Royal Arch Money Pit
Above is a well-known drawing of what seems to have been encountered by searchers at the Oak Island Money Pit, in the early years.
In my book Oak Island 1632 I draw quick attention to how there might be some similarity between the nine-level Money Pit of Oak Island and the nine-level Royal Arch Degree of Freemasonry. I make the point that, out of all the other possibilities that could exist, there is at least a chance that the Royal Arch Degree was built around hidden information within Masonic ranks that was embedded there by whoever it was that built the Money Pit, until the discovery of the pit was made in 1795, thus sparking an inordinate number of Freemasons leading the charge to solve the Oak Island mystery.
Of course, my own pet theory, which I am finding out is somewhat supported by a few other very serious Oak Island researchers, is that the followers of Sir William Alexander (who named and first settled Nova Scotia with Scots) were the people who created the Money Pit.
Sir William received Nova Scotia in 1621, sent an exploration ship there in 1623, sent a settlement there in 1629, and watched his people booted out in 1632, although many appear to have stayed behind or returned, as opportunity arose.
Leading these men at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, from 1629 through 1632, was William Alexander Jr, who held the title of Lord Alexander.
As I have pointed out on this website, and in many other places including my books, Lord Alexander is the first known, non-operative Freemason to be recorded in history. His brother Anthony was second. Both had come to Nova Scotia in those early years.
Anthony went on to become Master of Works for Scotland, overseeing all Royal construction. He was followed by his brother Henry. Meanwhile, Sir William shared the position of Master of Mining for Scotland with his son John.
Who could be more adept at creating something like the Money Pit than the "Masters" of construction and mining in Scotland, all associated with Nova Scotia?
It was John Alexander’s family that is said to have returned to Nova Scotia, to a secret estate built there for the Alexanders in 1623, at what is now New Ross. He and/or his son John lived there until 1656, according to Alexander family history, at which time they moved to Virginia.
Cort Lindhal, a substantial Oak Island researcher in his own right, points out how Alexandria, Virginia was named for this same Alexander family. He also recounts the story of how the Alexander family had tried to reclaim their rights and titles in Scotland after things fell apart for them upon the death of Charles I, the king who chartered the Baronets of Nova Scotia.
There has been confusion even within the ranks of Freemasonry as to the true nature of the Royal Arch Degree.
In the book “The American Freemason,” from 1859, the author, Dr. George Oliver, writes: "In 1740, he (Ramsay) came over to England and remained in this country for more than a year; after which he returned to France, where the rage for innovation had now fairly commenced. It was during this period, I am persuaded, that the English Royal Arch was fabricated; for very soon afterwards, the ancients publicly announced that 'Ancient Masonry consisted of four degrees' while modern Masonry had only three, the fourth signifying the Royal Arch."
Well who was Ramsay? He was Andrew Michael Ramsay (9 July 1686 – 6 May 1743), commonly called the “Chevalier Ramsay,” a Scottish-born writer who lived most of his adult life in France. He was a Baronet in the Jacobite Peerage.
And who was the Ramsay family? Two generations earlier, Alexander Ramsay was physician to both James VI of Scotland/King James I of Great Britain, and to Charles I. It was his son, Gilbert who was made Baronet of Nova Scotia, in 1666. Of course, James I originally created the Baronets of Nova Scotia peerage, and Charles I chartered all the Baronets of Nova Scotia, under the governorship of Sir William Alexander.
Andrew Ramsey was not only a Freemason, but was also a member of the Royal Society established by Robert Moray and George Mackenzie, both also closely associated with the Baronets of Nova Scotia and Freemasonry. Moray was the son and grandson of a Baronet. Mackenzie was a son of a Baronet, and was a Baronet himself, for a number of years. The title continued through his descendants until it was forfeited due to a Mackenzie participating in the Jacobite cause. This final would-be Mackenzie title holder escaped to (where else?) Nova Scotia.
What family to better know the inner workings of the Baronet/Freemasonry connection than the personal physician to the two kings involved, and his son, an actual Baronet of Nova Scotia, and finally another Ramsay, connected to Freemasonry, the Royal Society, and the Baronets of Nova Scotia scheme?
There’s more ambiguity about the rise of the Royal Arch Degree expressed within the Masonic ranks.
“Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor,” by Malcolm C. Duncan, written in 1866, is probably the closest a layperson will come to be able to understand a lot of Masonic ritual. This book was brought to my attention by Kelly Hancock, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Nova Scotia.
Duncan writes, “The Royal Arch Degree seems not to have been known to what are called modern Masons as late as about 1750. It appears that the non-conformists to this new scheme, who considered themselves the orthodox party, by rummaging among the old records of the Order, first discovered the Royal Arch Degree, which had probably lain dormant for centuries; during which time, it would appear, the society had been confined almost exclusively to operative masons; who continued the ceremonies only of the apprentice, fellow-craft or journeyman, and master mason, these being deemed appropriate to their occupation."
Parsing out the points that help prove that my theory is possible, Duncan says that the degree was not widely known about until 1750, and that it was only by rummaging through old records that the degree information was discovered.
And it was discovered by those who ascribed to the idea that non-operative Masons should be allowed into the Craft. Remember, it was the Alexander boys who were first recorded as non-operative Masons, on July 3, 1634, two years after the evacuation of Nova Scotia by the Alexander settlers.
This is the point I make in my book – Since it was the Alexander men, along with five others associated with the Baronets of Nova Scotia, who became the first seven recorded non-operative Freemasons, there is always the chance that they imparted the knowledge of how to retrieve the Money Pit burial in a way that would not destroy it (or bury it further) to their fellow Freemasons, and that this knowledge became clouded, buried, or purposely embedded in Masonic ritual until such day as a recovery could be made at Oak Island.
Perhaps the original reason for imparting this knowledge became somewhat lost until 1740-50 or so, when interest was reinvigorated.
Then, in 1795, when the Money Pit was discovered, it was realized by some Freemasons that this was the hidden history behind the ritual and the information imparted.
As has been pointed out many times, but initially, in great detail, by Oak Island author Mark Finnan, the Freemasons have played a very significant role in the searches done on Oak Island. Further, some authors have even suggested that perhaps the Money Pit was patterned after the Royal Arch Degree, whereas I am postulating the exact opposite, that perhaps the Royal Arch Degree was patterned after the Money Pit.
One thing that is certain, Mark Finnan, Cort Lindhal and myself have all come at this mystery from completely different angles – Mark as an author living in Nova Scotia, Cort as an archeologist and student of sacred architecture and geometry, and myself as a Scottish clan historian. And yet, we all have at least a few of our fingers pointing directly at the Alexander family as having played some type of major, but as yet unknown role in the mystery of Oak Island.
This role could have been mundane, such as a settlement, a necessary burial of valuable items, or even a search for an earlier buried treasure. Or it could have been a planned esoteric event, part of a much larger effort to prove the unlimited aspect of a free man’s potential, resulting even in the founding of the United States of America.
The research can become clouded, conflicted, and confusing, at times, but it seems to catch hold of those who begin down this path to find the answers. And perhaps even that phenomenon could be the true reason behind the mystery of Oak Island.