The Scottish Ancestry of Freemasonry

RW Bro. Ossian Lang


They say that the Scots keep the Sabbath and everything else they can lay their hands on. This is quite true on the whole. They keep the Ten Commandments, too. But what interests us particularly in connection with the subject your Historian has chosen to present at this annual communication is that, thanks to this saving trait in the Scot, there is in existence in Scotland, and accessible to serious inquirers, the most extensive collection of original Masonic records to be found anywhere, from operative times right down to the present.

With any number of wild theories afloat about the antecedents of Freemasonry, we can not but be thankful to the frugal Scottish ancestors of our Craft and their sons that they kept those records for us. They placed at our command. thereby incontestable facts as to the actual character of operative Lodges, how they were organized, what they did, and how they developed step by step the system by which present Masonic Lodges operate. Those ancient documents do not need much comment to serve as a wholesome antidote to the variegated "bunk" spread abroad under the guise of Masonic history. They speak for themselves-speak with the voice of truth.

There is Edinburgh Lodge, No. 1-Mary's Chapel-the oldest existing Masonic Lodge in the world. It has a complete set of its original minutes from the close of the sixteenth century to this very day, minutes covering three hundred and thirty years of continuous existence. The Lodge is older than that number of years. But the minutes suffice to make clear what the Lodge was hundred and eighteen years before the first Grand Lodge was instituted, how it admitted non-operatives from time to time, how this element multiplied, and how the gradual changes led naturally and inevitably without cataclasm, without any disturbance whatever, into Freemasonry.

Then there are the Aitchinson's Haven Lodge minutes, beginning almost two years earlier than those of Edinburgh Lodge, on January 9th, 1598, and running right along, except for a few unimportant interruptions, to December 1852, when the Lodge stopped working and later was declared defunct.

And-without attempting to enumerate all-there are the two so called "Schaw Statutes" for the regulation of the mason lodges in Scotland, the most important documents of them all. These are presented rather fully in the report to be submitted to you and need not occupy our attention now.

One thing more. Most of the ancient usages - I am not referring to rituals and degree work, they were a much later development, I am thinking of the wearing of gloves, banquets, funeral customs, St. John's Day celebrations, and suchlike things peculiar to the Craft-can be traced to Scotland. Not that they originated in Scotland-they were brought there from the Continent but the Scottish Masons preserved them and passed them on to the founders of modern Freemasonry. The titles of lodge officers are unquestionably derived from the operative Masons of Scotland. So are certain other words which are used only by Masons: the word Cowan, for example, which referred to rough masons, wall builders, and stone workers generally who were not members of a mason lodge, and implied a mason "without the word," that is the "mason word," the chief "secret," the word by which a member of a lodge could prove himself such on examination. In short, you will find it worth your while to get acquainted with the Scottish ancestors of the present Masonic Lodges.

Now a word of explanation: It would be utterly impossible adequately to cover the subject I have chosen, within the proper limits of a report presented at an annual communication of Grand Lodge. So I decided to divide the subject, submitting at this time only a more or less general introduction to the Scottish operative mason lodges, letting the Schaw Statutes of 1598 and 1599 bear the greater part of the task of revealing the character of those lodges, You may consider these preliminary remarks rather long. If you do, I must warn you that the report itself starts out with a still more extended preamble to supply the proper background for the story. Unless you first take a good look at Scotland and her sons, you will miss the best preparation for a study of the Scottish Craft.



Racially the Highlander differs far more from the Lowland Scot than the latter does from the Englishman. A Celtic strain runs through them all, but in greatly varying proportions. It predominates in the Highlander: Gael and Pict. The Lowlander is more Teuton: Anglo-Saxon, Fleming, and Norse. And the English? Tennyson's oft quoted line.

"Norman and Saxon and Dane are we,"

omits The Celtic and - the Roman trait, the most outstanding of them all.

Common historical experiences, and the intermingling of races in Great Britain, since 1750 or thereabout, have modified antagonisms rooted in differences of origins and associations. Nevertheless, subconsciously at least, the old heritage persists. The men north of the Tweed and the Cheviot Hills remain distinct from the men to the south. Their physical features, modes of action and reaction, and other characteristics known to all the world, stamp them as of another stock. Even though the language be English in both countries, that, too, has its unmistakable peculiarities in manner of utterance and turns of speech, and has preserved in Scotland a closer relation to the original Anglo-Saxon than it has in England.

The further we go back in time, the more pronounced the contrasts are. Mutual antipathy kept Gaels and Lowlanders apart for more than a thousand years. Except occasionally, when England, the hereditary foe of both, intruded, could they forget their natural antagonisms long enough to unite in defence of the independence of their common country. The antipathy was essentially racial, of course. But what about the Lowlands, populated by invaders of the same Germanic tribes which had conquered England? Why, for almost a thousand years, did the Scots nurse a hostile attitude toward their kinsmen to the south of them? The arrogance of English Kings and cruel warlords explains much, but not everything. The hard historic fact is that for over 450 years Scotland was the ally of France against England, and the "ladies from hell" always formed a redoubtable contingent of the French armies. (1)

The story of the Scottish mason lodges of which we shall speak-after we have made sure of an adequate national background and have taken note also of fictions spun around them by French Masons in the eighteenth century -cannot be explained without recalling the "auld alliance" and keeping in mind that the Scot is distinct from the Englishman and that he has back of him traditions and a history uniquely his own.

Scotland is supremely romantic. Yet her sons excel in practical affairs, especially away from home. Her scanty natural resources and the poor soil too sterile in some regions to yield any increase, have preordained the great majority of Scots for frugal living and laborious persistence to which they added valour, keen-witted circumspection, and other characteristics for which they are known the world over. Romance offers the one escape from the hardness of reality. If stubborn reality will not succumb to industry, then imagination must take a hand. And imagination the Scot, thanks to his Celtic heritage, has in abundance. Not idle day-dreams which dissolve into vapour before the closing of the day. No. There is a hard-headed-Teutonic, if you will-element in his make-up, always tending toward practical ends. It is the Lowland trait, distinguishing him from the Irish Celt, which turns his fancies into visions of opportunities for productive commercial, industrial, professional, missionary, exploratory, or experimental enterprise, with promise of solid success ahead. And for that promise he will work with his utmost energy and canniness, never wavering, till the goal is attained: "The Scot gangs till he gets it."

Those who look upon romance as the antithesis of practicality, do not know the Scot. Romance and practical adaptation blend perfectly in him. He makes them blend. He can let his fancy run riot and then hitch it to a bold resolve to have it carry him to substantial achievement. Wallace did it, Scott did it, so did Livingstone, Hume, Adam Smith, Watt, Carnegie, Lister, Balfour, Viscount Haldane, Field-Marshal Haig, Gordon Lang, famed and unheralded Empire Builders, engineers, captains of commerce and industry, military strategists, pioneers, and a host of others.

Romance in no wise is to be depreciated. Even in the unharnessed, rampant state in which it persists in the Highland regions, it supplies at least a grateful anodyne, if not always an antidote, for the disadvantages of a dour existence. It is there. It must be reckoned with. It must be kept in mind when approaching the earlier Scottish history, before the battle of Culloden Moor or about 1750, whether the purpose be to understand the interminable feuds and uprisings in the past, the political and religious developments, the struggles of the artisans to free themselves from the thraldom of an aristocratic Gildry, or the rise of the mason craft.

