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The History Of Freemasonry
Albert G. Mackey 33°
THE EARLY ENGLISH MASONIC GUILDS
Brother William James Hughan are we indebted, more than to any other person,
for the collection and publication of all the Masonic Guild ordinances that
have been preserved in the British Museum, in the archives of old Lodges, or
in private hands.
In the beginning of his work on The Old Charges of the British
Freemasons (a book so valuable and so necessary that it should be in the
library of every Masonic archaeologist), Brother Hughan says:
"Believing as we do that the present Association of Freemasons is
an outgrowth of the Building Corporations and Guilds of the Middle Ages, as
also a lineal descendant and sole representative of the early, secret Masonic
sodalities, it appears to us that their ancient Laws and Charges are specially
worthy of preservation, study and reproduction. No collection of these having
hitherto been published we have undertaken to introduce several of the most
important to the notice of the Fraternity."
As Brother Hughan is distinguished for the accuracy and fidelity
with which he has himself made, or caused to be made by competent scribes,
copies of these Constitutions from the originals, I shall select from one of
the earliest of them the ordinances or regulations, which shall be collated
with those of the early Saxon Guilds, specimens of which have been given in
the preceding chapter.
An account of these Old Records, as they are sometimes called,
will be found in the first part of this work, where the subject of the Legend
of the Craft, which they all contain, is treated.
It will be unnecessary therefore to repeat here that account.
I might have selected for collation the statutes contained in the
poem published by Halliwell, or those in the Cooke manuscript, as both are of
an older date than any in the collection of Hughan.
But as they are all substantially the same in their provisions,
and the latter have the advantage of greater brevity, I shall content myself
with referring occasionally, when required, to the former.
The manuscript which is selected for collation is that known as
the Landsdowne, whose date is supposed to be 1560.
The date of the manuscript is, however, no criterion of the date
of the Guild whose ordinances it recites, for that was of course much older.
It is thought to be next in point of antiquity to the poem
published by Mr. Halliwell, to which the date of 1390 is assigned, and Hughan
says that "the style of calligraphy and other considerations seem to warrant
so early a date being ascribed to it." In copying the statutes from the copy
published by Brother Hughan, I have made an exact transcript, except that I
have numbered the statutes consecutively instead of dividing them, as is done
in the original, into two series.
This has been done for convenience of collation with the Guild
ordinances inserted in the preceding chapter and which have been numbered in a
The orthography, for a similar reason, has been modernized,
CHARGES IN THE LANDSDOWNE MANUSCRIPT.
"You shall be true to God and Holy Church and to use no error or heresy, you
understanding and by wise mens teaching, also that you shall be liege men to
the King of England without treason or any falsehood and that you know no
treason or treachery but that you amend and give knowledge thereof to the King
and his Council; also that ye shall be true to one another (that is to say)
every Mason of the Craft that is Mason allowed, you shall do to him as you
would be done to yourself.
shall keep truly all the counsel of the Lodge or of the chamber and all the
counsel of the Lodge that ought to be kept by the way of Masonhood, also that
you be no thief nor thieves to your knowledge free; that you shall be true to
the King, Lord or Master that you serve and truly to see and work for his
advantage; also you shall call all Masons your Fellows or your Brethren and no
"Also you shall not take your Fellow's wife in villainy, nor deflower his
daughter or servant, nor put him to disworship; also you shall truly pay for
your meat or drink wheresoever you go to table or board whereby the Craft or
science may be slandered."
These are called "the charges general that belong to every true
Mason, both Masters and Fellows." Then follow sixteen others, that are called
"charges single for Masons Allowed." The only difference that I can perceive
between the two sets of charges is that the first set refer to the moral
conduct of the members of the Guild, while the second refer to their conduct
as Craftsmen in the pursuit of their trade.
The former were laws common or general to all the Guilds, the
latter were peculiar to the Masons as a Craft Guild.
The second set is as follows:
"That no Mason take on him no Lord's work, nor other mens, but if he know
himself well able to perform the work, so that the Craft have no slander.
"That no Master take work but that he take reasonable pay for it, so that the
Lord may be truly served and the Master live honestly and pay his Fellows
truly; also that no Master or Fellow supplant others of their work (that is to
say) if he have taken a work or else stand Master of a work that he shall not
put him out without he be unable of cunning to make an end of his work; also
that no Master nor Fellow shall take no apprentice for less than seven years
and that the apprentice be able of birth that is freeborn and of limbs whole
as a man ought to be, and that no Mason or Fellow take no allowance to be made
Mason without the assent of his Fellows at the least six or seven and that he
be made able in all degrees that is freeborn and of a good kindred, true and
no bondsman and that he have his right limbs as a man ought to have.
"Also that a Master take no apprentice without he have occupation sufficient
to occupy two or three Fellows at least.
"Also that no Master or Fellow put away lords work to task that ought to be
"Also that every Master give pay to his Fellows and servants as they may
deserve, so that he be not defamed with false working.
"Also that none slander another behind his back to make him lose his good
"That no Fellow in the house or abroad answer another ungodly or reprovably
"That every Master Mason reverence his elder; also that a Mason be no common
player at the dice, cards or hazard nor at any other unlawful plays through
the which the science and craft may be dishonoured.
"That no Mason use no lechery nor have been abroad whereby the Craft may be
dishonoured or slandered.
"That no Fellow go into the town by night except he have a Fellow with him who
may bear record that he was in an honest place.
"Also that every Master and Fellow shall come to the Assembly if it be within
fifty miles of him if he have any warning and if he have trespassed against
the Craft to abide the award of the Masters and Fellows.
"Also that every Master Mason and Fellow that have trespassed against the
Craft shall stand in correction of other Masters and Fellows to make him
accord and if they cannot accord to go to the common law.
"Also that a Master or Fellow make not a mould stone, square nor rule to no
lowen nor set no lowen work within the lodge nor without to no mould stone.
"Also that every Mason receive or cherish strange Fellows when they come over
to the country and set them on work if they will work as the manner is (that
is to say) if the Mason have any mould stone in his place on work and if he
have none the Mason shall refresh him with money unto the next Lodge.
"Also that every Mason shall truly serve his Master for his pay.
"Also that every Master shall truly make an end of his work task or journey
which soever it be."
Now, in the collation of these "Charges" with the ordinances of
the early Guilds we will find very many points of striking resemblance,
showing the common prevalence of the Guild spirit of religion, charity, and
brotherly love in each, and confirming the
The Freemason must not make for one who is not a member of the Guild a mould
or pattern stone as a guide for construction of mouldings or ornaments,
whereby he would be imparting to him the secrets of the Craft.
The word "lowen," which is found in no other manuscript, is
supposed to be a clerical error for "cowan." It is just as probable that it is
a mistake for "layer," a word used in other manuscripts and denoting a "rough
mason." The stone‑mason and the bricklayer are at this day separate trades.
But whether the correct word be "cowan" or "layer," the object of
the law was the same, namely, that a member of the Guild should not work with
one who was not.
opinion of Hughan, and the hypothesis which has been constantly advanced, that
the one was an outgrowth of the other.
The religious spirit which pervaded all the Guilds is here
exhibited in number 1, which requires the Mason to be true to the Church and
to use no error or heresy.
The charge in number 2, to keep the counsel of the Lodge, is met
with in nearly all the Guild ordinances.
Thus in the ordinances of the Shipmen's Guild, of the date of
1368, it is said:
"Whoso discovereth the counsel of the Guild of this fraternity to
any strange man or woman and it may have been proved . . . shall pay to the
light two stone of wax or shall lose (forfeit) the fraternity till he may have
That is he shall be suspended from the Guild until restored by a
The same regulation is found in the ordinances of several other
Guilds, whose charters have been copied by Toulmin Smith.
In those of the Guild of St. George the Martyr, dated 1376, there
is no option afforded of a pecuniary fine.
The words of the statute are that "no brother nor sister shall
discover the counsel of this fraternity to no stranger on the pain of
forfeiture of the fraternity forevermore." Nothing short of absolute expulsion
was meted out to the betrayer of Guild secrets.
In the "Charges of a Free Mason," said to be "extracted from the
ancient Records," published by Anderson in 1723, and adopted by the Grand
Lodge, soon after the Revival, for the government of the Speculative Masons,
this principle of the Guilds has been preserved.
It is there said, in Charge VI., sec. 5, that the Mason is "not to
let his family, friends, and neighbours know the concerns of the Lodge." It is
at this day an almost unpardonable crime to disclose the secrets of the Lodge.
The spirit of the Guild has been preserved in its successor, the
The prohibition in the fourth charge, to dishonour a brother, or
"put him to disworship," is found in the earliest of the Guilds.
That of Orky, for example, prescribes a punishment to any member
who "misgretes," that is, insults, abuses, or injures another member.
The Guild was always careful to preserve a feeling of brotherly
love and harmony among its members, a disposition which is also the
characteristic of the Masonic fraternity.
Hence we find the tenth point of these Masonic charges declaring
that "none shall slander another behind his back." But the very language of
the fourth point of the charges would appear to have been borrowed from the
ordinances of some of the Guilds.
In those of the Guild of the Holy Trinity, whose date is 1377, we
meet with these statutes:
"No one of the Guild shall do anything to the loss or hurt of
another, nor allow it to be done so far as he can hinder it, the laws and
customs of the town of Lancaster being always saved.
"No one of the Guild shall wrong the wife or daughter or sister of
another, nor shall allow her to be wronged, so far as he can hinder it"
From the fifth to the twentieth charge, the regulations
principally relate to the government of the Craft in their work.
There is some difficulty in comparing these with the early Craft
Guilds, from the paucity of charters of the latter which have been preserved.
But wherever there are any points common to both, the analogy and
resemblance between the two is at once detected.
Thus in the Charter of the Guild of Fullers at Lincoln, which
Guild was begun in 1297, it is said that "none of the Craft shall work at the
wooden bar (full cloth), with a woman, unless with the wife of a Master or his
Toulmin Smith says that he cannot explain this restriction.
But it was in fact only an effort of the Guild spirit common to
all the Craft Guilds, which forbade one who was a member or freeman of the
Guild from working with one who was not a member.
The Guild of the Tailors of Exeter had an ordinance that "no one
shall have a board or shop of the Craft unless free of the city." And in the
charter of the Guild of Tylers or Poyntours (pointers of walls) of Lincoln it
is said that "no Tyler or Poyntour shall stay in the city unless he enters the
The same spirit of exclusiveness is shown in the seventeenth point
of the Masonic Constitutions, which forbids a Master or Fellow from working
with a Cowan, or one who was not a "Mason Allowed," that is to say, one who
has been admitted into the fraternity or Guild.
This exclusion from a participation in labour of all who were not
members of the sodality was a regulation common to all the Craft Guilds, but
was perhaps more fully developed and more stringently urged in the
Constitution of the Masonic Guild than in those of any of the others.
It is from this principle of exclusiveness that the modern Lodges
of Speculative Masonry have derived their strict regulation of holding no
communication with Masons who have not been "duly initiated," or with Lodges
which have not been "legally constituted."
Contumacy, rebellion, or disobedience to the laws of the Craft or
of the Guild was severely punished.
The ordinances of the Smiths' Guild of Chesterfield prescribed
that any brother who is "contumacious or sets himself against the brethren or
gainsays any of these ordinances" shall be suspended, denounced, and
A similar regulation is to be found in other Guilds.
According to the Landsdowne Statutes, a Mason is required to be
true to every member of the Craft, and to reverence his elder or superior, and
in the points of the statutes of the Masonic Guild, as set forth in the
Halliwell MS., it is said that the Mason must be "true and steadfast to all
these ordinances wheresoever he goes."
Suits at law between the members were discouraged and forbidden,
except as a last resort, in all the Saxon Guilds.
The Shipmen's Guild provided that the Alderman (or Master) and the
other members should do their best to adjust a quarrel, but if they were
unable, then the Alderman should give them leave "to make their suit at common
In the Guild of the Holy Cross it was declared that no brother or
sister of the Guild should go to law for a debt or a trespass until he had
asked leave of the Alderman and of the men of the Guild.
The Statutes of the Guild of St. John the Baptist, enacted in,
1374, are more explicit.
There it is said that a member "cannot sue until he has shown his
grievance to the Alderman and Guild brethren that are chief of the Council,"
and it adds that "the Alderman and the Guild brethren shall try their best to
make them agree; and if they cannot agree they may make their complaint in
what place they will."
The same provision is met with in all the Constitutions of the
The earliest of them, the Halliwell MS., prescribes in case of a
dispute a "love‑day" or arbitration. The Landsdowne says that when a wrong is
done by one of the members to another, the other Masters and Fellows must try
to make them agree, and if they cannot agree they may then "go to the common
law," which is the very expression used in the Shipmen's Guild above cited.
It is a very strong proof of the connection between the early
Guilds and the modern Lodges that this reluctance to permit the brethren to
carry their personal disputes out of the Craft and into the publicity of the
courts was fully developed in the "Charges of the Speculative Masons," adopted
In these it is said, in the true spirit of the old Guilds to which
Speculative Masonry succeeded, that, "with respect to Brothers or Fellows at
law, the Master and Brethren should kindly offer their mediation, which ought
to be thankfully accepted by the contending brethren; but if that submission
is impracticable, they must, however, carry on their process or law‑suit
without wrath and rancour."
It is needless to extend these comparisons.
Sufficient has been done to show that there is a close resemblance
in their mode of organization, method of action, constitution, and spirit
between the Saxon Guilds and the modern Masonic Lodges, which actually are,
under another name, only Masonic Guilds.
This resemblance indicates an historical connection between the
two, and this connection may be more closely traced through the civic
companies of London and other cities of England.
That these latter were the direct off‑shoot from the former is a
fact generally admitted by writers on the subject, and of it there can be no
" In the Trade Guilds," says Mr. Thorpe, "we may see the origin of
our civic companies." 
To these civic companies, and to one of them particularly, the
Masons' Company in Basinghall Street, the reader's attention must be invited.
 "Diplomatarium Anglicum Evi Saxonici," Preface, p. xvi.
THE LONDON COMPANIES AND THE MASONS' COMPANY
the middle of the 14th century, perhaps a little earlier, and in the reign of
Edward III., the various trades began to be reconstituted under the name of
Livery Companies and to change their name from Guilds to Crafts and Mysteries.
There was, however, very little real difference between their new
and their old organization, and the Guild spirit of fraternity remained the
There has been a difference of opinion as to the meaning of the
word "Mystery," which was applied to these companies in such phrases as "the
Mystery of the Tailors," or "the Mystery of the Saddlers."
Herbert says that the preservation of their trade‑secrets was a
primary ordination of all the fraternities, and continued their leading law as
long as they remained actual "working companies," whence arose the names of
"Mysteries" and "Crafts," by which they were for so many ages designated.
This derivation is a reasonable one, especially when we remember
that the word "craft," which was always associated with the word "mystery" in
its primitive usage, signified art, knowledge, or skill.
But this explanation has not been universally accepted, and the
word "Mystery," in its application to a trade or handicraft, has more
generally been derived from the old or Norman French, where mestiere was used
to denote a craft, art, or employment.
There is no certainty, however, that the word was not employed to
denote the trade‑secrets of a Guild or Company, as Herbert suggests.
If mestiere denoted, in old French, a trade, mestre meant, in the
same language, a mystery, and the former word may have been de‑
 "History of the Twelve Great Livery Companies," vol. i., P.
from the latter.
But the modern Masons, in borrowing the word "Mystery" from the
old companies, where they find their origin, undoubtedly use it in the sense
of something hidden or concealed.
The origin of the livery and other companies out of the earlier
Guilds is a matter of historical record.
Guilds, it has been already shown, existed in England from a very
early period, but, as all tradesmen and artificers did not belong to Guilds,
or, if they did, often acted irregularly in buying and selling a variety of
wares or working in different handicrafts, a petition was presented to
Parliament in the year 1355, in consequence of which it was enacted that all
artificers and "people of mysteries" should choose forthwith each his own
mystery, and, having chosen it, should thenceforth use no other.
It is here that we may assign the origin of the chartered
companies, many of which exist to the present day, and among whom we shall
find at a lake period the Masons' Company, which was the direct predecessor of
the Masons' Lodges, both of the Operative before and the Speculative after the
beginning of the 18th century.
In a document found in the records of the City of London, of the
date of 1364, and which has been published by Mr. Herbert,  we find the
names of the principal, if not the whole of the city companies, which were in
existence in that year.
This document is an account, in Latin, of the sums received by the
city chamberlain from those companies as gifts to the King, to aid him in
carrying on the war with France.
The list records the names of thirty‑two companies.
Though we find several Craft Guilds, such as the Tailors, the
Glovers, the Armourers, and the Goldsmiths, there is no mention of a Guild or
Company of Masons.
Whether such a body did not then exist as a chartered company, or
whether, if in existence, it was too poor to make a contribution, which seems
to have been a voluntary act, are questions which the document gives us no
means of deciding.
Five years afterward, in 1369, a law was enacted by the municipal
authorities of London, which must have tended to encourage the organization of
By this law the right of election of all city dignitaries, and all
officers, including members of
 "History of the Twelve Great Livery Companies," vol. i., p.
Parliament, was transferred from the representatives of the wards, who had
hitherto exercised this franchise, to the trading companies.
A few members of each of these were selected by the Masters and
Wardens, who were to repair to Guildhall for election purposes.
This right has ever since remained, with some subsequent
modifications in the twelve Livery Companies of London.
The effect of this law in increasing the number of Companies very
speedily showed itself.
In a list in Norman French of the "number of persons chosen by the
several mysteries to be the Common Council" in the year 1370, it appears that
the Companies had increased from thirty‑two to forty‑eight.
In this list we find the seventeenth to be the Company of
Freemasons, and the thirty‑fourth the Company of Masons. The former appears to
have been a more select, or at least a smaller, Company than the latter, for
while the Masons sent four members to the Common Council the Freemasons sent
Afterward the two Companies were merged into one, that of the
Masons, to which I shall hereafter again revert.
The constitution and government of these Companies appear to have
been framed very much after the model of the earlier Guilds.
They had the power of making their own by‑laws or ordinances, and
of enforcing their observance among their members.
These ordinances were called "Points." The word is first used in
the charters of Edward III., who wills that the said ordinances shall be kept
and maintained en touz pointz, or "in all points." We find the same word in
the Constituciones Geometric in the Halliwell MS., where the ordinances are
divided into fifteen articles and fifteen points.
It is also met with in all subsequent constitutions.
As a technical term the word is preserved in the Speculative
Masonry of to‑day, whose obligations of duty are to be obeyed by initiates
into the fraternity in all their "arts, parts, and points." these little
incidents serve to show the uninterrupted succession of our modern Lodges from
the early Guilds and the later Companies which were formed out of them.
They are therefore worthy of notice in a history of the rise and
progress of Freemasonry.
It has been seen that in the most of the Saxon Guilds the
principal officer was called the Alderman.
After the Guilds were chartered as Companies, the chief officers
received the title of Masters and Wardens, titles still retained in the
government of Masonic Lodges.
The ordinances required that there should be held four meetings in
every year to treat of the common business of the Company.
These were the quarterly meetings to which reference is made by
Dr. Anderson when, in his History of the Revival of Masonry, in the year 1717,
he says that "the quarterly communication of the officers of the Lodges" was
The regulation of apprentices formed an important part of the
system pursued by the Companies.
No one was admitted to the freedom or livery of any Company unless
he had first served an apprenticeship, which was generally for the period of
And even then he could not be admitted into the fellowship except
with the consent of the members.
Masters were not permitted to take more than a certain number of
apprentices, lest the trade or art should be overstocked with workmen and the
journeymen or fellows find less opportunity for employment.
Care was taken that one member should not undersell another
member, or work for a less amount of pay or interfere with his contracts for
It was the duty of the Company to protect the interests of all
There were judicious regulations for the settlement of disputes
between the members, so as to avoid the necessity of a resort to law.
The spirit of the early Guild was in this exactly followed.
"If any debate is between any of the fraternity," says an
ordinance of one of these Companies, "for misgovernance of words or asking of
debt or any other things, then anon the party plaintiff shall come to the
Master and tell his grievance and the Master shall make an end thereof." 
To speak disrespectfully of the Company; to strike or insult a
brother member; to violate the regulations for clothing or dress; to employ or
work with men who were not free of the Company, and who were generally
designated as "foreigners," or to commit any kind of fraud in carrying on the
trade or handicraft, were all offenses for which the ordinances provided ample
The feeling of brotherly love exhibited in charity to an indigent
or distressed member prevailed in all the Companies.
 "Ordinances of the Company of Grocers," anno 1463.
member became poor from misfortune or sickness, he was to be assisted out of
the common fund.
All of these regulations will be found copied in the Old
Constitutions of the Operative Masons a fact which conclusively proves that
they were originally a Company following the general usage which had been
adopted by the other Companies, whether Trade or Craft, such as the Grocers,
the Mercers, the Goldsmiths, or the Tailors.
The subject of "Liveries" is one that will be interesting to the
Speculative Freemason, from the rule with which he is familiar, that a Mason,
on entering his Lodge, must be "properly clothed." The word "clothing" here
indicates the dress which he should wear, especially and imperatively
including his "lambskin apron."
We have the very important and very authentic evidence of the fact
that secret societies existed in the 14th century, marked by all the
peculiarities we have seen distinguishing the English Companies.
In the year 1326 the Council of Avignon fulminated what has been
caged the "Statute of Excommunications," its title being "Concerning the
Societies, Unions and Confederacies called Confraternities, which are to be
This statute is contained in Hardouin's immense collection of the
arts of Councils.  The following is a part of the preamble, and it shows
very clearly that the Church at that time recognized and condemned the
existence of those Guilds, Companies, or Societies for mutual help, some of
which were the precursors of the modern Masonic Lodges, against which the
Romish Church exhibits the same hostility.
The statute passed at Avignon commences as follows:
"Whereas, in certain parts of our provinces, noblemen for the most
part, and sometimes other persons have established unions, societies and
confederacies, which are interdicted by the canon as well as by the municipal
laws, who congregate in some place once a year, under the name of a
confraternity, and there establish assemblies and unions and enter into a
compact confirmed by an oath that they will mutually aid each other against
all persons whomsoever, their own lords excepted, and in every case, that each
Conciliorum et Epistolae Decretales ae Constitutiones Summorum Pontificum,"
Paris, 1714, tome vii, p. 1,507
to another, help, counsel and favour; and sometimes all wearing a similar
dress with certain curious signs or marks, they elect one of their number as
chief to whom they swear obedience in all things."
The decree then proceeds to denounce these confraternities, and to
forbid all persons to have any connection with them under the penalty of
And here again is a pointed reference to the subject of livery:
"They shall not institute confraternities of this kind; one shall
not give obedience nor afford assistance or favour to another; nor shall they
wear clothing which exhibits the signs or marks of the condemned thing."
That the medieval Masons wore a particular dress when at work,
which was the same in all countries, is evident from the plates in several
illuminated manuscripts from the 10th to the 16th centuries, copies of which
have been inserted by Mr. Wright in his essay on medieval architecture. 
The dress of the Masons in all these plates, whether in England, in France, or
in Italy, is similar.
"In reviewing and comparing these various representations," says
Mr. Wright, "of the same process at so widely distinct periods, we are struck
much less with their diversity than with the close resemblance between both
workmen and tools, which continues amid the continual, and sometimes rapid
changes in the condition and manners of society.
Whether this be in any measure to be attributed to the
circumstance of the Masons forming a permanent society among themselves, which
transmitted its doctrines and fashions unchanged from father to son, it is not
very easy to determine." 
The question is not, however, of so difficult a solution as Mr.
Wright supposes, when we see that every Guild or Company of tradesmen or
artificers had its form of dress peculiar to itself, which was called its
"livery." The Masons, as a Company, followed the usage and adopted their own
livery or clothing.
The modern Speculative Masons preserve the memory of the usage by
declaring that none shall enter a Lodge or join in its labours unless he is
"property clothed;" that is, wears the livery of the fraternity.
According to the authority of Stow, in his Survey of London,
liveries are not mentioned as having been worn before the reign of
 "Essays on Archaeological Subjects," vol. ii., pp. 129‑2 50.
 Ibid., p. 136.
I., or about the beginning of the 14th century.
That is, they were then first licensed at that time or mentioned
in the characters of the Companies, but he admits that they had assumed them
before that time without such authority.
And this is confirmed by the illuminated manuscripts to which
allusion has been made above, which show that the Masons used a particular
clothing as far back as the 10th century.
In the "Statute of Excommunications," passed in the beginning of
the 14th century by the Council of Avignon, societies or confraternities are
denounced which had been established for mutual aid, and which are described
as "all wearing a similar dress with certain curious signs or marks."
About the middle of the 14th century there began a separation
between the wealthier and the more indigent Companies, which ended after a
long contention in the exclusion from the municipal government of all except
what are now called "The Twelve Great Livery Companies," namely, the Companies
of Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Merchant
Tailors, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners, and Clothworkers.
These Companies, as distinguished by wealth, by political power
and commercial importance from the minor Companies, which were often only
voluntary associations of men of the same trade or craft, were called the
"substantial companies," the "principal crafts," the "chief mysteries," and
other similar titles which were intended to imply their superiority, though
many of the so‑called " minor companies," as the weavers and bakers, were
really of greater antiquity, of more public utility and importance.
Among these "minor companies," the one of especial importance to
the present inquiry is the "Masons' Company."
Of this Company, Stow gives the following account in his Survey of
"The Masons, otherwise termed free masons, were a society of
ancient standing and good reckoning, by means of affable and kind meetings
divers times and as a loving brotherhood should use to do, did frequent their
mutual assemblies in the time of King Henry IV. in the 12th year of whose most
gracious reign they were incorporated."
A fuller account of the Company is given by Chiswell in the, New
View of London, printed in 1708, in the following words:
"Masons' Company was incorporated about the year 1410 having been
called the Free Masons, a fraternity of great account, who have been honoured
by several Kings, and very many of the Nobility and Gentry being of their
They are governed by a Master, 2 Wardens, 25 Assistants, and there
are 65 on the Livery.
"Their armorial ensigns are, Azure, on a Chevron Argent, between 3
Castles Argent, a pair of Compasses, somewhat extended, of the first Crest, a
Castle of the 2nd." 
The Hall of the Company, in which they held their meetings, was
"situated in Masons Ally in Basinghall street as you pass to Coleman street."
Maitland, who published his London and its Environs in 1761, gives
a later date for the charter.
He says that "this Company had their arms granted by Clarencieux,
King‑at‑Arms in 1477, though the members were not incorporated by letters
patent till they obtained them from King Charles II. in 1677." 
The conflict in dates between Stow, with whom Chiswell agrees, and
Maitland, the former ascribing the charter of the Company to Henry IV., in
1410, and the latter to Charles II., in 1677, may be reconciled by supposing
that the original charter of Henry was submitted to a review and confirmation,
which was technically caged an "inspeximus," an act which we constantly meet
with in old charters.
In other words, the Masons first received a charter for their
Company from Henry IV. in 1410, which charter was confirmed by Charles II. in
These Companies of traders and craftsmen were not confined to
London, but were to be found in other cities.
The Masons, however, do not appear to have always maintained a
separate organization, but seem sometimes to have united with other craftsmen.
Thus among the thirteen Companies which were incorporated in the
city of Exeter, the thirteenth consisted of the Painters, Joiners, Carpenters,
Masons, and Glaziers, who were jointly incorporated into a Company in 1602.
It may be remarked that all of these crafts were connected in the
employment of building.
Each, however, had its separate arms, that of the Masons being
described by Izacke in
 "New View of London," vol. ii., p. 611.
 Ibid  "London and its Environs," vol. iv., p.304
Antiquities of Exeter thus: "Sable, on a chevron between 3 towers argent, a
pair of Compasses, dilated Sable."  This will be an appropriate place to
examine this subject of the Masonic Arms as historically connecting the
Operative Craft with the Speculative Grand Lodge.
According to Stow, the Arms of the "Craft and Fellowship of
Masons" of London were granted to them by William Hawkeslowe, Clarencieux
King‑of‑Arms in the twelfth year of Edward IV., that is, in 1473, and were
subsequently confirmed by Thomas Benott, Clarencieux King‑of‑Arms in the
twelfth year of Henry VIII., or in 1521. These arms, which are blazoned in the
original grant, now in the British Museum, are as follows: "Sable, on a
chevron, engrailed argent between 3 castles of the second, with doors and
windows of the field, a pair of compasses extended of the first." Translating
the technical language of heraldry, the arms may be plainly described as a
silver or white scalloped chevron, between three white castles with black
doors and windows on a black field, and on the chevron a pair of compasses of
a black colour.
Woodford says that these arms are supposed to have been adopted by
the Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons in 1717. Kloss gives the same arms,
except that the chevron is not scalloped (engrailed), but plain, as the seal
of the Grand Lodge of England in 1743 and in 1767.
The arms adopted by the Grand Lodge of England at the union in
1813, and still used, consist of a combination of the old Operative arms (the
colours being, however, changed) with those of the Athol Grand Lodge, which
But as the latter arms were most probably an invention of Dermott,
they are of no historical value.
From all this we see, so far as heraldry throws a light on
history, that the English Speculative Masons have to the present day claimed
to deduce their origin from the Operative Masons who were incorporated as a
Company in the 15th century. They claimed to be their heirs, and according to
the law of heraldry assumed their arms.
To assume the subject of the Masons' Companies, we have no records
of the existence of those organizations under that name in more than a few
places in England.
"Remarkable Antiquities of the City of Exeter." By Richard Izacke, heretofore
chamberlain thereof. Second edition, London, 1724, p. 68.
But the Masons seem often to combine with other Guilds for
purposes of convenience.
Several instances of this kind occur in old records, as in an
appendix to the charter of the Guild of Carpenters of Norwich, begun in 1375,
where it is stated that "Robert of Elfynghem, Masoun, and certeyn Masouns of
Norwiche " had contributed two torches or lights for the altar of Christ's
Church at Norwich.
Now, as that church was the place where the Carpenters' Guild
celebrated their mass, and as the fact of the contribution is noted in their
charter, it is reasonable to suppose that the Masons, having no Guild or
Company of their own in Norwich, had united in religious services with the
The impossibility of obtaining any continuous narrative of the
transactions of the Masons' Company, which was one of the forty companies of
London mentioned by Stow, must render many of the deductions which may be
drawn from certain portions of the Harleian MS. altogether conjectural.
The probability or correctness of the conjecture will have to be
determined by the reason and judgment of the reader.
The Masonic public has in its possession at this day, and easily
accessible by any student, some twenty or thirty documents printed from
manuscripts ranging in date from the end of the 14th to the beginning of the
18th century. These documents are usually denominated "Masonic Constitutions."
A very few of them were known to Dr. Anderson, and he has given inaccurate
quotations from them in both of his editions of the Book of Constitutions.
But for the greater number, new until a recent period, to the
world, we are indebted to the researches of Masonic archaeologists, by whose
unpaid industry they have been unearthed, as we may say, from the shelves of
the British Museum, from the archives of old Lodges, or from the libraries of
But though we possess transcripts of these Constitutions correctly
made from the original manuscripts, there is nothing on record to tell us by
whom they were written, nor under what authority.
Internal evidence alone assures that they are all, except the
first two, copies of some original not yet found, and that they contain the
legend or traditionary history of Freemasonry which was believed and the laws
and regulations which were obeyed by the Operative Masons who lived from the
15th to the 18th century, if not some centuries before.
To make any conjecture as to the source whence they have emanated
and for what purpose they were written, we must recapitulate what little we
know of the history of the Masons' Company of London.
The Masons' Company was incorporated, according to Chiswell, in
the year 1410, or thereabouts, by King Henry IV., which charter was renewed by
Charles II. in 1677, I suppose by an "inseximus" or confirmation of the
original charter, as was usual.
But we know from the list contained in the records of the city of
London, and published by Herbert, which has already been referred to, that in
the year 1379, in the reign of Edward III., there were in London a company of
Freemasons and a company of Masons, the former of which sent two and the
latter four members to the Common Council of the city.
These two were wholly distinct from each other, but Stow tells us
that at a subsequent period they united together and were merged into one
What was the difference between these two Companies, is a question
that will naturally be asked, and which can not very easily be answered.
My own conjecture, and it is merely a conjecture, though I think
not an unplausible one, is that the Company of Freemasons was the
representative in England of that body of Travelling Freemasons who had
spread, under the auspices of the Church, over every country of Europe, and
whose history will constitute hereafter an important portion of the present
work; while the Company of Masons was the representative of the general body
of the Craft in the kingdom, who had formed themselves into a Guild, Company,
or Sodalily, just as the Mercers, the Grocers, the Tailors, the Painters, and
other tradesmen and mechanics had done at the same period.
The two companies were, however, afterward merged into one, which
retained the title of "The Company of Masons."
