Anthony Sayer: The First Grand Master of Freemasonry

Anthony Sayer holds a special place in the history of Freemasonry as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, the first Grand Lodge in the world. His election to this prominent position in 1717 marked the beginning of a formalized structure for Freemasonry, which would eventually spread globally.

Early Life and Masonic Involvement

Little is known about the early life of Anthony Sayer, including his date of birth, which remains a mystery. His Masonic journey began in the early 18th century, during a time when Freemasonry was transitioning from a stonemasons’ guild to a more symbolic and speculative fraternity, welcoming members beyond the traditional craft of stonemasonry.

Election as Grand Master

Sayer’s elevation to the position of Grand Master came at a significant juncture in Masonic history. On June 24, 1717, representatives from four London lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s Churchyard and formed the Grand Lodge of England. Sayer was chosen as the first Grand Master, a role that would set the precedent for future leadership within the Masonic fraternity.

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Contributions and Legacy

As Grand Master, Sayer played a crucial role in shaping the early administrative and ritualistic aspects of Freemasonry. He presided over the adoption of constitutional rules and the formalization of Masonic ceremonies. While his tenure as Grand Master was relatively brief, his impact on the fraternity was lasting. He laid the groundwork for the evolution of Freemasonry into a well-organized, influential body.

Later Life and Challenges

After serving as Grand Master, Sayer’s life took a less fortunate turn. He faced financial difficulties and was supported by Masonic charity in his later years. This aspect of his life highlights the fraternity’s commitment to supporting its members in times of need.


Anthony Sayer’s role as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England cements his place in Masonic history. While details of his life remain obscure, his contributions to the formation and development of Freemasonry are undeniable. Sayer’s legacy is reflected in the enduring structure and traditions of the Masonic fraternity, which continues to thrive centuries after his tenure.

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