Royal & Select Masters

The Grand Council of the Order of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales
and its Districts and Councils Overseas


RSM Jones 300The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas was formally constituted on 29 July 1873 by four Councils chartered just two years earlier by the Grand Council of New York.

They organised themselves into a Sovereign body under the Patronage of the Rev. Canon G.R. Portal, a Past Grand Master of Mark Master Masons, who was Installed as the Grand Master of the Order. By the turn of the century there were twenty seven Councils and a similar number Consecrated by the end of the second world war. The Order then grew rapidly with the number on the Roll at the end of 2013 being over 250 Councils.

The Degrees in the Order - four in total - are often referred to as the 'Cryptic Degrees', and the Order sometimes as 'Cryptic'. The ceremonies complete the Solomonic legend as they prove the essential link between the Degrees of Mark Mason, the Raising in Craft, and The Royal Arch.

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Address of the Grand Master
M.Ill.Comp. Kessick Jones
Grand Council
Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Companions, I begin by welcoming you to our Annual Meeting and by expressing my appreciation that many of you have travelled considerable distances to be here. I look forward to sharing further time with you at our celebratory luncheon.

To start proceedings with an extended Obituary detailing the loss of so many well respected and revered Companions is not ideal. However, such sadness was quickly replaced by the joy and happiness of the Investiture proceedings.

I know that I speak on behalf of you all when I congratulate the Companions whom I have appointed to Grand Council Rank or promoted in it. The Investiture will have been a major and memorable event in their Cryptic careers, and they should need no reminding that their new status brings with it increased responsibilities which must be firmly grasped.

To those Companions I say, you are the future of our Order and although I stand centre stage today, today is primarily your day. But remember, I always expect more; the Impresario Irvine Berlin once remarked “The toughest thing about success is that you have got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point. You have to keep on working on that talent, otherwise someday you’ll reach for it and it won’t be there”.


So, I will, as I said, be expecting much more of you.

May I take this opportunity now of thanking all the Active Officers of the last year for all your industry and endeavours, which I know you enjoyed. This goes for all of you, from the Deputy Grand Master and Grand P.C.W., right through the Team Sheet to the Grand Sentinel.

Now let me tell what Grand Council has been up to since we met here last April.

It has been a quieter year in comparison to 2017, but by no means an inactive one. As far as new Councils are concerned, I consecrated just one, way back on 23rd May 2018, namely the Captain James Cook Council No. 342 in the District of North and East Yorkshire.

Much later in the year on 1st December I had the pleasure of Installing Right Illustrious Companion Neil Hartburn as Dist.G.M. for North Midlands. This was following the retirement of R.Ill.Comp. John Clements who had served diligently for 10 years.

Not too far in the future, on 10th May I will be pleased to install V.Ill.Comp. Tim Hancock as Dist.G.M. for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. This is of course in consequence of the very sad death of Nick Murzell.

Also, here today for the last time in his capacity of Dist.G.M. is R.Ill.Comp. John Jacobson, who after 7 years of exemplary service to Essex has announced his retirement. John, I thanked you personally at the Conference in January, for all you have achieved and I now publicly do so again. In consequence of this I have appointed Ill.Comp. Bob Potts to be Dist.G.M. for Essex and will be pleased to install him on 4th July.

Whereas, it has been quiet on the Consecration and Installation front, (although there are more scheduled for later in the year), it does indicate that we are entering a period of consolidation and equilibrium – and as I said to my Dist.G.M.s at their Conference - perhaps even contentment!

This is borne out by our overall statistics, which have remained almost constant, again indicating consolidation and contentment but without complacency.

I must at this juncture, pay tribute to my Dist.G.M.s and my District Grand Inspectors, they do a wonderful job.  They are all different in the way, in which they choose to superintend their Districts and Inspectorates, but all manage them firmly and fairly and seemingly happiness is every day increased! It is also heartening to see so many Past Dist.G.M.s in attendance today.

Occasionally I get to visit their bailiwicks, on what I see as learning excursions. John F Kennedy once said, "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other". How true that has been. In the privileged position I hold in leading this Order, I have learned much and keep on learning during such visits. Not only by benefiting from their hospitality and generosity, but in witnessing the hard work and total commitment which they put into their meetings and ceremonies. Added to that, are one or two pleasing innovations, which just goes to prove that not all good ideas come from Head Office?

Let me give you a brief synopsis of my travels:

Early in May last year I visited our Inspectorate of the Channel Islands in Jersey.