Each of the Trade and Craft Guilds or Companies kept a book in
which was contained its ordinances and a record of its transactions. The
language of these books was at first the Norman‑French; sometimes, says
Herbert, intermixed with abbreviated Latin, or the old English of Chaucer's
Afterward, during the reign of Henry V., and by his influence, the
ordinances were translated into the vernacular language of the period, and the
books of the Companies were thereafter kept in English.
We find just such changes in the dialect of the old Masonic
Constitutions from the archaic and, to unused ears, almost unintelligible
style of the Halliwell poem to the modern English of the later manuscripts.
If the Masonic Company had an historian like Herbert, who would
have given a detailed history of its transactions from its origin, as he has
done in respect to the twelve Livery Companies of London, we should, I think,
have had no difficulty in defining the true character of the Old
Many heroes have lived before Agamemnon, but they have died unwept
because they had no divine poet to record their deeds.  So, too, we are
left to dark conjecture in almost all that relates to the early history of the
Masonic Craft in their primary Guild‑life, for want of an authentic
It may, however, be assumed, as a more than plausible conjecture,
that there must have been for the Masons' Company a book of records and of
their ordinances, just as there were for the other Trade and Craft Companies.
Indeed, Dr. Anderson says, in his second edition, that "the
Freemasons had always a book in manuscript called the Book of Constitutions
(of which they had several very ancient copies remaining), containing not only
their Charges and Regulations, but also the history of architecture from the
beginning of time."
Dr. Plot, also, in his Natural History of Staffordshire, tells us
that the society of Freemasons "had a large parchment volume amongst them
containing the history and rules of the craft of Masonry." And the contents of
that volume, as he describes them, accord very accurately with what is
contained in the Old Constitutions that are now extant.
We have, then, good reason to believe that the manuscript
Constitutions, which consist of the Legend of the Craft and the statutes or
Ordinances of the Guild, are all copies of an original contained in the
archives of the Company, and which original Anderson says was called the Book
It is not necessary that we should contend that the title given by
Anderson is the right one, or that he had authority for the statement.
It is sufficient to believe that there was a book in the archives
 Horace, Carm., lib. iv., 9.
Masons' Company, as there was a similar book in the archives of the other
Companies, and that the manuscript Constitutions, as we now have them, were
copied at various times and by different persons from that book.
But it must be evident, to anyone who will carefully collate these
manuscripts, that there must have been two originals at least.
The Legend of the Craft and the set of ordinances differ so
materially in the Halliwell poem from those in the later manuscript as to
indicate very clearly that the latter could not have been copied from the
former, but must have been derived from some other original.
Now, in 1410 there were, according to the catalogue given by
Herbert from the London records, two distinct Companies, that of the
Freemasons and that of the Masons.
It is very reasonable to conclude that each of these Companies had
a Book of Constitutions of its own.
If so, the Halliwell Constitutions may have found their original
in the Company of Freemasons, and the later manuscripts, so unlike it in form
and substance, may have had their original in the Company of Masons.
If, as Findal and some others have supposed, the Halliwell
Constitution was of German or Continental origin, the invocation to the Four
Crowned Martyrs leading to that supposition, then the fact that this
manuscript of Halliwell was copied from the Book of Constitutions of the
Company of Freemasons would give colour to the hypothesis which I have
advanced, that the Company of Freemasons, as distinguished from that of the
Masons in the year 1410, was an offshoot from the sodality of Travelling
Freemasons, who, at an earlier period, sprang from the school of Como in
A new charter, or rather, as I suppose, a confirmation of the old
one, was granted to the Masons' Company in 1677 by King Charles II.
About this time we might look for some changes in the long‑used
Book of Constitutions of the old Masons' Company, which had been incorporated
in 1410, and of which the earlier manuscripts, from the Landsdowne to the
Sloane, are exemplars.
Now, just such changes are to be found in the Harleian MS., which
has been conjecturally assigned to the approximate date of 1670.
An examination of this manuscript will show that it materially
differs in several important points from all those that preceded it.
Besides the old ordinances, which are much like those in the
preceding manuscripts, but couched in somewhat better language, there are in
the Harleian MS. fifteen "new articles," as recognizing for the first time a
distinction between the Company and the Lodges.
Article 30, which is the fifth of the new articles, is in the
"That for the future the said Society, Company, and Fraternity of
Free Masons shall be regulated and governed by one Master and Assembly and
Wardens as the said Company shall think fit to choose at every yearly General
There are several points in this article which are worthy of
attention as throwing light on the condition of the fraternity at that time.
The words for the future imply that there was a change then made in the
government of the Society, which must have been different in former times.
The use of the word Company shows that these regulations, or "new articles,"
were not for the government of Lodges only, but for the whole Company of
Masons. The existence of the Masons' Company is here for the first time
recognized in actual words.
The word "Assembly" is entirely without meaning in its present location, or if
there is any meaning it is an absurd one.
It can not be supposed that the Company at a General Assembly
would choose an Assembly to govern it.
Doubtless this is a careless transcription of the original by a
copyist, who has written "Assembly" instead of "Assistants." In the charters
of the other Companies we frequently see the provision that besides the Master
and Warden a certain number of "Assistants" shall be appointed out of the
Guild, to aid the former officers by their counsel and advice.
For instance, in a charter of the Drapers' Company, after
providing for the election of a Master and four Wardens, it is added that
there may and shall be constituted and appointed certain others of the Guild
"who shall be named assistants of the Guild or fraternity aforesaid, and from
that time they shall be assisting and aiding to the Master and Wardens in the
causes, matters, business, and things whatsoever touching or concerning the
said Masters and Wardens."
Now, as assistants formed no part of the government of a Lodge,
but were common in the Livery Companies, it is evident
See the Charter in Herbert's "Twelve Great Livery Companies," vol. i., p. 487.
the article under consideration, and therefore that the Harleian MS., in which
it is contained, were copied from the Book of the Masons' Company.
This article decides the fact that there was at that day a "yearly assembly"
of the Company.
We are not, however, to infer that this "yearly assembly" of the
Masons' Company constituted, as some of our earlier histories have supposed, a
If so, as the Master of the Company must necessarily have presided
over the General Assembly, he would have been its Grand Master, and as there
were other Masons' Companies in other parts of England, there would have been
several Grand Lodges as well as several Grand Masters, all of which is
unsupported by any historical authority.
Indeed, neither the words "Grand Master" nor "Grand Lodge" are to
be met with in any of the Old Constitutions, from the Halliwell MS. onward to
Both titles seem to have come into use at the time of what is
called the Revival, in 1717, and not before.
There are some other articles in this Harleian MS. that are worthy
of attention, as showing the condition and the usages of the Craft in the 17th
century, and which will be again referred to when that subject is under
consideration in a subsequent chapter.
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLIES AND THE LODGES OF MEDIEVAL MASONS
were two conditions of the Craft in the period embraced between the 14th and
17th centuries which are peculiarly worth the notice of the student of Masonic
These are the General Assembly of the Craft at stated periods, and
their more customary meetings in Lodges.
It is to be regretted that the early records of English Masonry
furnish but the slightest and most unsatisfactory accounts of the transactions
of either of these bodies, so that most of our information on this subject is
"We possess," says Mr. Halliwell, "no series of documents, nor
even an approach to a series, sufficiently extensive to enable us to form any
connected history of the ancient institutions of Masons and Freemasons.
We have, in fact, no materials by which we can form any definite
idea of the precise nature of those early societies." 
This is very true, and the historian finds himself impeded in
every step of his labour in tracing the early progress of the institution.
"We must therefore," as he continues to observe, "rest contented
with the light which a few incidental notices and accidental accounts, far
from being altogether capable of unsuspected reliance, afford us."
In the forty years which have elapsed since this passage was
written, the energetic industry of Masonic archaeologists has brought to light
many old records which are "of unsuspected reliance," which, though still too
few to form a complete series of historic stages, will enable us to understand
better than we did a half century ago the real condition of the Masonic
sodalities in the Middle Ages.
Had these records been in Mr. Halliwell's possession when he
presented the first of them as a valuable contribution to Masonic
 "Society of Antiquaries," April 18, 1839, p. 444.
history, he would hardly have erred as he did in his belief of the truth of
the Prince Edwin story, or of the authenticity of the Leland MS.
As the geologist has been enabled to trace the gradual changes in
the earth's surface, and in the character of its living inhabitants at the
remotest period, by the fossil which he finds embedded in its early strata, or
as the anthropologist learns the true character of prehistoric man from the
stone and bronze implements that he has discovered in ancient caves and
mounds, so the archaeologist can form a very correct notion of the state of
medieval Freemasonry form the scattered records of that period, which, long
preserved in the obscurity of neglected archives or in the vast collections of
the British Museum, have at length been published to the world, to form the
authentic materials of a Masonic history.
They confirm many statements hitherto supposed to be without
authority, and enable us by their silence to reject much that has been
fancifully presented as authentic.
Thus in the manuscript which was discovered and published by Mr.
Halliwell, and which he very correctly considered to be the
earliest document yet brought forward connected with the progress of
Freemasonry in Great Britain, we may learn that at least as early as toward
the end of the 14th century the Masons met on specified occasions and under
certain rules and regulations in a body which they called the "Congregation"
or the "Assembly." Of this there can not be the slightest doubt, since the
genuineness of the Halliwell poem is universally recognized as having been
written between the years 1350 and 1400, and as containing an authentic
account of the condition of the Craft at that period.
In the second article of the Constitutions contained in this work
it is said that "every Mason who is a Master, must be at the general
congregation if he is informed in sufficient time where that assembly is to be
holden, unless he should have a reasonable excuse."
 That every Mayster that ys a mason Most ben at the generale
congregacyon, So that he hyt resonably y‑tolde Where that the semble schal be
holde; And to that semble be most nede gon But he have a resenabul skwsacyon."
Halliwell MS., lines 107‑112.
I have spared the reader the archaic and, to most persons,
unintelligible language, but have given the true meaning in the translation,
and append the original in a marginal note.
From this law it would appear that in the 14th century it was the
usage of Master Masons to assemble from various parts of the country for
purposes connected with the business or interests of the Craft.
In the Cooke MS., whose date is at least an hundred years later,
the writer gives an account of the origin of this custom.
It arose, he says, in the time of King Athelstan, who ordained
that annually, or every three years, all Master Masons and Fellows should come
up from every province and country to congregations, where the Masters should
be examined in the laws of the Craft, and their skill and knowledge in their
profession be investigated, and where they should receive charges for their
As this, however, is a mere tradition, founded on the legend of
Athelstan's, or rather Prince Edwin's, Assembly of Masons at York, it can not
be accepted as a foundation for any historical statement.
But in the same manuscript we find the evidence that it was the
custom of Masters coming from their Lodges or places where they worked with
the Fellows under them, and their Apprentices, to some sort of gathering which
was presided over by one of the Masters as the principal or chief of the
It is the second article of the Constitutions, according to the
Cooke MS., which is in the following words.
I again translate the archaic language into modern English.
"That every Master should be previously warned to come to his
congregation, that he may come in due time unless excused for some reason.
But those who had been disobedient at such congregations, or been
false to their employers, or had acted so as to deserve reproof of the Craft,
could be excused only by extreme sickness, of which notice was to be given to
the Master that is principal of the assembly." 
I say that this is evidence that in the latter part of the 15th
century, which is the date of the manuscript, the custom did exist of several
Masters assembling, from different points for purposes of consultation,
because a law would hardly be enacted for the due ob‑
 "Cooke MS.," lines 740‑755.
servance of a certain custom unless that custom had a substantial existence.
This is not a tradition or legend, but the statement in a
manuscript constitution of the existence of a law.
The manuscript is admitted to be genuine.
That it tells us what were the regulations of the Craft that were
in force when it was written is not denied.
And therefore, as it gives us the rules that were to govern
Masters in their attendance upon an assembly or congregation of Masters, we
must recognize the historical fact that at that time such assemblies or
congregations did exist among the Craft of Masons.
These assemblies were probably extemporary, or called at uncertain
times, as necessity required.
If they were held at stated and regular periods, it would hardly
have been required that a Master must have received previous notice to render
him amenable to punishment for non‑attendance.
This would also lead us to presume that there was some person in
whom, by general concurrence, was vested the authority to designate the time
of meeting, and whose duty it was to give the necessary warning.
And it would seem that this person must have been the one to whom
excuses were to be rendered, and who is styled, in the quaint language of the
manuscript, pryncipall of that gederyng."
What was the circuit within which the jurisdiction of such an
assembly extended, or what was the distance from which Master Masons were
expected to repair to it, we must learn from later manuscript Constitutions,
for the Cooke MS. leaves us in ignorance on the subject.
It tells us only that assemblies were occasionally held, but says
nothing of the number of representatives who constituted them nor of the
circuit of country which they governed.
This is, however, determined by the later Constitutions.
In the Landsdowne MS., whose date is sixty years after that of the
Cooke, it is said that "every Master and Fellow shall come to the Assembly if
it be within fifty miles of him." This distance is repeated in the York MS.,
dated 1600, in the Grand Lodge MS. of 1632, in the Sloane MS. of 1646, in the
Lodge of Antiquity MS. of 1686, and in the Alnwick M S. as late as 1701.
There is, however, a discrepancy not to be explained in some of
The Harleian MS., whose ascribed date is 1650, says that the Mason
must come to the Assembly if it be within ten miles of his abode, and in the
Constitutions in the Lodge of Hope MS., whose date is 1680, and those in the
Papworth MS., whose date is as late as 1714, but must undoubtedly have been a
mere copy of some older one, the distance is reduced to five miles.
Those who, in this reference to what is called sometimes a
congregation, sometimes a general assembly, and once, as in the Papworth MS.,
an association, have sought to discover the evidence of the existence before
the 18th century of a Grand Lodge for England and a Grand Master presiding
over all the Craft in the kingdom, will not find themselves supported by any
expressions either in these Old Constitutions or in any other records of the
times which will warrant such an interpretation of the nature of these
meetings of the Craft.
The object of these Assemblies, as described with great uniformity
in all the Constitutions, was to submit those who had trespassed against the
rules of the Craft to the judgment and award of their brethren, and where
there were disputes to endeavour to reconcile the difference by a brotherly
If we may rely on a statement made in what is caged the Roberts
MS., from which we get the earliest printed book in Masonry, and which
manuscript could not have been later than the latter part of the 17th century,
these General Assemblies had also the power of making new regulations for the
government of the Craft.
A book was printed in 1722 by J. Roberts, under the title of The
Old Constitutions belonging to the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and
This book was, he says, "taken from a Manuscript wrote above five
hundred years since," but the internal evidence shows that it could not have
been written earlier than about the middle of the 17th century.
It has indeed all the appearance of being a careless copy of the
Harleian MS., with some additional matter which is not found in that document,
the source of which is not known.
In this book of Roberts are some new regulations which are said to
be "additional orders and Constitutions made and agreed upon at a General
Assembly held at....... on the eighth day of December, 1663."
Dr. Anderson, who, it is very probable, had seen this statement in
the work of Roberts, has with an unwarranted inaccuracy, of which the Masonic
historians of the 18th century were too often guilty, materially altered the
statement in the second edition of his Book of Constitutions, and says that
"Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans as their Grand Master held a General
Assembly and Feast on St. John's Day 27 Dec. 1663."
It will be seen that the Roberts Constitution says nothing of the
Earl of St.
Albans, nothing of his having exercised the functions or assumed
the title of Grand Master, nothing of a feast, and nothing of the time of
assembly being on St. John the Evangelist's day, which is an entirely modern
All that Anderson has here said is merely supposititious, and by
this act of unfairness, Bro.
Hughan very correctly says, his "character as an accurate
historian is certainly not improved."
It has been seen that the earlier manuscript Constitutions do not
speak of any specific time when the Assembly was held, and it is possible, or
perhaps probable, that at first they were called at extemporaneous periods and
according to the needs of particular districts where there were Master Masons
This is, however, altogether conjectural.
But it would seem that about the middle of the 17th century, and
indeed perhaps long before, there was instituted an annual assembly.
The Harleian MS. leaves us no doubt upon the point, for it says,
"that for the future the sayd Society, company and fraternity of Free Masons
shal bee regulated and governed by one Master and Assembly and Wardens, as the
said Company shall think fit to choose at every yearely general Assembly."
That this was to be done "for the future" would seem to imply that
it had not been done theretofore, or it might mean that what had formerly been
an authorized usage was thereafter to be confirmed as a law by this new
regulation, and this is probably the more correct interpretation.
It is, however, very satisfactorily shown by this Harleian
document that at the time when it was written, namely, in 1670, the Masons had
begun to meet in an annual assembly, even if they did not do so before
There is another feature in the medieval condition of Freemasonry,
which we may discover from an examination of these old manuscript
While it is very clear that the Masons were in the habit of
assembling annually, or perhaps at more frequent periods, in congregations,
for general consultation on the interests of the whole body of craftsmen, they
also united in other associations of a local character, which, in the earliest
records to which we have obtained access, were known by the name of "Lodges."
This was an institution peculiar to the Masons.
We hear of the Guilds, and afterward of the Company of Carpenters,
the Company of Smiths, the Company of Tailors, and others belonging to various
crafts, but we have no knowledge that there ever existed any lodges of
Carpenters, Smiths, or Tailors.
The Masons alone met in these local sodalities, which were of
course in some way connected with the Company, after it had been chartered,
and even before, when it existed as a Guild without incorporation.
The existence of these Lodges is not conjectural, but capable of
the most convincing historical proof derived from these old manuscripts, whose
genuineness has never been and can not be doubted, as well as from the
testimony of other writers, some of them not of Masonic character, and
therefore less suspicious.
The proofs of the existence of Lodges in which Masons in different
parts of the kingdom met may be first presented as they are found in the Old
The Halliwell poem, which is the earliest of these manuscript
records, plainly refers to the fact.
In the 4th Article of the Constitutions which it prescribes, the
Master Mason is forbidden to take a bondman as an Apprentice.
And the reason assigned why this prohibition is made is that the
lord whose bondman he is has the right to bring him away from any place where
he might go, and if he were to take him from the Lodge it would be a cause of
"For the lorde that he ys bonde to
May fache the prentes whersever he go.
Gef yn the logge he were y‑take Much desese hyt myght ther make."
And in the third point of the same Constitution it is forbidden to
the Apprentice to tell anyone the private concerns of his Master's house or
whatsoever is done in the Lodge.
"The prevystye of the chamber telle he no man, Ny yn the logge
whatsever they done." 
The Cooke MS.,  which is the next of these old records that
have been brought to light by modern researches, repeats these two
It goes more at length into the causes which should
 "Halliwell MS."  Ibid.
 "Cooke MS.," lines 769‑777.
prevent a bondman from being made a Mason, and explains the nature of the
trouble, briefly alluded to in the former manuscript which might arise if the
lord should seek to seize his bondman in the lodge. The bondman it says,
should not be received as an Apprentice, because his lord to whom he is bound
might take him, as he had the right to do, from his business, and lead him
"out of his logge or out of the place where he is working, and the trouble
that might then be apprehended, would be that his fellows would peradventure
help him and dispute for him and therefrom manslaughter might arise."
And in the third point of these Constitutions it is said that the
Mason "can hele (must conceal) the counsel of his fellows in logge and in
In the later manuscripts we find the same recognition of the lodge
as in these first two.
In the Landsdowne MS. it is said that Masons must "keep truely all
the councell of the lodge or of the chamber." This is repeated in
substantially similar words in all the subsequent Constitutions. The lodge is
also recognized as a place where the work of Operative Masonry was pursued,
for the Freemason is forbidden to set the cowan to work within the lodge or
We see, also, that there were many lodges as distinct
organizations, but all connected by one bond of fellowship, scattered over the
One of the regulations in all these Constitutions was that strange
Fellows were to be cherished and put to work, if there were any work for them,
and if not, they were "to be refreshed with money and sent unto the next
These Operative Lodges were as exclusive in relation to any
connection with cowans, rough layers, or Masons who were not accepted as free
of the Guild, as the modern Speculative Lodges are in relation to any
connection with the uninitiated, or, as they are often called, "the profane."
Thus we find in all the Constitutions up to the year 1701 a
regulation which forbade the giving of employment to "rough layers," or Masons
of an inferior class, who had not been admitted into the society.
"Noe Mason," says the latest of these Constitutions,  shall
make moulds, square or Rule to any Rough Layers, alsoe
 "Cooke MS.," lines 441 ‑ 453.
 "Alnwick MS.," anno 1701.
noe Mason sett any Layer within a Lodge or without to hew or mould stones with
noe mould of his own makeing." In brief words, he was to give such an intruder
no work that was connected with the higher principles of the art, for the
mould was the model or pattern constructed by the geometrical rules that were
the most important secrets of the medieval builders.
It is probable that these unfreemen were sometimes employed in the
more menial occupations of the craft.
The Papworth MS., whose date is 1714, is the only one which omits
Whether this omission arose from the growth at that late period of
a more liberal spirit, or whether it was the clerical error of a careless
copyist, are questions not easily determined.
It is, however, probable that the latter was the case, as the
spirit of exclusiveness adhered to the Masonic Guilds as it did to all the
guilds of other crafts, and is continued to the present day by the Livery
Companies, which are the successors of the early guilds, where the same spirit
of exclusiveness prevailed.
The system of apprenticeship, which was common to all the guilds,
was maintained with very strict regulations by the Masons.
No Master or Fellow was to take an Apprentice for less than seven
years, nor was any Master to take an Apprentice unless his business was so
extensive as to authorize the employment of at least two or three Journeymen.
The spirit of monopoly is plainly perceptible in this regulation.
The Fellows or journeymen were unwilling to give to Masters of
moderate means the opportunity, by the employment of Apprentices who might
soon learn the trade, to add to the number of craftsmen and thus to diminish
the value of their labour.
Great regard was paid to the physical condition of the Apprentice.
In all the constitutions, from the very earliest to the latest,
care is taken to declare that the Apprentice must be able‑bodied.
"The Master," says the Halliwell MS., "shall for no consideration
of profit or emolument make an Apprentice who is imperfect, that is whose
limbs are not altogether sound.
It would be a great disgrace to the craft to make a halt and lame
man. An imperfect man of this kind would do but little good to the
So every one may know that the craft wishes to have a strong man."
And the compiler of the Constitutions quaintly adds the warning that "a maimed
man has no strength, as will be known long before night;" that is, he will
show his weakness by failing in his work.
".... maymed mon, he hath no might,
Ye mowe hyt knowe long yer night."
This was written about the end of the 14th century.
A hundred years afterward the Cooke MS. repeats the admonition in
these words: "The sixth article is this, that no Master for no covetousness
nor no profit take no Apprentice to teach that is imperfect, that is to say,
having any maim for the which he may not truly work as he ought to do."
The same rigid rule of physical perfection in the Apprentice is
perpetuated in all the subsequent constitutions.
Thus the Landsdowne MS. (1560) says he "of limbs whole as a man;"
the York MS. (1600), he must be "able of body and sound of limbs;" the Grand
(1632), he must be "of limbs as a man ought to be;" the Harleian MS.
(1670), he must have "his right and perfect limbs and personal of
body to attend the said science," and the Alnwick MS. (1701), that he must
have "his right limbs as he ought to have."
When, in 1717, the Speculative superseded the Operative order,
this regulation, which had been enforced for at least three centuries, was
abandoned, and in the charges adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1722, Masons were
requited to be only good and true men, freeborn, and of mature age.
Sixteen years afterward, when Anderson compiled and published the
second edition of the Book of Constitutions, he, apparently without authority,
restored the original rule of the guild, for in the same charge the words in
that edition were altered by the insertion of the regulation that the men made
Masons must be "hail and sound, not deformed or dismembered at the time of
I say that this change was apparently made without authority, for
in the subsequent editions of the Book of Constitutions, published after the
death of Anderson, the language of the first edition was restored.
Hence the present Grand Lodge of England does not require bodily
perfection as a preliminary qualification for initiation.
But as Dermott in compiling his Ahiman Rezon for the use of the
Grand Lodge of Ancients or the Schismatic Grand Lodge, adopted Anderson's
second edition as the basis of his work, all the lodges emanating from that
Grand Lodge exacted the rigid guild law of corporeal perfection.
As a very large number of the lodges in the United States had been
chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ancients, it has happened that the old rule of
the guild has been retained sometimes in its full extent and sometimes with
slight modifications in the Constitutions of the American Grand Lodges, all of
which forbid the initiation into Masonry of one who is deficient in any of his
limbs or members.
The American usage, however much it may be objected to because it
sometimes closes the door of the lodges to worthy men on certain occasions,
has certainly maintained more perfectly than the English the connection
between the old Operative and the more modern Speculative branch, a connection
whose preservation is important because it constitutes a part of the history
of the Order.
Another fact in the character of the medieval Guild or Company of
Masons that shows the connection with that association and the Speculative
Masonry that grew out of it is the system of secrecy that was practiced.
It has been hitherto shown that all the early guilds, whether
Masonic or otherwise, required their members to keep the secret counsels of
And this regulation has been very correctly supposed to allude to
the secrets of the trade, in their transaction of business if it were a
Commercial Guild, or if it were a Craft Guild the methods of work.
These secrets could only be acquired by a long apprenticeship to
the trade or art, and it was unlawful to impart them to any persons who were
not members of the guild.
The evidence of this has already been shown by extracts from
various guild ordinances, and from the old Masonic Constitutions. But the
secrets of the Guild or Company of Masons seems to have been maintained more
rigidly by their statutes than were those of any other guild.
What the secrets of medieval Freemasonry were will be discussed
when we come to treat of the Travelling Freemasons, who spread in the 11th and
12th centuries from Lombardy over Europe, and established themselves in all
the countries which they visited; that their arcana consisted of a secret
system adopted by the Freemasons in building.
Of this, as Mr. Paley  has observed,
 "Manual of Gothic Architecture," chap. vi., p. 208.
or nothing has ever transpired, and we may reasonably attribute our ignorance
on the subject to the conscientious observance by the members of the
fraternity of the oath of secrecy administered to them on their admission into
The earlier Masonic Constitutions do not give the form of the
oath, or indeed refer to an oath at all.
They simply direct that the counsels of the Lodge and of Masonry
shall be kept inviolate.
It is not until 1670 that we find, in the Harleian MS., supposed
to have been written in that year, the very words of the obligation that was
to be administered.
The constitutions or ordinances of that Constitution prescribe
"That no person shall be accepted a Freemason or know the secrets of the said
society until he hath first taken the oath of secrecy hereafter following."
The "oath of secrecy" thus prescribed is given in the following
words, which will on comparison be found to be much more precise and solemn
than the oath which was administered in the other guilds or companies:
"I, A. B., do, in the presence of Almighty God and my Fellows and
Brethren here present, promise and declare, that I will not at any time
hereafter, by any act or circumstance whatsoever, directly or indirectly,
publish, discover, reveal or make known any of the secrets, privileges, or
counsels of the fraternity or fellowship of Free Masonry, which at this time,
or at any other time hereafter, shall be made known unto me.
So help me God and the holy contents of this book."
The last words indicate that this was a corporeal oath
administered on the Gospels, as was the form always used at that period in
As to the language, the intelligent Mason will readily perceive
how closely the spirit of this old Masonic obligation has been preserved by
the modern Speculative fraternity.
It is another indirect mark pointing out the close connection and
uninterrupted succession of the old and the new systems.
It is unnecessary to dilate further on the ordinances which are
contained in these Constitutions.
The object has been sufficiently attained, of proving the
correctness of the hypothesis that the modern Lodges are the direct successors
of these bodies whose laws and customs are so plainly exhibited in the old
THE HARLEIAN MANUSCRIPT AS A GERM OF HISTORY ‑ USAGES OF THE
CRAFT IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
been seen in the preceding chapter how much information as to the usages of
the craft in medieval times may be derived from the statutes and regulations
contained in the manuscript Constitutions, and more especially in that most
valuable and interesting one, the Harleian MS.
This document differs very materially from all the others that
preceded it, and suggests to us that there were important changes which about
that time took place in the usages of the craft.
Of this manuscript, the date of which is supposed to be 1670, Bro.
Hughan has said that it "contains the fullest information of any that we are
aware of and is of great value and importance in consequence." 
An analysis of this manuscript will sustain the statement of this
indefatigable explorer of old records and to whom we are indebted for a
correct transcription from the original which is deposited in the British
No analysis, so far as I know, has ever been attempted of this
important manuscript, so as to deduce its true character from the internal
evidence which it contains.
It has been already shown that the Masons' Company received a new
charter or act of incorporation from Charles II. just about the time that the
Harleian MS. appears to have been written.
It has also been suggested that the granting of the new charter
would probably be considered as a very opportune period for the Masons'
Company to make some changes in its Book of Constitutions by the adoption of
 "Old Charges of the British Freemasons," p. 11.
Now, I have supposed that the Harleian MS., differing so much, as
it does, from all preceding manuscripts, is a copy or transcript of the Book
of Constitutions of the Masons' Company as it was modified in the reign of
In presenting us with the laws of the Craft which were at that day
in force, it supplies us with a very accurate and authentic exposition of the
usages and customs of the fraternity as they then prevailed.
A brief analysis therefore of some of the most important articles
will certainly advance us very considerably in our knowledge of the progress
of Freemasonry in the 17th century, about a hundred years before the Operative
element of Freemasonry was absolutely extinguished by the Speculative.
Hence it is that I call the Harleian MS. a germ of Masonic
We may profitably commence our analysis of the historical points
developed in this manuscript by directing our attention to the origin and
meaning of the words "Accepted Mason," which are so familiar at the present
day in the title given to the Order as that of "The Free and Accepted Masons."
The 26th Article of the Harleian Constitutions directs that "no
person shall be accepted a Mason, unless he shall have a lodge of five free
Masons;" and the next article says that "no person shall be accepted a Free
Mason but such as are of able body, honest parentage," etc.
The word "accepted" here used is of some importance as having been
one of the titles afterward adopted by the Speculative Masons, who called
themselves "Free and Accepted," in allusion to this very article.
The word is first employed in the Harleian MS.
In the older manuscripts we find the expression "Masons allowed,"
which, however, evidently means the same thing.
In the two articles cited above it is very plain that an "Accepted
Mason" is one who has been admitted into the fraternity by some ceremony,
which is called his "acception," or acceptation.
It is equivalent to the modern word initiation."
But in the 28th Article we find the same word used in a double
sense, of both "initiation" and "affiliation." It prescribes that "no person
shall be accepted a Free Mason nor shall be admitted into any lodge or
assembly until he hath brought a certificate of the time of acception from the
lodge that accepted him unto the Master of that Limit and Division where such
lodge was kept which said Master shall enroll the same in parchment in a roll
to be kept for that purpose to give an account of all such acceptions at every
There is a very large and interesting amount of knowledge of the
character of the Masonic organization and of its usages in the 17th century to
be derived from this article, if understandingly interpreted.
No one was to be accepted a Freemason, that is, admitted into the
fellowship or made free of the Guild or Company, or, as we would say in modern
phrase, "affiliated," in contradistinction to a "cowan" or "rough layer," one
who was not permitted to work or mingle with the Freemasons, unless he had
brought to the Master of the limit or division in which a certain lodge was
situated a certificate that he had been accepted (the word here signifying
initiated or admitted by some ceremony into the craft) in that lodge.
The Master of that division or limit must have been possessed of
an authority or jurisdiction over several lodges, something like the
Provincial Grand Masters in England or the District Deputy Grand Masters in
the United States.
This Master kept a list of the Masons thus made whose making had
been certified to him and made a return of the same to the General Assembly at
the annual meeting.
This is much the same as is done at the present day, when the
lodges make a return to the Grand Lodge at its annual communication of the
number and names of the candidates that have been initiated by it during the
So there were two kinds of acceptation.
The acceptation into the lodge, which was also called "making a
Mason," and the acceptation afterward into the full fellowship of the Society
or Company, which was to be done only on the production of a certificate of
the time and place when the first acceptance or initiation occurred.
We find an analogous case in the modern usage.
A man is first initiated in a lodge, and then he is made a member
The one usually follows the other, but not necessarily.
A candidate may be initiated in a lodge and yet not claim or
receive membership in it Such cases sometimes occur.
The candidate has been accepted in the old sense of initialed, in
the lodge, but if he goes away and desires to be accepted into the full
fellowship of the fraternity, which act in modern language is called
"affiliation," by uniting with another lodge, he can not be so accepted or
affiliated into its fellowship unless he brings a certificate of his previous
acceptation or initiation in the lodge in which he was made.
There is an apparent confusion in the double sense in which the
word acceptation or acception is used, which can only be removed by this
interpretation, which explains the two kinds of acceptance referred to in the
This will hereafter be applied to an explanation of some
interesting Masonic circumstances that occurred in the life of the celebrated
antiquary Elias Ashmole.
One more point, however, in this important article must be first
It is prescribed that when a Mason is to be made or accepted, it
must be in a lodge of at least five Free Masons, one of whom must be a Master
or Warden, of the limit or division where the said lodge shall be kept.
