There are records of lodges conferring the degree of "Scots Master" or "Scotch Master" as early as 1733. A lodge at Temple Bar in London is the earliest such lodge on record. Other lodges include a lodge at Bath in 1735, and the French lodge, St. George de l'Observance No. 49 at Covent Garden in 1736. The references to these few occasions indicate that these were special meetings held for the purpose of performing unusual ceremonies, probably by visiting Freemasons. The Copiale cipher, dating from the 1730s, says, "The rank of a Scottish master is an entirely new invention..."
The seed of the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence on the higher degrees may have been a careless and unsubstantiated remark made by John Noorthouk in the 1784 Book of Constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of London. It was stated, without support, that King Charles II (older brother and predecessor to James II) was made a Freemason in the Netherlands during the years of his exile (1649–60). However, there were no documented lodges of Freemasons on the continent during those years. The statement may have been made to flatter the fraternity by claiming membership for a previous monarch. This folly was then embellished by John Robison (1739–1805), a professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, in an anti-Masonic work published in 1797. The lack of scholarship exhibited by Robison in that work caused the Encyclopædia Britannica to denounce it.
A German bookseller and Freemason, living in Paris, working under the assumed name of C. Lenning, embellished the story further in a manuscript titled "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry" probably written between 1822 and 1828 at Leipzig. This manuscript was later revised and published by another German Freemason named Friedrich Mossdorf (1757–1830). Lenning stated that King James II of England, after his flight to France in 1688, resided at the Jesuit College of Clermont, where his followers fabricated certain degrees for the purpose of carrying out their political ends.
By the mid-19th century, the story had gained currency. The well-known English Masonic writer, Dr. George Oliver (1782–1867), in his Historical Landmarks, 1846, carried the story forward and even claimed that King Charles II was active in his attendance at meetings—an obvious invention, for if it had been true, it would not have escaped the notice of the historians of the time. The story was then repeated by the French writers Jean-Baptiste Ragon (1771–1862) and Emmanuel Rebold, in their Masonic histories. Rebold's claim that the high degrees were created and practiced in Lodge Canongate Kilwinning at Edinburgh are entirely false.
James II died in 1701 at the Palace of St. Germain en Laye, and was succeeded in his claims to the British throne by his son, James Francis Edward Stuart (1699–1766), the Chevalier St. George, better known as "the Old Pretender", but recognized as James III by the French King Louis XIV. He was succeeded in his claim by Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charles"), also known as "the Young Pretender", whose ultimate defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 effectively put an end to any serious hopes of the Stuarts regaining the British crowns.
The natural confusion between the names of the Jesuit College of Clermont, and the short-lived Masonic Chapter of Clermont, a Masonic body that controlled a few high degrees during its brief existence, only served to add fuel to the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence in Freemasonry's high degrees. However, the College and the Chapter had nothing to do with each other. The Jesuit College was located at Clermont, whereas the Masonic Chapter was not. Rather, it was named "Clermont" in honor of the French Grand Master, the Comte de Clermont (Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Clermont) (1709–1771), and not because of any connection with the Jesuit College of Clermont.
A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an "Ecossais" lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Français, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him "Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World". This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or "Ecossais", degree lodges. Later copies of this Patent appear to have been embellished, probably by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies.
Early writers long believed that a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret", and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself "The Council of Emperors of the East and West". The title "Rite of Perfection" first appeared in the Preface to the "Grand Constitutions of 1786", the authority for which is now known to be faulty. It is now generally accepted that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is more properly called "The Rite of the Royal Secret", or "Morin's Rite". However, it was known as "The Order of Prince of the Royal Secret" by the founders of the Scottish Rite, who mentioned it in their "Circular throughout the two Hemispheres" or "Manifesto", issued on December 4, 1802.
Morin returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue, where, armed with his new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766 when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a "Grand Chapter" of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston.
