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ACCOUNT OF THE RISE AND
FREEMASONRY IN ITS
OPERATIVE, ACCEPTED, AND EARLY
Professor of Economics in the University of Sheffield P.M. Quatuor Coronati
Lodge, No. 2076, London AND
P. JONES, M.A., LITT.D.
Reader in Economic History in the University of Sheffield
Published by Q.C.
Correspondence Circle Ltd.
in association with
Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 20'76
1978 Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd.
First published by Manchester University Press 1947,
make no apology for adding yet another book to the vast mass of Masonic
literature; but we should like to offer two explanations.
first place, whereas it has been customary to think of Masonic history as
something entirely apart from ordinary history, and as calling for, and
justifying, special treatment, we think of it as a branch of social history,
as the study of a particular social institution and of the ideas underlying
that institution, to be investigated and written in exactly the same way as
the history of other social institutions.
second place, it is now some sixty years since Gould's History of Freemasonry
made its appearance, and more than thirty since Begemann's volumes on early
English, Irish and Scottish masonry were published in Germany.
ensuing years have seen not only much new material brought to light, and old
material examined from new angles, but have revealed the existence of various
unsolved problems, mostly concerning the practices prevailing among freemasons
at different periods, which were formerly regarded as outside the scope of
feel, therefore, that, as frequently happens in other branches of history, the
time has come to endeavour to re‑write the history of freemasonry in its
realise that such re‑writing cannot be definitive in character, but can see no
reason why serious students of masonry should not have available, in one
volume of reasonable size, a continuous and connected account of the rise and
development of freemasonry, in place of the sectional studies at present
scattered over a large number of separate publications.
our Short History of Freemasonry to 1730, published in i 940, as a basis, we
have greatly amplified it, made some necessary corrections, and provided
detailed references. We have paved the way for this fuller approach to the
subject by editing in 1943 and 1945, in conjunction with our colleague,
Douglas Hamer, two volumes of documents
otherwise not easily available, The Early Masonic Catechisms and Early Masonic
Pamphlets, thus doing away with the need for an appendix of illustrative
documents. As there can be no question of printing a complete bibliography, we
prefer to print none, and to allow the numerous references in text and
footnotes to serve instead.
however, append a bibliographical note on Masonic bibliographies and on
collections of Masonic documents.
of the information incorporated in this volume was originally published in
papers or articles contributed by us to firs Quatuor Coronatorum, Economic
History, the Economic History Review, the Yournal of the Royal Institute of
British Architects, the Transactions of the Anglesey Antiquarian Society and
Miscellanea Latomorum, and we have to thank the editors of these publications
for allowing us to make such use as we desired of those papers and articles.
desire to record a deep obligation to our colleague Douglas Hamer, Lecturer in
English Literature, for valuable advice and criticism on numerous points, and
especially in connection with the legends of the Craft and the Enter'd
'Prentices Song. Without his present help and past collaboration many parts of
this book, and especially Chapter IV, would have been very much poorer.
desire also to thank our colleague A. G. Pool for reading the proofs and Mr.
H. M. McKechnie, Secretary of the University Press, for his continued advice
OF ABBREVIATED REFERENCES
SCOPE AND METHOD OF MASONIC HISTORY
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY
THE ORGANISATION OF MASONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES
MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF MASONRY
PERIOD OF TRANSITION
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY
THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE
EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE
ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES
DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING
THE TRIGRADAL SYSTEM
THE ROYAL ARCH
EARLY EIGHTEENTH‑CENTURY MASONIC TRENDS
OF ABBREVIATED REFERENCES
. . Ars Quatuor Coronatorum [Transactions of the
Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London].
C. . . D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "Castle Building at
Beaumaris and Caernarvon in the early fourteenth
century", A.Q.C., xlv (1932).
Bolsover . D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The Bolsover Castle Building Account,
1613", A.Q.C., xlix (1936).
Briggs M. S. Briggs, The Architect in History, 1927.
Hib. W. J. Chetwode Crawley, ed., Caementaria Hibernica, 1895‑1900.
. E. Conder, The Hole Craft and Fellowship of Masons, 1894.
Contractor D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The Rise of the Mason Contractor",
7.R.I.B‑4., October x936.
Hist.. Economic History, a supplement to The Economic Yournal.
R. The Economic History Review.
. D. Knoop, G. P. Jones and D. Hamer, eds., The Early Masonic Catechisms,
. D. Knoop, G. P. Jones and D. Hamer, eds., Early Masonic Pamphlets, 1945
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The Building of Eton College, 1442‑146o", A.Q.C.,
J. A. Gotch, Inigo Tones, 1928.
R. F. Gould, The History of Freemasonry, 1882‑7.
J.R.I.B.A. Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "London Bridge and its Builders", A.Q.C., xlvii
Reprints . Masonic Reprints [of the Lodge of Research, No. 2429, Leicester].
and Crossle . J. H. Lepper and P. Crossle, History of the Grand Lodge of
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, The London Mason in the Seventeenth Century, 193 5.
D. Murray Lyon, History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Tercentenary Edition), igoo.
Trans. . Transactions of the Manchester Association for Masonic Research.
Miller A. L. Miller, Notes on ... The Lodge, Aberdeen, jeer .
Lat. Miscellanea Latomorum.
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, The Mediaeval Mason, 1933 LIST OF ABBREVIATED
. Oxford English Dictionary.
and Worts H. Poole and F. R. Worts, eds., The "Yorkshire" Old Charges of
. Quatuor Coronatorum Xntigrapha [Masonic Reprints of the Quatuor Coronati
Lodge, No. 2076, London].
Quarry D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The English Medieval Quarry", Ec. H. R.,
J. Raine, ed., Fabric Rolls of York Minster, Surtees SOc., Vol. 35, 1858.
Robbins . A. F. Robbins, "The Earliest Years of English Organized
Freemasonry", 14.Q.C., xxii (1909).
W. L. Rutton, "Sandgate Castle, A.D. 1539‑1540", ‑4rchaeologia Cantiana, xx
Hew Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scotianae, new ed.,1917.
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, The Scottish Mason and the Mason Word, 1939,
MSS. D. Knoop, G. P. Jones and D. Hamer, eds., The Two Earliest Masonic MSS.,
and Clark R. Willis and J. W. Clark, Architectural History of the University
of Cambridge, 1886.
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The First Three Years of the Building of Vale Royal
Abbey, 12781280",.I.Q.C., xliv (193x).
C.M. D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "The Sixteenth Century Mason ", 14.Q.C., 1
D. Knoop and G. P. Jones, "Henry Yevele and his Associates", J.R.I.B..4., May
SCOPE AND METHOD OF
SCHOOLS OF MASONIC HISTORY
course of time the scope of Masonic history has undergone great changes. So
far as we know, the first attempts to write Masonic history were made in the
fourteenth century, and resulted in the accounts of the Craft which, in the
Regius Poem, the Cooke MS., and in other versions of the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry,' were passed on to freemasons of later times. The motives underlying
these early versions of the history of freemasonry can only be conjectured.
The purpose may have been to provide the masons with something resembling the
charters, or records of privileges, possessed by craft gilds at that time. Or
possibly some clergyman, or other relatively learned person connected with the
building industry, out of interest in the mason's craft and a desire to show
how ancient and honourable it was, may have compiled its history. The results,
whatever the motive, cannot be taken very seriously to‑day; but the compilers
probably did their best according to the standards of their time, basing their
accounts mainly upon scriptural and such other received authorities as were
directly or indirectly known to them.
these accounts masonry was treated as equivalent to geometry, one of the seven
liberal arts, and as a consequence Euclid was a leading character in the
narratives bring the history of masonry down to the reign of Athelstan
(925‑4o) and must, we believe, be regarded as myths.
refer to all Masonic manuscripts by their conventional Masonic names, the
origin of which we discuss in our paper, "The Nomenclature of Masonic MSS.",
fI.Q.C., liv (1941). The MS. Constitutions of Masonry form the subject of
Chapter IV of this book.
1721, if we accept his own account, Grand Lodge ordered the Rev. James
Anderson to `digest' the old `Gothic' Constitutions in a new and better
method,' and he accordingly revised, elaborated and brought up to date the
legendary matter of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry. Anderson
may be presumed to have had much better opportunities to write Masonic history
than his fourteenth‑century predecessors, but his performance, viewed in
relation to those opportunities, is poorer than that of the despised medieval
compilers. His anachronisms, e.g., in making Nebuchadnezzar `Grand Master
Mason', and the Emperor Augustus 'Grand‑Master of the Lodge at Rome',2 are as
absurd as anything in the MS. Constitutions of Masonry. The effect of
the Renaissance is evident in Anderson's preference for the Palladian style in
architecture, but he did not apparently bring much classical learning to bear
on his subject, and as a humanist he does not shine in comparison, for
instance, with the anonymous author of A Defence of Masonry, 1730.
Despite his contempt for the `Gothic' Constitutions, he is himself very
uncritical, and his picture of the development of building and architecture is
a strange mixture of fact and fiction. It is certainly not a history of
freemasonry in the sense of describing the organisation prevailing from time
to time among freemasons. Although written in 1722, and published in 1723, it
does not even mention the establishment of Grand Lodge in 1717, though it does
imply the existence of Grand Lodge by referring in
Constitutions of 1738, 113. The New Book of the Constitutions of the
Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons ... By James
Asnderson, D.D. London ... 1738 is the second edition of the Book of
Constitutions. It is reproduced in facsimile in Q.C.1?., vii (189o), with
introduction by W. J. Hughan. It is commonly known as Anderson's
Constitutions of 1738.
The Constitutions of the Free‑Masons ... London ... 1723, 16, 25. The
editor's name is not on the title page, but among the names appended to the
Approbation (pp. 73‑σ) appears against Lodge XVII:
"James Anderson, A.M. The Author of this Book. Master."
is the first edition of the Book of Constitutions; it was reproduced in
facsimile by Quaritch in 1923, with an introduction by Lionel Vibert. It is
commonly known as Anderson's Constitutions of 1723.
very lengthy sentence' to "Our Present Worthy Grand‑Master ... John Duke of
Montague" [G.M. 1721‑2]. On the other hand, it deals with events as recent as
1721, such as the laying of the foundation stone of the Church of St. Martin's
in the Fields.
in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the so‑called
"history" of masonry embodied in the MS. Constitutions of Masonry and
subsequently in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723, had its critics. Dr.
Robert Plot, the antiquary, in his Natural History of Staffordshire, published
in 1686, stigmatised the history of masonry, as contained in a version of the
MS. Constitutions, as false and incoherent; 2 the Briscoe pamphlet of 1724,3
The Free‑Masons decusation and Defence, 1726,4 fln Ode to the Grand Khaibar,
1726,5 and a letter of `A. Z.' in The Daily journal of S September 1730,6
poked fun at contemporary versions of Masonic history and ridiculed the idea
of any connection between modern freemasonry and King Solomon. The critics at
that period, however, were greatly in the minority, and Anderson's version of
Masonic history was accepted by the premier Grand Lodge and incorporated in
all the eighteenth century editions of its Book of Constitutions.
followed 1 We quote the sentence (Constitutions of 1723, σ7‑8) as a specimen
of Anderson's involved and verbose style: And now the Freeborn BRITISH
NATIONS, disintangled from foreign and civil Wars, and enjoying the good
Fruits of Peace and Liberty, having of late much indulg'd their happy Genius
for Masonry of every sort, and reviv'd the drooping Lodges of London, this
fair Metropolis flourisheth, as well as other Parts, with several worthy
particular Lodges, that have a quarterly Communication, and an annual grand
.4.ssemhly, wherein the Forms and Usages of the most ancient and worshipful
Fraternity was wisely propagated, and the Royal flrt duly cultivated, and the
Cement oϊ the Brotherhood preserv'd; so that the whole Body resembles a well
built 14rch; several Noblemen and Gentlemen of the best Rank, with Clergymen
and learned Scholars of most Professions and Denominations, having frankly
join'd and submitted to take the Charges, and to wear the Badges of a Free and
flccepted Mason, under our present worthy Grand‑Master, the most noble PRINCE
John Duke of MONTAGUE.
E.M.P., 33 s The Secret History of the Free‑Masons ... London: Printed for Sam
Briscoe . . . (17241, commonly known as the Briscoe pamphlet.
closely by William Preston (1742‑1818) in his Illustrations of Masonry, which
ran through seventeen editions between 1772 and 1861, some of the later ones
being edited by the Rev. George Oliver (1782‑1867), another disciple of
Anderson. At a subsequent date, these writers were described as belonging to
the imaginative or mythical school of Masonic historians.
against such writers as these and some of their opponents that Henry Hallam,
more than a century ago, directed part of his well‑known gibe that "the
curious subject of freemasonry" had been treated "only by panegyrists or
calumniators, both equally mendacious".
pioneer of a new and more scientific study of the subject was a German doctor,
George Moss (1787‑1854), whose Geschichte der Freimaurerei in England, Irland
and Schottland was published in 184'7. The work of another German Masonic
student, J. G. Findel (i 828‑i 9o5), is much better known in England than that
of Moss, because an English translation of Findel's History of Freemasonry,
1861, was published in 1865.
course of the next decade or two, A. F. A. Woodford (1821‑87), R. F. Gould
(1836‑i 9 i 5), W. J. Hughan (1841‑1911) in England, D. Murray Lyon
(1819‑1903) in Scotland, Albert G. Mackey (180'7‑81) in America, and William
Begemann (1843‑1914) in Germany were working along similar lines. These
writers are generally regarded as leaders of the socalled authentic or
verified school, named in contrast with the former mythical or imaginative
school. The two schools, however, are not as antithetical as is sometimes
Actually, the imaginative school did not consist of writers utterly careless
as to their facts; nor ought the verification of facts, which is
characteristic of the authentic school, to be considered sufficient in itself,
and as excluding all need of imagination.
Imagination as a substitute for facts is useless; as a guide to facts it may
be invaluable. Unfortunately, the proper function of the imagination in the
writing of history is not always understood by Masonic students. Even to‑day
there are still some writers who, whilst claiming to submit themselves to the
ordinary canons of historical research by taking no fact
granted until proved, appear to have a secret hankering after the old
imaginative treatment of Masonic history. The earlier history of practically
all institutions of the last thousand years or so is more or less shrouded in
uncertainty. This is true, for example, of the history of central and local
government, of land tenure, and of the gild system. No one can reasonably
expect a detailed or continuous treatment of the evolution of some particular
institution in its earlier phases. Historians realise the lacunae and seek to
fill them by searching for new facts. In Masonic history there are many gaps
and obscurities, not only in medieval times, but in relatively modern times,
such as the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for which record
material might well be found, if only diligent search were made.
Instead, however, of seeking new facts to help to fill the gaps, some
present‑day Masonic writers draw upon their imaginations to paint a full
picture of the development of freemasonry, of which only the bare outlines
have a factual basis. These writers may best be described as belonging to a
neo‑imaginative school. It was probably such writers that Mr. John Saltmarsh
had in mind when, as recently as 1937, he described Masonic history as "a
department of history which is not only obscure and highly controversial, but
by ill luck the happiest of all hunting grounds for the light‑headed, the
fanciful, the altogether unscholarly and the lunatic fringe of the British
Museum Reading Room".' One weakness of the members of all these different
schools is that they seldom, if ever, clearly define the subject‑matter of
their studies; the reader is left to form his own opinion as to what any
particular author has in mind by the term `masonry' or `freemasonry'. And
there can be little or no question that different writers have not always the
same thing in mind, and that this, partly at least, accounts for the very
conflicting views held by Masonic students concerning the rise and development
very common method of defining a subject by reference to its principal
function or functions is applied to freemasonry, then it would almost
necessarily 1 Ec. H. R., Nov. 1937, p. 103.
to follow that a definition will be adopted which is not universally true,
i.e., one which does not apply at all periods and in all places, because in
the course of time, and in the course of transmission from one country to
another, the main motifs of freemasonry have changed.
MOTIFS OF FREEMASONRY
early eighteenth century, `conviviality' appears to have been a prominent
characteristic of the lodges; there were many convivial societies at that
period in this country, all inclined to convert the means of innocent
refreshment into intemperance and excess. In the opinion of some Masonic
students, e.g., G. W. Speth, first secretary of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge,
and a very sound writer, freemasons' lodges were probably not very different
from the generality of contemporary convivial societies.' In 1722, freemasons
had the doubtful honour of a special inclusion in an English version of a
French book, The Praise of Drunkenness,2 in which the fifteenth chapter treats
"Of Free Masons and other learned Men, that used to get drunk". There is some
reason for thinking that the translator‑editor was a freemason, which suggests
that drunkenness was regarded as but a venial sin. Francis Drake, the York
antiquary, was certainly a freemason when, as junior Grand Warden of the Grand
Lodge of All England at York, he delivered a speech in 1726, in which he drew
attention to "the pernicious custom of drinking too deep which we of our
nation too much indulge", and added "I wish I could not say, that I have
frequently observed it in our own Most Amicable Brotherhood".$
Eighteenth‑century Masonic gatherings being associated with the drinking of
many toasts, and no clear‑cut distinction between lodge ceremonies and
after‑proceedings having as yet developed,a the convivial aspect of
freemasonry probably continued very much to the fore until the end of the
century or even later.
H. Poole, "Masonic Song and Verse of the Eighteenth Century", Q.Q.C., xl,
7‑18, and G. Norman, "Notes on the Working of a Lodge about t76o", Maw. Tranr.,
SCOPE AND METHOD OF MASONIC HISTORY
Francis Drake drew attention to the excessive consumption of alcohol among
freemasons, he also, like his contemporary, Edward Oakley,' another leading
freemason of the 1720s, commended the giving of lectures in lodge, more
particularly on architecture or geometry. So also a few years later did
William Smith, editor of the first Pocket Companion and of The Book M.3 Drake
goes so far as to state that he is credibly informed that in most lodges in
London and several other parts of the Kingdom, a lecture on some point of
geometry or architecture is given at every meeting;3 but according to William
Smith such lectures were only occasional. This is confirmed by a Dutch
official proclamation of 1735 relating to an English lodge of freemasons
recently established at The Hague, which states that "it is in no way to be
supposed that the study of architecture is the sole or principal object of
their meetings".4 According to Martin Clare, a prominent freemason of the
1730s, the principal motive for first entering into, and then propagating, the
Craft is `good conversation'.r, The Address in which his observations are
contained was translated into French and German, and would doubtless make a
strong appeal to German masons, who always showed a special interest in the
philosophical side of freemasonry.
the second half of the eighteenth century much attention was directed to
Masonic symbolism. Wellins Calcott, in his Candid Disquisition of the
Principles and Practices of... Free and f4ccepted Masons, 1769, was probably
the first writer to endeavour to explain the symbols of the Craft, a subject
more fully discussed by William Hutchinson in his Spirit of Masonry, 1775.
Hutchinson has been termed by Woodford s the father of Masonic 1 See his
Speech of 31 December 1728, E.M. P., 210.
p. 138 below.
facilities to consult R Pocket Companion for Free‑Masons (London, 1735) and
The Book M (Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne, 1736) we are indebted to the Hallamshire
College S.R.I.A. and the Provincial G.L. of Yorkshire W.R.
3336 See his Address of 11 December 1735, Ibid., 327.
Kenning's Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry, 323 7 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
Oliver 1 describes Hutchinson's book as the first efficient attempt to explain
the true philosophy of masonry, there represented as a Christian institution
which should be open only to those who believe in the doctrine of the Holy
Trinity.z Though many of Hutchinson's views cannot be accepted, his work
undoubtedly did much to elevate freemasonry and to direct attention to, and
probably to extend the use of, Masonic symbolism, which, to judge by the
surviving documents, played little or no part in operative masonry in the
Middle Ages, or in Accepted Masonry in the seventeenth and early eighteenth
the Regius Poem of circa 1390 is full of moral precepts, and the Cooke MS. of
circa 1 q. i o rather less so, in neither of these early manuscripts, nor in
the later versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, those peculiarly
Masonic documents written about masons for masons, is there any sort of
symbolism based on the mason's tools. Likewise, in the re‑arranged and greatly
elaborated Masonic ritual which appears to have been associated with the first
ten or twenty years following the establishment of Grand Lodge in 1717, only
very slight traces of symbolism are to be found.$ So long as lodges were
mainly convivial societies, or institutions for discussing architecture and
geometry, there could be little scope for symbolism.
would not arise until freemasonry had become primarily a system of morality.
the Middle Ages, the MS. Constitutions of Masonry had contained in the
Articles and Points, or Charges General and Singular, a code of industrial and
moral conduct. In so far as the accepted masons made use of versions of the
MS. Constitutions in their ceremonies of admitting new members, as they almost
certainly did, then presumably the Charges General and Singular were read or
recited to 1 Preface to the 1843 edition of The Spirit of Masonry.
views being what they were, and completely in conflict with the First Charge
of all editions of the Book of Constitutions since it was first published in
1723, it is somewhat surprising to find that the book was issued with the
official approbation of the Grand Master and Grand Officers of the year. Cf.
pp. ISO‑i below.
E.M.C., passim, and pp. 134‑5 below.
AND METHOD OF MASONIC HISTORY
candidates, although most of the precepts contained in the MS. Constitutions
were inapplicable to men who were not working masons, or seeking to become
such. As during the eighteenth century a new ritual of admission was gradually
evolved by the accepted' or by the early speculative masons, largely out of
the somewhat crude usages and phrases associated before the end of the
seventeenth century with the giving of the Mason Word in Scotland (a subject
discussed in Chapter X below), there was elaborated a new and wider moral
code, which gradually came to be taught largely by means of symbols. At the
same time, the old moral precepts, embodied in the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry, were mainly eliminated from the ceremonies and, in part at least,
transferred, with or without modification, to the Book of Constitutions, where
they still appear under the heading "The Charges of a Free‑Mason". It was
almost certainly not until the second half of the eighteenth century that
freemasonry had become so modified in character that it could justly be
defined as a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated
motifs of freemasonry which have characterised the Craft at different periods,
the only one apparently which has been associated with it for centuries, as
far back, in fact, as the period when the earliest surviving versions of the
MS. Constitutions of Masonry, the Regius and Cooke MSS. of circa 1400,
were copied, is the inculcation of morality. The morality in question has
never been in any sense a complete code of moral conduct, still less a
religion, as being concerned with what is essential for salvation. In the
course of generations, the moral precepts of freemasonry, and the relation of
freemasonry to existing religions, have undergone very considerable changes.
Consequently, the subject is capable of being treated historically, but, in
our opinion, a student of the rise and development of freemasonry, working on
the basis of the definition that freemasonry is a system of morality, is
almost certain to go astray, because of confusion with the fuller and more
usual definition, which states that the morality is illustrated by symbols. As
already indicated, symbolism is a comparatively late introduction into the
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
Symbolism, per se, has undoubtedly had a very long history, but not, according
to the surviving evidence, in connection with freemasonry. The mere fact that
symbolism is of considerable antiquity, and that teachers at an early date
made use of the mason's tools to inculcate moral lessons, is no evidence that
masons themselves moralised upon their tools. A present‑day Masonic student
who asserts that they did, is simply reading into sixteenth ‑ and seventeenth
‑ century masonry ideas which, at a later date, prevailed in the Craft. So far
as we are aware, there is no evidence whatsoever that operative masons ever
moralised upon their working tools, or that accepted or speculative masons did
so prior to the eighteenth century.
DEFINITIONS OF FREEMASONRY
writer who adopted the definition of freemasonry as a system of morality to
adhere rigidly to his view, his study would consist mainly in tracing the
changes in the moral truths inculcated and in the relation of freemasonry to
existing religions. We touch upon some aspects of this subject in Chapter
VIII, but it is only one relatively small problem in the rise and development
more comprehensive and universally true definition of the subject is called
for, if an adequate picture of the genesis of the Craft is to be given.
partly over the question of the definition of freemasonry that a new school of
Masonic historians, which is now emerging, differs from the older authentic
school. Members of the authentic school concerned themselves almost
exclusively with the development of organisation among freemasons, an unduly
narrow conception, in our opinion, of the scope of the subject.
may further be criticised for their premature attempt at finality.
convinced that until much more evidence is available there can be no question
of writing a definitive history of freemasonry, such as Begemann attempted.
reviewing his work in I.Q.C., liii, we pointed out (1) that large fields of
knowledge concerning masonry are but slightly explored ; (ii) that there is a
possibility of new discoveries of important Masonic documents, such as the
Edinburgh Register House
SCOPE AND METHOD OF MASONIC HISTORY
and the Graham MS.; (iii) that opinions regarding the scope of the subject and
the method of approach are apt to change. The evidence on most problems of
Masonic history is incomplete, and consequently Masonic history is
necessarily, in part at least, provisional in character. We endeavour, in the
course of this volume, to formulate working hypotheses to relate the
established facts, more especially regarding the origins and evolution of
Masonic ceremonies, but we should be the first to admit and to stress that our
conclusions are purely tentative, based on the evidence at present available.
most satisfactory definition of freemasonry from the Masonic historian's point
of view would appear to be the organisation and practices which have from time
to time prevailed among medieval working masons and their `operative' and
`speculative' successors, from the earliest date from which such organisation
is traceable down to the present time. We have already drawn attention to some
of the changes which have occurred in course of time in the ideas underlying
freemasonry, but there remains to be emphasised the all‑important problem of
continuity. In discussing the genesis of freemasonry, it is not sufficient to
show that freemasons had an organisation in the Middle Ages and that they
enjoy an organisation to‑day; it is essential to be able to show that such
medieval institution and the modern are indissolubly connected in historical
Europe in the Middle Ages and early modern times there was more than one
organisation of masons.
we find the corps de metiers and later the compagnonnages in France; a
supposed company of mason-architects in Italy; the Steinmetzen in Germany and
Austria; gilds in Flanders; lodges and incorporations in Scotland;
`assemblies' and later craft gilds and companies in England.
these various organisations, it is only the early Scottish and English ones
which can be shown to have a definite connection with modern freemasonry, and
much of this book is devoted to tracing that connection. Chapter III, in which
the organisation of masons in the Middle Ages is discussed, though primarily
devoted to conditions in England and Scotland, contains brief accounts II THE
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
continental organisations, from some, if not all, of which Masonic students
have from time to time sought to derive modern freemasonry, though in each
case the evidence of continuity is lacking.
further problem connected with the scope of Masonic history is the exact
meaning to be attached to the word `freemason'. In older records the terms
commonly used were the Latin words cementarius and lathomus,l or occasionally
lapicida,z and the Norman‑French word masoun.3 Cementarius was the word in
almost universal use in the thirteenth and earlier centuries, and in frequent
use at a later date. Latomus is found in the London municipal records as early
as 1281,4 but was most widely used in the fifteenth century.
in the form mazon, occurs as early as the twelfth century,' but was perhaps
used most frequently in the fourteenth. In the York Minster Masons' ordinances
of 1370,8 which were written in English, the word used is "masonn" [? Msoun].
first occurrence known to us of the word `freemason' is in the City of London
Letter‑Book H., under date of 9 August 1376,' when the Common Council was
elected from the mysteries instead of from the wards: an entry showing Thos.
Wrek and John Lesnes as "fre masons" is struck out and replaced by another
showing Wrek, Lesnes and two others as "masons". From this time onwards the
word `freemason' occurs in various documents,$ though never as frequently as
`mason'. In the two earliest versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, the
Regius and Cooke MSS. of circa 1400, the word used is always `mason', the term
`freemason' not occurring at all.
Norwich in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, twelve freemen were admitted
under the description "freemason", eleven under the description "roughmason",
and 135 under the des 1 M.M., 82.
Bateson, Records of Leicester, ii, 158.
Letter‑Book B., 9.
Raine, 18 r.
photographic reproduction, f4.Q.C., li (1938), following p. 136.
W. J. Williams, "The Use of the word `Freemason' before 1717", ,I.Q.C., xlviii
SCOPE AND METHOD OF MASONIC HISTORY
thirty‑two sixteenth‑century building accounts which we have examined, twenty
contain the word `mason' and twelve the word `freemason'.z The words `mason'
and `freemason' appear to have been largely interchangeable. Thus in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we find the same men, e.g., John Marwe of
Norwich, 3 John Croxton of London,4 and Gabriel Coldham of London,b sometimes
described as `mason' and sometimes as `freemason'. It may further be noted
that the London organisation of the trade is, in its own muniments, called a
company sometimes of masons and sometimes of freemasons s Similar, though
later, associations at Newcastle, Norwich, Lincoln, Kendal, Ludlow, Canterbury
and Exeter were officially known as companies of masons; those at Oxford,
Durham, Gateshead, Alnwick and Bristol were called companies of freemasons .7
some cases, however, the word `mason' was used in a wider sense than
`freemason' to include all stoneworkers,8 whereas the term `freemason' in
early building documents would appear to be contrasted with `roughmason', or
with `layer' (itself commonly equivalent to roughmason), or with `hardhewer'
(concerned with the preparation of the hardstone of Kent).e In
sixteenth‑century building accounts `freemason' signifies hewer or setter of
freestone,1o a usage which in our opinion explains the adjective free in
this matter we follow Wyatt Papworth, the well‑known architectural writer, Dr.
G. G. Coulton and Prof. Hamilton Thompson, two distinguished scholars, and Dr.
W. Begemann, the German philologist and Masonic historian, in believing that
the freemason, like the marbler 1 J. L'Estrange, Calendar of Freemen of
Norwich. z See our XYI C.M.
Howlett, "Fabric Roll of Norwich Guildhall x4xo‑x I", Norf. ‑4rch., xv, 176;
G. W. Daynes, "A Masonic Contract of n.D. 1432", d.Q.C., xxxv (x922) 37.
Letter‑Book K., 250, 257, 276, 3x4. s XYI C.M., 199.
W. J. Williams, "Masons and the City of London", 14.Q.C., xlv (1932), passim.
229‑33; Misc. Lat., xix, 129.
XYI C.M., 199.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
worked in marble and the alabasterer who worked in alabaster, was so called as
a rule from the material in which he worked, namely, freestone. Freestone' is
any finegrained sandstone or limestone that can be freely worked in any
direction and sawn with a toothed saw,2 as, for example, the tractable
limestones found in a belt stretching from Dorset to the Yorkshire coast. This
was the stone par excellence for carving and undercutting; and the freemason
was one who carried out the finer work possible only in freestone.
be significant that in Scotland, where there is little or none of it,2
`freemason', as a trade name, does not appear to have been current.
explanation of `freemason' is strengthened by the actual occurrence of the
term `freestone mason'. In Latin we find sculptores lapidum liberorum
mentioned in London in 1212,4 and a magister lathomus liberarum petrarum at
Oxford s in 1391.
Anglo‑French equivalent, mestre mason de franche peer, occurs in the Statute
of Labourers of 1351.
English, `freestone masons' alternates with 'freemasons' in the early
seventeenth‑century Wadham College building accounts; e and both terms were
used also in the Christ's College, Cambridge, accounts of the early eighteenth
century, to describe the famous contractor, Robert Grumbold.7 The term
`freestone mason' also occurs in Norwich church accounts of 1638 and 1652.8
Secondly as corroborative evidence of a trade appellation derived from the
material used, we may cite `hardhewer', designating a worker in the hard and
stubborn stone of Kent.
Thirdly, it may be pointed out ‑that `freemason' has its opposite in `roughmason'
or `rowmason', used to describe layers (even bricklayers) who, when they
shaped stone, did so only roughly with axe or scappling hammer.
Translation of Old French franche pore, where the adjective means "of
excellent quality" (O.E.D.).
Watson, British and Foreign Building Stones, 9.
London Assize of Wages, x212. s H. E. Salter, Med. Zrch. of the Univ. of
llrch. 7., viii, 390.
Willis and Clark, passim.
Records of the church of St. Peter, Mancroft, Norwich, Norf. Zntij. Misc., ii,
pt. ii, quoted by Daynes,ll.Q.G., xliii, 223 14 SCOPE AND METHOD OF MASONIC
HISTORY Mention may also be made of other explanations of the adjective free
which have been advanced by various writers: it may indicate either status in
a municipality or company (as in freeman of London) or freedom from feudal
serfdom. The adjective may occasionally have been used in one or other of
these senses. It should be noted, however, that a great number of masons could
hardly be counted free of a company.
though the Fourth Article of the Regius and Cooke MSS. of circa 1400 laid it
down that an apprentice should not be of bond blood, and though the migratory
character of the mason's trade meant by the fourteenth century that he could
hardly be bound to the soil of the manor, yet his calling was in earlier times
not incompatible with servile status.' Finally, if `freemason' in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries commonly referred to an operative mason
engaged in hewing or setting freestone, nevertheless a new meaning of the term
was creeping in during the seventeenth century. Elias Ashmole, the antiquary,
wrote in 1646 that he had been made a "Free Mason", and in 1682 that he had
attended a lodge at Masons' Hall, London, when certain persons, later referred
to as new‑accepted masons, were admitted into the "Fellowship of Free Masons'
'.2 In 1686, Dr. Robert Plot, the antiquary, wrote about the "Society of
Free‑Masons", a fellow of which, he informs us, was called an "accepted
mason".3 In 1686, John Aubrey, another antiquary, wrote about the "Fraternity
of FreeMasons", whom he describes also as "adopted masons" and "accepted
masons".4 In 1688, Randle Holme III, the Chester genealogist and antiquary,
described himself as a member of that "Society called Free‑Masons".s
anti‑Masonic leaflet of 1698, warning people against "those called Freed
Masons", was probably directed against men who were not operative masons c '
3Ibid., 3r, 32.
Aubrey MS. 2, pt. ii, fo. 73, reproduced in facsimile in .4.Q.C., xi, facing
page r o.
E.M.P., 34 5 Ibid., 3 5; and I.Q.C., Iv, 15 2.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY THE METHODS OF MASONIC HISTORY We differ from members
of the authentic school regarding not only the scope of Masonic history but
also the method of approach. Present‑day students are disposed to employ both
analytical and comparative methods, whereas the authentic school was mainly
descriptive in its methods, and inclined to regard Masonic developments in
each country in isolation. W. J. Songhurst's approach to the problem of the
origin of the Royal Arch,' and R. J. Meekren's study of the Aitchison's Haven
Lodge minutes, with a view to proving the early existence of two degrees,a may
be quoted as good examples of the analytical method. The attempts we have made
to trace the connection between Scottish operative and English accepted
masonry,3 and to co‑ordinate English and Irish experience in order to throw
light on Masonic development in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries 4 are illustrations of the com parative method.
this volume we make use of both the analytical and the comparative methods.
A.Q.C., xxxii, pp. 34‑5.
also p. 292 below.
A.Q.C., liii, p. 147.
also p. 95 n. below.
A.Q.C., li, 2I I; lv, 296‑7, 3I6‑I8.
also Chap. X below. 4 .4.Q‑C., Iv, 5‑7, 13‑1 5. See also Chap. XI below.
CHAPTER II THE MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY THE BUILDING ARTS IN EARLY ENGLAND
EARLY medieval building in this country differed greatly from that of to‑day.
main materials were wood and clay; the artisans engaged were consequently
carpenters and daubers, not masons and brick :
Britons and Scots were apparently unfamiliar with stone building involving the
use of squared stone and mortar.' This art was probably introduced by the
Church, and at first presumably required the importation of craftsmen from the
Continent. Certainly Benedict Biscop, soon after the founding of Wearmouth
Abbey in 674, sought in Gaul for craftsmen to build a stone church ti
Roman style 2
Wilfred, too, who died in 709, '
said by a twelfth‑century chronicler to have brought masons from Rome to build
instances of stone building in pre‑Norman England are recorded thus Bede 4
(675‑735) mentions stone churches at Lastingham and Lincoln; according to the
Old English Chronicle, Towcester was provided with a stone wall in 92 I ;
William of Malmesbury,b writing two centuries after the event, and without
quoting his authority, states that Atbelstan (925‑40) fortified Exeter with
towers and a wall of squared stone.
Probably once the arts of building and carving in stone had been introduced
from abroad, some knowledge of them was acquired by native artisans, but the
that early building work was performed not by specialised masons, but by men
whose main occupation was connected with agriculture, stone working in many
cases still being a 'See Plummer, Baedae Opera Historica, II, for‑2.
5 (Plummer, op. cit., I, 368).
William of Malmesbury, De Gestis Pontificum, Rolls Series, 255.
Plummer, op. cit., I, 176, 117‑
Gesta Regum, I, 148 17 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY by‑occupation of farming at
a much later date (see page I 1 7 below).
judge by the fewness of the records and the paucity of surviving remains, the
number of English stone‑workers was very small until after the Norman
Conquest, as even in France, architecturally much more advanced than this
country, the substitution of stone for wood only began in the late tenth
century? It was doubtless Norman influence and example which led to the
development of stone building in this country, the main structures at first
being abbeys, priories, cathedrals and castles. The rebuilding of Westminster
Abbey by Edward the Confessor (1042‑66), and the erection of the Tower in the
reigns of William I (Io66‑87) and William Rufus (1087‑1100) imply the presence
in London of masons in considerable numbers in the second half of the eleventh
century. It was not, however, until the last quarter of the twelfth century
that London Bridge was first built of stone .2
Scotland, the use of stone for building came even later; the motte, or
earliest type of castle, was a timber stronghold,3 and these structures did
not disappear until the fifteenth century.
earliest record of stone being used for the walls of Stirling Castle relates
north and South of the Tweed the use of stone and brick in domestic
architecture was a still later development, these materials coming into use
gradually for chimneys and floors, but it was not until the seventeenth
century that they came to be commonly used in house building.
ORGANISATION OF BUILDING OPERATIONS The fact that the erection of abbeys,
priories, cathedrals and castles provided most of the work for masons in this
country in the later Middle Ages implies that the Church and the Crown were
directly or indirectly the principal employers of masons.
Although the Crown was mainly 1 V. Mortet et P. Deschamps, Receuil de Textes
relatifs a PHistoire de P‑4rchitecture, p. xxxiii.
Welch, History of the Tower Bridge, 29 seq.
Mackay Mackenzie, The Medieval Castle in Scotland, 3 r. 4 Ibid., 38.
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY interested in the erection and repair of castles
for military purposes, the English kings also incurred vast expenditure on
ecclesiastical works, such as Westminster Abbey, Vale Royal Abbey and Eton
College. The nobility and landed gentry erected castles or houses for
residential and, in some cases, for defensive purposes, but in England, though
not in Scotland, the Crown ,was generally strong enough to prevent unlicensed
private castle‑building. The municipalities were responsible for a certain
amount of stone building, especially town walls, guildhalls and bridges.
prevalence of large building enterprises had a very important influence on the
organisation of the industry. Whereas the typical medieval artisan was a
`little master' who owned his material, worked it up with the assistance of an
apprentice or journeyman, and disposed of the finished article, the medieval
mason, like the modern workman, was generally a wage‑earner. Commonly it was
an agent of the party for whom the building was being erected who employed the
mason; less frequently it was a contractor; occasionally it was an independent
small‑scale employer who specialised in supplying rough‑dressed stone, ashlar,
mouldings, or partly worked images and figures. This type of employer is
sometimes described as a mason‑shopkeeper., The Direct Labour System.‑To judge
by the surviving records, larger buildings in this country in the Middle Ages
were generally executed by what we should now call the "direct labour" system,
by which the employer appointed one or more officials, such as a master mason
and a clerk of the works, who directed a complicated sequence of operations.
These included the digging of stone and sand, their transport by land and
water, the hewing and setting of stone, the making and laying of bricks, the
felling and sawing of timber, and the various works of joiners, carvers,
tilers, smiths, plumbers and glaziers.
type of integration had certainly developed by the thirteenth century, and
probably existed at an earlier date, though for want of surviving records this
cannot be proved. Vale Royal Abbey in 12'78‑80, See L.M., 19 seg.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Beaumaris and Caernarvon Castles in the early
fourteenth century, and Eton College in the fifteenth century, are examples of
buildings erected by this method on a large scale. At Adderbury Chancel in the
early fifteenth and at Kirby Muxloe Castle in the late fifteenth century the
organisation was similar but on a smaller scale. 3‑ In connection with certain
large structures, where maintenance, repairs, or additions were frequently
involved, there commonly existed a more or less permanent works department,
employing a regular staff of masons and other artisans, which was expanded or
contracted according to requirements.
cathedrals, an abbey such as that at Westminster, as well as important bridges
such as London Bridge and Rochester Bridge, had works departments of this kind
associated with them.2 The Clerk of the Works.‑At all the larger medieval
building operations, whether cathedrals, monasteries or castles, a dual system
of management was established, the financial administration being separate
from the technical. The former, in royal building works, was the concern of
one of the king's clerks, or of an Exchequer official, known as clerk, or
keeper, or‑in exceptional cases‑surveyor of the works. Two men who at one
period occupied such positions, but are famous for other reasons, were William
of Wykeham,3 the founder of New College and of Winchester College, and
Geoffrey Chaucer 4 On monastic or cathedral buildings the care of the fabric
was commonly the business of the sacrist, though in special cases some other
monastic or chapter official might be appointed keeper (custos).
fifteenth century, the title "master of the works" was sometimes borne by the
chief financial official. Thus Roger Keyes, sometime Warden of All Souls, was
master of the works at Eton College in 1448‑so,a 1 See Y.R.; B. and C.; Eton;
T. F. Hobson,.4dderbury Rectoria (Oxford Record Society); A. H. Thompson,
"Building Accounts of Kirby Muxloe Castle, 1480‑1484", Leics. f4rch. Soc.
Raine; F. R. Chapman, 8acrist Rolls of Ely; G. G. Scott, Gleanings from
Westminster Ibbey; R. B. Rackham, "Nave of Westminster", Proc. Br. 14cad.,
igog‑io; L.B.; M. J. Becker, Rochester Bridge, 1387‑1856.
Ibid., 23 n., 92 n.
Eton, 75 20 THE MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY and the same office at Windsor
Castle in 1473 was held by the Bishop of Salisbury., At the Abbey of St.
Albans, as early as 1429‑30, the obedientiary responsible for repairs within
and without the church was described as "master of the works ".2
Scotland, in the sixteenth century and earlier, the Crown, the Church, and
municipalities appointed "masters of work" who discharged financial and
administrative functions.3 The Master Mason.‑On the technical side, the chief
official was the master mason. On very large works in the thirteenth,
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the master mason was sometimes called
"master of the works". Walter of Hereford (l. 1278‑1315) bore that title at
Vale Royal Abbey and later at Caernarvon Castle,4 and so did William Orchard
at Magdalen College as late as 1479‑5 The same was the case at Aberdeen in
1484 when John Gray, mason, was received as Master of Work of St. Nicholas; it
is recorded that he has taken upon him to be continually labouring and
diligent ... and to do all care concerning the said work that accords to a
master of work, both in labouring of his own person, in devising, and in
supervising the masons and workmen under him .6 The surviving evidence enables
us to draw a fairly detailed picture of this very important official.
as we can tell, he commonly rose from the ranks.
Richard Beke, master mason at Canterbury Cathedral from 143S to 1458, worked
at London Bridge as an ordinary mason from 1409 to 1417, and as Chief Bridge
Mason from 1417 to 1435.'
Stowell, appointed master mason at Westminster Abbey in 1471, had worked there
as a mason in 1468‑9.8 Christopher Horner, master mason , W. St. J. Hope,
Windsor Castle, 1, 238 2 M.M., 31 n.
6‑7; B. and C., 8‑9.
Willis and Clark, i, 41o. s S.M., 23 7 L.B., I5‑16, and Oswald, "Canterbury
Cathedral", Burlington Mag., December 1939, 222.
Rackham, op. cit., 34.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY at York Minster from 1505 to 1523, worked on that
fabric as an apprentice in the 147os and as a mason in the 1490s.1 The case of
Richard Beke, who passed from lay to ecclesiastical work, and from one town to
another, was by no means exceptional.
Yevele, employed by the Black Prince in the 135os and by the Crown from 1360
onwards ,2 was later master mason at Westminster Abbey and, as recent
investigations 3 show, was very possibly responsible for the design of the
nave of Canterbury Cathedral in the 1390s.
William Wynford, overseer of the masons at Windsor Castle in the 136os, was
some thirty years later master mason at the rebuilding of the nave of
Winchester Cathedral. 4 Among the duties enumerated in the terms of John
Gray's appointment at Aberdeen in 1484 was "devising". Until recently it was
often too easily assumed that bishops and other ecclesiastics, who did much to
further certain building operations, were in some sense the architects of
their churches or monastic houses. It is by now clear enough that, though some
bishops and abbots may have delighted in architecture, the medieval architect
has to be looked for among medieval masons.5 In the Middle Ages, plans and
designs do not appear to have played the same part as they do nowadays. In
early building contracts or instructions, detailed directions concerning
dimensions often appear to have taken the place of plans or `plots'. In all
cases of this type the presumption is that the master mason or the
mason‑contractor, as the case might be, prepared some kind of working
drawings, though very possibly they were not done on parchment or paper.
doubtless for the purpose of drawing that tracing houses were provided at
larger building operations.
we find references to a tracing house at Windsor Castle in 1350 and 1397, at
Exeter Cathedral in 13'74‑5, and at Westminster Abbey in 1460‑1. The inventory
of the masons' lodge at York Minster in 1400 shows that 1 Knoop and Jones,
I.Q.C., xliv, 234, and Raine, passim.
Yevele, 802, 804.
Oswald, loc. cit.
Hamilton Thompson, "Mediaeval Building Documents", Trans. Somer. Zrch. Soc.
(I93o), reprinted in Misc. Lat., xii.
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY the equipment included two tracing boards; this not
only implies drawing, but strongly suggests that it was masons who drew. In
1531 there was a tracing house at Westminster Palace, the accounts recording
the payment of 8s. for "two pairs of screws for tracery rods provided for the
master mason to draw with in his tracery house", a reference which leaves no
doubt as to who did the drawing. Some early building contracts contain
reference to plans, e.g., in 1381 Nicholas Typerton, mason, undertook to erect
for John, Lord Cobham, part of the Church of St. Dunstan in Tower Street,
London, according to the design (devyse) of Henry Yevele, the most prominent
mason of his period. In 1395 two masons undertook to do certain work at
Westminster Hall "according to a form and mould" made by advice of Master
1475 William Orchard, freemason, undertook to make a great window of seven
lights in the West End of Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford, "according to the
portraiture made by the said William".' The post of master mason was in some
instances more or less a full‑time appointment. That was the case with William
Hoton, master mason at York Minster from 1351 to 1368,2 and with Richard Beke
so, the terms of Hoton's appointment contemplated the possibility of his being
employed elsewhere, and we know that Beke, on at least one occasion, did
consultative work outside Canterbury .4
other instances, the post was definitely a part‑time appointment, such as that
of William Wynford at Wells Cathedral in 1364: he was to receive a retaining
fee of 4os. a year and a wage of sixpence a day when in Wells working on the
fabrics William Colchester held the post of master mason at Westminster Abbey
and at York Minster simultaneously from 1407 to 14,2o.6 Henry Yevele, his
predecessor at Westminster 'This paragraph is based on our paper, "The Decline
oϊ the MasonArchitect in England", 7‑R.I.B.Z., September 1937.
MSS. Com., 9th Report, r I4.
16. s Hist. MSS. Com., Wells MSS., i, 267 6 Misc. Lat., xxii, 34‑6.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Abbey, was a pluralist on a much greater scale.' The
surviving evidence shows that master masons were men of considerable standing,
much more like architects than foremen‑masons; they were provided with new
robes at Christmas and Whitsun; and, if King's master masons, they were
members of the royal household, with the status of minor esquires. The
services of William Wynford were recognised by placing his picture in the East
Window of Winchester College Chapel which he had built.2 The Contract
System.‑Smaller building jobs, and occasionally parts of larger ones, were not
infrequently done by contract3 The oldest form of contracting was task work
(opus ad tascam), of which an instance occurred at Windsor Castle in i 165‑6,
and several at Westminster Abbey in 1'253, and elsewhere about the same
period. After the Black Death in 1349, task work of the contract variety (as
distinct from piece work) appears to have become more common, which may
perhaps be accounted for by the scarcity of labour and the need for finding
more economical methods of working. Task work or "bargains" probably offered
the working mason in the Middle Ages the best opportunity of rising from the
ranks of the wage‑earners to a position of greater economic independence. If
he were paid by small instalments, as was commonly the case, the system would
call for little or no capital on the part of the contractor, especially if he
did not have to provide materials.
this respect medieval contracts varied considerably; it is possible to
distinguish four types of contract according to what the contractor undertook
to provide: (i) workmanship only; (ii) workmanship and stone, but not
carriage; (iii) workmanship and carriage, but not stone; (iv) workmanship,
stone and carriage. Medieval contracts also varied in respect of the method of
payment, which might be either by the great (in grosso as it was called in the
Middle Ages) or by measure.
by the great meant a contract ' Yevele, passim.
H. Moberley, Life of William Wykeham, 261 n.
paragraph is based on our paper, "The Rise of the Mason Contractor",
7S.I.B.Z., October 1936.
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY similar to that of the two freemasons, Symons and
Wigge, who in 1598 for a sum of ~3,40o undertook in four years to build the
second court of St. John's College, Cambridge. A fourteenth‑century example of
work by measure is provided by John Lewyn's contract, according to which he
was to receive i oos. per perch at Bolton Castle, Wensleydale, plus a payment
of So marks.
Scotland, the contract system appears to have been more widespread than in
England. The erection of numerous small stone buildings over a wide area
favoured the growth of small master tradesmen employing one or two servants.
Thus the system of independent craftsmen or `little masters' appears to have
flourished in Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the
surviving evidence suggests that these `little masters' were not always
contractors; in some cases they worked with their servants on a job as
wage‑earners.' In England also there were contractors who one month might be
carrying out a piece of work with the assistance of a number of journeymen,
and who next month might themselves be working as masons on salaries or wages.
addition to this type of contractor, there were probably in the later Middle
Ages, and certainly in early modern times, masons who either in addition to,
or instead of, undertaking contracts, set up yards or workshops and had
stoneworkers more or less regularly in their employment. In some cases these
`little masters' or mason‑shopkeepers sold stones of more or less standard
sizes which they and their servants had dressed; in other cases, they
undertook small contracts to erect a wall or repair a chimney; in yet others,
they were primarily statuaries and tombmakers who supplied carvings, effigies,
or complete tombs, the last in many cases being elaborate structures involving
much general masonry. In the seventeenth century, if not earlier, these
sculptors and tombmakers often entered into general masonry contracts. Thus
William Stanton, Edward Pearce, Jaspar Latham and Joshua Marshall were
seventeenth‑century monumental masons or tombmakers who executed substantial
masonry contracts in London ' S.M., 9‑14. ZS THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY after
the Great Fire. A different type of `little master' was the quarrymaster who
in some cases not merely employed masons and supplied dressed stone, but
undertook contracts for the erection of buildings.
Maidstone in the fourteenth century, William Orchard of Oxford in the
fifteenth, and four generations of the Strong family, originally of Little
Barrington and Tayn ton, in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries,
are well‑known examples of quarrymasters acting as masoncontractors.) CLASSES
OF STONE‑WORKERS Relatively few masons could hope to attain eminence as master
masons, or to achieve success as mason‑contractors or as mason‑shopkeepers.
The great majority could expect little or no reward beyond a daily wage.
Although journeyman stoneworkers are described in medieval building documents
by a good many different names, the masons, as distinct from quarriers, cowans,
and hardhewers, appear to have fallen into two main classes: (a) Hewers or
freemasons dressed stone with mallet and chisel, or more roughly with a
stone‑axe. The superior craftsmen belonging to this category were sometimes
described as "carvers". Hewers or freemasons who had cut the freestone
required to build up a rose window or other elaborate tracery, or who had
prepared the arch stones for a vault, appear frequently to have set their own
work. When engaged as "setters" (Positores) they sometimes received higher
wages than when engaged on their ordinary work of dressing stone.
Layers (cubatores) or roughmasons laid ashlar and "rockies", rough hewn with a
scappling hammer, for the preparation of which they themselves were frequently
responsible. In some cases they roughly dressed stone with an axe.
paragraph is based on our papers, "The Rise of the Mason Contractor",
J.R.I.B.1?., October 1936, and "The English Medieval Quarry", Ec. H. R.,
November 1938 26 THE MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY Although the main work of
hewers or freemasons was to dress stone, and the main work of layers or of
roughmasons was to erect stonework, yet even where a considerable degree of
specialisation existed on big jobs, the former craftsmen did some setting or
laying, and the latter did some preparing or dressing of stone.
smaller jobs, there was often little or no specialisation.
at London Bridge in the fifteenth century the masons appear to have done all
varieties of mason work.
same was true in Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries., To
judge by the tools used, the work done by "quarriers" appears to have been of
three kinds: (i) uncovering stone, for which shovels, spades, mattocks and
trowels were used; (ii) breaking and splitting stones by means of picks,
wedges, crows and various types of hammer; (iii) rough hewing or dressing
stone by means of scappling hammers and broaching‑axes .2 Those quarriers who
were competent to discharge this third function were obviously capable of
doing work closely resembling, if not identical with, that done by roughmasons,
and the dividing line between the higher type of quarrier and the lower type
of mason must often have been very indeterminate. When in the same Caernarvon
Castle building account of 13I6‑17 we find examples of hewers (cementarii)
working in the quarry as cutters (taylatores) preparing "coynes et asshler",
of layers (cubatores) working in the quarry as scapplers (batrarii), and of a
quarrier "digging and breaking stone, each stone in length two feet, height
one foot, breadth one foot and a half", we feel that the boundaries between
one stoneworking occupation and another were by no means rigid and that the
conversion of a skilled quarrier, who worked with axe and hammer, into a
roughmason, who also worked with axe and hammer, could not have been very
uncommon in the days before gilds (if such ever existed in country districts)
with their definite ideas of industrial demarcation.3 Many examples, both
English and Scottish, of masons working in quarries could be quoted .4
some cases, to judge by the existence of , M.M., 83; L.B., passim; S.M., 30‑t.
