The Early Masonic Catechisms

Douglas Knoop
M.A., Hon. A.R.I.B.A.

Professor of Economics in the University of Sheffield

G. P. Jones
M.A., Litt.D.

Lecturer in Economic History in the University of Sheffield


Douglas Hamer
M.C., M.A.

Lecturer in English Literature in the University of Sheffield

Manchester University Press





The Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696

The Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700

The Sloane MS. 3329, c. 1700

The Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710

The Trinity College, Dublin, MS., 1711

A Mason’s Examination, 1723

The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, 1724

The Whole Institution of Masonry, 1724

Institution of Free Masons, c. 1725

The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, 1725

The Graham MS., 1726

The Grand Mystery Laid Open, 1726

A Mason’s Confession, ? 1727

The Mystery of Free-Masonry, 1730

Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, 1730

The Chesham MS., c. 1740

Dialogue between Simon and Philip, c. 1740

The Essex MS., c. 1750


The Free-Masons Vindication, 1725

The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected, 1730

A Defence of Masonry, 1730-1

Possible Rejoinders

The Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses, 1724

A Letter from the Grand Mistress, 1724



The early masonic catechisms have been examined, analytically and comparatively, in some detail by Bro. H. Poole in “Masonic Ritual and Secrets before 1717” [A.Q.C., xxxvii (1924)]. His paper, however, was written before the discovery of the Chesham, Edinburgh Register House and Graham MSS. Further, although he actually took 1730, in preference to 1717, as his boundary date, notwithstanding his title, he excluded Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, published in October, 1730, on the ground that it raised the large question of the number of ‘degrees’ given during the period 1717–1730, which he felt unable adequately to discuss in the space at his disposal. Much of his paper is as valuable to-day as when it was first written, some twenty years ago, though failure to distinguish between an ‘apprentice’ and an ‘entered apprentice’ and to realize that the catechisms apply to the admission of the latter (ex-apprentices or improvers aged 21 or so) and not to that of the former (boys aged 14 or so) did lead him to some extent astray, and some of the commentators on his paper more so. Unfortunately, Bro. Poole’s paper has no appendix of illustrative documents; owing to lack of space, he had to content himself with indicating the more accessible reproductions. Thus, though it stimulated interest in the catechisms, his paper whetted the appetite without supplying any ready means of satisfying it, because some of the publications in which catechisms have been reproduced are not likely to be found in an ordinary masonic library. In this volume, which may be described as a ‘utility’ edition, we endeavour to supply reliable texts of all the early masonic catechisms, and of the contemporary rejoinders, with the exception of the Chesham MS. and the first part of the Essex MS., which are practically identical with other early catechisms which we print in full. As space is limited, we have curtailed our general introduction and the introductory and explanatory notes to particular documents, and have omitted reproductions of title pages of pamphlets and specimen pages of MSS. Further, we have been unable to follow the exact lay-out of certain catechisms, in so far as they devote separate lines to each question and each answer, however short. In these days of paper economy such spacious setting is precluded. Our aim is to give complete and accurate texts of the documents, with sufficient introductory and explanatory matter to help those masons who wish to study for them-selves the origins of masonic ritual and ceremonies. The prevailing conditions prevent us from catering for the masonic bibliophile.

For the facilities afforded to us in the obtaining of photostats and photographs, and for permission to print or reprint documents, we have to thank the authorities of the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, the Trinity College, Dublin, Library, the Edinburgh Register House, the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Lodge Dumfries Kilwinning, No. 53; also the Editors of A.Q.C. and of the Leicester Masonic Reprints, and Bro. Rev. H. I. Robinson, Bro. Rev. H. Poole, Bro. J. Heron Lepper and Bro. Philip Crossle. We have also to thank Bro. Rabbi Barnet I. Cohen for assistance with certain Hebrew words; Bro. Philip Crossle for information about the Chetwode Crawley MS.; Dr. B. Schofield and Mr. A. J. Collins of the MSS. Department of the British Museum for help in dating certain manuscripts; and our colleagues, J. M. M. Jenkinson and J. H. Read, for making the tracings required for the preparation of blocks. Lastly, we have to thank Mr. H. M. McKechnie, Secretary of the Manchester University Press, for his unfailing help and co-operation.

D. K.
G. P. J.
D. H.

The University,
February, 1943.

Postscript. We are greatly indebted to Bro. Fred. T. Cramphorn for placing at our disposal his typescript copies of the two catechisms referred to in the Note on p. viii.

April, 1943.


After this book had gone to press, the existence of two other early catechisms was brought to our notice by Bro. Fred. T. Cramphorn of Upper Moulsham, Chelmsford. In a MS., stated to bear an almost illegible name and address, “ Mr John Page . . . N° 5 . . . Bristol”, and recently in the possession of the late Bro. Lister Salisbury, who lent the document to Bro. Cramphorn to copy, there are three catechisms: (i) The Whole Institution of Masonry, 1724; (ii) an entry headed “The following is part of Free Masonry as Printed in London 1725”; (iii) A Dialogue between Simon, a Town Mason, and Philip, a Traveling Mason. The first is an early and shorter version of The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, 1725; the second is a copy of the examination in The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons Discover’d, 1725; the third possesses considerable affinities with other early masonic catechisms, but resembles no particular one very closely. We print the first and third, with introductory notes, on below; it has not been possible, however, to refer to them in the Introduction, which was already paged.



Comparison with the Old Charges

For many years the study of masonic manuscripts has been largely directed to the documents known as the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, or, more familiarly, as the Old Charges. These usually begin with an invocation or opening prayer, followed by a legendary history of the building industry and a body of regulations governing the masons’ trade. This study has been distinctly fruitful, and has led to the discovery of numerous new versions of the Old Charges, so that there is a fairly substantial body of material available for classification and analysis. The genuineness of the documents as a whole has never been seriously questioned, though Gould devoted considerable space in his History of Freemasonry to considering how far any particular version could be regarded as an accredited or authoritative writing, and the authenticity of one or two versions has provided matter for discussion. The legendary history and the masons’ regulations of the MS. Constitutions from time to time underwent considerable changes, which we have briefly discussed in our Short History of Freemasonry to 1730, but no revision appears to have been made after about 1725. Although a particular version may not have been copied or printed until the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, nevertheless it will generally prove to be a more or less exact copy of a pre-1730 manuscript. Consequently, there is no need to impose a date-limit when discussing the Old Charges, or to differentiate between the versions which have survived in manuscript and those which have survived only in print.

In this volume we deal with a different class of masonic document, much smaller in number and considerably more suspect in character, namely, the manuscript and printed masonic catechisms, which originally were mainly concerned with the form of giving the Mason Word, and the questions and answers used to test persons claiming to have the Mason Word. These catechisms underwent considerable changes during the eighteenth century, gradually becoming much more elaborate in character. Lionel Vibert devoted some attention to this development in his Prestonian Lecture for 1925 on the Trigradal System, and subsequently discussed it more fully in a paper on “Eighteenth Century Catechisms“ (Misc. Lat., xiv). As we are concerned only with early masonic catechisms, we have taken as the end of our period the year 1730, which for three reasons forms a good boundary date, (i) For several years after 1730, Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, first published in October 1730, had no rival as a masonic catechism in this country, (ii) For a time after 1730, commencing in 1734-5, masonic publications in England mainly took the form of Pocket Companions, popular masonic handbooks, which temporarily displaced interest in catechisms or rituals, (iii) Commencing in 1737-8, translations of French ‘exposures’ began to appear, and French influence on the development of masonic ceremonies, began to make itself felt. Although we take 1730 as the end of our period, we do, however, bring under review four later documents, the Institution of Free Masons, of uncertain date, but assigned to the first half of the eighteenth century, the Chesham MS. of c. 1740, the Essex MS of c. 1750, and A Masons Confession of 1755. All of these appear to relate to conditions prevailing in the third decade of the eighteenth century, rather than to the period at which they were written or printed.

Our sixteen documents cover the period 1696 to 1730, twenty-one years before the formation of Grand Lodge in 1717, and thirteen after its establishment. Nevertheless, these thirty-four years can be regarded as constituting a unity, for freemasonry in the third decade of the eighteenth century appears to have been substantially the same as in the immediate pre-Grand Lodge period. Thus we are primarily concerned with the first thirty years of the eighteenth century, a period when accepted or speculative rites were being evolved out of the older operative practices and customs; this very possibly accounts for the somewhat diverse conditions pictured in the different docu­ments. On the other hand, the third decade of the eighteenth century was a period in which public curiosity about freemasonry was wide­spread, and this makes it very necessary to be on guard against possible hoaxes or forgeries, more especially in the case of the printed versions, or so-called ‘exposures’ which usually claim to be either confessions of disgruntled masons, or compilations from the papers of deceased brethren. As no authoritative ritual for this period has survived (assuming that one ever existed), we can never feel sure how far any particular document reflects what happened in any particular lodge, or, assuming that the document was genuine, and not a mere skit or hoax on current practice, how widespread its use was. Thus a considerable element of uncertainty must always remain in interpreting these documents, even after their authenticity has been established, so far as that can be done.

In this volume we are concerned primarily with sixteen documents, nine of which are in manuscript:

  1. Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696,
  2. Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700,
  3. Sloane MS. 3329, c. 1700,
  4. Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710,
  5. Trinity College, Dublin, MS., 1711,
  6. Institution of Free Masons, c. 1725,
  7. Graham MS., 1726,
  8. Chesham MS., c. 1740,
  9. Essex MS., c. 1750,

and seven in print:

  1. A Mason’s Examination, 1723,
  2. The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, 1724,
  3. The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, 1725,
  4. The Grand Mystery Laid Open, 1726,
  5. A Masons Confession,? 1727 [printed 1755],
  6. The Mystery of Free-Masonry, 1730,
  7. Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, 1730.

Both Thorp (p. 11) and Bro. Baxter (Mane. Trans., xxx, 78) include two other publications among the early catechisms and exposures, viz., the Briscoe pamphlet and The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected. We deliberately exclude the former, The Secret History of the Free-Masons (1724), because it is principally a version of the Old Charges, with observations on Anderson’s Constitutions, and in no sense a catechism. The latter pamphlet, a reply to Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, does include a good deal of dialogue, and may perhaps be regarded as a catechism, though of an unusal type. We prefer to treat it as a reply to a catechism, and accordingly print it with the other Rejoinders.

The fact that we have been able to trace only nine versions of the MS. catechisms written, or relating to the period, before 1731, whereas some seventy versions of the MS. Constitutions copied before that date have been discovered, may perhaps be accounted for in three ways, (i) The MS. catechisms, usually written on one or two sheets of paper, are more likely to have been mislaid or destroyed than versions of the Old Charges, which are frequently in the form of books or rolls, (ii) As the subject matter of the catechisms was partly esoteric in character, it would presumably be imparted orally, and the possessors of the necessary knowledge would be chary about committing it to writing, though doubtless that might be done occasionally as an aid to memory. Even the writing of such a guide, however, is prohibited by Dumfries No. 3 MS. (iii) When catechisms had been committed to writing, the documents may have been deliberately destroyed after they had served their immediate purpose. Thus, according to Anderson (Constitutions of 1738, p. 111), several valuable manuscripts concerning the Fraternity, their lodges, regulations, charges, secrets and usages, were burnt by some scrupulous brothers in 1720, so that these papers might not fall into strange hands. Nevertheless, we are disposed to think that when the importance of this class of document is more fully appreciated, and when the quest for such documents has received the same attention as the quest for new versions of the Old Charges, more versions of the MS. catechisms may be discovered. Of the existing nine versions, Sloane MS. 3329 was known to masonic students in the 1860’s; Dumfries No. 4 MS. was discovered in 1891; the Trinity College, Dublin, MS. had been traced in or before 1898; the Chetwode Crawley MS. was discovered in 1904, and the Institution of Free Masons about 1905; the Essex MS. was known in 1915 and probably earlier the Chesham MS. was found in 1929, the Edinburgh Register House MS. in 1930, while the existence of the Graham MS. was only made known as recently as 1936. Of the printed versions, two broadsheets, The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened and The Grand Mystery Laid Open, were mere names to most masonic students until Bro. Poole reprinted them in A.Q.C., 1., in 1937. Actually, the discoveries of the last ten or fifteen years have added not only to the number of versions of the catechisms known, but also quite materially to the body of knowledge concerning early eighteenth­century masonic working. By way of contrast, it may be noted that recent discoveries of versions of the Old Charges have merely confirmed legends and regulations, the existence of which was already well established.

Early Operative Working

Before we can discuss the authenticity of the catechisms in general, or of any one catechism in particular, we must first briefly examine what is known from independent sources about early operative working, so that we may be in a position to judge how far the cate­chisms confirm or contradict such independent information as is available on the subject. The information may be briefly stated as follows:

i. The Schaw Statutes of 1398 required the selection of intenders or instructors by each new fellow craft on his admission.

ii. The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh for the first decade of the seventeenth century show that this provision of the Schaw Statutes was effective.

iii. The minutes of the Lodge of Aitchisons Haven, from their commencement in 1598, show not only that a new fellow craft, when admitted, chose two fellow crafts as his intenders and instructors, but also that a new entered apprentice on his admission, similarly selected two entered apprentices as his intenders and instructors.

To judge from the Edinburgh and Aitchison’s Haven minutes, in most cases, if not all, the intenders and instructors were the most recently admitted fellow crafts and entered apprentices respectively. As candidates had to give satisfactory proofs of their technical qualifications before admission, it is difficult to understand what functions these intenders discharged, unless it were to instruct the candidates in the esoteric knowledge associated with the grade to which they had just been admitted. That this was the case seems to be borne out by the following passage at the end of Dumfries No. 3 MS., a late seventeenth-century version of the Old Charges which belonged to the Old Lodge of Dumfries, now Dumfries Kilwinning, No. 53:

Then let ye person yt is then made a mason chuse out of ye lodge a mason who is to instruct him in those secrets which must never be written, & he is to call him tuter. then his tuter will take him aside & show him all ye whole mistery, yt at his return he may exercise with ye rest of his fellow masons.

A similar passage occurs at the end of Harris No. 1 MS., of approximately the same date, and also near the end of the Thos. Carmick MS. of 1727. Nothing, however, is known about the early history of either of these versions of the Old Charges.

We learn from the Edinburgh Register House and Chetwode Crawley MSS. that the person to be admitted as an entered apprentice was removed, after taking an oath of secrecy, out of the company with the youngest mason to learn from him the signs, postures and words of his entry, and similarly that the person to be admitted as a fellow craft or master mason, after taking an oath of secrecy, was sent out of the company with the youngest master to learn the postures, words and signs of fellowship. Further, the appointment of ‘attenders’ is indicated in Sloane MS. 3329; the candidate had to swear to keep secret all that his attenders bid him keep secret. According to A Mason’s Confession, one person in the lodge instructed the candidate a little about the secrets the same day that he entered, and was called his ‘author’. Another person in the lodge, whom the candidate selected to be his instructor for the ensuing twelve months, was called his ‘intender’.

iv. From the Mark Book of the Lodge of Aberdeen, the first records in which were written in 1670, we learn that it was ordained by the members in that year that the so-called ‘Measson Charter’, i.e., the version of the MS. Constitutions now known as the Aberdeen MS., was to be read before a meeting of masons, and presumably, therefore, at the admission of every entered apprentice.

That the regulations or charges, if not the history or legend, were read to the candidates is stated in the Aberdeen MS. itself, as also in the Aitchison’s Haven MS., which was engrossed in the Minute Book of the Aitchison’s Haven Lodge in 1666. The same is true of versions of the Old Charges which belonged in the second half of the seven­teenth century to the old Scottish lodges at Kilwinning, Stirling, Melrose, and Dumfries According to the oath in the catechism Sloane MS. 3329, the candidate was to swear to keep secret “the mason word and everything therein contained” and “truly observe the charges in ye constitution”, which implies that at least the charges or regulations of the MS. Constitutions had been read to the candidate before the oath was taken. From the printed catechism, A Mason s Examination, we learn that “when a Free-Mason is enter’d . . . he is to hear the     * belonging to the Society read to him by the Master of the Lodge”. The asterisks, resulting possibly from ignorance of masonic terms, or from difficulty in deciphering the manuscript on which the printed version was in all probability based, are tantalizing, but it seems not unreasonable to fill the gap with the word ‘constitutions’ or ‘charges’. In making this suggestion, we merely follow the instructions contained in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 (published a few weeks before A Mason’s Examination) that the history and charges (as printed in Anderson) should be read at the admission of a new brother. If the five asterisks are intended to represent five letters, we suggest ‘rules’ as a possible solution.

v. According to the first statute in the Laws and Statutes of the Lodge of Aberdeen, adopted or confirmed 27 December 1670, the master masons and entered apprentices received the benefit of the Mason Word at their entry.

Although all the catechisms do not distinguish very clearly between (a) entered apprentices and (b) fellow crafts or master masons, several of them do so, and make it quite clear that the entered apprentices received the benefit of the Mason Word at their entry, as stated in the Aberdeen Statutes. Further, some catechisms show that additional esoteric knowledge was imparted to candidates when they were admitted fellow crafts or master masons, though whether that was the case at Aberdeen is not clear from the Statutes of the Lodge.

vi. The surviving fragment of a minute of the Lodge of Haughfoot, dated 22 December 1702, contains what appears to be the closing portion of the description of the admission of a fellow craft or master mason.

To show the significance of this fragment, we set it out side by side with an extract from the Edinburgh Register House MS.:

Haughfoot fragment

     of entrie as the apprentice did Leaving out (The Common Judge) Then they whisper the word as before — and the Master Mason grips his hand after the ordinary way.

Edinburgh Register House MS.

. . . He makes the masters sign, and sayes the same words of entrie as the apprentice did only leaving out the common judge then the masons whisper the word among themselves begginning at the youngest as formerly. . . . Then the master gives him the word and gripes his hand after the masons way. .

vii. Certain seventeenth-century versions of the Old Charges contain an oath of secrecy which presumably formed part of the ceremony of admission.

To facilitate comparison between these oaths and those embodied in certain MS. catechisms, we print three from the Old Charges and two from the Catechisms side by side:—

Old Charges

Buchanan MS., c. 1670

These Charges that you haue Received you shall well and truly keepe not discloseing the secresy of our Lodge to man woman nor Child: sticke nor stone: thing moueable nor vnmoveable soe god you helpe and his holy Doome Amen

Drinkwater No. 1 MS., c. 1700

The Signs & Tokens, yt I shall declare unto you, you shall not write in Sand, paper, or Green leaves; And you shall not tell it to any Dumb Creature in ye hearing of any person, Neither to Stick, Stock nor Stone in ye hearing of any person, Neither to Man Woman nor Child but to such as you find to be a Mason. So help you God.

Harleian MS. 1942, c. 1675

I: A: B: Doe in the presence of Almighty god, & my ffellowes, & Brethren, here present, promise and declare, that I will not at any time, hereafter, by any Act or Circumstance whatsoever, Directly, or Indirectly, Publish, discover, reveale, or make knowne, any of the secrets, priviledges, or Counsells, of the ffraternity or fellowship of ffree Masonry, which at this time, or any time hereafter, shalbee made knowne vnto mee, soe helpe mee god, & the holy contents of this booke.


Sloane MS. 3329, c. 1700

The mason word and every thing therein contained you shall keep secrett you shall never put it in writing directly or Indirectly you shall keep all that we or your attenders shall bid you keep secret from Man Woman or Child Stock or Stone and never reveal it but to a brother or in a Lodge of Freemasons and truly observe the Charges in ye Constituc[i]on all this you promise and swere faithfully to keep and observe without any manner of Equivocation or mentall Resarvation directly or Indirectly so help you god and by the Contents of this book

Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696

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.

Oaths of secrecy being comparatively late additions to the MS. Constitutions, and then only to a few versions, we are disposed to think that the similarity between them and the oaths in the catechisms is accounted for by the former being inserted under the influence of the latter. In our opinion, as we have endeavoured to show elsewhere (Masonic History Old and New and Second Thoughts on Masonic History Old and New), English accepted masons of the seventeenth century obtained from Scotland their knowledge of the Mason Word and all that it implied; consequently, it is not unlikely that an oath of secrecy was introduced into certain English versions of the Old Charges at that period by accepted masons, under the influence of phrases and practices associated with the giving of the Mason Word in Scotland.

Oaths of secrecy being comparatively late additions to the MS. Constitutions, and then only to a few versions, we are disposed to think that the similarity between them and the oaths in the catechisms is accounted for by the former being inserted under the influence of the latter. In our opinion, as we have endeavoured to show elsewhere (Masonic History Old and New and Second Thoughts on Masonic History Old and New), English accepted masons of the seventeenth century obtained from Scotland their knowledge of the Mason Word and all that it implied; consequently, it is not unlikely that an oath of secrecy was introduced into certain English versions of the Old Charges at that period by accepted masons, under the influence of phrases and practices associated with the giving of the Mason Word in Scotland.

