Introductory Note
Some years ago V.Wy Bro. Harry Boscow, P.G.V., a former Provincial Grand Recorder for the Province of West Lancashire produced a potted history of the Order based on a publication, now out of print, by R.J. Wilkinson entitled "The Order of the Secret Monitor".
This summary is based on a booklet entitled "CENTURY A History of One Hundred Years of the Order of the Secret Monitor" by R.Wy. Bro. E.G. Gregory White the Former Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler for Essex and Suffolk.

The Order emerged in 1887 when Queen Victoria and her loyal subjects celebrated the golden jubilee of her reign, the new suspension bridge over the River Thames at Hammersmith was opened, Stainer's "The Crucifixion" had its first performance at St. Marylebone Parish Church and the Marylebone Cricket Club celebrated its centenary at Lord's.

The Order has a scriptural base, following closely the writings of the Book of Samuel, Chapter Twenty, which tells of the enduring friendship between David and Jonathan. The devotion of these two friends for oneanother forms the basis of the Secret Monitor ritual and precepts; indeed Friendship for one's Brother is the predominant teaching of the Order.
"The Order of David and Jonathan" was brought to the New World about 1658 by Dutch settlers of Jewish decent, it therefore follows that we must return to the Netherlands for its origin. An unfortunate dynastic marriage at this period gave rise to strong Austrian then Spanish influence resulting in conflict between the Dutch Lutherans and Roman Catholicism which had become more dominant as a result of the marriage.
In the late 16th century a brotherhood was established using modes of recognition by signs and symbols chosen from the story of David and Jonathan in the Bible. A similar occurrance appeared one hundred years later when Louis XIV of France instigated a Catholic crusade against the Huguenots and the same modes of recognition were used to create confusion amongst the invaders.
The ritual of our present Order appears to go back to the Dutch working of the "Order of Jonathan and David and Jesus Christ".
This Order had seven degrees of which the first three seem to be closely connected to the First Degree of our Order. The last four were reserved for "Freemasons of Eminence".
There is evidence that a quasi-masonic degree, closely following the O.S.M. First Degree, existed in America in the mid 19th century. It was practised under various titles and was well established in the latter part of the nineteeth century. An attempt was made in 1890 to bring the Order under the juristiction of the Allied Degrees when the basic requirement at that time was that a candidate must be an Ark Mariner.
The Order was introduced from America by Dr. Issacar Zacharie. He was born in Chatham, Kent of Jewish parents who had been converted to Christianity. He is known to have celebrated his golden wedding in 1894 yet he claims to have been born in 1827 so must have married by the age of seventeen. He and his family emigrated to America when he was still a boy and his initiation into Freemasonry took place in 1848.
On his returned to England in 1875 he built up a thriving orthopaedic practice at 80 Brook Street, London. He became a member of a Mark Lodge in London where he met other Brethren who were Secret Monitors and all were also members of Alfred Meadows Lodge.
Together with a few other Brethren they were invited to meet at Zacharie's house on 5th May 1887 when they resolved to form the "Alfred Meadows Conclave" with Dr. Zacharie as the first Supreme Ruler.
In a very short space of time on 17th June 1887, Grand Council (Now known as Grand Conclave) was formed, Dr. Zacharie being nominated as the first Grand Supreme Ruler. He presided over the first meeting of Grand Council which met in his home at 80 Brook Street, on 2nd July 1887. A special meeting of Grand Council was called for 11th July at which draft constitutions and other documents where submitted and approved. The proceedings of the Grand Council meeting were reported in a Masonic periodical, "The Freemason", which was in circulation at that time.
Particular emphasis was given to the appointment of Visiting Deacons in every Conclave under the juristiction of Grand Council and that every Supreme Ruler must impress upon the Brother appointed to that office, the importance of his duties.
1887 - 1910
On July 15, 1887 the first Festival of the Order was held, which was also the inaugural meeting of Alfred Meadows Conclave No.1, this Conclave had been working without a warrant since the previous November and was regularised by the issue of a warrant that day.
