Famous ‘not’ Masons

When Masons are asked about Freemasonry by a non-masons inevitably the conversation steers toward Famous Masons. It’s only natural that one be proud of those, now and previously, associated with Freemasonry, especially if they are famous and not infamous.

There are books of lists and online lists of Famous Masons and many, from the newest members to the oldest Past Master, have read or heard many variations of the ‘lists’.

Eddie Murphy

It always fascinated me the sheer number of famous men in these lists. Most of which were or are verified Freemasons. However there are some on the list that don’t really belong there. Early in my Masonic career when I first established my own Lodge’s webpage one of the first contacts I got was in response to a list of famous Masons I was discussing. The person contacting me insisted that Eddie Murphy (the Comedian) was in fact a Freemason and I neglected to mention him. As I started to research this I did find one place online where Eddie Murphy was indeed listed as a Famous Mason, on a site from a Lodge in California.

Well maybe the webmaster of this lodge knew something about it. So I emailed him and waited for a reply. When it finally came the webmaster verified that he had copied that list from another site and as far as he knew Eddie Murphy was indeed a Freemason, and assumed it was a PHA Lodge so he could not absolutely verify.

Audie Murphy

So I dug deeper and found the list that the CA webmaster had copied from and as it turns out the original list contained one Murphy on it, but it was not Eddie, it was Audie. Yes Audie Murphy the WWII hero. I came to the conclusion that this is one instance where technology actually caused the mistake and it was perpetuated out of ignorance. When I copied the same list into Word, it tried to autocorrect Audie to Eddie. The CA Webmaster was a younger and newer Mason and had not ever heard of Audie Murphy and assumed it was spelled wrong and perhaps unknowingly allowed the correction. Its seems like a simple mistake yet fairly far reaching. So many today are ready to believe whatever is on the internet, which also amazes and concerns me at the same time.

 

So let’s have a look at some Famous men who have been pegged as being Masons but in reality were not.

 

  • President Thomas Jefferson – Still appears on some Famous Masons list now and then as many assume he was a Mason from his having been a founding father and intimately acquainted with the Declaration of Independance and the US Constitution. He was in fact NOT a Mason, although on several occasions spoke kindly of the Fraternity. There is some debate about this to this day, however no primary evidence exists and all arguments are based on anecdotal evidence and therefore unproven.
  • Samuel Adams – a firebrand in America’s Revolutionary War (not to be confused with non-Mason John Adams, America’s second President or John Quincy Adams, an anti-Mason) is sometimes seen listed among America’s Masonic ‘Founding Fathers’. Sam Adams, the organizer of the Boston Tea Party, was not a Mason although he did participate in events involving Masons including his supporting a petition to support the orphans of Provincial Grand Master Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and the laying of a cornerstone (in his position as governor of Massachusetts) by then Grand Master Paul Revere.
  • Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) – an English philosopher and statesman, often referred to as the most influential and versatile writer of the 17th Century. He has been presumed by some to be the

    Sir Francis Bacon

    ‘real’ Shakespeare – and many have pointed to the connections between writings by Bacon and those of Shakespeare with that of Freemasonry. Realistically, the link between Shakespeare and Bacon has never been definitively proven nor was Freemasonry in its present form existent during his lifetime.

  • Sean Connery –  The famed actor and Scottish activist, as far as anyone can prove, he’s simply not a member of the Craft. Who knows: maybe his starring role in the 1975 film of (Mason) Rudyard Kipling’s novel, “The Man Who Would Be King” was enough for some to think he is.
  • Walt Disney – World famous cartoonist, Walt was a DeMolay (a member of a fraternal organization for young men sponsored by Freemasonry). He did not, however, join the Masonic organization. If you want to take a dive down the rabbit hole, just start Googling Disney and Club 33. It will amaze you the connections that the human mind can make lacking any further evidence or proof.
  • Pierre L’Enfant – the fabled designer of the city of Washington, D.C., has often been identified as a Mason. However, there is no proof whatsoever that he was. Although according to a

    Pierre Charles L’Enfant

    n article new evidence has surfaced that he was indeed a Mason. In the March-April, 2011 edition of the Scottish Rite Journal, there appeared an article which uses original source material previously unexamined to conclude that L’Enfant WAS, in fact, a Mason. At this point, the jury is still out on this matter. The author claims “…strong circumstantial evidence….” showing that a Francis L’Enfant as recorded in the minutes of a lodge in New York is one and the same as Pierre. He concludes that the Secretary made a mistake in names. However, circumstantial evidence and direct (or proven) evidence are two different things. So this one is actually debatable and should the conclusive evidence emerge that he was indeed a Mason, it would be a good addition to ad to the list.