Authenticity of the Printed Catechisms

In the previous section, we have endeavoured to show that the main features of early masonic operative working, as deduced from such independent seventeenth-century evidence as is available, correspond fairly closely with the picture given by the early masonic catechisms, more particularly by certain of the manuscript versions. It so happens that these are rather older than any of the printed versions, and even if they themselves were not written before c. 1700, they may represent a working that is several decades older. The printed versions, assuming they are genuine, relate to the period 1723-30, by which date the seventeenth-century working may well have undergone considerable modifications, a problem which we discuss below. In consequence of such modifications, no very close correspondence with early operative working, as depicted by independent seventeenth­century evidence, can be expected.

The authenticity of the Dumfries No. 4 MS., a masonic catechism combined with a version of the Old Charges and a disquisition on King Solomon’s Temple, can hardly be questioned, as it has almost certainly belonged to the Old Lodge of Dumfries (now Dumfries Kilwinning No. 53) ever since it was first written early in the eighteenth century. At one time it was probably employed at Lodge meetings, as it shows signs of considerable use. Nothing is known of the early history of the Edinburgh Register House MS. (apart from its probably having belonged to a lawyer in the eighteenth century), but as it shows signs of having been folded and considerably used, it seems not unlikely that at one period it was a mason’s aide mémoire, and the same thing would appear to be true of the Trinity College, Dublin, MS. In any case, a MS. catechism is far less likely to have been a hoax or forgery than a printed version offered for sale, and it is the authenticity of the printed versions which particularly calls for investigation. Leaving aside the doggerel verse or rhyming jingles in certain versions, and archaic and corrupt expressions, which suggest an element of antiquity, if not of genuineness, and leaving aside, also, the ready sale, over a long period of years, of successive editions of Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, which seems to imply a masonic demand and recognition so far as Prichard’s pamphlet is concerned, two methods of approaching our problem suggest themselves. One is to examine the relationship existing between the printed catechisms and the MS. catechisms, the genuineness of at least some of the latter being taken for granted; the other is to study the reaction of the Craft to the publication of the printed catechisms. A third method of approaching the problem, which may suggest itself to the reader, would be to trace possible similarities between early printed catechisms and modern ritual. That, however, would be inconclusive, because, supposing similarities could be traced, it would be uncertain whether the elements in question existed in masonry prior to 1723 (when the first catechism was printed), or whether they had been introduced into freemasonry at a later date, possibly as a result of influence exercised by the publication of the catechisms. Conversely, supposing no similarities could be traced, it would be no proof that the printed catechisms were unauthentic. They might give a correct picture of early eighteenth-century working, which had been so modified in the course of two centuries as to be no longer recognizable in the light of modern ritual.

Relationship of printed to MS. catechisms. A careful perusal first of the MS. catechisms and then of the printed catechisms printed below cannot fail to leave on the mind of the reader a general impression of similarity or affinity, many of the questions and answers of the MS. versions being more or less accurately repeated in the printed docu­ments. This is true even of The Grand Mystery Laid Open, which in certain respects, with its cabbalistic, or professedly cabbalistic, words, strikes out a fine of its own, for which no confirmation has been found in any early masonic document so far discovered, apart from the reference to “Caballistical Philosophy” in A Letter from the Grand Mistress, 1724. The general similarity of question and answer in the printed and MS. catechisms suggests that the compilers of the printed catechisms had access to versions of the MS. catechisms. This is suggested even more forcibly by the structure of the printed catechisms, which follows that of the MS. catechisms closely, whereas had they been independently compiled, one would have expected something different. Thus the Edinburgh Register House MS., which may be taken as typical of the older MS. catechisms, 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 questions used to test a mason before acknowledging him, obviously presupposed that the examinee had previously been through his ceremony of admission, and several of the questions definitely relate to the conditions of admittance. The test questions and answers give little or no indication as to the nature of the ceremony of admittance, which has to be deduced from “the forme of giveing the mason word”, That indicates, though only in a very general way, what was to be said to the candidate, and what he was to say. The printed catechisms largely adopt the same structure, i.e., a brief description or narrative of the ceremony, plus a series of questions to be put to those who have already gone through the ceremony, together with the answers expected of them.

If the compilers of the printed catechisms had never seen a version of the MS. catechisms, it is very unlikely that they would have elaborated what were once correctly described as questions to be put to those who professed to have the Mason Word before acknowledging them, and that they should have offered such catechisms to the public as an account of the regular proceedings in admitting new members. One would have expected them to give something which might prima facie have been the ritual of a ceremony of admission. It is always possible that the questions and answers were rehearsed at lodge meetings, either when no candidate was being admitted, or after the admission of a candidate, in order to refresh the memory of, or to instruct, the masons present, just as the Mason Charter, or Aberdeen MS., to judge by the heading in the Mark Book of the Lodge of Aberdeen: “A discourse hade before A Meeting of Meassones commonly caled the Measson Charter”, was read or recited at each meeting of the Lodge. Nevertheless it is to “the forme of giveing the mason word”, or what corresponds to that in the printed catechisms, that we must look for an indication of the ceremony of admission, and on that subject the printed catechisms are hardly more explicit than the MS. catechisms. It is not improbable that the ceremonies of admitting accepted masons were still in a somewhat fluid condition as late as 1730, and that they consisted partly at least of addresses, or charges, or explanations, which had not as yet become stereotyped. Taking everything into account, we are disposed to think that versions of the MS. catechisms, rather than any actual ceremonies of admission, served as a basis for the printed catechisms.

With this suggestion in mind, two of the printed catechisms may be examined more closely. It so happens that two manuscript versions of the printed catechism, The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, 1724, have survived, viz., Institution of Free Masons, of the first half of the eighteenth century, and the first part of the Essex MS. of c. 1750. The text of the Institution differs in so many respects from that of the Grand Mystery, as a study of the two documents printed below will show, that we can have no hesitation in saying that the manuscript version was not copied from the printed version, or vice versa, and in the opinion of Bro. Poole (A.Q.C., xxxvii, 10) the same is true of the first part of the Essex MS. All three are doubtless descended from a common ancestor, though the exact fine of descent has not been determined. It seems, however, safe to conclude that the printed version was based on a pre-existing manuscript version. Similarly, there have survived two manuscript versions of the printed catechism, The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, 1725, viz., the masonic examination contained in the Graham MS., 1726, and the second part of the Essex MS. of c. 1750. Whilst there is a good deal that is common to all three, there are features common to the Graham and the Whole Institutions only, and there are others common to the Graham and the Essex only, whilst the Graham has some questions and answers which do not occur in either of the other two. Thus it seems probable that none of the three was copied from the other two, but that all three are descended from a common ancestor, presumably manuscript. What was almost certainly true of the Grand Mystery and of the Whole Institutions being copies of pre-existing MS. catechisms, was probably true of A Mason’s Examination, to judge by the two blanks in the printed version, and of the other printed catechisms. The problem of the extent to which the manuscript and printed catechisms reflect the ceremony of admitting an accepted or speculative mason is discussed in a later section of this Introduction.

Reaction of the Craft to the publication of the Catechisms. 1. With regard to A Mason’s Examination, printed in the Post-Boy of April 11-13, 1723, we have the following statement made in The Free-Masons Accusation and Defence (pp. 35-6), a pamphlet published in 1726:—

I remember, when I was last in Town, there was a Specimen of their Examinations published in the Post-Boy; but so industrious were the Masons to suppress it, that in a Week’s time not one of the Papers was to be found; where-ever they saw ’em they made away with them. They went from Coffee-house to Coffee-house, and tore them privately out of the Books. Those they could not come at so easily they bought, even at the extravagant Price of 2s. 6d. and 5s. a Paper. By this means there is hardly one to be met with . . .

The Free-Masons were prodigiously nettled at the Pubheation of this Post-Boy; yet, according to their wonted Assurance, they put a good Face on the Matter, and said there was nothing in it; but, at the same time, huddled up the Affair with all the Privacy imaginable; and presently put out a sham Discovery to invalidate the other. But you may depend upon it, that in the Post-Boy is a genuine Discovery. . .

As the object of the pamphlet was to injure the Fraternity, the statements must be accepted with reserve. The semi-official attitude of the Craft towards the catechism and a possible sham discovery is probably reflected in the last stanza of the swordbearer’s song, printed in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738:—

Then let us laugh, since we’ve impos’d
On those who make a Pother,
And cry, the Secret is disclos’d
By some false-hearted Brother.
The mighty Secret gain’d, they boast,
From Post-Boy, or from Flying-Boy. [? Post]

2. The publication of The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, which was advertised for sale on 10 January 1723/4, possibly led to the appearance of an anonymous letter on The Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses, printed in Read’s Weekly Journal of 25 January 1723/4. It is a mock parallel between the Brotherhood of Freemasons and the Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses. Lepper and Crossle (p. 446) describe it as a travesty which professes to ridicule the Grand Mystery, but we have to confess that apart from the date of its publication (and that may be quite fortuitous) we can find nothing to connect it with the Grand Mystery; it does not give us the impression of being a caricature of an intended exposure of freemasonry, but rather of being a skit on freemasonry and on women. However that may be, we print it among the Possible Rejoinders, so that the reader may form his own opinion of the nature of the document.

In 1724, also, probably in August, there appeared in Dublin A Letter from the Grand Mistress of Female Free-Masons, an anonymous pamphlet described by Chetwode Crawley (Introductory Chapter to Sadler’s Masonic Reprints) and by Lepper and Crossle (p. 446) as a caricature of the Grand Mystery. Most of their comments are devoted to the problem of the authorship of the pamphlet (see our Introductory Note to the text), and they rather take its nature for granted. Our immediate problem is (i) whether it is a travesty of a so-called ‘exposure’ of freemasonry; (ii) if so, whether that exposure was the Grand Mystery; or (iii) whether it was a sham disclosure; or (iv) whether it was intended as a genuine exposure.

About one-third of the way through the pamphlet there is a short paragraph which refers to a publication issued to mislead the public:

It is worth observing, that a certain Lodge in Town Publish’d sometime ago a Sheet full of Mock-Masonry, purely to puzzel and banter the Town, with several false Signs and Words as Mada or Adam, Writ backwards, Boas, Nimrod, Jakins, Pectoral, Gutteral, &c.

This description does not apply very aptly to the Grand Mystery, or to the only other exposure printed before August 1724 with which we are acquainted, viz., A Mason’s Examination. On the other hand, it might be a reference to the ‘sham discovery’ put out by the free­masons, according to The Free-Masons Accusation and Defence (see p. 13 above), shortly after the appearance of A Mason’s Examination, in April 1723. We have suggested in a footnote on p. 13 that this ‘sham discovery’ was possibly the anonymous Briscoe pamphlet. As that included a version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, it embodied an ‘historical’ or legendary account of masonry, and this might explain why the Letter devoted so much space to the ‘history’ of masonry. The Briscoe pamphlet also contains numerous ‘signs’; on the other hand, it contains no ‘words’, and was not issued as a ‘sheet’ so far as we are aware. If the Letter is a rejoinder to an exposure, or to a mock disclosure, printed in or before August 1724, we do not think that it was aimed at the Grand Mystery, or even at the Briscoe pamphlet, but rather at some document as yet undiscovered. The various documents to which we have just referred by name were all printed in London. As, however, the Letter was published in Dublin, it may well be that the ‘Town’ mentioned in the early part of the paragraph quoted, as the seat of the Lodge which published “ a sheet full of Mock-Masonry”, was not London, but Dublin. In that case, the ‘sheet’ was probably printed in Dublin and remains undiscovered, as no such Irish ‘sham discovery’, or ‘tease’, as it would have been called in the eighteenth century, has been traced to our knowledge.

The early part of the Letter, which states that freemasons refuse to swear by the New Testament, is possibly a reference to the fact that the Christian basis of freemasonry had been affected by deistic doctrine (see our Freemasonry and the Idea of Natural Religion), though there is no reason to suppose that the deistic attitude was more favourable to the Old Testament than to the New. Some reference may be intended to the admission of Jews into the Craft. The ‘historical’ matter at which fun is poked could be found not only in the Briscoe pamphlet of 1724, but also in the Roberts Constitutions of 1722, and in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, or in almost any version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry. On the other hand, it is not until 1726 that we find a printed catechism, The Grand Mystery Laid Open, stressing the connection between masonry and the Cabbala. In view of the fact, however, that nothing is known of the “sheet full of Mock-Masonry” referred to in the Letter, it is impossible to say with any certainty whether it was written with the object of making fun of that particular ‘sheet’, or of some other undiscovered document of a similar kind, or whether it was merely a ‘sham discovery’ or ‘tease’ the publication of which was suggested by the appearance of such a sheet. In certain respects the Letter appears to be a parody of contemporary popular ideas concerning freemasonry, though it is perhaps noteworthy that it does not parody ‘The Free-Masons Song’ which it prints correctly, but wrongly attributes to Anderson instead of to Matthew Birkhead, who is clearly stated in Anderson’s Constitutions to be the author of the song, there printed under the title “The Enter’d ’Prentices Song”, This rather suggests that the writer of the Letter had never seen a copy of Anderson’s Constitutions, which does not make the problem of the elucidation of the Letter and its authorship any easier. Nevertheless, we think it may be a sham disclosure, interlarded with some elements of truth, intended to mislead the general public. For example, it is quite possible that the episode of the Lodge at Omagh may actually have occurred, i.e., that some masons got so drunk in their tavern at Omagh that they could not complete an admission ceremony. On the other hand, the possibility that the Letter was intended as a genuine discovery of masonic secrets cannot be excluded, even though it does not take the usual form of a Catechism. On the whole, as between a sham disclosure and a supposed genuine discovery of masonic secrets, we are inclined to favour the former solution. As between a sham disclosure (conceivably inspired by the publication of a sheet full of mock masonry) and the travesty of a mock disclosure so far undiscovered, the distinction may be more apparent than real. For want of any certainty as to the true character of the Letter, we print it among the Possible Rejoinders.

It was probably in the following year, 1725, that there was printed, also in Dublin, an anonymous and undated broadsheet, The Free-Masons Vindication, being an Answer to a Scandalous Libel, entituled the Grand Mistery of the Free Masons, discover’d. This definite rejoinder to the Grand Mystery was professedly by a freemason; whether the author of the Letter from the Grand Mistress was a freemason is uncertain; the Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses, whatever its connection, if any, with the Grand Mystery, gives the impression of being the fantasy of a journalist seeking to fill a gap in a newspaper. Even if these documents were all three written by freemasons, they were clearly unofficial publications.

3. The Mystery of Free-Masonry, printed in the Daily Journal, 15 August 1730, led Grand Lodge to take action, as is shown by the following extract from the minutes of Grand Lodge, under date of 28 August 1730 (Q.C.A., x, 128):—

Dr. Desaguliers stood up and (taking Notice of a printed Paper lately published and dispersed about the Town, and since inserted in the News Papers, pretending to discover and reveal the Misteries of the Craft of Masonry) recommended several things to the Consideration of the Grand Lodge, particularly the Resolution of the last Quarterly Communication for preventing any false Brethren being admitted into regular Lodges and such as call themselves Honorary Masons.

The Deputy Grand Master seconded the Doctor and proposed several Rules to the Grand Lodge to be observed in their respective Lodges for their Security against all open and Secret Enemies to the Craft.

Neither the ‘Resolution’ referred to by Dr. Desaguliers, nor the ‘Rules’ proposed by the Deputy Grand Master, are recorded in the minutes of Grand Lodge.

4. The publication of Prichard’s Masonry Dissected in October 1730 is also referred to in the minutes of Grand Lodge, under date of 15 December 1730 (Q.C.A., x, 135-6):

The Deputy Grand Master took notice of a Pamphlet lately published by one Pritchard who pretends to have been made a regular Mason: In Violation of the Obligation of a Mason wch he swears he has broke in order to do hurt to Masonry and expressing himself with the utmost Indignation against both him (stiling him an Impostor) and of his Book as a foolish thing not to be regarded. But in order to prevent the Lodges being imposed upon by false Brethren or Impostors: Proposed till otherwise Ordered by the Grand Lodge, that no Person whatsoever should be admitted into Lodges unless some Member of the Lodge then present would vouch for such visiting Brothers being a regular Mason, and the Member’s Name to be entred against the Visitor’s Name in the Lodge Book, which Proposal was unanimously agreed to.

On the same day, 15 December 1730, there was announced in the Daily Post the publication “this day” of a reply to Prichard’s pamphlet, A Defence of Masonry, occasioned by a Pamphlet called Masonry Dissected. This anonymous pamphlet was reprinted in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738 and in Smith’s Pocket Companion of the same year, so that it must be regarded as enjoying at least semi-official approval. There was also published in 1730, probably prior to the appearance, of A Defence of Masonry, another anonymous reply to Prichard, viz., The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected. We print the three definite rejoinders to early catechisms immediately following the last of the catechisms.

The two lines of approach to the problem of the authenticity of the printed catechisms, viz., the relation of the printed to the MS. catechisms, and the reaction of the Craft to the publication of the catechisms, both suggest that the printed catechisms deserve a good deal more study than Gould would have us believe when he wrote (A.Q.C., iv, 34):

Of one and all of these publications, it may be safely affirmed that the only persons who at any time have been deceived by them, were the extremely credulous purchasers upon whom they were palmed off as genuine revelations.

Classification of the Early Catechisms

Whereas the hundred or so versions of the Old Charges (apart from half a dozen sundry versions) have been grouped into eight families, of which only the Regius MS. is in a class by itself, the sixteen catechisms with which we are concerned, or eighteen if we count the two catechisms of the Essex MS., and the two catechisms of the Chesham MS. separately, do not appear to lend themselves to any simple system of classification: they are characterized far more by differences than by similarities. The exceptions appear to be as follows: (i) The Edinburgh Register House MS. and the Chetwode Crawley MS. are closely related, though the second part of the one comes first in the other, and vice versa. Of the questions and answers, two-thirds are exactly alike, and one-third approximately so, apart from one question and answer in the former MS. which has no counterpart in the latter MS. The form of giving the Mason Word, as set out in the two MSS., is very similar, though not identical, (ii) The masonic questions and answers in the Graham MS. have a close affinity to the catechism in The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, and to that in the second part of the Essex MS. On the other hand, the legendary matter of the Graham MS. bears little resemblance to that in any other masonic document so far discovered. (iii) The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, the Institution of Free Masons, and the first part of the Essex MS. are almost certainly descended from a common ancestor, as stated above. (iv) The Mystery of Free-Masonry appears to be almost exactly copied in the first part of the Chesham MS. (v) Prichard’s Masonry Dissected would seem to have served as the original for the second part of the Chesham MS. Apart from these five groups, comprising twelve documents, there are six other catechisms, Sloane MS. 3329, Dumfries No. 4 MS., Trinity College, Dublin, MS., A Mason’s Examination, The Grand Mystery Laid Open, and A Mason’s Confession, none of which bears a close affinity to any other known document. At the present time there is not sufficient material available to formulate a satisfactory classification.

Evolution of the Early Catechisms

As the development of operative into speculative masonry was almost certainly slow, extending over several generations, it would be unreasonable to expect to be able to trace much development in the early catechisms during such a short period as the thirty-four years from 1696 to 1730. If, however, our former suggestion (see above) is borne in mind, that the Edinburgh Register House and Chetwode Crawley MSS. possibly represent an operative working which existed some decades before the date at which the documents were written, it will be realized that the catechisms printed in this volume may provide evidence relating to a longer period than thirty-four years. Further, it so happens that whereas The Mystery of Free-Masonry, published in August 1730, still resembles fairly closely the earlier printed catechisms, Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, published in October 1730, is the first of a new and more elaborate type of catechism. Thus our documents can be divided into four groups:

1. The Edinburgh Register House and Chetwode Crawley MSS. not improbably represent Scottish operative working in the later decades of the seventeenth century. Four features of these catechisms, which tend to disappear in those belonging to later groups, are (i) the words of entry [found only in A Mason’s Confession]; (ii) allusions to horseplay [found only in A Mason’s Examination]; (iii) reference to the Mason Word [found only in A Mason’s Confession and in [Sloane MS. 3329]; and (iv) the distinction between those who have been in the kitchen and those who have been in the hall [found only in A Mason’s Examination and in The Mystery of Free-Masonry]. In this connection it may be pointed out that The Mystery of Free-Masonry refers in a note to the Master’s word and signs (communicated to those who have passed the Master’s Part), but gives no indication of the ceremony or secrets connected with the Master’s Part.

2. A Mason’s Confession professedly represents Scottish operative working in the third decade of the eighteenth century. It is a good deal fuller than the Edinburgh Register House MS., but whether the new matter is due to the writer’s imagination, or to his desire to give a reasonably complete account of the ceremony, or to genuine development of the working between 1696 and 1727, it is impossible to say.

