Mackey’s Cyclopedia

Origin of the Ancient Craft of Freemasonry

The goal of Mackey’s Cyclopedia is to share the (Historical) not the symbolic legend. However the evolution of early Freemasonry evolved because of both documented history and the Legend of the Craft.

The Masonic Manuscripts MS hold the evolution of the Legend of the Craft which works with the historical evolution of Freemasonry today.

It is a fact that the structure of current Freemasonry is a combination of many areas of the ancient past.  Sources for the legend of the Freemasonry come from the Old Testament, Middle Ages & “Traveling Masons”, Masonic Manuscripts MS, books and papers from 16th – 18th centuries.  The writers of the Ritual worked tirelessly at the blending of these sources into what history of today knows as Freemasonry. 

Many of these legendary sources have been lost to time.  We as researchers are left with what was left. 

The true birth of the Origin of today’s Freemasonry has been lost to time.  Authors will write about what they believe the origins to be, but in reality no one knows.

There are only two books written and compiled by Mackey that will be used for this Cyclopedia. 

The History of Freemasonry

The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Some respected papers written by Masonic Scholars will be used on occasion.

“So long as its traditional legends are confined to the ritual of the Order, they are not appropriate subjects of historical inquiry.  They have been invented by the makers of the rituals for symbolic purposes connected with the forms of initiation.  Out of these myths of Speculative Masonry its philosophy has been developed; and, as they are really to be considered as merely the expansion of a philosophic or speculative idea, they can not properly be posited in the category of historical narratives.”

Source:  The History of Freemasonry, {Chapter 1, Page 1}.  Albert Mackey.

It is the goal of 3.5.7 to provide the Path of Light toward the Historical Origin of the Ancient Craft.

Table of Contents

1.1        Middles Ages and the Traveling Masons

1.2        Hutte and Gilds

1.3        Transition Begins               

1.4        The London Company / Masons Company and The Acception or Accepted     

2.1        Ancient Craft from 1717 – 1738 “The Schism Begins”        

3.1        Ancient Craft from 1738 – 1813 “United Grand Lodge of England”        

4.1        1813 – Present Day “United States of America”


1.1        Middles Ages and the Traveling Masons

[1]These are supposed by the best historians to extend from the time Theodoric liberated Rome here 493 to the end of the 15th century the important events being the fall of Constantinople 1453 the discovery of America 1492 and the doubling the cape of Good Hope in 1497.  This period of 10 centuries is one of the greatest importance to the Masonic student because it embraces within its scope events intimately connected with the history of the order such as the diffusion throughout Europe of the Roman Colleges of Artificers the establishment of the Architectural School of Como the rise of the guilds the organization of the building corporations of Germany (Steinmetzen)and the company of Freemasons of England as well as many customs and usages which have descended with more or less modification to the modern.  Source encyclopedia Freemasonry 1916 Albert Mackey.

Traveling Masons

There is no portion of history of the order so interesting to the Masonic scholar as that which is embraced by the middle ages of Christendom beginning with about the 12th century when the whole of civilized Europe was perambulated by those associations of workmen who passed from country to country and from City to city under the name of Traveling Masons for the purpose of erecting a religious edifice.  There is not a country of Europe which does not at this day contain honorable out of it and evidence of the skill and industry of our Masonic ancestors.  I therefore propose to the present article to give a (  ) of the origin the progress in the character of these.  Fisher George Godwin in a lecture published in the Builder volume IX page 463 says there are few points in the middle ages more pleasing to look back upon than the existence of the associated Masons they are the bright spot in the general darkness.  The batch of verdure went all around is barren.

Clavel in his Histoire Pittoresque de la Franc-Maconnerie has traced the organization of his associations to the “Collegia Artificum”, or colleges of artisans which were instituted at Rome by Numa in the year BC 714 and who’s members were originally Greeks imported by this law giver for the purpose of embellishing the city over which he reigned.  They continue to exist as well-established corporations throughout all the succeeding years of the kingdom the Republican the empire.

These sodalities or fraternities began upon the invasion of the barbarians to decline in numbers in respectability ended power.  But on the conversion of the whole empire they or others of a similar character began again to flourish.  The priests of the Christian Church became their patrons and under their guidance they devoted themselves to the building of churches in monasteries.  And the 10th century they were established as a free guild or corporation in Lombardy.  For when after the decline of all the empire the city of Rome was abandoned by its sovereigns for other secondary cities of Italy such as Milan in Ravenna and the new courts in the new capital performed the kingdom of Lombardi sprang into existence as the great center for all energy and trade and industry and of refinement in art and literature.  Como was a free republic to which many fled during the invasion of the vandals in goths.  It was in Lombardi as a consequence of the great center of life from Rome and the development not only of commercial business but of all sorts of trades and handicrafts that the corporations known as guilds were first organized.

Among the arts practiced by the Lombards that are building held a preeminent rank.  And Murtatori tells us that the inhabitants of Como a principal city of Lombardy Italy and become so Superior as Masons at the appellation of Magistri Comacini, or masters from Como have become generic to all the.

