The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, also known as the Anderson’s Constitutions, are a set of rules and regulations for the newly formed Grand Lodge of London and Westminster published in London in 1723.
The book was written by James Anderson and was intended to provide a standard set of regulations for the organisation and governance of Freemasonry, which was a newly-emerging fraternity at that time. The Constitutions laid out the basic principles of the fraternity, including its organisational structure, the duties of its officers, and the qualifications for membership. The 1723 Constitutions are considered to be one of the most important historical documents in the history of Freemasonry.
To celebrate the tercentenary of the 1723 Constitutions of Freemasonry, a year-long free exhibition opened on 9 January 2023 at the Museum of Freemasonry. This will be accompanied by national and international events.
Under the banner of ‘1723 – Inventing the Future’, the exhibition at the Museum of Freemasonry features digital displays and items from the collections that have never previously been on public display.
Among them are a personal copy of the Constitutions belonging to the Duke of Montagu, the first noble Grand Master; the box that contained the Duke of Richmond’s miniature working tools; a maul purportedly belonging to Sir Christopher Wren; and a host of rare early and mid-18th-century items relating to Freemasonry and the Enlightenment.
Richard Berman, PhD, FRHistS, said:
The 1723 Constitutions was based on Enlightenment foundations, values that lie at the core of modern Freemasonry in England and internationally. The Constitutions set a pattern for Freemasonry throughout the world. Understanding the context helps to explain the origins of modern Freemasonry and sheds light on the relationship between Freemasonry and society today.
Richard Berman, PhD, FRHistS
In addition to the exhibition, a dedicated website at www.1723constitutions.com provides a comprehensive picture of the context, content and consequences of this remarkable book.
The website sets out Freemasonry’s principles and considers the people involved, not least that of French Protestant refugees, ‘Huguenots’, and explores the context and framework within which their ideas were formed. It also discusses the impact of the 1723 Constitutions in England, Ireland and Scotland, and in Europe, North and South America, and elsewhere across the globe.
To commemorate the occasion, the United Grand Lodge of England is launching a unique series of podcasts on the 1723 Constitutions, with special episodes on subjects including the following: the Dukes of Montagu and Richmond; Black Freemasonry and Black Freemasons; Royal Freemasonry; and ‘Inventing the Future’.
- Old letter: Picryl