SCOTTISH RITE HISTORY

When the first Lodges in France were consecrated in the decade between 1720 and 1730, they operated under Warrants from the mother Grand Lodge of London. This was discontinued owing to the war between England and France, and about this time many new members in France indulged in experiments.  The Grand Lodge of France did not have the authority nor expertise to advise its members on what was required and as a result many new Degrees appeared.  There were estimated to be as many as 150 new Degrees in operation, and while a number of these Degrees were in accordance with the Ancient Landmarks of the ritual of the Craft in Britain, many were not.

The invention of new Degrees continued throughout Europe during the middle of the 18th century, but most of them passed into oblivion. In 1758 a Council of Emperors of the East and West selected 25 Degrees in a system referred to as the Rite of Perfection. The three Degrees of the Craft Lodge - the Entered Apprentice Degree, the Fellowcraft Degree and the Master Mason Degree - were the source of the development of these Degrees, and they formed a Rite which was destined to retain its vitality and to spread its influence throughout the world.  This rite was known as the Ancient and Accepted Rite, which was later changed to "The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry".  The name Scottish had no connection with the land of Scotland - the name denotes that it is a high, or "Ecossaise", degree lodge rather than a Craft Lodge.

A French trader who had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux founded an "Ecossaise" lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in Le Cap Français, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) in 1747. Over the next decades high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere.  This travelled to America and culminated in the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at Charleston, South Carolina in May 1801.  It was from this council that Scottish Rite Freemasonry received its impetus.  It spread throughout North America, was introduced by the Comte de Grasse-Tilly into France (1804); from France it passed into Italy (1805), Spain (1811) and Belgium (1817). In 1824 the Supreme Council for Ireland was formed and the Supreme Council of England and Wales was formed in 1845, and that of Scotland a year later. 

Rose Croix Masonry may well have been in Australia before Craft Masonry.  The first Masonic meeting in the new colony appears to have been held on board a French ship anchored at Port Jackson.  In September 1802 two French naval vessels, Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste, were anchored in Port Jackson and whilst there held a lodge meeting at which a colonist,  Anthony Fenn Kemp, was initiated. A certificate issued to Bro Kemp, now held in Sydney’s Mitchell Library, states in hand written French that the lodge was not regularly constituted, but properly assembled with the presiding brother being a member of the Metropolitan Chapter of Paris which was then the ruling body for the Rite of Perfection (25 degrees).   Craft Masonry only arrived fourteen years later with the British 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot in February 1814.