Quarry, 3s‑6 3 M.M., 78‑
Quarry, 33‑4; S.M., Z7‑827 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY lodges at quarries,
masons were engaged there solely in dressing stone; in other cases, more
particularly in Scotland, masons in quarries were paid for winning as well as
for dressing stone.
exact functions discharged by the stone‑worker known in Scotland as a `cowan'
are not too clear. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary defines `cowan' as "one who
builds dry walls, otherwise denominated a drydiker", and the O.E.D. gives the
same meaning‑"one who builds dry walls". Such evidence as we have been able to
collect from seventeenth‑century documents does not entirely support this
definition. At Canongate in 1636 a cowan was permitted to do "any work with
stone and clay alone, without lime"; at Glasgow in 1623 John Shedden was
received and booked as a cowan and authorised "to work stone and mortar and to
build mortar walls, but not above one ell in height, and without power to work
or lay hewn work, or to build with sand and lime". The Schaw Statutes Of 1598
and 1599 prohibited masons from working with cowns, which suggests a secondary
and wider meaning of the word, which is given by both Jamieson and the O.E.D.,
viz., a man who does the work of a mason but has not been regularly
apprenticed or bred to the trade., `Hardhewers' worked the hardstone of Kent,
which they also sometimes set, in which case they were occasionally referred
to as `hardlayers'.2 At Eton College in the 14405 three categories of mason
were distinguished in the building accounts, viz., (a) jr' masons, (b) harde
hewers, (c) row masons; these categories, however, were not absolutely rigid,
as two of the hardhewers became freemasons, and two other hardhewers worked as
roughmasons and stonelayers.3
other hand, we have traced no case of a freemason or of a roughmason becoming
METHODS OF TRAINING MASONS As suggested above, quarries were very important
recruiting grounds for masons.
support of this pro position, we would quote two pieces of evidence.
in those early building accounts which we have studied 18‑M., 28‑30.
Eton, passim. 28 THE MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY more closely, Vale Royal
(1278‑80), Caernarvon (1316‑17 and 1319) and Beaumaris (1316‑17, 1319‑2o and
1330), we find various masons bearing names of places where building stones
were quarried, e.g., Leckhampton, Mount Sorrel, Norton, Stoke, Ross, Dorset,
Lenton, Hope (Bowdler), Denbigh. Second, of the 51 layers named in the
Beaumaris and Caernarvon building accounts, we know that four had worked as
quarriers and one as a "portehache" in a quarry, before they became layers.
heavy cost of transporting stone from quarry to building site was a strong
reason why masons or potential masons should practise or learn the art of
stone‑dressing in quarries, dressed stone being obviously less bulky to
transport than rough‑hewn stone. Dressing stone in the quarry offered the
further advantage that work spoilt by the masons or learners would involve
no,transport charges at all.
second method of recruiting masons was by promoting men who had served as
servants or famuli to masons. Thus after William Warde had figured in the
London Bridge accounts for some three years as famulus of the masons at 2s. a
week (compared with their 3s. 9d.), we find the following entry on 1 st July
14 Paid to William Warde, famulus of the said masons, because he works well as
a sufficient mason, 3s. od.
following week the entry runs "Williame Warde, mason, 3s. od.". It was not for
another six years, however, that he received a mason's full wage, which in
London at that date was 8d. a day.
third place, to judge by the advances in wages accorded to some low‑paid
masons at Vale Royal Abbey during the period 1278‑8o, and by the appointment
in 1359 of John of Evesham, mason, to give instruction in masonry to labourers
at Hereford Cathedral, we think that there were young men who, without being
apprenticed, were learners receiving a certain amount of instruction, and
that, as they gained in experience and the quality of their work improved,
they were rewarded with higher wages. In the fourth place, a father might
teach a son, an elder 29 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY brother might teach a
younger brother, an uncle might teach a nephew, without any system of
indentures. Finally, apprenticeship might serve as a method of training
masons, but the available evidence suggests that the number of masons'
apprentices in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was very small.
most early building accounts the word `apprentice' or its equivalent does not
occur. The earliest case we have traced is recorded in the Exeter Cathedral
fabric rolls in 1382.
previously indicated, the great majority of masons at this period were
journeymen with little or no security of tenure.
to the sixteenth century, this type of journeyman does not appear to have had
apprentices. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries such apprentices as
there were appear to have been bound in one of three ways: (1) to master
masons in charge of building operations; e.g., Stephen Lote, mason, disposer
of the king's works at Westminster and the Tower, had two apprentices when he
made his will in 1417; (ii) to a journeyman permanently in the service of
Church or State; e.g., John Bell, who in 1488 held a life appointment as
"special mason to the Prior and Chapter of Durham" was authorised to have an
apprentice of his own; (iii) to a builder‑employer, such as an abbey, who
could arrange for craftsmen to teach them.
several cases of monastic apprentices are recorded at the Cistercian Abbey of
Cupar Angus towards the end of the fifteenth century., If the craft in its
heyday in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had had to rely
upon apprentices for its future supply of skilled journeymen, the
stone‑building industry would never have expanded in the way in which it
to the alternative methods of training masons that the craft at that period
had mainly to look for its future supplies of skilled labour.
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT The great majority of masons being wage‑earners,
their probable earnings may next be considered. This raises three distinct
problems: (1) the amount of the daily wage; 1 The paragraphs on the training
of masons are based on our M.M., r 6o‑8.
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY (ii) the number of holidays observed, more
especially holidays without pay; (iii) the length of the winter season during
which building operations were suspended.
England from i280 to 1350 the general level of masons' wages was 4d. a day;
from 1350 to 1370 money wages were rising, as a result, no doubt, of the Black
Death. From 1370 to the beginning of the sixteenth century, 6d. a day appears
to have been the commonest wage outside London. This rise in money wages was
greater than the rise in food prices. In some cases the wage was paid partly
in food, a practice apparently commoner in Scotland than in England. In
winter, when the working day was shorter, wage rates were reduced, the
commonest reduction being one‑sixth in England. In Scotland, where there would
be even less daylight in winter, the reduction was as much as 25 or 30 per
cent. At York Minster in 1370, winter rates applied from Michaelmas to the
first Sunday in Lent, when the hours were fixed as from daylight to dark, with
an hour for dinner and fifteen minutes for "drinking" in the afternoon.
summer hours were from sunrise to thirty minutes before sunset, with an hour
for dinner, half an hour for "sleeping", and half an hour for "drinking".
Kirk of Our Lady, Dundee, in 1537 the summer hours were from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
with half an hour for "disjune" at 8.30, one and a half hours for dinner at
11.30, and half an hour for "non‑shanks" at 4 p.m. In the season of the year
when daylight hours were fewer, the masons were to start work as soon as they
could see; between i st November and 2nd February the working day was to be
broken only by a spell of one and a half hours at mid‑day; during the rest of
the year the masons were to enjoy the normal three breaks.' (ii) Craftsmen
engaged on medieval buildings, more especially those employed on
ecclesiastical works, kept holiday on numerous saints' days and church
festivals; but the extent to which these holidays were observed, and the
practice of paying wages in respect of them, varied from one building
operation to another. At Vale Royal ' Ibid., 236, x x 6‑x 8; S.M., 4o.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Abbey, 27 were observed in 12'79 and 22 in i28o; the
number observed at the repair of Beaumaris Castle in 1319‑2o was 2o. Neither
at Vale Royal nor at Beaumaris did the masons receive any wages in respect of
feast days or holidays.
not known how many feast days were observed by the masons at York Minster; but
according to regulations made in 1352, if two feasts should fall in the same
week the masons would work on neither and be paid for one; should three feasts
occur in the same week, the masons would lose half a week's wage. A similar
rule obtained at Westminster Abbey in 1253 and Exeter Cathedral in 138o.
the erection of Eton College the masons observed 38 holidays in 1444‑5 and 43
in 1445‑6 The freemasons were paid for all holidays except nine; the
hardhewers were paid for five and the layers for three in the first year and
four in the second. In Scotland, according to a statute of 1469, masons and
wrights were to keep as holidays only those laid down by the Church as great
and solemn festivals. According to the same statute they were to work on
Saturdays and other vigils until 4 o'clock; the same was true at the Kirk of
Our Lady in Dundee, 1537, except that work was to cease at 12 o'clock for
Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and the Assumption of Our Lady.
York regulations of 1352 provided that work should stop at noon on the eves of
feasts and on Saturdays., (iii) The close season in winter, during which
building operations were stopped, was apparently fairly lengthy in the Middle
Building accounts frequently show the purchase of straw for covering the work
in winter or for thatching the walls. The layers were more seriously affected
than the hewers, because whereas frost would prevent all laying, only severe
frost would interfere with hewing if it had been decided that the dressing of
stone should continue during the winter in preparation for the resumption of
active building operations in the spring. In some cases in winter, work was
found for the layers as scapplers, but in other cases they were dismissed or
suspended. Thus, at Rochester Castle in 1368 whilst the 1 M.M., I 18‑20; S.M.,
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY majority of the masons were paid for 252 working
days, no layer was paid for more than i 8o working days, the difference of 72
working days representing approximately three months during which presumably
no laying was undertaken. At Kirby Muxloe Castle in 14 81 the roughmasons or
layers commenced work at the beginning of May and finished at the end of
October. At Dunkeld Bridge in i 5 i o a mason's year was apparently treated as
approximately equivalent to 22 weeks of full‑time employment.) To convert a
daily wage of q.d. or 6d. into annual earnings, allowance has to be made not
only for reduced winter rates of pay, for numerous holidays without pay and
for suspension of work in winter, but also very possibly for time lost on
account of bad weather during the active building season. Where the wage was
on a daily, and not on a weekly basis, the loss may quite well have fallen on
the worker, though the surviving evidence is not very clear on the subject.
Without going into details, however, we feel some doubt about the adequacy of
masons' earnings to support wives and families even in the fifteenth century,
and are quite clear that they were very inadequate in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, because of the great rise in prices resulting from the
importation of silver from the New World.
solution of the difficulty appears to have been that many masons had
agricultural holdings or other byoccupations at which they themselves worked
during slack periods in the building trade, and at which their womenfolk and
younger children, and very possibly their servants, worked at all times.
twelfth century, masons, as also smiths and carpenters, on the estates of the
Bishop of Durham held land in virtue of their calling, and this was common
elsewhere. There is other evidence to suggest that farming was the most usual
by‑occupation, but others which we have traced were hiring out horses and
carts, shipowning, innkeeping, brewing and dealing in stone.z By‑occupations,
whatever they were, had not merely to supplement masons' wages, but had
presumably to provide maintenance for wives and families when husbands and 1
M.M., 132; S.M., 35.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY fathers had jobs away from home, either voluntarily, or
as a result of impressment.
Impressment.‑The impressment of masons was only part of the much larger
problem of purveyance and impressment in general, by which in the Middle Ages
and early modern times goods were taken for the public service, horses and
transport were requisitioned for royal use, artisans and labourers were forced
to work in specified jobs, and in the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries men were recruited for the army and navy. Three methods of operating
the system can be distinguished. (i) The first was to issue orders to the
sheriffs of particular counties instructing them to choose a stated number of
masons and to send them to a particular building operation where they were
needed. This method can be traced in use in connection with the erection of
Welsh castles in the thirteenth century and, on a much larger scale, with
works at Windsor Castle in the fourteenth. (ii) The second method was to issue
a commission to the master mason, or to the clerk of the works, or to some
other official, at some particular building operation, authorising him to take
masons either wherever they could be found, or in certain specified areas.
judge by the surviving records, this method appears to have been commoner than
the first, and the great majority of the 356 orders and commissions of
impressment which we have traced between 1344 and 1459 are of this character.
The third method was to place the responsibility on the London Masons'
Company. Orders and commissions of impressment generally aimed at securing
masons for some royal castle or other royal work where building was in
progress. Occasionally, masons were taken to work in quarries.
some cases, the royal prerogative of impressment was exercised in favour of
some ecclesiastical foundation in which the Crown was interested, such as
Westminster Abbey or York Minster, or of other foundations for which the King
was responsible, such as Eton College, King's College, Cambridge, and Trinity
other cases local authorities were granted powers of impressment for various
purposes such as repairing the walls of Oxford and Newcastle‑upon 34 THE
MEDIEVAL BUILDING INDUSTRY Tyne, building Rochester Bridge and erecting
Norwich Guildhall. Very occasionally similar concessions can be traced in
favour of great lords such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Earl of
Rutland in 1396.1 The practice of impressment is also found in Scotland in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but apparently the system operated on a
very much smaller scale than in England, unless it be that evidence of it is
lost.2 On the other hand, numerous Scottish building accounts show that
messengers or overseers were paid their expenses "seeking masons".
some cases the expenses of masons coming from outside were repaid and in other
cases their costs returning home in the autumn at the end of the building
masons for a building job were secured from a distance, some would appear to
have been master craftsmen or `little masters', accompanied by their servants
little group's of masons may have moved from one job to another. The extent to
which this can have happened must have depended, to some extent at least, upon
the organisation of masons in the Middle Ages, a subject discussed in the next
These two paragraphs are based on our paper, "The Impressment of Masons in the
Middle Ages", Ec. H. R., November 1937 2 S.M., 49‑50.
Ibid., 47 35 CHAPTER III THE ORGANISATION OF MASONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES MASONIC
ORGANISATION IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND NO very definite evidence pointing to
early organisation among masons in England and Scotland can be traced.
contrary, the great diversity of wage‑rates which characterised the industry
before the Black Death in 1349 suggests individual bargains, and consequently
the absence of much, if any, strong organisation. At Caernarvon Castle in 1304
there were 53 masons on the pay roll in receipt of 17 different rates of pay;
in October I3I6 there were 24 masons in receipt Of 12 different rates of pay.
Vale Royal Abbey and at Windsor Castle the diversity was nearly as great: at
the former in the summer of I28o, 51 masons were employed at 13 different
rates; at the latter in 1344, 76 masons were employed at 13 different rates.,
Nevertheless, we are satisfied that some organisation among masons existed
before the middle of the fourteenth century, and we discuss in connection with
each type of organisation examined below (a) the earliest date at which we
have been able to trace its definite existence, and (b) the possibility, or
even the probability, that it existed at an earlier date.
Lodges.‑The word `lodge' (logia, `lodge', `loygge', 'luge', 'ludge') appears
to have been used in England and Scotland in three different senses, which
perhaps represent three stages of development.
both countries it was used to designate a masons' workshop, such as was
usually erected in connection with all building operations of any size.
first mention of a lodge in England so far traced occurs in the Vale Royal
Abbey building account of 1278, which shows that 45s. , M.M., Ioq; Hope,
Windsor Castle, i, 1' 4.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES were paid in wages to carpenters for making
lodges (logias) and dwelling houses (mansiones) for the masons and other
workmen. Information is available also about the erection of masons' lodges or
workshops at Catterick Bridge in 1421, Kirby Muxloe Castle in 1481 and Dunkeld
Bridge in 1513.
Instances of expenditure on repairs to lodges occur at Beaumaris Castle in
1330, at Westminster Abbey in 1413, and at Holyrood‑house in 1529‑3o and
can, however, be no doubt that lodges existed much earlier than 1278, for
without them it is difficult to see how a church, abbey or castle of any size
or pretension to ornament could have been erected.
lodge was, in fact, a workshop in which masons cut and dressed stone, but
probably from a fairly early date it also served as a place where they could
eat, drink and rest during the breaks permitted in the very long medieval
was certainly the case in the lodge at York Minster as '
as 1370, and in the lodge at St. Giles, Edinburgh, in 1491 2
far as the lodge served as a kind of refectory and club, it is likely that
questions affecting the masons' trade were discussed and grievances ventilated
within its walls.
In both countries the word `lodge' was sometimes used to denote the group of
masons working together on some particular building operation of a more or
less permanent character. Thus we have the lodge at York Minster whose by‑laws
or ordinances of 1352, 1370 and 1408‑9 (imposed in each case by the Dean and
Chapter) have survived.3 The "masons of the lodge" (lathami de la loygge) at
Canterbury Cathedral in 1429 and subsequent years doubtless formed a
recognised group, though unfortunately no regulations governing such group
have been discovered.'
masons of the lodge at the Church of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen, appear to have
been to some extent organised as early as 1483. At St. Giles, Edinburgh, a
statute was made by the municipal authorities in 1 M.M., 56; S.M., 6o.
Raine, 181; S.M., 61. 3 Raine, 171, 181, 198.
Register of the Prior of Christchurch, Canterbury, Bodl. Lib. Tanner MS., 165,
fos. 132, 133, 143, 154, 157 37 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY 1491 laying down
the conditions of employment of the master mason, his colleagues and servants.
In a contract of 1537, in which the municipal authorities appointed George
Boiss mason for life to the Church of Our Lady, Dundee, reference is made to
"the auld use and consuetude of Our Lady Luge of Dundee", and there can be
little doubt that these, as well as other conditions of the contract, were but
written statements of old‑established customs governing the masons at that
well be that at York Minster, Canterbury Cathedral, St. Nicholas, Aberdeen,
and St. Giles, Edinburgh, the masons' lodges or organisations were older than
the respective dates13S2, 1429, 1481 and 1491‑when record evidence of their
existence can first be traced.
In Scotland the word `lodge' was also used to describe an organised body of
masons associated with a particular town or district. The word appears to be
used in this sense in the Schaw Statutes of 1598 and 1599 In the latter, it is
provided "that Edinburgh shall be in all time coming as of before the first
and principal ludge in Scotland and that Kilwinning be the second as before".
From the St. Clair Charters of 16o1 and 1628 we know that there were similar
`territorial lodges' in St. Andrews, Haddington, Aitchison's Haven,
Dunfermline, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and Ayr.
main functions of this type of lodge appear to have been to discharge certain
official or semi‑official duties of a trade character, such as regulating the
terms of apprenticeship, keeping records of the reception and entry of
apprentices and the admission of fellow crafts, and assigning `marks' to
members of the lodge.
rules concerned a master more particularly, such as not taking work over
another master's head, not employing the apprentice or journeyman of another
mason, and not employing cowans or causing his servants to work with them. The
lodge also concerned itself with the settlement of disputes between masters
and their servants. In addition, it collected funds, by way both of fees and
fines, for pious uses and for the relief of distress among members, and
indulged in a certain amount of feasting 1 S.M., 61‑2.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES at the expense of candidates. Finally, it
conferred the benefit of the Mason Word on qualified members., Since the Schaw
Statutes of 1599 refer to the status of the lodges of Edinburgh and Kilwinning
as of before, we may conclude that `territorial lodges' were certainly older
than 1599, but how much older there is no definite evidence to show. As these
lodges appear to have derived their authority from the Warden General and
Principal Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland, they were perhaps not older
than that royal office. Though the best‑known holders of the office were
doubtless William Schaw in the 159os and Sir Anthony Alexander (of Falkland
Statutes fame) in the 1630s, the office certainly existed at an earlier date;
the first appointment that we have been able to trace was that of Sir James
Hammyltoun in 1539. It is possible, therefore, that the `territorial lodge'
existed as early as the middle of the sixteenth century.' 2.
Incorporations.‑These bodies existed in certain Scottish burghs for ruling and
governing particular crafts, and furthering divine service among their
members. They were established by what are known as seals of cause, which, in
some cases at least, were rules and statutes made by the craftsmen and
approved by the municipality. Where the masons belonged to an incorporation or
privileged company under seal of cause, they were generally associated with
the wrights. The principal incorporations of masons were those at Edinburgh,
where masons and wrights obtained a seal of cause‑from the municipality in
1475; at Aberdeen, where a seal of cause was granted by the burgh to the
coopers, wrights and masons in 1527 and ratified in 1541; and at Glasgow,
where the organisation dated from 1551, the wrights being separated from the
masons in i 6oQ. Other incorporations, mostly of somewhat later date, which
included masons, were established at Canongate, Lanark, Ayr, Perth, Dundee and
Dumfries.3 Among the trade functions discharged by incorporations , Ibid.,
Ibid., 54, 57ς 3 This and the following paragraphs are based on Ibid., 51‑2,
56, 64‑8. 39 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY of masons were some very similar to
those discharged by `territorial lodges', e.g., the control of apprentices and
servants, and the regulation of masters. In addition, the incorporations were
also responsible for conducting periodic searches to see that the work done
was "sufficient and good", or "loyally and truly done to all builders". The
officers of the incorporations were also to examine, by an essay of craft, any
person wishing to work at a trade, in order to ascertain if he was qualified.
Further, in some cases at least, it was provided that no craftsman was to be
allowed to work on his own account until he had been admitted a burgess and
an incorporation, like a craft gild, afforded some protection to the public,
by seeing that work was properly done and that the craftsmen were properly
other hand, to some extent at least, it protected the master tradesmen from
the competition of masters who were not free of the particular burgh. We say
"to some extent" advisedly, because by a Scottish Act of Parliament of 154o
anyone with buildings to erect was authorised to employ good craftsmen,
freemen or others, because of the extortionate charges of craftsmen,
especially in the burghs. There is little or no evidence to show how far the
act, which was confirmed in 1607, was effective.
Further, by the Falkland Statutes of 1636, members of a privileged company,
i.e., incorporation, and their servants might reside and work in any other
company's bounds on payment of certain fees.
available evidence relating to Edinburgh and Glasgow in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries suggests that non‑freemen did work in those burghs from
time to time, but that the mason burgesses endeavoured to restrict, if not to
prevent, the infringement of their monopoly of trade.
Information concerning the relationship between an incorporation of masons and
a `territorial lodge' of masons in the same burgh is not sufficient to permit
of generalisations. At Edinburgh, the Incorporation seems to have left the
bulk of the business affecting masons to the Lodge, the government of which
appears to have been invested in the master masons who were members of the
Incorporation. In the seventeenth century, the deacon, or chief officer of 40
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES the masons in the Incorporation, appears
largely to have directed the Lodge, so that no clash between Incorporation and
Lodge was very likely to occur. At Glasgow, on the other hand, the
Incorporation appears to have kept a firmer hand over the Lodge and to have
dealt with various matters which at Edinburgh were managed by the Lodge.
England, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, trade companies or
fellowships were set up and incorporated in various places., They appear to
have been organisations forced upon the various trades from above, schemes to
facilitate municipal government at a time when Tudor monarchs were encouraging
oligarchies and when, by the Statute of Apprentices of 1563, an attempt was
being made to provide a national control of industry.
new organisations appear to have been established for political rather than
for industrial purposes.
most, if not all, of these cases the masons were grouped in a company or
fellowship with a variety of more or less associated trades.
in the few cases of masons' companies pure and simple, able to trace their
descent from former masons' craft gilds, these sixteenth‑ and
seventeenth‑century trade companies in England appear to have little or no
interest for students of Masonic history. The problem of masons' craft gilds
is discussed in the next section.
Craft Gilds.‑The expression `craft gild' was the invention of
nineteenth‑century economic historians to distinguish a particular type of
medieval municipal organisation, concerned with the industrial regulation of a
particular trade or craft, from another medieval municipal organisation, the
merchant gild, concerned with the trade of a whole town. In medieval documents
the organisation in question is described as a fellowship or mystery, M.E.
mistere = trade or craft, derived from O.F. mestier [Mod. F. metier]. The term
has consequently nothing to do with secrets.
this volume we use the expression `craft gild' in its technical sense.
since the view came to prevail that speculative masonry is historically linked
with the operative masonry of the Middle Ages, Masonic writers have devoted
considerable , This paragraph is based on M.M., 232‑3. 41 THE GENESIS OF
FREEMASONRY space to the subject of masons' craft gilds.
statements, however, are mostly based on false analogy with what happened in
other trades, and not on first‑hand examination of the facts, which strongly
suggest that there were few, if any, masons' craft gilds.
I is of opinion that the London Masons' Fellowship or Company was established
in the early thirteenth century, at a time when London Bridge was being built,
but produces no evidence whatsoever in support of his opinion.
Gilbert Daynes,2 referring to the London Regulations for the Trade of Masons,
1356, states that "prior to this date there must have been an organized gild
of masons in London", for which statement, however, he too produces no
evidence, contenting himself with a reference to Conder.
Actually, not only is evidence lacking to prove that a masons' craft gild
existed in London in the thirteenth or early fourteenth century, but, on the
contrary, there is definite evidence to suggest that such a craft gild did not
names of those elected and sworn in 1328 in divers mysteries of London, for
the government and instruction of the same, have survived,3 but no masons are
1351, on the only occasion before 1376 when the Common Council was elected
from the mysteries, instead of from the wards, the masons were unrepresented 4
1356, the preamble to the Regulations for the Trade of Masons states that,
unlike other trades, the masons had not been regulated in due manner by the
government of the folks of the trade, which implies that there was no craft
gild amongst London masons at that date. The first explicit reference to a
permanent organisation of masons in London does not occur until 1376, when
four masons were elected to the Common Council to represent the mystery,5 and
the probability is that the gild was established at some date between 1356 and
s assumes that masons' craft gilds existed in other towns because in such
places as Coventry, Chester, York and Newcastle masons participated in the
performance of 1 Hole Craft, 56.
r4.Q.C., xxxviii, 87 3 Cal. Letter‑Book E., 278.
Letter‑Book F., 237' Cal. Letter‑Book H., 43 6 Freemasonry before the
Existence of Grand Lodges, 26.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES miracle plays. This doubtless points to some
kind of organisation, but in our opinion not necessarily to a craft gild. The
gild regulations of more than forty trades are preserved in the York
Memorandum Book,' but there are no t
regulations for the masons, nor are there any in the published records of
Chester, the evidence appears to consist of late sixteenth‑ or early
seventeenth‑century transcripts of the actual plays.3
Newcastle the Masons' Company was incorporated in 1581 with certain craft
powers and with certain `social' duties, including the presentation of a
Corpus Christi play.
is nothing to indicate an earlier organisation of the masons, whereas the
wallers, bricklayers and daubers claimed a charter granted in the reign of
Henry VI, and the slaters an `ordinary' dating from 1451.4 In no town in
England or Scotland, other than Londony have masons' craft ordinances been
traced before 1450, or, '
the exception of the Edinburgh seal of cause referred to on page 39 above,
before i Soo, though indirect evidence points to some organisation at Norwich,
where wardens of the masons were elected in 144o, and where there are
references in 1469 to irregularities practised by the masons, and in 1491 to
failure to swear masters to search for defects. Norwich masons' ordinances of
i 512, 1572 and 1577 have survived.b
cannot see any reason why masons' ordinances should have been lost, whilst
others have been preserved, and we feel compelled to conclude that local gilds
of masons were not strongly developed in medieval boroughs, a conclusion which
an examination of the ‑conditions ' Surtees Society, Vols. r2o and 1252
Coventry Leet Book (E.E.T.S.).
Conder ("The Miracle Play", Y.Q.C., xiv, 66) states that the date of the
undiscovered original MS. has been placed at the end of the fourteenth
century; Vibert (loc. cit.) plumps for 1327 as the date when masons
participated in the Chester miracle plays; according to R. H. Morris, Chester
in the Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns, 3o6, 317, the earliest reference to the
masons' participation in the Corpus Christi pageants appears to be 153 r.
Brand, History of Newcastle, ii, 346, 3 50, 3 51, 3 5 5 s J. C. Tingey, "Notes
upon the Craft Gilds of Norwich with particular reference to the Masons",
I.Q.C., xv, 197‑204; Walter Rye, "Extracts from the Records of the Corporation
of Norwich", f4.Q.C., xv, 205‑12 43 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY prevailing in
the stone‑building industry would lead one to expect. Masons were doubtless
organised, but on a looser and less localised basis than most contemporary
trades. Before discussing this looser type of organisation, however, this
section on craft gilds may best be concluded by a brief review of the masons'
regulations drawn up in London, the one municipality in England where a
masons' craft gild is definitely known to have existed.
London Masons' Regulations of 13561 closely resemble those approved by the
municipality for other trades at that period; they require a seven‑years'
apprenticeship; they prohibit one mason from taking the apprentice or
journeyman of another before the expiry of his term; they declare that any man
capable of it may both hew stones and lay them; and they stipulate for
sureties if a mason should take a contract. As there was no masons' gild at
that time, they naturally provide no machinery for the administration of a
regulations must be regarded as a statement of what was desirable, rather than
as a statement of actual practice, for, as indicated on page 3o above,
apprenticeship among masons was almost unknown before the fifteenth century,
and even during that century most masons appear to have learnt their trade
without serving a formal apprenticeship. Ordinances made in 1481 both imply
that the Gild or Fellowship had been badly administered, and pro vide
Wardens are to be elected every two years, and outgoing wardens are to present
accounts to their successors within one month, under heavy penalties for
Admissions are not to occur without examination by the wardens and four or six
honest persons of the craft. Members of the Fellowship are prohibited from
enticing the workmen of another.
Finally, the powers of the Fellowship are extended to include the right of
search, oversight and correction of all manner of work pertaining to the
science of masons within the city and suburbs.
the Ordinances of 1481 and the later ones of 1521, it is clear that we have in
the London Masons' Company a medieval craft gild with an oligarchy formed or
forming 1 This and the following paragraphs are based on our paper, "The
London Masons' Company", Ec. Hitt., Ftbruary 1939 44 ORGANISATION IN THE
MIDDLE AGES within it, as happened in other places and other trades. Persons
made free of the Fellowship were, according to the 1481 ordinances, "once in
every three years to be clad in one clothing [i.e., livery] convenient to
their powers and degrees" and to wear it when attending mass every year on the
Feast of the Quatuor Coronati (November 8). Every two years, also, they were
to go to mass together on the octave of Holy Trinity and thereafter to "keep
their dinner or honest recreation ...
have their wives with them if they will", each paying i 2d. for his own dinner
and 8d. for that of his wife.
shilling would then represent a quarter of a mason's weekly wage, and, bearing
in mind the livery and the quarterages payable by members, we may suppose that
the Fellowship was tending to become too expensive for the journeyman mason to
join. The 1521 ordinances show a marked tendency towards the establishment of
a local monopoly.
Foreigns, or non‑freemen, are neither to set up for themselves nor to be
employed at all while a sufficient number of freemen is available.
Restrictions are placed upon apprenticeship; no ordinary member is to have
more than one apprentice, a liveryman only two, and men who have twice been
wardens three at most.
statute of 1548 made illegal the limitation upon foreigns, but in the
following year the section was repealed at the instance of the London livery
companies, and the Masons' Company kept on trying to set up a monopoly until
the Great Fire of 1666, and even later.
problem relating to the masons' trade on which the various municipal
ordinances and the records of the London Company might be expected to throw
light is the subject of masons' marks. Thousands of marks of one kind or
another have been found on the stones of medieval buildings, and it appears to
be generally accepted that the main purpose was to distinguish the handiwork
of one man from that of another.
similar need existed in many trades, and gild regulations not infrequently
directed masters to set marks on their work, and prohibited the counterfeiting
helmet makers, blacksmiths, bladesmiths and braziers of London and the cutlers
of Hallamshire may be cited as instances of crafts for which regulations
concerning 45 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY marks existed. In London, no
provision regulating the use of marks has been traced in the Masons'
Ordinances, nor has any book survived in the archives of the Company recording
the marks assigned to members, such as the Masons' Mark Book at Aberdeen which
dates from 1670. The only London evidence which has survived is quite
unhelpful, viz., a score of marks, either in lieu of, or appended to,
signatures in the seventeenth‑century books of the Company, more particularly
in the Accounts.
Assemblies or Congregations.‑The uniformity of conditions prevailing at
different building operations in various parts of the country, as shown by
surviving building accounts, points not only to some kind of organisation, but
to an organisation or organisations covering a relatively wide area, in
contra‑distinction to craft gilds, the jurisdiction of which was limited in
each case to the area of a particular municipality.
nature of this organisation is somewhat a matter for conjecture.
this connection we are disposed to rule out the congregations and
confederacies of masons declared illegal by Statutes of 136o and 1425, on the
ground that they, like the similar associations of carpenters and cordwainers,
were associations which aimed solely at securing higher wages, in violation of
the Statutes of Labourers.
were clearly associations of wage earners.
such official or semi‑official organisations of masons as existed, we should
expect masters to predominate.
existence of this type of organisation is supported by two references in the
Fotheringhay Church Building Contract of 1434,1 according to which the mason
contractor was required to `latlay' the groundwork 2 "by oversight of masters
of the same craft", and the fitness of the setters employed, in case of doubt,
was to be determined "by oversight of master masons of the country".
probability that masons had some kind of organisation dealing with the
government of their craft 3 is strengthened by the fact that the minstrels,
who, to a considerable 1 M.M., 245‑8 2 See our Note on "Latlaying the
Groundwork", Misc. Lat., xxii. 29‑313 These paragraphs are based on our MM.,
178 seg., and our "Evolution of Masonic Organisation", Z.Q.G., xlv, 286.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES extent, like the masons, had to wander about
the country in search of work, were subject to annual courts enjoying wide
territorial jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over minstrels and artisans in the
Earldom of Chester is said to have been conferred by Ranulph, the last earl,
on his constable, de Lacy, who transferred the governance of minstrels to his
steward, Dutton, whose family had a recognised title thereto as late as 1597.
The annual gathering of the minstrels being held at the time of the midsummer
fair, a court was kept on that occasion by the heir of Dutton, at which laws
and orders were made for the better government of the minstrels.
similar jurisdiction is believed to have been acquired by John of Gaunt, in
virtue of which he established in 13 81 a court at Tutbury in Staffordshire
which was held annually on 16 August to enact laws for minstrels within five
neighbouring counties and to determine controversies affecting them.
not impossible, therefore, that the masons had a somewhat similar system of
government. That, in any case, is what the Regius and Cooke MSS. of circa 1400
indicate. The Cooke MS. (11. 701 seq.) refers to annual or triennial
provincial or county congregations of masters and fellows, said to have been
first established by Athelstan, which were to govern the craft (11. 904 seq.)
and whose presiding master, if need be, was to be assisted by the sheriff of
the county, or the mayor of the city, or the alderman of the town where the
assembly was held.
Regius MS. (Il. 75 seq. and 407 seq.) contemplates a somewhat similar assembly
or congregation, also said to have been first established by Athelstan, but
with this difference, that it was to be attended not only by masters and
fellows, but by great lords, knights and squires, the sheriff of the county,
and also the mayor of the city, and also the aldermen of the town where it was
existence of an assembly of some kind may be admitted without accepting the
account of its origin given in the Regius and Cooke MSS., there being very
little historical probability that it dated from Athelstan's time. The part
attributed to Athelstan in Masonic development as pictured in the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry, is discussed in Chapter IV and need not be enlarged
Regarding the 47 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY constitution of the assembly,we
think it not impossible that knights and esquires, for example, might attend
as representatives of the authorities, but most unlikely that the sheriff of
the county and also the mayor of the city should have been present as stated
in the Regius MS. The statement of the Cooke MS. that the sheriff of the
county or the mayor of the city attended, is much more nearly what we should
expect, in view of the immunity from the sheriff's jurisdiction which it was
the object of medieval towns to obtain and preserve.
opinion, the sheriff would ordinarily be present at the assembly only if it
were held outside the limit of municipal jurisdiction, though both sheriff and
mayor might be present if the assembly were held in one of the few
municipalities which had sheriffs of their own. On this matter we incline to
follow the account in the Cooke MS. rather than the more fanciful account in
the Regius MS.
object of the presence of such dignitaries as attended was no doubt, as stated
in the Cooke MS. (11. 9 i o‑i 1), to help the master of the congregation
against `rebels', or, in other words, to assist in the enforcement of
discipline. The functions of the assembly, according to the Cooke MS. (11. 713
seq.) were to examine the masters' knowledge of the Articles and so ascertain
that they were qualified to do satisfactory work for employers; according to
the Regius MS. (11. 415 seq.) they were to make ordinances for the craft. The
statements of the Regius and Cooke MSS. concerning the functions of the
assembly are probably not so different as they appear at first sight.
Middle Ages `law' and `custom' were closely related, and laws were often
declarations or statements of accepted custom. As customs gradually changed,
owing to the appearance of new conditions, new declarations or statements of
custom might be called for. The business of the assembly would thus seem to
have been to interpret and enforce the customs of the industry.
Masons' Customs.‑On page 38 mention was made of "the auld use and consuetude
of Our Lady Luge of Dundee". An almost contemporary reference to masons'
customs in England occurs in the 1539 building account of Sandgate Castle,
which records that a jurat of Folkestone 48 ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES
was paid his expenses while riding to communicate with the master controller
"concerning the use and custom of freemasons and hardhewers".1
is also evidence of local customs in an earlier period.
at Vale Royal Abbey in 12'78 certain masons were paid for their tools,
"because it is the custom that their tools, if they bring any, shall be
bought"; ti the accounts for work done at Nottingham Castle in 1348 explain
that one feast day in the week was not counted towards wages, ex antiqua
consuetudine; 3 London Bridge masons in 14o6 were provided with drink on
Shrove Tuesday prout mos est antiquus.4 If it is wellnigh certain that the
masons' craft, like that of the lead‑miners and tin‑miners, who also carried
on their occupations to a large extent outside the towns, was regulated by
`customs', i.e., old‑established but by no means unchanging usages and
practices, the content and form of those customs is a different problem. In
the case of the miners the `customs' have survived; s unfortunately of "the
use and custom of freemasons and hardhewers" no corresp,onding details have
been traced. We are of opinion, however, that the Articles and Points of the
Regius and Cooke MSS., which are a body of regulations with regard to masters,
craftsmen, apprentices, wages and other matters, may be regarded as a
statement of the masons' customs as they existed about the year 1400.
accept the Cooke MS. statement that the charges and manners were written in
the so‑called Book of Charges, then the presumption is that the customs had
been set down in writing before the date of the Regius and Cooke MSS.
manuscript version of the customs probably dated from the third or fourth
quarter of the fourteenth century.
reference in the first Article to the rate of wages being "after the dearth of
corn and victual in the country", suggests a date after the Black Death (1349)
when prices rose sharply and scarcity of 1 B.M. Harl. MS. 1647, fo. 109 2
P.R.O. Exch. K.R. 485/22.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R. 544/354 London Bridge accounts, quoted in our L.B., 24 n.
those of the lead‑miners, see The Liberty and Customes of the Miners (1645),
1‑3; for those of the Cornish tin‑miners, see The Black Prince's Register,
iii, 71‑3 49 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY labour caused wage questions to become
acute, although it was not until 1389 that statutory recognition of the actual
facts was accorded and justices were enabled to fix wages of masons,
carpenters, etc., "according to the dearness of victuals".' The reference to a
seven years' apprenticeship also suggests a date not earlier than the second
half of the fourteenth century, apprenticeship being a relatively late
development amongst masons, as indicated on page 30 above.
legendary section of the Regius and Cooke MSS. the charges or customs are
ascribed to the time of Athelstan; if they do go back to the tenth century,
which is exceedingly doubtful, we can be perfectly sure that in their original
form they were very different from the form they take in the Articles and
Points of the Regius and Cooke MSS.2 It is in the highest degree improbable
that there could have been any mention of apprenticeship in any tenth‑,
eleventh‑, twelfth‑ or thirteenth‑century masons' customs, or any reference to
the fixing of wages according to the cost of victuals.
thirteenth century was a period of great building activity, the customs may
well have existed then, and it is quite possible that they date from the late
eleventh or early twelfth century.
is the more likely, because a substantial period probably elapsed before the
customs were set down in writing, as they were statements of usages and
practices and not laws or orders enacted at some particular date and
immediately recorded in writing. It may be, therefore, that the document or
"book of charges" on which the author of the Cooke MS. based his Articles and
Points was the oldest written version of the customs, and we are rather
disposed to think this was so.
appears to be the case, the Articles and Points represent practices which were
national in their application, we doubt if they could have been formulated
before the third quarter of the fourteenth century. In their early stages it
is probable that masons' customs, like miners' customs and manorial customs,
were local in character, and that they differed from 1 13 Richard II, c. 8.
a possible earlier form, also embodied in the "Book of Charges", see pp. 77‑8
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES district to district.
only Masonic practices for which information is available before the middle of
the fourteenth century, namely, the questions of payment for tools and payment
for holidays, show very considerable diversity.
Uniformity of customs would tend to be brought about partly by the influence
of the King's Master Masons, and the Office of Works established in 1256, but
principally by mobility amongst masons, which had doubtless existed to some
extent from the earliest times. The use of the system of impressment in
connection with the erection of Welsh castles at the end of the thirteenth
century could hardly fail to lead to some interchange of ideas and practices.
The influence exerted, however, was probably slight compared with that
exercised by the greatly increased use of impressment from 1344 onwards, and
in particular by its wholesale adoption in 1360‑3, when masons from almost
every county in England were assembled in such large numbers at Windsor Castle
that the continuator of the Polychronicon could write that William Wykeham had
gathered at Windsor almost all the masons and carpenters in England. I
the chronicler's statement was doubtless an exaggeration, the vast gathering
of masons at Windsor in 1360‑3 must have marked an epoch in Masonic history
and probably contributed more than any other single event to the unification
and consolidation of the masons' customs, and very possibly led to their first
being set down in writing.2 In connection with masons' customs, or with the
MS. Constitutions of Masonry, in whose Articles and Points, or Charges General
and Singular, they are embodied, there is a common misconception among Masonic
students, namely, that the customs were the property of a distinct category of
`church' or `cathedral' masons.
is really a double misconception.
The customs belonged to the general body of masons.
from "the auld use and consuetude of Our Lady Luge of Dundee", the only 1 See
our "Impressment of Masons for Windsor Castle, r 36o‑63", Ec. Hist., February
1937 2 This section is based on our M.M., 169 seq., and our "Evolution of
Masonic Organisation", d.Q.C., xlv.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY independent evidence of customs, under that name, so
far discovered occurs in documents relating to Crown or municipal building
operations (Vale Royal Abbey in 12']8, Nottingham Castle in 1348, London
Bridge in 14o6, and Sandgate Castle in 1539). Similarly, the only independent
evidence of the ownership, or the use, of versions of the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry by operative masons relates to the lodges of Stirling, Melrose,
Kilwinning, Aberdeen, Dumfries, Aitchison's Haven, Alnwick and Swalwell, none
of which would appear to have had church associations. (ii) We know of no
record to suggest, let alone prove, that in the Middle Ages there existed two
special kinds of mason, viz., `church', or `cathedral', or `mobile' masons on
the one hand, and `town', or `gild', or `local' masons on the other.
study of building accounts and of impressment orders makes it clear that the
same masons, whether master masons or ordinary hewers or layers, were often
employed on different kinds of building erected in stone, for castles,
cathedrals, churches, colleges and bridges, and that masons normally resident
in towns were just as likely to travel, either voluntarily or compulsorily, in
order to take part in some new work, as masons normally resident in the
MASONIC ORGANISATION ON THE CONTINENT Although we are definitely of opinion
that freemasonry had its genesis in Britain, we give a brief account of early
Masonic Organisation on the Continent, first, because it may conceivably have
had some influence upon English and Scottish developments, and second, because
it may be that the nature of the organisations among English and Scottish
operative masons can be better understood, if compared with the corresponding
organisations on the Continent.
Gilds.‑In general it would appear that the continental associations of masons
during the Middle Ages and early modern times fall into two categories: (a)
local gilds, similar in many ways to the municipal gilds of this country, and
(b) associations on a wider territorial basis, having some similarity to the
organisation described in the Cooke S2 ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES and
instance of the former kind we may cite the maestri di pietra e legname in
thirteenth‑century Florence. It will be noted that the masons would not appear
to have been sufficient in number or wealth to constitute a gild of the first
importance. Below the joint gild (of masons and wrights as it would be called
in this country) there were nine minor gilds; on a level with it were four
other gilds of the middle grade; and above it were seven major gilds.' In a
city so eminent for its architecture, a gild so closely connected with
building might have been expected to take a higher rank; but the policy of the
city authorities was, at any rate at times, unfavourable to corporate
exclusiveness in the building trades. Not only were prices of materials
subject to control, but, in the interests both of private builders and the
city's undertakings, `foreign' craftsmen were, by an early fourteenth‑century
regulation, allowed to work within its boundaries without belonging to the
gild or paying to it.a The masons and wrights, therefore, must have known
difficulties similar to those which beset the London Masons' Company in the
seventeenth century.$ It may be noted that in medieval Paris, also, masons
could not have been in a position to exercise a monopoly, since any skilled
person was free to follow the mason's craft in the city.
trade was nevertheless to some extent organised, having customs and
regulations of its own, and the craftsmen, of whom there were 123 in 1300,
were associated in a fraternity whose patron was St. Blaise. Masons,
plasterers, stone‑cutters and makers of mortar were subject to the
jurisdiction of the King's Master Mason.4 How far the structure of the
Florentine gild resembled that of others, such as the Gild of the Quatuor
Coronati in Antwerp, we do not know. The Antwerp gild or incorporation
embraced all the building trades‑masons, stone‑cutters, paviors and tilers; it
is mentioned in the ' A. Doren, Die Florentiner Zunftwesen, σ1, 49 2 Doren,
quotes a similar regulation made in Cologne in 1335 a L.M., 1o seQ.
Franklin, Dictionnaire Historique des Yrts etc. (igo6).
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY city records as early as 1423, and its ordinances of
1458 have survived.,
are we so far very well informed about the existence of gilds in other cities.
however, not very likely that gilds in continental towns had any great or
direct effect on those in England and Scotland.
Steinmetzen.‑A hundred years ago it was believed that the organisation of
stonemasons in Germany originated in the cloister and especially in the
Benedictine house of Hirschau, in the Black Forest, where the famous Abbot
William (1o69‑91) trained lay brethren to serve as artificers not only for the
building and decoration of his own abbey but also for many others. These men
and their followers were, it is said, subject to rules, acquired secrets and
were formed into brotherhoods which were given privileges in papal bulls and
at the Vatican in 1773,3 however, failed to discover any such bulls and none,
apparently, have come to light since. Moreover the main authority for the
wonderful work of Abbot William in technical education appears to be the
Hirschau Chronicle of John Trithemius (1462‑1518), a writer by no means
restrained in his fancy.
is, on the whole, little reason to believe that the organisation of the
Steinmetzen was monastic in its origin.
of course true that the cathedrals of Strasburg, Regensburg, Vienna and
Cologne could not have been built or maintained without lodges (Bauhutten) of
masons, and that each of these lodges, like those of York and Canterbury,
probably had its rules. It is also not improbable that the rules of the
different lodges had something in common, and that the common element may well
have become widespread through masons travelling from place to place.
earliest known text of them, and the first document relating to the
organisation of the Steinmetzen, 1 See Goblet d'Alviella, "The Quatuor
Coronati in Belgium", .4.Q.C., xiii, where the ordinances of 1458 are printed
in translation; and J. Wegg, llntwerp 1477‑1559, 87, 93, 100, 102, 116, 249.
Heideloff, Die Bauhitte des Mittelalterr in Deutschland (Nurnberg, 1844) 3 F.
Janner, Die Bauhutten de.c deutschen Mittelalterr (Leipsig, 1876). See also T.
Pownall in.4rchaeologia, 1789, p. 123 54 ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES
certainly implies that a body of custom (gutte Gewohnheit and alt herkommen)
had grown up, and states that certain masters and fellows, on behalf of the
craft in German lands generally, had met in Regensburg in 1459 to renew the
ancient customs and to unite amicably in a brotherhood to maintain them.' That
a meeting of some kind did take place in the year and place named is evident
from an independent entry in the cathedral accounts recording a gift of wine
to the visiting master stonemasons, 2 but the entry does not make clear for
what purpose they had gathered together; neither does it refer to fellows,
who, according to the text of the ordinances, attended the legislating
assembly. A document of 1462,$ however, refers to meetings at Regensburg and
Strasburg, and records the acceptance, by masters assembled at Torgau from
Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Hildesheim and other places, of the book of ordinances
drawn up at the earlier meetings. It may, further, be noted that the
regulations of the stonemasons were confirmed by imperial authority in 1498 4
and 1563.6 To discuss these ordinances in detail would be beyond our present
scope, and we shall take space only to suggest that they arose naturally from
the condition of the craft in the German lands and to state that we know of no
evidence to show any direct connection between them and the form of the Old
Charges. There are many resemblances between the two sets of rules; those of
the Steinmetzen require members to be pious, charitable, and careful of the
honour of the craft, and to avoid theft and adultery; they take for granted
the three medieval grades of apprentice, journeyman or fellow, and master;
they lay stress on apprenticeship (the ordinary term being five years); they
prohibit the supersession of one master by another without cause; they demand
the maintenance of work by the day wherever ' Gould, i, 117‑ 18; the
ordinances renewed and revised at Regensburg in 1459 are printed in
translation in Kenning'r Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, 529 ref.
Janner, op. cit., 5 5.
German text in ibid., 294 ref.
English translation in Gould, i, 134 ref.
Janner, op. Cit., 266 ref.
Ibid., 27z .ref.; Gould, i, 119 ref.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY possible. In short they show, as the Regius and Cooke
MSS. do, a concern to harmonise the interests of the `lord', or person for
whom building work is done, of the master mason (whether salaried or
undertaking a contract), of the warden who is his second‑in‑command, and of
the mass of wage‑earning fellows.
other hand, there are marked differences.
ordinances of the Steinmetzen, for example, are clear as to the monetary
contribution required from members and as to masons' marks, points on which
the Regius and Cooke MSS. are silent.
further be noted that, according to the 1563 version of the ordinances, the
Steinmetzen had a form of greeting and, perhaps, a grip,' which apprentices
were forbidden to reveal.
Finally, the German documents show that the Steinmetzen were organised on a
regional basis, with a chief seat of jurisdiction in each district.
such divisions are indicated in the Regius and Cooke MSS., possibly because
the smaller extent of England, and its political unity, made them less
necessary than they were in the vast and‑in practice‑disunited Holy Roman
Compagnonnages.‑In France, though there were cathedrals and important churches
in plenty, no organisation on exactly the same lines as the Steinmetzen is
known to have arisen. Nevertheless France produced a form of association
which, in some respects, was more akin to freemasonry than either the gilds of
Florence and Antwerp or the Steinmetzen of Strasburg, namely, the bodies
called compagnonnages. These bodies are of uncertain antiquity and obscure
origin. The earliest documentary proof of their existence does not go further
back than the early sixteenth century, and the earlier records relating to
them throw comparatively little light on their exact character; but their
judicious historian, Martin Saint‑Leon, considered, and with probability, that
they existed long before i 5oo. He also thought it likely, though proof, as he
frankly admitted, was absent, that they first developed in the twelfth or the
thirteenth century among 1 Janner, op. Cit., 231, 289, equates the Schenk
(possibly `gift') of the text with Handschenk (`grip').
also Gould, i, 128, 1σ7.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES the workers employed on French cathedrals in
the great age of Gothic architecture.' For the economic historian the
compagnonnage is important as marking a stage in the evolution of labour
organisation. The compagnon was a worker for whom the chance of becoming an
independent master was disap pearing, if not quite gone.
gild organisation became more exclusive and oligarchic, the status of
journeymen tended to become not temporary but permanent, and those who, by
apprenticeship, had attained it had an increasing motive to stand by one
another in defence of their interests against the patrons, or employers.
Association for that purpose was disliked by the gild authorities (who might,
however, decide to regulate and control associations whose existence they
could not prevent), and was generally prohibited by law. Partly, no doubt, as
camouflage and partly through simple piety, the compagnonnages assumed a
religious aspect, and, perhaps by imitation of the gilds and their liveries,
the compagnons adopted peculiarities of dress, were it only the wearing of
few of the trades in which this organisation was found were connected with the
tour de France, i.e., the journeymen were accustomed to wander, in search of
wider experience or of employment, from town to town along a more or less
well‑defined route. Consequently measures were taken for the reception of
travelling craftsmen, so that they might be provided with work in the town to
which they came, or helped on their way to another. In much the same way in
England the masons were bidden to "receive and cherish strange masons ... and
set them to work" or to refresh them "with money to the next lodge' '.2
such an organisation, it would be prudent to confine its benefits to those who
were really compagnons, and who might be proved by passwords or in other ways.