Mr. Hope and his historical essay on architecture has treated the subject almost exhaustively he says:

“We cannot then wonder that at a period when artificers and artists of every class from those of the most mechanical to those of the most intellectual nature form themselves into exclusive corporations architects whose art may be said to offer the most exact medium between those of the most urgent necessity and those of mirror ornament or indeed and it’s wide span to embrace both should above all others have associated the cells into similar bodies which in conformity to the general style of such corporations assumed that of free and accepted masons and was composed of those members who after a regular passage through the different to exercise the profession on their own account.  In an age however in which lay individuals from the lowest subject to the sovereign itself seldom build except for mirror shelter and safety seldom salt nay rather avoided and they’re dwellings and elegance which might lessen their security and which even the community collectively and it’s public in general capacity divided into component parts less numerous and less varied required not those numerous public edifices which we possess either for business or pleasure thus when neither domestic nor Civic architecture of any sort demanded great ability or afforded great employment churches and monasteries were the only buildings required to combine extent and elegance sacred architecture alone could furnish and extensive filled for the exercise of great skill Lombardi itself opulent and thriving as it was compared to other countries soon became nearly saturated with the requisite edifices privileges of great benefit to them at home.  But if to the south of the Alps and earlier civilization had at last cause the number of architects to exceed that of new building wanted it fared otherwise in the north of Europe where it gradually spreading Christianity began on every side to produce a want of sacred edifices of churches and monasteries to design which architects existed not on the spot.  Those Italian corporations and builders there for were services ceased to be necessary in the countries where they had arisen now began to look abroad towards northern climes for that employment was they no longer found at home in a certain number United didn’t form themselves into a single grade association of fraternity which proposed to seek for occupation beyond its native land and in any ruder foreign region however remote where new religious head offices and skillful artists to erect them or wanted to offer their services and been their steps to undertake the work.”

From Lombardi they pass beyond they Alps into all the countries where Christianity but recently established required the erection of churches. a monopoly was granted to them for the erection of all religious edifices they were declared independent of the sovereigns and whose dominions they might be temporarily residing and subject only to their own private laws they were permitted to regulate the amount of their wages were exempted from all kinds of taxation and no Mason not belonging to their association was permitted to compete with or oppose them in the pursuit of employment.

After filling the continent with cathedrals parochial churches and monasteries and increasing their own numbers by accessions of new members from all the countries in which they had been laboring they passed over into England and them introduce their peculiar style of building.  Thence they traveled to Scotland and they have rendered their existence ever memorable by establishing in the parish of Kilwinning where they were erecting an Abbey the germ of Scottish Freemasonry which has regularly descended through the Grand Lodge of Scotland to the present day.

Mr. Hope accounts for the introduction of the non-working or unprofessional members into these associations by a theory which is confirmed by contemporary history. He says:

“Often obliged from regions the most distant singly to seek the commonplace of rendezvous and departure of the troop or singly to follow its earlier detachments to places of employment equally distant and that at an area where travelers meant on the road every obstruction and no convenience with no ends existed at which to purchase hospitality but Lords throughout everywhere who only prohibited their tenants from waylaying the traveler because they consider this like killing game one of their own exclusive privileges the members of these communities contrived to run to the 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 circumstance.  They endeavor to compensate for the perils which attended their expeditions by institutions for the needy or disabled Brothers but less such as belonged not to the 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.  Best supplied with whatever could facilitate such distant journeys and labors as they contemplated the members of these corporations 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 into establish their allegiance to the pope to care not only to make them feel the want of churches in 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 remote is corner of Europe either to convert the inhabitants to Christianity or to introduce among them a new religious order and speedily followed a tribe of itinerant Freemasons to back him and to provide the inhabitants with the ( ) places of worship our reception.

“Thus ushered in by the interior arrangements assured of assistance and of safety on the road and by the bowls of the Pope and the support of his ministers abroad of every species of immunity and preference at the place of their destination bodies of Freemasons disperse themselves in every direction every day began the advance further into proceed from country to country to the utmost verge of the faithful in order to answer increasing demand for them or to seek more distant custom.”

The government of these fraternities wherever they might be for the time located was very regular in uniform when about to commence the erection of a religious edifice they first built huts and as they were turned lodges in the vicinity in which they resided for the sake of economy as well as convenience it is from these that the present name of our places of meeting is derived.  Over 10 men was placed a warden who paid them wages and took care that there should be no needless expenditure of materials and no careless loss of implements.  Over the whole a surveyor or Master called in their old documents “Magister” presided and directed the general labor.

The Abbe Grandidier in a letter at the end of the Marquis Luchet’s Essai sur les Illumines has quoted from the Ancient Register of the Masons of Strasburg the regulations of the association which built the splendid cathedral of that city.  It is great rarity renders it difficult to obtain a sight of the original work but the Histoire Pittoresque of Clavel supplies the most prominent details of all of that Grandidier has preserved. The cathedral of Strasburg was commenced in the years 1277 under the direction of Erwin of Steinbach.  The Masons who under his directions were engaged in the construction of this noblest specimen of the gothic style of architecture were divided into the separate ranks of Master Craftsman and apprentices.  The place where they assembled was called a hutte a German word equivalent to our English term lodge.  They employed the implements of masonry as emblems of more of them as insignia.  They had certain signs and words of recognition and received there are new members with peculiar and secret ceremonies admitting as has already been said many imminent persons and especially ecclesiastics who were not operative Masons but who gave to them their patronage and protection.

Fraternity of Strasburg became celebrated throughout Germany their superiority was acknowledged by the kindred associations and they in time received the appellation of the “hutte” or Grand Lodge and exercise supremacy over the Hutten of Suabia, Hesse, Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, Thuringia, in the country’s bordering on the River of Moselle.  The masters of these several lodges assembled at Ratisbon in 1459 and on the 25th of April contracted and active Union declaring the chief of the Strasburg cathedral the only and perpetual grandmaster of the general fraternity Freemasons of Germany.  This act of Union was definitely adopted and promulgated at a meeting held soon afterward at Strasburg 926 .

Similar institutions existed in France and in Switzerland for wherever Christianity had penetrated their churches and cathedrals were to be built in the traveling Freemasons patients to undertake the labor.