3. The main body of the catechisms supposedly or professedly exhibit the ceremonies of accepted or speculative masons during the first three decades of the eighteenth century. They by no means all tell the same story, but that does not necessarily detract from their possible correctness, as it would be very surprising if all lodges at that period followed a uniform system of working. This group of catechisms contains various questions and answers not found in those of the first group, e.g., (a) certain questions relating to architecture, and (b) certain symbohcal questions and answers concerning the height of the lodge, the number of pillars in the lodge, and the colour of the master’s habit. This new interest in architecture and symbohsm suggests the growing influence of accepted or speculative masons.

4. Prichard’s Masonry Dissected claims to give an impartial account of the regular proceedings in initiating new members in the whole three degrees of masonry. The changes which can first definitely be traced in this catechism are of considerable importance, (i) New matter is introduced, more particularly the Hiramic Legend and an explanation of the Letter G, yet it would be a mistake to think that Prichard invented either of these developments. A reference to the Letter G occurs in 1726; also, the rather archaic doggerel verse in which it is handled suggests some measure of antiquity. The earlier existence of the Hiramic Legend is suggested by the advertisement of 1726, quoted by Sadler, referring to “the whole history of the widow’s son killed by the blow of a beetle”; further — Anderson’s long footnote on Hiram in the Constitutions of 1723 makes it not impossible that masons were acquainted with a version of the story as early as that year, (ii) The working is divided into three degrees. Here again Prichard was certainly not the inventor of a new system. Pennell in 1730, in his Irish edition of the Constitutions, published, according to Chetwode Crawley, a few weeks before Masonry Dissected, refers to three degrees, viz., those of (a) Brother [= Entered Apprentice], (b) Fellow-Craft, and (c) Master, but gives no indication as to how the working was divided. In a speech delivered on 27 December 1726, Francis Drake, Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of All England at York, states that “three parts in four of the whole earth might be divided into E.P., F.C. and M.M.”, which suggests the existence of three degrees. The Graham MS. of 1726 refers to (a) entering, (b) passing, and (c) raising and conforming candidates by three several lodges. From the minute book of the Philo-Musicæ et Architecturæ Societas we learn that certain persons were (a) made masons, (b) passed fellow crafts and (c) passed masters in London in 1725. The Sloane MS. 3329 of c. 1700 defines a just and perfect lodge as consisting of two ‘interprintices’, two ‘fellow craftes’ and two masters, but does not appear to contemplate more than two sets of secrets. The earliest reference so far traced to a division of esoteric knowledge into three, is that in the Trinity College, Dublin, MS. of 1711, which distinguishes three classes of mason, each with its own secrets, but makes no attempt to divide the working into three, (iii) The earlier catechisms either give a description or narrative of the ceremony (or form of giving the Mason Word) together with test questions and answers, or omit any description of the ceremony and content themselves with test questions and answers from which very little or any idea of the nature of the ceremony can be deduced. Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, on the other hand, omits the independent descriptive section, but introduces what is more or less an account of the ceremonies into the questions and answers. Although these are a good deal fuller than in any previous catechism, they still retain the form of questions addressed to someone who has already been admitted, and answers rehearsing what happened at a ceremony of admission. The account they give of the ceremonies may be more or less correct, so far as it goes, but we are of opinion that in any case it is not a complete account of the ceremonies. Like the other early catechisms, it contains, for example, no reference to a prayer, or to a charge to newly admitted brethren, both of which, there is reason to beheve, formed part of the ceremonies. The nature of the rites of accepted or early speculative masons is discussed in the following section.

Accepted or Early Speculative Ceremonies

Murray Lyon has described Desaguliers as the co-fabricator and pioneer of the system of symbolical masonry. Again, both Begemann and Vibert have questioned Anderson’s claim that the manner of constituting a new lodge and of installing a master (as given in his Constitutions) was “according to the ancient Usages of Masons”, which seems to imply that they attribute the invention of the ceremony to Anderson or his contemporaries. This conception of how masonic changes came about appears, however, to be contrary to the weight of the available evidence, which points to the transition from operative to speculative masonry being a slow growth extending over several generations. Developments which can first definitely be traced c. 1730 almost certainly had roots back in the late seventeenth century, and possibly earlier. We have already indicated that Prichard was not the fabricator of the trigradal system, although his Masonry Dissected is the earliest known catechism to give a fully-fledged division of masonic working into three ceremonies. Similarly, we do not think that Anderson was the inventor of the Installation Ceremony first described in his Constitutions of 1723. Nor do we think that Pennell was the composer of the following opening prayer, which has first been traced in his Constitutions of 1730:

MOST Holy and Glorious LORD GOD, thou great Architect of Heaven and Earth, who art the Giver of all good Gifts and Graces; and hast promis’d that where two or three are gathered together in thy Name, thou wilt be in the Midst of them; in thy Name we assemble and meet together, most humbly beseeching thee to bless us in all our Undertakings, to give us thy Holy Spirit, to enlighten our Minds with Wisdom and Understanding, that we may know, and serve thee aright, that all our Doings may tend to thy Glory, and the Salvation of our Souls.

[To be added when any Man is made.] And we beseech thee, O LORD GOD, to bless this our present undertaking and grant that this, our new Brother, may dedicate his Life to thy Service, and be a true and faithful Brother Man among us, endue him with divine Wisdom, that he may, with the Secrets of Masonry, be able to unfold the Mysteries of Godliness and Christianity.

This we humbly beg in the Name and for the sake of JESUS CHRIST our LORD and SAVIOUR.


Nor do we think that ‘W. Smith’ was the compiler of the following “Charge to new admitted Brethren”, first published in his Pocket Companion of 1734-5:

You are now admitted by the unanimous Consent of our Lodge, a Fellow of our most Antient and Honourable Society; Antient, as having subsisted from Times immemorial, and Honourable, as tending in every Particular to render a Man so that will be but conformable to its glorious Precepts. The greatest Monarchs in all Ages, as well of Asia and Africa as of Europe, have been Encouragers of the Royal Art; and many of them have presided as Grand-Masters over the Masons in their respective Territories, not thinking it any lessening to their Imperial Dignities to level themselves with their Brethren in Masonry, and to act as they did.

The World’s great Architect is our Supreme Master, and the unerring Rule he has given us, is that by which we Work.

Religious Disputes are never suffered in the Lodge; for as Masons, we only pursue the universal Religion, or the Religion of Nature. This is the Cement which unites Men of the most different Principles in one sacred Band, and brings together those who were the most distant from one onother (sic).

There are three general Heads of Duty which Masons ought always to inculcate, viz. to God, our Neighbours, and Ourselves.

To God, in never mentioning his Name but with that Reverential Awe which becomes a Creature to bear to his Creator, and to look upon him always as the Sum[m]Bonum which we came into the World to enjoy; and according to that View to regulate all our Pursuits.

To our Neighbours, in acting upon the Square, or doing as we would be done by.

To Ourselves, in avoiding all Intemperances and Excesses, whereby we may be rendered incapable of following our Work, or led into Behaviour unbecoming our laudable Profession, and, in always keeping within due Bounds, and free from all Pollution.

In the State, a Mason is to behave as a peaceable and dutiful Subject, conforming chearfully to the Government under which he lives.

He is to pay a due Deference to his Superiors, and from his Inferiors he is rather to receive Honour with some Reluctance, than to extort it.

He is to be a Man of Benevolence and Charity, not sitting down contented while his Fellow Creatures, but much more his Brethren, are in Want, when it is in his Power (without prejudicing himself or Family) to relieve them.

In the Lodge, he is to behave with all due Decorum, lest the Beauty and Harmony thereof should be disturbed or broke.

He is to be obedient to the Master and presiding Officers, and to apply himself closely to the Business of Masonry, that he may sooner become a Proficient therein, both for his own Credit, and for that of the Lodge.

He is not to neglect his own necessary Avocations for the sake of Masonry, nor to involve himself in Quarrels with those who through Ignorance may speak evil of, or ridicule it.

He is to be a Lover of the Arts and Sciences, and to take all Opportunities of improving himself therein.

If he recommends a Friend to be made a Mason, he must vouch him to be such as he really believes will conform to the aforesaid Duties, lest by his Misconduct at any Time the Lodge should pass under some evil Imputations. Nothing can prove more shocking to all faithful Masons, than to see any of their Brethren profane or break through the sacred Rules of their Order, and such as can do it they wish had never been admitted.

As indicated in a previous section, early operative working in Scotland consisted of (a) the reading of a version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, or Old Charges, including an Opening Prayer, (b) the communication of the Mason Word and all thereby implied, and possibly (c) a rehearsal of the questions and answers used to test those who claimed to have the Mason Word. Gentleman masons in Scotland were received into lodges of operative masons with the same ceremonies as working masons, except that usually they were admitted Entered Apprentices, and Fellow Crafts or Masters on one and the same occasion. Gentleman masons in England were originally received into lodges of accepted masons with similar ceremonies to those which prevailed in lodges of operative masons in Scotland, the reading of a version of the Old Charges being an essential element. In the case of the occasional or semi-permanent lodges of accepted masons which have been traced in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century in London and at Warrington, Chester, York and Scarborough, there is some evidence to suggest that a version of the MS. Constitutions played a part in the ceremony of admission. The fact that numerous versions of the Old Charges were copied in the last quarter of the seventeenth and the first quarter of the eighteenth centuries, and the reference in Plot (Natural History of Staffordshire) to the fact that members of the Society of Freemasons had a large volume containing the history and rules of the craft of masonry, both point to the importance attached to the Old Charges by the accepted masons.

By 1735 the ceremony of acceptance had undergone great changes, if the catechism contained in Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, the Prayer contained in Pennell’s Constitutions, and the ‘Charge to new admitted Brethren’ printed in Smith’s Pocket Companion are any guide to contemporary practice. This, to some extent at least, they must be, as Pennell’s publication was the acknowledged Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and as the Dublin edition of Smith’s Pocket Companion, published in 1735, contains an approbation by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. It is true that the evidence is Irish and not English, but until about 1735 English and Irish masonry would appear to have been practically identical. If, as we are firmly convinced, the transition from the operative rites of c. 1685 to the accepted rites of c. 1735 was a gradual evolution and not a sudden revolution, then a prayer and a charge, which in one form appeared in the rites of c. 1685 and in another form appeared in the rites of c. 1735, had undoubtedly in some shape or other, played their part in masonic ceremonies in the intervening years. Consequently, we hold that Prichard’s Masonry Dissected and the other early catechisms, which contain neither prayer nor charge, do not give a complete picture of masonic ceremonies in 1730, even if they are reliable in other respects.

In the interval between c. 1680 and c. 1730, accepted masons gradually introduced various modifications into the ceremonies. The changes, however, were by no means completed by 1730, and the process of expansion and evolution went on right through the eighteenth century. Among the changes gradually introduced were the division of the esoteric knowledge, and subsequently of the whole ritual, into three parts; the elaboration of the opening prayer; and the re-casting and re-orientation of the charges of the MS. Constitutions. The extent to which changes had been effected in these particular directions by c. 1730, though not the extent to which they had been adopted, can be traced from the surviving evidence. There is, however, at least one other modification of operative ritual which may very well have been introduced before 1730, but in support of which no direct evidence can be quoted. We refer to the possibility that some observations concerning charity were addressed to the candidate on his admission. The only reference to charity contained in most versions of the MS. Constitutions is the charge to receive and cherish strange masons, either by setting them to work for at least a fortnight, or by refreshing them with money to the next lodge. On the other hand, the Statutes of 1670 of the Lodge of Aberdeen contain regulations about the Mason Box for the support of distressed brethren, and Dumfries No. 4 MS., of the early eighteenth century, enjoins operative masons to relieve the poor. That the operative masons’ practice of relieving brethren in distress had been adopted by the accepted masons as early as the 1680’s is suggested by Aubrey’s statement of 1686 that “when any of them fall into decay, the brotherhood is to relieve him.” There is also a reference in the Dublin Tripos of 1688 to the help given to a reduced brother by the Fraternity of Freemasons in and about Trinity College. In the early days of Grand Lodge, as we learn from the Constitutions of 1723, every candidate had to make a voluntary contribution, in addition to the small allowance stated in the by-laws of the particular lodge, for the relief of indigent and decayed brethren, and it seems not merely possible, but almost probable, that some reference to charity was made when a candidate was admitted. Thus in this respect, also, the early catechisms probably do not reflect accurately the ceremony of acceptance.

As the manner of constituting a new lodge and of installing the master (contained in a Postscript to Anderson’s. Constitutions of 1723) is the earliest official account we possess of a masonic ceremony, we reprint it here in full:

A New Lodge, for avoiding many Irregularities, should be solemnly constituted by the Grand-Master, with his Deputy and Wardens, or in the Grand-Master’s Absence, the Deputy shall act for his Worship, and shall chuse some Master of a Lodge to assist him; or in case the Deputy is absent, the Grand-Master shall call forth some Master of a Lodge to act as Deputy pro tempore.

The Candidates, or the new Master and Wardens, being yet among the Fellow-Craft, the Grand-Master shall ask his Deputy if he has examin’d them, and finds the Candidate Master well skill’d in the noble Science and the royal Art, and duly instructed in our Mysteries, &c.

And the Deputy, answering in the affirmative, he shall (by the Grand-Master’s Order) take the Candidate from among his Fellows, and present him to the Grand-Master; saying, Right Worshipful Grand-Master, the Brethren here desire to be form’d into a new Lodge; and I present this my worthy Brother to be their Master, whom I know to be of good Morals and great Skill, true and trusty, and a Lover of the whole Fraternity, wheresoever dispers’d over the Face of the Earth.

Then the Grand-Master, placing the Candidate on his left Hand, having ask’d and obtain’d the unanimous Consent of all the Brethren, shall say; I constitute and form these good Brethren into a new Lodge, and appoint you the Master of it, not doubting of your Capacity and Care to preserve the Cement of the Lodge &c. with some other Expressions that are proper and usual on that Occasion, but not proper to be written.

Upon this the Deputy shall rehearse the Charges of a Master, and the Grand-Master shall ask the Candidate, saying, Do you submit to these Charges, as Masters have done in all Ages? And the Candidate signifying his cordial Submission thereunto, the Grand-Master shall, by certain significant Ceremonies and ancient Usages, install him, and present him with the Constitutions, the Lodge-Book, and the Instruments of his Office, not all together, but one after another; and after each of them, the Grand-Master, or his Deputy, shall rehearse the short and pithy Charge that is suitable to the thing presented.

After this, the Members of this new Lodge, bowing all together to the Grand-Master, shall return his Worship Thanks, and immediately do their Homage to their new Master, and signify their Promise of Subjection and Obedience to him by the usual Congratulation.

The Deputy and the Grand-Wardens, and any other Brethren present, that are not Members of this new Lodge, shall next congratulate the new Master; and he shall return his becoming Acknowledgements to the Grand-Master first, and to the rest in their Order.

Then the Grand-Master desires the new Master to enter immediately upon the Exercise of his Office, in chusing his Wardens: And the New Master calling forth two Fellow-Craft, presents them to the Grand-Master for his Approbation, and to the new Lodge for their Consent. And that being granted,

The senior or junior Grand-Warden, or some Brother for him, shall rehearse the Charges of Wardens; and the Candidates being solemnly ask’d by the new Master, shall signify their Submission thereunto.

Upon which the New Master, presenting them with the Instruments of their Office, shall, in due Form, install them in their proper Places; and the Brethren of that new Lodge shall signify their Obedience to the new Wardens by the usual Congratulation.

The general impression left on the mind of the reader by this description is that of dignified proceedings, very different from the ceremonies depicted in the earliest catechisms, with their “thousand ridiculous postures and grimaces” to frighten the candidate. It is, consequently, yet another piece of evidence which makes us doubt whether the catechisms accurately reflect the character of the ceremonies practised by the accepted masons. This account of the installation ceremony contains the first allusion known to us to “the Charges of a Master” (possibly the prototype either of the Antient Charges read by the Secretary to the Master Elect prior to his Installation, or of what is now called the Address to the Master), to the “Charges of Wardens” (possibly the prototype of what is now called the Address to the Wardens), and to “the short and pithy charge that is suitable to the thing presented,” which was to accompany the presentation of each of the instruments of office (the forerunner, possibly, of the practice of moralizing upon the working tools on occasions when they are presented to candidates). It is not impossible that this practice had been introduced by accepted masons at an earlier date, as the use of tools by freemasons is referred to by Randle Holme the third in a well-known passage in his Academic of Armory, published in 1688, though he does not indicate what the tools were, or how they were used. A much earlier reference to freemasons’ tools occurs in the London Freemasons’ Ordinances of 1509-10, where it is provided that the Wardens of the Freemasons shall have the power of search “with these ordenauncez that is to say plumme rule compas levell & squyer”. As the ordinances were concerned with the proper length, breadth and thickness of freestone, marblestone and hardstone, the presumption is that the tools were to be used, not figuratively, but operatively to test the stones in question. From Thomas Deloney, The Gentle Craft, London, 1597, we learn that the Brotherhood of Shoemakers required its journeyman members to be able to reckon up their tools in rhyme. It is, therefore, always conceivable that the operative masons at the end of the sixteenth century, or even earlier, had a somewhat similar custom, and that the practice was adopted and elaborated by the accepted masons. The fact, as Bro. Ivor Grantham has pointed out, that the expression used is “the short and pithy charge”, and not “a short and pithy charge”, seems to imply that the charge referred to was already in existence at the time when Anderson wrote.

Although we think it not unlikely that the double ceremony of constituting a lodge and installing the master, as described by Anderson, represented a considerable elaboration of any pre-existing practice, we do not believe that it was entirely new in 1722. There can be no question that the Lodge of Kilwinning had constituted daughter lodges in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, and the formalities (simple though they may have been) of installing the master of a lodge must have been a more frequent occurrence. If Anderson and his friends, such as Desaguliers and George Payne, were responsible for constructing the ceremony, it would seem unlikely that they would promptly allow it to be dropped out of use by the subordinate lodges under the premier Grand Lodge, as was actually the case. But it would seem even more unlikely that Laurence Dermott and the Grand Lodge of the Antients, who prided themselves on their adherence to old-established usages, would have been so enthusiastic about a ceremony invented by those whom they scornfully designated as the Moderns. They doubtless adopted it because it was approved by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which having been established within a couple of years of the publication of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, would hardly have been misled by Anderson’s claim that it was “according to the ancient Usages of Masons”, unless there were some grounds for believing that at least certain formalities connected with the installation of a new master had existed before Anderson’s time. In any case, it was undoubtedly the lodges of the Antients which worked the installation ceremony until it was re-introduced, early in the nineteenth century, into the lodges under the premier Grand Lodge.

The evidence reviewed in this section appears to support the view that various important changes in masonic working, which can be definitely traced only in the third or fourth decade of the eighteenth century, had actually originated at an earlier period, very possibly in the 1680’s, or even somewhat earlier. That considerable modifications of the operative working had probably been introduced by accepted masons by 1686 is also suggested by Aubrey’s statement that the manner of their adoption was very formal, a statement which would not apply very aptly to the somewhat crude practices associated in Scotland in the seventeenth century with the imparting of the Mason Word. Thus taking everything into account, there would seem fairly good grounds for thinking that the early masonic catechisms, written or printed before 1731, however reliable they may be in some respects, do not accurately reflect the character of the ceremonies practised by accepted masons in the first three decades of the eighteenth century.

Treatment of the Texts

The orthography, initial capitals and punctuation (or lack of punctuation) of the MS. catechisms, printed catechisms, and rejoinders have been carefully followed, with the exception that everywhere we print the old-fashioned long ſ as s. To save space, however, no attempt has been made to follow the lay-out of the originals, either line by line, or page by page. Further, in many cases small paragraphs of a line or two have been run together.

We have printed our transcripts of MS. catechisms in roman type throughout, using capitals for what appear to be headings, however written in the original. Where a particular text has required special treatment, the details are given in the introductory note to that document.

In the case of the printed catechisms and rejoinders, we have made no attempt to imitate the many varieties of type used in title pages, prefaces, etc.: the body of each document is, however, reproduced as in the original.

The catechisms are printed in what we believe to be chronological order; for this purpose Dumfries No. 4 MS. (fairly early eighteenth century) is treated as c. 1710; the Institution of Free Masons (first half of the eighteenth century) as c. 1725; and A Mason’s Confession (printed 1755) as though it were written in 1727, the year to which it claims to relate. The catechisms are followed by the rejoinders, also in chronological order, and they by the possible rejoinders, similarly arranged.

Footnotes occurring in the documents are indicated by asterisks and other signs. For numbered footnotes the Editors are responsible.



