Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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- List of Masonic Obediences to contact.

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Freemasonry in Derry

Becoming a Freemason in Derry

Becoming a Freemason

The Old Charges of the masons' lodges were documents describing the duties of the members, to part of which (the charges) every mason had to swear on admission. For this reason, every lodge had a copy of its charges, occasionally written into the beginning of the minute book, but usually as a separate manuscript roll of parchment. With the coming of Grand Lodges, these were largely superseded by printed constitutions, but the Grand Lodge of All England at York, and the few lodges that remained independent in Scotland and Ireland, retained the hand-written charges as their authority to meet as a lodge. Woodford, Hughan, Speth and Gould, all founders of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and Dr Begemann, a German Freemason, produced much published work in the second half of the nineteenth century, collating, cataloguing, and classifying the available material. Since then, aside from the occasional rediscovery of another old document, little has been done to update the field.

The oldest, the Regius poem, is unique in being set in verse. The rest, of which over a hundred survive, usually have a three part construction. They start with a prayer, invocation of God, or a general declaration, followed by a description of the Seven Liberal Arts (logic, grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), extolling Geometry above the others. There follows a history of the craft, and how it came to the British Isles, usually culminating in a general assembly of masons during the reign of King Athelstan. The last part consists of the charges or regulations of the lodge, and the craft of Masonry in general, which the members are bound to maintain.

The actual process of unification continued for some years, first with the Lodge of Reconciliation (1813–1816), made up of two lodges, one of each constitution, which ironed out some sort of ritual acceptable to the two parties. The work of this lodge was spread by the Stability Lodge of Instruction (1817) and fleshed out by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement (1823 onwards). The new Grand Lodge essentially ended up with the ritual of the Ancients and the infrastructure of the Moderns. While the "Emulation Ritual" became the standard, many variations still exist which, while mutually recognisable, present many flavours of Masonic ritual within the English Constitution.

Morgan affair and decline in American Freemasonry (1826–c.1850)

Main article: William Morgan (anti-Mason)

In 1826, William Morgan disappeared from Batavia, New York, after threatening to expose Freemasonry's secrets, causing some to claim that he had been murdered by Masons. What exactly occurred has never been conclusively proven. However, Morgan's disappearance – and the minimal punishment received by his kidnappers – sparked a series of protests against Freemasons throughout the United States, especially in New York and neighboring states. The protracted backlash led to many masons leaving the craft. The Grand Lodge of New York controlled 227 lodges in 1827, but only 41 in 1835.

Under the leadership of Thurlow Weed, an anti-Masonic and anti-Andrew Jackson (Jackson was a Mason) movement grew to become the Anti-Masonic Party and made the ballot for the presidency in 1828 while gaining the support of such notable politicians as William H. Seward. Its influence was such that other Jackson rivals, including John Quincy Adams, denounced the Masons. In 1847, Adams wrote a widely distributed book titled Letters on the Masonic Institution that was highly critical of the Masons. In 1832, the party fielded William Wirt as its presidential candidate. This was rather ironic because he was, in fact, a Freemason, and even gave a speech at the Anti-Masonic convention defending the organization. The party only received seven electoral votes. Three years later, the party had disbanded in every state save Pennsylvania, as other issues such as slavery had become the focus of national attention.

American Freemasons during the Civil War

The fortunes of American Freemasonry declined sharply following the Morgan Affair, only to rebound as the force of the Anti-Masonic movement sputtered out in the mid-1830s. By the late 1850s, Masonry in America was the subject of renewed popular interest and lodge membership, which had bottomed out during the anti-Masonic period began to rise. By the time of the American Civil War, U.S. Freemasonry tripled its membership from 66,000 to 200,000 members in over 5000 lodges nationwide. This surge in membership helps explain, at least in part, the many stories of Masonic fraternisation during the American Civil War, which include accounts of Masonic soldiers and sailors rescuing enemy combatants who identified themselves as members of the fraternity. Masonic incidents are also recorded involving Freemasons burying their own with Masonic formalities during battle, as well as aid and special treatment given to Masonic POWs.

After the Civil War, American Freemasonry flourished along with other fraternal organizations during the so-called "Golden Age of Fraternalism" from approximately 1870 to 1920.