They entered England and Scotland at an early period.  Whatever may be thought of the authenticity of the York and Killwinning Legends there is ample evidence of the existence of organized associations guilds or corporations of operative Masons at an epoch not long after the departure from Lombardi.  From that period the fraternity with various intermissions continued to pursue their labors and constructed many edifices but still remain as monuments of their skill as Workman and their taste as architects.  Kings and many instances became their patrons, and their labors were superintendent by powerful nobleman and imminent prelates who for this purpose were admitted as members of the fraternity.  Many of the old charges for the better government of the Lodges have been preserved and are still to be found in our books of constitutions every lineup which indicates that there were originally drawn up for association strictly and exclusively operative in their character.

In glancing over the history of the singular body of architects we are struck with several important peculiarities.

In the first place they are restrict equally ecclesiastical and their constitution.  The Pope the supreme pontiff of the church was their patron in protector.  They were supported and encouraged by bishops and abbots and hence their Chief employment.  To have been in the construction of religious edifices.

They were originally all operatives, but the artisans of that period were not educated men they were compelled to seek among the clergy the only men of learning for those whose wisdom might contrive and whose cultivated taste might adorn the plans which they by their practical skill were to carry into effect.  Hence the germ of that speculative masonry which once divided the character of the fraternity with the operative now completely occupies it to the entire exclusion of the ladder, but lastly from the circumstance of their Union and concert a rose uniformity of design and all of the public buildings of that. A uniformity so remarkable as to find its explanation only in the fact that their construction was committed throughout the whole Europe if not always to the same individuals at least to the members of the same association.  The remarks of Mr. Hope on the subject are well worthy of perusal.  “The architects of the sacred edifices of the Latin church wherever such a rose north south east or west thus derived their signs from the same Central School obeyed in their designs the same hierarchy were directed in their constructions 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 monastic dynasty on whatever point a new church or new monastery might be erected it resembled all those rays 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 epoch’s churches as far distant from each other as the north of Scotland and the south of Italy to be my newly similar and all the essential characteristics.”

In conclusion we may remark that the world is indebted to this association for the introduction of the gothic or as it has lately been denominated the pointed style of architecture.  This style so different from the Greek and Roman orders whose pointed arches and minute tracery distinguished the solemn temples of the olden time and whose ruins arrest the attention and clean the admiration of the spectator has been universally acknowledged to be the invention of the traveling Freemasons of the middle ages.

And it is to this association of operative artists that by gradual changes into a speculative system we are to trace the Freemasons of the present day.

Source:  Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey 1916

1.2[2]Hutte and Gilds


A word equivalent among the stonemasons of Germany in the middle ages to the English word lodge. Fendal defines it as a booth made of boards erected near the Oedipus that was being built where the stonecutter is kept their tools carried on their work assembled and most probably occasionally eat and slept.  These hutten accord exactly with the Lodges which Wren describes as having been erected by the English Masons around the edifice they were constructing.


The word gild, guild, or geld from the Saxon gildan to pay originally meant a tax or tribute and hence those fraternities which in the early ages contributed sums to a common stock were called gilds.  Cowell the old English jurist defines a guild to be a fraternity or commonality of men gathered together into one combination supporting their common charge by mutual contribution.

Societies of this kind but not under the same name were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and their artificers and traders were formed into distinct companies which accompany particular streets named after them.  But according to Dr. Lujo Brentano, who published in 1870, and essay on the history and development of gilds, England is the birthplace of the medieval gilds, from whom he says that the modern Freemasons emerged.  They existed however in every country of Europe, and we identify them in the Compagnons de la tour of France, and the Baucorporationen of Germany.  The difference, however, was that while they were patronized by the municipal authorities in England, they were discouraged by both the church and the state on the continent.

The gilds in England were of three kinds religious gilds, merchant gilds, and craft gilds, specimens of all of which still exist although greatly modified in their laws and usages.  The religious or Ecclesiastical gilds are principally found in Roman Catholic countries where under the patronage of the church they often accomplish much good by the direction of their benevolence to particular purposes.  Merchant gilds are exemplified in the 12 great livery companies of London.   And the modern trades unions are nothing else but craft gilds under another name.  But the most interesting point in the history of the craft gilds is the fact that from them arose the brotherhoods of the freemasons.

Brentano gives the following almost exhaustive account of the organization and customs of the Craft Gilds:

“The Craft gilds themselves for spraying up amongst the free Craftsman when they were excluded for the fraternities which had taken the place of the family unions and later among the bondman when they ceased to belong to the Familia of their lord.  Like those Frith Gilds was to create relations as if among Brothers and above all things to Grant to their members that assistance which the member of the family might expect from that family.  As men’s wants had become different this assistance no longer concerns the protection of life, limbs, and property, this was provided for by the frith gilds, now recognize as the legitimate authority but the principal object of the Craft guilds was to secure their members in the independent, unimpaired, and regular earning of their daily bread by means of their craft.

“The very soul of The Craft Gild was its meetings, which brought all the gild brothers together every week or quarter.  These meetings were always held with certain ceremonies, for the sake of greater solemnity.  The box, having several locks like that of the trade unions, and containing the charters of the gild, the statutes, the money, and other valuable articles, was opened on such occasions, and all present had to uncover their heads. these meetings possess all the rights which they themselves had not chosen to delegate.  They elected the president’s originally called alderman, afterwards Masters and wardens and other officials, except in those cases already mentioned, in which the master was appointed by the king, the bishop, or the authorities of the town.  As a rule, the guilds were free to choose their masters, either from their own members, or from men of higher rank, though they were sometimes limited in their choice to the former.

