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1000 Years of Freemasonry in Scotland
By Kelly D Whittaker

There has been a conflict in the formation of Freemasonry in Scotland for many years.  I hope to clarify a few myths and present a sensible simple history to my readers. A person must first understand what freemasonry is before they can declare Masonic Activity in areas of history.  Masons are a group of highly talented and educated people.  They believe in the arts and sciences as well as their God. 

History has shown intelligent people labelled as heretics, wizards, occult participants, against the Church, and against their own countries.  Basically, people of knowledge were no better than Adam and Eve when the serpent enticed them into eating of the tree of knowledge.  This story will help to support the hypothesis; Masons are only a group of highly skilled people.

Masonry actually began with the Phoenicians in the time of Solomon but for the sake of Scotland, I will begin with signs of masonry in Scotland.  People have confused stone masonry with freemasonry.  For the purpose of this article, I am only going to talk about evidence.

The first evidence I have been able to locate is the Abbey of Kilwinning close to Glasgow.  The original work on the abbey was done ca 1020 by foreign masons.  They left their mark on the foundation stone (The History of Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, William Alexander Laurie, University of California, H. Morse Stephens collect). This very old manuscript states the masons came to Scotland in the early 11th century.  They built at Kilwinning and in York. 

The Grand Mistress of the Female Masons stated in 1724 …kings of Scotland have been from Time to Time Grand Masters without interruption down from the days of Fergus…

Robert L D Cooper also states on page 39 of The Rosslyn Hoax?, specific history commencing with Fergus II in A.D. 403 from Anderson.

I showed in my opening story, King Malcolm III Canmore was the first Grand Master of Scotland.  Now I am going to share with you some of the evidence I found; 6th August 1849, the Lodge of Glasgow, St. John, who claim to hold a Charter from Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland.

The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Part 3 states on page 1244, King Malcolm III gave a Charter to “our trusty and beloved friends, the operative Masons in the City of Glasgow” on October 5, 1057.

Malcolm III

The other 19 Grand Masters of Scotland copied from my first story are:

1.       Malcom III                     1031 - 1093
2.       Alexander I                    1078 - 1124          Patron
3.       David I                           1084 - 1153
4.       William the Lion            1143 - 1214
5.       Henry Wardlaw              ?       - 1440
6.       James I                           1394 - 1437
7.       William Sinclair             1404 - 1484
8.       William Turnbull            ?       - 1454
9.       Sir Robert Cockeran      ?       - 1482
10.     Alexander Lord Forbes  ?       - 1491
11.     William Elphinston        1431 - 1514
12.     Gavin Dunbar                1455 - 1532
13.     Gavin Douglas               1474 - 1522
14.     George Creighton           ?
15.     Patrick, Earl of Lindsay ?       - 1526
16.     Sir David Lindsay                   1551 - 1610
17.     Andrew Stewart, LO      1548 - 1593
18.     Sir James Sandilands     ?       - 1579
19.     Claud Hamilton LP        1543 - 1622
20.     James VI & I                  1566 - 1625

LO = Lord Ochiltree  LP = Lord Paisley  (Pages 39 & 40)

There are some very famous names listed in the chart above. I will not mention them at the present because I do want to talk about the less known Grand Masters in the chart above. 

Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of Andrews was Grand Master of Scotland until James VI, I, was ransomed from the English.  Wardlaw was also founder of the University.  Please read;

Gavin Dunbar (c1490-1547) was Archbishop of Glasgow and Chancellor of the University, 1524-1547.

Dunbar was born in Wigtownshire and studied canon and civil law in Glasgow and Paris. He was appointed tutor to the infant James V in 1517 and it was on Dunbar's advice that James founded Scotland's Supreme Court, the Court of Session, in 1532. He held several high offices in the Church before becoming Archbishop of Glasgow in 1524. He is believed to have died in the Bishop’s Palace at the top of High Street.

Gavin Douglas was the Bishop of Dunkeld and famous for being an advanced theologian of his age. 

George Creighton is unknown at present but I will locate other histories of Scotland and chase this gentleman up.

Patrick, Earl of Lindsay has very little information but I shall list what I have found.

Patrick Lindsay, 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres was the son of John Lindsay, 1st Lord Lindsay of the Byres and Agnes Stewart. He died in 1526.
 Patrick Lindsay, 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres gained the title of 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres [S., 1445].

Children of Patrick Lindsay, 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres and Isabella of Feotham

·         Sir John Lindsay+ d. 1525

·         William Lindsay+ d. a 1539

·         David Lindsay d. 1513


There are many knights in this line.  I have not found evidence of Knight Templar titles in my research thus far.

Here is some information I found on Sir James Sandilands from the internet:

          With the arrival of the Reformation the Sandilands of Calder were soon to become Lords of Torphichen. At that time Sir James Sandilands (second son of 7th feudal baron of Calder), was a Knight of St John and prior of Torphichen Preceptory (the centre of the Order of St John in Scotland). After the English Crown suppressed the Order in England in 1540 (and Ireland in 1547) the only preceptory left belonging to the Knights of St John was Torphichen. As a result for almost twenty-five years (from 1540 to 1564) Torphichen Preceptory under Sir James Sandilands represented the Knights of St John in the Britain.

However, in view of this isolated position, Sir James in 1564 eventually succumbed to the Reformation and surrendered Torphichen Preceptory and surrounding lands of the Knights of St John to the Scottish Crown (Queen Mary Stuart), receiving it back (to continue its administration) along with the title of Lord Torphichen. (Lord being in place of Preceptor, his previous designation granted by the Order of St John). He died in 1579 and, having no male heir, was succeeded by James (2nd Lord Torphichen & 10th feudal baron of Calder) the grandson of his elder brother John (8th feudal baron). As a result the Sandilands of Calder (Lords Torphichen) family descendants and their estate constitute the most direct historical link with the Order of St John in the British Isles. [Ref. "The Knights of Malta" by HJA Sire; publishers: Yale University Press, 1994.]


The pattern of intelligent people being in high ranks of freemasonry is evident with all the men listed as the original Grand Masters of the Lodge of Scotland.  Freemasonry was slow in growth during this era but did gain momentum in later years.  The documentation I have researched is good enough to prove to an outsider the Masons have been around for a very long time.

There is another pattern I have discovered in my research of the original Grand Masons, they are all closely interlinked to the Stuart Dynasty.  They are linked by blood or marriage.  I will leave this tidbit open to the many researchers out there who may have another theory other than mine as to the links in original Freemasonry and The Bruce and Stuart lines.

A thousand years is just a drop in the bucket for the origins of the Masons.  The next story will compare the Freemasons of Scotland to other ancient brotherhoods. The link will be made apparent for the name Scot.

Return to Kelly's Index Page


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