The origins of Freemasonry are shrouded in mystery.
The creation of the Office (as it is also called) was a gradual process, beginning with the first recorded gentleman to join an Edinburgh stonemason lodge in 1599 and culminating with the publication in London in 1721 of The Constitutions of the Freemasons by the Scottish Presbyterian minister James Anderson.No one knows for certain how or when the Masonic Fraternity was established. A widely accepted hypothesis among Masonic scholars is that it emerged from stonemason guilds during the Middle Ages. The language and symbols used in fraternity rituals are derived from this period. The oldest document mentioning Masons is the Regius poem, printed around 1390, which was a copy of an earlier work.
In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that point on are more complete. Freemasonry was a phenomenon that gained traction in Scotland, England and Ireland during the 1680s, 1690s and, more specifically, in the 1710s and 20s. England's first grand lodge was formed in the 1720s. And, more particularly, the publication of the first constitutions of Freemasonry published by James Anderson in 1723 provided a means to spread fraternity throughout the empire.