“The wardens summoned and presided at the meetings, with their consent enacted ordinances for the regulation of the trade, saw these ordinances properly executed, and watch over the maintenance of the customs of the craft.  They had the right to examine all manufacturers, and a right of search for all unlawful tools and products.  They formed with the assistance of the quorum of gild brothers, the highest authority in all of the concerns of the gild.  No gild member could be arraigned about trade matters before any other judge.  We have still numerous documentary proves of the severity and justice with which the words exerciser judicial duties.  Whenever they held a court it was under special forms and solemnities thus, for instance, in 1275 cathedral held the court sitting under a canopy.

“Besides being brotherhoods for the care of the temporal welfare of their members the Craft Gilds were, like the rest of the gilds, at the same time religious fraternities.  And the account of the origin of the

company of grocers, it is mentioned that at the very first meeting they fixed a stipend for the priest, who had to conduct their religious services and pray for their dad.  And this respect the craft gilds of all countries are alike and in reading their statutes one might fancy sometimes that the old craftsman cared only for the well-being of their souls.  All had particular saints for patrons after whom the society was frequently called and, where it was possible, they chose one who had some relation to the trade.  They found masses, alters, and painted windows and the cathedrals; and even at the present day their coats of arms and their gifts range proudly by the side of those of kings and variants.  Sometimes individual craft gilds appear to have student special relation to a particular church, by virtue of which they had to perform special services and received and return a special share in all of the prayers for the clergy of that church. In later times the Craft gilds frequently went in Salem processions to their churches.  We find in numerable ordinances also as to the support of the sick and poor semicolon and to afford it settled asylum for distress, the London companies’ early dwellings near their halls.  The chief care however of the gildmen was always directed to the welfare of the souls of the dead.  Every year a requiem was sung for all departed gild brothers, when there were all mentioned by name; and on the death of any member, special services were held for his soul, and distribution of alms was made to the poor, who, in return, had to offer prayers for the dead, as is still the customer in Roman Catholic countries.”

In a history of the English guilds, edited by Toulmin Smith from old documents in the record office at London, and published by the early English text society, we find many facts confirmatory of those given by Brentano, as to the organization of these organizations.

The testimony of these old record shows that a religious element provided the gilds, an exercise a very powerful influence over them.  Women were admitted to all of them, which Herbert (Liv. Comp., i. 83) thanks was borrowed from the Ecclesiastical gilds of southern Europe semicolon and the brethren and sisters were on terms of complete equality.  There were fees on entrance, yearly and special payments, and fines for wax for lights to burn at the altar or in fuel rites.  The gilds headset days of meeting known as moming speeches, or days of Spekyngges  Totiedare for here commune profyte.  And a grand festival on the patron saint’s day, when the members assembled for the worship, almsgiving, feasting, and for nourishing a brotherly love.

Mystery Plays were often performed.  They had a treasure chest, the opening of which was a sign that business had begun.  While it remained open all stood with uncovered heads, when cursing and swearing and all loose conduct were severely punished.  The gild property consisted of land, cattle, money, etc.  The expenditure was on the marriage if her father could not provide it.  Poor travelers were lodged, and fed.  Roads were kept in repair, and churches were sustained and beautified.  They wore a particular costume which was enforced by their statues, wince come the liveries of the London companies of the present day and the clothing of the freemasons.

1.3Transition Begins

[3]Findel calls that period in the history of Masonry, when it was gradually changing its character from that of an operative to that of a speculative society, the transition period.  England in London, after which says Findel (Hist., Lyon’s trans., P.131,) “Modern Freemasonry was to be taught as a spiritualizing art, and the fraternity of operative Masons was exalted to a brotherhood of symbolic builders, who, in the place of visible, perishable temples, are engaged in the erection of that one, invisible, eternal Temple of the heart and mind.”

1.4The London Company / Masons Company and The Acception or Accepted

  [4]“I seriously consider not riding this article at all in fact I sat on it for a year and my only purpose in writing it today is not to impugn Gould’s work but to bring to light the names and lives of six non-operative Freemasons who worked within the craft for decades long before Elias Ashmole was initiated in 1646.  It is high time they were recognized as a first recorded speculative Freemasons.

Brother Buta continues: (Note: Edward Conder reference is of a book he authored called, Records of the Hole Crafte and Fellowship of Masons; author Robert Free Gould used Conder’s book as reference)

“Conder states; “as early as the year 1620 or 21 years before any mention of the society is made by any riders of the 17th century, you find in the first years entered in the account book, which is the earliest document concerning the guild still remaining in the company’s possession, and entry referring to certain gratuities received from new members and consequence of there being accepted on the livery.”

“In the following year 1621 occur entries of certain payments made by these new members when they were made masons, doubtless by some ancient ceremony was survive the troublous period of the Reformation.”

Gould says these men were already members of the company and were received into the acception (i.e., The Acception) or Lodge but according to conder the record stayed otherwise.  His book includes copies of the minutes which make it quite clear that these men were first accepted and then made Masons and not the other way around he goes on to say the word accepted Israeli used throughout the 500 pages of the surviving account book.  When it is used it is always used to describe someone who is admitted into the company upon accepting masonry.  They did not serve an apprenticeship because, they had, there would have been no reason to accept masonry in order to join.”

“Conder says; “we can say that as early as 16:20 in inferentially very much earlier, there were certain members of the Mason’s company and others who met from time to time to form a lodge for the purposes of speculative masonry semicolon and this account given by the records of the Mason’s company concerning it’s accepted members, is without doubt the earliest authentic evidence of 17th century Freemasonry in England.”

