Food For Thought
I have read quite a few articles on the beginnings of Freemasonry, but am just an interested amateur in the subject.
I had of course been brought into the Craft with the story that Freemasonry as we know it today started in 1717 with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, made up of only 4 London Lodges initially,.how it had grown and come to represent all freemasons in England, and to spawn the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges in turn.
I had read about Andersons 1723 Constitutions of Freemasons, and the 1738 revised reprint. I knew that some of our ceremonnials today are based on the content of those volumes. I also am aware of Gould's opinions 150 years later of the veracity of those volumes, and the current general opinions of a section of the Craft.
It was therefore most stimulating to find this article regarding the 1723 Constitutions of Freemasons by Anderson. It is particularly relevant bearing in mind the Famous Freemason last month, Sir Christopher Wren, who is denied his status as a Past Grand Master or even his membership of Freemasonry. It is especially pleasing that the article is penned by a scholar of Freemasonry, who has a copy of the actual book.
The title of his article is
"Dissecting The 1723 Constitutions Of Free-Masons; Dispelling Revisionist Myths."
The author is Hank Kraychir who is a top rate Masonic researcher.
I first read the article on the freemason information website
On that site Fred Milliken writes
"I have come across one of the most thought provoking articles in a long time. It's not the same old hash but from a fellow Masonic writer Hank Kraychir who is a top rate Masonic researcher. His website, GnosisMasonry, has many wonderful and thoughtful articles on it. But this one strikes a cord that is so important to us all “ OUR HISTORY."
I can do little but commend the reader of this Food for Thought to read this website, or go straight to that of Hank Kraychir himself,
The opening two paragraphs that the researcher writes gives a clue as to the nature of the text to follow:
"I have heard it time and time again that Freemasonry began with the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717; and the adoption of its Constitution in 1723. This is an all too easy statement to make, but it's not a supportable narrative when honestly investigated. When Freemasonry actually began will perhaps always be debated, but let's not create false narratives in order to satisfy immediately wanted answers; like the 1717-1723 narrative.
Pundits of the 1717-1723 narrative often refer to the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons as the document that proves their theory. And to be honest, since I was not familiar with the document, and had to rely on other writings and opinions, I had no response to the claim. That was until I was given an opportunity to buy a copy from Brother Michael Doxsee, who also sells other out-of-print Masonic books for those who might be interested in such things."
On reading this exceptional exposay of the publication and the revisionists theories put forward over a century later one can make up one's own mind. However, it is better that we be aware that the present day ability to easily access huge amounts of data easily is a benefit that has only taken place in the last few decades.
The summary which Fred Milliken starts his introduction is very telling
"Please take your time reading and understanding this important article. I do not make my claims lightly, and I hope this article will lead others into researching this important topic further. I personally believe a hoax has occurred upon Freemasonry by revisionist pundits. I think it might have started out innocently enough, but it has gone on so long now that the 1717-1723 narrative claim has become fact within the minds of many within Freemasonry. In short, the document they claim proves the 1717 narrative does not support their positions. This article tells a different story than the one most Masons unjustifiably believe. To date, I believe this is the most important discovery I have made in my personal journey and research about Masonic history. I hope you enjoy reading this article, as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it "
I can agree with those comments, excepting the word "hoax". I would give the benefit of doubt to the "revisionists", considering that to the best of their knowledge and with the information available to them at the time, they truly believed in what they propogated. As Freemasons they were honourable people, but so were their predecessors Anderson, Preston and those that assisted in recording early Freemasonry.
Surely it is time for the research Lodges, and especially Quatuor Coronati, to instigate a thorough and comprehensive investigation. It is my belief that the people of each era are the true recorders of their time, and those that come later should accept their account unless there is a demonstrable and factual reason why one should not. Opinion does not meet the standard - only facts can prove or disprove.