Thirty new members were admitted at the meeting, including Lord Halsbury, the Lord Chancellor of England who, it is recorded, "left the woolsack to attend the meeting". Four additional conclaves were founded that year.
On 29th October 1887 the ritual of the First Degree was adopted and the Brothers who had produced it, Bros. Col. Shadwell H. Clerke and C.F.Matier were each pesented with a jewel of the Order surmounted by a crown.
Bro. Clerke also submitted a design for a seal which included the motto "Semper Fidelis". This was approved and was adapted for use on Grand Officers' jewels.
True Friendship Conclave No.4 was reported dormant in 1893; but was later reconstituted as "Claro True Friendship" Conclave No.4 at Harrogate in 1895 and is still working today.
Judge Philbrick drafted the first Constitutions of the Order which were adopted at the first meeting of Grand Council in 1887.
The foresight of the brethren who established the Order was considerable for as far back as July 20 1887 it had been resolved that the Supreme Ruler of the Order be empowered to appoint brethren to Past or Honorary Rank in Grand Council, to issue warrants for new Conclaves and to appoint Provincial and District Rulers. The jewel of the Order was originally attatched to a "red ribbon shot with gold one inch wide" and worn round the neck. Later it became impossible to obtain that type of ribbon and yellow ribbon with crimson border was substituted.
The rituals of the Second and Third Degrees were approved during this period but the Third Degree was only conferred on members of Grand Council.
In 1888 seven new Conclaves were warranted and on October 17 of that year Bro.Col. George Lambert presented Consecrating Vessels to Grand Council, sashes were authorised to be worn by Grand Officers, and the Executive Committee of Grand Council was appointed. Robes were authorised for use by the G.S.R., G.Chancellor and G.Chamberlain and also a robe for a S.R. within the Order. White surplices were worn by Grand Visitors when Grand Council was opened in due form.
In 1889 the first District G.S.R.was appointed. He was Bro. Felix Gottlieb as Dist. G.S.R. for Eastern Archipelago. Rules and Constitutiions for Provinces and Districts were approved and issued at the 3rd. Grand Festival. A revised second edition of the Constitutions and Regulations of the Order, proposed by the Earl of Halsbury, was approved and issued.
During this year of 1889 three more Conclaves were warranted and it is recorded that His Highness the Maharajah of Cooch Behar joined the Empress of India Conclave No.16 and from other sources we are informed that the same Maharajah invented a game called "smash", better known today as snooker. The game was largely played by young subalterns in the mess.
Another particularly important phase during the year was the consideration and finally the adoption of the Third Degree ritual when it was also set out that any Grand Officer could act as Commissioning Officer to extend the authority of a Supreme Ruler of a Conclave to that of a Supreme Ruler within the Order. It must here be stressed that a Supreme Ruler who has not been commissioned can only take the chair of the Conclave in which he was installed.
Two new Conclaves were warranted in 1890.
In 1891 the Alfred Meadows Conclave No.1 changed its name to Premier Conclave No.1, the District Grand Conclave of Eastern Archipelago was constituted, Penrose Dunbar Conclave No.20 was consecrated and the design of the Third Degree Certificate was approved. Music composed by Bro. W. Stephens of Perth, Western Australia was performed at the 5th. Grand Festival and adopted for use in Conclaves.
The 6th Grand Festival of the Order took place in 1893 as did the first visit of Dr. Carmichael, Grand Master of the Allied Degrees of Virginia, U.S.A. He was given access to copies of rituals of the three degees of the Order for study. During the year two Conclaves were made to surrender their warrants for being in arrears with their dues.
1894 started well with Conclaves being warranted in Transvaal and Bombay, a further visit by Bro. Dr. Carmichael following up a previously forwarded and newly published ritual of the American working of the Allied Degrees. A presentation was made to M.Wy.Bro. Dr. Zacharie and his wife on the occasion of their golden wedding.
Late that year the District Grand Conclave of South Africa was constituted and the M.Wy.G.S.R. informed the Order that his health was such that he could no longer continue in office as Grand Supreme Ruler.
