In Ancient Craft Masonry, the title applied to Hiram, the architect of the Temple, because he is said, in the first Book of Kings (vu, 14) to have been "a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali." The Adonhiramite Freemasons have a tradition which Chapron gives (Nécessaire Maçonnique, page 101) in the following words: "The Freemasons call themselves the widow's sons, because, afte the death of our respectable Master, the Freemasons took care of his mother, whose children they called themselves, because Adonhiram had always considered them as his Brethren. But the French Freemasons subsequently changed the myth and called themselves Sons of the Widow, and for this reason.
'As the wife of Hiram remained a widow after her husband was murdered, the Freemasons, who regard themselves as the descendants of Hiram, called themselves Sons of the Widow."' But this myth is a pure invention, and is without the Scriptural foundation of the York myth, which makes Hiram himself the widow's son. But in French Freemasonry the term Son of the Widow is synonymous with Freemason.
The claim has often been made that the adherents of the exiled House of Stuart, seeking to organize a system of political Freemasonry by which they hoped to secure the restoration of the family to the throne of England, transferred to Charles II the tradition of Hiram Abif betrayed by his followers, and called him the Widow's Son, because he was the son of Henrietta Maria, the widow of Charles I. For the same reason they presumably subsequently applied the phrase to his brother, James II.
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry