Premier Grand Lodge of England
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The Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster and it existed until 1813 when it united with the Ancient Grand Lodge of England to create the United Grand Lodge of England. It was the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be created. The basic principles of the Grand Lodge of England were inspired by the ideal of tolerance and universal understanding of the Enlightenment and by the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century.
The Grand Lodge was founded shortly after George I, the first Hanoverian king of the Kingdom of Great Britain, ascended to the throne on 1 August 1714 and the end of the first Jacobite rising of 1715.
Officially, the Grand Lodge of England was founded in London on St. John the Baptist's day, 24 June 1717, when four existing Lodges gathered at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul's Church-yard in London and constituted themselves a Grand Lodge. The four lodges had previously met together in 1716 at the Apple-Tree Tavern, "and having put into the Chair the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a Lodge), they constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro Tempore in due form." It was at that meeting in 1716 that they resolved to hold the Annual Assembly and Feast and then choose a Grand Master from among themselves, which they did the following year. All four lodges were simply named after the public houses where they were accustomed to meet, at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul's Church-yard (Lodge now called Lodge of Antiquity No. 2); the Crown Ale-house in Parker's Lane off Drury Lane; the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden (Lodge now called Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No. 12); and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster (Lodge now called Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No. IV). While the three London lodges were mainly operative lodges, the Rummer and Grapes, by the Palace of Westminster, appears to have been primarily a lodge of accepted and speculative gentlemen masons.
During the early decades of the Grand Lodge it was not the "Grand Lodge of England," either by function, in name on in the minds of its members. Rather, it limited its scope to lodges in London and Westminster, a restriction that also applied to the old London Masons' Company.
George Payne, in his second term as Grand Master in 1720, wrote the General Regulations of a Free Mason, which were printed in 1722/3. In 1723 the Grand Lodge of England set up a constitution for Free and Accepted Masons The Constitutions of the Free-Masons containing the History, Charges, Regulations, & of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity: For use of the Lodges, written by the Revd. Dr. James Anderson (1680–1739). A reworked version of the Constitutions was published in 1738 (by Anderson) and again in 1818 after the union of Ancients' Grand Lodge and the Moderns Grand Lodge.
The first Grand Master was Mr. Anthony Sayer, who was succeeded by George Payne esq. in 1718. The Grand Masters John Theophilus Desaguliers and John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu were Fellows of the Royal Society.
- 1717, Anthony Sayer
- 1718, George Payne
- 1719, John Theophilus Desaguliers
- 1720, George Payne
- 1721–1723, John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu
- 1723, Philip Wharton, 1st Duke of Wharton
- 1723–1724 Francis Scott, 2nd Duke of Buccleuch
- 1724 Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond
- 1725, James Hamilton, Lord Paisley
- 1726, William O'Brian, Earl of Inchiquin
- 1727, Lord Colerane
- 1728, Lord Kingston
- 1730, Duke of Norfolk
- 1731, Lord Lovell
- 1732, Lord Viscount Montague
- 1733, Earl of Strathmore
- 1734, Earl of Crawford
- 1735, Lord Weymouth
- 1736, Earl of Loudoun
- 1737, Earl of Darnley
- 1738, Marquis of Carnarvon
- 1739, Lord Raymond
- 1740, Earl of Kintore
- 1741, Earl of Morton
- 1742–1744, Lord Ward
- 1745–1747, Lord Cranston
- 1747–1752, William Byron, 5th Baron Byron
- 1752–1753, Lord Carysfort
- 1754–1757, Marquis of Carnarvon
- 1757–1762, Lord Aberdour
- 1762–1764, Earl Ferrers
- 1764–1767, Lord Blaney
- 1767–1772, Duke of Beaufort
- 1772–1777, Lord Petre
- 1777–1782, Duke of Manchester
- 1782–1790, Duke of Cumberland
- 1792–1812, Prince of Wales
- 1790–1812 Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Earl of Moira (Acting Grand Master)
- 1813, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
- The foundation of the first Grand Lodge in context
- Jones, Bernard E.; Freemasons' Guide and Compendium, pg. 171; 1950, 1982, Publ. by Harrap Ltd., London. ISBN 0-245-56125-0
- Coil, Henry Wilson; "England, Grand Lodge of," pg. 232. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, 1961, 1996, Macoy Publ. Co., Richmond Va.; ISBN-0-88053-054-5
- Coil, Henry Wilson; "England, Grand Lodge of," pg. 232–233. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, 1961, 1996, Macoy Publ. Co., Richmond Va.
- 1721 – General Regulations of a Free Mason