Originally posted by The Axeman
What is the difference between Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and Free and Accepted Masons? I know there is a difference, and I know it has been
explained here before (no doubt by Masonic Light ), but it was on a tangent in an unrelated thread and I couldn't find it.
In the early 18th century, the premiere Grand Lodge of England (Free and Accepted Masons) met a rival: the Grand Lodge of Antient York Masons,
composed mostly of Irishmen. The F. & A.M. Grand Lodge was the "original" one, formed in 1717; however, some modern researchers are coming to the
conclusion that the A.Y.M. Grand Lodge may have been even older, just less popular.
Both of these English Grand Lodges chartered Lodges and Grand Lodges in the USA; and the F&AM's and AYM's refused to recognize each other.
Therefore, many US states had two rival Grand Lodges.
The major difference was the Royal Arch Degree and the traditional passwords of the first three degrees. The F&AM'ers changed their passwords so that
the AYM'ers couldn't get into their Lodges. This led the AYM'ers to accuse the F&AM'ers of making modern innovations in Masonry, by disregarding
ancient customs. This is why the F&AM'ers began to be called "Moderns" and the AYM'ers "Antients" (because they stuck to the ancient
Secondly, the Ancients conferred the Royal Arch Degree on all Past Masters, while the Moderns refused to recognize the degree. In reality, the Royal
Arch Degree is simply an expansion on an early version of the Third Degree which the Moderns had revised and excluded.
Finally, the schism in England was healed. The two Grand Lodges merged, giving birth to today's United Grand Lodge of England, and decided to use the
traditional words and grips. The United Grand Lodge of England's policy toward the Royal Arch is as follows: "Pure antient Masonry consists of only
three degrees, viz., Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, which includes the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch."
In the US, those Grand Lodges that have an "Ancient" in their title are the result of a merger between F&AM and AYM. AYM didn't extend to all the
states, so several states are still simply F&AM.
Today, there are no real differences between AFAM and FAM, as all of them have adopted the consolidation resolutions first used by the United Grand
Lodge of England. Each state has a slightly different ritual, but the differences are minimal.
[edit on 10-12-2004 by Masonic Light]