Those that are familiar with the fraternity of Freemasonry will already be equally familiar with the mystery surrounding its origins. Therefore, it is no great surprise to conclude that if the origins of the fraternity as a whole are clouded in mystery, the origins of various appendent orders like those of the A&AR and others are equally elusive.
The first practices with speculated links to the A&AR date back to the early 1730s but due to the lack of information as to their content, it is difficult to attribute a definitive tangible link. So how far back can we go before the origins are diluted?
It is well documented that Freemasonry was in existence long before the creation of the Premier Grand Lodge of London which was established in 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Public House in London by four London lodges. The Premier Grand Lodge was created as a means of regulating the ceremonies of the order and in doing so, censuring those practices that it considered to be spurious in origin. This led to a number of existing lodges, originating from a predominantly Scottish or Irish (and often Jacobite) heritage, to become very upset about the way their practices were being overlooked and rejected as ‘irregular’. They in turn created a Grand Lodge of Ancients, suggesting that their ceremonies and practices pre-dated those of the Premier Grand Lodge which by default led to the members of the Premier Grand Lodge being referred to by their celtic critics as the ‘Moderns’.
What we do know is that in 1761 a French mason, a creole by the name of Etienne Morin, was sent to the West Indies with the task of organising and establishing a regularity among the growing number of Western Hemisphere Lodges that were now practising additional ceremonies referred to as Maçon Ecossais (Scots Mason). Morin enlisted the assistance of Henry Andrew Francken, a Dutch Freemason, and between them they refined and established order among the variety of differing practices and so was born the earliest framework for a ‘Regular’ governing body over these additional ceremonies – now known as The Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America.
Today the A&AR is governed by the Supreme Council for England & Wales and its Districts and Chapters Oversees, having received a patent in 1845 from the Northern Jurisdiction, which was formed shortly after the Southern Jurisdiction.