The more I have read and the more I have studied, the more convinced I am that Speculative Freemasonry, and I emphasise Speculative, is / was a child of the time of the Renaissance and later of the Age of Reason and fortuitously arrived at the time that the Operative Craft was starting to decline.
I would suggest there is little doubt about it being a result of the Renaissance, Keith.
One of the reasons I doubt any formal links between operative and speculative masonry is that the development of philosophy has tended to be associated with people who have had some leisure time available to them. Operative masons from the middle ages (not middle earth you will note!!) may have been an elite amongst craftsmen and artisans but they still had to work long and arduous hours merely to survive - and that with a much shorter life expectancy than we now enjoy. There would have been little time to devote to philosophy.
The Renaissance was a start to that process - but, again, only for those who were reasonably educated and had time to consider life philosophically. It is significant that in the 17th century many who were involved in the formative period of what we now consider to be Freemasonry were also involved in the formation of The Royal Society.
From that point of view I don't think there is anything fortuitous about the formal establishment of Speculative Masonry. I doubt, too, there is anything fortuitous about the selection of the titles, given the development of the allegorical and symbolic basis of teaching adopted by the first Grand Lodge.
Of course "speculative" may merely mean that we are free to speculate on matters of this nature
What is fascinating to me is that the organisation may have been founded as a way of breaking away from the formulaic strictures of the established churches but that it developed formulas as a way of promoting its philosophies.