Contrary to Gould statement, the only occurrence in the records of the Masons company of the word acception is found in a 1648 entry made in regard to a warden paying for coming on the exception.  By 1648 already have separate evidence of at least two other lodges, one in Chester and one in Warrington, being run by speculative Mason’s.

Condor States there could be little or no inducement for persons not in any way connected with the building trade to join the small and comparatively poor company.  Yet a careful reading of the records of the Mason’s company which Condor provides us show these six men, not seven as gold states, did more than just join, they contributed greatly to the company for more than a decade.

These men were not operative Masons as clearly indicated in the way they join the company by immediately coming on to delivery.  This shows that as early as 1621 non-operative were able to gained admission into the guild of operative stonemasons by paying a huge sum of money.  It is in direct contrast to the normal way and apprentice gains his freedom from the company. Condor tells us the act of joining on the livery normally comes years after a man finishes his apprenticeship.  More importantly we see here in the earliest extant records of the worshipful company of Freemasons there is already in existence a set fee for joining the company by acceptance of masonry.  This fact suggests this practice may have predated 1620.

Condor quotes from the existing records the account of six men paying for their gratitude at their acceptance onto the livery.  Livery is the second highest standing in the company. according to the records of the Mason’s company it also requires those being elevated to be able to afford the robes of a gentleman and to outfit one’s servants in ropes.  It was an expensive undertaken and not one easily affordable to the average Craftsman.

Who were the six men? The records identify them as Evan Lloyd, Thomas Preestman, James French, Timothy Townsend, John Hince, and John Kifford. there is a follow-up interview regarding some of these men being made Masons and 1621. Three of them hence Lloyd and French are listed along with four others who were presumably apprentices.  This could account for Gould’s tally of seven persons.

How expensive was it for a man to join the Mason’s company by accepting Masonry?  To get an idea compare that cost in comparison with the wages of a stonemason in the early 1600s, did it represent a week’s wages a month or even longer?

in 1620 Nicholas Stone was the king’s Master mason.  His charter set his wages at 12 pence one shilling or one 20th of a pound per day and as a king’s Master Mason he would have been one of the highest paid masons in England using his pay scale as a guide we can compare the various costs of becoming a mason in that period.

At the completion of his apprenticeship of Mason would pay 1 lb., three shillings and four pence, or about a month earnings at Stones wage scale, to become a journeyman. to advance to livery a Mason would need to pay an additional fee of 9 lb., almost a full year’s earnings.  It becomes clear that anyone who can afford to do that or not simple Masons but well to do gentlemen.  Though in fairness, it should be noted that the records do show James French did differ half of his stewards fine 3 lb. until 1621. 

So why would six well to do gentlemen pay so much to join the worshipful company of freemasons?  Condor writes there could be little or no inducement for anyone not in the building trade to join the small import company.  Certainly in view of the cost there would have to be a compelling reason for them to do so.  The question is what was it?

Brother Buta continues:

“More than likely they were members of England’s newly created middle class, the country’s first capitalists, descendants of knights and stewards of nobility who have become successful merchants and farmers.  While they were not qualified by rank to be included in the privileged 10% of title nobility but probably controlled more wealth than their title relatives.”

“The Masons of the 17th century understood that mathematics in geometry is not restricted to the building trades but expand into the fields of navigation in astronomy.  They were among those who sought knowledge, kept the trade secrets, and by adhering to the ancient charges of the craft, each man was committed to the protection and support of his fellow Mason.  These would have been valid reasons why these six men might have sought the sanctuary offered within the large rooms of the worshipful company of freemasons.”

“No matter the reasons for joining, the six men left their mark on the company. out of the original six, at least three became wardens of the company and two or three, would actually serve as master. John hints served as warden in 1626 and in 1628 while he’s served as Master of the company, Thomas’s priest man was one of his wardens.  The Kings architect, Nicholas Stone served with Timothy Townsend as an ordinance 1630 Thomas Priestman would be elected Master of the company in 1636. Lloyd only appears in the record twice, one of which is in connection to being fine for having an argument in the company.”

Source: Pietre-Stones review of Freemasonry website Paper written by W. Bro. Jack Buta MPS

[5]“In London, this process of creating an elite group with organizations of stonemasons in order to bolster the claims and prestige of the trade led to the emergency during the 17th century of an inner group within the London company of Masons known as the exception, which included some of the most prosperous architect – Masons as well as men such as Ashmole.  However there were tensions within the London company of Masons London company became increasingly impoverished and responded by trying to extend its control of the trade allowing the exception to fall into a balance. Increasingly the London Mason’s company seems to have concentrated on ( ) in the position of his Junior members. These shifts and emphasis within the London company seem to be reflected in a change of name in 1655 from the company Freemasons to the company of masons. These problems may have been intensified by attacks on the London companies by James the second. by 1701 the Masons company of London was one of the smallest in the city, with membership returned at 64. Only the Fletcher’s 18, musicians 19, fruiters 38, scriveners 39 in salters 60 were smaller. “The London Mason’s work, if not decayed, in far from good health.”

Source:  Andrew Prescott: A history of the British Freemasonry 1425-2000

[6]Elias Ashmole who according to his diary made a Freemason of Warrenton with colonel Henry Mainwaring, seven brethren being named as an attendance at the lodge, 16th of October 1646 states that he received a summons to appear at a law to be held next day at Mason’s hall, London.  Accordingly, on the 11th of March 1682 he attended and saw six gentlemen admitted into the fellowship of freemasons, of whom three only belong to the company: the master, however Mr. Thomas wise, the two wardens and six others being present on the occasion as members of their dual capacity. Ashmole ads: we all dined dynedd at the half moone tavern in cheap side at a noble dinner prepared at the charge of the new accepted masons.  It is almost certain that there was not an operative Mason present at the lodge held in 1646 and at the one which met in 1682 there was a strong representation of the speculative branch.  Before the year 6054 the company was known as that of the Freemasons for some time, but after then the old title of Masons was reverted to, the terms exception and accepted belonging to the speculative lodge, which, however in all probability either became independent or ceased to work soon after 1682.  It is very interesting to note that subsequently but never before the longer designation is met with of Free and accepted masons, combination of operative and speculative.”

