Is This The Treasure?
What you are looking at above is an amazing document. This is a copy made from the actual hand-written initiation of the first three recorded non-operative Freemasons. This was written on July 3, 1634, at the Edinburgh, Scotland Mason's Lodge #1.
The signatures of William Alexander Jr. (simply written as "Alexander," since he was Lord Alexander at the time), of Anthony Alexander, and of Alexander Strachan (again written only as "Strachan," because he was the leader of that clan) all appear on this single document.
There may have been earlier non-operative Freemasons installed, but there is no contemporary written record of it, if it happened. I explained under another "theories" tab about the men listed above.
The reason there aren't likely to be any earlier records found is that King James I of Great Britain had his Master of Works establish stricter rules for stonemason guilds, one being that a notary or secretary had to be present to keep records of the meeting. This is the first such record of an actual initiation of non-stonemasons to a Mason's guild.
What this story is about is a possibility of what the Oak Island treasure could actually be. Again, you won't read about this anywhere else.
In my first book, "Oak Island Missing Links," I wrote about who I think Glooscap and Zichmini were, as well as many other theories connected to voyages to Nova Scotia. These ideas are exclusive to my book.
In my second book, "Oak Island 1632," I wrote about a specific theory on how valuable items could have made it to Oak Island through a series of events, and on a connection of Scottish clans, who had links backwards to the Knights Templar, became the Baronets of Nova Scotia, and who provided the first several Freemasons to the world, including the three mentioned above.
Both books are interesting reads and I am not going to get into them in this article. But what I am going to do is talk about a situation and a known treasure that might be a likely candidate for having been left behind on Oak Island or even at New Ross.
My latest book talked about how William Alexander Jr., Anthony Alexander, and Alexander Strachan became the first three recorded non-operative Freemasons in history. Strachan was a partner of Sir William Alexander Sr. in the Nova Scotia venture and received 16,000 acres of Nova Scotia in 1625. Then, in 1634, he joined with Alexander's two sons to become the first known Freemasons.
If you look him up online, his history is pretty skeletal. You'll read a little about his family and when he lived and died. What you won't read is what I just found in a book on the history of the Edinburgh Masonic Lodge #1, where these men were initiated in this historic episode on July 3, 1634. Some of this story is verified in Clan Strachan clan history, but this presentation will likely be the first time any modern person has seen this evidence.
In describing the lives of these men, surprisingly, this Masonic book tells an amazing story about Strachan.
Seems he had an "equivocal connection," meaning an ambiguous or questionable relationship with the wife of George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland. The role of the Marischal was to serve as custodian for the Crown Jewels of Scotland, and to protect the king's person when attending parliament. So he wasn't a marshal as we would think of it, but very close – more like a Secret Service director.
In fact, when James VI of Scotland went to England to become James I of the combined kingdoms that made up Great Britain – England, Ireland and Scotland – the Crown Jewels were hidden away at Keith's castle until the time that Cromwell tried to tear apart the monarchy, at which time they were secreted out of the castle and hid away even further.
This position of Marischal was hereditary and had been held by the Keith family for many, many centuries, which would allow them to amass a great fortune. And they did!
In fact, some Keiths trace back to the Knights Templar. One source claims that they fought under my ancestor Angus Og MacDonald at Bannockburn, and that Knights Templar Angus Og accompanied a Knights Templar Keith to the Holy Land to recover the heart of Robert the Bruce, where Angus was killed in battle with the Turks.
Below is a photo of the ruins of Dunnottar Castle where the Crown Jewels of Scotland were hidden for almost fifty years, and also where the treasure I am about to tell you about came from.
What is interesting is that, in October of 1622, Strachan, along with his mistress, Mrs. Keith, her son by Keith (named James Keith), plus Strachan's kinsman Dr. Robert Strachan, were thought to have robbed George Keith of most of his belongings. George died the following April, possible by nefarious means.
George Keith was 30 years older than his wife – his second wife. His first wife, probably not coincidentally, was related to George Home (pronounced and sometimes written as Hume) who was second in command under William Alexander Jr at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, from 1629 through 1632.
Strachan and his men had first harassed the field laborers warning them to no longer work the fields for Keith. They also managed to destroy a lot of his farming equipment.
A bit less than a year after George Keith died, charges were brought against his widow, and against her new husband, Alexander Strachan, as well as Dr. Robert Strachan.
The Strachan men and Mrs. Keith (by now Mrs. Strachan) were eventually let off the hook. However, the crime had to be the responsibility of someone, and so it was recharged against the son, James Keith, who was then outlawed.
The treasure that George Keith had amassed was almost beyond description, although luckily for us, it was described in great detail in the book from the minutes of the Freemason Lodge of Edinburgh.