During his term of office, twenty-four Conclaves had been formed and he was succeeded by the Rt.Hon. the Earl of Warwick who had been Deputy Ruler of the Order.
Early in 1895 an application was received from a number of Brethren in Rocklands, Maine, U.S.A. requesting permission to form a Conclave in order to confer the Second and Third Degrees of the Order. A warrant was granted to them but it was set out in such a manner so as to safeguard the interests of Brethren of Richmond, Virginia (then allied to Dr. Carmichael) and restricting them from changing their allegiance at any time without the consent of Grand Council. Pioneer Conclave No.24, Rocklands, U.S.A. was thus formed.
Cockcroft Conclave No.25 was consecrated near Todmorden and Champion Conclave No.26 at Manchester by Judge Philbrick on 15th. April 1895.
I make no excuse for including here part of the homily delivered at the consecration of Champion Conclave by the judge:
".....a Society framed upon the principles of self-sacrifice, of mutual trust, watchful brotherly care, of compulsary warning in time of danger, official solace in time of sorrow and skilful and effective though unostentatious advice in every circumstance in life, is a Society that meets a great and crying need in human affairs, and is calculated to benefit those who act up to its tenets. Such a Society is that of the Secret Monitor. If a Brother be in sorrow the Conclave will afford him sympathy; if in danger his Brethren will give him assistance; if in distress the Visiting Deacons will bring him consolation; if in poverty he will find aid. Moreover, at every turn of life, at every crisis of fate, he may look and he will not look in vain, to the experienced among his Brethren who have pledged themselves to give him caution, to prompt him to good actions, to warn him of doubtful ones, and generally to watch over him, support him and cherish him so long as he may need their care and prove himself worthy of the confidence reposed in him. Such, my Brethren are the principles of our Order. Tried they have been in times of peril, and true they have been found in times of difficulty...."
May 13th 1895 saw the start of a period of considerable unrest within the Order. A letter (apparently never produced for substantiation) from the Brethren in Virginia, U.S.A. who worked under the juristiction of the Allied Degrees based at Mark Masons' Hall was said to have protested on the formation of a Secret Monitor Conclave at Rooklands, Maine, U.S.A. where the Brethren worked under the juistiction of the Sovereign College of Allied and Christian Degrees in America.
The Earl of Euston, Grand Master and C.F. Matier, Grand Secretary of the Mark Degrees who supported the Brethren in Virginia could not find any grounds for agreement with Grand Council and eventually resigned from the Order.
The dispute was submitted to Lord Lathom, Pro Grand Master of the Craft, in March 1896 for arbitration in an attempt to end the friction.
By the end of the year four more Conclaves had been added to the role of Conclaves under the juristiction of Grand Council.
The office of Grand Director of Ceremonies was introduced in 1897 together with the conferring of Past Ranks on several worthy Brethren in honour of the jubilee of Queen Victoria.
In 1898 an appication for the founding of a Conclave at Albany, New York was declined "until present difficulties in America are settled".
The dispute went on for three years and was eventually settled by Bro. John Strachan,Q.C., Grand Registrar of the Craft, to whom the Earl of Lathom had referred the matter.
The Earl of Warwick, for the O.S.M., and the Earl of Euston, for the Mark Degree, signed the award in September 1898 and agreed that:-
1. All minutes, degrees and circulars concerning the dispute on both sides be null and void.
2. All members of the Secret Monitor shall be recognised by both Grand Councils.
3. Both Councils shall have the right to grant warrants and work the degree in England, Wales and the Colonies and Dependencies. But not in the U.S.A.
The American Allied Council also agreed to this.
This meant that there were two workings of the Degree; The American working of the Allied or the revised three degree system of the English O.S.M.
Things remained stable until 1921 when Col. Napier Clavering became Grand Master of the Allied and expressed a wish that the two sides come together, even if it meant the Allied giving up some of its rights to the other side. His Committee would not agree.
Col. Napier Clavering had joined the O.S.M. through Summus Conclave in 1922 and eventually became Grand Supreme Ruler of the Order in 1929, still being Grand Master of the Allied.
