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12Worshipful Master gavels once, repeated by Senior Warden and Junior

Warden  WM: Bruvvers, ‘elp me to open the gaff.

All rise.

WM: Bruvver Junior Warden, why do we ‘ave to look lively?

JW: To make sure the wood is in the ‘ole, Guvnor.

WM: Well! Don’t just stand there.

JW: Ok Bruv, you ‘eard the Guvnor.

IG goes to door, gives three distinct knocks and returns to position in front of his chair.

Tyler responds with same knocks.

IG, no Sign: Done John.

JW gives three distinct knocks, no Sign, to WM: Done Guvnor.

WM: Bruvver SW, the next bit?

SW: To see the Bruvvers are all on the firm.

WM: Come on Bruvvers, shake a leg.

All take Step with Entered Apprentice Sign.

WM: Bruvver JW, how much top brass in the gaff?

JW: Free Guv, you and your two oppo’s with the cuffs.

WM: Bruvver SW, how many ‘uvvers?

SW: Free Guv, besides the bouncer, namely the mush on the door and the two blokes with the pool cues.

WM to JW: Where’s the bouncer?

JW: Outside, all tooled up.

WM: Why’s that?

JW: He’s packing a blade in case we’re busted Guv.

WM to SW: The mush on the door?

SW: ‘Overin inside Guv.

WM: Wot for?

SW: To check the tickets, to admit new punters and do what e’s told by my oppo.

WM to JW: Where’s the JD?

JW: Over there Guv.

WM: Why?

JW: To grass to you Guv and to chivvy them up a bit.

WM to SW: The ‘uvver one?

SW: Next to you Guv.

WM: Oh yeah, why?

SW: Errand boy Guv.

WM: Bruvver JW, wot about you?

JW: On the sideline Guv.

WM: Why?

JW: To get a bit o’ current bun, and to nip down the rub-a-dub wiv the Bruvvers, and see they’re all back ‘ere before the last bell.

WM: Bruvver SW, wot about you?

SW: Down the shallow end Guv.

WM: Wot for?

SW: To let ‘em know when it’s lightin’ up time, to close the gaff and to see all the Bruvvers get their cut.

WM to IPM: Bruvver IPM, where am I?

IPM: Next to me Guv.

WM: I know that, but why?

IPM: To keep this lot on their dancers, to open the gaff, and get ‘em at it.

WM: Bruvvers, now that we are all ‘ere, its eyes down for a full ‘ouse, but before we do, let’s get the Boss in the Technical Drawing department to tip us the wink, so there’s no aggro.

Immediate Past Master: ‘ere, ‘ere Guv. WM: Bruvvers, we’re open for business.

All cut Sign.

WM gives EA-gavel.

SW gives EA-gavel and raises Cn.

JW gives EA-gavel and lowers Cn.

IG goes to door, gives EA knocks and returns to position in front of his chair.

Tyler responds with same knocks.

Immediate Past Master, opens Volume of Sacred Law and arranges Square and Compass.

WM sits.

All the brethren take their seats.

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Six Hundred Years of Craft Ritual – Part Two of Five

Six Hundred Years of Craft Ritual



Bro. Harry Carr

P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076

Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence


The Harleian MS is a perfectly normal version of the Old Charges, but bound up with it is a note in the same handwriting containing a new version of the mason’s oath, of particular importance because it shows a major change from all earlier forms of the oath. Here it is:

“There is seurall words & signes of a free Mason to be revailed to yu wch as yu will answ: before God at the Great & terrible day of Iudgmt yu keep Secret & not to revaile the same in the heares of any pson  w but to the Mrs & fellows of the said Society of free Masons so helpe me God xt.”

Brethren, I know that I recited it too fast, but now I am going to read the first line again: “There is several words and signs of a free mason to be revealed to you . . .” ‘Several words and signs . . .’ plural, more than one degree. And here in a document that should have been dated 1550, we have the first hint of the expansion of the ceremonies into more than one degree. A few years later we have actual minutes that prove two degrees in practice. But notice, Brethren that the ceremonies must also have been taking something of their modern shape.

They probably began with a prayer, a recital of part of the `history’, the hand‑on‑book posture for the reading of the Charges, followed by an obligation and then the entrusting with secret words and signs, whatever they were. We do not know what they were, but we know that in both degrees the ceremonies were beginning to take the shape of our modern ceremonies. We have to wait quite a long while before we find the contents, the actual details, of those ceremonies, but we do find them at the end of the 1600s and that is my next theme.

Remember, Brethren, we are still with only two degrees and I am going to deal now with the documents which actually describe those two ceremonies, as they first appeared on paper.


The earliest evidence we have, is a document dated 1696, beautifully handwritten, and known as the Edinburgh Register House Manuscript, because it was found in the Public Record Office of Edinburgh.

I deal first with that part of the text which describes the actual ceremonies. It is headed `THE FORME OF GIVING THE MASON WORD’ which is one way of saying it is the manner of initiating a mason. It begins with the ceremony which made an apprentice into an ‘entered‑ apprentice (usually about three years after the beginning of his indentures), followed by the ceremony for the admission of the, master mason or fellow craft’, the title of the second degree.

The details are fascinating but I can only describe them very briefly, and wherever I can, I will use the original words, so that you can get the feel of the thing. We are told that the candidate `was put to his knees’ and `after a great many ceremonies to frighten him’ (rough stuff, horse‑play it you like; apparently they tried to scare the wits out of him) `after a great many ceremonies to frighten him’, he was made to take up the book and in that position he took the oath, and here is the earliest version of the mason’s oath described as part of a whole ceremony.

“By god himself and you shall answer to god when you shall stand nakd before him, at the great day, you shall not reveal any pairt of what you shall hear or see at this time whither by word nor write nor put it in wryte at any time nor draw it with the point of a sword, or any other instrument upon the snow or sand, nor shall you speak of it but with an entered mason, so help you god.”

Brethren, if you were listening very carefully, you have just heard the earliest version of the words ‘Indite, carve, mark, engrave or otherwise them delineate’. The very first version is the one I have just read, `not write nor put it in wryte, nor draw it with a point of a sword or any other instrument upon the snow or sand.’ Notice, Brethren, there was no penalty in the obligation, just a plain obligation of secrecy.

After he had finished the obligation the youngster was taken out of the lodge by the last previous candidate, the last person who had been initiated before him. Outside the door of the lodge he was taught the sign, postures and words of entry (we do not know what they are until he comes back). He came back, took off his hat and made `a ridiculous bow’ and then he gave the words of entry, which included a greeting to the master and the brethren. It finished up with the words `under no less pain than cutting of my throat’ and there is a sort of footnote which says `for you must make that sign when you say that’. This is the earliest appearance in any document of an entered apprentice’s sign.

