primeval religions, the catalogue alone of which affords something like an education on occult subjects…’ [dxxxviii] The editor of his autobiography published after his death reasoned: ‘…His original researches and studies in India made him an authority on these subjects, his sane and unprejudiced habit of mind fitted him peculiarly for such work, and in his chosen fields he must be held to have advanced both the knowledge and the wisdom of mankind…’ [dxxxix] Simpson’s curiosity appears to have been unrestricted by notions of what was ‘proper’ and what was not: ‘…At Bombay, along with Mr. Geary, of The Times of India, I called on the party of Theosophists that had lately come from America. This party was composed of Madame Blavatsky, Colonel H. S. Olcott, a Mr. Wimbridge, and a Miss Bates…At that time the sect had not developed into tricksters and jugglers…’ [dxl] Described by the same editor as an ‘ardent’ member of QC, Simpson’s autobiography, nevertheless, provides no information about QC or any other aspect of EF.

Madame Blavatsky, another refugee from the Continent, had, on her arrival in London in 1887, established a ‘Centre for Theosophy’. Her book, read and rejected by Stead and passed on by GBS, was wholly absorbed by Annie Besant. Walter’s sister-in-law, she was to eventually succeed Mme as head of what quickly became an international movement. In effect, Annie eschewed verifiable ‘truth’ and chose to believe in a speculative ‘other’, a position closer to that being followed by EF than that pursued by her activist counterparts in France. By also becoming a leader of what is now called ‘Co-Masonry’ she attempted a compromise with her English heritage. French Masonry had long worked to include women, the GOF from 1774 having allowed Rites of Adoption by which lodges could “adopt” sisters, wives and daughters of Freemasons, imparting to them the mysteries of several degrees. Admitting both men and women, ‘The International Order of Mixed Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain’, was founded in France in 1893, during struggle for control of the GOF, and in which feminist and women’s suffrage campaigners featured. ‘The Order of Universal Co-Freemasonry in Great Britain and the British Dependencies’ was founded on September 26, 1902, with the consecration of Lodge Human Duty No. 6 in London. Annie remained its head until her death in 1933. The rites she inspired restored certain ‘Masonic’ practices not required in the French working, notably that its members hold a belief in God or a Supreme Being. The permission received from France to reinstate this in the English workings is known as the “Annie Besant Concord”, and in 1904 a new English ritual was printed, which firmly established this requirement as central to the work. The revised ritual, called the “Dharma Ritual”, also attempted to restore to prominence certain esoteric aspects that its theosophically-minded authors felt were the heart of Freemasonry. Co-Freemasonry has therefore sometimes been called “Occult Freemasonry”. She co-founded the Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross (OTRC) in London, in 1912.

Esoteric influences were noticeable across a broad spectrum. The scourge of Warren at Scotland Yard, Police Commissioner Monro, called upon to continue physical repression of protestors,[dxli] also turned to India for inspiration, while Conan Doyle dreamed of establishing a ‘Church of America’, which he thought could take in ‘all the sects from the Roman Catholic to the Salvation Army’.[dxlii] He remained close to the intelligence-gathering arms of government and was an intimate of spies like William Melville. He regarded Stead as a co-worker in spiritualism and regretted the latter’s pro-Boer stance which divided them politically. His later belief, that the 5th Lord Carnarvon had died from ‘some malign occult influence’, probably from his involvement with the excavation of Tutankhamen’s tomb, overshadowed his fame as a crime novelist.

There are no signs that the EFs who Howe later attempted to sideline as ‘lunatic’ had conspired to capture QC or that they had attempted to undermine it. Rather, Irwin, Woodford, Westcott, Yarker and the other occultists regarded their researches as legitimate grist for QC’s mills, and their views as worthy of discussion as any others. QC’s operations would have been poorer without them, indeed they appear to have been a large part of the reason the Lodge survived its first years.

 

Intelligence and EF Part Company

 

The peak of the Empire’s geo-political influence can be located in the decade between Queen Victoria’s two Jubilee celebrations, ‘Golden’ in 1887 and ‘Diamond’ in 1897. It can be measured comparatively easily as can its media image which continued to build in the 20th century. EF’s importance as an adjunct to the Empire, as opposed to its public presence, is much harder to assess. The parallel arcs of the Empire’s rise and fall and that of the hidden EF are clear enough but just how is cause and effect to be assessed? Military accomplishments of individual soldiers have been debated at length and criteria for success or failure have been at least agreed to, but just who among the prominent EFs featured in this account most closely exemplifies the Orders’ geo-politics?

That efficiency of the English/British military machine had greatly declined was often asserted towards the end of Victoria’s reign, but so was the transcending valour of the men involved. It would seem to me to be the case that the reality was the same as it had been for hundreds of years and that only the function of the rhetoric had changed. Whenever they fought, the English/British Army and Navy were successful or not because of their strengths relative to those of their opposition. Across their history, resources invested, techniques used and the quality of application depended on the same dynamic interchange of individuals and social forces. At times they were in the ascendancy and sometimes not. Yet, it is undeniable, that in the 1880’s and ’90’s, power relations beyond the relative size and skill of the protagonists began to shift to the Empire’s disadvantage and that they continued to shift in the 20th century. I leave the ‘foreign relation’ causes of the shift to others. I am concerned here only with the relationship between Britain’s power and influence and English Freemasonry.

The Empire didn’t reach a certain extension and then begin to shrink because UGLE changed policies or because EF suffered from scandal or decay internally. The only change relevant to the relationship was the professionalisation of the armed forces which meant the usefulness of EF was diminished. The public clamour around the Empire and the military took on a life of its own, being no longer tethered directly to the core political process, and allowed EF to continue on as before in public as though nothing had altered. The two processes are distinct and need to be considered separately though they are obviously connected.

It was circumstances, not inherent uniqueness, which had given EF a significance in the task of Empire building – the odd collection of elements of which it was composed gave it a practical value which disappeared once the military moved to professionalise itself. EF’s cloak of secrecy, its capacity for conviviality, its strange and particular disciplines and its location within the higher reaches of the social hierarchy gave it an air of ambiguity and a sense of purpose which made it useful to ambitious men, and especially those who felt they were on a mission. It combined an idealism which could be used to rouse and to exhort, with a capacity to deceive, mislead and bamboozle ‘outsiders’, those not in the secret, whatever the secret might be said to be at any given moment. It remains now a phenomenon of idealism with a capacity to deceive but towards the end of the 19th century it not only lost its practical usefulness for imperial decision-makers, but it thereby lost its most enthusiastic advocates, the movers and shakers of Empire. The ideals could continue after 1900 but EF was no longer needed to implement them.

The loss of use centred on the intelligence-gathering function. Of course, government espionage didn’t slacken. As just one twig in the whole tree, after a hiatus in its work between 1885 and 1890 when it was barred by the Porte, the PEF had resumed its intelligence role but once Walter Besant had given up the Honorary Secretaryship in 1895 it appears to have had no involvement with EF. Elsewhere, John Biddulph (1840-1921) based in Kashmir in the 1870’s and 80’s, organised a spy network to gather up information across an area from Samarkand to the Pathan tribal enclaves. A career soldier, then ostensibly an ornithologist, the official view of his work and that of his numerous colleagues was: ‘It is necessary that researches in those countries [on the northern borders of India] should be conducted by secret Agents’…[dxliii] The English/British spy who in 1916 assisted in the assassination of Rasputin, the holy adviser to the Russian tzarina, had taken ‘the Great Game’ to the Russian heartland.[dxliv] Hopkirk highlighted the continued use of the 19th century model with a 20th century example: ‘In the autumn of 1908…British intelligence chiefs in Simla began to take an interest in the movements of two young Japanese archaeologists who had turned up on the Silk Road…(The) men had been observed from the moment they entered Chinese Turkestan overland from Peking…(They) were shadowed for over a year by a succession of Moslem traders, native servants and others on the pay-roll of the Indian Government…Regular reports on their movements…were compiled in Kashgar…carried across the Karakoram (pass) by runner with the official mail to…Kashmir, for onward transmission to Simla.’ [dxlv] He might have quoted from Wignall’s account of his ‘Welsh Himalayan Expedition’ of 1955 being recruited ‘by a covert faction within Indian Intelligence to report on Chinese military operations in newly-invaded Tibet.’ [dxlvi] Wignall was a Fellow of the RSG.

Loss of imperial momentum and the neutralisation of EF as a vehicle for covert activities did not end its ceremonial nexus with the Army. In 1887, the then Field Marshall Sir Garnett, 1st Viscount Wolseley was installed Junior Grand Warden of UGLE, images of Kitchener were sold widely after 1902 and he was broadly feted, as Empire hero: ‘Imperial troops occupied Bloemfontein in March 1900, and on St George’s Day, 23 April of that year, an historic meeting of Lodge Rising Star was held in the Masonic Hall in that city.’ With a German national, W Bro I H Haarburger, presiding, those attending included Kitchener, Lord Casterton (then the Grand Secretary of the Irish Constitution) and, to quote a contemporary news report, ‘a goodly number of military masons from all parts of the Empire’, including ‘Australians and Tasmanians’. Apologies were received from Field Marshal Lord Roberts, who was by then both Commander-in-Chief for South Africa and a Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England. Late-19th century EF was enthusiastically identifying itself with the ‘superior national traits’ allegedly represented by the best known military figures: ‘…We may think, and not without pardonable pride, of the illustrious names in connection with the war, which are no less illustrious in the annals of Masonry. Among these are LORD ROBERTS, LORD KITCHENER, SIR GEORGE WHITE, GENERAL HUNTER, GENERAL RUNDLE, SIR CHARLES WARREN, VISCOUNT VALENTIA, and LIEUT. NORWOOD who received the Victoria Cross for gallant conduct during the siege of Ladysmith.’ (Emphases in original) So convinced was this writer that military prominence equalled Masonic worth that he urged ‘our Most Worshipful Grand Master, himself a soldier of renown’ [by then Lord Connaught had succeeded the Prince of Wales/Edward IV] to confer ‘some special order of merit or some special jewel or other insignia’ on those brethren ‘who have conferred such lustre on the Order.’ This 20th century jingoism was accompanied by continued opposition to German views of Masonic history and to ‘authentic’ history, as we have seen.

The mystique of ‘Freemasonry’ continued to play a role. With the 1st WW breaking out in Europe, TE Lawrence was held back until his report on The Wilderness of Zinn was completed and made available to Kitchener. He was then sent to Cairo to become part of a new intelligence unit under Lieutenant Newcombe, RE, within the ‘British Egyptian Expeditionary Force’. (LiA, 2013, p.86) where, in Lawrence’s word, Kitchener used the PEF ‘to whitewash’ military surveys in Egypt and surrounding areas. Lawrence and Leonard Woolley were officially employed by the PEF, at Kitchener’s instructions, to survey Sinai ‘under cover of which Captain Newcombe could continue his military work.’ They were pulled out by Kitchener when the Turkish Government became aware of the deception and issued threats. [dxlvii] A recent account put it this way: ‘Although it was technically true that Lawrence and Woolley were in southern Palestine in search of biblical ruins, that project was merely a fig-leaf for a far more sensitive one, an elaborate covert operation being run by the British military.’ The Ottoman government knew of the PEF biblical survey since they had approved it, ‘but they knew nothing of the five British military survey teams operating under the PEF banner…’ (LiA, 2013, p.12)

A note by Lawrence to British Commander Liddell Hart in 1916 included comments on embassy officials: ‘The Ambassadors were Lowther (an utter dud) and Louis Mallet who was pretty good and gave fair warning of the trend of feeling.’ Lowther’s belief that ‘political events had hidden implications and esoteric explanations’ was set out in a letter on ‘the mysteries of the Judeo-masonic and Young Turk conspiracy’ he had sent to his superiors, on 29 May, 1910. Prompted by ‘the rumoured appointment of Mohammed Farid’ as delegate in Egypt of the ‘Constantinople Freemasons’ he wrote on the ‘strain of continental freemasonry’ running through the Young Turk movement: ‘I do so privately and confidentially, as this new Freemasonry in Turkey, unlike that of England and America, is in great part secret and political, and information on the subject is only obtainable in strict confidence, while those who betray its political secrets seem to stand in fear of the hand of the Mafia…’. [dxlviii] Lowther spoke of ‘our Freemasonry’ and of EF as the ‘true Freemasonry’, that is, as though he was a brother. His major concern was that Jews and ‘crypto-Jews’, bent on reforming the Turkish government and on restoring their people to Israel/Palestine, had been working clandestinely and had recruited supporters under false pretences, namely, they had mis-represented ‘Freemasonry’ by taking up with the ‘atheistical’ and ‘political’ continental form.

