Scottish Knights Templar

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The Eight Pointed Cross of The Scottish Knights Templar
The Cross Pattee of The Scottish Knights Templar from the Scottish Commandery of St Clair, Grand Priory of the Knights Templar in Scotland
The Cross of The Grand Priory of the Scots

Since the mid nineteenth century myths, legends and anecdotes connecting the Templars to the Battle of Bannockburn have been created. Degrees in Freemasonry, such as the Royal Order of Scotland, allude to the story of Rosslyn and the Scottish Knights Templar.[1] This theme was repeated in the pseudohistory book The Temple and The Lodge by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, first published in 1989. On the subject of a possible Bruce connection, Masonic Historian D Murray Lyon wrote "The fraternity of Kilwinning never at any period practiced or acknowledged other than the Craft degrees; neither does there exist any tradition worthy of the name, local or national, nor has any authentic document yet been discovered that can in the remotest degree be held to identify Robert Bruce with the holding of Masonic Courts, or the institution of a secret society at Kilwinning."[2]

St Clair — Sinclair speculation

According to tradition, William St Clair, (William Sinclair) 3rd Earl of Orkney, Baron of Roslin and 1st Earl of Caithness built Rosslyn Chapel. A later William Sinclair of Roslin became the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.[3] The St Clair, later Sinclair, Earls of Rosslyn or Roslin have also been connected to Templarism in Scotland, but Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson in their recent book, 'Rosslyn and the Grail',[4] note that the St Clair of Rosslyn testified against the Templars at their trial in Edinburgh in 1309. Dr. Louise Yeoman points out that the Rosslyn/Knights Templar connection is false, having been invented by 18th century fiction-writers, and that Rosslyn Chapel was built by William Sinclair so that Mass could be said for the souls of his family.[5] In Michael T.R.B Turnbull's book Rosslyn Chapel Revealed he states that "Eighteen years after the suppression of the Order, Sir William Sainteclaire, in the role of a Crusader(not Templar), made a brave and honourable bid to fulfil the wishes of his late monarch, King Robert The Bruce".[6] He then explains that he and his wife Lady Margaret Ramsay of Dalhousie produced a son (also Sir William)to succeed him as the 8th Baron of Rosslyn. Turnbull States that "His father could never have been a Knight Templar, as his wealth and marriage would have broken two of the three Templar vows — Poverty and chastity".[6]

Seventeenth century interest

In the seventeenth century, interest in Templarism became political after the execution of Charles I, with the idea that Stuart partisans invented a Templar degree, as the king's death was to be avenged, as was the violent death in 1314 of Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templars. The story told by Dom Calmet was that Viscount Dundee was supposed to have been an early Templar Grand Master and to have fallen at Killiecrankie wearing the Grand Cross of the Order. The Duke of Mar is then said to have held office, after which time the Templar Order was apparently inactive until its revival by Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. An original letter of the 3rd Duke of Perth to Earl of Airlie Lord Ogilvy shortly after the Jacobite victory at Prestonpans, described a secret ceremony at Holyrood in which the prince was elected Grand Master of the ancient chivalry of the Temple of Jerusalem on Tuesday 24 September 1745.[7][8][9]

Eighteenth century revival

Templarism experienced a revival of interest in the eighteenth century through Freemasonry with a Scottish influence. The first record of this is in Ramsay's Oration in Paris in 1737. Andrew Michael Ramsay was tutor to the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He claimed that Freemasonry had begun among crusader knights and that they had formed themselves into Lodges of St John. The next development was with Karl Gotthelf, Baron Von Hund, and Alten-Grotkau, who had apparently been introduced to the concept by the Jacobite Lord Kilmarnock, and received into a Templar Chapter by a mysterious "Knight of the Red Feather".[10] Baron von Hund established a new Masonic rite called the "Strict Templar Observance". The "Knight of the Red Feather" has been identified subsequently as Alexander Seton better known as Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton, a prominent Freemason in the Jacobite movement.[3][7]

Modern revival

The modern revival of Templarism in Scotland starts with Alexander Deuchar. The records of one of Scottish Freemasonry's most prestigious lodges, the St Mary's Chapel Lodge of Edinburgh, describe the visit of a "...deputation from the Grand Assembly of the High Knights Templar in Edinburgh… headed by their most worshipful Grand Master, Alexander Deuchar...the first time for some hundred years that any Lodge of Freemasonry had been visited by an assembly of Knights Templar, headed by their Grand Master." This implies that there was an Order in existence 100 years earlier. In 1811 with a Charter from the Templar Grand Master in England, the Duke of Kent, Alexander Deuchar established the Grand Conclave of Knights of the Holy Temple and Sepulchre, and of St. John of Jerusalem. Controversially in 1836 " was proposed that non-Masons be admitted to the Order, at the same time the ritual was adapted in order to allow this to happen.,,[11][12] .[13] Previously only Royal Arch Masons in Good Standing were allowed to join. Only the Royal Grand Conclave was allowed to admit non-Masons and these men were never members of any Encampments, only of Grand Conclave." The modern non Masonic Order Militi Templi Scotia claims descent from Alexander Deuchar who was a Freemason.