Now Brethren, forget all about your beautifully furnished lodges; I am speaking of operative masonry, when the lodge was either a little room at the back of a pub, or above a pub, or else a shed attached to a big building job; and if there were a dozen masons there, that would have been a good attendance.

So, after the boy had given the sign, he was brought up to the Master for the `entrusting’. Here is the Master; here, nearby, is the candidate; here is the `instructor’, and he, the instructor, whispers the word into the ear of his neighbour, who whispers the word to the next man and so on, all round the lodge, until it comes to the Master, and the Master gives the word to the candidate.

In this case, there is a kind of biblical footnote, which shows, beyond all doubt, that the word was not one word but two.  B and J., two pillar names, for the entered apprentice. This is very important later, when we begin to study the evolution of three degrees. In the two‑degree system there were two pillars for the entered apprentice.

That was really the whole of the floor work, but it was followed by a set of simple questions and answers headed – ‘SOME OUESTIONEs THAT MASONS USE TO PUT TO THOSE WHO HAVE YE WORD BEFORE THEY WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THEM’.

It included a few questions for testing a stranger outside the lodge, and this text gives us the first and oldest version of the Masonic catechism. Here are some of the fifteen questions. ‘Are you a mason? How shall I know it? Where were you entered? What makes a true and perfect lodge? Where was the first lodge? Are there any lights in your lodge? Are there any jewels in your lodge?’ the first faint beginnings of Masonic symbolism. It is amazing how little there was at the beginning. There, Brethren, 15 questions and answers, which must have been answered for the candidate; he had not had time to learn the answers. And that was the whole of the entered apprentice ceremony. Now remember, Brethren, we are speaking about operative masonry, in the days, when masons earned their living with hammer and chisel. Under those conditions the second degree was taken about seven years after the date of initiation when the candidate came back to be made ‘master or fellow craft’.

Inside the lodge those two grades were equal, both fully trained masons. Outside the lodge, one was an employer, the other an employee. If he was the son of a Freeman Burgess of the city, he could take his Freedom and set up as a master immediately. Otherwise, he had to pay for the privilege, and until then, the fellow craft remained an employee. But inside the lodge they both had the same second degree.

So, after the end of his indentures of apprenticeship, and serving another year or two for ‘meat and fee’, (ie board plus a wage) he came along then for the second degree. He was ‘put to his knees and took the oath anew’. It was the same oath that he had taken as an apprentice, omitting only three words. Then he was taken out of the lodge by the youngest master, and there he was taught the signs, posture and words of entry (we still do not know what they were). He came back and he gave what is called the ‘master sign’, but it is not described, so I cannot tell you about it. Then he was brought up for the entrusting. And now, the youngest master, the chap who had taken him outside, whispered the word to his neighbour, each in turn passing it all round the lodge, until it came to the Master, and the Master, on the five points of fellowship ‑ second degree, Brethren ‑ gave the word to the candidate. The five points in those days ‑ foot to foot, knee to knee, heart to heart, hand to hand, ear to ear, that is how it was at its first appearance. No Hiramic legend and no frills; only the FPOF and a word. But in this document the word is not mentioned. It appears very soon afterwards and I will deal with that later.




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Six Hundred Years of Craft Ritual – Part One of Five

Six Hundred Years of Craft Ritual



Bro. Harry Carr.

P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076

 Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

BRETHREN, MANY of you will know that I travel vast distances in the course of my lecture duties and the further I go the more astonished I am to see how many Brethren believe, quite genuinely, that our Masonic ritual came down straight from heaven, directly into the hands of King Solomon. They are all quite certain that it was in English, of course, because that is the only language they speak up there. They are equally sure that it was all engraved on two tablets of stone, so that, heaven forbid, not one single word should ever be altered; and most of them believe that King Solomon, in his own lodge, practised the same ritual as they do in theirs.

But, it was not like that at all, and tonight I am going to try to sketch for you the history of our ritual from its very beginnings up to the point when it was virtually standardised, in 1813; but you must remember, while I am talking about English ritual I am also giving you the history of your own ritual as well.

One thing is going to be unusual about tonight’s talk. Tonight you are not going to get any fairy‑tales at all. Every word I utter will be based on documents which can be proved: and on the few rare occasions when, in spite of having the documents, we still have not got complete and perfect proof, I shall say loud and clear ‘We think . . .’ or ‘We believe . . .’. Then you will know that we are, so‑to‑speak, on uncertain ground; but i will give you the best that we know. And since a talk of this kind must have a proper starting point, let me begin by saying that Freemasonry did not begin in Egypt, or Palestine, or Greece, or Rome.


 It all started in London, England, in the year 1356, a very important date, and it started as the result of a good old‑fashioned demarcation dispute. Now, you all know what a demarcation dispute is. When the boys in a trade union cannot make up their minds who is going to knock the nails and who will screw the screws, that is a demarcation dispute. And that is how it started, in 1356, when there was a great row going on in London between the mason hewers, the men who cut the stone, and the mason layers and setters, the men who actually built the walls. The exact details of the quarrel are not known, but, as a result of this row, 12 skilled master masons, with some famous men among them, came before the mayor and aldermen at Guildhall in London, and, with official permission, drew up a simple code of trade regulations.

The opening words of that document, which still survives, say that these men had come together because their trade had never been regulated in such form as other trades were. So here, in this document, we have an official guarantee that this was the very first attempt at some sort of trade organisation for the masons and, as we go through the document, the very first rule that they drew up gives a clue to the demarcation dispute that I was talking about. They ruled, `That every man of the trade may work at any work touching the trade if he be perfectly skilled and knowing in the same.’ Brethren that was the Wisdom of Solomon! If you knew the job, you could do the job, and nobody could stop you! If we only had that much common sense nowadays in England, how much better off we should be.

The organisation that was set up at that time became, within 20 years, the London Masons Company, the first trade guild of the masons and one of the direct ancestors of our Freemasonry of today. This was the real beginning. Now the London Masons Company was not a lodge; it was a trade guild and I ought to spend a lot of time trying to explain how lodges began, a difficult problem because we have no records of the actual foundation of the early operative lodges.

Briefly, the guilds were town organisations, greatly favoured by the towns because they helped in the management of municipal affairs. In London, for example, from 1376 onwards, each of the trades elected two representatives who became members of the Common Council, all together forming the city government. But the mason trade did not lend itself to town organisation at all. Most of their main work was outside the towns ‑ the castles, the abbeys, the monasteries, the defence works, the really big jobs of masonry were always far from the towns. And we believe that it was in those places, where there was no other kind of trade organisation, that the masons, who were engaged on those jobs for years on end, formed themselves into lodges, in imitation of the guilds, so that they had some form of self‑government on the job, while they were far away from all other forms of trade control.