Masters and Wardens were therefore ranks (it does not follow that
they were degrees) in whom alone was invested the prerogative of presiding at
the making of Masons.
It was not necessary that he should be the Master or Warden of the
lodge where the initiation or acceptation was made.
The lodge might, indeed, be a mere extemporary affair, consisting
of five Free Masons called together for the especial purpose of accepting a
new brother of the craft.
But it was essential that a Free Mason, not a stranger brought
from some other section of the country, but one residing or working in the
vicinity, and who was not a mere Fellow, but who had reached the rank of a
Master or a Warden, should be present and, of course, preside at the meeting.
Preston confirms this in a note in his Illustrations of Masonry,
where he says:
"A sufficient number of Masons met together within a certain
district, with the consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate of the place,
were empowered, at this time, to make masons and practice the rites of Masonry
without warrant of Constitution." 
The consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate which Preston
supposes to be necessary to the making of a Mason is not required by the
Harleian or any subsequent regulations which represent the Constitutions of
the Masons' Company.
The Halliwell poem and the
 Preston, "Illustrations," Oliver's edition, p. 182, note.
MS., which closely follow it, do say that the sheriff of the county, the mayor
of the city, and many knights and nobles are to be at the General Assembly.
But I have endeavored to show that the Halliwell statutes belonged
to a different organization of the craft.
Another expression in this 28th Harleian regulation elucidates an
important point in the organization of the Masonic sodality at that time.
Of the five Free‑Masons who were required to be present at the
acceptance of a candidate, one was to be a Master and Warden "and another of
the trade of Free Masonry." Hence it follows that the other three might be
non‑Masons, or persons not belonging to the craft.
This is the very best legal evidence that we could have that in
the middle of the 17th century non‑professional persons were admitted as
honorary members into the fraternity.
The Speculative element, as we now have it, was of course not yet
introduced, but the craft did not consist exclusively of working Masons.
These explanations will enable us to understand the often ‑ quoted
passages from the Diary of Elias Ashmole, which without them would seem to
bear contradictory meanings.
Mr. Ashmole says, under the date of October 16, 1646, at half past
four in the afternoon:
"I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire with Colonel
Henry Mainwaring of Karticham in Cheshire, the names, of those that then were
at the lodge, Mr. Richard Penket Warden, Mr. James Collier, Mr. Richard Sankey,
Henry Littler, John Ellam and Hugh Brewer."
The circumstances of the ceremony here detailed are strictly in
accord with the regulations which were then in force and which were not long
afterward incorporated in the Constitutions as these are preserved in the
That manuscript says that at the acceptance of a Free‑Mason there
shall be "a Lodge of five Free Masons." The Landsdowne MS. says there should
be "at least six or seven." The "new regulations" in the Harleian MS. reduced
the number to five, which is the exact quorum required at the present day in
Speculative Masonry for the admission of a Fellow Craft.
Of these five, one was to be a Master or Warden. And here we find
Mr. Richard Penket acting as Warden.
Another one of the five was to be "of the trade of Free Masonry."
We know what respect was in those days paid to the distinction of ranks, so
that the titles of Esquire and Gentleman were carefully observed, the former
having the magic letters "Esq." affixed and the latter the letters "Mr."
prefixed to his name, while the yeoman, merchant, or tradesman was entitled to
neither, but was designated only by his simple name.
"He who can live without manual labor," says an old heraldic
authority,  "or can support himself as a gentleman without interfering in
any mechanic employment, is called Mr. and may write himself Gentleman."
As Ashmole was a distinguished herald and careful in observing the
rules of precedency, we may safely conclude that "Mr. James Collier" and "Mr.
Richard Sankey" were gentlemen and not professional Masons, while plain "Henry
Littler, John Ellam and Hugh Brewer," who are recorded without the honorable
prefix,, were only workmen "of the trade of Free Masonry."
So far Ashmole had only been made a Free‑Mason; that is, been
received as a member of the Craft.
According to the regulations another step was necessary before he
could be accepted into the freedom and fellowship of the Company.
"No person shall hereafter be accepted a Free Mason," says the.
New Articles, "until he hath brought a certificate of the time of
his acceptance from the lodge that accepted him;" and further, that "every
person who is now a Free Mason shall bring to the Master a note of his
acception, to the end the same may be enrolled in such priority of place as
the person shall deserve and to the end the whole Company and Fellows may the
better know each other."
And here is the way in which Ashmole obeyed this regulation, which
was then in full force.
He writes in his Diary, under the date of March 10, 1682, about
five o'clock in the afternoon, as follows:
"I received a summons to appear at a lodge to be held the next day
at Masons Hall in London."
On the next day, or March 11th, he writes as follows:
"Accordingly I went and about noon was admitted into the
fellowship of Free‑Masons by Sir William Wilson, Knight, Captain. Richard
Borthwick, Mr. William Wodman, Mr. William Grey Mr. Samuel Taylor and Mr.
 "Laws of Honour," P. 286.
"I was the senior fellow among them (it being thirty‑five years
since I was admitted) there was present besides myself the fellows afternamed.
Mr. Thomas Wise, Master of the Masons‑company this present year; Mr.
Thomas Shorthose, Mr. Thomas Shadbolt, ‑ Waidsfford, Esq. Mr. Nicholas Young,
Mr. John Shorthose, Mr. William Hamon, Mr. John Thompson, and Mr. William
"We all dined at the Half‑Moon Tavern in Cheapside, at a noble
dinner prepared at the charge of the new‑accepted Masons."
To many who have read these two extracts from Ashmole's Diary, the
eminent antiquary has appeared to involve himself in a contradiction by first
stating that he was made a Mason at Warrington in the year 1646, and aaerward
that he was admitted into the fellowship of Free Masons in 1682.
But there is really no contradiction in these statements.
The New Articles in the Harleian MS. afford the true explanation,
which is entirely satisfactory.
In 1646, while Ashmole was on a visit to Lancashire, he was
induced to become a Free Mason; that is, as a non‑professional member to unite
himself with the Craft.
This had been frequently done before by other distinguished men,
and the regulations, which are not necessarily of the date of the manuscript,
had provided for the admission or initiation of persons who were not workmen
or professional Masons.
A lodge for the purpose had been called at Warrington.
Whether this was a permanent lodge that was there existing or
whether it was only a temporary one called together and presided over by a
Warden of that district is immaterial.
The passage in the Diary throws no light on the question.
It was, however, most probably a temporary lodge, called together
by Warden Penket for the sole purpose of admitting Ashmole and Mainwaring, or
making them Free Masons.
The regulations authorized this act.
The only restrictions were that there should be five Free Masons
present, one of whom was to be a Master or Warden and another a workman of the
Craft or Operative Mason.
All these restrictions were duly observed in the admission of
Ashmole and his companion.
But this act, though it made him a Free Mason, did not admit him
to a full fellowship in the Society.
To accomplish this another step was necessary.
As persons were often made in temporary or occasional lodge, which
were dissolvect after they had performed the act of admitting new‑comers, for
which sole purpose they had been organized, it was necessary that the person
so admitted should present a certificate of the time when and the place where
he had been admitted or accepted, to some superior officer, who is called in
the regulations "the Master of that limit and division where such lodge was
kept;" and who was probably the Master Mason who presided over the Craft, who
lived and worked in that section of the kingdom, or perhaps also the Master of
the permanent lodge, composed of all the Craft in that division which
assembled at stated periods.
This permanent lodge, to which all the Craft repaired, might have
been called an "Assembly." If so that would account for the frequent use of
the word "Assembly" in all the old manuscripts, to which every Mason was
required to repair on due notice if it was within five or ten, or, as some
say, within fifty miles of him.
And this surmise will also explain the meaning of the regulation
which says that no one, unless he produced a certificate of his previous
acception, could be "admitted into any lodge or assembly," where the words
"Lodge" and "Assembly" would seem to indicate two different kinds of Masonic
congregation, the former referring to the lodges tenmporarily organized for
special purposes, and the latter to the regular assemblage of Masons in a
permanent body upon stated occasions and for the transaction of the general
business of the Craft there congregated, and to which body the certificates
were to be presented of those who had been accepted or initiated in the
But Ashmole did not at the time, or at any time soon after,
present such a certificate to the Master of that limit in Lancashire that he
had been made a Free Mason in a lodge at Warrington on October 16, 1646.
If he had done so we may be sure that he would have mentioned the
fact in his Diary, which is so excessively minute in its details as to
frequently make a record of matters absurdly unimportant.
Accordingly, though a Free Mason by virtue of his acceptance or
making at Warrington, he was not admitted to the fellowship of the Craft, he
was not "free of the Company," was not entitled to an entrance into any of its
lodges or assemblies, nor could he take part in any of the proceedings of the
He was a regularly made Free Mason, and that was all; he was in
fact very much in the isolated position of those who are called "unaffiliated
Masons" in the present day.
He had received initiation but had not applied for membership.
Thirty‑five years afterward Ashmole did what he had neglected to
do before and perfected his relationship to the Craft.
On March 11, 1682, he attended the meeting of a lodge held in
Masons' Hall the place of meeting of the Masons' Company.
The lodge was thus held under the sanction of that Company.
Mr. William Wise, the Master of the Company, was present, but is
not spoken of as one of the members of the lodge.
The lodge consisted of Sir William Wilson and six others.
As Wilson is mentioned first, we may presume that he was the
By these seven Ashmole and some others (who it seems paid the scot
for a dinner eaten on the occasion) were "admitted into the fellowship of Free
In 1646 he was made a Free Mason; in 1682 he was admitted to the
fellowship of the Society.
Thenceforth be became not only a Free Mason but an Accepted Mason;
he was, in other words, by the ceremony performed at Masons' Hall, a "Free and
Accepted Mason," and his name was enrolled in the parchment roll "kept for
that purpose," that he and the company might "the better know each other."
The account of the acceptance of Elias Ashmole, recorded by
himself and therefore of the most undoubted authenticity, when thus
interpreted, supplies us with nearly all the details which are necessary to
understand the usages of the Craft in respect to initiations and admissions in
the 17th century.
They will be more fully analyzed at the close of the present
But it will be necessary first to refer to another authority of
great importance on the same subject.
Robert Plott, who was the keeper of the Museum presented by Elias
Ashmole to the University of Oxford, wrote, and in 1686 published, The Natural
History of Staffordshire, in which work he gives an account of the Masonic
customs prevailing at that time in the country.
Plott was not a Free Mason.
"The evidence of Dr. Plott is extremely valuable," says Oliver,
"because it shows the existence of Lodges of Masons in Staffordshire and the
practice of certain ceremonies of initiation in the 17th century in accordance
with the regulations laid down in the manuscript Constitution whose
authenticity is thus confirmed."
Dr. Plott says that they had in Staffordshire a custom "of
admitting men into the Society of Free Masons, that in the moorlands of this
country seems to be of greater request than anywhere else, though I find the
custom spread more or less all over the nation, for here I found persons of
the most eminent quality, that did not disdain to be of this fellowship."
then proceeds to relate and unfavorably to criticise the Legend of the Craft,
which it is not necessary to quote.
He afterward continues his account of the customs of the Masonic
Society, in the following words:
"Into which Society, when they are admitted, they call a meeting
(or Lodg, as they term it in some places), which must consist at least, of
five or six of the Ancients of the Order, whom the candidates 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 signs, whereby they are known
to one another all over the nation, by which means they have maintainance
whither ever they travel; for if any man appear, though altogether unknown,
that can show any of these signs to a fellow of the society, whom they
othervise call an Accepted Mason, he is obliged, presently to come to him,
from what company or place soever he be in; nay, though from the top of a
steeple, what hazard or inconvenience soever he run, to know his pleasure and
assist him; viz., if he want work he is bound to find him some; or if he can
not do that to give him money or otherwise support him till work can be had,
which is one of their articles; and it is another that they advise the Masters
they work for, according to the best of their skill acquainting them with the
goodness or badness of their materials; and if they be anyway out in the
contrivance of the buildings, modestly to rectify them in it, that Masonry be
not dishonoured; and many such like that are commonly known; but some others
they have (to which they are sworn after their fashion) that none know but
There is another document of far more importance than those which
have been cited, and which gives a more complete description of the usages of
the Craft in the 17th century.
I refer to the old record which has been designated as the Sloane
MS. NO. 3329.
 Plott, "Natural History of Staffordshire," chap. viii., p.
Of the three copies of the Constitutions which are preserved in
the British Museum and known as the Sloane MS. the one numbered 3329 is by far
the most valuable and interesting.
A part of it was inserted by Mr. Findel in the Appendix to his
History of Freemasonry.
But the complete text was published by Bro. Hughan in the Voice of
Masonry for October, 1872, and in the National Freemason for April, 1873.
There has been some doubt about the exact date of the manuscript.
Hughan thinks it was written between 1640 and 1700.
Messrs. Bond and Sims, of the British Museum, experts in old
manuscripts, suppose that its date is "probably of the beginning of the 18th
Woodford mentions a great authority in manuscripts, but he does
not give the name, who declares it to be previous to the middle of the 17th
Finally, Findel thinks it originated at the end of the 17th
century, and that "it was found among the papers which Dr. Plott left behind
him on his death, and was one of the sources whence his communications on
Freemasonry were derived."
But if Plott used this manuscript in writing his article on
Freemasonry, of which there is certainly very strong internal evidence, then
the date of the manuscipt could not have been later than 1685, for he
published his book in 1686, and it was most probably written some time before.
We are safe then, I think, in assuming the middle of the 17th
century as the approximate date of the Sloane MS.
It differs from all the other manuscripts in containing neither
the Ordinances nor the Legend of the Craft.
It is simply a description of the Ritual of the Society of
Operative Masons as practiced at the period when it was written, namely, as is
conjectured, about the middle of the 17th century.
From all these important documents ‑ the Harleian Constitutions,
the Diary of Ashmole, the narrative of Dr. Plott, and the Sloane MS. ‑
collated with each other and confirming each other, we are enabled to form a
very accurate notion of wilat were the usages of the Craft in the 17th
century, and approximately in the 10th and 15th centuries.
A careful analysis will lead to the following results:
There was an incorporated Company of Masons, just as there were
incorporated companies of other trades and crafts, such as the Mercers, the
Drapers, the Carpenters, the Smiths, etc.
As this Company had been originally chartered in 1410, it must
have exercised its influence over the Craft from that carly period, and the
early manuscript Constitutions were doubtless copies of its Guild Book of Laws
and Records; but it is not mentioned by name in any of the manuscripts
anterior to the middle of the 17th century.
There is a frequent allusion to lodges as the place where Masters
and Fellows worked, and there are references to an Assembly, which, from the
language used, must have been a congregation of several Masters and Fellows.
But there is no express recognition of the Company in any
manuscript before the Harleian.
From that time forth the Masons' Company seems to have constituted
the head of the Craft in a certain district.
There were several of these companies in different cities but the
principal one was that at London.
However or wherever a person was admitted as a Free Mason, he
could only be considered as "Accepted" when he had reported the fact to some
superior authority in the district where he had been made, whereupon his name
was enrolled in a parchment book or roll.
There were, besides these companies, lodges in various parts of
Some of these lodges, at least toward the close of the century,
were permanent bodies.
But many were merely extemporaneously organized for the purpose of
initiating a candidate, who was afterward reported to the Master of the limit
or division in which the lodge had been held.
There was some ceremony, though a very brief one, at the time of
admitting a newly made brother.
There were secret signs and words, and an oath of secrecy and
fidelity, but there are no documents extant to enable us to determine the
nature of the ceremony of initiation.
We have no evidence of the existence of any degrees of initiation.
Indeed, Masonic scholars have now come very generally to the
conclusion that what are called in the modern rituals the First, Second, and
Third Degrees were the later invention of the Speculative Free Masons of the
But this subject will hereafter be discussed at length in a
chapter exclusively devoted to its consideration.
On the whole it will be readily seen that the sodalities of the
Operative Masons of the 17th and preceding centuries were the germ which
afterward was developed in the 18th century into the full fruit of Speculative
The Harleian Constitutions present us with the basis of the laws
which still govern the institution, the Diary which details Ashmole's
reception and Plott's narrative prove that many usages of the present day were
in exitence at that period, and from the Sloane MS. we learn that certain
points of esoteric instruction which prevailed in the 17th century have been
incorporated, with necessary modifications of course, into the modern rituals.
By comparing the Sloane document with the rituals that were
published soon after the Revival, in 1717, and these again with those of the
present day, we will be able to see how the later and perfected system has
been gradually developed out of the primitive one of the middle of the 17th
century, and we will be justified in believing that the same system was in
existence at a much earlier period.
Not only, then, is there no difficulty in tracing the connection
between the lodges of Operative Masons which were existing before the year
1717 with those of the non‑operative Free Masons who, in that year,
established the Grand Lodge of England, but it is absolutely impossible to
exclude from our minds the conviction that there has been a regular and
distinct progression by which the one became merged in the other.
We have now arrived at that period in the history of English
Freemasonry which brings us into direct contact with the events that
immediately preceded and accompanied the organization of the Grand Lodge of
England, or as it has been also called, the Revival of Masonry, in 1717.
But before that subject can be discussed it will be necessary for
us to return, in our historical inquiries, to the events connected with the
transmission of Masonry in the sister kingdom of Scotland and afterward on the
Continent of Europe, and more especially to the Traveling Freemasons, who came
from Lombardy in the 10th century, and to the later organization of the
Stonemasons of Germany, interesting and prolific subjects which will require
several chapters for their treatment.
EARLY MASONRY IN SCOTLAND
WHAT the tradition of York is to the Freemasons of England, that
of Kilwinning is to the Masons of Scotland.
The story which traces the birth of the Order to the celebrated
Abbey of Kilwinning was for many years accepted as the authentic history of
Thus Sir John Sinclair, in his Stalistical Account of Scotland,
states that "a number of Freemasons came from the continent to build a
monastery at Kilwinning and with them an architect or Master Mason to
superintend and carry on the work.
This architect resided at Kilwinning, and being a gude and true
Mason, intimately acquainted with all the arts and parts of Masonry, known on
the continent, was chosen Master of the meetings of the brethren all over
He gave rules for the conduct of the brethren at these meetings,
and decided finally in appeals from all the other meetings or lodges in
This tradition has been accepted by the author of Laurie's
History, who says that "Freemasonry was introduced into Scotland by those
architects who built the Abbey of Kilwinning."  He connects those
architects with the trading association of artists who were engaged in the
construction of religious buildings on the Continent, under the patronage of
the Pope, and who provided builders for both England and Scotland.
And he suggests as an evidence that Masonry was introduced into
Scotland by these foreign workmen the fact that in a town in Scotland where
there is an elegant abbey, he had "often heard that it was erected by a
company of industrious men who spoke in a foreign langiiage and lived
separately from the town's people."
 Vol. xi., art. "Kilwinning."
 "History of Freemasonry" p. 89.
The Abbey of Kilwinning, which has been claimed as the birthplace
of Masonry in Scotland, was situated in the town of the same name, and in the
county of Ayr, on the southwestern coast of Scotland.
It was founded by Hugh de Morville, High Constable of Scotland, in
the year 1157. The abbey is now and bas long been in ruins, though what now
remains of it attests, says Mr. Robert Wylie, who has written a History of the
Mother Lodge, Kilwinning, "the zeal and opulence of its founder, and furnishes
indubitable evidence, fragmentary as it is, of its having been one of the most
splendid examples of Gothic art in Scotland."
It is only very recently that anyone has attempted to deny the
authenticity of the Legend which traces the introduction of Freemasonry into
Scotland to the workmen who came over in the 12th century to construct the
Abbey of Kilwinning.
Bro. D. Murray Lyon has attacked the tradition, together with some
others connected with Scottish Masonry, all of which he deems destitute of
The tradition, however, like that of York among the English
Masons, has not wanted its zealous supporters among the Scottish brethren, and
more especially among the members of the Kilwinning, which claims to have a
legitimate descent from the primitive lodge which was established in the 12th
century by the foreign architect who settled in the town of Kilwinning.
It has, however, been attempted to trace the introduction of the
Order into Scotland to a much earlier period, and one writer, cited by Wylie
with apparent approval says that Scotland can boast of many noble remains of
the ancient Roman buildings which plainly evince that the Romans when they
entered the country brought along with them some of their best designers and
operative masons, who were employed in rearing those noble fabrics of which we
can at this day trace the remains.
And it is asserted that these Roman builders communicated to the
natives and left behind them a predilection for and a knowledge of Masonry
which have descended from them to the present generation. 
It is very probable that more is here claimed than can be
authenticated by history. The influences exerted upon English architecture by
the Roman colleges of Masons is very patent, as has
 Wylie, "History of the Mother Lodge, Kilwinning," P. 47.
The Romans had been enabled to make for centuries a home in
England, had introduced into it their arts of civilization, and made it in
every respect a Roman colony.
But Scotland had never been completely subjugated by the Roman
arms; the incursions of the legions were altogether of a predatory nature, nor
are there many evidences from Roman remains that the Roman artists had been
enabled to make, or had even attempted to make, the same impression on the
warlike Scots and Picts that they had been enabled to produce in the more
docile and more easily civilized inhabitants of the southern part of the
The theory which assigns the introduction of Freemasonry into
Scotland to the workmen who came over from England or from the Continent in
the 12th century, and erected the religious buildings at Kilwinning, Melrose,
Glasgow, and other places, is a much more plausible one.
The bodies of Traveling Freemasons were at that time in existence,
and we know that they were perambulating the Continent and erecting
ecclesiastical edifices; we know too that it that period there were
corporations or guilds of Masons in England; and it is a very fair deduction
from historical reasoning, though there be no historical records to confirm
it, that the churches and abbeys which were erected in Scotland in the 12th
and 13th centuries must have been the work of Freemasons who came partly from
England and partly from the Continent.
Bro. D. Murray Lyon, the Historian of the Lodge of Edinburgh, has
said that "not the slightest vestige of authentic evidence has ever been
adduced in support of the legends in regard to the time and place of the
institution of the first Scotch Masonic Lodge."  This is, however, a merely
local question affecting the claims to precedency on the roll of the Grand
Lodge, and must not be mixed up with the question of the introduction of the
Freemasons into Scotland as an organized society of builders.
I can not consider it as quite aprocryphal to assign this to the
time when religious establishments were patronized by King David I., which was
toward the close of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century.
The Mother Kilwinning Lodge, at Kilwinning, the St. Mary's Chapel
Lodge, at Edinburgh, and the Freemen St. John's, at Glasgow, have each
preferred the claim that it is the oldest lodge in
 "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 2.
Scotland. Each has its proofs and each has its adherents, and the controversy
has at times waxed warm among the Scottish Masons.
Yet, as I have already said, it is, as a matter of general
history, of but little importance.
We have seen that we are almost compelled to suppose that the
institution of Masonry was introduced into Scotland by the builders who were
encraged in the erection of religious houses from the 11th to the 13th
We can not get over the belief that these builders formed a part
of the fraternity which already existed in the Continent of Europe and in
England, and who were then engaged in the same occupation of constructing
cathedrals and monasteries.
Knowing from other evidence what was the usage of these Traveling
Freemasons, and that wherever they were engaged in the labors of their Craft
they established lodges, we are again forced to the belief that in Scotland
they followed the usages they had adopted elsewhere, and erected their lodges
Doubtless there is no authentic evidence that the modern lodges at
Glasgow, at Kilwinning, and at Edinburgh were the legitimate and uninterrupted
successors of those which were established by the Masons who were engaged in
the construction of the Cathedral, the Abbey, and Holyrood; indeed it is very
probable that they are not.
Nor is there any historical material which will enable us to
determine which of these primitive lodges was first established by the
The probability is, as Bro. Lyon has suggested, that the erection
of the earliest Scottish lodges was a nearlv simultaneous occurrence, as
wherever a body of mediveval Masons were employed there also were the elements
to constitute a lodge. 
The facts, therefore, would appear to be that lodges must have
existed in Scotland from the time when those edifices were being erected, and
that the Freemasons who came over from the Continent to erect those edifices
brought with them the Freemasonry of the Continent.
We can not indeed prove these facts by historical records of
undoubted authenticity, but we can advance no reason for denying or doubting
Ascribing the first introduction of Freemasonry into Scotland
 "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 242.
continental Masons, we have some evidence that at a later period there was a
considerable influence exercised by England on Scottish Masonry.
This is apparent from the fact that the Constitutions used in the
Kilwinning Lodge, and in others established by it in the middle of the 17th
century, and known as the "Edinburgh Kilwinning MS.," is a nearly exact copy
of an English manuscript, and contains a charge to be "liegemen to the King of
England, without treason or other falsehood."
This manuscript, which was kept in the archives of the Kilwinning
Lodge, and known, says Lyon, as "the old buck," was frequently copied, and the
copies sold by the Lodge of Kilwinning to those lodges which had received
charters from it.
The fact that these Constitutions require allegiance to the King
of England, that the legend which refers to the introduction of Masonry into
Scotland and in subsequent expansion, dwells on the patronage extended to the
Craft by the English Kings, and finally that the narrative contains no
allusion to the Kilwinning or another Scottish legend, induce Brothers Hughan
and Lyon to come to the conclusion that the manuscript was brought from
England into Scotland, and that its adoption by the Kilwinning Lodge, and by
those which were chartered by it, proves that the Masonry of England exercised
in the middle of the 17th century a very great influence over that of
Scotland, an influence which, as it will be seen, was still further exerted in
after times in assimilating the rituals and ceremonial usages of the two
This English influence on Scotch lodges at so early a period is a
fact of great importance in the history of Masonry.
From it is to be presumed that there was a great intimacy and
frequent communication between the Freemasons of the two countries.
It is to be presumed also that there was a great similarity ‑
indeed, in many respects, an identity ‑ of usages in Scotland and England.
Therefore we may with great safety apply what we know of the
Masonry of one country to that of another, where we have no other knowledge
but that which is derived from such a collation.
Now, it is a well‑known fact that while the literature of English
Masonry is exceedingly deficient in any authentic records of lodges which
existed anterior to the Revival of 1717, the Scottish lodges have preserved
original minutes or records of their proceedings as far back as the end of the
Lyon, in his History of the Lodge of Edinburgh, has torn away,
with an unsparing and relentless hand, the meretricious garments which the
imaginations of Anderson and Brewster (Lawrie's edition) had cast around the
statute of Scottish Masonic history.
It will not be safe in writing such a history to lose sight of the
incisive criticism of Lyon and trust to the deceptive and fallacious authority
of earlier historians.
At the beginning of the 12th century, Masons had been imported
into Scotland from Strasburg, in Germany, for the purpose of building Holyrood
House; in the middle of the same century other Masons were engaged in erecting
From these epochs historians have been wont to date the origin of
We have no documents referring to that early period, but we know
that King David I., who then reigned, was what Anderson would call a "great
patron of Masonry," and that he nearly beggared the kingdom by the prodigality
with which he invested its resources in the construction of religious
But it is not until we reach the commencement of the 15th century
that we begin to find any records which seem to indicate the existence of a
craft or guild like that which we know at the same time existed in England.
It is not asserted here that there were no lodges or guild
meetings in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. Judging from the condition of
things in England at that time, we may conclude that guilds or lodges of
Masons were in existence also in Scotland, but we have no documentary evidence
of any authentic value to sustain the supposition.
The first period in which Freemasonry in Scotland begins to assume
an historic form is the beginning of the 15th century.
James I. had been confined as prisoner in England from the year
1406 to 1424.
During those eighteen years of his enforced absence, the kingdom
had been greatly harassed by the contentions of what were called "leagues" or
"bands" among the craftsmen of the different trades, including the Masons, and
which might be compared to the modern trades‑unions and strikes.
When James I. returned to Scotland, in 1424, he at once began to
reform the abuses which had resulted from these illegal confederacies.
He suppressed the "leagues," and instituted the office of "Deacon"
or "Master‑man," as a method of preserving the community from the frauds of
For this purpose the "Deacons" were authorized, by act of
Parliament, to regulate the works of all the crafts, to establish the rate of
wages, and to punish any who should transgress the law.
But these powers having been found to be in many instances
oppressive to the people and an encroachment on the prerogatives of the
municipal authorities, were, after a year's trial, abrogated, and a new class
of officials was instituted, called "Wardens," one of whom was selected from
These Wardens were not the representatives of the crafts, but had
a greater affinity with the town‑councils of each burgh, whose prerogatives in
regulating work and wages they exercised.
Now the Masons who originally came to Scotland in the 12th century
from the Continent and from England had enjoyed the privilege from the Pope of
regulating their own concerns and prescribing their own wages.
This privilege they must of course have communicated to their
successors in Scotland, and it was there apparently exercised, up to and
including the time of the institution of Deacons, under whom the trade and
craft unions exercised the same prerogative.
But when the Deaconship was abolished, and Wardens established as
representatives of the municipal authorities, this right of regulating their
own concerns was taken from the craft.
To this there was naturally resistance, and Lyon tells us that
"the Deacons continued holding meetings of their respective crafts, for the
purpose doubtless of keeping alive the embers of discontent at their degraded
portion and organizing the means for carrying on the struggle, not only to
regain independence of action in trade affairs but also to acquire a political
status in the country." 
There is nothing in the history of the reigns of the two
succeeding kings, James II. and III., that connects them with the Masonic
None of the acts of the Scottish Parliament, during these two
reigns, has any special reference to the Craft of Masons.
James III is said indeed to have had "a passionate attachment for
magnificent buildings." Beyond this, says Lyon, "his name can not in any
special degree be associated with Masons." But in truth, though documentary
evidence of particular facts may be wanting, this attachment to magnificent
edifices must have led the monarch
 "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 3.
have bestowed his patronage upon that fraternity whose duty it was to erect
Brewster (Lawrie's edition) has sought to give an importance to
the reign of James II., by the statement that that monarch had invested the
Earl of Orkney and Caithness with the dignity of "Grand Master" of the Masons
of Scotland, and subsequently made the office hereditary in his heirs and
successors in the barony of Roslin.
This statement, long accepted by Masonic writers and by all the
Masons of Scotland as a veritable fact, has been proved by more recent
researches to be wholly unsupported by historic evidence and even to be
contradicted by those authentic documents which are known as the "St. Clair
There are two Charters bearing this name, which were once the
property of Mr. Alexander Deuchar, and were purchased at the sale of his
library by Dr. David Laing of the Signet Library, and exchanged by him for
other documents with Professor Aytoun of the University of Edinburgh, who
presented them to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, in whose archives they are
The manuscipts have been carefully examined, and their
authenticity is without doubt.
The date of the first of these Manuscripts is not given, but from
internal and other evidence it seems presumable that it was written between
the years 1600 and 1601.
It is signed by William Schaw as "Master of Work" and by several
Masons of Edinburgh and various towns in Scotland.
It is unnecessary to give the text of the manuscript, as it has
been printed by Lawrie, by Lyon, and by some others, but its substance may be
cited as follows:
It begins by stating that the Lords of Roslin have from "age to
age" been patrons and protectors of the Masons of Scotland and of their
privileges, and as such have been obeyed and acknowledged.
That within a few years past this position has from sloth and
negligence been allowed to go out of use, whereby the Lord of Roslin has been
lying out of his just rights and the Craft been destitute of a patron and
protector, and other evils have arisen; wherefore it goes on to say that, not
being able to wait on the tedious and expensive courses of the ordinary
courts, the signers, in behalf of all the Craft and with their consent, agree
that William Sinclair of Roslin and his heirs shall obtain at the hands of the
King liberty, freedom, and jurisdiction upon them and their successors, in all
times to come, so that he shall be acknowledged by the Craft as their patron
and judge under the King.
The second charter, which purports to be issued by the Deacons,
Masters, and Freemen of the Masons and Hammermen of Scotland, is supposed by
Lyon, with good reason, to have been written in the year 1628.
This document is confirmatory of the other, making the same
statement of the recogniion of the Sinclairs of Roslin as patrons and
protectors of the Scottish Craft, but adding an additional fact, which will
hereafter be referred to.
Upon this authority Brewster has said, in Lawrie's History, that
King James II. had granted to William St. Clair, Earl of Orkney and Caithness,
Baron of Roslin, the office of Grand Master, and made it hereditary to his
heirs and successors in the barony of Roslin; and he adds that "the Barons of
Roslyn, as hereditary Grand Masters of Scotland, held their principal annual
meetings at Kilwinning."
Anderson had previously asserted that James I. had instituted the
office of Grand Master, who was to be chosen by the Grand Lodge, and this, he
says, "is the tradition of the old Scottish Masons and found in their
The language of Anderson shows that he was not acquainted with the
St. Clair Charters, as they are called, because if he had seen them it is not
likely that he would have omitted to take notice of the important point of
But the authority of Anderson as an authentic historian is of so
little value that we need not discuss the question whether any such tradition
The statement made in Lawrie's History is, however, professedly
based on the authority of the St. Clair Charters.
This statement has been impugned by James Maidment in his
Genealogie of the Saint Clairs of Rosslyn, by Lyon in his History of the Lodge
of Edinburgh, and by several other writers.