 

 

  • President Abraham Lincoln – was not a Freemason. He applied for membership in Tyrian Lodge, Springfield, Illinois shortly after his nomination for the presidency in 1860.  However, he withdrew his application because he felt that his application for membership at that time might be interpreted as a political tactic to obtain additional votes. He advised the lodge that he would resubmit his application again when he returned from his service as president. Lincoln, as we know, never returned. On the death of the President, Tyrian Lodge adopted, on April 17, 1865, a resolution to say “…that the decision of President Lincoln to postpone his application for the honors of Freemasonry, lest his motives be misconstrued, is the highest degree honorable to his memory.”

 “Infamous” Non Masons

  • Aleister Crowley – Crowley joined a French Grand Lodge which was unrecognized by ‘mainstream’ Freemasonry. In fact, one of Crowley’s well-known writings expresses his great disgust when he wasn’t acknowledged as a Mason by those in London, his home at the time. Typical of his ego-centric behavior, he writes that he was far superior to those Masons anyway! Subsequently, he was ostensibly ‘given’ a 33rd Scottish Rite degree while traveling in Mexico. Once again, however, the organization that ‘gave him’ the degree was a spurious one, totally unrecognized by other Scottish Rite Bodies throughout the world.

    Aleister Crowley

    In fact, it is an interesting side note to history that Crowley’s ostensible 33rd Degree recognition had come from the same expelled Mason who had begun a thriving industry of duping people through the purchase of degrees by mail and which ultimately resulted in the successful  prosecution of the very first legal action for mail fraud in the United States.

  • Timothy McVeigh – convicted of the worst act of domestic terrorism ever in the United States. He has been sporadically mentioned in various anti-Masonic venues as having been a Mason. Be mindful: it’s essentially impossible to prove a negative. However, let’s look at the facts:

    * No one has ever cited a lodge to which McVeigh supposedly belonged;

    * McVeigh has been described in the press as (alternatively) an {extremist} “Christian Fundamentalist” and an atheist. Using either definition, he’d either self-disqualify or be ineligible for membership.

    * He reportedly was a fan of and regular listener to the William Cooper radio program. Cooper was an avid anti-Mason.

    * He reportedly slept with a copy of the ‘Turner Diaries’ under his pillow. This work contains a reference to Masonry in a very unfavorable light.

  • Santa Anna – Mexican general, president and politician, known as the Napoleon of the West, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, he has been described using many words, most of which are quite unflattering. He commanded the army which slaughtered the defenders of the Alamo. Joseph E. Bennett in his excellent work “Masons Along the Rio Bravo” wrote this about Santa Anna: “During this tour of duty in Texas, <at San Antonio de Bexar as a young military officer of 21 to battle troublesome rebels for the next seven years> Santa Anna is thought to have become a Scottish Rite (Escoceses) Mason. His Masonic affiliations were tenuous to say the least. No Body or Lodge has ever acknowledged Santa Anna as a member.  His claim to membership actually depends on the apron he claimed his own, plus the incidents in which he identified himself by the signs of recognition in use at that time.  If indeed Santa Anna was a Freemason, he was the most reprehensible example of what one should be.”

These are but a few examples of a much larger subset of men mistaken at one time or another for being a member of the oldest and greatest Fraternity in the world. There is a list of Our Black Sheep, Masons who ended up becoming Infamous, but we’d rather not talk about these sad cases.

Thanks primarily to Bro. Ed King and his informative website Masonicinfo.com for much of the information presented above.