The first actual information about lodges comes to us from a collection of documents which we know as the `Old Charges’ or the Manuscript Constitutions’ of masonry, a marvellous collection. They begin with the Regius Manuscript c1390; the next, the Cooke Manuscript is dated c1410 and we have 130 versions of these documents running right through to the eighteenth century.

The oldest version, the Regius Manuscript, is in rhyming verse and differs, in several respects, from the other texts, but, in their general shape and contents they are all very much alike. They begin with an Opening Prayer, Christian and Trinitarian, and then they go on with a history of the craft, starting in Bible times and in Bible lands, and tracing the rise of the craft and its spread right across Europe until it reached France and was then brought across the channel and finally established in England. Unbelievably bad history; any professor of history would drop dead if he were challenged to prove it; but the masons believed it. This was their guarantee of respectability as an ancient craft.

Then, after the history we find the regulations, the actual Charges, for masters, fellows and apprentices, including several rules of a purely moral character, and that is all. Occasionally, the name of one of the characters changes or the wording of a regulation will be altered slightly, but all follow the same general pattern.

Apart from these three main sections, prayer, history and Charges, in most of them we find a few words which indicate the beginnings of Masonic ceremony. I must add that we cannot find all the information in one single document; but when we study them as a collection, it is possible to reconstruct the outline of the admission ceremony of those days, the earliest ceremony of admission into the craft.

We know that the ceremony, such as it was, began with an opening prayer and then there was a `reading’ of the history. (Many later documents refer to this `reading’.) In those days, 99 masons in 100 could not read, and we believe, therefore, that they selected particular sections of the history which they memorised and recited from memory. To read the whole text, even if they could read, would have taken much too long. So the second part of the ceremony was the `reading’.

Then, we find an instruction, which appears regularly in practically every document, usually in Latin, and it says: `Then one of the elders holds out a book [sometimes “the book”, sometimes the “Bible”, and sometimes the “Holy Bible”] and he or they that are to be admitted shall place their hand thereon, and the following Charges shall be read.’

In that position the regulations were read out to the candidate and he took the oath, a simple oath of fidelity to the king, to the master and to the craft, that he would obey the regulations and never bring the craft to shame. This was a direct lift from the guild oath, which was probably the only form that they knew; no frills, no penalties, a simple oath of fidelity to the king, the employer (the master) and to the trade.

From this point onwards, the oath becomes the heart and marrow, the crucial centre of every Masonic ceremony. The Regius, which is the first of the versions to survive, emphasizes this and it is worth quoting here. After the reading of the Charges in the Regius Manuscript, we get these words: `And all the points hereinbefore To all of them he must be sworn, And all shall swear the same oath Of the masons, be they willing, be they loth’ Whether they liked it or not, there was only one key that would open the door into the craft and that was the mason’s oath. The importance, which the Regius attaches to it, we find repeated over and over again, not in the same words, but the emphasis is still there. The oath or obligation is the key to the admission ceremony.

So there I have described for you the earliest ceremony and now I can justify the title of my paper, Six Hundred Years of Craft Ritual. We have 1356 as the date of the beginnings of mason trade organisation, and around 1390 the earliest evidence which indicates a ceremony of admission. Split the difference. Somewhere between those two dates is when it all started. That is almost exactly 600 years of provable history and we can prove every stage of our development from then onwards.

Masonry, the art of building, began many thousands of years before this, but, for the antecedents of our own Freemasonry, we can only go back to the direct line of history that can be proved, and that is 1356, when it really began in Britain.

And now there is one other point that must be mentioned before I go any further. I have been speaking of a time when there was only one degree. The documents do not say that there is only one degree, they simply indicate only one ceremony, never more than one. But I believe it cannot have been for the apprentice, or entered apprentice; it must have been for the fellow of craft, the man who was fully trained.

The Old Charges do not say this, but there is ample outside evidence from which we draw this conclusion. We have many law‑suits and legal decisions that show that in the 1400s an apprentice was the chattel of his master. An apprentice was a piece of equipment that belonged to his master. He could be bought and sold in much the same way that the master would buy and sell a horse or a cow and, under such conditions, it is impossible that an apprentice had any status in the lodge. That came much later. So, if we can think ourselves back into the time when there was only one degree it must have been for the fully‑trained mason, the fellow of craft.

Almost 150 years were to pass before the authorities and parliament began to realise that maybe an apprentice was actually a human being as well. In the early 1500s we have in England a whole collection of labour statutes, labour laws, which begin to recognise the status of apprentices, and around that time we begin to find evidence of more than one degree.

From 1598 onwards we have minutes of two Scottish Lodges that were practising two degrees. I will come to that later. Before that date there is no evidence on degrees, except perhaps in one English document, the Harleian MS, No 2054, dated c1650, but believed to be a copy of a text of the late 1500s, now lost.

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The Mason Word – Part Six of Six





P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076

 The Prestonian Lecture for 1938

 Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

In part six we cover:

13) Twofold Origin of masonic Ceremonies

14) The Trinity College, Dublin MS

15) Influence of the Mason Word on Masonic Ceremonies.

 13) Twofold Origin of masonic Ceremonies

Nothing shows more clearly the twofold origin of masonic ceremonies than the oath set out in Sloane MS. 3329, by which the candidate swore to keep secret “the mason word and everything therein contained” and truly to observe “the Charges in the Constitution“. This confirms the Aberdeen practice, to which reference has already been made, that on the occasion when the Mason Word was communicated to an apprentice, a version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry was read to him. At the end of another version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, known as the Harris No. 1 MS., which dates from the second half of the seventeenth century, there is a note referring to the secrets which must never be committed to writing, and the manner of communicating them. (I The Harris No. 1 MS. is printed in The Freemasons’ Chronicle, 30th December, 1922. The note is printed in Poole’s Old Charges, p. 23, as follows:‑Then let the prson wch is to be made a Mason chuse out of the Lodge any one Mason who is to instruct him in those Secrets wch must never be committed to Writeing which Mason he must alway Call his Tutor then let the Tutor take him into another Room and shew him all the whole Mistery that at his return he may Exercise with the rest of his fellow Masons.)