As societies opposed to the masters and obnoxious to the police, the
compagnonnages required secrecy of their ' E. Martin Saint‑L6on, Le
Compagnonnage, Paris, rgor, p. 15 See 2
W. Tew MS., printed in Poole and Worts.
account of a similar practice among trade unions see W. Kiddier, The Old Trade
Unions, Chapter I.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY members.
According to the theological faculty of Paris, in 16SS: "les compagnons font
jurer sur les evangiles a ceux qu'ils re~oivent de ne reveler ni a pere, ni a
mere, femme ni enfants, ni confesseur ce qu'ils feront ou verront faire",' and
the same causes which brought this about in the seventeenth century may well
have had the effect in earlier times of compelling the compagnon to "hele the
councelle of his felows in logge and in chambre".z
the association a moral discipline was enforced without the help of external
authorities, so that bad payers, thieves, and forsworn men were punished.
Finally, it may be noted, the compagnonnages developed rituals for admissions
and other occasions, such as the burial of a member, and ceremonies for their
convivial meetings. They also possessed legends giving what were no doubt
edifying, if utterly impossible, accounts of their origins.
were in fact three legends, one for each of the competing branches into which
the compagnonnages were divided. One claimed to have been founded by Hiram,
Solomon's master mason, said to have been slain by three wicked apprentices; a
second traced its origin to Hiram's colleague, Maitre Jacques, maker of two
columns with pictures; and the third professed to be derived from Father
Soubise, also one of Solomon's master‑workmen, who later quarrelled with
Maitre Jacques after both had landed in France.3 Two of these legends, it will
be observed, have the motif of the slain master mason and one refers to two
pillars. All three refer to Solomon's Temple, but there may, in the Soubise
story, have been some confusion with the Knights Templar.
Unfortunately, it seems impossible to assign dates to these legends or to
trace their evolution. Saint‑Leon takes it that they were orally transmitted
from age to age from a comparatively early period and that below their surface
absurdity they contain vestiges, at least, of history: the stories of the life
and death of Hiram, Maitre Jacques and Soubise, the repeated allusions to the
rebuilding of 1 Saint‑Uon, σo.
Cookr MS., ll. 8σ2‑3 (Two MSS., 1at). a Saint‑Leon, io.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES Solomon's Temple are but an allegory, a
weakened and deformed memory of the works undertaken at Chartres, Paris, Noyon,
Rheims and Orleans in order to build new temples for the Lord., On the other
hand, the remarkable similarity between the compagnonnage rituals of
initiation and English Masonic catechisms,2 and Saint‑Leon's conclusion that
the former c
almost certainly modelled on the latter,3 suggest that the compagnons may have
borrowed legends as well as catechisms from eighteenth‑century freemasons.
This, however, though it might explain Hiram Abif, can hardly apply to Maitre
Jacques,4 or Father Soubise. It seems reasonable, therefore, to conclude that
it is at least possible that the compagnonnages and English and Scottish
operative masonry had some common element in their traditions as well as
resemblances in their organisation and objects. Viewed in perspective, the
operative lodges of Scotland, having the Mason Word and the practices
connected with it, are not very different, with one important exception, from
the compagnonnages, with their headquarters at a boutique of Angers, Chartres
or Orleans. The exception is that the operative lodges of Scotland embraced
masters as well as journeymen, whereas the compagnonnages consisted solely of
two bodies were, however, very different in their subsequent development.
Operative masonry in England and Scotland, we believe, lost its ritual and
organisation, which were taken over, modified and elaborated into modern
freemasonry first by the accepted masons and then by the `speculatives'. The
compagnonnages, on the other hand, retained them, and, though influenced by
Masonic ritual, kept quite apart from French speculative masonry. In short,
the compagnonnages remained throughout the nineteenth century a form of labour
organisation, with economic and charitable objects and with essentially
religious traditions. They could not fuse with the , Ibid., zσ.
Ibid., a r9 seg.
Ibid., 223 IL Unless Maitre _7acgues was the original whence Naymus Grecus and
the like were derived.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY freemasons (men who had acquired their knowledge of
masonry either directly or indirectly from England in the 172os and 173os, as
explained on page 32o below) because in the first place, the French freemasons
were not concerned with the journeymen's interests as such and, in the second
place, they gradually became sceptical in religion.' On the other hand, the
compagnonnages could not easily find a place among trade unions, because they
belonged essentially to the ancien regime in industry. Even in their heyday
they were a minority and a kind of aristocracy among workmen; and neither
their ideas nor their practices were well suited to an age of factories and
Comacine Legend.‑Apart from local gilds of masons, the Steinmetzen, and the
compagnonnages, for the existence of each of which there is record evidence,
there is supposed to have been another Masonic organisation. As reported by
his fellow seventeenth‑century antiquary, John Aubrey,2 Sir William Dugdale
believed that the Fraternity of Freemasons or Adopted Masons was derived from
a company of Italian architects or freemasons to whom, according to his
statement, the Pope gave a bull or patent about the time of Henry III
(1216‑'72) to travel up and down Europe building churches.
granting of the papal bull is not established, but there is no question that
continental master masons did travel long distances to execute their work .3
The evidence showing that architects of repute were not hindered by frontiers
must not be regarded, however, as lending support to the legend of the
Comacine brethren, who are supposed to have travelled together from place to
place to build churches.
scrap of record evidence has been found to establish the existence of this
migrant fraternity, belief in which seems to be based on widespread
architectural similarities between different churches, and a r See Saint‑LΗon,
Lib. Aubrey MS. 2, pt. ii, fo. 73, reproduced in 14.Q‑C‑, xi, facing p. ro.
Aubrey's MS. was printed in r8σ7 as The Natural History of Wiltshire.
Fagniez, Documents relatifs d 1'Histoire de 1'Industrie et du Commerce en
France, i, 305; and Henri Stein, Les drchitectes des Cathldrales Gothiyues, r
o 3 sef.
ORGANISATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES mistaken etymology.
word comacinus cannot be taken to mean a mason of Como or Comacina, the
supposed district of the Comacini; it probably meant "fellow mason" (as
comonachus meant "fellow monk"), without reference to Como or any other
place.' 1 See A. Hamilton Thompson, "Medieval Building Documents", Misc. Lat.,
sii, 50, 5 1.
CHAPTER IV THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF M,4SONRY THE OLD CHARGES HE MS.
Constitutions of Masonry, or more familiarly the Old Charges, of which the
Regius and Cooke MSS. of circa rq.oo are the oldest known versions, consist of
a body of regulations relating to masters, craftsmen, and apprentices, and to
wages and other matters affecting masons. These regulations, described in the
documents either as Articles and Points, or as Charges General and Singular,
are prefaced by a legendary narrative of how the building craft and the
regulations came into being. About r 15 versions of the Old Charges have been
traced: of these, some ninety exist in manuscript; ten have survived only in
print, whether in extenso, or in summary form; some fifteen are missing; and
two are known to have been destroyed.'
present a wide field for investigation, and the texts have been studied in
considerable detail.2 In this volume we treat the subject only in broad
outline, devoting ourselves to five main problems: (1) the origins of the
legends or "history"; (ii) the evolution of the "history" between circa r39o
and circa 1725; (iii) the regulations and their evolution; (iv) changes in the
form of the MS. Constitutions; (v) the part played by the MS. Constitutions 1
They are all recorded in our Handlist of Masonic Documents (1942) with various
particulars, including an indication as to where the originals, and
facsimiles, prints or reprints are to be found.
e.g., Hughan, Old Charges of British Freemasons, 1st ed., 1872; rev. 2nd ed.,
1895; Gould, Commentary on the Regius Poem, Q.C.,I., i (1889); Speth,
Commentary on the Cooke MS., Q.C.14., ii (189o); Begemann, Freimaurerei in
England (19o9), i, 1o6‑3o9; Begemann, Freimaurerei in Schottland (1914), i, 1
ro‑8o; Poole, The Old Charges, 1924; Poole, The Old Charges in Eighteenth
Century Masonry, the Prestonian Lecture for 1933 Poole and Worts, The
"Yorkshire" Old Charges of Masons, 1935; Knoop, Jones and Hamer, The Two
Earliest Masonic MSS. (the Regius and Cooke MSS.), 1938.
MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF MfISONR r in Masonic ceremonies. We accept the
conventional nomenclature of the documents;,. also the following
classification (based on textual similarities and differences), as originally
devised by Hughan and Begemann:z (A.) Regius, (B.) Cooke family, (C.) Plot
family, (T.) Tew family, (D.) Grand Lodge family, (E.) Sloane family, (F.)
Roberts family, (G.) Spencer family, (H.) Sundry versions.
LEGENDS OF THE CRAFT Masonry and Geometry.‑The equating of `masonry' and
`architecture' with `geometry', which alone helps to explain much of the early
portion of the legendary history of masonry, as portrayed in the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry, does occur occasionally in non‑Masonic works of late
medieval writers, e.g., in Lydgate's Falls of Princes of circa 1435 and Henry
Bradshaw's Life of St. Werberge of Chester of circa 15oo,$ but the short
history of masonry, which precedes the Articles and Points in the Regius MS.
of circa 1390, is the earliest English instance known to us of the word
`geometry' being used to describe `masonry' and 'architecture' .4 Originally,
geometry was a liberal art, even though it may have grown out of the practical
problems of land mensuration.
one of the circle of arts and sciences through which every free‑born Greek
youth passed before proceeding to professional studies.
included in the Roman artes liberates. Like other liberal arts, it was a pure
science or academic study, which might be pursued apart from its practical
applications, and was in no way associated with masonry.
mechanics", Cicero declared, are engaged in vulgar trades, for no workshop can
have anything liberal about it." 6
excluded painting, sculpture and marble‑working from the liberal arts .6
such was the attitude in ancient times was not 1 See our "Nomenclature of
Masonic MSS.", I.Q.C., liv, 69‑772 For Key to the Classification, see Poole
and Worts, 30‑2, 39‑413 Two MSS., 156.
famous sketch‑book, dating from the middle of the thirteenth century, of
Villard de Honnecourt, who was probably the master mason of Notre Dame at
Cambrai, claims to show "the method of portraiture and draughtsmanship
according to the laws and principles of geometry".
Officiis, 1, xlii.
Epistolae Morales, lxxxviii. 63 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY unknown in the
Middle Ages, as is clearly indicated in Caxton's Mirrour of the World., The
Roman artes liberales covered a wide field and included gymnastics, politics,
jurisprudence and medicine. It was not until Martianus Capella of Carthage
wrote his Septem fortes Liberales (c. A.D. 420), that the number of liberal
arts was, for the first time known to history, set down as seven. In the
flrithmetica of Boethius (c. 4'7052S) we find the first attempt to divide the
seven liberal arts into two groups, the trivium, containing the three literary
arts of grammar, rhetoric, and logic or dialectic, and the quadrivium,
containing the four mathematical sciences, arithmetic, music, geometry and
time of Isidore, Bishop of Seville from 6oo to 636, the seven liberal arts had
taken their place as the introduction to all knowledge.
Originum sive Etymologiarum libri xx commences with a summary of the knowledge
of the day in each subject, before proceeding to medicine, law, religion and
other sciences. His definition of the seven liberal arts became the model for
later encyclopaedists, and is closely followed in the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry: There are seven liberal arts. First, grammar, that is, skill in
speaking. Second, rhetoric, which on account of the grace and fluency of its
eloquence is considered most necessary in the problems of civil life. Third,
dialectic, also called logic, which by subtle discussion divides the true from
the false. Fourth, arithmetic, which contains the causes and divisions_ of
numbers. Fifth, music, which consists of songs and music.
geometry, which comprehends the measures and dimensions of the earth.
Seventh, astronomy, which contains the law of the stars. 2 There was some
rivalry between the exponents of the various branches of the seven liberal
arts as to which was the most fundamental.
Usually grammar was accorded the first place since it was studied first and by
it there were acquired the writing, speaking and reading of Latin, the 1 E.E.T.
S., Extra Series, CX (1913), 41ς s Etymologiarum, I, ii. 64 THE MS.
CONSTITUTIONS OF Mf1SONRr language both of ecclesiastics and of other learned
persons. At one place even the Cooke MS. (11. 48‑52) refers to grammar as the
fundament of science, i.e., the foundation of knowledge, but previously (1.
45) and subsequently (11. 85‑6) the Cooke MS. emphasises that geometry is the
foundation of all knowledge, "the causer of all", an idea stressed also by the
Regius MS., and by all later versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry.
This is hardly surprising, as the people for whom the manuscripts were written
had a professional interest in claiming geometry as the basis of all
authors of the Regius and Cooke MSS. knew that by its etymology geometry was
originally concerned with the mensuration of land, but they thought of it
chiefly as the science of masonry.
explanations offered by the MS. Constitutions of Masonry regarding the origin
or `invention' of geometry or masonry hand on a confused tradition, and really
give three different accounts. (1) The first is derived from the Bible; in
this account we are told that geometry or masonry was discovered before the
Flood by Jabal, who invented tents, which the Cooke MS., following Bede,
interprets as "dwellying howsis". From this the Cooke MS. develops the
tradition that Jabal was Cain's master mason at the building of Enoch, the
first city recorded in the Bible. (ii) The second account is derived from
Josephus and from the Hebrew apocrypha which tell very similar stories.
Josephus says that Abraham taught the Egyptians arithmetic and astronomy, but
he does not mention geometry. Yet before the close of the Middle Ages he is
cited as one of the authorities for the belief that Abraham taught geometry to
the Egyptians. Thus Honorius Augustodunensis states 1 that Abraham taught the
Egyptians geometry but neither he, nor Peter Comestor,s to both of whom the
Cooke MS. refers, mentions Euclid. Consequently, the tradition used by the
Cooke MS. dates back to the early twelfth century, but that manuscript and
later versions of the MS. Constitutions modify the story by 1 De Imagine Mundi,
written 1122‑5, Migne. Pat. Lat., clxii, col. 168.
Comestor died circa 1185. 65 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY claiming that Euclid
founded geometry, which he had been taught by Abraham. By sacrificing
chronology and ignoring the contradiction, Euclid, the most famous classical
exponent of geometry, and Abraham, its inventor according to late medieval
tradition, are brought into the same picture, whereas Abraham probably died
some fifteen hundred years before Euclid was born. (iii) The third account is
based on the classical tradition.
story of the invention of geometry through the flooding of the Nile is
recounted by Diodorus Siculus, a contemporary of Julius Caesar, and probably
became widespread in the Middle Ages through Isidore of Seville: "The art of
geometry is said to have been invented first by the Egyptians, because through
the covering of the land with mud by the inundations of the Nile, they first
divided the land by lines and measures and gave its name." Here the discovery
of geometry is attributed to the Egyptians without the assistance of Abraham;
Hermes, identified with the Egyptian god Thoth and the Roman god Mercury, is
the hero of the story.
very probable that in the Hermes who was counsellor to Isis and invented
geometry we have the original of the Euclid who according to the Regius and
Cooke MSS. invented geometry through the flooding of the Nile.
Further, the statement of Diodorus that in ancient Egypt education, especially
in geometry and arithmetic, was given only to the sons of priests (apparently
to provide them with a livelihood) may be the origin of the statement in
Masonic legend that education in geometry was sought by the `lords' for their
children: How Hermes of the classical tradition became the `Euclid' of Masonic
legend can only be surmised. Once the importance of the seven liberal arts in
general, and of geometry in particular, had been stressed, it was almost
inevitable that Euclid, the representative figure of that science in all
schemes of the seven liberal arts, should be brought into the picture.
other exponent of geometry was recognised, not even Pythagoras, a geometrician
as great as Euclid but allotted in the seven liberal arts to music on account
of his researches into the theory of the musical scale. Thus medieval
tradition, which associated 66 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF M.4SONRY the name of
geometry exclusively with Euclid, practically necessitated the replacement of
Hermes by Euclid.' The Two Pillars.2‑The two pillars which play such an
important part in Masonic legend in the Cooke MS. and the subsequent versions
of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry must not be confused with those erected in
the porch of the Temple. The two pillars of Masonic legend are reputed to have
been the medium by which certain knowledge was saved from destruction by flood
or fire, and transmitted to posterity. They occur in the Hebrew apocrypha, but
in origin the story is Babylonian. It has been traced by Bro. W. J. Williams
in the writings of Berosus, a Babylonian priest (c. 330 to c. 250 B.C.) who
apparently drew his information from ancient Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions
dating from before the time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon, and the
investigation has been carried further by Douglas Hamer. Berosus wrote in
Greek a history of Babylon, which is now extant only in extracts by early
writers. The following passage is a translation of one of these extracts: The
deity Chronos appeared to him in a vision, and warned him that upon the
fifteenth day of the month Daesius there would be a flood, by which mankind
would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the
beginning, procedure, and conclusion of all things and bury it in the city of
the Sun at Sippara; and to build a vessel ... [p. q.5] and when they returned
to Babylon and had found the writings at Sippara they built cities and erected
temples, and Babylon was thus inhabited again.$ It will be noted that the
pillars were originally tablets of clay, which had to be burnt hard after
being inscribed, 1 The paragraphs on geometry and masonry are based on Two
MSS., 24‑38 2 See Two MSS., 39‑44; Williams, "The Antediluvian Pillars in
Prose and Verse", 11.Q.C., li, ioo, and the joint comments of Douglas Hamer
and ourselves on that paper,
Cary's translation, printed in Geo. Smith, The Chaldaean Jccount of Genesis,
1876, p. 43.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY and that the writing on them had nothing to do with the
seven liberal arts. Nor had it in the earliest Hebrew version, the apocryphal
Vita fldae et Evae, in which Eve ordered Seth and his brothers and sisters to
record on tables of stone and baked tile the words of the archangel Michael,
when he brought the order for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Whereas
the Babylonian version contemplated destruction only by flood, Eve also had
fire in mind; hence the need for stone and clay: "If by water the Lord judge
our race, the tables of clay will be dissolved and the tables of stone will
remain; but if by fire, the tables of stone will be broken up and the tables
of clay will be baked." 1 As the legend developed in pre‑Christian times,
attempts were made to state more precisely what actually was set down in
writing. In this development, Adam is made responsible for a general prophecy
of ultimate destruction, the tables become pillars, and what was carved on
them becomes a discovery or discoveries made by the children or descendants of
Adam and Eve.
element in the story is that the astronomical discoveries of Seth were carved
on the pillars. Josephus is the commonest source, and his account became the
basis of both Byzantine and Western European versions of the story. The latter
are affected by yet another account which comes from a separate Jewish
tradition. In the second account it is Lamech's children who carve their
discoveries on the pillars, discoveries useful for the service of man.
According to the version embodied in The Chronicles of 7erahmeel only music
was carved by Jubal upon the two pillars, one of white marble and the other of
brick.2 We have now, therefore, from the stories of Josephus and Jerahmeel the
suggestion that two liberal arts, astronomy and music, were carved on the two
pillars. From very early times we have the development of this idea in the
story that Zoroaster, the traditional founder of 114pocrypha and
Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. R. H. Charles, Oxford, 1913, ii, 152.
Chronicles of ,7erahmeel, ed. M. Gaster, Oriental Translations Fund (1899), P.
MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF Mf4SONRY i the Magian religion, inscribed the whole of
the seven liberal arts on fourteen pillars or columns, seven of brass and
seven of baked brick, against a threatened judgment of God., This version
probably cannot be older than early Christian times since, as we have seen,
the earliest known Latin record of the seven liberal arts dates from the early
fifth century. The Zoroastrian pillars, as well as Jubal's pillars, are
mentioned in Jerahmeel. Both i
stories, that relating to the children of Lamech and that relating to
Zoroaster, are also recorded by Peter Comestor in his Historia Scholastica,
dating from about the third quarter of the twelfth century.
story told in the Cooke MS. is an attempt to reconcile these various versions.
It mentions the prophecy foretelling destruction by water and fire, but omits
the name of Adam in connection with it. It records the manifold discoveries of
the children of Lamech. It assumes that these were the seven liberal arts, and
that it was these which were carved on the two pillars. In telling the story,
the Cooke MS. introduces two elements, the one deliberately, the other
unintentionally, for which there appears to be no authority. The former is a
statement, on the supposed authority of the Polychronicon, that many years
after the Flood, both pillars were found, one by Pythagoras and one by Hermes,
who each taught the secrets they found written thereon. Actually, there is no
such story in Higden's Polychronicon, and we have not found a parallel story
elsewhere. This finding of both pillars by Pythagoras and Hermes is repeated
in some of the later versions of the MS. Constitutions, e.g., the Watson and
the Tew. The other peculiarity of the pillar story in the Cooke MS. is the
belief that both pillars were made of stone, one of "marble", and the other of
second stone only came '
existence because the writer or the copyist failed to recognise the Latin word
lateres [= burnt bricks or tiles], through a not unusual difficulty of
distinguishing between t and c in medieval manuscripts.
made this initial blunder, the writer piles one misconception upon another.
Marble was used for one pillar, he says, because it will not 1 Ibid., p. 70.
Peter Comestot, Hist. Schol., "Genesis", xxxix. 69 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
burn, whereas every medieval mason probably knew that it was burnt for making
lime. His "lacerus" was used for the other pillar, he says, because it will
not sink in water, which is obviously another misconception.
misconceptions are repeated in subsequent versions of the MS. Constitutions;
the word "lacerus" not unnaturally puzzled later Masonic scribes, and it
appears in such forms as `lathea' `letera' `lacerus' `laternes' `latres'
`lather' and `saturns'.
Although we have endeavoured to trace the development of those legends of the
craft for which biblical, apocryphal, classical, or medieval sources can be
found, the mere discovery of the writings on which reliance was apparently
placed, does not convert the legendary matter of the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry into authoritative history. It merely proves that a good deal of the
story related in the Regius and Cooke MSS. was not fabricated by the authors
of those manuscripts; but for all that it must be regarded more or less as a
myth. There are, however, other features of the Cooke "history" for which no
sources have ever been discovered, e.g., the statements that Charles II
organised masonry in France, that St. Alban organised masonry in England, and
that Athelstan and his son gave English masons their charges.
as we can ascertain, parallel statements find no place either in the early
chronicles or in the recognised history books of the period, such as Higden's
Polychronicon and John of Salisbury's Polycraticus. They are either
inventions, pure and simple, of the author, or based on oral traditions
current among contemporary masons, comparable doubtless with the tradition
that King Alfred .
the founder of Oxford University, or that King Athelstan first gave a
constitution to the minstrels of Beverley, or that Robert the Bruce, after the
Battle of Bannockburn (1314), instituted the Royal Order of Scotland with its
headquarters at Kilwinning. Alfred, Athelstan and Bruce were doubtless in the
stories to give ancient and royal sanction to institutions of later date and
Actually, the legend that Athelstan, or an assembly convened by him, laid down
charges for the masons accords ill with the weight of the available evidence,
which shows 70 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF M4SONRY (a) that there was
comparatively little building in stone in tenth‑century England, and (b) that
the regulation of industry, when first imposed by external authority, was
local and not national in character.
Four Crowned Martyrs.‑There is still one legend of the craft to which
reference must be made, viz., that of the Four Crowned Martyrs,' which does
not occur in the historical section of any version of the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry, but only in the later part of the Regius MS., 11, 49'7‑534, under the
heading 14rs Quatuor Coronatorum. It was probably taken direct from the
original Latin version in the Golden Legend.
oldest English account of the Quatuor Coronati, or Four Crowned Martyrs, a
manuscript attributed to the second half of the tenth century, states that
they were four Roman stone‑workers named Claudius, Castorius, Symphorianus and
Nichostratus. They, together with their fellow‑worker and convert, Simplicius,
because of their refusal to forsake Christianity, were by order of the Emperor
[Diocletian] locked alive in leaden coffers and thrown into a river.
According to a previous Latin account, written by Bede early in the eighth
century, the first Quatuor Coronati were not the five craftsmen, but four men,
named Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus and Victorinus, said by other medieval
writers to be soldiers, who were put to death by Diocletian's orders for
refusing to sacrifice to idols.
various writers agree that the commemoration of both groups of martyrs on the
same day, November 8, was instituted by Melchiades or Miltiades, Bishop of
Rome (31 z‑14).
commemoration of the Four Crowned Martyrs was fairly widespread on the
continent in the Middle Ages, one church at Rome being dedicated to them at
least as early as A.D. SqS. They were the patron saints of various medieval
gilds; the Antwerp gild of that name, embracing all the building trades, was
mentioned on page 53 above.
were also held in honour in many other cities of the Low Countries.
Furthermore, they were the patron saints of ' These two paragraphs on the
Quatuor Coronati are based on Two MSS., 44‑51 71 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
the German Steinmetzen. It is far from clear, however, by what route and at
what time the Quatuor Coronati came to mean anything to medieval operative
masons in England. That their memory was preserved by the Church is shown both
by the dedication of a church to them at Canterbury in the seventh century,
and by their inclusion in various medieval English and Scottish martyrologies.
We know, however, of no English evidence before the fifteenth century to show
that English masons held the Four Crowned Martyrs in special honour, and even
then the evidence is but very slight.
as we know, the gilds and fraternities to which English and Scottish masons
belonged had other patron saints; thus the London masons honoured St. Thomas
of Acon, and the Edinburgh masons St. John. The Quatuor Coronati were
apparently not held in special honour by English masons before 145o, and their
feast day, November 8, was not kept as a holiday at a time when saints' days
and church festivals were very freely recognised. The first occasion on which
we find it observed was in 1453 at the building of Eton College; it was then
kept as a holiday by the freemasons, but unlike other feast days, it was a
holiday without pay. The same somewhat grudging recognition of November 8
occurred at Eton College in 1456, 1458 and 1459 We have not been able to trace
November 8 as a holiday at any subsequent building operations, except possibly
at the Tower of London in 1535, when three out of the four masons absented
themselves from work that day.
reason for this may have been, as mentioned on page 45 above, that the London
Masons' Ordinances of 1481 required each member to attend mass on that day. It
was not, however, the gild's great day; that, once every two years, was "the
Day of Oeptas [Utas, octave] of the holy Trinitee", when after mass the
members and their wives feasted together.
thus appears probable that such recognition as was accorded to the Quatuor
Coronati by English masons commenced only in the fifteenth century, and the
existing evidence hardly justifies us in saying that at any period in England
were they venerated as patron saints of the masons.
association, such as it was, of the Four Crowned Martyrs with freemasonry is
com 72 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF M,48 ONR 2'.
memorated in the name of the oldest Masonic lodge of research, the Quatuor
Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London.
EVOLUTION OF THE CRAFT LEGENDS, 3
1390 TO CIRCA 1725 The legendary portion of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry
is in essence a "history" of the building craft from biblical times onwards.
This "history", like others, was from time to time revised and altered. How
often that happened between the late fourteenth and the early eighteenth
century is not known, but the "history" has come down to us in five main
forms, apart from the version prepared by the Rev. James Anderson for The
Constitutions of the FreeMasons (1723) (i) The earliest form of the "history"
is that contained in the Regius MS., 11. 1‑86, and the Cooke MS., 11. 643‑726.
It is impossible to determine by internal evidence exactly when either
manuscript was written, but examination of the handwriting suggests to the
paleographical experts of the British Museum that the Regius MS. was written
about 1390 and the Cooke MS. about 1400 or 141 o.2 These texts are descended
from a common ancestor, which was probably in existence by circa 1360.2
According to this version, which may be styled the Old Short History, and can
be regarded as the ancestor or common original of all the surviving versions,
geometry (= masonry) was founded by Euclid in Egypt, as a means for the
children of Egyptian nobles to make a living. Euclid taught the children
geometry, ordained the rank of master mason, and provided that the less
skilled were to be called fellows.
Thereafter, geometry was taught in many lands and came to England in the reign
of Athelstan, who ordained congregations and articles.
descendant of the Regius MS., the only known version of the Old Charges in
verse, has been traced.
The second version is that given at the beginning of the Cooke MS., 11. 1‑642.
This version, which may be styled the New Long History, after dealing with the
seven liberal arts (cf. Regius MS., 11. 551‑76), the biblical 1 Two MSS., 3.
21bid., 59. 73 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY invention of geometry and other
sciences, with the Two Pillars and the Tower of Babel (cf. Regius MS., 11.
535‑50), explains how Abraham taught geometry to Euclid, who founded the craft
of masonry. It then refers to the Israelites learning masonry in Egypt and to
Solomon building the Temple in Jerusalem. It goes on to explain how masonry
was organised by Charles II in France and by St. Alban in England. Finally, it
states that Athelstan and his son gave English masons their charges. It was
probably written after 135o, but before circa 139o.
descendants of the Cooke MS., and the modifications they introduce into the
"history", are discussed in the next paragraph.
The third is the version appearing in the Henery Heade MS. (16'75) and the
William Watson MS. (1681), and more briefly in abstracts known as the Ralph
Poole MS. (1665) and the Plot MS. (1686). This version, which is descended
from the Cooke MS. Original (in which the Old Short History and the New Long
History were first brought together) differs from the New Long History of the
Cooke MS., which it follows closely for the first 596 lines, in its
amplification of the English portion of the history, and in particular by the
addition of the statement that the charges had been seen and approved by "our
late sovereign lord, King Henry VI" and his Council, a statement for which as
yet no confirmation has been found.
possibly has reference to a statute of 1437, 15 Henry VI, c. 6, which provided
that no gild, fraternity, or company should make any new ordinance without
first submitting it to the authorities for approval.
biblical names in these manuscripts appear in post‑Reformation spellings, but
it is possible that this represents a second revision, and that the main
changes had been made in an earlier pre‑Reformation revision. The reference to
"our late sovereign lord, King Henry VI" is generally assumed to date the
first revision as falling in the reign of his successor, Edward IV (1461‑83),
but this does not necessarily follow.
Henry VI been the previous sovereign, he would probably have been described as
"our late sovereign lord, King Henry".
fact that "VI" was added seems to imply that Henry VII was dead.
in 74 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF M4SONRr our opinion the first revision (the
Watson MS. Original) probably dates from the first half of the reign of Henry
fourth version of the "history" is presented in the Grand Lodge No. z MS. Of
1583 and most of the later manuscripts, including those of the Sloane and
Roberts families. Strictly speaking, we are here concerned with several
versions differing slightly from one another, but nevertheless sufficiently
alike in their main features to be regarded for our present purpose as
constituting one version of the "history". They all apparently spring either
from an expansion of the Old Short History, an expansion very similar to that
of the New Long History of the Cooke MS., though freer from ambiguities and
contradictions, or from a revision of the New Long History.
most important modifications are those introduced into the French legend:
first, Charles II is replaced by Charles Martel; second, it introduces "a
curious [= skilful] mason called Naymus Grecus", who is said to have been
present at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem and to have brought the
craft to France.
thus corresponds to the Maitre Jacques of the compagnonnage legend.' Who "Naymus
Grecus" was is uncertain; E. H. Dring's identification of him with Alcuin, the
teacher of Charlemagne,2 has recently been contested by Douglas Hamer, who
identifies him, much more probably, with Nehemiah.'
name "Naymus Grecus" has come down to us in nearly as many forms and spellings
as there are surviving texts, which shows that it has been copied and mis‑copied
many times, the presumption being that the form "Naymus Grecus" is itself an
makes it possible that the particular expansion of the Old Short History, or
the revision of the New Long History, as the case may be, from which these
versions are descended, was made about the same time as the Cooke MS. Original
was prepared, that is, towards the end of the fourteenth century.
many intermediates there are between the expansion, or the revision, on the
one hand, and the Grand Lodge No. 1 MS. of 1583 on the other, it is 1 See pp.
58‑9 above; cf. Misc. Lat., x, 128; and xi, 62.
211.Q.C., xviii, 179‑95; xix, 45‑62.
Ibid., xlvi, 63‑7. 75 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY impossible to say. Obviously,
the Grand Lodge MS. Original, from which the Grand Lodge No. i MS. was copied
in 1583, must be older than i56o, the date of the manuscript from which the
Levander‑York MS., a member of the Grand Lodge family, was copied circa 1740;
the language and style hardly suggest a date before the first half of the
variant of this fourth version of the "history" appears in the Thomas IV. Tew
MS. and in other members of the Tew family. In this version the historical
account of masonry, including the French legend, is in the revised form which
we find in the Grand Lodge family, but in two respects it differs from Grand
Lodge No. i MS., and bears a marked affinity to the Watson and Heade MSS. In
the first place, it relates that the two pillars, on which the seven liberal
arts were carved to keep them from perishing, were both found after the
Deluge, whereas the Grand Lodge texts speak of the finding of one pillar only.
second place, the charges are prefaced by a brief summary of the "history".
Further, the charges of the Tew MS. itself (as distinct from the other members
of the family) closely resemble those of the Watson, Heade and Dauntesey MSS.,
in being intermediate between those of the Regius MS. and the ordinary
seventeenth‑century version. It seems likely, either that the Tew family
derives from the Cooke MS. Original by a line other than the Grand Lodge
family, or that the Tew MS. Original, from which the Tew MS. was copied early
in the eighteenth century, was built up from two different sources. In any
case, the Tew MS. Original appears to be older than the other versions
containing the Grand Lodge account of the "history", but that does not
necessarily imply that it is the ancestor of those versions.
The fifth version is that occurring in the Spencer family.
form appears to be a revision of the Grand Lodge version, through an
intermediate which combines the characteristics of both the Spencer and the
Grand Lodge versions, such as the Cama MS.' The principal changes are the
omission of Naymus Grecus and Charles Martel (Augustine being substituted in
the line of transmission), 1 Poole, Two Yersims of the Old Charger, 3.
MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF Mf4SONRY' the introduction of the Second and Third
Temples and other prominent building operations, and the expansion of the
narrative leading to Athelstan and Edwin. Other modifications are the naming
of King Solomon's master mason as Hiram Abif, the description of Edwin as
brother of AthelStan, and the fixing of the year 932 as the date of Edwin's
assembly at York.
the texts of this family appear to date from 1'725 or shortly afterwards.
some respects, the Spencer "history" resembles that in Anderson's
Constitutions of 1723, but in Vibert's opinion the Spencer texts owe nothing
other hand, Bro. Poole inclines to the view that the compiler of the Spencer
texts may have been acquainted with Anderson's Constitutions, and have
deliberately avoided using new material included by Anderson'2 THE REGULATIONS
AND THEIR EVOLUTION The Regulations are statements of masons' customs; though
on some points, such as apprenticeship and payment of wages for holidays, they
must be taken as indicating what was considered desirable, rather than what
was the common practice in the late fourteenth century. It is likely that the
customs were originally preserved and transmitted orally, and that they were
not set down in writing, in anything like the comprehensive form in which they
are embodied in the Articles and Points of the Regius and Cooke MSS., until
the third quarter of the fourteenth century. It is possible, however, that
they were committed to writing in a much more rudimentary form before 135o. In
the Cooke MS., 11. 418‑24, there is the twofold statement (1) that there were
charges in earlier [medieval] times, and (ii) that contemporary masons also
had charges, both written a
Latin and French, and both telling the story of Euclid. If we accept this
twofold statement, as we are inclined to do, provided that by "earlier
[medieval] times" no very remote antiquity is implied, the presumption is that
these written versions‑a contemporary one, and an earlier onewere contained in
what the Cooke MS. describes as the "book ' Vibert, ed., The Constitutions of
the Free‑Masons 1723 (1923), gx. z Poole, op. cit., σ.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY of charges".
contemporary, i.e., late fourteenthcentury, version is fathered by the Cooke
MS., 11. 696‑'726, on Athelstan (A.D. 925‑40), it is possible that the earlier
written version is that fathered by the Cooke MS., 11. 365 4I7, on Nimrod (c.
charge, said to have been given by Nimrod to the masons whom he sent to build
Nineveh for Assur, provided that they were to be true to their lord, to
discharge their work truly, and not to take more reward in respect of it than
they deserved; that they were to love one another, and finally, that he who
had the most cunning (= skill) was to teach his fellows.
what we may call the `Nimrod' charge was based on the earliest written version
of the Regulations contained in the Book of Charges, as seems not unlikely,
the second earliest surviving version, likewise based on the Book of Charges,
is that embodied in the nine Articles and Points of the later part of the
Cooke MS., 11. 727‑959, and there attributed to Athelstan and his council.
Actually, it represented the contemporary practice at the time it was set down
in writing, in the third quarter of the fourteenth century. This second
version is an amplification of the first or `Nimrod' version (which possibly
dates from the first half of the fourteenth century). The Articles, mainly
addressed to masters, provide that the master shall not pay a higher wage than
is warranted by the cost of victuals, that every master mason shall attend the
general congregation; that no master shall take an apprentice for less than
seven years, or take as apprentice a bondman or one not whole of limb, or take
more wages from his employer for his apprentice than the latter's work
deserves; that no master shall harbour a mason who is a thief or robber; that
a less‑skilled journeyman shall be replaced by a better‑skilled man; and that
no master shall supplant another who has already begun his work.
Points, mainly addressed to journeymen, require the mason to love God and
uphold the Church, his master and his fellows; to do an honest day's work for
the wages paid; to be true to the craft and to take his pay without dispute;
to postpone the investigation of quarrels until the next holiday; not to covet
his master's wife or daughter; if appointed warden, to be true to his master
and to mediate fairly between 78 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF MdSONR r the master
and the fellows.
Further, a skilled mason is to assist a less skilled one, and an apprentice is
not to disclose his master's secrets or whatever he may hear or see in the
lodge. In addition, there are some unnumbered points in 11. go r‑5 r, which
deal with the constitution of the Assembly, the forswearing of thieving, the
loyalty of masons to master, king and craft, and the punishment of false
Although the Cooke MS. dates from about 1410, its version of the Regulations,
as embodied in the Articles and Points, is undoubtedly older than the more
elaborate Regulations contained in the Articles and Points of the Regius MS.
of circa 1390, so that the compiler of the Cooke MS. must have used an older
text of the Book of Charges than did the author of the Regius MS. As the
latter cannot have used a text later than circa 1390, the Articles and Points
of the Cooke MS. must be based on a text written before circa 13 90, though
internal evidence shows that it was written after r3so.
third oldest surviving version of the Regulations is that contained in the
Articles and Points of the Regius MS. of circa 139o. These Regulations bear
evidence of further revision and amplification, but like the Articles and
Points of the Cooke MS., are also fathered on Athelstan (Regius MS.) 11.
Articles and Points of the Regius MS. repeat the substance of those contained
in the Cooke MS., though they amplify the admonition to do an honest day's
work for the wages paid, by the statement that the mason will then be paid for
supplement those of the Cooke MS. by six further Articles and Points, though
the last four Points really correspond to the four unnumbered Points of the
Cooke MS. The new Articles provide that the master is to be certain of being
able to carry through any work which he undertakes; that no mason shall work
at night except in study; that no mason shall disparage another's work; that
the master shall be responsible for the instruction of the apprentice; that no
master shall take an apprentice unless he can be certain of giving him full
instruction; that no master shall claim to maintain more masons than he
actually does. The new 79 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Points provide that the
steward of the hall shall charge each man alike, pay for all food, and keep
accounts; further, that if a mason leads a bad life or is a bad workman, he
shall be ordered to appear before the next assembly.
fourth version of the Regulations, in chronological order, is that contained
in the William Watson, Thomas W. Tew, Dauntesey, and Henery Heade MSS. These
manuscripts date from the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, but
their charges are probably based on a late fifteenth‑ or early
sixteenth‑century document, and possess more affinity to the Articles and
Points of the Regius MS. than do those of the remaining modern texts. These
Regulations, whilst continuing most of the older provisions, with their close
resemblance to gild rules," omit certain provisions, e.g., the prohibition of
night work, the fixing of the apprentice's wage, the substitution of a more
perfect for a less perfect craftsman, and the fixing of wages according to the
cost of victuals. On the other hand, they introduce several new provisions,
e.g., that task work is not to be substituted for day work; that masons are
not to play cards or dice; that no fellow shall go into town at night without
another fellow to bear witness that he has been in honest company; that no
master shall make a mould or square for a layer, or set a layer to work in the
lodge. The most striking new provision is one permitting fellows, as well as
masters, to take apprentices.
fifth and last version of the Regulations is that which appears in the Charges
General and Singular of the Grand Lodge No. z MS. of IS83 and the remaining
modern texts of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry. They follow the fourth
version closely, the main differences being that they omit the provisions
relating to holidays, serving as warden, being a mediator between master and
fellows, acting as steward, and helping a fellow who is less skilful.
CHANGES IN THE FORM OF THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS In an endeavour to trace changes
in the form of the MS. Constitutions, we propose to leave aside the Regius
MS., " See Knoop, "Gild Resemblances in the Old MS. Charges", d.Q.C., zlii
MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF MfISONRT which is in a class by itself.
a poem giving the Old Short History, and the Articles and Points, together
with directions regarding an assembly, an account of the Four Crowned Martyrs,
a description of the building of the Tower of Babel, an account of the seven
liberal arts, portions of John Mirk's Instructions for Parish Priests, and the
whole of Urbanitatis, a metrical treatise on manners.
Instead, we treat the Cooke MS. as the oldest version.
consists of five elements: (i) a statement of man's debt to God; (ii) the New
Long History; (iii) the Old Short History; (iv) the Articles and Points; (v) a
brief Closing Prayer.
first element is replaced in most of the later versions by an Invocation to
the Trinity. The second element, the New Long History, in one or other of its
revised forms, is found in nearly all versions.' The third element, the Old
Short History, tends to disappear in the course of revisions, and can be
traced, in a very abbreviated form, in only a few of the later versions, e.g.,
the William Watson and the Thomas W. Tew MSS. Between the History and the
Regulations, most of the later versions have two new elements, an Instruction
regarding the administration of the oath to observe the Regulations, and an
exhortation to take heed of the Charges.
fourth element, the Articles and Points, in their new guise as Charges General
and Singular, constitute the second principal portion of most of _the later
fifth element, the brief Closing Prayer, is preceded in those later versions
which contain the Charges, by a brief Admonition to keep well and truly the
Charges which have been rehearsed.
the commonest form of the later versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry
is as follows (i) an Invocation to the Trinity; (ii) the "History" of Masonry;
I An exception is the Drinkwater No. 2 MS., which consists of charges only.
exception is the Taylor MS., which is a remnant having no charges. 81 THE
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY (iii) an Instruction regarding the administration of
the oath to observe the Charges; (iv) an Exhortation to take heed of the
Charges; (v) the Charges General and Singular; (vi) a brief Admonition to keep
the Charges; (vii) a brief Closing Prayer.
Certain important further additions, however, appear in some versions. First,
there are nearly a score which contain an Apprentice Charge of a definitely
operative character, similar in content to the conditions of an apprentice's
indentures. Secondly, of the versions which contain an Apprentice Charge,
there are four or five, belonging to the Roberts family, which also contain a
code of New Articles, of a definitely speculative character, laying down the
conditions on which a person can be accepted as a freemason., Thirdly, at
least nine versions contain a special reference to Masonic secrets.
the Harris No. i MS. (second half seventeenth century), Dumfries No. 3 MS.
(late seventeenth century) and Thos. Carmick MS. (1'727) provide for the
appointment of a tutor to instruct the candidate in secrets which must never
be committed to writing.
Drinkwater No. 2 MS. (c. 1710) contains an oath, in terms which resemble those
of certain Masonic catechisms, to keep secret the signs and tokens to be
declared to the candidate, and the Buchanan MS. (c. 1670) contains a somewhat
similar oath. The Grand Lodge No. 2 MS. (second half of the seventeenth
century), the Harleian MS. 1942 (of about the same date) and the Roberts Print
(1722) give the oath of secrecy to be taken by a person before he can be
accepted as a freemason.
up with Harleian MS. 2054 (second half of the seventeenth century), and in the
same handwriting, is a scrap of paper referring to the "severall words and
signes of a free Mason" to be revealed to the candidate and kept secret by
Finally, three versions‑the Gateshead MS., which includes an Apprentice
Charge, the Xnwick MS., and the Taylor MS.‑have Orders appended, of a
definitely operative character, fixing the fines to be paid for various
offences. Thus the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, in their most com 1 The
Apprentice Charge and the New Articles will be found in the Roberts printed
version of the MS. Constitutions, reprinted in E.M.P., 7,‑83. 82 THE MS.
CONSTITUTIONS OF MzyS01VRr plete form, consist of the previously enumerated
seven elements together with (viii) the New Articles; (ix) an Oath of Secrecy;
(x) an Apprentice Charge.
Harleian MS. 1942 and the Grand Lodge No. 2 MS., for example, each contain
these ten elements. The remaining element‑the Orders‑does not appear in
versions which have the New Articles or an Oath of Secrecy, and there is,
consequently, no single version which contains all eleven elements.
Practically all versions of the MS. Constitutions contain a provision
regarding secrecy. According to the third Point of the Regius MS. the
apprentice shall swear to keep secret the master's teaching, and whatever he
sees or hears done in lodge; according to the third Point of the Cooke MS.,
the prospective mason shall "hele" the counsel of his fellows in lodge and in
fourth General Charge of most of the later versions requires every mason to
keep true counsel both of lodge and chamber and all other counsels that ought
to be kept by way of masonry.
mason swore to observe the charges, secrecy might be deemed to have been
covered in his general oath; we are disposed to think, however, that these
secrets of the apprentice, the prospective mason, and the mason were trade or
is possibly the meaning of the fourth Charge in versions belonging to the
Roberts family: "you shall keep secret the obscure and intricate parts of the
science, not disclosing them to any but such as study and use the same". The
Oath of Secrecy, which we describe as the ninth element in our analysis,
related, in our opinion, mainly, if not entirely, to any esoteric knowledge
imparted to the candidate.
Harleian MS. 1942 appears to contemplate two Oaths: one, taken immediately
after the reading of the Charges, to observe and keep those Charges; the
other, taken immediately after the reading of the last of the New Articles,
which states that no person shall be accepted a freemason, or know the secrets
of the said society, until he has first taken the oath of secrecy hereafter
following. In the Masonic catechism, Sloane MS. 3329, of circa 1700, the two
Oaths 83 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY are combined in one,' and the candidate
swore to keep secret "the mason word and everything therein contained" and
truly to observe "the charges in the constitution". This distinction clearly
implied that the Mason Word or esoteric knowledge was not included in the
provision in the charges regarding secrecy.
MS. CONSTITUTIONS AND MASONIC CEREMONIES The general problem of the origin of
Masonic ceremonies, including the part played by the MS. Constitutions in such
ceremonies, is examined in Chapter X. Here we are concerned only with the
original purpose served by the MS. Constitutions in the early days, when they
were used by operative masons.
Although the charges were statements of the `customs' of the trade, they
undoubtedly corresponded to the ordinances, regulations, or articles of
ordinary munici pal craft gilds.
Amongst these it is possible to distinguish two types of rule, the one
concerned primarily with the social or religious activities of the gild, the
other with the trade activities. The former are sometimes described as
`fraternity' regulations, the latter as `mistery' regulations. Not
infrequently `fraternity' regulations and `mistery' regulations were embodied
in one set of gild ordinances. Similarly, the masons' charges combine both
kinds of regulation: the Charges General roughly correspond to the
`fraternity' regulations of a craft gild and the Charges Singular to the `mistery'
regulations. The common practice among the gilds was that the gild ordinances
should be read (or recited) to newcomers; who had then to swear to observe the
example, the oath of the Gild of St. Katherine at Stamford may be set out in
full in modern spelling: I shall be a true man to God Almighty, to Saint Mary
and to St. Katherine, in whose honour and worship this Gild is founded; and
shall be obedient to the Alderman of this Gild and to his successors, and come
to him and to his Brethren when I have warning and not absent myself without
shall be ready to pay scot ' E.M.C., 42‑384 THE MS. CONSTITUTIONS OF Mf4SONRr
and bear lot and all my duties truly to pay and do; the ordinances,
constitutions and rules of the Gild to keep, obey, perform, and to my power
maintain, to my life's end, so help me God and holydom and by this Book.' In
this matter, masons no doubt followed ordinary gild practice. Many versions of
the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, at the end of the historical section,
contain an instruction, usually in Latin, that the person to be made a mason
should lay his hand on the Book (= the Bible), held by one of the oldest
masons, whilst the Charges were read out, the Charges being introduced by an
Exhortation that every mason should take heed of the Charges which he had
sworn to keep. As the instruction in various versions begins "Then shall one
of the elders . . .", or words to that effect, the presumption is that the
"History", introduced by the Opening Prayer or Invocation, had previously been
read to the candidate.
presumption is greatly strengthened by an entry of 1670 in the Mark Book of
the Lodge of Aberdeen, where the Mason Charter, or version of the MS.
Constitutions now known as the lIberdeen MS., is written. The statement by the
then members, described as "the authors of this Book" runs: "We ordain
likewise that the Mason Charter be read at the entering of every entered
is nothing in the Cooke MS. of the early fifteenth century to show whether the
"History" and Regulations were read or recited to the candidate, and whether
he had to swear to keep the Articles and Points, but it is quite possible that
this practice was followed at that date, just as the masons at York Minster
had to swear "upon ye boke" to keep the Ordinances laid down by the Cathedral
Chapter in 1370.3
earliest versions of the MS. Constitutions to contain the instruction are the
LevanderYork MS. Original4 of is6o, the Melrose MS. Original ,5 of r S 81, and
the Grand Lodge No. 1 MS. of i s 8 3. Although there is no definite evidence
before the second i Toulmin Smith, English Gilds (E.E.T.S., xl), 188.
Raine, 18 r.
which the Levander‑York MS. was copied, circa 17405 From which the Melrose No.
2 MS. was copied in 167485 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY half of the sixteenth
century that a version of the MS. Constitutions was read or recited to the
person about to be made a mason, yet the probability that this did occur in
late medieval times among operative masons is strong. On the other hand, there
is no evidence to suggest that at this early period masons had a ceremony of
admission differing from that of contemporary gilds.
Subsequent modifications of the ceremonial, associated with the development of
accepted masonry, and influenced, in our opinion, by Scottish practices
connected with the giving of the Mason Word, are reflected in certain
seventeenth‑century versions of the MS. Constitutions.
modifications will be discussed in Chapter X, where we examine more fully the
origins of Masonic ceremonies.
CHAPTER V THE MASON WORD BESIDES the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, embodying
the legends and the regulations of the craft, which constitute one link
between present‑day speculative and medieval operative masonry, there is
another link, namely, the Mason Word and the practices associated with its
important differences, however, between the MS. Constitutions and the Mason
Word must be noted.
whereas versions of the former were in existence as early as the late
fourteenth century, the latter has not been traced before the sixteenth
century. Second, whereas the former would almost certainly appear to be of
English origin (the few surviving Scottish versions being direct or indirect
copies of English originals), the Mason Word, as an operative institution, is
almost certainly of Scottish origin.
traces of the Mason Word, or of any other secret means of recognition, have
been found among English operative masons in the Middle Ages; nor, so far as
we know, is there any evidence even to suggest it.
system of recruitment by impressment, so common in England in the Middle Ages,
implies that the `pressed' man, if reasonably efficient, would be retained on
the work, whether in possession of secret methods of recognition or not.
Moreover it was provided by the eighth Article of the Regius and Cooke MSS.
that a less skilled journeyman was to be replaced by a better skilled man as
soon as practicable, which strongly suggests that, according to the masons'
customs, skill, and not a password, was the recognised test leading to
doubt English medieval operative masons had secrets, but as indicated on page
8 3 above, it may be presumed that the secrets referred to in the third Point
of the Regius and Cooke MSS. and the fourth General Charge were trade or
technical secrets, relating, for example, to the designing of an arch, or to
the way in which a stone should 87 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY be laid so that
its grain ran, so far as possible, as it did in its native bed in the rock.
The Mason Word, as an operative institution, would appear to have been a
Scottish practice (though its influence possibly extended to the two northern
counties of Northumberland and Durham) and consequently in this chapter we are
concerned almost entirely with Scottish conditions. The influence which this
Scottish operative institution had on English accepted masonry in the
seventeenth century, and subsequently on English speculative masonry, is
discussed in Chapter X.
we endeavour to describe the setting or background in which the Mason Word, as
an operative institution, existed.
shall call attention to four points of importance, namely, (1) the scope, (ii)
the purpose, (iii) the Organisation, and (iv) the antiquity of the Mason Word.
SCOPE OF THE MASON WORD In Scotland there developed in early modern times a
system of recognition to which, by the later part of the seventeenth century
at the latest, there had been joined other elements. According to the Rev.
Robert Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, writing in 1691, the Mason Word is like a
Rabbinical Tradition, in way of comment on Jachin and Boaz, the two Pillars
erected in Solomon's Temple (i Kings, vii, 21) with one Addition of some
secret Signe delyvered from Hand to Hand, by which they know and become
familiar one with another., A letter of 1697, written from Scotland, and
preserved among the Portland MSS., states that The Laird[s] of Roslin ... are
obliged to receive the mason's word which is a secret signall masons have
thro' ,The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (3rd ed.,
1933),108An earlier, though briefer, reference to the Mason Word occurs in
Kirk's "London in 1689‑9o" (Trans. Lond. and Mid. drch. Soc., N.S., vii
[19331, 139), where he recounts that when, in October 1689, he dined with Dr.