As our present object is to acquaint ourselves with operative mason lodges in Scotland, in the days before Freemasonry became established, we shall have need of caution. The hard solid facts of history have a way of becoming covered with blooming heather melting into an overhanging purple mist. Revered national heroes are drawn into the scenes to exalt the mason craft. Its origins are connected with the architectural remains of the early days; legends have been set afloat which doggedly resist every endeavour to dispel the blue haze. And yield up the fragrance and the colorplay of the heather? Never! Fascinating stories of the Druids and their mysteries, (2) of Iona and the Culdees, of David I and Holyrood, the Bruce and Bannockburn, the Abbeys of Kelso and Melrose and Kilwinning, and many other myth-enshrouded persons and places, beguile the heart. Documentated evidence running counter to tradition is apt to be scorned as treasonable forgery. Minstrels are more popular than historians. Things are made to appear as they should have been, not as they really were. (3)

To the fiction grown on Scottish soil, moreover, were added tales fabricated in France, though it was a Scot from Ayr, named Michael Ramsay,(4) who supplied the cue. What the exuberance of French fablemongers built around that Chevalier's naive cue, brought into action a multitude of "high" Masonic degrees and new Masonic "Rites," for which Ramsay in nowise can be held responsible. The story is quite illuminating, and we may as well examine now that particular fictional portion which has to do with Scotland, as a first move toward clearing the wonderland road of what-should-have-been to get to the rock bottom facts as-they-are.


Andrew Michael Ramsay was an upright, guileless, saintly Scot, a mystic by nature and a scholar and educator by training and profession. He had become interested in Freemasonry and joined one of the early French Lodges. Through intercourse and correspondence with Dean Swift, Alexander Pope, and other literary celebrities identified with the Craft, as also through the reading of the Anderson Constitutions of 1723, he had arrived at certain conclusions regarding the ideals and ancestors of Freemasonry. These conclusions he embodied in a Discourse and addressed to a group of newly entered apprentices in his Lodge, on the twenty-first day of March, 1737.(5) He exhorted the initiates that a Mason is bound by his profession to cultivate four cardinal qualities:

  1. An intelligent zeal for the welfare of all mankind;

  2. Uprightness, purity of heart and mind, a firm trust in the God of Love, fidelity to the State, the cultivation of gentility and good will, and all else that is comprised in the word Virtue;

  3. Secrecy as regards our symbolic work and sacred words;

  4. The liberal arts and useful sciences. [All vices of the mind and heart, he added, must be banished, among them atheism, dissoluteness, infidelity, and excesses of every kind; theology and politics are debarred from the Lodge; women are excluded because "their presence unconsciously might injure the purity of our principles and our morals."]

Certainly no fault can be found with this exposition of the duties of a Freemason.

The "historical" portion of the discourse was not worked out with an equally satisfactory discernment of facts. Nevertheless, it satisfied the Masons of Ramsay's day and generation far more than any other version of the origin of Freemasonry put in circulation before. As a matter of fact it compares most favourably with the versions advanced for a sesqui-centenary and more afterward.

Ramsay spoke in 1737. The first Masonic Grand Lodge in the world, that of England, had been constituted only twenty years before. The only official "History" in existence was that published with the "solemn Approbation" of the Grand Lodge of England, in 1723. It had been prepared by the Rev. JAMES ANDERSON, M.A., Master of Lodge XVII, at London, who, too, was a Scot and had included, in the guise of historic facts, some legends concerning the mason craft in Scotland, which no doubt he took to be history. Ramsay accepted these in good faith, though he could not accept all of Anderson's statements as to Masonic origins and made an extensive study of available sources "to get down to real history." His conclusions, as presented to new Entered Apprentices of his Lodge, in 1737, may be summarized as follows:


  1. During the time of the Crusades, a number of princes, nobles and citizens formed a union and vowed to establish Christian temples in the Holy Land and "restore the original manner of building." They agreed upon certain ancient signs and symbolical words to distinguish themselves from the unbelievers. Thus a tie was created to unite men of all nations in one Brotherhood. Shortly thereafter, our Order connected itself with the Knights of the Holy Saint John of Jerusalem. From that time our Lodges have borne the name of St. John's Lodges everywhere. This union was brought about in imitation of the Israelites who when they built the second Temple, plied the trowel and mortar with one hand, while holding the sword and buckler in the other.


  2. After the Crusaders returned from Palestine they erected Lodges in Germany, Italy, Spain, and France. From France the Lodges were introduced into Scotland, because of the intimate alliance between these two countries. "James Lord Steward of Scotland was the Grand Master of a Lodge at Kilwinnen (Kilwinning), in 1128. He received into his Lodge the Earls of Gloucester and of Ulster, as Freemasons; the one an Englishman, the other Irish.


  3. As time went on the Lodges were neglected in almost all countries. But they were kept alive in all their fulll splendour among the Scots, and "our kings accorded to them, for several centuries, the protection of their sacred persons."


  4. A colony of brethren returned from the Holy Land settled in Great Britain. Prince Henry, son of Henry III of England, declared himself the protector of "our Order" and granted it privileges and liberties, "since when the members of this Brotherhood adopted the title of Freemasons."

    The italicized sentences are the ones which were seized upon as building material for French air-castles in Scotland, which ultimately passed into American hands, as other more substantial castles have done since.

    The legend that several Orders of Knighthood among the Crusaders had come under the influence of Freemasonry, appears to have been current in France and elsewhere on the Continent at that time. This, together with the fact that the Masonic Lodges were denominated St. John's Lodges probably led Ramsay to connect "our Order" with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Order of the Hospitalers), a body of military monks, originally a non-military community which maintained a hospital and built a church at Jerusalem, and was consecrated chiefly to the care of the sick. His theory is of course quite as untenable as is the oft repeated assertion that the Knights Templar were in some way affiliated with the Masonic Fraternity. Nevertheless, the idea that they were descended from picturesque valiant Knights of the Crusades, rather than from simple craftsmen, appealed strongly to the imagination of the French Brethren, and they worked out the suggestion ritually and in a multiplication of new "chivalric degrees" plausibly enough to captivate the Swedes, the Germans, the Swiss, and brethren in many other lands, including the United States.

    The Hospitalers were described as passing on the Royal Art to the Templars, a remnant of the latter taking the "secrets" to Scotland (not forgetting Kilwinning) and transmitting them to the Scottish Lodges whence they spread to all parts of the world. The "Swedish System" and the "Ancient and Accepted Rite" -- "Scottish," to be sure-cling to the fascinating fancy to this day.

    The ritualistic attractiveness and the symbolical value of the story is undeniable. As such it has ample justification. Historically it can not be sustained. As far as Scotland is concerned it shatters on the rock bottom fact that there were then no Masonic Lodges in existence for Knights, whether Hospitalers or Templars, to find refuge in.

    All of Ramsay's statements concerning the origin and development of Freemasonry may be dismissed as unhistorical.

    The reference to Kilwinning, in the second paragraph, deserves a special word: An abbey church (Benedictine) was founded at Kilwinning, in 1140, by Hugh de Morville, Constable of Scotland. From the building of that church the Lodge of Kilwinning claims its origin and, in the days before "debunking" had set in, insistently defended such claim. This may account for Ramsay's statement, for he was born at Ayr, fourteen miles south of Kilwinning, a town of which an old Black's "Guide to Scotland" writes that it is "traditionally distinguished as the place where freemasonry was first introduced into Scotland, the Kilwinning Lodge being considered the parent of all the Scotch Lodges."(6)

    A host of uncritical Masonic critics have insisted for many years that Ramsay had ulterior motives when he derived the Fraternity from the Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem and made Kilwinning the cradle of Freemasonry in Great Britain. They are entirely mistaken and unjust in this. All known facts prove that he merely accepted persistent legends as historic facts, as many others have done, and not always from motives as disinterested and instincts as scholarly as his.