There is no evidence to show whether in the seventeenth century this MS. was used by operative masons or by “accepted” or “adopted” masons; but I am inclined to think it was the latter. That “accepted” or “adopted” masons in the later part of the seventeenth century did have secret signs and words is borne out by the contemporary statement of John Aubrey, the antiquary, who wrote in the second half of the century that members of the Fraternity of adopted masons were known to one another by certain signs and watchwords, and that the manner of their adoption was very formal and with an oath of secrecy. (John Aubrey (1624‑97), Natural History of Wiltshire, first printed in 1847)

It is confirmed also by a rough memorandum (Transcript and photographic reproduction in Coulthurst and Lawson, A.Q.C., Av., 69, and facing 74.)  referring to the several signs and words of a freemason, written by Randle Holme III. on a scrap of paper, now bound up with B. M. Harleian MS. 2054, close to the version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry copied by him, with which it is thought to be connected, (This opinion, expressed by W. H. Rylands in the Masonic Magazine, January, 1882, is shared by Coulthurst and Lawson, A.Q.C., xlv.) both documents probably being associated with a Lodge of Freemasons held at Chester about the middle of the seventeenth century. That such signs and words were derived from the Mason Word of the operatives is strongly suggested by the fact that when Dr. Desaguliers, the prominent speculative mason, desired to visit the purely operative Lodge of Edinburgh in 1721, he was found “duly qualified in all points of masonry” and received as a brother. (Murray Lyon, 160, 161)

 14) The Trinity College, Dublin MS

On the subject of the connection between operative and speculative masonry, I wish finally to draw attention to the Trinity College, Dublin MS. (T.C.D. MS., 1, 4, 18. It is printed in the Transactions of the Lodge of Research, No. CC, Dublin, for 1924, also in Knoop, Jones and Hamer, The Early Masonic Catechisms, 2nd ed., pp. 69, 70. (Ist ed., pp. 63/4).) This bears the date 1711 in an endorsement, (I have seen only a photostat of the MS., but Dr. J. Gilbart Smyly, Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin, informs me that the endorsement is in the same hand and ink as the document itself, and that in his opinion there can be no doubt of the accuracy of the date.) and resembles the Edinburgh Register House, Graham, and Sloane MSS. in that it consists of a series of test questions and answers, together with a memorandum about signs and words.

Like the Edinburgh Register House MS., it appears to be a mason’s aide memoire; on the other hand, it is less operative in character, and may very possibly represent a link between the operative masonry of the seventeenth century and the speculative masonry of the eighteenth century. In support of this suggestion, three points may be noted:

(i) The endorsement on the MS. is “Free Masonry Feb: 1711”, though the term “Free Masonry” was rarely applied to the operative art, even in England.

(ii) Whereas operative masonry, so far as the Mason Word was concerned, apparently recognized only two classes of masons, viz., either entered apprentices and fellowcrafts, or fellowcrafts and masters, this MS. distinguishes three classes, viz., entered apprentices, fellow craftsmen, and masters, each with its own secrets. It is the earliest‑known MS. to make such a distinction. The probability is that during the early part of the eighteenth century, before Grand Lodges were formed and firmly established, a trigradal system developed gradually and independently in different parts of the country, by a division of the original entered apprentice ceremony, to form what ultimately became the First and Second Degree ceremonies. Brother Lionel Vibert, in his Prestonian Lecture for 1925 (The Development of the Trigradal System. See also his paper, “The Second Degree: A Theory”, A.Q.C., xxxix.) discussed this development, which he suggested took place in London about 1725. The reference in the Graham MS. of 1726 to being “entered, passed and raised and conformed by 3 severall Lodges” implies that three distinct ceremonies existed by 1726 in that district (probably the North of England) to which the Graham MS. belonged. It may quite well be that three distinct ceremonies existed there at an earlier date. Just as the surviving MSS. show considerable differences in the test questions and answers, and in the signs and words, so they indicate differences in the number of ceremonies. The Edinburgh Register House and Sloane MSS. refer to two ceremonies, the Trinity College, Dublin and Graham MSS. to three. Such differences are not astonishing, as no uniformity should be looked for before Grand Lodges were firmly established and capable of exercising a unifying influence.

(iii) The history of the document suggests the possibility that the MS. had a non‑operative origin. The manuscript is contained in one of the volumes of collected papers of Sir Thomas Molyneux (1661‑1733), a famous Dublin doctor and scientist and, in the opinion of Dr. J. Gilbart Smyly, Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin, (Expressed in a letter written to me, 23rd November, 1937, in reply to certain questions.) was quite possibly written by Molyneux. As the earliest reference to a Lodge of Freemasons in Ireland relates to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1688, (Lepper and Crossle, History of the Grand Lodge . . . of Ireland, 36. The late Bro. Chetwode Crawley discovered this reference to Irish masonry in a Trinity College, Dublin manuscript (T.C.D. MS. I, 5, 1), a Tripos [i.e. satirical speech] at the commencements of the University of Dublin, 11th July, 1688. He announced his discovery in his Introduction to Sadler’s Masonic Reprints and Revelations. Dr. J. Gilbart Smyly informs me that it has been published in full by Dr. John Barrett in an Essay on the earlier part of the Life of Swift, and in Jonathan Swift, Works, edited by Sir W. Scott, vol. vi., pp. 226‑60.) it is conceivable that there was a Lodge in Dublin in 1711, although no reference to freemasonry in Ireland in the first two decades of the eighteenth century can be traced. (3 Lepper and Crossle, 41)  If such a Lodge existed, Molyneux may well have belonged to it.

15) Influence of the Mason Word on Masonic Ceremonies

Whether or not the Trinity College, Dublin MS. represents a first link in one line of evolution of operative into speculative masonry, I am satisfied that the nucleus of the present First and Third Degree ceremonies can clearly be traced back to the somewhat crude usages and phrases associated before the end of the seventeenth century with the giving of the Mason Word. It apparently grew under speculative influence during the eighteenth century, until it developed into complete ceremonies. This was probably brought about partly by elaborating the content of the ceremonies, partly by embellishing the wording of the ritual, partly by laying more stress on some matters, such as the fidelity of Hiram in refusing to betray the secrets of a master mason, and less stress on others, such as the attempt to obtain a secret from a dead body, and partly by dropping or modifying operative rules and regulations, and developing instead moral teachings, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

The process of expansion and evolution apparently went on right through the eighteenth century. I have no intention, however, of attempting to trace that development, a subject to which Bro. Vibert devoted considerable attention in his Prestonian Lecture. I shall content myself with observing that a great elaboration must have taken place by the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when William Preston, in successive editions of his Illustrations of Masonry, wrote his commentary on the then existing masonic ritual.

It was probably not until after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813 that our ceremonies attained to something approximating to their present form. By that time the influence exercised by the Mason Word had receded so much into the background as to be in danger of being entirely overlooked. My endeavour this evening has been to give it the recognition which, in my opinion, it deserves.


