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James Anderson (Freemason)

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Title: James Anderson (Freemason)  
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Subject: Freemasonry, Order of Mark Master Masons, Freemasons, A.J.E.F., Continental Freemasonry
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James Anderson (Freemason)

James Anderson (c. 1679/1680 – 1739) was a Scottish writer and minister born and educated in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was ordained a minister in the Church of Scotland in 1707 and moved to London, where he ministered to the Glass House Street congregation until 1710, to the Presbyterian church in Swallow Street until 1734, and at Lisle Street Chapel until his death. He is reported to have lost a large sum of money in the South Sea Company crash of 1720. Anderson is best known, however, for his association with Freemasonry.


He was the brother of George Oliver (1847).


Anderson's Constitutions, 1723

Anderson was a Freemason, the Master of a Masonic lodge, and a Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. He was commissioned in September 1721 by the Grand Lodge to write a history of the Free-Masons, and it was published in 1723 as The Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Anderson's name does not appear on the title page, but his authorship is declared in an appendix.


In 1732 appeared the work by which Anderson is chiefly remembered, Royal Genealogies; or, the Genealogical Tables of Emperors, Kings, and Princes, from Adam to these times. Professedly based on Genealogische Tabellen of Johann Hübner, it was largely supplemented by Anderson's industry. While the earlier sections of the work are of little historical value, the later are often of use in relation to the genealogies of continental dynasties and houses. The volume closes with a synopsis of the English peerage, and in the preface the author intimated his readiness, if adequately encouraged, "to delineate and dispose at full length the genealogies of all the peers and great gentry of the Britannic isles". Anderson's last work, which he was commissioned to undertake by the first Earl of Egmont and his son from materials furnished by them, bore the title, A Genealogical History of the House of Yvery, in its different branches of Yvery, Lovel, Perceval, and Gournay; but the first volume alone was completed when Anderson died on 25 May 1739, and a second volume, subsequently published, was due to another pen (see "To the Reader" in vol. ii). The work was soon withdrawn from circulation on account of some disparaging remarks in it on the condition of the English peerage and on the character of the Irish people. It was re-issued, however, without the offensive passages, in 1742 (see Notes and Queries, 1st series, iv.158, and Letters of Horace Walpole (1857), i.107 n., and ii.145). Much of the genealogical matter in the book has been pronounced to be mythical (Drummond's Histories of Noble British Families (1846), art. ‘Percival’). Another work of Anderson's, News from Elysium, or Dialogues of the Dead, between Leopold, Roman Emperor, and Louis XIV, King of France, was published shortly after his death in 1739.

The Constitutions was edited and reprinted by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734, becoming the first Masonic book printed in America. An electronic edition of that work is online.[2] A second London edition, much expanded, appeared in 1738. The work was translated into many languages, including Dutch (1736), German (1741), and French (1745).

His other published works include:

  • Royal Genealogies (1732)
  • A Defence of Masonry (1738?)
  • News from Elysium (1739)
  • A Genealogical History of the House of Yvery (1742)

See also


  1. ^ Chalmers'Biography (1812), vol. 2, p.174, in biography of Adam Anderson, James' brother
  2. ^ The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734). An Online Electronic Edit" by James Anderson A.M., Benjamin Franklin et al.""". 


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