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C.3.2 The Prestonian Theory

In his “Illustrations of Masonry” Preston details the origin and early history of Masonry in a very interesting and succinct manner, even if it is also based on the Legend of the Craft. However he ignores the beginning of the Legend and starts his story with the introduction of Masonry in England.

He states that the Druids derived their system of government from Pythagoras which, according to him, shows that they knew the science of Masonry. Masonry, in this story, is said to have been introduced in England at the time of its conquest by Julius Caesar, and reached a high level at the time of Emperor Carausius. He went as far as giving the masons a Charter. Masonry received the patronage of many kings: Kenred, King of Mercia; King Ethelwolf; King Alfred; King Edward; King Athelstan; King Edgar; Edward the Confessor; William the Conqueror; King William Rufus; Henry I; Stephen; Henry II during whose reign, in 1135, the Grand Master of the Templars employed the Craft to build the London Temple.

Preston’s traditional story based on the Legend of the Craft finishes here while the remaining of his document presents a historical tale. He borrowed a lot from Anderson’s work, but he presented it in a much clearer way, especially in his presentation of the early story of Masonry. However most of his assertions have no historical bases, and his theory is founded on legends in the same way that Anderson’s is too.