There are records of lodges conferring the degree of "Scots Master" or "Scotch Master" as early as 1733. A lodge at Temple Bar in London is the earliest such lodge on record. Other lodges include a lodge at Bath in 1735, and the French lodge, St. George de l'Observance No. 49 at Covent Garden in 1736. The references to these few occasions indicate that these were special meetings held for the purpose of performing unusual ceremonies, probably by visiting Freemasons.

A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an "Ecossais" lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Français, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him "Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World". This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or "Ecossais", degree lodges. Later copies of this Patent appear to have been embellished, probably by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies.

Although most of the thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite existed in parts of previous degree systems, the Scottish Rite did not come into being until the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1801. The Founding Fathers of the Scottish Rite who attended became known as "The Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston".

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on December 29, 1809, Albert Pike is asserted within the Southern Jurisdiction as the man most responsible for the growth and success of the Scottish Rite from an obscure Masonic Rite in the mid-19th century to the international fraternity it has become. Pike received the 4th through the 32nd Degrees in March 1853 from Dr. Albert G. Mackey, in Charleston, S.C., and was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas that same year.

At this point, the degrees were in a rudimentary form, and often only included a brief history and legend of each degree as well as other brief details which usually lacked a workable ritual for their conferral. In 1855, the Supreme Council appointed a committee to prepare and compile rituals for the 4th through the 32nd Degrees. That committee was composed of Albert G. Mackey, John H. Honour, William S. Rockwell, Claude P. Samory, and Albert Pike. Of these five committee members, Pike did all the work of the committee.

In 1857 Pike completed his first revision of the 4°-32° ritual, and printed 100 copies. This revision, which Mackey dubbed the "Magnum Opus" was never adopted by the Supreme Council. According to Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, the Scottish Rite's Grand Historian, the Magnum Opus became the basis for future ritual revisions.

In March 1858, Pike was elected a member of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and in January 1859 he became its Grand Commander. The American Civil War interrupted his work on the Scottish Rite rituals. About 1870 he, and the Supreme Council, moved to Washington, DC, and in 1884 his revision of the rituals was complete.  Pike also wrote lectures for all the degrees which were published in 1871 under the title Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

In Canada, whose Supreme Council was warranted in 1874, the Rite is known as Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The council is called "Supreme Council 33° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada".

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