As the statement made in Lawrie's work depends for its verity or
its fallacy on the question whether these charters have been faithfully
interpreted or not, it will be necessary in making the issue to investigate
more particularly the express language which is used in these documents.
The words of the first charter, literally translated from the
Scottish dialect of the original, are as follows:
"We, Deacons, Masters, and Freemen of the Masons within the realm
of Scotland, with express consent and assent of William Schaw, Master of Work
to our Sovereign Lord, forasmuch as from age to age it has been observed among
us that the Lords of Roslin have ever been patrons and protectors of us and
our privileges, likewise our predecessors have obeyed and acknowledged them as
patrons and protectors, while through negligence and sloth the same has past
out of use. . . . We, for ourselves and in the name of all our brethren and
craftsmen, consent to the aforesaid agreement and consent that William St.
Clair, now of Roslin, for himself and his heirs, shall purchase and obtain, at
the hands of our Sovereign Lord, liberty, freedom, and jurisdiction upon us
and our successors, in all times coming, as patrons and judges to us and all
the professors of our craft within this realm, . . . so that hereafter we may
acknowledge him and his heirs as our patron and judge under our Sovereign
Lord, without appeal or declination from his judgment, and with power to the
said William to deputize one or more judges under him, and to use such ample
and large jurisdiction upon us and our successors, in town and in country, as
it shall please our Sovereign Lord to grant to him and his heirs."
The second charter is but a repetition of the statements of the
first, with a few additional details which make it a longer document. It
approves and confirms the former "letter of jurisdiction and liberty made and
subscribed by our brethren and his highness, formerly Master of Work for
the time to the said William St. Clair of Roslin."
There is, however, one statement not to be found in the first
charter, and which is of much importance.
It is stated that the St. Clairs of Roslin had letters of
protection and of other rights which were "granted to them by his majesty's
most noble progenitors of worthy memory, which, with sundry others of the Lord
of Roslin's writings, were consumed and burnt in a flame of fire within the
castle of Roslin in the year .”
Mr. Lyon objects to the opinion that Schaw was an Operative Mason and thinks
that he was of higher social position and merely an honorary member of the
If there were no other evidence to sustain Bro. Lyon in this view,
the fact that the appellation of "highness," as here applied to him, would be
sufficient to prove its accuracy.
The last two words are "in an," evidently meaning "in anno," but
being at the end of the line, the two last letters with the date have been
apparently torn or worn off from the manuscript.
We can from this only gather the fact that there was a tradition
among the Scottish Masons that some one of the Kings of Scotland, previous to
James VI., in whose reign the manuscript was undoubtedly written, had by
letters patent granted to the Lords of Roslin the patronage and protection of
the Craft in Scotland.
Now, it is very evident that Brewster had no authority from these
charters to make the statement that James II. had appointed the Barons of
Roslin hereditary Grand Masters of Scotland.
There is not the remotest allusion in either of these documents to
the use of such a title.
One of William Schaw's titles was "Chief Master of Masons," but
that of "Grand Master" was never recognized in Scotland until one was elected
in 1731 by the Grand Lodge of Edinburgh.
But the charters do not themselves declare that the Sinclairs of
Roslin had received any such appointment from the King.
It is true that the second charter does refer to the fact that
letters of protection had been granted by the predecessors of James VI., which
letters were burnt in a fire that took place at Roslin Castle at a time the
date of which has been lost.
On this subject it has very properly been asked why was the fact
of the burning of these papers not stated in the first charter; how is it that
there is no certain knowledge of the year when this fire took place; and how
was it that while all the other charters belonging to the house of Roslyn were
preserved these alone were consumed by this fatal fire?
When the last Roslin resigned in the year 1736 his hereditary
rights as patron, he certainly did allude to the possibility that some King of
Scotland may have granted a charter to his predecessors.
But he expressly deignates those predecessors as William St. Clair
and his son, Sir William, the very persons who are mentioned in the two
charters as deriving their rights from the Masons in the beginning of the 17th
But there is no evidence in his letter of resignation that he was
at all acquainted with any charter granted by James II. to the Earls of Orkney
and Barons of Roslin.
On the whole, I think we may explain this story of the St. Clair
Charters in the following way:
At the beginning of the 17th century there was possibly a
tradition, unsupported, however, by any historical evidence, that the St.
Clairs of Roslin had been the hereditary patrons and protectors of the Craft
of Masons in Scotland.
In the year 1601, when William Schaw was the "Chief Mason" and
"Master of the Work," the St. Clairs, if they had ever exercised their
patronage and protection, had ceased to do so.
The Masons needing at that time such a patron, designated William
St. Clair as such, and to give a greater prestige to the position, either
invented a tradition that the office had been hereditary in the family of the
St. Clairs or repeated one that already existed.
About thirty years afterward, the Masons of Scotland renewed and
confirmed the appointment of Sir William St. Clair, the son of the one who had
received the appointment in 1601.
And now, in accordance with the unhappy method of treating Masonic
documents which seems always to have prevailed whenever it was necessary to
make a point, the writers of the second charter changed the tradition which in
the first charter was to the effect that the Masons had always appointed the
St. Clairs as their patrons, and asserted that the appointment had been given
at an early period by one of the Scottish Kings.
This was a falsification of the original tradition and must be
It was, however, accepted by Sir David Brewster and bas until
recently been recognized as a part of the authentic history of Scottish
I think there can be no doubt that the St. Clairs accepted the
honorable position of patrons of Scotch Masonry which had been bestowed upon
them in 1601 and retained the office until it was finally vacated in 1736 by
William St. Clair, who resigned all claim or pretense that he had to any
hereditary right to be "patron, protector, judge or Master of the Masons in
Scotland." Upon this the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which had then been duly
formed, first adopted for their presiding officer, under the influence of the
example of the Grand Lodge of England, the title of " Grand Master" and
elected St. Clair to the office.
Looking back to the 12th century, when Kilwinning Abbey, Glasgow
Cathedral, and Holyrood and other religious houses were built by Freemasons
brought over from England and from the Continent, we are to suppose, for we
are without documentary information, that the Masons of that and the
succeeding centuries up to the end of the 16th century must have observed the
usages and customs of the English and Continental Masons.
In the reigns of James IV. and V., the statutes of Parliament show
that there were continual controversies between the Masons and the public
authorities, the former seeking to enlarge their privileges and the latter to
When Mary ascended the throne she found the Masons suffering under
an act passed during the regency which suppressed the Deaconry, and which with
previous ones that forbade their meetings in "private conventions" or framing
statutes, seemed to have deprived the Masons of almost all their prerogatives.
All these laws Queen Mary abolished, and granted letters under the
Great Seal, which restored the office of Deacon, confirmed the Craft in the
privilege of self‑government, in the observance of the customs and the
exercise of the prerogatives which they had formerly enjoyed. 
During the reign of James VI. we find a recognized connection
between the Sovereign and the Craft; the office of Warden and that of Master
of the Works, being made by the King's authority.
It is at this period that we begin to find records or minutes of
lodges and statutes well authenticated, by which we are enabled to form a
correct judgment of the condition and the customs of the Craft in Scotland at
that early period.
In this respect Scotland has the advantage of England, where we
find no authentic records of any lodge until the 18th century, while the first
minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh date back to the year 1598.
A very fair analysis of the early minutes of the Scottish lodges,
and especially of the Lodge of Edinburgh, has been given by Bro. D. Murray
Lyon in his valuable history of that Lodge.
Whoever expects to write a faithful history of Freemasonry in
Scotland must depend on that work as almost the only source of authentic
As histories of the early period the imaginative illustrations of
Anderson's, and of Lawrie's edition, are almost utterly valueless.
The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh, or St. Mary's Chapel,
extend from December 28, 1598, to November 29, 1869.
 Lyon, "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 5.
contained in six volumes, which are in an excellent state of preservation,
with comparatively very few omissions.
The first and second volumes, which include the space of one
hundred and sixty‑three years, that is, from 1598 to 1761, with a hiatus of
only thirteen years, supply an ample store of authentic materials for early
Scotch Masonic history.
The first volume contains a copy of what are called "The Schaw
Statutes," the earliest Constitutions extant of Scotch Freemasonry.
The date of this document is December 28, 1598.
They are entitled "The Statutes and Ordinances to be observed by
all the Master Masons within this realm; set down by William Schaw, Master of
Work to his Majesty and General Warden of the said Craft with the consent of
the Masters hereafter specified." 
Of these statutes, the most important for understanding the true
condition and usages of the Masonic Craft of Scotland in the 17th century are
The first point intimates that the ordinances thereafter
prescribed are but a continuation of those which had previously prevailed, but
of these no copy is in existence.
The second point requires them "to be true to one another, and to
live charitably together." This is in exact accord with the guild spirit, to
be found in all the old English Constitutions.
The third enjoins obedience "to their Wardens, Deacons, and
Masters in all things concerning their Craft."
The fourth directs them to be honest, faithful, and diligent, and
to deal uprightly with the Masters or owners of the work in whatsoever they
shall take in hand.
This is evidently a transcript from the English Constitutions.
The fifth point prescribes that no one shall take in hand any work
which he is not able duly to perform.
This is the same as the regulation in the English Constitution,
but the Schaw statutes direct the compensation that is to be made for an
infraction of the rule.
The sixth provides that no Master shall take another one's work
from him, after the latter has made a contract with the owner
quoting from these statutes, from the minutes of lodges or any other
documents, for the convenience of the English reader, the Scottish dialect of
the originals has been translated into the vernacular, but with literal
exactness. The object has been to impart the meaning, and not merely to
preserve the original phraseology.
work (who in the English Constitutions is called "the lord") under a penalty
of forty pounds.
The seventh point is that none shall finish any work begun, and
not completed by another, until the latter has received his pay for what he
The eighth point provides for the election by the Masters of every
lodge of a Warden to take charge of the lodge, whose election is to be
approved by the Warden‑General.
The ninth point directs that no Master shall take more than three
apprentices unless with the consent of the Wardens, Deacons, and Masters of
the shriffalty (district) where the apprentice dwells.
The tenth point is that no apprentice shall be taken for less than
seven years, nor shall that apprentice be made a brother and fellow of the
Craft until he has served seven years more after the expiration of his term of
apprenticeship, unless by the special license of the Wardens, Deacons, and
Masters assembled for that purpose, nor without a sufficient trial of his
worthiness, qualifications, and skill.
The eleventh point makes it unlawful for a Master to sell his
apprentice to any other Master or to dispense with the years of his
apprenticeship by selling them to the apprentice himself.
The apprentice was to fulfil the full term of his servitude with
his original Master.
By the twelfth point the Master, when he received an apprentice,
was to notify the fact to the Warden of the lodge, so that his name and the
day of hs reception might be properly enrolled in the book of the lodge.
The thirteenth point prescribed that the names of the apprentices
should be enrolled in the order of the time of their reception.
By the fourteenth point a Master or Fellow was to be received or
admitted only in the presence of six Masters and two Entered Apprentices, the
Warden of the lodge being one of the six; the time of the reception and the
name and mark of the Master or Fellow were to be enrolled in the lodge book,
together with the names of the six Masters and two apprentices who received
him and the names of the "intendars" or persons chosen to give him
Nor was he to be admitted without an "assay" or specimen of his
work and a sufficient trial of his skill and worthiness.
By the fifteenth no Master was to do any work under the charge or
command of any other craftsman.
The sixteenth strictly prohibited all work with cowans.
The seventeenth forbade an apprentice to accept any work beyond a
certain amount without the license of the Masters or Warden.
By the eighteenth all disputes were to be referred for
reconciliation to the Wardens or Deacons of the lodge.
The nineteenth provided for the careful erection of scaffolds and
footways so as to prevent any danger or injury to the workmen.
By the twentieth apprentices who had ran away from their Masters
were not to be received or employed by other Masters.
The twenty‑first commended all the craftsmen to come to the
meeting when duly warned of the time and place.
The twenty‑second point required all Masters who were summoned to
the Assembly to swear under "a great oath" not to conceal the wrongs or faults
done to each other nor to the owners of the works on which they were employed.
The twenty‑third and last point prescribed that all the fines and
penalties inflicted for a violation of these ordinances should be collected by
the Wardens, Deacons, and Masters of the lodges and distributed according to
their judgment for pious uses.
Bro. Lyon very properly suggests that this code of laws was
applicable only to Operative Masons.
This is certainly true, but so also were all the Constitutions of
the English Craft and the Ordinances of the German and French Masons.
Originally Freemasonry was an exclusively operative institution.
But out of it grew the present Speculative system, in all these countries.
To understand, then, the growth of the one out of the other, it is
necessary to examine these constitutions and the minutes of the Operative
lodges, of which lauer Scotland only supplies us with authentic mateials.
The great resemblance between the statutes of Schaw and the early
English Constitutions indicates very clearly the close connection that existed
between the two bodies of craftsmen in these countries, and leaves us in no
doubt that both derived their laws and their customs from a common source,
namely, that body of architects and builders who sprang up out of the Roman
Colleges of Artificers and in time passed over into the Traveling Freemasons
of Lombardy, who disseminated their skill and the principles of their
profession over all Europe and to its remotest islands.
Having thus traced the rise of Masonry in Scotland to the builders
who came over in the 12th century from the Continent, and perhaps from
England, to be employed in the construction of religious houses at Kilwinning,
at Glasgow, at Edinburgh, and other places, and having shown the condition of
the Craft, so far as the great dearth of materials would permit, between that
period and the year 1598, when the Schaw Statutes were enacted, we are next to
inquire into the customs and usages of the Scottish Craft in the 17th century
and until the organization of the Speculative Grand Lodge of Scotland in the
In performing a similar task in reference to the Masons of
England, we were restricted for our sources of information to the manuscript
Constitutions which could supply us only with logical deductions and
suggestions, which made our narrative more a plausible conjecture than an
But in tracing the customs and usages of the Scottish Craft in the
17th century, we are enabled to take as guides the minutes of the Operative
lodges which, unlike those of England, have been preserved from the early date
of the last years of the 16th century, and which have been collected and
published by Bro. D. Murray Lyon in his most valuable History of the Lodge of
Edinburgh, a work to which, in the following chapter, I shall almost wholly
confine myself for facts, though not always concurring in his views and
deductions. The facts are incontrovertible and authentic ‑ the deductions,
whether they be his or mine, may be erroneous, and their acceptance must be
left to the reader's judgment.
CUSTOMS OF THE SCOTTISH MASONS IN THE 17TH CENTURY
Masons of the 10th century in Scotland appear to have been divided into two
classes, the Incorporations and the Lodges.
These, although not exactly similar to the Masons' Company and the
lodges of England, may be considered as in some degree analogous.
In 1475 the Mayor and Town Council of Edinburgh chartered the
Incorporation of Masons and Wrights.
In this body two Masons and two Wrights were selected and sworn to
see that all work was properly done, to examine all new‑comers into the town
who were seeking employment, to make the necessary regulations for the
reception and govemment of apprentices, to settle disputes between the
craftsmen, to bury the dead, and generally to make laws for the two trades of
Masons and Wrights.
Incorporations were also invested in Glasgow and other cities with
the same prerogatives.
Controversies repeatedly and naturally arose between these
Incorporations and the Lodges with whose privileges and regulations they
sought to interfere.
But early in the 17th century the former ceased to exercise some
of their offensive prerogatives, and especially that of receiving and
admitting Fellows of the Mason's Craft.
But as Lyon justly observes, the fact that Wrights were present
with Masons at the passing of apprentices to the rank of Fellow, favors the
opinion that the ceremony of passing was simply a testing of the candidate's
fitness for employment as a journeyman.
But the Incorporations were really extraneous bodies having their
origin in the municipal spirit of interference.
In investigating the Masonic usages and customs of the 17th
century we must look really to the lodges and to what is suggested or
developed of them in the Schaw and other statutes, and in the early minutes of
the lodges that have been preserved.
The assertion of Anderson, Preston, and other writers of the 18th
century, as well as some of a later date, that there was from the earliest
period a government of the Craft in England by a Grand Master has been proved
to be wholly untenable.
Something of the kind appears, however, to have prevailed in
Scotland at least from the end of the 16th century.
William Schaw, in his signature subscribed to the Statutes enacted
by him, and in various records going back as far as 1583, calls himself, and
is called, "the King's Master of Work." This is a very common title in the
Middle Ages, but by no means indicated that the possessor of it was a Mason.
The Majester Operis, or "Master of the Work," sometimes called the Majister
Operum, or "Master of the Works," was an officer to whom was entrusted the
superintendence of the public works.
Sometimes, but not necessarily, he was an architect, and hence
Anderson always calls these Masters of the Works Grand Masters, an error which
has a very unfortunate effect in confusing true Masonic history.
The office was a monastic one also, and in early times the monk
who was made the Master of the Work superintended the Masons employed by the
monastery in conducting repairs or erecting buildings.
It does not, therefore, follow that Schaw was, from being called
by this title, an Operative Mason.
The evidence, though circumstantial, is the other way.
Indeed, the office of King's Master of the Work was an old one in
Scotland, and Schaw himself, in 1583, succeeded Sir Robert Drummond in the
But, in 1600, as it appears from a minute of the Lodge of
Edinburgh, he presided over a Masonic trial, and to do this he must have been
a member of the Craft.
He was, therefore, it is to be supposed, a non‑professional who
was admitted to honorary membership, and he is only one instance among many of
the adoption into the brotherhood of persons who were not Masons.
But, in that minute, Schaw is described as "the principal Warden
and Chief Master of Masons."
Now, this title of "Principal Warden" is the same as that called
in the Statutes of 1599 the "Lord Warden‑General." This office of
Warden‑General, or General Warden, as it is also called, approaches nearer to
the idea of a Grand Master than anything that we can find in Anderson's
Constitutions in respect to the English Masons.
The General Warden appears, according to the Scottish Statutes, to
have been possessed of several important prerogatives. He had the power of
calling the representatives of the lodges to a General Assembly; he enacted
the statutes for the government of the Craft‑the election of Wardens in the
particular lodges was to be submitted to him for his approval ‑ and he
exercised a general supervision over all the lodges; in short, the General
Warden was, in fact, though not in name, the Grand Master of the Masons in
There is some confusion about the names of the officers of the
In some instances we find the presiding officer called the Deacon,
and in others the Warden.
But it has been explained that the Warden was recognized as the
head of the lodge in its relations with the General Warden, while the Deacon
was the chief of the Masons in their incorporate capacity and also the head of
Sometimes both offices were united in the same person, who was
then called "the Deacon of the Masons and the Warden of the lodge." As a
general rule, however, the Warden appears to have been the presiding officer
of the lodge, the custodian of its funds, and the dispenser of its charities.
That he held a precedence over the Deacon is evident from the fact
that when both are spoken of in a minute or in a regulation, the Warden is
named before the Deacon.
It is always "the Warden and Deacon," and never "the Deacon and
Both officers were elected by the suffrages of the Master Masons
of the lodge, and the election was held annually.
In every lodge there were three classes of members: Masters,
Fellows, and Apprentices; but it must be remarked that these were only three
ranks, and that they do not by any means indicate that there were three
degrees, in the sense in which that word is now understood.
The Masters were those who undertook contracts for building and
were responsible to their employers for the fidelity of the work; the Fellows
were the journeymen who were employed by these Master‑builders; and the
apprentices were those youths who were engaged, under the Masters, in
acquiring a knowledge of their Craft.
If there was a ceremonial of initiation or reception and an
esoteric knowledge of certain arcana, that ceremony and that knowledge must
have been common to and participated in by each of the three classes.
Whatever was the Mason's secret the Apprentice knew it as well as
the Master, for one of Schaw's regulations required that at the admission or
reception of a Master or Fellow, there should be present besides six Masters,
two Entered Apprentices, whence it is evident that nothing could have been
imparted to the newly accepted Master that the Apprentice was not already in
That the ceremony of initiation was in the 17th century a very
simple one is very evident from the slight references to it in the minutes of
The Statutes of 1598 required it to be performed in the presence
alike of Masters and Apprentices, which shows, as has already beeh said, that
it was a ceremony common to both.
It appears to have consisted principally of the impartation of
what was called the "Mason Word," and a few secrets connected with it, which
are called in one of the old minute books, "the secrets of the Mason Word."
What these "secrets" were, it is now impossible to discover, but as it has
been seen that the Scottish Craft customs were originally derived from the
English and the Continental Freemasons it is most probable that the secrets of
the Word and the ceremonies of initiation were much the same as those
described in the Sloane MS., heretofore quoted as practiced by the English
Masons, and those described by Findel as used by the German Masons in the 12th
The Squaremen were companies of Wrights and Slaters in Scotland
who were very intimately connected with the Masons, and who appear to have
had, in many respects, a similarity, if not an identity, of customs.
Now these Squareamen had a ceremony of initiation, a word which
was called the "Squaremen's word" and secret methods of recognition.
In the ceremony of initiation, which was called the "brithering,"
 the candidate was blindfolded and prepared in other ways; an oath of
secrecy was administered, and after the performances, which were in a guarded
chamber, were finished, a banquet was goven, the expenses of which were paid
by the fee of initiation.
The banquet was in fact so important a part of the ceremony of
initiation among the Masons that special provision for it was made by Schaw,
the Warden General, in the Statutes of 1598.
Jamieson defines the word to brither thus: "To unite into a society or
Corporation sometimes by a very ludicrous process." ‑ "Dictionary of the
Scottish Language " in voc.
to pay on their admission six pounds to the "common banquet," and Fellow
Crafts ten pounds.
The Fellow Craft was also required to provide the lodge with ten
shillings' worth of gloves.
Nothing more conclusively proves the connection of the Scottish
with the Continental Masons than this reference in the Statutes of the former
to the article of gloves to be provided for the lodge. The use of gloves as a
portion of the dress of an Operative Mason, is shown in early records to have
been very common from early times on the Continent.
M. Didron gives, in the Annales Archeologiques, several examples
from old documents of the presentation to Masons and Stonecutters of gloves.
Thus in 1381 the Chatelan of Vallaines bought a considerable
quantity of gloves to be given to the workmen, and the reason assigned for the
gift is that they might "Shield their hands from the stone and lime." In 1383
three dozen gloves were distributed to the Masons when they began the
buildings at the Chartreuse of Dijon.
At Amiens twenty‑two pairs of gloves were given to the Masons.
The use of gloves seems to have been, among the different crafts,
peculiar to the Masons, and their use is well explained as being intended for
protection against the corrosive nature of the mortar which they were
compelled to handle.
When Operative was superseded by Speculative Masonry the use of
this article of dress was not abandoned, and in the Continental lodges to this
day, the candidate is required to present two pair of gloves to the lodge on
the night of his initiation.
But the explanation now made of their use is, of course,
Another important ceremony connected with advancement to a higher
rank in the fraternity was the production of the Essay or Trial piece.
It was a very common custom among the early continental guilds to
require of eveqr apprentice to any trade before he could be admitted to his
freedom and the prerogatives of a journeyman, that he should present to the
guild into which he sought membership, a piece of finished work as a specimen
and a proof of his skill in the art in which hc had bccn instructed.
This custom was adopted among the Scottish Masons, and when an
apprentice had served his time of probation and was desirous of being advanced
to the rank of a fellow or journeyman, he was required by the statutes to
present an Essay or piece of work to prove his skill and competent knowledge
of the trade.
At first the privilege of inspecting and judging the character of
this trial piece was intrusted to the lodge, but afterward it seems to have
been taken from them and given to the Incorporations, who, however, resigned
it early in the 17th century.
When an Apprentice wished to become a Fellow, he applied to his
lodge, which, in Edinburgh, referred him to the Incorporation of Masons and
Wrights of St. Mary's Chapel.
By that body the piece of work to be done was prescribed; Essay
masters were appointed to attend the candidate and see that he did the work
himself, and when it was done, it was submitted to the brethren, who by an
open vote admitted or rejected the piece of work.
Lyon very correctly finds a parallel to these Essay pieces of the
Scottish Operative Masons, in the examinations for advancement from a lower to
a higher degree, in the Speculative Lodges, but he is wrong in supposing that
these tests for advancement were, in the "inflated language of the Masonic
diplomas of the last century characterized as the 'wonderful trials' which the
neophyte had had the 'fortitude to sustain' before attaining to the sublime
degree of Master Mason."
The "wonderful trials" thus referred to were not the examinations
to which the neophyte had been subjected to test his proficiency in the
preceding degrees, but were the actual ceremonies of initiation through which
he had passed, and considering their severity in the continental lodges, it is
hardly an "inflation of language," to speak of some fortitude being needed to
Annually both the Masters and the Fellows were required to renew
their oath of fidelity and obedience to the brotherhood, and especially to
take the obligation that they would not work with cowans.
It was also provided by the statutes that yearly the Fellows and
Apprentices should submit to an examination which should test their memory and
knowledge of the principles of the art.
Now as it would not have been fair to expect an Apprentice or
Fellow to remember what he had never been taught, this regulation led to the
introduction of a particular class of persons in the lodges who were called "intendars"
or instructors, whose duty it was to instruct the newly admitted persons in
the principles of the art.
This custom, according to Lyon, still prevails in some of the
Scottish lodges. In the United States, it is a very general usage at the
present day to provide an Apprentice as soon as he has been initiated and a
Fellow Craft when he has passed, with an instructor whose duty it is to drill
him accurately in the lecture of the degree into which he has just been
admitted, so that when he applies for advancement he may be enabled to answer
the questions that will be asked, and thus prove that he has made "due
The transition of Operative into Speculative Masonry which took
place soon after the beginning of the 18th century, is the most important
portion of the history of the Institution.
The gradual approaches to that condition in which the Operative
element was wholly superseded by the Speculative, must therefore be regarded
with great interest.
These approaches are marked by the introduction of persons who
were not professional Masons into the Operative lodges.
Occasion has been had heretofore to speak of the reception by a
lodge of Operative Masons at Warrington in England, of two gentlemen who
certainly were not Operative Masons, namely, Colonel Mainwaring and Elias
This event occurred in the year 1646, and it is the earliest
record in England of the acceptance of a non‑professional member by a lodge of
It does not, however, follow because this reception is the first
recorded that it was therefore the first that took place.
On the contrary it is most probable that the custom of receiving
non‑operative members was a very old one.
It had, as we have seen, been practiced by the Roman Colleges of
Artificers, and was by them propagated into the early Craft and Trade Guilds,
and eventually imitated by the more modern Operative lodges.
The practice still prevails in the London Livery Companies, which
we know are the successors of the Trade Guilds of the Middle Ages.
In Scotland the custom of admitting non‑operatives into the lodges
has a much older record than that of England just referred to.
A minute of the Lodge of Edinburgh of the date of June 8th, in the
year 1600, a facsimile of which is given by Lyon, records the presence at the
meeting of the lodge of William Boswell, Laird of Auchinlech.
The meeting was called for the purpose of considering a penalty
that had been imposed upon the Warden.
The Laird of Auchinlech took a part in the deliberations,
acquiesced in the decision at which the lodge arrived, and signed his name and
affixed his mark to the minutes just as the Operative Masons did.
There are abundance of other instances of the admission of
noblemen and gentlemen as honorary members.
The case already cited of Boswell proves conclusively that the
practice existed before the close of the 16th century.
If we had the records we might, I think, find many cases still
In the admission of these "gentlemen masons," as they were
sometimes called, the ceremonies of initiation, whatever they were, appear to
have been the same as those practiced in the reception of operative members.
As in the present day, and in Speculative Masonry, rank or
condition secures no exemption.
Several instances are recorded during the 17th century of brethren
who were not operative Masons being elected to preside over lodges.
Thus Elphingston, who was tutor of Airth and collector of the
King's Customs, was in 1670 one of the Masters or Past Masters of the Lodge of
The Earl of Cassilis was, in 1672, chosen as Deacon or head of the
Lodge of Kilwinning.
He had been preceded in the same office by Sir Alexander
Cunningham, in 1671, and by the Earl of Eglinton in 1670.
In 1678 Lord William Cochrane, the son of the Earl of Dundonald,
was elected Warden of the same lodge.
All these appointments were merely honorary, and intended, it is
to be presumed, to secure the patronage and influence of the noblemen or men
of wealth and rank who were thus honored.
They were not expected to perform any of the laborious duties of
the office, for which task it is most probable that they were unfit.
This, as Bro. Lyon observes, "may be inferred from the fact that
when a nobleman or a laird was chosen to fill any of the offices named,
deputies were elected from the operative members of the Kilwinning Lodge." 
The relation of females to Freemasonry in Scotland during the 17th
century is worthy of attention.
It has already been seen that in one of the English Constitutions,
when referring to the Charges, it is written that "one of the Elders taking
the Booke and that he or shee that is to be made
 "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 52.
Mason shall lay their hands thereon and the charge shall be given."
From this passage some persons have drawn the apparently natural
inference that females were admitted.
Bro. Hughan, in commenting on it, thinks that the manuscript being
a copy from a much older one, the word "shee" was carelessly retained, and
that it is only an evidence that females were admitted in the early Guilds, an
historical fact that can not be denied.
But he is not prepared to advocate the opinion that women were
admitted into the Mysteries of Masonry.
And he admits that the custom of the Guilds to admit women was
As the passage quoted is found only in the York MS. of 1693, it is
more reasonable to suppose that the word "shee" was a clerical error for
"they." Hence we have no satisfactory evidence that women were connected with
the Masonic lodges in England.
But Bro. Lyon contends that the obligation of the apprentice to
protect the interests of his "dame," which is mentioned in the same
manuscript, would indicate that it was lawful at that time in England for
females, as employers, to execute the work of Masons.
This statement derives probability from the fact that at that
time, in Scotland, the widows and daughters of freemen Masons were, under
certain restrictions, permitted to exercise the privilege of burgesses in
executing Mason's work.
Lyon cites a minute of the Ayr Squaremen Incorporation of the date
of 1628, which enacts that every freeman's daughter shall pay for her freedom
the sum of eight pounds.
But it is clear that if a fine was imposed for the freedom, there
must have been a privilege accompanying it, which could have been nothing
other than the right to do a freeman's work.
The Lodge of Edinburgh, in 1683, recognized this privilege and
qualified it by certain restrictions.
It was then enacted that a widow should not undertake work or
employ journeymen herself, but might have the benefit of the work under the
favor of some freeman "by whose advice and concurrence the work shall be
undertaken and the journeymen agreed with."
It is apparent from these two minutes that, from 1628 to 1683
women, the widows or daughters of masons, were in the habit of employing
journeymen to do work given to them by the patrons of their husbands or
But this custom, growing into an evil, in time the females acting
independently and assuming the position and exercising the prerogatives of
Master Masons, the Lodge of Edinburgh found it necessary at length to correct
the abuse and to restrict the privilege by compelling the females to undertake
the work and employ the journeymen under the direction of a Master Mason, who,
acting for the widow, discharged the duties without receiving compensation
(which was strictly prohibited) and gave her the profits.
Another usage of the Scottish Masons in the 17th century was that
of opening the lodge with prayer.
There is no record of the existence of such a usage in England,
although it is highly probable that the same practice prevailed in both
countries, since Freemasonry being a later institution in Scotland, we have
seen that it derived many of its customs from the sister kingdom.
The use of prayer as an introductory ceremony has always been
practiced in the English speculative lodges, and combining this with the fact
now known that it was observed by the Scottish operatives, we have an
additional reason for believing that it was a usage among the English
operative masons of the 17th and earlier centuries.
Bro. Lyon says that in opening with prayer, the Lodge of Edinburgh
"followed an example which had been set in the ancient Constitutions of the
English Masons which open and close with prayer." Here our generally accurate
historian appears to have fallen into an error in confounding the form of
composition adopted in writing a manuscript with that of opening a lodge, two
things evidently very distinct.
It is of course admitted that all of the old English Constitutions
commence with a religious invocation, and that they end either with a prayer
for help or an imprecatory formula like the condition of an oath to keep the
But in a careful examination of all these Constitutions from the
Halliwell MS. to the Papworth MS., that is from the first to the last, I have
failed to find any regulation or article which prescribes that the business of
a lodge shall be preceded by prayer.
The only regulation that has a religious bearing is the one that
prescribes a reverence for God and Holy Church and the avoidance of heresy or
That it was the practice of the early English operative lodges to
open and closc with prayer, is an opinion founded wholly on conjecture, but
for the reasons already assigned, the conjecture appears to be a plausible
But the use of prayer in the Scottish lodges of the 17th century
is not conjectural, but is proved by actual records, and Bro. Lyon, in his
invaluable work, to which I have been almost wholly indebted for the facts in
the present and the preceding chapter, supplies us with two forms of prayers,
one "to be said at the convening," and the other "to be said before
dismissing." Both are extracted from the minute‑books of Mary's Chapel
Incorporation for the year 1699, and it will be interesting to compare them
with the oldest English formula, namely, that given by Preston.