Source: the encyclopedia Britannica, a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information Pg. 82  

[7]The acception was an inner fraternity in the London Mason’s company; and evolution from the stonemasons is clear. when Elias Ashmole attended an exception meeting in 1682 his lodge contained the leading members of Mason’s company including the Kings Master Mason many of whom worked with Sir Christopher Wren on the rebuilding of City churches in the aftermath of the Great fire. Scanlan noted that in a survey of the guilds made in 1708 only the Freemasons were described as having a fraternity of great account which had been honored by several Kings and very many of the nobility and gentry.  There was always something special about the masons.

Source: Freemasonry today the origins of Freemasonry Sunday April 19th, 2009.

[8](Diary of Ashmole, March 10th, 1682 35 years after his initiation and:)  “About 5:00 p.m. I reced a summons to appr at a lodge to be held the next day at Mason’s Hall London second entry 11th accordingly I went in about Noone we’re admitted into the fellowship of freemasons, Sir William Wilson Knight, Capt. Rich: Borchwick, Mr. Will: Woodman, Mr. Wm. Grey, Me. Samuel Taylor & Mr. William Wise.  I was the senior fellow among them it being 35 years since I was admitted.  There were present beside myself the fellows after named. Mr. This: Wise Mr. of the Masons company is present yeare.  Mr. Thomas Short hose, Mr. William Harmon, Mr. John Thompson, & Mr. Will: Stanton.  We all dyned at Half Moone tavern inn Cheapside, had a noble dinner prepared at the charge of the new accepted masons.”

Source: Masonic quarterly magazine issue 11, October 2004.

 2.1Ancient Craft from 1717 – 1738 “The Schism Begins”

[10]Ancients was the name assumed by the schismatic body of Masons who, in 1738, seceded from the regular Grand Lodge of England, and who at the same time insultingly bestowed upon adherents of that body the title of Moderns. Thus Dermott, in his Ahiman Rezon, (p. 63,) divides the Masons of England into two classes, as follows:

The Ancients, under the name of Free and Accepted Masons.  The Moderns, under the name of Freemasons of England.  And though a similarity of names, yet they differ exceeds in makings, ceremonies, knowledge, ( ) language, and installations; so much so, that they always have been, and still continue to be, two different societies, directly independent of each other.”  To understand, therefore, anything of the meaning of these two terms, we must be acquainted with the history of the schism of the self-styled Ancients from the legal Grand Lodge of England.  No Masonic student should be ignorant of this history and I propose, therefore, to give a brief sketch of it in the present article.  In the year 1738, a number of brethren in London, having become dissatisfied with certain transactions in the Grand Lodge of England, separated themselves from the regular Lodges, and began to hold meetings and initiate candidates without the sanction and authority of the Grand Lodge.  Preston, who has given a good account of the schism, does not, however, state the causes which led to the dissatisfaction of the recusant brethren.  But they attribute it to the fact that the Grand Lodge had introduced some innovations, altering the rituals and suppressing many of the ceremonies which had long been in use.  This is also the charge made by Dermott.  It is certain that changes were made, especially in some of the modes of recognition, in some of the modes of recognition, and these changes, it is believed, were induced by the publication of a spurious revelation by the notorious Samuel Pritchard.

Preston himself acknowledges that innovations took place, although he attributes them to a time subsequent to the first secession.

Just about this time some dissuasions had occurred between the Grand Lodge at London and that at York, and the seceding brethren, taking advantage of this condition of affairs, assumed, but without authority from the Grand Lodge of York, the name of Ancient York Masons.  Matters were, however subsequently accommodated; but in the next year the difficulties were renewed, and the Grand Lodge persisting in its innovations and ritualistic changes, the seceding brethren declared themselves independent, and assumed the appellation of Ancient Masons, to indicate their adhesion to the ancient forms, while, for a similar purpose, they denominated the members of the regular Lodges, Modern Masons, because, as was contended, they had adopted new forms and usages.  The seceders established a new Grand Lodge in London, and, under the claim that they were governed by the Ancient York Constitutions, which had been adopted at that city in the year 926, they gained over many influential persons in England, and were even recognized by the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland.  The Ancient York Lodges, as they were called, greatly increased in England, and became so popular in America that a majority of the Lodges and provincial Grand Lodges established in this country during the eighteenth century derived their warrants from the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons.  In the year 1756, Laurence Dermott, then Grand Secretary, and subsequent the Deputy Grand Master of the schismatic Grand Lodge, published a Book of Constitutions for the use of the Ancient Masons, under the title of Ahiman Rezon, which work went through several editions and became the code of Masonic law for all who adhered, either in England or America, to the Ancient York Grand Lodge, while the Grand Lodge of Moderns, or the regular Grand Lodge of England, and its adherents, Grand Lodge of England, and its adherents, were governed by the regulations contained in (James Anderson) Anderson’s Constitutions, the first edition of which had been published in 1723.

