Bro. Stephen Freeman Abused Freemasonry for Financial Gain and Social Advancement
Ever since the dawn of creation, scoundrels, scalawags and confidence artists around the world have endeavored to sell their privately held, so-called secret information, to a gullible and unsuspecting public. The real secret is that there are no more secrets left in the world today. In the information age of the Internet anyone can easily access information in the form of digital data or hard documents and other tangible items that in an earlier age would have been impossible for rank and file members of society to obtain in order to read and study. Today, anyone interested in pursuing financial and social advancement has many different options available. In fact it is often said that there is just too much information available in the world today. The real trick today is discerning the authentic information from the fake garbage.
Prior to our current information age, the only viable means of creating a diverse social and business network was to join one of the many social and fraternal organizations of the day. Many different types of men joined Rosicrucianism and Masonic Lodges for many different types of reasons. Unfortunately there were also unchartered Masonic Lodges such as the Royal Ark Lodge created and promoted by Ebenezer Sibly, Stephen Freeman and mesmerist John Bell in 18th Century London, England.
UNHOLY TRINITY: Sibly, Freeman and Bell
In 1788, renowned plagiarist Ebenezer Sibly, partnered with hypnotist John Bell, and Bro. Freeman, a quack doctor and prolific joiner of Masonic Lodges, in an unsuccessful attempt to start a school for esotericism that they named The College for Instruction in Elementary Philosophy. At the core of this fraudulent activity was their hybrid curriculum of fashionable pursuits of the day such as Rosicrucianism, Egyptology, Masonry, Kabbalah, astrology, numerology, fortune telling, etc. Freeman in particular was known for aggressively recruiting only Freemasons to these enterprises.
Above all, Sibly, Freeman & Bell were experts at advertising and promoting their snake-oil inspired “esoteric” knowledge for financial and social advancement. Some of their borrowed material was authentic and some of it was brimstone and treacle. Paramount to this activity was their desire to model their activities after the Freemasons, who were the oldest, largest and most successful fraternal organization in existence both then and now.
Stephen Freeman’s bogus Royal Ark Masonry would be completely forgotten except that a critic of the day called Bro. Freeman out on his credentials and in response Bro. Freeman set out to exhaustively chronicle his tawdry tale as an upright and respectable Rosicrucian and Freemason.
THE SIBLYS OF LONDON: A Family on the Esoteric Fringes of Balderdash and Ballyhoo
Actually this would all have been completely lost to the annals of history except for the exhaustively researched, THE SIBLYS OF LONDON, A Family on the Esoteric Fringes of Georgian England, by Susan Sommers.
Reading this tedious book may make some people want to stick a gun in their mouth and blow their brains out to relieve the boredom. Therefore, as a means of suicide prevention, I have taken the liberty of reviewing The Siblys and publishing this blog. This blog contains the unauthorized reprinting of figure 4.1 above, and other portions from Ms. Sommers’ tome taken from Google Books, in addition to the beautiful cover art of her scholarly history of The Siblys of London and ancillary characters such as Stephen Freeman: Chemist of the Rosicrucians.
A Brief History of Stephen “Freeman” Kingstone, an Alleged Chemist of the Rosicrucians From Antigua and London
Stephen Kingstone, alias Stephen Freeman (1739-90) was indentured to his brother Felix as a blacksmith for a period of seven years in Hinton, St. George, Somerset. Somehow, Stephen Freeman mysteriously ended up on the island of Antigua and was able to marry his way into a well-known and successful local family.
When Freeman finally made it to the center of the Masonic universe in 18th Century London, he embarked upon a multifaceted program to self-construct his financial and social status. The foundation of this self-transformation was Freeman’s embracing of Freemasonry. Freemasonry brought Freeman into the company of men of some means and reputation. In the early 1780s, while already a Master Mason, Freeman became an associated member of the “red apron” Globe Lodge No 15; Grand Steward’s Lodge No 47; and Peace and Plenty No 72. In all three of these lodges, Freeman misrepresented himself in the register as a doctor.
As was common in the day, urban British men often joined a number of different societies. Freeman was a prolific “joiner” and was also a member of the Jerusalem Sols, a quasi-Masonic fraternity with strong political aspirations, and the Society of Encouragement of the Arts and Manufactures.