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Lawrie, Alexander

He was originally a stocking-weaver, and afterward became a bookseller and stationer in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, and printer of the Edinburgh Gazette. He was appointed bookseller and stationer to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and afterward Grand Secretary. In 1804 he published a book entitled The History of Freemasonry, drawn from authentic sources of information; with an account of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, from its Institution in t7S to the present time, compiled from the Records; and an Appendix of Original Papers. Of this valuable and interesting work, Lawrie was at one time deemed the author, notwithstanding that the learning exhibited in the first part, and the numerous references to Greek and Latin authorities, furnished abundant internal evidence of his incapacity, from previous education, to have written it. The doubt which naturally arises, whether he was really the author, derives great support from the testimony of the late Dr. David Irving, Librarian to the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh. A writer in the Notes and Queries (Third Series iii, 366), on May 9, 1863, stated that at the sale of the library of Doctor Irving, on Saturday, March 28, 1B62, a copy of Lawrie's History of Freemasonry was sold for 1. In that copy there was the following memorandum in the handwriting of Doctor Irving:

The history of this book is somewhat curious, and perhaps there are only two individuals now living by whom it could be divulged, The late Alexander Lawrie, "Grand Stationer," wished to recommend himself to the Fraternity by the publication of such a work. Through Doctor Anderson, he requested me to undertake its compilation and offered a suitable remuneration. As I did not relish the task, he made a similar offer to my old acquaintance David Brewster, by whom it was readily undertaken, and I can say was executed to the entire satisfaction of his employers. The title-page does not exhibit the name of the author, but the dedication bears the signature of Alexander Lawrie, and the volume is commonly described as Lawrie's History of Freemasonry

There can be no doubt of the truth of this statement. It has never been unusual for publishers to avail themselves of the labors of literary men and affix their own names to books which they have written by proxy. Besides, the familiarity with abstruse learning that this world exhibits, although totally irreconcilable with the attainments of the stocking-weaver, can readily be assigned to Sir David Brewster the philosopher (see Lyon's History of the Lodge of Edinburgh page 55). Lawrie had a son. William Alexander Laurie (he had thus, tor some unknown reason, changed the spelling of his name), who was for many years the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and died in office in 1870, highly esteemed. In 1859 he published a nest edition of the History, with many additions, under the title of The History of Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, with chapters on the Knights Templar, Knights of Saint John, Mark Masonry, and the Royal Arch Degree.

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