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Where and how did the Scottish Rite begin?

The branch of Freemasonry known as the Scottish Rite is “Scottish” in name only. Most outsiders—even many Freemasons—assume that the fraternity originated in Scotland. However, historical research supports the theory that the Scottish Rite started in Paris, France, around 1758.

According to Arturo de Hoyos in his book The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, the Scottish Rite came to the United States by way of France. There is evidence of Scottish Masons’ lodges dating back to 1733 in England, and there were also predecessors such as the Adonhiramite Rite (ca. 1781), which included many degrees that ultimately became part of the Scottish Rite. Yet it was not until 1763 and the creation of the Order of the Royal Secret by Etienne (Stephen) Morin of France that the ritual we practice today began to coalesce into a form recognizable to a modern Scottish Rite Mason.

On May 31, 1801, the Scottish Rite formalized its existence in the United States when Colonel John Mitchell and Reverend Dr. Frederick Dalcho met in Charleston, South Carolina, and opened a meeting of the “Supreme Council of Freemasonry.” Today, the Southern Jurisdiction recognizes this date as its beginning and held its own bicentennial celebration in 2001.

In 1813, the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA was created. Read more about the history of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and discover key events on our history page.

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