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The Royal Order Of Scotland

Richard B. Baldwin, 32°, K.C.C.H.
Provincial Grand Secretary
The Royal Order of Scotland

Today, the Royal Order of Scotland confers honorary Masonic Degrees in 76 Provincial Grand Lodges worldwide.

The Royal Order of Scotland is one of the Honorary Degrees or Orders of Masonry in the United States of America. It consists of two Degrees, viz., the Order of Heredom of Kilwinning, which is conferred in a Chapter of the same name, and the Knights of the Rosy Cross, which is conferred in the Grand Lodge or a Provincial Grand Lodge.

The Grand Lodge of this Order is at Edinburgh, Scotland, and is presided over by the King of Scots as hereditary Grand Master. In times such as the present, when there is no King of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland (II of England) being the ruling monarch, the Order is ruled by a Deputy Grand Master and Governor, who is currently Andrew Bruce, Lord Elgin, 15th Earl of Elgin and 17th Earl of Kincardine, a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce. He is also a Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland, the Grand First Principal of Scotland (ad vitam), an 18° Scottish Rite Mason, a Knight of the purposes, being built in 1736.

Some 76 Provincial Grand Lodges of the Order exist throughout the world of which the Provincial Grand Lodge of the United States of America is one. The American Provincial Grand Master is R\W\ Edward H. Fowler, Jr., 33°, a Past Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania. Recently, he assumed this post from R\W\ Marvin Edward Fowler, 33°, G\C\, who had held it continuously since 1953 and was the senior Provincial Grand Master in the world in terms of years of service and was thought to be the senior member in the world, having been advanced and promoted in 1932.

Ill. Edward H. Fowler, Jr., 33°, Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (1993), was named R.W. Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge, Royal Order of Scotland, USA, in 1997.

Like most Masonic organizations, the beginnings of this Order are shrouded in the mists of time. According to the traditions and Work of the Order, it was founded “on the holy top of Mount Moriah in the Kingdom of Judea.”1 It then fell into disuse until the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June, 1314, when it was restored by King Robert the Bruce of Scotland2 to honor 63 knights who, with no prior notice, appeared on the field of battle as a mounted unit, quickly turned the tide, and defeated the English. This battlefield still exists to this day, 700 years later, and is still not encroached by society.

From the written records of the Order, we learn that its first appearance was, in a roundabout way, in London, England. In 1750, two Scotsmen from The Hague appeared before the governing body of the Royal Order, “which had existed in London since at least 1741”3 and petitioned for a Provincial Grand Lodge to be established at The Hague.

For various reasons, this Provincial Grand Lodge was never erected. In 1754, one of these men, William Mitchell, was in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Chapter of the Order was erected there in 1763. In 1767 this body elevated itself into the present Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of the Order.4 From this humble beginning, the present-day Order grew into a Grand Body in Edinburgh and to more than 76 Provincial Grand Lodges worldwide. Provincial Grand Masters and Deputy Grand Masters are appointed by Lord Elgin for terms of five years, and they in turn appoint their other officers, subject to the approval of Lord Elgin.

The Order came into the United States in 1877 when Albert Pike was named the first Provincial Grand Master. The first meeting was in 1878. At that time, there could be only 63 members corresponding to the number of knights alleged to be at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Over time, this number was increased to 100, then 126, and so forth until the present time where there is no set number of members. In fact, the Order in the United States is about 8,700. Pike was also given a handwritten copy of the Work which still exists and remains in the hands of the Provincial Grand Master.

In Scotland, the prerequisites for being invited to be a member in the Order are that the candidate must have been a Master Mason for no less than five years, a Royal Arch Mason, a Trinitarian Christian, and have Masonic or civic accomplishments which deem him worthy to be honored among Masons. When Pike brought the Order to the United States, he applied these very same rules. Subsequently, however, the rules here were changed to ally the Order with the Scottish Rite where it remains today. Because of the Scottish rule, the Provincial Grand Master here may choose to waive the Scottish Rite requirement and usually does if the candidate is a Knight Templar. Interestingly, the eighth Provincial Grand Chapter of the Royal Order of Scotland is recorded as being formed at Norfolk, Virginia, on October 12, 1752. No record has as yet been found here of this Chapter, but it apparently did exist since among the earliest records of the Order in Edinburgh is a List of Regular Chapters according to Seniority which shows No. 8 as being The Grand Chapter at Norfolk on Elizabeth River in the Colony of Virginia, South [sic] America, meeting on the third Sunday of the month and having been formed October 12, 1752.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of the United States of America has its offices in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. With some 8,700 members, it constitutes more than one-half of the worldwide membership of the entire Order. Petitions for membership are by invitation only and are handled through a Screening Committee in each state. For more information please write to: The Royal Order of Scotland, PO Box 125, Annandale, VA 22003.

Footnotes

1. Printed Ritual of the Royal Order of Scotland.
2. Lindsday, Robert Strathern, Royal Order of Scotland, Wm. Culross & Sons Ltd., Coupar Angus, Perthshire, Scotland, 1972, p. 39 (hereinafter referred to as the History).
3. History, p. 7.
4. Ibid.


Royal Order of Scotland, Provincial Grand Masters, USA
Albert Pike District of Columbia 1877-1891
Josiah Hayden Drummond Maine 1891-1902
James Daniel Richardson Tennessee 1903-1914
Leon Martin Abbott Massachusetts 1914-1917
George Mayhew Moulton Illinois 1917-1919
George Edgar Corson District of Columbia 1919-1927
Sam Poyntz Cocharan Texas 1927-1932
James Henry Brice New York 1932-1953
Marvin Edward Fowler District of Columbia 1953-1997
Edward H. Fowler, Jr. Pennsylvania 1997-