The Edinburgh Register House MS. 1696

This catechism was discovered early in 1930 by Bro. Charles T. Mclnnes in the Old Register House, Edinburgh, among a number of old documents transferred in 1808 from the Court of Session, Edinburgh, to the Historical Department of the Register House, but is apparently in no way related to any of the records among which it was found. Apart from this, the early history of the catechism is unknown. It consists of a double sheet of folio paper folded once to form four pages about 7" X 11½". The catechism was written on pp. 1, 2 and the top half of p. 3; the document was then folded into six, roughly 7" X 2", and shows considerable signs of use. Across the top of the outside was endorsed “Some Questiones Anent the mason word 1696”. It is catalogued in the Register House as Miscellaneous Papers No. 52. It was reproduced photographically on a reduced scale (about 3½" X 5¾") in A.Q.C., xliii, in 1932, and printed in Manc. Trans., xxii, in 1933, in both cases with an introduction by Bro. J. Mason Allan, who gave it the name by which it is now known to masonic students. The transcript we print is made from a photostat of the document. cf.Chetwode Crawley MS.

Treatment of the Text. In certain cases the writer joins two words together, e.g., ‘aperpend’, ‘aweel’, ‘amaster’; we print such formations as separate words.


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

Q. 2: How shall I know it? Ans: You shall know it in time and place convenient. Remark the forsd 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 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.

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 Solomon’s 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 master mason, the other the warden. The third the setter croft.

Q. 12: Are there any jewells in your lodge? Ans: Yes three—Perpend Esler [ashlar], a square pavement, and a broad ovall.

Q. 13: where shall j 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: aweel 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 thesignes, they will acknowledge you, but not amasSer 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.


Imprimis you are to take the person to take the word upon his knees and after a great many ceremonies to frighten him you make him take up the bible and laying his right hand on it you are to conjure him, to sec[r]ecie, By threatning that if [he] shall break his oath the sun in the firmament will be a witness agst him and all the company then present, which will be an occasion of his damnation and that likewise the masons will be sure to murder him, Then after he hes promised secrecie They give him the oath a[s] follows

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.

After he hes taken the oath he is removed out of the company, with the youngest mason, where after he is sufficiently frighted with 1000 ridicolous postures and grimmaces, He is to learn from the sd mason the manner of makeing his due guard whis [? = which] is the signe and the postures and words of his entrie which are as follows

ffirst when he enters again into the company he must make a ridiculous bow, then the signe and say God bless the honourable com­pany. Then putting off his hat after a very foolish manner only to be demonstrated then (as the rest of the signes are likewise) he sayes the words of his entrie which are as follows

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 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.

Then all the mason present whisper amongst themselves the word beginning at the youngest till it come to the master mason who gives the word to the entered apprentice.

Now it is to be remarked that all the signes and words as yet spoken of are only what belong to the entered apprentice, But to be a master mason or fellow craft there is more to be done which after follows.

ffirst all the prentices are to be removed out of the company and none suffered to stay but masters.

Then he who is to be admitted a member of fellowship is putt again to his knees, and gets the oat[h] administrated to him of new after­wards he must go out of the company with the youngest mason to learn the postures and signes of fellowship, then comeing in again, He makes the masters sign, and sayes the same words of entrie as the app[rent]ice did only leaving out the com[m]on Judge then the masons whisper the word among themselves begginning at the youngest as formerly afterwards the youngest mason must advance and put himself into the posture he is to receive the word and sayes to the eldest mason in whispering

The worthy masters and honourable company greet you weel, greet you weel, greet you weel.

Then the master gives him the word and gripes his hand after the masons way, which is all that is to be done to make him a perfect mason


Some Questiones Anent the mason word 1696


The Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700

The early history of this catechism is unknown. It was found in one of the volumes of a lot purchased c. 1900 from a second-hand collector, and was secured for the library of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1904 through W. J. Hughan, who named it after the distinguished Irish masonic historian, W. J. Chetwode Crawley (A.Q.C., xvii, 91). It consists of four leaves or eight pages, approximately 5½" X 7¼", made from a double sheet, size about 11" X 14½", by folding twice. The writing occupies pp. 1, 2, 3, 4 and the top of p. 5; pp. 6,7 and 8 are blank. The MS. is now bound in a blue morocco cover, and part of the watermark and almost the entire countermark are hidden in the binding. The photostat from which we made our transcript showed us only part of the watermark, and we are indebted to Bro. Philip Crossle for a sketch of both watermark and countermark. The watermark is that of the arms of the City of Amsterdam, with a beehive underneath; the countermark consists of the initials I V. W. A. Churchill (Watermarks in Paper in the XVII and XVIII Centuries) reproduces as facsimile 48, a specimen of this watermark and countermark dated 1720. The beehive under the coat of arms indicates that the paper was either made in a mill belonging to one of the three Honig firms of Zaandyk, Holland, founded in 1675, 1680 and 1683 respectively, or made for one of those firms. The initials in the countermark, I V, probably stand for the name of the firm of Jean Villedary, 1668-1758, one of many French firms which made paper for the Dutch market. There is thus no reason why this MS. should not have been written about 1700, as we think was the case. It was printed in 1930 in Leics. Reprints, xiii, with introduction and notes by J. T. Thorp. The transcript we print is from a photostat of the document. cf.Edinburgh Register House MS.


Impr yow are to put the person, who is to get the word, upon his knees: And, after a great many Ceremonies, to frighten him, yow make him to take up the Bible; and, laying his right hand upon it, yow are to Conjure him to Secrecy, by threatning, that, if he shall break his Oath; The Sun in the ffirmament & all the Company there present, will be wittnesses against him, which will be an occasion of his damnation; And, that likewise they will be sure to Murder him. Then after he hes promosed Secrecy, the[y] give him the Oath as ffollowes.

The words are Jachin and Boaz

By God himself, As yow Shall answer to God, when yow shall stand before him naked at the great day, yow Shall not reveal any part of what yow hear or see at this time, Neither by word nor write, nor put it into write at any time, Nor draw with the point of a Sword or any Instrument, upon the Snow or Sand, Nor shall yow Speak of it, but with an entered Mason, So help, God.

After he hes taken that Oath, he is removed out of the Company with the youngest Mason; where, after he is, Sufficiently frightened with a Thousand rediculous postures & Gramaces, he is to learn from the Said Mason, the manner of making Guard, which is the Sign, Word & Postures of his Entry, and are as followes. Here am I the youngest & last entered Aprentice, As I am sworn by God and st John, by the Square & Compass, and Common Judge, to attend my Masters Service, at the Honourable Lodge, from Munday in the Morning, to Saturday at Night, and to keep the Kyes thereof, under no less pain, Then to have my Tongue cutt out under my Chin, and of being buried within the flood-Mark, where no man shall know. Then he makes the Sign again, which is by drawing his hand under his Chin, alongst his throat; which denotes that it is to be cutt out, in case he shall break his word.

Then all the Masons present, whisper amongst themselves the word, beginning at the youngest till it come to the Master-Mason, who gives the word to the entered prentice

Now it is to be remarked, that all the Signs & words, as yet Spoken off, are only what belongs to the entered prentice: But to a Master-Mason, or ffellow-Craft, there is more to be done, as after followes.

ffirst, All the Apprentices are to be removed out of the Company, and non Suffered to Stay, but only Mason Masters. Then, he who is to be admitted a member of the ffellowship, is put again to his knees, and gets the Oath administred to him a-new. Afterwards, he must go out of the Company with the youngest Master to learn the words & Signs of ffellowship Then Comming in again, he makes the Master-Sign, and Says the Same words of Entry as the prentice did, only leaving out the Common Judge. Then the Masons whisper the word amongst themselves, beginning at the yowngest, as formerly. Afterwards, The yowng Master must advance & put himself in the posture wherein he is to receive the word, And says to the Honourable Company, whispering

The Worthy Masons & Honourable Company that I came from, Greet yow well, Greet yow well.

Then the Master Mason gives him the word & grips his hand, and afterwards, all the Masons, which is all to be done to make a perfect Mason.


Quest. 1. Are yow a Mason? Ansr, Yes indeed that I am

Q. 2d. How shall I know it? Ansr. Yow shall know it in time & place Convenient.

Nota. The foresaid Ansr is only to be made where there is a Company present who are not Masons: But if there be no such Company by yow, yow should ansr by Signs & other Tokens of Entry.

Q. 3d. What is the first point? Ansr. Tell me the first and lie tell yow the Second. The first is, Hear & Conceal; The 2d, Under no less pain then the Cutting of the throat: But yow must make the Sign when yow Say this.

Q. 4th, Where was yow entered? Ansr. At the Honble Lodge.

Q. 5th. What makes a true perfect Lodge? Ansr. Seven Masters, ffive Apprentices, a days Journey from a Borrows-Towne, without bark of a Dog, or Crow of a Cock.

Q. 6th. Does not less make a true perfect Lodge? Ansr. 4 Masters, 3 Entred prentices, & the rest as formerly.

Q. 7th Does no less? Ansr The moe the Mirrier, and the fewer the better cheer.

Q. 8th. Whats the name of your Lodge? Ansr. The Lodge of Killwinning.

Q. 9th How stands your Lodge? Ansr. East & West, as the Temple of Jerusalem.

Q. 10th. Where was the first Lodge? Ansr. In the porch of Solomons Temple.

Q. 11th. Are there Lights in your Lodge? Ansr. Three, The Northeast, the Southwest, & the Eastern passage. The one Denotes the Master mason, The other the Words and the Third The ffellow-Craft.

Q. 12th. Are there any Jewells in yor Lodge? Ansr. Three, Perpendester, a Square pavement and an Broked-mall.

Q. 13th. Where shall I find the kye of your Lodge? Ansr Three and an half foots from the Lodge under the perpendester & a Green divot.

Q. 14. What mean yow by a Perpendester and Green-Divott? Ansr. I mean not only under a perpendester and Green divott, but under the lap of my Liver, where all the Secrets of my heart ly hid.

Q. 15. Which is the Kye of yowr Lodge? Ansr. A well hung tongue.

Q. 16. Where lyes the Kye of yor Lodge? Ansr. In the Bone Box.

After the Masons have Examined yow by all or Some of these Questions, and that yow have answered the Same exactly & made the Sign, they will acknowledge yow, Not as a Master-Mason or ffellow-Craft, but only as a prentice. So they will furder say.

Q. 17. I see yow have been in the Kitchin, but I know not if yow have been in the Hall? Ansr. I have been in the Hall as well as the Kitchin.

Q. 18th. Are yow a ffellow-Craft? Ansr. Yes.

Q. 19. How many Points of ffellowship are there? Ansr ffive, vizt. Ist. ffoot to ffoot. 2ly Knee to Knee. 3ly Heart to Heart. 4ly Hand to Hand. 5ly Ear to Ear. These make the Signs of ffellow­ship; And Shaking hands, yow will be acknowledge a very Mason.

Q. 20th. Where are the words to be found? Ansr in 1 King Chap. 7th verse 21. And 2 Chron: 3 Chapter Last verse.


The Sloane MS. 3329, c. 1700

This catechism is in the British Museum, bound in a large volume on the fly-leaf of which Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) has written, “Loose papers of mine concerning curiosities”. It constitutes part of the collection formed by Sir Hans Sloane, which was acquired by the British Museum in 1754. It is written on three and a half sides, about 7¼" X 11½", of a double sheet of foolscap paper, which constitute fos. 142, 142 v., 143 and 143 v. of the volume. Dr. Schofield of the MSS. Department of the British Museum, who examined the MS. in 1937, gives the date as circa 1700. The fact that the signs and words in the MS. are associated with operative freemasons, strongly suggests an immediate English source for the document, the word ‘freemason’ being unknown in Scotland as a trade designation. The reference to ‘interprintices’ and ‘fellow craftes’, on the other hand, points to an ultimate Scottish origin; the word ‘attenders’, and the expression ‘this is hose or hollow’ also support a Scottish origin. The catechism was printed in 1872 by Woodford as a pamphlet; the examination from the document had been printed in 1869 in an Appendix to Findel’s History of Freemasonry. The transcript we print is made from a photostat of the document.

Treatment of the Text. We print the numerous superior characters or superscript letters (as ‘th’ in wth) as in the original. Where we have expanded a contraction mark, we print the interpolated letters in italics (as er in persons).


First they discover other by signes next they go in private to discourse, one signe is by giving their right hand a cast cross their brest from left to right with the tops of their ffingers about 3 or 4 inches below their Chin, another is by puling of their hat wth their right hand their two first ffingers aboue and the thumb and all the rest below the hats brim puling it of and giving it a cast from Left to right then on their head another is of drinking giving the glass a a cast cross under their chin from left to right: another is taking their handkerchief by the corner wth their right hand and throw it over their Left shoulder letting it hang down their back and so walk a few steps along if any mason see it they will follow and take him by the hand; their gripe for fellow craftes is grasping their right hands in Each other thrusting their thumb naile close upon the third Joynt of each others first ffinger their Masters gripe is grasping their right hands in each other placing their four finger’s nails hard upon the Carpus or end of others wrists and their thumb nailes thrust hard directly between the second Joynt of the thumb and the third Joynt of the first ffinger but some say the masters grip is the same I last discribed only each of their midle ffmgers must reach an inch or three barly comes Length higher to touch upon a vein yt comes from the heart.

Another signe is placing their right heell to the inside of their left in forme of a square so walk a few steps backward and forward and at every third step make a Little Stand placeing their feet Square as aforesd. this done any if masons perceive it they will presently come to you if you come where any masons tooles lyes lay ym in forme of a square X1 they will presently know yt a free brother hath been there or a free brother coming where free massons are at worke if he takes some of their tooles and lay ym in form of a Square X it is a signe to discover him, or if he takes one of their tooles or his own Staff and Strike saftly on the wall or worke saying this is bose or hollow if their be any free brother at the work he will answer it is solid wch words are signes to discover each other. Another signe some use bending their right arme in form of a Square & laying the palm of their left hand upon their heart. Another is by twisting their eyes toward the east and twisting their mouth toward ye west Another is bending their right knee holding up their hand towards the east and if it be night or dark they will give two Little haughts and a great one as if they were forceing a bone or a lump out of their throat, they will say ye day is for seeing the night for hereing, Another signe is by lending you a crooked pin or a bit of paper cut in the forme of a Square on receipt of wch you must come from wt place or company soever you are in by virtue of your oath and by ye aforementioned sign of ye hat or hand you are to come if it were from the top of a Steeple to know their pleasure and to assist them And to left you know he wants money he will hold a bitt of a pipe (or some such thing) to you saying can you change a cole pence if you have money you say is [? = yes] if you have none say no, some will signifye their want of money by pulling their knife out of the sheath and giving it to a brother in company or alone if the brother haue money he takes the knife puting it in it’s sheath and returne it, if he haue none he will return it bare as he received it; which many of them do notwithstanding their oath and many other signes they reject tho by oath they are bound to obey all; Another signe is by taking their handkerchief in their right hand and blow their nose then holding it Straight out before them they give it two Little shakes and a big one Another signe is knocking at any door two little knocks and the third a big one They haue another signe used at the Table drinking when the glass goes not fast enough round they say Star the guile.

To Discourse a mason in France, Spaine, or Turkey (say they) the signe is to kneel Down on his left knee and hold up his right hand to the sunn and the outlandish Brother will presently take him up but beleive me if they go on their knees on that accot they may remain there; or any persons observe their signes as Long as ye Jews will remaine on their beleife to receive their wished for Mesias from the East.

Here followeth there private discourse By way of Question and Answer.

(Questn) are you a mason (Answer) yes I am a freemason (Q) how shall I know that (A) by perfect signes and tokens and the first poynts of my Entrance (Q) which is the first signe or token shew me the first and I will shew you the second (A) the first is heal and Conceal or Conceal and keep secrett by no less paine than cutting my tongue from my throat (Q) where were you made a Mason (A) in a just and perfect or just and Lawfull Lodge (Q) what is a just and perfect or just and Lawfull Lodge (A) a just and perfect Lodge is two Interprintices two fellow craftes and two Masters more or fewer the more the merrier the fewer the Better Chear but if need require five will serve that is two Interprintices two fellow Craftes and one Master on the highest hill or Lowest Valley of the world without the crow of a Cock or the bark of a Dogg. (Q) from whomme do you derive your principalls (A) from a greater than you (Q) who is that on earth that is greater than a freemason (A) he yt was caryed to ye highest pinnicall of the Temple of Jerusalem (Q) whither is your Lodge shut or open (A) it is shut (Q) where Lyes the Keys of the Lodg[e] doore (A) they Ley in a bound Case or under a three cornerd pavemt about a foot and halfe from the Lodge door (Q) wt is the Keys of your Lodge Doore made of (A) it is not made of Wood Stone Iron or steel or any sort of mettle but the tongue of a good report behind a Brothers back as well as before his face (Q) how many Jewles belong to your Lodge (A) there are three the Square pavemt the blazing Star and the Danty tassley (Q) how Long is the Cable rope of your Lodge (A) as Long as from the Lop of the Liver to the root of the tongue (Q) how many Lights are in your Lodge (A) three the sun the master and the Square (Q) how high is your Lodge (A) without foots yards or Inches it reaches to heaven (Q) how Stood your Lodge (A) east and west as all holly Temples Stand (Q) wch is the masters place in the Lodge (A) the east place is the masters place in the Lodge and the Jewell resteth on him first and he setteth men to worke wt the masters have in the foornoon the wardens reap in the Afternoon.

In some places they discourse as followeth (Vizt)

(Q) where was the word first given (A) at the Tower of Babylon (Q) where did they first call their Lodge (A) at the holy Chapell of St John (Q) how Stood your Lodge (A) as the said holy Chapell and all other holy Temples Stand (Vizt) east and west (Q) how many lights are in your Lodge (A) two one to see to go in and another to see to work (Q) what were you sworne by (A) by god and the Square (Q) whither above the Cloathes or under the C[loathes] (A) under the Cloathes (Q) under what Arme (A) under the right Arme.

God is Gratfull to all Worshipfull Masters and fellows in that Worshipfull Lodge from whence me [? = we] Last came and to you good fellow wt is your name (A) J or B. then giving the grip of the hand he will say Brother John greet you well you (A) gods good greeting to you dear Brother.

Another salutation is giving the masters or fellows grip saying the right worshipfull the masters and fellows in that worshipfull Lodge from whence we Last came greet you greet you greet you well, then he will repley Gods good greeting to you dear Brother.

Another they haue called the masters word and is Mahabyn which is allways divided into two words and Standing close With their Breasts to each other the inside of Each others right Ancle Joynts the masters grip by their right hands and the top of their Left hand fingers thurst close on ye small of each others Backbone and in that posture they Stand till they whisper in each others eares ye one Maha- the other repleys Byn.


The mason word and every thing therein contained you shall keep secrett you shall never put it in writing directly or Indirectly you shall keep all that we or your attenders shall bid you keep secret from Man Woman or Child Stock or Stone and never reveal it but to a brother or in a Lodge of Freemasons and truly observe the Charges in ye Constitucion all this you promise and swere faithfully to keep and observe without any manner of Equivocation or mentall Resarvation directly or Indirectly so help you god and by the Contents of this book

So he kisses the book &c.

[Endorsed in bottom right-hand corner]

A Narrative of the Freemasons words & signs


The Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710

This MS. consists of several elements:

1. A ‘sundry’ version of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, including an Apprentice Charge. The text is unusually corrupt; as examples of corrupt expressions, mention may be made of ‘leathier’, instead of the usual ‘laterus’, ‘latress’ ‘laterns’ (all corruptions of L. lateres, burnt bricks, pl. of later, brick); the ‘Temple of Diana’ (as the alternative name of the Temple of Jerusalem) instead of the usual ‘Templum Dei’ or ‘Templum Domini’; ‘minus Greenatus alias Green’ instead of ‘Naymus Grecus’ or some such form. The main departures from the ordinary text are of two types: (i) The introduction of additional scriptural or theological matter, e.g., the Ten Commandments are stated to form part of David’s Charges, and also of the first General Charge; ‘Divinity’ is described as one of the Seven Liberal Sciences, and ‘Philosophy’ as another, space being made for them among the seven by omitting Arithmetic, and treating Grammar and Rhetoric as one; injunctions to observe the Sabbath and to avoid obscenity are included among the Charges General, (ii) The introduction into the Charges of homely and practical precepts for operative masons, e.g., a mason is to pay honestly for meat, drink, washing and lodging at the place where he boards; he is to relieve the poor, visit the sick and be affable and kind to widows and the fatherless; he is to avoid drunkenness.

2. A set of Questions and Answers, partly along the lines of other masonic catechisms, and partly of a scriptural type.

3. A stranger’s salutation, similar to that incorporated in other catechisms.

4. A set of Questions and Answers concerning the Temple. The treatment of this topic is apparently to some extent connected with a traditional inter pretation existing in the early Middle Ages, as found, e.g., in a treatise entitled De Templo Salamonis (Migne, Pat. Lat., vol. xci) and attributed to Bede.

