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Thomas Dunckerley and English Freemasonry

By: Susan Mitchell Sommers


As the author herself states, historians are very much detectives. Susan Sommers has done an absolutely first-class job in meticulously researching the life and times of that Masonic icon Thomas Dunckerley.


In doing so she has been able to put into context and confirm his considerable contribution to the development and administration of Freemasonry in England.


She has also been able to demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that Thomas Dunckerley was not the illegitimate son of George II. In doing so she puts to rest the mythology that has previously surrounded Dunckerley, and produced a comprehensive and scholarly biography.


Although not of the blood royal, Dunckerley was a Past Grand Warden of Grand Lodge; Provincial Grand Master for eight English Provinces; Grand Superintendent of the Grand and Royal Chapter of the Royal Arch of Jerusalem for eighteen English Provinces; the founder of three lodges on board ships of the Royal Navy and many more on land; Grand Commander of the Society of Ancient Masons of the Diluvian Order of Royal Ark and Mark Mariners; and Grand Master of the Most Noble and Exalted Religious and Military Order of Masonic Knights Templar of Saint John of Jerusalem. As Susan Sommers says, not bad for a porter’s son.


It is rare for a non-Mason to have a sympathetic understanding of and empathy for the nuances of Freemasonry, but Susan Sommers very ably displays not only a genuine feel for Freemasonry in general but also her subject in particular. She has been able to unearth a vast array of sources and a wealth of new material, all of which are well documented in some forty pages of notes.


The author explores the way Dunckerley attempts to transform himself by pushing for recognition as the illegitimate son of George II, notwithstanding his many Masonic achievements that he attained through his own merits. Interestingly Dr Robert Thomas Crucefix is also identified as a reinvented man: a subject well worthy of further investigation.


The only downside to this excellent book is the price. If only Freemasons could be persuaded to think in terms of a book of this quality costing the same as a couple of Masonic dinners. The pleasure and knowledge they would undoubtedly gain will last considerably longer than the memory of the dinners.


An absolute ‘must read’ for any discerning Freemason interested in the early organisation of Freemasonry in England and the part played by Thomas Dunckerley, who may have been an imperfect man but was certainly a good Mason.


Richard Collins



Price: £60.00

Publisher: Pickering and Chatto

ISBN: 978 1 84893 358 3



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