    The road is now clear for taking a survey of uncontrovertible facts as regards the operative antecedents of present-day Scottish Freemasonry.


    Architectural building in stone appears to have been beyond the skill of the Scots before the fifteenth century. Timbered and wattled structures were known as having been done "after the manner of the Scots." With the exception of Aberdeen, the Highlands are negligible altogether as far as skilled building in stone by Scottish Masons is concerned, during medieval times. As regards the Lowlands, all the more noteworthy architectural piles there were erected by craftsmen imported from England, Flanders, France, Germany, and Spain.(7) If these builders were organized, their lodges do not form part of the history of Scotland, though they may have supplied models for the earlier craft unions in Scotland. The name lodge as well as the word mason were derived from France and Flanders. Architecture never was indigenous to the Scottish soil.

    The masons are mentioned for the first time in an enactment of Parliament, in 1425, ordering the City Council to fix the wages of those who work for others, such as carpenters and masons (tailors also). Shortly before, Parliament had decreed that in every city each craft should elect to the City Council one representative who was then to be considered the Deacon or master-man (Dekyn or maister man) of his craft. His duty was to examine and supervise all work done by the workingmen he represented, but not to exercise any corrective (judicial) authority.

    The Act of 1426 recited that complaint had been made that carpenters and masons frequently undertake work which they either can not or will not complete, thereby injuring the employer and causing disadvantage to the realm. The public crier of every city was ordered to announce that no craftsman shall take on more work than he can complete according to his skill, under penalty of forfeiting his pay to the King and having the work finished at his expense by another. It is decreed further that if a craftsman wilfully or unjustly neglects to complete any undertaking, another craftsman of the same trade shall not refuse to take over the work at appropriate pay, under penalty of a fine fixed by the King, unless he already is under contract at some other work. We shall see later how the craft itself regulated such matters, after its organization had become firmly established.

    The very next year, the law concerning the Deacons of the crafts in the cities was annulled: Thereafter no Deacons were to be elected, and those previously elected were disqualified from exercising their office. They were prohibited also from holding their customary meetings which the Government believed to be used for "conspiracies." The struggle of the crafts for many years was to obtain a greater measure of self-government. The right to convene and the right to elect their own chief officer or deacon were the burning issues. Evidently the annulment caused a general protest, for a new law was enacted by Parliament, in 1428, ordering the City Council to elect from every trade one Warden to serve one year and to associate with him other responsible men by whose advice he is to examine material and work and to fix the price to he paid therefore. This order was made to apply to masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, tailors and others. In the sheriffdoms, outside of the cities, the Barons, each within his own jurisdiction, were to fix prices and penalties as did the Wardens in the cities; the Barons to he responsible to the King as were the Wardens to their respective Alderman and City Council.

    All the acts relating to masons, mentioned thus far, were promulgated in the reign of James I, perhaps the ablest and most energetic king of the whole Stuart line. The nobles had ruled supreme in Scotland, before he was crowned at Scone, in the spring of 1424, at the age of thirty. He was determined to break their power. Parliament was his instrument. At the very first session of this body (March, 1425) at Perth, laws were enacted restoring to the Church the lands which had been wrested from her and appropriated by rapacious nobles. This gave rise to trouble. To put an end to it he sent to the scaffold about a hundred of the discontented nobles, among them many of his own kindred. Parliament was assembled no less than fifteen times, at various places, and passed many statutes-upwards of 160-to free the common people from oppression, to restore to them liberties of which they had been despoiled, to promote commerce and industry, and to reform the administration of justice to assure equity "to the rich as to the poor, without fraud or favour." The laws relating to the mason craft indicate his desire to extend the principle of representation as well as his determination to protect the interests of the people in general. He was murdered in February, 1437. From this time to the reign of James IV (1488-1513) no new laws were enacted affecting the mason craft.

    In 1493, the election of Deacons of the crafts is again pronounced to be fraught with dangers to the public good. Masons, carpenters, and other craftsmen are reported to be congregating and making their own rules for their crafts, starting work and quitting when they feel like it and then keeping other members of their craft from completing it, etc. These oppressors of the king's subjects (Kingis liages) are to be punished severely.

    Finally, on October 15th, 1475, the carpenters and masons of Edinburgh were incorporated under a charter ("Seal of Clause" or "Sigillum ad Causas''), issued to them, on their petition, by the town authorities: the Provost (Mayor), Bailies (Aldermen), Council, Dean of the Gildry (Merchants Gild), and the Deacons of all the Crafts within the burgh of Edinburgh This charter, specifying their rights and privileges, marks the establishment of what appears to have been the first self-governing (within set limits) craft organization in Scotland, which includes the masons.

    The combining of two or more trades was quite the general practice. It was not unusual, more especially in the smaller towns, to find all the local crafts united in one general Incorporation.

    The charter consists of two documents. One has to do chiefly with statutes and rules, mentioning incidentally that the aisle of St. John in the College Kirk of St. Giles is assigned to the Incorporation "to protect [beald] and use [put to polesy] in honour of St. John and for the privilege [sufferage] of divine service."


    The original text of the two parts of the charter is reproduced in Murray Lyon's History of the Lodge of Edinburgh. Here we shall have to content ourselves with a bare summary of the more significant provisions. After the customary invocation, the first document recites (paraphrased)

    "Our citizens and neighbours [comburgessis and nychtbouris], all the craftsmen of the Masons and the Carpenters [Wrichtis] within the burgh, presented to us their petition, desiring of us our license, consent, and assent to certain statutes and rules, made among themselves, for the honour and worship of St. John, in augmentation of divine service, for the rule and government of the two crafts, for the honour and dignity of the town, and for the probity and credit [treuth and lawte] of the two crafts, profitable both for the workers and to all builders [biggaris]," i.e. the persons who employ carpenters and masons to do building work for them. The Statutes and rules were found to be "good and acceptable (loveable) both to God and man and consonant with reason." Therefore the petition is granted.

    Then follows the list of "articles and statutes" approved "insofar as we have power." Somewhat condensed they are the following:


    1. Two masons and two wrights are to be chosen, and sworn to inspect all work done by the craftsmen and make aura that the employers receive honest return for their pay.

    2. If an employer is dissatisfied with the work or a particular worker, he is to lodge his complaint with the deacon and the four inspectors, or two of them, and if these cannot make good the damage, the provost and deacons shall make amends.

    3. Any new craftsman coming to town to do or undertake work there, shall be examined by the inspectors to make sure that he is competent, and if found qualified he shall pay a silver mark toward the repair of the altar of St. John.

    4. No 'prentice shall be accepted for less than seven years service, and he shall pay half a mark at his entry. If he or a servant [feit man] quits a master before his time, without leave, anyone accepting such 'prentice or servant shall pay one pound of wax to the altar. The second offence in such a matter is subject to a fine of two pounds of wax. The third offence shall be punished by the provost and bailies as they may see fit. After a 'prentice has served out his seven years, he shall be examined by the four inspectors to determine whether or not he is fit to be enrolled as a fellowcraft; if approved he shall pay half a mark to the altar and obtain the privilege of the craft; if he does not satisfy his examiners he shall serve a master till he is found qualified to be received as a master and to be made a freeman (burgesscitizen) and fellow of craft.

    5. If a fellow proves disobedient or creates dissension among the craftsmen of the two crafts and charges are preferred against him, he shall be brought before the deacons and overmen of the crafts who are to settle the matter among themselves; if they fail in this, the guilty one shall be punished by the provost and bailies.

    6. The two crafts shall have their places in all public processions, as in the town of Bruges and other suchlike good towns. If one of the craftsmen of either craft dies and leaves no assets to assure him a good funeral, the two crafts shall bury him decently at their expense, as they owe it to a brother of the craft.

    7. It shall be lawful for the two crafts and craftsmen of Wrights and Masons, and they shall have power to adopt whatever other acts, statutes, or ordinances they may deem most convenient for the weal and advantage of the good town, with the consent of all the crafts [the general convenery] and our successors, which are to ratify and approve them as these present acts have been, and they are then to be entered in the Common Book of Edinburgh, in order to have the same form, force, and effect as the present writ has."

    The reference to the Flemish city of Bruges, in the sixth item, and the mention of public processions, is of particular interest as pointing out one channel by which craft customs drifted into Scotland. We already have mentioned that Flemings worked on Scottish abbeys in medieval times. Gross, in his classic Gild Merchant,(8) has shown that, after the thirteenth century, Scottish burghs sought municipal precedents in France and Flanders rather than in England; that, in 1593, the Gild Merchant of the burghs was regulated "according to the lovable form of judgment used in the good towns of France and Flander"; that many Flemings settled in Scotland and formed a powerful element in Scottish burghal life; that these immigrants must have aided in making the Scots familiar with continental institutions; that the presence of such words as maisterstick (masterpiece), sigillum ad causes (charter), Maison Dieu (temple of God), etc. testify to considerable continental influence.

    As to the public processions, civic and religious, in which the craftsmen took part, each wearing upon his breast the insignia of his particular trade, every craft marching under its own banner, we learn from Murray Lyon (9) how the practice in Edinburgh led to extravagant expenditures by the mason craftsmen. He tells that the court of the Incorporation of Masons and Wrights, in1685, decreed that deacons shall not call for an escort upon horseback, except on solemn occasions, at receptions given to great personages, or at burials of men of distinction. Otherwise their escort shall be limited to former deacons, and present quartermasters, the number on horseback not exceeding six to each deacon. Of Glasgow he reports that the court there decided that "all who ride to burials or other common raids hereafter shall ride upon their own charges, and shall not be allowed out of the common purse."

    The condition laid down in the Edinburgh Seal of Cause that the craft must see to it that every "brother" shall have a decent burial, paying all expenses if need be, merely recalls a law enacted in the thirteenth century, which made such duty incumbent upon all incorporated bodies. It was the custom in the sixteenth century, as Murray Lyon has shown, that the Craftsmen wore their aprons at funerals of Brethren, but were forbidden to do so at burials of men not connected with the craft. The "Masonic Funeral" of the present day is a survival of the practice.

    The original text of the second (supplementary) charter to which reference has been made, is given in full by Murray Lyon (1900: pp:251-2). This charter seta aside forever the aisle of St. Giles for the special use of the incorporation, in return for its upkeep of the altar therein of St. John Baptist and St. John Evangelist "in the honour, worschipe, and glore of Almychte God and of the glorius virgine Sanct Mary, and of our patrone Sanct Gele, and for the furthering, helping, Biking, and suppleing of divine serurice daily to be done at the altar of Sanct Jhone the Evangelist foundit in the College Kirk of the said sanct of Sanct Jhone, and the glorius Sanct Jhone the Baptist."

    It was quite the general custom for craft bodies to hold their meetings in the Kirks assigned to them. The Edinburgh Brethren, accordingly, no doubt met in their aisle in St. Giles, as a rule, though one record speaks of an extraordinary meeting in Holyrood House, in 1600. From 1613 onward, for 170 years, the masons convened regularly in Mary's Chapel, in Niddry's Wynd, then the most aristocratic section of Edinburgh. In 1618 the Incorporation bought the building and converted it into a Convening Hall. That is why in the course of time it became known as Incorporation of Mary's Chapel. It was in this building that the present Grand Lodge of Scotland was organized, in 1736.


    Whether and how the masons of the Incorporation were organized, in 1475, cannot be determined from available records. They had their separate meetings. That much appears to be established.

    In the course of time the body of mason craftsmen became known as lodge. The term was applied also to the meeting. They met in a lodge (building), they met as a lodge (organization), they formed a lodge (met). The explanation is quite simple. Originally the term, derived from the French, meant simply hut. When an abbey, a church, a castle, or other large architectural structure was to be erected, the masons engaged to do the work were housed in a temporary wooden building, shed or lean-to, which was called lodge. Here they slept, had their meals, spent their recreation periods, and discussed matters of common interest. If the work continued for a considerable space of time, organization and rules of order became a necessity to preserve decorum and harmony. The transition from eating and sleeping in a lodge to doing these things and others as a lodge, explains itself. That the term came to be applied to the workshop, also is readily understood. Toward the end of the fifteenth century the meaning had become fixed as denoting either a meeting of masons (holding a lodge) or a local organization of masons.

    Wiseacres and propagandists of a later day have read all sorts of profundities into the term. Some have derived it from India and other far-off lands. Simple explanations do not satisfy mystery-mongers. A study of the rise of the Scottish mason lodges is the best antidote.

    The earliest mention, found thus far, of a lodge [luge] in Scotland, appears in an Aberdeen record of June 27th, 1483, and speaks of dissensions between six "masownys of the luge:" The difficulty was patched up and the decision rendered that if anyone of the six shall be found guilty of quarrelsomeness in the future, he shall pay stipulated fines for the first and second offence, but for the third he is to be "excludit out of the luge:" Here the term obviously refers to the but in which the masons were wont to resort for either work and recreation, or both.

    The term is used in an Edinburgh city statute of 1491 "anent the government of the Maister Masoun of the College Kirk of St. Giles," which fixes the hours of labor for the master mason (master builder) and his companions and servants. These are to work eleven hours a day (5 to 8 a.m., 8:30 to 11 a.m., 1 to 4 p.m., and 4:30 to 7 p.m.), in the summer, and to put in the same hours, in winter, beginning "with day licht" in the morning and continuing till "day licht be gane." The statute specified that, from 4 to 4:30 p.m., the masons are to "gett a recreatioun in the commoun luge." Here the term obviously means the gathering place or recreation room of the craftsmen.

    In an "indenture" between the city authorities of Dundee and a master mason for work to be done during his lifetime on the local church or other buildings for the burgh, dated March 23rd, 1537, we find the term used in the newer sense as applying to a body of masons. The contract specifies that the building work is to be carried on in accord with "the ald vss and consuetud of our lady luge of Dunde," i.e. the old usage and custom of the Lodge of Our Lady (St. Mary) of Dundee.

    Thus, in 1537 the word lodge had come to be stabilized as applying to the organization. The explanation no doubt is that the Scottish masons had begun to form lodges at sometime before that year, in some of the burghs.


    * * *

    We now have arrived at a time when charters of crafts incorporations, statutes for the regulation of the mason craft, minutes of mason lodges, and collateral documents become so abundant as to almost overwhelm the searcher for uncontrovertible evidence regarding the standing, character, and doings of the operative ancestry of Freemasonry. There are, besides, innumerable records of legends persistently presented as history, backed by more or less cleverly devised spurious documents to persuade unwary archaeologists and historiographers, of whom there are many.