Six years later, Lawrence linked ‘much of our ineffectiveness’ to a third British official’s rabid hate for ‘Freemasons and Jews’: ‘I blame much of our ineffectiveness upon Fitzmaurice, the Dragoman [adviser and trouble-shooter], an eagle-mind and a personality of iron vigour’. Fitzmaurice was a career ‘intelligence agent’, not in the field but as interpreter, translator and advisor. In Turkey from the 1890’s and in Constantinople from 1907, he was an industrious and efficient spy-master. Lawrence again: ‘Fitzmaurice had lived half a lifetime and was the Embassy’s official go-between and native authority. He knew everything and was feared from end to end of Turkey. Unfortunately, he was a rabid R.C. and hated Freemasons and Jews with a religious hatred. The Young Turk movement was fifty per cent crypto-Jew and ninety-five per cent Freemason. So he regarded it as the devil and threw the whole influence of England over to the unfashionable Sultan and his effete palace clique.’ (Kedourie 1974, p.247).

Kedourie, the scholar, dismissed both Lowther and Fitzmaurice: ‘…The fustian fantasies recorded in this document [of 29 May] are worth noticing for their own sake, for they exhibit the extremes of credulity to which succumbed the two men to whom the foreign secretary looked for the provision of reliable information about an important and sensitive area. The document shows how tenuous was their hold on reality…’. [dxlix]

The vain glorious claims of insiders and the bizarre conspiracy theories of outsiders went on, despite the realities, as they always had. In what Afrikaners called ‘The Second War of Independence’ and Englishmen called ‘The Boer War’, Britain’s military numbers were around seven times greater than their opponents yet they did not prevail. The fighting showed that Boer equipment, tactics and organisation were superior and that the Boers were better mounted and more used to living off the land. The Boer generals were often old and/or incompetent but the rank-and-file were generally superb marksmen, used to rapid fire, flexible enough to use flight as a strategy, and above all, were skilled at bush reconnaissance – espionage in a form not taught at Addiscombe or Sandhurst: ‘The British, with one or two exceptions, underrated their opponents, and held the view that the Boers would never stand up to a cavalry charge. This of course was true but the Boers fled not because they had been defeated but because they preferred to live to fight another day in a position of greater advantage.’

Conan Doyle, doctor-in-charge of the Bloemfontein Military Hospital during the war, wrote of failures of British military thinking: ‘The idea that an infantry soldier is a pikeman has never quite departed in our army. He is still to march in step as the pikemen did, to go steadily shoulder to shoulder, to rush forward with his pike advanced. All this is mediaeval and dangerous…The taking of cover, the most important of all infantry exercises, appears to be even more neglected than our musketry…Lances, swords, and revolvers have only one place, the museum.’ His initiation into EF and his experiences of it had led to his seeking something else. His time in South Africa produced a conclusion similar to that of Baden-Powell’s, as described by Rosenthal: ‘…As the lessons of the Boer War were assimilated…(a) militaristic tone (became) a more regular feature of British life…While (Conan Doyle), with his Liberal instincts, did not believe in any form of compulsion, he had already (in 1902) committed himself to a reformed citizen army …rifle clubs, and he later… identified with…the Legion of Frontiersmen and the Boy Scouts.’ B-P had realised the need for a motivational element beyond EF to ensure fraternal discipline did not become robotic and meaningless. Through observation of the Boer, he had noted their personal attachment to their immediate context. Their skilful use of, and British blindness about bush-craft, illustrated the English/British preference for formalised, organisational discipline. To draw out my theme – Desagulier’s science demonstrations involved problem solving relevant to his time and place – plumbing, steam-generation and the like. Oliver’s concern with a priest’s locale – what he called ‘the manners, habits, propensities and amusements’ of community – was recognition of the same need for relevance. B-P’s experimental trials around Mafeking of what he had in mind were derided by his colleagues as aimless ‘wanderings at night.’ His provocative book, My Adventures as a Spy, was a how-to-do manual of an insight which nearly put him into jail. Between the summer of 1909 and the autumn of 1911 both MI5 and MI6 were set up, an updated Official Secrets Act was passed and the ‘D-Notice’ system to stop newspapers reporting anything on national security was devised.[dl]

Kipling was one who appeared to be in his element, metaphorically confronting the Boer – ‘squat, sturdy, spectacled, with black bushy eyebrows and a brown Boer hat’. He recited ballads at concerts for the troops at Mafeking and contributed to the making of Baden-Powell’s image. Baden-Powell was never initiated into Masonry, yet biographers have asserted both that Kipling was an indifferent Mason and that Baden-Powell borrowed heavily from K’s books and poems for the Masonry he, B-P allegedly put into his faux soldiers. It is known that in Mafeking, a bleak, nondescript town, the Masonic Lodge served variously as jail and concert hall. When ‘relieved’, B-P was promoted to General but not knighted, as Warren and others had been, but he was given a similar task. Where Warren went to London, Kitchener put B-P in charge of the Cape Colony police force, later the South African Constabulary. Rosenthal has noted: ‘Kitchener’s reports to Roberts (B-P’s commanding officer) on the efficiency of Baden-Powell and his (SAC) comprise one long lament:

“Baden-Powell does not appear to do anything with his SAC men beyond dressing

them up… I fear (he) is more outside show than sterling worth…” (5 April 1901)

B-P’s military career is remembered for that one event, ‘the siege of Mafeking’, because he was rescued in time where Gordon at Khartoum was not. In both cases, publicity has obscured the realities. Recent scholars have argued that B-P ruthlessly played favourites within his own staff, and brutalised, starved and exploited the natives in his care: ‘Baden-Powell in the legend is portrayed as a generous, compassionate, fair and wise leader. His lack of compassion toward black people is well-documented. But what is little recorded is his cruelty to those he disliked…Nor was he fair… So blatant was the ungraciousness and dishonesty of Baden-Powell, who owed more to black support than any other British commander, that the outraged white residents of Mafeking took up their cause with the British authorities.’ Regarded as ‘a dangerous eccentric’ by military inner circles, B-P actively prepared for his life beyond Kitchener by utilising ‘the Siege’ to escape what its publicists were claiming it represented. He was turning what was a failure into ‘just the sort of yarn we want for the campfire (as part of) ‘the great work towards the prevention of misery and crime’. The siege was essential to his plan because it gave him the fame needed to attract boys to his scheme for repairing the damage which that old world had produced: ‘…Order, fitness, courage, brotherhood and a refusal to admit defeat were the underbelly of the Boy Scouts movement he launched in 1907′ A decade after the dismal efforts in Africa, and while he, personally, was under-cover in Turkey, sketching forts and the like, his ideas began to gain wide support. Rosenthal again: ‘The Boer War…succeeded in focusing both internal and external threats in a visible and disturbing way, and through the trauma it inflicted on British self-confidence, helped establish the mood of national crisis that was precisely the culture in which the Scouting movement could best grow.’

B-P had been thinking of his place in history in his youth and even of the possibilities of a scouting-type initiative. He had worked out that he could build his fame by seeming to distance himself from the military culture which had produced him, and focus on what he identified as a debilitating weakness at the heart of English society: ‘For Scouting was from the very beginning conceived as a remedy to Britain’s moral, physical and military weakness – conditions that the Boer War seemed to announce – especially to Tory politicians, social imperialists and military leaders – were threatening the Empire…Military ineptitude in the field was matched by domestic and industrial inefficiency at home; both were fostered by the decline of the manly British character previously responsible for the country’s greatness.’ Similar organisations to the Scouts which formed in the 1880’s, such as the Boys’ Brigade, the St John’s Ambulance, the YMCA, and the Salvation Army, grew from a generalised fraternalism coloured by the militarist rhetoric. That many apparent hard-heads, such as Annie Besant, ‘Chinese’ Gordon, the police agents Monro and Anderson, sought solace in mysticism and ancient traditions is not the point. All were seeking group identity, fraternal connections, a common goal which could no longer be satisfied by EF, or by what EF had become.

Conservative Government leader Salisbury has been credited with a sardonic attitude towards ‘soldiers in general and generals in particular’ and to have predicted in 1864 that the British Army, ‘with its poker-like attitudes’ was entirely unfitted ‘for a bush war with savages.’ He was prevented from innovating, he argued, by his generals, headed by the Duke of Cambridge, who believed their own hype – ‘Beaconsfieldism – precipitate flash and valour.’ Salisbury claimed credit for bringing home ‘the over-zealous’ Warren in 1885, and was not surprised when Warren suffered the ignominy of a defeat at Spion Kop, ‘so severe that it led to a six-day debate’ in parliament. Detractors said he should never have been recalled to active service: ‘Perhaps the most incompetent general of the war, Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren, a fifty-nine year old on the retired list, the soldier Salisbury had recalled from Bechuanaland and the police commissioner who failed to catch Jack the Ripper or prevent Bloody Sunday, took twenty six hours to cross the Tugela River, allowing the Boers to reinforce their position tenfold.’ There was more to the criticism: ‘He sent his troops forward without machine guns, sandbags or a field-telegraph unit, and with only twenty picks and shovels to entrench 2,000 men. The Lancashire Brigade were ordered to halt on the wrong hill peak in a fog, where they were massacred…’ The meticulous planner of Egypt had, it seems, become a tired, disillusioned refugee from his own past, not able to and perhaps not wanting to bolster his or the Empire’s heroic image any further. The publicity machine was manipulating ‘history’ to suit personal agendas, but most importantly here, it was obscuring a simple reality. This was that he no longer had his brotherhood with him. The peak of EF’s influence and direct involvement with ‘the government’ had passed. It was no longer necessary for a soldier, or even useful for a government agent to be a ‘Freemason’. The career and the beliefs of another ‘Wilson’, this one Sir Arnold Wilson, 1884-1940, closely paralleled that of Sir Robert and Sir Charles, the difference being that he, the last of the three, was not an initiated brother. He held to the same views, however: ‘Before the Great War, my generation served men who believed in the righteousness of the vocation to which they had been called, and we shared their belief. They were the priests, and we were the acolytes of a cult – Pax Britannica – for which we worked happily and if need be died gladly. Curzon, at his best, was our spokesman and Kipling, our inspiration.’ [dli] Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India after Lord Ripon, 1898-1903, was not a ‘Freemason’ either.

In his Autobiography, Walter Besant, like Simpson, made little of QC. He recalled it as: ‘an archaeological lodge consisting of nine persons of which I was one. It was proposed to carry this on as a medium for historical papers on all points connected with the (Craft)…’ He credited ‘the Secretary’ with having developed this lodge, but says that it was only at an 1890’s reception in Albany, New York that he realised ‘the great success and the widespread influence’ of the Lodge. He referred to none of his co-founders by name except in their non-QC roles, eg, that of Warren in Africa. Similarly, his London in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1909 though written in 1898, mentions ‘Masonry’ only once, and that is of Freemasons Hall being available for public use. [dlii] (p.274)

From the perspective of the 21st century, EF’s and QC’s refusal of direct contact with ‘the poor and the outcast’ seems un-remarkable. It is now ‘the norm’, almost the respectable thing, for the benevolent classes to make donations at arm’s length. However, the enormous attention being paid to social issues in the 1880’s and the proximity of QC’s meeting place to the dramatic events in London as it made its debut make EF’s silence and QC’s lack of public engagement notable.

PART THREE: Conclusion

The Euro-centric version of the ‘march of progress’ teaches that a rational or scientific method, begun by the likes of Francis Bacon, was shaped in the 18th century, as far as studying the past to learn how to deal with the future was concerned, by Voltaire, Vico and Kant, among others. [dliii] In the early years of the nineteenth century, Augustin Thierry, searching for a new way to deal with history’s major themes, believed he had found it in Sir Walter Scott’s novels, such as Ivanhoe.[dliv] The creation of British India produced notable civil servants curious to understand the sub-continent in order to influence government policies. Sir Charles Malcolm, John Mill, senior, and Mountstuart Elphinstone were BEIC men who studied, analysed and then applied their insights to the production of better, ie, less-corrupt and more people-relevant governance standards and practices. This dynamic process was not sustained, with the result that by the late-19th century German historians were doing ‘scientific history’ but leading English historians were rejecting the concept because, they claimed, it was Prussian in origin. A lodge of research might have fuelled a radical rethink, but QC’s founders were mature, some even elderly when they eventually got together, meaning that their views were those of the world in which they had grown up. In the founding circle there was only one, perhaps a surprising, exception to that general rule but even he did not stray far, and the stamp QC put on subsequent EF research has, unfortunately, proved enduring.

QC was EF’s chance to learn from its past, to correct errors or to attempt a rejuvenation. The available evidence shows that:

* beliefs brought to QC by the founders in 1886 were not conducive to an open-ended sense of learning;

* a determination to inaugurate ‘authentic history’ was not included in QC’s aims or objects;

* neither as first Worshipful Master and co-founder of Lodge QC nor as Chief Commissioner of Police did Warren grasp the clearly available opportunities to discuss, let alone introduce a more scientific approach to his tasks;

* none of his QC co-founders urged him to adopt a more scientific approach;

* the founders came to QC with no idea of what was required administratively;

* UGLE had no interest in progressing Masonic research.