5. A second set of masonic questions and answers supplementing the first set, partly along conventional masonic lines, and partly covering ground not touched upon in other catechisms. It includes a reference to two pillars, the one which would not sink and the other which would not burn. These are doubtless the pillars mentioned in the first section of the document, and in most versions of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry; they are traditionally explained as those on which the Seven Liberal Sciences were carved to keep them from perishing by flood or fire [see our Two Earliest Masonic MSS., pp. 39 folg].

6. An account of the two pillars set up by Solomon at the porch of the Temple. This account immediately follows the reference to the other two pillars, with which the MS. appears to confuse them.

7. After the word ‘Finis’, are added eight lines of doggerel verse to remind the reader or listener of mortality.

8. Near the end there is a very rough sketch of the Masons’ arms, such as is found at the top of one or two versions of the Old Charges, e.g., the William Watson and the Scarborough MSS.

The document belonged to the Old Lodge of Dumfries and is now in the possession of its successor, Lodge Dumfries Kilwinning No. 53. At one time it was almost certainly employed for ritual purposes, as it shows considerable signs of use. It consists of seven sheets of paper, roughly 4½" X 16", folded once and sewn together along the top to form a notebook of fourteen leaves, 4¼" X 8", rather like a shorthand typist’s notebook. The leaves are written on both sides.

In the opinion of Mr A. J. Collins of the MSS. Department of the British Museum, who, by the courtesy of the Lodge, quite recently had an opportunity of examining the document, it was written fairly early in the eighteenth century. It was discovered by James Smith in 1891 among the Lodge muniments and printed by John Lane in A.Q.C., vi, in 1893. By the courtesy of the Lodge, we have had an opportunity of checking Lane’s transcript with the original, and have been able to use our corrected A.Q.C. version to check the transcript which we print, prepared from a photostat of the document. We print the entire document, although actually only a small part of it can be described as a masonic catechism.

Treatment of the Text. The MS. is divided into sections, in each case by a line drawn across the page, followed by a cross-heading which is usually roughly centred. Apart from these headings, no line in the MS. is indented. In printing the text we omit the dividing lines as unnecessary, in view of the cross-headings, and indent the first word of each section; in some cases where a section is long we have divided it into paragraphs, according to the sense. Thus all indenting, other than that associated with cross-headings, represents editorial emendation. We print the cross-headings in capitals according to the convention stated above, but we print in lower case (apart from initial capitals) the thirteen sub-headings comprised under the cross-heading “Questions concerning the Temple”.

The MS. contains a good many abbreviations which we print as they occur. The following are the less usual:

Mr = master

Mrs = master’s

Qm = quhom [i.e. whom]

Qn = quhen [i.e. when]

Qr = quhair [i.e. where]

Qt = quhat [i.e. what]

sd = said yt,

wc, wch = which

wt, wt = with

ye, ye = the

ym, ym = them

yn, yn = then

yr, yr = their

yt = that


The almighty father of holiness the wisdom of the glorious jesus through the grace of the holy ghost these being three persons in one godhead Qm we Implore to be with us at the begining & give us grace so to govern our selves hear in this mortal life towards him that we may come to his kingdome that shal never have end Amen


Good brethren and fellows our purpose is to let you know in Qt maner this worthy science of masonry Qn & how it began as also how it was Countenanced favoured & adored by the most famous & brave Heroes on earth such as kings princes wt all sorts of inteligent men of high[es]t degree & likwise ye charges to all true & Qualified masons wc they taught to keep wt a true faith & give good head therto as they would wish to Be Rewarded


The charges wc now w[e] Rehearse to you wt all othe[r] Charges & secrets otherways belonging to free masons or any that enter their intrest for curiositie together wt the counsels of this holy Judge chamber or hall you shal not for any gift bribe or Reward favouer or affection directly or [in] directly nor for any cause Qtsoever devulge disclose ye same to ether father or mother sister or brother or children or stranger or any person Qtsoever so help you god


There ar seven libral sciences ye first is divi[nity] wc teacheth ye logical vertues the 2d is gram[mar] joined to Rhetorick wc teacheth Eloquence & how to speak in subtill tearms ye 3d is philosophy wc is lovers of wisdom by wc is brought both ends of a contrdiction together & crocke[d] things made straight black grouen white by A Rule of contrarities &c the 4th is musick yt teacheth songs harps & organs wt all other sort[s] of vocal & instrumentel musick it is to be mi . . . ye forsd science hath neither medium nor end ye 5th is logick yt discovereth truth from falshode & is a guide [to] judges & lawiers ye* 6th is geomitry yt teacheth to measure material heavens with al earthly dementions & all things contained yrin ye 7th & last is of the scienceiss astronomy wt astrologie yt teacheth to know ye course of ye su[n] moon & stars ornaments of the heavens ye 7 scieneces al suporte by geometry by wc we cunclude yt science most worthy yt giveth [word omitted in MS.] & aid to the Rest yt is yr is no man yt worketh in any craft but he worketh by some measure & al of geometry for it serves to weight & measure al maner of things on earth especally plughme[n] & tilers of ground for corn & seeds vines & flouers plants & other for non of ye Rest doe serve men to measure without geometric How this science first began I shal tell before Noahs flood ther was a man called Lamach who had two wives the one Adah & she the sa[i]d Adah brought forth two sons the eldest jabell the other son Jubal & by ye other wife he had a son caled Tubal cain & a daughter caled Naamah & these children found out al ye sciences and crafts in the world Jabel was the elder & found out geometry & keept flocks of sheep & they had lambs in the fields for wch he wrought houses of s[t]one & timber as you may find it in the 4th chapter o[f] ye geneses & his brother jubal found out the art of musick vocal & instrumentall and the 3d brother found out the smithwork such as bras Steell & iron & their sister found out the art of weaving & handling of the distaf & spindle

These children knew that god would take viengance on the world for sin ei[t]her by fire or water not wt standing they were more curiouse for the benifit of posterity to prefer the science they had invented to their own lives Qr for they engraved ye science they had invented on pilers of stone so that they might be found after ye flood ye one stone caled marble which cannot burn with fire ye other monoment was leath. . .2 wc cannot be defusd by water than after the flood the great hermorian son to cush & cush was son to ham second son to Noah hermorian was after caled the father of wisdom along of ye forsd Pillars he found after the flood wt the sciences writen thereon he taught them at ye building of Babylons Tower Qr he was called Nimrod or mightly before ye lord Nimrod profest massonry at the desire of the king neneveh his cossen ye abou[e] designd Nimrod mad massons & recomended ym to the lord of the lord of the land to build All sorts of buildings yn in fashon & taught ym signs & tokens so that they could distingwish on another from all the rest of mankind on the earth


Imprinuus yt they should love on another & serv ye lord of heaven wt a true & sincer heart to prevent futer vengeance & yt they be honest & upright & faithfull to the lord yr imployer so yt he ye sd n[i]mrod might have worship & honou[r] By sending ym to him & yt yr shoul be no circumvention direction devision disimulation or misaprehensions amongst ym or any thing like contention least god should make ym dumb as before Qn he confounded yr Langwiage for yr pre sumption this was ye first time yt massons had any care of yr craft

after this came abrahame together with sarah his wife into egypt & yr he taught ye seven sciences to ye egyptians & yr he had in Egypt a worthy scholar who proved ye glory of yt age his name Eucladas this sd young man improved his talent so yt he exceded all ye artises I yn on earth & abraham tooke delight in him for yt he was a Great proficeient & proclamed all futer events to ye unthinking3 multitude and it befel in his days yt ye lords and stats of yt land had so many sons yt they had begotten some by other wives & ladies of ye Realm for egypt was yn a plenished & countrey & nothing Living competent was for ye a children Wherefore ye stats of ye land was sore troubled in Qt maner to provide for the children And ye king of ye land caled a parliment to consult how they might furnish ym but could find ne prospect of ye thing but caused a proclimation to be made through out ye Realm if yr Qr any man yt could inform wc way to dispose of yr young men he should b [e] well Rewarded for his pains & trouble after the cry or proclimation came ye worthy docter Eucladas & said to ye King & his lords if you wil give me your children to Govern & teach as gentle men ought to be taught And yt you grant ym & me I a competent portion yt I may Rule & teach them acording to yr Qualite & yt I may order ym as ye science Requireth And ye king granted it & sealed ym in a charter & yn ye worthy dark Eucladas took ye lords sons & taught ym in ye science Geomitrie to work in all maner of worthy work in stone temple churches cloysters cities castles pirimides towers & all other worthy buildings of stone & he I put ym in orders and taught them to know one another truly & confirmed Nimrods maners to ym & yt they should Love onanother truly & keep ye law of god writen on yr hearts & yt they should be true to ye king of ye Realm & above all keep ye secrets of ye lodge & one anothers secrets & yt they should call on another fellow & forbear all other foul names & yt they should deport ymselves Like men of art and not Like uncriltivat4 Rusticks & yt they should ordain one of ye wisest of ym to be master of the Rest & to be over ye work & yt neither for love nor Riches shul they betray yr trust nor to apoint any yt wants understanding to be master of ye lords work so that ye Craft may not b[e] scandalised & yt they cal ye Governouer of ye work master whilst they work wt him & ye forsd Euclidie wryte a book of constitutions to ym & mad ym to swear ye greatest oath men used to swear those dayes yt they yt they should faithfuly observe all ye instructions containd in ye constitutions of masonry & ordained ym competent payment so yt they might Live Like men of art & science as also yt they should assemble & gather ymtselves together & hold counsels in maters pertaining to ye craft & art of Geometry & that they ought not to stand with any yt was not duly Qualified and orderly created in a true ludge & yt they should keep a deu distance from al disorder Least god should bring second confusion amongst ym which prove wors than ye first after this ye worthy clark Euclidie invented many Rare inventions & performed wonderful exploits for yr was nothing to[o] hard for him containd within ye 7 libral sciences by which he mad ye people of Egypt ye wisest people in the world Affter ye children of Israel came into ye land of beh..e wc is now called among ye nations ye countrie of Jerusalem Qr King david began ye temple of jerusalen wch wt ym is called ye templ of diana & david Loved masons well & chirished ym by giving ym good wadges & he gave them yr charge on this maner yt they should truly 5 the ten words wc was wryten by the finger of god in char[ac]ters of stone Or tables of marble & delivered to moses on ye holy mount Sinai & yt wt heavenly solemnity Qr meriads of angels wt chariots of fire atending that train wc proves stone carting6 to be of divine institution wt many other things he gave in charge as he had it out of egypt from the most famous Euclidie & other charges wc you shal hear afterward after this david payed ye debt of nature And Solomon his son performed ye temple yt his father had begun and divers massons of severall lands gathered together so yt yr was eighty thousand & 3 hundred of ym wc was Qualified and made over seers of ye worke & yr was a king in tyre caled Hiram who loved solomon weell & he gave to solomon Timber for his work & likwise send him an artist in whome was ye spirit of wisdom his mother was of ye tribe of naphtLie & his father a man of tyre his name was Hiram the world hath not peduced his equal to this day he was a master masson of exquisit knouledge & generositie & was master mason of all ye buldings & bulders of ye temple & master of all graven & carverd works in & about ye temple as it is wryten in the first of the kings in the 6 chapter and 7 chaptere yrof And solomon confirmed both charges and maners of his father david wc he gave to massons & was ye worthy craft of massonry confirmed in ye country of Jerusalem & palistine [&] many other kingdoms craftsmen walked abroad & come to lairn more art & some were Qualified to teach others and inform ye ignrant so yt about the [illegible] began to look splended & glor. . . in ye wor. . particularlie in Jerusalem & in Egypt & about this time ye courious masson Minus Greenatis alias Green yt had been building Solomons Temple into ye Realm of france & taught ye art of massonry to ye sons of art in yt land And their was one of ye Royal line in france named Charles martle who loved Minus Greenatus beyond expresion because of his judgment in ye art of massonrie & he ye sd martil took on him ye maners of masons and after he was in his oun Realm for it would seem he was no french man he took unto him many brave massons yr & aloued ym good wadges & put ym in orders which greenatus taught him [&] confirmed ym a charter & ordred ym to asemble freQuentLy yt they might kep good order within yr divisions & thus cam ye craft into france

England al this while stood destitute of massons untill ye time of St Albons at this time ye King of england was a pagan & he built the town yts caled st albons after that in albons time yr was a worthy man who was chief stewart to ye king & had ye government of ye Realm & he imployed masons to build ye toun wals of St albons & he made masons his cheif co[m]panions and aded a third part to yr payment by what it was formerly & apointed them 3 hours to recreat ymselves every day yt so yr imployment might not prove toylsome to them & yt they might not live Like slaves But like jentlemen of art & science & also ordred a cartain day of every year in ye month of jun to conven & feast to meantain 7 & unity amoongst ym & yt they shoul have that day being St Johns day yr Royal standerd up wt ye names & tittles of all ye kings and p[r]inces yt had entred yr intrest as also ye masons arms wt arms of jeruselams temple & all the famous structutes in ye world all these forsd freedoms ye sd nobleman prevailed wt ye king & procured ym a charter for ever to maintain ye same Likwise they 8 ye moto in letters of gould set in a crimson field wt sables & argent Invia virtutie via nula

after this came great wars into england so so ye Rule of husbandry was Laid aside untill the Reign of Athelston who was a good king in england & brought ye land in peace & build many worthy & sumptious buildings such as abays churches cloysters convents casles towers fortreses bulwarks wt al other monoments of note he was on affectionat brother to all Qualified masons Likewise he had a son whose name was Hodrian & he the sd hodrian loved massons so yt he could neither eat nor drink but when they were in his company he was a brave generous spirit full of art & practiss he chusd Rather to converse] wt massons than wt the courtiers of his fathers court drew himself Rather to common wt massons & Lairnd ym yr art & put himself in orders he bequethed ye whole master of ye freternity wt squares of gold & compasses of silver tipt wt gold & perpedicular plums to be pure gold yr trewals of silver wt all yr other Instruments conform, he likwise pecured his fathers charter & comissions to hold every year ane assembly of masons Qr every mason was oblidged to [give?] ane accompt of his proficiency & practise & at ye forsd metings he enjo[i]ned ym new methods of secrecy & taught ym good manners conform to the Rules of Euclidie & hiram & other famous worthies & Qn trespass was done within ye craft he inflicted condign punishment on ye offender he bent himself for ye crushing of vice & publickly encouraged vertue Aferward he came to york & yr made massons & gave yr charge & taught ym maners of masonry & wryt a book of constitutions & comanded the Rule to be keept for ever after & he made ordinances yt ye craft should be so Ruled from Reign to Reign as it was than stated & ordaind by the most worthy in yt assembly morover he made a procilimation yt all massons yt had any sertificats or testimonials in wryting of yr travels proficency & practise should present ym to prove yr former art & behaviour & yr was brought som in hebrew some in greek Latine caldaick sirack french Dutch salvonick & english wt several other Languages and the intent . as calone upon wch the famous Hodrian put ym in mind of the confusion at ye building of Nimrods tower and yt as they would wish god to prosper ymselves & actions not to attempt or aim at Idolitry any more but sincerLy to honour & Adore ye great architector of heaven & earth the fountain & source of all goodness who buildeth his visible frame of nothing & Laid ye foundasion yrof upon the deepe waters and laid a comand upon ye see to come so far & no forther ye great land lord of heaven & earth ye sole preserver of man & beast pslms 36. 6. 7 ye Ruler & govemouer of sun moon & stars he further advisvised ym to bring his omnipotency wt[in]ye compass of yr understanding yt so much ye more they might be loath to ofend him wt many other divine sentances he put ym in mind of & he comanded a book to be made how the craft was first begun found & comanded it should be Read Qn any masson was made & if aftter should err they mighty have no excuse to prevent yr punishment & give him his charge conform to ye sds book & from yt time massons should keep yt form & order as weel as men could govern it & further at privat assemblies yr hath ben divers charges added more & mor concerning yr charrige & deportment in every particula[r] part of massonry by ye masters & fellous advice


every man yt is a massone or enters yr inters yr Intrest to agrandize & satisfie his curiositie looke to ye following charge if any of you be guilty of any of ye following Immortalitys see yt you Repent & amend speedily for you will find it a hard thing to fall into ye hands [of] our angry god and more especialy you yt are under voues take hee[d] yt you keep ye ath and promise you made in presence of allmighty god think not yt a mental Reservation or Equivocation will serve for to be sure euery word you speak the whole time of your Admission is ane oath and god will examin you according to the purness of your heart and cleaness of your hands it is ane sharp edged toole yt you are playing with beware you cut not your fingers we intreat you that ye forfit not your Saluation for any other seeming contentment

Imprimus you shall serve the true god and carefully keep his precepts in generall particularlie the Ten words delivered to Moses on mount Sinai As you have them explained in full on ye pavement of the Temple secondly you shall be true & stedfast to ye holy catholick church and shun all herise & shisim or eror to your wnderstanding 3ly you shall be true to the lodge and keep all the secrets belonging thereto 4ly you shall be true to the lawfull King of the Realm and pray for his safty at all conuenient occassions When you pray for your self & be no partaker of any treasonable designs against his person and goverment 5ly you shall love and be true to one another and do to your neighbours or fellou as you would wish them to do to you 6ly you shall keep a true and faithfull corespondance with all those masters and fellous of mesonry that you know to be legally entred in orders there secrets you shall keep there loss you shall withstand to your power therr honour and cridit you shall maintain 7ly that euery masson keep a true lodge chamber or hall to talk & dignose upon things partining to honestie and moral dealing where they may refresh there memories of the worthies departed 8ly that you be true and honest to the lord or Imployer do his work faithfullie keep his profit and advantage to ye outmost of your power that you shall not defraud him in any point what soever so that he may have no cause to exclaim and you reap 9ly you shall masson your fellow and breatheren and not to call them by any disrespective name whereby contenticonis & divisions and heat may arise which may prove scandalous: 10ly: let no master or fellow Inwilany or ungodly [take] another fellows wife dawghter or maid in Adultery or fornication: 11ly That you be very carefull to pay truly and honestly your table such as meat drink washing and lodging where you go to board: 12ly: That you keep a corpass due gaurd wher you lodg that no villany be comited there whereby the craft may be defaimed 13ly That you carefully and religously observe the sabbath day by refraining all evill work & labovr and make it your study to Employ that day in serving and seeking the true God to keep in the fauculties of your souls from gading after vanities of this world pray to god to sanctifie your will wnderstanding & memories with your reason and affections 14ly That you make it your bussiness to relieve the poor according to your Talent and facultie let not your prudence superceed your charity in thinking in this or the other unworthy or not in need but slip no opertunitie because it is for Gods sake you give it and in obedience to his command 15ly That you visit the sick and comfor and pray for them and let them not be in any distress that is in your powr to help them if god cals them hence wait and asist ther funerall 16ly be affable and kinde to all but more especially to the widdow & fatherless stand stoutly in ther behalf defend there Intrest relive ther necessities though this be bread thrown upon the uncertain waters yet by the speciall blessing of heaven in time will Return with seven fold Intrest and secure a stock for you in the other world 17ly That you shall not drink drunk at no occassion because it is ane offence to God and likewise you are apt reveal the secrets of the lodge and so perjure your self 18ly you shall abstain from all scandalous & profan rcreations from playing at hazard or any other destructive game 19ly you shall forbear all lascivious language with all obsceen language pouster or gestures for all such is but pleasing the 9 and fostering of lust

These be the charges in generall that every masson should hold master and felous it is earnestly wished that they might be carefully kept in heart and will and affections and in so doing they shall reander themselves famous to future generations and God will bless ther progenie and geve them a good Talent and cast their lines in pleasant placeses

The Charges belong to mastrs and fellous is as folloueth Imprimus that no fellow shall take any lords work or other Imployer but he shall know himself and cuning to perfect the same so that the craft may have no disworship and the lord or Imployer may not be cheated but truly served for his mony of any masson have taken any work or stand mastr of any work he shall not be put from it if he can finish the same Itm that no mastr or fellous shall take ane aprentice to be allowed on for less than seven years and that the Aprentice be able of limbs and well breathed Itm that no mastr or fellou shall take mony before hand without consent of the lodge Itm that no mr or fellow shall presum to creat a masson without of his fellows 5: or 6 at the least and that the oath be duly administered to them Itim no master or fellow shall put a lords work to task that used to be jurned Itim that no mastr shall give any payment to his felow but as he deserveth so that the Imployer may not be deceived with Ignorant workmen Itim that no felow shall slander another bhind his back whereby he may lose his good name or worldly goods Itim that no fellow within or withowt a lodge shall answear his fellow disrespective Itim that none shall enter the Toun in the nig[ht] where is a loge of fellows without ther be a fellow with to prove him a man honest or wnder that notion Itim that every master and fellow shall come to the A[ss]embly upon the first citation if it be within 5 miles of him and ther stand at the revard of his fellows or master Itm every mr (and fellow) shall pray for his superior: put him to worship Itim that mr and fellou that have trespassed shall stand to the determination of his mr and fellow according to the delatio given in upon him and if it can not be decided otherways it must come before the Assembly Itim that no master masson shall make any mould square or Rule to any Layer or cowin Itm that no mr within or without a loge shall set a lay mould of stone or other ways withowt10 it be his own making Itim every masson shall receve strange massons within ther divisions over the country where there concerns lyeth within and set them to work according to order (viz) if they have muld Standert to place let theim have twoo weeks at least and give him his hire and ife there be no stander let him be refreshed: with meat and drink to carry him to the next lodge Itim none that is in order shall stand to hear any that doth not order his words & steps aright but if he proue him self a man then you are obliged to Imbrace him and gave him the curtisee of the craft Itim all massons shall be honest in there work be it by task or Jurney and truly make ane end thereof that they may have There ways as they ought to have Itim that no lodge or corum of massons shall give the Royal secret to any suddently but upon great deliberation first let him learn his Questions by heart then his symbals then do as the lodge thinks fit