The one man who was most important in assisting Morin in spreading the degrees in the New World was a naturalized French subject of Dutch origin named Henry Andrew Francken. Morin appointed him Deputy Grand Inspector General as one of his first acts after returning to the West Indies. Francken worked closely with Morin and, in 1771, produced a manuscript book giving the rituals for the 15th through the 25th degrees. Francken produced at least two more similar manuscripts, one in 1783 and another about 1786. The second and third of these manuscripts included all the degrees from the 4th through the 25th.
A Loge de Parfaits d' Écosse was formed on 12 April 1764 at New Orleans, becoming the first high degree lodge on the North American continent. Its life, however, was short, as the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded New Orleans to Spain, and the Catholic Spanish crown had been historically hostile to Freemasonry. Documented Masonic activity ceased for a time and did not return to New Orleans until the 1790s.
Francken traveled to New York in 1767 where he granted a Patent, dated 26 December 1767, for the formation of a Lodge of Perfection at Albany, which was called "Ineffable Lodge of Perfection". This marked the first time the Degrees of Perfection (the 4th through the 14th) were conferred in one of the thirteen British colonies. This Patent, and the early minutes of the Lodge, are still extant and are in the archives of Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction. (The minutes of Ineffable Lodge of Perfection reveal that it ceased activity on December 5, 1774. It was revived by Giles Fonda Yates about 1820 or 1821, and came under authority of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction until 1827, when it was transferred to the Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction.)
While in New York, Francken also communicated the degrees to Moses Michael Hays, a Jewish businessman, and appointed him a Deputy Inspector General. In 1781, Hays made eight Deputy Inspectors General, four of whom were later important in the establishment of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in South Carolina:
◊_ Isaac Da Costa Sr., D.I.G. for South Carolina;
◊_ Abraham Forst, D.I.G. for Virginia;
◊_ Joseph M. Myers, D.I.G. for Maryland;
◊_ and Barend M. Spitzer, D.I.G. for Georgia. Da Costa returned to Charleston, S.C., and established the "Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection" in February 1783. After Da Costa's death in November 1783, Hays appointed Myers as Da Costa's successor. Joined by Forst and Spitzer, Myers created additional high degree bodies in Charleston and, by 1801, the Charleston bodies were the only extant bodies of the Rite in North America.
Although most of the thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite existed in parts of previous degree systems, the Scottish Rite did not come into being until the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1801. The Founding Fathers of the Scottish Rite who attended became known as "The Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston".John Mitchell - Received a patent April 2, 1795, from Barend Moses Spitzer granting him authority as Deputy Inspector General to create a Lodge of Perfection and several Councils and Chapters wherever such Lodges or Chapters were needed. Born in Ireland in 1741, he came to America at an early age, was Deputy Quartermaster General in the Continental Army, and the first Grand Commander of the Supreme Council.
Frederick Dalcho - A physician. He served in the Army and for a while was stationed at Fort Johnson. He formed a partnership with Dr. Isaac Auld, another of the original members, in 1801. He was an outstanding orator and author. In 1807 he published the 1st Edition of Ahiman Rezon. He became an editor of the Charleston Courier, was a lay reader and deacon in the Episcopal Church and in 1818 was ordained a Priest.
Alexander Francois Auguste de Grasse Tilly - A son of a French Admiral, and perhaps the most famously connected of all the original eleven. He was the youngest of the members and was named to become the Grand Commander of the West Indian Islands. He later moved to France and established the Supreme Council of France.
Jean Baptiste Marie de La Hogue - He was a native of Paris and was a member of La Candeur Lodge in Charleston.
Thomas Bartholemew Bowen - Was the first Grand Master of Ceremonies of the new Supreme Council. He was a Major in the Continental Army and a printer by trade.
Abraham Alexander - Was one of the first Sovereign Grand Inspectors General. He was born in London in 1743, immigrated to Charleston in 1771. He was a very prominent Jew and had been described as "a Calligraphist of the first order", which may account for his election as the first Grand Secretary General.
Emanuel de la Motta - A Sovereign Grand Inspector General. He was by trade a merchant and auctioneer. He was a member of Friendship Lodge and was reported to be quite devoted to the study of Jewish Literature and Masonic Study.