By the 1880’s imperial rhetoric, an assumed superiority in all things and unquestioning allegiance to ‘the authorities’, secular and religious, negated any chance QC had for independent thinking. Inconsistent with the scientific method, which is at least implied by the notion of ‘authentic history’, the status-quo was destructive of what potential QC might have had and was adding to the stasis and decay already in play within EF. What was assumed to be true was believed sufficient and the tools of learning – original documents, museums and libraries – were devalued. The ‘Old Charges’ were assiduously pursued and preserved since they provided an illusion of research and protected against the worst of the ancient religion advocates, while other guild documents such as those used by Toulmin Smith and Brentano were not regarded of sufficient value even to salvage. Already in poor condition when first used, they were still ‘in melancholy mildew and decay’ a decade later.

The founders of QC constructed a financial vice around Lodge 2076 and then set the squeeze in motion by making the subscription rate too low to cover costs. They then locked themselves in to the printing and distribution of a substantial record each year to all ‘members’ many of whom had not paid, and who then had to be pursued. The falling member numbers for EF, and the weakness of QC finances and its failure to change the culture of EF, are results of ‘the fall’ not the fall itself.

The evidence also shows that over three centuries UGLE has made no attempt to critically examine itself but installed and then maintained a politically partisan and reactionary path wherein conformity was the criterion for truth, and disobedience to authority a breach of faith which brought penalties. The prohibitions on lodge discussion of religion or politics within a profoundly religious and politically-explicit EF culture have rendered attempts at internal reform impossible and stymied any enthusiasm present in other research lodges. Overtly religious Freemasons at GL level have striven for political dominance of ‘their’ particular interpretation while in individual lodges an uncomfortable alliance has prevented attempts to take alternative interpretations seriously and has rendered EF’s declaration of religious tolerance a sham.

Let me be clear. EF can be Anglican, Catholic, Buddhist or Calathumpian, or any combination thereof it chooses. The internal decay has derived from a lack of consistency which, in turn, has been the result of a lack of integrity. After three centuries, with recent audiences better informed and more likely to check for itself, the gap between EF’s claims and its practice has become obvious to the point of caricature. In the 19th century it was still possible to point to expansion and growth in response to questions of credibility. In the 20th and 21st centuries it was and is no longer possible to use numbers as a fig-leaf.

The scattered signs of interest in evidence-based, Masonic research in the years before QC might have convinced an outward-looking and confident UGLE that it could build on work already done and consolidate its claim to the ownership of the idea of ‘Freemasonry’ by scientific methods. The brothers Oliver and Crucefix had wanted EF to notice ‘the manners, habits, propensities and amusements’ of the people with whom it co-existed. They failed to convince what Prescott has called ‘the conservative wing’ of EF but ‘it’ just happened to be in control of UGLE. Prior to Carnarvon’s advent to EF leadership, the Order’s deep and continuous involvement with ‘the Establishment’ was perhaps amenable to re-direction. Perhaps he and his clique realised that EF’s active role in the power structure was being written out by new approaches developing in the military and the bureaucracy. His ‘Masonic Parliament’ idea was a logical extension of what UGLE had been doing, in the same way that a close combination of Britain’s colonies seemed possible and worth attempting around the same time. Neither scheme eventuated, and for the same reasons – the Empire’s expansion had reached its limits and EF was losing its political value as the idea of a professional meritocracy took hold. The rhetoric disguised the reality for a generation or so after Khartoum but without a substantial rethink of the product even the words had to come back to earth.

[i] E Batley, ‘Human rights and the masonic legacy’, in M Scanlan (ed), The Social Impact of Freemasonry on the Modern Western World, Vol 1, The Canonbury Papers, Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, 2000, p.21.

[ii] J Curl, The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry, Batsford, 1991, p.8.

[iii] W Weisberger, ‘John Theophilus Desagulier: Promoter of the Enlightenment and and of Speculative Freemasonry’, AQC, Vol 114, 2001, pp.65-96. See also, J Stokes, ‘Life of John Theophilus Desagulier’, AQC, Vol 38, 1925. Among many other examples – R Ng, ‘The Age of Enlightenment and Freemasonry’, on Pietre-Stones website, 2015; M Poll (ed), The Masonic Enlightenment – The Philosophy, History and Wisdom of Freemasonry, Cornerstone, 2006.

[iv] WA Laurie, ‘Preface’, The History of Freemasonry, Edinburgh, 1859, p.v.

[v] D Murray Lyon, Freemasonry in Scotland, 1873, p.2.

[vi] H Stillson & WJ Hughan, A History of Freemasonry and Concordant Orders, Boston, 1909, p.37.

[vii] M Kellerman, From Diamond Jubilee to Centenary History of Forty Years of the United Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in New South Wales 1948 – 1988, Vol IV, UGL of NSW, 1990, p.1.

[viii] N Chomsky, ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’, in American Power and the New Mandarins, Pelican, 1969, p.258

[ix] Chomsky, 1969, as above, p.103.

[x] R Evans, In Defence of History, Granta, 1997, p.3.

[xi] R Morris, in F Thompson (ed), The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950, 1990. p.401.

[xii] J Israel, The Enlightenment Contested, Oxford, 2006, pp.864-5.

[xiii] P Rich, ‘Margaret Jacob and Masonic Research’, in P Rich & M Jacob, Freemasonry’s Research Agenda, Proceedings of the Policy Studies Organisation, New Series No 30, 2015, p.1. For her ‘civil society’ theory, see her ‘Freemasonry and Government’ from p.15 in the same volume.

[xiv] K Loiselle, Brotherly Love, Cornell University Press, 2014, p.7.

[xv] Quoted in J Cole, Napoleon’s Egypt, Palgrave, 2007, p.42.

[xvi] D Sommer, Freemasonry in the Ottoman Empire, Tauris, 2015, p.1.

[xvii] See some discussion of these at J Snoek, ‘The Earliest Development of Masonic Degrees and Rituals: Hamill versus Stevenson’, in Scanlan, 2000, p.2, fn 8.

[xviii] I Kant, An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?, Penguin edn, 2009, p.1.

[xix] J Israel, The Enlightenment Contested, Oxford, 2006, pp.864-5.

[xx] ‘Concerning God and Religion’, Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, quoted in B Jones, Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium, various edns to 1965, p.183.

[xxi] R Gould, ‘History of the United Grand Lodge of England’, The History of Freemasonry, Vol III, p.7

[xxii] B Jones, Freemasons Guide and Compendium, 1956 revised edn, Harrap, p.192.

[xxiii] D Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry – Scotland’s Century 1590-1710, Cambridge UP, 1988, p.xiii; see also his The First Freemasons, Aberdeen UP, 1989.

[xxiv] J Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire, Chapel Hill, 2007, p.4, p.260.

[xxv] R Berman, The Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, Sussex Academic Press, 2012; and Schism, Sussex Academic Press, 2013.

[xxvi] R Berman, The Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, Sussex, 2012; Schism: The Battle that Forged Freemasonry, Sussex Academic, 2013; with more in press.

[xxvii] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Brill, 2011; Restoring the Temple of Vision, Brill, 2002.

[xxviii] R Berman, ‘Preface and Acknowledgements’, The Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, Sussex, 2012, np.

[xxix] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Secret Agent on Earth and in Heaven: Jacobites, Jews, and Freemasons in Early Modern Sweden, Leiden, Brill, 2012.

[xxx] J Curl, ‘Review’, The Times Higher Educational Supplement, 22 March, 2012; N Goodrick-Clarke, ‘Review’, Reviews in History, (on-line), April, 2012; AQC, Vol 115, 2003, pp.33-72; M Schuchard, ‘Response to Prescott’s Review’, Aries, 2004, 4, pp.184-203.

[xxxi] M Schuchard, Restoring the Temple of Vision – Cabalistic Freemasonry and Stuart Culture, Brill, 2002, p.442.

[xxxii] D Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry – Scotland’s Century, 1590-1710, CUP, 1988, p.8 and Ch 7.

[xxxiii] Loftus and Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, St Martins Griffin, 1994, p.23.

[xxxiv] A Sinclair, The Other Victoria: The Princess Royal and the Great Game of Europe, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1981, p.1.

[xxxv] J Haswell, Spies and Spy-masters, Thames and Hudson, 1977, pp.102-4.

[xxxvi] Quoted in newspapers in 1844 at time of the Mazzini mail interception controversy – eg in West Kent Guardian, 10 Aug, 1844.

[xxxvii] Quoted in P. Satia, Spies in Arabia, OUP, 2008, p.3.

[xxxviii] T Ferguson, British Military Intelligence, 1870-1914, University Publications of America, 1984, p.1.

[xxxix] H Douglas, Jacobite Spy Wars, Sutton, 1999, p.3.

[xl] L Smith, Treason in Tudor England – Politics and Paranoia, Cape, 1986, pp.179-181.

[xli] The Green Ribbon Club was a tavern-based network which signalled the emergence of English ‘party political’ propaganda. It staged street protests and sent pamphlets all over the country to support Whig policies.

[xlii] R Weil, A Plague of Informers, Yale, 2013, p.70.

[xliii] R Baden-Powell, My Adventures as a Spy, Pearson, 1915, p.11.

[xliv] R Weil, A Plague of Informers, Yale, 2013, p.118, for Matthew Smith’s 1699, Memoir of Secret Service; and for Kingston, see Ch 5, espec p.189.

[xlv] R Harris, An Officer and a Spy, Hutchinson, 2014, p.17, p.35.

[xlvi] E Volkman, The History of Espionage, Carlton, 2007, p.7.

[xlvii] Two books by Giles Milton, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, and Big Chief Elizabeth, set the scene.

[xlviii] A Hogge, God’s Secret Agents, Harper Collins, 2005, pp.124-125.

[xlix] J Cooper, The Queen’s Agent, Pegasus, 1913, p.11.

[l] ‘Sir Henry Pottinger’, Carlisle Journal, 4 Jan, 1845.

[li] See Weil, in particular – A Plague of Informers, Yale, 2013.

[lii] B Newman, Spy and Counter Spy, Robert Hale, 1970, p.13.

[liii] J Cooper, The Queen’s Agent, 2011; and D Blixt, Her Majesty’s Will, 2012, are examples.

[liv] Wikipedia site, ‘Robert Shirley’, viewed 12 Oct, 2015.

[lv] E Kritzler, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, Anchor, 2009, espec Ch 8.

[lvi] J Walker, PISTOLS! TREASON! MURDER! The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy, MUP, 2007, p.43-5.

[lvii] C Carter, The Secret Diplomacy of the Hapsburgs, 1598-1625, Columbia UP, 1964, p.4.

[lviii] N Akkerman, ‘The Postmistress, the Diplomat and a Black Chamber?’, in Adams and Cox, Diplomacy and Early Modern Culture, Palgrave, 2011, p.172.

[lix] K de Leeuw, ‘The Black Chamber in the Dutch Republic during the War of Spanish Succession and its Aftermath 1707-1715’, The Historical Journal, Vol 42, 1990.

[lx] M Ashley, John Wildman, Plotter and Postman, Cape, 1947.

[lxi] T Birch (ed), A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurpoe, Esqu, (etc) Vol 5, London 1742, p.18.

[lxii] See V Cronin, Catherine, Empress of all the Russias, Collins, 1978, pp.285-7.

[lxiii] Paraphrase by Peter Ackroyd, from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (1678), in London – A Biography, Vintage, 2001, p.307.

[lxiv] E Thompson, Whigs and Hunters, Peregrine, 1977, p.198.

[lxv] E Thompson, Whigs and Hunters, Penguin, 1975, p.178.

[lxvi] ‘Lecky’s Eighteenth Century’, The Times, 23 April, 1878, p.5.

[lxvii] E Pearce, The Great Man: Sir Robert Walpole, 2007, p.2, p.427.

[lxviii] O Field, The Kit-Kat Club, Harper Perennial, 2009, p.371.

[lxix] P Clark, British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800, Oxford, 2000, Ch 9, ‘Freemasons’.

[lxx] Information in this chapter from MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Brill, 2012, from p.100 +. The quote is from p.124.

[lxxi] R Berman, The Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, Sussex Academic, 2012, pp.143, 147, 149, 152.

[lxxii] See O Field, The Kit-Kat Club, Harper Perennial, 2008, pp.48-9, p.312 for one example among many of electoral corruption, and her references.

[lxxiii] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Brill, 2012, pp.64-5 for the RS’s chauvinism.

[lxxiv] N Kamil, Fortress of the Soul, John Hopkins Press, 2005, specially Ch’s 13 and 14.

[lxxv] G Holmes & D Szechi, The Age of Oligarchy Pre-Industrial Britain 1722-1783, Longman, 1993, Ch 1, espec pp.15-19.

[lxxvi] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Brill, 2012, pp.106-7, and pp.186-7.

[lxxvii] J Black, Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of George I, 1714-1727, Ashgate, 2014, p.32.

[lxxviii] O Field, The Kit-Kat Club, Harper, 2009, p.273.

[lxxix] R Berman, Schism: the Battle that Forged Freemasonry, Sussex Academic, 2013, p.1.

