The degrees of the Select Master and Royal Master first appeared in the USA over two hundred years ago, being conferred by travelling Masonic Lecturers upon Master Masons whilst engaged in instructing in Craft (Lodge) and Capitular (Chapter) degrees while the Most Excellent Master degree was found in the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. The state of Connecticut bore the first Grand Council in 1819, and although in the 1870’s a General Grand Council was formed for the United States of America as part of the American or “York” rite, individual Grand Councils retained control of their particular State or division.
The degrees became known to various influential masons in England though travel and a number of Councils were warranted to meet in England by the Grand Council of New York.
They organized themselves into a sovereign body, and The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas was formally constituted on 29 July 1873 under the patronage of the Rev Canon G. R. Portal, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, who was installed as the first Grand Master of the Order.
Three of these Grand Original Councils remain under the banner of London to this day.
The first Book of Constitutions, (published in 1874), records that the early Councils originally met in Red Lion Square in London, later moving to what is now the Connaught Rooms and various other temporary homes before finally settling down in the present Mark Masons’ Hall at 86 St James Street.