Masonic and non-Masonic orders

Templarism in Scotland has been claimed as the root of both Masonic and non-Masonic Orders. The Masonic Movement is generally referred to as the Knights Templar, but the full Style and Title of this body is "The United, Religious and Military Orders of the Temple and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta".

There are today a number of small Groups of non-Masonic Knights Templar in Scotland, though not all claim descent from either the medieval Knights Templar in Scotland or Alexander Deuchar. They include : The Autonomous Grand Priory of Scotland; The Grand Priory of the Knights Templar in Scotland; The OSMTH/SMOTJ International recognized Body in Scotland; The Grand Priory of Scotland of OSMTH "Regency"; The Magisterial Grand Priory of St Anthony Scotland of the SKT-SMOTJ & IFA-OCMTH; The Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar or the International Federative Alliance; The Ancient Scottish Military Order of Knights Templar and Militi Templi Scotia.[14]

European influence

In 2006 the "Commandery of St. Clair" No S1, Edinburgh, was chartered by the OSMTH Grand Priory of France.[15] The Commandery recently received affiliation of OSMTH International[16] at Commandery Status under the Mentorship of the Grand Priory of France. Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani - The Grand Priory Of The Knights Templar In Scotland Ltd is registered with Companies House in the UK[17] and is working under the authority of The Commandery of St Clair, Edinburgh, No S1,Grand Priory of France (GPFT), OSMTH International.

Scottish Templar cross

The cross pattée of The Scottish Knights Templar

Knights Templar Internationally use the Cross pattée, including The Commandery of St Clair in alignment with the International Order OSMTH, The Grand Priory of the Scots (mainly American Scots) a Cross with two branches, and other Scottish Knights Templar Groups use the Eight Pointed Cross coloured red more commonly but not exclusively known as the Maltese Cross, of the Knights Hospitaller or Order of St. John or Cross of Amalfi.[18] The Scottish Templar use of the Maltese Cross probably dates to the 1960s although the Cross itself is much older.

Scottish Knights Templar tartan

The Scottish Knights Templar of OSMTH International have their own tartan. It was ratified and approved by the Grand Conclave of Militi Scotia S.M.O.J in Perth 28 March 1998. The original name was "Scottish Knights Templar of Militi Templi Scotia International." but it was changed to "Scottish Knights Templar of OSMTH International" in 2006. OSMTH stands for; "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani".