[lxxx] L Radzinowicz, A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750, 1948, I, p.77, quoted in E Thompson, Whigs and Hunters, Penguin, 1975, p.22.

[lxxxi] R Holmes, Dr Johnson and Richard Savage, Flamingo, 1994, p.44, p.161. See Berman, 2012, p.145 (Huddleston), p.157 (Lily).

[lxxxii] N Kamil, The Fortress of the Soul, John Hopkins, 2005, p.554, pp.718-20.

[lxxxiii] A Prescott, ‘Relations Between the Grand Lodges of England and Sweden During the Long Eighteenth Century’, Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Vol 3, No 2 (2012), p.189.

[lxxxiv] MK Schuchard, Emanuel Swedenborg, Brill, 2012, p.235, p.294, p.303.

[lxxxv] IS Leadam, ‘Walpole, Sir Robert, 1676-1745’, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol 59, pp.201-207.

[lxxxvi] R Berman, Schism: The Battle that Forged Freemasonry, Sussex Academic, 2013, pp.4-5.

[lxxxvii] T Ferguson, British Military Intelligence, 1870-1974, Univ Publishers of America, 1984, p.9.

[lxxxviii] M Baigent & R Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge, Arrow, 1998, p.276.

[lxxxix] RF Gould, Military Lodges The Apron and the Sword, 1899, pp.157-8.

[xc] RF Gould, ‘Military Masonry’, in Freemasons Chronicle, 1 Jan, 1880, p.4, and ‘Military Lodges’, in Freemasons Chronicle, 1 July, 1880, p.2.

[xci] J Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire, Temple Hill Press, 2007, p.33.

[xcii] DM Lyon, History of the Lodge Of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No 1, Gresham, 1900, pp.204-9; and at pp.187-192 in the 1859 edn; WA Laurie, History of Free Masonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, 1859;   pp.178-9.

[xciii] R Rea, The English Press in Politics 1760-1774, U of Nebraska, 1963, p.23.

[xciv] R Rea, The English Press in Politics 1760-1774, U of Nebraska Press, 1963, pp.26-7.

[xcv] J Brewer, Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Ascension of George III, CUP, 1976, espec Ch 9, espec. p.194.

[xcvi] See W. Rubenstein, ‘The End of “Old Corruption” in Britain, 1780-1860’, Past and Present, No 101, Nov, 1983; P Harling, ‘Rethinking “Old Corruption”, Past and Present, No 147, May, 1995.

[xcvii] D Worrall, Radical Culture, Wayne State College Press, 1992, p.7.

[xcviii] D Erdman, Blake: Prophet Against Empire, Doubleday, 2nd edn 1969, p.49.

[xcix] P Roth, Masonry in the Formation of Our Government, 1761-1799, 1927, p.15.

[c] H Stillson (Chief editor), History of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, and Concordant Orders, Boston, revised 1898.

[ci] See whole issue of Lumieres, No 22, Bordeaux UP, 2014.

[cii] WJ Fitzpatrick, Secret Service Under Pitt, 1892.

[ciii] J Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy..etc, 1797; A Baruel, Memoires pour servir a l’histoire du jacobinisme, 1797. For relevant discussion see, J Harlan-Jacob, Builders of Empire, U of Nth Carolina, 2007, p.138.

[civ] Lord Roseberry, Pitt, Macmillan, 1910, p.167.

[cv] M Van Vlack, Silas Deane Revolutionary War Diplomat and Politician, McFarland, 2014.

[cvi] J Haswell, Spies and Spymasters, Thames & Hudson, 1977, pp.56-7.

[cvii] See T Schaeper, Edward Bancroft – Scientist, Author, Spy, Yale, 2011.

[cviii] Letter 433, 31 Dec, 1777, p.109; Letter 511, 14 July, 1788, Correspondence from King George III to Lord North, Vol 2, various edns.

[cix] S Bernis, ‘British Secret Service and the French-American Alliance’, Amer Hist Review, April, 1924, pp.474-495.

[cx] Mirabeau’s Secret History of the Court of Berlin reviewed by R Johnston, ‘Mirabeau’s Secret Mission to Berlin’, American Historical Review, V 6, No 2, 1901, pp.240-1.

[cxi] K Jensen, Revolution and the Antiquarian Book: Re-Shaping the Past, 1780-1815, Cambridge, 2014.

[cxii] ‘Oration on Masonry’, Freemasons Magazine, Aug, 1793. Robison’s book was reviewed in Freemason’s Magazine in November, 1797, and no doubt elsewhere.

[cxiii] F Gilbert, The “New Diplomacy” of the Eighteenth Century, 1951; L & M Frey, ‘The Reign of the Charlatans is Over – the French Revolutionary Attack on Diplomatic Practice’, Jnl of Modern History, Vol65, No 4, Dec, 1993

[cxiv]   J Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire, Chapel Hill, 2007, p.137.

[cxv] D Erdman, Blake: Prophet Against Empire, Doubleday, 2nd edn 1969, p.13.

[cxvi] Freemasons Magazine, July, 1794, pp.4-6.

[cxvii] ‘Declaration of Loyalty from Grand Lodge, 6 February, 1793,’ The Freemasons Magazine, Vol 1, June, 1793, p.17.

[cxviii] For ‘Lord Malmesbury’s Embassy’, see from 1793; ‘House of Commons’, The Freemasons Magazine, Feb, 1797, p.57.

[cxix] ‘Chronological Account of the Principal Occurrences’, The Freemasons Magazine, Dec, 1798, p.135.

[cxx] ‘Biographical Sketch of HRH Prince Wm Frederick of Gloucester’, The Scientific Magazine and Freemasons Repository, July, 1797, p.4. In 1816 he married a daughter of George III becoming the sovereign’s son-in-law while also being his nephew.

[cxxi] M Durey, ‘Lord Glenville and ‘the Smoking Gun’ – the Plot to Assassinate the French Directory in 1798-99 Reconsidered’, The Historical Journal, Vol 45, 2002, pp.547-568.

[cxxii] B Hilton, A Mad, Bad and Dangerous People?, Clarendon, 2006, p.44, p.51, quoting H Barker, Newspapers, Politics and Public Opinion in Eighteenth Century England, OUP, 1998, p.23; L Werkmeister, The London Daily Press, 1772-1792, Nebraska, 1963, pp.78-108, 139, 268, 317-8, 331; A Aspinall, Politics and the Press, c1780-1850, 1949, pp.126-7.

[cxxiii] D Ginter, Whig Organisationin the General Election of 1790, Calif, 1967, and ‘The Financing of the Whig Party Organisation’, 1783-1793’, Amer Hist Review, 71, 1965-6, pp.421-40. See also A Aspinall, Politics and the Press, 1780-1850, p.68, quoted in Waterloo Register of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, Series 2, Vol 4.

[cxxiv] Quotes and commentary in J Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790’s, OUP, 2006, pp.5-7.

[cxxv] J Keane, Tom Paine A Political Life, Bloomsbury, 1996, pp.334-337.

[cxxvi] N Rogers, ‘Burning Tom Paine: Loyalism and Counter-Revolution in Britain, 1792-3’, Social History,1997, pp.169-171, or his Crowds, Culture and Politics in Georgian Britain, Clarendon, 1998. Hilton, 2006, refers to ‘an official press campaign to discredit Paine’, p.69.

[cxxvii] Aspinall, 1949, pp.68-9, 78-9, 203-6; L Werkmeister, A Newspaper History of England, 1792-3, Nebraska, 1967, pp.118-9, 170-2; Archbishop John Moore to Auckland, 22 May, 1792, in Auckland, Journal, ii, pp.407-8

[cxxviii] Hilton, 2006, p.69 quoting R Dozier, For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution, Kentucky, 1983, pp.51-4; Ehrman, ii, 213-17; E Sparrow, ‘The Alien Office, 1792-1806’, HJ, 33, 1990, 361-84.

[cxxix] A Cobban, ‘British Secret Service in France’, Eng Hist Review, Vol 69, April, 1954, pp.226-261.

[cxxx][cxxx] K Johnston, The Hidden Wordsworth, Norton, 1998, fn, p.433.

[cxxxi] A Cobban, Ambassadors and Secret Agents: The Diplomacy of the First Earrl of Malmesbury at the Hague, Cape, 1954, p.110.

[cxxxii] Hilton, 2006, p.84-5, quoting E Sparrow, Secret Service: British Agents in France, 1792-1815, Woodbridge, 1997, pp.217-22, pp.169-71; H Mitchell, The Underground War Against Revolutionary France – The Mission of William Wickham, 1794-1800, OUP, 1965, pp.237-43.

[cxxxiii] E Bruce, Napoleon and Josephine, Phoenix, 1995, p.249.

[cxxxiv] Perhaps an agent of Canning’s rather than ‘the government’ as a whole – C Duckworth, The D’Antraigue Phenomenon, Avero, 1986, pp.194-5, pp.206-217.

[cxxxv] RH Gronow, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, London, 1862.

[cxxxvi] P Stern, The Company State, OUP, 2011, has one sentence on the ‘Secret Committee’, p.71

[cxxxvii] CH Philips, The East India Company, 1784-1834, Univ of Manchester, 1961 (1st edn 1940), pp.30-31.

[cxxxviii] R Knight, Britain Against Napoleon, Allen Lane, 2013, p.145.

[cxxxix] A Prescott, ‘A Body Without a Soul? The Philosophical Outlook of British Freemasonry 1700-2000’, paper to conferences, 2003, p.4, (available at Pietre-Stones website).

[cxl] C Macdonald, Warren The Bond of Brotherhood, Self-published, Singapore, 2007, p.10+.

[cxli] E Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh, Cass, 1966, p.21.

[cxlii] R Gould, The History of Freemasonry, Vol III, Edinburgh, nd, p.343, and fn, quoting from The Times, 27 Sept, 1881.

[cxliii] E Kedourie, ‘Religion and Politics: the Diaries of Khalil Sakahini’, St Anthony’s Papers, Vol 4, 1958, p.81.

[cxliv] M Edney, Mapping the Empire, U of Chicago, 1997, p.1.

[cxlv] W Dalrymple, White Mughals, Harper, 2002, p.103, pp.137-8.

[cxlvi] A Ward, Our Bones Are Scattered, Murray, 1996, p.104.

[cxlvii] ‘India’, Freemason Quarterly Review, June, 1839, p.145 .

[cxlviii] H Brands, The First American, Anchor, 2000, pp.608-11 (Bancroft); p.113, pp.613-15 (Franklin).

[cxlix] The Life of Sir Robert Wilson, Vol 1, London, 1862, p.193.

[cl] Raffles to Minto, June 1811, quoted in V Glendinning, Raffles and the Golden Opportunity, Profile, 2012, p.84.

[cli] See a typical Masonic version of this story by C Haffner, ‘Eastern Masonic Frontiers Before the Union’, AQC, Vol 104, 1991, pp.24-27.

[clii] V Glendinning, Raffles and the Golden Opportunity, Profile, 2012, p.130.

[cliii] T Hannigan, Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, Monsoon, 2012, pp.231-2.

[cliv] An exemplar of the same attitudes who was neither ruthless nor a Mason was securing Ceylon for the Empire. John D’Oyley, 1774-1824, used guile and extensive intelligence-gathering networks to subdue the Kandyan King in his mountain stronghold without firing a shot. See B & Y Gooneratne, This Inscrutable Englishman, Cassell, 1999.

[clv] R Gould, The History of Freemasonry, Vol III, Edinburgh, nd, p.338.

[clvi] B Wilson, Decency and Disorder, 1789-1837, Faber & Faber, 2007, p.177.

[clvii] H Algar, ‘An Introduction to the History of Freemasonry in Iran’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 6, No 3, Oct, 1970, pp.276-296.

[clviii] W Dalrymple, White Mughals, Harper Press, 2002, p.46.

[clix] Refer JS Curl, Art and Architecture of Freemasonry, Batsford, 2002; S Moser, Designing Antiquity, Yale, 2012; ‘Cleopatra’s Needle in London’, The Freemason, 9 Feb, 1878, p.17.

[clx] See papers, incl PRO 30/57/5, ‘Sinai Peninsula Survey and London Politics’, Kitchener Papers, 1884. The Royal Engineers trace their origins back to the military engineers brought to England by William the Conqueror, claim over 900 years of unbroken service to the crown The origins of the modern corps lie in the Board of Ordnance established in the 15th century and which in 1717 established a Corps of Engineers, consisting entirely of commissioned officers. In 1787, the Corps of Engineers was granted the Royal prefix. In 1855 the Board of Ordnance was abolished and authority over the Royal Engineers, Royal Sappers and Miners and Royal Artillery was transferred to the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, thus uniting them with the rest of the Army. The following year, the Royal Engineers and Royal Sappers and Miners became a unified corps as the Corps of Royal Engineers. In 1862 the corps also absorbed the British officers and men of the engineer corps of the East India Company. – this info from Wikipedia, Feb, 2014.

[clxi] M Edney, Mapping the Empire, U of Chicago, 1997, p.10.

[clxii] Morning Chronicle, 8 April, 1809.