Isaac Auld - An eminent physician, associated in medical practice with Dr. Dalcho. He was a rigid Congregationalist.
Israel de Lieben - A Sovereign Grand Inspector General and the first Grand Treasurer General. He was born in Prague and emigrated to America upon reaching Majority age. He was known as "the liberal-headed Jew", who was "tolerant in his religious opinions and was considered to be intelligent, enterprising, liberal and generous.
Moses Clava Levy - Was born in Krakow, Poland. He was a prosperous merchant, was generous and helpful to the unfortunate and devoted to his adopted city and country.
James Moultrie - Was the only native South Carolinian among the original members. He was a Doctor of Medicine, and according to Albert Pike, "was one of the foremost Citizens of South Carolina".
Isaac De Costa, one of the deputies commissioned to establish Morin's Rite of the Royal Secret in other countries, formed constituent bodies of the Rite in South Carolina in 1783, which eventually became, in 1801, The Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. All regular Scottish Rite bodies today derive their heritage from this body.
Subsequently, other Supreme Councils were formed in Saint-Domingue in 1802, in France in 1804, in Italy in 1805, and in Spain in 1811.
On May 1, 1813, an officer from the Supreme Council at Charleston initiated several New York Masons into the Thirty-third Degree and organized a Supreme Council for the "Northern Masonic District and Jurisdiction". On May 21, 1814 this Supreme Council reopened and proceeded to "nominate, elect, appoint, install and proclaim in due, legal and ample form" the elected officers "as forming the second Grand and Supreme Council...". Finally, the charter of this organization (written January 7, 1815) added, “We think the Ratification ought to be dated 21st day May 5815."
Officially, the Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J. dates itself from May 15, 1867. This was the date of the "Union of 1867", when it merged with the competing Cerneau "Supreme Council" in New York. The current Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States, was thus formed.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 29, 1809, Albert Pike is asserted within the Southern Jurisdiction as the man most responsible for the growth and success of the Scottish Rite from an obscure Masonic Rite in the mid-19th century to the international fraternity that it became. Pike received the 4th through the 32nd Degrees in March 1853 from Dr. Albert G. Mackey, in Charleston, S.C., and was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas that same year.
At this point, the degrees were in a rudimentary form, and often only included a brief history and legend of each degree as well as other brief details which usually lacked a workable ritual for their conferral. In 1855, the Supreme Council appointed a committee to prepare and compile rituals for the 4th through the 32nd Degrees. That committee was composed of Albert G. Mackey, John H. Honour, William S. Rockwell, Claude P. Samory, and Albert Pike. Of these five committee members, Pike did all the work of the committee.
In 1857 Pike completed his first revision of the 4°-32° ritual, and printed 100 copies. This revision, which Mackey dubbed the "Magnum Opus" was never adopted by the Supreme Council. According to Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, the Scottish Rite's Grand Historian, the Magnum Opus became the basis for future ritual revisions.
In March 1858, Pike was elected a member of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and in January 1859 he became its Grand Commander. The American Civil War interrupted his work on the Scottish Rite rituals. About 1870 he, and the Supreme Council, moved to Washington, DC, and in 1884 his revision of the rituals was complete.
Scottish Rite Grand Archivist and Grand Historian de Hoyos created the following chart of Pike's ritual revisions:
Pike also wrote lectures for all the degrees which were published in 1871 under the title Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
In 2000 the Southern Jurisdiction revised its ritual. The current ritual is based upon Pike's, but with some significant differences.
Attainment of the third Masonic degree, that of a Master Mason, represents the attainment of the highest rank in all of Masonry. Additional degrees are sometimes referred to as appendant degrees, even where the degree numbering might imply a hierarchy. They represent a lateral movement in Masonic education rather than an upward movement, and are degrees of instruction rather than rank.
In 2000, the Southern Jurisdiction in the United States completed a revision of its ritual scripts. In 2004, the Northern Jurisdiction in the United States rewrote and reorganized its degrees. Further changes have occurred in 2006. The current titles of the degrees and their arrangement in the Southern Jurisdiction remains substantially unchanged from the beginning.
