Masonic Archarologists have, during the past twenty-five years, labored very diligently and successfully and have discovered in old Lodges, Museums and Libraries,  many ancient records, generally called "Manuscripts" because the originals, for the most part exist in manuscript rolls. More than eighty examples are known and recognized. The following; list embrace the more important of these:
Regius (Halliwell) 1390
Cooke Early 15th Century
Landsdowne Before 1598
Sloane No.1 1646
Sloane No.2 1649
Harleian 17th Century
Harleian 17th Century
Harris, No. 2 1781
Grand Lodge No. 1 17th Century
Grand Lodge No. 1 17th Century
Colonel Clarke 1686
William Watson 1687
Taylor 17th Century
Searbprough Before 1705
Hildalgo Jones 1607
Lechmere 170th Century
Phillips No. 1 17th Century
Phillips No. 2 17th Century
Phillips No. 3 17th Century
 Kilwinning No. 1 Late 17th Century
Kilwinning 17th Century
Kilwinning No. 3 Late 17th Century
Kilwinning No. 4 1730-40
Kilwinning No. 5 1730-40
In these Ancient Charges we find evidence of the commencement of a moral teaching and of secret signs. Of these MS. it may be noted that no two are exactly alike, but notwithstanding this, it is at once obvious Chat from the earliest times a high moral standard was inculcated in them.
The Regius MS. of about 1390 recommends implicit truth. The Harleian of about 1760, among other things, says, "There is several words and signs of a Free Mason to be revailed to yu wch yu will asn: before God at the Great & terrible day of Judgmt yu keep secret & not revaile the same to any in the heares of any pson but to the Mr's & Fellows of the said Society of Free Masons so helpe me God & c." (17)
(17) British Miseim Harl Ms. 2054. Note written by Randle Holmes circa 1650.
The signs have often been commented upon by Dr. Plot, John Aubrey, Randle Holmes and Sir Christopher Wren.
The fact that a peculiar Guild tradition was acknowledged by all the Masons Companies, whether in London, Edinburgh, Chester, Oxford, York or elsewhere, makes the motto "God is our Guide" almost a necessity, seeing that the Deity is always referred to as God in all the old MS. Constitutions. While it must be admitted that these Ancient Constitutions are purely esoteric in character, and do not in any manner settle the work of the degrees, in their exoteric aspect, which it left to the ancient traditional mode; yet what does appear is in  perfect affinity to a similar system of degrees such as we possess, with oaths, ceremonials and sesrets for these. It follows that as there was an examination ending with an oath, there must of necessity have been some ceremony and there is in fact abundant evidenc that the Craft had its secrets, signs and watchwords and an Officer whom they swore to obey. Aside from trade secrets there was another reason for great secrecy as to Masonic Rites in the fact that while the Christian Emperor of Rome were destroying the Arcane Schools and persecuting them in every possible manner the protection of the Masonic art way necessary to the glorification of the Church and each sought to protect themselves. There is no doubt hat these ancient traditional hires which were originally the type of an ancient religion, would vary with circumstances, the convience of time, and place and the members fo the Lodge.
In the Leland MS., the original of which is said to be in the handwriting of King Henry VI (1422-61), is the statement that some Maconnes are not so vituous as some other menne, but for the moste parte they be more gude than they would be it they were not Maconnes."
The year 1717 forms an important epoch in the history of Freemasonry; it had until then been for some centuries almost exclusively in the hands of Operative Craftsmen. But at this time private gentlemen and Army Officers began to be admitted as both in England and Scotland.
John Boswell, Esq., a landed proprietor, was a member of St. Mary's Chapel Lodge, Edinburgh in 1600. Lyon (18) says that the earliest authentic record of a non-Operative being a member of a Mason's Lodge is contained in the minute hook of the Lodge of Edinburgh under date of  June 8, 1600, where John Boswell, Laird of Achinfleck, is mentioned among the members of the Lodge. His name with his mark is signed to the minute with the names and marks of twelve others who evidently were Operative Masons.
(18 Lyon. "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh")
Robert Moray, Quarter Master General of the Scottish Army was made a Mason at Newcastle in 1641.
(19 Dr. John Dee, John Booker, William Lilly and Father Backhouse are well known occultists, but as Masons we are more interested in two men who were not only given to those pursuits, but were also well known Masons. Sir Robert Moray who was made a Mason at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1641 and Elias Ashmole, who was made at Warrington in 1646. It is conjectured that Thomas Vaughn, the author of many Rosicrucian works under the assumed name of Eugenics PhilaIethes, may have been accepted in 1641, or thereabouts. He was a friend of Ashmole and the language of some parts of his works corresponds with our Ritual. Ashmole says that he was the Senior Fellow present at a Lodge meeting in 1682 and gives the names of a number that were admitted into the Fellowship of Free Masons, Sir William Wilson, Knight; Captain Richard Borthwick; Mr. William Woodman; Mr. William Grey; Mr. Sam'I Taylor; and Mr. William Wise.)