[clxiii] H Vibart, Addiscombe – Its Heroes and Men of Note, Constable, 1894, p.90.

[clxiv] N Etherington, ‘Introduction’, Mapping Colonial Conquest, UWAP, 2007, p.1.

[clxv] J Harrington, Sir John Malcolm and the Making of British India, Palgrave, 2010, p.190, p.2.

[clxvi] R Burton, First Footsteps into Africa, Konemann, 2000, pp. 13-14.

[clxvii] ‘Chardstock –Great Festival’, Freemasons’ Quarterly Review, Sept, 1848, p.66.

[clxviii] Sandbach, Priest and Freemason, 1988, p.141.

[clxix] P Monod, ‘Thomas Carte, the Druids and British National Identity’, in Monod, Pittock & Szechi, Loyalty and Identity: Jacobites at Home and Abroad, Palgrave, 2010, p.136. See also A Prescott, 2003 paper ‘A Body Without a Soul?’.

[clxx] P James, ‘The Grand Mastership of the Duke of Sussex, 1813-1843’, AQC, Vol 75, 1962, p.37, p.53.

[clxxi] Letter, Sussex to Rev Clarke, undated in The Christian Observer, May, 1843, p.314.

[clxxii] Ed Note, ‘The Duke of Sussex and a Hebrew Poem’, AQC, Vol 75, 1962, p.58.

[clxxiii] The Standard, 24 Oct, 1833.

[clxxiv] Christian Observer, June, 1842, p.387; Aug, 1842, p.512.

[clxxv] West Kent Guardian, 10 Aug, 1844.

[clxxvi] Morning Chronicle, 27 June, 1844; see also Northern Star, 22 June, 1844, for long report of HoC debate on ‘Post Office Espionage’; West Kent Guardian, 10 August, 1844 ‘Post Office Espionage’.

[clxxvii] Morning Chronicle, 15 July, 1856.

[clxxviii] P Selth, ‘A Splendid Type of the Genuine English Gentleman’: Sir Frederick Pottinger, 1831-1865, Canberra Historical Society Journal, March, 1974, p.20; J Ure’s excellent precis of Pottinger’s memoirs are at ‘Henry Pottinger – The Make-Believe Holy Man’, in Shooting Leave, Constable, 2009, pp.1-19. Tom Pottinger died in the 1842 retreat from Kabul, while Eldred Pottinger survived.

[clxxix] ‘Sir Henry Pottinger’, Carlisle Journal, 4 Jan, 1845.

[clxxx] P Hopkirk, Quest for Kim, p.20. Elphinstone later wrote ‘An Account of the Kingdom of Caboul’.

[clxxxi] R Perry, The Queen, Her Lover and the Most Notorious Spy in History, A&U, 2014, p.105.

[clxxxii] Freemasons Quarterly Review, June, 1841, p.123, where see E’s installation, and June, 1839, p.145, where see quote.

[clxxxiii] M Downer, The Queen’s Knight, Bantam, 2007.

[clxxxiv] P Hopkirk, The Great Game, Kodansha, 1990, p.1 for first 3 quotes.

[clxxxv] Stoddart to ‘Capt Washington, 14 March, 1837’, copy from RGS, 8/2014. Atlas referred to was probably one of Aaron Arrowsmith’s, produced in London, from 1828.

[clxxxvi] J Harlan, A Memoir of India and Afghanistan, 1842, Philadelphia, pp.12, 16.

[clxxxvii] ‘Obituary’, Freemason’s Quarterly Review, March, 1842, p.68.

[clxxxviii] Many of the details, in this and previous paragraph, are in G Pottinger, An Afghan Connection, 1983.

[clxxxix] Wolff letter to Morning Herald, and dated 2 July, 1843, quoted in Meyer and Brysac, Tournament of Shadows, Counterpoint, 1999, p.129.

[cxc] See potted Wolff biography at Christian Observer, Jan, 1842.

[cxci] A Capt Codrington died at Kabul in 1842 massacre. See G Pottinger, An Afghan Connection, 1983, p.129.

[cxcii] West Kent Guardian, 30 Dec, 1843,

[cxciii] J Wolff, Narrative of a Mission to Bokhara, pp.132, 246.

[cxciv] J Wolff, Missionary Journal of the Reverend Joseph Wolff, 1829, iii, 87; and Researches and Missionary Labours Among the Jews, Mohammedans and Other Sects, 1835, p.41.

[cxcv] Freemason Quarterly Review, June, 1848, p.98.

[cxcvi] London Standard, 9 Feb, 1843.

[cxcvii] Inverness Courier, 24 Jan, 1844.

[cxcviii] ‘News of Some European Travellers Killed in Central Asia in Last Twenty Years’, sent to RGS with covering note, by ‘G Nuhlewein’, before being sent to Gen Rawlinson, 6 Feb, 1861, for comment.

[cxcix] G Pottinger, The Afghan Connection The Extraordinary Adventures of Major Eldred Pottinger, Scottish Academic Press, 1983.

[cc] ‘Arrival of the Overland Mail’, The Era, 9 Oct, 1842.

[cci] R Sandbach, quoting G Oliver’s ‘Valedictory Address’, 1850, in Priest and Freemason the Life of George Oliver, Aquarian, 1988, p.33. (There is no relation or connection between Dr Oliver and ‘Oliver the spy’.)

[ccii] Oliver is one of the first to describe Freemasonry as a ‘science’ – see R Sandbach, Priest and Freemason, Antiquarian, 1988, p.151.

[cciii] ‘The Connection Between Freemasonry and True Religion – Address to Lodge Greenlaw by Dist G Warden Simner’, FM&MM, Sept, 1870, p.3.

[cciv] Dr G Oliver, ‘On Freemasonry’, in Freemason Quarterly Review, March, 1842, p.30.

[ccv] Editorial, ‘Freemasonry in China’, Freemasonry’s Quarterly Review, June, 1845, from p.163.

[ccvi] AQC, Vol II, p.83.

[ccvii] R Sandbach, Priest and Freemason The Life of George Oliver, Aquarian, 1988, p.44.

[ccviii] S Sommers, ‘Robert Thomas Crucefix Redux’, JRFF, Vol 3, No 1, 2012, argues Crucefix was a ‘quack doctor’ fraudulently obtaining money for questionable medical services.

[ccix] Sandbach, 1988, as above, pp.60-1.

[ccx] See Oliver, ‘Obituary – Memoir of Dr Robert Thomas Crucefix’, FQR, Dec, 1850, from p.497.

[ccxi] R Sandbach, ‘Robert Thomas Crucefix 1788-1850’, AQC, Vol 102, (1989), p.150.

[ccxii] T Larsen, Contested Christianity: The Political and Social Context of Victorian Theology, Baylor Univ Press, 2004, p.3.

[ccxiii] Freemasons Quarterly Review, 30 Sept, 1837, pp.360-363.

[ccxiv] ‘Notes on Masonry in Bengal’, FQR, Dec, 1838, pp.465.

[ccxv] FQR, June, 1843, has Sussex Obituaries, and Crucefix reiteration of the charge, as well as remarks about dead King, and the ‘Maiden Queen.’

[ccxvi] Gleig, George R, Sale’s Brigade in Afghanistan, John Murray, 1879, p. 181.

[ccxvii] The Christian Observer, May, 1842, p.317.

[ccxviii] The Christian Observer, 1842, p.814.

[ccxix] ‘Political Summary of the Week’, Leeds Times, 13 Feb, 1841.

[ccxx] The Christian Observer, May, 1842, p.319.

[ccxxi] V Forbes & M Hercock, ‘Charting the Way to Empire – the Hydrographic Office’, in N Etherington, 2007, as above, p.39.

[ccxxii] S Rose, For All the Tea in China, Hutchinson, 2009.

[ccxxiii] R Burton, First Steps in East Africa, Koneman Travel Classics, 2000, p.13.

[ccxxiv] FM&MM, Sept, 1859, p.5.

[ccxxv] J Gooding, ‘The Politics of a Panorama’, in N Etherington (ed), Mapping Colonial Conquest – Australia and Southern Africa, UWAP, 2007, p.74.

[ccxxvi] M Lovell, A Rage to Live, Abacus, p.50.

[ccxxvii] H Lumsden, Lumsden of the Guides, letter home, 15 April, 1849, p.56.

[ccxxviii] ‘The Mahommedan Secret Societies’, in Pall Mall Gazette, 18 May, 1877.

[ccxxix] R Burton, The Arabian Nights, Modern Library, 2001, p.v; F Brodie, The Devil Drives, Penguin, 1971, p.67; S Dearden, The Arabian Knight, Baker, 1936, p.18.

[ccxxx] I Burton, Life of Captain Richard Burton, Vol 1, p.141.

[ccxxxi] R Burton, First Steps in East Africa, Ch 1, np.

[ccxxxii] M Campos, ‘Freemasonry in Ottoman Palestine’, Jerusalem Quarterly, 22/23, pp.39-40.

[ccxxxiii] H Algar, ‘An Introduction to the History of Freemasonry in Iran’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 6, No 3, Oct, 1970, pp.276-296.

[ccxxxiv] Blunt’s Secret History (1907), quoted in M Berdine, The Accidental Tourist, Routledge, 2005, p.15.

[ccxxxv] K Wissa, ‘Freemasonry in Egypt, 1798-1921: A Study in Cultural and Political Encounters’, Bulletin (British Society for Middle East Studies), V 16, No 2, 1989, pp.143-161.

[ccxxxvi] ‘Freemasonry and Politics’, The Freemason, May 1869.

[ccxxxvii] Information in this paragraph from J Ninet,, ‘Origin of the National Party in Egypt’, Nineteenth Century, Jan, 1883, p.126.

[ccxxxviii] P Hopkirk, The Great Game, Kodansha, 1990, p.5.

[ccxxxix] P Lumsden, Lumsden of the Guides, Murray, London, 1900; F Burnaby, A Ride to Khiva, Cassell Petter and Galpin, 1877, p.328.

[ccxl] ‘Notes’, The Freemason, 1 Dec, 1880, p.4.

[ccxli] D Weller, The Pundits, UP of Kentucky, 2004, p.1 and subsq.

[ccxlii] ‘Obituary Death of Jacob of Simla’, The Times, 17 Jan, 1921, p.14. See P Hopkirk, Quest for Kim, p.123.

[ccxliii] J Daniels, ‘Dr Robert Hamilton, in T Pope (ed), Masonic Networks and Connections, ANZMRC, 2007, p.111.

[ccxliv] Zetland to Oliver, 29 July, 1843, quoted in R Sandbach, Priest and Freemason, Aquarian, 1988, p.37.

[ccxlv] H Melville, ‘Henricus’, The Lost Mysteries of Freemasonry, Sydney, 5857 (1857), p.viii. A letter from him, dated 23 March, 1866 at ‘Hobart Town’ to the Scottish Freemasons Magazine, and reprinted FM&MM, June 1866, p.6, says letters by him and his friends to Scottish GL ‘have met with silence.’

[ccxlvi] A Prescott, ‘A Body Without a Soul? The Philosophical Outlook of British Freemasonry 1700-2000’, a paper to Canonbury Research Centre Conference, Nov-Dec, 2003, p.1, this copy from <pietre-stones>.

[ccxlvii] See FM&MM, Aug, 1855, p.524, for report of Lodge Bon Accord meeting.

[ccxlviii] R Gould, History of United Grand Lodge of England, 1815-1885’, The History of Freemasonry, Vol III, Jack, Edinburgh, p.23. The whole story is complex and interested readers should look at the 2006 collection, Marking Well.

[ccxlix] Access to his approach is easiest through J Daniel, Masonic Networks and Connections, ANZMRC, 2007.

[ccl] A Prescott, ‘Well Marked? Approaches to the History of Mark Masonry’, in A Prescott (ed), Marking Well, Lewis, 2006, p.24.

[ccli] A Prescott, ‘Well Marked? Approaches to the History of Mark Masonry’, Marking Well, Lewis Masonic, 2006, p.21.

[cclii] A Newman, ‘Masonic Controversy and The Freemasons’ Magazine’, AQC, Vol 122, p.190. See also R Sandbach, ‘Robert Thomas Crucefix, 1788-1850’, and J Hamill, ‘The Sins of Our Masonic Fathers’, both in AQC Vol 102, 1989, p.134, and p.247, respectively.

[ccliii] ‘The Ark and Mark Degrees’, The Masonic Examiner, 2 Oct, 1870, p.1. The phrase ‘hangman’s knot’ refers to the thirteen pence halfpenny paid to the hangman Jack Ketch in pre-GL days when this amount was charged for conferral of the ‘Ark, Mark, Link and Wressle’ degrees and which were therefore called collectively ‘the hangman’s knot.’

[ccliv] After his death, nevertheless, his widow had to wade through Masonic red tape to obtain minimal relief.

[cclv] FM&MM, March, 1856, p.191.

[cclvi] See accounts of these events in A Prescott (ed), Marking Well, Lewis Masonic, 2006, espec pp. 20-21 and 140-141.

