The Freemasons of Scotland have enjoyed a long association with the Lord Lyon and his court as many Lodges have applied for their own coat of arms.
However, the association of the two bodies begins very early. The circumstances are an interesting piece of Scottish Masonic history and concerns one of the oldest rituals known as the Airlie MS which is dated 1705 and was therefore in use before the existence of any Grand Lodge.
The original ownership is extremely interesting for, unlike other early Masonic catechisms, the Airlie MS can be ascribed to a family and a particular area. It certainly was in the possession of a branch of the Ogilvie family, and given the date of 1705, was probably within the family records at that time. James Ogilvie (1644 – 1711), 3rd Earl of Findlater, was a member of the Lodge of Aberdeen. He married the daughter of the 8th Earl of Eglinton, who was a member of the Lodge at Kilwinning, having been initiated in 1674.7 That family’s connection with Freemasonry is further confirmed when the membership records of The Mason’s Lodge at Dundee are examined, albeit later: Findlater’s second son, Patrick Ogilvie of Inchmartine (c.1687 – 1737), was a member of the Lodge of Dundee.
Exactly where the manuscript originated is likely now never to be known, but we do know that it belonged to the Ogilvie family, possibly to the 3rd Earl himself. Like the Register House and the Chetwode Crawley manuscripts, the Airlie MS refers to the Lodge of Kilwinning Lodge, and it is possible to argue that the source of all three manuscripts lies with that Lodge. The Earls of Airlie and the Earls of Findlater were collateral branches of the Ogilvie family. The Earldom of Findlater became extinct in 1811, but devolved upon the Earl of Airlie. Whether the manuscript was transferred from the Findlaters to the Airlie family at that time cannot be determined. There is no evidence of the Earls of Airlie being involved in Freemasonry, but that three Findlaters were Freemasons tends to support the idea that the manuscript was so transferred. It may be no coincidence that the crest on the coat of arms of the Earls of Findlater shows a rampant lion holding in its claws a ‘plumb rule erect.’ (see image) Unfortunately, the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, is unable to give a date when this crest was first included in the Armorial Bearings, but it was certainly no later than 1739.
In celebration of the Anniversary a series of lectures has been planned. The events are free and will be hosted across Scotland to ensure as many as possible people are able to attend. Full details of all the lectures can be found at 350th Anniversary Lectures