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The Mason Word – Part Two of Six





P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076

 The Prestonian Lecture for 1938

Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

In part two we cover:

3)Two Distinct Ceremonies in 1696

4) Entered Apprentices and their Secrets

3) Two Distinct Ceremonies in 1696

Reverting to our MS., it may be noted that at the conclusion of what may be described as the ceremony, the word was circulated amongst those present and was finally given to the candidate by the Master. These signs and words were those of an entered apprentice, and, as the MS. points out, there were others belonging to a master mason or fellowcraft, which were imparted as follows:

First, all apprentices were ordered out of the company and none suffered to stay but masters. Then “he who is to be admitted a member of fellowship” knelt and took an oath of secrecy, after which he went out with the youngest master to learn “the posture and signes of fellowship”. On returning, he made the master’s sign and said the former words of entry, but leaving out the “common judge”; the masons then whispered the word among themselves, and finally the master gave him the word and the grip.

There is nothing in the MS. as to the nature of the master’s sign, word or grip, though some indications are given regarding the apprentice’s secrets.

The fact that in 1696 there were two distinct ceremonies, if they may be so described, one applying to entered apprentices and one to fellowcrafts or masters, raises two questions: first, who were the entered apprentices, and secondly, whether or not both ceremonies were equally old?

 4) Entered Apprentices and their Secrets

The object of obtaining the Mason Word was presumably to acquire a method of recognition, and thereby secure certain advantages in the matter of employment, and possibly of relief. (Murray Lyon, 28, and Miller, 30. It may be noted that masons were not the only craftsmen to possess a “word”. The squaremen, i.e. wrights, and possibly members of other building crafts, received the “squaremen word” (Murray Lyon, 23). O.E.D. defines squareman as “A carpenter, stone cutter or other workman who regularly uses a square for adjusting or testing his work”, and notes its earliest occurrence as 1790. Actually, one of the signatories of the so‑called St. Clair charter of 1628 describes himself as “deakin of squaemen”. (Murray Lyon, 68).

Ordinary apprentices were not free to seek work independently of the masters to whom they were bound, (In London in the seventeenth century apprentices sometimes worked apart from their masters, but probably only on jobs to which they had been sent by them (Knoop and Jones, The London Mason in the Seventeenth Century, 64, 65). and would therefore have no need of secret methods of recognition. Nor would they require relief, since their masters maintained them. The apprentice who was given the Mason Word could not, therefore, have been an ordinary apprentice. The explanation probably lies in the fact that in Scotland in the seventeenth century, and possibly earlier, apprentices and entered apprentices apparently formed two distinct classes or grades, (A Minute of the Aitchison’s Haven Lodge, dated 27th December, 1655 (A.Q.C., xxiv., 41), records that apprentices were not to be made entered apprentices under the sum of twelve pounds Scots.) the entered apprentices hardly being apprentices at all in the ordinary sense of the word, but rather journeymen ex‑apprentices.

In Scotland, the Schaw Statutes of 1598 (Printed in Murray Lyon, 9, and Knoop and Jones, The Medieval Mason, 258.)  provided that an apprentice must be bound for at least seven years, and that, except by special permission, a further period of seven years must elapse before he could be made a fellowcraft. During this second term of seven years, (Cases of masons serving double apprenticeships occurred in England in the seventeenth century. Thus Richard Varney of Islip, stonemason, examined in the Chancellor’s Court at Oxford, 26th April, 1681, stated that “he served his father (though he was his eldest son) more than a double apprenticeship”; John Saunders of Denton, stonemason, stated, on the same occasion, that he had served his father a double apprenticeship. (Abstract (very kindly lent to G. P. Jones and myself by the Rev. H. E. Salter) of papers labelled “1681 M” in the Oxford University Archives.] These double apprenticeships, however, were hardly analogous to the Scottish practice of apprenticeship and entered apprenticeship.) or less, as the case might be, the ex‑apprentice was apparently an entered apprentice, and normally worked as a journeyman for a master, though the Schaw Statutes did permit an entered apprentice to undertake a limited amount of work on his own account.

That this general ordinance applied locally is shown by the Mutual Agreement of 1658, which regulated the affairs of the Lodge of Perth. (Crawford Smith, chap. v.)  This provided that no entered apprentice should leave his master or masters to take any work or task work above 40s. Scots. Further, it was expressly provided that he was not to take an apprentice.

At Kilwinning in 1659, two fellowcrafts and one entered apprentice out of each quarter, together with the Deacon and Warden, were appointed to meet each year at Ayr to deal with transgressors. (Minute of the Lodge, dated 20th December, 1659, quoted in R. Wylie, History of the Mother Lodge, Kilwinning, 2nd ed., 60.)

At Melrose, the entered apprentices were parties to the Mutual Agreement of 1675, which regulated the affairs of the Lodge. (Printed in W. F. Vernon, History of Freemasonry in Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, 13.)

At Aberdeen in 1670 the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge show that entered apprentices received the benefit of the Mason Word at their entry, (There is nothing in the Edinburgh Register House MS. to indicate when the entered apprentice received the benefit of the Mason Word. It merely refers to “the person to take the word”) and that they became eligible for the fellowship three years later; further, the Mark Book of the Lodge shows that each entered apprentice had his mark (See page from Mark Book reproduced in Miller, facing p. 28) and the same was the case at Dumfries in 1687. Regulation of the Lodge of Dumfries, approved 2nd June, 1687, printed in J. Smith, History of the Old Lodge of Dumfries, (The use of marks on work to enable the craftsman to be identified was not peculiar to masons. In London the Helmet‑makers, Blacksmiths, Bladesmiths and Brasiers used them (Riley, Memorials of London, 238, 361, 569, 626).)

The Schaw Statutes of 1598 provided that no master or fellowcraft should be received, except in the presence of six masters and two entered apprentices, and the early Minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh prove that this requirement was observed. (Murray Lyon, 79.)

This evidence shows clearly that entered apprentices in Scotland had a real, if subordinate share in the government of the craft, and in its privileges. Their position can be compared with that occupied by the Yeomanry in the London Masons’ Company. It is inconceivable that either in London or in Scotland the ordinary apprentice had any say in the management of the craft, or that he enjoyed any privileges; his was purely a position of servitude until the period for which he was bound had expired.

Thereupon, in London he might be made a freeman and become part of the Yeomanry of the Masons’ Company; (Actually rather fewer than 50 per cent. of the apprentices bound in London took up their freedom (The London Mason in the Seventeenth Century, 63).)  in Scotland he became an entered apprentice and received the benefit of the Mason Word. In due course, a yeoman in London might be accepted into the Livery, and an entered apprentice in Scotland might be received as a master or fellowcraft (In London there was no prescribed minimum period, and very occasionally an apprentice was made a freeman, and accepted into the Livery, on the same day, e.g. Edward Strong, jun., in 1698 (The London Mason in the Seventeenth Century, 45 n). In Scotland, although the Schaw Statutes contemplated an entered apprenticeship of seven years, except by special permission, the period at Aberdeen in 1670 was three years. At Glasgow, in the early seventeenth century, the usual period appears to have been two years, to judge by the following: It would appear from the Minutes [of the Incorporation of Masons], 9th February, 1613, and 5th February, 1617, that nine years was the customary endurance of an Apprenticeship, viz., seven years to learn the trade and two for meat and fee (Cruikshank, Sketch of the Incorporation of Masons and the Lodge of Glasgow St. John, 63).)