Just the first item alone was currency in the amount of 26,000 pounds, back then. One pound from the 1600s could equal anywhere from $100 to $4,000 in today's money, depending on the method used to determine it. This means just the first item alone was worth anywhere from two million US dollars to over 100 million dollars in today's money. And that was just the first item of many.
Here's a breakdown of the treasure in more modern English:
• Portugal ducats, and other species of foreign gold, to the avail of 26,000 pounds or thereby;
• Thirty-six dozen gold buttons;
• A rich jewel set with diamonds, which the
deceased Earl received as a gift when he was ambassador in Denmark, worth 6000 merks (about $33,000 in todays dollars);
NOTE: Per the National Archives, 100 merks from the 1600s would be equal to about $550 current US Dollars. So 6,000 merks would equal approximately $33,000.
• The Queen of Denmark's picture in gold, set about with rich diamonds, estimated at 5000 merks (about $27,500);
• One "jasp stone for steming of bluid," (a healing amulet) estimated at 500 French crowns (about $27,000 US Dollars today);
• A chain of ' equal perle,' wherein were 400 pearls great and small;
• Two chains of gold, of 24 ounce weight ($32,000 if they are speaking of actual weight, rather than 24 carat gold);
• Another jewel of diamonds set in gold, worth 3000 merks ($16,500);
• A great pair of bracelets, all set with diamonds, price therof 500 crowns ($27,000 in US Dollars) ;
• The other pair of gold bracelets at 600 pounds the pair;
• A turquoise ring worth ten French crowns;
• A diamond set in a ring, worth twenty-eight French crowns, with a number of other small rings set with diamonds and other
rich stones in gold, worth 300 French crowns;
• Also 16,000 merks of silver and gold ready coined, which was within a green coffer (approximately $88,000);
• Together with the whole tapestry, silver-work, bedding, goods, gear, and furnishings within the said place,
• Together with ' an grit clothe bag,' with the title-deeds of the lands and living of Benholme, and others of his lands and baronies.
Now you can see why I said this treasure was almost beyond description. Even if some of the currency calculators are off slightly, or my math isn't exact, there can be no argument that this constituted a major treasure that had been amassed in one family since the days of the Knights Templar.
Ultimately, Mrs. Strachan did give back some of her jewels to her stepson from George Keith's first marriage. But no mention was made of the majority of the treasure.
However, consider this – Strachan and his new wife could not openly display that kind of wealth without being recharged with the crime. And James Keith, who was later charged with the crime, became an outlaw.
What happened to this incredible treasure? Why were the Freemasons the only people who knew about it, until I found it buried in the book on the Edinburgh Lodge?
Strachan was not just a Baronet of Nova Scotia but also a partner to William Alexander, holding 16,000 acres. Nova Scotia was one of the main lands where Scots, who crossed the law, escaped to, and what better place than your own new step-father's 16,000 acres?
Obviously, the Alexanders must have been in on this caper in some manner since the father accepted Strachan as his partner, and the two sons joined the Freemasons on the same day as Strachan.
Apparently, Strachan was ill-thought of as shown by a contemporary writer who states: “Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton had lately been the object of the Council's attention in another aspect, having been placed on trial before them and dealt with by them on charges of theft and more heinous crimes. When, therefore, the King, in sending down his new Commission of Council, included his name, the whole Council received it with horror, and one and all remonstrated at so infamous a man coming in among them. The King brought up his case in conference, somewhat unfortunately for Strachan, as it gave occasion to him to try to justify himself by accusing his accusers, and made them reveal his misdeeds to the King, though the recital does not appear to have affected the estimation in which he was held by Charles.”
If we are looking for a treasure that might have secretly been taken to Nova Scotia by people who intended to recover it after the smoke cleared, and who were also associated with the Baronets of Nova Scotia, and with the Knights Templar, and with the Freemasons, we might not need to look much further.
As far as I'm concerned, this is a blockbuster!
Below I have isolated each man's signature from the original Freemasonry initiation document. I've also left the Mason's Mark that each of them chose to draw next to their name. Often this mark was simply an initial, but in the case of these three men, they chose a unique mark. These are the first three signatures, and the first three Mason's Marks known to be recorded for non-operative Freemasons.
Above is how Lord William Alexander Jr., the world's first recorded non-operative Freemason, and the man who led the Scots at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, signed his name and made his mark.
This is how Anthony Alexander, Master of Works for Scotland, and the world's second recorded non-operative Freemason chose to sign his name and make his mark. The book I am referencing calls him the "highest Masonic officer in the land" at this point.
This is how Sir Alexander Strachan, Baronet of Nova Scotia, and apparent thief of the above mentioned treasure, chose to sign his name and make his mark.
My sincere appreciation goes out to Mr. Kelly Hancock, Grand Historian of the Freemason Lodges of Nova Scotia, for helping me find this information.