The first of these, or the prayer at the opening of the lodge, is
in the following words:
"O Lord, we most humblie beseech thee to be present with us in
mercy, and to bless our meeting and haill (whole) exercise which wee now have
in hand. O Lord, enlighten our understandings and direct our hearts and mynds,
so with thy good Spirit, that wee may frame all our purposes and conclusions
to the glory of thy name and the welfare of our Brethren; and therefore O
Lord, let no partiall respect, neither of freed (enmity) nor favour, draw us
out of the right way.
But grant that we may ever so frame all our purposes and
conclusions to the glory of thy name and the welfare of our Brethren.
Grant these things, O Lord, unto us, and what else thou sees more
necessarie for us, and that only for the love of thy dear Son Jesus Christ,
our alone Lord and Saviour; To whom, with thee, O Father, and the blessed
Spirit of Grace, wee render all praise, honor and glory, for ever and ever,
The second prayer, or that used at the dismission or closing of
the lodge, is as follows:
"O Lord, wee most humbly acknowledge thy goodnesse in meeting with
us together at this tyme, to confer upon a present condition of this world. O
Lord, make us also study heaven and heavenly myndednesse, that we may get our
souls for a prey.
And O Lord, be with us and accompany us the rest of this day, now
and forever, Amen."
The importance of this record of prayers at opening and closing in
the Scottish lodges, is that it adds great force to the conjecture that a
similar custom prevailed in the English lodges at the same period.
The statement made by the biographer of Wrenn and quoted by Findel,
that the mediaeval Masons of England commenced their labor each day at sunise
by a prayer, the Master taking his station in the East and the Brethren
forming in a half circle around him, is a mere tradition.
There is the want of a contemporary record.
But the fact that there is such a record, absolutely authentic in
the minutes of a Scottish lodge of the period, throws necessarily an air of
great probability upon the tradition.
That the record of the Scottish lodge is a minute made in the last
year but one of the 17th century does not necessarily lead to the inference
that the custom had just then begun.
The record is more likely, when there is no evidence to the
contrary, to have been that of a custom long previously in existence than of
one that has just then been adopted.
So we may fairly conclude that it was the usage of the Scottish
lodges of the 17th century to open and close their meetings with prayer, a
usage that we have reason to infer was also practiced by the English lodges of
the same period.
The last of the Scottish Masonic customs to which it is necessary
to refer is that of the use of Marks, instead of, or sometimes as supplemented
to, the written signature.
This is an interesting subject and claims a very careful and
The presence of certain figures chiselled on the stones of a
building has been remarked by travelers as occurring in almost all countries
where architecture had made any progress and at very early epochs.
It has been remarked by Mr. Ainsworth, an oriental traveler, that
he found among some ruins in Mesopotamia that "every stone, not only in the
chief building but in the walls and bastions and other public monuments, when
not defaced by time, is marked with a character which is for the most part
either a Chaldean letter or numeral."
On the floor of a tomb at Agra, in India, it was found that every
stone was inscribed with a peculiar mark chiseled upon it by the workman.
Copies of over sixty of these marks were given in 1865 by a writer
in the London Freemasons' Quarterly Review.
In an interesting work on Architecture by Mr. George Godwin, 
the author, referring to the Freemasons of the Middle Ages, makes the
"Several years ago my attention was led to the fact that many of
our ancient buildings exhibited on the face of the walls, both inside and
outside, marks of a peculiar character on the face of the Stones which were
evidently the work of the original builders; and it occurred to me that if
examined and compared they might serve to throw light upon these bands of
operatives. I made a large collection of them in England, France, Belgium and
Germany, some of which were published in the Archaeologia.
These are simply the marks made by the Masons to identify their
work; but it is curious to find them exactly the same in different countries
and descending from early times to the present day; for in parts of Germany
and Scotland tables of marks are still preserved in the lodges, and one is
given to the (practical) mason on taking up his freedom.
He cuts it, however, on the bed of the stone now instead of on its
The marks are usually two or three inches long."
These marks were, it is evident, prescribed by the Masters or
Superintendents of the buildings in process of construction to be used by the
workmen, so that each one's work might be identified when censure or approval
was to be awarded.
It was a measure of precaution, and the employment of marks is no
evidence, unless the mark itself is of a purely Masonic character, that the
workmen who used them were Freemasons.
At first, it seems from the observations of Mr. Ainsworth, they
were merely letters or numbers.
Afterward those found at Agra were principally astronomical or
mathematical. But when used by organized bands of Freemasons we find among
these marks such symbols as the hour‑glass, the pentalpha, and the square and
When the Freemasons followed the precautionary system of the
ordinary stonecutters and adopted the use of marks, they gave, most generally,
a symbolic character to them, though sometimes they made use of monograms of
M. Didron, who discovered these marks at Spire, Worms, Strasburg,
Rheims, Basle, and several other places, and who made a report of his
investigations to the Historical Committee of Arts and
"History in Ruins; a Handbook of Architecture for the Unlearned." By George
Godwin, F.R.S., London, 1858.
Sciences of Paris, believed that he could discover in them reference to
distinct schools or lodges of Masons.
He divides them into two classes, those of the overseers and those
of the men who worked the stones.
The marks of the first class consist of monogrammatic characters,
while those of the second are of the nature of symbols, such as shoes,
trowels, and mallets.
It is possible that something like this distinction is to be found
in the old Scottish marks.
Of the 91 marks, copies of which are given infacsimile by Bro.
Lyon as taken from the minute‑book of the Lodge of Edinburgh, 16 are evidently
monograms, such as GI, ME, AL, VH, NI, etc., while the remaining 75 are
symbols, principally the cross in various forms, the triangle, the hour‑glass,
represented by two triangles joined at their apices, the pentalpha, etc.
In one instance the monogram and the symbol are combined, where
David Salmon adopts as his mark a fish or salmon, with the head in the form of
the Delta or Greek letter equivalent to D.
There was undoubtedly a distinction of monogrammatic and symbolic
marks, but whether Didron's idea that they belonged to two different classes
of workmen is correct or not, it is impossible positively to ascertain.
Bro. Lyon, however, affirms that "in regard to the arrangement of
Marks into distinctive classes, one for Apprentices, one for Fellow Crafts,
and a third for Foremen ‑ the practice of the Lodge of Edinburgh, or that of
Kilwinning, as far as can be learned from their records, was never in harmony
with the teachings of tradition on that point."
It has been supposed the degree now called the "Mark Master's
Degree" was originally manufactured by some ritual mongers toward the close of
the last century and attached as a supernumerary degree to the Ancient and
Accepted or Scottish Rite.
I have in my possession the original charter granted in 1802 by
the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem, of Charleston, S.C., to American
Eagle Mark Lodge No. 1.  When Thomas Smith Webb was establishing his new
system he incorporated the Mark degree in his ritual and made it the fourth
degree of the American Rite, as it is practiced in the United States of
It has been supposed that Webb derived his degree from the Ancient
and Accepted Rite,
was published in 1851 by the author in the "Southern and Western Masonic
Miscellany," vol. ii., p. 300.
is not improbable that he did so.
But more recently it has been discovered that the degree of Mark
Mason and that of Mark Master Mason was given in Scotland by some of the Craft
lodges as early as 1778. An excerpt made by that indefatigable Archaeologist,
Bro. W. J. Hughan, from the minutes of the Lodge Operative Banff under date of
January 7, 1778, shows that the degree of Mark Mason was conferred on Fellow
Crafts, and that of Mark Master Mason on Master Masons.
I think, therefore, that we may fairly attribute the origin of the
degree to the Masons of Scotland.
The ritual has of course grown, as all rituals do, by gradual
accretions to its present extent. But it is hardly necessary to say that the
allegory and the tradition of the origin of the degree at the Temple of King
Solomon is a mere symbolic myth, which is wholly unsupported by historical
The statutes enacted by William Schaw, in 1598, for the government
of the Masons of Scotland, direct that on the reception and admission of every
Fellow Craft his name and mark shall be inserted in the book or register of
The subsequent lodge minutes show that giving or taking a mark was
accompanied by a fee, which was paid by the Fellow for this privilege.
The minutes also show that Apprentices were also permitted to
select and use a mark.
The position and the prerogatives of Apprentices in the Scottish
lodges is worthy of notice, especially as throwing some light on their
condition in the English lodge, of which so little is said in the old
The presence of Apprentices at the admission of Fellow Crafts, was
provided for in the Statutes of Schaw, as has already been seen.
Another prerogative granted to the Apprentices was that of giving
or withholding their assent to any proposed accession of their ranks in the
They thus appear to have been so far recognized as active members.
But Lyon says that this concession does not appear to have been
granted to all Apprentices, but only to such as being "bound for the freedom"
afterward became "Mason burgesses" and members of the Incorporation ‑
Apprentices whose aim was that of becoming qualified for employment as
If this view of Lyon is correct it would show an aristocratic
distinction of rank, which was certainly unknown to the English Masons.
Apprentices are sometimes permitted to undertake work, of no very
great value, on their own account, but with the consent of their Masters; a
privilege that does not appear to have been conceded by the English Statutes.
The "passing" of an Apprentice to the rank of a Fellow Craft,
although not a ceremony which added anything to the store of his Masonic
knowledge, was still necessary to the extension of the influence and the
increase of the revenues of the lodge.
Apparently toward the end of the 17th century, many Apprentices
were disinclined, at the expiration of their time of service, to undergo the
trouble and expense of passing, but were disposed to work as unpassed
So at the beginning of the 18th century it was made imperative on
Apprentices soon after their time of apprenticeship was out to "make
themselves Fellow Crafts."
Fellow Crafts, or journeymen, were permitted to have Apprentices
of their own, and it was provided by law that a Master might employ such
fellows and yet not also employ their Apprentices, or he might employ the
Apprentice and not the Fellow to whom he was bound.
This seems to have been a peculiarity of Scottish Masonry in the
No similar provision is found in the English Constitutions.
Apprentices were prohibited from marrying, a very necessary
provision, considering their relation to their Master's houses, which it may
well be supposed existed in every other country.
In all of these usages of the Scottish Masons in the 17th century,
we see the characteristics of an operative system.
But this system was admitting the gradual encroachment of the
Speculative element exhibited in the admission into the operative lodges of
The progress of this transition from an Operative to a Speculative
character is better marked or rather better recorded in the Scottish than in
the English history of Freemasonry.
In the latter we are aroused with suddenness from the
contemplation of the operative system as detailed in the manuscript
Constitutions extending into the very beginning of the 18th century, to the
unexpected organization, without previous notice, of a purely Speculative
Grand Lodge a very few years after the date of the last written Constitution,
which makes no reference to such an institution.
But the Grand Lodge of Scotland was not organized until nineteen
years after that of the sister kingdom.
The approaches to the change were gradual and well marked, and the
struggle which terminated in the victory of Speculative or modern Freemasonry.
has been carefully recorded.
But the narrative of the events which led to the establishment in
the year 1736 of the Grand Lodge of Scotland will form the interesting
materials for a distinct chapter.
THE FRENCH GUILDS OF THE MIDDLE AGES
account has already been given in this work of the character of the English
Craft guilds or corporations of workmen.
I have not been able to concur in the views of Mr. Thorpe, nor in
the qualified opinion of Brentano, that we are to look for the origin of these
guilds, not in the Roman Colleges, but in the Scandinavian confraternities.
In Gaul and subsequently, with greater development, in France, we
find the existence of similar guilds or corporations of workmen, and here we
are able to trace them more directly to the Roman Colleges of Artificers, as
their models, because, after the fall of the Empire and the invasion of the
barbarians, the old inhabitants were not exterminated by the invaders.
On the contrary, the Franks were well disposed to the Roman
culture and civilization, accepted many of the Roman laws and customs,
imitated the remaining monuments of Roman taste and skill, and finally
adopted, in the place of their own rough Teutonic dialect, a modified form of
the Latin language.
The Craft guilds or corporations of workmen which were in
existence in Gaul at an early period after the decay of the Roman Empire,
continued to exist with spasmodic interruptions until the 12th and 13th
centuries, when they were fully developed in the Corporations des Metiers.
The writers of the exhaustive article on this subject in Lacroix's
massive work on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, have advanced the theory
that the guilds came into Gaul with the conquerors, and were therefore of
Scandinavian or Teutonic origin, but in their subsequent investigations they
appear tacitly to admit the fact that there was a very close connection
between them and the Roman Colleges.
M. Aug. Thierry is of the opinion that the corporations, like the
municipal communes, found their origin in the principles that governed the
The guild, he says, was the moving power; the Roman Colleges the
material on which it acted and out of which it was generated, and he thinks it
would be interesting to examine how this motive principle as a new element has
been applied to the ancient element of municipal organization which we
historically know to have been of Roman origin and in what proportion it is
combined with them.
In other words, he would seek to trace the connection between the
Guilds and the Roman Colleges and to determine the influence of one upon the
Now this is the very investigation in which I propose to be
engaged in the present chapter, as I have already pursued in the previous
discussion of the early English guilds.
The theory that I have hitherto maintained, and which I have seen
no reasonable cause to repudiate, is that the Guilds were the successors, as
it were, by inheritance of the Roman Colleges.
Therefore, though the subject of these institutions has already
been very fully treated, it will be expedient to introduce the history of the
early guilds of Gaul and of their progress until they culminate in the 12th
century in the Corporations des Metiers, by a brief recapitulation of what has
been before said at length on the subject of the Colleges of Artificers of
The corporations of artisans, which received the name of Collegia
Artifum or Colleges of Artificers, are supposed to have been instituted by
Numa, who first divided the artisans of Rome into nine colleges gave them
regulations for their government, and prescribed peculiar rites and customs to
be observed by them.
They met in their course from the Kingdom to the Empire with many
They were abolished by Tullus Hostilius, re‑established by Servius,
again interdicted and anew instituted and enlarged in their faculties by the
Under the republic they were a constant source of inquietude and
danger; their turbulent members, misled by demagogues, repeatedly threatened
the security of the state.
They were, during the latter years of the republic, often
dissolved and as often re‑established.
Finally, Caligula definitively re‑constituted them and invested
them with all their ancient prerogatives.
Trajan and his successors showed the colleges but little favour;
they were, however, tolerated because the artisans, deprived of consideration
in the city, were much better received in the provinces, and could be retained
at the Capital only by securing to them their privileges.
At this epoch they had become very numerous both at Rome and in
A contemporary of Alexander Severus names thirty two colleges;
Constantine designates thirty more, and the inscriptions preserved by
Heineccius, their most reliable historian, enumerates many more.
The colleges required for their legal existence the authority of
the law‑in modern phrase it was necessary for them to be incorporated.
Those which were not were styled illicit and their existence was
Into each college, the artisans of only a particular profession or
handicraft were admitted; slaves even might become members with the consent of
their masters; and at length, persons cd distinction who were not of the
profession practiced by the college were received as patrons or honourary
members, and these became the protectors of the college.
Some of the trade, as for instance that of the bakers, were
hereditary, and the practice of the trade descended from father to son.
No artist or handicraftsman was permitted to belong to more than
Each college had the right to enact its own regulations for its
internal government; for this purpose, and for the discussion of their common
interests, the members frequently assembled, they elected their officers, and
imposed a tax for the support of the common chest and decided these and all
other questions by a majority of suffrages.
Each college had its patron deity and exercised peculiar religious
rites of sacrifice and commemorative feasts, which sometimes degenerated into
Such is a brief outline of the Craft guilds, as they may justly be
styled, which prevailed in Rome at the time of the dissolution of the Empire,
and which, for the reason already assigned, flourished with great popularity
in all the provinces from southern Gaul to the northern limits of England, the
evidence of which is extant in the numerous inscriptions which have been
preserved commemorative of their residence and their labours in every part of
The writers of the article on the Corporations of Craftsmen, in
the work of Lacroix, assert that under the conquering Germans, from the moment
that Europe emerged from the government of Rome, without ever completely
escaping from the influence of its laws, the confraternities of workmen never
for an instant ceased to exist.
The rare vestiges that we possess of them do not permit us to
believe in their prosperous condition, but they attest at least their
These fraternities of workmen were the Provincial colleges which
the invaders found when they entered the countries whence they had expelled
the former Roman masters.
But the Teutonic tribes, whose invasion was for the purpose of a
permanent settlement and not like that of the Huns, merely for temporary
occupation and devastation, were not, as has been well observed, alien in mind
and spirit from the Romans whom they had conquered.
They had, to some extent, become familiar with the civilization
which in the trial of strength they had overcome.
Some of them had been soldiers in the imperial service or at the
court, and many of them had likened to the teachings of Christian
missionaries, and, though in an imperfect way, adopted Christianity as their
When, therefore, says Mr. Church, they founded their new kingdom
in Gaul, in Spain, and in Italy, the things about them were not absolutely new
The influences of the Christian religion, which they imperfectly
professed, of the Roman laws, which they did not altogether abolish, and of
the Latin language, which they began insensibly to adopt, were exerted in
producing a tolerance for the Roman corporations of workmen, as well as for
many other Roman customs, and a facility for adopting the same system of
organizing workmen, which led in time to the establishment of the guilds.
Of the regular progress of these guilds in the earlier centuries,
as if they were a mere continuation of the corporations of the Roman colleges,
we have sufficient, if not abundant, records.
Lucius Ampelius, a Latin writer of the 5th century, mentions,
The article in Lacroix's "Le Moyen Age et la Renaissance," which treats of the
Corporations de Metiers," was written by MM. Monteil and Rabutaux. To their
researches I have been indebted for much that is contained in this chapter;
but for the sake of brevity and convenience I shall cite authority under the
general reference to Lacroix.
Church, "The Beginning of the Middle Ages," p. 46.
Liber Memorialis, a consul or chief of the locksmiths, whence we may infer an
organized body of those craftsmen.
Under the Merovingian kings, or the first dynasty of France, we
meet with a corporation of goldsmiths.
The bakers were probably organized under Charlemagne, as he took
measures for their regulation, and in 630 they are distinctly spoken of as a
corporation in the ordinances of Dagobert.
In Lombardy, which after its conquest by Charlemagne was in close
relations with France, there were many colleges or corporations of artisans.
We find in Ravenna, in 943, a college of fishermen, and ten years
afterward a chief of the corporation of merchants; in 1001 a chief of the
corporation of butchers.
In 1061 Philip I. granted certain privileges to the Master
The "ancient customs" of the butchers are mentioned in the time of
Louis VII., in 1162; the same prince, in 1160, granted to the wife and heirs
of one Yves Laccohre the faculty of practicing five trades, namely, those of
the glovers, the purse‑makers, the belt‑makers, the cobblers, and the
Under the subsequent reign of Philip II. similar grants or
concessions are more numerous.
This monarch, whose military exploits had won for him the title of
"Conqueror" and "Augustus," is said to have approved the statutes of several
corporations; in 1182 he confirmed those of the butchers, and granted them
several privileges; in the next year the skinners and the drapers were also
the objects of his favour.  In all Europe, say the writers in Lacroix's
work, toward the 12th century, Italy gave the first impulse to that
restoration to splendour of the corporations which for some centuries had been
diminishing in importance.
The confraternities of artisans in the north of France also
constituted themselves into corporations, whence they spread into the cities
across the Rhine.
In Germany the guild had for a long time preserved its primitive
form, and therefore the German and the French corporations are not to be
confounded, though they had a common origin.
The most important event that marked the reign of Louis VI. in the
12th century was the affranchisement of the inhabitants of
 "Et Boileau, Livre des Metiers." introduction by M. Depping.
 Lacroix, "Le Moyen Age et la Renaissance."
cities,' and the establishment of the Communes, or independent municipal
One of the results of this movement was the revived organization
of the Parisian Hanse.
This, which Lacroix calls the oldest and most considerable of the
French corporations, was a company of the recently affranchised citizens of
Paris under the name of the Merchadise de l'eau.
It was a corporation to which was assigned the control of river
A corporation similar in character had existed during the Roman
domination, but in the lapse of time and under changes of government had
To this ancient corporation, however, it is probable that the new
one owed its origin.
The Parisian Hanse was always treated with great favour by the
Louis VII. confirmed their privileges, and Philip II. increased
At length it obtained the privilege of the navigation of the Seine
and Yonde between Mantes and Auvern. Foreign merchants could not pass these
limits and bring goods into Paris unless, they had affiliated with the Hanse,
and associated in their mercantile gains a citizen who served as their
It presided over the disembarkation of all goods brought into
Paris, and controlled all buying and selling.
After a short time similar corporations were established in all
the cities bordering on the sea or on rivers.
Previous to the second part of the 13th century several
corporations of artists or Craft guilds had been authorized by different
monarchs, but it is only in the reign of St. Louis, from 1226 to 1270, that we
are to date the first general measures taken for the establishment of the
communities in France, and of the corporations on a legal basis.
Up to that time the Prevostship of Paris had been a venal office,
which was sold to the highest bidder.
Louis resolved to reform this abuse, and appointed Stephen Boileau
to the office of Prevost of Paris.
Of Etienne, or Stephen Boileau,  French writers have not been
niggardly in their encomiums.
He was undoubtedly a magistrate worthy of the greatest praise.
To him Paris is indebted for its police.
He moderated and fixed the taxes and imposts which, under previous
Prevosts, had been levied arbitrarily on trade and
was not until the 14th century that the stain of serfdom was removed from the
The name has been indifferently spelled, Boileau, Boyleau, Boleaue, or
Boylesve. I have adhered to the most usual orthography.
But his most important act in relation to our present subject was
the distribution of the merchants and artisans into distinct communities or
corporations under the name of confraternities, with specific statutes for
He collected from old records and other ancient sources the
customs and usages of the various crafts, most of which had never been
written; collated them, and most probably improved them in many parts,
preserved them as monuments in the archives of the Chatelet, which was the
Guildhall of Paris, and thus composed his invaluable work entitled Livre des
Metiers, or the "Book of the Crafts." 
In his introduction to this work, M. Depping says that "it has the
advantage of being for the most part the work of the corporations themselves,
and not a series of regulations drawn up by the authority of the State."
The systems of corporations now began to enter into the regular
framework of the social organization.
Royal confirmations of charters, which had been rare during the
12th century, were multiplied in the 13th, and became a universal usage in the
14th century. 
As an evidence of the growth of these fraternities in cities
neighbouring to France, it may be noted that in the year 1228 Bologna had
twenty‑one corporations of crafts; in 1321 Parma had eighteen, and in 1376
Turin had twenty‑six.
The Livre des Metiers of Boileau contains the statutes or
regulations of one hundred different corporations, and these were not all that
were then existing in Paris.
Some, for various reasons, had neglected or declined to have
themselves inscribed at the Chatelet.
In succeeding reigns the corporations were greatly multiplied.
Under the administration of the Chancellor Tellier, in the reigns
of Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., Sauval records in his Histoire des Antiquitis
de la Ville de Paris, that he had counted 1,531 corporations in that city.
Some of these Parisian corporations possessed distinguished
Such were the guild or corporation of Drapers, who held a
preeminence over all others, the Grocers, the Mercers, the Skinners, the
Hosiers, and the Goldsmiths.
This work, long in manuscript, was first printed and published in 1837 in one
volume quarto at Paris by M. Depping, who has enriched it with a learned
Lacroix, "Le Moyen Age et la Renaissance."
Some of the corporations were held directly under the royal
authority and some under certain high officers of the court.
In the first centuries after the dissolution of the Roman Empire
the Roman law as to illicit or unauthorized corporations seems to have become
obsolete or to have been wholly disregarded, and the corporations were
constituted and organized at the will of their organizers.
But subsequently, and more especially after the 12th century, the
approval of their regulations by the King or other person, in whose
jurisdiction they were, was required to impart to them a legal condition.
These corporations had their peculiar privileges conceded to them
by the royal or other competent authority, and their statutes and regulations
enacted, for the most part, by themselves.
They were distinguished from each other by their coats of arms,
which they displayed in their processions and on other public occasions.
Each of the corporations held its General Assembly, to which the
members frequently came from a great distance.
Absentees were often fined.
The number of craftsmen who attended was frequently great.
For instance, in 136i, the General Assembly of the Drapers of
Rouen was composed of more than a thousand persons. 
These Assemblies were generally convened by the officers of the
King, who assisted at them either in person or by their delegates; but
sometimes they were called together by the artisans without royal authority.
To render the attendance on them more convenient, artisans of the
same profession usually inhabited the same quarter of the city, and even the
Sometimes this common residence was made obligatory as in the case
of the booksellers of Paris, who were compelled to dwell beyond the bridges on
the right bank of the Seine.
The writers in Lacroix assert that these communities or
corporations were in possession of all the privileges that formerly attached
to the Roman Colleges.
They could possess property, sustain actions at law through a
procurator, and accept legacies.
They had a common chest, exacted dues of their members, and
 Lacroix, ut supra.
police jurisdiction over them, and, to some extent, a criminal one.
They struggled to preserve and to augment their privileges, and
took part in all the conflicts of those turbulent times and in the quarrels,
which were by no means few, between the Masters and the workmen.
Some of them even exercised a jurisdiction over artisans who were
not members of the corporation.
In most of the corporations the officers were elected by the
community, though in some cases they were appointed by the King or other
The members of the corporation were divided into three classes:
Apprentices, Companions, and Masters.
The writers in Lacroix speak of these clasms as degrees, but
evidently without attaching to the word the meaning conveyed in the modern
Masonic use of it.
They were simply ranks, or classes, the lower subordinate to the
The duration of apprenticeship was from two to eight years, and in
most of the trades the Companion had to undergo a considerable probation
before he could become a Master.
The Companion was usually called a varlet gaignant; that is, a man
who earns wages equivalent to the English journeyman, or, as he was called in
the old Masonic charges, a Fellow.
When the Apprentice, having completed his apprenticeship, or the
Companion was desirous of being promoted to the rank of Master, he assumed the
title of Aspirant.  He was subjected to frequent rigid examinations, and
was requited to prove hs fitness for advancement by executing; some of the
principal products of the trade or craft which he professed.
This was called his chef‑d'aeuvre, and in its execution he was
surrounded by minute formalities.
He was closely confined in an edifice or apartment specially
prepared for the occasion; he was deprived of all communication with his
relations or friends and worked under the eyes of officers of the corporation.
His task lasted sometimes for several months.
It was not always confined to the direct products of the trade,
but sometimes extended to the fabrication of the tools used in his craft
The aspirant having successfully submitted to the examinations and
trials imposed upon him, and having renewed his oath of fidelity to the King,
an oath which he must have previously taken as an Apprentice,
 Lacroix, ut supra.
required afterward to pay a tax, which was sometimes heavy, and which was
divided between the King or Lord and the corporation.
This tax was, however, remitted or greatly reduced in the case of
the son of a Master of the Craft.
From this usage has been, undoubtedly, derived the custom which
still prevails in the Speculative Masonry of some countries, and which was
once universal, of initiating a louveleau, or the son of a Mason, at an
earlier age than that prescribed for other candidates.
The statues of every corporation exercised great vigilance over
the private life and morals of the members. Bastards could not be accepted as
To be admitted to the Mastership it was necessary that the
Aspirant should enjoy a stainless reputation.
To use the modern Masonic phrase, he must be "under the tongue of
If an artisan associated with heretics or excommunicated persons,
or cat or drank with them, he was subject to punishment.
The statutes cultivated good feelings and affectionate relations
between the members.
The merchant or craftsman could not strive to entice a customer to
enter his shop when he was approaching that of his neighbor.
Improper language to each other subjected the offender to a fine.
In reference to religion, each corporation constituted a religious
confraternity, which was placed under the patronage of some saint, who was
deemed the special protector of the profession.
Thus St. Crispin was the patron sent of the Shoemakers, and St.
Eloy of the Smiths.
Every corporation possessed a chapel in some church of the
quarter, and often maintained a chaplain.
The corporations had religious exercises on stated occasions for
the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the community; they rendered funeral
honors to the dead, and took care of the widows and orphans of deceased
members; they distributed alms and sent to the hospitals the contributions
which had been collected at their banquets.
The brethren received a strange workman in their trade when
entering a city, welcomed him, provided for his first wants, sought work for
him, and if that failed the eldest Companion yielded his place to him.
But this character in time degenerated, the banquets became
debauches, conflicts took place between the workmen, and coalitions were
formed against the industrial classes.
The law then interfered, and these confraternities or guilds were
forbidden, but without much success.
It will be very evident to the reader that the details here given
of the rise and progress, the form and organization of the mediaeval
corporations or guilds do not refer to the Masons exclusively, but to the
circle of the handicrafts of which the Masons constituted only one, but an
Before the middle of the 12th, or the beginning of the 13th,
century, the corporations of Freemasons were not distinguished from the other
crafts by any peculiar organization.
They had undoubtedly derived a prominence over the other guilds in
consequence of their connection with the construction of Cathedrals and other
great public buildings; but "at that time," says Mr. Fergusson, "all trades
and professions were organized in the same manner, and the guild of Masons
differed in no essential particulars from those of the Shoemakers or Hatters,
the Tailors or Vintners ‑ all had their Masters and Past Masters, their
Wardens and other Officers, and were recruited from a body of Apprentices, who
were forced to undergo years of probationary servitude before they were
admitted to practice their arts."
Mr. Fergusson draws incorrectly a deduction that the Freemasons
were an insignificant body, and hence in his book, he pays no attention to
them outside of Germany.
He even underrates their constructive capacity, and thinks that
the designs of the Cathedrals and other religious edifices were made by
Bishops, who, taking as a model some former building, verbally corrected its
mistakes and suggested his improvements to his builder.
But history has shown that in France, as well as elsewhere, there
were at art early period laymen who were distinguished architects.
The only legitimate inference that can be deduced from the fact
that all the other handicrafts were organized on the same plan as the Masons,
is that the guild spirit universally prevailed, and that there was a common
origin for it, which most writers have correctly referred to the Roman
Colleges, which were the most ancient guilds with which we are acquainted.
"History of Architecture in all Countries from the Earliest Times to the
Present Day." By James Fergusson, F.R.S., etc., London, 1867, vol. i., p. 477.
thus far treated of the guilds in general, or the corporations of all the
trades, it is now proper to direct our attention exclusively to the Masonic
Guilds as they present themselves to us in France during the Middle Ages.
Larousse, who has compiled the best and most exhaustive
encyclopaedic dictionary in the French language, makes a distinction between
the associations of Masons and those of the Freemasons in France, a
distinction which has existed in other countries, but with more especial
peculiarities in France.
Like all the other crafts, they were divided into three ranks or
degrees of Apprentice, journeyman, and Master.
But I fail to find any evidence that there was a separate
initiation or an esoteric knowledge peculiar to each rank which would
constitute it a degree in the modern and technical sense of that word.
Larousse mixes the history of the French with that of the German
Freemasons, but makes the Operative Masonic Guilds spring out of a jealousy or
rivalry on the part of the Operative with the better‑cultured architects.
He says that while the nomadic constructors of cathedrals and
castles, that is to say, the Traveling Freemasons, who, springing out of
Lombardy, were organized at Strasburg, at Cologne, and probably at York,
formed a kind of aristocracy of the Craft, other Masons, attached to the soil
and living, therefore, always in one place, formed independent and distinct
corporations in the 15th century.
I think, however, that such organizations may be found at an
These Masons did not, like the German and English Freemasons,
claim to be the disciples of St. John the Baptist, but placed themselves under
the patronage of St. Blaise.
St. Blaise was a bishop and martyr who suffered in the 3d century,
during the persecution of Diocletian.
His legend says that he was tortured by having his flesh torn with
iron combs, such as are used in carding wool. Hence he has been adopted by the
wool‑staplers as their patron.
But it is inexplicable why he should have been selected by the
Masons of France as their protecting saint, since there is nothing in the
legend of his life that connects him with architecture or building.
The Guild or Corporation of Masons comprised Masons proper; that
is, Builders, Stonecutters, Plaisterers, and Mortar Mixers. This we learn from
the Regulations for the Arts and Trades of Paris, drawn up by Stephen Boileau
and contained in the 48th chapter of his Livre des Metiers.
It will be interesting to compare these regulations of the French
Masons, drawn up or copied as is said by Boileau from the older ones enacted
by St. Eloy, with the statutes or constitutions of the English Masons
contained in their Old Records.
I have therefore inserted below a literal translation of them from
the Livre des Metiers.
REGULATIONS OF THE MASONS, STONECUTTERS,
PLAISTERERS, AND MORTAR MIXERS.
Whosoever desires may be a Master at Paris provided that he knows the trade
and works according to the usages and customs of the craft.
one can have more than one Apprentice and he can not take him for less than
six years of service, but he may take him for a longer period and for money (a
fee) if he has it. And if he takes him for a less period than six years he is
subject to a fine of twenty sous of Paris, to be paid to the Chapel of St.
Blaise, except only that he should be his son born in lawful wedlock.