There was however, an important difference: the former promotion was the exception rather than the rule; (The Quarterage Book of the Masons’ Company shows that in 1663 there were 45 members of the Livery, including assistants, as compared with 143 members of the Yeomanry; in 1677 the corresponding figures were 71 and 162 (ibid., 8, 9).) the latter promotion, so far as one can tell, was the rule rather than the exception. (That there were exceptions is shown by the fact that, in Edinburgh in the seventeenth century, it was not unusual for entered apprentices on the expiry of their entered apprenticeship to seek employment as journeymen, without having been admitted as fellowcraft (Murray Lyon, 28).)

A rather better analogy is provided by the London carpenters who, under an Ordinance of 1607, (Jupp and Pocock, Historical Account of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, 423) were forbidden to have an apprentice until they had been “free” three years and had served at least one year with a freeman of the Company.

So far as I am aware, the term entered apprentice occurs in operative masonry only in Scotland. It is commonly held that the entered apprentice was so called “because entered in the Lodge books” (Kenning’s Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, 201)  but this cannot be regarded as a complete explanation. The Schaw Statutes of 1598 distinguished between (i) “receiving” an apprentice and (ii) “entering” an apprentice; “receiving” apparently took place at the outset of his career, and “entering” at some later, but unspecified, date, presumably at the expiration of seven years’ servitude.

The Statutes further provided that the name of the apprentice and the date of his “receiving” should be booked, and that, in due course, the date of his “entering” should be booked. Thus “entering” could hardly have meant simply that his name was entered in a book, as that had also been done when he was “received”. It related, more probably, to his admission or entry into the ranks of the time‑expired or fully qualified apprentices. The term “entered apprentice” occurs in the forms “enterprentice” (Trinity College, Dublin MS). and “interprintice”. ( Sloane MS., 3329)  Enter and inter are both Scottish forms of entire, so that the term may have denoted entire apprentice, i.e. complete or fully qualified apprentice.

Three pieces of evidence may be cited in support of this opinion. First, a Minute of the Aitchison’s Haven Lodge, dated 2nd January, 1600, records that Andrew Patten was “enterit prenteis to John Crafurd his maister”; (A.Q.C., xxiv., 36)  as a Minute of 7th June, 1599, records that Andrew Patten had served six years of his apprenticeship at that date, (ibid., 35) it follows that he had served about seven years when he was entered. Secondly, a Minute of the Lodge of Edinburgh, dated 3rd February, 1601, records that Andrew Hamilton, apprentice to John Watt, was “enterit … as past prenteis to the said Johnne War his m aiste]r”. (Murray Lyon, 79)  This clearly shows that Andrew Hamilton had served his time before being “entered”. Thirdly, Article XIV. of the Regius MS. requires “. . . if that the master a prentice have, Entirely then that he him teach.” If originally an apprentice was entered as an entire apprentice, confusion between entered and entire might easily have led to entire apprentice being changed to entered apprentice.

The secrets communicated to entered apprentices were probably not the essential ones, but means of recognition, safeguarded with less caution than the principal secrets and regarded partly as a joke. The possession of such secrets doubtless carried with it fewer privileges.

The first two conclusions are suggested by a study of the Edinburgh Register House MS.

(i) This shows that a good deal of horseplay was associated with the imparting of the entered apprentice secrets. Thus the oath was to be administered only “after a great many ceremonies to frighten” the candidate; when outside with the youngest mason, the candidate was to be frightened “with 1,000 ridicolous postures and grimmaces” before being given the sign, postures and words of entry; after rejoining the company he was to “make a ridiculous bow” and “put off his hat after a very foolish manner”. This horseplay may be compared with the practices common at the admission of freshmen to universities in medieval and later times, (R. S. Rait, Life in the Medieval University, chap. vi.) or with the tests imposed upon newcomers to the Hanseatic factory at Bergen. (Helen Zinunern, The Hansa Towns, 144‑47) That something of this horseplay was liable to be introduced into the early speculative Lodges is clearly implied by one of the by‑laws of the Lodge constituted at the Maid’s Head, Norwich, in May, 1724, which reads: “6. That no ridiculous trick be played with any person when he is admitted”. (G. W. Daynes, A.Q.C., xxxvii., 38) These by‑laws are stated to have been “recommended by our Worthy Bro Dr Desaguliers” [Grand Master in 1719 and Deputy Grand Master in 1722‑23 and 1725], and may be regarded as reflecting the desire of the recently formed Grand Lodge to suppress such horseplay. On the other hand, no corresponding fooling is mentioned in the Edinburgh Register House MS. in connection with being “admitted a member of fellowship”.

(ii) It is very noticeable, as previously mentioned, that whereas the MS. gives various indications as to the nature of the entered apprentice’s secrets, it preserves a complete silence regarding those of the fellowcraft or master.

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The Mason Word – Part One of Six





P.M. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076

The Prestonian Lecture for 1938

 Prepared in this format by Bro. Mike Lawrence

In part one we cover:

1) The Mason Word more than a mere word

2) The Edinburgh Register House MS.

The subject which I have chosen for my Prestonian Lecture is the Mason Word, and the customs and usages associated with its communication, about which all too little is at present known. What little is known, however, suggests that this operative forerunner of our speculative rites probably throws more light on the origins of our present ceremonies than do those early Craft regulations and medieval histories of masonry, commonly known as the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, or, more familiarly, as the Old Charges.

The MS. Constitutions present a wider field for investigation, as approximately one hundred different versions of them, ranging in date from the late fourteenth to the early nineteenth century, are known, and they have naturally been studied in considerable detail. (See, e.g., Hughan, Old Charges of British Freemasons, 1st ed., 1870; rev. 2nd ed., 1895; Gould, Commentary on the Regius Poem, Q.C.A., i. (1889); Speth, Commentary on the Cooke MS., Q.C.A., ii. (1890); Poole, The Old Charges, 1924, and The Old Charges in the Eighteenth Century, Prestonian Lecture for 1933; Poole and Worts The “Yorkshire” Old Charges of Masons, 1935; Knoop, Jones and Hamer, The Two Earliest Masonic MSS. (the Regius and Cooke MSS.), 1938.)