Imprimus that he shall be true to god and the holy catholick church & ye king & his master whom he shall serve yt he shall not pick or steell his mr or his mrs goods nor absent himself from yr service nor goe from ym about his oun pleasure by day or by night withowt licience he shall not comit Adultrie nor fornication in or without his mr house wt his mrs daughter servant or otherwise he shall keep cownsel in all things spoken in or without ye lodge chamber or hall spoken by any fellow master or freeman he shall not keep any disobedient argument against he shall disclose any secret Qrby strife may arise Amongst massons fellows or aprenticess but reverently to behave himselfe towards all free massons yt he may win brethren to his mr he shall not use carding or dicing or any other unlawful game or games he shall not haunt taverns or ale houses wasting his masters goods withowt licience he shall not purloin or steal any goods from any person or share during his aprentishipe but to wtstand ye same to ye outmost of his power & yrof to inform his master or some other masson with all possible & convenient speed


Q what are you A I am a man Q how shal I know yt A by all trwe signs in ye first part of my entry Ill heall & conceall Q what are you no more to . . A yes but a man I was begotten of a man & born of a woman and besids I have severall potentat kings & mighty princes to my brothers Q what lodge were you entered in A in ye trwe lodge of st John Q where ought a lodge to be keept A on the top of a mountain or in ye midle of a boge without the hearing of ye crowing of a cok or ye bark of a doge Q how high is your lodge A inches & spans Inumberable Q how Inumberable A the material heavens & stary firmament Q how many pillers is in your lodge A three Q what are these A ye square the compas & ye bible Q where Lyes ye key of your lodge A in a bone box covered wt a rough map Q give ye distinction of your box A my head is ye box my teeth is the bons my hair is the mapp my tongue is ye key Q hou were you brought in A shamfully wt a rope about my neck Q what pouster were you in when you Receved A neither sitting nor standing nor running nor going but on my left knee Q whay a rop about your neck A to hang me If I should Betry may trust Q why upon your left knee A because I would be in too humble a pouster to ye receiving o[f] ye Royall secret Q what Obligation are you under A great oath Q what punishment is inflicted on these yt reveals ye secret A yr heart is to be taken out alive yr head to be cut of & yr bodys to be buried in ye sea mark & not in any place Qr Christians are buried Q how many lights is in your lodge A two Q wc be ye two A ye sun riseth in ye east & sets all men to work & sets in ye west & so turns all men to bed Q wc way stands your Lodge A East & west because all holy churches & temples stands yt way and particularlie ye temple of Jerusalem Q might not Hiram lade ye foundation of ye temple south & north rather than east & West A no he could not Q give a reason for yt A david appointed ye foundation of ye temple to be laid on a barn flore as you may read in ye holy bible Qr it is caled ye thrashing floor araunah ye jebusit likwise you may read in holy wryt yt ye ark of ye lord Qrin was ye covenant betwixt god & men & ye two marble tables wt ye ten commandments wryten by ye finger of god ye said Ark was detained by misfortain a considerable [time?] on the forsaid thrashing floor of araunah wc oblidged ym to lay ye foundation of ye temple East & west conformt to ye pouster of ye two tables Q what is masonry A it is a squere work Q what is a masson A he is a worker in stone Q would you know your master if you saw him A yes Q what way would ye know him A by his habit Q what couller is his habit A yellow & blew meaning the compass wc is bras & Iron Q what morter had these massons at ye buillding of ye temple A the same such smorter as they had at ye building of nimrods Tower viz slime being a kind of hot o Earth wc they made thin & powred it into ye wall afiter ye stons was laid it was of ye nature sement or bitumor Q what ladder had . . . . . they building of ye . . . . . . . jacobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . between ye heaven & ye earth Q how many steps was in jacobs ladder A 3 Q what was ye 3 A father son & holy spirit Q how many flowers is in ye massons possie A 3 & 12 Q what call you ym A trinity & ye twelve Apostles Q who was master masson at ye buillding of ye temple A Hiram of tyre Q who laid the first stone in ye foundation of ye temple A ye above said Hiram Q what place did he lay ye first stone A in ye south east corner of ye Temple Q what did he say Qn he laid it A help us god Q what was ye greatest wonder yt seen or heard about the temple A god was mam & man was god mary was a mother & yet a maid Q what is ye night good for A ye night is better for hearing than seeing Q what is ye day good for A ye day is bette for seeing than hearing Q what did ye second man when ye first man died A he perfected ye work wc ye first man Intended thus king david yt intended to build ye temple but was prevented by death but Solomon performed it Q what is meant by ye brassen see yt Hiram framed & supported it by 12 oxen 3 looking towards ye north 3 towards ye south 3 towards ye west 3 towards ye east A It was appointed to bath & wash ye preists in at yt time But now we finde it was a tipe of Christs blood whose blood was to purg sin & to wash ye elect & ye 12 oxen a type of ye 12 apostles who opposed all heathenism & athism & sealed ye cause of christ wt there blood Q what meant ye golden dore of ye temple Qr they went in to sanctum sanctorum A it was another type of Christ who is ye door ye way and the truth & ye life by whome & in whom all ye elect entreth into heaven


The worshipfull masters of our lodge sendeth me unto you who salutes you heartily wishing that this my visit may Refresh your memories of your good will towards ym A and we the masters & fellows of this lodge welcome you heartily intreating you to make bold wt what you see & tell us your wishes & claim our relife which shall be at your comand at all times & occations & as we are we shall continue to honour love & serve you When you enter a roome you must say is ye house cleen if they ansure it is dropie or ill thatched upon this answre you are to be sillent this is ye most matieriall questions belonging to massonry

  sic subscribu[n]tur    the constitutions


Q what signifies the temple A ye son of god & partly of the church ye son soffered his body to be destroyed & rose again ye 3d day & raised up to us ye Christian church wc is ye true spiritwal church

2. What signifies the white marble Christ is ye white marble without spot the stone ye builders r . . . . d11 but god choised it out   [several words illegible]  might be built

3. The mistery of the cader wood

The cader cyprus & olive wood was not subject putrifaction nor posible to be devoured by wormf[s] so ye human nature of christ was subject to no corruption nor putrifaction

4. The mistrey of the Gold

The gold and precious stones signifies the dietie of christ wherein duelt the fulness thereof for he is the fountain thereof.

5. The mistery of the cherubims

first they signifie the heavenly glory and the everlasting life to come they being pictured to the Image of man do represen[t] the congregation of ye blessd angles & saints wc sing Te Dum law damuss secondly ye two cherubins on ye mercy seat in the holy Quire signifies ye old & new testmant containing ye doctrine of christ & as yr wings touch one another so the old & [new] testament are joined together ye end of the one beginning ye other ye one containing ye first world ye other containning ye end of ye 2 world both had a relation to christ to whome ye ministrie of god was comitted

6. The mistry of the golden door of the temple

Christ is the dore of life by wc we must enter into eternall happiness ye two doves signifies a two fold knowledge before we can enter that is of his person & office

7. What doth the vaill signiffie

The son of god our lord jesus christ hanging upon ye alter of ye cross is ye trwe vaill yt is put betwe god & us shadowing wt his wounds and blood ye multitud of our offencess yt so we may be made adaptable to his father

8. The ark of the covenant

It represents as weel our saviour christ as ye hearts of ye faithfull for in christs breast was ye doctrine both of law & gosple so is it in ye faithfull though not in yt measure he was ye true manna yt descended to give life to ye world ye table of ye law move us to love & obedience Aarons rod flowrishing wt blossoms signifies ye swetnes of ye gosple & ye glory of our High preist jesus christ of whome Aaron was a figure

9. The mistry of the alter

The alter wt 4 golden horns being made part of shittim wood & part of gold compassed about wt a crown of gold Represents the unity of ye humanitie & dietie of our saviour for ye naturly incoriptable was beautified wt gold so ye humanitie of christ not of putrifaction being adorned wt ye celestiall . . . .12 of ye dietie personaly united to the devine nature asscended to heven & sitteth at ye Right hand of god his father crouned with the crown of majestie and etternall happiness

10. The mistrie of the golden candlesticke

The Golden candlestick wt his six branches & seven lights signifies christ & ye ministers christ the foundation is cheif preist & light of ye world Iluminating us to eternall liffe the docters & teachers of ye church are ye branches Qm christ enlightens wt ye sound doctren of ye gosple neither ought they to be seprated from christ but by ye Light of ye doctren to be lamp to our feet & as all ye branches was united unto ye candlestick so every minister & child of god ought to be united to ye bod of christ without any seperation the flowers & lillies donot ye gracess of his spirit wc he hath bestowed upon ye faithful ministers the lights & lamps do Admonish al godly ministers to a godly care & diligance

11. The mistrie of the golden table and shewbread

The table being compased wt a precious crown signifies ye ministers of ye gosple ye bread signifies Christ ye bread of Life

12. The mistrie of ye golden vine & christal grape[s]

The vine in ye East of ye temple mad of shining gold Resembles our christ who compared himself unto a vine & the faithfull unto branches ye christall grapes ye doctren of ye gospel & ye work of ye faithfull wc are faith love hope charite patience prayer & works of grace unto such as belives

[13 The] molten sea its mistrie

The molten sea was a figure of baptism & ye living water Issuing from ye wounds of christ ye twelve oxen signifies ye twelve Apostles


It wa 100 cubits in length in hight 120 cubits ye holy Queer stood in ye west end ye Marble stons in ye temple was 25 cubits long 12 cubits broad & 8 cubits thick being all whit marble


how many lights is in yt lodge A 3 Q what of ye 3 A ye master the fellow craftsmen & ye ward[en] Q wc way stands yee lights A ye is one in ye East & [one] in ye west & one in ye midle Q what is for ye one [in] ye East A it is for the master & ye west is for the ffellow craftsmen & ye midle is for ye warden Q what stands at the wardens back A 3 shelve[s] Q what is yr upon ym A yr is 3 Rulers Q what . . these A yr is 36 foot 34 foot & 32 foot Q what is ym for A 36 is for leveling 34 is for beve[ll]ing & 32 for measuring ye earth about Q which way came ye W first about A it was given to king david by report Qn he was hewing ye stons in ye mount to know ye workmen from . . . Labourers & it pleased god to take away King David & solomon suceeded in his place & it was Given him Q what is ye length of your cable A it is as long as between ye point of my navel and ye shortest of my hair Q what is ye reason of yt A because all secrets lyes there Q by what . . by whom do you stand upon your princip . .13 . . . . .14 yt stood upon ye highest penacle of the temple Q wc way was ye temple built A by solomon & Hiram who furnished tooles for yt work it was Hiram who was brought out of Egypt he w[as] a widdows son he furnished all sorts of Tools pick[s] spades shovels & all things belonging to ye temple Q where layes ye master A in a stone trough under ye west window looking to ye east waiting for ye son rising to sett his men to work Q where [was] the noble art or science found when it was lost A it was found in two pillers of stone the one would not sink and the other would not burn


Coat of Arms

Solomon set up twoo notable Names yt on ye Right hand called Jachine yt is in it yr is strength show . . not only by ye matter but by ye Name Also of these two pillers what stedfastness ye elect stands in before god both for ye present & for time to come for ye present ye sons of god have Received strength inwardly for ye time to come god will stablish so with his spirit of grace yt they shall never wholy depart from him & wt I was by the way taught this point These two Names seems to note out besids this ye two churches of ye Jews & gentiles yt of ye jews by jachin on ye right hand as . . . god would at length Establish in his time though as yet it had not atained to this stablnes through ye obstinacy of yr minds Qrwt they should reject christ Qn he should come This of ye gentiles by boaz on ye left hand because of ye present strength yt should be in her Qn she should Imbrace christ at ye first hearing these christ shall wryt upon these pillers better names than those of Jachin & boaz for first he shall wryt upon ym ye name of his god yt it may be made plain to all men yt these men are chossen out fr[om] ye rest to be gods peculiar people as in us wt all mat . . . . yt are openly marked wc do by yr titles declare to every one whose they are in wc sense it was said they shal know yt I have loved ye for wc caus[e] allso Holiness to ye lord was wryten upon ye lit . . . bells yt hang upon ye horses in the prophet Zacharie 14 chap 20 verse


A caput mortuu[m] Skull 15 here you see

To mind you of mortality

Behold great Pillars strength by . . . fell

but establish ... in heaven doeth dwe[ll]

Let all your actions Sqaure be just and trwe

which after death gives life to you

Keep round within Compass of your appointed sp[here]

be ready for your latter end daws near


The Trinity College, Dublin, MS., 1711

This short catechism, which is in the Trinity College, Dublin, Library [T.C.D. MS. I, 4, 18], is contained in one of the volumes of collected papers of Sir Thomas Molyneux (1661-1733), a famous Dublin doctor and scientist. It is written on one side of a single folio sheet, about 11¾" X 7½", and was originally folded into four, about 3" X 7½"; across the top the folded document was endorsed ‘Free Masonry Feb: 1711’. To judge from the photostat made in 1937, the endorsement is in a different hand from the body of the text, the ‘M’, the ‘s’, and the ‘y’ of ‘Masonry’ in the endorsement differing considerably from the same letters in the body of the text. The MS. has been put away in a place of safety, and our observation, based on the photostat, cannot at present be checked by reference to the original. Nor can it be ascertained, by comparison with other documents, whether either the body of the text, or the endorsement, was written by Sir Thomas Molyneux himself. If either was, we surmise that it was the endorsement. The catechism is the earliest known MS. to recognize three classes of mason, each with its own secrets. It was printed in Trans. Lodge of Research No. CC, Dublin, 1924. Our transcript is made from a photostat.


Under no less a penalty

Question. Wt manner of man are you? Answer. I am a mason.

Q. How shall I know that? A. By ye signs, tokens, & points of my entry.

Q. Where were you entered? A. In a full, & perfect lodge.

Q. Wt makes a full, & perfect lodge? A. three masters, 3 fellow craftsmen, & 3 enterprentices.

Q. How stands yr lodge? A. East, & west like ye temple of Jerusalem.

Q. Where sits ye master? A. In a Chair of bone in ye middle of a four square pavement.

Q. Wt sits he there for? A. To observe the suns rising to see to set his men to work.

Q. How high is yr lodge? A. As high as ye stars inches, & feet innumerable.

Q. Where do you keep the key of ye lodge? A. In a box of bone within a foot, & ½ of ye lodge door.

Q. How far is it from ye cable to ye anchor? A. As far as from ye tongue to ye heart.

Q. Which way blows ye wind? A. East & west & out of ye south.

The common sign is with your right hand rub yr mouth then cross yr throat & lay it on ye left brea[st.] The Masters sign is back bone, the word matchpin. The fellow craftsman’s sign is knuckles, & sinues ye word Jachquin.16 The Enterprentice’s sign is sinues, the word Boaz or its hollow. Squeese the Master by ye back bone, put your knee between his, & say Matchpin. Squeese the fellow craftsman in knuckles, & sinues & say Jachquin17 [•] squees the enterprentice in sinues, & say boaz, or its hollow. To know in ye dark if there be a mason in Company, Say ye day was made for seeing, & ye night for hearing. If you are amongst the fraternity, & they drink to you, turn ye top of the glass down and if after two or three times so doing, they say drink & i’ll warrant you, then they will pay your clubb. or if you say ye squire is lean, or throw a tobacco stopper to one of them & say change me yt groat, & they will pay your club. To send for a brother the signes are these Signs if you say ye lodge is untiled, that is as much as to say there is some one in ye Company you suspect for a brother. To bring a man from a scaffold, or any other place, hold yr heels together, and yr toes open, & look up, then with yr hand, or Cane make a right angle, this as all other Motions must be done very carelessly.

[Endorsement] Free Masonry Feb: 1711.



Appended to an anonymous letter printed in The Flying-Post or Post-Master, No. 4712, 11–13 April 1723, is a masonic catechism, without title, now always known by the heading supplied by Gould when he reprinted it in his History of Freemasonry, iii, 487. Our reprint is from a copy in the Bodleian [Nichols Newspapers, 52A].

To the Author of the Flying Post

The Ancient Fraternity of Free and accepted Masons, has thro' all Ages been justly esteemed the only One Society, which hath inviolably observed and kept those two essential and fundamental Pillars of all good Fellowship, Taciturnity and Concord; there being but one single Instance since the Beginning of Time, that a Free Mason betray’d the Grand Arcanum of the Society; namely Samson, who indeed proved a meer Judas, and was punished accordingly. [Hence comes the Saying on One who blabs all he knows, He’ll bring an old House on his Head.]

This has been a Matter of much Speculation to the rest of Mankind, and hath occasioned various Reasonings and Disputes.

It is indeed agreed on all hands, that Masonry, the most substantial Part of Architecture, is of singular Use and Ornament; that Free Masons are no prying inquisitive Busiebodies, but honest industrious Persons, who desire only to excel in their own Profession; that the Worshipful Society are no Innovators in Religious Affairs, no perjured Plotters or Conspirators against the establish’d Government; that they in no way interfere or clash with any other Society or Corporation, however dignify’d or distinguish’d; for all which excellent Qualifications, a reasonable Person would be willing to pay their Persons, their Lodges, their Constitutions, all due Respect and Honour.

But so it is, there are Men of shallow Capacities, Blabbers of Secrets, who, because they have lost or misused their own retentive Faculties, envy and hate those who retain the Gift of Secrecy and Fidelity; These mean Wretches have of late studied a thousand Practices to bring this Worshipful Society into Contempt and Obloquy, and are egg’d on by some silly Women, who (because for good Reasons their Sex are by the Constitutions judged incapable of Fellowship) are therefore nettled and seek Revenge. These are the Persons who trump up many foolish and idle Signs, Gestures and Practices, and vouch them for the very Basis and Ground-plot of Free-Masonry. The enclosed is a Sample of their Malice, and which they pretend was left in Writing by a Fellow Mason lately deceas’d; but, in very Truth, is a senseless Pasquinade, highly derogatory to the Honour of the whole Body and each Worshipful Fellow, many of whom daily stand in Presence of Kings, and are cloathed with Titles, Dignities and Honours.

I shall not take upon me to vindicate the high Reputation of the Fraternity, their numerous Lodges stand in no need of Props and Buttresses for their Support; neither will their Members, by any Arts or Contrivances, be induced like Fools and Children to divulge the Lessons and Instructions given by their Masters and Wardens; but will have a constant Eye to that memorable Saying of wise King Solomon, in his Time Grand Master of Masonry and Architecture, and which pointed to Samson’s Fate aforementioned,

A prating Fool shall fall.

I am, &c.

When a Free-Mason is enter’d, after having given to all present of the Fraternity a Pair of Men and Women’s Gloves and Leathern pron, he is to hear the * * * * * belonging to the Society read to him by the Master of the Lodge. Then a Warden leads him to the Master and Fellows; to each of whom he is to say,

I fain would a Fellow-Mason be,
As all your Worships may plainly see.

After this, he swears to reveal no Secrets of the worshipful Fraternity, on Pain of having his Throat cut, and having a double Portion of Hell and Damnation hereafter. Then he is blind-folded and the Ceremony of —— is performed. After which, he is to behold a thousand different Postures and Grimaces, all of which he must exactly imitate, or undergo the Discipline till he does.

After this the Word Maughbin is whisper’d by the youngest Mason to the next, and so on, till it comes to the Master, who whispers it to the entered Mason, who must have his Face in due Order to receive it: Then the entered Mason says what follows;

An enter’d Mason I have been,
Boaz and Jachin I have seen;
A Fellow I was sworn most rare,
And know the Astler, Diamond, and Square:
I know the Master’s Part full well,
As honest Maughbin will you tell.

Then the Master says;

If a Master-Mason you would be,
Observe you well the Rule of Three;
And what you want in Masonry,
Thy Mark and Maughbin makes thee free.