    One such spurious production is made to appear as a charter accorded to the Lodge of Glasgow (St. John) by Malcolm III, King of Scots, in 1057, a time when not even charters for cities were in existence. Though a rather clumsy imposture it appears in print every now and then as representing a genuine charter.

    The oldest documents of undoubted genuineness, relating to mason lodges in Scotland, are the minutes of Aitchison Haven Lodge beginning with a meeting held on the ninth day of January, 1598; the celebrated Schaw Statutes of 1598 and 1599; and the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) beginning with the thirty-first day of July, 1599, and continuing to the present day; and the two so-called St. Clair Charters, on of 1601 and the other of 1628 or thereabout.


    The oldest actual, genuine minutes of a Scottish mason lodge discovered thus far, are those of Aitchinson's Haven Lodge, in the present County of Midlothian. The Minute Book in which they are recorded consists of seventy-five written, besides several blank sheets, bound in sheepskin. It is designated as The Buik of the Actis and Ordinans of the Nobile Maisteris and fellows of Craft of the Ludg of Aitchison's heavine: The earliest minute in the Buik is of January 9th, 1598, and the latest was recorded in 1764. The regular minutes kept by the Lodge, after it had become part of the Grand Lodge of Scotland which was constituted in 1736, close with December, 1852, when the Lodge became dormant and was later declared defunct.

    The Buik was found among the residuary effects of a Bro. Joan BAIN who had been a member of the Aitchison's Haven Lodge at the time this became defunct. Bro. R. E. WALLACE-JAMES, P. Prov. Gr. Sec. of Midlothian, on having had the find brought to his notice and recognizing its historical value, described it in a paper read to the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of London, in January 1911, in the Transactions of which it was published (A.Q.C., vol. XXIV, pp. 30-42). From this paper the following items of information are gleaned

    The minute of January 9th, 1598, records the passing of an entered apprentice to the rank of fellow of craft, the names of the Warden and fellows of craft, the payment of the fee, the presentation of gloves to the masters (fellows of craft empowered to take on apprentices), and the choice of two instructors.

    The minute of January 11th, 1598, tells of the entering of an apprentice, his choice of two entered apprentices to be his instructors, and other details.

    Other minutes follow, reporting similar routine matters, disciplinary actions, absences (and fines imposed therefore) at summoned meetings, election of officers, etc. Four items refer to craft usages quite common in Scottish Craft bodies of the olden time, which are worth noting as throwing light on features of Lodge life not directly connected with purely operative interests. One relates to the purchase of a "Mort-cloth" or pall; another fixes the days on which all craftsmen must attend, whether notified or not; a third mentions copies of "said books," and the fourth speaks of the "Oath" taken by the apprentices.

    At the meeting held on October 31st, 1641, a committee was appointed to collect voluntary contributions for the purchase of a mort-cloth. Nine months later, report was made that nineteen named Brethren had contributed amounts ranging from twelve shillings to three pounds, the total aggregating forty-six pounds and four shillings. In 1669, fifteen pounds were voted "be the Companie of Achisons Lodge" to be paid from "the box" for the purchase of a fringe for the mort-cloth and a new bag. Later on a by-law was adopted, which provided that "no outstander [behind in his dues] or revolter from the companie sail have right to the forsaid Mort Cloath or benefit thereof ontill they acknowledge their error and give satisfaction to the Companie . . . and if it be let out to ony fremd [unknown outsider] or stranger the pryce should be to the box thrie merk & ane half."

    1. No coffins were used in Scotland in the earlier days. Then, on its way to the grave, the corpse was covered with a pall, or mort-cloth, of black velvet or other material. Later, when coffins became the fashion, they were covered as the corpses had been. The mort-cloth was hired out and brought in considerable revenue to the owners. It was the usage of many gilds and fraternities to keep such palls for deceased members and for hire. In England the pall was usually called "hearse-cloth."

    Bro. HEXTALL cites a passage from an old Scottish record, which suggests that each parish had its own mort-cloth and looked upon its hire as a recognized source of income:


    "On arriving at the church-yard the gate was found to be locked, and the Sexton or grave-digger, by order of the minister, refused to deliver the key or admit the corpse, unless the mort-cloth belonging to that parish was either taken or paid for on that occasion; as the Kirk-session would not on any consideration submit to be defrauded of its dues by the introduction in that church-yard of a mort-cloth from another parish."

    In the earlier days, as a rule, only one stated meeting was held each year, on St. John Evangelist Day, December 27th. Special meetings were called as occasion demanded. Apprentices entered during the year had to be re-entered at the St. John's Day meeting. In 1601, the Lodge decreed that any Master or servant who is not present on St. Andrew's Day shall pay a stipulated fine. In 1602, the Monday following upon Whitsunday and St. John Evangelist Day are mentioned as the days on which all must be present, or pay a fine of twenty shillings "without any excuse."

    In a minute of the meeting held on St. John Evangelist Day, in 1669, mention is made of a decree enacted in 1646, which provides that any person found in possession of any "copies" and keeps "the said books," shall pay a fine of fourty pounds "scots money" and be excluded from "all Societe within the said compane." Bro. W. J. HUGHAN believed that reference is made here to copies of the "Old Charges" which "were doubtless lent for use at receptions or makings." They probably were the property of the Lodge. The severity of the penalty would seem to indicate this.

    On St. John Evangelist Day, in 1670, the Company decreed that all entered apprentices must behave themselves according to their duty as they were taught in "thar Oath that thay maik to God and secundly to their Masters and Superriours" and if they transgress in the least and are found guilty "by the testimonie of two honest men," they shall be liable to pay "10 pund Scots munay." The oath had to do altogether with their general conduct and the duties owing to their masters, though keeping secret "the Mason word" and what goes with it appears also to have been enjoined.

    Incidentally, the minutes confirm the usages enumerated in the Schaw Statutes of which - we shall speak later on, and in the minutes of other Scottish lodges of operative masons. Apprentices entered during the year (provisionally, it seems), were re-entered at the stated meeting. The entrant had to pay a fee of twenty shillings, usually going for the banquet in connection with his booking, and had to supply gloves to every master present at the time (glove money or "clothing the lodge"). Twenty shillings, Scots money, represented about forty cents of our money, though the purchasing power was much higher. The value of a pair of gloves appears to have been about ten cents of our money. The newly entered apprentice was required to choose for himself two instructors, usually called intenders, a custom which has continued in many Scottish Lodges to the present day. The name of his master and those who vouch for his character are recorded along with his own. The minimum time of apprenticeship is seven years. Non-operatives, such as "preachers of the Gospel" and others who lent the influence of their stations to the craft by becoming members, were entered and passed and shared the privileges of the "ludg."

    As the first charter making Aitchison Haven a town, given to the monks of Newbattle, was derived from King James V, in 1526, the Lodge probably came into existence at some time later. On January 9th, 1598, it was in full working order. It was ruled at first by a Warden and a Deacon, a clerk taking care of the secretarial duties. Later on the Deacon became the head, and the Warden was second in command.

    The Lodge took part in the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the election of the first Grand Master, on November 30th, 1736. The next year it withdrew from the organization because it would not adapt itself to the new order, but preferred to its old usages and rights. It was stricken from the roll in 1737. It rejoined Grand Lodge in 1814 and was recorded as No. 36. As other Lodges dropped out, it became No. 33. In 1852 it stopped working and was recorded as defunct in 1866.

    As the Aitchison Haven minutes begin with January 9th, 1598, the Lodge was in existence before the Schaw Statues for the regulation of mason lodges were enacted.


