This book is a revealing and thoroughly enjoyable journey through the intricate history of English Freemasonry. Historian Dr David Harrison reconstructs the hidden history of the movement, tracing its roots through a mixture of medieval guild societies, magic, alchemy and necromancy. He examines the earliest known Freemasons and their obsessions with Solomon’s Temple, alchemy and prophecy to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London, which in turn led to rebellions within the Craft throughout England, especially in York and with the formation of the antients. Harrison also analyses the role of French immigrant Dr Jean Theophilus Desaguliers in the development of English Freemasonry, focusing on his involvement with the formation of the mysterious modern Masonic ritual. All Freemasons and more general readers will find much of interest in this fascinating exploration of the very beginnings of Freemasonry, still one of the most mysterious brotherhoods in the world. The book has received excellent reviews and is available at all book outlets.
There will be a new updated paperback edition of my first book The Genesis of Freemasonry coming out soon. It is to be published by Lewis Masonic. More details to follow….
This is a fantastic informative book, charting the origins of Freemasonry from its dark mysterious past of magic and alchemy, up to the foundation of the Grand Lodges in the eighteenth century. The book also mentions famous Freemasons such as Natural Philosophers like Christopher Wren and Jean Desaguliers, poets like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, and many more. This book reveals the true beginnings of a much misunderstood society. I highly recommend this book, full of facts, nicely done . I give it a 5 star!
This stellar book is a well written documented history of the beginnings of Freemasonry during the late seventeenth century and throughout eighteenth century England. The author Historian Dr. David Harrison takes you on a fascinating journey through all the little nuances of the Craft.
Exploring the roots of Freemasonry and all it’s degrees, the lodges, Grand Lodges, and the men who became Freemasons. The book mentions men like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Wren, Elas Ashmole, Oliver Cromwell, Jean Desaguliers, Alexander Pope and many more.
It explores the rituals, the architecture of Freemasonry, the politics of Freemasonry, the rebellion within Freemasonry, the reconciliation and the coming together under the United Grand Lodge of England. It Shows how the Craft evolved and how it used elements of architecture, science, mathematics, poetry, art, magic, alchemy and astronomy as it’s foundation. The author discusses the three transitions of English Freemasonry and the cultural impact of the Craft.
Most will find this book very informative on a subject which has long been filled with secrecy. Packed with facts and fascinating photos this book is a serious look into the world of Freemasonry. I highly recommend it. 5 stars all around! Nice one to add to your book library.
David Kinchen Review of The Genesis of Freemasonry
English historian David Harrison, PhD, explores the origins of Freemasonry in a scholarly but very readable book The Genesis of Freemasonry (Lewis Masonic, an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd., Hersham, Surrey, England, 244 pages, $31.95, available on Amazon.com and other online booksellers).
Harrison sent me a review copy of his book after reading my reviews of books on Freemasonry. He suggested that it would be useful to understand the intellectual underpinnings of Freemasonry via a scholarly book like his.
Masonry has been described as a “society of secrets” as well as a “secret society.” Historian Harrison is a lecturer in history at the University of Liverpool, where he earned his doctorate. He reconstructs the hidden history of the movement, tracing its roots through a mixture of medieval guild societies, alchemy and necromancy.
He examines the earliest known Freemasons and their obsessions with Solomon’s Temple, alchemy, and prophecy, to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717, which in turn led to rebellions within the Craft throughout England.
Harrison also analyzes the role of French immigrant, Dr Jean Theophilus Desaguliers, a Protestant refugee from Roman Catholic persecution, in the development of English Freemasonry, focusing on his involvement with the formation of the mysterious modern Masonic ritual. All Freemasons and more general readers will find much of interest in this fascinating exploration of the very beginnings of Freemasonry, still one of the most mysterious brotherhoods in the world, he says.
Freemasonry had its origins in the guilds of “operative” masons — actual stoneworkers — who attracted the attention of “speculative” masons, mostly gentlemen and members of mercantile and aristocratic classes in the United Kingdom. It soon became fashionable for intellectuals and scientists and architects to become masons, where, Harrison says they could leave their religious and political differences at the door to the lodge, often a tavern or pub. It afforded like-minded men of all classes in the heavily class conscious UK to get together and eat and drink — lots of drink — Harrison says, and discuss intellectual and philosophic and scientific ideas.
Harrison discusses the differences between the “Antients” and the “Moderns” in Freemasonry — differences which led to rebellions and schisms in the “craft,” as Masons call their system of belief. Originally, speculative Freemasonry had only three degrees, as compared to the 33 of today’s “supersized” Freemasonry. Initiates of the First Degree were called “Entered Apprentices,” while Second Degree masons were called “Fellow Craft.” Those attaining the highest degree, the Third Degree, were called “Master Masons.” Before the 1720s, there were only two degrees, Harrison says: “These were extended into three degrees by the leaders of the ‘Moderns.'”
I was startled, to say the least, to find in Harrison’s books descriptions of licentious clubs called Hell Fire Clubs, organized by prominent Freemasons, where the men dressed like monks and the invited women, including local talent, dressed like nuns, engaging in orgiastic ceremonies.
I queried the good doctor by e-mail and he confirmed my interpretation: “Yes, you are absolutely right, the Duke of Wharton and later, Sir Francis Dashwood (both Freemasons) used the Hell Fire Clubs as a pseudo Masonic orgy on their country estates; the mix of secrecy, ritual and sex being an attractive way to spend the time with their close circle of influential friends, very much like [Stanley] Kubrick’s  film ‘Eyes Wide Shut.'”
Read Harrison’s fascinating book to expand your knowledge of Freemasonry, including its attraction to men of letters like Alexander Pope, Byron, Ben Jonson and James Boswell, along with scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and architects like Sir Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone. – David Kinchen
Other Interviews & Reviews:
‘a well crafted work, a stimulating book, well researched…it is a book that provokes thought…’ AQC
‘this book really does give you all the answers…’ Masonic Art Exchange
‘A considerable amount of good information is to be found in this book, in depth and fair analysis…an easy book to recommend’ The Northern Light
‘A fascinating book…The Genesis of Freemasonry is an invaluable resource for future historians…Harrison demonstrates that the reality about Freemasonry is even more compelling than the myths…’ Paranormal Magazine
‘sound and solid, thorough in its research and its enquiry…’ Fortean Times
‘a valuable tool for the Masonic researcher…’ Knight Templar Magazine
‘An excellent read’ Daily Post
‘I can commend its purchase to any curious and enquiring reader’ The Square Magazine
‘Dr Harrison is a workman of proven skill in the craft of roughing primary and secondary sources into a smooth thesis’ PIETRE-STONES