When you would enter a Lodge, you must knock three times at the Door, and they’ll challenge you.

Q. Are you a Free-Mason? A. Yes, indeed, that I am.

Q. How shall I know it? A. By Signs and Tokens רםﬦ from my Entrance into the Kitchen, and from thence to the Hall.

Q. What is the first Point of your Entrance? A. Hear and conceal, on Pain of having my Throat cut, or Tongue pull’d out.

Then one of the Wardens will say, God’s greeting be at this Meeting; and with the Right Worshipful the Master, and the Worshipful Fellows, who keep the Keys of the Lodge from whence you came; and you are also welcome, Worshipful Brother, into this Worshipful Society.

Then you salute as follows.

The Right Worshipful the Master, and the Worshipful Fellows of the Lodge from whence I came, greet you abundantly.

Q. What Lodge are you of? A. I am of the Lodge of St. Stephen’s.

Q. What makes a just and perfect Lodge? A. A Master, two Wardens, four Fellows, five Apprentices, with Square, Compass, and Common Gudge.

Q. Where was you made? A. In the Valley of Jehoshaphat, behind a Rush-bush, where a Dog was never heard to bark, or Cock crow, or elsewhere.

Q. Where was the first Lodge kept? A. In Solomon’s Porch; the two Pillars were called Jachin and Boaz.

Q. How many Orders be there in Architecture? A. Five; Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite, or Roman.

Q. How many Points be there in Fellowship? A. Six; Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Hand to Hand, Ear to Ear, Tongue to Tongue, Heart to Heart.

Q. How do Masons take their Place in Work? A. The Master S.E. the Wardens N.E. and the Fellows Eastern Passage.

Q. How many precious Jewels are there in Masonry? A. Four; Square, Astler, Diamond, and Common Square.

Q. How many Lights be there in a Lodge? A. Three; the Master, Warden, and Fellows.

Q. Whence comes the Pattern of an Arch? A. From the Rainbow.

Q. Is there a Key to your Lodge? A. Yes.

Q. What is’t? A. A well hung Tongue.

Q. Where is it kept? A. In an Ivory Box between my Teeth, or under the Lap of my Liver, where the Secrets of my Heart are kept.

Q. Is there a Chain to it? A. Yes.

Q. How long is it? A. As long as from my Tongue to my Heart.

Q. Where does the Key of the working Lodge he? A. It lies on the Right Hand from the Door two Foot and a half, under a Green Turf, and one Square.

Q. Where does the Master place his Mark on the Work? A. Upon the S.E. Corner.

To know an entred Apprentice, you must ask him whether he has been in the Kitchen, and he’ll answer, Yes.

To know an entred Fellow, you must ask, whether he has been in the Hall, and he’ll say, Yes.

To know a Mason in the Dark, you must say, there is no Darkness without Absence of Light; and he’ll answer, There is no Lightwithout Absence of Darkness.

To compliment a Brother Mason, You put your Right Hand to the right side of your Hat, and bring your Hat under your Chin; then the Brother will clap his Right Hand to the right side of his Hat, and bring it to the Left Side under his Heart.

To meet a Brother, You must make the first Step with your Right Foot, the second with your Left; and at the third you must advance with your Right Heel to your Brother’s Right Instep; then lay your Right Hand to his Left Wrist, and draw the other Hand from your Right Ear to the Left under your Chin; and then he’ll put his Right Hand to his Left Side under his Heart.

To Gripe, is when you take a Brother by the Right Hand, and put your middle Finger to his Wrist, and he’ll do so to you.

To know a Mason privately, you place your Right Heel to his Right Instep, put your Right Arm over his Left, and your Left under his Right, and then make a Square with your middle Finger, from his Left Shoulder to the middle of his Back, and so down to his Breeches.

When a Mason alights from his Horse, he lays the Stirrup over the Horses Neck.

To call a Mason out from among Company, you must cough three times, or knock against any thing three times.

A Mason, to show his Necessity, throws down a round Piece of Slate, and says, Can you change this Coin?



This anonymous 12-page imperial 8vo (11½" X 7") pamphlet was published in 1724. To the second edition, The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons Discover’d, published in 1725 by A. Moore, are annexed two letters to a friend, signed by 'Verus Commodus', the first concerning the Society of Free-Masons, the second giving an account of the Society of Gormogons. The first edition was reprinted in Misc. Lat., iii; the second edition in Gould, iii, 475. We reprint the first edition from a copy in the Bodleian [MS. Rawl. C. 136]. cf.Institution of Free Masons and the Essex MS.

The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d. Wherein Are the several Questions put to them at their Meetings and Installations: As Also Their Oath, Health, Signs, and Points, to know each other by. As they were found in the Custody of a Free-Mason who Dyed suddenly. And Now Publish’d for the Information of the Publick.

Ambubajarum collegia, Pharmacapolæ,
Mendici, Medici [read mimæ], balatrones, hoc genus omne.


Mulus scabit Mulum.

London: Printed for T. Payne near Stationer’s-Hall. 1724. (Price Six Pence.)


This Piece having been found in the Custody of a FREE-MASON, who died suddenly, it was thought proper to publish it in the very Words of the Copy, that the Publick may at last have something Genuine concerning the Grand Mystery of Free-Masons.

There was a Man at Lovain who publish’d he had, with great Toil and Difficulty, found out, overcome, and tamed, and was now ready at his Booth, to shew at the Rate of six Stivers a-piece, the most hideous and voracious Monster, the Common Disturber of Mankind, especially in their Adversity.

People flock’d from all Parts to see this Monster: They went in at the Fore-Door; and after they had seen the Creature, went out at the Back-Door, where they were ask’d whether the Monster was worth seeing. And as they had, at their Admittance into the Booth, promised to keep the Secret, they answer’d, it was a very wonderful Creature; which the Man found his Account in. But by some Accident it was divulged, that this wonderful Creature prov’d to be a LOUSE.


A Gutteral Gutteral
A Pedestal Pedestal
A Manual Manual
A Pectoral Pectoral

Peace be here. Answer. I hope there is.

Q. What a-Clock is it? A. It’s going to Six, or going to Twelve.

Q. Are you very busy? A. No.

Q. Will you give, or take? A. Both; or which you please.

Q. How go Squares? A. Straight.

Q. Are you Rich, or Poor? A. Neither.

Q. Change me that. A. I will.

Q. In the Name of, &c. are you a Mason?

[Q.] What is a Mason? A. A Man begot of a Man, born of a Woman, Brother to a King.

Q. What is a Fellow? A. A Companion of a Prince.

Q. How shall I know you are a Free Mason? A. By Signs, Tokens, and Points of my Entry.

Q. Which is the Point of your Entry? A. I Hear and Conceal, under the Penalty of having my Throat cut, or my Tongue pull’d out of my Head.

Q. Where was you made a Free-Mason? A. In a just and perfect Lodge.

Q. How many make a Lodge? A. God and the Square, with five or seven right and perfect Masons, on the highest Mountains, or the lowest Valleys in the World.

Q. Why do Odds make a Lodge? A. Because all Odds are Mens Advantage.

Q. What Lodge are you of? A. The Lodge of St. John. Tri-Cross

Q. How does it stand? A. Perfect East and West, as all Temples do

Q. Where is the Mason’s Point? A. At the East-Window, waiting at the Rising of the Sun, to set his Men at Work.

Q. Where is the Warden’s Point? A. At the West-Window, waiting the Setting of the Sun, to dismiss the Entred Apprentices.

Q. Who rules and governs the Lodge, and is Master of it?

A. Irah, Cross Iachin, or the Right Pillar.

Q. How is it govern’d? A. Of Square and Rule.

Q. Have you the Key of the Lodge? A. Yes, I have.

Q. What is its Virtue? A. To open and shut, and shut and open.

Q. Where do you keep it? A. In an Ivory Box, between my Tongue and my Teeth, or within my Heart, where all my Secrets are kept.

Q. Have you the Chain to the Key? A. Yes, I have.

Q. How long is it? A. As long as from my Tongue to my Heart.

Q. How many precious Jewels? A. Three; a square Asher, a Diamond, and a Square.

Q. How many Lights? A. Three; a Right East, South, and West.

Q. What do they represent? A. The Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Q. How many Pillars? A. Two; Iachin and Boaz.

Q. What do they represent? A. A Strength and Stability of the Church in all Ages.

Q. How many Angles in St. John’s Lodge? A. Four, bordering on Squares. Tri-Cross

Q. How is the Meridian found out? A. When the Sun leaves the South, and breaks in at the West-End of the Lodge.

Q. In what Part of the Temple was the Lodge kept? A. In Solomon’s Porch at the West-End of the Temple, where the two Pillars were set up.

Q. How many Steps belong to a right Mason? A. Three.

Q. Give me the Solution. A. I will. — The Right Worshipful, Worshipful Masters, and Worshipful Fellows of the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence I came, greet you well.

A. That Great God to us greeting, be at this our Meeting, and with the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence you came, and you are.

Q. Give me the Jerusalem Word. A. Giblin.

Q. Give me the Universal Word. A. Boaz.

Q. Right Brother of ours, your Name? A. N. or M.

Welcome Brother M. or N. to our Society.

Q. How many particular Points pertain to a Free-Mason?

A. Three; Fraternity, Fidelity, and Tacity.

Q. What do they represent? A. Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, among all Right Masons; for which all Masons were ordain’d at the Building of the Tower of Babel, and at the Temple of Jerusalem.

Q. How many proper Points? A. Five; Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart, and Ear to Ear.

Q. Whence is an Arch derived? A. From Architecture.

Q. How many Orders in Architecture? A. Five; the Tuscan, Dorick, lonick, Corinthian, and Composit.

Q. What do they answer? A. They answer to the Base, Perpendicular, Diameter, Circumference, and Square.

Q. What is the right Word, or right Point of a Mason? A. Adieu.


You must serve God according to the best of your Knowledge and Institution, and be a true Leige Man to the King, and help and assist any Brother as far as your Ability will allow: By the Contents of the Sacred Writ you will perform this Oath. So help you God.


Here’s a Health to our Society, and to every faithful Brother that keeps his Oath of Secrecy. As we are sworn to love each other. The World no Order knows like this our Noble and Antient Fraternity: Let them wonder at the Mystery.

Here, Brother, I drink to thee.


1. To put off the Hat with two Fingers and a Thumb.

2. To strike with the Right-Hand on the Inside of the Little Finger of the Left three Times, as if hewing.

3. By making a Square, viz. by setting your Heels together, and the Toes of both Feet straight, at a Distance, or by any other Way of Triangle.

4. To take Hand in Hand, with Left and Right Thumbs close, and touch each Wrist three Times with the Fore-Finger each Pulse.

5. You must Whisper, saying thus, The Masters and Fellows of the worshipful Company from whence I came, greet you all well.

The other will answer, God greet well the Masters and Fellows of the worshipful Company from whence you came.

6. Stroke two of your Fore-Fingers over your Eye-Lids three times.

7. Turn a Glass, or any other Thing that is hollow, downwards, after you have drank out of it.

8. Ask how you do; and your Brothers drink to each other.

9. Ask what Lodge they were made Free-Masons at.

N.B. In the Third of King Henry the Sixth, an Act of Parhament was pass’d, whereby it is made Felony to cause MASONS to confederate themselves in Chapiters and Assemblies. The Punishment is Imprisonment of Body, and make Fine and Ransom at the King’s Will.




This catechism, which appears to be an early and shorter version of The Whole Institutions of Free Masons Opened, 1725 (see below), is contained in the same MS. as the Dialogue between Simon and Philip (see below). The document is stated to bear an almost illegible name and address, “Mr John Page . . . No 5 . . . Bristol”, and was recently in the possession of the late Bro. Salisbury (see above). Though we have not so far been able to trace and examine the MS. itself, we know of no prima facie reason for doubting its authenticity, and have consequently decided to print here a transcript prepared from Bro. Cramphorn’s typescript copy. So far as we know this catechism has not previously been printed.


First Observe — That all Squares is Signs According to the subject in handling.

The Salutation as Follow’s.

Q. From whence came You. A. I came from a Right Worshipful Lodge of Masters and Fellows belonging to Holy St. John.

Q. I greet you well Brother what is your Name. A. Jachin.

The Examination, as Follows

Q. How shall I know you are a Mason. A. By True words and Tokens at my Entry.

Q. How were you made a Mason. A. By a True and a Perfect Lodge.

Q. What Lodge are you off. A. Holy St John

Q. How Stands a Lodge A. East and West.

Q. How many Lights in a Lodge A. Twelve.

Q. What are they. A. Father. Son. Holy Ghost. Sun. Moon. Master Mason. Square. Rule. Plum. Line. Mell, and Chizzel.

Q. Whoe is Master of all Lodge’s. A. God and the Square.

The Explination of our Secrets is as Follow’s—

JACHIN signifies. Strength and BOAZ. Beautiful, and had reference to the two Sons of Abraham. One to the Free Woman and another to the Bond. And also to the two Covenants. One of Works, and one of Free Grace.

Q. What posture did you receive your Secret Words in.

A. Kneeling with Square and Compass at my Breast.

Q. What were you Sworne too.

A. For to Hold and Conceal.

Q. What other Tenor did your Oath carry.

A. For to Helpe all Perfect Brothers of our Holy Secret. Fellow Craft or Not.

JACHIN and BOAZ. Two Brass Pillars of Wonderful Beauty set up in Solomons Porch at the West end of the Temple. 32 cubits high 12 cubits in Circumference.



The early history of this catechism, which is a manuscript version of The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d (q.v.), is unknown. It was purchased c. 1905 from a dealer by Bro. A. F. Calvert of London. It consists of two leaves, 3 3/5" X 5 9/10" cut out of an old vellum-bound notebook, in which there were other writings which did not interest Bro. Calvert. It was purchased from him in 1941 by Bro. Douglas Knoop. The catechism is written on three sides and about a quarter of the fourth, the rest of the page being filled with some lines in a different hand, headed "The Character of a Mason", Dr. Schofield of the British Museum MSS. Department is of opinion that it was written in the first half of the eighteenth century. It was reproduced photographically in the Authors’ Lodge Transactions, iii (1919). The transcript we print is made from the manuscript. cf.Essex MS.


1. Question. Peace be here. A. I hope there is.

2. What a Clock is it? A. Tis going to 12 or ’tis going to 6.

3. Are you very busy? A. No.

4. Will you give or take? A. Both or which you please.

5. How go Squares? A. Straight

6. Are you rich or poor? A. Neither

7. Change me that ⊕? I will

8. In the name of God, Amen, Are you a Mason? A Mason

9. What is a Mason? A man begot of a man, born of a woman & Brother to a King.

10. What is a fellow? A Companion to a Prince

11. How shall I know if you are a Right Mason? A. By Signs, Tokens & Points of my Entry

12. Which is the 1st Point of your Entry? A. To hide & conceal under the Penalty of having my Throat cut, or my Tongue cut out of my Head.

13. Where were you made a Mason? In a just & perfect Lodge.

14. How many makes a Lodge? A. God & the Square, wt 7 or 5 right & perfect Masons on the highest mountain or the lowest valley in the world.

15. Why do odd Numbers make a lodge? A. Because all Odds are Men’s advantages.

16. What lodge are you of? The Lodge of St John 5.

17. How doth that Lodge stand? Perfect East & West as all holy Temples do.

18. Where’s the Masters Post? A. At the East window waiting the rising of the Sun to set his men at work.

19. Where’s the Warden’s Post? A. At the West window waiting the Setting of the Sun, to dismiss the entred Apprentice.

20. Who rules & governs the Lodge & is Master of it? A. Iehovah the right Pillar.

21. How is it govern’d? Of Square, Plumb & Rule L I

22. Have you a Key of the Lodge? Yes I have

23. What is its Virtue? To open & Shut & to Shut & open

24. Where do you keep it? A. In an Ivory Box betwixt my Tongue & Teeth, or whn my heart, where all my Secrets are kept.

25 Have you a Chain to the Key? Yes I have

26. How Long is it? It is as long as from my Tongue to my Heart.

27. How many precious lewels? A. Three a Square where a Diadem & a Square.

28. How many Lights? Three a Right East, South & West.

29. What do they represent? A. The three Persons of the holy Trinity Father S. & H.Gt

30. How many Pillars? Two I . . hin & Boaz.18

31. What do they represent? A. Strength & Stability to the Church in all Ages.

32. How many Angles are in St John’s Lodge? A. Four boarding on Squares.

33. How is the Meridian found out? A. When the Sun leaves the South, & breaks in at the West End of the Lodge.

34. In what part of the Temple was the Lodge kept? A. In Solomon’s Porch at the west End of the Temple, where the Two Pillars were set up.

35. How many Steps belong to a Right Mason? Three.

36. Give me the Salutation? A. I will. The right Worshipful Master & Worshipful fellows of the Right Worsh. Lodge from whence I came greet you well, as I do. God’s greeting be at this our Meeting & with the R. W Masters & W. Fellows of the R. W. Lodge whence you came, & you also.

37. Give me the Ierusalem Words? G . . . . G . . . . .19

38. Give me the Universal Words? . . . . .20

39. Right, Brother of ours, Give me your Name? M or N

40. Welcome Brother M or N to our Society. How many Prin­cipal Points pertain to a right Mason? A. Three. Fraternity, Fidelity, Taciturnity.

41. What do they represent? A. Brotherly Love, Relief & Truth, amongst all right & perfect Masons, for wc Masons were ordain’d at the Building of the Tower of Babel & the Temple of lerusalem.

42. How many proper Points? Five, foot to foot, Knee to Knee Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart & Ear to Ear

43. Whence is an Arch deriv’d? From Architecture.

44. What doth it resemble? The Rainbow

45. How many orders in Architecture? A. Five, Tuscan, Dorick, lonick, Corinthian, Composit

46. What do they answer to? They answer to Base Perpendicular Diameter Circumference & Square

47 Which is the right Word or Point of a right Mason? A. Adieu

THE OATH Novr 24th21

You must Serve God according to the best of your Knowledge & Institution, & be a true Liege man to the King, & to help & assist any Brother of the antient & Noble Science, as far as your Ability will allow you, So by the Contents of this Sacred write you’ll perform this Oath. So help you God


Here’s a Health to our Society & to every faithful Brother that keeps Oath of Secrecy as we are sworn to love each other, the world no order knows like this of our ancient & noble fraternity, Let them wonder what the Mystery is. Here Fellow I drink to thee.


1. To put off the . . . . . 22 with two fingers & a Thumb

2. To strick wt the Right Hand on the . . . . . of the . . . . . 5 times as if hewing.

3. By making a Square, namely, by setting the Heels together & the Toes of both Feet spread out at a distance, or by any other way of Triangle.

4. To take Hand in Hand wt Left & Right Thumbs closs, touching the . . . . . 5 times hard wt the forefinger on each place

5. You must whisper Saying thrice, the Mr, Fellows of the Right Worshipful Company whence I came greet you well Then the other will answer, God greet well, the Mr, Fellows of the Worshipful Lodge or Company from whence you came—and then— How do you do Brother? & drink to each other & ask, In what Lodge were you made a free Mason?

6. The greatest . . . . . is to Stroak two of your fore-fingers over the . . . . . .

Guttural Sign—Pedestal Sign
Manual Sign—Pectoral Sign

3 anno Henr. 6 Chap. I. An act of Parliamt is made to abolish the Society of free Masons, & its made felony to hold any of those meetings—


. . . . . . . .


If all ye Social Virtues of ye Mind
If an extensive love to all mankind
If hospitable welcome to a Guest
If speedy charity to ye distress’d
If due regard to liberty & Laws
Zeal for our King & for our Countrys cause
Let Masons yn enjoy ye praise they claim.



This anonymous folio broadsheet, printed on both sides, was published in Dublin in 1725. Only one copy is known to exist. It was formerly in Bro. Broadley’s collection, then in that of Bro. Wallace Heaton. It is now in Grand Lodge Library to which it was presented by Bros. R. A. Card and Wallace Heaton in 1939. It was reprinted by Bro. Poole in A.Q.C., 1 (1937). Our reprint is from photographs of the copy in Grand Lodge Library. cf.the Essex MS. and the Graham MS.

The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened. As also their Words and Signs.

FIRST, Observe that all Squares is Signs according to every Subject in Handling, proved by the 7th Verse of the 6th Chap, of the First of Kings.

The Salutation as follows.

FROM whence came You—Answer, I came from a right worshipful Lodge of Masters and Fellows belonging to Holy St. John, who doth greet all perfect Brothers of our Holy Secret, so do I you, if you be one.—I greet you well Brother, God’s Greeting be at our Meeting, what is your Name answer Jachin.

The Examination as follows.