    Edinburgh Lodge (St. Mary's Chapel), No. 1 is the oldest existing Masonic Lodge in the world today. It has minutes of its transactions and other records from the sixteenth century to the present, with only a few years missing. We have noted that it was in existence before the Edinburgh Incorporation of Wright and Masons was chartered in 1475. When it came into being and what its fortunes were before 1598 has not been ascertained. Its records, together with preserved documents of craft lodges generally functioning before the first Grand Lodge of Freemasons came into existence, form the best available, reliable body of historical evidence for a clear picture of the development of lodges of operative craftsmen into Lodges of Freemasons.

    The minutes take up ten bound volumes, the tenth being in use at the present time. The first is a thin folio volume of seventy-four sheets. Five pages are occupied by the principal copy of the Schaw Statutes for the governance of the mason craft throughout the Scottish realm and is signed by the Warden General of the craft in Scotland, William Schaw, "Maister of Wark," by appointment from King James VI.

    The earliest minute of the Lodge makes record of the transactions of a meeting held on the thirty-first day of July [VLTIMO JULIJ], 1599. Paraphrased in modern English it reads as follows:


    "On this day, George Patoun, mason, granted and confessed that he had offended against the deacon and masters by having placed a Cowan to work on a chimney head for two days and a half, for which offence he submitted himself to the good will of the deacon and masters for whatever violation of law they may charge him with. Respecting the humble submission and estate of the said George, they remitted him the aforesaid offence, providing always that, if hereafter he or any other brother commit a like offence, the full penalty of the law shall be visited upon them, without respect of persons. This was done in the presence of Paul Maissoun, deacon; Thomas Weir, Warden; Thomas Watt; John Broun; Henrie Tailzefair (Taillefer) ; the said George Patoun; and Adam Walkar. So be it. Adam Gibsone, notary (clerk). Paul Maissoun, deacon," the mark of the warden also is appended.

    It will be noted that only five masters were present beside the deacon, warden, and clerk. In 1699, only fifteen masons and forty-six carpenters belonged to the Incorporation which is made up of the masters of both crafts. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the number was smaller yet.

    By "Cowan" is meant a man who does rough stone work, building stone dikes and walls, but not employing tempered mortar, except by specific authority. Murray Lyon reports the employment of cowans by master masons was allowed by the Lodge of Kilwinning in the beginning of the eighteenth century. The same Lodge described a Cowan as "a mason without the word." It was to protect themselves from inroads into their work by such inferior stone builders that the masons strictly excluded them from their lodges. Cowans were just as honourable as any other craftsmen. They could become members of Incorporations if they were masters in their trade, and were booked as such and thereby became freemen like other guildsmen. One John McCoull, cowane, on May 27th, 1636, was admitted to life membership "to work as a Cowan any work with stone, but not with lime and sand." "Maister Cowands" simply were restricted to certain tasks. Sometimes they were authorized to use mortar, as is evident from a minute of the Court of the Glasgow, Incorporation of Masons, in 1623, where an admitted master Cowan is allowed "To work stone and mortar, and to build mortar walls, but not more than an ell in height, and without power to work or lay hewn work, nor to build with sand and lime." Stone cutting, the laying of cut stone, and the use of lime and sand for mortar, was the distinctive privilege of the masons. In short, cowans could not be admitted to mason lodges which limited their operative membership to skilled stone cutters and building artisans.

    We have specified "operative membership," for non-operatives were admitted from early times onward. A minute of the Lodge of Edinburgh, under date of June 8th, 1600, records the presence as one of the "maisteris" of JHONE BOISWELL OF ACHINFLEK, i.e., John Boswell, Laird of Auchinleck who along with each of the operative members present at the time, attested the minutes by his signature and mark. This is the earliest authentic record of the presence of a non-operative member in a mason lodge, forty-six years before Elias Ashmole was admitted into the Lodge at Warrington, Lancashire, in England.

    Whatever the motive of non-operatives to gain admission of the lodges which accepted them as members, the fact is that their number increased apace in the seventeenth century, so much so that gradually they not infrequently became the preponderant element. With but few exceptions they were persons of quality, many of them of historical importance. Selecting only a few of the non-operatives identified with the Lodge of Edinburgh, we have Lord Alexander, Viscount of Canada, admitted a fellow of craft, in company with Sir Anthony, his brother, and Sir Alexander Strachan, Baronet, on July 3d, 1634; General Alexander Hamilton ("Dear Sandy") ; Sir Patrick Hume, Earl of Marchmount, the Rt. Hon. William Murray, Justice-Depute of Scotland; Sir John Harper; John Mylne and six other members of the same family of famous sculptors and architects.

    One historically notable example of the admission of a famous nonoperative at Newcastle, on English soil, is recorded in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh, on May 20th, 1641:

    "At Newcastell the 20 day off may 1641. The qwhilk (which) day ane serten nomber off Mester and othere bing lafule conwined, doeth admit Mr. thie Right Honerabell Mr. Robert Moray Generall quarter Mr. to the Armie off Scotlan and the sam bing aproven be the hell (all the) Mester off the Mesone off the Log off Edenbroth quherts they heawe set to ther handes or markes. A. Hamilton, R. Moray, Johne Mylln, James Hamilton."

    This happened in the time of civil war. Newcastle was occupied by the Scottish army. Members of the Lodge of Edinburgh were in the army. They formed a Lodge and admitted Robert Moray (Murray), then Quartermaster-General of the Army of Scotland. This is the Sir Robert Murray to whom Evelyn refers as "that excellent person and philosopher," one of the founders of the famous Royal Society of England.

    Limitation of apace compels us to leave the lodge of Edinburgh at this point, reserving further references to it and other Scottish Lodges of the sixteenth and seventeenth century for a later report in which more attention will be devoted to the workings, usages, traditions, "bancats" as the masons' banquets are recorded, and other interesting items revealing how the Scottish ancestors of present day Masonic Lodges conducted their affairs. To that later report moat be deferred also the consideration of the so-called "St. Clair Charters." Here we shall add only the two Schaw Statutes which are of supreme importance for information concerning the mason craft at the close of the sixteenth century.


    William Schaw, born in 1550, was a favorite of King James VI and held in high esteem by his Queen. With a Lord of the Court of Session appointed to further a projected alliance with Princess Anne of Denmark, he was present at her espousal to the King, on November 23d, 1589, at "Upslow," in Norway, and returned immediately thereafter to prepare Holyrood Palace for the reception of the royal couple. He rebuilt the jointure house of the Queen, restored Dunfermline Abbey, repaired Stirling Castle, and did other architectural and decorative work. The King appointed him Master of Work, succeeding in this office Sir Robert Drummond of Carnock, and placed all the royal buildings under his superintendence, holding that once to the time of his death in 1602. He also was made Warden-General of the mason craft in Scotland. As Master of Work he was empowered to employ masons on the royal buildings; as Warden-General he laid down the laws for the masons of Scotland and supervised their enforcement. He is the first tangible, historical figure in the organization of Scottish operative mason lodges.


    Edinburgh, December 28th, 1588. [Edinburgh the xxiij day of December. The zeir of God 1'" Y four scoir awchtene zeiris.] _

    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 Warden General of the said Craft, with consent of the Masters specified hereafter.

    [The statutis and ordinanceis to be obseruit be all the maister mdissounis within this redline, Sett down be Williame Schaw, Moister of 1Gark to his maiestie find generall Wardene of the said Craft, with the consent of the maisteris efter specifeit.]

