The Origin of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

After the organization of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, Masonry became very popular. It passed over the Channel to France in 1721 where many ritualists invented numerous "side degrees" subject to no governing body and hawked them about the country and through the continent.

In 1740, Chevalier Ramsey, a Scottish nobleman, gave some famous lectures in Paris and Bordeaux on the origin and objects of Masonry. He subdivided the "Three Degrees" and concocted degrees from the parts explained by his philosophic lectures. He established a Lodge which he called Harodim, but the French styled it Scotchman's Lodge Masonry, which fact may have had something to do with the misnomer, Scottish Rite.

The Scottish Rite had its beginning in France. In 1754, the Chevalier de Bonneville established in the College of Clermont in Paris a chapter of twenty-five so-called "High Degrees." This college was a sort of refuge for the Stuarts of Scotland, which fact may have had some bearing on the name Scottish Rite. The body established by Bonneville, including the three symbolic degrees, was called the Rite of Perfection. In 1758, these Degrees were taken by Marquis de Lernais to Berlin where they in the following year were placed under a body called the Council of the Emperors of the East and West, which was formed at Paris from the ruins of the Clermont Chapter.

Frederick the Great

In 1762, it is said that Frederick the Great "formed and promulgated" what is known as the Constitutions of 1762. In 1786, a reorganization took place in which eight degrees were added to the twenty-five and the name changed to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. By these Constitutions, Frederick resigned the authority of Grand Commander, which title he had held since the adoption of the Grand Constitutions in 1762, and deposited his Masonic prerogatives with a council in each nation to be composed of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and last degree of Freemasonry.