In June I made a visit to St. James Council No. 143 in London and in July I went to Shiney Row in the District of Durham, to attend a Council that graciously bears my name, No. 337.

In October I was privileged to attend the Anniversary celebrations in Athens, of the Grand Council of the Royal & Select Masters of Greece, and thank the G.M. my good friend Athan Asios Lempesis for his welcome and hospitality.

I also visited Keith Hind Council when it met in Chester in May and afterwards attended the District Meeting of Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales (including Staffordshire), now sporting their new name - "Cheshire and the Marches".

In March of this year I again visited Keith Hind Council, this time in Cumberland and Westmorland.

At all these meetings the work carried out was outstanding and of the highest professionalism.

I was also fortunate enough to be invited to the joint Allied and Cryptic Charity dinner in Tyneside. This was preceded by a golf challenge match between me and the Dist.G.M. for North and East Yorkshire versus the Dist.G.M.s for Northumberland and Durham. Their Website Newsletter reported the final result as an honourable half, but this was only because the G.M. was given an 8-foot putt on the last hole! The whole event was a most successful and enjoyable occasion which raised a considerable sum for a worthwhile charity.

The Silver Trowel and Excellent Masters continue to progress at an enviable rate. Since last April 148 candidates have received the Silver Trowel and 65 the Excellent Masters with 8 affiliations. In May we took our ‘Outreach’ program to Leeds and to Chester in July. The ceremonies were performed to a usual high standard by members of Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 and local Companions.

I thank the Installed Masters Councils throughout the land for their part in sustaining the momentum of the Silver Trowel and Grafton Council for what it does in London.

In Grafton’s meeting in November 2018 we had a 'guest King David' in the person of (now) R.Ill.Comp. Bernard Wayne, Essex bred, but now resident in the District of Devon and Cornwall who at the age of 92 has been the oldest King David we have ever had. Then in February this year V.Ill.Comp. Philip Purves took on the role and has probably been the youngest King David yet!

It was no surprise that they both put on a superb performance. Incidentally at that same meeting in February our G.D.C. was installed as Thrice Illustrious Master, thus adding to his myriad of responsibilities I thought I would throw that in, to keep him happy and smiling!

Three very significant and happy events took place during the year when 3 of our Companions celebrated 50 years in our Order.  On 9th July I was privileged to present R.Ill.Comp. Terry Bowler with his certificate in Kits Coty Council No.38, 50 years to the day that he was chosen as a Select Master in that wonderfully iconic Temple in Chatham. On 23rd February I had the honour to do the same for R.Ill.Comp. Charles Woodward at the delightful new venue at Marsh Bolton in Oxfordshire. Then I was pleased to present R.Ill.Comp. Alan Edgar Stewart with his 50-year certificate, quite unusually during a meeting of a Craft Lodge. My Dist.G.M. for East Midlands just happened to be W.M. of Old Kimboltonians Lodge and I am indebted to him and to R.W.Bro. Max Bayes P.G.M. for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, for allowing that unique occasion to take place. I now move on to one of the most agreeable aspect of this meeting, the opportunity to welcome our guests from daughter constitutions, overseas visitors and the Rulers of our own Progressive Orders. I ask you to suppress your rapturous applause until I have completed an impressive list.

From our Daughter Grand Councils

From France:

The Grand Master M.Ill.Comp. Guy Bertherat.

You are accompanied by R.Ill.Comp.s Bernard Girod, your Deputy, Francis Rhode your P.C.W., and Gerard Lemonie G.Rec.

Heureux De Vous Voir Tous! You have our sympathy with regard that dreadful catastrophe at Notre-Dame Cathedral yesterday.

From Greece:

The Grand Master M.Ill.Comp.Athan Asios Lempesis

And the Deputy Grand Master R.Ill.Comp Zack Epstein. Welcome.

From South-East Asia:

R.Ill.Comp. Dr Khoo Boo Khean P.G.Chan.

Ken good to see you.

From other Grand Councils

From the Grand Council of Delaware:

M.Ill.Comp. G Thomas Taylor the 3rd - Grand Master

And you have with you Comp. George Taylor the 4th (any relation?)

From the Grand Council of Ohio:

M.Ill.Comp. Stephen Hill G.M.

You are accompanied by R.Ill.Comp. Grover Manning Dep.G.M.

M.Ill.Comp Douglas Habeggar P.G.M.

And no less than 16 other Companions, including R.Ill.Comp. David Pratt Past Dist.G.M. for Yorkshire who of course always comes with the Ohio package!

