Chapter 19

Elias Ashmole's Journal (1646)


When one addresses the subject of English Freemasonry of the seventeenth century one will immediately hear pronounced the name of Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), antiquary (1), politician, officer of arms, mathematician, alchemist, historian, and finally ... Mason.

It is as a politician and a historian (2) that he knew fame and wealth during his lifetime, having supported the royalist party and the return to the throne of the Stuarts, after the fall of King Charles I. 

As a scholar and historian, he was one of the founders of the Royal Society; and it is in his capacity as a Free Mason that he passed to the memory of posterity (3).

As evidenced by his diary, Elias Ashmole had at least two - and perhaps more, who knows - contacts with Freemasonry, a fraternity which we do not yet know with certainty if the fraternity at that time was primarily an operative institution or a new speculative one.

On 16th October 1646 the applicant was admitted to a Lodge, meeting at Warrington, Lancashire. On 11th March, 1682, he attended another meeting held in London at which six profanes were accepted as Masons - on that occasion he was the dean of the fellow crafts.

The document - It is unclear whether Elias Ashmole had, between 1646 and 1682, any Masonic activities. 

This is all that his Journal says:

The Text

1646 - In March, Jules Mazarin (1602-1661), Italian-French cardinal, becomes “Surintendant” of the Government of France and Preceptor of the young Louis XIV (1638-1715). In April, Charles I. of England, unable to raise new troops, flees to Scotland; he will be executed in 1649.

1646 - October 16 - 4 H. 30’ P.M., I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire with Coll: Henry Mainwaring of Karincham, in Cheshire.

 The names of those that were of the Lodge, Mr Rich: Penkett Warden, Mr James Collier, Mr Rich: Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich: Ellam, & Hugh Brewer.

1682 - In April, it was the beginning of the reign of Peter I. the Great, in Russia (1672-1725). In May, King Louis XIV (1638-1715) and his court settled at Versailles in a new magnificent castle. Elias Ashmole writes in his diary:

March 1682 - 10 - About 5 P.M., I recd: a Summons to appr at a lodge to be held the next day at Masons Hall London.

[March] 11 - Accordingly I went & about Noone were admitted into the fellowship of Freemasons, Sir William Wilson Knight, Capt. Rich: Borchwick, Mr Will: Woodman, Mr Wm Grey, Mr Samuel Taylour & Mr William Wise. 

I was the senior Fellow among them (it being 35 years since I was admitted). 

There were present beside myself the Fellowes after named. Mr Tho: Wise Mr of the Masons Company this present yeare. Mr Thomas Shorthose, Mr Thomas Shadbolt,  Waindsford Esq., Mr Nich: Young, Mr John Shorthose, Mr William Hamon, Mr John Thompson, & Mr Will: Stanton.

We all dyned at the Half Moone Tavern in Cheapside, at a Noble Dinner prepared at the charge of the New-accepted Masons.


1. - Antiquary - Name given in the seventeenth century to collectors of antiques, books  and curiosities.

2. - Elias Ashmole was the author of several books including one on The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (1672).

3. - To Elias Ashmole may be recognized the merit of having bequeathed all his collections of curiosities and antiques to the University of Oxford, as the basis of what was to become the Ashmolean Museum.

© Guy Chassagnard 2016