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A History Of The Royal Arch

As far as we can tell, the Royal Arch degree arrived in Scotland sometime in the 18th century after being introduced by English and Irish sources, usually Military Lodges. 

While the precise origins of Royal Arch Masonry are unknown, we know that it originated in the mid-18th century. Some Masonic literature mentions Royal Arch vocabulary as far back as the 1720s, but the first confirmed mention in Scotland is when the degree was worked at Stirling in 1743. 

The Military Lodges introduced many degrees in addition to the Craft. When the regiments left, the Lodges often continued to work them, and this continued until the end of the 18th century. 

The Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter Of Scotland

In 1800, the Grand Lodge of Scotland warned Lodges against working degrees apart from Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason in response to the Secret Societies Acts. 

Additional degrees associated with both Royal Arch and Templar Masonry were worked in assemblies that were separate from the Lodge, but after a while the Brethren decided that they wanted to legitimise these meetings somehow. 

While some obtained Charters from the Grand Encampment of Ireland, others looked to the Templar Grand Body in England. The Royal Grand Conclave of Scotland was chartered in 1810, and Alexander Deuchar was appointed the first Grand Master. 

It was empowered to grant Charters for conferring the Knight Templar grades upon Royal Arch Masons. However, Deuchar found it unsatisfactory to only have these grades and the first three degrees under its control, but not the intermediate and qualifying degrees of the Royal Arch. He convened a special committee in 1815 to contact the bodies in Scotland working the Royal Arch degrees. He wanted to form a Grand Body and sought advice from the United Grand Lodge of England. He got support from the Duke of Sussex, who wanted Deuchar to persuade the Grand Lodge of Scotland to take the Royal Arch under its wing. 

Progress was made, but by 1817, the meeting could not be delayed further. The representatives from 34 Chapters met in Edinburgh, leading to the erection and consecration of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland. It issued Charters, and the Grand Body grew gradually until all the bodies working the Royal Arch degree soon came under its control. 

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