Gormogons & The Scald Miserables

One of my most enjoyable paths that I get lost on is Anti – Masonry. The Gormogons & The Scald Miserables are the top on my list. Very little is known of them. A mention here and there surface from time to time. Here are my findings.

As with most of my beginning research topics of interest I start with Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry:

GORMOGONS: A secret society established in 1724, in England, in opposition to Freemasonry. One of its rules was that no Freemason could be admitted until he was first degraded, and had then renounced the Masonic Order. It was absurdly and intentionally pretentious in its character; claiming in ridicule of Freemasonry, a great antiquity, and pretending that it was descended from an ancient society in China. There was much antipathy between the two associations, as will appear from the following verses, published in 1729, by Henry Carey:

The Masons and the Gormogons
Are laughing at one another,
While all mankind are laughing at them;
Then why do they make such a pother?
They bait their hook for simple gulls
And truth with bam they smother,
But when thev’ve taken in their culls
Why then’t is “Welcome, Brotherr”

The Gormogons made a great splutter in their day, and published many squibs against Freemasonry; yet that is still living, while the Gormogons were long ago extinguished. They seemed to have flourished for but a very few years. Brother R. F. Gould has collected about all that is known about the Gormogons in his article on the Duke of Wharton, in volume viii of Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge. But the reader must not overlook a pertinent quotation, from a letter written by Brother Gould, mentioned in Melville’s Philip, Duke of Wharton (page 114), “About the Gormogons, indeed, all is inference and conjecture. We must suppose that the Society or Association actually met, but there is no distinct proof of their having done so.”

There are a few drawings that were done. Probably the most known is the creation of William Hogarth called, The Mystery of Masonry Brought to Light by the Gormagons.

ARS Quator Coronatrum
Transactions of the QC Lodge No. 2076
Page 39-40, 50, 118

Page 39-40
In An Ode to the Grand Khaibar (London 1726), the author of the Book of Constitutions, who was a Scottish Presbyterian minister,
is thus satirized :
” So pleas’d with Dreams the jlitrtstms seem, To tell their Tales once more they venture And find an Author worthy them, From Sense and Genius a ptsseittct*.”
But the most violent of all the lampoons that were launched with a view to holding up Anderson to ridicule and contempt was
Hogarth’s well-known plate, The Mystery of Masonry, brought to light by the Gormogons.
This is of uncertain date, but probably appeared either shortly before or shortly after the pamphlet to which I have last referred. A reproduction of this plate was given in our Lodge Transactions for
1895 (A.Q.C. viii., 139). But the book held out by the figure at the entrance to the tavern which I then thought must have been intended to represent the Grand Mystery of the Freemasons Discover’d (1724). I now consider may have been meant to typify the
Constitutions of 1723. The ” Ladders, Halters, Drawn Swords, and Dark Booms ” also presented to our view in the plate, are noticed it is true in the “Letters” appended to the ” Grand Myrtery,” but the allusions to them are avowedly taken from the Plain Dealer of September 14th, 1724. This journal assumes the role of a “candid friend,” and adjures the Grand Master to put a stop to proceedings which “have spread Confusion and Terror.” Here we have, I think, a general protest against the policy pursued by the Grand Lodge— which, as we have seen, was also severely criticised by Dr. Stokeley— and among the subjects of particular complaint must have been, in my own judgment, the New Law—as it was evidently supposed to be —contained in the illchosen and oft-quoted terms of Old Regulation XIII.

Page 50
The mock processions carried out oy the Scald Miserables, in ridicule of the Freemasons, must have cost a considerable amount of money, and there is room for speculation whether there was any organized body by whom the expense was defrayed ? The Duke op Wharton and the Gormogons who sought to undermine the authority of
the Grand Lodge in 1724, were of the Jacobite faction, and so may have been the Scald Miserables of 1742 ?

Page 118
In 1724-26, the Author of that work was satirized with merciless severity in The Secret History of the Free-Masons (an appendix to the ” Briscoe ” copy of the socalled ” old Gothic Constitutions ‘), The Plain Dealer, The Grand Mydery of the Free
Masons Discover d, An Ode to the Grand Khaibar, the various Manifestoes of the Gormogons, and {about the same date) in the well-known plate by William Hogarth, entitled ” The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons” (A.Q.C., viii. 130).

In the result, Anderson was driven out of Masonry for the space of eight years (1721-32), and seems to have become a sort of scape-goat, on whose back were laid all the sins of the Grand Lodge, which he was supposed to carry with him into the

Gormogon Medal:
What is the medal I describe below.
Round a draped bust of a Chinese, Reverse
“Universus . Splendor, Universa . Benevolentia”
round a full-faced sun with rays. The medal is
surmounted with a dragon.
[It is one of the medals worn of teh Freemasons,
who are mentioned by Pope in The Dunciad; laughed at Harry Carey in his Poems (1729); and caricatured by Hogarth in the plate entitled, “The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons”.
Notes and Queries a Medium of Inter Communication for Literary Men, General Readers Etc.

