Post Master degrees : the higher-grade systems in the XVIIIth century.

The first three degrees : Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master build up the Craft system of the « blue » or « symbolic » masonry.
In the 1740’s, the word ‘Scots’ or ‘Scottish’ – according to the situations – referred either to a degree or to a post-master degrees system, and/or to a « blue Lodge », or still to a post-master Lodge using Scots or Scottish degrees.

Post-master degrees have been filed one after the other, thus building sequences. Within the latter, the 5th degree is older than the 15th which, in turn is older than the 30th…

The Statutes indited in 1745 by the Worshipful Lodge « Saint Jean de Jérusalem, evince a seven degree hierarchy composed of the first three « blue » gradess, followed by four supplementary ones : Perfect Master, Irish Master, Elected Master and Scots Master.

Those sequences fit into each other. In this way, there eventually emerges a whole system which - through the Masonry of Perfection (mid-18th century), then through the Rite of Perfection will eventually merge into the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Initially, the hierarchy of Ecossism does not evince a strict and rigorous separation between its degrees, as is demonstrated by the Vray and Scots Master Rite which, in 1883, in the Franken Manuscript, will turn into the Scots Master of Perfection, 14th and central degree of the Perfection system. René Désaguliers notes that : « the candidate is said to be a master mason longing for perfection, which neatly stresses the fact that he does not yet find himself within the atmosphere of a higher-grade system The « elected mason » degree is not perceived as a higher grade ; its legend rightly considering that it belongs to the third degree, and that, in that case, one merely deals with a « blue » mason striving for the unique and ultimate degree of Perfection »

Between 1745 and 1748, there existed a ten-degree system, called the Scots system of Perfection, comprising the following degrees : Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Master, Secret Master, Perfect Master, Master by Curiosity, Provost Master and Judge, Steward of the Buildings, Elected Master, Grand and True Scots Master. Later on, the trend on higher grades will firmly be settled. Thus, in 1750, a Master Mason will write : « One must be a Perfect Elected Master before becoming a Knight of the East, and to be made a Perfect Elected Master, i.e. a Scots Master, one must have grown through the nine degrees of Masonry ». This lets one realise that a rupture has taken place with and from initial Ecossism.

In the 1760’s, the hierarchy of the degrees practised in Paris and in France consisted in the following grades. First came the first three initial degrees, then came :Perfect Master, Irish Master, English Master, Elected of the Nine Master, Elected of the Fifteen Master, etc… They were followed by the Scots Master of the three J. or of the Sacred Vault, and lastly, by the knightly degrees.

That masonic system will be spread in the West Indies from 1763 onward by Etienne Morin. It will be taken up in 1770 by Francken whose manuscript proposes a 25 degree hierarchy.