Freemasonry records revealed on Ancestry
Historic registers providing the names of Freemasons in England, Wales, Ireland and further afield have been made available online for the first time
Details of more than two million practising Freemasons dating back to the 18th century have been uploaded to the web for the first time. Comprising two separate datasets, the new
ancestry.co.uk records have been digitised from membership registers held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London and the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Dublin.
Fully searchable and accompanied by a scan of the original register page, the entries can reveal the date of birth and residence of a Freemason ancestor, as well as the name of the lodge that they belonged to.
The larger of the two collections lists men who joined lodges affiliated with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), which still acts as the governing body for Freemasonry in England, Wales and a number of countries overseas.
Spanning 1751-1921, the collection includes novelist Oscar Wilde, who can be found listed as a member of the Apollo University Lodge in Oxford, among other famous figures.
As well as providingidi hihis ffullll name – “OscarO O’Flahertie Wills Wilde” – the page also shows that The Picture of Dorian Grayy author was initiated into the lodge on 23 February 1875.
The second collection, which covers the period 1733-1923, offers details of Freemasons belonging to masonic lodges across the 32 historic counties of Ireland, including those attached to militia and British Army regiments in the country.
Interestingly, this smaller release contains details of Oscar Wilde’s father, renowned surgeon Sir William Wilde, who introduced his son to Freemasonry in their native Ireland.
Although many Freemasons were wealthy and well-connected like the Wildes, analysis of the occupations noted down in the registers reveals that membership was actually more diverse than might have been expected. In addition to 14,882 ‘gentlemen’, the fraternal organisation also initiated hundreds of engineers, clerks and farmers, plus one ‘cloth shrinker’.
“As Freemasonry approaches its 300th birthday in 2017, we are pleased to be able to provide access to details of past members,” said Diane Clements, director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. “The records show the involvement Freemasons have had in society at national and local level, and I hope they will provide a fascinating insight.”
Ancestry’s Miriam Silverman added that the genealogy company was “delighted to be able to offer people an online window into a relatively unknown organisation”.
The records show the involvement of Freemasons at a local and national level
Oscar Wilde belonged to the Apollo University Lodge in Oxford