A library of freemasonry comprising its history written by Robert F. Gould 1911

page 129

A few words must now be devoted to the proceedings of the gormogons, and order which first came under public notice in this year, through its origin is said to have been of earlier date. The following notification appeared in the daily post of September 3rd, 1724:

“whereas the truly ancient noble order of gore mogens, instituted by Chin – Quaw Ky-Po, The first emperor of China(according to their account), many thousand years before Adam, and of which the great philosopher Confucius was (Ecumenical Volgee, has lately been brought and to England by a Mandarin, and he having admitted several gentlemen of honor into the mystery of that most illustrious order, they have determined to hold the chapter at the castle Tavern in Fleet Street, at the particular request of several persons of quality. This is to inform the public that there will be no drawn sword at the door nor ladder in a dark room, nor will any Mason be received as a member till he has renounced his novel order and been properly degraded. N. P. The Grand Mogul, the Czar of Muscovy, and Prince Tochmas are entered into his honorable society; but it has been refused to the Rebel Meriweys, to his great mortification.  the Mandarin will shortly set out for Rome having a particular Commission to make a present of this ancient order to His Holiness, and it is believed the whole sacred College of Cardinals will commence Gormogons.  notice will be given in The Gazette the day the chapter will be held.”

if we may believe the weekly journal or Saturday post, of the 17th of October following, “many eminent Freemasons” had by that time “degraded themselves” and gone over to the Gormogons, wilst several others were rejected “for want of qualification.”  but the fullest account of the order is given in the second edition of the grand mystery other Freemasons discovered,” published October 28th, 1724.  This has been closely dissected by Kloss, who advances 3 distinct theories with regard to the appearance of the Gormogons:  I. that the (Ecumenical Volgi was no less than the Chevalier Ramsay, then at Rome in attendance upon the young pretender;  II. that the movement was deeply laid scheme on the part of the Jesuits to attain certain ends, by masquerading after the fashion of the Freemasons; III. That the Gormogons we meet with the precursors of the schismatic Masons, or “Ancients”.  the first and last of these suppositions may be passed over, but the second is more plausible, especially if we widen its application, and for “Jesuits” read “Roman Catholics,” since, curiously enough, the order is said to have become extinct in 1738, the year in which Clement XII. published his Bull against the Freemasons.

The Plain Dealer of September 14th, 1724, contains a letter from a Mandarin at Rome to another in London. The former congratulates the latter on the speedy progress he has made “from the court of the Young Sophy”, and adds, “your presence is earnestly expected at Rome.  the father of high priests is fond of our order, and the Cardinals have an emulation to be distinguished. Our excellent brother Gormogon, Mandarin, Chan Fue, as well, and salutes you.”  there are also several allusions to the Freemasons, which point to the prevalence of irregularities, such as we are already justified in believing must have existed at the time.

The following notice appeared in the daily journal of October 26th, 1730:

“by command of the Vol-Gi.  a general chapter of the most August an ancient order of Gor-Mo-Gon, will be held at the castle Tavern in Fleet Street, on Saturday the 31st Inst., to commands at 12:00 o’clock; Of which the several graduates in licentiates architect notice, and give their attendance.  P.W.T”

An identical summons, signed “F.N.T.”, will be found in the same journal for October 28th, 1731, but that earlier chapters were held at the same place may be inferred from a paragraph in the British Journal of December 12th, 1724, which reads: “we hear that a peer of the first rank, a noted member of the Society of Freemasons, hath suffered himself to be degraded as a member of that society, and his leather apron and gloves to be burnt and thereupon entered himself as a member of the Society of Gormogons, At the castle Tavern in Fleet Street.”

This can only refer to the Duke of Wharton, who’s well known eccentricity of character, combined with the rebuff he experienced when his last present in Grand Lodge, may have led him to take this step. It is true, that and so indeed 28 he constituted a lodge at Madrid, but this would be in complete harmony with the disposition of a man who, in politics and everything else, was always turning moral somersaults; and the subsequent application of the lodge to be “constituted properly,” tends to show that, however defect of his own memory may have been, his apostasy was neither forgotten nor forgiven by the craft.

The number of renegade Gormogons must, I think, have been very large, but the only succession from the order that I have met with occurs in the weekly journal or British gazetteer of April 18th, 1730, which has – “On Saturday last, at the Prince William Tavern. At Charing +, Mr Dennis, the famous poet and critic, was admitted at free and accepted Mason, at a lodge then held there, having renounced the Society of the Gormogons, of which he had been a member for many years.”

impressions of the metal of the order – obverse and reverse – are annexed.  the inscriptions which encircle them are sufficient explanatory in themselves, and it has been suggested that the words An. Reg. and An. Inst., on the lower projections respectfully, may possibly refer to the foundation of the order in the reign of Queen Anne.”

hero bring to a close this short study on the subject of much interest, which I trust, nevertheless, other students will pursue. And this hope I ask are antiquaries not to lose sight of the fact, that the Gormogons were the only formidable rivals of the Freemasons, and to bear in mind also, that several of the regulations passed by the latter before 1725 are deemed by some good authorities to have been levelled against the former.