Stillingfleet, Bishop‑elect of Worcester, the conversation turned on second
sight. In the midst of the record of that conversation occurs the sentence:
"The Dr. called the Mason Word a Rabbinical mystery, where I discovered
somewhat of it." 88 THE MASON WORD out the world to know one another by.
alledge 'tis as old as since Babel, when they could not understand one another
and they conversed by signs.
would have it no older than Solomon.
However it is, he that hath it will bring his brother mason to him without
calling to him or your perceiving of the signe.l Unfortunately, we have too
little documentary evidence to enable us to trace, with any certainty, changes
in the scope of the Mason Word, or to ascertain from what sources the esoteric
knowledge connected with it was introduced. The Edinburgh Register House MS.,2
written in 1696, suggests that the essence of the matter lay in words, signs,
a grip, and postures, which, together with "the five points of the
fellowship", were communicated to members, either upon their admission as
entered apprentices, or subsequently when they became fellow crafts. The "five
points" are not explained, but simply listed as follows: foot to foot, knee to
knee, heart to heart, hand to hand, and ear to ear. An explanation of a
slightly different set of "five points" is given in the recently discovered
Graham MS.,3 written in 1726, by means of a gruesome story relating to Noah.
three sons, desirous of finding something about him to lead them to the
valuable secret which their father had possessed ‑for all things needful for
the new world were in the Ark with Noah‑went to Noah's grave, agreeing
beforehand that if they did not find the very thing itself, the first thing
they found was to be to them as a secret. They found nothing in the grave
except the dead body; when the finger was gripped it came away, and so with
the wrist and elbow. The sons then reared up the dead body, supporting it by
setting foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, cheek to cheek and hand
Thereupon "one said here is yet mar[r]ow in this bone and the second said but
a dry bone t Hist. MSS. Com., Portland MSS., ii,
particulars of the Lairds of Roslin, a branch of the St. Clair family, and
their claim to be protectors and patrons of the Craft in Scotland, see Lyon,
PP‑ 97‑8 below.
E.M.C., 3 r.
Ibid., 84 89 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY and the third said it stinketh 1 so
they agreed for to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day".
Another possible explanation of the "five points" is provided by a story
relating to Hiram, of which the oldest known form is that in Prichard's
Masonry Dissected, first published in 1'730.2 An advertisement of 1726, quoted
by Sadler,3 which refers to "the whole History of the Widow's Son killed by
the Blow of a Beetle", strongly suggests that a version of the story was known
Anderson's long footnote on Hiram, in the Constitutions of 1723, makes it not
impossible that masons were acquainted with a version of the story as early as
story may even have been known in 1721, if Anderson's description
(Constitutions of 1738, p. 113) of the Deputy Grand Master's Chair in June
1721, as that of "Hiram Abbiff", correctly represents the usage of that year,
when Dr. Beal was installed in that Chair, and not merely the practice of
1738, at the time when the description was written.
According to this story, which is also connected with a search for a secret,
three masons murdered Hiram, King Solomon's master of the works at the
building of the Temple, in an attempt to extort from him the secrets of a
being missed, fifteen fellow crafts were ordered to search for him, and they
agreed that if they did not find the word in or about him the first word
should be the master's word.
Ultimately his body was found under a covering of green moss, and King Solomon
ordered that it should be taken up and decently buried. When they took him by
the forefinger the skin came off, whereupon they took a firmer grip of his
hand and raised him by the five points of fellowship, viz., hand to hand, foot
to foot, cheek to cheek, knee to knee, and hand to back.
marked similarity between the Noah story and the Hiram story in its
oldest‑known form is very striking; both have the same main motif‑the attempt
to obtain a secret from a dead body, and both have the same subsidiary motif 1
The remark may be reminiscent of medieval and sixteenth‑century satires on
325, reprinted in E.M.P., 193. 9o THE MASON WORD the intention to provide a
substituted secret, failing the discovery of a genuine one. Where either story
originally came from, or how it became associated with masonry, is unknown.
possible, however, that the Noah story had some connection with the narrative
in Genesis ix. 21‑7 of the shaming of Noah, to which it is in some respects
parallel. The stories of Noah and Hiram call to mind the fact that in Biblical
instances of the miraculous restoration of life, the prophet or apostle lay
full length upon the body and breathed into its face.
case of Elisha, who raised the son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings iv. 34‑5)
the process is described in detail: 34. And he [Elisha] went up, and lay upon
the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and
his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the
flesh of the child waxed warm.
Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and
stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child
opened his eyes.
complete coincidence between living and dead was established twice, first by
placing mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes and hands to hands, and secondly,by
stretching at full length upon the body. It is thus not impossible that the
original stories of Noah and Hiram may have been those of attempts to restore
these men to life, because their secrets had died with them.
Biblical examples show that the idea of complete coincidence of living and
dead was associated with the restoration of the dead to life. This might
develop into necromantic practices, and in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries the idea would survive only as necromancy.
would seem not inconceivable that one story was modelled on the other, and
that the original story rested on an old tradition connecting Ham, son of
Noah, with magic and the black arts.
disinterment of Noah was clearly an act of necromancy, and it is therefore
pertinent to note i i Kings xvii. 17‑23; 2 Kings iv. 3σ‑5; Acts xx. 9‑r2. 91
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY that Ham, son of Noah, is connected in medieval
tradition, if not with necromancy in its narrower sense, at any rate with the
black arts. The tradition is recorded in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of
Witchcraft (iS86),, and the connection is asserted in the thirteenth‑century
Speculum Historiale of Vincent de Beauvais.2 In the later part of the
seventeenth century a connection between magic and the Mason Word was
suspected in at least one part of Scotland. It would appear that in 1695 the
household of Andrew Mackie, a mason living in Kircudbrightshire, was troubled
by happenings of an apparently diabolic origin. The minister of the parish,
the Rev. Alexander Telfair, who tried to exorcise the agent, and also
published an account of the matter in 1696,3 recorded that "The said Andrew
Mackie being a meason to his employment, 'tis given out, that when he took the
meason‑word, he devouted his first child to the Devil; but I am certainly
informed he never took the same, and knows not what that word is".
word itself is as obscure in origin as the story.
bone, being the first thing found according to the Noah story, must presumably
have some significance.
Whether the phrase "mar[r]ow in this bone" is significant is not so certain.
be noted that the word marrow, in addition to its ordinary meaning, has
certainly another, and possibly a symbolical meaning, for Scottish masons.
used in Northern Middle English, and in Scotland down to the nineteenth
century, to denote `partner', `fellow', `mate', and it is not uncommon in that
sense in sixteenth‑ and seven teenth‑century Scottish building accounts.4
is yet mar[r]ow in this bone" may thus have been a reminder that fellowship
was of the essence of masonry. It is also possible that "mar[r]ow in this
bone" may have been intended to serve as a mnemonic. In that case, it was
conceivably to call to memory the word mahabyn, which, according to the
Masonic catechism Sloane MS. 3329 5 of circa 1700, was the master's word, or
the somewhat similar 1 Ed. Montague Summers, 222.
ii, chap. ci.
Telfair's Tract, see 11.Q.C., xiv, 56; also C. K. Sharpe, .4 historical
account of the belief in Witchcraft in Scotland, 1884, 234 4 S.M., 95, n. 2.
E.M.C., 42. 92 THE MASON WORD form matchpin, given as the master's word in
another Masonic catechism, the Trinity College, Dublin, MS‑1 Of 1'711. Whether
the master's word should be regarded as the Mason Word is very uncertain, and
the same is true of its meaning. That, for our purpose, is less important than
the fact of its existence, and the obvious usefulness of the word and the five
points of fellowship for ceremonial purposes, a subject more fully discussed
in Chapter X below.
PURPOSE OF THE MASON WORD The obscurity of the Mason Word and the strangeness
of the stories connected with it, by inviting the inquirer to seek an
explanation of such unusual things, tend to distract attention from one
important point, namely, that the Mason Word came into existence because it
was useful. Its form may have been decided by other factors, and, once
adopted, it may have become the nucleus of accretions of various kinds; but
the thing itself, as distinct from its form and later associations, arose
directly, like political society itself, out of necessity and utility.
thus be compared with the aprons and gloves of Masonic ceremony, which,
however decorative and symbolical they became, were at first practical things
made to meet an everyday need. Our business, therefore, is to inquire into the
conditions in which the Mason Word‑considered generally as a system of secret
methods of recognition used among operative masonswas useful and necessary.
reflection is required in order to realise that the Mason Word could have had
little or no use merely as a means of distinguishing skilled masons from
others. That could have been better done by a practical test, by requiring the
man who claimed to be skilled to prove his ability on the spot by hewing or
laying stones. That, indeed, was the reasonable practice at York Minster in
13'70: "no mason shall be received at work ... but he be first proved a week
or more upon his well working' '.2
same thing seems to be implied by the eighth Article of the Regius and Cooke
MSS. of circa 1400, which provided that a less skilled journeyman was to be
replaced by a better‑skilled man as soon as 1 Ibid., 64.
Raine, 181‑2. 93 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY practicable. As early as 1356,
Gilbert de Whitele had been appointed to survey the king's castles and manors
with power, inter alia, to "remove any workmen found to be unskilful and to
replace them by others more skilful". When, therefore, we find masons
providing themselves with the Word, we may presume that they intended thereby
to enable a man to demonstrate, not his possession of skill, but his
membership of a group or trade organisation. A greater or lesser degree of
skill was, indeed, necessary in order to qualify for membership, but it was
not the only qualification. Possession of the Mason Word was an indication
that the man to whom it had been communicated accepted the rules and shared in
the privileges of the body, legalised or other, which guarded it. The Mason
Word, in short, was evidence not simply of a technical, but of a social or
corporate qualification, enabling the man who possessed it to claim, at need,
benefits in the way of employment and possibly of relief.2 The need for some
secret method of recognition arose from two conditions peculiar to Scotland,
namely, the possibility of employment as masons open to the stoneworkers known
as `cowans', and the existence of an industrial grade, without exact parallel
south of the border, that of the entered apprentice. Reference has already
been made to `cowans', a term originally used to describe builders of drystone
walls, but later applied derogatorily to men who did the work of masons,
without having been regularly apprenticed or bred to the trade. It was _partly
at least to prevent cowans from doing the work of qualified masons that the
latter were entrusted with the Mason Word as a means of proving themselves.
explains a minute of Mother Kilwinning Lodge in 1'707, "that no meason shall
imploy no cowan, which is to say [one] without the word to work".3 The system
of entered apprenticeship, by creating a distinct class of semi‑qualified
ex‑apprentices, further threatened the position of the fellow craft or fully
qualified mason. In Scotland in the seventeenth century, and 1 Cal. Pat.
Rolls, 1354‑58, 413. 2 Lyon, 28; Miller, 30.
O.E.D. under `cowan'; and Lyon, 23‑4. 94 THE MASON WORD possibly earlier,
apprentices and entered apprentices formed two distinct classes or grades.'
The Schaw Statutes of i598 provided that an apprentice must be bound for at
least seven years, and that, except by special permission, a further period of
seven years must elapse before he could be made a fellow craft. At Lanark,
where a new seal of cause was granted to the masons and wrights in 1674, it
was provided that no craftsman was to take an apprentice for a shorter period
than three years, and that no apprentice was to be admitted a freeman without
serving as a journeyman to a freeman for two years after the expiration of his
Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, 1670,3 show that three years had
to elapse between the termination of an apprenticeship and reception into the
fellowship. At Glasgow in the early seventeenth century an apprentice
apparently served for seven years and a further two years "for meat and fee'
his second term the ex‑apprentice was an entered apprentice, and normally
worked as a journeyman for a master, though the Schaw Statutes did permit an
entered apprentice to undertake a limited amount of work on his own account.
this general ordinance applied locally is shown by the Mutual Agreement of
1658, which regulated the affairs of the Lodge of Perth .5
provided that no entered apprentice should leave his master, or masters, to
take any work or task work above 40s. Scots.
Further, it was expressly provided that he was not to take an apprentice.
records show that the entered apprentice had a real, if subordinate, share in
the government of the craft and in its privileges. Thus at Kilwinning in 1659
two fellow crafts and one entered apprentice out of each quarter, together
with the Deacon and Warden, were appointed to ' The evidence supporting this
view was examined by Douglas Knoop in The Mason Word in 1938 (S.M., 86‑9o),
and by R. J. Meekren in "The Aitchison's Haven Minutes", I.Q.C., 'iii (19σ1),
and is not repeated here. Prior to 1938 Masonic writers assumed that the words
"apprentice" and "entered apprentice" were equivalent.
Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Lanark, 196. 3 Miller, 57f0/9 4 J.
Cruickshank, Lodge of Glasgow St. _7ohn, 63.
Crawford Smith, Lodge of Scoon and Perth, Chap. V.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY meet each year at Ayr to deal with transgressors., At
Melrose the entered apprentices were parties to the Mutual Agreement of 1675,
which regulated the affairs of the Lodge.2 At Aberdeen in 167o, as the Laws
and Statutes of the Lodge show, the entered apprentices received the benefit
of the Mason Word at their entry; 3 further, each entered apprentice had his
mark,4 the same being the case at Dumfries in 1687.5
Schaw Statutes of 1598 provided that no master or fellow craft should be
received except in the presence of six masters and two entered apprentices,
and the early minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh prove that this requirement
was observed .s An entered apprentice, having been properly trained, though
officially but semi‑qualified, might well be as competent as many fellow
crafts, and consequently able, in a district where his status was unknown, to
compete successfully with the fellow crafts for employment. To prevent this,
the fellow craft was entrusted with secret methods of recognition distinct
from those of the entered apprentice.
ORGANISATION OF THE MASON WORD Since the object for which the Mason Word was
instituted would be defeated if the secrets were communicated irregularly or
by unauthorised persons, it follows that the control of the process was an
important function of the existing organist.tions of masons in Scotland. To
that end there were required local organisations capable of co‑operating with
each other and some supervising authority with a wide jurisdiction.
Local Organisations.‑The local organisation which conferred the benefit of the
Mason Word was a certain type of lodge consisting of an organised body of
masons associated , Minute of the Lodge, dated 29 December 1659, quoted in R.
Wylie, History of Mother Lodge, Kilwinning, 2nd ed., 6o.
Printed in W. F. Vernon, Freemasonry in Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, 13.
page from Mark Book reproduced in Miller, facing p. 28.
regulation of Lodge of Dumfries printed in J. Smith, Old Lodge of Dumfries, 9.
79 96 THE MASON WORD with a particular town or district.
body we describe as a "territorial lodge" to distinguish it from the temporary
or permanent workshop or lodge associated with a particular building
"territorial lodges" enjoyed an official or semi‑official position and were
fairly widespread in Scotland.
England, so far as we are aware, there were no official or semi‑official
organisations bearing the name of "lodge". The only bodies of masons
discharging official or semi‑official functions were described as "companies"
or "fellowships", which roughly corresponded to the Scottish "incorporations".
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, however, there do appear to have
been in the North of England lodges of a "territorial" type, but with no
official status, such as those at Alnwick 1 in Northumberland, and Swalwell 2
in County Durham.
Co‑operation among "Territorial Lodges''" 3‑By the end of the sixteenth or the
beginning of the seventeenth century, there are various indications of
co‑operation among Scottish lodges. The chief examples of voluntary
co‑operation are afforded by the documents known as the St. Clair Charters of
r6oi and 1628.
first, representatives of the Lodges of Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Haddington,
Aitchison's Haven and Dunfermline, on behalf of the deacons, masters and
freemen of the masons within the realm of Scotland, and with the assent of
William Schaw, King's Master of Work, agreed that William St. Clair of Roslin
should purchase from the King, for himself and his heirs, "Liberty, Freedom
and jurisdiction" over all the masons of Scotland.
second charter, signed by representatives of the Lodges of Edinburgh, Dundee,
Glasgow, Stirling, Dunfermline, Ayr and St. Andrews, on behalf of the deacons,
masters and freemen of the masons and hammer‑men within the kingdom of
Scotland, is a confirmation and elaboration of the first charter. The 1 See W.
H. Rylands, "The Alnwick Lodge Minutes", I.Q.C., xiv, 4‑13, and the
reproduction of the Minute Book printed by the Province of Northumberland and
Durham, S.R.I.A., in 1895.
"The Minute Book of the Lodge of Industry [Swalwell], Gateshead", The Masonic
Mag., Vol. iii (1875‑6), 72‑6, 82‑5, 125‑7, 348‑9 8 This section is based on
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY interest of these charters lies not only in the claims
of the St. Clairs of Roslin to exercise an hereditary right of supervision
over the masons of Scotland, a claim which appears to have been disallowed by
the Court of the Exchequer in 1635, but in the uniting of no fewer than five
lodges in 16o1 and of seven lodges in 1628, or of nine different lodges in
all, from places more than 8o miles apart, to support that claim.
compulsory or semi‑compulsory collaboration more illustrations can be given.
They mostly centre in the office of Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland,
which we describe more fully in the next section.
pieces of evidence, dated during the period when William Schaw held that
office, point to some kind of widespread collective activity amongst masons.
(1) On 28 December 1598, there was promulgated by William Schaw, "with the
consent of the masters after specified", what are known as the Schaw Statutes
Unfortunately, the names of the masters who consented do not appear to have
been preserved in the copies which have survived, and thus we do not know from
what lodges representatives attended. (ii) A year later, on 28 December 1599,
a further set of Statutes and Ordinances was issued by William Schaw,2
directed more particularly to the Lodge of Kilwinning. It gave to that lodge
certain supervisory powers over other lodges in the Nether Ward of Clydesdale,
Glasgow, Ayr and Carrick. From the last clause it would seem that the Statutes
were issued on the authority of the Warden General and Principal Master of
Work, at the request of the Lodge of Kilwinning, but that certain privileges
and powers which the lodge desired could not be granted at the time, because
of the absence of the King from Edinburgh, and because no masters, other than
the masters of the Lodge of Edinburgh, were present at the meeting in
Edinburgh on 2'7 and 2 8 December.
implies that for certain purposes an assembly of masters from one lodge only
was insufficient. Both on account of this implication, and because of the
powers which the Lodge of Kilwinning exercised over other lodges in the 1
Printed in Lyon, 9.
Ibid., 12. 98 THE MASON WORD West of Scotland, these statutes throw an
interesting light on Masonic organisation. (iii) An entry in the Minute Book
of the Lodge of Edinburgh, under date 2'7 November 1599,1 records that a
general meeting was to be held at St. Andrews on 13 January 16oo, "for
settling and taking order with the affairs of the Lodge of St. Andrews". The
meeting was to be attended by (a) two commissioners from "everie pircular [?
particular] ludge", (b) by the whole of the masters and others within the
jurisdiction of the Lodge of St. Andrews, and (c) by the masters of Dundee and
Perth, the penalty for failure to attend being Rio Scots in each case.
judge by the context, "pircular" lodges were probably subordinate lodges under
the jurisdiction of the Lodge of St. Andrews, which in that case very possibly
exercised some kind of supervision over Fifeshire lodges, corresponding to
that exercised by the Lodge of Kilwinning over West of Scotland lodges.
"others within the jurisdiction of the Lodge of St. Andrews" were presumably
the fellow crafts and entered apprentices. As Dundee and Perth were mentioned
separately and were to be represented in a different manner from the other
lodges, the presumption is that the Lodges of Dundee and Perth were somewhat
of the standing of the Lodge of St. Andrews.
Another and earlier example of jurisdiction exercised over masons resident in
a fairly wide area is afforded by the election of Patrick Copeland of Udaught,
by choice of a majority of the master masons of the district, to the office of
Warden and justice over the masons within the counties of Aberdeen, Banff and
Kincardine.z This particular election was ratified by the King in 159o.
most definite evidence of co‑operation or collaboration to secure freedom of
movement amongst masons is afforded by what are known as the Falkland Statutes
of 1636,3 which provided for the better regulation of masons, 1 Extract
printed in Lyon, 4o.
Ibid., 4, 5.
Promulgated at Falkland on 26 October 1636 by Sir Anthony Alexander, General
Warden and King's Master of Work; printed in Laurie, History of Freemasonry,
2nd ed., 1859, 445 sey., and in D. B. Morris, The Incorporation of Mechanics
of Stirling, 31 sey.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY wrights and other artificers engaged in the building
industry, by the foundation of unprivileged companies outside those places
where the trades in question were organised as privileged companies or
incorporations, under seals of cause. The Statutes contemplated three sorts of
conditions in which masons might be working away from home: (a) masters and
servants associated with a particular unprivileged company might work in the
area of another unprivileged company on payment of certain fees; (b)
artificers residing near a free burgh in which a privileged company was
established by seal of cause might be examined by that company and, if found
proficient, admitted to the craft; they could then work outside their own
area, in any unprivileged place, on payment of certain fees; (c) members of a
privileged company and their servants might reside and work in any other
company's bounds on payment of certain fees.
Supervising luthority.‑The long series of volumes of Master of Work Accounts
preserved in the Edinburgh Register House is a clear indication that the
King's Master of Work was an administrative and financial officer, whatever
other functions he might discharge. The various writs of appointment' throw
some light upon the duties of the officer. He was to superintend the
appointment of workmen and to agree with them about rates and prices and other
least one case he was given power to hold courts by himself or his deputies,
and to punish transgressors at the works under his charge.2 Originally an
appointment related to a particular work, such as Stirling Castle or
Linlithgow Palace, but at a later date the authority of the official extended
to all royal works, in which case the holder was usually described as
Principal Master of Work. The earliest of these wide appointments which we
have been able to trace are those of Sir James Hammyltoun in 1539, of John
Hammyltoun in 1543, and of Sir Robert Drummond in 1579 1 A score of these,
preserved in the Registers of the Privy Seal, are printed in R. S. Mylne,
"Masters of Work to the Crown of Scotland", Proc. Soc. f?ntif. Scot., 1895‑6,
Mylne, op. cit., 6o.
THE MASON WORD The writs of appointment as Principal Master of Work make no
reference to the closely associated office of Warden General of the Masons,
likewise a royal appointment. In more than one case, e.g., those of William
Schaw and Sir Anthony Alexander, the two offices were held simultaneously by
the same man, but we are unable to say whether that was always the case.
Lyon (p. 91) refers to Sir Anthony Alexander presiding at the Falkland Meeting
on 26 October 1636 "in the double capacity of General Warden and Master of
Work to his Majesty", which seems to imply that the two offices were distinct.
We are disposed to think that it was as General Warden that he exercised a
supervisory authority over the "territorial lodges" and the craft in general,
the Principal Master of Work being apparently concerned primarily, if not
entirely, with masons employed on royal works.
existence in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries of a
considerable measure of co‑operation and collaboration among masons in
different parts of Scotland, such as is clearly indicated by the various cases
to which we have drawn attention, provided the widespread association among
masons without which the institution of the Mason Word could not have existed.
That the various lodges scattered over Scotland should have communicated to
qualified masons the same secret methods of recognition, and that they should
have kept in touch with the changes and developments in those secrets, is
really very remarkable. It would certainly not have been possible without
close association among the interested parties, and probably not without some
overriding authority, such as that of the Warden General and King's Principal
Master of Work, to control the whole institution.
kinds of worker comprised in the organisation we have described are clearly
indicated in the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, 1670; and some
light on their respective shares in the secrets associated with the Mason Word
may be gained from the Schaw Statutes of 1598, the Edinburgh Register House
MS. of 1696, and the Chetwode Crawley MS. of circa 17oo.
lowest grade of organised workers, the handicraft apprentices, were 101 THE
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY bound by their indentures to keep secret their masters'
concerns, but had no share in the government of the lodge, and were not given
the Mason Word. The entered apprentices, on the other hand, were effective
members of the organisation and, according to the Statutes of this Lodge,
received the benefit of the Mason Word "at their entry". What additional
esoteric knowledge, if any, was imparted to the fellow crafts or master masons
in 167o is not clear from the Lodge Statutes. The Schaw Statutes of 1598
required the selection of intenders or instructors by each new fellow craft on
his admission, a provision which was effective, as is shown by minutes of the
Lodge of Edinburgh for the first decade of the seven teenth century.'
minutes of the Lodge of Aitchison's Haven for 1598 2 show not merely that a
new fellow craft on being admitted chose two fellow crafts as his intenders
and instructors, but that a new entered apprentice on his admission chose two
entered apprentices as his intenders and instructors. As candidates had to
give satisfactory proofs of their technical qualifications before admission,
it is difficult to understand what function these intenders discharged, unless
it were to instruct the candidates in the esoteric knowledge associated with
their particular grade. Assuming, as seems probable, that these intenders
corresponded to the "youngest mason" and the "youngest master" of the Chetwode
Crawley MS.,3 who taught the candidates the signs and postures, then it may
well be that there were two sets of secrets in 1598, those of the entered
apprentice and those of the fellow craft, and that it was these which the
intenders imparted to the newly admitted entered apprentices and fellow crafts
fact that the Schaw Statutes required two entered apprentices, together with
six masters, to be present when a fellow craft or master was admitted would
not neces ' Lyon, 17.
Wallace‑James, ‑4.Q.C., xxiv, 34 3 E.M.C., 36.
According to the closely related Edinburgh Register House MS. of 1696, the
candidate for admission as fellow craft (as well as the candidate for
admission as entered apprentice) went out of the company with the "youngest
mason" to learn the signs and postures. Presumably, this is a misscript of the
copyist and should read "youngest master".
THE MASON WORD sarily prevent secrets being communicated to fellow crafts. One
possibility is that the entered apprentices retired for a time when this stage
of the proceedings was reached; another is that the candidate retired with his
intenders and received the esoteric knowledge outside the lodge, as was to
some extent the method portrayed in the Edinburgh Register House and Chetwode
Crawley MSS.; the third possibility is that about I6oo the fellow craft
secrets were such as could be communicated in the presence of entered
apprentices, as, for example, a word communicated in a whisper, and possibly a
grip. By 1696 there were undoubtedly two sets of secrets, one for entered
apprentices, and another for fellow crafts or masters, and the entered
apprentices had to leave the company before fellow crafts were admitted. This
problem is discussed more fully in Chapter X, where the influence on early
Masonic ceremonies of the Mason Word, and the practices associated with its
communication, are examined.
ANTIQUITY OF THE MASON WORD It may be presumed that the Mason Word, like other
institutions, was not fully formed at its beginning, and that the various
elements of which it was composed in the early eighteenth century were not all
equally ancient. If, as is probable, the main line of development was from the
relatively simple to the more elaborate, it may be supposed that the process
started with a bare word or_ words, together, very possibly, with test
questions and answers. '
would explain why the institution, however elaborate it may ultimately have
become, was apparently always referred to as the Mason Word, tout court.
course of time accretions would occur, possibly because of the general
adoption of local variations introduced by way of additional safeguard or
explanation, or arising from modifications of phrases or gestures, which would
take place relatively easily in the days of oral transmission.
Gradually the signs and postures of the entered apprentice and the grip of the
fellow craft may have been added, to be followed at a later date by the
postures and five points of fellowship 103 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY of the
fellow craft, the explanatory story being a still later introduction. However
that may be, the Mason Word as an institution may be approximately dated with
reference to the circumstances which made it useful and its working possible.
are at least five indications which may help to date the institution. (1) As
the purpose of the Mason Word was to enable a man to demonstrate his
membership of a trade organisation, viz., what we have described as the
"territorial lodge", it cannot have come into existence until that type of
lodge was established. From the Schaw Statutes of 1599 we learn that Edinburgh
shall be in all time coming "as of before" the first and principal lodge in
Scotland, and that Kilwinning shall be the second lodge "as of before". The
phrase, "as of before", shows that the Lodges of Edinburgh and Kilwinning
existed prior to 1599, but how much earlier there is no evidence to show. (ii)
As in our opinion it would have been very difficult to operate the institution
without the existence of a supervisory authority, which at the end of the
sixteenth century was the Warden General and King's Principal Master of Work,
it would seem unlikely to have existed before the establishment of those
earliest appointment of King's Principal Master of Work that we have been able
to trace was that of Sir James Hammyltoun in 1539.
As the Mason Word was a privilege associated with the termination of an
apprenticeship or the admission to a fellowship, it might be as old as the
system of apprenticeship which can be traced at Cupar Angus 1 in 14o6 and at
Edinburgh a in 1475.
In so far as the Mason Word was connected with the admission to the grade of
entered apprentice, it could have existed in 1598, by which time that grade
was well established. As entered apprenticeship was connected with limitation
of the number of entrants to full membership of the trade, it might have
originated earlier than 1598, for a tendency to exclusiveness in craft
organisation was by no means new at the close of the sixteenth 3 1 Rental Book
of the Cistercian dUey of Cupar‑dngut, i, 3oq..
Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, r403‑r 538, 1‑2.
THE MASON WORD century. On the other hand, entered apprenticeship did not
exist as early as 1475, as, according to the Edinburgh seal of cause of that
year,' each apprentice at the termination of his seven years' term was to be
examined and, if found proficient, admitted a fellow of the craft. The
institution of that part of the Mason Word which enabled fellow crafts to
prove their superiority to entered apprentices was presum ably older than 1599
and newer than 1475.
so far as the object of the Mason Word was to protect qualified masons from
the menace of unqualified masons, the problem is to decide when that menace
became so serious as to stimulate the establishment of the institution.
know that the Schaw Statutes of 1598 prohibited masters and fellow crafts from
employing cowans, or sending their servants to work with cowans, under penalty
of X20 Scots for each offence, which implies that the menace existed in a
fairly acute form by 1598, but how much earlier it existed in a form which
called for action we do not know.
unqualified masons, there might be not only (a) drystone wallers, or `cowans'
in the original sense of the word, but (b) masons who had not served a lawful
apprenticeship, and (c) men who had served apprenticeships as masons, but had
not been admitted afterwards "according to the manner and custom of making
masons". 2 Men of the second class are described as "loses" in Melrose MS. No.
2 (1674), where the conditions are defined which make an apprenticeship
lawful, conditions approximating very closely indeed to those regulating
apprenticeship in the Schaw Statutes of 1598.
were not to employ "loses" if freemen were available, and if "loses" were
employed, they were not to be allowed to know "the privilege of the compass,
square, level and plumbrule". A mason of the third class is described as a "lewis"
in the late seventeenth‑century Dumfries MS. No. 3, where 1 Ibid.
judge by London experience in the seventeenth century, exapprentices who did
not take their freedom were by no means uncommon. Of 1,302 mason‑apprentices
presented in London during the 70 years from 1619‑20 to 1688‑9, only 579, or
44 per cent. of the apprentices bound, ultimately took up their freedom (L.M.,
63) 105 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY it is laid down that a master or fellow
"shall not make any mould, square or rule for any who is but a lewis".1 By the
end of the sixteenth century, the Mason Word would appear to be serving two
distinct purposes, (a) to protect entered apprentices and fellow crafts from
the competition of cowans or other unqualified masons, and (b) to protect
fellow crafts from the competition of entered apprentices. There would seem to
be three possibilities regarding the antiquity of this double‑barrelled
weapon. (1) The danger from unqualified masons and the establishment of the
grade of entered apprentice may have arisen simultaneously, leading to the
setting up in one operation of the Mason Word in its twofold form. (ii) The
menace may have been older than the establishment of the grade of entered
that case, fellow crafts or masters presumably possessed a single Mason Word
as a protection against cowans, etc., a Mason Word in which entered
apprentices, when that category was subsequently established, were permitted
to share. (iii) The establishment of the grade of entered apprentice may have
been older than the competition of unqualified masons.
that case, fellow crafts or masters presumably possessed a single Mason Word
as a defence against entered apprentices, a weapon to which a second element,
shared by entered apprentices, was subsequently added as a protection against
the menace of unqualified masons.
feel that there is not sufficient evidence to enable us to decide in which of
these ways the Mason Word, as an institution, came into being, or to fix the
exact date or dates when it was established.
review of the possibilities examined in this section suggests that it was not
established before about 155o.
conclusion harmonises with one of the earliest references to the Mason Word,
namely, that contained in a report of the Presbytery of Kelso, dated 24
February 1652‑3, to the effect that "in the purest times of this Kirk" masons
had that word.' To a Presbytery, the expression "in the purest times of this 1
For a discussion of the term lewis see Knoop, Jones and Hamer, The Wilkinson
Manuscript, pp. 40‑5 2 Scott, ii, 132.
MASON WORD Kirk" would almost certainly relate to a period beginning in i S6o,
when John Knox and his colleagues produced the Confession of Faith, and ending
either in 1s84, when the so‑called "Black Acts" provided for the appointment
of bishops and weakened the position of the Presbyteries, or in 161 o, when
the Episcopacy was definitely established.) Although we do not think that the
Mason Word, as an institution, was established before circa i sso, we do not
wish to suggest that it was suddenly and deliberately invented in Scotland
about the middle of the sixteenth century. The use by masons of passwords,
with which very possibly test questions and answers were associated, may have
sprung up at an earlier period more or less spontaneously in various parts of
Scotland. This might be at a time when the system of apprenticeship was
developing there in the second half of the fifteenth century; before some
recognised system of training existed, it is difficult to conceive what
purpose passwords could serve. Such local passwords, if they did exist, would
be comparable with the local customs relating to tools and holidays which were
found in England in the second half of the thirteenth and the first half of
the fourteenth centuries. Just as these and other local customs were more or
less unified and reduced to writing in the second half of the fourteenth
century, so divergent Scottish practices in the matter of masons' passwords,
assuming such existed, may, with the growth of district and central
organisations, have become sufficiently unified and systematised about 1 S5o
to be regarded as an institution.
However informal and local in character masons' secret methods of recognition
may have been originally, there can be little question that by the seventeenth
century the Mason Word, as an operative institution, had acquired an official
or semi‑official recognition; that this was so in the early eighteenth century
is clearly shown by the fact that one lodge actually went to law in 171 S to
secure the right to give the Mason Word .2 1 R. S. Rait, History of Scotland,
139, rσ6, r 5 r.
Seggie and Turnbull, dnnals of the Lodge of Yourneymen Masons No. S, Chap. 1.
CHAPTER VI THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION THE RENAISSANCE, THE REFORMATION, AND THE
OPENING UP OF THE NEW WORLD UNTIL fairly recently, the industrial developments
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were relatively neglected by
English economic historians, whose attention was largely concentrated on the
great changes in industrial processes and organisation which occurred during
the later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries.
been realised for a considerable time that the transition from small‑ to
large‑scale production began long before 175o, and that the improvement of
technique was not a new process beginning more or less suddenly about 1 733
with Kay's fly‑shuttle.
Indeed, a recent writer' says that "there have been at least two `industrial
revolutions' in Great Britain.
first occurred in the century preceding the Civil War", and it is mainly with
that period that we are concerned in this chapter.
that time largescale production and the simultaneous employment of vast
numbers of workers in one enterprise were an old story in the building
industry, as we have endeavoured to show in Chapter II.
follows that the transition from medieval to modern conditions in the building
industry did not occur in the way, or at the time, with which the student of
the later `industrial revolution' is familiar.
sixteenth century was a period of outstanding importance in the history of the
building industry in this country, not because it marked any sudden break in
continuity, but because it saw the speeding up of certain changes which had
commenced in the fifteenth century or earlier, and the beginning of other
changes which did not reach their full development until the seventeenth
century or later.
would be a great mistake to think that 1,J. U. Nef, J`. Of Po1. ECOn., Xliv,
289. 108 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION the changes in the building industry were
entirely independent of the much greater and more far‑reaching developments
which were taking place in other spheres of social activity at the same
period. The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the opening up of the New World,
each exercised a considerable direct or indirect influence on the building
industry. Of these three great movements, it was probably the Renaissance,
with its stimulus to planning and designing by gentlemen and scholars, which
ultimately led to the transformation of operative into accepted masonry.
more immediate effect on the building industry was seen in the great change in
architectural styles which took place about this time.
influence of the Reformation was also considerable, though not in the way that
Gould has suggested: "The Reformation; no more churches built; the builders
die out." '. The decline in the relative importance of the Church as an
employer of masons had begun in the fifteenth century, or even earlier; the
Reformation merely accelerated that decline. The place of the Church was taken
by other employers and it is a complete misconception to suggest that the
builders died out.
of buildings were erected during the sixteenth century; the mere fact that the
classical style was gradually substituted for the Gothic in no way affected
the operative masons who dressed and laid the stones.
indirect effects of the Reformation were of considerable importance to the
development of the building industry.
the gifts of land and buildings to supporters of Henry VIII, following the
Dissolution of the Monasteries, led to much building or rebuilding to house
the new owners of the monastic estates.
Second, the replacement of Roman Catholicism by Protestantism exercised a
considerable influence on masons' working conditions, by causing a great
reduction in, if not the entire disappearance of, the many holidays associated
with saints' days and church festivals.
effects on the building industry of the opening up of the New World were
great influx of the 1.d.Q.C., iii, 11.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY precious metals from Mexico and South America led
both to an increase and to a redistribution of the existing wealth. The new
resources of the gentry and of the trading community caused a considerable
expansion of private building; the increasing wealth of the more prosperous
masons and quarry‑owners enabled them to develop the contracting side of their
activities, thus accelerating the gradual displacement of the `direct labour'
system by the contract system. The great rise in prices, unaccompanied by a
proportionate rise in money wages, brought about a fall in real wages. This
not only impoverished the majority of masons, but stimulated building activity
by lowering real building costs, in so far as these consisted of wages.
CHANGES IN EMPLOYERS To present a comprehensive picture of building activity
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and of the changes in employers
during that period would require the examination of far more building accounts
and studies based upon building accounts than it has been possible for us to
undertake. Consequently, we deal with the subject only in very general terms.
So far as we can tell, there was very little ecclesiastical building for a
good many years before the Reformation; the completion of the nave of
Westminster Abbey, I the erection of King Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster,2
the finishing of St. George's Chapel, Windsor,3 and of King's College Chapel,
Cambridge,4 all of which took place in the first quarter of the sixteenth
century, were financed by the Crown, in part or in whole, and should probably
be regarded as representing royal, rather than ecclesiastical, building
VIII (1509‑49) was a great patron of the building crafts, both for residential
and for military purposes. At York Place,b Westminster Palace,e Nonsuch 1
Rackham, Nave of Westminster, 46.
G. Scott, Gleaning from Westminster 1lbbey, 69.
Hope, Windsor Castle, ii, 384.
Willis and Clark, 1, 481. s P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 474/7 e P.R.O. T.R. MiSC., 251,
252; Bodl. Rawl. D. 775; B.M. MS. IOIo9. 110 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION Palace,'
Bridewell Palace,2 Eltham,3 Grafton,4 Dartford,‑, and Greenwich,e Henry VIII
spent greater or smaller sums, and after the death of Wolsey in 1530 provided
himself with yet another residence by completing the vast palace which the
Cardinal had commenced at Hampton Court .7 Another building enterprise of
Wolsey's, the accounts for which are preserved among the State Papers, was
Cardinal College [Christ Church], Oxford.3
military works undertaken by Henry VIII, those at the Tower of London,9
Sandgate Castle, 10 Calais," Dover 12 and Beaumaris 13 may be mentioned.
Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth some royal building still took place, though
most of these royal operations were on a small scale. On the other hand, we
find a big expansion of private and corporate building in the second half of
the sixteenth century, in part at least stimulated by royal gifts of land and
buildings formerly belonging to monastic houses, such buildings being pulled
down and the stone used for other purposes. 14
new activity can be illustrated by what took place at Cambridge,'‑, where
substantial work was undertaken at King's in 1562, Trinity Hall in 1562‑3,
Caius in 1565‑'75, Corpus Christi in 1579, Emmanuel in 158q.‑6, Peterhouse in
1590‑5, Trinity in 1593 and 1598‑9, Sidney Sussex in 1596‑8, and at St. John's
in 1598‑I6o2. Other private enterprises of this period for which building
accounts are available are Lincoln's Inn (1567‑8),16 Loseley Hall 1 P.R.O.
Exch. K.R., 477/12; L. & P. Henry VIII, 13, ii, 1302 Bodl. Rawl. D. 776, 777.
Rawl. D. 777 4 Bodl. Rawl. D. 780.
Bodl. Rawl. D. 783, 7846 Bodl. Rawl. D. 775, 776, 777, 780 7 E. Law, Hampton
Court Palace, passim. 3 L. & P. Henry VIII, 4, ii, 1129.
Rawl. D. 775, 778 10 B.M. Harl. MSS. 1647, 1651; Rutton, 228. 11 L. & P. Henry
VIII, 14, ii, 8o.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 462/29 and 30 13 P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 489/12 and 15; Knoop
and Jones, Trans. l4nglesey flntiq. Soc., 1935, 59 14 M.M., 189, r go.
Willis and Clark, passim. 16 Black Books of Lincoln's Inn, i, 445 THE GENESIS
OF FREEMASONRY (1561‑9)1 and various works of Bess of Hardwick z and of Sir
Thomas Tresham.s The change in employers naturally led to a change in the type
of work. Churches, palaces and castles tended to be replaced by private
residences and collegiate buildings. Public works also appear to have become
more common, and increasing attention appears to have been given to bridges
and harbour works .4 In Scotland, also, in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, the importance of the Crown and Church as employers in the building
industry appears to have declined, whilst that of the municipalities and of
the nobility and landed gentry grew. The municipalities were responsible not
only for the erection of markets, prisons and other buildings required for
administrative purposes, but also for the building and maintenance of urban
churches, such as St. Giles, Edinburgh, the Tron Church, Edinburgh, Our Lady
Church, Dundee, and St. Nicholas, Aberdeen. The nobility and landed gentry
were mostly concerned with the erection of castles and houses for defensive or
residential purposes.5 CHANGES IN THE ORGANISATION OF BUILDING OPERATIONS The
change in employers had its repercussions on the Organisation of building
operations. The operations undertaken by municipalities and by private
employers were usually much smaller than those formerly undertaken by the
Church or the Crown.
more limited in extent and of more manageable size, these new works offered
greater scope for contractors than did the huge and almost interminable royal
and ecclesiastical building operations of earlier centuries.
the tendency for the use of the contract system to expand at the expense of
the `direct labour' system was accentuated.
growing wealth of the community, brought about by the influx of precious
metals from the New World, tended to have the same effect.
larger operations the direct labour system was still used in 1 S. Evans,
11rch., xxxvi, 28σ.
Stallybrass, f4rch., lxiv. a Hist. MSS. Com., Various Collections, iii, pp.
6‑8. 112 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION the first half of the sixteenth century,
e.g., on important works at Hampton Court,' Westminster Palace,2 Nonsuch
Palace 3 and Sandgate Castle .4 It continued to be used in the second half of
the sixteenth and early part of the seventeentb centuries as, for example, at
Berwick in 1557,, at Hardwick Hall about 15906 and at Bolsover Castle in
1613,' but with more parts of the work done by task or by 'bargain' than had
formerly been the case.e
erection of more substantial works by contract appears to have become commoner
in the sixteenth century.
George's Chapel, Windsor,9 and King's College Chapel, Cambridge,19 in which
the main work had been done on the direct labour system in the fifteenth
century, were finished by contract in the early sixteenth century. Trinity
College, Cambridge, let its first masonry contract in 1528‑9,11 having
previously relied upon the direct labour system, and St. John's College,
Cambridge, introduced the new system in 1598‑1602,12 when the second court was
erected by contractors.
Caius College,13 the Perse building was erected by contract in 1617 and the
Legge building in 1619. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries, Robert Grumbold's services as mason‑contractor and mason‑architect
were in great demand at Cambridge. 114 At Edinburgh the erection of the Tron
Church in 1635‑8 and that of the Parliament House in 1632‑q.o are relatively
late examples of important municipal works under taken on the direct labour
many more cases surviving accounts show that during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries much mason‑work was given out by task, and numerous
surviving masons' contracts bear wit ness to the wide use of the contract
difficult to generalise as the change was only gradual; thus Sir Thomas
Tresham, who did a good deal of building in 1 E. Law, op. cit., passim.
P.R.O. T.R. Misc., 251, 252.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 477/12.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 483/16.
Stallybrass, op. cit.
Hope, op. cit., ii, 384.
Willis and Clark, i, 479 " Ibid., ii, 454‑
Ibid., ii, 249.
Ibid., i, 186‑7.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Northamptonshire in the late sixteenth and early
seventeenth centuries, sometimes employed contractors and at other times made
use of the direct labour system.' At Oxford in 16 i o, Wadham College was
being erected on the direct labour system z and Merton College was being
extended by mason‑con tractors .3 How widespread the contract system was
amongst masons in London in the first part of the seventeenth century we
cannot say with certainty; the direct labour
system still prevailed to some extent. The Banqueting House at Whitehall was
partly erected on that system in 16 i g‑22, and substantial repair work at Old
St. Paul's in the 163os and minor repair work at various palaces in 1662 were
also apparently organised on the old system. On the other hand, the available
evidence suggests that the building of Lincoln's Inn Chapel in 1619‑24, the
rebuilding of the Goldsmiths' Hall in the 163os, and the erection of Clarendon
House in the early r 66os were done by contractors. After the Great Fire,
building activity enormously increased and much more information is available.
From this time onwards, in any case, the direct labour system appears to have
been almost universally displaced by the contract system. We find the masonry
work in connection with royal, ecclesiastical and municipal building being let
to contractors almost without exception. In all probability private jobs were
conducted in the same way. The rebuilding of Masons' Hall in 166g‑'7o is an
example of a private job done by contract.4 With the growth of the contract
system, though the building operations might sometimes be as large as they had
been formerly, or even larger, there occurred a decline in the scale of
production, in the sense that a number of relatively small firms took the
place of the large `integrated' and centrally controlled undertakings which
had characterised the building industry in the Middle Ages.
MSS. Com., Various, iii, pp. xxxiii folg. z T. G. Jackson, Wadham College, 29.
W. Hanson, "Halifax Builders at Oxford", Trams. Halifax Zmtiq. Soc., 1928.
paragraph is based on L.M., 39 folg.
PERIOD OF TRANSITION CHANGES IN MASONS' WORKING CONDITIONS Wages.‑Though the
number of mason‑contractors and mason‑shopkeepers undoubtedly grew in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most masons do not appear to have had the
capital, or possibly the initiative, necessary to set up for themselves as
`little masters', and most workers in the trade continued to be, as they had
been for centuries, wage‑earners for the greater part, if not all, of their
working lives. The position of the wage‑earner during. this period was one of
much difficulty, as the outstanding feature of stone‑masons' wages in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was their marked increase in terms of
money and their great decline in terms of purchasing power.
doubtless the rise in prices, primarily brought about by the vast influx of
silver from Mexico and South America, and in a lesser degree by the debasement
of the coinage, which led to the increase in money wages, the extent of which
can be illustrated by the experience of the masons employed at London Bridge:
about I Soo they received 8d. a day; about I6oo, I6d. a day; and about 1700,
32d. a day. Whilst money wages were thus doubling and redoubling themselves,
prices were roughly quadrupling and then doubling themselves, so that the
purchasing power of the mason's wage both in 16oo and in 1700 was approxi
mately only half what it had been in I Soo.
summarise the changes in masons' daily money wages in the following table,'
money wages in ISoi‑io being treated as equal to i oo.
purposes of comparison, the corresponding figures for (1) wholesale food
prices, (ii) daily real wages,2 and (iii) weekly real earnings 3 are set out
in parallel columns I M.M., Appendix I, "Statistics of Masons' Wages and of
Obtained by dividing the index‑numbers of money wages by the corresponding
index‑numbers of prices.
calculating the weekly real earnings, we assume (i) that between 1501 and
1540, on account of holidays, they were equivalent to five days' wages; and
(ii) that between 1541 and 1702, in view of the relative absence of holidays
and the prevalence of overtime referred to in some detail on pages 119‑2o
below, they were equivalent to six days' wages.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Years.
Masons' money wages. 1501‑10= 100.
Wholesale food prices. 1501 Masons' daily real wages. 1501‑10= 100.
Masons' weekly real earnings. 1501‑10= 100.
1501‑1510 1511‑1520 1521‑1530 1531‑1540 1541‑1550 1551‑156o 1561‑1570
1571‑1582 1583‑1592 1593‑1602 1603‑1612 1613‑1622 1623‑1632 1633‑1642
1643‑1652 1653‑1662 1663‑1672 1673‑1682 1683‑1692 1693‑1702 100 Too 100 103
108 163 172 192 196 196 200 223 232 251 293 320 325 325 329 346 1o=100‑Too 101
132 131 18o 290 26o 298 318 437 470 5o6 520 519 557 541 554596 585 682 TOO 99
76 79 6o 56 66 64 62 45 43 44 45 48 54 59 59 55 56 51 TOO 99 76 79 72 67 79 77
74 5452 53 54 58 65 71 7 1 66 67 61 The articles selected for the purpose of
calculating these index‑numbers of wholesale prices do not include either
bread or beer, in those days two of the most important items of diet among the
labouring classes, though they do include the various grains from which bread
and beer were made. There is, however, some ground for thinking that the
prices of bread and beer did not rise as much as the prices of the grains from
which they were produced.' Thus the index‑numbers of prices quoted may
exaggerate the rise in the cost of living. It should also be noted that
wage‑earners, where they were paid partly in food, as was certainly to some
extent the case in Scotland, 2 may not have borne the whole burden of rising
prices. In England official wage assessments made by justices of the 1 J. U.
Nef, "Prices and Industrial Capitalisation in France and England, 154o‑1640",
Ec. H. R., May 1937, 166.
PERIOD OF TRANSITION Peace under the Statute of Artificers, 1563, commonly
laid down two scales of pay, one with food and drink, and one without, and
building accounts show that provision of board for masons was not unknown.‑
Our information is not sufficient for us to be able to say that, as a set‑off
to the fall in the purchasing power of money wages, the system of paying wages
partly in kind came to be more extensively used in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, than had formerly been the case. The system almost
certainly existed at an earlier date, just as at an earlier date masons had
agricultural holdings and other by‑occupations at which they themselves worked
during slack periods in the building industry, and at which their womenfolk
and younger children worked at all times. We think it not unlikely, however,
that both these systems were adopted more extensively during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, as a means of supplementing inadequate money wages
during a period of rising prices.
was one new sixteenth‑ and seventeenth‑century device which, in certain cases
at least, tended to make the position of the more responsible journeyman
masons rather less intolerable, in the face of the fall in real wages, than
would otherwise have been the case. That was the extended use of the system of
apprenticeship, as a result of which not merely master masons and
mason‑contractors but also journeyman masons took apprentices. We drew
attention on page 8 o above to the fact that the regulations of the newer
versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry permitted fellows, as well as
masters; to take apprentices, but we did not stress the implications of this
innovation. It was not the apprentice who received the relatively high wage
paid in respect of his services, but his master, who, being responsible for
the board, lodging and clothing of the apprentice, was entitled to any wage
earned by him.
apprentice's wage appears to have varied with the years of service from about
6o to i oo per cent. of that of a fully qualified craftsman ,2 we feel that it
more ‑ xvl C.M., 13.
.M., 65; M.M., r63; London Masons' Ordinances, 1521 (M.M., 256); Norwich
Masons' Ordinances, 15'7'] (1?.Q.C., xv, 210).
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY than covered his master's out‑of‑pocket expenses in
maintaining him, and that it was a method of partly compensating such
journeymen as had apprentices for the great rise in the cost of living during
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Under these conditions, the number of
apprentices employed appears to have become not inconsiderable. Thus the
`general search' conducted by the London Masons' Company in 1694 showed that
of the seventy masons employed in connection with four of the St. Paul's
contracts, no fewer than twenty‑six, or 3'7 per cent., were apprentices.'
Further, in some cases where journeymen's apprentices were employed, their
masters were not engaged on the same job.
the old rule that no one should set an apprentice to work except in the
presence of his master 2 was clearly no longer enforced, if it still existed.
Consequently, it was possible for a journeyman mason to supplement his income
by hiring out the services of his apprentice.
Holidays.‑Reliable information concerning holidays can generally only be
obtained from those building accounts which were kept in the form of a
register, or which contain some special entry, such as that in the Brent
Bridge Account, 1530,3 for the week ending 30 July: "That the sayd Gabriell [Caldam],
Kyngysfeld, Parker & Tukker masons clayme to have ther Wage for seynt Annys
day because ther was this weke ij holydays the wiche is yet respected." The
second holiday referred to was probably St. James (25 July), and the masons
claimed to be paid for one holiday according to an old custom, which was still
observed at York Place in 1515,4 that where two feasts fell in the same week,
the masons lost only one day's pay,‑' though if three feasts occurred they
lost half a week's wage.
entry is also interesting because of its suggestion that saints' days were no
longer being honoured as in former times. This no doubt did come to pass, but
a Tower of London Account for 1535‑66 shows an actual increase in the number
of ' L.M., 65.
London Regulations for the Trade of Masons, 1356 (M.M., 250). 3 Trans. Lond.
and Mid..drch. Soc., N.S., v (1929), 454 4 P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 474/7.