Opposition to his earlier proposition was reduced to one, by the deaths of other members of the Allied Committee, and in July 1931 he was able to reach an agreement between both bodies. The Allied recognised the Grand Council of the Order of the Secret Monitor as the sole authority over the Degree and agreed that Councils of the Allied should no longer work the Secret Monitor Degree.
Grand Council agreed to recognise Brethren who had been inducted under the Allied ritual, subject to taking an obligation of allegiance to Grand Council. Registration under Grand Council would be free of charge.
Thus after thirty-one years the Order reached maturity by becoming the only Authoritative Body working the Degree. Col. Napier Clavering had achieved much in his short tenure as M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler.
Later that year, 1931, M.Wy.Bro. Napier Clavering died and the Earl of Harewood, Prov. Grand Master for West Yorkshire was persuaded to accept the office of Grand Supreme Ruler although he was not even a member of the Order. He was, however, inducted, admitted, installed and commissioned (all in one day) in Claro True Friendship Conclave No.4 at Harrogate on 12th December 1931, and installed as Grand Supreme Ruler the following February at Mark Masons' Hall. It was the first time the Order had met there since 1895.
The Earl of Harewood ruled for five years until he was appointed Pro Grand Master in the Craft and fifteen Conclaves were warranted by him.
Two of these, Concord Conclave No.64 and Liverpool Conclave No.67 had previously worked under the Allied Degrees and applied for a Grand Council Warrant in 1932 under the terms of the Agreement which had finally settled the dispute.
Following the resignation from office of the Earl of Harewood, the Earl of Courtown became Grand Supreme Ruler in 1936 and held office for twenty-one years, during which time the number of Conclaves rose from 75 to 145.
During this period there were such notable events such as ...the consecration of Century Conclave No.100 at Cheltenham whose first S.R. was R.W.Bro. Sir Archibald Campbell, KCIE, CSI, CBE, VD, past District G.S.R., South India...and the consecration of Supreme Rulers Conclave No.123 with R.W.Bro. Sir George Townsend Boag, KCIE, CSI, MA, Dep.G.S.R. as first S.R.
The Order struggled thoughout the years of World War II, as did Freemasonry in general, and in December 1942 it was decided to suspend meetings of the Executive Committee except for matters of urgency. At the end of the war in 1945 normal working gradually took shape, records were brought up to date, dues collected and the administration restored to normal. At the 55th Grand Festival in April 1946, accounts for the previous five years were presented and adopted.
As a result of post-war inflation fees were increased in 1956 and although the increase was accepted by Brethren in this country it did not go down too well with Conclaves in Australia. They demanded special treatment----and got it! They were allowed to pay the dues in either sterling or Australian currency.
Lord Courtown died in tragic circumstances in 1957 and his Deputy, Sir George Townsend Boag, Past District G.S.R. of Southern India was elected as his successor.
Several amendments to the Constitutions were made during the next few years and the financial state of the Order improved and stabilised.
The Order was so much improved that it was reported in 1963 that the role of Conclaves numbered 180, some had been resuscitated and all was looking well.
In 1959 R.Wy.Bro. R.F.B. Cross,P.G.C., Grand Recorder for thirty years, died and his office was taken up, temporarily, by R.Wy.Bro. A.A. Murphy who managed to get affairs in order. R.Wy.Bro. Cross had been using his own offices to run the Order, and the Council decided that better arrangements were needed. The Board at Mark Mason' Hall agreed to provide accommodation for the Order and the Mark Grand Secretary, Lt.Col. J.W. Chitty, MBE, also became Grand Recorder of the Order.
Lt.Col. J.W. Chitty ..."a man of shy and retiring disposition, high intelligence, proven administrative ability, greatly respected, a man who loved the Order and had that inherent gift of friendship parallel to that of David and Jonathan, a man of wisdom, strength and understanding, a man who had endeared himself to the Brethren during the ten years as Grand Recorder, a good Freemason, and one who would prove himself a worthy successor of his illustrious predecessors..." was elected Grand Supreme Ruler of the Order on the death of Sir George Boag in 1968.
