Scottish Knights Templar

Earliest evidence of their existence since 1312



Knights Templar Seal

Knights Templar Seal

Following the dissolution of the Medieval Order of Knights Templar in 1312 there has been some debate as the earliest evidence modern Templars in Scotland. It has been said that this dates from 1778 when a ceremony was conducted in Edinburgh by Freemasons from Perth. It has long been said that they conferred the Knights Templar ceremony on Freemasons in that city. Below we provide extracts from the Minute Books of Lodge St Stephen’s, No.145, which explains the details and thereafter there is a commentary on those Minutes.



THE early fraternization of St. Stephen’s with the several Lodges referred to in the previous chapter was not wholly confined to those working in and about the Scottish metropolis, but extended much further afield, and especially so was this the case with the Lodge of Perth and Scoon, now known as Scoon and Perth, No.3. In his history of this Lodge, D. Crawford Smith states, that in the records that have been preserved, there are no references which bear on the relationship existing between the two Lodges, or on the circumstances which led to the conferring of the Royal Arch and Templar Degrees in the year 1778 on several of the members of St. Stephen’s by brethren connected with Perth and Scoon. This is to be regretted, but fortunately much valuable information in connection with the matter may be gleaned from the first book of records of the Edinburgh Royal Arch Chapter, No. I, which is not, states William A. Davis, the historian of that Chapter, “in a regular sense a Minute Book of the Chapter, but a written transcript from the original Minute Book of the Knights Templars, that Order having been conferred by the Perth and Scoon Lodge on the same Office-Bearers who received that of the Royal Arch.”

As there is much in this written transcript connected with the early history of St. Stephen’s and its members during the period covered by the lodge Minute Book, dating from 1777 to 1793, we quote liberally from the History of the Edinburgh Royal Arch Chapter, No. 1, in which these records are in part reproduced. The first entry is dated:

“EDINBURGH, Dec. 2nd 1778.” This day the compliment of six sundry steps in Masonry was offered to the Office-Bearers of St. Stephen’s Lodge by sundry of the Brethren from the ancient Lodge of Perth and Scoon. Accordingly there was a Committee called, so there was then present: The Right Worshipful Master Bro. David McLaren* ; Bro. William Lyon, Junior Warden; Bro. John Dick, Secretary; Bro. George Miller, Senior House-Steward; Bro. Robert Stewart, Grocer; Bro. William Mackenzie; Bro. John Moodie; and Bro. John Reid, Tyler; who all of one voice accepted of the compliment of that degree of Masonry, viz., the 4th called Past the Chair,” ” after which the Master, Warden, Secretary, and Brethren, then present, gave honorary initiation to the above named Brethren who gave us the compliment.”

The latter portion of the extract: is not given by Davis, but is ‘quoted by Crawford Smith in his History of Lodge Scoon and Perth, and is of interest from the fact: that it informs us of those who were probably the first Honorary Members of the Lodge, viz., Brothers Andrew Gloag, John Bryson, David Gray, and John Scobie. Two days later:

“December 4th 1778.” This night being set apart by the Brethren of Perth and Scoon Lodge in order to confer upon the Office-Bearers of St. Stephen’s Lodge the following Degrees of Masonry, viz., Excellent and Super Excellent Masons, Arch and Royal Arch Masons, and lastly Knights of Malta, there was then at that time admitted into that excellent order, Br. David McLaren,* Master; Br. Wm. Lyon, Junior Warden; Br. John Dick, Secretary; Br. James Shaw, Treasurer; Br. John Notman, Grand Steward; Br. George Miller, Senior Lodge Steward; Br. Wm. Gow, Watch-maker; Br. John Moodie, Clerk; and Br. John Reid, Tyler; after which the Right Worshipful Master, Worshipful Junior Warden, and Office-Bearers then present, ordered the same to be Minuted in order to show to the worthy brethren of St. Stephen’s Lodge what honour the brethren of Perth and Scoon Lodge had conferred on us.”

The next transcript, which is dated l0th December 1778, is also of interest, as we learn from it that the Lodge-room was at this period situated in the Burgh of Canongate :

“a Committee belonging to St. Stephen’s met and entered Donald McDonald, apprentice in the Mystery of Free Masonry, in our Lodge here in Canongate, and at the same time conferred the 4th degree of Masonry upon Br. James Robertson, viz., that of Master past the Chair.”

There is no doubt that if the first Minute Book of the Lodge could be got, it would be found to contain the foregoing transcripts, for we find in the one dated 4th December the Statement that the recipients of the Degrees “ordered the same to be minuted,” but the minutes of the Craft in the majority of cases make no mention of these Degrees, although worked in many Scottish Lodges. In St. Stephen’s Royal Arch Chapter 19 the month following the above-mentioned meeting of Committee, on 28th January 1779, it is Stated that certain Rules were agreed to, among which we quote the following:

“That all the money arising from said Degrees shall be kept separate from the funds of the Lodge, and a book purchased for keeping their own Minutes.”

The record of the meeting at which the foregoing and other Rules were adopted, concludes as follows:

Eodem die

“The Brethren have agreed that none of the Members who shall be of these Degrees shall be art and part in making any Royal Arch Masons upon any pretence whatever within forty miles of Edinburgh unless in their own Lodge, and ordain an obligation to that effect: to be taken at their admission.

” The Brethren present elected:

Br. John Notman, Candlemaker, to be the Governor.

Brs. Wm. Lyon and Andw. Gloag, Assistants.

Brs. McLaren, Dick, A. Stewart, Gray, Cleghorn, Thomson, Miller, Zeigler, Robertson, and Bryson, Committee of Managers;

and ordains the Regalia to be kept and this night’s expence paid by the Treasurer.


Thus was St. Stephen’s Royal Arch Chapter and Knights Templar Encampment inaugurated and put on a business footing. It is unnecessary in connection with the history of the Lodge to make further allusion to these Orders.

To be continued…



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