Order of Mark Master Masons
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The administration of this degree varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, though in all jurisdictions, the candidate for advancement is required to be a Master Mason to be eligible for this degree. In Europe, Asia and Australia the Mark Degree is conferred in separately warranted Lodges under the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
- In England and Wales, the governing body is The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas, which also controls the Royal Ark Mariner degree. This is a separate degree conferred on Mark Master Masons. Each Royal Ark Mariner lodge is "moored" to a Mark lodge and shares its number. The Order is administrated from Mark Masons' Hall, London.
- In Ireland, the degree of Mark Master Mason is required to join a Royal Arch Chapter. A Royal Arch Chapter meets as a Mark Lodge, confers the Mark Degree on a candidate making him eligible to become a Royal Arch Mason at a subsequent meeting. A Mark Lodge and a Royal Arch Chapter share the same Warrant within the Irish system.
- In Freemasonry in Scotland, the Mark Degree may be conferred in a Craft lodge and is interpreted as a component part of the Fellowcraft degree. The degree may also be conferred in a Holy Royal Arch Chapter as a prerequisite for progressing to the grade of Excellent Masters and then for exaltation to the HRA. Should a candidate for a Scottish Royal Arch Chapter already have taken his Mark Degree in a Lodge then he will affiliate to the Mark Lodge within the Chapter before proceeding to the Excellent Master and then Royal Arch Degrees.
- In Western Australia, the Mark Master's Degree is conferred in a Royal Arch Chapter operating under the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Western Australia, and is conferred as part of the process of Exaltation to the Holy Royal Arch Degree. The Degree may also be conferred upon candidates in a Lodge formed under the Scottish Constitution, by warrant from the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
- In Queensland, Australia the Mark Master's Degree can be conferred by a Royal Arch Chapter under the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Queensland or by a Mark Master Mason's lodge under the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in Queensland. His entry into the Chapter is preceded by a short ceremony of Mark Lodge Affiliation, if the candidate has already been advanced into the Mark degree.
- In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, the Mark Master Mason Degree is conferred by a Royal Arch Chapter holden under the United Supreme Grand Chapter of Mark & Royal Arch Masons. Warranted Craft Lodges holden under the United Grand Lodge of NSW & ACT confer a Mark Man ceremony which is not treated as a degree. The Mark Man ceremony is commonly believed to be the contents of what was removed from the original second degree.
- In North and South America, parts of Europe, Asia and Australia the Mark Master Mason degree is conferred as part of Royal Arch Masonry which is included in the York Rite.
- In Brazil, the governing body is The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of the State of Rio de Janeiro (GLMMMERJ), which also controls the Royal Ark Mariner degree; conferred in separately warranted Royal Ark Mariner Lodges.
Similarly to Craft Freemasonry, the Mark Degree conveys moral and ethical lessons using a ritualised allegory based around the building of King Solomon's Temple. The events of the degree require the candidate to undertake the role of a Fellowcraft, thus the degree is seen as an extension of the Fellowcraft Degree and the philosophical lessons conveyed are appropriate to that stage in a candidate's Masonic development. The legend reconciles the Anglo-American version of the Hiramic legend with the 3,300 Master Masons of Anderson's constitutions, making them Mark Masters, or overseers. The candidate is helped to choose a Mason's mark, and introduced to another extension of the Hiramic myth, relating to the manufacture, loss, and re-finding of the keystone of the Royal Arch of that degree. The link between the degrees of Master Mason, Mark Master Mason and the Royal Arch is further demonstrated in the Order of Royal and Select Masters.
The first record of the degree is in 1769, when Thomas Dunckerley, as Provincial Grand Superintendent, conferred the degrees of Mark Man and Mark Master Mason at a Royal Arch Chapter in Portsmouth.
Following the Union of the Antients and Moderns Grand Lodges and the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, the articles of union stated that there would be three Craft degrees only, including the Royal Arch, excluding the Mark degree. For this reason, while in the rest of the world Mark Masonry became attached to Royal Arch chapters, in England it was actually proscribed from the Union until the 1850s. It was a group of Scottish masons who procured an illegal warrant from Bon Accord Chapter in Aberdeen to set up a Mark lodge in London. An attempt to add Mark Masonry to the approved craft workings was defeated in 1856, and a Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons was created in response.
As Freemasonry spread around the globe in the 18th and 19th centuries, Mark Masonry became well established and now has a worldwide presence, with six daughter Grand Lodges and the degree being worked under alternative administrative structures elsewhere. In England, the current Mark Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, is the younger brother of the Craft Grand Master, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas speculate in their 1996 book The Hiram Key that the construction of the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland (1440–1490) provided the interface between the Knights Templar and Freemasonry. Accordingly, the first degree and Mark Masonry was introduced by William Sinclair, whom they claim was the first Grand Master and founder of Freemasonry.
- Jackson, Keith B. Beyond the Craft. London: Lewis Masonic, 2005. ISBN 978-0-85318-248-1
- Grand Master's Royal Ark Council (2010) Royal Ark Mariner Ritual No.1 London: Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons
- William Harvey, The Story of the Royal Arch, Dundee, 1946
- Ceremonies of the Order of Royal And Select Masters, accessed 4 July 2015
- The Order of Royal and Select Masters, accessed 4 July 2015
- Keith B. Jackson, Beyond the Craft, 6th Edition, Lewis Masonic 2012 (ISBN 978-0853184058), p. 41
- Phoenix Masonry Bernard E.Jones, Freemason's Book of the Royal Arch, revised Carr, 1966, retrieved 20 October 2012
- Pietre Stones The Mark Degree, Craig Gavin, The Square Magazine Vol 25, September 1999, retrieved 4 November 2012
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. The Hiram Key. London, 1996.