Russian Freemasonry – Some records show that, Freemasonry entered Russia in 1731.
The English constitution book of the year 1738 states that Captain John Phillips served as the Provincial Grand Master and General Brother J Keith acted as his successor in the office, in 1741. Although the second one served as the leader of the Lodge in Saint Petersburg, during the years between 1732 to 1734.
However at those times, the get together were conducted in private; due to the absence of any accessible Lodges, until the year 1750, when in Saint Petersburg “The Lodge of Silence” was held in and in Riga, “The Lodge of Northstar” was as well founded.
Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1740 to 1762), Brother Bober, later becoming the Grand Master, expressed that Freemasonry became more in vogue, but the meetings were still held rarely, and in top secret “in the loft of some out of the way retired house”.
Passion and concord, however, knit together the Brethren of that time.
King Peter III is said to have offered “The Lodge of Constancy”, Consul Selly, Chairman, with a safe house and he himself performed the masonic work at Oranienbaum.
The year 1765 marked the flourishing of a peculiar masonic system Russia, recognized with the term of “Melesino rite”.
Melesino, an individual was a Greek by birth and served as a Lieutenant in the Imperial Army.
“He was a man of talent, and could conduct the affairs of a Lodge in four different languages, with equal fluency”.
The rites termed after him constituted the subsequent degrees:
- The three Masonic and four high degrees,
- The dark vault,
- The Scottish Master and Knights Degree,
- The Philosophers degree,
- The Grand Priest of the Temple or the Spiritual Knighthood.
In addition to this system, the English one was also performed and a Grand Provincial Lodge erected in Petersburg also worked on it.
The Calendars of Freemasons in the year 1777 & 78 give evidence of the Following description;
The primary standard Lodge, constructed in 1771 in Saint Petersburg was acclaimed the “The Lodge of Perfect Unity”.
This new institution was processed with great regularity & activity under the leadership of the Chairman and most of the members who were originally English merchants.
As many Russian nobles were Freemasons by that point since the establishment of this Lodge. In 1772, they received a warrant from the Grand Lodge of England, for his Excellency JognYelaguin (Senator) to make way for him to rise as the Provincial Grandmaster in the Russian Empire.
The Gentleman conducted his office with such accomplishment that many admirable Lodges were established in Petersburg and other such locations.
The nobility of the Kingdom did not single-handedly aspire for the support of the Royal art, but also went through to fill up official posts in the Grand Lodge and in the individual Lodges, alike.
The provincial Lodge, as well as the Grand Lodge, were at the position to build a Masonic hall, wherein they could conduct their assemblies.
By the year 1783, twelve lodges were created into one Grand National Lodge, although they all had different rites. Their Grand Master appointed was Yelaguin.
Under Brother Bon Reichel’s assistance, these lodges took the documents of the Swedish system. It is not probable, as it is imagined, that Natter brought these deeds with him from Florence, in 1740.
More accounts of this era (and may be some time later) a book of travels writes that:
“The Russians entered with immense enthusiasm in the endorsement of this organization, which made it mandatory to be checkered, more so, as the real aspiration was but little regarded, for they favored occupying themselves with welcoming entertainment, expensive trifles, end even with financial speculations. Within this alluring veil of confidentiality, they had a chance of killing time, giving in their taste for acts, by adorning the higher degrees, and some even found therein the ways of filling their unfilled purses. Initiates were keenly consummated, without giving a thought to anything but the collection of fees; jow these were appropriated but only a little was acknowledged”
“This proliferation of Freemasonry, though so lacking exercised a valuable authority on social life, bringing the different parts of the society into more direct contact, cementing the foundation of that higher social-ability, which is unique and constructive feature in the aristocratic Russian, and disseminating values, which were not devoid of a valuable effect on the ethical nature in general”.
Within these (the foreign lodges) there were a few, who were surely calculated to win golden opportunities for Freemasonry and to strive for profit towards the intellectual society of its members.
The organization rose to a fullness of magnificence, only attained in countries like England and Sweden.
There was a building formed, completely based on Masonic views, the presence of the Lodges was normally known.
Organizations under their name were present everywhere, no doubt one brother was buried with Masonic merits.
Upon the presence of King Gustav III of Sweden, public festivals was arranged, which were attended by the King and several of his suite members.