[cclvii] See J Daniel biography of him ‘from Rebel to Ruler’, in A Prescott (ed), Marking Well, Lewis Masonic, 2006, pp.135-159, and other refs in this title.

[cclviii] J Daniel, ‘Canon George Raymond Portal, MA (1827-1889): from Rebel to Ruler’, in A Prescott (ed), Marking Well, Lewis Masonic, 2006, p.138.

[cclix] A Newman, ‘The Invention of a Mark Province, 1858-1894’, in A Prescott (ed), Marking Well, Lewis Masonic, 2006, pp.160-170.

[cclx] Editorial and ‘Report of Grand Lodge Meeting’, Masonic Observer, 1 Nov, 1856, p.1.

[cclxi] An anonymous, critical pamphlet was published in full by The Times and The Era which see 29 Jan, 1854.

[cclxii] ‘Foreword’, Wolfgang Prince of Hesse, in Sinclair, The Other Victoria, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1981, p.xi.

[cclxiii][cclxiii] Masonic Mirror, obit of Duke Atholl, March, 1862, p.11.

[cclxiv] ‘Imperial Parliament’, Masonic Mirror, 1855, p.43.

[cclxv] ‘Dean Trench’s Sermon’, Morning Star, 10 Oct, 1857; ‘The Bishop of Victoria on the Opium Trade’, Morning Star, 1 April, 1857.

[cclxvi] Hereford Times, 27 June, 1857.

[cclxvii] ‘PM’ (Editor?), ‘Masonic Archives and Masonic Library’, FM&MM, 29 July, 1865, p.91. The argument in extended form at 26 August, 1865, p.168.

[cclxviii] The following information on the Victoria Institute taken from ‘The Victoria Institute – 1874’, shown as Pamphlet 7 in bound collection, Masonic Pamphlets, Vol 7, UGLE. Copy at London Freemasons Museum and Library.

[cclxix] Pamphlets 7 and 8 in Masonic Pamphlets, Vol 7, UGLE.

[cclxx] Warren, response to toast after his installation, ARS Quatuor Coronaturum, Vol 1, 1886, p.8; see note at Howe, p.258, fn 3.

[cclxxi] See AH Sayce, “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments, London, Socy for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1894.

[cclxxii] This is the later Sir George Grove, 1819-1900, of the Dictionary of Music fame – see obits in The Era, 2 June, 1900, and The Graphic, same date.

[cclxxiii] ‘Topographical Department’, Morning Post, 15 April, 1865.

[cclxxiv] ‘Palestine Exploration Fund’, Morning Post, 14 June, 1869; Lecture to the Royal Institution, Pr Albert in the chair, Morning Post, 17 Feb, 1866. See for ‘Burdett Coutts’, talk to Socy for Encouragement of the Fine Arts, Morning Post, 1 June, 1868.

[cclxxv] T Ferguson, British Military Intelligence, 1870-1974, Univ Publs of America, 1984, p.41.

[cclxxvi] C Wilson, ‘On the Ordnance Survey of Sinai’, Freemason’s Magazine and Masonic Mirror, 6 August, 1870, p.105.

[cclxxvii] See comment by M McLeod following A Jackson, ‘Sir Charles Warren’, AQC, Vol 99, (1986), p.184.

[cclxxviii] EH Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus, PEF, 1872, p.389.

[cclxxix] A Scholch, ‘Britain in Palestine, 1838-1882 – Roots of the Balfour Policy’, Jnl of Palestine Studies, p.50.

[cclxxx] See Drake obit, and review of Besant’s book at Morning Post, 16 August, 1877.

[cclxxxi] J Pollock, Kitchener: The Road to Omdurman, Constable, 1998, pp.21-28; p.43

[cclxxxii] B MacHaffie, “Monumental Facts and Higher Critical Fancies”: Archaeology and the Popularisation of Old Testament Criticism in Nineteenth Century Britain,’ Church History 50,1981, p.324.

[cclxxxiii] W Besant, Thirty Years in the Holy Land, Published for the PEF, London, 1895, p.12.

[cclxxxiv] Palestine Exploration Fund, (Walter Besant), Palestine Exploration Fund, nd, text implies 1876, London, p.1.

[cclxxxv] ‘Henricus’, to Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, 19 Jan, 1867, p.49.

[cclxxxvi] W Besant & EH Palmer, Jerusalem, the City of Herod and Saladin, London, 1899,(4th edn), pp.522-5.

[cclxxxvii] R Morris, Freemasonry in the Holy Land, 1876, pp.419-427.

[cclxxxviii] See C Macdonald, Warren, Singapore, 2007, pp.56-60, for a report.

[cclxxxix] H Shanks, Jerusalem An Archeological Biography, Random House, 1995, p.14.

[ccxc] Quoted by Gould, 8 November, 1887, AQC, Vol 1, p.72.

[ccxci] ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, The Building News, 5 February, 1869, p.110.

[ccxcii] The Era, 21 Feb, 1869; Masonic Mirror, Aug, 1868, p.4.

[ccxciii] See Masonic Mirror, July, 1861, p.1 for an extensive and quite extraordinary biography when he was still only 46 yrs.

[ccxciv] See reference at top of book review previously cited, The Freemason, 28 Aug, 1869, p.1.

[ccxcv] W Simpson, ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, AQC, Vol 2, pp.124, 128-130.

[ccxcvi] W Besant, ‘Masonic Archeological Institute’, AQC, Vol 2, p.158.

[ccxcvii] Examples in The Freemason appear at 16 Sept, 1876- ‘Yorkshire Archeological Society’, and ‘Archeology’ a long article about gild records.

[ccxcviii] W Simpson, AQC, Vol 1, Pt 6 (?), 27 December, 1888, p.3.

[ccxcix] AQC, Vol 1, 1886, p.8.

[ccc] D Clements, ‘A Masonic Emporium’, Freemasonry Today, 1 Sept, 2010.

[ccci] Wikipedia, ‘Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, 1819-1904’, 4 August, 2015.

[cccii] A Prescott, “‘The Cause of Humanity’: Charles Bradlaugh and Freemasonry”, AQC, Vol 116 (2003), p.25.

[ccciii] K Jackson, ‘William James Hughan’, AQC, Vol 114, 2001, p.99.

[ccciv] ‘Address by Sir Knight RW Little…etc’, The Freemason, Vol 1, No 1, pp.6-7.

[cccv] WJ Hughan, ‘The Red Cross and Masonic Chivalric Degrees’, The Freemason, 23 April, 1870, p.2.

[cccvi] Editorial, ‘The High Degrees’, The Freemason, 11 Dec, 1869, p.6.

[cccvii] WJ Hughan, ‘Knight Templar Jottings’, The Freemason, 4 June, 1870, p.1.

[cccviii] ‘Union Between the Unrecognised Degrees’, The Freemason, 23 July, 1870, p.5.

[cccix] ‘The Unrecognised Degrees’, The Freemason, 10 June, 1871, p.9.

[cccx] The Freemason, March and May, 1871.

[cccxi] Sgd ‘A Mason Who Believes in his Obligation’, ‘Insubordination in the High Degrees’, The FM&MM. March, 1871, p.8.

[cccxii] Woodford, ‘United Grand Lodge’, The Freemason, 8 June, 1872, p.6.

[cccxiii] Woodford, ‘A Contrast’, The Freemason, 14 Oct, 1871, p.7.

[cccxiv] ‘Liberty versus Licence’, The Freemason, 16 Dec, 1871, p.7.

[cccxv] ‘Knight Errant’, The Freemason, 11 Feb, 1871.

[cccxvi] ‘The Mark Degree and the Cryptic Rite’, 26 Aug, 1871, p.8, and ‘A Contrast’, 14 Oct, 1871, p.6, both leading articles in The Freemason.

[cccxvii] ‘Freemasons’, London Daily News, 5 July, 1871.

[cccxviii] The Freemason, quoted widely, eg, the Isle of Man Times, 19 Sept, 1874.

[cccxix] The Times, 8 Sept, 1874, quoted in J Daniel, ‘Anglo-American Relations’, in T Pope (ed), Masonic Networks and Connections, ANZMRC, 2007, p.102.

[cccxx] Westminster Review quoted by Derby Mercury 16 Sept, 1874; ‘Religion and Politics’ in Pall Mall Gazette, 18 Sept, 1874, p.10; The Saturday Review, quoted widely including at Royal Cornwall Gazette, 19 Sept, 1874; J Daniel, ‘ Grand Lodges in British Colonies’, in J Daniel, Masonic Networks and Connections, ANZMRC, Melbourne, 2007, p.169, and Ch 5.

[cccxxi] For Carnarvon and the military metaphor see The Hampshire Advertiser, 10 Oct, 1874 – he was presiding at the Annual Meeting of the Highclerc Agricultural Association at Newbury; for Catholic commentary see The Westminster Review, which described EF as ‘the ‘craft” of the evil one’, and response at The Derby Mercury, quoting the WR, 16 Sept, 1874; for summary of Ripon’s career see Nottinghamshire Guardian, 18 Sept, 1874, which quotes The Liverpool Post, the London Post. See ‘Father Foy on Secret Societies’ for an EF response to a long RC article linking Disraeli’s unease with Ripon’s resignation – Masonic Magazine, 1 Dec, 1876, p.5

[cccxxii] Carnarvon to Somerset Provincial GL mtg and banquet, report at The Times, 18 May, 1883, p.9

[cccxxiii] What follows here is a distillation from the numerous bizarre ‘histories’ on-line and elsewhere. It attempts to link what appear to be the agreed-upon bits in woo-zoo land with researchers I take to be soundly-based. This does not mean that I fully endorse the story found in academic-published accounts, nor that I entirely discount the possibility that there may be something in some of the claims made by woo-zoo landers.

[cccxxiv] ‘A New Order’, FM&MM, 17 March, 1860, p.210.

[cccxxv] ‘A Lewis’, ‘Masonry and Secularism’, The Freemason, 2 Oct, 1869.

[cccxxvi] ‘At Home and Abroad’, The Freemason, Dec, 1869, p.6.

[cccxxvii] Obituary, New England Freemason, Vol 1, No 5, May 1874, p.246.

[cccxxviii] W Hughan, ‘Masonic Historians No 1 Bro Findel’, The Freemason, 1, 8, 15 Jan, and 5 Feb, 1870.

[cccxxix] J Findel, History of Freemasonry from its Roots down to the Present Day, 2nd edn, translated into English and published in London, 1866, quote from p.6.

[cccxxx] ‘Freemasonry in France – Address of Bro L Babaud-Laribier’, FM&MM, 31 July, 1870, pp.84-88.

[cccxxxi] FM&MM, Vol 24, March, 1871, pp.182-3.

[cccxxxii] ‘Sanitorium at Weston-Super-Mare’, The Freemason, 3 June 1871.

[cccxxxiii] (Carnarvon), ‘Lessons of the French Revolution’, Quarterly Review, Vol 135 No.269, July 1873.

[cccxxxiv] ‘The Visit of the Czar’, The Freemason, 23 May, 1874, p.4.

[cccxxxv] The Freemasons Chronicle, 2 Jan, 1875, p.1, quoted in A Prescott, ‘The Cause of Humanity’, AQC, Vol 116 (2003), p.25.

[cccxxxvi] R Gould, ‘History of the United Grand Lodge of England, 1815-1885’, The History of Freemasonry, Vol III, Jack, Edinburgh, nd (1886?) fn.2, p.26.

[cccxxxvii] J Ramsey, “The Grand Orient of France and the Three Great Lights”, The Builder, Iowa : January 1918.

[cccxxxviii] ‘Die Bauhutte’, The Freemason, 25 May, 1878.

[cccxxxix] Howe, AQC, Vol 85, p.243, and fn.1.

[cccxl] E Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh, Cass, 1966, p.22.

[cccxli] R McBean, A Complete History of the Ancient and Primitive Rite, (on-line).

[cccxlii] AM Broadley, How We Defended Arabi, London, 1885, pp.261-2.

[cccxliii] F Stevenson Drane, ‘Freemasonry in Egypt, Part II’, AQC, Vol 82, 1969, p.53; M Berdine, The Accidental Tourist, Routledge, 2005, p.67.

[cccxliv] See A Kudu-Zadeh, ‘Afghani and Freemasonry in Egypt’, Jnl of the American Oriental Society, Vol 92, No 1, Jan-March, 1972, p.30

[cccxlv] See the Freemasons Chronicle for the reports, eg at Feb, 1880, p.9, March, 1881, p.7, and a summary of his ‘personal exertions’ to that point at Aug, 1879, p.1.

[cccxlvi] C Macdonald, Warren, Singapore, 2007, pp.90-93.

[cccxlvii] J Ure, Shooting Leave, Constable, 2009, pp.114-132, quote at p.127.

