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Thory, Claude Antoine

A distinguished French Masonic writer, who was born at Paris, May 26, 1759. He was by profession an advocate, and held the official position of Registrar of the Criminal Court of the Chatelet, and afterward of first adjunct of the Mayor of Paris. He was a member of several learned societies, and a naturalist of considerable reputation. He devoted his attention more particularly to botany, and published several valuable works on the genus Rosa, and also one on strawberries, which was published after his death.

Thory took an important part, both as an actor and a writer, in the Masonic history of France. He s as a member Or bhe Lotltge Saint Alexalldre d'Eeosse and of the Contrat Soeial, out of whose incorporation into one proceeded the Mother Lodge of the Philosophie Scottish Rite, of which Thory may be justly called the founder. He was at its constitution made the presiding officer, and afterward its Treasurer, and Keeper of its Archives. In his last capacity, he made a collection of rare and valuable manuscripts, books, medals, seals, jewels, bronze figures, and other objects connected with Freemasonry. Under his administration, the Library and Museum of the Mother Lodge became perhaps the most valuable collection of the kind in France or in any other country. After the Mother Lodge ceased its labors in 1826, this fine collection passed by a previous stipulation into the possession of the Lodge of Wont Thabor, which was the oldest of the Rite.

Thory, while making collections for the Lodge, had amassed for himself a fund of the most valuable materials toward the history of Freemasonry, which he used with great effect in his subsequent publications. In 1813 he published the Annales Originis Magni Galliarum Orientis, ou Histoire de la Fondation du Grand Orient de France, History of the Foundation of the Grand Orient of France, in one volume; and in 1815 his Acta Latomorum, ou Chronologie de l'Histoire de la Franche-Mafonnerie, Francaise et Etrangere, Masonic Proceedings, or Chronology of the History of French and Foreign Freemasonry, in two volumes. The value of these worlds, especially of the latter, if not as well-digested histories, certainly as important contributions to Masonic history cannot be denied. Yet they have been variously appreciated by his contemporaries.

Rebold (History of the Three Grand Lodges, page 530) saxs of the Annales, that it is one of the best historical productions that French Masonic literature possesses; while 13esuchet (Prcis If istoriquc} Historical Summary ii, page 275) charges that he has attempted to discharge the functions of a historian without exactitude and without impartiality. These discordant views are to be attributed to the active part that Thory took in the contests between the Grand Orient and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and the opposition which he offered to the claims of the former to the Supreme Masonic authority. Posterity will form its judgment on the character of Thory as a Masonic historian without reference to the evanescent rivalry of parties He died in October, 1827.

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