My field tonight is much narrower, as the principal materials on which I rely for my study of the Mason Word consist only of five late seventeenth or early eighteenth century manuscripts. Two of these, the Edinburgh Register House MS. (1696) and the Chetwode Crawley MS. (c. 1700), ( Discovered at the beginning of the century [Hughan, A.Q.C., xvii. (1904), 91, 92], this MS. is now in the possession of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. A transcript appears in the Masonic Reprints of the Lodge of Research, No. 2429, Leicester. Its contents have subsequently proved to be practically the same as those of the Edinburgh Register House MS., except that the two parts are transposed.)are practically identical, apart from verbal variations and points of spelling and punctuation, with the all‑important exception that the former is endorsed with a date.

Thus the information is mainly derived from four documents, the Edinburgh Register House MS. (1696), the Graham MS. (1726), the Trinity College, Dublin MS. (1711), and the Sloane MS. 3329 (c. 1700). The last has been known for many years, (It is quoted in the English edition of Findel’s History of Freemasonry, published in 1865.) but its importance has recently been greatly enhanced by the discovery of the first two. Jointly these MSS. constitute a most valuable source of information about early masonic ceremonies, and I am glad to avail myself of the opportunity afforded by my appointment as Prestonian Lecturer to draw the attention of the Brethren to some of the significance of these four documents.

At the outset I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to various masonic students, and especially to Bro. the Rev. Herbert Poole, who has made such a close study of the Old Charges and of contemporary Masonic MSS. (See more especially “Masonic Ritual and Secrets before 1717”, A.Q.C., xxxvii. (1924); and “The Graham Manuscript”, A.Q.C., 1, (1937). I enjoy one definite advantage over earlier writers approaching the same problem; thanks to the recent discovery of the Edinburgh Register House MS., endorsed 1696, I have escaped their difficulties regarding the probable dates of the Sloane and Chetwode Crawley MSS. The handwriting of these two MSS. pointed to circa 1700; so did the fact that the Chetwode Crawley MS. contained, almost verbatim, the words of the so‑called “Haughfoot Minute” of 1702 (Poole, A.Q.C., xxxvii., 7). The MSS., however, refer to two ceremonies, whereas many masonic students maintained that there was only one prior to 1723. This conflict of external and internal evidence led to much doubt about the probable dates. Now that we know for certain that there were two distinct ceremonies at least as early as 1696, there need be no hesitation in accepting 1700 as the approximate date of these two MSS.) It was his recent paper on the Graham MS. which first caused me to turn my attention to the various MSS. forming the basis of my lecture this evening.

1) The Mason Word more than just a mere word

The justification for stressing the importance of the Mason Word as a factor in the development of masonic ceremonies lies in the fact that it consisted of something substantially more than a mere word. Thus the Rev. Robert Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, writing in 1691, (The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, 3rd ed., 1933, 108.)  says the Mason Word “is like a Rabbinical Tradition, in way of comment on Jachin and Boaz, the two Pillars erected in Solomon’s Temple (I. Kings, 7, 21), with one Addition of some secret Signe delyvered from Hand to Hand, by which they know and become familiar one with another”.

A letter of 1697 states that “The Laird[s] of Roslin … are obliged to receive the mason’s word which is a secret signall masons have thro’out the world to know one another by. They alledge ’tis as old as since Babel, when they could not understand one another and they conversed by signs. Others would have it no older than Solomon. However it is, he that hath it will bring his brother mason to him without calling to him or your perceiving of the signe” . (Hist. MSS. Com., Portland MSS., ii., 56. For particulars about the Lairds of Roslin, a branch of the St. Clair family, and their claim to be protectors and patrons of the Craft in Scotland, see Murray Lyon, History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No. 1, Tercentenary Edition, 64‑72.)

2) The Edinburgh Register House MS.

The Edinburgh Register House MS., (Edinburgh Register House, Miscellaneous Papers, No. 52. A photographic reproduction appears in A.Q.C., xliii. (1930). 153‑5, and a transcript in the Trans. of the Manchester Assoc. for Masonic Research, xxii. (1932), 143, in each case with an introduction by Bro. J. Mason Allan.) a document discovered about 1930 among the records in the Historical Department of the Register House, Edinburgh, is considerably more informative. It is endorsed “Some Questiones Anent the mason word 1696” and consists of two parts, the first headed “Some Questiones That Masons use to put to those who have ye word before they will acknowledge them”, and the second “The forme of giveing the mason word”.

The test questions relate partly to the conditions of admittance and partly to matters with which nobody could be acquainted without previous instruction. As the MS. provides answers to all the questions, and states that they have to be answered exactly, it is obvious that the necessary instruction regarding all the questions must have been given to a candidate either at his admission or subsequently.

As the questions and answers are not very long, I propose to read them in full, (To facilitate reading, the various abbreviations used in the MS. for “question” and “answer” have been made uniform, the punctuation has been modernized, and such sentences as appear to be instructions have been printed in italics.) in order to give the Brethren a first‑hand acquaintance with the kind of Examination to be found in all the manuscripts with which we have to do this evening:

Q. 1: Are you a mason?                  Ans. : Yes.

Q. 2: How shall I know it?                Ans.: You shall know it in time and place convenient. Remark the fors[ai]d answer is only to be made when there is company present who are not masons. But if there be no such company by, you should answer by signes, tokens and other points of my entrie.

Q. 3 : What is the first point ?         Ans. : Tell me the first point ile tell you the second. The first is to heill ( Heill, hele, heal: to hide, conceal, to keep secret (O.E.D.).  and conceall; second, under no less pain, which is then cutting of your throat. For you most make that sign when you say that.

Q. 4: Where wes you entered?        Ans. : At the honourable lodge.

Q. 5: What makes a true and perfect lodge ?           Ans. : Seven masters, five entered apprentices, A dayes journey from a burroughs town, without bark of dog or crow of cock. (cf. Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, 1670, rule iii., “that no lodge be holden within a dwelling house wher ther is people living in it but in the open fieldes except it be ill weather, and then let ther be a house chosen that no person shall heir nor sie ws”; and rule v., “that all entering prentises be entered in our antient outfield Lodge in the mearnes in the parish of negg at the scounces at the poynt of the ness” (Miller, Notes on the Early History and Records of the Lodge, Aberdeen, 59, 63).

Q. 6 : Does no less make a true and perfect lodge?             Ans. : Yes, five masons and three entered apprentices, &c.