Mason may take another Apprentice, as soon as the other has accomplished five
years of his service, for the same period that the other had been taken.
present King on whom may God bestow a happy life has given the Mastership of
the Masons to Master William de Saint Pater, during his pleasure. The said
Master William swore at Paris in the lodges of the Pales before said, that he
would to the best of his power, well and loyally protect the Craft, the poor
as well as the rich, the weak as well as the strong as long as it was the
king's pleasure that he should protect the Craft aforesaid and then Master
William took the form of oath before said, before the Prevost of Paris in the
Chdtelet (or town hall).
Mortar Masters and the Plaisterers have the same condition and standing, in
all things as the Masons.
Master who presides overthe Craft of Masons, of Mortar Mixers and of
Plaisterers, of Paris, by the King's order may have two Apprentices, but only
on the conditions before said, and if he should have more, he will be assessed
in the manner above provided for.
Masons, the Mortar Mixers and the Plaisterers may have as many assistants and
servants as they please so long as they do not in any point teach them the
mystery of the trade.
Every Mason, every Mortar Mixer and every Plaisterer must swear on the gospels
that he will maintain and do well and loyally to the Craft, each in his place
and that if he knows that any one is doing wrong and not acting according to
the usages and Craft aforesaid he will every time make it known, under his
oath, to the Master.
Master whose Apprentice has completed his time of service, must go before the
Master of the Craft and declare that his Apprentice has finished his time well
and faithfully; and the Master who presides over the Craft must make the
Apprentice swear on the gospels that he will conform well and truly to the
usages and customs of the Craft.
one should work at the aforesaid trade on days when flesh may be eaten after
nones have been sounded at Notre Dame (i.e., 3 o'clock in the afternoon) and
on Saturday in Lent after Vespus have been chanted at Notre Dame unless it be
on an arch, or to close a stair way or door opening on the street. And if any
one should work after the aforesaid hours except in the above mentioned works
of necessity he shall pay a fine of four derniers to the Master who presides
over the Craft and the Master may take his tools for the fine.
The Mortar Mixers and the Plaisterers are under the jurisdiction of the Master
aforesaid appointed by the king to preside over the Craft.
a Plaisterer should send any man plaister to be used in a work, the Mason who
is working for him to whom the plaister is sent, should by his oath, take care
that the measure of the plaister is good and lawful; and if he suspects the
measure he should measure the plaister or cause it to be measured in his
And if he finds that the measure is not good, the plaisterer must
pay a fine of 5 sous; that is to say, 2 sous to the Chapel of St. Blaise, 2
sous to the Master who presides over the Craft and 11 (12?) deniers to him who
has measured the plaister. And he to whom the plaister was delivered shall
rebate from each sack that he shall receive in that work, as much as should
have been in that which was measured in the beginning. But where there is only
one sack, it shall not be measured.
one can become a Plaisterer at Paris unless he pays 5 sous to the Master who,
by the King's order presides over the Craft; and when he has paid the 5 sous
he must swear on the gospels that he will mix nothing but plaister with his
plaister, and that he wilt deliver good and true measure.
the Plaisterer puts anything which he ought not, in his plaister he shall be
fined 5 sous, to be paid to the Master every time that he is detected. And if
the Plaisterer makes it a practice to do this, and will not submit to fine or
punishment, the Master may exclude him from the Craft, and if he will not
leave the Craft at the Master's order, the Master must make it known to the
Prevost of Paris, and the Prevost must compel the Plaisterer to quit the Craft
The Mortar Mixer must swear before the Master and before other syndics of the
Craft, that he will make Mortar only out of good limestone, and if he makes it
of any other kind of stone or if the mortar is made of limestone but of
inferior quality he should be reprimanded and should pay a fine of 4 deniers
to the Master of the Craft.
Mortar Mixer can not take an Apprentice for a less time of service than six
years and a fee of 100 sous for teaching.
The Master of the Craft has petty jurisdiction and the infliction of fines
over the Masons, Plaisterers, and Mortar Mixers, their assistants and
apprentices, as it will be the King's pleasure, as well as over those who
intrude into their trades and over the infliction of corporal punishment
without drawing blood and over the right of clamor or immediate arrest and
trial if it did not affect property.
any one of the Craft departs before the Master of the Craft, if he is in
contempt he must pay a fine of 4 deniers to the Master; and if he returns and
asks admission he should give a pledge; and if he does not pay before night,
there is a fine of 4 deniers to the Master; and if he refuses and acts
wrongly, there is a fine of 4 deniers to the Master.
The Master who presides over the Craft, can inflict only a fine for a quarrel;
and if he who has been fined is so hot and foolish that he will not obey the
commands of the Master nor pay the fine, the Master may exclude him from the
any one who has been excluded from the Craft by the Master, works at the trade
after his exclusion, the Master may take away his tools and retain them until
he pays a fine; and if he offers resistance, the Master must make it known to
the Prevost of Paris who must overcome the resistance.
The Masons and the Plaisterers are liable to do watch, to pay taxes, and are
subject to all the duties which the other citizens of Paris owe to the King.
The Mortar Mixers are exempt from watching, and also the stonecutters as the
syndics have heard said from father to son from the time of Charles Martel.
The Master, who by the King's order presides over the Craft, is exempt from
watching in consequence of that he does in presiding over the Craft.
who is over sixty years old, or whose wife is dead, ought not to serve on the
watch; but he ought to make it known to the King's Keeper of the Watch.
From these Regulations we learn that there was an officer who
presided over the Craft in general, and who in many respects resembled the
Chief Warden or Master of the Work of the Scottish Masons and the similar
officer among the English, upon whom Anderson has gratuitously bestowed the
title of Grand Master.
He was appointed by the King, and in the Regulations is sometimes
called "the Master who protects the Craft" (le mestre qui garde le mestier),
and sometimes "the Master of the Craft" (le mesire du mesher).
At a later period he was styled "Master and General of the Works
and Buildings of the King in the Art of Masonry," and still later "Master
General of the Buildings, Bridges, and Roads of the King."
It is worthy of notice that one of these Regulations refers to a
privilege as having been enjoyed by the Craft according to an uninterrupted
tradition from the time of Charles Martel.
This reference to the great Mayor of the Palace as being connected
with Masonry, in a French document of the 13th century, and which is believed
to have a nmch earlier origin, would authorize the hypothesis that the story
of the connection of Charles Martel with Masonry which is attributed to him in
the English legend was derived by the English Masons from those French
builders who both history and tradition concur in saying brought their art
into England at a very early period.
The confounding of the name of Charles Martel the Warrior with
that of his grandson Charlemagne, the Civilizer ‑ if confusion there was, as
is strongly to be suspected ‑ must be attributed to the French and not to the
The statutes of the Community, Corporation, or Guild of Masons
were confirmed by Charles IX. and Henry IV. in the 16th, and by Louis XIII.
and Louis XIV. in the 17th century.
A great many letters‑patent and decrees of the King's council are
in existence, which define the jurisdictional powers of the Masters‑General of
the Buildings, and which contain regulations that release the Masons from all
judicial summonses and from all judgments pronounced against them in other
jurisdictions, remitting them to the Masters‑General of the Buildings as their
Some of these letters‑patent related to the police of the Craft.
Thus those of 1574 prescribed that Apprentices should be received
by the Warden (Maitre Garde), and regulated the fee which should be paid under
By an edict of October, 1574, sworn Master Masons were appointed
as assistants to the Warden, who were to visit and inspect the works in Paris
and the suburbs. These were at first twenty in number, but they were
subsequently increased to sixty.
The Master‑General of the Buildings had two jurisdictions, one
which had existed for several centuries, and the other, which was established
in the year 1645.
The seat of the former was at Paris, in the Chatelet; that of the
latter at Versailles.
Three architects, says Lacroix, who bore the title of "King's
Counsellors, Architects, and Masters‑General of the Buildings," exercised
their jurisdiction year by year.
They decided all disputes between the employers and the workmen
and between theworkmen themselves.
Their courts were held on Mondays and Fridays, and there was an
appeal from their judgment to the parliament.
In 1789 the Revolution in proclaiming freedom of labor abolished
all corporative regulations and exempted the workmen from any sort of
restraint, while at the same time they were deprived of all special
The Operative Masons of France, at the present day, constitute a
large Confraternity, who have a kind of organization, but very singularly they
are the only body of workmen who do not practice the system of compaganage or
fellowship adopted by the other trades.
They have, however, their legend, and pretend that they are the
successors of the Tyrians, who wrought at the building of the Temple in
Jerusalem, calling themselves, therefore, the children of Solomon.
But they have no corporate existence and must be considered as
working only on an independent and voluntary principle.
There is, apparently, no similitude between them and the
Compagnons de la tour, or brotherhoods of the other handicrafts in France.
According to Larousse, they do not possess nor practice the topage,
challenge, or formula of salutation by which the members of any one of these
brotherhoods are enabled to recognize each other when meeting in a strange
From the sketch of the progress of architecture as a science and
its practical development in the art of building in Gaul and in France, as
presented in this chapter, we learn that the origin of the French Freemasons
can not be traced as precisely as we do that of the German and British.
Rebold  says, very correctly, that the Masonic corporations
never presented in France the peculiar character that they had in England and
Scotland, and that hence their influence on the progress of civilization was
much less than in those countries.
He further affirms that the custom adopted by the architectural
corporations of affiliating men of learning and condition as patrons or
honorary members, appears to have resulted in France, as it had in other
countries, namely, in the formation, outside of the corporation, of lodges for
the propagation of the humanitarian doctrines of the institution; and he adds
that when the Masonic corporations were dissolved in France at the beginning
of the 10th century, lodges of this nature appear then to have existed.
All this is, however, mere assumption ‑ an hypothesis and not an
Rebold himself admits that there is no longer any trace to be
found of these Speculative Lodges. 
 "Histoire des Trois Grandes Loges," p. 31.
 Nous n'en trouvons plus aucune trace. Rebold, ut supra
In fact, there never was in France that gradual development of
Speculative out of Operative Masonry which took place in England and in
The Speculative Masonry of France came to it, not out of any
change in or any action of the Masonic guilds or corporations, by which they
abandoned their Operative and assumed a Speculative character. The Speculative
lodges, the lodges of Free and accepted Masons, which we find springing up in
Paris about that epoch, were due to a direct importation from London and under
the authority of the Speculative Grand Lodge of England.
The history of the rise and progress of Speculative Masonry in
France comprises, therefore, a distinct topic, to be treated in a future
But we must first discuss the condition of Masonry in other
countries and at other epochs.
THE TRAVELING FREEMASONS OF LOMBARDY OR THE MASTERS OF COMO
effort to trace the gradual growth of the modern system of Speculative Masonry
out of the ancient organization of Operative Masons, we are arrested by an
important era when the Guilds of architects and builders, issued about the
10th century, from the north of Italy and under the name of "Traveling
Freemasons," perambulated Europe, and with the patronage of the churches
extended the principles of their art into every country from Germany to
Before we can properly appreciate the events connected with the
origin of this body of organized Masons as the undoubted link which connects
the artificers of the Roman Colleges with the Masonic Guilds which sprang up
in Gaul, in Germany, and in Britain, we must take a brief view of the
condition of the Roman Empire in respect to the cultivation of the arts at the
time of its declension and after the seat of government had been removed from
Rome to Byzantium.
Mr. Thomas Hope has devoted some thirty pages of his Historical
Essay on Architecture to an investigation of the circumstances which toward
the end of the 10th century affected architecture, generally and extensively,
To this admirable inquiry I shall be indebted for many of the
details and leading ideas which will constitute the present chapter.
In this work, Mr. Hope remarks that the architecture of Christian
Greece and Rome, that is to say, the Byzantine and the Roman styles,
exhibited, while it was confined within the limits bounded by the Alps, more
local diversities than after it had crossed the mountain‑ranges and advanced
successively through France and Germany to the farthest inhabited regions of
northern Europe. 
 Hope, "Historical Essay on Architecture," P. 220.
But as this advancement from the plains of Italy into more
northern regions was accompanied by a style of architecture the adoption of
which was at once the cause and the effect of that united action which
distinguished the Freemasons of the Middle Ages, it will be necessary to give
a brief glance at the condition of architecture in the times which preceded
the exodus of artists from Italy.
It must be remembered that it is impossible to trace with any
prospect of certainty, the progress of events which finally led to the
institution of Speculative Masonry, unless we direct our attention to the
early history of Operative Masonry.
Though Speculative and Operative Masonry never were and never can
be identical ‑ a mistake into which early Masonic historians like Dr.
Anderson have fallen ‑ yet it must be always remembered that the
former sprung by a process of mental elaboration out of the latter.
Operative Masonry is the foundation and Speculative Masonry the
superstructure which has been erected on it.
This is the theory which is advanced in the present work, in
contradistinction to that untenable one which traces a connection of the
modern society with any of the religious institutions of antiquity.
If then the old Masonry of the mediaeval builders, which was
essentially operative in its character, is the foundation on which the
Freemasonry of the modern philosophers, which is essentially speculative in
its character, is built, we can not pretend to write a history of the
superincumbent building and at the same time totally ignore the underlying
It is necessary, therefore, to glance at the history of
architecture and at is condition before and after the 10th century, if we
would understand how Freemasonry in the beginning of the 18th century was
transmuted from an Operative to a Speculative system, from an art of building
to a science of philosophy.
It has been noted as an evidence of the union of principles which
began to distinguish the architects of and after the 10th century, who called
themselves Freemasons, that in the time of Caesar a habitation in Helvetia
differed more from a dwelling in the northern part of Italy, though the
regions were adjacent, than the church reared in England or Sweden did from
one erected in Sicily or Palestine, remote as the countries were from each
 Hope, "Historical Essay on Architecture," P. 220.
Now let it be remembercd that this unity of design was introduced
by the Traveling Freemasons; that these derived a knowledge of the great
principles of the art of building from the artificers sent by the Roman
Colleges, in company with the Legions of the Roman army, into all the
conquered provinces and who there established colonies; that those Traveling
Freemasons communicated their knowldedge to the Stonemasons of Germany,
France, England Scotland, and other countries which they visited in pursuit of
employment and in the practice of their craft; and finally that those
stonemasons having from time to time, for purposes of their own
aggrandizement, admitted non‑professional, that is to say non‑masonic members
into their ranks, the latter eventually overcame the former in numbers and in
influence and transmuted the Operative into a Speculative institution.
Remembering these points, which give the true theory of the origin
of modern Freemasonry, as it were, in a nutshell,  it will be at once seen
how necessary it is that the Masonic student should be thoroughly acquainted
with the history of these mediaeval Masons, and with the character of the
architecture which they invented, with the nature of the organization which
they established, and with the method of building which they practiced.
To attain a comprehensive view of this subject, it is necessary
that we should, in the first place, advert to the history of the kingdom of
Lombardy, which is admitted to have been the cradle of mediaeval architecture.
At the close of the 5th century, the Ostrogoths, instigated and
supported by the jealousy of the Byzantine Emperor, had invaded Italy under
the celebrated Theodoric.
Odoacer, who then ruled over the Roman Empire of the East, having
been treacherously slain, Theodoric was proclaimed King of Italy by the Goths.
He reigned for thirty‑three years, during the greater part of
which long period he was distinguished for his religious toleration, his
administration of justice, and the patronage of the arts.
In a passage written by Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus, who was the
Chancellor of Theodoric, the Minister describes, in a glowing panegyric, the
exalted condition of architecture during the reign of that monarch.
Tiraboschi, who cites the passage in his History of
 Translation by W.H. Leeds, London, 1836, p. 17.
the Sciences in Italy, attributes this flourishing state of the
art to the influence of the Goths.
But Moller, in his Memorials of German Gothic Architecture,
dissents from this view, especially as the Gothic domination in Italy lasted
scarcely more than half a century, and contends that were it even demonstrable
that architecture had been at that time such as Cassiodorus describes it, the
fact is to be ascribed rather to the Byzantine Romans, among whom he thinks
that we must search for all that, at that era, was preserved of the city and
The Goths were finally driven out of Italy in the reign of
Justinian, and by the armies of the renowned Belisarius.
This event occurred about the middle of the 6th century.
They were succeeded by another tribe of semi‑barbarians, who,
though they did not, as the Ostrogoths had done, assume the domination of the
whole of the Italian peninsular, yet exerted an influence on the state of
mediaeval architecture that produced results of most interesting character.
The Longobardi, a word which by a generally accepted etymology
signifies the Longbeards, a title which they obtained from their manner of
wearing that appendage to the face, were a Scandinavian tribe who, coming down
from their almost arctic home, first settled on the eastern banks of the Elbe,
but gradually extended their migrations southwardly until in the year 568 they
invaded Italy, and founded in its northeastern part the kingdom which to this
day bears the name of Lombardy.
The kingdom of Lombardy existed in a condition of prosperity for
two hundred years, but was finally obliterated toward the end of the 8th
century, in 774, from the roll of independent monarchies by the victorious
arms of Charlemagne.
During that period it had been governed by one‑and‑twenty kings,
several of whom displayed great talents and who left their monuments in the
wisdom and prudence of the laws which they gave to the kingdom.
In their first invasion under Alboin, their King, the Longobards,
 Sismondi, "Histoire des Republiques Italiennes du Moyen Age,"
tome i., p. 14, Charles Butler says that no ancient code of law is more famous
than the "Law of the Lombards;" none discovers more evident traces of the
It survived the destruction of that empire by Charlemagne, and is
said to be in force even now in some cities of Italy.
"Horae Judicae Subsecivae," p. 85.
or, as they were more briefly called, the Lombards, who were a
fierce and warlike people, were pagans, and inflicted many persecutions on the
But their manners became gradually more mild, and in the year 587,
Anthairs, their third monarch, embraced Christianity according to the faith of
His successor afterward adopted the orthodox or Catholic creed.
It was in the 6th century that the germs of the interference of
the Church with the arts and sciences, and the control of architecture, were
During the repeated incursions of barbarians, the gradual decline
and ultimate fall of the power of the Roman Empire, and the continual
recurrence of wars, the arts and sciences would have been totally extinguished
had they not found a place of refuge among the priests, the bishops, and the
Whatever there was remaining; of the old culture was preserved
from perishing in the monasteries, the churches, and the dwellings of the
Schools were erected in the cathedral churches in which youths
were instructed by the bishop or someone appointed by him, in the knowledge of
the seven liberal arts and sciences.
In the monasteries the monks and nuns devoted as a part of their
discipline a certain portion of their time to reading the works of the ancient
doctors, or in copying and dispersing manuscripts of classical as well as
To these establishments, says Mosheim, are we indebted for the
preservation and possession of all the ancient authors who thus escaped the
fury of barbaric ignorance.
Architecture, which because its principles were generally and
almost exclusively applied to the construction of churches and other religious
edifices had become almost a sacred art, was at first and for a long time
under the entire control of the clergy.
The laity were either an ignorant peasantry or soldiers trained to
war; the ecclesiastics alone exercised the arts, and especially architecture.
Missionaries sent to teach the Christian faith carried with them
into the fields of their labor, builders whom they directed in the
construction of the new churches which they made their converts erect. 
Ecclesiastical writers have remarked upon the incredible number of
churches which, under the influence of religious enthusiasm, were
 "Historical Essay on Architecture," P. 213.
erected all over Europe, but more especially in Gaul and Italy at
so early a period as the 6th century.
Lombardy is, as Mr. Hope has remarked, "the country in which
associations of Freemasons were first formed, and which from its more recent
civilization afforded few ancient temples whence materials might be supplied,
was the first after the decline of the Roman Empire to endow architecture with
a complete and connected system of forms, which soon prevailed wherever the
Latin Church spread its influence from the shores of the Baltic to those of
the Mediterranean." 
Moller, a learned German writer on architecture,  asserts that
the Lombards were in the habit of building much, and appear to have quickly
attained a higher degree of civilization than the Goths, to whom they
As a proof of their skill and architectural culture we may refer
to D'Agincourt's History of Art by its Monuments,  where is exhibited a
plate of the church of St. Julia near Bergamo, that of St.
Michael at Pavia, and that of the round church of St. Momus, all
of which he ascribes to the Lombards.
Hope also enumerates among the churches erected in what he calls
the Lombard style the Basilica of St.
Eustorgio, which was built in the 7th or 8th century.
But, as in the case of the Goths, Moller ascribes whatever there
was of excellence in Lombard architecture not to the Lombards themselves, who
were originally a rude, invading people who adopted the civilized manners of
the people whom they conquered as well as their architecture, but to the
Other writers on this subject do not concur with Moller in this
view.  It is not denied that there was a constant influx of Grecian artists
from Byzantium into Lombardy, who unquestionably must have influenced the
condition of the arts by their superior skill; it can not be doubted that at
the time of the extinction of their kingdom they had attained a very
considerable share of civilization, and had made much progress in the art of
This is evident from the few monuments that still remain as well
as from the fact
 "Historical Essay on Architecture," P. 250.
 See Moller's "Memorials of German Gothic Architecture,"
translated by W.H. Leeds London, 1836, p. 18.
 " L'Histoire de I'art par les monumens," Pl. xxiv.
 See Sismondi, "Histoire des Repub. Italy," ch. i.
that Charlemagne made but little change in their govemment when he
established his Lombard Empire by their conquest.
Nicholson speaks of these Lombards in terms of commendation.
He says that "Italy does not seem to have suffered much but rather
the reverse from their government, and during their possession the arts
flouished and were cultivated with greater success than during the periods
either immediately preceding or following. It is certain that they gave a
great impetus to building, for during the two hundred years of their sway the
northern and central portions of Italy had become studded with churches and
baptisteries."  We may therefore very safely say that the ancient
architecture of the Romans derived from their Colleges of Artificers was
imitated by the Lombards and with its inevitable improvements brought to them
from Byzantium by Grecian architects was subsequently extended over Europe.
But it was only after the conquest of Lombardy by Charlemagne that
that province began to assume that high place in architecture which was won
for it by the labors of the builders who disseminated over all Europe the
principles of the new style which they had invented.
This style, which was designated as the Lombard from the place of
its origin, differed both from the Roman and the Byzantine, though it adapted
and appropriated portions of both.
Notwithstanding that the rule over Lombardy by Charlemagne, a
monarch whose genius in acquiring empires was equalled by his prudence in
preserving them, must have tended to advance the civilization of the
inhabitant, the long succession of a race of degenerate descendants had a
retarding effect and it was not until two centuries after his death that the
architects of Lombardy established that reputation as builders which has so
closely connected their labors with the history of Freemasonry in the Middle
It has been already seen, when this subject was treated in a
previous part of this work, that the Roman Colleges of Artificers continued to
exit in all their vigor until the complete fall of the Empire.
The invasion of the hordes of barbarians which led to that result
had diminished their number and impaired their organization, so long as
paganism was the religion of the State.
"Dictionary of Architecture" in voce Lombardii Architecture.
But when the people were converted to Christianity, the Colleges,
under the new name of Corporations, began to flourish again.
The bishops and priests, who were admitted into them as patrons
and honorary members, soon assumed the control of them and occupied the
architects and builders in the construction of churchs, cathedrals,
monasteries, and other religious edifices.
What Whittington  has said of Gaul, may with equal propriety be
applied to the other portions of Europe.
The people were degraded, the barons only semi‑civilized, commerce
had not yet elevated the lower classes, and the arts had made but little
progress among the higher classes.
It was therefore chiefly through the clergy that the art of
building was revived, which under these barbaric influences had previously led
to its decay.
All the writers who have made this subject a study agree in the
statement of the great influence of the clergy in the practice and propagation
of mediaeval architecture.
Fergusson goes so far as to say that in the 13th century the
Masonq though skilled in hewing and setting stones and acquainted with all the
inventions and improvements in their art, never exercied their calling, except
under the guidance of some superior person, who was a bishop, an abbot, or an
accomplished layman. 
This too broad assertion is, however, hardly reconcilable with the
fact that in France alone in the 13th century, to say nothing of England,
Italy, or Germany, there were many architects who, though neither bishops nor
abbots, both designed and built great works.
Such, for instance, as Hugues Libergier, the builder of the
Cathedral of Rheims, Robert de Lusarches, the builder of the Cathedral of
Amiens, and Eudes de Montreuil who, says Whittington, was "an artist equally
remarkable for his scientific knowledge and the boldness of his conceptions.
He accompanied St. Louis in his expeditions to the Holy Land,
where he fortified the city and port of Joppa, and on his return to France,
was employed by the King in the constructing of several religious buildings."
The important place occupied by the Church in the revival of
architecture can not, however, be too highly estimated.
 "An Historical Survey ofthe Ecclesiastical Antiquities of
France." London, 1811, p. 19.
 "History of Architecture in all Countries," etc., vol. i., p.
 "Historical Survey," p. 68.
would be an error to suppose that there were no laymen who were
architects, it must be confessed that the most eminent ecclesiastics made
architecture a study, and that in the construction of religious houses, the
bishops or abbots designed the plans and the monks executed them. And even if
the architect and the Masons were laymen, the house was almost always built
under the superintendence and direction of some ecclesiastic of high rank.
The view taken of this subject is the one that is historically the
Whittington's language is worthy of quotation.
"In those ages of barbarism, when the lay portion of the community
was fully employed in warfare and devastation, when churches and convents were
the only retreats of peace and security, they also became the chief foci of
Convents have long been celebrated as the chief asylums of letters
in those ages.
They also deserve to be remembered as the sole conservators of
art; not only painting, sculpture, enameling, engraving, and portraiture, but
even architecture was chiefly exercised in them; and the more as the edifices
which showed any elegance of skill were only required for sacred purposes.
In every region where a religious order wanted a new church or
convent, it was an ordinary thing for the superior, the prior, the abbot, nay,
the bishop, to give the design and for the monks to fulfill, under his
direction, every department of the execution from the meanest to the highest."
 It is important that the reader should be thoroughly impressed with the
position and the services of the clergy in the architecture of the Middle
Ages, because it accounts for the character of the institution of Stonemasons,
who succeeded the ecclesiastical artists, and who though released from the
direct service of the Church still remained under its influence.
This is well shown in the symbols used by them in the decoration
of the buildings which they erected, most of which belong to Christian
iconography, in the charters and constitutions by which they were governed,
which inculcate religious faith and respect for the Church, and finally in the
transmission of a religious character to the Speculative Masons who succeeded
them, and of whose institution it has been said that if Freemasonry be not an
universal religion, it forms an auxiliary to every system of faith.
The only difference between the Freemasonry of to‑day and that
 "Historical Essay," P. 222.
of the 10th or the 11th century, in respect to the question of
religion is that the former is cosmopolitan and universal in its creed, whose
only unalterable points are the existence of God and the immortality of the
soul, while the latter was strictly Christian according to the orthodox,
catholic form in its belief and practice.
But notwithstanding the change from intolerance to liberality of
sentiment which the progress of the age has introduced, it must never be
forgotten that whatever there is of a religious or sacred character in the
constitution or the ritual of the Freemasonry of today must be traced to the
influences of the Church over the Operative Masons of the Middle Ages.
But it is necessary to resume the thread of our history.
At the beginning of the 11th century Lombardy was the active
center of civilization in Europe.
It had prospered under the free institutions of its kings for two
centuries, and on the extirpation of the royal line, the people shared in the
benefits of the wise policy and prudent government of their conqueror,
The workmen of Lombardy still maintained the relics of those
ancient Sodalities, which had carried under the Roman domination the
principles and practices of the Colleges of Artificers into the conquered
provinces of the Empire.
The policy of the kings had led them to give various craftsmen the
exclusive privilege of exercising their own trades, and under the form of
guilds or corporations to establish bodies, which were governed by peculiar
laws, and which were sought to be perpetuated by the introduction into them of
youths who were to be instructed by the Masters, so that having served a due
probation as apprentices, they might become associates and workers in the
guild or corporation.
It was in this way that at that time all trades and professions
In so far as respects the union in a corporation endowed with
peculiar privileges, the Masons did not differ essentially from the
shoemakers, the hatters, or the tailors.
Each had its Masters, its Wardens or equivalent officers, and each
was governed by its own laws and was recruited from a body of apprentices. 
There was, however, one very important difference between the
Masons and the other crafts which was productive of singular resuits.
 Fergusson, "History of Architecture," vol. i‑, p. 477.
This difference arose from the nature of the work which was to be
done, and which affected the relations of the craftsmen to each other.
The trade of the tailor or the shoemaker was local.
The custom was derived from the place in which he lived.
The members of the corporation or guild all knew each other, they
lived in the same town or city ‑ and their apprentices, having accomplished
their time of service and gone forth to see the world, almost always returned
home and saded among their relatives and their friends.
Hence the work done by these trades was work that came to them.
It was brought to them by the neighbors who lived around them.
Every shoemaker in a city knew every other shoemaker in the same
place; every tailor was familiar with the face, the life, and the character of
every other tailor.
While such intimacy existed there was no necessity for the
establishment of any peculiar guards against impostors, for the trade was
seldom troubled with the presence of strangers.
But it was not so with the Masons. Theirs was not a local craft.
Work did not come to them, but they had to go to the work.
Whenever a building was to be erected which required a force of
workmen beyond the number who resided usually near the place, Masons had to be
sent for from the adjacent towns and districts, and sometimes from even much
There was therefore a great necessity for caution in the admission
of these "strangers among the workmen" lest some should intrude who were not
legally entitled to employment by having acquired a knowledge of the craft in
the regular way; that is, by having passed through the probation of an
apprenticeship to some lawful Master.
Hence arose the necessity of adopting secret modes of recognition,
by which a stranger might be known on his first appearance as a member of the
Craft, as a true craftsman, or be at once detected as an impostor.
Mr. Fergusson has adopted this view of the origin of signs and
passwords among the Masons.
As a scholar of much research, but who, not being a member of the
modern confraternity, derives his opinions and deductions from history
unconnected with any guild traditions, his remarks are interesting.
"At a time when writing was almost wholly unknown among
the laity, and not one Mason in a thousand could either read or
write, it is evidently essential that some expedient should be hit upon by
which a Mason traveling to his work might claim assistance and hospitality of
his brother Masons on the road, by means of which he might take his rank at
once on reaching the lodge without going through tedious examinations or
giving practical proofs of his skill.
For this purpose a set of secret signs was invented which enabled
all Masons to recognize one another as such, and by which also each man could
make known his grade to those of similar rank without further trouble than a
manual sign, or the utterance of some recognized password.
Other trades had something of the same sort, but it never was
necessary for them to carry it either to the same extent nor to practice it so
often as Masons, they being, for the most part, resident in the same place and
knowing each other personally."
Freemasonry was therefore in the following condition at the
beginning of the 11th century, so far as respects the Kingdom of Lombardy, to
which the honor has been universally assigned of being the center from which
the Masonic corporations spread abroad into the rest of Europe.
Lombardy being, as has already been shown, the active center
whence the arts and sciences were radiated into other countries, architecture,
as one of the most useful of the arts and one of an almost sacred character
from its use in the construction of religious edifices, took a prominent place
among the crafts that were cultivated in that country.
Schools of architecture and corporations of architects principally
ecclesiastics, were formed.
These, passing into other countries and disseminating the
principles of their science which they had acquired in the schools at home,
have been hence known in history by the title of the "Traveling Freemasons of
the Middle Ages."
Among these schools one of the most distinguished was that of
The ancient city of Comum, lying at the southern extremity of the
Lacus Larius, now called the Lake of Como, was, even under the Empire, a place
of some distinction, as it had obtained from Coesar the full franchises of a
It was probably the birthplace of the elder and the younger Pliny,
and was certainly
 "History of Architecture," vol. i., p. 478.
the favorite residence of the latter, who writes of it in one of
his letters to Canidius Rufus in words of endearing fondness, calling it his
"What," he says, "is doing at Como, our darling? "  Pliny
established there a school of learning, and at an early period it was noted
for its foundries of iron.
It retained its prosperity until the fall of the Empire, and
continued in a flourishing condition under the Goths and under the Lombards.
It retained its importance during the Middle Ages and is still
populous and flourishing.
The architectural school of Como was of such repute in the 10th
century that, according to Muratori, the historian of Italy, the name of
Magistri Comacini, or Masters from Como, came to be the geneic name for all
these associations of architects.
The influx of Grecian artists from Byzantium into Italy at that
time was, most probably, one of the means by which the Lombardic architects
were enabled to improve their system of building.
It was from the Greek Empire of Byzantium that the light of the
arts and sciences, and of literature, proceeded, which poured its intellectual
rays into the darkness, of western Europe. At that time the word Greek, or
Grecian, was synonymous with all intellectual culture.
We find a curious illustration of this in the Legend of the Craft,
where Charles Martel, evidently a mistake for Charlemagne, is said to have
been indebted for the improvements in architecture or Masonry in his Kingdom
to the visit of Naimus Grecus.
I have shown, in the first part of this work, that this expression
simply means "a certain Greek." The legend thus recognized the fact that
Europe was instructed in architecture by the Greeks of Byzantium, who visited
Italy and Gaul.
The labors of these Masons could not long be confined within the
narrow limits of Lombardy.
Opulent as it was and populous, it could not fail to be fitted
with churches and religious edifices, so that in time the need and the means
of building more must have become exhausted.