The list of degrees for the Supreme Councils of Australia, England and Wales, and most other jurisdictions largely agrees with that of the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S. However, the list of degrees for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States is now somewhat different and is given in the table below. The list of degrees of the Supreme Council of Canada reflects a mixture of the two, with some unique titles as well:
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in each country is governed by a Supreme Council. There is no international governing body — each Supreme Council in each country is sovereign unto itself in its own jurisdiction.
In the United States of America there are two Supreme Councils: one in Washington, D.C. (which controls the Southern Jurisdiction), and one in Lexington, Massachusetts (which controls the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction). They each have particular characteristics that make them different.
In the United States, members of the Scottish Rite can be elected to receive the 33° by the Supreme Council. It is conferred on members who have made major contributions to society or to Masonry in general.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Southern Jurisdiction (often referred to as the "Mother Supreme Council of the World") was founded in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801. It oversees the Scottish Rite in 35 states, which are referred to as Orients, and local bodies, which are called Valleys.
In the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, the Supreme Council consists of no more than 33 members and is presided over by a Grand Commander. Other members of the Supreme Council are called "Sovereign Grand Inspectors General" (S.G.I.G.), and each is the head of the Rite in his respective Orient (or state). Other heads of the various Orients who are not members of the Supreme Council are called "Deputies of the Supreme Council". The Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction meets every odd year during the month of August at the House of the Temple, Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction Headquarters, in Washington, D.C. During this conference, closed meetings between the Grand Commander and the S.G.I.G.'s are held, and many members of the fraternity from all over the world attend the open ceremony on the 5th of 6 council meeting days.
In the Southern Jurisdiction, a member who has been a 32° Scottish Rite Mason for 46 months or more is eligible to be elected to receive the "rank and decoration" of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour (K.C.C.H.) in recognition of outstanding service. After 46 months as a K.C.C.H. he is then eligible to be elected to the 33rd degree, upon approval of the Supreme Council and Grand Commander.
The Lexington, Massachusetts-based Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, formed in 1813, oversees the bodies in fifteen states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont. The Northern Jurisdiction is only divided into Valleys, not Orients. Each Valley has up to four Scottish Rite bodies, and each body confers a set of degrees.
In the Northern Jurisdiction, the Supreme Council consists of no more than 66 members. Those who are elected to membership on the Supreme Council are then designated "Active." In the Northern Jurisdiction all recipients of the 33rd Degree are honorary members of the Supreme Council, and all members are referred to as a "Sovereign Grand Inspectors General." The head of the Rite in each State of the Northern Jurisdiction is called a "Deputy of the Supreme Council." Thus the highest ranking Scottish Rite officer in Ohio, is titled, "Deputy for Ohio", and so forth for each state. Additionally, each Deputy has one or more "Actives" to assist him in the administration of the state. Active members of the Supreme Council who have served faithfully for ten years, or reach the age of 75, may be designated "Active, Emeritus". The Northern Jurisdiction Supreme Council meets yearly, in the even years by an executive session, and in the odd years, with the full membership invited. The 33rd Degree is conferred on the odd years at the Annual Meeting.
In the Northern Jurisdiction, there is a 46-month requirement for eligibility to receive the 33rd degree, and while there is a Meritorious Service Award (as well as a Distinguished Service Award), they are not required intermediate steps towards the 33°.
In England and Wales, whose Supreme Council was warranted by that of the Northern Jurisdiction of the USA (in 1845), the Rite is known colloquially as the "Rose Croix" or more formally as "The Ancient and Accepted Rite for England and Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas" (continental European jurisdictions retain the "Écossais"). England and Wales are divided into Districts, which administer the Rose Croix Chapters within their District; many degrees are conferred in name only, and degrees beyond the 18° are conferred only by the Supreme Council itself.
All candidates for membership must profess the Trinitarian Christian faith and have been Master masons for at least one year.
In England and Wales, the candidate is perfected in the 18th degree with the preceding degrees awarded in name only. Continuing to the 30th degree is restricted to those who have served in the chair of the Chapter. Elevation beyond the 30th degree is as in Scotland.