In France, the number of Freemasons grew from 10,000 in 1802, when Napoleon gave it semi-official status, to 20,000 in 1889, 32,000 in 1908, 40,000 in 1926, and about 60,000 in 1936. At an early stage, nearly all the lodges were affiliated with the Radical party. Zeldin argues that in 19th century France:

Freemasonry appealed first of all to people who liked mystic ritual, esoteric symbolism and fancy uniforms, and to those who like to have somewhere to discuss ideas and meet like-minded friends. Increasingly however it became an organization which politicians used for electoral purposes in which civil servants joined in order to further their chances of promotion, which hotel-keepers found useful as a way of enlarging their clientele and where businessmen could make deals and find jobs for their sons.

Rumors were rife, especially in conservative circles, that the order secretly ran the government, and was the main source of materialistic and anti-clerical propaganda. Zeldin concludes that was a "vast exaggeration." The details are known because the Vichy regime in 1941 seized the archives, and failed to find significant evidence. While the order did support anti-clerical campaigns, it did not initiate them. Its primary role was to serve as a social club which the members could rise in the world, and get 10% discounts in shops owned by fellow Masons. The chapters provided some charity and life insurance. In 1904 a scandal erupted because the Grand Orient de France lodges were asked by the Radical government to secretly collect information about the religious and political affiliations of army officers, with a view to blocking the promotion of Catholics. When the news leaked out, the government was forced to resign. The concern with Radical politics gradually declined, and it disappeared after 1945.

According to Ernest Belfort Bax, Freemasons were responsible for the last serious attempt at conciliation between Versailles and the Paris Commune on 21 April 1871. They were received coldly by Adolphe Thiers, who assured them that, though Paris was given over to destruction and slaughter, the law should be enforced, and he kept his word. A few days after they decided, in a public meeting, to plant their banner on the ramparts and throw in their lot with the Commune. On the 29th, accordingly, 10,000 of the brethren met (55 lodges being represented), and marched to the Hôtel de Ville, headed by the Grand Masters in full insignia and the banners of the lodges. Amongst them the new banner of Vincennes was conspicuous, bearing the inscription in red letters on a white ground, "Love one another." A balloon was then sent up, which let fall at intervals, outside Paris, a manifesto of the Freemasons. The procession then wended its way through the boulevards and the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, where the banners were planted at various points along the ramparts. On seeing the white flag on the Porte Maillot the Versaillese ceased firing, and the commander, himself a Freemason, received a deputation of brethren, and suggested a final appeal to Versailles, which was agreed to. The "chief of the executive" hardly listened to the envoys, and declined to further discuss the question of peace with anyone. This last formal challenge having been made and rejected, the Freemasons definitely took their stand as combatants for the Commune.

Derry, officially Londonderry, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire (modern Irish: Doire [ˈd̪ˠɛɾʲə]) meaning "oak grove". In 1613, the city was granted a royal charter by King James I and gained the "London" prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.

The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). The population of the city was 83,652 at the 2001 Census, while the Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,736. The district administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport. Derry is close to the border with County Donegal, with which it has had a close link for many centuries. The person traditionally seen as the founder of the original Derry is Saint Colmcille, a holy man from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal, of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before 1610. In 2013, Derry was the inaugural UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in 2010. According to the city's Royal Charter of 10 April 1662, the official name is "Londonderry". This was reaffirmed in a High Court decision in 2007.

"Derry" has been used in the names of the local government district and council since 1984, when the council changed its name from "Londonderry City Council" to "Derry City Council". This also changed the name of the district, which had been created in 1973 and included both the city and surrounding rural areas. In the 2015 local government reform, the district was merged with the Strabane district to form the Derry City and Strabane district, with the councils likewise merged.

The 2007 court case arose because Derry City Council wanted clarification on whether the 1984 name change of the council and district had changed the official name of the city and what the procedure would be to effect a name change. The court clarified that Londonderry remained the official name and that the correct procedure to change the name would be via a petition to the Privy Council. Derry City Council afterward began this process, and was involved in conducting an equality impact assessment report (EQIA). Firstly it held an opinion poll of district residents in 2009, which reported that 75% of Catholics and 77% of Nationalists found the proposed change acceptable, compared to 6% of Protestants and 8% of Unionists. The EQIA then held two consultative forums, and solicited comments from the general public on whether or not the city should have its name changed to Derry. A total of 12,136 comments were received, of which 3,108 were broadly in favour of the proposal, and 9,028 opposed to it. On 23 July 2015, the council voted in favour of a motion to change the official name of the city to Derry and to write to Mark H. Durkan, Northern Ireland Minister of the Environment, to ask how the change could be effected.

