The importance of the Constitutions of Anderson

constitutions-andersonAnderson’s Constitution is the basis of Modern Freemasonry and its foundation of operation. A variety of stories and irregularities exist about its legitimacy and its foundation, yet, it remains an early canon of Masonic History.

For some background this excerpt from wikipedia offers some insight to its history:

The Constitutions of the Free-Masons was a constitution written for the Premier Grand Lodge of England, to standardize the rituals and practices of Freemasonry among lodges of London and Westminster operating under that Grand Lodge. Obviously, it was not meant to apply to other lodges in other parts of England, Scotland and Ireland. The constitution laid the foundation of the legend of Hiram Abiff, King Solomon’s Master Builder, along with the pyramid style organizational model of Freemasonry. The first and second edition were written by Rev. James Anderson in 1723 and 1738.

Anderson’s Constitutions were based on the Old Masonic Manuscripts (also called “Gothic Constitutions”) and on the General Regulations which had been compiled first by George Payne in 1720. The full title of the 1723 edition was The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, Containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity, For the Use of the Lodges.

When in 1738, the Grand Lodge changed its name from Grand Lodge of London and Westminster into the Grand Lodge of England, the Constitution was rewritten by Anderson. The title of the second, rewritten, edition of 1738 was The New Book of Constitutions of the Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, Containing Their History, Charges, Regulations, &c. Collected and Digested By Order of the Grand Lodge from their old Records, faithful Traditions and Lodge-Books, For the Use of the Lodges.

The 1723 edition of the Constitutions was edited and reprinted by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734, becoming the first Masonic book printed in America.

A new edition of the Constitutions was published in 1754, by John Entick. He reverted to the Charges as drawn up in 1723 into which, especially in the first Charge, Anderson had introduced various modifications in the 1738 edition. It is this edition of the Charges which forms the basis of the Ancient Charges to be found today in the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England, with only small verbal modifications, except with regards to the first Charge on God and religion.

Powered by Wild Apricot. Try our all-in-one platform for easy membership management