Scald Miserable Masons

By Bro. John G. Keplinger, Illinois

In going through Vol. 2 of Hone’s Everyday Book–published in London in 1827–I found a very interesting account of the procession of “scald miserable masons,” which took place in London in 1741 or 42. This demonstration on the part of the enemies of the Craft was, in a measure, responsible for the later discontinuance of the freemasons’ processions which were held annually on June 24th since the year 1721.

R. F. Gould, in his History of Freemasonry, Vol. 3 gives a full page illustration of the “scald miserables” procession which he states was copied from the very rare original print by A. Benoist, published in 1771. This illustration is entirely different from that which accompanies Hone’s account.

Mackey and Singleton, in their History of Freemasonry, Vol. 2, opposite page 432, aiso show an illustration of this or another “scald miserable” procession but it is not at all like the ones reproduced by Gould or Hone. While Mackey does not give an illustration of this procession in his encyclopedia he has a full page article on the subject. In this he quotes from Sir John Hawkin’s Life of Johnson; the London Daily Post of March 20, 1741; Smith’s “Use and Abuse of Fremas.”; the London Freemason of 1858; and Hone’s Ancient Mysteries, page 242. He, however, does not give us the vivid word picture we obtain from Hone’s account in the Everyday Book.

“April 18. On this day, in the year 17–, there was a solemn mock procession, according to the fashion of the times, in ridicule of freemasonry, by an assemblage of humorists and rabble, which strongly characterises the manners of the period. Without further preface, a large broadside publication, published at the time, is introduced to the reader’s attention, as an article of great rarity and singular curiosity.

“The year wherein this procession took place, is not ascertainable from the broadside; but, from the mode of printing and other appearances, it seems to have been some years before that which is represented in a large two sheet ‘Geometrical View of the Grand Procession of Scald Miserable Masons, designed as they were drawn up over against Somerset-house, in the Strand on the 27th of April, 1742. Invented, and engraved by A. Benoist.’ (Frontispiece, this issue.)

“It should be further observed, that the editor of the Every Day Book is not a mason; but he disclaims any intention to discredit an order which appears to him to be founded on principles of good will and kind affection. The broadside is simply introduced on account of its scarcity, and to exemplify the rudeness of former manners. It is headed by a spirited engraving on wood, of which a reduced copy is placed below, with the title that preceded the original print subjoined.

The Solemn and Stately Procession OF THE SCALD MISERABLE MASONS as it was martiall’d, on Thursday, the 18th of this Instant, April.

The engraving is succeeded by a serio-comic Address, commencing thus:–

The REMONSTRANCE of the Right Worshipful the GRAND MASTER, &c. of the SCALD MISERABLE MASONS.

WHEREAS by our Manifesto some time past, dated from our Lodge in Brick-street, We did, in the most explicite manner, vindicate the ancient rights and privileges of this society, and by incontestable arguments evince our superior dignity and seniority to all other institutions, whether Grand-Volgi, Gregorians, Hurlothrumbians, Ubiquarians, Hiccubites, Lumber-Troopers, or Free-Masons; yet, nevertheless, a few persons under the last denomination, still arrogate to themselves the usurped titles of Most Ancient and Honorable, in open violations of truth and justice; still endeavour to impose their false mysteries (for a premium) on the credulous and unwary, under pretence of being part of our brotherhood; and still are determin’d with drums, trumpets, gilt chariots, and other unconstitutional finery, to cast a reflection on the primitive simplicity and decent economy of our ancient and annual peregrination. We ourselves think proper, in justification of Ourselves, publicly to disclaim all relation or alliance whatsoever, with the said society of Free-Masons, as the same must manifestly tend to the sacrifice of our dignity, the impeachment of our understanding, and the disgrace of our solemn mysteries: AND FURTHER, to convince the public of our candour and openness of our proceedings, We here present them with a key to our prooession; and that the rather, as it consists of many things emblematical, mystical, hieroglyphical, comical, satirical, political, etc.

