One of France’s most famous Masonic Lodges, the Lodge of the Neuf Soeurs (Nine Sisters or Nine Muses) was established in Paris 1776 by Jérôme de Lalande, an Enlightenment scientist – an astronomer – who became its first master. The Lodge is notable for many reasons, including its prominent support for American Independence.
Lalande was followed in the chair by Benjamin Franklin (1779-81); the Marquis de La Salle (1781-83), an author and cavalry officer; Nicolas-Christiern de Thy, Compte de Milly (1783-84) (pictured), an aristocrat, soldier and scientist, an associate of the French Royal Academy of Sciences; Charles Dupaty (1784), a painter and sculptor; Elie de Beaumont (1784-85), a celebrated lawyer; and Claude-Emmanuel de Pastoret (1788-89), an author, jurist, and Enlightenment politician. One of its most famous members was Voltaire, initiated into the Lodge in 1778 towards the end of his life. Other members came from the aristocracy, the legal profession, the French Academy, or were politicians. Twelve were members of the Institut de France, which incorporated five académies, including the Académie française.
A detailed history of the Lodge – Une Loge Maçonnique d’Avant 1789 – was written by Louis Amiable, a lawyer and former Member of the Council of the Grand Orient of France. He died in January 1897, a few days after completing the book. The lodge ceased to operate as a Masonic lodge in 1790 and now operates as a Masonic research society.
C.N. Batham’s paper on Les Neuf Soeurs can be read here: AQC 86 (1973). Contemporary French-language source material includes Daniel Ligou’s Dictionnaire Universal de la Franc-Maconnerie (reprinted 2006).