Rawl. D. 778118 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION holidays compared with Eton College
in 1444‑5 (38 days) and 1445‑6 (43 days).' At the Tower in 1535‑6, S i days
were observed as holidays by the masons, 2'7 with pay and 24 without.
holidays observed at Dartford in 1541‑2 were fewer by approximately
judge by a Berwick Account of 1557,3 holidays had almost entirely disappeared
by that year.
Overtime.‑Long before the coming of the factory system, overtime in all its
various forms‑encroachment upon mealtimes, evening work, night work,
employment on Saturday afternoons, on Sundays and on recognised holidays‑can
be traced in surviving building accounts of the sixteenth century. It was apt
to be required not only of masons, but of all categories of building
artificers and labourers.
have found no example of systematic overtime before the sixteenth century, and
are inclined to attribute its appearance in the reign of Henry VIII to the
great speeding up of building which took place then.
more leisurely methods and the less certain financial resources of the Middle
Ages, as illustrated by the rebuilding of the nave of Westminster Abbey during
the hundred and fifty years from 13'76 to 1528,4 yielded to something
approaching modern hustle, which permitted the erection of Sandgate Castle in
eighteen months in 1539‑40.5
not only works of defence, however, which were treated as very urgent; a
similar speed was shown in the erection of royal residences.
have discussed the subject more fully elsewhere,e we content ourselves here
with giving a single example of each type of overtime: Encroachment upon
mealtimes.‑During the five weeks ending 13 July 1538, 40 freemasons and 63
layers at Nonsuch Palace worked their "hour times and drinking times", some as
few as five `hours', others as many as 47 .' Evening and Saturday afternoon
work.‑At Dartford e ' Eton, 86.
Rawl. D. 783, 784.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 483/16.
Rackham, op. cit., passim.
"Overtime in the Age of Henry VIII", Ec. Hist., February 1938. 7 P.R.O. Exch.
Rawl. D. 783.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY in the week commencing 2'7 February 1542, a mason
named John Ayllyn was paid for half a day's overtime (presumably equivalent to
four or five hours) on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when it
was probably worked from 6 or 7 to 1o or i i p.m., and again on the Saturday,
when it was probably worked in the late afternoon, since there is some reason
for thinking that Saturday was a short day.' Work on recognised holidays.‑In
1541, Robert Lynstead, the senior mason at Dartford, who worked on the
Assumption V. M. (i 5 August), St. Bartholomew (24 August) and the Nativity
V.M. (8 September), which would normally have been holidays with pay, received
double pay for so working.2 Work on Sundays.‑At the manor of Canterbury, all
the freemasons worked on Sunday, October i g and 26, 1539.3 Night work.‑In May
1531, twenty‑four layers at Westminster worked at night (in addition to day
work), two being paid for five nights, two for four nights, two for three
nights, eight for two nights, and ten for one night.4 Impressment.‑The system
of impressing masons to work on royal building operations, so common in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, is still to be found in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. ` Preste money', at the rate of either 6d. for 2o
miles, or of ‑1d. per mile, was paid to the men who were taken.
at York Place in 1515 six masons were paid 12d. each for the journey from
Cambridge, and one gd. for the journey from Walden.5 At Westminster Palace in
1531 on four separate occasions men were paid for riding to take masons; the
building account does not show the places where they were impressed, but the
numbers and payments are indicated, showing that 132 masons were taken, and
were paid `preste money' in respect of distances ranging from 2o to 150
miles,e the average distance being 54 miles. At Nonsuch Palace in ' M.M., 120.
Rawl. D. 783.
Rawl. D. 779.
P.R.O. T.R. Misc., 251.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 474/7.
P.R.O. T.R. Misc., 251. 120 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION 1538 one freemason was
paid his expenses for riding 30 days in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,
Herefordshire and Worcestershire arresting and taking up masons, and another
his expenses for i o days on the same errand in Northamptonshire and
Bedfordshire. In all they brought back five freemasons and thirty‑three rough
layers., At Sandgate Castle in 1539 and 1540, masons were impressed on four
occasions, 211 men being taken in all, more than half of whom were taken in
the West Country .2
Berwick in 1557, eight hardhewers impressed in Kent were paid 12s. 8d. each in
respect of 304 miles from Maidstone to Berwick.8
1562‑3 at Trinity College, Cambridge, Thomas Warde was paid 4s. 8d. "going
with the Commission into Northamptonshire and Lincoln for freemasons" .4 In
1564, when the erection of the New Court of Gonville and Caius College,
Cambridge, was about to begin, a commission was obtained by Dr. Caius from
Queen Elizabeth protecting the workmen on the building from impressment for a
period of five years,5 which is further evidence that the system of
impressment was still in vogue at that date.
this commission implies, masons were not the only workmen to be pressed; we
know that tilers were impressed for work at Greenwich in 1532,6 bricklayers
for work at the Tower of London in 1533,' and that artificers were arrested
and taken by commission from different places for work at Cardinal College
[Christ Church] in 1526.8
were pressed for the works at Dover Pier in i 58o.e In the seventeenth
century, the responsibility for the impressment of masons was apparently
placed on the London Masons' Company. We do not know how early this method was
adopted, for the Company's records prior to 1619 are lost, but their account
book shows that they pressed men for the King's service in 1629 ,o and 1636,δ
whilst in 1667 the Lord Mayor of London was commanded to call , P.R.O. Exch.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R., 483/16.
Willis and Clark, ii, 568 n.
Ibid., i, 171.
Rawl. D. 775‑
6 L. &
P. Hurry VIII, 4, ii, I 13 o.
Dom. iSσ7‑8o, 674 10 Conder, 153.
"Ibid., 161. 121 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY before him the authorities of the
Masons' and Bricklayers' Companies in order to get men for the royal works at
Sheerness.' In the by‑laws of the Masons' Company, approved after they
received their charter of incorporation in 1677,2 it was provided that if His
Majesty or his successors should have occasion for masons to erect, build,
repair or finish any structure, fort, tower, castle or fortification, it
should be lawful for the Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Company to
provide as many masons, members of the Company, as should from time to time be
ordered by the Master Mason of England for the time being.3 CHANGES IN
ORGANISATION AMONG MASONS Since the only positive reference to masons'
`customs' as such with which we are acquainted occurs in 1539 in connection
with the erection of Sandgate Castle,4 it is possible that as late as 1539
what was presumably a revised version of the medieval `customs', as embodied
in the Articles and Points of the Regius and Cooke MSS.,B was still observed.
It is uncertain how far the changes in the building industry, which we discuss
in this chapter, were accompanied by changes in the regulations of the masons'
craft. It is probable that the old system of regional `assemblies',
administering and periodically revising the `customs', in so far as it really
existed during the Middle Ages, slowly disintegrated. Here and there it may
have been replaced by the ordinances of municipal companies, equipped with
charters and usually including other crafts as well as that of the masons,
which were set up in some towns in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries. A possible example of this new type of regulation is provided by
the Company and Fellowship of Free Masons which, cc att a Lodge held att
Alnwick Septr 29 1701 ", adopted certain "Orders".
are written in the Minute Book 1 S.P. Dom. 1667, σo8, and Conder, 187 2
Printed in .4.Q‑C., xliii, 117‑2σ.
accounts (B.M. Harl. MS. 16σ7, fo. 1o9) show that the jurat of Folkestone had
communication with the master controller at Sandgate "concerning the use and
custom of free masons and hardhewers".
pp. σ9 fo1g. above.
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION of the Alnwick Lodge immediately following the
Charges General and Singular of the so‑called f41nwick MS. They 1 fix the
fines to be paid for various offences which are not unlike breaches of the
precepts contained in the Charges. On the reverse of the Taylor MS. of circa i
69o,2 in a different and later hand, are "Articles and Orders condescended
concluded and agreed upon by ye company and ffellowship of ffreemasons",
together with the fines for violating the articles and orders, but with no
indication as to where the company was located.
Minute Book of the Lodge at Swalwell [now Lodge of Industry No. 48, Gateshead],
early entries in which date from circa 173o, are a set of "Penal Orders" (of a
similar character to the fllnwick and Taylor Orders) following "Orders of
Antiquity", "Apprentices Orders", and "General Orders' '.3
as we are aware Swalwell was not a municipal borough, so that the Penal Orders
are unlikely to have had the sanction of a local authority behind them.
just possible, however, that they represent such regulation as the county
justices were able to impose in accordance with the Statute of Artificers of
i563 Though the `assembly' may have become obsolete in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, it is not certain that the MS. Constitutions of Masonry
thereafter ceased to be the embodiment of living regulations governing
operative masons. As late as 1756, a version of the MS. Constitutions known as
the Thistle MS 4 was entered in the Minute Book of the Journeymen [now
Thistle] Lodge, Dumfries (constituted in 1753), and the members of this
operative lodge bound themselves to observe the regulations of this version of
the MS. Constitutions by subscribing their sig natures to the document.
Thistle MS. shows signs of late revision by the introduction into the charges
of homely and practical precepts for operative masons, e.g., a mason is to pay
honestly for meat, drink, washing and lodging at the 1 Printed in M.M.,
Printed in Poole and Worts, 193‑8 3 These four sets of Orders (referred to as
the Gateshead MS.) are printed in Masonic Mag., iii (1875‑6), 82‑5.
Printed in I.Q.C., xxxv, 41‑65. X23 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY place where he
boards; he is to relieve the poor, visit the sick, and be affable and kind to
widows and the fatherless; he is to avoid drunkenness. How late this revision
was made we are unable to say; the earliest version known to us of the charges
in this revised form is Dumfries No. σ MS., written fairly early in the
eighteenth century.' It is possible, therefore, that the regulations of the
MS. Constitutions were revised in Scotland as late as circa 1700.
CHANGES IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF BUILDING OPERATIONS Decline in the Status of
the Master Mason.‑The master mason was an official of great importance in the
medieval building economy but before the end of the Middle Ages his standing
tended to decline. On big undertakings it was in many cases much lower than
that of Walter of Hereford when he held the combined offices of master mason
and master of the works at Vale Royal Abbey in 1278‑80 and later at Caernarvon
Castle. Even in an era of great building activity at Windsor Castle about
136o, the position of the two chief masons, Master John de Sponle, master
mason and ordinator of the works of the King's masons, and Master William
Wynford, apparellator, was somewhat overshadowed by the prominence of William
of Wykeham, the clerk who held the office of Surveyor of the King's Works in
the Castle of Windsor.
erection of Eton College in the middle of the fifteenth century, the clerical
holder of the office of master of the works was a much more important
personage than the chief mason. Thus the great authority of surveyors and
controllers in the sixteenth century, and the marked increase in the number of
officials, to the detriment of the position occupied by the chief mason, were
the result of a tendency which can be traced as early as the fourteenth
century. The fact that plans and designs in the sixteenth century were, as we
shall show, sometimes prepared by non‑masons was doubtless another reason for
the declining status of the chief mason.
at Sandgate Castle in 1539‑40, where the planning and designing were almost
certainly done by the engineer and `devisor', Steven von Hashenberg, in I
E.M.C., 45 124 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION receipt of a salary of 4s. a day, the
chief mason, Robert Lynstead, at a wage of Iod. a day, was described as
"warden of the masons". The further fact that the `direct labour' system of
conducting building operations was being displaced in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries by the contract system implied that master masons
working for employers for whom large buildings were being erected were
replaced by overseers or wardens or foremen working for mason‑contractors.
was more especially the case where contractors had undertaken two or more jobs
simultaneously. Thus Nicholas Stone employed a certain Gabriel Stacey as his
overseer on various occasions in the 1630s; later in the century, Samuel
Fulkes and Nathaniel Rawlins, before they themselves became large
masoncontractors, appear to have served as overseers to the Strongs on their
St. Paul's contracts.' Growing Importance of Plans and Designs.‑Long before
the advent of the sixteenth century, plans and designs must have played a part
in all the more important building operations, as we endeavoured to show in
Chapter II. In the sixteenth century we find not only more references to plans
or 'plats' ,2 but also indications that some of them were prepared by persons
other than masons, thus marking the beginning, or the extension, of a practice
which ultimately led to the establishment of the modern profession of archi
this connection, it may be noted that the first English book on architecture,
The First and Chief Groundes of ,Irchitecture by John Shute "paynter and
archytecte", was published in 1563, and again in 1584. Among the non‑masons
who drew `plats' were James Nedham at Windsor in 1532‑3,3 and Lawrence
Bradshaw at Ampthill in 1543.4
former was appointed King's Carpenter in 1531, clerk and overseer of the
King's Works in I533, and Master of the London Carpenters' Company in 1536.r,
Bradshaw was also a carpenter, who in due course succeeded ' This sub‑section
is based on XYI C.M., 7‑9 and L.M., 33 2 For details, see XYI C.M., 6.
Rawl. D. 7751 B.M. MS. IoIo9.
a L. &
P. Harry VIII, 5, ioσ; ibid., 6, 191; Jupp and Pocock, Company of Carpenters,
623 125 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Nedham as Surveyor of Works.' According to
Horace Walpole, a much more famous architect, Inigo Jones (1573‑1652), was
apprenticed to a joiner, but there appears to be no certain evidence of this 2
However that may be, he was well known as an ingenious designer of scenery and
costumes for masques years before he accom plished anything great in
acquired a first‑hand knowledge of Renaissance art by travel in Italy, but to
judge by the drawings in the sketch‑book which he carried with him, he was
mainly concerned with scenery and costumes prior to 1616, when he was
appointed Surveyor of His Majesty's Works.3
not until 161 g, when he was 46 years old, that he designed the Banqueting
House, Whitehall, the first truly Italian building to be put up in England. At
its erection in 1619‑22, Nicholas Stone wad master mason, and it was doubtless
to his skill and knowledge of detail that the building owed much of its
those days, as in the Middle Ages, when there were few complete working
drawings, detailed specifications or quantities, a great deal was left to the
master mason and workmen who followed the traditions of the craft in which
they had been brought Up .5 This co‑operation between the men who prepared the
`plats' (plans) and `uprights' (elevations) and the master masons or
mason‑contractors who erected the buildings, helps to explain how persons who
were not masons by trade gradually developed into amateur or professional
architects. Those who were carpenters doubtless had some knowledge of building
technique, but many of the seventeenthcentury architects were gentlemen who
had acquired a knowledge of design from travel and from the study of the
writings of Vitruvius and Palladio. Even the greatest English architect of his
age, Sir Christopher Wren (16321 723), was not trained for architecture; he
had attained eminence as a scientist and astronomer before he designed his
a late example of the connection 1 Jupp and Pocock, 623; Cal. Pat. R. 1547‑8,
Thomas Jackson, Renaissance of Roman .4rchitecture: England, 96. Briggs, 272.
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION between mathematics and architecture, which in
medieval times had led writers to treat masonry as equivalent to geometry.
Other examples are John Thorpe (fl. 1570161o) and Inigo Jones. Peacham's
Gentleman's Exercise of 1612 describes Thorpe as "an excellent geometrician
and surveior" 1
very much is known about his architectural activities, but his book of
drawings (preserved in the Soane Museum) contains plans and elevations of
buildings of the period circa 1570 to circa 16oo.
Jones is said to have taught his pupil, John Webb, mathematics as well as
architecture .2 John Webb (161172), long regarded as a nonentity and underling
of Inigo Jones, but now accepted as an architect of the first rank,
responsible for the great scheme of the Palace at Whitehall and for the design
of King Charles's block at Greenwich,$ is an example of a seventeenth‑century
architect who underwent professional training.
leaving the Merchant Taylors' School at the age of seventeen he became a pupil
to Inigo Jones and worked in his office until Jones's death in 1651.
in the century, another man who subsequently made his mark in architecture,
Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661‑1736), at the age of eighteen became Wren's "scholar
and domestic clerk", gradually working his way up through subordinate
appointments to independent practice.4 Sir John Vanbrugh (1664‑1726), on the
other hand, entered architecture comparatively late in life, without any
professional training, being a soldier and dramatist before becoming an
erection of Blenheim Palace, his best‑known work, he had Edward Strong in
partnership with Edward Strong, junior, as mason‑contractor from 1705 to
1712,5 and the Palace doubtless owes much to the skill and knowledge of detail
acquired by the Strongs on their work at St. Paul's and elsewhere.
Examples of amateurs acting as architects in Scotland occur in 1633, when Dr.
William Gordon, Professor of Medicine at Aberdeen, designed the crown of the
steeple at the college to replace one which had been blown downse and in the
168os when 1 Ibid., 243.
265; Gotch, 99‑113 4 Briggs, 286, 309.
Ibid., 303; L.M., 45. e Macgibbon and Ross, The Yrchitecture of Scotland, v,
563 127 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Patrick, first Earl of Strathmore, was his
own architect in remodelling Glamis Castle., The eighteenth century also had
its amateur architects, such as Lord Burlington, Lord Pembroke, Dean Aldrich,
`Doctor' Clarke, Sir James Burrough, and James Essex.2 Lord Burlington's
architectural activities are mentioned incidentally by Anderson in his
Constitutions of 1723 (p. 48 n.), where he states that Burlington House,
Piccadilly, the Dormitory of King's School, Westminster, and Tottenham Park,
Wiltshire, were "design'd and conducted" by the Earl of Burlington, "who bids
fair to be the best Architect of Britain (if he is not so already)". The
influence of amateur interest in architecture in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries on the development of accepted masonry is discussed in
the next chapter.
Strathmore, The Book of Record, a diary ... and other documents relating to
Glamis Castle, 1684‑1689, 42.
CHAPTER VII THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY OPERATIVE, ACCEPTED, AND SPECULATIVE
MASONRY HIS chapter may best be introduced by a brief examination of the terms
employed. By `operative masonry' we understand the Organisation and practices
which from time to time prevailed among working masons in England and Scotland
in the later Middle Ages and early modern times. Men who were not masons by
trade but who joined such an Organisation, as frequently happened in Scotland
during the seventeenth century, we call 'non‑operative masons'. In Scotland,
such nonoperative masons, or 'non‑operatives' for short, were known in the
seventeenth century as `gentleman masons'. This term occurs in Prichard's
Masonry Dissected of 1730,1 where, in response to the question "What do you
learn by being a Gentleman Mason?", the answer is given: "Secresy, Morality
Presumably the operative masons also learned these qualities as well as the
matters indicated by Prichard, namely "Hue, Square, Mould‑stone, lay a Level
and raise a Perpendicular". `Secresy' was doubtless associated with the Mason
Word, `Morality' with the Charges General and Singular of the MS.
Constitutions, and `Goodfellowship' with conviviality at the lodge meetings.
`speculative masonry', or what Murray Lyon calls `symbolical masonry', we
understand a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated
by symbols. In other words, we regard it as synonymous with `freemasonry' in
its modern sense.
word `speculatyf' occurs in the Cooke MS. of circa 14 10 a in the sense of
theory or specula tive knowledge, as contrasted with practical knowledge.
fifteenth‑century `speculative mason', had the expression 1 E.M.C., 114‑
622 (Two MSS., 103). Ia9 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY been used, would have been
a person interested in pure geometry (one of the seven liberal arts), or
possibly in the mathematical side of architecture, and not a `speculative
mason' in the modern sense. We do not think that any question of morality or
symbolism was implied in the fifteenth century by the `speculatyf' of the
Cooke MS., such as is implied at the present time when we contrast operative
with speculative masonry.
in commenting upon the occurrence of the word `speculatyf' in the Cooke MS.,
says:' ... in the iSth, and again in the 18th century Masonic documents use
the word in precisely the same sense; but the curious part is that intervening
manuscripts reveal no trace of its usage. And yet, I believe, it was handed
down amongst the masons, and not re‑introduced fortuitously by Anderson or his
implies that `speculative' was used by Masonic writers in the early eighteenth
century as the opposite of `operative' or `practical'. We cannot check this
interpretation, however, because we do not know what Masonic document or
documents he had in mind.
from the Woodford and Supreme Council MSS., which are exact copies of the
Cooke MS. made by William Reid in 1728, we cannot discover that the word
`speculative' was used in Masonic documents of the early eighteenth century,
or that it was re‑introduced by Anderson or his contemporaries.
Chetwode Crawley repeats the statement about Anderson, when he writes 2 that
the word `speculative' was adopted by Anderson in his Old Charges in 1723‑
Unfortunately, neither Speth nor Chetwode Crawley gives chapter and verse for
his statement, and we have failed to trace the word in Anderson.$
he possibly does use it in some 1 In his commentary on the Cooke MS. in Q.C..I.,
ii, the pages of which are unnumbered.
passage occurs about 31 pages from the end.
Hib., i, 6.
nearest we have got to it is at second‑hand, where Conder (.4.Q.C., ix, 38)
refers to "the tradition mentioned by Anderson in the Constitutions of 1723,
that `before a man could join the London Masons Company he must be initiated
into the mysteries of Speculative Masonry' ".
sentence 13o THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY connection or other, we are quite
clear that the terms commonly employed by Anderson in his Constitutions to
describe the masons associated with the newly established Grand Lodge were
`free mason' and `accepted free mason' in 1'723, and `free and accepted mason'
in 1738. The earliest use of the expression `speculative mason' with which we
are acquainted occurs in a letter which Dr. Manningham, Deputy Grand Master,
wrote to Bro. Sauer at The Hague on 12 July 1767, to assure him that
freemasonry consists of three Degrees and no more: ". . . I believe you can
scarcely imagine, that in antient time the Dignity of Knighthood flourish'd
amongst Free Masons; whose Lodges here to fore consisted of Operative, not
Speculative Masons." 1 The earliest reference to `speculative masonry' known
to us occurs in the second edition of Preston's Illustrations of Masonry,'
published in 1775:2 ". . . Masonry passes and is understood under two
denominations, it is operative and it is speculative." Between the operative
masonry of circa 16oo and the speculative masonry of circa 18oo, there is a
gap of some Zoo years, and the problem of how it was filled remains. One
possibility is that the operative masonry of the early seventeenth century
continued practically unchanged until the early eighteenth, and that it was
then suddenly transformed by Desaguliers, Anderson, and other prominent masons
of the newly‑formed Grand Lodge in London, into something approximating to the
speculative masonry of the early nineteenth century. This, for example,
appears to which Conder prints in quotation marks is a very free rendering of
what Anderson prints in a Note on page 82 of his Constitutions of 1723: "that
in former Times no Man was made Free of that Company [the London Company of
Freemen Masons] until he was installed in some Lodge of Free and .4ccepud
Masons, as a necessary qualification". In the original, there is no mention of
"speculative", nor, incidentally, of "initiated", a term not commonly used at
that period, and, so far as we are aware, first occurring in Oakley's Speech
of 1728 (E.M.P., 6).
4.Q.C., v, I I o.
have to thank Bro. J. Heron Lepper for drawing our attention to this
Section VI, p. 17.
have to thank Bro. H. H. Hallett for drawing our attention to this reference.
have since discovered that it is mentioned in Begemann, Freimaurerei in
Schouland, 391 n.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY have been the view held by Murray Lyon, who describes
Desaguliers as "the co‑fabricator and pioneer" of English symbolical masonry,'
Anderson being presumably cast for the other principal part. The whole weight
of the evidence, however, is against any such revolutionary transformation. If
we look forward from circa 1723, we find various indications of a series of
changes lasting until after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813.
Looking backwards from circa 1723, we find less direct evidence to guide us,
but there is certainly no reason to think that this process of change was
other than gradual, just as it was after 1723.
opinion, as we shall endeavour to show in some detail in Chapter XI, there
would seem to be fairly good grounds for thinking that some of the important
changes introduced by accepted masons into the old operative ceremonies had
already occurred by the last decades of the seventeenth century, thirty years
or more before the formation of Grand Lodge in 1717.
England, non‑operatives, who can first be definitely traced in the seventeenth
century, do not appear to have belonged to lodges of operative masons as was
the case in Scotland; on the contrary, they appear to have been made masons
either at occasional, or at semi‑permanent, lodges consisting mainly, or
exclusively, of non‑operatives or of `gentleman masons' (as defined by
Prichard). An instance of the former kind is the lodge held at Warrington on
16 October 1646 to admit Elias Ashmole, the antiquary; instances of the latter
kind are the London `Acception' (connected with the London Masons' Company),
and the lodge at Chester (to which Randle Holme III, the Chester genealogist
and antiquary, belonged). The freemasons made in these English lodges, which
are discussed more fully below, were described by seventeenth‑century writers,
such as Dr. Robert Plot 2 and John Aubrey, a as `adopted' or `accepted'
were largely, if not entirely, independent of operative control, and were
consequently in a far better position than the non‑operatives in Scotland to
modify, amend, or elaborate Masonic ceremonies. This ' Lyon, 163.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY changing body of Masonic ceremonies, practised by
the accepted masons during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, can
best be described as `accepted masonry'. In our opinion, it formed the link
connecting operative and speculative masonry; the latter, for reasons which we
state later in this volume, we are disposed to regard as commencing about 1730
NON‑OPERATIVES AND THE CRAFT An inquiry into the development of freemasonry
during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries cannot but raise the
question what induced non‑operatives to join Masonic lodges; but the question
is far easier to ask than to answer, for only occasionally did such men even
record the fact they had joined the craft, and very rarely indeed did they
state their reasons. It is possible to make some inferences from the known
interests of such people as Elias Ashmole and Randle Holme; but the inferences
cannot be checked and, in any event, it is not possible to tell how far their
reasons or motives were typical.
similar difficulty exists for the religious historian of the period, seeking
to explain why some men became Quakers or Baptists while others remained in
the Church of England.
regard to some the answer is in part, humanly speaking, accident, such as
happening to be in a place where George Fox was testifying. With others the
answer may lie in relationship: a son may have been a Baptist because his
father was one, or by reaction, may have decided to join some other body. ‑
There is indeed one notable difference between the problem of the historian of
a sect and that of the Masonic historian.
former has to explain why people were attracted to a body whose practices and
beliefs were relatively open and published, so that a man could tell
beforehand to what principles he was committing himself.
latter has to explain why men joined a body whose fundamentals were, in part
at least, unknown to them at the time of joining, the secrets and rites not
being disclosed until the candidate had bound himself to the body by an oath.
very secrecy, with some, may well have been the 133 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
motive for joining.
find out a secret or to share one is a not uncommon human desire; and, in some
ways, the seventeenth century may be considered to have been more preoccupied
with the pursuit of secrets‑in alchemy, astrology, Rosicrucianism, the
Apocalypse and the Bible in general‑than other periods.
not impossible, therefore, that some candidates thought they were on the track
of a secretum secretorum. One eighteenth‑century clergyman, the celebrated
Welsh poet, Goronwy Owen, expected to find in freemasonry the hidden wisdom of
the ancient druids;' Dr. William Stukeley, the well‑known eighteenth‑century
antiquary, states in his autobiography that "curiosity led him to be initiated
into the mysterys of Masonry, suspecting it to be the remains of the mysterys
of the antients"?
existence of a secret, however, though it might attract some, repelled others,
such as the author of a handbill, directed against freemasonry, published in
1698.3 A different attraction, for some types of mind, may have lain in the
possibility of moral lessons being drawn from the experiences of the building
crafts, though actually there is no evidence that the use of symbolism had
been introduced into freemasonry as early as the seventeenth century. The
earliest evidence known to us relates to the early eighteenth century. Several
of the catechisms contain certain symbolical questions and answers, concerning
the height of the lodge, the key of the lodge, the number of pillars in the
lodge and the colour of the master's habit, said to have been yellow and blue
with reference to the compass, made of brass and iron.
last answer occurs in Dumfries No. σ MS. of circa 1710.
twenty‑five years later in The Book M (1'736), the Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne version
of Smith's Pocket Companion (173 s), there is also reference to the compass:
masons are invited to "live within compass" and to walk like upright men "who
square their actions
the glorious law of doing as we would be done by".
first suggestion known to us of a possible moralising by masons upon their
working tools is contained in the 1 J. Morris Jones, ed., Llythyrau Goronwy
Owen, ioo‑i. 2 Surtees Soc., luiii, 51.
E.M.P., 3+‑5 134 THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY Postscript to Anderson's
Constitutions of 1723 (p. 72), where it is explained that the Installing
Officer is to present the newly installed Master of a Lodge with the
Constitutions, the Lodge‑Book, and the Instruments of his Office, one after
another, and after each of them "shall rehearse the short and pithy Charge
that is suitable to the thing presented". If this implies moralising upon the
instruments, a not unreasonable interpretation, then accepted masons in 1722
had adopted the practice of moralising upon the mason's tools.
use of the expression "the short and pithy Charge", instead of "a short and
pithy Charge", seems to suggest that the Charge referred to was already in
that be so, then the practice may have been introduced by accepted masons at
an earlier date. That they did so is not proved by the passage quoted but may
not unfairly be deduced from it.
However hostile the great age of puritanism may have been to the use of
symbols which were considered popish, by no means all puritans were wholly
antagonistic to symbolism, or unmindful of its use for edification, and not a
few of them commonly expressed themselves in allegories. The building crafts,
frequently mentioned in the Scriptures, provided plenty of material; John
Bunyan drew a host of moral lessons from a spiritual consideration of
considerations do not suffice to prove that the puritan attitude of mind was
especially favourable to freemasonry; but at least they indicate that it was
not likely to be completely opposed, and that some puritans, at least, would
not think their souls endangered by entering a lodge. The Scottish operatives
who gave and received the Mason Word, and who were presumably Presbyterians,
cannot have thought so, nor presumably did the Laird of Auchinleck, who joined
the Lodge of Edinburgh at some date prior to June 1600,2 or the Ministers of
Slaines and of Fyvie, who belonged to the Lodge of Aberdeen in 1670.8
reply of the Presbytery of Kelso, when consulted in 165,2 with 1 See John
Bunyan, Solomon's Temple Spiritualixed.
different allegorical treatment of Solomon's Temple, see Dumfries No, 4 MS. of
circa 1710 (E.M.C., 58 folg.).
Miller, 2o, and facing 22.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY reference to a certain Rev. James Ainslie having
received the Mason Word, is deserving of note: that to their judgement there
is neither sin nor scandal in that word, because in the purest times of this
kirk, masons having that word have been ministers; that masons and men having
that word have been and are daily in our sessions, and many professors having
that word are daily admitted to the ordinances., Attention must now be
directed to three other, and probably stronger motives, which are likely to
have drawn non‑operatives into the craft; one is an interest, whether
aesthetic or technological, in building; a second is an interest in antiquity;
a third is a desire for convivial society. Brief reference was made to these
matters in Chapter I when we discussed the motifs of freemasonry.
f1mateur Interest in fIrchitecture.‑In the seventeenth century various
buildings were erected to `plats' or plans prepared by gentlemen or other
non‑masons, who practised architecture either as amateurs, or as architects
who had not received a professional training. When the edifices in question
were constructed, their designers were brought into close contact with masons,
particularly the master masons, or the mason‑contractors, responsible for the
actual work, and this association may well have led to further intercourse
between operatives and non‑operatives, aiming at the extension of the
architectural knowledge of the non‑operatives.
gentlemen at this period probably never designed buildings that were actually
erected, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a knowledge of
architecture, more particularly of the Orders, was regarded as an essential
part of every gentleman's education.2 At least one well‑known book on
architecture, published in London in 1624, was written by a layman, Sir Henry
Wotton, The Elements oflrchitecture ... from the bestf4uthors and Examples.s
(1568‑1639) was a diplomatist who had acquired a profound knowledge of the
spirit of the Renaissance by long residence in Italy, and it was , Scott, ii,
have modernised the spelling.
2Ibid., 250. 136 THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY doubtless on the Grand Tour that
most gentlemen developed their architectural taste and knowledge. Until the
end of the sixteenth century, and even later, masons had been the professional
architects, and even in the second half of the seventeenth century men who
were masontrained, such as Robert Grumbold in Cambridge,' and Robert Mylne in
Edinburgh,2 still practised architecture, and association with
mason‑architects may either have supplemented, or taken the place of,
knowledge of architecture acquired on the Grand Tour.
have no certain knowledge of the traditions and practices of accepted masons
in the seventeenth century, such as would enable us to say that an interest in
architecture was a distinguishing characteristic of accepted masonry at that
period, but for the early eighteenth century we are better informed. When
Anderson in 1721‑2 digested the old Gothic constitutions in a new and better
method,3 he enlarged and revised the legendary history of masonry, and among
other changes warmly approved of Vitruvius,4 denounced the "confusion and
impropriety of the Gothic Buildings",' and praised the Augustan style, the
revival of which he attributed to various Italian architects, and more
especially to "the great Palladio".e In denouncing the Gothic, and in praising
the Palladian, style of architecture in his Constitutions of 1723, Anderson
was ranging himself, and presumably the craft generally, on the side of
contemporary educated opinion, which commonly regarded Gothic architecture as
a barbarous product of the Dark Ages.
years later, Francis Drake,' the York antiquary, like his contemporary, Edward
Oakley,3 another leading freemason of the 172os, commended the giving of
lectures in lodge, more particularly on architecture or geometry. As mentioned
in Chapter I, Drake went so far as to state that he was credibly informed that
in most lodges in London and several other parts of the kingdom a lecture on
some point of geometry or architecture was given at every meeting.
Constitutionl of 1738, 113 .
Constitutions of 1723, 25.
Speech of 1726 (E.M.P., 207)8 Speech of 1728 (E.M.P., 213) 137 THE GENESIS OF
FREEMASONRY Information concerning one such lecture has survived; Dr. Wm.
Stukeley in his Diary 1 refers to a lecture on "The Roman Amphitheatre at
Dorchester" which he gave to his lodge on 4 October 1723, and of which a
printed version is preserved in the British Museum.$ Even in the following
decade Masonic interest in architecture apparently continued, for the minutes
of the Old King's Arms Lodge, under date i August 1737, show that the Master,
Martin Clare, read part of the Irchitecture of Palladio, "to which the Society
were very attentive", and that Bro. Geo. Payne (G.M. 1718i9 and i 72o‑i) "gave
the Lodge a Curious Acct of the Manner of Building in Persia".3
if Drake exaggerated the amount of attention given by lodges to the study of
architecture and geometry, his remarks do suggest that an interest in
architectural problems played some part in accepted masonry in the early days
of Grand Lodge, and not improbably at an earlier period.
late as 1735, W. Smith, in the Preface to his Pocket Companion for
Free‑Masons, London, 1735, stresses the importance of a knowledge of
architecture by freemasons: No Man ought to attain to any Dignity in MASONRY
who has not, at least, a competent Knowledge in Geometry and Architecture; and
if the Sciences were more follow'd in the LODGES, what is unhappily
substituted in their Places [? conviviality] would not prevail as it does.
association of freemasonry with an amateur interest in architecture was almost
certainly present in the mind of the author of The Free‑Mason No. z of 13
November 1733,4 when he attempts to be humorous at the expense not only of
freemasons, but of masons in a wider sense, namely connoisseurs of building,
to whom he extends the term. Thus we think it likely that a desire to further
their architectural education was a principal object for which some men in the
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries joined the craft. f4ntiquarian
Interest in Masonry.‑Although gentlemen in 1 Surtees Soc., 1xxiii, 72.
Dring, 4.Q‑C., xxv, 359 3 J.Q.C., xxxi, 188.
E.M.P., 301138 THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries had a strong bias towards the Palladian style in architecture, and a
contempt for the Gothic style, nevertheless some of them at least did show a
certain archaeological and antiquarian interest in old buildings. Thus John
Aubrey, the antiquary, notwithstanding that he thought Gothic architecture
barbarous, made careful drawings of certain windows and porches and
endeavoured to formulate a systematic chronology of Gothic styles or periods.'
Sir Christopher Wren, who in general strongly favoured the classical style,
and objected to Gothic, partly at least on the ground that it often implied
bad construction, on occasion built in the Gothic manner, as at Tom Tower,
Oxford, and at certain city churches.a Sir William Dugdale, compiler of the
Monasticon, and author of a History of St. Paul's, may be cited as an instance
of a seventeenth‑century antiquary for whose labours the modern student of
ecclesiastical antiquities has cause to be grateful.
Incidentally, it may be noted that Dugdale was acquainted with the Fraternity
of "Adopted" Masons, which he appears to have regarded as derived from a
company of Italian freemasons, to whom, according to his statement, the Pope
gave a bull or patent about the time of Henry III (I2 I6‑'72) to travel up and
down Europe building churches.$ Another seventeenth‑century antiquary, with an
interest in medieval buildings, was Elias Ashmole, who collected materials for
a work on Windsor Castle. These materials, which are preserved in the
Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, were used by Tighe and Davis in the middle of the
nineteenth century for their 4nnals of Windsor, and much more recently by St.
John Hope in compiling his great work on Windsor Castle.
Ashmole, whose third wife was a daughter of Sir William Dugdale, was not
merely acquainted, like his father‑in‑law, with the Fraternity of Adopted
Masons, but was himself a freemason. His contemporary, Randle Holme the third,
the Chester antiquary and genealogist, was also a freemason, as he clearly
states in a well‑known passage in his lecademie of ' Briggs, 28q. n.
Dugdale's views, as reported by John Aubrey (E.M.P., σ2), were referred to on
p. 6o above.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Armory:' "I cannot but Honor the Fellowship of the
Masons because of its antiquity; and the more as being a Member of that
Society, called Free‑Masons." His practical interest in the antiquity of the
Fellowship is shown by the fact that he made a copy of a version of the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry, which is now in the British Museum.2 Yet another
seventeenth‑century antiquary who very possibly had an interest in medieval
masonry, if not in medieval building, was John Theyer, the Gloucestershire
scholar, who at his death in 16'73 owned the Regius MS.a The studies made by
such antiquaries as Dugdale and Ashmole may have been carried far enough to
show them, in the first place, that the men responsible for medieval buildings
were often neither scholars nor professional architects in the modern sense,
but master masons who had passed through the stage of being working masons to
positions in which they planned and designed the buildings at the construction
of which they presided. In the second place, their studies might show them
that the masons' fraternity had associated with it, in addition to working or
ex‑working masons, some persons of higher social standing. Some of these, such
as the mayor, or the sheriff, or the local gentry; were probably associated
with the masons' assembly more or less as representatives of the authorities,
just as gentry were associated with the minstrels' courts held in Cheshire and
Staffordshire. Others may very possibly have been non‑operative members of the
Fraternity, just as some members of a. gild or company might have no
connection with its particular trade. In the case of a craft gild, or of a
company, membership offered certain definite privileges: it was commonly a
stepping stone to the freedom of the city or town, and carried with it the
right to trade and to share in the government of the municipality. So far as
is known, membership of the masons' fraternity carried with it no definite
privileges, and the presumption is that the non‑operatives who first linked
themselves with the Fraternity were men who, as clerks of the works, or in
some supervisory capacity, came into fairly 1 E.M.P., 34.
Harl. MS. 2054‑
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY close contact with masons in their work, and were
interested in the problems of construction and ornamentation involved.
Further, the social position of master masons in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries was such that the clergy might be quite ready to associate with
them. When a mason's contract provided in one case in 1436 that he and his man
were to have "honorable maintenance",' and in another in 1398 that a mason was
to have "his board in the county hall as a gentleman",2 and when we find
masons in 1,397 dining with the Fellows at New College, Oxford,3 their
treatment suggests that some masons had attained a certain social standing.
The fact that two master masons, Henry Yevele and William Wynford, as early in
their careers as 1369, were members of the King's Household and grouped with
the "esquires of minor degree",' gives further support to this inference.
for Convivial Society.‑Another motive for becoming a freemason was possibly
the natural human desire to be social and convivial. Many no doubt could find
all the society they wanted elsewhere, in family gatherings, or visits to
neighbours, or at quarter sessions; but it may well have been that for the
members of the old Chester or York lodges, for instance, the meetings of the
lodge provided a convenient opportunity for that compound of refreshment,
smoking and conversation, in circumstances of ease rather than of elegance,
and undisturbed by the society of women, in which many men can take a rational
pleasure. Most members of the Chester lodge, being engaged in the building
trades, as mentioned on page 151 below, probably often had business dealings
with one another, and they may well have enjoyed a friendly meeting for other
purposes at regular intervals, and the same may have been true of some members
of the London Acception, to which reference is made on page 147 below. That
such meetings were associated with a craft would not, of necessity, deter
English squires or Scottish lairds from taking part in them.
boundaries were not nearly so 1.drchaeologia, xxiii, 331.
Dunelm Scriptore.r Tre.c., p. claaz. 3 Hist. MSS. Com., 2nd Report, 133.
P.R.O. Exch. K.R. Wardrobe and Household 14ccOunts, 395/2, printed in
Records of Chaucer, iv, 174 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY rigid in Britain as in
other countries, and it was not uncommon for the gentry to feast with the
London Companies, or with the officers of provincial corporations.
NON‑OPERATIVE MASONS Persons who were not operative masons, but who held an
office connected with building work, may well have had occasion to visit the
masons' lodges at York Minster or elsewhere. Thus, according to an ordinance
of the Dean and Chapter of York made in 1408,1 a clergyman called a supervisor
was required as far as possible to be present continually in the lodge in
order to note all defects and to stimulate the masons to diligence. There is
no definite evidence, however, to show that such people were in any real sense
members of the lodge, or admitted to its secrets.
first definite evidence that a non‑operative was a member of an operative
lodge occurs in the year 16oo, when the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh for
8 June I6oo show that John Boswell, laird of Auchinlech, attended as a member
of the lodge .2
possibly earlier instances we may cite those ministers of the kirk of Scotland
who perhaps as early as I56o had the Mason Word. We cannot point to any
certain instance in the Middle Ages of a non‑operative member of an operative
lodge, though it is possible that the unknown author of the Cooke MS. was a
certainly uses the first person plural in several places where the third
person plural might have been expected from a non‑mason, e.g., "we haue now in
owre chargys",s but the "we" may only be editorial and consequently no safe
conclusion regarding the Masonic status of the author can be drawn.
Another possibility is that if versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry
were read to candidates in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as was
almost certainly the case in the later sixteenth and the seventeenth
centuries, then, presumably, a clerk would do the reading, in which case there
may have been quite a number of non‑operative masons in late medieval times.
On the other hand, it is much more likely that the Old 1 Raine, rq8.
42r; cf. 11‑418,423,64o‑r. 142 THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY Charges were
recited to candidates in earlier times, thus dispensing with the service of
are, however, as Begemann has pointed out,' three respects in which some
versions of the Old Charges suggest the fairly early existence of
non‑operative members. In the first place, the William Watson MS. of 168'7
states that the charges were provided for "all manner of men who shall be made
and allowed masons", an expression which very possibly corresponds to an
earlier reference to "every honest mason or any other worthy workman that hath
any love for the craft of masonry, and would know how the craft of masonry
came first into England". If these, or similar phrases, were in the Watson MS.
Original, which Begemann would date about 148o, and which we should date about
I S20, then provision would appear to have been made for non‑operatives about
second place, in certain seventeenth‑century versions of the Old Charges, the
expression "true Mason" in the statement near the beginning about "the charges
that belongeth to every true Mason to keep", is replaced by "free Mason".
on the assumption that "free mason" was coming to have something of its modern
meaning in the seventeenth century, suggests the possibility that these
particular versions of the Old Charges were used by non‑operatives.
third place, the acrostic upon the name of "masonrie", written by William Kay
for his friend Robert Preston, with which the York No. i MS. of circa i 62o
begins,2 would appear to be even stronger evidence of the particular
manuscript being of non‑operative origin than the fact that it is one of the
versions which substitutes "free Mason" for "true Mason".
position regarding non‑operatives, in such English operative lodges of this
period as can be traced, is uncertain. More detailed reference is made to the
lodges at Alnwick and Swalwell in Chapter X; here it will suffice to state
that there is no definite evidence of non‑operative members in the former
before its reorganisation as a speculative lodge in 1'748.3
latter there are indications, in minutes of ' Freimaurerei in England, i,
Poole and Worts, i i 1.
Rylands, 11.Q.C., xiv, 7‑8. 143 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY 1732 and 1733,
which point to the admission of gentlemen and other non‑operative masons
before the lodge accepted a "deputation" or constitution from Grand Lodge in
1735.1 The possibility that the Lodge at Chester, of which the great majority
of members were non‑operatives in 1673, was an operative lodge, is briefly
our actual examples of non‑operative masons (as distinct from accepted masons)
have to be drawn from Scotland. The case of John Boswell, laird of Auchinlech,
who was a member of the Lodge of Edinburgh in 16oo, has already been
members of the nobility or gentry who were made masons at the Lodge of
Edinburgh include Lord Alexander, Sir Anthony Alexander and Sir Alexander
Strachan in 1634,2 Henry Alexander (who succeeded his brother Sir Anthony as
Master of Work to His Majesty) in 1638,3 and General Alexander Hamilton in
1640;σ whilst Quartermaster General Robert Moray (Murray) was received into
the craft at Newcastle on 2o May 164 1 by certain brethren of the Lodge of
Edinburgh in whose Minute Book the transaction is retrospectively recorded.5
Hon. Alexander Seaton, brother of the Earl of WJnton, was admitted to the
Lodge of Aitchison's Haven in March 1672.8 In the 1670s the Earl of Cassillis,
the Earl of Eglintoune, Sir Alexander Cunningham and Lord William Cochrane
entered the Lodge of Kilwinning.░
Lodge of Aberdeen, when the records commence in 1670, we find that of the
forty‑nine fellow crafts or master masons who were then members of the Lodge,
only ten were operative masons; the other thirty‑nine consisted of four
noblemen, three gentlemen, eight professional men, nine merchants and fifteen
tradesmen." That the presence of fifteen tradesmen among the nonoperative
members of the Lodge of Aberdeen was not an entirely abnormal occurrence is
shown by the fact that the membership of the Lodge at Chester in 1673, as
indicated 1 Masonic Mag., August 1875, 73, 74.
Ibid., 103‑4 6 Begemann, Freimaurerei in Schottland, 327.
Lyon, 53. s Miller, 21.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY below, was somewhat similarly constituted.
of the tradesmen were connected with the building crafts, but some had no such
these cases neither architectural education nor antiquarian interest is likely
to have been the motive for joining the lodge, the reason is rather to be
sought in ties of personal friendship with some of the operative members, or
in a wish to share in the "good fellowship" associated with the lodge, or
possibly, in the case of the Lodge of Aberdeen, in a desire for such benefits
as were provided by the Mason Box, maintained in accordance with the fourth
statute of that Lodge.' LOCAL ORGANISATION OF ACCEPTED MASONRY The account of
accepted masonry given in Plot's Natural History of Staffordshire, 1686,z
although written, so far as we are aware, by a non‑mason, is the most
circumstantial that we possess. According to Plot, the custom of admitting men
into the "Society of Free‑masons" was spread, more or less, over the nation,
but more especially in Staffordshire; next, he referred to a large parchment
volume they had amongst them containing the history and rules of the craft of
masonry which he very briefly summarised, this summary of a version of the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry being known to present‑day students as the Plot
continued: 86. Into which Society when any are admitted, they call a meeting
(or Lodg as they term it in some places) which must consist at lest of 5 or 6
of the l4ncients of the Order, whom the candidats present with gloves, and so
likewise to their wives, and entertain with a collation according to the
Custom of the place: This ended, they proceed to the admission of them, which
chiefly consists in the communication of certain secret signes, whereby they
are known to one another all over the Nation, by which means they have
maintenance whither ever they travel: for if any man appear though altogether
unknown that can shew any of these signes to a Fellow of the Society, whom
they otherwise call an accepted mason, he is obliged presently to 1 Ibid., 59.
85‑6, reprinted in E.M.P., 31‑4145 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY come to him,
from what company or place soever he be in, nay tho' from the top of a Steeple
... to know his pleasure, and assist him ...
passage is to some extent supplemented by a passage in John Aubrey's Natural
History of Wiltshire,' which was completed in 1686, though not published until
1847. He refers to the "Fraternity of adopted‑Masons" and adds: ... They are
known to one another by certain Signes and Watch‑words: it continues to this
day. They have severall Lodges in severall Countres for their reception; and
when any of them fall into decay, the brotherhood is to relieve him &c. The
manner of their Adoption is very formal], and with an Oath of Secrecy.
Aubrey's words are followed very closely by Dr. Richard Rawlinson in a memoir
of Elias Ashmole contained in the introduction to Ashmole's Intiquities of
Berkshire published in 1719.2 Thus it may be concluded from Plot, Aubrey and
Rawlinson, that accepted masons as well as operative masons, such as those of
the Lodge of Aberdeen mentioned in the previous paragraph, provided friendly
benefits, the knowledge of which may have attracted certain persons to seek
admission to the craft.
most cases the records, if any; of these lodges of accepted masons have been
lost. This was very possibly the case at Kendal, where there is some reason
for thinking that such a lodge existed as early as 1594, in connection with
the Company of Wrights, to which masons and mem bers of other building crafts
one source or another we are able to trace seven such lodges.
The earliest‑known lodge of accepted masons which has been definitely traced
was the so‑called "Acception" connected with the London Masons' Company,4 to
which 1 E.M.P., 41‑2.
Ibid. 3 Poole, f4.Q.C., xxxvi, 20‑2,33 4 By courtesy of the Court of
Assistants, we have been permitted to examine the Company's records. These
partly served as a basis for our paper, "The London Masons' Company", Ec. Hist.,
February 1939, and are utilised for this paragraph.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY members and non‑members of the Company were
admitted. This implies that the ceremony of admission to the Acception was
different from any ceremony of admission to the freedom of the Company. The
Acception can be traced in the earliest surviving Account Book of the Company,
which opens with the financial year 16i9‑,2o. The items relating to it are all
too few: two, in 1630‑1 and 1646‑7, relate quite briefly to expenses connected
with the Acception; three, in 1645‑6, 1649‑so and 1663‑4, relate equally
briefly to sums spent upon the Acception Dinner; one, in 16'76‑7, relates to a
balance of some ~6 received from the "last accepted Masons", presumably after
meeting a dinner bill; one, in 1638‑9, and a group of entries in 1649so, in
addition to indicating expenses or receipts, give the names of those taken
into the Acception. Of the five admitted in 1638‑9, Nicholas Stone and three
others can be traced as old members of the Company; the same applies to four
out of six admitted in 1649‑so.
other two cannot be traced in the Company's books, and the fact that they paid
4os., or double the ordinary entrance fee, strengthens the probability that
they were not members of the Company.
Acception was no doubt identical with the lodge held at Masons' Hall, London,
to which Elias Ashmole refers in his Diary on io and 11 March 16 8,2,1. when
he and some other non‑members of the Masons' Company were present, as well as
the Master and several other prominent members of the Company.
chance entry in Ashmole's Diary shows that the Acception had continued to meet
as late as 1682, although no reference to it can be traced in the books of the
Company after 16'7'7, when, in addition to the above‑mentioned entry in the
Account Book, there is a reference in the first Court Book of the Company to
buying a new banner with the balance of 46 of the Accepted Masons' money.
history of the Acception subsequent to 1682 is unknown, and so is its history
before the first casual reference in 1630‑1. It is quite possible, however,
that an entry in the Account Book in 162o‑1, "At the making masons", when
seven men paid 26s. 8d. each, refers to the 1 E.M.P., 40‑1 147 THE GENESIS OF
in inventories of 1665 and 16'76 make it appear likely that the Company
possessed at least one version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, or Old
Charges, and it is reasonable to conclude that this was used in connection
with the ceremony of admission to the Acception.
Finally, attention may be drawn to three possible references to the activities
of the Acception in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. One is a "divertisement"
published in Poor Robin's Intelligence of io October 16'76.2 Although the
whole paragraph is obviously a skit, the fact that it refers, amongst other
organisations, to "the Company of Accepted Masons", suggests that at that date
the existence of accepted masonry was known in London outside the immediate
circle of the Masons' Company. The second is an addendum of 18 May 169 1 to
the manuscript of Aubrey's Natural History of Wiltshire, which states that on
that day a great convention of the Fraternity of Accepted Masons was to be
held at St. Paul's Church, where Sir Christopher Wren and certain others were
to be adopted as Brothers.$
problem of Wren's connection with freemasonry is discussed in Chapter VIII
below; here we need only say that "a great convention of the Fraternity of
Accepted Masons to be held at St. Paul's Church" hardly sounds like a meeting
of the Acception, which, when held at Masons' Hall on the occasion of
Ashmole's visit in March 1682, was attended by ten masons, apart from six
candidates.4 The third is an i Among the Account‑Book items relating to that
year there are separate lists of admission to the freedom (6 @ 3s. 1od.), to
the livery (2 @ ,C3) and "at the making, masons" Q @. 26s. 8d.), the name of
James French occurring in both the second and third lists.
difficult to understand what this last list refers to, unless it be to
admission to the Acception.
to be recognised, however, that the fee charged does not tally with that
charged in 1649‑50 (2 OS.).
from the original Account Book, the best source of information regarding the
Acception is Conder, "The Masons' Company ... and the Lodge of Accepted Masons
connected with it", Z.Q.C., ix, 28‑46.
Reprinted in Z.Q.C., xlv, 312‑13, with comments by Vibert; and in E.M.P., 30 '
Bodl. Aubrey MS. 2, pt. ii, fo. 72 verso (reproduced in facsimile in f4.Q.C.,
xi, facing p. io).