‘The tensions between the two Grand Lodges of England lasted until the year 1813, when as will be hereafter seen, the two bodies became consolidated under the name and title of the United Grand Lodge

of Ancient Freemasons of England.  Four years afterwards a similar and final reconciliation took place in America, by the union of the two Grand Lodges in South Carolina.  At this day, all distinction between the Ancients and Moderns has ceased, and it lives only in the memory of the Masonic student.  What were the precise differences in the rituals of the Ancients and the Moderns, it is now perhaps impossible to discover, as from their esoteric nature they were only orally communicated; but some shrewd and near approximations to their real nature, may be drawn difference from the casual expressions which have fallen from the advocates of each in the course of their long and generally bitter controversies.  I have already said that the regular Grand Lodge is stated to have made certain changes in the mode of recognition, in consequence of the publication of Samuel Prichard‘s spurious revelation.  These changes were, as we traditionally learn, a simple transposition of certain words, by which that which had originally been the first became the second, and that which had been the Second became the third.  Hence Dr. Dalcho, the compiler of the original Ahiman Rezon of South Carolina who was himself-made in an Ancient Lodge, but was acquainted with both systems, says, (Edit. 1822, p. 193,) “The real difference in point of importance was no greater than it would be to dispute whether the glove should be placed first upon the right or on the left.”  A similar testimony as to the character of these changes is furnished by an address to the Duke of Athol, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancients, in which it is said: “I would beg leave to ask whether two persons standing in the Guildhall of London, the one facing the statues of ( ),: London, the one facing the statues of ( ),: and ( ) and the other with his back turned on them, could, with any degree of propriety, quarrel about their stations; ( ) be on the right of one, and Magog on the right of the other.  Such then, and far more insignificant, is the disputatious temper of the seceding brethren, that on no better grounds than the above they choose to usurp a power and to aid in open and direct violation of the obligations regulations they had solemnly engaged to maintain, and by every artifice possible to be devised endeavored to increase their number.”  It was undoubtedly to the relative situation of the pillars of the porch, and the appropriation of their names in the ritual, that these innuendoes referred.  As we have them now, they were made by the change effected by the Grand Lodge of Moderns, which transposed the original order in which they existed before the change., and in which order they are still preserved by the continental Lodges of Europe.  It is then admitted that the Moderns did make innovations in the ritual; and although Preston asserts that the changes were made by the regular Grand Lodge to distinguish its members from those made by the Ancient Lodges, it is evident, from the language of the address just quoted, that the innovations were the cause and not the effect of the schism, and the inferential evidence is that the changes were made in consequence of, and as a safeguard against, spurious publications, and were intended, as I have already stated, to distinguish impostors from true Masons, and not schismatic or irregular brethren from those who were orthodox and regular.  But outside of and beyond this transposition of words, there was another difference existing between the Ancients and the Moderns. Dalcho, who was acquainted with both systems, says that the Ancient Masons were in possession of marks of recognition known only to themselves.  His language on this subject is positive.

“The Ancient York Masons,” lie says, “were certainly in possession of the original, universal marks, as they were known and given in the Lodges they had left and which had descended through the Lodge of York, and that of England down to York, and that of England down to their day.  Besides these, we find they had peculiar ( ), which were unknown to the body from which they had separated and were unknown to the rest of the Masonic world.  We have, then, the evidence that they had two ( ) of marks; ( ).: those which they had brought with them from the original body, and those which they had, we must suppose, themselves devised.”  Dermott, in his Ahiman Rezon, confirms this statement of Dalcho, if, indeed, it needs confirmation.  He says that “a Modern Mason may with safety communicate all his secrets to an Ancient Mason, but that an Ancient Mason cannot, with like safety, communicate all his secrets to a Modern Mason without further ceremony.”  And he assigns as a reason for this, that “as a science comprehends an art (though an art cannot comprehend a science), even so Masonry contains everything valuable among the Moderns, as well as many other things that cannot be revealed without additional ceremonies.”

Now, what were these “other things” known by the Ancients, and not known by the Moderns.  What were these distinctive marks, which precluded the latter from visiting the Lodges of the former?  Written history is of course silent as to these esoteric matters.  But tradition, confirmed by, and at the same time explaining, the hints and casual intimations of contemporary writers, leads us to the almost irresistible inference that they were to be found in the different constructions of the third, or Master’s degree, and the introduction into it of the Royal Arch element; for, as Dr. Oliver says, “the division of the third degree and the fabrication of the English Royal Arch appear, on their own showing, to have been the work of the Ancients.”  And hence the Grand Secretary of the regular Grand Lodge, or that of the Moderns, replying to the application of an Ancient Mason from Ireland for relief, says: “Our society (i.e. the Moderns) is neither Royal Arch, nor Ancient, so that you have no right to partake of our charity.”  This, then, is the solution of the difficulty. 

This, then, is the solution of the difficulty.

The Ancients, besides preserving the regular order of the words in the first and second degrees, which the Moderns had transposed, (a transplantation which has been retained in the Lodges of Britain and America, but which has never been observed by the continental Lodges of Europe, who continue the usage of the Ancients,) also finished the otherwise imperfect third degree with its natural complement the Royal Arch, a complement with which the Modems were unacquainted, or which they, if they knew it once, had lost.

For some years, the Ancient Lodges appear to have worked on an independent system, claiming the original right which everybody of Masons had to assemble and work without a warrant.  Here, however they were evidently in error, for it was well known that on the revival of Masonry in the year 1717, this right had been relinquished by the four London Lodges that were then in operation, and which constituted the Grand Lodge. This objection the Ancients pretended to meet by declaring that the Grand Lodge organized in 1717 was not legally constituted, only four Lodges having been engaged in the organization, while, as they said, five were required.

Here again they were in error, as there is no evidence of any such regulation having ever existed. And, therefore, to place themselves in a less irregular position, they organized, in 1757, a Grand Lodge of their own, which was subsequently known by the title of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England, according to the old Constitutions: while the regular body was known as “The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons under the Constitution of England.”