There being no further demand for their services at home, they
looked beyond the Alps, which formed their northern boundary, for new fields
in which to exercise their skill and to avail themselves of the exclusive
privileges which they are said to have possessed.
 Quid agit Comum, tuae mem que deliciae? Pliny, "Epistles,"
lib. i., cap. 3.
A certain number, says Mr. Hope, united and formed themselves into
a single greater association or fraternity which proposed to seek for
occupation beyond its native land, and in any ruder, foreign region, however
remote, where new religious edifices and skillful artists to erect them were
wanted, to offer their services and bend their steps to undertake the work.
The connection of these Freemasons with the Church forms an
interesting and important part of their history.
Governor Pownall, in an article on this subject in the Archaelogia,
was one of the first to make the statement that the origin of Freemasonry as
an organized institution is to be traced to the builders who issued from Italy
about the 12th century and traveled all over Europe, disseminating the
principles of their art and erecting religious buildings under the patronage
of the Pope.
On this subject he writes as follows: "The churches throughout all
the northern parts of Europe being in a ruinous state, the Pope created
several corporations of Roman or Italian architects and artists, with
corporate powers and exclusive privileges, particularly with a power of
setting by themselves the prices of their own work and labor, independent of
the municipal laws of the country wherein they worked, according as Hiram had
done by the corporations of architects and mechanics which he sent to Solomon.
The Pope not only thus formed them into such a corporation, but is
said to have sent them (as exclusively appropriated) to repair and rebuild
these churches and other religious edifices.
This body had a power of taking apprentices, and of admitting or
accepting into their corporation approved Masons.
It will be found that, claiming to hold primarily and exclusively
under the Pope, they assumed a right, as Freemasons, of being exempt from the
regulations of the statutes of laborers, laws in England which made
regulations for the price of labor; secondly, in order to regulate these
matters amongst themselves as well as all matters respecting their
corporation, they held general chapters and other congregations.
Doing this they constantly refused obedience or to conform
themselves to these statutes, which regulated the price of the labor of all
other laborers and mechanics, although they were specifically mentioned
Dr. Henry, the historian, in speaking of them in his History of
 "Historical Essay," pp. 230, 231.
 "Archaeologia," p. 117.
Great Britain, says that "the Popes, for very obvious reasons,
favored the erection of churches and convents, and granted many indulgences by
their bulls to the society of Masons in order to increase their numbers.
These indulgences produced their full effect in those
superstitious times, and that society became very numerous and raised a
prodigious multitude of magnificent churchen about this time, in several
Sir Christopher Wren makes the same statement, and I quote at
length the passage contained in the Parentalia (which is one of the rarest of
modern English books), because it not only repeats the statement of Papal
encouragement, but gives a very detailed account of the mode of traveling
adopted by these wandering Masons and their usages in constructing buildings.
His words are:
"We are told by one who was well acquainted with their history and
constitutions that the Italians, with some Greek refugees, and with them
Frenchmen, Germans, and Flemings, joined into a fraternity of architects,
procuring Papal bulls for their encouragement and their particular privileges;
they styled themselves Freemasons, and ranged from one nation to another as
they found churches to be built; for very many, in those days, were every day
building through piety or emulation; their government was regular; and where
they fixed near the building in hand, they made a camp of huts.
A surveyor governed in chief; every tenth man was called a Warden,
and overlooked each nine.
The gentlemen in the neighborhood, either out of charity or
commutation of penance, gave the materials and carriage.
Those who have seen the accounts in records of the charge of the
fabrics of some of our cathedrals near four hundred years old, can not but
have a great esteem for their economy and admire how soon they erected such
lofty structures." 
Hope is still more explicit in referring to the Papal patronage
which is said to have been bestowed upon these Traveling Freemasons. He says
that when they were no longer restricted in the exercise of their profession
to Lombardy, but had begun to travel into the most distant countries, wherever
their services as builders might be required, it was found necessary to
establish a monopoly in the construction of religious edifices by which all
 "History of Great Britain," vol. viii., p. 275  "Parentalia,"
the natives of the country where they went as strangers were, if
not members of their body, to be excluded from employment.
Now this exclusive privilege was one which no temporal potentate
could give to have effect beyond his own dominions.
In all those countries which recognized the Pope as the head of
the Church ‑ that is to say in all the countries of Europe ‑ the authority of
a Papal bull was the only power by which this monopoly could be universally
The Masons, says Mr. Hope, could be regarded only as different
troops of laborers working in the cause of the Pope, extending his estates by
the erection of new churches; and he thinks that they thus obtained the
requisite powers soon after Charlemagne had put an end to the rule of the
Lombards in Italy, and had annexed that Kingdom to his own Empire.
"The Masons were," he says, "fraught with Papal bulls or diplomas
not only coneraing the corporate powers given to them by their own native
sovereign, on their own native soil, but granting to them, in every other
foreign country which they might visit for purposes connected with their
association, where the Latin creed was avowed, and the supremacy of the
spiritual creed acknowledged, the right of holding directly and solely under
the Pope, alone, entire exemption from all local laws and statutes, edicts of
the sovereign or municipal regulations, whether with regard to the force of
labor or any other binding upon the native subjects; they acquired the power,
not only themselves to fix the price of their labor, but to regulate whatever
else might appertain to their own internal government, exclusively in their
own general chapters; prohibiting all native artists, not admitted into their
society, from entering with it into any sort of competition, and all native
sovereigns from supporting their subjects in such rebellion against the
Church, and commanding all such temporal subjects to respect these credentials
and to obey these mandates under pain of excommunication." 
This statement in reference to the granting of bulls or charters
of privilege to the Traveling Freemasons is given by Mr. Hope, probably on the
authority of Governor Pownall.
In February, 1788, a letter from Governor Pownall was read before
the Society of Antiquaries of London, and subsequently published
 "Historical Essay on Architecture," P. 232.
in the ninth volume of the Archaeologia,  under the title of
"Observations on the Origin and Progress of Gothic Architecture, and on the
Corporation of Free Masons supposed to be the Establishers of it as a Regular
Governor Pownall commences his letter by the assertion of his
belief that the College or Corporation of Freemasons were the formers of
Gothic architecture into a regular and scientific order by applying the models
and proportions of timber frame‑work to building in stone.
Without stopping to discuss the question of the correctness of
this theory of the origin of the Gothic style, which must be a subject of
future consideration, I proceed to analyze those parts of the letter which
refer to the patronage of the Freemasons by the Papal See.
According to Governor Pownall, the churches throughout all the
northern parts of Europe being in a ruinous state, the Pope erected several
corporations of Roman or Italian architects and artists with corporate powers
and exclusive privileges,  particularly with a power of setting by
themselves the prices of their own work and labor, independent of the
municipal laws of the country wherein they worked.
The Pope not only thus formed them into such a corporation, but is
said to have sent them with exclusive powers to repair and rebuild the
churches and other religious edifices which in different countries had fallen
into decay, but also to build new ones when required.
In England, into which these builders had penetrated at an early
period, they were styled "Free and Accepted Masons." In respect to the
historical authority for the existence of this Papal bull, charter, or
diploma, which is said to have been issued about the close of the 12th or the
beginning of the 13th century, Pownall says that being convinced from
"incontrovertible record" that the Corporation of Architects and Masons had
been thus instituted, he was very solicitous to have inquiry and search made
among the archives at Rome, whether it was not possible to find there some
record of the transaction.
Application was accordingly made to the librarian of the Vatican
 "Archaeologia," vol. ix., pp. 110‑126.
 Although it was never competent for the Pope to create a
corporation in England, yet according to Mr. Ayliffe, on the Continent that
power was conceded to him and shared by him with the prince or temporal
"Treatise on the Civil Law," P. 210.
and the Pope himself is said to have ordered minute search to be
But the report was that "not the least traces of any such record"
could be found.
Governor Pownall, notwithstanding this failure, thought that some
record or copy of the charter must be buried somewhere at Rome amidst
forgotten and unknown bundles and rolls ‑ a circumstance which he says had
frequently occurred in relation to important English records.
Unfortunately for the positive settlement of the historic
question, it by no means follows because the Roman Catholic librarian of the
Vatican could not or would not find a bull or diploma which in the 12th
century had granted special indulgences to an association which the Popes in
the 18th century had denounced and excommunicated, that no such bull is in
The policy of the Papal Church overrules, without compunction, all
principles of historic accuracy and by its undeviating course, whenever the
end seemed to justify the means, forged or suppressed documents are of no
This question still divides Masonic writers.
Krause, for instance, on the supposed authority of a statement of
Elias Ashmole, communicated by Dr. Knipe to the compiler of his Life, admits
the fact of a Papal charter, while Stieglitz, accepting the unsuccessful
application of Pownall to the Vatican librarian, contends for the absurdity of
any such claim.
The preponderance of historical authority is, however, in favor of
There is certainly abundant evidence of the subordination of these
Masons to ecclesiastical authority.
And it is not unreasonable to suppose that the entire supervision
of church buildings exercised by bishops and abbots, who, as Fergusson says,
made the designs while the Masons only followed the plans laid down for them,
must have been supported by the express authority of the head of the Church.
The Traveling Freemasons were at an early period simply the
servants of the Church.
Another fact worthy of attention is that the relationship of trade
and the frequency of intercourse for other reasons between the different
cities of Lombardy and Constantinople brought to Italy many Greeks, some of
whom came seeking for employment and others were driven from their homes by
political or religious persecutions.
Among these emigrants were many artists who united with the
Masonic Corporations of Lombardy, and infused into them a large portion of
their Byzantine art.
These Freemasons, thus armed with the authority of the Pontiff,
having been well organized at home, were ready to set forth, like missionaries
at the call of the Church, to build cathedrals, churches, and monasteries as
they might be needed by the extension of the Christian religion.
From the 10th to the 12th century, and in some places even
earlier, we find them perambulating Europe and spreading the knowldge of the
art in Germany, in France, in England, Scotland, and elsewhere.
The remarks of Mr. Hope on the professional wanderings of these
Craftsmen of the Middle Ages, though they have the air of romance, are really
well supported by historical authority.
"Often obliged," says that pleasing writer, "from regions the most
distant, singly to seek the common place of rendezvous, and departure of the
troop, or singly to follow its earlier detachments to places of employment
equally distant, and that at an era when travelers met on the road every
obstruction and no convenience, when no inns existed at which to purchase
hospitality, but lords dwelt everywhere, who only prohibited their tenants
from waylaying the traveler, because they considered this, like killing game,
one of their own exclusive privileges; the members of these communities
contrived to render their journeys more easy and safe by engaging with each
other, and perhaps even in many places, with individuals not directly
participating in their profession, in compacts of mutual assistance,
hospitality, and good services, most valuable to men so circumstanced.
They endeavored to compensate for the perils which attended their
expeditions, by institutions for their needy or disabled brothers; but lest
such as belonged not to their communities should benefit surreptitiously by
these arrangements for its advantage, they framed signs of mutual recognition
as carefully concealed from the knowledge of the uninitiated as the mysteries
of their art themselves.
Thus supplied with whatever could facilitate such distant journeys
and labors as they contemplated, the members of these Corporations were ready
to obey any summons with the utmost alacrity, and they soon received the
encouragement they anticipated.
The militia of the Church of Rome, which diffused itself all over
Europe in the shape of missionaries, to instruct nations and to establish
their allegiance to the Pope, took care not only to make them feel the want of
churches and monasteries, but likewise to learn the manner in which the want
might be supplied.
Indeed they themselves generally undertook the supply; and it may
be asserted that a new apostle of the Gospel no sooner arrived in the remotest
corner of Europe, either to convert the inhabitants to Christianity or to
introduce among them a new religious order, than speedily followed a tribe of
itinerant Freemasons to back him and to provide the inhabitants with the
necessary places of worship or reception.
"Thus ushered in, by their interior arrangements assured of
assistance and safety on the road; and by the bulls of the Pope and the
support of his ministers abroad assured of every species of immunity and
preference at the place of their destination; bodies of Freemasons dispersed
themselves in every direction, every day began to advance farther and to
proceed from country to country to the utmost verge of the faithful, in order
to answer the unceasing demand for them or to seek more distant custom." 
One fact peculiarly worthy of remark is that throughout all
Europe, from its southern to its northern, from its western to its eastern
limit ‑ wherever the Christian religion had penetrated and churches had been
crected ‑ a surprising uniformity existed in the style of all edifices
wheresoever built at the same period.
No better evidence than this could be furnished of the existence
of an association whose members, wherever they might be scattered, must have
been controlled by the same rules of art.
Sidney Smith, Esq., in a paper in the Archaeologia, alludes to
this fact in the following language, in which he speaks of this association as
having been established in the early part of the 13th century by a Papal bull:
"Thus associated and exclusively devoted to the practice of
Masonry, it is easy to infer that a rapid improvement, both in the style and
execution of their work, would result.
Forming a connected and corresponding society, and roving over the
different countries of Europe, wherever the munificent piety of those ages
promised employment to their skill, it is probable, and even a necessary,
consequence, that improvements by whomsoever introduced would quickly become
common to all; and to this cause we may refer
 "Historical Essay on Architecture," p. 235.
the simultaneous progress of one style throughout Europe which
forms so singular a phenomenon in the history of architecture." 
Mr. Hope is subsequently still more elaborate in his remarks on
"The architects," he says, "of all the sacred edifices of the
Latin Church, wherever such arose ‑ north, south, east, or west ‑ thus derived
their science from the same central school; obeyed, in their designs, the same
hierarchy; were directed in their construction by the same principles of
propriety and taste; kept up with each other, in the most distant parts to
which they might be sent, the most constant correspondence; and rendered every
minute improvement the property of the whole body and a new conquest of the
art.... The result of this unanimity was, that at each successive period of
the Masonic dynasty, on whatever point a new church or new monastery might be
erected, it resembled all those raised at the same period in every other
place, however distant from it, as if both had been built in the same place,
by the same artist.... For instance, we find at particular epochs, churches as
far distant from each other as the north of Scotland and the south of Italy
more minutely similar than those erected within the single precincts of Rome
or Ravenna." 
Paley also speaks of this uniformity of style which prevailed
everywhere throughout all counties as one of the most remarkable facts
connected with the history of mediaeval architecture.
And he cites the remark of Willis in his Architecture of the
Middle Ages, that whereas in our own age it is the practice to imitate every
style of architecture that can be found in all the countries of the earth, it
appears that in any given period and place our forefathers admitted but of one
style, which was used to the complete exclusion of every other during its
Paley very correctly accounts for this by the fact that
Freemasonry was in the Middle Ages "a craft in the hands of a corporate
ecclesiastical confraternity the members of which seem to have been bound down
to certain rules."
After what has already been said in this work, it is very evident
that this "craft in the hands of a corporate ecclesiastical confraternity
 "Archaeologia," vol. xxi., P. 521.
 "Historical Essay on Architecture," pp. 238, 239.
 Paley, "Manual of Gothic Architecture," p. 206.
"must make a very important link in the great chain which connects
the history of Freemasonry in one continued series from the first development
of the art in a corporate form in the Colleges of Numa, until that transition
period when the Operative was merged in the Speculative element.
Mr. Hope, who devoted much labor to an investigation of the
influences which toward the end of the 10th century affected architecture
generally and diffusively throughout Europe, wrote an exhaustive chapter on
this subject in his Historical Essay, whence copious citations have been made
in the present work.
It will be sufficient in making a summary of what has been already
presented to the reader, to say of these influences he considered the most
important to be the establishment of a school of architecture in Lombardy and
the organization of Guilds of Builders who, under the name of "Freemasons,"
perambulated the whole continent, passing over to England and Scotland, and
taught the art of building under the inspiration of the same principles of
architecture, directed by the same ideas of taste, and governed by the same
guild spirit of fraternity.
Subsequently to the appearance of this work of Mr. Hope, Lord
Lindsay entered the same field of investigation and presented the public with
the result of his inquiries in a work entitled Sketches of the History of
Christian Art, from whose pages much interesting information may be gleaned in
respect to the condition of mediaeval Freemasonry and architecture.
These mediaeval Freemasons at first adopted the principles of
Byzantine art in their construction of churches and afterward invented that
new system known as the Gothic style of architecture.
Before the organization of the Lombard school the architecture of
Europe was that which had been derived from the builders of Rome, and all the
churches constructed in Italy, in Gaul, and even as far as Britain, were built
upon the model of the Roman basilica, an edifice which in pagan Rome served as
a court of law and an exchange, or a place of public meeting for merchants and
men of business.
As after the conversion of the Empire to the new religion, many of
these edifices were converted into Christian places of worship, the word was
used in the low Latin of the period to designate a cathedral or metropolitan
church, and the style was readily adopted and followed in the construction of
The style of architecture which prevailed in Byzantium or
Constantinople was very dimerent from the Roman.
The principal differences were the four naves as parts of a cross
of equal limbs, and especially the surmounting dome or cupola, which was,
generally, octagonal in shape.
This style the Lombard Freemasons adopted in part, modifying it
with the Roman style, and finally developing the Gothic as a new system
peculiarly their own.
The history of this style, its progress in different countries,
and the gradual changes it underwent, is therefore intimately connected with
The question naturally arises why these Lombard Masons, who had
derived their first lessons from the descendants of the old builders of the
Roman Colleges of Artificers and who were surrounded by the examples of Roman
art, should have so materially modified their system as to have given to it a
much greater resemblance to the Byzantine than to the Roman style.
The answer to this question will be found not only in the fact
that between the shores of northern and eastern Italy there was a very
frequent, continuous intercourse with Byzantium, but also in the additional
fact that the religious architects of Lombardy were very thoroughly imbued
with the principles of the science of symbolism, and that they found these
principles far better developed in the Byzantine than in the Roman style.
"The basilica," says Lord Lindsay, "is far less suggestive, far
less symbolical than the Byzantine edifice, and hence the sympathy always
manifested for Byzantium by the Lombard architects." 
How the Freemasons of Lombardy became imbued with the science of
symbolism and made it a prominent part of their art of building, are questions
of very great interest, because they refer to the only bond which connects the
Speculative Masons of the present day with the old Operative Masons of the
This important topic will be hereafter discussed in a separate
chapter when I come to the consideration of that period of time in the history
of Freemasonry which is marked by the transition of the Operative into the
All that is necessary to be said here is that this symbolic style
of architecture, beginning in Lombardy somewhere between the 7th
 "Sketches of Christian Art."
and the 10th centuries, diffused itself gradually at first, but
rapidly afterward over the whole of Europe.
For this diffusion of a peculiar religious architecture Lord
Lindsay assigns the following reason as germane to the subject of the present
"What chiefly contributed to its diffusion over Europe was the
exclusive monopoly in Christian architecture, conceded by the Popes toward the
close of the 8th century, to the Masons of Como, then and for ages afterward,
when the title Magisiri Comacini had long been absorbed in that of Free and
Accepted Masons, associated as a craft or brotherhood in art and friendship.
A distinct and powerful body, composed, eventually, of all
nations, concentrating the talent of each successive generation with all the
advantages of accumulated experience and constant mutual communication ‑
imbued, moreover, in that age of faith, with the deepest Christian reverence,
and retaining these advantages unchallenged till their proscription in the
15th and 16th centuries ‑ we cannot wonder that the Freemasons should have
carried their art to a pitch of perfection which, now that their secrets are
lost, it may be considered hopeless to attempt to rival." 
The result of all these observations has been, I think, to
strengthen and substantiate the theory which, all through this work, has been
maintained, of the origin of Freemasonry as a Speculative institution founded
on an Operative art.
In every country where it has been founded we are enabled to trace
its first beginning as a craft organized into a Guild, Corporation, or
Confraternity, to the Roman Colleges of Artificers ‑ the Collegia Fabrorum ‑
which were originally established, or are said to have been established, by
Thus we find the architects who came out of these Colleges
following the Roman legions in their marches to conquest, settling to work in
the colonies, municipalities, and free cities which were established by the
Roman government in the colonies of Gaul and Britain, and perpetuating the
Roman taste and the Roman method of work.
So have we traced the progress of these Masons of Rome in the
different colonies where they settled and continued their labors after the
Empire had fallen.
 "Sketches of Christian Art," vol. ii., p. 14.
And now we see the links of the historical chain more distinctly
visible in the rise and progress of these Masons of Lombardy.
Originally, undoubtedly Roman Colleges must have had their seats
in the northern part of Italy, that highly favored province which, more than
any other had received its civilization and its art cultivation from the
Then, when the glory of Rome had departed, the Lombard kings
preserved the Roman architecture, and after their conversion to Christianity,
practiced it under the auspices of the Church.
Then came, toward the 10th century, those Corporations of
Freemasons, who, imitating in their form of government the example which had
been set by the Colleges, presented themselves as a Confraternity of workmen
who, first having filled their own country with specimens of their skill, at
length leaving Como and other cities of Lombardy, crossed the Alps and
proceeded to communicate to other countries the knowledge of that art and the
mode of practicing it, which they had acquired at Como.
One of the first countries into which these Traveling Freemasons
penetrated ‑ perhaps the very first ‑ was Germany.
There we find, in the 12th century, the Steinmetzen, or the
Stonemasons, who appear to have been almost a direct continuation of the
Comacine Masters, or Traveling Freemasons of Lombardy.
These German Stonemasons have played too important a part in the
history of Masonry to permit them to be passed over without an extended survey
of all that is connected with their rise and progress, and with their
wonderful achievements in medioeval Masonry or Architecture.
The Stonemasons of Germany will then be the topic discussed in the
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THE HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY, 1898
by ALBERT GALLATIN MACKEY
Part Two ‑ HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY
THE STONEMASONS OF GERMANY
must not look in the early history of the Germanic tribes for that gradual and
uninterrupted growth of architecture and its cultivation as coming down to
them in a direct line from the Roman Colleges.
First heard of in the time of Caesar, the barbarians who occupied
the vast region comprised within the Rhine, the Danube, the Carpathian
Mountains, and the Baltic Sea, were described by Tacitus as an illiterate and
warlike people, whose religion was a gross superstition, who had no knowledge
of the arts or of architecture.
The Roman Colleges, which had sent their branches with the legions
into Spain and Gaul and Britain, were never planted in Germany.
While those provinces were enjoying the advantages of Roman
culture and civilization, Germany, overspread with forests and morasses, was
inhabited by warlike tribes of barbarians, to whom the arts of peace were
As late as the end of the 3d century, Germany was an unconquered
province, and the Roman emperors were engaged not in colonizing the wild
region north of the Danube and east of the Rhine, but rather in striving to
avert the southern progress of the barbarous tribes of the Allemanni from the
invasion and occupation of Italy.
The Romans built, it is true, several towns of some note on the
banks of the Rhine, but in the vast interior region which extended from that
river to the shores of the Baltic Sea, there was hardly a single city previous
to the 9th century.  To the history of architecture or of its connection
with the Roman Empire, as in the case of the other provinces, there is no
early German contribution.
 Robertson, "History of Charles V.," vol. i., P. 217.
It was in the beginning of the 5th century that the Franks, a
confederation of German tribes, began to take a place in the history of
We need not dwell on the progress of their conquests.
Sufficient to say, that having invaded the province of Gaul, they
settled in it permanently and established the kingdom of the Franks which, in
the course of time, became that of France.
The Franks were, of all the Teutonic tribes, the most intelligent,
and though the most warlike, were the least ferocious.
Hence in invading and in settling a Roman province, they readily
adapted themselves, in great measure, to Roman habits and customs, and were
very willing to accept and to practice the civilization of the more cultivated
inhabitants of the country which they had invaded and had made their home.
The result was that from the time of Clovis, the first of the
Merovingian race of kings who reigned at the end of the 5th and beginning of
the 6th century, and who has been deemed the founder of the Frankic kingdom,
the Franks imparted to the Germans the civilization they had attained by their
conquest of a civilized people.
Hence the introduction of architecture, and any Operative Masonry,
beyond the building of mere dwellings, into Germany is to be attributed
principally to the Franks.
We find very few monuments of the work of Roman builders in
Germany, and therefore we can trace the progress of architecture, not by any
regular descent from the Roman Colleges of Artificers, but only through the
indirect operation of Frankic artists.
Indeed, according to Moller,  the authentic History of German
architecture begins with the reign of Charlemagne, but the only monuments
remaining of that period are the Cathedral of Aix‑la‑Chapelle and the portico
of the Convent of Lorsch near the city of Worms.
Rebold  says that architecture flourished greatly under
Charlemagne, who introduced into Gaul architects and stonecutters from
Rebold does not always found his assertions on well authenticated
facts, but in this case he has the concurrent support of other historians,
more scrupulously correct in their statements.
The efforts of Charlemagne, who was a legislator as well as a
 George Moller, "Denkmaler der Deutschen Beuenkunst," 4tO.
Darmstadt, 1821, cap. iii., s. 6.
 "Histoire Generale de la Franc Maconnerie," p. 104.
warrior, to promote the civilization of the Germanic nations which
he governed, led him,  after the subjugation of Lombardy, to draw materials
from that comparatively cultured kingdom to advance his projects, and to
introduce among his Teutonic subjects some taste for architecture, in which
the Lombards at that time excelled the rest of the world.
Moller shows very plainly the evidence of this transmission of
architecture into Germany from the south ‑ that is, from Italy.
He tells us that in the beginning of the practice of architecture
in Germany there were two styles of building which materially differed from
The earliest was a foreign style, evidently imported from the
south ‑ that is to say, from Italy or Lombardy ‑ and a more modern one, which
Moller says was invented by the Germans themselves.
This was a modification of the first, and was intended to
accommodate the building to the nature of a northern climate.
It is in this style that we find the grandest monuments of
architecture which Germany possesses. 
The leading form of the churches built during the 10th and 11th
centuries was the same, says Moller, as that of the churches built at the same
period in England, France, and Italy.
Here are two propositions, each of great importance in a train of
reasoning for the purpose of tracing the history of early German Freemasonry
through the progress of its groundwork, architecture.
First we have a confirmation of what has already been said, that
the first architecture and, of course, the first Masonry of Germany were
derived from Lombardy.
It is true that Moller (whose authority on the history of German
architecture is not to be despised) thinks it erroneous to ascribe to the
Lombards any material influence upon the architecture of the west and north of
But almost in the same breath he admits that in the beginning
German architecture was introduced from Italy, and confesses, also, that the
Lombards were in the habit of building a great deal, and appear to have
quickly attained a higher degree of civilization than the Goths. 
Accepting these admissions as strictly and historically
 See Sismondi, "Republiques Italiennes," tom. i., p. 20.
 Moller, "Denkmaler," ut supra.
 "Denkmaler," cap. ii., s. v.
am prepared to accept the theory of Mr. Hope, that the Lombards,
the Magistri Comacini, the Traveling Freemasons from the school of Como, in
the 10th century, introduced their system of architecture into Germany at that
early period of time.
Secondly, in the statement that the style of building then
practiced in Germany was the same as that used in England, France and Italy,
we have a further confirmation of the theory so ably developed by Mr. Hope,
that the Traveling Freemasons who perambulated Europe, and under
ecclesiastical supervision erected cathedrals and monasteries were a secret
organization, distinguished by an identity of principles in the construction
of edifices in all countries from the south of Italy to the north of Scotland.
While dwelling on this period we must not neglect to advert to the
influence of religion, which seems to have played a very important part in the
propagation of the science of architecture, a part which it is well worth
Christianity was introduced into Germany, and the gradual
civilization of the people proceeded with a few exceptions from the south and
west parts of the country ‑ that is, from those parts which were contiguous to
Italy and Gaul.
It is there where the clergy, as the ministers and missionaries of
the new religion exercised the greatest influence and were engaged in
directing the construction of churches and convents, that we must look for the
first appearance of architecture.
Architecture, whose boldest conceptions are exhibited in the
construction of houses for worship, is very closely connected with religion.
Hence, after the diffusion of Christianity, it became a necessary
art, and we may trace its growth as concurrent with that of the new faith in
Therefore, it is that we find so learned a writer as Moller
ascribing the origin of the German building art in Germany to the time of
Charles the Great, and to those countries bordering on the Rhine and in the
south, where Roman culture and religion had been first introduced.
With these preliminary remarks, which were necessary to show what
was, in the early period of German history, the condition of architecture, of
which the principles were almost always practically enforced in the form of
organized Operative Masonry, we may proceed
 "Denkmaler," cap. iii., s. vi.
to investigate its gradual development until we reach the era of
the organized Stonecutters' Guild.
It is not until the 10th century that we find the Operative Masons
of Germany assuming anything like an organized condition.
It was in the reign of Otho the Great (crowned at Aix‑la‑Chapelle
in 936), who has been called the Civilizer of Germany, that Roman culture
began to be introduced into that country.
The Germans, possessing no native or original architecture,
readily, when the way was opened to them by the increase of intercourse,
copied the monuments of Roman civilization.
In Germany, as in Gaul and in Britain, the arts were at first
cultivated by the ecclesiastics, and the monasteries were their workshops.
Especially may this be said of architecture, and still more
especially of ecclesiastical architecture or the construction of religious
Sulpice Boisseree, who has furnished a most exhaustive treatise in
his Histoire et Description de la Cathedrale de Cologne, gives so lucid a view
of the motives which led these old Stonecutters to unite in a fraternity and
to connect themselves closely with the clergy, that I am tempted to translate
it, though it be at the expense of some repetition of what has already been
said in other parts of this work.
But we can not too often call the attention of the student and the
disciple of Speculative Masonry to the remote origin from which the ponderous
institution of the present day has sprung.
In those early, day, when Masonry was beginning to take its place
in Germany, whoever wished, says Boisseree, to assume the profession of an
architect must begin by learning to cut stone.
When he had become a Master in that art, there grew up between
himself and his former companions a sort of fraternity which was wisely
maintained by the customs and statutes of the Order, and which was especially
observed among those who devoted themselves to the building of houses of
As they were persuaded that this work of erecting houses of God
was a very noble and a very pious occupation, and as even the secular labour
of constructing, for this purpose, monuments of solidity, elegance, and
perfection required men formed by experience and united by sentiments of
honour and fidelity, they, by their union, established a confraternity or
private community, which was distinguished from the common body of craftsmen
by being exclusively devoted to ecclesiastical architecture and the building
This fraternity preserved, in all their purity, the rules and
practices of the art which they transmitted as a secret to the depository of
This fraternity had an organization similar to that of the
The Masters and workmen employed on edifices of less size or
importance were subordinate to the architects of the principal fabrics, and
the fraternity was, in the course of time, divided into districts which
extended over all Germany.
But this large development belongs to a later period, that of the
12th and 13th centuries, when the Stonemasons adopted that distinct
organization as a Guild, which was first exhibited, or, at least, of which we
have the first authentic records, in the labours of the workmen who produced
those wonders of architecture, the cathedrals of Cologne and Strasburg.
This subject will be treated in the succeeding chapter.
At present we must restrict our investigations to the architects
and Masons of the earlier period.
The building of churches was, therefore, of course, under the care
The monasteries, says Findel, were the nurseries of science and
civilization, the center of all energy and zeal in art, and the fosterers of
architecture.  Fergusson thinks that in the Middle Ages, in the
construction of religious edifices, the designs were made by bishops, who,
taking as a model some former building, verbally corrected its mistakes and
suggested his improvements to the builder.  He thus impliedly admits the
existence of two classes, the clergy and the laity, both of which were engaged
in the pursuit of architecture, and of which classes the former greatly
predominated in the infancy of the art.
Fergusson, who is not always right in his conclusions, here at
least is correct.
It will be found, as we pursue our history, that architecture as a
science and Operative Masonry as an art began under ecclesiastical auspices
and were confined to monks and monasteries.
Michelet, in his Histoire de la France, speaking of the wonderful
architecture of the Middle Ages and of the science of
 "History of Freemasonry," Lyon's Translation, p. 51 
"History of Architecture in all Countries," etc., p. 80.
mystical numbers which occurs in all the churches of that period,
which he considers as the secret of the medieval Masons, attributes this
mystical knowledge to the Church.
"To whom," says he, "belonged this science of numbers, this divine
mathematics? To no mortal men but to the Church of God.
Under the shadow of the Church, in chapters and in monasteries,
the secret was transmitted, together with instruction in the mysteries of
The Church alone could accomplish these miracles of architecture."
But in time, and indeed at an early period after the renaissance
of architecture in the 10th and 11th centuries, the practice and eventually
the control of architecture passed away from the ecclesiastics as an exclusive
possession and began to be shared by the laymen.
There were then, in the history of medieval architecture in
Germany (as well as in other countries), three distinct epochs or periods.
First, when the science of architecture and the art of building
were wholly in the hands of the clergy; second, when they were shared by the
clergy and the laity; and third, when the science and the art passed away
entirely from the clergy into the hands of the laity.
It was in the third period that bishops ceased to be "Masters of
the Work" (Magister Operis) and the position was assumed by wholly
professional lay artists.
The second period may be styled, if we borrow an expression from
geology, the "transition period" of medieval architecture.
