Item Details

Women in Eighteenth-Century English Freemasonry: the First English Adoption Lodges and their Rituals

Issue: Vol 4 No. 1 (2013) Vol. 4. No 1 - 2 (2013) : Women and Freemasonry

Journal: Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/jrff.v4i1.60


Drawing on several so-far neglected documents available in the Burney Collection of the British Library as well as in the Library and Museum of Freemasons' Hall in London, this paper investigates the gender structures and roles represented in English masonic constitutions, pamphlets, letters, rituals as well as newspapers of the long eighteenth century. First, it examines the origin and the public perception of the exclusion of women from the fraternity in England and discuses how freemasons defended this 'landmark.' Secondly, it analyses how and why English freemasons invited ladies to participate in various masonic activities including balls, feasts and public masonic ceremonies. Thirdly, it highlights how some English women, following the advice of some liberal-minded 'brethren', managed to subvert this gender-exclusive principle by establishing all-female and / or adoption lodges in the second half of the century. So far scholarship has dated the emergence of such lodges to the twentieth century in England. Finally, the paper will compare the gender constructions of traditional male masonic rituals with the first English ceremonies of adoption lodges admitting both sexes.

Author: Róbert Péter

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References :

Primary sources
Newspapers and Periodicals.
Bingley’s Journal, 2–9 May 1772, Issue 101.
Bingley’s Weekly Journal, or the Universal Gazette, 18 August 1770, Issue 11.
Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal, 2 August 1788, Issue 2075.
General Evening Post, 19–22 May 1787, Issue 8345.
Grub Street Journal, 21 April 1737, Issue 382.
Lloyd’s Evening Post, 3–5 October 1792, Issue 5503.
London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post, 29 December 1764–1
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