Despite the official name, the city is more usually known as "Derry", which is an anglicisation of the Irish Daire or Doire, and translates as "oak-grove/oak-wood". The name derives from the settlement's earliest references, Daire Calgaich ("oak-grove of Calgach"). The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds.

The name "Derry" is preferred by nationalists and it is broadly used throughout Northern Ireland's Catholic community, as well as that of the Republic of Ireland, whereas many unionists prefer "Londonderry"; however, in everyday conversation "Derry" is used by most Protestant residents of the city. Linguist Kevin McCafferty argues that "It is not, strictly speaking, correct that Northern Ireland Catholics call it Derry, while Protestants use the Londonderry form, although this pattern has become more common locally since the mid-1980s, when the city council changed its name by dropping the prefix". In McCafferty's survey of language use in the city, "only very few interviewees—all Protestants—use the official form".

Apart from the name of the local council, the city is usually known as Londonderry in official use within the UK. In the Republic of Ireland, the city and county are almost always referred to as Derry, on maps, in the media and in conversation. In April 2009, however, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, announced that Irish passport holders who were born there could record either Derry or Londonderry as their place of birth. Whereas official road signs in the Republic use the name Derry, those in Northern Ireland bear Londonderry (sometimes abbreviated to "L'Derry"), although some of these have been defaced with the reference to London obscured. Usage varies among local organisations, with both names being used. Examples are City of Derry Airport, City of Derry Rugby Club, Derry City FC and the Protestant Apprentice Boys of Derry, as opposed to Londonderry Port, Londonderry YMCA Rugby Club and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. The bishopric has always remained that of Derry, both in the (Protestant, formerly-established) Church of Ireland (now combined with the bishopric of Raphoe), and in the Roman Catholic Church. Most companies within the city choose local area names such as Pennyburn, Rosemount or "Foyle" from the River Foyle to avoid alienating the other community. Londonderry railway station is often referred to as Waterside railway station within the city, but is called Derry/Londonderry at other stations. The council changed the name of the local government district covering the city to Derry on 7 May 1984, consequently renaming itself Derry City Council. This did not change the name of the city, although the city is coterminous with the district, and in law the city council is also the "Corporation of Londonderry" or, more formally, the "Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Londonderry". The form "Londonderry" is used for the post town by the Royal Mail; however, use of "Derry" will still ensure delivery.

The city is also nicknamed the Maiden City by virtue of the fact that its walls were never breached despite being besieged on three separate occasions in the 17th century, the most notable being the Siege of Derry of 1688–1689. It was also nicknamed Stroke City by local broadcaster Gerry Anderson, owing to the politically correct use by some of the dual name Derry/Londonderry (which has itself been used by BBC Television). A later addition to the landscape has been the erection of several large stone columns on main roads into the city welcoming drivers, euphemistically, to "the walled city". The name Derry is very much in popular use throughout Ireland for the naming of places, and there are at least six towns bearing that name and at least a further 79 places. The word Derry often forms part of the place name, for example Derrybeg, Derryboy, Derrylea and Derrymore. The names Derry and Londonderry spread from Ireland to the other colonies of the British Empire, frequently named by Scotch-Irish settlers. Londonderry, Yorkshire, near the Yorkshire Dales, was named for the Marquesses of Londonderry, as are the Londonderry Islands off Tierra del Fuego in Chile. In the United States twin towns in New Hampshire called Derry and Londonderry lie not far from Londonderry, Vermont, with additional namesakes in Derry, Pennsylvania, Londonderry, Ohio, and in Canada Londonderry, Nova Scotia and Londonderry, Edmonton (Alberta, Canada). There is also a Derry, New South Wales.


Derry: 85,016

Urban: 93,512

Metro: 237,000

2008 est.

Irish grid reference  C434166


Derry and Strabane District Council


County Londonderry

Becoming a Freemason in Northern Ireland

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Post town      LONDONDERRY

Postcode district      BT47, BT48

Dialling code            028

Police Northern Ireland

Fire     Northern Ireland

Ambulance   Northern Ireland

UK Parliament        


NI Assembly