In Germany this transition time is marked by the organization of
the Steinmeizen, and the establishment of the workshops known as the Bauhutten.
The Steinmetzen  (literally the Stonecutters) of Germany were
builders or architects or both, who in the Middle Ages, dating from the 9th
century at least, associated themselves together in fraternities and were
engaged, sometimes alone and sometimes in connection
 Dr. Ekause Orei ahest kunst, iv., 362) thinks that the last
syllable in Steinmetz comes from masa, mets, or mess, signifying a measure,
and conveyed the idea that the chief object of a labourer in stone was to form
his stone according to a just measure of proportion.
Hence a Steinmetz would signify, literally, a stone‑measurer.
But I prefer to adopt the generally accepted etymology and derive
the word from the obsolete verb, metzen, to cut.
The Steinmetzen were the Stonecutters.
with a monastery or under a bishop or other prelate of the Church,
in the construction, principally, of religious edifices. 
Fallon, in Mysterien der Freimaurer, cites various customs
practiced by the Steinmetzen which would seem to indicate that there was a
close connection between them and the modern Speculative Freemasons, who
sprung up in the 18th century.
The most important of these customs may be enumerated as follows:
German Steinmetzen divided their members into three classes, Meister, Gesellen,
and Lehrlinge, answering to the Masters, Fellows, and Apprentices of the
But there is no evidence that these were degrees in the modern
sense of that word. As has already been shown in England and Scotland, they
were ranks, promotion into which depended on length of service and skill in
existence of some esoteric knowledge, some peculiar ceremonies, and some form
of initiation in consequence of which strangers were excluded from the
adoption of secret modes of recognition, by means of signs, tokens, and words,
by which a strange member could make himself known.
Their establishment as a confraternity or brotherhood, in which each member
was bound by solemn obligations to afford relief to his poorer brethren.
Laws and usages were adopted which resembled in many respects those of the
modern Speculative Masons.
Some of these were the natural result of their organization as a
brotherhood, but others, such as their usages at banquets, the prerogatives of
a Master's son over other persons, and some others, were peculiar, and were
adopted by the Freemasons of the 10th century, and have been perpetuated in
the modern Lodges.
The increase in the number of churches and other religious
edifices naturally caused a proportionate increase in the number of workmen.
The monks, not being able to supply the requisite number,
 As in narrating the early history of Masonry in Scotland I was
compelled to depend on the laborious researches of Bro.
Lyon, so, in treating of medieval Masonry in Germany, I have not
hesitated to draw liberally from the invaluable pages of Bro. Finder's
"Geschichte der Freimaurer," using, for convenience, the able translation of
But I have not omitted to consult also the works of Krause, Kloss,
Steiglitz, and many other writers, both Masonic and profane.
the laity were admitted to a participation in architectural and
Still they were for a long time kept in strict dependence on their
Hence the lay craftsmen lived in close connection with the
monasteries and assisted the monks in their labours as builders, forming, for
this purpose, associations among themselves and living in huts near the
monastery or other building which they were erecting.
To this usage Findel, with much reason, attributes the rise of the
Hutte is defined as meaning a hut, cottage, or tent.
Bauhutte, which is literally a building‑hut, was the booth made of
boards erected near the edifice which was being built, and where the
Steinmetzen, or Stonecutters, kept their tools, carried on their work,
assembled to discuss matters of business, and probably ate and slept. 
It will be remembered that Sir Christopher Wren, in the Parentalia,
describes a similar custom among the English Masons of erecting temporary
places of habitation near the buildings which they were erecting.
These they, call "Lodges," a word which has about the same
signification in English that the word Hutten has in German.
The Bauhutten were therefore the Lodges of the German Steinmetzen
in the Middle Ages.
The word continued to convey this meaning until the 18th century,
the English expression Lodge modified into Loge was substituted for it, by the
Speculative Masons who received their charters from the Grand Lodge of
Findel says that the real founder of the Bauhutten was Wilhelm,
Count Palatine of Scheuren and Abbot of the Monastery of Hirschau.
For the purpose of enlarging the monastery he had brought workmen
together from many places.
He had incorporated them with the monastery as lay brethren.
He instructed them in art, regulated their social life by special
laws, and inculcated the doctrine that brotherly concord should prevail
because it was only by working together and by a loving union of their
strength that they could expect to accomplish the great works in which they
were engaged. 
The Bauhutten or Lodges flourished for a long time, principally
under the patronage of the Benedictine order of monks.
But at length the transition period of which I have already spoken
 Findel, "History," p. 52.
 Ibid., ut supra, p. 54.
 Ibid., ut supra, p. 54
to pass away and the third to arrive, and the Master Builders who
had received their architectural knowledge from the monks separated themselves
from them and established independent Lodges.
As early as the 13th century there were many Lodges which had no
connection with the monasteries, but were bound together in a general
association that included all the Stonecutters of Germany.
Until the 12th century our knowledge of the Masonic associations,
other than the schools of architecture which were established in the bosom of
the monasteries, is unsupported by any documentary evidence.
Indeed, the first written Constitution of the German Freemasons
which has reached the present day is that of Strasburg, in the year 1459,
which purports, however, to be a revision of the Regulations of the
Stonecutters founded at that city in 1275.
Of the latter there is no copy extant.
But as Winzer, who wrote on the German Brotherhoods of the Middle
Ages,  has remarked, such regulations may have existed long before they had
written constitutions, the necessity of which could have been felt only when
the craftsmen had obtained a formed recognition, and when their laws were
committed to writing to give them, as it were, a superior sanction.
Though this is but an hypothesis, it is not without the support of
In the 11th century the Traveling Freemasons from the celebrated
school of Lombardy had entered Germany and begun to propagate the principles
and the practice of their art. 
Of this fact we find abundant evidence in the construction during
that century of numerous cathedrals in Germany.
Such were those of Bamberg, finished in 1019; of Worms, in 1020;
of Spire, in 1061; of Constance, of Bonn, in 1100; and a great many others.
Until we approach the period when the Lombard architects diffused
the principles of their art in Germany, under the peculiar form of an
association of Freemasons, which was not until about the 11th or 12th century,
the history of Masonry in Germany is really only that of the Operative art in
its simplest form, and deriving what
 Cited by Findel, "History," p. 57  En 1060 les conferies
maconniques de la Lombardie se repandent en Allemagne, en France, en Normandie
et en Bretagne. Rebold, "Histoire Gen. de la Franc‑Maconnerie," p. 109.
 Mr. Hope especially cites the cathedrals of Spire and Worms as
specimens of the Lombard style of architecture.
little there was of it in common with the Masonry of other
countries, principally from France.
To the Franks coming from Germany and invading Gaul was France
indebted for its political character.
To the same Franks, returning in the time of Charlemagne and his
successors, to communicate a portion of the culture and civilization that they
had acquired from mingling with the native inhabitants of the conquered Roman
province, was Germany indebted for all the architectural and Masonic character
that it had, until the peaceful invasion of the Lombard Freemasons in the 11th
From that time the Freemasonry of Germany began to assume a new
modification as a Guild or Corporation of associated workmen, like those which
we have already seen existing in Britain and Gaul.
To the German Freemasonry of that period we must therefore now
direct our attention
THE CATHEDRAL OF STRASBURG AND THE STONEMASONS OF GERMANY
Abbe Philip Andrew Grandidier was a learned historian and canon of the great
choir of the Cathedral of Strasburg.
He was the author of several historical works on Alsatia and
Strasburg, where he was born in 1752.
Among them were Historical and Typographica Essays on the
Cathedral Church of Strasburg.  It is evident that be had paid much
attention to the antiquities of his native city, and although not a Mason, his
learning, his impartiality, and his abundant opportunities of acquiring
information, gave no little authority to the views that he may have expressed
on the antiquities of German Masonry.
In the year 1778 he wrote a letter to Madame d'Ormoy, which first
appeared in the following year in the Journal de Nancy and which, copied ten
years afterward in the Marquis de Luchet's Essai sur la Secle des Illumine's,
has since been repeated in French, German, and English, in dozens of Masonic
books and magazines.
This letter he afterward enlarged and made it the frame of a
narrative which he embodied in his Historical Essays, published four years
In this work he has advanced a theory on the origin of Freemasonry
which, notwithstanding Dr. Krause's disparaging criticism,  has been
accepted as true by most of the recent Masonic historians.
As the statement of the Abbe Grandidier is very interesting, it is
here presented to the reader as a groundwork of what will be said, with some
modifications, on the same subject in the present
 "Essais Historiques et Typographiques sur I'Eglise Cathedral
de Strasburg," Strasburg, 1782.
"Kunsturkunden der Freimaurersbrudersheft," iv., p. 251.
And I shall interpolate some portions of the letter which are not
embraced in the essay.
The Abbe begins by saying that, "opposite to the church and the
episcopal palace is a building appendant to the Cathedral and the Chapel of
St. Catherine which serves as the Maurerhof, or workshop, of the Masons and
Stonecutters of the Cathedral.
This workshop is the origin of an ancient fraternity of Freemasons
of Germany."  The Cathedral Church of Strasburg, and especially its tower,
which was begun in 1277 by the architect Erwin of Steinbach, is one of the
masterpieces of Gothic architecture.
The edifice as a whole and in its details is a perfect work and
worthy of all admiration, since it has not its equal in the world.
In foundation was built with such solidity that, notwithstanding
the apparent fragility of its open‑work, it has to the present day resisted
storms and earth‑quakes.  The tower of the Cathedral was finished in 1439.
This prodigious work spread far and wide the reputation of the
Masons of Strasburg.
The Duke of Milan, in the year 1479, wrote a letter to the
magistrates of Strasburg in which he asked for a person capable of directing
the construction of a superb church which he wished to build in his own
capital.  Vienna, Cologne, Zurich, Friburg, and Landshutt constructed
towers in imitation of that of Strasburg, but they did not equal it in height,
in beauty, or in delicacy.
The Masons of those different fabrics and their pupils spread over
the whole of Germany, and their name soon became famous.
As an evidence of their renown he quotes Jacobus Wimphelingius,
who flourished at about the end of the 15th century, as saying that the
Germans are most excellent architects and that AEneas Sil‑
 "Essais Historiques et Typographiques," p. 413.
 Lettre a. Madame d'Ormoy.
 From the Letter. Grandidier says, "I possess a copy of this
letter in Italian." It is a pity that the writers of the 18th century, when
referring to facts connected with Masonic history, have so often made their
accuracy doubtful and their authority suspicious by careless anachronisms or
In 1479, the Duke of Milan was a boy of fifteen, the son of the
licentious tyrant Galeaz, who had been assassinated in 1476.
The Duchy was administered by the Bonne of Savoy, the widow of
Galeaz, as regent, during the minority of her son.
Nor was Milan, torn at that time by intestine contests and the
revolution of the Genoese, in a condition to indulge in the luxury of
vius (who was Pope of Rome from 1458 to 1464) declared that in
architecture they excelled all other nations.
That they might distinguish themselves from the common herd of the
Masonic craft, they formed associations to which they gave the German name of
Hutten, signifying lodges. All of these lodges agreed to recognize the
superiority of that of Strasburg, which was called Haupthutte or Metropolitan
or Grand Lodge.
Afterward the project was conceived of forming, out of these
different associations, a single society for the whole of Germany; but it was
not thoroughly developed until thirteen years after the complete construction
of the tower of Strasburg.
Jodoque, or Jos Doizinger, of Worms, who succeeded John Hultz in
1449 as architect of the Cathedral, formed, in 1452, a single body of all the
Master Masons who were dispersed over Germany.
He gave them a particular word and sign by which they could
recognize those who were of their fraternity.
The different Masters of the particular lodges met at Ratisbon on
April 25, 1459, and there drew up their first statutes.
The act of confraternity digested in this Assembly constituted Jos
Dotzinger and each of his successors, by virtue of the office of architect of
the Cathedral of Strasburg, as sole and perpetual Grand Masters of the General
Fraternity of Freemasons of Germany.
The second and third General Assemblies of the lodges were held at
Spire on April 9, 1464, and April 23, 1469.
The Constitutions of the fraternity were confirmed, and it was
enacted that a Provincial Chapter should be annually held in each district.
John Hammerer, who lived in 1486, and James of Landshutt, who died
in 1495, succeeded Jos Dotzinger in the place of Architect of the Cathedral of
Strasburg and in that of Grand Master of the Masons of Germany.
Conrad Wagt, who succeeded them, obtained from the Emperor
Maximilian I. the confirmation of their institution and of the statutes of the
lodges. The diploma of this Prince is dated at Strasburg, October 3, 1498.
and Ferdinand I., and their successors, renewed these privileges
on different occasions.
This Fraternity, composed of Masters, Companions, and Apprentices
(in German, Meister, Gesellen, and Diener), formed a particular jurisdiction
independent of the body of other Masons.
The Society of Strasburg embraced all those of Germany.
It held its tribunal in the lodge, or, as it is now called, the
Maurerhof, and judged without appeal all causes brought before it, according
to the rules and statutes of the Fraternity.
The inhabitants of Strasburg resorted to it in all litigated cases
relating to building.
In 1461 the Magistracy entrusted to it the entire cognizance of
such cases, and in the same year prescribed the forms and the laws which it
should observe, and this privilege was renewed in 1490.
The judgments which it gave received the name of Huttenbrief or
The archives of the city are full of such documents, and there are
few old families in Strasburg which have not preserved some of them among
But its jurisdiction has been much diminished, especially since
1620, at which time the Magistracy took from the Lodge of Strasburg the
inspection of buildings which had so long been entrusted to it.
The necessity for this suppression arose from the abuse of its
authority by the lodge.
The statutes or constitutions of the Freemasons of Germany, at
first limited to the number of thirteen, were afterward extended to
These were renewed and put in better order by the General Assembly
of the Grand Lodge, held on August 24, 1563, at Basle, and on the 29th of the
following September, at Strasburg, seventy‑two Masters and thirty Companions
were present at this Assembly, which was presided over by Mark Schau, the
architect of the Cathedral.
Twenty‑two lodges directly depended on the Grand Lodge of
The lodges of the Masons of Swabia, of Hesse, of Bavaria, of
Franconia, of Westphalia, of Saxe, of Misnia, of Thuringia, and of the
countries situated along the river Moselle, as far as the frontiers of Italy,
acknowledged the authority of the same Grand Lodge.
At the beginning of the 18th century the Master Masons of the
fabric of Strasburg imposed a fine on the lodges of Dresden and Nuremberg, and
the fine was paid.
It was only by an edict of the imperial diet of Ratisbon that the
correspondence of the Grand Lodge of Strasburg with the lodges of Germany was
interdicted.  The Grand Lodge of St. Stephen of Vienna, which founded the
lodges of Austria, of Hungary, of Styria, and of all the countries
 This was because Alsace, of which Strasburg was the capital,
had ceased to be a part of the German Empire and been annexed to France.
This was the first precedent of the doctrine now held by American
Masonic jurists, that Masonic and political territorial jurisdiction must be
adjacent to the Danube, the Grand Lodge of Cologne, which had
under its dependence the places on the west bank of the Rhine, that of Zurich,
whose jurisdiction extended over the lodges of Berne, of Lucerne, of
Shaffhausen, of St. Gal, and of the cantons of Switzerland, all these referred
in all grave and doubtful cases to the Mother Lodge of Strasburg.
The members of this Society held no communication with the other
Masons, who knew only the use of mortar and the trowel.
The erection of buildings and the cutting of stone constituted
their principal labour. So they regarded their art as far superior to that of
the other Masons.
The square, the level, and the compasses became their attributes
and their characteristic marks.
As they were resolved to form a body distinct from the herd of
workmen, they invented for their own use rallying words and grips for mutual
These they called das Worizeichen, or the "word sign," der Gruss,
or the "salute," and the Handschenk, or "grip." The Apprentices, Companions,
and Masters were received with certain ceremonies which were performed in
secret.  The Apprentice when he was advanced to the degree took an oath
never to divulge by mouth or by writing the secret words of the salute.
The Masters as well as the Companions were forbidden to divulge to
strangers the constitutional statutes of Masonry. It was the duty of every
Master of a lodge carefully to preserve the book of the society, so that no
one should transcribe any of the regulations.
He had the right to judge and punish the Masters, Companions, and
Apprentices who belonged to the lodge.
The Apprentice who desired to become a Companion had to be
proposed by a Master, who, as his sponsor, bore witness of his life and
A Companion was subject to the Master for the time fixed by the
statutes, which was from five to seven years.
Then he might be admitted as a Master.
Those who did not fulfil their religious duties, who led a life of
libertinism, or who were scarcely Christians, or who were known to be
unfaithful to their wives, were not received into the society, or were
expelled from it, and all Masters and Companions were forbidden to hold
intercourse with them.
 In the letter the Abbe says that they took for their motto
they sometimes abused by refusing the legitimate authority of the
No Companion could depart from the lodge or speak while in it
without permission of the Master.
Every lodge possessed a chest in which the money given by Masters
and Companions at their reception was deposited.
This money was used for the relief of poor or sick brethren.
The Abbe Grandidier thinks that in these traits we may recognize
the Freemasons of modern times.
In fact, he says that the analogy is plain, and the allegory
There is the same name of lodges for their places of meeting; the
same order in their distribution; the same division into Masters, Companions,
and Apprentices; both are presided over by a Grand Master; both have
particular signs, secret laws, and statutes against profanes ‑ in fine they
may say to each other, "my brethren and my companions know me for a Mason."
For so much are we indebted to the letter and to the Essay of the
The Abbe has been supposed to be the first writer who has adverted
to the history of the Strasburg Masons as a fraternity.
But this is not the fact.
Nearly thirty years before the publication in the Journal de Nancy
of his letter to Madame d'Ormoy, attention had been called to this subject by
John Daniel Schoepflin, whose work, entitled Alsatia Illustrated, first
appeared at Colmer in the year 1751.
Schoepflin, who died in 1771, had been for fifty years professor
of history in the Protestant University of Strasburg.
In the work referred to he gives an account of the Masons of
Strasburg, to which Grandidier must have been indebted for much that he has
written on the same subject.
From the Alsatia Illustrated of Schoepflin, the following fragment
is translated, that the reader may compare the two accounts.
"Before dismissing the subject of the government and judicial
institutions of the city, some notice must be taken of the singular
institution of the Masons of Strasburg, who formerly held not the lowest place
in the city, and at this day of all the Masons of Germany occupy the highest.
The construction of the magnificent cathedral, and especially of
its tower, greatly extended the fame of the Masons of the city and excited an
emulation among the other German craftsmen.
Vienna and Cologne erected towers after the model of that of
Strasburg, and the associations of workmen and the workshops of those cities
To these Zurich was added, with which Cologne not long after was
"On these principal workshops called Tabernacles  (lodges)
depended from olden time all the rest of the cities of Germany.
"In former times there was a long deliberation at Strasburg,
Spire, and other cities on the subject of constituting a common society of all
"Finally at Ratisbon, on St. Mark's day (25th of April), 1459, was
instituted that great society under the name of a Fraternity, of which the
Master of the work of the Cathedral of Strasburg was constituted the perpetual
"This institution having been for a long time neglected the
Emperor Maximlian I. confirmed it at Strasburg by a solemn charter in the year
This charter was renewed by Charles V., Ferdinand I. and by
"In the lodge tribunal the Masters and their Companions sat and
judged causes and pronounced sentences according to the statutes without
"The authority of this tribunal was acknowledged by the Masons of
Saxony, Thuringia, Westphalia, Hesse, Franconia, Bavaria, Swabia and all the
region of the Moselle.
"The lodge at Vienna, from which those of Styria and Hungary are
derived, and of Zurich, under which are those of Switzerland, in all grave and
doubtful cases resort to the lodge at Strasburg as to a mother.
"All the members of the sodality have in common a secret
We know that the society of Stonemasons spread throughout Europe
has this form and origin.
There is the same division of the Order into lodges, Masters of
lodges, Companions and Apprentices; there are the same laws and secret words.
A Grand Master presides over all.
"The Stonecutters  have an aversion to the common tribe of
Masons who are enrolled with them, because they think not unjustly
 In classical Latinity the word "tabernaculum" denotes,
according to Festus, a tent made like a booth or hut with planks with a
boarded roof and covered with skins or canvas.
The medieval writers on Masonry have accepted it as the
appellation of the "Hutte," which afterward became the "Loge" in German and
the "Lodge" in English.
The word is thus used in the Charter of Cologne, which may be
taken or not, as the reader pleases, for an evidence of the genuineness of
that much disputed document.
 Schoepflin makes in this passage a distinction which is worthy
of notice, between the "lapicida," or stonecutter and the "coementarius," or
worker in rough stones, such as are used in building walls.
The medieval Germans preserved this distinction, when they called
the higher class of Freemasons, "Steinmetzen" or Stonecutters and the lower
class, who were not free of the Guild, "Maurer," or wall‑builders.
The reader will remember the degrading use of the term
"rough‑masons," constantly used in the old Constitutions of England.
that their art of stonecutting is far above the Craft of the
"The citizens of Strasburg often submitted questions concerning
building to the judgment of the lodge, wherefore the Magistracy in the year
1461, committed to it the power of deciding on building matters, and
prescribed for this purpose certain laws and regulations.
To these officers was added a Scribe skilled in the laws.
But as in the course of time this power of adjudication began to
be abused, it was taken away in 1620 and committed to a smaller court" 
The reader may now compare these two accounts, that of Grandidier
with that of Schoepflin.
The former was written in the letter in 1778, and in the Essays in
The latter was published in 1751.
Now it is very evident that Grandidier has borrowed almost his
very language from Schoepflin, if they did not both borrow from Father
Laguille, as I have suggested in a note. 
Both were men of learning ‑ both were natives and residents of
Strasburg ‑ and both had devoted their minds to the study of the antiquities
of that city and of the province of Alsatia.
We may, therefore, accept what they have said on the subject of
the Masons of Strasburg and their connection with the Cathedral as
historically authentic facts.
But we shall find that they are further confirmed by other
documents, which are in existence, and to which both of these writers have
Grandidier has, however, fallen into one error which Schoepflin
had escaped, and which is to be attributed in all probability to the fact of
his being a profane and not therefore conversant with the peculiar differences
between Operative and Speculative Masonry.
He says that while the usages of the two bodies of Masons, with
whose existence at Strasburg he was acquainted, show a palpable
 "Alsatia Illustrated," tome i., p. 338.
 It is possible that both have borrowed from the Jesuit
Laguille, who published, in 1725, at Strasburg, in two volumes, 8vo, a
"Histoire d'Alsace, ancienne et moderne." I can not decide the point because I
have not been able to get access to a copy of Laguille's work.
analogy between the Stonemasons of Strasburg whose association he
supposes to have been founded in 1459 and the more modem Order that came over
from England near the middle of the 18th century, he yet appears to be wholly
ignorant of the historical connection that can easily be traced between them.
While he gives a greater antiquity to the old association of
Strasburg Operative Masons than to the recent one of Speculative Masons, he
does not comprehend the fact that the latter was merely a modification of the
medieval system of the Traveling Freemasons from whom both associations were
It is this error that he who would write a true history of the
rise and progress of the German Steinmetzen must carefully avoid.
There have been evidently three distinct periods in the history of
Freemasonry in Germany.
The first period beginning with the introduction of architecture
into Germany, from Gaul, and from Italy, extends to the 12th century.
In this period we have no documentary evidence of the organization
of a fraternity. We know, however, from their works, that there were during
that time architects and builders of great skill, and we have every right to
suppose that the feudal system had the same effect upon the Masons, as it had
upon other crafts in giving rise to the formation of protective guilds.
The effect of the feudal system in the Middle Ages was to
concentrate power in the hands of the nobles, and to deprive the people of
their just rights.
The natural result of all oppression is to awaken the oppressed to
a sense of the wrong endured long before the oppressor is aware of the
injustice he inflicts.
The people therefore combined together by the bond of a common
oppression to secure by their combination the undoubted rights which should
never have been denied them.
Thus it was that "the butchers, the bakers, the brewers of the
town met secretly together and swore to one another, on the gospels, to defend
their meat, their bread, and their beer."
Doubtless the Masons followed the example of the butchers, the
brewers, and the bakers, and although, as Findel very justly remarks, we have
no written constitutions to prove the existence of such associations, we can
hardly doubt the fact.
Those who were free born, of good manners, and skilled in their
craft, it is reasonable to suppose, united themselves into associations whose
members were governed by a common obligation and constituted a common
The history of this period in German Freemasonry has already been
discussed in the preceding chapter.
The second period begins with the organization of the corporations
of Freemasons at the building of the Cathedrals of Cologne and Strasburg.
Some writers think at an earlier period.
The third period commences with the introduction of Speculative
Freemasonry into Germany in the 18th century under the auspices of the Grand
Lodge of England, at London.
The second period alone occupies our attention in the present
It has been very generally believed that this second period ‑ the
period marked by a well‑defined organization of the craft ‑ dates its origin
from the time when that style of architecture, denominated the Gothic, began
In this style the high pitched gable and the pointed arch took the
place of the low, flat gable and the semicircular arch, which had hitherto
Of this style of architecture much has been written by the ablest
professional pens, and much as to its history and its character has been left
When was it first known, and when did it cease to exist? Who was
its inventor? And in what distinct and salient points does it differ
specifically from other styles? All these are questions to which no qualified
school of architects has yet been able to respond with satisfaction either to
the querist or to the respondent.
One thing, however, we do know with very great certainty.
And this is that it was the style universally practiced by the
Freemasons of the Middle Ages in all countries of Europe, having been
introduced about the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century.
We have also the tradition, which is not altogether a tradition,
that these Freemasons, wandering from country to country, and planting
everywhere the almost divine principles of their symbolic art, were really the
inventors of Gothic architecture.
But be that as it may, the memorials of these arts, in the massive
buildings which they erected, have so mixed up the history of Gothic
Architecture with that of Freemasonry in the Middle Ages, that it is
impossible, in any treatise on the latter subject, to leave the former
"The spirit of the Middle Ages," says Frederic Schlegel, in his
History of Ancient and Modern Literature, "more especially as it developed
itself in Germany, is in nothing so impressively manifested as in that style
of architecture which is called the Gothic.... The real inventors of this
style are unknown to us; yet we may be assured that it did not originally
emanate from one single master‑mind, or else his name would certainly have
been transmitted to us.
The Master artificers who produced those astonishing works appear
rather to have formed a particular society or corporation, which sent out its
members through different countries.
Let them, however, have been who they may, they did more than
merely rear stone on stone, for in doing so they arrived at expressing bold
and mighty thoughts."
Mr. Paley expresses the same exalted opinion when he says that
medieval architecture, by which he means the Gothic, "was not a mere result of
piling together stone and timber by mechanical cunning and ingenious device.
It was the visible embodying of the highest feelings of adoration
and worship and holy abstraction; the expression of a sense which must have a
language of its own, and which could have utterance in no worthier or more
significant way." 
This symbolic style, in which the Stonecutter became not only the
builder of churches, but the preacher to their congregations, and in which
there were literally "sermons in stones," was gradually developed by the skill
of the Freemasons, and lasted from about the middle of the 12th to the middle
of the 16th century.
These are Paley's dates, but Dr. Moller  gives the style a more
diffused extent and an earlier origin, though he confines the true Gothic
within the limits of four centuries prescribed to it by Paley.
He says that the various styles of architecture which appeared in
Europe after the decay of Roman architecture, and continued till the 10th
century, when they were superseded by the modern Graeco‑Roman art, were all
for a long time comprised under the general name of Gothic architecture.
This epithet was afterward
 "Manual of Gothic Architecture," chap. i., p. 5.
 "Denkmaler der Deutschen Baukund," cap. i., p. 9.
applied to the pointed arch style which predominated in the 13th
I have said that the invention of this style, so expressive in all
its manipulations of a profound thought, has been attributed to the medieval
fraternity of Freemasons.
And if this hypothesis be correct, of which there can scarcely be
a doubt, then that invention was most probably made, or at least perfected,
after the Masons had released themselves from ecclesiastical control, and
withdrawing from the monks and the monasteries had become an independent Order
"If we consider," says Boisseree, "the impetus given in the 13th
century by the wealth and the liberty of the cities to commerce, to industry,
and to the arts, we will readily comprehend that it is in the class of
citizens, and not in that of the clergy, that we are to look for the inventors
of that admirable architecture which was consecrated to divine worship.
Notwithstanding all the great and useful things that the clergy
have done for literature and science, they have been deficient in that liberty
which comes from an active life in the world, and which is a necessary element
in the elevation of the arts, as well as of poetry." 
This new style, the invention of the Freemasons after their
separation from ecclesiastical control, prevailed at the same time in all the
countries of Europe.
In Germany the two most celebrated instances are the Cathedrals of
Cologne and Strasburg.
Each of these cities has been claimed by different authors as the
birthplace of German Freemasonry in its guild or corporate form.
What has been said by Schoepflin and Grandidier in reference to
the pretensions of Strasburg to be the center whence Freemasonry sprung in the
13th century, has been heretofore shown.
Of Cologne the pretensions are equally as strong, although not so
demonstratively expressed, nor has it furnished any documents, as Strasburg
has done, of its claims to be the Masonic center of Germany.
The document known as the "Charter of Cologne," if it had really
emanated from the lodge of that city, would undoubtedly have been of great
value as testimony in favour of the theory
 "Spilter wurde dieser Name nur auf den im 13 Jahrhundert
herrschend werdenden Spitzbogen style angewendet."  "Histoire et
description de la Cathedral de Cologne," par Sulpice Boisseree, Munich, 1843,
that makes Cologne the seat of German Freemasonry.
But, unfortunately, there is now no doubt, among Masonic
archaeologists, that document is spurious.
Boisseree, whose work on the Cologne Cathedral exhibits much
research, seeks to remove the difficulty arising from the rivalry of Cologne
and Strasburg by proposing a compromise.
He says that as the city of Cologne gave the first example of a
fraternity of Masons, the Architect of the Cathedral was considered as the
chief of all the Masters and Workmen of Lower Germany, just as the Architect
of the Cathedral of Strasburg, which was commenced nineteen years after that
of Cologne, was made the Chief of all the Masters and Workmen employed in
constructions of the same kind in the countries situated between the Danube
and the Moselle.
Thus, he says, the lodge of Stonecutters employed at the Cathedral
of Cologne, was the seat of the Grand Mastership of Lower Germany, and that of
the Cathedral of Strasburg was the seat of the Grand Mastership of Upper
Afterward there was established, he says, a central Mastership for
all Germany, and Strasburg, where the works were continued for a long time,
disputed this preeminent position with Cologne as Lubeck did for the Hanseatic
It would seem then, that, according to Boisseree, there were at
first two Grand Lodges, one at Cologne and one at Strasburg, between which the
jurisdiction over Germany was divided; that afterward there was but a single
central head for all Germany, which was claimed by both Cologne and Strasburg.
But Boisseree produces no authority to substantiate this
statement, and we shall therefore have to be satisfied with looking to
Strasburg only as the seat of the first known and recognized head of medieval
Freemasonry in Germany.
But Cologne must not be passed over in silence.
Whatever may have been the authority that its lodge exercised as a
Masonic tribunal, it must at least be acknowledged that in its Cathedral, the
purely symbolic principles of Gothic architecture, as the peculiar style of
the medieval Masons were developed in a profounder significance than in any
other building of the time.
It may be permitted to suspend for a time our researches into the
progress of medieval Freemasonry and devote, as an episode, a brief chapter to
this wonderful Cathedral.
THE CATHEDRAL OF COLOGNE AND THE STONEMASONS OF GERMANY
general consent of architectural writers, the Cathedral of Cologne has been
admitted to be one of the most beautiful religious edifices in the world.
It is considered to be a perfect type of the old Germanic or
Gothic style of architecture, and it has been deemed a central point around
which have gathered the most important historical and artistic researches on
the subject of the architecture of the Middle Ages.
So high did it stand in contemporary estimation, and so much were
its builders valued for the skill which they had displayed in its
construction, that, as Boisseree tells, the Master Masons of Cologne were
often sent for to superintend the building of many other churches.
Thus the continuation of the steeple of the Cathedral of Strasburg
was intrusted to John Hultz, of Cologne.
Another John of Cologne, in 1369, built the two churches of Campen,
on the shores of the Zuyder Zee; and he adopted as his plan that of the
The Cathedrals of Prague and of Metz were built on the same plan.
In 1442 the Bishop of Burgos imported into Spain two stonecutters
of Cologne to complete the towers of his cathedral.
To this prominent poison of the cathedral and of its builders in
the history of medieval architecture must we assign the equally prominent
position which has been assumed for it in the traditions of modern
The fabrication of that very popular, but altogether
supposititious document, known as the "Charter of Cologne," is to be
attributed to the fact that at the date assigned to it the Masons of Cologne
were considered as the chiefs of the craft, and there was some apparent
plausibility in assigning to them the duty of convening a Grand Lodge, whose
representatives were brought from every part of Europe.