Freemasonry is a grand movement with more than six million members worldwide. Though shrouded in mystery, several prominent figures in history and today have made their membership public.

The list of famous Freemasons is impressive, with men originating from fields as varied as sports to politics, science to the arts. About one-third of all Presidents of the United States were Freemasons. Australia even has a notable membership, boasting war heroes, inventors, and politicians.

Famous Australian Freemasons

Freemasonry in Australia is particularly well represented in business and trade union communities, as well as emergency services, defence forces, and the legal profession. 

There are plenty of prominent Australians who were also Masons, including:

Sir Weary Dunlop, war hero

  • James Boag, brewer

  • Captain Matthew Flinders, explorer

  • Charles Kingsford Smith, aviator

  • Frank Clune, author

  • Harry Melbourne, the inventor of the Freddo Frog.

  • Fred Walker , the inventor of Vegemite

  • Thomas Mayne, the inventor of Milo

  • Graham Kennedy, TV entertainer

Many cricketers were known Freemasons, including Donald Bradman, Wally Grout, and Bill Ponsford. 

It is said that almost all Australia’s conservative prime ministers until the early 1970s were Masons, including Sir Edmund Barton, Robert Menzies, and John Gorton.

Australian Freemasons still alive today include the Olympian and businessman Sir James Hardy (from Hardys Wines), and former cricket captains Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry.

A list of famous Freemasons in history

Benjamin Franklin

Prominent scientist, inventor, and civic activist, the United States founding father Benjamin Franklin is perhaps one of the most famous Freemasons. Alongside his duties as Grand Master of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin formulated theories of positive and negative electrical charges and invented the lightning rod and bifocal glasses.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin also printed the first Masonic publication in the colonies - a book called The Constitutions of the Free-Masons. It’s one of the rarest books in the world today.

George Washington

The first President of the United States, George Washington was initiated as a Freemason in 1752. He graduated to Master Mason in less than a year and performed Masonic rites when he laid the cornerstone of the Capitol in 1793. He received a Masonic funeral; even today, Masons take pilgrimages to his tomb at Mount Vernon.

Sir Joseph Banks

The famous explorer and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks is believed to have been the first Freemason to have set foot in Australia during his expedition on the Endeavour with Captain James Cook.

Winston Churchill

This two-time British Prime Minister had family history with the Masons and was a member of Studholme Mason Lodge No. 1591 in England. Initiated in 1901, he had little to do with Freemasonry outside casual social engagements and resigned from the lodge in 1912.

Portrait of Winston Churchill

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The former Governor of New York and 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt became an Honorary Grand Master of the Order of DeMolay in a ceremony that took place at the White House.

J. Edgar Hoover

One of the Freemason’s most dedicated members was the founder of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. He was a Master Mason by 25 years old, became a 33rd-degree Inspector General Honorary in 1955, the highest level in Freemasonry.

Portrait of J. Edgar Hoover

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The reformer and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk fought for independence alongside seven high-ranking military staff officers - of whom six were Freemasons.

Voltaire

The author of notable books such as Candide, Voltaire was encouraged to join the Freemasons by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The famous Austrian composer was the son of a Freemason and wrote several Masonic musical numbers. Composer Franz Joseph Haydn belonged to the same lodge as Mozart. Other notable Johann Christian Bach was also a Freemason.

Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Simón Bolívar

Simón Bolívar fought for South American independence from the Spanish empire and became a president of both Colombia and Peru. He was initiated as a Freemason in Cadíz, Spain and graduated to the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain - or Samuel Clemens, his real name - was a Freemason in St Louis and ascended to Master Mason within months. He’s said to include many literary references to the Masons within his works.

Portrait of Mark Twain

Other notable literary Freemasons include Robert Burns, John Steinbeck, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and Rudyard Kipling.

Sir Alexander Fleming

The man who discovered penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, was a Freemason. He became the master of his lodge in 1924 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.

Famous Freemasons alive today

Freemasons still prefer to keep their Freemason membership low-key, which makes it hard to know who today belong to that elusive organisation. Below we’ve listed a few notable living Masons, from all walks of life.

Silvio Berlusconi

Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was part of a Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, which was disbanded in 1981.

Portrait of Silvio Berlusconi

Jesse Jackson

Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson is Master Mason of the Prince Hall Freemasonry, a sect which parted with mainstream Grand Lodges over racial tension.

Portrait of Jesse James

Steve Wozniak

One of the Freemasons most famous contemporary members, the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, became a Freemason in 1980 in California.

Portrait of Steve Wozniak

Michael Richards

The actor who played Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld is said to be a 33rd-degree Freemason.

Portrait of Michael Richards

Want to know more about Freemasons?

Freemasonry is beset with conspiracy theories and rumours, yet the basis for this organisation is fairly simple. Learn more about what the Masonic symbols mean.


At George H. Lilley, we sell a selection of high-quality, Australian-made Masonic clothing and regalia. Browse our collection today.