We know, most experts claim that the Freemasonry started in 1717, but our research shows us its roots are much deeper than our imagination.
Its principles and knowledge were practiced under other names from ancient Babylon down to the present-day Masonic Order.
In reality, no one knows the original starting date of Masonry.
Its actual origin has been lost in time. No one knows with certainty how and when it was formed. Historians assume it arose from the guilds of stonemasons in the Middle Ages.
It is indeed a widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars too. According to them, the opinions about 1717 are actually about the organization of four lodges in London into a Grand Lodge.
In the wider context, it won’t be appropriate to call it the birth year of Freemasonry.
However, historical documents pertaining to the beginning of Freemasonry have been preserved in many Masonic libraries.
There are indeed more than two-and-a-half million papers that shed light on the history of Masonry.
This can also be called as a priceless treasure of Freemason and you can read that comprehensive collection quite easily especially if you are a member of the Blue Lodge.
Before we delve deeper into the ancient history of Freemason, first it is pertinent to know how professional researchers try to comprehend the birth of this society.
Apart from searching for its origins and defining events, they particularly look for the earliest meeting records.
The earliest meeting records are the best chance to know more about Freemason. Since they have everything that can facilitate the researchers in estimating its birth date.
These meetings are also the best evidence of a lodge having any real organization.
Presently, as far as we perceive, the earliest meeting record is from the Lodge Atchison’s Haven in East Lothian, Scotland. It starts from 1599 and closes in 1852.
It is imperative to know one thing here that almost all the earliest records are from the region of Scotland. There were no administrative records from England during that time.
Now, of course, a complete story of that specific time period is beyond the scope of this single article.
But if you are immensely interested in it and desire to know about all the details about it and the events of that lodge, there is a good chance you can find a sizable collection of it in Freemason’s Hall, in the heart of London.
There are some other pieces of evidence, particularly in 1390, that are directly connected to the Fraternity rituals, such as language and symbols.
Many experts associate them with Middle Ages Fraternity signs too and declare that they are a copy of an earlier, ancient work.
The First Masonic Lodge
A Masonic Lodge is basically the organizational unit of Freemasonry.
In case you don’t know about Freemasonry a lot, a lodge is a place where all the Freemasons meet. Once you become a member of it, you become an official Freemason.
All the Masonic Lodges work under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge. In other words, it is the governing body and supervises and governs all the lodges.
It has the right to expel Freemasons from all Freemasonry if they break their laws and don’t follow their rituals.
The interesting thing is there are many ‘Grand Lodges’ in the world that have their own small variations in the degrees.
However, the basic requirements for the membership are the same in all continents, such as believing in one Supreme Being.
Historians and Freemasons as well believe that the first Grand Lodge dates back to 9th January 1599. It belongs to Aitchison’s Haven Musselburgh, UK.
If you are looking for the specific oldest lodge which is still operating today, it is The Lord of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel). It dates back to 31st July 1599.
Both of these lodges are in the UK.
In America, the first lodge formed in 1733 by 18 men. In that era, Freemasons were not so open about their mission of self-improvement and service to the community, but in 1793, George Washington openly laid the cornerstone of US Capitol in a Masonic ceremony.
George Washington isn’t the only president who can be associated with Freemasonry.
There have been total fourteen U.S. presidents who were Freemasons, such as Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gerald R. Ford Jr.
On the whole, it is impossible to know when the Freemasonry formed. After the first Grand Lodge formation in England, in 1717, all we know Ireland followed officially in 1725.
Other than that, 1751 can be considered an important year in Masonic history. It is a year in which we see a rift between ancients and the modern lodges.
Ancient lodges were focused more on the old constitutions of Freemasonry, while the modern lodges introduced the social club concept in their operative lodges.
Currently, the modern Freemasons are retaining the control of the Grand Lodge of England too.