See also


  1. ^ The Legend of Bruce and the Legend of D'Aumont
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Part 1 and Its Kindred Sciences Comprising the Whole Range of Arts byy Albert Gallatin Mackey p 447
  3. ^ a b Arcane Schools, John Yarker, ISBN 1-56459-306-1 page 434
  4. ^ Rosslyn and the Grail, Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson ISBN 1-84596-076-9
  5. ^ News
  6. ^ a b Rosslyn Chapel Revealed, Michael T.R.B Turnbull, ISBN 978-0-7509-4467-0 page 152
  7. ^ a b The Stuart Court in Rome: A Legacy of Exile (Visual Arts Research Institute Edinburgh S.) Edward Corp (Editor) ISBN 0-7546-3324-1 "Seventeenth-century Templarism acquired political overtones after the beheading of Charles I, and it has been suggested the 'since the king's death was to be avenged, certain Stuart partisans fabricated a Templar degree in which the violent death in 1314 of Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templars, called for vengeance,' Dundee himself is supposed to have been an early Templar Grand Master and to have fallen at Killiecrankie wearing the Grand Cross of the Order. The Duke of Mar also held office, after which time the Templar Order apparently fell into abeyance until its revival by Charles Edward in 1745. An extract from the 3rd Duke of Perth's original letter to Lord Ogilvy shortly after the Jacobite vistory at Prestonpans, describes , in vivid detail, a secret ceremony at Holyrood in which the prince was elected Grand Master of the ancient chivalry of the Temple of Jerusalem on Tuesday 24 September 1745..."page 104
  8. ^ Restoring the Temple of Vision: Cabalistic Freemasonry and Stuart Culture By Marsha Keith Schuchard, p 767 "According to the early eighteenth-century writers, Jacob de Lennep, Abbe de Buisson, and Dom Calvet, Dundee was wearing a Templar Cross, emblematic of his role as Grand Master of the Scottish Order of the Temple."
  9. ^ New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1921 by Arthur Edward Waite ISBN 0-7661-2973-X "Viscount Dundee.- It remains to be said that there is one captivating story which, if we can take it as given, will carry back evidence of an ORDER OF THE TEMPLE to the year 1689 and to Scotland. It has been said that the well-known French Historian and theologian Dom Calmet has lent the authority of his name to three important statements: (1) That John Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, was Grand Master of the ORDER OF TEMPLARS in Scotland; (2) that when he fell at Killiecrankie on July 27, 1689 he wore the Grand Cross of the Order; {3) that this Cross was given to Calmet by his brother. If this story be true we are brought at one into the presence of a Templar survival or restoration which owes nothing to the dream of realities of the Chevalier Ramsay, nothing to the passion for the High Grades of Masonry, and nothing - so far as can be told - to Masonry itself, whether Operative or Speculative. We know that evidence is wanting at every point for the alleged perpetuation of the old Templar Order in connection with Masonry and that the legends of such perpetuation bear all the traces of manufacture. They are of course long posterior to the tragedy of Killiecrankie, and it has been a common practice of masonic writers in the past to say that the hypothesis of survival was invented by Ramsay, who also manufactured Templar Grades. Both statement are untrue as I have shewn elsewhere. It is very curious that such a legend should have arisen in connection with Masonry, and if it originated circa 1740 or later, there is no question that it was prompted by Ramsay's Oration, though the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR were not named therein. But if a Grand Cross of the Temple was actually and provably found on the body of Viscount Dundee, it is certain that the ORDER OF THE TEMPLE had survived or revived in 1689." p 223 "Among legendary or mythical Grand Masters are - in Scotland Viscount Dundee, the Earls of Mar and Atholl, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, John Olivant of Bachilton and Alexander Deuchar." p 227 "The Grade of Templar Priesthood ...claimed the year 1686 as that of its revival, thus antedating the Calmet story concerning Viscount Dundee." p 452
  10. ^ Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe 1603–1746 By Steve Murdoch p.337
  11. ^ A brief history of the Knights of the Temple and of the Preceptory and Priory of St. George Aboyne 1794–1994 An original Paper by E. J. Boyd
  12. ^ New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1921 by Arthur Edward Waite Pages 231-232 ISBN 0-7661-2973-X "In 1811–1812, Alexander Deuchar, Eminent Commander of Edinburgh Encampment, No 31, under the Early Grand Constitution, established what is termed a schismatic body with the style and title of the Supreme Grand Conclave of Scotland. He is said to have assumed the Office of Grand Master for life, notwithstanding the displeasure of his associates. The Conclave appears to have been moribund in 1830. In 1836 it was remodelled, vacating its Masonic position and admitting non-Masons to membership, including the Bishop of Aberdeen and the Duke of Leeds."
  13. ^ The Royal Masonic Cyclopedia 1877 by Kenneth R H MacKenzie Page 156 ISBN 0-7661-2611-0
    "DEUCHAR CHARTERS.-So called from Alexander Deuchar, an engraver, who was the principal mover in the establishment of the Grand Conclave of Knight Templar in Scotland, and its first Grand Master in the early part of this century. Deuchar seems to have become acquainted with Knights Templarism, in consequence of communications he had with Fratres serving in the Shropshire Militia, who had been dubbed under a warrant emanating from Dublin. This corps was quartered in Edinburgh in 1798 ; and from the Fratres of this corps it is most probable that the first Grand Assembly of Knights Templar was opened in Edinburgh ; this, however gave place to the Grand Assembly of High Knights Templar, working Under a charter No 31 from the Early Grand Encampment of Ireland, of which Deuchar was Grand Master. But these Deuchar Charters were clearly extra-Masonic, as they authorised Encampments to install Knights Templar and Knights of St John of Jerusalem, on the one condition that that such Encampments should not hold any communion or intercourse with any Chapter or Encampment, or body assuming that name, holding meetings of Knights Templar, under a Master Mason's Charter This body, however, lost its authority, in consequence of having nothing over which to exercise it, about 1837."
  14. ^ The Scotsman
  15. ^ Grand Prieuré de France du Temple (GPFT)
  16. ^
  17. ^ search Companies House record for "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani - The Grand Priory Of The Knights Templar In Scotland Ltd
  18. ^ Amalfi

Further reading

External links