England was ruled by the Royal House of the Stuarts, and was going through political and social changes, as King Charles I was beheaded for his beliefs in 1649.
It was a time in history, that saw the emergence of the Masonic Royal Society of Sciences and the Arts.
It all started back in 1567, when Sir Thomas Gresham was one of the General Warden’s of Masons.
Gresham College was founded in 1579, at the bequest of Sir Thomas Gresham, as laid down in his will. He even went to the point of listing what subjects were to be taught: Astronomy – Divinity – Geometry – Medicine and Music.
A group of learned men, thinker’s of their time, with an interest in experimental philosophy, met formally at Gresham College in Bishopgate, starting around 1645. These learned men called themselves “The Invisible College” attending lectures and discussions of mutual interests, to one and all.
In its early days, the proceedings of the Invisible College were cloaked in secrecy. Personal safety demanded that any discussions of an esoteric, moral or scientific nature, should take place underground.
The Royal Society was founded in 1660, by the freemasons, and its members and presidents included the likes of:
- Robert Boyle assisted by Robert Hooke, who explored the properties of a vacuum, and gave his name to the gas law of volume and pressure.
- William Petty, the father of modern statistics.
- Laurence Rooke, a geometrician who worked on methods for determining longitude at sea.
- Christopher Wren, Professor of Astronomy and prominent architect.
John Desaguliers was nominated to the post of “Curator of Experiments” in 1712, by Sir Isaac Newton, and was the first to demonstrate the existence of the atom.
Sir John Desaguliers became Grand Master of the Freemasons in 1719, and shaped the form of 18th century Freemasonry.