Now from our own Districts

From Jamaica and the Cayman Islands:

R.Ill.Comp. Graham Smith P.Dist.G.M. the Grand Inspector

From the District of South and East Caribean:

Ill.Comp. Ralph Craig P.G.Lect.

Ill.Comps Errol Clarke P.G.Swd.B. and Winston Edwards P.G.St.B. all recipients today.

From the Inspectorate of the Channel Islands:

Ill.Comp. Michael Yates P.A.G.D.C. another recipient.

From Koning Salomo Council in the Netherlands:

R.Ill.Comp. Peter Kok now P.G.Coun., and Ill.Comp. Frank Poot P.G.Cond.C.

From Spain:

Ill.Comp. Keith Alcock P.A.G.D.C. of Elche Council No. 297 and Bob Munday P.A.G.D.C. of Indalo Council No. 284 also recipients today.


V.Ill.Comp Raymond Smith P.G.Lect. - Pro Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons

R.Ill.Comp Paul Clement P.G.Chan. – Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master, Knights Templar.

R.Ill.Comp Graham Flight P.G.Chan. – Grand Sovereign, Red Cross of Constantine.

R.Ill.Comp. Tom Jackson P.G.Chan. – Grand Master, Allied Masonic Degrees.

R.Ill.Comp. Andrew Sweeney P.G.Chan. – Grand Supreme Ruler, Order of the Secret Monitor.

R.Ill.Comp. Ian Currans P.G.Coun. – Grand Summus, Scarlet Cord.

Ill.Comp. Christopher Maiden P.G.Capt.Gd. – Grand High Priest, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom.

R.Ill.Comp Michael Herbert P.Dep.G.M. - Grand Master, Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.

R.Ill.Comp. John Paternoster P.G.Chan. – Supreme Magus, Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia.

It is also wonderful to see another Past Deputy Grand Master present in R.Ill.Comp. Ben Addy and two Past Grand P.C.W.s Michael Spencer (upon whom has been bestowed the Order of Service to Cryptic Masonry) and Colonel John Chambers. & Another Custodian of the 9th Arch here. David Ivor Williams.

Companions let us now welcome them all.

Last year I urged you to keep your Craft Lodges and RA Chapters alive and active, by ensuring that high standards are achieved and maintained. This I still do, but in addition (I told you I always want more!) I urge you to take a sense of purpose to your Council meetings and accept nothing but the best. We are privileged to have one of the finest pieces of ritual in ALL Freemasonry in the Royal Masters perambulation.

Nurture that privilege, always do your utmost for the candidate, word will get around and that will readily attract others.

Despite a sombre beginning today, I hope that for you all, that this has been a happy and enjoyable occasion, indeed as should all our Cryptic activities. My continuing aim is to serve as I might towards those ends and your loyalty and your confidence will always be my abundant reward.

Albert Schweitzer is credited with saying “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”.

As I approach the conclusion of my address, I must place upon a precipitously high pedestal the Grand Recorder and his Team from No. 86, for admirably coping with the administrative anomalies leading up to today and the smooth execution of the work at the meeting.

At a similarly laudative level I place, the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Team, for his thought and preparation prior to, and the perfection of the ceremonial during.

And my thanks also go to John Vasquez and the staff here at Freemasons' Hall.

Mentioned in the Obituary, was the late Nick Murzell Dist.G.M. for Ox, Berks & Bucks. Whilst preparing this address I came across a copy of an e-mail Nick had sent to me the day before my Installation as G.M. in April 2016.

He was regretfully sending his apologies due to the commencement of many weeks of treatment for recently diagnosed prostate cancer. He stated that he was devastated, not as you would imagine because of his critical condition of his health and the daunting time ahead, but because he was missing the meeting!

Unbeknown to me, Nick had been a Queens Scout and in wishing me well for the future, he made use of a poignant phrase taken from the Queens Scout Certificate which says "May it prove for you a Joyous Adventure".

Remember his words Companions and may all your doings in Cryptic Masonry prove to be that joyous adventure. Enjoy it, it is very special please keep it that way. Finally Companions: Be of one mind; Live in Peace And may the God of Love and Mercy; The Supreme Master of the Universe; Delight to dwell amongst you; And bless you for evermore. 

Thank you. 




M.Ill.Comp. Kessick J. Jones
Grand Master

R.Ill.Comp. His Hon Ian D. G. Alexander, KC
Deputy Grand Master

R.Ill.Comp. Paul A. Norman
Grand Principal Conductor of the Work


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