Sunday, July 29, 2012

Royal Order of Scotland

The Royal Order of Scotland is a fascinating group from its known history to its legend, and for invitational, honorary groups it sits towards the top, in my opinion. The hard part is there isn't a lot of information on the group, in comparison to other honorary and invitational groups in Freemasonry.

The Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland is stationed out of Edinburgh. According to the Order, the King of Scots is the hereditary Grand Master. In his absence, the worldwide order is governed by the Deputy Grand Master and Governor of the Order. At every meeting of the Order during the absence of the King, wherever held, a vacant chair or throne must be placed at the right hand of the presiding officer. Currently, the Deputy Grand Master and Governor is Ewan Rutherford. The next organizational tier is the Provincial Grand Lodge and, unique in Freemasonry, there are no constituent Lodges; the Provincial Grand Lodge is the lowest hierarchal tier in the Royal Order of Scotland. There are 88 Provincial Grand Lodges located around the world. The Provincial Grand Lodges are governed by a Provincial Grand Master, which for the United States of America is James E. Winzenreid. The two degrees conferred in this Order are:
  • Heredom of Kilwinning
  • Knight of the Rosy Cross
According to tradition, the degree of Heredom of Kilwinning was established in Judea (Palestine), but if this occurred during the time of the Crusades, tradition is silent. The name Kilwinning refers to the place where the Order was re-established by King Robert the Bruce, where he is said to have presided as the first Grand Master.
The Degree of Heredom of Kilwinning is a peculiarly interesting Degree and full of instruction to Craft Masons, as in its lectures it explains the symbolism and teaching contained in the first three Degrees of what is sometimes referred to as St. John s Masonry.
The Rosy Cross degree is based on the legend of the Battle of Bannockburn.  On St. John's Day in 1314, this degree was created by King Robert the Bruce, who fighting for Scottish independence is said to have received assistance from a group of knights, rumored to have been Knights Templar fleeing the Inquisition in France and mainland Europe. He conferred this Knighthood upon those who assisted as a reward for their service. From the Provincial Grand Lodge of the USA's website:
The number on whom the Knighthood might be conferred was limited to sixty-three, but in years, owing to the large number of worthy Freemasons who coveted this honour, the Grand Lodge of the Order, when it found it necessary to establish Provincial Grand Lodges elsewhere than in Scotland, granted each Provincial Grand Lodge permission to promote sixty-three Freemasons of the Degree of Heredom to the honour of Knighthood under the Grand Lodge. In some of the Provincial Grand Lodges where the members of Heredom number many hundreds, special powers have been given to increase the number of Knights of the Rosy Cross.
This degree as its name implies deals with many things similar to that seen in the Rose Croix degree of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite. This degree is primarily conferred by the Grand Lodge in Edinburgh but can be conferred by a Provincial Grand Master or his deputy on special occasions. Upon investment of this degree, a member is given a characteristic. This tradition comes the limit of sixty-three membership limitation there was in the beginning who each had a given characteristic. Each Provincial Grand Lodge gives its own characteristics.

While the legend takes the Order back to 1314, there exist no records to substantiate such claims.  Early records date the Order back to 18th century Europe. It is said to have flourished in France by Scottish refugees who adhered to the Jacobite cause. The Order took roots in England where it grew for some years which then led to its establishing its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it has been stationed since that time. Activity dwindled down to near extinction in the early 19th century, but in the mid-century, there was a resurgence where Provincial Grand Lodges were established.

Originally, membership in the Order was limited to Scotsmen or those of Scottish descent, but later the privilege was extended to Master Masons of other nationalities. Today to be eligible to be invited to this group, one must be a Master Mason in good standing for a minimum of 5-years, be a 32° of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite or Knight Templar of the York Rite, and profess to be a Trinitarian Christian. In addition, they require that the proposed applicant be one who has performed services to the Craft (such as offices held in the various Masonic bodies, or such honors such as KCCH, 33°, RCC, or KYCH), their church (such as offices held), and the public (helping with youth groups or public service such as the military).


1. Nisbet, C. C., & Baldwin, R. B. (2006, October). A Brief Historical Sketch. Retrieved from The Provincial Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland of the USA:

2. Royal Order of Scotland. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

3. Edward H. Fowler Jr. (2010, June). The Royal Order of Scotland, a brief history. Retrieved from The Knights Templar Magazine:

1 comment:

  1. What an excellent little piece, short, concise, interesting and informative