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY anti‑Masonic leaflet of 1698,1 printed for M.
Winter and addressed to "all godly people in the citie of London" Having
thought it needful to warn you of the Mischiefs and Evils practised in the
Sight of GOD by those called Freed Masons, I say take Care lest their
Ceremonies and secret Swearings take hold of you; and be wary that none cause
you to err from Godliness. For this devllish Sect of Men are Meeters in secret
which swear against all without their Following. They are the Anti Christ
which was to come leading Men from Fear of GOD. For how should Men meet in
secret Places and with secret Signs taking Care that none observe them to do
the Work of GOD; are not these the Ways of Evil‑doers? Knowing how that GOD
observeth privily them that sit in Darkness they shall be smitten and the
Secrets of their Hearts layed bare. Mingle not among this corrupt People lest
you be found so at the World's Conflagration.
may not be an attack on the Acception, but it would certainly appear to be one
on accepted masonry in London at that period. Until the recent discovery of
this leaflet, there was no evidence known to us of the existence of accepted
masonry in London between Aubrey's reference of 1691 and the mention of the
signs and tokens of freemasons in The Tatler of 9 June 1709,2 with its
implication that freemasonry and its external characteristics were not unknown
to London readers at that period. If "M. Winter", whom we cannot trace,
thought it worth while incurring the expense of printing and distributing his
anti‑Masonic leaflet in 1698, it would seem to imply that at that date
accepted masonry in general, if not the Acception in particular, was active.
Our only knowledge of a lodge at Warrington is derived from the well‑known
entry in Elias Ashmole's Diary, under date of 16 October 1646: ... I was made
a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire, with Coll: Henry Mainwaring of
Karincham in 1 Reprinted in facsimile in .4.Q.C., Iv, 15 z‑4, with comments by
ourselves, and in E.M.P., 34‑5a E.M. P., 3 5‑6.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Cheshire.
names of those that were then at the Lodge, Mr. Rich Penket Warden, Mr. James
Collier, Mr. Rich: Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Rich Ellam & Hugh
Brewer.' The investigations of W. H. Rylands suggest, first, that none of the
persons present was a mason by trade, and, second, that there is some reason
for thinking that the version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry known as
Sloane MS. 3848, which was completed by Edward Sankey on the very day that
Ashmole was made a mason, was used at this particular ceremony of acceptance.2
(iii) Early freemasonry in Chester is closely associated with the name of
Randle Holme III (1627‑16991700), whose statement, in his 4ccademie of f4rmory
(1688) that he was "a Member of that Society, called Free‑Masons" was quoted
on page Iq.o above, where it was also mentioned that he made a copy of a
version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, known as Harleian MS. 2054. This
is contained in a volume which consists of various tracts and papers, among
which are three of Masonic interest, all in the handwriting of Randle Holme
III :3 (1) fos. 29‑32 contain the above‑mentioned version of the Old Charges;
(ii) fo. 33, a scrap of paper torn off irregularly, contains an oath of
secrecy in respect of "severall words and signes of a free Mason"; (iii) fo.
34 contains 26 names, including that of Randle Holme, arranged on no obvious
principle, 1 We quote from the original manuscript version which is printed
side by side with the 1717 printed version in E.M.P., 40.
"Freemasonry in the Seventeenth Century", Masonic Mag., December i88r. The
second suggestion rests on the assumption that Edward Sankey, the scribe, was
the son of the "Mr. Rich: Sankey" who was present at lodge when Ashmole was
Rylands discovered that a son of "Richard Sankey, Gent." was baptised at
Warrington on 3 February 1621/2.
"Richard Sankey, Gent." was not necessarily the same as the "Mr. Rich: Sankey"
who attended the lodge, nor was Edward Sankey, the scribe, necessarily the
`son' in question; nevertheless Rylands's suggestion is not unreasonable.
if Edward Sankey was a brother, or more distant relative, of Richard Sankey,
the suggestion might well hold good.
three are reproduced in facsimile in Q.C.I., iii.
second and third are reproduced in facsimile in I.Q.C., xlv, facing p. 74.
third is reproduced in facsimile in I.Q.C., li, facing p. 134.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY together with certain translinear strokes and
monetary entries, the meaning of which is anything but clear. The top line,
which may be a heading, reads: William Wade wti give for to be a free Mason.
these documents contain all the known evidence concerning accepted masonry in
Chester in the seventeenth century, they have naturally been subjected to
close examination by Masonic students.' There are no special features about
the version of the Old Charges, which belongs to the Sloane branch of the
Sloane family, and dates from the second half of the seventeenth century.
words of the second document resemble those in certain versions of the MS.
Constitutions which contain a special reference to Masonic secrets, of which
mention was made in Chapter IV above, and to which further reference will be
made in Chapter X below.
regard to the third document, we accept the conclusion to which those who have
studied this document most closely have generally come, viz., that the
information contained in it, such as it is, relates to a lodge existing about
at Chester, to which city most, if not all, of the men named in the document
belonged. In our opinion, the purpose of the voting, indicated by the strokes
in the upper part of the sheet, was to decide whether William Wade, one of
five candidates, was to pay 2os., iss., ios., 8s. or ss. for his admission to
the lodge. The occupations of the 26 men named in the document were originally
investigated by Rylands, and more recently by Coulthurst and Lawson. They
consist of 6 masons, 6 bricklayers, 3 carpenters, 3 slaters and plasterers, 2
glaziers, i painter, 1 tanner, i tailor, i beerseller, i gentleman, and i man
who has not been identified. As most of the leading building‑trade employers
of the city were members of the lodge, it is quite '
possible that the lodge was in some way connected with the 1 See Rylands,
"Freemasonry in the Seventeenth Century", Masonic Mag., January and February
1882; Gould, History, ii, 185 fo1g.; Hughan, Old Charges (1895), loo folg.;
Begemann, Freimaurerei in England, i, 378f019‑; Coulthurst and Lawson, "The
Lodge of Randle Holme at Chester", .f.Q.C., xlv, 68 folg.; and our "Record of
the Old Lodge at Chester", .4.Q.C., li, 13 3 fo1g.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Company to which the masons and other building crafts
belonged. It may even be that, on the analogy of the Lodge of Aberdeen, it was
an operative lodge, notwithstanding the predominance of non‑operatives amongst
its members. We do not, however, think it likely; the London Acception
consisted mostly of operative masons, but was not an operative lodge, and we
see no reason why the position at Chester should have been different. As
Randle Holme made a copy of the Old Charges, it is not unlikely that this
particular copy, or the original from which it was made, was used at
ceremonies of acceptance in the Chester Lodge.
The only information available concerning a lodge of accepted masons in
Trinity College, Dublin, in 1688, is contained in a tripos, or satirical
speech, delivered by a student at the Commencements of the University of
Dublin in July 1688.1 The speech suggests the foundation of a new college,
into which there was to be introduced a Society of Freemasons, consisting of
gentlemen, mechanics, porters, parsons, ragmen, hucksters, divines, tinkers,
knights . . . after the example of the Fraternity of Freemasons in and about
Trinity College, by whom a collection was lately made for, and the purse of
charity well stuffed for, a reduced Brother....
allowance be made for the exaggeration likely to be associated with such a
satirical speech, the reference to freemasons in Trinity suggests (i) that the
lodge contained members belonging to various social classes as was the case at
Chester in 1673 and at York in 1726; (ii) that the lodge relieved distressed
brethren which, according to both
and Aubrey, was a characteristic of accepted masonry. Among the contributors
to the "collection" was one "from Sir Warren, for being Freemasonized in the
new way, five shillings". This possibly contrasts the modified working of
accepted masons with that of operative masons, from which it was originally
subsequent history, if any, of the lodge is unknown.
is, however, in 1 See Chetwode Crawley's introductory chapter to Sadler's
Masonic Reprints and Revelations; Lepper and Crossle, 36‑7; R. E. Parkinson,
"The Lodge in Trinity College, Dublin, 1688", d.Q.C., liv, q6 fo1g.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, among the
collected papers of Sir Thomas Molyneux (1661‑1733), a famous Dublin doctor
and scientist, a short catechism, endorsed "Free Masonry Feb. 171 1", which we
suspect of being an accepted mason's aide memoire.2 It is just possible,
therefore, that this lodge, or a successor to it, was still in existence as
late as 1711. Bro. J. Heron Lepper attributes the formation of the lodge to
the presence at Trinity of numerous operative masons, as Trinity College was
engaged for some years previous to 1688 on the erection of new buildings.
disposed to think that, in view of the very close association at this time
between Dublin and England, where, according to Plot, the custom of "admitting
men into the Society of Free‑Masons" was "spread more or less all over the
Nation", accepted masonry was introduced into Ireland from England, and did
not develop independently out of Irish operative masonry.
Our sole knowledge of a lodge at Chichester in 1696 is derived from a petition
presented to Grand Lodge in 1732 by Bro. Edward Hall, then a member of the
lodge at the Swan at Chichester (constituted in 1724). In this he stated 3
that he had been made a mason at Chichester by the late Duke of Richmond
thirty‑six years previously.
petition was recommended by his son, the second Duke, who was Grand Master in
1724‑s, and as Grand Lodge voted Hall six guineas, it seems reasonable to
assume that Hall was made a mason in 1696 as he claimed.
The earliest surviving minutes of the Old Lodge at York are contained in a
parchment roll endorsed‑"' 712 to 1730' '.4 All the entries point to the lodge
being nonoperative, though from a speech delivered to the lodge in 1726 by
Francis Drake,a the antiquary, in which he addressed himself (a) to the
working masons, (b) to those who were of other trades and occupations, and (c)
to the 1 The so‑called Trinity College, Dublin, MS. is printed in E.M.C.,
63‑,+2 E.M.C., r o.
Minutes of Grand Lodge, 2 March 1'732 (Q.C.d., x, 216).
Printed in Hughan, "The York Grand Lodge", Z.Q.C., xiii, 11‑16. The York Lodge
constituted itself a Grand Lodge in 1725.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY gentlemen present, it would appear that the lodge
closely resembled the lodge at Chester in its composition. The original minute
book, beginning in 1705/6 and ending in 1734, was listed in a schedule of
regalia, records, etc., of the York Grand Lodge, dated 15 September 17
the collapse of that Grand Lodge in the 1790s, its records were dispersed or
Several of the documents listed in the schedule have since been traced, and
are now in the possession of York Lodge, No. 236, but the minute book,
described as "A narrow folio manuscript Book beginning 7th March 1'705‑6,
containing sundry accounts and minutes relative to the Grand Lodge", is
unfortunately still missing.
was, however, examined in August 1778 by the York Grand Secretary, Jacob
Bussey, for the purpose of supplying certain information to Benj. Bradley of
the Lodge of Antiquity.
Bussey's letter, which is still extant,' we learn that Sir George Tempest,
Baronet, presided over the lodge in 1705‑6; also that the lodge once met at
Bradford in 1713, "when 18 gentlemen of the first families in that
Neighbourhood were made Masons".
likely, however, that this or some other lodge existed at York before 1705.
Aversion of the Old Charges, York No. 4 MS., copied in 1693, bears below the
signature of Mark Kipling, the copyist, five names set out under the heading
"The names of the Lodg".
Unfortunately, it is not stated where the lodge met, nor can Kipling's name,
or that of any of the five members of the lodge, be traced in the Roll of
Freemen of the city of York.
manuscript was presented to the York Grand Lodge in 1777, perhaps because of a
previous association with that city.
Possible evidence of a much older lodge at York is afforded by the Levander‑2"ork
MS. of circa 1740, which is written on the flyleaves of a copy of Anderson's
Constitutions of 1738.
end, in the same handwriting as the rest of the manuscript, appear the words:
"From York Lodge‑copy'd from the Original engross'd on abbortive [ = fine
vellum] in the Year 1560." 1 The letter is printed in Gould, ii, chap. $viii,
which is entirely devoted to Masonry in York in the eighteenth century.
Another source of information, if available, is Hughan's Mamnic Sketches and
Reprints: i. History of Freemasonry in York.
THE ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY Unfortunately, the Levander‑York MS. Original,
which must have existed as late as i 74o, has not been traced, and there is
consequently no means of checking the statements at the end of the Levander‑Tork
MS. It must be pointed out, however, that though the original may have been
engrossed in 15 6o, it may not have come into the possession of York Lodge
until a much later date.
would certainly not be safe to deduce from this postscript to the Levander
York MS. that the York Lodge existed in 156o.
did, it was probably operative.
Our knowledge of a lodge at Scarborough in 1705 rests on an endorsement on the
back of a version of the Old Charges, known as the Scarborough MS., 1 to the
effect that at a private lodge held at Scarborough, t o July 1705, before
William Thompson, Esq., President of the said lodge, and several other
freemasons, the six persons whose names are subscribed thereto, were admitted
into the Fraternity. It is possible that the lodge had no permanent existence,
and that on 10 July i 7os Thompson and some other freemasons formed themselves
into a lodge for the special purpose of admitting half a dozen friends into
the Fraternity, the Scarborough MS. being used in connection with the ceremony
also possible that the lodges at Warrington on 16 October 1646 and at
Chichester in 1696, were of the same occasional character.z The London
Acception, the Lodge at Chester, the Lodge at Trinity College, Dublin, and the
Lodge at York, appear to have been more permanent organisations.
each of the seven cases, with the possible exception of that at Chester, the
lodge, whether occasional or semi‑permanent, appears to 1 Printed in Poole and
Worts, zσ5 folg.
possibility that there were lodges of an occasional character in Ireland
before 1713 must not be overlooked. If there is any truth in the tradition
that as a young girl the Hon. Elizabeth St. Leger (1693‑1773), only daughter
of the first Viscount Doneraile, inadvertently witnessed the proceedings of a
Masonic lodge held at her home at Doneraile House and, being discovered, was
forced to submit to initiation, it shows that the nobility of Ireland were
holding what we should describe as occasional lodges in their private houses
at a period before 17 April 1713, when Miss St. Leger was married to Richard
Aldworth. See Lepper and Crossle, 38‑9.
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY have been organised for the purpose of admitting
accepted masons, and in at least four of the instances a version of the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry appears to have played a part in the ceremony of
DISTRICT OR CENTRAL ORGANISATION OF ACCEPTED MASONRY That there existed in
England and Ireland in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries certain
non‑operative lodges, or lodges of accepted masons, either occasional or
semi‑permanent in character, is a fact about which there can be no question.
The existence of a wider Organisation behind such lodges of accepted masons is
problematical. In our opinion, no widespread and effective system of secret
methods of recognition‑the essence of the fremasons' esoteric knowledge‑could
exist at any period without some central authority, or at least co‑operation
among local organisations, to control such a system. To our minds the only
doubt is whether the machinery which regulated the Mason Word as an operative
institution was sufficient to control it when widely used by non‑operatives.
In Scotland, where non‑operatives belonged to operative lodges, there was
probably no need for a separate central authority, but in England the position
was different. If we are right in thinking that the English lodges of accepted
masons adopted most, if not all, of their esoteric knowledge from Scottish
operative lodges, then the more frequently such lodges of accepted masons were
established in England, outside the jurisdiction of the Scottish central
authority, the greater the likelihood of diversities being introduced.
Although there were undoubtedly local differences in Masonic working, yet, to
judge by the surviving catechisms of masonry, there appears to have been
considerable uniformity in the matter of the esoteric knowledge imparted by
the various lodges.
points to the possible existence of some central or district control in
England in the second half of the seventeenth century, when non‑operative or
accepted masonry was spreading.
evidence in favour of the existence of some central A)
ERA OF ACCEPTED MASONRY or district Masonic authority in England in the
seventeenth century would appear to be briefly as follows. In the first place,
Robert Padgett, who in 1686 made a copy of the Old Charges known as the
flntiquity MS.,' described himself at the end of the manuscript as "clearke to
the Worshippfull Society of the Free Masons of the City of London' ,2 and this
description seems too general to apply to a single or local lodge.
second place, some of the rules included in the code of New Articles found in
those versions of the Old Charges which belong to the Roberts family imply the
existence of some central or district authority.
rule refers to "the Master of that Limit and Division" where the lodge was
kept, which seems to point to some kind of district authority; another rule
provides for the future regulation and government of "the Society, Company and
ffraternity of ffree masons" by a Master, Assembly and Wardens as the said
Company shall think fit to choose at every yearly general Assembly, which
suggests some kind of central authority.
Macnab MS.3 of 1722 says the New Articles were added to the former charges "by
ye best Mrs. & fellows", without specifying a date; the Roberts print 4 of the
same year says the New Articles were made and agreed upon at a General
Assembly held 8 December 1663.
two earliest versions of this family, the Grand Lodge No. 2 MS.5 and the
Harleian MS. 19σ2,8 dating from the second half of the seventeenth century,
give the New Articles, but do not indicate how or when they were drawn up.
evidence is not conclusive, especially as no piece of it reveals the actual
existence of a governing body. Very possibly English lodges of accepted
masons, since they appear to have derived their working directly or indirectly
from Scotland, may have looked to Scotland for guidance on fundamental points.
proceedings in London in 1716 r Printed in Hughan's Old Charger, 1872.
Society mustnot be confused with the London Worshipful Company of Masons, to
which Thomas Stampe was clerk from 168r to r695, and to which Padgett was
never clerk (Conder, 304.) 3 Printed in Poole and Worts.
E.M. P., 71.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY and 1717, which resulted in the formation of the
Grand Lodge of England by four London and Westminster lodges, pointed to the
recognised need for a central authority, without definitely indicating that
one had previously existed.
CHAPTER VIII THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE THE REV. DR. JAMES ANDERSON HE
formation and early activities of Grand Lodge are, unfortunately, shrouded in
almost as much obscurity as the rites and ceremonies practised by English
lodges in the first three decades of the eighteenth century. The minutes of
Grand Lodge do not commence until 1723, and no minutes of any private lodge in
London for so early a period appear to have survived. In the absence of
official records, we have to rely upon secondary authorities, principally the
Rev. Dr. James Anderson' (1679‑1739), the second son of James Anderson (1649
1722), glazier, of Aberdeen.
educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, being an Arts student from 1694 to
1698, and a Divinity student from 1698 to 1702.
then apparently licensed as a Minister of the Church of Scotland, and probably
preached for some years in Scotland prior to moving to London in 1709. His
first church was in Glasshouse Street; in 17i o he moved with his congregation
to Swallow Street, Piccadilly (to a chapel which had originally belonged to
the French Protestants), where he remained until 1734, when he became minister
1 For this chapter, we rely mainly upon (i) Anderson's Constitutions of 1723
and 1'738; (ii) commentaries on the Constitutions by Lionel Vibert
("Anderson's Constitutions of 1723", .4.Q.C., xxxvi; and Introduction to the
Quaritch reproduction of Anderson's Constitutions Of 1723); by Dr. Begemann (Freimaurerei
in England, ii, Chaps. 1, 2, 3) and by Lewis Edwards ("Anderson's Book of
Constitutions of 1738", 14.Q.C., xlvi); (iii) studies of Anderson's other
writings by Chetwode Crawley ("Anderson's Non‑Masonic Writings", ibid., xviii)
and by J. T. Thorp ("The Reverend James Anderson and the Earls of Buchan",
ibid., xviii); (iv) biographies of Anderson by A. F. Robbins ("Anderson of the
Constitutions", ibid., xxiii) and by A. L. Miller ("The Connection of Dr.
James Anderson of the `Constitutions' with Aberdeen and Aberdeen University",
ibid., xxxvi); (v) the minutes of Grand Lodge, and W. J. Songhurst's
introduction to Q.C..4., x, in which the early minutes are printed.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY of a church in Lisle Street, Leicester Fields.
1731 he received the degree of D.D. from his old University, though his claim
to such recognition cannot have been very strong, if we accept the opinion of
such a competent judge as Chetwode Crawley, according to whom his one‑time
reputation as a profound Talmudic scholar had no foundation in fact, and his
most ambitious publications in the realms of theology and philosophy did not
rise above a dreary commonplace level. His Royal Genealogies, published in
1732, his most ambitious literary effort, is largely based on a German work of
John Hubner, Genealogische Tabellen, published in 1719. In the prospectus
inviting subscriptions, Anderson's book is described as a translation of
Hiibner's work, "carefully collated and much improved, with many necessary
additions by James Anderson, A.M.". Actually, the additional matter was
apparently largely taken from Prideaux's The Old and the New Testament
Connected. But for his association with freemasonry, the Rev. Dr. James
Anderson and his work would undoubtedly have sunk into oblivion.
Although his father was very closely associated, as a non‑operative, with the
Lodge of Aberdeen, being Clerk for many years and Master on two occasions,
there is no evidence to show that the son was made a mason there; nor does he
appear to have taken any part in the formation of Grand Lodge in 1716 and
1717, or in its early activities. We think it possible that the statement near
the end of the `historical' section of the Constitutions of i 723, to the
effect that several noblemen and gentlemen of the best rank with clergymen and
learned scholars of most professions and denominations 1 joined the Society
during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu (172r‑2) may refer to
Anderson himself, among others. This possibility is not incompatible with
Anderson's own account, according to which Grand Lodge in September 172 1
(three months after Montagu's installation)," finding fault with all the
copies of the old Gothic Constitutions, order'd Brother James Anderson A.M. to
digest the same in a new and better Method".
1 The italics are ours: the passage is quoted in full in footnote on p. 3
THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE assumes that Anderson was present at Grand Lodge
on that occasion,' but that does not necessarily follow, as he would not have
been eligible to attend unless at the time he was Master or Warden of a
regular lodge. In June 1723, when Master of Lodge XVII (which has never been
identified), he acted as Grand Warden. According to Anderson's Constitutions
of 1'738, William Hawkins had been appointed Grand Warden in June 1722, but in
January 1722/3 James Anderson, A.M., was appointed warden "for Haw kins
demitted, as always out of Town".
original entry in Grand Lodge minute book, under date 24 June 1723, reads:
Joshua Timson The Reverend Mr. James Anderson who G: Wardens officiated for
Mr. William Hawkins The words printed in italics have been scratched out in
the minute book, but are shown quite distinctly in a photograph.2 There are no
minutes for January 1722/3, but in the List of Grand Officers entered at the
end of the first Minute Book of Grand Lodge, there appears under 1722 the
following item Mr. Joshua Timson who demitted and Mr. William Hawkins n then
James f4nderson 4.M. was chosen in his place Wardens The emendation, printed
in italics, is in Anderson's handwriting.3 From 1723 to 173o, he did not
attend Grand Lodge, but probably for some years he was not qualified to do so,
as Past Grand Wardens were not members of Grand Lodge until 1727. When he
resumed attendance in August 173o, he acted as Grand Warden and is described
in the minutes as "The Reverend Mr. James Anderson, G:W ' I.Q.C., xxxvi, 42.
facsimile of the entry, see Q.C.R., x, 48.
also Songhurst's introduction, ibid., p. xxiii.
facsimile of this entry and of an authenticated specimen of Anderson's
handwriting, see ibid., 196.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY pro tempore".
next present in June 1731 when his name appears among the Grand Officers,
though actually he is described as "Dr. James Anderson, Author of the Book of
Constitutions". He attended the following meeting of Grand Lodge in December
1731, being entered in the Minute Book as "Dr. James Anderson, formerly G.
subsequent meetings of Grand Lodge which he attended he is usually described
as "formerly G. Warden", or "late G.W.".
entries seem clearly to imply that at an earlier date he had been appointed
Grand Warden, presumably on the occasion he claims, and that the emendation he
made in the List of Grand Officers for 1722‑3 was a genuine correction.
certainly made the alteration in his characteristic handwriting, so that there
was nothing secretive about it.
other hand, there is nothing to show that he did the scratching out of part of
the entry in the minutes of June 1723, though it is quite possible that he did
so, to make the minute tally with the amended list of Grand Officers.
Amending minutes by scratching out words, instead of striking them out and
initialling the correction, would appear to be most reprehensible according to
modern ideas, even if done at the time the minutes came up for confirmation,
and quite unpardonable if done at a subsequent date, but it is probably wrong
to judge eighteenth‑century actions by twentieth‑century standards, just as it
is probably wrong to attempt to judge eighteenthcentury historical writings by
modern standards of historical accuracy, a problem to which we refer more
Anderson's claim to Masonic fame is as "author" of the Constitutions of 1723
and 1738. According to his own account, he was appointed by Grand Lodge in
September 172 1 to prepare the first edition, but very possibly Begemann is
right in believing that the initiative came from Anderson, and that he
volunteered to produce a Book of Constitutions.
December 1721, at the desire of Grand Lodge, the Grand Master appointed
fourteen "learned Brothers" to examine Anderson's manuscript and to report to
Grand Lodge; the Committee in March 17
reported that it had perused Anderson's manuscript, viz., the History,
Charges, Regulations and Master's Song, and, 162, THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE
after some amendments, had approved it, upon which Grand Lodge desired the
Grand Master to order it to be printed. On 17 January 1'722/3 Anderson
produced the new Book of Constitutions in print at the Quarterly
it was approved with the addition of the Antient Manner of Constituting a
Constitutions were advertised for sale on 28 February 1722/3. On pages 73 and
74 was printed the "Approbation" of the Grand ς
Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Wardens and Masters and Wardens of
points about the Approbation are especially deserving of attention. (i) The
name of William Hawkins appears, along with that of Joshua Timson, as Grand
first sight, this is not easy to reconcile with what has been said above about
the Grand Wardenship of Hawkins, and his replacement by Anderson on 17 January
explanation doubtless is that, as the book was submitted in print '
meeting of the Quarterly Communication on 17 January 1722/3, the names had
been printed at the latest in December 1722.
this must have been the case is shown by the fact that Matthew Birkhead, who
died at the end of December 1722, is described as Master of Lodge V.
the Approbation was printed in advance of the meeting at which the publication
of the Constitutions was sanctioned, and at which Anderson was chosen as Grand
Warden in place of William Hawkins.
The Master of Lodge XVII is stated to be "James Anderson A.M. The Author of
should be clearly understood that the word "author" in the eighteenth century
had not necessarily its present signification, but might mean "editor".2
is no name on the title page of the 1723 edition of the Book of Constitutions,
but, according to the f title page, the 1738 edition was "By James Anderson, 1
We give the particulars of approval from the 'historical' section of the
Constitutions of 1738. Tho account printed in the 'Approbation' of the
Constitutions of 1723 is rather less detailed.
the Masonic catechism e1 Mason's Examination, of 1723, is contained in a
letter "To the Author of the Flying Post" (E.M.C., 65); another early
catechism, .4Mason's Confession, is embodied in a letter of March 1'755/6 "To
the author of The Scots Magazine" (ibid., 93) 163 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
D.D.". Nevertheless, Anderson was only `editor', and not `author' in the
modern sense, of the two earliest editions of the Book of Constitutions, and
consequently a good deal more responsibility rests on the committee of
fourteen learned brothers, and on the Grand Officers, present and past, to
whom the manuscript of the 1738 edition was submitted (including Dr. J. T.
Desaguliers, William Cowper, first secretary to Grand Lodge, and George
Payne), than some critics of Anderson are disposed to recognise.
Although Anderson was only editor of the Book of Constitutions, and although
it was issued with the approval of Grand Lodge, it was nevertheless his "sole
property", out of the sale of which he doubtless hoped to make a profit. In
other words, Anderson owned the copyright. In February 1735, when the first
edition of the Constitutions was exhausted, he sought the approval of Grand
Lodge for the preparation of a new and revised edition. The desired approval
was granted, subject to the alterations and additions being reported upon
favourably by a committee consisting of the then Grand Officers and their
not until January 1738 that Anderson announced in Grand Lodge that the new
edition, after perusal and amendment by Grand Officers, was ready for the
press; he sought and obtained approval for printing, and for a new regulation
in regard to the removal of lodges, which he had prepared with the assistance
of Bro. Payne, and desired to insert in the Book of Constitutions.
book was published during the course of the year, and this, too, was
Anderson's sole property, like the first edition.
February 1735, when seeking approval for a second edition, Anderson
represented to Grand Lodge that a certain William Smith [in 4 Pocket Companion
for FreeMasons] had pirated a considerable part of his Constitutions, "to the
prejudice of the said Br. Anderson, it being his Sole Property"; Grand Lodge
resolved that the Masters and Wardens of the lodges should discourage their
members from buying Smith's books. There was, however, a real demand for a
cheaper, handier, and more concise version of the Constitutions, such as was
provided by the Pocket Companion, and one edition followed another, until it
was 164 THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE finally superseded in popularity by
Preston's Illustrations of Masonry in the i 77os.
Anderson's debut as an historian was the result of his having been invited, or
his having volunteered, to "digest" the MS. Constitutions of Masonry in what
he called a new and better method. We briefly described his efforts in regard
to the "historical" part, and contemporary criticism of them, in our first
chapter, and need not repeat what is said there.
we are concerned with the more serious scientific criticism of Anderson's
"history", which is not found before the later part of the nineteenth century,
the most searching and relentless critic being Begemann. If Preston believed
everything that Anderson wrote, Begemann hardly believed anything, unless it
was supported by independent evidence.
analysed Anderson's statements in great detail, especially those relating to
the period 1717 to 1'723, and endeavoured to show how unreliable or inexact
they frequently were.
it is undoubtedly desirable to have confirmation of any historian's
statements, wherever possible, we are not prepared to follow Begemann when he
accepts the omission of any reference to some event in the minutes of Grand
Lodge, or in the contemporary press, as proof that such and such an event did
not occur, in preference to accepting the positive statement of Anderson that
it did occur.
judge by our experience of the uninformative character of early Masonic
minutes, the mere fact that this or that event is not recorded there is very
far from proving that such an occurrence did not take place. Similarly, the
fact that no reference to some Masonic event, such as a public Masonic
procession, has been traced in the contemporary press is very far from proving
that some procession mentioned by Anderson is a pure invention. The surviving
files of early eighteenth‑century newspapers are not complete and have not
been exhaustively searched; moreover, the `news' value of such a procession
may have been considered negligible in 1721 by those journalists, if any, who
happened to catch sight of it.
Further, Begemann accuses Anderson of deliberately misquoting his authorities.
can, indeed, be no ques tion that Anderson's quotations, at the best, were
never 165 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY strictly accurate, and at the worst
were anything but faithful versions of the original. Thus in his Constitutions
of 1738 he sets out the Old Regulations and the New Regulations in parallel
columns, but in no single case does the Old Regulation, as printed in the
1'738 edition, appear to be a correct quotation of that Regulation as
originally printed in the 1723 edition.
of illustration, we print the first General Regulation of the 1723 edition
side by side with what purports, in the 1738 edition, to be the Old Regulation
GENERAL REGULATIONS, 1723 I. THE Grand‑Master, or his DEPUTY, hath Authority
and Right, not only to be present in any true Lodge, but also to preside
wherever he is, with the Master of the Lodge on his Left‑hand, and to order
his Grand‑Wardens to attend him, who are not to act in particular Lodges as
Wardens, but in his Presence, and at his Command; because there the
GRAND‑MASTER may command the Wardens of that Lodge, or any other Brethren he
pleaseth, to attend and act as his Wardens pro tempore.
REGULATIONS (1738 version) I. THE G. Master or Deputy has full Authority and
Right, not only to be present, but also to preside in every Lodge, with the
Master of the Lodge on his Left Hand; and to order his Grand Wardens to attend
him, who are not to act as Wardens of particular Lodges but in his Presence
and at his Command: for the G. Master, while in a particular Lodge, may
command the Wardens of that Lodge, or any Other Master‑Masons, to act there as
his Wardens pro tempore.
Anderson could not copy correctly even from his own writings, it is hardly
surprising that he failed to do so from those of other writers. Begemann's
criticism on this point, however, was perhaps too severe. Anderson may have
been constitutionally incapable of copying accurately any passage which he
wished to quote, and was possibly unconscious of the fact that he frequently
embroidered the statements of other writers, attributing to them ideas which
were not in the originals.
Nevertheless, most, if not all, of Anderson's statements relating to masonry
in England since the Conquest rest on some substratum of fact, though the
facts may have become somewhat obscured in the process of "digestion".
Anderson had also a tiresome habit of bestowing on prominent men throughout
the ages recently established Masonic titles, such as Grand Master, 166 THE
FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE Deputy Grand Master and Grand Warden, just as
fifteenthand sixteenth‑century painters represented biblical characters in
Renaissance attire. In addition to these general defects, which he shares with
contemporary writers, he had another, not unknown in writers of reminiscences,
namely, a tendency to exaggerate the part which he himself had played in
contemporary Masonic developments.
1'723, in the first edition of the Constitutions, although he refers in his
"historical" section to events as recent as the Grand Mastership of the Duke
of Montagu in 1721‑2, there is no mention of the establishment of Grand Lodge
in 1717. This is perhaps hardly surprising if, as we have suggested on page
16o above, he was very possibly not made a mason until after the installation
of the Duke of Montagu as Grand Master on 24 June 1721. That he was present on
that occasion seems unlikely; otherwise one would have expected him to refer
to the old version of the Constitutions [the Cooke MS.] produced by Payne on
that occasion, as reported by Stukeley.1
Begemann points out that Anderson, in his account of the meeting of Grand
Lodge, on 24 June 172 1,2 does not mention the fact that Payne "read over a
new set of articles to be observed", as reported by Stukeley, but the
sub‑heading to the General Regulations in the Constitutions of 1723 "compiled
first by Mr. George Payne, 4nno 1720, when he was GrandMaster, and approv'd by
the GRAND‑LODGE On St. John Baptist's Day, f4nno 1721, at Stationer's‑Hall,
LONDON", clearly shows that Anderson knew all about this "new set of
not until 1738, in the second edition of the Constitutions, that he gave an
account of the establishment of Grand Lodge‑the principal account we
possessand an abstract of the activities of Grand Lodge, year by year, from
1717 to 1738.
Although this edition, like the first, was approved by Grand Lodge, the
statements contained in 1t cannot be regarded as official, and must be
subjected to close examination.
Anxious as he undoubtedly was to magnify the part he had taken in Masonic
developments, Anderson did not 1 Family Memoirs of... William Stukeley,
Surtees Soc., 1xxiii, 64.
Constitutions oft 738, 113.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY venture to suggest, in the account which he wrote
some twenty years after the event, that he himself was present at the
formation or earliest meetings of Grand Lodge. This was very possibly because
among former Grand Officers to whom the manuscript was submitted for approval
and correction, such as George Payne (Grand Master 1718‑19 and I72o‑I), Dr.
Desaguliers (Grand Master I7I9‑2o), and William Cowper (Secretary to Grand
Lodge 1723‑4, Deputy Grand Master 1726‑7), some may quite likely have been
connected with Grand Lodge from its inception, and would, in any case, know
that he could lay claim to no such connection.
from this check on Anderson's story of the formation and early years of Grand
Lodge, there is some confirmation to be derived (a) from the list of Grand
Officers, commencing in 1717, entered at the end of the first Minute Book of
Grand Lodge; (b) from a list, probably written about 1724, of the Grand Lodge
Feasts from 1717 to 1723, contained in the so‑called "E. Book" of the Lodge of
Antiquity No. 2 ; (c) from an entry of 1721
William Stukeley's Diary; and (d) from occasional contemporary newspaper
references. The only other known account of the formation of Grand Lodge is
that in The Complete Free Mason or Multa Paucis for Lovers of Secrets,,.
published anonymously about 1763 or 1764.
differs somewhat from Anderson's account. In other respects, the "history" of
freemasonry contained in Multa Paucis is based closely on Anderson, but it is
possible that the author also had some other source of information at his
disposal when he came to describe the inception of‑Grand Lodge. Thus, on this
particular point, Multa Paucis may perhaps be regarded as an independent
authority confirming Anderson in essentials.
ESTABLISHMENT OF GRAND LODGE Taking all the available evidence into account,
we are satisfied that the inception and establishment of Grand Lodge in 1716
and 1717 was not a pure invention of Anderson. The main facts of his story are
probably correct, though some of the details and explanations are 1 Reprinted
as Vol. VII of the Leicester Masonic Reprints, 192σ. 168 THE FORMATION OF
GRAND LODGE open to considerable doubt. With these reservations in mind, we
may examine the account of the formation of Grand Lodge as given by Anderson
and in Multa Paucis.
both accounts, Sir Christopher Wren is the starting point. According to
Anderson the few lodges in London in 1 716 "finding themselves neglected by
Sir Christopher Wren [previously referred to as `Grand Master Wren'] thought
fit to cement under a Grand Master as the center of Union and Harmony". The
account in Multa Paucis is very similar.
view of the freedom with which Anderson bestowed the title "Grand Master" on
historical characters associated with the building industry, as patrons or
otherwise, such as Nimrod and Solomon in ancient times, William Wykeham and
Henry Chichele in the Middle Ages, and Cardinal Wolsey and Inigo Jones in
later times, we have no hesitation in regarding Anderson's description of Wren
as Grand Master as simply a recognition of Wren's distinction as an architect.
not even quite certain that Wren was a freemason; the main reason for thinking
that he was a member of the craft is that in the manuscript of Aubrey's
Natural History of Wiltshire, completed in 1686 but not published until 1847,
there is an addendum of 18 May 169
states that on that day a great convention of the Fraternity of Accepted
Masons was to be held at St. Paul's Church, where Sir Christopher Wren and
certain others were to be adopted as Brothers.
Conceivably Aubrey may have mistaken the place of meeting, which was probably
not St. Paul's Church, but The Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St. Paul's
Churchyard, where, according to Pine's Engraved List of Lodges, 1729, what is
now the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2, was constituted in 1691, and where, in
1717, the first Annual Assembly of Grand Lodge was held.
Wren's death in 1'723, only two of the contemporary newspapers referred to him
as a freemason, and even they may have used the word in an operative sense;
his family papers make no reference to his being an accepted mason; similarly,
in 1723 in the first edition of the Constitutions, Anderson refers to him only
as "the ingenious Architect, Sir 1 See facsimile in 1I.Q.C., xi (1898), facing
p. to. 169 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Christopher Wren".
1'728, Edward Oakley, himself an architect as well as a freemason, when
delivering a speech to the lodge of which he was then Master, refers to "that
accomplish'd Architect Sir Christopher Wren", but does not claim him as a
writers, such as the author of Multa Paucis, and William Preston in his
Illustrations of Masonry, who give particulars of Wren's Masonic career,
doubtless copied them from Anderson's Constitutions of 1'738, and cannot be
regarded as providing independent confirmation on that point.
Aubrey apparently wrote his addendum before the event it refers to had taken
place, and as no other reference to the meeting has ever been traced, an
element of uncertainty remains.
everything into account, we are disposed to think that Wren probably did join
the Fraternity in 1691, but that he took little or no active part in
freemasonry after his acceptance.
According to both accounts, the meeting which decided to constitute Grand
Lodge was held in 1716 at the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent
Garden; Anderson does not specify a day; Multa Paucis names St. John's Day,
but does not state whether the summer or the winter fe‑tival. According to
Anderson, there were present, besides "some old Brothers", the lodges which
met at the following places 1. the Goose and Gridiron Ale‑house in St. Paul's
Churchyard,z 2. the Crown Ale‑house in Parker's Lane,s 3. the Apple Tree
Tavern in Charles Street,4 q.. the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in ‑Channel Row,
Westminster s In Multa Paucis it is stated, without giving any details, that
the Masters and Wardens of six lodges assembled. Possibly "some old Brothers"
may account for the two extra lodges of Multa Paucis, but it is not known what
lodges, if any, in addition to the Four Old Lodges were represented , E.M.P.,
the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2. s Lodge erased in 1736.
the Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland, No. 12. s Now the Royal Somerset
House and Inverness Lodge, No. 4 170 THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE at the
was very possibly the lodge which in 1723 met at the Cheshire Cheese in
Arundel Street, as in the MS. List of 1723‑q.1 it was placed in front of the
Lodge at the Horn Tavern, Westminster, the fourth of the Four Old Lodges,
notwithstanding the influential membership of that particular lodge. Regarding
the decisions reached, it may be noted that, according to Anderson, those
present constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro tempore, and "forthwith
revived the quarterly communication of the Officers of Lodges (call'd the
Grand Lodge)". Further, they resolved to hold the Annual Assembly and Feast,
and then to choose a Grand Master. The account in Multa Paucis is much the
same, but less detailed.
seem to agree that Quarterly Communications and the Annual Assembly were to be
revived, but neither offers any evidence that Quarterly Communications ever
had been held up to that time.
Actually, the first one recorded by Anderson was not held until 27 December
172o, and in all probability that was the first ever held. Anderson states
that according to a copy of the Old Constitutions a General Assembly was held
on 27 December 1663, and made certain regulations which he quotes.
version of the Old Charges referred to would appear to be the so‑called
version was printed in five successive issues of The Post Man in August 172
2,2 and shortly afterwards was issued by Roberts as a pamphlet. The General
Assembly mentioned was doubtless that described in the Roberts print as taking
place on 8 December 1663, and the Regulations were presumably the "Additional
Orders and Constitutions" stated in the Roberts print to have been made at
Anderson the date appears not as the 8th but as the 27th of December (St.
John's Day in Winter), and the wording of the "Orders" has been modified.
Anderson provides no evidence, additional to that reviewed on pages 156‑7
above, of the existence of any central or district Masonic authority in
England before 1717.
Multa Paucis there is no mention of any General Assembly or Regulations in
According to both accounts, an Assembly was held 1
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House, St. Paul's
Churchyard, on St. John the Baptist's Day, 24 June 171 7, at which Anthony
Sayer was elected Grand Master and invested and installed as such.
EARLY GRAND MASTERS Very little is known about the first Grand Master, who was
born about 1672 and died in 1742. He is described by Anderson as "Mr. Antony
Sayer, gentleman", and the researches of J. Walter Hobbs 1 point to the
possibility that he belonged to the Berkshire Sayers, who were landed gentry,
and that he' may have been the son of Joseph Sayer and Mary Pysley, who were
married in December 1665. Efforts to trace his early career have been entirely
unsuccessful. Towards the end of his life he was definitely in restricted
circumstances, being a petitioner to Grand Lodge for relief on more than one
occasion.a At the time of his death early in January 17412, he was tyler to
what is now the Old King's Arms Lodge No. 28, a post which he had apparently
held for some years.s
early days of Grand Lbdge he was a member of the lodge which met at the Apple
Tree Tavern; 4 apart from serving as Grand Warden in 1719‑2o, he was not very
active in Grand Lodge after leaving the chair.b He was clearly a man of less
distinction, both Masonically and otherwise, than the only other commoners who
have ever held the high office of Grand Master, namely George Payne, who held
it in 1718‑i9 and 1720‑1, and Dr. J. T. Desaguliers, who was Grand Master in
1719‑20 George Payne was an active member of Grand Lodge for nearly forty
years. During his Grand Mastership in 1720‑1, he compiled the Regulations of
Grand Lodge which are printed in the Constitutions of 1723, and are referred
to more fully in the next chapter. He was Grand Warden in 1724‑5,6 and was
appointed member of the Charity Committee in 1727.
one of the former Grand M.Q.C., Xxxvii, 218 sey.
Q.C.11., x, 123; d.Q.C., xiv, 1833 A. F. Calvert, "Antony Sayer", Z.Q.C., xiv,
Q.C.14., a, 3.
Ibid., 74172 THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE Officers specifically mentioned in
the Approbation of the Constitutions of 1738 as having approved of Anderson's
manuscript. In 1754 he was appointed a member of the Committee to revise the
Book of Constitutions,' of which a new edition, edited by the Rev. John Entick,
was published in 1756.
from his Masonic activities, not a great deal is known about his career.a
he died in 1757 he was Chief Secretary to the Commissioners for Taxes, a post
which he had held for fourteen years. In a newspaper announcement referring to
the appointment of his successor, it was stated that Payne had been iri the
Taxes Office for forty years.
will shows that he was a man of some substance and a member of a family of a
certain social standing, two of his nieces, daughters of his brother, the Rev.
Thomas Payne, having married into the nobility, one being the Countess of
Northampton, and the other Lady Francis Seymour.
Rev. Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers a (16831744) was the son of a Protestant
pastor living near La Rochelle, who left France in 1685 after the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes. After a period in Guernsey father and son settled in
England, the father being ordained by the Bishop of London.
time the father was minister of the French Chapel in Swallow Street, and then
a schoolmaster at Islington.
son was educated by his father, until the latter's death in 1698/9, and then
pursued his studies under a Mr. Sanders at Sutton Coldfield. He entered Christ
Church, Oxford, in 17o5, taking his B.A. degree in 1709.
ordained in 171 o, and held‑ livings at Stanmore in Middlesex, and at Bridgham
in Norfolk; the latter he exchanged for the living of Little Warley in Essex.
He was chaplain to the Duke of Chandos, the patron of the Stanmore living, and
subsequently to Frederick, Prince of Wales.
bent, however, was rather scientific than ' Entick's Constitutions of 1756,
A. F. Calvert "George Payne, 2nd Grand Master", 14.Q.C., xxx, 258‑62.
paragraph is based on the Inaugural Address given by John Stokes to the Q.C.
Lodge On 7 November 1925 (I.Q.C., xxxviii, 285‑307), and on the minutes of
Grand Lodge (Q‑C‑4., x).
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY theological.
o he was appointed lecturer in Experimental Philosophy at Hart Hall, Oxford.
After his marriage in 1712 he settled in Westminster where he supplemented his
income by giving public lectures on natural philosophy. He proved himself a
popular and successful exponent of the doctrines of Sir Isaac Newton, which at
that time were arousing widespread interest.
elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1714, and held the office of Curator to
received his degree of Doctor of Laws at Oxford in 1718.
craft he was Deputy Grand Master to the Duke of Wharton in 1722, to the Earl
of Dalkeith in 1723 and to Lord Paisley in 1725. His best Masonic work was
probably done in connection with the organisation of the Charity Committee of
Grand Lodge, to which more detailed reference is made in the next chapter.
Payne and Desaguliers were succeeded by a long line of noble, and ultimately
of royal, Grand Masters,' but we are concerned here only with their more
immediate successors. The tenure of office was usually twelve months; the
duties would not appear to have been unduly onerous, viz., to preside over
such meetings of Grand Lodge as were held during the year, to constitute in
person such new lodges in the London area as were authorised, and to be
responsible for the secretarial expenses of Grand Lodge. Each noble Grand
Master, however, was entitled to appoint a Deputy, who could preside at Grand
Lodge, or constitute new lodges, in his absence.
financial responsibilities of the Grand Master were dealt with by Grand Lodge
in 1735, when it was agreed that in future the Grand Master "shall be at no
greater expense during his administration than 30 gns. for the Secretary's
demand for his Charges, Trouble and Attendance".z
most, if not all cases the noblemen selected for the high office were
relatively youthful, and masons of only quite short standing; further, they
attended Grand Lodge but seldom, once they had passed through the chair.$
John, second Duke of Montagu ' A chronological list of the Grand Masters is
printed in the Masonic Year Book.
Q.C.A, x, 245.
THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE (1688‑1749), G.M. in 1721‑2, took an amateur
interest in science and medicine.' Philip, Duke of Wharton (1698‑173 i), G.M.
in 1722‑3, is of special interest because of his subsequent connection with
the Gormogons. Charles, second Duke of Richmond 2 (1701‑5o), G.M. in 1724‑5,
was for several years Master of the Horn Lodge. He would appear to have shown
a more active interest in the craft than his noble predecessors or immediate
successors, with the possible exception of James, fourth Lord Kingston
(1693‑1761), G.M. in 1728‑9. The latter's Masonic activities after 173o
related to Ireland, where he was Grand Master in 1731, 1735, 1745 and 1746.3
Quite recently Bro. Lewis Edwards has made a more particular study of the
lives of Francis, Earl of Dalkeith (1694/5‑1751), G.M. in 1723‑4; James, Lord
Paisley [Earl of Abercorn] (1687‑1744), G. M. in 1725‑6; and Henry, Lord
Coleraine (1693‑1749) G. M. in 1727‑8, but his conclusions regarding the early
Grand Masters appear to be of more general application Most of the men,
conspicuous by birth and station as they were, were not in the front rank of
national affairs ... Their interest in the Craft was not generally long
sustained ... The class of man attracted was generally that of the dilettante
... with a taste for polite letters, for mathematics, or for art, occasionally
also for foreign travel.4 Though the early Grand Masters undoubtedly lent
distinction to the craft, we find it difficult to believe that they can have
exercised much influence, if any, in determining the policy of Grand Lodge in
the various difficulties which faced that body in the 172os and 1730s. If we
desire to discover those who took a prominent part in Grand Lodge affairs, it
seems much more probable that we must look to the men who held the office of
Deputy Grand Master, men like Dr. Desaguliers (D.G.M. in 1722‑3, 1723‑4 and '
See Gould, "The Rev. Wm. Stukeley, M.D.", f4.Q.C., vi, 134.
11.Q.C., axx, 176 folg.
Lepper and Crossle, 146‑8.
quote from the rough proof of "Three Early Grand Masters", a paper by Bro.
Edwards which, in due course, will be printed in f4.Q.C.,'viii.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY 1725‑6), Nathaniel Blackerby (D.G.M. in 1728‑9 and
and Thos. Bateson (D.G.M. in 1730‑1, 1731‑2 and 1732‑3). The minutes of Grand
Lodge certainly suggest that these brethren were active in Masonry, but that
is by no means the same thing as demonstrating that they were, in any real
sense, directing forces in the craft. In the early days when Grand Lodge had
no headquarters of its own, and no full‑time officials, when Deputy Grand
Masters served for three years at the most, and usually only for one or two,
we doubt if there were as yet any brethren who could be described as
unofficial leaders of the Fraternity, though some doubtless were more
influential than others.
TENETS OF FREEMASONRY Accepting Anderson's statement that in September 17 he
was ordered by Grand Lodge to digest the old Gothic Constitutions in a new and
better method, we have discussed the resulting version of Masonic history and
Anderson's reliability as an historian. In addition to editing the
"historical" section of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, he also edited the
Charges General and Singular.
make their appearance in 1723 as "The Charges of a FreeMason", and in 1738 as
"The Old Charges of the Free and Accepted Masons".
Anderson and his contemporaries had no great pleasure in medieval
architecture, as previously mentioned, though doubtless having some
antiquarian interest, so they had no overwhelming veneration for the Old
Charges, which Anderson somewhat contemptuously refers to as "the old Gothic
Constitutions". ‑ Consequently, it seemed natural and laudable to strip the
MS. Constitutions of their outward garments in order to dress them in the
fashion of a more enlightened age.
the widespread desires of the age was for `modernisation' or `contemporisation';
not only was Shakespeare modernised, but also the classics of Rome, in many
so‑called `imitations'. This movement probably also accounts for the
re‑casting of the Old Charges.
intention was not to change the essentials of masonry, but to modernise the
expression of them.
that was, of course, to risk sacrificing .something of tradition and romance;
but the age was not romantic. 176 THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE When Anderson's
Constitutions appeared, the age of reason had long dawned not merely in
politics and philosophy but also in masonry Where sceptred Reason from her
Throne Surveys the Lodge and makes us one.' In the process of `digesting' or `modernising'
the Old Charges, some of the old operative charges remain practically
unchanged; others are modified or amended to make them more applicable to
accepted masons; yet in other cases, they are transformed out of all
recognition. In this section, we propose to examine those charges which refer
to the relationship of freemasonry to (i) charity, (ii) politics, and (iii)
Charity.‑In this case Anderson contents himself with somewhat modifying the
Old Charge to receive and cherish strange masons, either by setting them to
work for at least a fortnight, or by refreshing them with money to the next
revised form it appears thus 2 Behaviour towards a strange Brother.
you discover him to be a true and genuine Brother, you are to respect him
accordingly; and if he is in want, you must relieve him if you can, or else
direct him how he may be reliev'd: You must employ him some Days, or else
recommend him to be employ'd. But you are not charged to do beyond your
Ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, that is a good Man and true, before
any other poor People in the same Circumstances.
Actually, as early as the 168os, the operative masons' practice of relieving
brethren in distress had apparently been adopted by accepted masons in England
and Ireland, to judge by John Aubrey's previously mentioned statement of 1686
that when any of them falls into decay, the brotherhood is to relieve him, 3
and by the reference in the Dublin tripos of 16 8 8 to the help given to a
reduced brother by 1 11 Collection of Songs, 173σ, Song X11 (E.M.P., 322),
which appears in the Constitutions of 1738 as "The Treasurer's Song".
Constitutions of 1723, 55.
3.4.Q.C., Xi, 10.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY the Fraternity of Freemasons in and about Trinity
College.' From these early references, and from Francis Drake's mention in
1'726 of "our three Grand Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to
one another' "2 it is clear that accepted masons both before the days of
Anderson and outside the jurisdiction of the premier Grand Lodge regarded
benevolence as a Masonic ornament. Thus in inculcating the need to practise
charity Anderson was merely expressing in words a doctrine which had already
Politics.‑In the MS. Constitutions masons were charged to be true liegemen to
the King, and, if aware of any treason, either to amend it, or to warn the
King, or his council, or his officers. This `treason' charge is considerably
modified in Anderson and a prohibition of political discussions in lodge is
introduced. We think that both the modification and the prohibition were
dictated by practical expediency, in view of the unsettled political
conditions following the Revolution of 1688 and the rising of 171S‑
not think that either was first instituted by Anderson, who, in our opinion,
merely embodied in the revised charges principles which had already been
essential part of the `treason' charge, as redrafted by Anderson, reads as
follows II Of the Civil Magistrate supreme and subordinate.
Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or
works, and is never to be concern'd in Plots and Conspiracies against the
Peace and Welfare of the Nation ... if a Brother should be a Rebel against the
State, he is not to be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied
as an unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime, though the loyal
Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or
Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot
expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.
Sadler, Masonic Reprints and Revelations, p. xxi.
Drake's Speech of 2'7 December 1726 (E.M.P., 20σ).
THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE The prohibition of political discussions is
contained in the Sixth Charge "Of Behaviour" 2 Behaviour after the Lodge is
over and the Brethren not gone.
private Piques or Quarrels must be brought within the Door of the Lodge, far
less any Quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State Policy, we being only,
as Masons, of the Catholick Religion 1 ... we are also of all Nations,
Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolv'd against all Politicks, as
what never yet conduc'd to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will. This
Charge has been always strictly enjoin'd and observ'd; but especially ever
since the Reformation in BRITAIN, or the Dissent and Secession of these
Nations from the Communion of RoME.
know of no evidence to support the claim that "this Charge has been always
strictly enjoin'd and observ'd", but we feel that the practice of avoiding
political discussion had been gradually established and confirmed by
experience in the interests of amity.
Anderson was not the first person to charge masons to avoid political and
religious disputes. An earlier recommendation to this effect is contained in
the Dedication to Long Livers, dated I March 1721/2, addressed by `Eugenius
Philalethes junior' to the Grand Master, Masters, Wardens and Brethren of the
Most Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Free Masons of Great Britain and
Ireland :2 The next Thing that I shall remember you of is, to avoid Politicks
and Religion: Have nothing to do with these, as you tender your own Welfare
... Ours is the best Policy, it is Honesty; it is the Policy of the holy
Jesus, who never disturbed Governments, but left them as he found them, and
rendered to Caesar the Things that were Caesar's....
the same thing in relation to the Religion we profess, which is the best that
ever was, or will, or can be; 1 This part of the charge was transferred in
1738 to the first section of the sixth charge, "Behaviour in the Lodge before
passage we quote is reprinted on pp. σ9‑5░
179 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY ... for it is the Law of Nature, which is the
Law of God, for God is Nature. It is to love God above all things, and our
Neighbour as our self; this is the true, primitive, catholick, and universal
Religion, agreed to be so in all Times and Ages ...
Religion.‑In the immediately preceding paragraphs reference has been made to
the prohibition in the Sixth Charge of religious and political disputes. The
main statement on the relation of freemasonry to religion is embodied in
Anderson's First Charge "Concerning God and Religion". Whereas most versions
of the MS. Constitutions commence with an invocation to the Trinity and
contain in the first of the Charges General an injunction that a mason shall
be a true man to God and the Holy Church, and shall avoid error and heresy, in
Anderson there is no invocation or reference to the Trinity, and the First
Charge, as stated by him, makes no specifically Christian belief obligatory: A
Mason is oblig'd, by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly
understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious
Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to
be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now
thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men
agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good
Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or
Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of
Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must
have remain'd at a perpetual Distance.
frequently been held that Anderson introduced a striking innovation by basing
freemasonry on deism instead of on Christianity. We find it impossible to
believe that this Charge represents a deliberate and successful attempt on
Anderson's part to impose upon accepted masons a fundamental point in his own
first place, apart from this Charge, there would seem to be no I8o THE
FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE evidence that Anderson favoured deism, though he
might tolerate it in a fellow freemason. For all that is known to the
contrary, he held the Calvinistic beliefs of the Presby terian Church in which
he was ordained.
second place, it must not be overlooked that the responsibility for the Charge
lies not on the shoulders of Anderson alone, but on those also of the
previously mentioned committee of fourteen learned Brothers who read, amended
and finally approved of the text in 1722.
take it that they and the craft in general would have detected and prevented
any attempt, had Anderson been personally disposed to make one, to change what
were regarded as the fundamentals of freemasonry.
follows that the Charge "Concerning God and Religion" must have seemed in form
and content right and reasonable to at least the great majority of freemasons
of Anderson's time.
certainly harmonises with the views expressed a year previously by `Eugenius
Philalethes junior' [?=Robert Samber] in the dedication to Long Livers, as
quoted on page 179 above.
problem is to explain how a society whose origins and primary documents are
medieval came to accept without question the deistic attitude of the First
interval between the dying down of the old fires of seventeenth‑century
puritanism, and the revival of puritanism in its Methodist form, there came an
age in which `enthusiasm' in religion and politics was suspect, and a greater
value was set on calmness and common sense. That such a spirit should prevail
in the lodges in Anderson's day is not strange. The majority of their members
had no doubt lived through the Revolution of 1688, and many of them could
remember something of the controversies and disturbances which preceded that
the persecutions of the sixteenth century, and the convulsions of the
seventeenth, men might well incline in religion, as Walpole did in political
questions, to the practice of quieta non movere, and it is not improbable that
a large proportion of those who joined the craft at this period were
influenced by the rule that topics likely to provoke hot discussion should be
barred from the lodges, or, to use Anderson's own words:' ' Constitutions of
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Ingenious Men of all Faculties and Stations being
convinced that the Cement of the Lodge was Love and Friendship, earnestly
requested to be made Masons, affecting this amicable Fraternity more than
other Societies then often disturbed by warm Disputes.
essential harmony was not to be reached by identifying masonry with any one of
the prevailing creeds, or by teaching that all or some of the creeds were
false. It was rather to be sought by ignoring the creeds or at least ignoring
the points in which they differed, and by asserting at the same time that a
freemason might have two distinct religious beliefs. As an individual, he
might profess the creed, or one of the creeds, of his country; as a freemason,
he must hold what in Anderson's Sixth Charge is called "the Catholick
Religion", or "the oldest Catholick Religion", as it is named in the
Constitutions of 1738.
"the oldest Catholick Religion" was presumably meant the same thing as "the
Religion in which all Men agree". It is also doubtless identical with what in
the "Short Charge to new admitted Brethren", first printed in Smith's Pocket
Companion of 1734‑5, is called "the Universal Religion, or the Religion of
Nature". The essence of Natural Religion was belief in God and understanding
of a moral law; these two fundamentals constituted a religion which was at the
same time natural and universal, in the sense of being held by, or binding
upon, all men irrespective of time or country. If we are right in taking the
"religion in which all men agree"' as equivalent to "natural religion", the
First Charge was wide in scope, and cannot, as has sometimes been suggested,
be rightly interpreted as restricting membership of the craft to entrants who
were Christians, of whatever denomination, or to those who were either
Trinitarians, Unitarians or Jews. The only persons explicitly excluded are the
1 According to the First Charge as printed in the Constitutions of 1738, the
religion in which all men agree is equivalent to "the 3 great Articles of
Noah". We discuss these Articles in our Freemasonry and the Idea of Natural
Religion (1942), 9‑12, and must refer any reader who is interested in the
Noachian precepts to that paper. It is reprinted in 4.Q‑C., lvi, 38‑48. 182
THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE "stupid atheist" and the "irreligious libertine",
and the two terms may have been intended to describe the same man, that is,
"the fool" who "hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Ps. xiv. i), and
who, believing in no divine sanctions, was considered to have no motive to
obey the moral law. Theoretically, Moslems, Parsees and Hindus, for example,
might be eligible. Anderson, and presumably his colleagues, believed that the
Zoroastrians were freemasons and that in Eastern Asia in his day there was
still a remnant of them "who retain many of the old usages of the Free
Masons".' It may, nevertheless, be questioned whether the London and
Westminster lodges in Anderson's day would have admitted orientals. Begemann 2
holds that the First Charge should be interpreted as excluding Jews, on the
ground that Anderson wrote a pamphlet against modern Jews and anti‑trinitarians,
but in our view Anderson's personal opinions and beliefs do not enter into the
problem; he was endeavouring to set down in writing the tenets and principles
prevailing among masons of his day, even if he failed to do so in a concise
and lucid manner.
known, as a matter of fact, that Jews were admitted to the craft within a few
years of the publication of Anderson's Constitutions of 1723,3 though whether
that was the original intention of the Charge, or only a proceeding rendered
possible by its somewhat obscure wording, we cannot say.
early eighteenth‑century lodges were not societies of philosophers or
doctrinaires. There may well have been some `intellectuals' among the accepted
masons, but the underlying tenets of freemasonry, such as the comparative
freedom from tests, the exclusion of political and religious discussion from
the lodge, and the practice of charity, had in all probability grown up
gradually among the operative 1 Constitutions of 1738, 23.
Cit., ii, 207 3 In The Daily Post of Monday 22 September 1732 there is a
reference to a Masonic lodge held "on Sunday" (? 14 September 1732) at the
Rose Tavern in Cheapside, which was attended by "several Brethren of
distinction, as well Jews as Christians". The Master, Daniel Delvalle, is
described as "an eminent Jew Snuff Merchant" (Chetwode Crawley, I‑Q.C., xi,
30). Possibly the statement in .4 Letter from the Grand Mistress of 1724, that
freemasons refuse to swear by the New Testament (E.M.C., 181) is intended to
refer to the admission of Jews into the craft.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY and early accepted masons, the results probably of
empirical solutions of practical difficulties, rather than actions based on
fundamental beliefs. In due course these tenets were adopted by the
speculatives from the operative and the accepted masons. Masonic tenets and
principles, like Masonic ritual, were a slow growth, and not the sudden
creation of any one or two men.
early minutes of Grand Lodge throw no light upon the tenets of freemasonry,
other than the practice of charity.
non‑Masonic or anti‑Masonic writings of the period very little is to be
gathered concerning the tenets of freemasonry; this rather implies that there
was nothing novel about them and that they harmonised with contemporary
thought in the matter of religion and politics. An anti‑Masonic letter
published in The Post Man of i o July 1'722 1 makes no reference to the tenets
of the craft.
Briscoe pamphlet of 1724 z there is a section on Anderson's Constitutions of
1723, but the criticism is directed against Anderson's version of Masonic
history, and not against his Charges, and the same is true of In Ode to the
Grand Khaibar published in 1726,3 and a letter of `A. Z.' which appeared in
The Daily 9'ournal of s September 1730‑4 The writer of The Free‑Masons
Iccusation and Defence, 1726,5 casts various aspersions upon the Fraternity
without actually charging it with anything in particular, even though he
comments upon Anderson's Constitutions in some detail. In referring to the
Charges, however, he makes no mention of the First, "Concerning God and
Religion", or the Second, "Of the Civil Magistrate supreme and subordinate",
but quotes in full the Fifth, "Of the Management of the Craft in working", and
asks what that particular Charge (where Anderson followed the Old Charges of
the operative masons far more closely than in his First or Second Charge) has
to do with gentlemen or men of a liberal education.
review of Anderson's Constitutions in The Grub Street journal of 21 October
1731, over the signature of "Spondee",s the reviewer quotes Anderson as saying
that "A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law", 1 E.M.P., 68.
185. 4 Bid, 233.
276. 184 THE FORMATION OF GRAND LODGE and that "his relation to the Lodge
remains indefeasible, tho' he should prove a rebel against the State", but
makes no comment on these extracts from Anderson's Charges. In a letter of "Verus
Commodus" concerning the Society of Freemasons, appended to the Masonic
catechism, The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons Discover'd, 1725,1 there is an
attack not so much upon the tenets of freemasonry, as upon the religious views
of certain unnamed, and presumably prominent, masons. Finally, in the
anti‑Masonic leaflet of 1698,2 the "Freed Masons" are attacked as the
AntiChrist. If this reference implies that they were antitrinitarian, then we
have a suggestion that freemasons had adopted a deistic attitude towards
religion twenty‑five years before the publication of Anderson's First Charge
"Concern ing God and Religion".
tends to support our opinion that the change in the masons' attitude towards
religion had made itself felt before 1723, and that Anderson was not
introducing a striking innovation by basing freemasonry on deism instead of on
catechism is the second edition of The Grand Mystery of Free‑Masons Discover'd,
1724. (E.M.C., 70) 2 E.M.P., 35‑
have reproduced the leaflet in facsimile, with com ments, in 11.Q.C., Iv,
reprint the text on p. 1σ9 above.
CHAPTER IX THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE RESTRICTED JURISDICTION OF GRAND
LODGE HE events of 17 16 and 1717 which led to the formation of Grand Lodge
have been referred to as "a resuscitation of English Masonry" and as "the
descriptions are somewhat misleading; the events of 1716 and 1717 related not
to English masonry in general, but to masonry in London and Westminster in
is nothing in the surviving accounts to suggest that the members of the Four
Old Lodges had anything more in mind than a gathering or organisation of local
lodges. Even six years later, in Anderson's Constitutions Of 1723 (but not, it
should be noted, in those of 1738) the Charges were stated to be "for the use
of the Lodges in London",a and the General Regulations "for the use of the
Lodges in and about London and Westminster" .3 According to the MS. List of
Lodges which was begun 25 November 1723, and entered on the first pages of the
original minute book of Grand Lodge,4 the "regular constituted lodges" further
afield were at `Edgworth' [? Edgware], Acton and Richmond.
fact that Grand Lodge in 1723 and 1724 passed various resolutions concerning
lodges "in or near London",6 "within the Bills of Mortality",e and "within ten
miles of London' "7 indicates the 1 A. F. A. Woodford, Kenning's Cyclopaedia
of Freemasonry, 577 2 Constitutions of 1723, 49‑
58. 4 Q.C.,I., x, 3‑21.
November 1723: "That no new Lodge in or near London without it being regularly
constituted be countenanced by the Grand Lodge . . ." (Q‑C.‑4., x, 54) 1q
February 1723/4: "That no Brother belong to more than one Lodge at one time
within the Bills of Mortality ... and whereas some Masons have Mett and formed
a Lodge without the Grand Mars. leave Agreed that no such person be admitted
into Regular Lodges" (Q.C.,Y., x, 56).
November 1724: "That if any Brethren shall meet irregularly and make Masons at
any place within ten miles of London the persons present at 186 THE EARLY DAYS
OF GRAND LODGE restricted jurisdiction of Grand Lodge in those years.
within these somewhat narrow limits, the authority of Grand Lodge was far from
resolutions quoted in footnotes s, 6 and 7 opposite show, Grand Lodge had to
contend both with lodges that were not regularly constituted (in accordance
with General Regulation VIII) and with brethren meeting irregularly to make
example of "irregular" Masonic activities at this period is afforded by the
proceedings of the Philo‑Musicae et Architecturae Societas, whose by‑laws and
minutes from 18 February 1724/5 to 23 March 1726/'7 have survived.' According
to the preamble to the Fundamental Constitution of the Society, "Musick and
Architecture, the happy produce of Geometry, have such Affinity, they justly
may be stil'd Twin Sisters, and Inseparable . . ." In practice, the Society
was a musical society, the `architecture' in its title being represented by an
interest in freemasonry, in accordance with the old conception which equated
masonry with geometry and architecture.
According to rule nineteen of the society, no person was to be admitted as a
visitor unless he were a freemason, and the minutes record visits from the
masters and members of various London lodges. Further, there was an unwritten
rule that all members of the society must be freemasons; if a candidate did
not possess that qualification some of the eight founders of the society, who
were all freemasons, seven having been made masons at the regular lodge
meeting at The Queen's Head in Hollis Street, and one at a lodge at The George
in Long Acre,2 performed the requisite ceremonies, in order to render the
candidate eligible for membership. Obviously, the Masonic activities of the
Musical Society did not meet with the approval of Grand Lodge. On 2o May 1725
Grand Lodge summoned certain members of the society, all members of the Lodge
at The Queen's the making (The New Brethren Excepted) shall not be admitted
even as visitors into any Regular Lodge whatsoever . . ." (Q.C.11., x, 59).
Fundamental Constitution and Orders of the Society intitiled Philo‑Musicae et
Architecturae Societas. Apollini.", B.M. Add. MS. 23202. Printed in Q.C‑1.,
ix, edited by W. Harry Rylands.
Q.C.11., ix, 6‑7 187 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Head, Hollis Street, to attend
the next Quarterly Communication,' but there is nothing in the subsequent
minutes of Grand Lodge to show whether they attended, and if so, what
happened. On 2 September 1725, George Payne, Junior Grand Warden and former
Grand Master, visited the society,2 but on this occasion no Masonic ceremony
would appear to have been performed. In December 1725 both Payne and the Grand
Master, the Duke of Richmond, wrote letters to the Society, as recorded in the
following entry in the Society's minutes, under date of 16 December 1725:8 A
Letter Dat. the 8t'' Instant from Brother Geo : Payne Jun. Grand Warden
directed in form to this Society inclosing a Letter from the Duke of Richmond
Grand Master ... directed to the Preside and the rest of the Brethren at the
Apollo in which he Erroneously insists on and Assumes to himself a Pretended
Authority to call Our Rt Worshipful' and Highly Esteem'd Society to an account
for making Masons irregularly ... ORDERED That the Said Letters do lye on the
clear from the minute that the members of the Society resented the
intervention of Grand Lodge, in as much as they had done nothing which
accepted masons of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries had not
done, when they formed themselves into occasional lodges. Over those members
whom the society itself had made masons, Grand Lodge had obviously no control,
though they could be refused admission to regular lodges. On the other hand,
those members of the society who belonged to regular lodges were clearly
within the jurisdiction of Grand Lodge. In December 172 5 and January 1725/6
the society con tinued to make masons.
to judge by the minutes, the practice ceased, but neither the minutes of the
society nor those of Grand Lodge throw any light on how this came to pass.
Lodge at The Queen's Head in Hollis Street, to which the founder‑members of
the society mostly belonged, cannot be traced in any list of lodges subsequent
to 1725, but whether it disappeared because several of its 1 Q.C‑4., x, 62.
THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE members were members of the Musical Society and
the Society's irregular Masonic activities met with the strong disapproval of
Grand Lodge there is no evidence to show.
references to the irregular making of masons occur in the minutes of Grand
Lodge as late as 31 March 1'735,1 30 June 1'739 2 and 12 December 1'739.$ It
is possible, though hardly likely, that when the Grand Master [the Earl of
Crawford] on 31 March 17
notice (in a very handsom Speech) of the Greivance of making extranious Masons
in a private and clandestine manner", he was referring, among other cases, to
an episode revealed in the correspondence of Charles, second Duke of Richmond
(G. M. 1724‑5),4 which shows that, in December 1734, a no less prominent mason
than the Rev. Dr. J. T. Desaguliers (G.M. 1719‑2o, D.G.M. 1722‑3, 1723‑4,
1725‑6), whilst visiting the Duke of Montagu (G.M. 1721‑2) at Ditton, took
part in what can only be described as an irregular making of a mason, when on
a Sunday night at a lodge held in the Library, a certain Bob Webber, of
"tender years",s was admitted apprentice.
provinces at this period there were various lodges of accepted masons, such as
those traced by W. R. Makins at Leeds and Pontefract in 1721 and at Darlington
in 1725,8 as well as the previously mentioned lodge at York, over which Grand
Lodge in London neither claimed nor exercised control. But from 1725 onwards,
a marked change began to take place. The MS. List of Lodges, 1725‑8, entered
in the first minute book of Grand Lodge,? shows, in addition to numerous
lodges in the London area, lodges at Bath, Bristol, Norwich, Chichester,
Chester, Reading, Gosport, Carmarthen, Salford, and Warwick.
Q.C.Z., x, 250.
Published in the Earl of March's ,4 Duke and His Friends, London, 1911. The
book served as a basis for W. Wonnacott, "Charles, second Duke of Richmond
(Grand Master 1724‑5) and some of his Masonic Associates", Z.Q.C., xxx (1917),
176 folg. The letter of Mick Broughton to the Duke of Richmond, dated 1
January 17345, is reprinted in Z.Q.C., xxx, 19o.
expression used by Broughton suggests that Webber was under age. According to
General Regulation No. IV (Constitutions of 1723, 59), 25 was the minimum age
Misc. Lat., xii, 27‑8.
Q.C.Z., x, 22‑47189 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY also reveals the existence of a
Provincial Grand Master, a Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and Provincial
Grand Wardens in Cheshire and in South Wales. Early in 1727 the Provincial
Grand Officers of Cheshire wrote to the Grand Master to thank him for a visit
to the Lodges of the Province by the Deputy Grand Master;' a few months later
the Provincial Grand Officers of South Wales wrote to acknowledge a letter
received from the Grand Master.2
in 1725, too, that part of General Regulation XIII, "Apprentices must be
admitted Masters and Fellow‑Craft only here [in Grand Lodge], unless by a
Dispensation", was repealed,3 having presumably become unworkable, if it ever
was observed, owing to the wider geographical distribution of the lodges under
the jurisdiction of Grand Lodge.
motive behind the regulation that apprentices were to be admitted "Masters and
Fellow‑Craft" only at Grand Lodge, and the problem how this system worked in
practice, have exercised the minds of Masonic students for many years.
Regarding the motive, there is some ground for thinking that very few
apprentices at that period proceeded to the degree of master; according to The
Mystery of Free‑Masonry, 1730, "there is not one Mason in an Hundred that will
be at the expence to pass the Master's Part, except it be for interest" .4
this was so, and if, as we believe, "Master [Mason"] and "Fellow‑Craft" were
alternative or convertible terms about 1723, and not the descriptions of two
distinct degrees, as at the present time, a problem discussed on pages 270‑1
below, then most freemasons were apprentices, and consequently not eligible to
be either wardens or masters of lodges.
According to the Fourth Charge "No Brother can be a Warden until he has pass'd
the part of a Fellow‑Craft; nor a Master until he has acted as Warden." s
"Manner of Constituting a 1 Q.C.‑d‑, X, 73 2 Ibid., 75.
Oakley, in the printed version of his speech of 31 December 1728, referred to
on p. 17o above, describes himself as "late Provincial Senior Grand Warden in
Carmarthen, South Wales".
motion is quoted on p. 271 below.
bearing of Regulation XIII, in its original and amended forms, on the question
of the establishment of the trigradal system, is discussed on pp. 266‑72
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723, 52. 1go THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE New
Lodge", printed as a Postscript to Anderson's Constitutions of 1'723, there is
reference to "the new Master and Wardens being yet among the Fellow‑Craft",'
which seems to imply that the injunction in the Fourth Charge was effective.
Thus a state of affairs apparently existed in which there were very few masons
eligible to hold the office of master or warden, or to admit apprentices to
the Master's Part.
Stukeley's remark in his Commonplace Book, "I was the first person made a
freemason for many years.
great difficulty to find members enough to perform the ceremony",2 presumably
relates to the Master's Part, as in January 1720/1, when Stukeley was
initiated, there were at least the Four Old Lodges in London and Westminster,
all of which were presumably prepared to admit apprentices. The regulation in
question, therefore, seems to suggest one of two things: i. That the members
of most, if not all, private lodges in the opinion of Grand Lodge were not
qualified for technical or other reasons to perform the master's ceremony, and
that in the interests of proper working it was desirable to restrict the
admission of masters and fellow crafts to Quarterly Communications of Grand
Lodge; or ii. That Grand Lodge wished as far as possible to control the
selection of brethren for promotion to the more responsible positions in
Although, as we shall show later, there is some reason for believing that
circa 173o Grand Lodge did not attach great importance to excellence in the
rendering of Masonic work, the fact that about 1722 the ceremony of
constituting a new lodge and of installing the master was being elaborated or
evolved under the aegis of Grand Lodge, does suggest that circa 1722 Grand
Lodge was not unconcerned about standards. On that assumption we are inclined
to favour the first explanation as to why apprentices were to be admitted as
masters and fellow crafts only at Quarterly Communications.
regard to the working of the regulation in practice, 1 Ibid., 71.
Surtees Soc., lxxiii, 5r. 191 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY we may note, in the
first place, that there is no evidence that dispensations were issued to
private lodges to pass masters and fellow crafts, and little evidence that
degrees of any kind were conferred at Grand Lodge, but that may be merely on
account of the imperfections of the records. The only case we have traced
occurred on 24 June 172 1, when on the morning of the day of the Annual
Assembly and Feast at the Stationers' Hall, a Grand Lodge was held at the
King's Arms Tavern, St. Paul's Churchyard, where "they made some new Brothers,
particularly the noble Philip, Lord Stanhope, now Earl of Chesterfield".' In
the second place, there would seem to be no question that before the repeal of
the regulation in November 1725, masters were made in private lodges, but
whether with or without dispensations from Grand Lodge it is impossible to
say. According to the preamble of the Fundamental Constitution and Orders of
the Philo‑Musicae et Architec‑
turae Societas, four of the founders of the Musical Society who had been made
masons at the lodge at The Queen's Head in Hollis Street in December 1724
were, prior to February 1'124/5, "regularly Pass'd Masters in the before
mentioned Lodge of Holles Street".2
happened at that particular lodge doubtless happened at other London lodges,
and this probably led to the repeal of the regulation. That does not prove,
however, that there had not been a need for the regulation a year or two
"REVIVAL" OF 171'7 The "revival" of 1717, in so far as there was one, was,
according to Anderson,a a revival, not of freemasonry but of (a) Quarterly
Communications and (b) the Annual Assembly. With regard to the former, we have
previously mentioned that probably none had ever been held before the one
recorded by Anderson as having met on 2'7 December 1720,4 so that in this
respect there was probably no question of a revival.
Regarding the Annual Assembly, the reader may be reminded that in our opinion
operative masons in the Middle Ages probably did hold annual or 1 Anderson's
Constitutions Of 1738, 112 .
Q.C.14., ix, 7‑8.
COnstitutiOls Of 1738, 109‑
Ibid., I I I. 192 THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE triennial assemblies or
congregations, as described in the Regius and Cooke MSS. The only relatively
modern assembly of masons‑presumably of accepted masons‑of which any
indication has been traced, is that recorded in the Roberts version of the Old
Charges, of which the earliest known text is that printed in The Post Man in
August 1'722. The Roberts MS. Original, from which the newspaper version was
transcribed in 1722, has unfortun ately not been discovered.
described by the copyist as "a most valuable Piece of Antiquity",' which was
preserved for several hundred years in the Archives_ of the Society".2
statement must be accepted with reserve, as at least part of the document was
written after 8 December 1663, namely its reference to an Assembly stated to
have been held on that day: 3 "Additional Orders and Constitutions made and
agreed upon at a General Assembly held at
8th Day of December 1663."
statement was subsequently repeated by Anderson in his Constitutions of 1738,
with the date altered to 27 December 1663, a more Masonic date, being St.
John's Day in Winter. Even assuming that this particular meeting was held as
stated in the Roberts print, and that it did consist of accepted masons, it
must be pointed out that one such gathering is obviously not proof of an
annual assembly of accepted masons.
must now examine more closely (a) the reasons why Grand Lodge was formed, and
(b) the objects it had in view. Reasons for forming Grand Lodge.‑Since we have
no hesitation whatever in regarding the Grand Mastership of Sir Christopher
Wren as purely a figment of Anderson's imagination, and have come to the
conclusion that Wren took little or no part in freemasonry after his probable
acceptance in 1691, the reason given by Anderson and in Multa Paucis for the
formation of Grand Lodge, namely, Wren's neglect of the few lodges in London,
falls to the ground, and we have to seek some other explanation. As Anderson
himself does not mention his own connection with Grand Lodge until 29
September 1721, and as he makes no claim to have been present in person at the
preliminary meeting of 1716 or at the Annual Assemblies 1 E.M.P., 72.
31bid., 82. 193 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY from 1717 to 1721, the presumption
is that he had no firsthand knowledge of the inception and early meetings of
Grand Lodge., No one who was party to calling the preliminary meeting of 1716,
or who attended it, has left any record which has survived, and consequently
we can only guess at the motives of the founders, who probably never
formulated them very clearly. The most reasonable assumption seems to us to be
that the proceedings of 1716 and 1717, which resulted in the formation of
Grand Lodge, were the result not of the decline but of the growth in the
number of lodges, and of the consequent recognition of the increased need of
central authority and control.
Without this an expansion in accepted masonry would be apt to bring about
confusion, if not chaos, in place of the system which it professed to support
Objects of Grand Lodge.‑The objects, according to Anderson, 2 of the
preliminary meeting of 1716 were (a) "to cement under a Grand Master as the
center of Union and Harmony"; (b) "to revive [read to establish] the Quarterly
Communication of the Officers of Lodges (call'd the Grand Lodge)"; and (c) to
hold the Annual Assembly and Feast, at which the Grand Master was to be
other words, the first object was to establish a centre round which the
movement could turn.
third object was to have an annual dinner, in connection with which there was
to be a meeting to install a Grand Master, two objects likely to meet with
general approval among the brethren.
second object, which was very possibly the essence of the whole scheme, was to
arrange for quarterly meetings of the Masters and Wardens of the lodges; such
a body was to constitute Grand Lodge and was presumably to exercise undefined
authority over the private lodges. This attempt at centralisation does not
appear to have been too welcome among the lodges; in 1717 Grand Master Sayer
"commanded the Masters and Wardens of Lodges to meet the Grand Officers every
quarter in communica , The possibility that Anderson was not made a mason
until after the Duke of Montagu's installation as Grand Master on 24 June 172
1 is referred to on p. 16o, above.
COOlstituti07ls of 1738, 1o9.
THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE tion";1 in 1718 George Payne, as Grand Master,
"recommended the strict observance of the Quarterly Communication", 2 but
there is no record that any meeting was held before 27 December 17 20.3 It is
not unlikely that the formation of Grand Lodge, in the minds of at least some
of the brethren, had a more important object in view than the holding of an
annual dinner and the election of a Grand Master. During his first year as
Grand Master (1718‑i9), George Payne desired the brethren to bring to Grand
Lodge any old writings and records concerning masons and masonry, and
apparently several old copies of the "Gothic Constitutions" were produced and
collated that year .4
end of his second term as Grand Master (1720‑1), Payne, at a meeting of Grand
Lodge, as it would appear from Dr. Stukeley's Diary under the date 24 June
1721, "read over a new set of articles to be observed".s
were presumably those described in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 as the
General Regulations "compiled first by Mr. George Payne, anno 1720, when he
was Grand Master, and approved by Grand Lodge on St. John Baptist's Day anno
1721 ".s Unfortunately, we do not know whether the articles were "new" in the
sense that they took the place of previous articles, or whether they were
"new" in the sense of not existing before. Nor do we know to what extent they
were edited by Anderson before they appeared in print in 1723. According to
the Approbation to the Constitutions of 1723, Anderson had been ordered to
peruse, correct and digest into a new and better method the History Charges
and Regulations of the Ancient Fraternity, and had submitted his draft to the
perusal and corrections of the late and present Deputy Grand Masters and other
fact that the General Regulations had been compiled only as recently as 1720,
and approved by Grand Lodge as recently as June 1721, does not appear to have
worried him; he claims "to have compared them with and reduc'd them to the
Ancient Records and immemorial Usages of the 1 Ibid., I T o.
Ibid., I I o.
Ibid., i io.
Surtees Soc., 1xxiii, 6σ. s Constitutions of 1723, 58.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Fraternity, and digested them into this new Method,
with several proper Explications".' What emendations Anderson actually
introduced under cover of this grandiloquent declaration it is impossible to
only versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry which would appear to have
any bearing on the Regulations are those belonging to the Roberts family
containing the New Articles laying down the conditions on which a person can
be accepted as a freemason. According to Vibert there is nothing in Anderson's
"History" which suggests that he had before him, when writing it in 1'721‑2,
any text of the Roberts family containing the New Articles .2
History, Charges and Regulations were approved in manuscript by the Quarterly
Communication of Grand Lodge on 25 March 1'722,8 whereas the Roberts text did
not make its first appearance in print until August 1'722.4
Anderson quotes the New Articles in his `historical' section under the date 27
December 1663,5 and he probably would have done so in the 1721‑2 version of
his History had he then been acquainted with them.
presumption, therefore, is that when digesting Payne's General Regulations he
had no knowledge of the New Articles dating from the early part of the second
half of the seventeenth century.
Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that, as claimed in the preamble to
the General Regulations, he had "digested" them, because his Regulations were
challenged in Grand Lodge on 24 June 1723.
According to the Constitutions of 1738, Anderson produced the new Book of
Constitutions in print at the Quarterly Communication held on 17 January
1722,3, and it was again approved (with the addition of the "Antient Manner of
Constituting a Lodge"),e the History, Charges and Regulations having been
approved in manuscript on 1 Constitutions of 1723, 58.
I.Q.C., xxxvi, 46.
notes two passages in Anderson's Charges which may be derived from a Roberts
that is the case, the particular text presumably did not contain the New
Articles, which is true of the Rawlinson MS., for example.
Constitutions of 1738, 114.
Constitutions of 1738, rot.
THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE 25 March 1 722.1
advertised for sale on 28 February 1722/3.2
first subsequent meeting of Grand Lodge on 24. June 1723, the Approbation of
17 January 1722/3, printed at the end of the Constitutions, was read, and it
was moved that the General Regulations be confirmed, so far as they are
consistent with the flncient Rules of Masonry.
amendment to omit the words we print in italics was negatived. The original
motion, however, was not put; instead, the following resolution was adopted:
"That it is not in the Power of any person or Body of men, to make any
Alteration or Innovation in the Body of Masonry, without the consent first
obtained of the Annual Grand Lodge." According to General Regulation XXXIX,
the Regulations could only be altered at an Annual Meeting before the dinner,
whereas Anderson's regulations, both in their manuscript and in their printed
form, had been approved only at Quarterly Communications. Thus it seems likely
that the controversy related, not to the content of the Regulations as
digested by Anderson, but to the procedure in presenting Grand Lodge with a
fait accompli, instead of obtaining its consent first. Grand Lodge, having
re‑affirmed its authority by the resolution, took no further action in the
matter, so presumably no exception was taken to Anderson's actual
emendations.3 Everything considered, it is not improbable that the drawing up
of articles to regulate accepted masonry was one of the objects which at least
some of the founders of Grand Lodge had had in mind from the outset. Though,
for the reason indicated above, we do not think that the "Additional Orders
and Constitutions" of 1663 were generally known to accepted masons before
their publication in August 1722, yet some knowledge of the content of the New
Articles may 1 Ibid., I14.
Boy of 26‑28 February 1722/3, quoted by Vibert in his introduction to the
Quaritch reproduction, p. vii.
Minutes of Grand Lodge; Vibert, d.Q.C., xxxvi, 6o; and Songhurst, Q.C.14., x,
5o, footnote b. It should be noted that whereas all Brethren, including
Apprentices, were entitled to attend the Annual Grand Lodge and to vote,
attendance at Quarterly Communications was limited to Grand Officers, together
with the Masters and Wardens of all private lodges.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY have been a tradition amongst accepted masons.
so, and assuming that the New Articles were generally recognised by accepted
masons, they were far too vague in character to provide for all the
contingencies likely to arise in a growing society. Furthermore, on account of
the condition that no person should be accepted as a freemason unless at least
one workman of the trade of freemasonry, in addition to four other freemasons,
was present, the "Additional Orders" or New Articles of the Roberts print may
easily have been incompatible with the social ideas of some lodges.
judge by the MS. List of 1723, the early lodges differed very considerably in
their social standing. Of the Four Old Lodges, No‑ 4 (originally meeting at
the Rummer and Grapes, and subsequently at the Horn Tavern, Westminster) was
undoubtedly the aristocratic lodge in 1723, when the Duke of Richmond was its
Master, and the majority of its members were peers, sons of peers, baronets,
knights, esquires or army officers. Being located at Westminster, it was
probably the most select lodge in 1717, though not as yet patronised by the
According to Anderson, the brethren decided to choose a Grand Master from
among themselves in 1717 "till they should have the honour of a noble lord at
Further, he noted that during the Grand Mastership of Desaguliers (1719‑20),
some noblemen were made brothers, but it was not until 1721 that a nobleman,
in the person of the Duke of Montagu, was installed as Grand Master.
other three lodges of the Old Four, as also various lodges constituted after
1717, appear to have consisted of less distinguished persons in 1723, and
probably had various tradesmen among their members.
ten different men who were Grand Wardens during the first six years of Grand
Lodge, two are described by Anderson as carpenters, two as stonecutters, one
as a mason and one as a blacksmith.
men, however, may well have been no more actively 'operative' in their
respective crafts than the various masons, members of the Masons' Company, who
belonged to the Lodge of Accepted Masons, meeting at Masons' Hall, London, in
we learn from Ashmole's Diary 198 THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE under date I I
Thos. Wise, Master of the Company, Thos. Shorthose, Thos. Shadbolt, Nich.
Young, John Shorthose, Wm. Hamon, John Thompson and Wm. Stanton.
these men attained to distinguished rank in the Masons' Company, seven having
served the office of Warden before the date of the meeting attended by Ashmole
in March 1682; most were large mason‑contractors in the period of active
building after the Great Fire, and one was the chief London stone‑merchant of
quite possible that the lodges about 1'720 contained a fair sprinkling of
`operative' masons, and not impossible that at least one of the Four Old
Lodges in 1'717 consisted predominantly of `operative' masons, though whether
such `operative' masons worked at their trade with their hands is another
so, it would probably not have been an operative lodge in the sense that it
discharged trade functions like the early Scottish lodges, or the lodges at
Alnwick and Swalwell, but a lodge of accepted masons, such as had been the
case with the Acception connected with the London Masons' Company in the
Whether or not we are correct in thinking that no Quarterly Communication was
held before December 172o, and that the delay in establishing the scheme was
due to the opposition of individual lodges to the new system of centralisation,
there can be little or no question that the attitude adopted by the lodges
towards a suggested joint charity indicated dislike of centralisation.
CHARACTER OF GRAND LODGE ORGANISATION The General Charity.‑Brief reference was
made on page 177 above to the practice of charity, as one of the tenets of
freemasonry. As pointed out there, not very much is known about the benevolent
activities of the craft in pre‑Grand Lodge days. Most versions of the Old
Charges throw little or no light on the subject, apart from the injunction to
receive and cherish strange masons, either by setting them to work for at
least a fortnight, or by refreshing them with money to the next lodge.
Old 1 E.M.P., 41.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Lodge of Dumfries, however, owned two versions of
the MS. Constitutions of Masonry which refer specifically to charity. Dumfries
No. 3 MS. of the late seventeenth century includes among its precepts and
shall at all times cheerfully distribute your Charity to ye releife of
distrest & sicke fellow masons.
injunction is expanded in Dumfries No. σ MS‑ of circa 1710:2 141y That you
make it your bussiness to relieve the poor according to your Talent and
facultie let not your prudence superceed your charity in thinking in this or
the other unworthy or not in need but slip no opertunitie because it is for
Gods sake you give it and in obedience to his command.
concrete reference to charity is made in the Statutes of 1670 of the Lodge of
Aberdeen which provide for the maintenance of the Mason Box for support of
distressed brethren (more especially those belonging to the lodge) and for the
education and training of the children of deceased members. Doubtless the
practice of charity had existed at an earlier date, but the presumption is
that the systematic organisation of the charitable activities of the lodge was
new in 1670, for the Fourth Statute is headed: "Lawes for our Box for the poor
never practised heretofore in Aberdeine." s
attitude of the Old Lodge of Dumfries and of the Lodge of Aberdeen towards
charity, which was very possibly typical of the attitude of other operative
lodges, appears to have been adopted at an early date by the accepted masons.
quoted above John Aubrey's state‑
of 1686 concerning the relief of brethren who fall into decay; also the
reference in the Dublin tripos of 1688 to the help given to a reduced brother
by the Fraternity of Free Masons in and about Trinity College. In the early
days of Grand Lodge, as we learn from General Regulation VII ,4 every
candidate was to make a voluntary contribution, in addition to the small
allowance stated in the by‑laws of ' Smith, History of the Old Lodge of
Dumfries, Ioo‑i. 2 E.M.C., 53.
Constitutions of 1723, 6o. 200 THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE the particular
lodge, for the relief of indigent and decayed brethren. Further, by General
Regulation XIII,1 the money so collected was to be disbursed by the lodge,
until such time as it was agreed by all the lodges to pay the sums collected
for charity to Grand Lodge, to establish a common stock.
at the Quarterly Communication of 21 November 1724 that the centralised
charity scheme was first brought forward by the Earl of Dalkeith, late Grand
Master, who recommended: 2 That in Order to promote the Charitable Disposition
of the Society of ffree Masons and render it more Extensive and beneficiall to
the whole Body a Monthly Colleccion be made in Each Lodge according to the
uality and Number of the Said Lodge and put into a oynt Stock.
Treasurer be appointed by the Grand Master to whom every Quarter the Said
Contributions Shall be paid.
Progress in adopting the scheme was slow. No vote appears to have been taken
on the resolutions on 21 November, but the Master and Wardens of each lodge
were asked to come to the next Quarterly Communication prepared to record
their assent or dissent. On 17 March 1725 a special Committee was appointed to
consider and report upon the proposals.$ At the next meeting on 2o May 1725,
it was announced that the report was not ready.'
meeting of 27 November 1725, the fairly lengthy report was read and the
Committee thanked for its services .5 With slight amendments the report was
adopted on 28 February 1726 .6
Committee for the management of the Charity was appointed in June 1727, and at
the same time Nathaniel Blackerby was nominated as Treasurer of the Charity.?
Nothing further appears to have happened until 27 March 1729 when Dr.
Desaguliers stated at Grand Lodge that he found the spirit of charity reviving
in several 1 Ibid., 62.
Ibid., 74201 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY lodges and therefore proposed that the
report of the Committee on Charity should be read, which was accordingly
done., Thereupon Bro. Blackerby reminded the brethren that he had been
appointed Treasurer of the Charity in 1727, adding that so far he had not
received one shilling from any lodge or any brother, and appealed to the
brethren to support the charity. The matter was referred to at the meeting on
11 July 17'2 9,2 but it was not until 25 November 1729 that the first
contributions from lodges were received.3
weeks later at the Annual Assembly held 29 January 1730 Dr. Desaguliers, in
recommending the establishment of a Standing Committee for the charity,
referred to the fact that the lodges had at last agreed to set so commendable
a work on foot .4
the first brethren to be relieved by the General Charity after its
establishment were Anthony Sayer, Grand Master in 1717, and Joshua Timson,
Grand Warden in 1722.6 In December 1730 the functions of the Standing
Committee for the Charity were extended by Grand Lodge, when it was decided
that in future all complaints and informations laid before Grand Lodge were to
be referred to that Committee, whose report on such matters was to come before
the next Quarterly Communication for decision." Thus the Committee was the
prototype not merely of the Board of Benevolence, but also of the Board of
Organisation of Grand Lodge.‑The character of the organisation established in
1717 was of the simplest kind. Grand Lodge consisted of the Master and Wardens
of each regular private lodge, together with the Grand Officers of the year,
originally three in number, namely, the Grand Master and the two Grand
Wardens. At first Grand Officers were all proposed and elected at the Annual
Assembly; that was modified, so far as the Grand Master was concerned, in
1721, when the practice was introduced of the Grand Master proposing his
successor at a meeting of Grand Lodge held some time before the Feast. At the
same time, it was decided that in future the Grand Master was to appoint both
his Wardens and a Deputy Grand , Q.C.Z., z, roe. 2 Ibid., roσ. a Ihid., 1oq.
Bid., r 19.
Bid., 138. 202 THE EARLY DAYS OF GRAND LODGE Master. In 1723, the minutes show
that the officers proposed by the Grand Master Elect were elected by ballot,
though not without protest. In subsequent years, the system of appointment was
followed. The appointment of a Deputy Grand Master, which commenced in 1721
when the first noble lord was elected Grand Master, raised the number of Grand
Officers to four.
November 1724, Past Grand Masters were admitted as members of Grand Lodge; in
February 172 6 the same privilege was accorded to Past Deputy Grand Masters,
and in May 172 7 to Past Grand Wardens.
was no secretary to Grand Lodge until June 1723, and he and his immediate
successors did not rank as Grand Officers. In the early days Grand Lodge had
no funds for general purposes, and the secretarial expenses were apparently
met by the Grand Master, though, after the establishment of the General
Charity, some of the secretarial expenses were charged to that fund. Grand
Lodge had no home of its own before 1775; Quarterly Communications were held
in various taverns, more particularly at The Devil, Temple Bar, and at The
Crown and Anchor in the Strand.
Annual Festival was held in the Hall of one or other of the City Companies.
foundation stone of Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, was laid on i May
1775, and the Hall was in use before the end of the year, though it was not
dedicated until 23 May 1776.E 1 This paragraph is based on Anderson's
Constitutions of x723 and 1738, the minutes of Grand Lodge (Q.C‑1., x, passim)
and [Vibert] "Great Queen Street and Freemasons' Hall", Misc. Lat., July 1932.
CHAPTER X THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT HERE are in
the field two conflicting beliefs
regarding eighteenth‑century Masonic ceremonies: one is that they were the
creation of two or three individuals, the other that they evolved gradually
out of the usages and practices of operative masons at earlier periods. Murray
Lyon was a leading exponent of the former view; he described Dr. Desaguliers
as the cofabricator and pioneer of the system of symbolical masonry,' the Rev.
Dr. James Anderson doubtless being cast for the other leading part. Again,
both Begemann and Vibert have questioned Anderson's claim that the manner of
constituting a new lodge and of installing a master (as given in his
Constitutions of 1'723) was "according to the
antient Usages of Masons", which seems to imply that they attribute the
invention of the ceremony to Anderson or his contemporaries. This conception
of the origin of Masonic ceremonies appears to us to be contrary to the weight
of the available evidence, which points to the transition from operative to
speculative masonry being a slow growth extending over several generations.
Holding the second view, we devote this chapter and the three that follow to
problems connected with Masonic ceremonies and their development.
entering upon our main task, we wish to refer to one outcome of the idea that
Anderson was the cofabricator of Masonic ritual, viz., the commonly held
belief that Anderson was responsible for introducing into English masonry the
Scottish terms "entered apprentice" and "fellow craft". It is true that the
earliest known printed references in England to these terms are to be found in
Anderson's Constitutions of 17 23.
Lyon, 163204 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES "enter'd prentice" occurs in a
footnote on page 34 and in the title of the re‑printed version of Matthew
Birkhead's Song on page 84. It had appeared as "The Free Masons Health" 1 in
Read's Weekly journal on 1 December 1722, and, possibly before that date, had
been separately issued as an engraved sheet of words and music. The term
"fellow‑craft" occurs in the Charges,z the Regulations 3 and the Postscript.4
We do not doubt that Anderson (whether originally made a mason in Scotland or
not) was acquainted from his youth with the Scottish operative terms `enter'd
prentis' and `fellow of craft', in one or other of their forms, for even if
these terms were not generally known in Aberdeen, they would almost certainly
be known in his home, his father being a prominent member of the Lodge of
Aberdeen. Anderson did not use the older form `fellow of craft' (plural
`fellows of craft') as it occurs in the Schaw Statutes of 1598, and in minutes
of the Lodges of Aitchison's Haven in 1598 s and of Edinburgh in i 6oo e
did he use the form `fellowcraft' (plural `fellowcrafts') as it occurs in the
Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen in 1670 7 and in the records of the Lodge of
Melrose in 169o and 1695.8 The form used by Anderson in 1723 was
'fellow‑craft', spelt with a hyphen, the same spelling being used for the
plural as for the singular.
Actually, neither spelling survived, and already in his Constitutions of 1738
we find the forms `fellow craft' and `fellow crafts'.
Further, it must be noted that in addition to the term 'fellow‑craft',
Anderson in 1723 also used the terms `fellow‑craftsman'9 and 'fellowcraftsmen',1e
terms which (without the hyphen) occur in the Trinity College, Dublin, MS. of
1711,11 a catechism which, there is some reason to think, was an accepted
mason's aide memoire. The fact that he makes use of two different sets of
terms strengthens our belief that he 1 E.M.P., 36.
Constitutions of 1723, 51, 52 3 Ibid., 61, 64.
Ibid., 71. s Wallace‑James, _I.Q.C., xxiv, 34.
Begemann, Freimaurerei in Schottland, 357; Vernon, 22.
Constitutions of 1723, 53.
E.M.C., 63. 205 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY was using expressions current among
accepted masons of his day, and not introducing new Scottish terms. The
further fact that in another early Masonic catechism, Sloane MS. 3329 of circa
1700, which is probably of English origin, the form `fellow craftes' as a
plural occurs twice, also points to the expression `fellow craft' being known
and used in England before Anderson's time. Similarly, the term `entered
prentice' appears to have been introduced into English accepted masonry before
1723. In Sloane MS. 33291 of circa 1700 we find the expression 'interprintices',
and in the Trinity College, Dublin, MS. of 1711 the term `enterprentices'. In
4 Mason's Examination,a printed in the London Flying Post of 11‑13 April 1723,
the term `entered apprentice' is found, within a few weeks of the publication
of Anderson's Constitutions, which makes it very unlikely that the expression
was first introduced into English masonry by Anderson early in 1723.
FOUNDATIONS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES The ultimate foundations on which
eighteenth‑century Masonic ceremonies rested would appear to have been two:
(1) In the first place, there were the invocation, the legend or `history' of
the craft, and the masons' regulations, as commonly contained in the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry. Following gild practice, as we explained on page 84
above, the reading or reciting of a version of the MS. Constitutions to the
candidate, and the swearing by him to observe the regulations or charges,
probably constituted the whole ceremony of admission among English operative
masons in the later Middle Ages. The invocation, the legend, and the
regulations of the MS. Constitutions were the prototypes of the Opening
Prayer, the Traditional History, and the Charges of later Masonic ritual. The
late Bro. E. L. Hawkins in 1913,$ and the late Bro. R. H. Baxter in 1918 and
1919,4 drew attention to similarities, not merely in content, but in phrasing,
between versions of the MS. Constitutions and modern ritual. In their papers,
however, they did not limit themselves to studying those versions 1 E.M.C. 39.
z 1hid., 65.
3.d.Q.C., xxvi, 6.
xxxi, 33; Manc. Tranr., viii, 65. 206 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES of the
Old Charges which exhibit the MS. Constitutions in their early and relatively
pure forms, but drew special attention to certain features found in some of
the later versions of the Old Charges, such as the Buchanan, Harris No. 1,
Harleian 1942, and Dumfries No. 3, the texts of which had undergone
considerable modifications as the result either of Scottish, or of `accepted',
influence. These hybrid documents rest on more than one foundation and
illustrate one way in which materials derived from different sources have been
combined. Thus, they help to demonstrate the two‑fold origin of Masonic
working, in which connection they are referred to on page 219 below. (ii) In
the second place, there were "the form of giving the Mason Word", and the test
questions and answers associated with the Mason Word, the knowledge of which,
in the ordinary course, was probably transmitted orally, but which
occasionally was set down in writing, doubtless to serve as an aide memoire.
Two manuscripts of this character, the Edinburgh Register House MS. of 1696,1
and the Chetwode Crawley MS. of circa 1'700,2 have so far been traced.
constitute the earliest‑known versions of the group of documents commonly
referred to as Masonic catechisms.
ceremony depicted in the earliest Masonic catechisms is quite different from
that suggested in the MS. Constitutions of Masonry. According to "the form of
giving the Mason Word", as contained in the Edinburgh Register House MS. of
1696, "the person to take the word" had first to take an oath of secrecy, in
which he swore not to reveal by word or writing any part of what he should see
or hear, or to draw it with the point of a sword, or other instrument, upon
the snow or sand. He then went out with the youngest mason, from whom he
learnt the manner of making his due guard which was the sign, the postures,
and the words of his entry.
then rejoined the company and said the words of his entry, which were as
follows : 3 1 E.M.C., 3 r .