    (1) First, they shall observe and keep all the good ordinances established before, concerning the privileges of their craft, by their predecessors of good memory; and especially

    They shall be true to one another and live charitably together as becometh sworn brethren and companions of the Craft.

    (2) They shall be obedient to their wardens, deacons, and masters in all things concerning their craft.

    (3) They shall be honest, faithful, and diligent in their calling, and deal uprightly with their masters, or the employers, on the work which they shall take in hand, whether it be piece-work with meals and pay [task, melt, & fie], or for wages by the week.

    (4) None shall undertake any work great or small, which he is not capable to perform adequately, under penalty of forty pounds lawful money or else the fourth part of the worth and value of the work, besides making satisfactory amends to the employers, according as the Warden General may direct or, in the absence of the latter, as may be ordered by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the work is undertaken and carried on.

    (5) No master shall take away another master's work after the latter has entered into an agreement with the employer by contract or otherwise, under penalty of forty pounds.

    (6) No master shall take over any work at which other masters have been engaged previously, until the latter shall have been paid in full for the work they did, under penalty of forty pounds.

    (7) A warden shall be elected annually to have charge of every lodge in the district for which he is chosen by the votes of the masters of the lodges of such district and the consent of the Warden General if he happens to be present; otherwise the Warden General shall be notified of the election that he may send to the warden-elect necessary directions.

    (8) No master shall take more than three 'prentices in his lifetime, without the special consent of all the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the to-be-received 'prentice resides.

    (9) No master shall take on any 'prentice except by binding him to serve him as such for at least seven years, and it shall not be lawful to make such 'prentice a brother or fellow of the craft until he shall have served other seven years after the completion of his 'prenticeship, without a special license granted by the wardens, deacons, and masters, assembled for that purpose, after sufficient trial shall have been made by them of the worthiness, qualifications and skill of the person desiring to be made a fellowcraft. A fine of forty pounds shall be collected as a pecuniary penalty from the person who is made a fellow of the craft in violation of this order, besides the penalties to be levied against his person by order of the lodge of the place where he resides.

    (10) It shall not be lawful for any master to sell his 'prentice to another master, nor to curtail the years of his 'prenticeship by selling these off to the 'prentice himself, under the penalty of forty pounds.

    [Item, it sall be no lesum to an maister to sell his prenteiss to ony ether maister not zit to dispense wt the zeiris of his prenteischip be selling yrof to the prenteisses self, vnder th pane of fourtie pounds.]

    (11) No master shall take on a 'Prentice without notice to the warden of the lodge where he resides, so that the 'Prentice and the day of his reception may be duly booked.

    (12) No 'Prentice shall be entered except according to the aforesaid regulations in order that the day of entry may be duly booked.

    (13) No master or fellow of craft shall be received or admitted without there being present six masters and two entered 'prentices, the warden of the lodge being one of the six, when the day of receiving the new fellow of craft or master shall be duly booked and his mark inserted in the same book, with the names of the six admitters and entered 'prentices, as also the names of the intenders [intendaris-instructors] which shall be chosen for every person so entered in the book of the lodge. Providing always that no man be admitted without an essay and sufficient trial of his skill and worthiness in his vocation and craft.

    (14) No master shall engage in any mason work under the charge or command of any other craftsman who has undertaken the doing of any mason work.

    (15) No master or fellow of craft shall accept any Cowan to work in his society or company, nor send any of his servants (10) to work with cowans, under the penalty of twenty pounds as often as any person offends in this matter.

    (16) It shall not be lawful for any entered 'Prentice to undertake any greater task or work for an employer, which amounts to as much as ten pounds, under the penalty just mentioned, to wit twenty pounds, and that task being done he shall not undertake any other work without license of the masters or warden where he dwells.

    (17) If any question, strife, or variance shall arise among any of the masters, servants, or entered 'prentices, the parties involved in such questions or debate shall make known the causes of their quarrel to the particular warden and deacon of their lodge, within the space of twenty-four hours, under penalty of ten pounds, to the end that they may be reconciled and agreed and their variances removed by their said warden, deacon, and masters; and if any of the said parties shall remain wilful or obstinate, they shall be deprived f the privilege of their lodge and not permitted to work thereat unto the time that they shall submit themselves to reason according to the view of the said wardens, deacons, and masters.

    (18) All masters, undertakers of works, shall be very careful to see that the scaffolds and gangways are set and placed securely in order that by reason of their negligence and sloth no injury or damage [hurt or skaith] may come to any persons employed in the said work, under penalty of their being excluded thereafter from working as masters having charge of any work, and shall ever be subject all the rest of their days to work under or with an other principal master in charge of the work.

    (19) No master shall receive or house [resset] a 'Prentice or servant of any other master, who shall have run away from his master's service, nor entertain him in his company after he has received knowledge thereof, under penalty of forty pounds.

    (20) All persons of the mason craft shall convene at the time and place lawfully made known to them [being lawchfullie warnit], under penalty of ten pounds.

    (21) All the masters who shall happen to be sent to any assembly or meeting, shall be sworn by their great oath that they will neither hide nor conceal any faults or wrongs done to the employers on the work they have in hand, so far as they know, and that under penalty of ten pounds to be collected from the concealers of the said faults.

    (22) It is ordained that all the aforesaid penalties shall be lifted and taken up from the offenders and breakers of their ordinances by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the lodges where the offenders dwell, the moneys to be expended ad pios usus (for charitable purposes) according to good conscience and by the advice of such wardens, deacons, and masters.

    For the fulfilling and observing of these ordinances, as set down above, the master convened on the aforesaid day bind and obligate themselves faithfully. Therefore they have requested their said Warden General to sign these ordinances by his own hand in order that an authentic copy hereof may be sent to every particular lodge within this realm.

    (Signed) WILLIAM SCHAW,
    Maistir o/ Wark.


    The second Schaw Statutes bear the date of December 28th, 1599. They were written particularly for the Lodge of Kilwinning. It would appear from the tenor and the contents of this document that the Lodge of Kilwinning had pleaded certain privileges and "ancient liberties" which the Statutes of 1598 had not taken into account. Archibald Barclay was delegated to lay the matter before the King, at Holyrood House, in Edinburgh. The King being absent from town, the Warden General heard the delegate's presentation of the matter and issued thirteen additional ordinances for the particular benefit of the Kilwinning craft. In a postscript he explained that the settlement of other claims (not mentioned) would be referred to the King "when occasion may be offered."

    As the document is rather long, the several items will be somewhat condensed and given in an order best suited to our purpose. The numbering of the paragraphs is done for purposes of convenient reference:

    (1) Edinburgh shall be, in the future as in the past, the first and principal lodge in Scotland; Kilwinning, the second "as is established in our ancient writings;" and Stirling shall be the third lodge, "conformably to the old privileges thereof."

    (2) The warden within the bounds of Kilwinning and other places subject to their lodge, shall be elected annually by a majority (be monyest) of the masters of the lodge, on the twentieth day of December, in the Kirk of Kilwinning. Immediately after election, the Warden General must be notified who was chosen warden.

    (3) Agreeably to "former ancient liberties," the warden of Kilwinning shall be present at the election of wardens within the limits of the lower ward of Cliddisdale, Glasgow, Ayr, and the district of Carrik. Furthermore, the warden and deacon (11) of Kilwinning shall have authority to convene the wardens within the indicated jurisdiction, when anything of importance is to be done, such meetings to be held at Kilwinning or any other place in the western part of Scotland included in the described bounds, as the warden and deacon of Kilwinning may appoint.

