The origins and early development of Freemasonry are a matter of some debate and conjecture. A poem known as the "Regius Manuscript" has been dated to approximately 1390 and is the oldest known Masonic text.
There is evidence to suggest that there were Masonic lodges in existence in Scotland as early as the late 16th century. The Lodge at Kilwinning, Scotland, has records that date to the late 16th century, and is mentioned in the Second Schaw Statutes (1599) .
There are clear references to the existence of lodges in England by the mid-17th century. The first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster (later called the Grand Lodge of England (GLE), was founded on 24 June 1717. This was the first Grand Lodge in the world.
After four years of negotiation, the two Grand Lodges in England united on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England. This union led to a standardisation of procedures and regalia.
The earliest official English documents to refer to masons are written in Latin or Norman French. Thus we have "sculptores lapidum liberorum" (London 1212), "magister lathomus liberarum petrarum" (Oxford 1391), and "mestre mason de franche peer" (Statute of Labourers 1351). These all signify a worker in freestone, a grainless sandstone or limestone suitable for ornamental masonry. In the 17th century building accounts of Wadham College the terms freemason and freestone mason are used interchangeably. Freemason also contrasts with "Rough Mason" or "Layer", as a more skilled worker who worked or laid dressed stone.
Famous International Masons
An overwhelming number of the world’s best and brightest have been or are Freemasons. These groups give you far from a comprehensive list — they're just a sampling:
Founding fathers: America’s most famous Freemason, George Washington was initiated in 1752, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Other founding fathers who were also Masons include Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, Robert R. Livingstone, John Hancock, and Aaron Burr.
U.S. presidents: Fourteen U.S. presidents are definitely known to have been Freemasons: George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Gerald R. Ford.
Explorers and adventurers: Freemasons who blazed new trails include Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, Christopher “Kit” Carson, Lewis and Clark, Charles Lindbergh, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
Science and medicine: Many Freemasons have played an important role on the scientific and medical frontiers, among them Edward Jenner (discoverer of the cure for smallpox), Joseph Lister (the man who pioneered the concept of antiseptics in medicine), and Alexander Fleming (won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin).
Arts and letters: The world of art, music, and literature wouldn't be the same if it weren’t for the contributions of the Masons Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Aleksander Pushkin, Jonathon Swift, Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alex Haley, and Mark Twain.
Becoming A Mason
ARE YOU THINKING OF BECOMING A FREEMASON?
For those seeking to learn more about Freemasonry, there is a wealth of information — and, sadly, some mis-information — easily available to you on the Internet. If you have an open mind and seek a balanced view, we recommend that you first read the text published on Wikipedia (see also Links on this website). If you feel so inclined, the links are provided for further information.
If you are a Mason and you'd like to visit us, whether to actively participate or simply to watch, please let us know.
Some Famous Swiss Masons
Born 19 February 1833 in Geneva. A journalist, Swiss politician, Freemason and pacifist , a founder in 1867 of the League of Peace and Freedom . He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1902 with Charles Albert Gobat .
Born in 1915 and joined Freemasonry in 1954, this native of Le Locle, humanist and renowned philosopher well beyond our frontiers, received the honorary title of Doctor "honoris causa" from the University of Neuchâtel just a few years before his death in 1984.
Jonas Furrer (1805-1861)
Member of the Akazia Lodge at Winterthur, he was elected Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland in 1844, before he became, four years later, the first President of the Swiss Confederation.
Augusta Giacometti (1877-1947)
Swiss painter from the Grisons, initiated in 1919 at Zürich, he is known for his decorations in holy arts, his floral subjects and, from 1910, for his abstract works of the "tachist" type.
Pierre-Maurice Glayre (1743-1819)
Man of politics, diplomat, he was also private secretary to the King of Poland and the first president of the temporary Assembly in the country of Vaud.
Adrien Lachenal (1849-1918)
This solicitor and politician from Geneva, Federal Counsellor from 1892 to 1899, was elected President of the Swiss Confederation in 1896 and presided over the States Counsel from 1904 to 1918.