Ibid., 3 5 3 To facilitate reading, the punctuation has been modernised, and
such sentences as appear to be instructions have been printed in italics.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Here come I the youngest and last entered
apprentice As I am sworn by God and St Jhon by the Square and compass, and
common judge' to attend my masters service at the honourable lodge, from
munday in the morning till saturday at night and to keep the Keyes therof,
under no less pain then haveing my tongue cut out under my chin and of being
buried, within the flood mark where no man shall know, then he makes the sign
again with drawing his hand under his chin alongst his throat which denotes
that it be cut out in caise he break his word.
then apparently given the word by the master. The manuscript adds that "all
the signes and words as yet spoken of are only what belong to the entered
apprentice", and points out that there are others belonging to a master mason
or fellow craft. These were imparted as follows: All entered apprentices were
ordered out of the company and none suffered to stay but masters. Then "he who
is to be admitted a member of fellowship" knelt and took an oath of secrecy,
after which he went out with the youngest master 2 to learn "the postures and
signes of fellowship". On returning, he made the master's sign and said the
former words of entry,"only leaving out the common judge". The masons then
whispered the word among themselves, and finally the master gave him the word
and the grip. There is nothing in the manuscript as to the nature of the
master's sign, word or grip, though some indications are given regarding the
entered apprentice's secrets.
manuscript shows that a good deal of horseplay was associated with the
imparting of the entered apprentice's secrets. Thus the oath was to be
administered 1 ? a gauge or templet of thin board or metal plate used as a
guide in cutting stones.
is defined in Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary as a gauge or standard.
templet, described as a jadge, is pictured among the tools in the Mark Book of
the Lodge of Aberdeen (Miller, facing p. σ2).
recently, Bro. F. J. Underwood (11.Q.C., li, III‑14) has put forward a
carefully reasoned argument in favour of equating common judge with the Bible.
footnote 3 on p. 102 above. 208 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES only "after
a great many ceremonies to frighten" the candidate; when outside with the
youngest mason, the candidate was to be frightened "with iooo ridicolous
postures and grimmaces" before being given the sign, postures and words of
entry; after rejoining the company, he was "to make a ridiculous bow . . .
putting off his hat after a very foolish manner". This horseplay may be
compared with the practices common at the admission of freshmen to
universities in medieval and later times,' or with the tests imposed upon
newcomers to the Hanseatic factory at Bergen.z
pieces of evidence can be quoted to show that something of this horseplay was
apt to be introduced into accepted or early speculative lodges.
a passage in fI Mason's Examination, the earliest‑known printed Masonic
catechism, published in The Flying Post of I I‑I3 April 1723: a . . . he
swears to reveal no Secrets of the worshipful Fraternity, on Pain of having
his Throat cut, and having a double Portion of Hell and Damnation hereafter.
Then he is blind‑folded and the Ceremony of is performed. After which, he is
to behold a thousand different Postures and Grimaces, all of which he must
exactly imitate, or undergo the Discipline till he does.
other is one of the by‑laws of the lodge constituted at The Maid's Head,
Norwich, in May 1724, which reads: "6. That no ridiculous trick be played with
any person when he is admitted." 4 These by‑laws are stated to have been
"recommended by our Worthy Bro. Dr. Desaguliers" (Grand Master in 1719‑2o and
Deputy Grand Master in 1722‑3, 1723‑4 and 1725‑6), and may be regarded as
reflecting the desire of the recently formed Grand Lodge to maintain dignity
in the proceedings.
reliance can be placed on an account of the initiation of a musical instrument
maker, printed in The Daily Post and copied in The Grub‑street journal No. 112
' R. S. Rait, Life in the Mediaeval University, chap. vi. 2 Helen Zimmern, The
Hansa Towns, 144‑7.
Daynes, ‑4.Q.C., xxxvii, 38209 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Of 24 February 173
1/2,1 horseplay of a very unsavoury character was being practised as late as
1732 "at the Lodge near Tower Hill". The comment in the _7ournal runs: "These
ceremonies are, I believe, as significant as those of the Original Free
Masons, and much more diverting." When the account was reprinted in the
Memoirs of the Society of Grub‑street, 1737, the comment ran: "These
ceremonies I take to be full as significant, as those of the wealthier
free‑masons; and they were, no doubt, much more diverting." The suggestion
that in those days there was one standard of conducting ceremonies for the
well‑to‑do, and another for tradesmen, seems to us to be by no means
improbable. A similar differentiation is implied in The Free Masons; .In
Hudibrastick Poem, 1722: ' THUS now my Muse has faithful shown The History of
Masons down, Their Secrets set in truest Light, And Penance, to the Reader's
Sight. But here I must, at last, confess, This is not with all Men the Case;
For we have Lords, and Dukes, and such, Who do not undergo as much.
addition to indicating how the Mason Word was imparted, the Edinburgh Register
House MS. gives a number of test questions and answers, relating partly to the
conditions of admittance, and partly to matters with which nobody could be
acquainted without previous instruction. As the manuscript provides answers to
all the questions, and states that they have to be answered exactly, it is
obvious that the necessary instructions regarding all the questions must have
been given to the candidate on some occasion or other. It is, therefore, not
unlikely that the test questions were asked by the Master and answered by one
or more of the members present, for the instruction 1 E.M.P., 289.
passage we quote consists of the opening lines of the last stanza of the poem
(2nd ed., 1723, p. 23). The stanza is omitted from our reprint in E.M.P.,
83‑90, for reasons which we explain in our introductory note to the poem.
THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES of the candidate, either at his ceremony of
admission, or at other times when the lodge met. As the questions and answers
are the earliest‑known of their class, we quote them in full: I Q.
Are you a mason?
How shall I know it? fins: You shall know it in time and place convenient.
Remark the for$[ai]d answer is only to be made when there is company present
who are not masons.
there be no such company by, you should answer by signes, tokens and other
points of my entrie.
What is the first point? f4ns: Tell me the first point ile tell you the
second. The first is
no less pain, which is then cutting of your throat. For you must make that
sign when you say that. Q.
Where wes you entered?
At the honourable lodge.
What makes a true and perfect lodge?
Seven masters, five entered apprentices, A dayes journey from a burroughs
town, without bark of dog or crow of cock.$ Q. 6: Does no less make a true and
perfect lodge? fins: Yes, five masons and three entered apprentices, &c.
Does no less?
The more the merrier, the fewer the better chear.
What is the name of your lodge? ffris: Kilwinning.
facilitate reading, the various abbreviations used in the MS. for "question"
and "answer" have been made uniform, the punctuation has been modernised, and
such sentences as appear to be instructions have been printed in italics. In
certain cases the writer joins two words together, e.g. aweel; we print such
formations as separate words.
Heill, hele, heal: to hide, conceal, to keep secret (O.E.D.).
Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, z67o, rule iii, "that no lodge be
holden within a dwelling house wher ther is people living, in it but in the
open fieldes except it be ill weather, and then Let ther be a house chosen
that no person shall heir nor sie ws"; and rule v, "that all entering
prentises be entered in our antient outfeild Lodge in the mearnes in the
parish of negg at the scounces at the poynt of the ness" (Miller, 59, 63) 211
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Q. 9: How stands your lodge?
east and west as the temple of jerusalem.
where wes the first lodge? fins: in the porch of Solomon's Temple.
Q. I I
: Are there any lights in your lodge?
yes, three‑the north east, s w, and eastern passage. The one denotes the
master mason, the other the warden.
third the setter croft.
Are there any jewells in your lodge? Jns: Yes three‑Perpend 1 Esler [ashlar],
a Square pavement, and a broad ovall.2 Q. 13: where shall I find the key of
= fins:] Three foot and an half from the lodge door under a perpend esler and
a green divot. But under the lap of my liver where all my secrets of my heart
Which is the key of your lodge?
a weel hung tongue.
where lies the key? fins: In the bone box. flfter the masons have examined you
by all or some of these Questions and that you have answered them exactly and
mad the signes, they will acknowledge you, but not a master mason or fellow
croft, but only as as [? an] apprentice, soe they will say I see you have been
in the Kitchine, but I know not if you have been in the hall. fins: I have
been in the hall as weel as in the kitchine.
Are you a fellow craft?
many points of the fellowship are ther? fins: fyve, viz., foot to foot, Knee
to Kn[ee], Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand, and ear to ear.
make the sign of fellowship and shake hand and you will be acknowledged a true
mason. The words are in the i of the Kings Ch 7, v, 21, and in 2 chr: ch 3
Perpend, parpen: a stone which passes through a wall from side to side, having
two smooth vertical faces (O.E.D.).
Broad ovall. ? broached ornel.
Broached. worked with a chisel (O.E.D.). Onnel: urnall, urnell; a kind of soft
white building stone (O.E.D.).
THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES The fact that in 1696 there were two
different ceremonies, if they may be so described, one applying to entered
apprentices, and one to fellow crafts or masters, is borne out by the Chetwode
Crawley MS. of circa 1700,1 and is rather implied by the surviving fragment of
a minute of the Haughfoot Lodge, dated 22 December 1'702.2 We are disposed to
think, however, that the entered apprentices and the fellow crafts had
distinct sets of secrets at a considerably earlier date. The minutes of the
Aitchison's Haven Lodge show that, as early as 1598,3 when a new entered
apprentice was admitted, he chose two entered apprentices as his intenders and
instructors, and when a new fellow craft was admitted, he chose two fellow
crafts as his intenders and instructors. If these intenders corresponded to
the "youngest mason" and the "youngest master" 4 of the Edinburgh Register
House and Chetwode Crawley MSS., who taught the candidates the signs and
postures, then it may well be that there were two sets of secrets in 1598, and
that it was these which the intenders imparted to the newly admitted entered
appren tices and fellow crafts respectively.
even be that entered apprentices and fellow crafts had distinct sets of
secrets of a rudimentary kind from the time when the Mason Word as an
institution was first established, probably in the second half of the
apart from the question whether the secrets of the Mason Word were imparted to
candidates in one, or in two instalments, we are clearly concerned with two
entirely different types of ceremony. The one, depicted in the MS.
Constitutions, consisting mainly in reading or reciting the Old Charges, very
possibly dates from the second half of the fourteenth century. The other,
depicted in the MS. Catechisms, consisting mainly in imparting the Mason Word,
is hardly likely to be older than the second half of the sixteenth century,
though local passwords may have been used at an earlier date. The MS.
Constitutions were undoubtedly of English origin; the two oldest versions, the
1 EMC‑, 3 5 2 E.M.C., 7.
Wallace‑James, 11.Q.C., xxiv, 344 See footnote 3 on p. toe above. 213 THE
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Regius and the Cooke MSS., which are not far removed
from the common original on which all versions are based, are both written in
the dialect spoken in the south‑west Midland area of England, i.e., in
Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire, in the later part of the fourteenth
century.' The historical section of the MS. Constitutions, in so far as it
relates to Britain, is concerned solely with England.
the versions which are closely associated with Scottish lodges contain no
reference to the development of masonry in Scotland, and some of them, e.g.,
the Kilwinning, the 14berdeen, and the Melrose No. 2 MSS., contain the charge
that the mason is to be a "true Liedgeman to the King of England", so that
they were copies of English originals. On the other hand, the early MS.
Catechisms appear to be either of Scottish origin, or from sources with marked
Scottish characteristics. This is suggested both by the documents themselves,
with their references to "entered apprentices" and to "fellow crafts", and by
the fact that the Mason Word, as an operative institution, undoubtedly existed
in Scotland in the seventeenth century, and very possibly as early as the
second half of the sixteenth century, whereas there is no evidence that it was
ever in use among operative masons in England, except very possibly in the
CONTINUITY OF MASONIC WORKING We have previously stated that in our opinion
accepted masonry formed the link connecting operative and speculative masonry.
In this section we have to consider how the accepted masons obtained their
knowledge of operative working.
is very little information available about the customs of English operative
masons in the sixteenth century; the only positive reference to masons'
customs with which we are acquainted, viz., the reference in the Sandgate
Castle building account to the jurat at Folkestone visiting the controller at
Sandgate concerning the "use and custome of ffre masons and hard hewars",
relates to August 1539?
Gould s and Vibert 4 were of opinion ' Two MSS., 62‑3.
Harl. MS. x647, fO. 109 3
Freemasonry before the Era of Grand Lodger, 5‑6. 214 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC
CEREMONIES that after the Reformation the builders' traditions died out, or at
least that operative masons lost their secrets. Though we hold that they were
quite mistaken regarding this particular point which is based on a
misconception of the importance of the Church as an employer of masons in the
late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, we doubt if much or any purely
Masonic organisation carrying on the old practices remained among English
operative masons in the later part of the sixteenth century. Apart from four
sixteenth‑century versions of the Old Charges,' and the existence in certain
towns of trade companies in which the masons were generally associated with
various building and miscellaneous trades, there would appear to be little
evidence of the existence of freemasonry in England in the reign of Elizabeth.
Chapter VII we examined such evidence as is available relating to accepted
masonry in England in the seventeenth century.
view, however, of the many gaps in the evidence, and certain considerations to
be mentioned in the next paragraph, we cannot claim to have traced a definite
continuity between English operative masonry of 1539, and English accepted
masonry of 1723, when Anderson published his Constitutions for the guidance
and instruction of the brethren associated with the newly established Grand
event, such continuity as can be found in English masonry during the period
1539‑1723 is in no way comparable with that which can be shown, on the basis
of copious Scottish lodge records, to have existed between Scottish operative
masonry of circa i 6oo and the speculative masonry of the present day.
best example of such continuity is provided by the Lodge of Edinburgh, which
possesses an unbroken set of minute books extending from 1599 to the present
other considerations to which we refer in the previous paragraph are as
follows: (1) The fact that in London in the seventeenth century certain
members of the Masons' Company, who are known to have been masons ' The Grand
Lodge No. z MS. Of 1583; the Lansdowne MS. of circa 16oo; the Levander‑York
MS. Original of 1560, from which the Levander‑York MS. was copied circa
1'74.0; the so‑called Melrose No. z MS. of 1581, from which Melrose No. 2 MS.
was copied in 1674..
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY by trade, joined the so‑called `Acception', i.e.,
became accepted masons (just as operative masons may become freemasons at the
present time), strongly suggests that the rites and usages of
seventeenth‑century accepted masons differed from such rites and usages, if
any, as were practised by contemporary English operative masons. (ii) The
early minutes of the only two English operative lodges of the pre‑1'730 period
which have survived, viz., those of the Alnwick Lodge, dating from 1703,1 and
of the Swalwell Lodge, dating from 1725,2 show that there were no
non‑operative or gentleman masons associated with those lodges prior to 1730.
(iii) There are three elements in speculative masonry, viz.: (a) certain
expressions, (b) certain esoteric matter, and (c) certain legendary matter,
all of which have their prototypes in Scottish operative masonry of the
sixteenth or seventeenth century, but no known prototypes in English operative
The expressions we have in mind are `entered apprentice', `fellow craft', and
`cowan'; the first two were referred to on page 204 above, and the last on
page 2 8, and there is no need for us to repeat here our previous remarks.
careful study of early Masonic catechisms s strongly suggests that the nucleus
of the present First and Third Degree ceremonies can be traced back to the
somewhat crude usages and phrases associated before the end of the seventeenth
century with the imparting of the Mason Word in Scotland, a subject which we
discussed in some detail in Chapter V above, and to which we refer further in
the last section of this chapter.
The two pillars referred to in the Cooke MS. of circa 141 o and in all later
versions of the Old Charges were, as indicated by us in Chapter IV,
traditionally explained as those on which the seven liberal arts, including
masonry, were carved, to keep them from perishing by flood or fire, and not
the two pillars set up in the porch of the Temple, as described in 1 Kings
vii. 21. Solomon's pillars, it is believed, came into masonry, not through the
English MS. Constitutions of Masonry, but through the 1 ‑4.Q C., xiv, 4.
Masonic Mag., iii, 72‑6, 348‑9.
THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES Scottish ceremonies associated with the
Mason Word, as indicated by Rev. Robert Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, who wrote
in 1691 that the Mason Word is like a Rabbinical Tradition, in way of comment
on Jachin and Boaz, the two Pillars erected in Solomon's Temple (I Kings,
vii., 21), with ane Addition of some secret Signe delyvered from Hand to Hand
by which they know and become familiar one with another., The Masonic
tradition that the pillars set up by Solomon were made hollow, the better to
serve as archives of masonry, doubtless represents an attempt to harmonise the
two different pillar legends.
TWOFOLD ORIGIN OF EXISTING WORKING To suggest that all accepted masonry was
immediately derived from Scotland, is not to deny the English origin of the
MS. Constitutions of Masonry, or the possibility that accepted masons obtained
from English sources the copies of the MS. Constitutions which played a part
in their ceremonies in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
On the other hand, it has to be recognised that, important though the MS.
Constitutions probably were in early accepted masonry, and in shapin~ the Book
of Constitutions as we know it to‑day, their ritualistic importance has
that as it may, both types of operative ceremony, the one depicted in the MS
Constitutions, and the one depicted in the MS. Catechisms, have undoubtedly
contributed to the development of present‑day working, and justify us in
saying that the existing working has not a single, but a twofold origin.
what date and in what manner the two types of ceremony became in some way
combined is uncertain. If we are correct in our estimate of the antiquity of
the two types of ceremony, that depicted in the MS. Constitutions, consisting
mainly of reading or reciting the Old Charges, had probably been practised in
England for a century or more before even the most rudimentary formalities
asso The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Faunr and Fairier, 3rd ed., 1933,108217
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY ciated with the imparting of the Mason Word had
been adopted in Scotland. It is not until the second half of the seventeenth
century, however, that we find any evidence of the two types of ceremony being
operative Lodge of Aberdeen in 16 7o the entered apprentice, in addition to
receiving the Mason Word at his entry, had read to him the "Mason Charter",1
which was the version of the Old Charges now described as the f4berdeen MS.
lodges at Aitchison's Haven, Kilwinning, Melrose, Stirling and Dumfries all
possessed one or more versions of the MS. Constitutions dating from the second
half of the seventeenth century,2 it is likely that the Aberdeen practice was
fairly general in Scotland at that period.
practice was possibly older, but it may be noted that whereas the minutes of
Aitchison's Haven Lodge date from 1598, when there is reason to think that the
secrets of the Mason Word were being imparted to entered apprentices and to
fellow crafts, the 14itchison's Haven MS. was not engrossed in the minute book
is, however, some ground for thinking that the lodge possessed a version of
the Old Charges as early as December 1646.3
relation to the Old Lodge of Dumfries, two points may be noted. First, the
version of the MS. Constitutions known as the Dumfries No.3MS., of the late
seventeenth century, provides for the appointment of a tutor to instruct the
candidate in the secrets which must never be committed to writing. Second, the
document known as Dumfries No. σ MS., of circa 1'710, consists of several
elements including (a) a `sundry' version of the MS. Constitutions, (b) a set
of questions and answers, partly along the lines of other Masonic catechisms,
partly of a scriptural type, and (c) a 1 "A discourse hade before A Meeting of
Meassones Commonly caled the Measson Charter" (Miller, 66). In a statement
appended to the List of 49 names entered in the Mark Book, as being members of
the lodge in 1670, there occurs the following sentence, which appears with
modernised spelling in Miller, p. 21: "We ordain likewise that the Mason
Charter be read at the entering of every entered prentice and the whole laws
of this Book" [i.e., the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge adopted 27 December
1670 (Miller, 57)1 2 For details, see our Handlist of Masonic Documents.
Wallace‑James, d.Q.C., zsiv, 41‑2; Hawkins, ibid., 46. 218 THE ORIGINS OF
MASONIC CEREMONIES stranger's salutation, similar to that incorporated in
other catechisms. At one time the document was almost certainly used for
ritual purposes, for it shows considerable signs of use.' Other available
evidence suggestive of a combination of the two types of ceremony is afforded
by other seventeenthcentury versions of the MS. Constitutions which contain
special references to Masonic secrets, namely, Harris No. 1, Buchanan, Grand
Lodge No. 2, Harleian 1942, Harleian 2o54, and Drinkwater No. 2.z None of
these bears a definite date, but they are all assigned by Bro. Poole to the
second half of the seventeenth century, with the exception of the last, which
he dates as circa i 7oo. As all these manuscripts were probably used by
accepted masons in England, the evidence seems to point to operative and
nonoperative members of Scottish lodges, and to accepted masons in England,
using a combined type of ceremony in the second half of the seventeenth
accepted masons in the later part of the seventeenth century both used a
version of the MS. Constitutions and imparted to candidates at least some of
the esoteric knowledge associated with the Mason Word, is suggested by Dr.
Robert Plot's reference to a large parchment volume which they had amongst
them, containing the History and Rules of the Craft of Masonry, and his
statement that their admission chiefly consisted in the communication of
certain secret signs.$
Nothing shows more clearly the twofold origin of Masonic ceremonies at the end
of the seventeenth century than the oath set out in the Masonic catechism
Sloane MS. 3329,4 of circa 1700, by which the candidate swore to keep secret
"the mason word and every thing therein contained" and truly to observe "the
Charges in ye Constitucion". As late as 1723, if reliance can be placed on the
earliest of the so‑called "exposures" or printed catechisms of masonry, fl
Mason's ' No. 3 is printed in Smith, Old Lodge of Dumfries, 85‑104; No. 4 in
drew attention to these, and two early eighteenth‑century versions of the Old
Charges, Carmich and Roherts, on p. 82 above.
extract from Plot's Natural History of Staffordshire, E.M.P., 31‑44 E.M.C.,
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Examination,' the whole or part of a version of the
MS. Constitutions was read to the candidate before any secrets were revealed
to him. The fact that the `historical' section of Anderson's Constitutions of
1723 is headed by the instruction "To be read at the Admission of a New
Brother . . . " would appear to confirm the statement in ,4 Mason's
Examination, unless it be that the author of the catechism was basing himself
upon Anderson, whose Constitutions had been published a few weeks previously.
That the signs and words of an accepted mason were derived from the Mason Word
of the Scottish operatives is strongly suggested by the fact that when Dr.
Desaguliers, the prominent member of the newly formed Grand Lodge in London,
desired to visit the operative Lodge of Edinburgh in 1721, he was found "duly
qualified in all points of masonry" and received as a brother.a How and when
the MS. Constitutions reached Scotland from England, and how and when the
Mason Word reached England from Scotland, are largely matters for surmise.
Although the relations between the two countries were not very close from the
time of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the fourteenth century until the
union of the two Crowns in 1603, the cultural and social break between the two
countries was not so great as is sometimes suggested.
Coulton has remarked, 3 all through the Middle Ages there was less difference
between Yorkshire or Northumberland on the one hand and Lothian or Fife on the
other, than between any one of them and Kent.
Consequently, it is not impossible that one or both of the transferences took
place before 1603, though the surviving evidence suggests a rather later date.
transference may have come about in more than one way. Masons from one country
may have worked in the other, and usages prevailing south of the Tweed may
have become known to masons north of the Tweed and vice versa.
Further, it is possible that the counties of Northumberland and Durham
(Sunderland being a port by which many Scots entered England) may have served
as neutral ' E.M. C., 65.
Lyon, 16 r. 3 Scottish dbbeys and Social Life, 33‑4. 220 THE ORIGINS OF
MASONIC CEREMONIES ground on which Masonic practices prevailing in Scotland on
the one hand, and in Southern England on the other, intermingled and blended.
When the records of the old operative lodge at Swalwell, County Durham,
commence in the early eighteenth century, they bear very distinct traces of
"Orders" of the lodge date from circa 1730; the first entry in the minute book
relates to 29 September 1725, and may be quoted in full:' Then Matthew
Armstrong and Arthur Douglas, Masons, appeared in the Lodge of Freemasons, and
agreed to have their names registered as "Enterprentices," to be accepted next
quarterly meeting, paying one shilling each for that rank, and 7s. 6d. when
they take their freedom.
use of the term "Enterprentice" in the minutes of an English operative lodge
points to very strong Scottish influence; the minute very possibly indicates
that two Lowland Scots or borderers (to judge by their names), described as
masons by trade, though presumably only entered apprentices in their own
lodges, joined the lodge at Swalwell with the rank of entered apprentice, on
payment of one shilling, it being provided that they should pay 7s. 6d. when
they took their freedom, i.e., became fellows, the following quarter. If this
interpretation is correct, it follows that the lodge at Swalwell was very
closely linked with Scottish masonry. That this probably was so is strongly
suggested by the fact that members of the lodge appear to have possessed at
least some knowledge of the Mason Word as an operative institution.
much is clear from Clause No. 8 of the "Penal Orders" of the lodge: 2 "If any
be found not faithfully to keep and maintain the 3 ffraternal signs, and all
points of ffellowship, and principal matters relating [to] the secret Craft,
each offence penalty 1 o‑1 o‑oo."
lodge, like the older Scottish lodges, gradually turned from an operative into
a speculative lodge; in 1735 it accepted a, "deputation" or constitution from
Grand Lodge. It continued to meet at Swalwell until 1844, when it removed to
Gateshead where 1 Masonic Mag., iii, 73.
Ibid., 85. 221 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY in 1935 it celebrated its
bicentenary as the Lodge of Industry, No. 48.
lodge at Alnwick, whose Orders are dated 29 September 1701, and whose minutes
relate to the years 1703 to 1757, remained operative in character until 1748,
when it was apparently reorganised as a speculative lodge, though it was never
linked up with Grand Lodge.' Its records, however, show no marked traces of
maybe, nevertheless, that other northern lodges, of which no records have
survived, acted, somewhat like the lodge at Swalwell, as connecting links
between English and Scottish masonry in the later seventeenth and early
is no evidence to show that the Mason Word was ever used among English
operative masons, except possibly in the North, nor does there seem to have
been any need for it, or any machinery to administer it, in the seventeenth
century. It seems more likely that English accepted
masons obtained a knowledge of the Mason Word, not from English operative
masons, but either from English travellers in Scotland, who were entered as
"gentleman masons" in Scottish operative lodges, or from Scottish masons,
travelling or working in England, who made "gentleman masons" at a distance
from their lodges, with or without the previous or subsequent approval of
these lodges. In the well‑known case of Robert Murray, quartermaster‑general
of the Scottish army, who was made a mason at Newcastle on 20 May 164 1 by
members of the Lodge of Edinburgh, the fact was subsequently reported to the
lodge and recorded in the minute book.2
case, where a member of the Lodge of Edinburgh entered several gentlemen in
Ayrshire in 1679, without licence or commission, disciplinary action was taken
against the offender.3 Traces of the custom of granting written licences to
enter masons at a distance from the lodge are found in the minutes of the
lodges of Kilwinning,4 Dunblane b
dispensations or 1 Rylands, "The Alnwick Lodge Minutes", fl.Q.C., xiv, 42
Ibid., i o6.
Ibid., iog. 222 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES without, it seems not
unlikely that Englishmen were made "gentleman masons" in England by operative
or nonoperative members of Scottish lodges.
EVIDENCE OF THE SCOTTISH ORIGIN OF MASONIC SECRETS In view of the relative
newness of our theory that presentday speculative masonry owes a great deal to
seventeenthcentury Scottish operative masonry, we propose briefly to emphasise
here the strong preponderance of Scottish evidence relating to the imparting
of the Mason Word, and all that is implied thereby.
outset we must remind the reader when comparing the amount of Scottish and
English evidence available, that in former, as in present, times England had a
far larger population than Scotland. Thus, other things being equal, there
should be far more surviving documentary evidence in England than in Scotland.
We had occasion on page q. of our Scottish Mason to draw attention to the
scarcity of records in Scotland in comparison with England, and to the
consequent difficulty of dealing in detail with the early development of
Scottish masonry. When, however, we come to the Mason Word the position is
entirely reversed; instead of finding one Scottish record for every half a
dozen English, we find actually far more Scottish evidence than English. If
allowance be made for the difference in population, there is an overwhelming
preponderance of Scottish evidence.
evidence which we have in mind is of a fourfold character: (1) The early
Masonic catechisms have a strong Scottish `flavour'.
Various entries in lodge records in the seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries refer to the Mason Word; these records, without exception, relate to
References to the Mason Word occur in nonMasonic literature of the seventeenth
eight I The views we put forward in this chapter are not new; they were voiced
by Douglas Knoop in x938 in his Prestonian Lecture (The Mason Word), in 1939
in our "Prolegomena to the Mason Word" (J.Q.C., Iii, x39), and in x9σ0, in our
Short History of Freemasonry to 1730 223 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY such
references known to us, six, viz., those of Henry Adamson in The Muses
Threnodie, 1638;1 of John Lamont in the Chronicle of Fife, 1649 ;2 of a report
of the proceedings of the presbytery of Kelso, 1652 ;3 of Robert Kirk in The
Secret Commonwealth, 1691 ;4 of Alexander Telfair in a tract of 1696;6 and of
a letter from Scotland written in 1697,8 are of undoubted Scottish origin.
One, a remark of Dr. Edward Stillingfleet, the well‑known seventeenth‑century
antiquary, sometime Bishop of Worcester, made at his own dinner‑table in
London in 1689,' must be regarded as of immediate English origin, though the
speaker apparently had Scottish associations, to judge by the fact that the
Rev. Robt. Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, was his guest on the occasion when the
remark was made.
Dr. Stillingfleet may well have acquired his knowledge of the Mason Word from
last reference, that of Andrew Marvell in The Rehearsal Transprosed, 16'72,8
would appear to be unquestionably of English origin.
probability is that Marvell was referring to the customs of English accepted
masons of his own day, rather than to those of operative masons, about whose
practices he would almost certainly know nothing.
The last class of evidence relates to the setting or background in which the
Mason Word existed. We discussed this in detail in Chapter V, but may
summarise our conclusions here. We feel that it is a mistake to consider the
Mason Word in vacuo, without reference to the conditions which called it into
being _and made its establishment and subsequent maintenance possible. The
purpose of the Mason Word was to distinguish masons who were members of their
trade organisation from others who were not.
need for some secret method of recognition arose from two conditions peculiar
to Scotland, viz., the 1 E.M.P., 3o.
Diary of john Lamont (Chronicle of Fife) 1649‑72, Edinburgh, 181 o, P. 9 3
Scott, ii, 132.
ed., 1933, 1o8.
E.M.P., 346 Printed in Hist. MSS. Com., Portland MSS., ii, 56.
Kirk, "London in 1689‑‑9o", printed in Trans. Lond. and Middx. ‑4rch. 8oc.,
1933, 139 8 E.M.P., 30 2 24 THE ORIGINS OF MASONIC CEREMONIES possibility of
employment open to `cowans', and the existence of an industrial grade, without
exact parallel in England, that of the entered apprentice. In order to
establish and maintain the Mason Word as an institution, local organisations
capable of co‑operating with each other, and some supervisory authority with a
wide jurisdiction, would be required.
Scotland the local or `territorial' lodges, such as the Lodge of Edinburgh and
the Lodge of Aberdeen, as distinct from temporary or semi‑permanent lodges or
workshops associated with particular building operations, served as the
necessary local organisations.
King's Principal Master of Work and Warden General, in conjunction with the
Masters of the various lodges, constituted the central authority which
controlled and supervised the various local lodges.
as we are aware, there was no corresponding machinery in England.
the evidence relating to Masonic secrets, which we have reviewed in this
chapter, is predominantly Scottish. We have therefore to ask ourselves, if it
is chance, an unfortunate coincidence, that there is such a relative paucity
of references to the Mason Word in the seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries in England, or if it is rather that little or nothing was known
about the Mason Word in England at that period. We can see no reason why
English references should have been lost whilst Scottish references have been
preserved and we feel compelled to conclude that the Mason Word as an
operative institution did not exist in England as it did in Scotland. Thus, in
our opinion, everything in English accepted or speculative masonry that is
derived directly or indirectly from the Mason Word, and all that it implied,
is necessarily of Scottish origin. We are disposed to think that this was
recognised more clearly two centuries ago than in recent years.
very possibly explains why, when new degrees were established in the
eighteenth century, there was a tendency to claim for them a Scottish origin.
Further it may account for the following passage which occurs in the London
periodical, The Free‑Mason No. 5 of i i December 1733: 1 "On the Sun‑set of
Masonry to the Southern and 1 Ibid., 311. 225 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY
Western Parts of the Globe, the antient Masons of Scotland, Stars of the
North, preserv'd its Light and return'd it to Mankind." Thus in 17 33, before
the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, we had the interesting
suggestion that modern or speculative masonry is descended from ancient or
operative masonry through a Scottish line of transmission.
CHAPTER XI THE DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING TWO LINES OF APPROACH HERE are two
entirely different ways of approaching the problem of the development of craft
working during the period of some fifty years between 1686, when Dr. Robert
Plot wrote his well‑known account of accepted masonry,' and 1735, when Martin
Clare analysed the motifs of the freemasonry of his day.2 The first. way is to
trace the evolution of the early manuscript and printed Masonic catechisms,3
on the assumption that they in some measure reflect the character of the
ceremonies practised by accepted masons in the late seventeenth and early
eighteenth centuries, an assumption which we feel should be accepted only with
second way is to follow, from documents less suspect in character than the
printed catechisms,4 some of the principal changes in accepted masonry during
the period. That is our main purpose in this chapter, but by way of
introduction we give a brief account of the evolution of the early Masonic
EVOLUTION OF THE EARLY CATECHISMS The early catechisms can be divided into
four groups: I. The Edinburgh Register House MS. of 1696 and the Chetwode
Crawley MS. of circa 1'700 not improbably represent Scottish operative working
in the later decades of the seventeenth century. Four features of these
catechisms which tend to disappear in those belonging to later groups are (1)
the words of entry [found only in fI Mason's Con fession of 1'72'7]; (ii)
allusions to horseplay [found only in fI Mason's Examination of 1723]; (iii)
reference to the Mason ' E.M.P., 31; p. rσS above.
'bid., 327; p. 7 above. 3 E.M.C., passim.
authenticity of the printed catechisms is discussed in E.M.C., 9‑18. 227 THE
GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Word [found only in Sloane MS. 3329 of circa 17oo and
in lI Mason's Confession of 1727]; and (iv) the distinction between those who
have been in the kitchen and those who have been in the hall [found only in fI
Mason's Examination of 1723 and in The Mystery of Free‑Masonry of 17301 z. 1I
Mason's Confession of 1727 professedly represents Scottish operative working
in the third decade of the eighteenth century. It is a good deal fuller than
the Edinburgh Register House MS., but whether the new matter is due to the
writer's imagination, or to his desire to give a reasonably complete account
of the ceremony, or to genuine development of the working between 1696 and
1727, it is impossible to say.
main body of the early catechisms supposedly or professedly exhibits the
ceremonies of accepted or of sVeculative masons during the first three decades
of the eighteenth century. By no means all the catechisms tell the same story,
but that does not necessarily detract from their possible correctness, for it
would be very surprising if all lodges at that period followed a uniform
system of working.
group of catechisms contains various questions and answers not found in those
of the first group, e.g., (i) certain questions relating to architecture, and
(ii) certain symbolical questions and answers concerning the height of the
lodge, the number of pillars in the lodge, and the colour of the master's
habit. This new interest in architecture and in symbolism suggests the growing
influence of accepted or of speculative masons.
Prichard's Masonry Dissected of 1730 claims to give an impartial account of
the regular proceedings in initiating new members in the three degrees of
masonry. The changes which can first definitely be traced in this catechism
are of considerable importance.
New matter is introduced, more particularly the Hiramic Legend, and an
explanation of the Letter G; yet it would be a mistake to think that Prichard
invented‑either of these developments. A reference to the Letter G occurs in
an advertisement of 1726 concerning Antediluvian Masonry;' also the rather
archaic doggerel verse in which it is handled in Masonry ' E.M.P., 193.
DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING Dissected suggests some measure of antiquity.
earlier existence of the Hiramic Legend is suggested by the same advertisement
of 1'726, which refers to "the whole history of the widow's son killed by the
blow of a beetle".
Further, Anderson's long footnote on Hiram on pages I I and 1,2 of the
Constitutions of 1723 makes it not impossible that masons were acquainted with
a version of the story as early as that year.
The working is divided into three degrees.
subject of the number of degrees raises large questions, to which we devote
the next chapter. (iii) The earlier catechisms either give a description or
narrative of the ceremony (or form of giving the Mason Word) together with
test questions and answers, or omit any description of the ceremony and
content themselves with test questions and answers from which very little if
any idea of the nature of the ceremony can be deduced.
Prichard's Masonry. Dissected, on the other hand, omits the independent
descriptive section, but introduces what is more or less an account of the
ceremonies into the questions and answers.
Although these are a good deal fuller than in any previous catechism, they
still retain the form of questions addressed to someone who has already been
admitted, and answers rehearsing what happened at a ceremony of admission.
account they give of the ceremonies may be more or less correct, so far as it
goes, but we are of opinion that in any case it is not a complete account of
the other early catechisms, it contains, for example, no reference to a
prayer, or to a cbarge to newly admitted brethren, both of which, there is
reason to believe, formed part of the ceremonies. The nature of the rites of
accepted or of early speculative masons, based on such independent evidence as
is available, is discussed in the following sections of this chapter.
CONDITIONS IN ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND IRELAND It has been usual to treat the
history of masonry in England, Scotland and Ireland as a separate development
in each country; but we are convinced that these developments cannot be
rightly or fully understood in isolation. It is, indeed, convenient and
desirable to have distinct accounts of the rise and extension of local and
central 229 THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY Masonic organisation in each country,
but it is necessary to guard against the error of thinking that in the later
seventeenth and earlier eighteenth centuries, when accepted masonry was
evolving from operative institutions, an entirely independent process was in
operation in each of the three kingdoms.
that been the case, we should have had not one but three systems of
necessary, therefore, to consider as a whole the evolution of Masonic working
in that period, and to co‑ordinate the ascertained facts regardless of whether
they relate in the first instance to England, Scotland or Ireland.
main object of this and the following sections is to consider the first steps
by which the somewhat confused history of the building industry, the trade
regulations, and the moral precepts of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry,
together with the rather crude usages and phrases associated with the
imparting of the Mason Word, were so modified and elaborated as ultimately to
justify the claim of freemasonry to be a peculiar system of morality, veiled
in allegory and illustrated by symbols. In order to form an opinion as to when
and where the fundamental changes in Masonic practices which ultimately
transformed the whole character of Masonic ceremonies were introduced, the
Masonic conditions prevailing in England, Scotland and Ireland in the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries must be briefly examined. We may
commence with Scotland, since it is from that country that accepted masonry
apparently obtained the main foundations on which the speculative
superstructure was ultimately erected.
Scotland.‑In Scotland in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries,
non‑operative or gentleman masons joined the old‑established operative lodges,
which regulated the masons' local affairs, in so far as they were not governed
by trade incorporations. The authority of each particular lodge, apart from
any limitations imposed by the existence of a local incorporation of the
building trades, was subject in some cases to the supervision of a more
important neighbouring lodge, and in all cases to the central control
exercised by the royal official known as the Warden General and Principal
Master of Work. Although the non230 DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING operative
members might outnumber the operative members, as was the case in the Lodge of
Aberdeen in i 67o, nevertheless they would not appear to have been in a
position materially to transform the character of the practices associated
with the imparting of the Mason Word, which was an operative institution
widespread in Scotland. It may be that in the course of years the Mason Word
was modified, and that additions were made to it, though whether as the result
of non‑operative influence it is impossible to say, but such modifications and
accretions, so far as one can tell, left the character of the practices
fundamentally unchanged. That these old‑established practices had been adopted
by English accepted masons, and had been subject to little change as late as
1721, is strongly suggested by the fact that when Dr. Desaguliers, the former
English Grand Master, desired to visit the operative Lodge of Edinburgh in
1721, he was found "duly qualified in all points of masonry", and received as
a brother.' In the years immediately following 1721 big changes were made in
accepted masonry in England, but these modifications were probably not
introduced into Scotland until after the formation of the Grand Lodge of
Scotland in 1736. This perhaps explains why Scotland did not adopt the
ceremony of installing the Master of the Lodge, that ceremony having been
dropped by lodges under the Grand Lodge of England before 1736, as we suggest
on page 249 below. It formed part of the working of the Grand Lodge of the
Antients, established in 1751, but did not become the general practice in
England until after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813.2
not t Lyon, 16o‑i.
October r8og the Lodge of Promulgation was constituted by the Grand Lodge of
the Moderns "for the purpose of Promulgating the Ancient Land Marks of the
Society". In October 18 1 o the Lodge of Promulgation resolved "that it
appears to this Lodge that the ceremony of Installation of Masters of Lodges
is one of the two [? true] Landmarks of the Craft and ought to be observed".
the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, the Lodge of Reconciliation was
constituted to agree upon the ceremonies and to rehearse them for the benefit
of the Craft.
activities of the lodge, however, barely touched upon the Installation
Ceremony, and it was not until December 18 27 that Grand Lodge constituted a
Board of Installed Masters 23, THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY adopted in Scotland
until the 18 7os.1
light of the available evidence it seems practically certain that the
transformation of operative into speculative working did not originate in
Scotland, and it is probably true to say that Scottish influence counted for
little or nothing in the development.
England.‑In England in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries,
non‑operative or gentleman masons apparently did not join operative lodges, as
in Scotland; in the records of the old operative lodges at Swalwell and
Alnwick there is no evidence of the admission of nonoperative members before
173,2 and 1748 respectively. On the other hand, some working masons were
members of lodges of accepted masons in London, at Chester and at York; and
according to the New Articles of those versions of the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry which belong to the Roberts family, at least one workman of the trade
of freemasonry was to be present when a freemason was accepted.2 There is
evidence to show that some men who were masons by trade were also accepted
masons; but it may be presumed that the ceremony by which they were admitted
as accepted masons was different from any which may have been used upon their
admission to an English operative lodge. There is, however, no evidence at all
to suggest that societies of accepted masons were in any respect subject to
control by any organisation of operative masons. In so far as any control
existed, it was exercised by accepted masons, both before and after 1717, in
which year Grand Lodge was established.
follows that accepted masons in England, being freer from operative control
than were nonoperative masons in Scotland, had greater power to introduce
innovations and elaboration of the traditional working.
agree upon the Installation Ceremony and to rehearse it for the benefit of
Masters and Past Masters. See W. B. Hextall, "The Special Lodge of
Promulgation, 1809‑ii", f1.Q.C., xxiii (1910), 37f019‑; W‑ Wonnacott, "The
Lodge of Reconciliation, 1813‑16", Z.Q.C., xxiii (1910), 215f019‑; H. Sadler,
Notes on the Ceremony of Installation (1889).
Lyon, 203 2 See, e.g., the Roberts print, E.M.P., 82.
According to The Mystery of Free‑Masonry, 1730, one of the seven masons that
make a just and perfect lodge must be a working mason (E.M.C., 104) 232
DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING Further, since the essential condition of freedom
from operative control may be presumed to have existed before 1717, it follows
that the innovations might as easily have been introduced into English
accepted masonry in 1707, or in 1697, as in 1727.
Ireland.‑A consideration of Irish conditions in the late seventeenth and early
eighteenth centuries adds to the existing uncertainty regarding the date or
dates of the fundamental changes in masonry a further uncertainty regarding
the place or places where such changes originated. The facts known about
freemasonry in Ireland before 1730 are unfortunately very few; most of what is
known is due to the researches of Chetwode Crawley I in the 189os,
supplemented by the more recent investigations of Bros. Lepper and Crossle.2
Irish operative masons do not appear to have associated in "territorial"
operative lodges as Scottish masons did, but from time to time English masons
worked in Ireland and may have introduced a knowledge of their customs and
practices amongst Irish stone‑workers, from whom, in due course, Irish
gentleman masons may have obtained their knowledge of the craft. Bro. Lepper
certainly stresses the fact that for some years before 1688, when a lodge of
accepted masons can first be traced at Trinity College, Dublin, a good many
building operations had been in progress at the College.
non‑operative or accepted masons in Ireland had belonged to lodges of
operative masons, as in Scotland, it would be reasonable to assume that they
had obtained their knowledge of masonry from Irish operative masons, but in
fact they do not appear to have belonged to lodges of operative masons. The
meagre evidence available points to non‑operative or accepted masons in
Ireland meeting in lodges of accepted masons, as in England. The Lodge of
Freemasons at Trinity College, Dublin, referred to in the tripos of 1688, and
the lodge held at Doneraile House in 1712 (whose working the Hon. Elizabeth
St. Leger is supposed to have overheard) were both, if indeed they existed,
lodges of 1 Caem. Hih., and Introductory Chapter to Sadler's Masonic Reprint
History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY accepted masons on the English model.'
seems to us, therefore, more likely, in view of the close literary,
intellectual and social connections between Dublin and England at that period,
that the adopted or accepted masonry which Dr. Robert Plot, writing in 1686,
stated was more or less spread over the nation, had reached Ireland in a
manner similar to that in which it had reached various parts of England. In
that case, it was under even less effective central control than any which may
have existed in England prior to 1717, and afforded, consequently, even
greater opportunities for the introduction of fundamental changes in the
approach the central problem of this and the following chapter, namely, an
examination of what changes were introduced into Masonic working between 1686
and 1735, in so far as those changes can be traced, together with the two
closely associated problems of when and where such changes were made.
NATURE OF THE CHANGES 1. The History and the Charges.‑According to the old
operative practice, as explained on pages 84‑6 above, the legend or `history'
of the building industry, together with the charges or regulation governing
the masons' trade, as contained in the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, was read
to the candidate, who had to swear on the Bible to keep the charges.
this practice three modifications were intro duced.
The `history' of masonry was edited and largely revised by Anderson for his
Constitutions Of 1723 where it was laid down that this new version of the
`history' was "to be read at the admission of a New Brother", presumably in
place of the old version. (ii) The charges were "digested" by Anderson for his
Constitutions of 1723, the Charges General and Singular of the MS.
Constitutions being replaced by "The Charges of a Free‑Mason", which were "to
be read at the making of New Brethren", presumably instead of the Charges
General and Singular. (iii) The ' For Trinity College Lodge, see p. 152 above;
for Doneraile House Lodge, see Lepper and Crossle, 39.
DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING old instruction in the MS. Constitutions of
Masonry regarding the administration to the candidate of the oath to observe
the charges was omitted from the Constitutions of 1723.
long the reading of the whole, or portions, of the Old Charges continued to
form part of the ceremony of admitting entered apprentices is uncertain.
According to Anderson's Constitutions of 1738, the `history' of Masonry (as
further revised and much extended by Anderson) was to be read at the admission
of a new brother, but that apparently no longer applied to the Charges. How
far these instructions were carried into effect, it is impossible to say.
earliest minute book (1733‑56) of the Old King's Arms Lodge, No. 28, records
that parts of the Constitutions were read on various occasions between 1733
and 1744,1 and this was also done at the Old Lodge at Lincoln, No. 73, in 1733
and 1734;2 but in the latter case certainly, and in the former case probably,
the readings took place on nights when there were no candidates.
fact that several versions of the Old Charges were copied or printed after
1723 suggests that the reading of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry in their
older forms may have continued well into the eighteenth century.
Charge to new admitted Brethren.‑Within a few years of the publication of
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 a different version of the charges of the MS.
Constitutions of Masonry made its appearance; it is first found in print in
Smith's Pocket Companion for Free‑Masons, published in London in December 1734
or quite early in 1735. The Pocket Companion contains what is described as "A
Short Charge to be given to new admitted Brethren".
bears no resemblance to the Apprentice Charge contained in certain versions of
the MS. Constitutions, a charge of a definitely operative character.
agrees in a good many respects with Anderson's "Charges of a Free‑Mason", but
it also embodies entirely different matter.
this point the reader can easily satisfy himself: "The Charges of a
Free‑Mason" (not to be confused with the Summary of the Antient Charges) are
printed near the beginning of the 1 A. Heiron, r1.Q.C., xxxix, 134, 13 5. 2 W.
Dixon, .4.Q.C, iv, 104, r05.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY present Book of Constitutions very nearly in the
form in which they first appeared in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723; the
"Short Charge to new admitted Brethren" we reprint here,' as it is one of the
earliest authoritative specimens of Masonic ritual which we possess You are
now admitted by the unanimous Consent of our Lodge, a Fellow of our most
Antient and Honourable SOCIETY; flntient, as having subsisted from times
immemorial, and Honourable, as tending in every Particular to render a Man so
that will be but conformable to its glorious Precepts. The greatest Monarchs
in all Ages, as well of f1sia and flfrica as of Europe, have been Encouragers
of the Royal flrt; and many of them have presided as Grand‑Masters over the
Masons in their respective Territories, not thinking it any lessening to their
Imperial Dignities to Level themselves with their Brethren in MASONRY, and to
act as they did.
World's great Irchitect is our Supreme Master, and the unerring Rule he has
given us, is that by which we Work.
Religious Disputes are never suffered in the Lodge; for as MASONS, we only
pursue the universal Religion or the Religion of Nature. This is the Cement
which unites Men of the most different Principles in one sacred Band, and
brings together those who were the most distant from one another.
are three general Heads of Duty which MASONS ought always to inculcate, viz.,
to God, our Neighbours,. and ourselves.
God, in never mentioning his Name but with that Reverential Awe which becomes
a Creature to bear to his Creator, and to look upon him always as the Sum[m]um
Bonum which we came into the World to enjoy; and according to that View to
regulate all our Pursuits.
Neighbours, in acting upon the Square, or doing as we would be done by.
ourselves, in avoiding all Intemperances and Excesses, whereby we may be
rendered incapable of i From the London (1734‑5) edition of Smith's Pocket
Companion, pp. 43‑5236 DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING following our Work, or led
into Behaviour unbecoming our laudable Profession, and in always keeping
within due Bounds, and free from all Pollution.
State, a MASON is to behave as a peaceable and dutiful Subject, conforming
chearfully to the Government under which he lives.
to pay a due Deference to his Superiors, and from his Inferiors he is rather
to receive Honour with some Reluctance, than to extort it.
to be a Man of Benevolence and Charity, not sitting down contented while his
Fellow Creatures, but much more his Brethren, are in Want, when it is in his
Power (without prejudicing himself or Family) to relieve them.
Lodge, he is to behave with all due Decorum, lest the Beauty and Harmony
thereof should be disturbed or broke.
to be obedient to the Master and presiding Officers, and to apply himself
closely to the Business of MASONRY, that he may sooner become a Proficient
therein, both for his own Credit and for that of the Lodge.
not to neglect his own necessary Avocations for the sake of MASONRY, nor to
involve himself in Quarrels with those who through Ignorance may speak evil
of, or ridicule it.
to be a Lover of the Arts and Sciences, and to take all Opportunities of
improving himself therein.
recommends a Friend to be made a MASON, he must vouch him to be such as he
really believes will conform to the aforesaid Duties, lest by his Misconduct
at any time the Lodge should pass under some evil Imputations. Nothing can
prove more shocking to all faithful MASONS, than to see any of their Brethren
profane or break through the sacred Rules of their Order, and such as can do
it they wish had never been admitted.
Installation Ceremony.‑A Postscript to Anderson's Constitutions of 1723
contains the manner of constituting a new lodge, including the installation of
the new Master.
THE GENESIS OF FREEMASONRY So far as we are aware, it is the earliest known
reference to the manner of doing these things, and it is possible ,that this
double ceremony, which is described in some detail, represents a considerable
elaboration of any previous practice, but we do not believe that it was
entirely new in 172 2, a point to which we refer in some detail on pages 254‑5
below. As it is the only official account we possess of a Masonic ceremony as
practised in the year 1722, we print it in full,' with italics and capitals as
in the original.
Lodge, for avoiding many Irregularities, should be solemnly constituted by the
Grand‑Master, with his Deputy and Wardens; or in the Grand‑Master's Absence,
the Deputy shall act for his Worship, and shall chuse some Master of a Lodge
to assist him; or in case the Deputy is absent, the Grand‑Master shall call
forth some Master of a Lodge to act as Deputy pro tempore.
Candidates, or the new Master and Wardens, being yet among the Fellow‑Craft,
the GRAND‑MASTER shall ask his Deputy if he has examin'd them, and finds the
Candidate Master well skill'd in the noble Science and the royal lrt, and duly
instructed in our Mysteries, Esc.
the Deputy, answering in the affirmative, he shall (by the Grand‑Master's
Order) take the Candidate from among his Fellows, and present him to the
Grand‑Master; saying, Right Worshipful GRAND‑MASTER, the Brethren here desire
to be form'd into a new Lodge; and I present this my worthy Brother to be
their Master, whom I know to be of good Morals and great Skill, true and
trusty, and a Lover of the whole Fraternity, wheresoever dispers'd over the
Face of the Earth.
the GRAND‑MASTER, placing the Candidate on his left Hand, having ask'd and
obtain'd the unanimous Consent of all the Brethren, shall say; I constitute
and form these good Brethren into a new Lodge, and appoint you the Master of
it, not doubting of your Capacity and Care to preserve the Cement of the LODGE
&c. with some other Expressions that are proper and usual on that Occasion,
but not proper to be written.
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723, pp. 71‑2. 238 DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT WORKING
Upon this the Deputy shall rehearse the Charges of a Master, and the
GRAND‑MASTER Shall ask the Candidate, saying, Do you submit to these Charges,
as Masters have done in all 4ges? And the CANDIDATE signifying his cordial
Submission thereunto, the Grand‑Master shall, by certain significant
Ceremonies and ancient Usages, install him, and present him with the
Constitutions, the Lodge‑Boek, and the Instruments of his Office, not all
together, but one after another; and after each of them, the Grand‑Master, or
his Deputy, shall rehearse the short and pithy Charge that is suitable to the
this, the Members of this new Lodge, bowing all together to the Grand‑Master,
shall return his Worship Thanks, and immediately do their Homage to their new
Master, and signify their Promise of Subjection and Obedience to him by the
Deputy and the Grand‑Wardens, and any other Brethren present, that are not
Members of this new Lodge, shall next congratulate the new Master; and he
shall return his becoming Acknowledgements to the GRAND‑MASTER first, and to
the rest in their Order.
the Grand‑Master desires the new Master to enter immediately upon the Exercise
of his Office, in chusing his Wardens: And the NEW MASTER calling forth