SCALD MISERABLES: A name given to a set of persons who, in 1741, formed a mock procession in derision of the Freemasons. Sir John Hawkins, speaking (in his Life of Johnson, page 336) of Paul Whites head, says:

In concert with one Carey, a surgeon, he planned and exhibited a procession along the Strand of persons on foot and on horseback, dressed for the occasion, carrying mock ensigns at the Symbols of Freemasonry; the design of which wits to expose to laughter the insignia and ceremonies of that mysterious Institution; and it was not until thirty years afterward that the Fraternity recovered from the disgrace which so ludicrous a representation had brought on it.

The incorrectness of this last statement will be evident to all who are acquainted with the successful progress made by Freemasonry between the years 1741 and 1771, during which time Sir John Hawkins thinks that it was languishing under the blow dealt by the mock procession of the Scald Miserables.

A better and fuller account is contained in the London Daily Post, March 20, 1741.

Yesterday, some mock Freemasons marched through Pall Mall and the Strand as far as Temple Bar in procession, first went fellows on jackasses, with cows’ horns in their hands, then a kettlek rummer on a jackass having two butter firkins for kettle-drums; then followed two carts drawn by jackasses, having in them the stewards with several badges of their Order; then came a mourning-coach drawn by six horses, each of a different color and size, in which were the Grand Master and Wardens; the whole attended by a vast mob. They stayed without Temple Bar till the Masons came by, and paid their compliments to them, who returned the same with an agreeable humor that possibly disappointed the witty contriver of this mock Scene, whose misfortune is that, though he has some mit, his subjects are generally so ill chosen that he loses by it as many friends as other people of more judgment gain.

April 27th, being the day of the Annual Feast, a number of shoe-cleaners, chimney-sweepers, etc,. on foot and in carts, with ridiculous pageants carried before them, went in procession to Temple Bar, by way of jest on the Freemasons.”

A few days afterward, says the same journal, “several of the Mock Masons were taken up by the constable empowered to impress men for his Majesty’s service, and confined until they can be examined by the Justices.” Hone remarks (Ancient Mysteries, page 242), it was very common to indulge in satirical pageants, which were accommodated to the amusement of the vulgar, and he mentions this procession as one of the kind. A plate of the mock procession has engraved by A. Benoist, a drawing-master, under the title of A Geometrical View of the Grated Procession of the Scald Miserable Masons, designed as they were drawn up over against Somerset House in the Strand, on the 27 th day of April Anno 1742. Of this plate there is a copy in Clavel’s Histoire Pittoresque. With the original plate Benoist published a key, as follows, which perfectly agrees with the copy of the plate in Clavel:

  1. The Grand Sword-Bearer, or Tyler, carrying the Sward of State, a present of Ishmael Ahiff to old Hvram Iting of the Saraeens, to his Graee of Wattin, Grand Master of the Holy Lodge of Saint John of Jorusalem ln Clerkenwell.
  2. Tylers or Guarders.
  3. Grand Chorus of Instruments.
  4. She Stewards. in three Gutt-carts drawn by Asses.
  5. Two famous Pillars.
  6. Three great Lights: the Sun, Hibroglyphical, to rule the Day- the Moon, Enblematical, to rule the Night; a Master Mason, Political, to rule his Lodge.
  7. The Entered Prentice’s Token.
  8. The letter G. famous in Masonry for differencing the Fellow Craft’s Lodges from that of Prentices.
  9. The Funeral of a Grand Master according to tho Rites of the Order. with the Fifteen loving brethren.
  10. A Master Mason’s Lodge.
  11. Grand Band of Musiek.
  12. Two Trophies; one being that of a Black-shoe Boy and a Sink Boy, the other that of a Chimney-Sweeper.
  13. The E4uipage of the Grand Master, all the Attendants wearing Mystical Jewells.

The historical mock procession of the Scald Miserables was, it thus appears, that which occurred on April 27, and not the preceding one of March 20, which may have been only a feeler, and having been well received by the populace there might have been an encouragement for its repetition. But it was not so popular with the higher classes, who felt a respect for Freemasonry, and were unwilling to see an indignity put upon it. A writer in the London Freemasons Magazine (1859 i, page 875) says: “The contrivers of the mock procession were at that time said to be Paul Whitehead, Esq., and his intimate friend (whose real Christian name was Esquire) Carey, of Pall Mall, surgeon to Frederick, Prince of Wales. The city officers did not suffer this procession to go through Temple Bar, the common report then being that its real interest was to affront the annual procession of the Freemasons. The Prince was so much offended at this piece of ridicule, that he immediately removed Carey from the office he held under him.”

Captain George Smith (Use and Abuse of Freemasonry, page 78) says that “about this time (1742) an order was issued to discontinue all public processions on feast days, on account of a mock procession which had been planned, at a considerable expense, by some prejudiced persons, with a riew to ridicule these public cavalcades.” Smith is not altogether accurate. There is no doubt that the ultimate effect of the mock procession was to put an end to what was called the March of Procession on the Feast Day, but that effect did not show itself until 1747, in which year it was resolved that it should in future be discontinued (see Constitutions, 1756, page 248. On the subject of these mock processions there is an article by Dr. W. J. Chetwode Crawley, Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xviu).

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