[cccxlviii] Letters, The Times, 16, (p.7), 18, 23 Oct, 1882. For reference to ‘Naval Authorities’ in Parlt Debate, see 31 Oct, 1882, p.9 and editorial at 25 Dec, 1882, p.7. A grandson of WS Blunt, Anthony Blunt, warned Soviet spy, Philby, in the 1930’s but was himself protected from prosecution.

[cccxlix] W Besant, The Life and Achievements of Edward Henry Palmer, London, 1883, p.305.

[cccl] W Besant, Autobiography, 1902, p.155.

[cccli] The Times, letter from Lord Wentworth, 19 March, 1883; Blunt piece, same date.

[ccclii] The Times, 19, 27, 31 Oct, 25 Dec, 1882, 6, 7, 10, 17, 19 March, 1883, letters from Blunt countering government ‘spin’, from anti-Blunts, and Editorials.

[cccliii] WS Blunt, Gordon at Khartoum, Routledge, 1912, pp.22-23.

[cccliv] E Longford, A Pilgrimage of Passion, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, pp.174-187.

[ccclv] WS Blunt, Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt Being a Personal Narrative of Events, London, 1907, p.303.

[ccclvi] R Baden-Powell, My Adventures as a Spy, Pearson, 1915, p.11.

[ccclvii] ‘English Masonry in Egypt’, Freemasons Chronicle, Jan 4, 1883, p.4.

[ccclviii] N Keddie, Sayyid Jamal Ad-Din “Al-Afghani”: A Political Biography, U of Calif, 1972, ACLS POD, p.200.

[ccclix] See A Clayton, Forearmed, Brasseys, 1993, pp.7-8, for some details and references.

[ccclx] Kedourie quoted in B Cannon, ‘Nineteenth Century Arabic Witings on Women and Society’, Int Jnl of Middle East Studies, Nov 1985, p.482. Original in Kedourie, ‘Young Turks, Freemasons and Jews’, 1974.

[ccclxi] R Owen, ‘Managing the News’, in Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Pro-Consul, OUP, 2004.

[ccclxii] A Clayton, Forearmed, Brasseys, 1993, p.7; ‘Obituary – Sir Charles William Wilson’, The Geographic Journal, Dec 1905, Vol 26 No 6, pp.682-4..

[ccclxiii] P Warner, Kitchener, Atheneum, 1986, p.39.

[ccclxiv] See also T Hadland, Glimpses of a Victorian Hero – William Gill Explorer and Spy, Hadland, 2002.

[ccclxv] ‘Obituary of Sir Charles William Wilson’, The Times, 26 Oct, 1905.

[ccclxvi] M Snook, Beyond the Reach of Empire, Frontline Books, 2013, pp.7-11, quotes from p.8.

[ccclxvii] A. Haynes, Man-Hunting in the Desert, being a Narrative of the Palmer Search Expedition, (1882, 1883), London, 1894, p.xx.

[ccclxviii] M Lovell, A Rage to Live, Abacus, 1998, p.671. See also p.535.

[ccclxix] See his Wikipeadia entry ‘Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquis of Dufferin…etc’ and ‘Lord Dufferin’s Excavations’, Jnl of Egyptian Archaeology, Dec 1965, Vol 51.

[ccclxx] ‘Lord Dufferin’s Report for the Re-Organisation of Egypt’, The Times, reprinted in The Otago Times, 14 April, 1883.

[ccclxxi] J Pollock, Kitchener: The Road to Omdurman, Constable, 1998, pp.54-63; P Warner, Kitchener, Atheneum, 1986, p.53.

[ccclxxii] For ‘Elphi’ refs see ‘The End of the World’, ‘Ch 30 1881’, in M Downer, The Queen’s Knight, Transworld, 2007, pp.326 +; for Gordon, see The Times, Edit, 19 Jan, 1884.

[ccclxxiii] Examples at The Times, 4 May, 1885, p.7; 7 Nov, 1885, p.12.

[ccclxxiv] W Blunt, India Under Ripon, T Fisher Unwin, 1909, pp.1-6.

[ccclxxv] A Wohl, ‘Introduction’ to A Mearn’s Bitter Cry of Outcast London, Leicester UP, 1970, p.13 – Victorian Library Reprint Series.

[ccclxxvi] E Francis and N Valman, ‘Introduction: Revisiting the Victorian East End,’ Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 13 (2011).

[ccclxxvii] For recent scholarship on the late-Victorian East End and women’s engagement with social reform see S Koven, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London, Princeton UP, 2004; D Maltz, British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870-1900: Beauty for the People, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; E Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918, OUP, 1993.

[ccclxxviii] J Ramsden Riley,, ‘Modern Freemasonry as a Social and Moral Reformer’, Freemasons’ Chronicle, 25 Aug, 1888.

[ccclxxix] W Besant, All Sorts and Conditions of Men, OUP reprint, 1997. For how the People’s Palace emerged from Besant’s novel and the establishment of the Beaumont Trusr, see S Joyce, Capital Offences: Geographies of Class and Crime in Victorian London, U of Virginia Press, 2003, pp.191-2; see also S Bernstein, ‘Reading Room Geographies of Late-Victorian London: The British Museum, Bloomsbury and the Peoples Palace, Mile End’, in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 13, 2011.

[ccclxxx] W Besant and EH Palmer, ‘Preface to the New Edition’, (1888), Jerusalem, the City of Herod and Saladin, London, 1899, (4th edn), p.vii.

[ccclxxxi] W Besant and EH Palmer, Jerusalem, The City of Herod and Saladin, p.xi.

[ccclxxxii] W Besant, Autobiography of Sir Walter Besant, Hutchinson, 1902, p.239.

[ccclxxxiii] A Nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant, U of Chicago,, 1960, p.61.

[ccclxxxiv] A Nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant, U of Chicago, 1960, pp.51-54.

[ccclxxxv] A Nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant, U of Chicago, 1960, p.84, p.352.

[ccclxxxvi] See Ch 2, R Manvell, The Trial of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, Horizon, 1976.

[ccclxxxvii] See an excellent account of this whole episode in A Prescott, ‘”The Cause of Humanity” Charles Bradlaugh and Freemasonry’, AQC, Vol 116 (2003), p.15-64. In his 2003 paper, ‘A Body Without a Soul?’ Prescott featured John Langley an EF who did support Besant and Bradlaugh.

[ccclxxxviii] A Nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant, U of Chicago, 1960, p.156.

[ccclxxxix] A Nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant, Hart Davis, 1961, p.225, p.218.

[cccxc] ‘The Present Position of English Masonic Archeology’, The Freemason, 10 April, 1880, p.1.

[cccxci] Woodford in ‘Summary for 1880’, The Freemason, Dec, 1880, p.8.

[cccxcii] ‘A Masonic Student’, ie Woodford,

Masonic History and Historians’, The Freemason, Dec, 1881, p.6.

[cccxciii] Woodford in ‘Oration’, 12 January, 1886, AQC, Vol 1, (1886), p.3. See also ‘The Quatuor Coronati’ under ‘Masonic Notes and Queries’, The Freemason, 11 Oct, 1879, p.7; and ‘The Four Crowned Martyrs’ at 25 Oct, 1879, p.5, taken from Kessing’s Masonic Cyclopaedia, so is also by Woodford.

[cccxciv] R Evans, In Defence of History, Granta, 1997, p.26, p.93. The original Trevelyan is at ‘Clio Rediscovered’, in Clio, A Muse, 1913.

[cccxcv] G Speth, ‘The German Stonemasons’, Ch 3, The History of Freemasonry, 1882, Jack, p.108.

[cccxcvi] Speth, ‘ The Steinmetz Theory Critically Examined’, AQC, Vol 1, (1886), p.18.

[cccxcvii] ‘General Masonic Instructions’, The Masonic Star, 25 April, 1889, p.1.

[cccxcviii] G Speth, translation of B Cramer’s ‘The Origin of Freemasonry’, AQC, Vol 2, 1889, p.102 and p.108 (editor’s notes).

[cccxcix] Gould, ‘On Some Old Scottish Customs’, AQC, Vol 1, (1886), p.11. The quote is from J Hill Burton, The Scot Abroad, i, p.5.

[cd] A Bernheim, ‘’Dr Wilhelm Begemann – A Love-Hate Story’, on Pietre-Stones web-site,, p.6.

[cdi] See F Statham, Boers, Blacks and British, London, 1881, espec Ch xiv, pp.236+.

[cdii] P James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, Abacus, 1998, p.185.

[cdiii] P Harries, ‘Anthropology’, in N Etherington, ed, Missions and Empire, OUP, 2005, p.238-9.

[cdiv] J Fisher, The Afrikaners, Cassell, 1969, p.129.

[cdv] C Campbell, Fenian Fire, Harper Collins, 2003, p.173, quoting A Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan, 1999.

[cdvi] F Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell, Collins, 1977, p.282-5.

[cdvii] C Campbell, Fenian Fire, Harper Collins, 2003, p.173, fn 188, p.397.

[cdviii] J Harland-Jacobs, D Phil, ‘The Essential Link’: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1751-1918, Duke U, 2000, p.281.

[cdix] J Daniel, ‘Lord Carnarvon’s Visit to the Cape in 1887’, AQC, Vol 124 (2011), p.146.

[cdx] Circular No 8, dated by Speth 31 Jan, 1887 – copy in ‘Uncatalogued Folder – QC Records’, at Freemasons Library and Museum, London,

[cdxi] QC Minutes, 3 March, 1887 – Freemasons Library and Museum, London.

[cdxii] The Times, 12 Jan, 5 Feb, 1886.

[cdxiii] G Stedman-Jones, Outcast London, Clarendon, 1971, pp.292-3.

[cdxiv] B Porter, The Origins of the Vigilant State, Boydell, 1987, p.1.

[cdxv] C Campbell, Fenian Fire, Harper Collins, 2002.

[cdxvi] J Flanders, The Invention of Murder, Harper, 2011, p.445. A recent purported ‘autobiography’ of ‘The Ripper’ is clearly a fiction – J Carnac, The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, Corgi, 2012.

[cdxvii] ‘The London Police’, re-printed in the SMH, 28 April, 1886.

[cdxviii] ‘King Stork’ Pall Mall Gazette, re-printed in the Brisbane Courier, 11 May, 1886.

[cdxix] The Atchison Daily Globe, Kansas, USA,16 Oct, 1888.

[cdxx] P Cornwall, Portrait of Killer, Little Brown, 2002, espec pp.95, 225.

[cdxxi] See Ch 2, ‘Long Days and Sleepless Nights’, in N Connell, Walter Dew, the Man Who Caught Crippin, Sutton, 2005, which draws on Dew’s memoirs.

[cdxxii] See K Macfarlane, review of C von Onselen, The Fox and the Flies: The Secret Life of a Grotesque Master Criminal, New York, Walker & Coy, 2007, in Jnl of Historical Biography, 3, Spring, 2008, pp.186-189. Anderson’s obituary in The Times summarising his memoirs shows that from 1880 he represented in London ‘the Irish Department for Police and Crime’ and in 1888 had succeeded Howard Vincent as head of the CID, being therefore, an ‘ex-officio Assistant Commissioner of Police’.

[cdxxiii] ‘Obituary Le Caron’, The Times 2 April, 1894, p.6.

[cdxxiv] W Stead, ‘Who is Responsible?’, 8 Oct, and ‘The Police and the Criminals of London’, Pall Mall Gazette, 8 and 9 Oct, 1888.

[cdxxv] C Warren, ‘The Police of the Metropolis’, Murray’s Magazine, Nov, 1888, p.577.

[cdxxvi] J Flanders, The Invention of Murder, Harper, 2011, pp.448-450.

[cdxxvii] D Turcato, Making Sense of Anarchism: Errico Malatesta’s Experiments with Revolution, 1889-1900, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

[cdxxviii] ‘The Resignation of Sir Charles Warren’, The Times, 13 Nov, 1888.

[cdxxix] C Campbell, Fenian Fire, Harper Collins, 2003, p.147.

[cdxxx] A Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999, p.451.

[cdxxxi] ‘Special Notes’, Reynolds Newspaper, 25 Nov, 1888. See L Swartz, Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women’s Emancipation, England, 1830-1914, MUP, 2012, for a counter-argument.

[cdxxxii] ‘School Board Election – Yiddish against Jew’, The Star, 31 Oct, 1888.

[cdxxxiii] See W Blythe, The Impact of Chinese Secret Societies in Malaya, OUP, 1969, espec Ch 11, ‘The Policy of Suppression, 1887-90’, pp.229-233.

[cdxxxiv] Inverness Courier, 4 Sept, 1891.

[cdxxxv] A Prescott, Talk to Public History Conference, 2006, p.2.

[cdxxxvi] Dyer, The History of the First 100 Years of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 2076, 1986,(typescript) in which he ascribes the 1884 draft to WH Rylands. The ‘Proposal of Bye-Laws for the Lodge Quatuor Coronati’, Nov, 1884, in Uncatalogued Folder at Freemasons Library and Museum, London, appears to be by Speth.

