The Order was developed in 1889 & founded upon 18th Century Masonic papers from Amsterdam Masonic Archives. The rituals were re-written & enriched by two of three authors of the Secret Monitor rituals namely, His Hon Judge Fredrick Adolphus Philbrick, QC & Dr Issachar Zacharie, known from Rose Croix, & was named The Royal Order of Knights of the Scarlet Cord. Its roots lay in the provision of benevolence. This “exercise in Masonic Benevolence” as it was refereed to, in essence meant that the further you wished to advance in the Degree the high was your monetary contribution. Candidates for membership were required to be Princes of the Order of the Secret Monitor & holders of the Special Badge showing membership of the Fund of Benevolence of the Order of the Secret Monitor. That we know now as the OSM Benevolent Fund. I will refer more to the origins of the Order later.
In the Ancient & Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord Members can reach up to a sixth (6) Grade within the Order.
Commencing as a Companion Ostiarius, (or Doorkeeper) in the 1st Grade of the Order, In the 2nd Grade, he becomes a Lector & in the 3rd Grade a Fellow or Healer & Exorcist. These three Grades being conferred locally in a Consistory.
The 4th, 5th, & 6th Grades are conferred by the Grand Officers usually at MMH in London.
The First Grade tells the story of how Rahab, who we are informed was a harlot, hid the Jewish spies from the King of Jericho. Perhaps you might remember that on the death of Moses the Lord told Joshua he was to lead is people over the river Jordan & into the land which he had promised them. Joshua sent two of his men to spy out the land but the King of Jericho heard of their presence & sent search parties to capture them. Rahab hid them on the roof & before they returned to Joshua, they swore to Rehab that she & all her family would be treated well when the Lord gave them the land. To be identified she should bind a “Scarlet Cord” in the window from which they had made their escape. All those inside the house would be saved but anyone who went outside into the street then, “their blood would be on their own heads”. We all know what happened then to Jericho.
From this story came the name of the degree: “The Ancient & Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord”.
In the Second Grade the candidate is made a Companion Lectores. The story related in this degree is of Naomi who was the wife of Elimelech. You will recall Elimelech from your OSM ritual. Following his death & then losing her two sons in battle the story unfolds of Naomi & her daughter in law Ruth. Their travels back to Judah, Ruth’s marriage to Boaz & ultimately the birth of Obed who had a son called Jesse who was the Grandfather of Kind David. The Rituals were based on incidents during the wars of the Maccabees & the ceremonies were elaborate with high sounding titles for the High Officers.
The Consistory officers are completely special to the Order.
- The President, will be as we know him the Worshipful Master, Supreme Ruler etc.
- Primus of Lectores, Senior Warden or Councillor.
- Primus of Ostiarii, Junior Warden or Guide etc.
- Episcopus, would be better known as the Chaplain.
To attain the office of President one must be a holder of the 3rd Grade & would normally be a Commissioned Supreme Ruler in the Order of the Secret Monitor. Some, two years after becoming President one can be considered to take the 4th Grade of the Order, to become a Councillor. This is by recommendation. The 5th & 6th Grades are conferred at the Grand Summus discretion.
The regalia of a joining member or Companion, as we are known, a Scarlet Cord worn around the waist & a tie. I did mention earlier that when the Order was originally developed at the turn of the century the candidates for admission must be in possession of the “Fund of Benevolence of the Order of the Secret Monitor”. This fund took its money-raising to such a high level of sophistication that, with virtually no contributions to the fund in sixty years, assets in 2001 stood at over £300,000. This was mainly due to the cost of progressing through the Grades of the Degree. The cost varied from 1 Guinea per step to 20 Guinea per step & there could be up to nine steps per grade. Therefore, it can be seen that this Order was for the more affluent of Masons.
The Metropolitan Consistory worked regularly until 1914, went in abeyance from 1914 – 1918, was revived in 1919 but ceased operations in 1929. In that year it was resolved that “All ceremonial work in connection with The Royal Order of Knight of the Scarlet Cord should cease”. It was thought to be un-Masonic as progression in the Order being restricted to those of extremely high income.
The Order was resurrected in 2006, within the OSM Conclave No 500 & continued its “exercise in Masonic Benevolence”. New Members having to become holders of the OSM Benevolent Fund jewel. An initial payment of £20 enabled you to take the 1st Grade. Before advancing through the Grades additional payment of £20 were necessary. As very few people had reached the 5th Grade many members paid up to £80. However, some three years later following much unrest regarding these payments, the requirement for Candidates to hold the Benevolent Fund Jewel was dropped.
The 21st July 2010 marked a historic & significant date in the history of British Freemasonry. On that day the Ancient & Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord was inaugurated at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London. The first Masonic Order to be inaugurated in the British Isles for almost three quarters of a Century.