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Order of the Secret Monitor or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan - History and Origin

The first references to this Order are known to be of Dutch origin and there is an interesting document written in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century which states that the Order of David and Jonathan was brought to the New World about the year 1658 by Dutch settlers of Jewish descent who settled in Newport, Rhode Island.

Looking at the history of the Netherlands, the northernmost part of the Netherlands, Holland, was essentially Protestant in its religious persuasion in the 1550s but an unfortunate dynastic marriage caused first a strong Austrian and then a Spanish influence. Both Austria and Spain were strongholds of Roman Catholicism and in those days of extreme religious intolerance was consequently abhorent to the Dutch Lutherians. Inevitably this led to the formation of underground secret societies with the object of freeing the Mother-land from the fetters of their overlords.

As we can read in the Old Testament books of Samuel, just as David was persecuted by Saul, so were the Dutch Protestants harassed by the Catholics. A revolutionary brotherhood was formed with modes of recognition suited to the hours of darkness as well as in daylight, and signs and symbols were chosen from the David and Jonathan story in the Bible.

That was in the late 16th century; and it occurred again a hundred years later when Louis XIV of France invaded the Low Countries again in a Catholic crusade against the Huguenots; the same modes of recognition were employed to cause confusion amongst the invaders.

Many Dutch Protestants emigrated to the New World to find a new life with greater liberty than seemed possible in Holland at that time and it is probable that the Order travelled with them. Any opposition to the way of life of the Dutch settlers immediately drew forth a resurgence of the David and Jonathan cult which had served the Netherlanders so well in the past.

The Secret Monitor grew in America as a side degree conferred by any Mason who had received it himself. It was brought to England in around 1875, by Dr. Issachar Zacharie when he returned from America following his service as Chiropodist-General to the United States Army during the Civil War. He settled back at 80, Brook Street, London, where he built up a busy and successful practice as an orthopedic surgeon. In London he became a member of the Bon Accord Mark Lodge and there he met a number of other brethren who had become Secret Monitors during their Masonic progress in other countries. At his invitation, they all met at his house on 5th. May, 1887 and resolved to form a Conclave to be called the Alfred Meadows Conclave (Alfred Meadows was a distinguished surgeon). Under the leadership of Dr. Zacharie a Grand Council was formed later in 1887 and the ritual was extended when a further two degrees were added, one of which pertained to the Chair of the Supreme Ruler.

The degrees gained in popularity, but this success was to bring about a series of unfortunate events, for in the meantime the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees had been empowered by an American body of similar name to confer their version of the degree. Regretfully a period of over 37 years elapsed, during which both orders were conferring a Secret Monitor degree, but the matter was finally resolved in 1931 when C.W. Napier-Clavering was in the favourable position of being Grand Supreme Ruler of the Secret Monitor and also Grand Master of Allied Masonry. He then implemented an agreement transferring all rights to the Grand Council of the Order of the Secret Monitor and the degree was removed from the list of degrees of the Allied body.