William Schaw 1550–1602

This early Freemason “in his capacity of Master of Works and General Warden of the master stonemasons” was very important in the early growing interest in what we now called Freemasonry.

The most interesting thing about this man is he worked with and was the supervisor of Operative Stone Masons in Scotland. He was front row to the Transition from Speculative to Operative Freemasonry.

William Schaw “Father of Freemasonry” *** FULL BOOK ***

No one man built Freemasonry, but there is an individual that stands out as its principal architect, the ‘Master of Works’ to King James VI of Scotland.


Link No. 1 : Summary of the Second Schaw Statutes, in HMC Report: Earl of Eglinton (London, 1885), pp. 29–30

Link No. 2: THE SCHAW MONUMENT, Church Monuments Society

Link No. 3: SCHAW MANUSCRIPT; This is a code of laws for the government of the Operative Seasons of Scotland, drawn up by William Schaw, the Master of the Work to James VI. It bears the following title: “The Statutis and Ordinanceis to be obseruit be all the Maister-Maissounis within this realme sett down be William Schaw, Maister of Wark to his Maieste and general Wardene of the said Craft, with the consent of the Maisteris efter specifeit.”

As will be perceived by this title, it is in the Scottish dialect. It is written on paper, and dated XXVIII December, 1598, Although containing substantially the general regulations which are to be found in the English manuscripts, it differs materially from them in many particulars. Masters, Fellow Crafts, and Apprentices are spoken of, but simply as gradations of rank, not as Degrees, and the word Lodge or Lodge is constantly used to define the place of meeting.

The government of the Lodge was vested in the Warden, Deacons, and Masters, and these the Fellow-Crafts and Apprentices were to obey. The highest officer of the Craft is called the General Warden. The Manuscript is in possession of the Lodge of Edinburgh, but has several times been published—first in the Laws and Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, in 1848 then in the American edition of that work, published by Doctor Robert Morris, in the ninth volume of the Universal Masonic Library; afterward by W. A. Laurie, in 1859, in his History of Freemasonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland; D. Murray Lyon in History of the Lodge of Edinburgh gives a transcript and the last part in facsimile, and, by W. J. Hughan, in his Unpublished Records of the Craft, and in Doctor Mackey’s revised History of Freemasons the Scotch Manuscript has extended treatment in comparison with the various codes of English origin.

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