[cdxxxvii] Comparatively recent, Masonic background information is available on Speth, at D Peabody, ‘GW Speth’, AQC, Vol 120, 2007, pp.2-25; Warren, at A Jackson, ‘Sir Charles Warren’, AQC, Vol 99, 1986, pp.167-189; Woodford at J Seed, ‘AFA Woodward’, AQC, Vol 93, 1980, pp.118-128; Gould at F Cooper, ‘Robert Freke Gould’, AQC, Vol93, 1980, pp.98-117.

[cdxxxviii] Woodford, AQC, Vol 1, 1886, p.6.

[cdxxxix] Quote from ‘Report of Permanent and Audit Committee’, December, 1887, p.1. ‘Masterpiece’ in Speth’s ‘Report of the Permanent Committee’, Sept, 1886.

[cdxl] The Freemason, 2 May, 1896.

[cdxli] Dyer suggests that JP Rylands removed to the north of England to practice law – The History of the First 100 Years of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 2076, 1986 (typescript), p.14. Speth announced the resignation in March, 1887, referring to correspondence in Oct & Dec, 1886 – QC Minutes for mtg 3 March, 1887, AQC, Vol 1.

[cdxlii] The Freemason, May, 1880, p.8,

[cdxliii] AQC, Vol 1, p.72. ‘Williams’ referred to by Gould, Freemasons Chronicle, 19 July, 1890, p.11, and ‘Pratt’ appear to have contributed little.

[cdxliv] W Rylands, ‘In Memoriam: Sir William Besant’, AQC, Vol xiv Pt 2, p.107.

[cdxlv] Gould to Irwin, 10 Jan, 1886, Folder ‘L 2076.’

[cdxlvi] See Gould’s long recital of Bywater’s Masonic career and total ignore of any other, at AQC, Vol III (1890), pp.182-3.

[cdxlvii] ‘Addenda’, AQC, Vol 3, Pt 3, p.182. Simpson was in Afghanistan – see his obituary, The Freemason, 2 Sept, 1899.

[cdxlviii] JT Perry, ‘The Late Thomas Hayter Lewis, FSA’, J of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 14 Jan, 1899, p.161.

[cdxlix] Fenn, as above, p.7.

[cdl] Gould later gave an account of this ‘unpromising condition’ – ‘Addenda’, AQC, Vol 3, Pt 3, p.183.

[cdli] Circular 5, 11 Oct 1886, copy in uncatalogued folder, Freemasons Library and Museum, London.

[cdlii] AQC, 1887, p.86.

[cdliii] AQC, 1886, p.27.

[cdliv] ‘Record of Attendance – Names in Class Order…’, in Minutes of QC Lodge, p.38.

[cdlv] AQC, Vol 1, p.28.

[cdlvi] Gould, as above, p.66.

[cdlvii] Letter Hamill to Batham, 10 Feb, 1982 – copy in ‘L2076’, London Freemasons Museum and Library.

[cdlviii] ‘Peeter-Baertsoen Prize’, AQC, Vol 3, p.121.

[cdlix] W Hughan, ‘Gould’s History of Freemasonry’, The Freemason, July, 1887, p.5.

[cdlx] ‘In Memoriam’, The Freemason, 4 May, 1901.

[cdlxi] J Norton ‘The Grand Lodge Library’, The Freemason,, 22 May, 1880.

[cdlxii] G Speth, Sec QC, ‘Letter to Brethren’, AQC, Vol 1, 27 Dec, 1888, p.4.

[cdlxiii] RF Gould, ‘Masonic Libraries’, The Freemason, Aug, 1892, p.1.

[cdlxiv] A Bernheim, ‘Dr Wilhelm Begemann vs the English Masonic History Establishment: A Love-Hate Story’, for which see <www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/bernheim18.html> or the <Pietre-Stones> website.

[cdlxv] ‘Wor Bro William G Speth’, The Freemason, Dec, 1892, p.3, reprinted from Rough Ashlar, (US).

[cdlxvi] ‘Presentation to Bro GW Speth’, The Freemason, 17 Nov, 1894, p.203.

[cdlxvii] W. Upton, (ed), ‘Introductory Note’, to GW Speth, An English View of Freemasonry in America, Washington, 1897, np (p.1?).

[cdlxviii] R Gould, ‘Free and Freemasonry’, The Freemason, 10 Sept, 1898, p.171.

[cdlxix] G Speth, ‘Notes for the Consideration of the Committee’, 23 Feb, 1900, at ‘L 2076’, London’s Library and Museum of Freemasonry.

[cdlxx] Woodford declared bankruptcy before QC began work – Morning Post, 24 Nov, 1885, p.3 & 20 Jan, 1886.

[cdlxxi] AQC, 1886, p.49.

[cdlxxii] I Grantham to Hewitt, 21 February, 1977, referring to the period 1947-52. Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxiii] AQC, Vol XIV, Pt 2, p.101.

[cdlxxiv] Died 14 April, 1901, see ‘In Memoriam: GW Speth’, AQC, Vol xiv, Pt 2, pp.97-104, for depth of loss felt.

[cdlxxv] Draft version, 1986, in LF2076, Freemason’s Library and Museum, London, pp.1-2.

[cdlxxvi] Editorial, ‘Ars Quatuor Coronatorum’, The Masonic Star, 3 Jan, 1889, p.1.

[cdlxxvii] R Gould, ‘Masonic Celebrities No 3 – Albert Pike’, AQC, Vol IV (1891), p.133.

[cdlxxviii] Letter Pike to Gould, 8 Sept, 1888, quoted at R Gould, ‘Masonic Celebrities No 3 – Albert Pike’, AQC, Vol IV, (1891), p.133.

[cdlxxix] G Speth, ‘Two New Versions of the Old Charges’, AQC, Vol I, (1887), p.129.

[cdlxxx] Speth to Irwin, 14 December, 1889, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxi] Speth to all members, 18 April, 1891, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxii] Speth to all members, ‘Circular 12’, nd, (mid-1887), Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxiii] Hughan to Malden, 15 January, 1896, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxiv] Chetwode-Crawley to Sadler, 22 May, 1895, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxv] Hand written note, presumed to be from Warren, on back of Circular No. 6 of 19 November, 1886, addressed to Warren from Speth, Folder ‘L 2076’, UGLE Library & Museum, London.

[cdlxxxvi] Copy in Folder’ L 2076’.

[cdlxxxvii] Circular No 6, ‘Correspondence Circle’, 19 November, 1886, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxviii] Speth to Irwin, 18 March, 1887, Folder ‘L 2076’.

[cdlxxxix] ‘Hughan Testimonial’, The Freemason, 31 May, 1884.

[cdxc] ‘American Copyright’, Letter from RF Gould to The Times, 14 Oct, 1887, p.4.

[cdxci] Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee, December, 1887, p.1.

[cdxcii] Unsigned, un-dated (1905?), handwritten note in ‘QC’ folder at UGLE Library/Museum, and headed ‘Correspondence Circle’ accumulates the numbers in QC Minutes.

[cdxciii] Gould letter, ‘The Lodge Quatuor Coronati’, Freemasons’ Chronicle, 19 July, 1890.

[cdxciv] ‘South Australia’, in Transactions, Vol 3, 1888, p.64, quoting The South Australian Freemason.

[cdxcv] ‘Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee’, AQC, Vol xiv, Pt 2, p.2.

[cdxcvi] Unsigned, undated note (1905?), as above.

[cdxcvii] Addition by Spiers, 12 April, 1894, to Circular, from Speth, April, 1894, copy in Freemasons Hall Library/Museum, London.

[cdxcviii] Letter, Brother J Spiers’ to CC Members in Qld, 1 Jan, 1893 – copy in Folder LF 2076, Freemasons Library & Museum, London.

[cdxcix] The South Australian Freemason, 12 April, 1913, p.9.

[d] See Report of the Permanent and Audit Committee, 1952, in Folder LF 2076, at Freemasons Hall, London, LF 2076.

[di] Notes, by CFW Dyer, perhaps for 1986 Dinner, nd, 6 pp.

[dii] ‘The Supplement, Miscellanea Latomorum’, AQC, Vol 81, 1968, p.317.

[diii] ‘Lodges of Research’, The Freemason, (London), 18 July, 1914, p.119.

[div] Editorial, The WA Freemason, 15 December, 1912, p.18.

[dv] Quoted by The WA Freemason, 15 Dec, 1912, p.21.

[dvi] Masonic Studies Circle Network, Qld, 29 Sept, 2011, Vol 25, No 3, p.1.

[dvii] H Whymper, The Religion of Freemasonry, England, 1888 – Introduction by Hughan at pp.i-vii; quote from Speth at ‘Reviews’, AQC Vol 1, Pt 5, p.213.

[dviii] G Speth, ‘A Masonic Curriculum’, AQC, Vol III, (1890), pp.116-120.

[dix] ‘Bro. MJ Spurr’, discussing E Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85’, AQC, Vol 85, p.289.

[dx] ‘Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076’, Transactions, Vol 121 for 2008, p.v.

[dxi] F Radice, ‘Reflections on the Antiquity of the Order of the Royal Arch’, AQC, Vol 77, 1964, p.201+.

[dxii] H Carr, ‘Three Phases of Masonic History’, AQC, Vol 77, for 1964, pp.256-7.

[dxiii] A reasonable account of the variations is at A Millar, Freemasonry A History, Thunder Bay, 2005, pp.226-8.

[dxiv] R Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon, OUP, 1999, p.72.

[dxv] AQC, 1887, p.67.

[dxvi] Woodford, as above, p.70, p.73.

[dxvii] R Gilbert, ‘The Golden Dawn Scrapbook, Weiser, 1997, p.26.

[dxviii] See ‘Minutes’ for mtgs 4 May, and 25 June, 1888, Transactions, Vols 1-3, pp.61, 62, 137.

[dxix] W Westcott, ‘The Rosicrucian Society of England’, AQC, Vol 1, Pt 2, 1887, p.54. His paper begins on p.55.

[dxx] Westcott, as above, p.55.

[dxxi] W Westcott, ‘The Rosicrucian Society of England’, AQC, 1886, p.54.

[dxxii] Hughan, AQC , Vol 1, Pt 2, p.50.

[dxxiii] ‘Bro Woodman’, AQC, Vol 1, p.53.

[dxxiv] As above, p.50.

[dxxv] Warren, as above, p.7.

[dxxvi] AQC, 1886, p.42.

[dxxvii] AQC, 1886, p.45.

[dxxviii] E Howe, ‘Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85’, AQC, Vol 85, p.250, fn.4.

[dxxix] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.34.

[dxxx] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.5.

[dxxxi] Gilbert, 1997, as above, pp.72-3.

[dxxxii] Gilbert, 1997, as above, p.36.

[dxxxiii] T Churton, Aleister Crowley – The Biography, Watkins, 2011, Ch 4.

[dxxxiv] M Karn, ‘Aleister Crowley – The Wickedest Man in the World – A Freemason?’, The Square, March, 2015, p.34.

[dxxxv] AQC, Vol 1, Pt 3.

[dxxxvi] Howe, AQC, Vol 85, p.258, fn.2.

[dxxxvii] Rylands, AQC, Vol 2, p.40. A brief tribute to Simpson is G Kendall, ‘Crimean Simpson’, AQC, Vol 105 (1992) pp.195-201.

[dxxxviii] ‘Preface’, by G Eyre-Todd, (ed) of W Simpson, The Autobiography of William Simpson RI, Unwin, 1903, p.viii.

[dxxxix] ‘Preface’, as above, p.x.

[dxl] Eyre-Todd, as above, 1903, p.287.

[dxli] See Annie Besant letter, p.11, and editorial note in Pall Mall Gazette, 28 Dec, 1888.

[dxlii] A Lycett, The Man who Created Sherlock Holmes, p.423.

[dxliii] J Ure, Shooting Leave, Constable, 2007, pp.188-190.

[dxliv] G Milton, Russian Roulette, Sceptre, 2013, p.4.

[dxlv] P Hopkirk, Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford, 2001 (orig 1968), p.190.

[dxlvi] S Wignall, Spy on the Roof of the World, Lyons and Burford, 1996.

[dxlvii] R Aldington, quoting Lawrence and others, Lawrence of Arabia, Pelican, 1971, pp.126, 146. See also S Anderson, Lawrence in Arabia, Atlantic, 2013, pp.46. 61-2.

[dxlviii] E Kedourie, ‘Appendix’, to ‘Young Turks, Freemasons and Jews’, in Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies, Cass, 1974, p.249.

[dxlix] E Kedourie, ‘Young Turks, Freemasons and Jews’, in Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies, Cass, 1974, p.247.

[dl] B Porter, Plots and Paranoia, Unwin, 1909, p.120.

[dli] A Wilson, SW Persia – A Political Officer’s Diary, 1907-1914, OUP, 1941, p.x.

[dlii] W Besant, London in the Nineteenth Century, 1909, p.274.

[dliii] P Villari, ‘Is History a Science?’, Studies Historical and Critical, London, 1907, p.51.

[dliv] P Villari, ‘Is History a Science?’, Studies Historical and Critical, London, 1907, pp.27-8.