The Ancient & Accepted Rite is an Order of Freemasonry comprising a total of 33 degrees of which the Rose Croix is the 18th Degree. Local bodies of the Order are known as Rose Croix Chapters and all business of a Chapter is conducted in the 18th Degree, including the Admission of Candidates (known as ‘Perfection’) and the Enthronement of the Most Wise Sovereign (the equivalent of Worshipful Master in a Craft Lodge).
The Ancient & Accepted Rite originated in France in the mid-1700s as a ‘Rite of Perfection’ consisting of 25 ‘higher’ degrees and spread via the trade routes to the West Indies and North America. The first Supreme Council, that of the Southern Jurisdiction of the USA, was formed at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801. There are now over 60 Supreme Councils (the independent governing authorities of the Order) throughout the world.
The Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient & Accepted Rite for England and Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas was established in 1845 under a Patent issued by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the USA and consists of nine eminent members of the Rite, all holders of the 33°.
HRH The Duke of Kent, KG, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, is the Grand Patron of the Order, reinforcing the close links between the Craft and the Ancient & Accepted Rite.
The Ancient & Accepted Rite has a very flat structure and there is no equivalent to a Grand Lodge or Provincial Grand Lodge in the Order.
In 1874, Chapters in England and Wales were organised into Districts, each under the jurisdiction of an Inspector General who is appointed by the Supreme Council to have charge and supervision over the Chapters in his particular District.
The Inspector General is the representative of the Supreme Council in his District and is responsible for upholding the authority of the Council and the dignity of the Order.
An Inspector General is authorised to appoint a District Recorder to assist him with the secretarial and administrative duties in his District.
Roll of Inspectors General of North East Lancashire:
1874-1883 Charles James Banister
North Western District (comprising Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumberland & Westmorland)
1883-1910 Capt. Clement Robert Nuttall Beswicke-Royds [i]
1910-1921 Col. James Daniel Murray
North Western District, Eastern Division (changed to ‘East Lancashire’ in 1925)
1921-1941 John Evan Freeman
1941-1950 Robert Verney Clayton
1950-1958 Alfred Frederick Royse
1958-1970 Rev. Canon Francis Paton-Williams
In 1970, East Lancashire was divided into North East and South East Lancashire Districts:
North East Lancashire
1970-1974 Rev. Canon Francis Paton-Williams
1974-1983 Rev. John Flitcroft
1983-1990 Geoffrey Mitchell
1990-2000 Ronald Kelvin Matterson, OER
2000-2015 David Bouic Hawkins
Since 2015 David John Biggs
[i] Eldest son of Albert Hudson Royds, Grand Captain General of Supreme Council from 1869-1890