AND WHEREAS many, persuaded by the purity of our constitution, the nice morality of our brethren, and peculiar decency of our rites and ceremonies, have lately forsook the gross errors and follies of the Free-Masonry, and are now become true Scald Miserables; It cannot but afford a pleasing satisfaction to all who have any regard to truth and decency, to see our procession increased with such a number of proselytes; and behold those whose vanity, but the last year, exalted them into a borrowed equipage, now condescend to become the humble cargo of a sand cart.”

“(Then follows the following) A KEY OR EXPLANATION of the Solemn and Stately Procession of the Scald Miserable Masons. Two Tylers, or Guarders In yellow Cockades and Liveries, being the Colour ordained for the Sword Bearer of State. They, as youngest enter’d ‘Prentices, are to guard the Lodge, with a drawn Sword, from all Cowens and Eves-droppers, that is Listeners, lest they should discover the incomprehensible Mysteries of Masonry.

A Grand Chorus of Instruments,

To wit: Four Sackbutts, or Cow’s Horns; Six Hottentot Hautboys; four.tinkling Cymbals, or Tea Canisters, with broken Glass in them; four Shovels and Brushes; two Double Bass Dripping pans; a Tenor Frying-pan; a Salt-box in Dclasol; and a pair of Tubs.

Ragged enter’d ‘Prentices

Properly cloathed, giving the above token, and the Word, which is Jachin.

The Funeral of Hyram

Six stately unfledg’d Horses with Funeral Habilaments and Caparisons, carrying Escutcheons of the arms of Hyram Abiff, viz. a Master’s lodge, drawing, in a limping halting posture, with Solemn Pomp, a superb open hearse, nine Foot long, four Foot wide, and having a clouded Canopy, Inches and Feet innumerable in perpendicular Height, very nearly resembling a Brick Waggon: In the midst, upon a Throne of Tubs raised for that Purpose, lays the Corps in a Coffin cut out of one entire Ruby; but for Decency’s sake, is covered with a Chimney-sweeper’s Stop-cloth, at the head of a memorable Sprig of Cassia. Around in mournful Order placed, the loving, weeping, drunken Brethren sit with their Aprons, their Gloves they have put in their Pockets; at Top and at Bottom, on every side and everywhere, all round about, this open hearse is bestuck with Escutcheons and Streamers, some bearing the Arms, some his Crest, being the Sprig of Cassia, and some his Motto, viz. Macbenah.

Grand band of Musick as before Two Trophies

Of arms or achievements, properly quarter’d and emblazon’d, as allow’d by the college of arms, showing the family descents, with some particular marks of distinction, showing in what part of the administration that family has excelled. That on the right the achievement of the right worshipful Poney, being Parte Perpale, Glim, and Leather-dresser, viz. the Utensils of a Link and Black-shoe-Boy: That on the left the trophy of his excellency,– Jack, Grand-master elect, and Chimney-sweeper.

The Equipage

Of the Grand-master, being neatly nasty, delicately squaled, and magnificently ridiculous, beyond all human bounds and conceivings. On the right the Grandmaster Poney, with the Compasses for his Jewel, appendant to a blue Ribband round his neck: On the left his excellency–Jack, with a Square hanging to a white Ribband, as Grand-master elect: The Honourable Nic. Baboon, Esq.; senior grand Warden, with his Jewel, being the Level, all of solid gold, and blue Ribband: Mr. Balaam van Assinman, Junior Warden, his Jewel the Plumb-Rule.

Attendants of Honour

The Grand Sword Bearer, carrying the Sword of State. It is worth observing, This Sword was sent as a Present by Ishmael Abiff (a relative in direct Descent to poor old Hyram) King of the Saracens, to his grace of Wattin, Grand-Master of the Holy-Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem in Clerkenwell, who stands upon our list of Grand-masters for the very same year. The Grand Secretary, with his Insignia & Probationists and Candidates close the Procession. Tickets to be had, for three Megs a carcass to scran their Pannum-Boxes, at the Lodge in Brick-Street, nearlHide-Park Corner; at the Barley-Broth Womens at St. Paul’s Church-Yard, and the Hospital Gate in Smithfield; at Nan Duck’s in Black-Boy-Ailey, Chick Lane, & & &. Note. No Gentlemen’s Coaches, or whole Garments, are admitted in our Procession, or at the Feast.”

– Source: The Builder October 1917