Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!
Need an article for your Trestleboard/Newsletter see our Use Policy

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

Martin Folkes is Born

Today in Masonic History Martin Folkes is born in 1690.

Martin Folkes was an English antiquary and mathematician.

Folkes was born on October 29th, 1690 in Westminster, England. He studied at Clare College Cambridge. By the age of 23 he had distinguished himself in mathematics that he was chosen a fellow a the Royal Society. He was elected on of the council in 1716. In 1723, Sir Isaac Newton, who was president of the Royal Society appointed Folkes as a vice president. When Newton passed away, Folkes was one of the candidates to replace him as president, he lost the election to Hans Sloane, who Folkes later succeeded in 1741.

Folkes went on a tour of Italy in 1733. During his travels he composed his Dissertations on the weights and Values of Ancient Coins. He read before the Society of Antiquaries in 1736 he read his Observations on the Trajan and Antonine Pillars at Rome and his Table of English Gold Coins from the 18th Year of King Edward III. In 1749 he would become the president of the Society of Antiquaries.

In 1739 Folkes was elected one of the founding vice-presidents of London's charitable Foundling Hospital for abandoned children. He remained in the position until 1747.

Folkes was a noted atheist, early masonic landmarks did not require a person to have a belief in God, and abhorred racial prejudice. He appeared to have a Darwinian viewpoint, long before Charles Darwin was even born. In 1720 he allegedly setup the Infidels Club, a group made of intellectuals of the time who classified themselves as anti-religion. Folkes even got some of the members of the Royal Society to jeer when there was any mention of scripture in scientific debate. In one account when Moses or the deluge of Noah were mentioned load single laugh was heard in the Royal Society.

Folkes passed away on June 28th, 1754.

Folkes masonic history has been largely lost. It is known that from 1724 to 1725 he was Deputy Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. During his trip to Italy it is claimed that he had hand in creating a lodge there.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.