Royal Ark Mariners
A Degree in England conferred on Mark Master Masons, and worked under the authority of the Grand Master of Mark Masons, assisted by a Royal Ark Council. The language of the Order is peculiar. The Supreme Body is called a Grand Ark; subordinate Lodges are vessels; organizing a Lodge is launching a vessel; to open a Lodge is to f oat an ark; to close the Lodge is to moor. All its references are nautical, and allude to the Deluge and the Ark of Noah. The Degree seems to have been invented in England about the end of the eighteenth century. A correspondent of the London Monthly Magazine for December, 1798 (volume vi, page 424), calls it "one of the new degrees in Freemasonry," and thus describes the organization:
They profess to be followers of Noah, and therefore call themselves Noachidae, or Sons of Noah. Hence their President, who at present is Thomas Boothby Parking Lord Rancliffe, is dignified with the venerable title of Grand Noah, and the Lodge where they assemble is called the Royal Ark Vessel.
These Brother mariners wear in Lodge time a broad sash ribbon, representing a rainbow, with an apron fancifully embellished with an ark, dove, etc. Among other rules of this society is one that no Brother shall be permitted to enter as a mariner on board a Royal Ark vessel for any less sum than ten shillings and sixpence, of which sum sixpence shall be paid to the Grand and Royal Ark vessel for his registry, and the residue be disposed of at the discretion of the officers of the vessel. Their principal place of meeting in London was at the Surry Tavern, Surry Street, in the Strand. The writer gives the following verse from one of their songs written by Dr. Ebenezer Sibley.
They entered safe--and lo! the Deluge came And none were protected but Masons and wives; The crafty and knavish came floating along, The rich and the beggar of profligate lives: It was now in woe For mercy they call To old Father Noah And loudly did bawl But Heaven shut the door and the ark was afloat To perish they must, for they were found out.
Now the Degree is in England conferred under the Grand Mark Lodge and also has considerable popularity under the control of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland. In the United States the Decree has not prospered in numbers. The College of Rites in its series of ceremonies included the Royal Ark Mariners and a few Bodies were set at work but the only one that seems to have continued activities was the Lodge at Masonic Hall, New York City. The Degree is, as has been intimated, based on the Bible account of the Ark of Noah, the Deluge, and the Dove, and has much interest and significance for thoughtful Brethren.
The Fifth Degree of the Initiated Brothers of Asia, also called the True Rose Croix.
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