The Royal Arms of England with Masonic Emblems :
The Hanoverian arms of England were used by successive monarchs from the reign of George I to George III. Introduced in 1714 they remained unchanged until George III renounced his title of King of France in 1801 when the Fluers de Lis were removed from the arms. The belt surrounding the shield bears the motto of the Order of the Garter, “Hon Y Soit Qui Mal Y Pense” or “Shame to him who evil thinks.” The motto below, “Dieu et Mon Droit,” means “God and My Right.” The royal arms on the present example are those of George III (George William Frederick 1738 – 1820) they rest on a complex interlaced gilt design in the Rococo style and contain Masonic devises including a square, level, plumb-line, gavel, apron, sword, and lewis. The inclusion of Masonic emblems with the Royal Arms of England most probably point to this not being a direct royal commission, rather a special order by a individual Freemason or a lodge. However, George III`s son, Henry Frederick, was Grand Master, the highest member of the Freemasons, from 1782 to 1790. It is possible that this service was ordered by him.
The Masons in 18th Century Britain :
Stock number: 22485.
English Masonic historians place great importance on 24 June 1717 (St. John the Baptist`s day) when four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s churchyard and formed what they called The Grand Lodge of England. Although Freemasonry had existed in England since at least the mid-17th century and in Scotland since The Schaw Statutes were enacted in 1598 and 1599, the establishment of a permanent Grand Lodge in London in 1717 is traditionally considered the formation of organized Freemasonry in its modern sense. Throughout the early years of the new Grand Lodge there were many lodges that never affiliated with the new Grand Lodge. These unaffiliated Masons and their Lodges were referred to as “Old Masons,” or “St. John Masons, and “St. John Lodges”. In 1725 a lodge in York founded the rival “Grand Lodge of All England” as a protest against the growing influence of the Grand Lodge of England in London. During the 1730s and 1740s antipathy increased between the London based Grand Lodge of England (hereafter referred to as the Premier Grand Lodge) and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. Irish and Scots Masons visiting and living in London considered the Premier Grand Lodge to have considerably deviated from the ancient practices of the Craft. As a result, these Masons felt a stronger kinship with the unaffiliated London Lodges. The aristocratic nature of the Premier Grand Lodge and its members alienated other Masons of the City causing them also to identify with the unaffiliated Lodges. On 17 July 1751, representatives of five Lodges gathered at the Turk`s Head Tavern, in Greek Street, Soho, London — forming a rival Grand Lodge — The Most Antient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons. They believed that they practiced a more ancient and therefore purer form of Masonry, and called their Grand Lodge The Antients` Grand Lodge. They called those affiliated to the Premier Grand Lodge, by the pejorative epithet The Moderns. These two unofficial names stuck. Laurence Dermott wrote a new constitution for the Ancients, the Ahiman Rezon as an alternative for the Constitution of the Moderns. An illustration of how deep the division was between the two factions is the case of Benjamin Franklin who was a member of a Moderns` Lodge in Philadelphia. During his stay in France, he became Master of the Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs in 1779, and was re-elected in 1780. Upon returning from France it transpired that his Lodge had changed to (and had received a new warrant from) the Antients Grand Lodge; no longer recognizing him and declining to give him “Masonic Honours” at his funeral. For many years, “The Great Masonic Schism” was a name applied to the sixty-two year division of English Freemasonry into two separate Grand Lodges. Some even attempted to attribute the division to the changes in passwords made in 1738–39 by the Premier Grand Lodge. Masonic historian Robert F. Gould in his “History of Freemasonry (1885) referred to the Antients Grand Lodge as “schismatics”. However, Henry Sadler, Librarian of the UGLE, demonstrated in his 1887 book “Masonic Facts and Fictions” that the Antients Grand Lodge was formed in 1751 primarily by Irish Masons living and working in London, never affiliated with the older Grand Lodge. 72 of the first 100 names on the roll of the new Antients` Grand Lodge were Irish. In 1776, the Grand Secretary of the Moderns` Grand Lodge referred to them as “the Irish Faction (Ye Antient Masons, as they call themselves)”. And so the myth of a “Great Masonic Schism” in English Masonry was laid to rest.
Information from History of Freemasonry on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Freemasonry