The second issue we need to address is Anderson’s account in the 1738 Constitution. This account is purely secondary knowledge as it would appear that he took no part in the formation of Grand Lodge or its early activities. Again I refer to Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones;
“We think it possible that the statement near the end of the ‘historical’ section of the Constitutions of 1723, to the effect that several noblemen and gentlemen of the best rank with clergymen and learned scholars of most professions and denominations joined the Society during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu (1721-2) may refer to Anderson himself, among others. This possibly is not incompatible with Anderson’s own account, according to which Grand Lodge in September 1721 (three months after Montagu’s installation), “finding fault with all the copies of the old Gothic Constitutions, order’d Brother James Anderson A.M. to digest the same in a new and better method”.1
DOUGLAS KNOOP, M.A., HON.A.R.I.B.A.
Professor of Economics in the University of Sheffield
P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London
So the points to be made from Part One, were 1) The first Grand Lodge did not have jurisdiction over all of England and Part Two, was 2) That Anderson’s account of its formation was second hand.
There are, as you may imagine, other issues concerning Anderson which relate to his past, Herbert Inman claims that;
“Dr. James Anderson is said to have been appointed Chaplain of St. Paul’s Operative Lodge in London in 1710 (It has been suggested that this was the Lodge that met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale house in St. Paul’s Church Yard), and it has been alleged that he was expelled from the Society in 1715 (for some unknown misdemeanour)…and that he never became a Master Mason…”2
However, Anderson was the Master of Lodge No. 17, which according to Knoop & Jones3 has never been identified, but according to Gould4 however, of the nineteen lodges that attended the Quarterly Communications in 1727, No. 17 was the “Mag: Pye, against Bishopsgate Church”, although there appears to be no uniformity regarding lodge numbers, so this may not be the case.
Anderson’s character and credibility with regard to the enthusiasm shown in editing the 1723 and 1738 Constitutions can also be questioned further as Knoop & Jones explain:
“Although Anderson was only editor of the Book of Constitutions, and although it was issued with the approval of Grand Lodge, it was nevertheless his “sole property”, out of the sale of which he doubtless hoped to make a profit. In other words, Anderson owned the copyright. In February 1735, when the first edition of the Constitutions was exhausted, he sought the approval of Grand Lodge for the preparation of a new revised edition.
In February 1935, when seeking approval for a second edition, Anderson represented to Grand Lodge that a certain William Smith (in A Pocket Companion for Freemasons) had pirated a considerable part of his Constitutions, (to the prejudice of the said Dr. Anderson, it being his sole property”; Grand Lodge resolved that the master and Wardens of the Lodges should discourage their members from buying Smith’s books.”5
Therefore, before we even begin to discuss 1717 as the starting date, the confusion starts and all I have done is to demonstrate how even that year, which is acknowledged by the United Grand Lodge of England as our stating point, is not only dubious, but open to debate, along with the contents of the Books of Constitution, whose sale solely benefited one man of possibly doubtful character.
However, as we all need a starting point for our research, I am happy that the point has been set at 1717. Having said that, records suggest that Accepted Masonry was practised in England just prior to about 1600 and Non-Operative Masonry in Scotland just after.
Part Two Bibliography
1) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.160
2) Herbert F. Inman, Masonic Problems and Queries, published by A. Lewis, 1947, p.19
3) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.161
4) Robert Freke Gould, The History of Freemasonry, published by Thomas C. Jack, 1885 edition, p.383
5) Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.164