The following is a list of the Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Ancients from its organization to its dissolution: 

1753, Robert Turner; 1755, Edward Vaughan; 1757, Earl of Blessington; 1761, Earl of Kelly; 1767, Thomas Matthew; 1771, 3d Duke of Athol; 1775, 4th Duke of Athol; 1782, Earl of Antrim· 1791, 4th Duke of Athol; 1813, Duke of Kent, under whom the reconciliation of the two Grand Lodges was accomplished.

Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914

3.1Ancient Craft from 1738 – 1813 “United Grand Lodge of England

[11]The United Grand Lodge of England.  The present Grand Lodge of England assumed that title in the year 1813 because it was then formed by the union of the Grand Lodge of the Ancients called the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England according to the old institutions and the Grand Lodge of Moderns called the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons under the constitution of England.  The body that was formed was put to the dissensions of The Craft which had existed in England for more than half a century, adopted, by which it has ever since been known of the “United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England.

Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914

4.11813 – Present Day “United States of America”

[12]The first notice we have a Freemasonry in the United States is in 1729 in which year during The Grandmaster ship of the Duke of Norfolk Mr. Daniel Coxe was appointed provincial Grandmaster of New Jersey.  I have not how ever been able to obtain any evidence that he exercised his prerogative by the establishment of lodges in that province although it is probable that he did.  In the year 1733 the St John’s Grand Lodge was opened in Boston in consequence of a charter granted on the application of several brethren residing in that City by Lord Viscount Montagu Grandmaster of England.  From that time masonry was rapidly (spreading) throughout the country by the establishment of Provincial Grand lodges all of which after the Revolutionary War what separated the colonies from the mother country assume the rank in prerogative of independent Grand lodges.  The history of these bodies being treated under the respective titles the remainder of this article May more properly be devoted to the character of the Masonic organization in the United states.

The Rite practice in this country is most correctly called the American Right. This title however has been adopted within only a comparatively recent period.  It is still very usual with Masonic writers to call the right practice in this country the York right. The expression however is holy and correct.  The Masonry of the United States though founded like that practice in every other country upon the three symbolic degrees which alone constitute the true York right, has by its modifications and its adoption of high degrees so change the right as to give it an entirely different form from that which properly constitutes the pure York right.

In each state of the union and in most of the territories there is a Grand Lodge which exercises jurisdiction over the symbolic degrees.  The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge however is exercised to a certain extent over what are called the higher bodies namely the chapters councils and commanderies.  For by the American construction of Masonic Law a Mason expelled by the Grand Lodge forfeits his membership in all of these bodies to which he may be attached.  Hence a Knight’s Templar or a Royal Arch Mason becomes ipso facto suspended or expelled by his suspension or expulsion by a symbolic Lodge the appeal from which action lies only to the Grand lodge.  Thus the Masonic standing and existence of even the grand commander of a grand Commander is actually in the hands of the Grand Lodge by whose decree of expulsion his relation with the body over which he presides may be dissevered.

Royal Arch Masonry is controlled in each state by a Grand Chapter.  Besides these Grand chapters there is a General Grant Chapter of the United States which however exercises only a moral influence over the state Grand Chapters since it possesses no power of discipline admonition censure or instruction over the grand chapters and territories where there are no Grand Chapters the general Grant Chapter constitutes subordinate chapters and over these it exercises plenary jurisdiction.

The next highest branch of the order is Cryptic Masonry which although rapidly growing is not yet as extensive as Royal Arch Masonry it consists of two degrees Royal and Secret Master to which is sometimes added the super excellent which however is considered only as an honorary degree.  Only one grand cancel can exist in a state or a territory as is the case with the Grand Lodge the grand chapter or a grand commandery.  Grant cancels exist in many of the states and in any state where no such body exists the councils are established by charters emanating from any one of them.  There is no general Grant Council.  Efforts have been repeatedly made to establish one, but the proposition has not met with a favorable response for the majority of the Grand councils.

Templarism is governed by a supreme body whose style is the grand encampment of the United States and this body which meets triennially possesses sovereign power over the whole Templar system in the United States its presiding officers called the Grand Master and this is the highest office known to American Templarism.  And most of the United States there are Grant commandries which exercise immediate jurisdiction over the commandries in the state subject however to the superintendent control of the granite cabinet.  Where there are no Grand commandries charters are issued directly to the subordinate commandries by The Grand encampment.

The ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is very popular United states.  There are two Supreme Councils one for the Southern Jurisdiction which is the mother council of the world.  Its nominal Grand East is at Charleston South Carolina but it’s Secretariat has been removed to Washington City since the year 1870.  The other council is for the Northern Jurisdiction.  It is (located) at Boston Massachusetts but it is Secretariat is at New York city.  The Northern Council has jurisdiction over the States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  (The Southern Supreme Council exercise jurisdiction over all the other states and territories of the United States.  Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914)

[1] Source encyclopedia Freemasonry 1916 Albert Mackey 

[2] Albert Mackey Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1916

[3] Albert Mackey Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1916

[4] Source: Pietre-Stones review of Freemasonry website Paper written by W. Bro. Jack Buta MPS 

[5] Source:  Andrew Prescott:  A history of the British Freemasonry 1425-2000

[6] The encyclopedia Britannica, a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information Pg. 82

[7] Source: Freemasonry today the origins of Freemasonry Sunday April 19th, 2009. 

[8]  Source: Masonic quarterly magazine issue 11, October 2004.  

[10] Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914 

[11] Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914 

[12] Source:  Albert Mackey; Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1914

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