Reliable sources on the origins and historical development of Freemasonry in the British Isles
STEVENSON, David, (1988) 'The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century 1590 - 1710', Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. David Stevenson was Professor of Scottish History at the University of St Andrews when he wrote this book. He traces the origins of modern speculative Freemasonry back to roots in medieval Scotland citing the many and oldest extant records of Scottish operational masonic lodges. This is an exposition of the 'transitional' theory of origin that shows continuous links between these very earliest records and modern lodges in Scotland. The book is indexed, annotated with footnotes and includes a short bibliographic note indicating the primary and secondary sources used. David Stevenson is not a Freemason.
STEWART, A. Trevor, (2004) 'English Speculative Freemasonry: Some Possible Origins, Themes and Developments.', in Currie, P.H. (Ed) (2005) 'Ars Quatuor Coronatorum: The Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076' London, The Council of Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle Limited. This is the full paper from which the Prestonian Lecture of 2004 was drawn. Trevor Stewart questions how an organisation which grew out of the frenzy of debate and radical enquiry of the Scottish and English Enlightenment could have become so conservative. The paper traces the origins of English Freemasonry and identifies two stages with clearly differentiated characteristics. He shows how the work of William Preston was seminal in developing the system with which we are familiar today. This is an academic paper that demands careful reading and repays serious study.
HAMIL, John, (1994) 'The History of English Freemasonry', Addlestone, Lewis Masonic. John Hamil was the librarian and curator of the United Grand Lodge of England when he wrote this book. His position and his authoritative academic thoroughness makes this effectively the 'official' history of the UGLE. He favours the 'indirect' theory which proposes that it was gentlemen intellectuals in Enlightenment England who appropriated the forms and practices of the stonemasons guilds for their own purposes of social and moral development. The book is indexed, fully referenced and includes an extensive bibliography to assist the reader in further research. John Hamil is a senior Freemason.
HARRISON, David, (2009) 'The Genesis of Freemasonry', Hersham, Lewis Masonic. Dr David Harrison is an historian and lecturer at Liverpool University who specialises in the history of Freemasonry. This is an exposition of what might be called a 'river' theory of development that proposes no single source or origin but rather a confluence of many separate streams of development at propitious times leading to benficial outcomes. The book is indexed, fully referenced and includes an extensive bibliography, giving both primary and secondary sources, to assist the reader in further research. David Harrison is a Freemason. The book is based on his doctoral thesis.
COOPER, Robert L.D., (2006) 'The Rosslyn Hoax?: Viewing Rosslyn Chapel from a new perspective', Hersham, Lewis Masonic. Robert Cooper is the librarian of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and a very respected scholar and writer on masonic subjects. In this book he takes a forensic look at the evidence for connections between Scottish masonry, the Knights Templar and the Rosslyn Chapel. He shows that wishful thinking is no substitute for evidence. The book is indexed, fully referenced and has an extensive bibliography categorised as 'the theory of history', 'history' (i.e. properly referenced to primary sources), 'speculative history' (i.e. not referencing sources) and 'other books - fiction'. Robert Cooper is a senior Freemason.
COOPER, Robert L.D., (2011) 'The Red Triangle: A History of Anti-Masonry', Hersham, Lewis Masonic. In this book Robert Cooper investigates episodes of anti-masonry, often systematic and often accompanied by moral panic, from the 18th century through to the present day. It is interesting not only for its revelations of power struggles in society but because in his first chapter he gives a succinct history of the origins of Freemasonry. The book is indexed, fully annotated and has an extensive bibliography to assist in further research. For serious students of the history of Freemasonry the volumes of the 'Ars Quatuor Coronatorum: The Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076' published by The Council of Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle Limited in London will provide a rich store of papers on a diverse range of topics.
The philosophical bases of Freemasonry
WILMSHURST, Walter L, (1927, 5th Edn / reprinted 1980) 'The Meaning of Masonry', New York, Gramercy Books Walter Wilmshurst was an English Freemason and a solicitor by profession. He wrote several books on Freemasonry but this is the best known. It comprises five extended essays on the symbolism and philosophy of masonry and addresses the meaning and purpose of both the Craft and the Royal Arch. If you want to understand the real purpose of Freemasonry, this is the book for you. Don't be put off by its age (it was first published in 1922). The kind of spiritual journey Wilmshurst deals with, towards self-knowledge and full co-existence in and with a universal truth, is timeless. DI BERNARDO, Giuliano, (1989) 'Freemasonry and its Image of Man: A Philosophical Investigation', (Trans. Aston, Guy, and Di Bernado, Giuliano) Tunbridge Wells, Freestone Giuliano Di Bernado is an academic philosopher - amongst other appointments he was Professor of Philosophy at the Trento University, Italy. He sets an analysis of Freemasonry against the development of European philosophical traditions since the Enlightenment and examines its historical and current place in society and its present day relationship with religion, politics, science and the state.
Understanding the symbolism of Freemasonry
DYER, Colin, (1983) 'Symbolism in Craft Freemasonry', Shepperton, Lewis Masonic. One of the most respected sources on the origins and interpretation of the symbols used in Freemasonry. MacNULTY, W. Kirk, (2006) 'Freemasonry: Symbols, Significance', London, Thames and Hudson This is a coffee-table book which is profusely and colourfully illustrated. It is, however, none the worse for that. Kirk MacNulty is a well known and respected masonic author who writes with authority in an easily read style. In more detailCARR, Harry, and SMYTH, Frederick, (1992) 'The Freemason at Work' Runnymede, Lewis Masonic. WELLS, Roy, A., (1991) 'Understanding Freemasonry', Shepperton, Lewis Masonic
Site migrated 31st January 2016 Last update 3 March 2020