Q. 7: Does no less?                         Ans. : The more the merrier, the fewer the better chear.

Q. 8 : What is the name of your lodge?       Ans. : Kilwinning.

Q. 9 : How stands your lodge ?       Ans.: East and west as the temple of Jerusalem.

Q. 10: Where wes the first lodge?   Ans. : In the porch of Solomons Temple.

Q. 11: Are there any lights in your lodge?               Ans.: Yes, three‑the north east, s w, and eastern passage. The one denotes the maste[r] mason, the other the warden. The third the setter croft.

Q. 12: Are there any jewells in your lodge?            Ans.: Yes, three Perpend (Perpend, parpen 1. a stone which passes through a wall from side to side, having two smooth vertical faces (O.E.D.).) Esler [ashlar], a square pavement, and a broad ovall. (Broad ovall: ? broached ornel. Broached: worked with a chisel (O.E.D.). Ornel, urnall, urnell: a kind of soft white building stone (O.E.D.). The terms “Parpeincoins”, “pament”, and “urnell” figure in the Rochester Castle Building Account, 1368 (Arch. Cant., ii., 114).

Q. 13: Where shall I find the key of your lodge?    Yes [?Ans.:] Three foot and an half from the lodge door under a perpend esler and a green divot. But under the lap of my liver where all my secrets of my heart lie.

Q. 14: Which is the key of your lodge?      Ans. : a weel hung tongue.

Q. 15: Where lies the key?           Ans. : In the bone box.

After the masons have examined you by all or some of these Questions and that you have answered them exactly and mad the signes, they will acknowledge you, but not as a master mason or fellow croft, but only as as [ ? an] apprentice, soe they will say I see you have been in the kitchine, but I know not if you have been in the hall.        Ans.: I have been in the hall as weel as in the kitchine.

Q. 1: Are you a fellow craft?          Ans. : Yes.

Q. 2 : How many points of the fellowship are ther ?           Ans. : fyve, viz., foot to foot, Knee to Kn[ee], Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand, and ear to ear. Then make the sign of fellowship and shake hand and you will be acknowledged a true mason. The words are in the 1 of the Kings Ch 7, v 21, and in 2 Chr: ch 3 verse last.

The conclusion of the examination shows, first, that the fellowcraft or master mason (which were equivalent terms in Scotland at this period) had secrets distinct from those of an entered apprentice; and secondly, that only the fellowcraft was acquainted with what are called “the five points of the fellowship”. Further reference will be made to these two matters shortly.

“The form of giving the mason word” is a series of instructions to those admitting “the person to take the word”, and indicates in a general way what was to be said to him and what he was to say. After he had taken an oath of secrecy, in which he swore not to reveal by word or writing any part of what he should see or hear, nor to draw it with the point of a sword, or any other instrument, upon the snow or sand, he was to go out with the youngest mason from whom he was to learn “the signe and the postures and words of his entrie”.

He then rejoined the company and said the words of his entry, which I shall now read: (To facilitate reading, the punctuation has been modernized, and such sentences as appear to be instructions have been printed in italics.)

Here come I, the youngest and last entered apprentice, As I am sworn by God and St. Jhon, by the square and compass and common judge,(In mining, a judge is a staff used to measure the depth of holes (O.E.D.). Amongst masons, it probably referred to the virga geometricalis, or measuring rod, with which the foundation or ground plan of a building was marked out. (See Note by Knoop and Jones on “Latlaying the Groundwork”, Misc. Lat., September, 1937). Pictures of medieval masons sometimes show them with a square, a compass and a measuring rod, as in Libergier’s tomb slab in Rheims Cathedral (Coulton, Art and the Reformation, 140).  to attend my masters service at the honourable lodge, from munday in the morning till saturday at night and to keep the keyes therof, under no less pain then haveing my tongue cut out under my chin, and of being buried within the flood mark, where no man shall know; then he makes the sign, again with drawing his hand under his chin alongst his throat, which denotes that it be cut out in caise he break his word.(These words of entry may be compared with those still used at an old practice of the Scoon and Perth Lodge No. 3, called the Baptism, which is performed at the time of refreshment. The Master, taking a little whisky and water in his hand, pours it on the head of the newly made apprentice, who repeats after the Master these words: “Here comes I the youngest and last made mason willing to do my Master’s bidding from Monday morning to Saturday night…… There is a reference in the Lodge minutes of 22nd January, 1741, to washing the newly admitted apprentice’s head, and the likelihood is that the practice goes back to operative days (Crawford Smith, History of the Ancient Masonic Lodge of Scoon and Perth, 101).

This shows that, whatever other objects the formal admission might have, it served to emphasize the duties which the entered apprentice owed to his master.

In at least one Scottish operative lodge in 1670, namely, the Lodge of Aberdeen, the entered apprentice, in addition to receiving the Mason Word at his entry, had read to him the “Mason Charter”, which was the version of the Old Charges now described as the Aberdeen MS., and also the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge. (See quotation from the Mark Book of the Lodge, in Miller, 21. The Charter and the Statutes of 1670 are printed in the Appendices to that book.) As the reading of these two documents would require the best part of an hour, the proceedings at the admission of an entered apprentice, if the Aberdeen practice was at all general, (In addition to the Lodge of Aberdeen, the Lodges of Aitchison’s Haven, Kilwinning, Melrose, Stirling and Dumfries all appear to have possessed versions of the Old Charges dating from the second half of the seventeenth century (Poole, Old Charges. 15‑17). must have been considerably longer than a perusal of the Edinburgh Register House MS. would suggest.

In part two we cover:

3)Two Distinct Ceremonies in 1696

4) Entered Apprentices and their Secrets




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The Deacons Lament – Author Unknown


I first heard this some fourteen years ago, and I just could not resist sharing it. I have no idea who wrote it and I apologise if I have infringed any copyright.

I would be pleased to hear any similar poems.

I wished I’d looked after my ritual

I wish I had studied that book

I just might have got through a whole meeting

Without having to take a sly look

At the words printed so neatly and tidy

With capital letters and dots

Inverted commas and rows of small hammers

To remind me about them there knocks


If I had been to a Lodge of Instruction

And followed the Preceptors plan

My signs might be more like a Mason

And less like a tic-tac man

A Past-Master once said with sarcasm

As his doffed his apron of dark blue

You lay “five-to-one” when the Lodge is begun

And “evens” the field when it’s through


Time was, when I was a Deacon

I was proud of my wand and my dove

Initiation was due; I was in a real stew

So I wrote the words out on my glove

Now some Candidates are cool and collected

Mine was all nervous and hot

I must not boast, but his hands were like toast

Leaving my glove as an illegible blot


As I thumped the Wardens shoulder

The ink stained his coat a bright blue

He said “who have you there?” I just stood in despair

He could see I did not have a clue.

I looked at my glove for the answer

At those five fickle fingers of fate

The blots faded away, left the words plain as day

St Michael – All Cotton – Size Eight


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