The number of Conclaves in England, particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire, had shown a marked increase and the Grand Supreme Ruler thought that the time had come to form Provinces of the Order.
On 5th May 1969 the M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler and his team of officers came to Manchester and there in the Masonic Hall he constituted the first Province in England, the Province of Lancashire and Cheshire. R.Wy.Bro. Arnold Moreton, P.G.G. was installed as Supreme Ruler and he Appointed R.Wy.Bro. W.H. Cartwright, J.P., P.G.V. as his Deputy. The Province started with nineteen Conclaves.
Later that year the Provinces of South West Counties and Yorkshire were also constituted. Also during the year the Order had extended into the Principality of Wales with the first Conclave, Cymru No.207 to meet at Bridgend.
In 1971 the Order donated approximately £3,550 from its Benevolent Fund to various Masonic Charities, sixteen new Conclaves were consecrated and Provincial Grand Conclaves had proved to be a success.
The Annual Festival for 1974 was held at Harrogate where the Grand Supreme Ruler promoted R.Wy.Bro. Arnold Moreton to be a Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler and announced that the Province of Lancashire and Cheshire was to be split into three new Provinces.
On 30th. October the M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler came to Warrington, constituted the Province of West Lancashire and installed R.Wy.Bro. W.H. Cartwright,J.P. as Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler with R.Wy.Bro. M.H. Sharpe as Deputy Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler and then in the evening went over to Runcorn and constituted the Province of Cheshire and North Wales with R.W.Bro. F.A. White as Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler and V.Wy.Bro. E. R. Ellam his Deputy.
The London party spent the night in Manchester and on the following day constituted the Province of East Lancashire with R.Wy.Bro. J.V. West as Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler and Lt.Cdr. R. Wood the Deputy.
A Province of South Wales and Monmouth was also constituted that year with R.Wy.Bro. O.I. Lloyd-Owen as Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler.
In 1977 the most recently numbered Conclave on the records, when Grand Council met, was 280: thus seventy-seven Conclaves had been warranted since Lt.Col. J.W. Chitty had been installed as Grand Supreme Ruler. This was a greater proportional increase than any other Order in Masonry.
The Constitutions and Regulations of the Order were incorporated with the Year Book for the first time in 1979 and this continues to the present date.
Col. G.S.H.Dicker was appointed as second Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler in 1982 following the death of R.Wy.Bro. A.A. Murphy, Dep.G.S.R. in 1981.
The Sovereign Grand Council of New Zealand was constituted in August 1982 and this reduced the Roll of Conclaves by 38 since they now formed the Grand Conclave of New Zealand.
Membership of the Order in 1983 stood at 8,980 and by the end of 1984 it had risen to 9,034, the first Conclave in Scotland (Scotia Prima No.323, Glasgow) had been warranted soon to be followed by Edinburgh Greyfriars No.330 in February 1985.
In 1987 it was agreed that Grand Council and Grand Conclave be replaced by a single body designated Grand Conclave. This was confirmed at the meetings of Grand Council and Grand Conclave on 17 September 1987.
The Centenary
The Celebration of the Centenary was arranged by the staff at Mark Masons' Hall guided by the Grand Recorder, R.Wy.Bro. Peter Glyn Williams, and took place at The Masonic Hall, Edgbaston, Birmingham on 17 September 1987.
To mark the occasion of one hundred years of the Order of the Secret Monitor, the M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler decided to make a donation from the Order's funds to the Mark Benevolent Fund of £25.000, and to all United Kingdom Conclaves the sum of £200 to be donated to Hospices of their choice.
Lt. Col. John Walter Chitty, M.B.E. continued in office as M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler until his death in 1991. His successor was Col. G.S.H. Dicker,C.B.E., T.D., D.L. who held office until 1996.
The Order, now with over 10,500 members, continues to flourish under the present M.Wy. Grand Supreme Ruler, Peter Glyn Williams and daughter Sovereign Conclaves have been constituted, notably in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and Spain.