    (4) The warden of each and every lodge shall he answerable to the presbyters of the sheriffdom for all offences committed by masons subject to these lodges. One-third of all fines imposed for offences shall be applied to charitable (godlie) uses.

    (5) The wardens-together with the oldest masters, up to the number of six, of every lodge hall hold an annual investigation of offences committed and try all offenders to the end that proper punishment may be meted out conformably to equity and justice and good conscience, according to tradi. tional procedure.

    (6) The warden of Kilwinning shall appoint six worthy and perfect masons, well known to the craft as such, to inquire into the qualifications of all the masons within the district, as regards their skill and knowledge of the trade and their familiarity with the old traditions, to the end that the warden-deacon may be answerable thereafter for all such persons within his district and jurisdiction.

    (7) Authority is given to the warden-deacon of Kilwinning to exclude from the lodges of the district all persons who wilfully fail to live up to "all the acts and ancient statutes set down from time immemorial," also all who are ."disobedient to their church, craft, council and other statutes and acts to be promulgated hereafter for good order."

    (8) The warden and deacon, together with the masters of the district (quarter maisteries) (12) shall elect a well known notary (constitut ane famous notar) as clerk and secretary (scryb) who shall make out and sign all indentures, discharges, and other writings whatsoever, pertaining to the craft, and no writ, title or other evidence shall be admitted by the warden and deacon, except it shall have been executed by this clerk and signed by him.

    (9) All the acts and statutes made by the predecessors of the masons of Kilwinning shall be observed faithfully and kept by the craft in all time coming; 'prentices and craftsmen shall be admitted and entered hereafter only in the Kirk of Kilwinning, as their parish and second lodge, and all entry-banquets of 'prentices and fellows of craft shall be held in the lodge of Kilwinning.

    (10) Every fellow of craft, at his entry, shall pay to his lodge ten pounds to go for the banquet, and ten shillings for gloves; before admission he shall be examined by the warden-deacon and the district masters in the lodge as to his knowledge (memorie) and skill, and he also shall perform an assigned task to demonstrate his mastery of the art.

    (11) Every 'prentice, before he is admitted, shall pay six pounds to be applied to the common banquet.

    (12) The warden and deacon of the second lodge of Scotland, to wit Kilwinning, shall obligate by oath all masters and fellows of craft within the district not to associate with cowans nor work with them, neither to permit this to be done by their servants or 'prentices.

    (13) The warden of the lodge of Kilwinning, being the second lodge of Scotland, once in each year, shall examine every fellow craft and 'prentice, according to the vocation of each, as to his skill and knowledge; those who have forgotten any points they have been taught shall pay fines.

    The Warden General, at the close, delegates to the Warden and Deacon, and the District Masters authority to enforce these ordinances and to add new ones, when necessary, in conformity and accord with the official law applying to all the lodges in Scotland.

    One fact incontrovertibly established by the Schaw Statutes and Constitutions of 1588 is that the Masons Lodges were purely trade organizations, built upon trade union principles, and nothing more. This disposes of the many fictions solemnly exhibited as facts making the simple, hard-headed operative Masons the custodians of profound mysteries handed down secretly, through the ages, by Egyptians, Eleusinian and other hierophants. Neither were there any ritualistic "degrees" till the "speculatives" took over the organization and imported into it, chiefly from foreign sources, symbolizations of elements of building material, tools and operations, thereby gradually transforming the operative character of the Lodges into an essentially idealistic one. The transformation was not a difficult task, once the idea of symbolical temple building had made its appearance. The very Statutes and Ordinances, together with the Ancient Charges, compiled and embellished by ecclesiastic and other intellectual friends for the inspiration and guidance of the craft lodges, suggested the details of the transformation.


    1. "For centuries no English King invaded France, as Henry V admitted, but he found a Scot in his path. From Baugi to the field of Laffen (1748), leaders of the English or Hanovarian royal lines were to fall or fly, like Clarence and the Butcher Cumberland, before Scots in French service.''--Andrew Lang, History of Scotland.

    2. "The attachment of these philosophers (the Druids) to each other was an admirable example of brotherly affection. They often travelled great distances to relieve the distress of each other .... In this there is a striking resemblance to the philanthropy of Free Masons--the tradition of whom, scriptural and oral, are I apprehend referable to the institution of Druidism? "-John Logan, The Scottish Gael.

    3. Andrew Lang, in his History of Scotland, vol. 1, p. 52, writes: "The truth is there ought to be two histories of Scotland; one legendary and picturesque; one doggedly clinging to contemporary evidence. The former would be as interesting as Herodotus for, down to 1750, the narrators had a marvellous art of embroidering the dull tissue of facts with the golden threads of romance, and the rubies and sapphires of fairy-land. This legendary Scottish history is, in one sense, the true history, for it is true to the ideal, and it is the only version that men remember."

    4. Andrew Michael Ramsay, better known as the Chevalier de Ramsay, was born at Ayr, Scotland, on January 6, 1686, spent the greater part of life in France and died there, at St. German-en-Laye, on May 6, 1743. Fought m Flanders under Marlborough; wrote The Life and Works of Fenelon (1723) and The Travels of Cyrus (1727), and other books; was the tutor of small boys.

    5. It appeared in print and has been translated into many languages. It being the first literary exposition of the ideals of Freemasonry, written in the French language, by a distinguished writer, and because of a widespread popular curiosity as to that new mysterious thing called Francmasonnerie, it aroused intense interest and discussion. The essentially noble substance, however, appealed less to the taste of the times than the less authentic statements concerning the genealogy of Freemasonry.

    6. The famous old Scottish Lodge of Kilwinnin, of which all the Kings in Scotland have been, from Time to Time, Grand Masters without Interruption, down from the days of Fergus, who reigned there more than 1000 Years ago, long before the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or the Knights of Malta, to which two Lodges I must nevertheless, allow the Honour of having adorned the ancient Jewish and Pagan Masonry, with many Religious and Christian Rules." From A LETTER from The Grand Mistress of the Female Freemasons, to George Faulkner, Printer.
      Dean Swift is the reputed author of this Letter in which he pokes fun at a pretended exposure of Freemasonry The Grand Mystery" written several years before.

    7. In 1431, King James I (1424-1437) "to augment the common weil and to cause his lieges increase in mair virteus, brocht mony nobill craftsmen out of France and Flanders and other parts-for the Scottis were exercit in continuell wars frae the time of King Alexander the Third to thay days. Thus were all craftsmen slane be the wars.'

    8. Gross, "The Gild Merchant," Oxford, 1890, vol. 1, p. 202.

    9. History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No 1 by David Murray Lyon, pp.247-9 and 251-2. The author was the secretary of the Brand Lodge of Scotland.
      His monumental book can not be too highly commended for the reliability of its information concerning the rise and progress of Freemasonry in Scotland. Those who read German will find Vorgeschichte and Anfdnge der Freimaurerei in Schottland, by William Begemann, 1914, (Ernst Siegfried Mittler and Sohn, Berlin, publishers) most helpful as a supplement. Gould's History and the papers on Scottish Freemasonry in the Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of London also should be consulted.

    10. Servants - 'prentices who have served their seven years, but have not been booked as fellows of craft as yet.

    11. Warden and deacon, i.e. supervisor and presiding officer, appears to be one person, as is indicated by the form warden deacon appearing in a few places in the text.

    12. Probably corresponding to the ferthingmen of the Gildry, in France called quarteniers.

[up] [back]