En: Estienne Morin

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Estienne Morin

This is an extract of "The Illustrious Role of Haiti in the Freemasonry of the Western Hemisphere". Published here with kind permission of E. C. Ballard


A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an "Ecossais" lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Francais, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a Patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him "Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World." This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or "Ecossais", degree lodges. Later attempts to disparage the validity of this Patent calimed, without material evidence that it appeared to have been embellished by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies. The political equivocations of the Bordeaux Lodge provide little to support such claims.

Early writers long believed that a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret", and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself "The Council of Emperors of the East and West". The title "Rite of Perfection" first appeared in the Preface to the "Grand Constitutions of 1786. It is often argued that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is therefore more properly titled "The Rite of the Royal Secret", or "Morin's Rite". Whether that is to bolster the claims of legitimacy for Charlston is unclear. Regardless, in the person of Morin, Haiti's central role in the advancement of Higher Degree Masonry in the Americas is unquestionable.

Morin again returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue, where, armed with a new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766 when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a "Grand Chapter" of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston. On July 21, 1802 the Supreme Council of the French West Indies in Haiti was formed out of the older 1836 Supreme Council of Saint Domingue.


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