History

ORIGIN OF CRYPTIC RITE MASONRY

TO THE FORMATION OF

THE GRAND COUNCIL

ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS OF ONTARIO

            First I must say that this is just a mere outline on the history of the Cryptic Rite. I thought it might be of interest to explore the origin of the degrees and why the term Cryptic is used to denote that part of our Masonic system which is so closely allied to and follow in natural sequence the degrees of the Holy Royal Arch. 

            The degrees conferred in Councils of Royal and Select Masters were claimed and conferred by the Supreme Councils of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, although the degrees existed even before Supreme Councils. the word is derived from the Latin crypticus meaning subterranean, or concealed, and that from the Greek Krupte, which signifies a vault, or subterranean passage. The primitive Christians, we are told in history exemplified the ceremonials of their vaults beneath the great cathedrals and churches of the world are known as crypts. The degree of the Council of Royal and Select Masters may be called 'Cryptic Masonry" or "Masonry of the Secret Vault". The degrees comprise those of Royal, Select and Super Excellent Master. 

            The Rite was introduced on this Continent during the latter part of the eighteenth or beginning of the nineteenth century. It was no doubt had its inception by the Masonic enthusiasts of Continental Europe who were as warmly attached to side or complimentary degrees as many their brethren of the American Continent. 

            Dr. Mackey stated that the degrees were beyond a doubt honorary or side degrees belonging to and conferred by Inspector Generals of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Whatever claim they had to these degrees was abandoned by the resolution of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, passed at a meeting held in Baltimore in 1870. By that action all authority over Cryptic degrees was given up. 

            The degrees were originally independent of one another, and were no doubt the side degrees of the Rite of Perfection, which in 1761 was brought to this side of the Atlantic by Stephen Morn Charles T. McClenachan, in his history of the Scottish Rite, states:- "The Royal and Select Masters Degree were side or detached degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. In the Southern States if the Union the Supreme Council  initiated,  chartered  and  fostered Councils of Royal and Select Masters, and as rapidly as they were self-sustaining they became independent. The credit of organizing the first Body of the Cryptic Rite us the U.S.A. must be given to Thomas Lounds. He formed with others on Sept. 2nd, 1810, the "Colombian Grand Council of Royal Master Masons". This body, on December 8th, 1921, received within its fold a Council of Select Masters. A number of warrants were granted to Councils throughout the United States and its interesting to note that some were for Councils of Royal Masters and some were for Councils of select Masters and of course eventually the two amalgamated to form Councils of Royal and Select Masters. Grand Councils were formed at various dates in several states and ultimately "The General Grand Council of the United states was formed in 1880 at Detroit Michigan, representing 19 Grand Councils. 

            The degrees of the Councils were introduced in  the dominion of Canada by Hon. Robert Marshall, of St. John, New Brunswick.  In the year 1866 he had the  degrees of Royal,  Select and Super Excellent Master  conferred upon him  in  a Council at  Baltimore, U.S.A.  Companion  Marshall opened three Councils, St John Council No. 1, New Brunswick Council No.2, and Charlatan Council No.3, under a charter from the Grand Council of the state of Maine dated the 18th day of May 1867. On August 15th 1867 the Grand Council of New Brunswick became into being. 

            It is interesting to note at this point that the Red Cross Order that is at present conferred in the Preceptory was at one time a part of the Cryptic Rite. The Red Cross of 'Babylonish Pass' degree became part of the Cryptic Rite in the year 1870. This degree was conferred by Councils until the year 1884 when Grand Council surrendered the right to confer this degree to the Knights Templar. 

            The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Ontario was formed and recognized by the Grand Council of New Brunswick on August 8, 1871. The Grand Council of Ontario appointed delegates from Shekinah Council No 5 (18), Adoniram Council No.6 (2), Harrington Council No 8 (Non Existent) and Zabud Council No.9 (15). Our first Grand Master was R. Ill. Comp. T. D. Harrington. On the 30th  of August, 1872 the sixth and last annual assembly of the Grand Council of New Brunswick was held and the care of the territory devoted on the Grand Council of Ontario.  

            In the year 1875 with the consent of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Ontario, the Grand Imperial Council of the Dominion of Canada of Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine (ended in 1884) and the M. W. the Grand  Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners of the Dominion, it was proclaimed that the Grand Council of the Dominion of Canada be duly formed under the name  and  title of  the Grand Council of Canada.  

            The said Grand Council to have jurisdiction over all Councils of Royal  & Select  Masters  in the  Province  of Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and the North West Territories and all Conclaves and Lodges of Royal Ark Mariners within the Dominion of Canada. This Grand Council met regularly each year for some years, called the Grand Council of Canada in Ontario. By the year 1889, or certainly by 1885, the Grand Council ceased to function, partly due to financial conditions of the time, partly to competition from other groups. 

            In 1922 moves were made by Adoniram Council of Toronto, using their old charter, to reorganize the Grand Council. The first Grand Master of the re-organized Grand Council was M. Ill. Comp J. B. Nixon, who had been the last Grand Recorder of the old Grand Council. In 1924 there were seven Councils linked with the Grand Council of Ontario, including one from Winnipeg. So began again the work of our Rite in Ontario under the new Grand Council. Our Grand Council has changed its name more than once. First to satisfy New Brunswick, it became the Grand Council of Canada, Western Jurisdiction, as compared with the Maritime and Quebec, as the Eastern Jurisdiction. Then, when a Grand Council was formed in Western Canada, the title became what it is now known as today, "The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Ontario."

By John Ross Robertson, P. G. M. and

Grand Recorder of the Grand Council of The Dominion of Canada.

His sources for the following information is from such authors as

Mackey, Chase and McClenachan. (Up to 1888)