names of members with the Clerk of the Peace. The surviving Quarter Sessions records, now held mainly at county record offices, are a rich source for local lodges and individual members.
Annual returns, surviving from the 1750s, were sent from local lodges to the Grand Lodge. These are now held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry of the Grand Lodge ( freemasonry. london.museum). These returns were used to create registers, or Contribution Books, of members grouped by lodge. Those up to 1886 are available in digital format at the library. While the majority of the registers in this collection are from lodges in England, registers are also available for Wales, Northern Ireland and several countries overseas such as Canada, Australia, India and South Africa.
There are three degrees in Craft Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. A man will normally pass through these three degrees – known as Initiation, Passing and Raising – and the date that he passes each degree may be recorded in the register. The date he joined a new lodge was recorded alongside his name in the register. If a man joined more than one lodge or chapter, the numbers of these additional lodges may be recorded in the far right-hand margin of the page.
A Grand Masonic gathering in 1887 at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee