We have shared this section from our Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

Written By: RW Michael Neuberger, 2017 Grand Historian

For further enlightenment, please visit the Grand Lodge of New Jersey web site – http://www.newjerseygrandlodge.org/history 


We do know that on June 24, 1717, the Grand Lodge of England, the first Grand Lodge was formed, when four existing London Lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St. Paul’s Churchyard, and elected Anthony Sayer as Grand Master. Soon thereafter, The Grand Lodge of Ireland is believed to have been formed in June 1725 and The Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736.
Elias Ashmole recorded “October 16, 1646 at 4:30pm, I was made a freemason at Warrington in Lancaster with Colonel Henry Mainwaring. The names of those that were then at the Lodge, Mr Richard Penket Worden, Mr James Collier, Mr Richard Sankey, Henry Little, John Ellam, Richard Ellam, and Hugh Brewer.”

The oldest known minutes of a Lodge (and yes, I’m sure they were read at the next meeting) are of The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No 1 under the grand jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, dated July 1599.
The Halliwell Manuscript or Regius Poem, dated 1425, describes how masonry began in Ancient Egypt and was ultimately brought to England during the reign of King Athelstan in 926.


The myths of course, are much more fun. Each of the following groups have throughout history been connected with Freemasonry or deemed part of the origins of Freemasonry.

Ancient Egypt

As mentioned, the Regius Poem suggests that masonry began in Ancient Egypt, where the mystery schools began. Under these mystery schools, initiates underwent ancient rituals as they advanced through multiple degrees of knowledge. Degrees were held in temples, with secret passwords and codes. Many of these degrees deal with the death and resurrection of Osiris, and in some of the sculptures left by the Egyptians to illustrate the rites of the Egyptian Mysteries the candidate is shown lying on a couch shaped like a lion from which he is being raised from the dead level to a living perpendicular. The bas-reliefs at Denderah make this very plain, though they represent the god Osiris being raised instead of a human candidate (sound familiar?). Similarly, other ancient societies, such as Mysteries of Eleusis, Mystery of Dionysus, or the Mystery of Mithras all deal with the death of a great man, followed by his resurrection and redemption.

Freemason, a trade guild

Operative Freemasons, skilled in geometry and other construction skills, travel freely building the great cathedrals of Europe. They were divided among classes, the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. As they travelled through Europe, to protect their trade secrets they had secret handshakes, passwords, and other modes of recognition. At some point in history, enlightened gentleman, such as John T. Desaguliers and John Anderson began to join the guild (1719) as speculative Freemasons. From this point begins the transformation of a trade guild into a society of enlightened men of reason, devoted to God and Science.


We will never truly know the origins of Freemasonry. All we do know factually, is that prior to 1717, there were lodges in England, Scotland, Ireland, and probably elsewhere too. That in 1717, four of these lodges decided to form a Grand Lodge. We also know that the one common thread across all of these different groups, whether it be the Ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt, the Essenes, Templar Knights, Royal Society, or Freemason Guilds, is a passion and a love for humanity. An understanding and appreciation for the belief in God and an enlightened view of Science. Most importantly, a belief in religious toleration. But more than that, it was not just a simple toleration for another person’s faith, but an understanding that in the end, we all pray at the feet of the same Divine Architect, we just use different names and rituals to achieve his Divine Grace.