Elias Ashmole,(19) the celebrated antiquarian, and Colonel Henry Mainwaring were made Masons at Warrington in 1646. It is interesting to note the fact that of these three men, who were among the earliest Honorary or non-Operative, or in more modern terms, Speculative Masons made in England, Moray was a Scotch Covenanter, Ashmole was a Royalist and Mainwaring was a Parliamentarian. So that even in those clays, Masonry was a bond of union between men of different religious and political opinions and that even in the time of the great Civil war.
In 1647 Dr. William Maxwell Joined the Lodge at Edinburgh. So far as is known, he was tile first medical man to become a Mason.
The Earls of Cassilis and Eglinton were initiated in the Lodge of Kilwinning about 1670. Lord Cassilis was elected to the Deaconship. These private gentlemen who began about this time to be called Accepted Masons, gradually increased in numbers in the Lodges.
 In 1717, under the influence, Anderson and his friends, a number of Masons, with some of these non-Operative or Speculative Freemasons, belonging to the four Lodges, in London met and formed the first Grand Lodge; a combination in which Speculative Masonry instead of Operative Masonry, wits the primary consideration.
In Scotland they had the Chair and Work Masters in the Incorporation and had their trials upon admission; opening and closing prayers, with oaths as in England neither Company, at am. time ill their history does the Society seem to have confined the Lodge receptions to Operative Masonry and certainly in the 17th century. amateures and gentlemen were accepted in both Scotland and England. In Scitland the nonoperatives called "Geomatic" and the operative "Domatic;" thus distinguishing Geometers and house builders.
(20 Arcane Schools.)
There is a record at Newport in the United States.
"That ye day and date (1686 or 1688) We mett at ye House of Mordecai Campunall and after synagog We gave Adm. Moses the degree of Masonic." If this took place it would and I see no reason to a express a doubt.
During the reign of Charles II, small Lodges were scattered over the country each with a copy of the old Constitutions as its right of Assembly and with a formal ceremony of reception. All traded were admissable, and gentlemen affected their company it is everywhere evident taht the 17th centure the Speculative of Beomatic element was becoming predominate and that an attempt was made to retain the Social in its old groove and keep on foot the deneral Assmebly.
 Architecture and Operative tools became symbolical about the year 1717 but the Speculative Ritual was based on the Ritual of the old Operative Society of which united it was almost a reproduction.
The Operative Ritual in so far as its signs, words, ceremonies and symbols are concerned, is based on actual Operative tools, practices and customs and is much nearer in form to that of the Ancient Charges which have come down to us and which date long before the foundation of Speculative Masonry in the early part of the 18th century.(21)
(21 Mackey and Singleton. Hist. of Freemasonry. Vol. IV.)
The fact that this Ritual, purposely designed for Operative Masons only and used in the Operative Lodges of London at the beginning of the 18th century, was adopted in 1717 when the four Lodges united in the organization of the Grand Lodge, is, I think, convincing proof that there was no expressed intention at that time to abandoning the Operative character of the Institution and to assume for it a purely Speculative condition. (22)
(22 Mackey and Singleton. "Hist. of Freemasonry.")
Later on, when a Master's Degree, (23) not a Master of a Lodge but a Master Mason was added, Dr. Anderson and his colleagues invented a ceremony based on the Operative's Annual Festival of October 2nd commemorating the slaying of Hiram Abiff at the Building of King Solomon's Temple.
(23 Many of the members of the old Operative Guilds regarded Modern Masonry an imperfect system, and this, with various other ideas, led to the development of a system of Master's Degrees-at a later period termed "High Grade Masonry." We must admit that the builders of our ancient Cathedrals and churches were men of great intelligence, who would seek to increase their knowledge from all available sources among these sources the societies of Alchemists, Rosicrucians, Astrologers and Mathematicians. This participation probably continued for centuries. Various Societies of Oriental origin existed at an early date using symbols that would attract the Masons, and it is in evidence that the early Rosicticians were initiated by the Moslem sectaries.)
 The real Secrets and the real Ritual
of the Operative Master's Degree could not be given, as but few
knew them. They were known only to those who had actually been
one of time Three Masters, 7th Degree, by whom the Operative were
ruled, and Dr. Anderson had not been one of these. His office
was that of Chaplain, although it is, quiet that he had been admitted
an Accepted member of the Craft some years previously in Scotland.
Back to Guild Masonry In The Making [ Previous ] [ Next ]