In Scotland, candidates are perfected in the 18th degree, with the preceding degrees awarded in name only. A minimum of a two-year interval is required before continuing to the 30th degree, again with the intervening degrees awarded by name only. Elevation beyond that is by invitation only, and numbers are severely restricted.
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite appeared in France thanks to Grasse-Tilly in 1804 on his return from the Antilles. He founded the first Supreme Council in France that same year.
The Grand Orient of France signed a treaty of union in December 1804 with the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree in France; the treaty declared that "the Grand Orient united to itself" the Supreme Council in France. This accord was applied in fact until 1814. Thanks to this treaty, the Grand Orient of France took ownership, as it were, of the Scottish Rite.
From 1805 to 1814, the Grand Orient of France administered the first 18 degrees of the Rite, leaving the Supreme Council of France to administer the last 15. In 1815, five of the leaders of the Supreme Council founded the Suprême Conseil des Rites within the Grand Orient of France. The original Supreme Council of France fell dormant from 1815 to 1821.
The Suprême Conseil des Isles d'Amérique (founded in 1802 by Grasse-Tilly and revived around 1810 by Delahogue) breathed new life into the Supreme Council for the 33rd Degree in France, and they merged into a single organization: the Supreme Council of France. This grew into an independent and sovereign Masonic power. It created symbolic lodges (those composed of the first three degrees, which otherwise would be federated around a Grand Lodge or a Grand Orient).
In 1894, the Supreme Council of France created the Grand Lodge of France, which became fully independent in 1904 when the Supreme Council of France ceased chartering new lodges. The Supreme Council of France still considers itself the overseer of all 33 degrees of the Rite, and relations between the two structures remain close, as witnessed by the two joint meetings that they organize each year.
In 1964, the Sovereign Grand Commander Charles Riandey along with 400 to 500 members left the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of France and joined the Grande Loge Nationale Française, considering that thanks to his resignation and despite the fact that the Supreme Council of France had continued to work without him, there was no longer a Supreme Council of France. Riandey then reinitiated the 33 degrees of the rite in Amsterdam; with the support of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, he founded a new Supreme Council, called the Suprême Conseil pour la France, the sole to be recognized by the Supreme Councils of the United States after it was designated as the sole authority of the Scottish Rite for France by the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction (the oldest Supreme Council in the world) at the Barranquilla conference in 1970.
France thus finds itself in the unusual situation of having three different and arguably legitimate Supreme Councils:The Suprême Conseil Grand Collège du Rite écossais ancien accepté (emerging from the Supreme Council of 1804 and constituted in 1815), affiliated with the Grand Orient de France.
The Suprême Conseil de France (emerging from the Supreme Council of 1804 and then restored in 1821 by the Supreme Council of the Isles d'Amérique founded in 1802 in Saint-Domingue, the modern Haiti), affiliated with the Grand Lodge of France.
The Suprême Conseil pour la France (emerging from the Supreme Council of the Netherlands, constituted in 1965), affiliated with the Grande Loge Nationale Française
In Canada, whose Supreme Council was warranted in 1874 by that of England and Wales, the Rite is known as Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The council is called "Supreme Council 33° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada". Canada's Supreme Council office is located at 4 Queen Street South in Hamilton, Ontario. There are 45 local units or "Valleys" across Canada.
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was established in Romania, in 1881, under the Sovereign Grand Commander, Constantin Moroiu 33°, just a year after the kindling of the lights of the National Grand Lodge of Romania, in 1880. On 27th of December 1922, the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Romania, under the Sovereign Grand Commander Jean Pangal 33°, receives the recognition of the Supreme Council of France, shortly afterwards, in 1925, receiving recognition from the Supreme Council (Mother of the World), Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. Between 1948 – 1989, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Romania, along with the entire Romanian Freemasonry, is banned by the Communist regime. On October 19th, 1993, in Washington DC, the Supreme Council of 33rd and Last Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Romania is reconsecrated by the Mother Supreme Council of the World.