HOW shall I know you are a Free-Mason.—By trueWords andTokens at my Entering. What was the first Point of your Entering a willing desire to know what I now know.—How were you made a Mason.— By a true and perfect Lodge.—What Lodge are you of, answer St. John.—How Stands a Lodge.—South, East and West. How many Lights belongs to a Lodge.—Twelve, what are they. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Sun, Moon, Master, Mason, Square, Rule, Plum, Line, Mell and Cheisal.—Who is Master of all Lodges, God, and the Square.—In what Posture did you receive our Secret Words.—Kneeling with Square and Compass at my Breast.

WHAT were you Sworn to.—For to Heal and Conceal.—What other Tenor did your Oath carry.—For to help all perfect Brothers, of our Holy Secret fellow Craft or not.—What is your foundation Words.—Come let us, and you shall have—

What mean you by these Words—We differ from the Babylonians who did presume to Build to Heaven, but we pray the blessed Trinity to let us build True, High, and Square, and they shall have the praise to whom it is due.

Your first word is Jachin and Boaz is the answer to it, and Grip at the forefinger Joint.—Your 2d word is Magboe and Boe is the answer to it, and Grip at the Wrist. Your 3d Word is Gibboram, Esimberel is the Answer—and Grip at the Elbow, and Grip at the Rein of the Back, and then to follow with the five Points of Free Masons fellowship, which is Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Breast to Breast, Cheek to Cheek, and Hand to Back; these five Points hath reference to the five principal Signs, which is Head, Foot Body Hand and Heart.

The Explanation of our Secrets, is as follows.

JAchin and Boaz, two Pillars made by Heirom Jachin, signifies Strength, and Boaz Beautiful, Magbo and Boe signifies Marrow in the Bone, so is our Secret to be Concealed.—Tho’ there is different opinions of this, yet I prove this the truest Construction.—Gibboram, and Simber signifies the Gibonites, who built the City of Simellon.

For proof of our two Pillars you may read the 7th Chapter of the 1st of Kings from the 13th Verse to the 22d, where you will find the wonderful Works of Hierome at the building the House of the Lord.

The reason why Masonary receiv’d a secret, was, because the building the House of the Lord pleas’d his Divine Majesty; it could not well go amiss, being they wrought for so good a Master. And had the wisest Man on Earth to be their Overseer.—Therefore in some parts by Merit, yet more by free Grace, they obtain’d a Name, and a new Command, such as Christ gave his Disciples, for to love each other, keep well the Key that lies into a Box of Bone, adieu Brother.

Yet for all this I want the primitive Word, I answer it was God in six Terminations, to wit I am, and Johova is the answer to it, and Grip at the Rein of the Back, or else Excellent and Excellent, Excellency is the Answer to it, and Grip as aforesaid, or else Tapus Majester, and Majester Tapus is the answer to it, and Grip as aforesaid, for proof read the first of the first of St. John.

Printed by William Wilmot on the Blind-Key, 1725.



This document, after stating the mason’s salutation, consists of an examination, partly along conventional masonic lines (cf. especially The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, and the second part of the Essex MS), and partly scriptural in character, thus calling to mind the Dumfries No. 4 MS. After the Examiner is satisfied that the candidate has been in a Lodge, he asks further questions to make sure that the candidate was ‘entered’. This is followed by some questions regarding the candidate’s ‘raising’; the answer to the last question, as to how the works of the Babylonians stood, occupies about half the MS. It consists of a long exposition of legendary matter (bearing little resemblance to events recorded in the ‘historical’ section of the MS. Constitutions of Masonry), mainly concerning Noah, Bezaleel and King Solomon, for only part of which Biblical or Talmudic authority can be found. The exposition concludes with a somewhat cryptic account of the secrets of freemasonry. The document belongs to the Rev. H. I. Robinson, Londesborough Rectory, York, in whose family it has been for some time. Its previous history is unknown. He first drew attention to it when he was initiated in 1936. It originally consisted of two sheets of paper, 16½" X 13", folded in two to form four leaves, 16½" X 6½" Quite recently each sheet has been cut in half, making four sheets, 8¼" X 13", or eight leaves, 8¼" X 6½". The text occupies one side only of six of these leaves [the upper and lower halves of original leaves 1, 2 and 3]. A single line, probably a false start for the original page 3, occurs on another page. The MS. bears the date 24 October 1726. It was reproduced photographically in A.Q.C., I (1937)> with an introduction by Bro. Poole. The transcript we print has been made from the A.Q.C. reproduction and checked from photographs of the original, by the courtesy of Bro. Robinson.

Treatment of the Text. As no line of the MS. is indented, and as there are no cross-headings, strictly speaking the whole document should be printed as one paragraph. Consequently, all division of the text into paragraphs, as printed below, represents editorial emendation. Some lines in the MS. contain relatively few words, and are filled in with strokes, the next word commencing at the extreme left-hand side of the page. Where this coincides with a change of speaker, we have printed the text as though a new paragraph began. This method being hardly applicable to the last three-quarters of the document, we have there somewhat arbitrarily introduced new paragraphs wherever a change in the subject matter seemed to make a break desirable. The writer often joins two words together, especially where the first word is ‘a’, e.g., ‘adevine’, ‘awilling’, ‘adark’; we print such formations as separate words. Very frequently the writer uses ‘ff’, not instead of ‘F’, but in places where one would expect only ‘f’. Although in some cases we suspect that this doubling of the ‘f’ may be due to a faulty quill pen, we have printed ‘ff’ wherever it appears in the MS.


ffirst observe that all our signes is taken from the square according to every subject in handleing this is proved by the 9 vers of the 6 chapter of ffirst book of kings

The Sallutation is as follows—ffrom whence came you—I came ffrom a right worshipfull Lodge of Masters and ffellows belonging to God and holy saint John who doth greet all true and perfect brothers of our holy secrets so do I you if I finde you to be one

I greet you well brother craveing your name—answere J and the other is to say his is B

The examination is as follows—How shall I know you are a ffree Mason—By true words signes and tokens from my entering—

How were you made a free mason—by a true and a perfect Lodge—what is a perfect Lodge—the senter of a true heart—

But how many masons is so called—any od number from 3 to 13—why so much ado and still haveing od numbers—still in refferance ffrom the blesed trinity to the comeing of christ with his 12 apostles what was the first step towards your entering—a willing disire for to know the secrets of free masonry—

why was it called free masonry—first because a ffree gift of God to the children of men secondly free from the intruption of infernall spirits thirdly a ffree union amonge the brothers of that holy secret to remain for ever—

How came you into the Lodge—poor and penyless blind and Ignorant of our secrets—

some reason for that—in regard our saviour became poor ffor our redemption so I became poor at that time for the knowledge of God contracted in the square—

what did you see in the Lodge when you did see—I saw truth the world and Justice and brotherly Love—where—before Me—

what was behind you—perjury and hatred of Brotherhood ffor ever if I discover our Secrets without the consent of a Lodge Except that have obtained a trible Voice by being entered passed and raised and Conformed by 3 severall Lodges and not so Except I take the party sworn to be true to our articles—

How stood your Lodge at your entering—East west and south—why not north allso—in regard we dwell at the north part of the world we burie no dead at the north side of our churches so we cary a Vacancey at the north side of our Lodges—why east and west—because churches stands east and west and porches to the south—

why doth churches stand east and west[—]in ffour referances—what are they—first our first parance was placed Eastward in edin secondly the East winde dryed up the sea before the children of Israell so was the temple of the Lord to be builded thirdly these who dwell near the Equenoxall the sun riseth east and seteth west on them fourthly the stare apeared in the East that advertized both the sheep beards and wise men that our saviour was come in the flesh—

who Conducted you into the Lodge—the warden and oldest fellow craft—

why not the youngest fellow craft—in regard our Saviour exorted the chiefe to Serve at the table that being an exortation to Hummility to be observed by us for ever—what poster did you pass your oath in—I was nether siting standing goeing runing rideing hinging nor flying naked nor cloathed shode nor bairfoot—a reason ffor such poster—in regard one God one man makes a very christ so one naked object being half naked half cloathed half shode half bairfoot half kneeling half standing being half of all was none of the whole this sheweth a humble and obediant heart for to be a ffaithfull ffollower of that Just Jesus—

what were you sworn to—for to hale and conceall our secrets[—]what other tenours did your oath Cary—my second was to obey God and all true Squares made or sent from a brother my third was never to steall Least I should ofend God and shame the square my fourth was never to commite adultry with a brothers wife nor tell him a willfull lie my fift was to disire no unjust revange of a brother but Love and releive him when its in my power it not horting my self too far—

I pass you have been in a Lodge yet I demand how many Lights belongs to a Lodge—I answere 12—what are they—the first 3 jewells is ffather son holy ghost—sun moon master Mason square Rule plum Lyne Mell and cheisall—prove all these proper—as ffor the blesed trinity they affurd reason as ffor the sun he renders Light day and night as ffor the moon she is a dark body off water and doth receive her Light ffrom the sun and is allso queen of waters which is the best of Leavells as ffor the master mason he teaches the trade and ought to have a trible voice in teaching of our secrets if he be a bright man because we do be Leive into a Supper oritory power for alltho the 70 had great power Yet the 11 had mor for they chused matthias in place of Judas as ffor square Rule plum lyne mell and cheisall they are six toolls that no mason can performe true work without the major part of them—what refferance can be prest on thes 12 Lights—we draw refferance from the 12 patriarches and allso from the 12 oxen we reid of at the 7 chapter of first king that caryed up the molten sea of brass which was tipes of the 12 disciples was to be tought by christ—

I pass you entered yet I demand if you were raised—yes I was—into what were you raised—I was raised into knowled of our primitive both by tradition and scripture—what is your foundation words at the Laying of a building where you exspect that some inffernall squandering spirit hath haunted and posable may shake your handy work—O come Let us and you shall have—to whom do you speak—I to the blesed trinity in prayer—how do you adminster these words—kneeling bairhead fface towards the east—what mean you by the exspreshion thereof—we mean that we foresake self righteiousness and differs ffrom these baballonians who presumed to build to heaven I but we pray the blesed trinity to Let us build trueLy and square and they shall have the praise to whom it is due—when was these words made or what need was for them—I answere into the primitive before the ghospell spraid the world being incumbered with infernall squandering spirits except that men did build by ffaith and prayer their works were oft asulted

But how came that the works of the Baballonians stood before all this or yet the brightness off the gospell—I yet by your own question answere you because the presumption of the Baballonians afforesaid had vexed the God head in so much the Langvage was Confounded ffor their sake so that no mankind ffor ever was to do the Like again without a devine Lisiance which could not be had wtout faith and prayer—tradition that—we have it by tradition and still some refferance to scripture cause shem ham and Japheth ffor to go to their father noahs grave for to try if they could find anything about him ffor to Lead them to the vertuable secret which this famieous preacher had for I hop all will allow that all things needfull for the new world was in the ark with noah Now these 3 men had allready agreed that if they did not ffind the very thing it self that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret they not Douting but did most ffirmly be Leive that God was able and would allso prove willing through their faith prayer and obediance for to cause what they did find for to prove as vertuable to them as if they had received the secret at ffirst from God himself at its head spring so came to the Grave finding nothing save the dead body all most consumed away takeing a greip at a ffinger it came away so from Joynt to Joynt so to the wrest so to the Elbow so they R Reared up the dead body and suported it setting ffoot to ffoot knee to knee Breast to breast Cheeck to cheeck and hand to back and cryed out help o ffather as if they had said o father of heaven help us now for our Earthly ffather cannot so Laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do—so one said here is yet marow in this bone and the second said but a dry bone and the third said it stinketh so they agreed for to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day so went to their undertakings and afterwards works stood: yet it is to be beleived and allso understood that the vertue did not proceed from what they ffound or how it was called but ffrom ffaith and prayer so thus it Contenued the will pass for the deed

while the reigne of king alboyne then was born Bazalliell who was so Called of God before conceived in the [womb] and this holy man knew by inspiration that the secret titles and primitive pallies of the God head was preservitiv and he builded on them in so much that no infernall squandering spirit durst presume to shake his handy work so his works be came so ffameious while the two younger brothers of the fforesaid king alboyin disired for to be instructed by him his noble asiance by which he wrought to which he agreed conditionally they were not to discover it without a another to themselves to make a trible voice so they entered oath and he tought them the heorick and the practick part of masonry and they did work—then was masons wages called up in that realme then was masons numbered with kings and princes yet near to the death of Bazalliell he disired to be buried in the valey of Jehosephate and have cutte over him according to his diserveing which was performed by these two princes and this was cutte as follows—Here Lys the flowr of masonry superiour of many other companion to a king and to two princes a brother Here Lys the heart all secrets could conceall Here lys the tongue that never did reveal—now after his death the inhabitance there about did think that the secrets of masonry had been totally Lost because they were no more heard of for none knew the secrets therof Save these two princes and they were so sworn at their entering not to discover it without another to make a trible voice yet it is to be beleiued and allso under stood that such a holy secret could never be Lost while any good servant of God remained alive on the earth for every good servant of God had hath and allways will have a great part of that holy secret alltho they know it not themselves nor by what means to mak use therof for it hapened with the world at that time as it did with the Sammaritan church about christ they were Seeking ffor what they did not want But their deep Ignorance could not disarne it so all this contenued dark and obscure while the ffour hundred and ffour Score off year after the children of Israeli came out of the Land off Egypt in the ffourth year of Sollomons reigne over Israell that sollomon begun to Build the house of the Lord which his father david should have builded but was not admited to performe it because his hands was gultie of blood wars being on every side—

So all reffered while the days off Sollomon his son that he be gun to build the house of the Lord now I hope all men will give ffor granted that all things needffull ffor carying on off that holy errection was not holden ffrom that wise king—to this we must all allow Els we must charge God with unJustice which no ffraill mortall dare presume to charge God with nether can his devine goodness be Guilty off now we read at the 13 vers off the 7 chapter of ffirst book of kings that Sollomon sent and ffet hiram out off tyre he being a widdows son of the tribe of naphtale and his father was a man of tyre a worker in brass ffilled with wisdom and Cunning to work all works in brass and he came to king sollomon and wrought all his work ffor him—the Exsplanation of these verses is as ffollows—the word Cunning renders ingenuity as ffor wisdom and understanding when they are both found in one person he can want nothing: so by this present scripture must be allowed that the widows Son whose name was hiram had a holy inspiration as well as the wise king sollomon or yet the holy Bazalliell—now it is holden fforth by tradition that there was a tumult at this Errection which should hapened betwext the Laborours and masons about wages and ffor to call me all and to make all things easie the wise king should have had said be all of you contented ffor you shall be payed all alike yet give a signe to the Masons not known to the Laborours and who could make that signe at the paying place was to be payed as masons the Laborours not knowing thereof was payed as fforesaid—this might have been yet if it was so we are to Judge very Mercyfull on the words of the wise king sollomon ffor it is to be understood and allso beleived that the wise king meant according to every mans disarveing yet the 7 vers of the 6 chapter off ffirst book off kings reads me still Better where it is said the House when it was in Building was build of ston made ready beffore it was brought theither so that there was nether hammer nor ax nor any tooll off Iron heard in the house when it was in Building—ffrom whence may be gathered that all things was ffitted affore hand yet not posable to be caryed on without a motion and when all things were sought ffrom the horasin off the heavens to the plate fform off the earth there could be nothing ffound more be Comeing more becomeing then then the square ffor to be their signe ffor to signifie what they would have each other to do—so the work went on and prospered which could not well go amiss being they wrought ffor so good a master and had the wisest man on earth for to be their overseer therefore in so parts by Merite yet Much mor by ffree grace Masonry obtained a name and a new command—their name doth signifie strength and their answere beauty and theire command Love ffor proofe hereoff read the 7 and 6 of ffirst book off kings where you will finde the wonderfull works off hiram at the building off the house of the Lord—

So all Being ffinised then was the secrets off ffree Masonry ordered aright as is now and will be to the E End of the world for such as do rightly understand it—in 3 parts in refferance to the blesed trinity who made all things yet in 13 brenches in refferances to Christ and his 12 apostles which is as follows a word ffor a deveine Six ffor the clargey and 6 ffor the ffedow craft and at the ffull and totall agreement therof to ffollow with five points off ffree Masons fellowshipe which is ffoot to ffoot knee to knee breast to breast cheeck to cheeck and hand to Back which ffive points hath refferance to the ffive cheife signes which is head ffoot body hand and heart and allso to the ffive points off artitectur and allso to the ffive orders of Masonry yet takes thire strength ffrom five primitive one devine and ffour temporall which is as ffollows ffirst christ the chiefe and Cornnerston secondly Peter called Cephas thirdly moses who cutte the commands ffourthly Bazalliell the best off Masons ffifftly hiratn who was {Filled with wisdom and understanding—you[r] ffirst is

your Second is your third is
you[r] ffourth is your ffift is
your sixt is your seven is
your eight is your nineth is
your tent is you[r] Elewent iss
your twelt is you[r] thirteen is

Tho Graham Chanceing Master of Lodges outher Enquam Ebo october ye 24 1726 to all or any ofF our ffretamity that intends to Learn by this—
[Page 4]
on Every so all this contenued darke and obscure while the ffollowing days off his

[Remainder of sheet blank]



This anonymous folio broadsheet is printed on one side only, and in two columns, with the exception of the title and the words 'Printed in the Year, 1726’ It contains no indication as to where it was published. The only known copy, formerly owned by Bro. A. M. Broadley, and later by Bro. Wallace Heaton, is in Grand Lodge Library, to which it was presented in 1939 by Bros. R. A. Card and Wallace Heaton. It was reprinted by Bro. Poole in A.Q.C., l (1937). Our reprint is from a photograph of the copy in Grand Lodge Library.

The Grand Mystery Laid Open; or the Free-Masons Signs and Word discovered.

All Secrets till they once are known,
Are wonder’d at by every one,
But when once known we cease to wonder,
Tis Equal then to fart or Thunder.

When any Person is admitted a Member into this noble and Ancient Fraternity, He is instructed to answer to the following Questions, viz.

How many Signs has a true Free Mason, Nine, which are distinguish’d into Spiritual and Temporal. How many Temporal Signs are there? Three. The first is a Grip by the two first Fingers, and is call’d Jachin and Boaz; the second is a Grip by the Wrist, and call’d Gibboam and Gibberum; the third is a Grip by the Elbow, and is called Thimbulum and Timbulum. Have the six Spiritual Signs any Names? Yes, but are not divulged to any new admitted Member, because they are Cabalisttical? What are these Signs, The first is Foot to Foot, the second is Knee to Knee, the third is Breast to Breast, the fourth is Hand to Back, the fifth is Cheek to Cheek, the sixth is Face to Face. Who is the Grand Master of all the Lodges in the World? INRI. What is the meaning of that Name? Each distinct Letter stands for a whole Word, and is very mysterious. How is the Master of every particular Lodge called? Oakecharing a Tocholochy.

By what Name are all the Members distinguish’d? By the Name of Istowlawleys. Who is your Founder? God and the Square. What is God called? Laylah Illallah, which is there is no other God but God. What is the Square call’d? Whosly Powu Tigwawtubby which signifies the Excellency of Excellencies. What posture were you in when you receiv’d the secret Word? I sat on my Right Knee with the Holy Bible at my Breast. Why do you hold the Holy Bible at your Breast? for the Enjoyning Secrecy, and I because in it is contained the Grand Secret of Masonry. Who was the first Mason? Laylah Illallah. Who invented the secret Word? Checchehabeddin Jatmouny. What is it? It is a Cabalistical Word composed of a Letter out of each of the Names of Laylah Illallah as mentioned in the Holy Bible.

Where sat King John in the Morning when he assembled the Society? He sat in the East Window of the Temple in a Chair of Marble waiting the rising Sun. where sat He in the Evening when He dismissed it? At the West End of the Temple in the same Chair waiting the setting Sun.

Why was St. John called King? Because He was Head of all the Christian Lodges, and from his Superiour knowledge in the wonderfull Art of Masonry. What are the Day and Night made for? The Day is made for Man to see in, the Night is made for Man to hear in. What is the most usfull Member? The Ear, because Men ought to hear more than they speak. What are the Tools requisite for a Free-Mason? The Hammer and Trowel, the one to seperate, the other to join. What Names are given to them? Asphahani and Talagaica. By what Oath did you Swear to conceal the secret Word? By God, the Square, the King, and the Master. At the Installation of any Member the Person to be admited drest with an Apron before Him, a Trowel in his right Hand, and a Hammer in his left, kneels on his right knee with a Bible on his Breast, supported by the Trowel, and in this Posture He Swears to keep secret the Word and Signs by which a Free-Mason is known over all the World, the Privileges they enjoy; by being admitted Members into this Ancient Society are very great, for a Member of any Lodge is oblig’d to Furnish another Member tho’ of a different Lodge, with all Necessaries in his distress and support Him to the utmost of his Power.

Printed in the Year, 1726.



This anonymous catechism, appended to a letter signed ‘D.B.’, printed in The Scots Magazine, March 1755/6, claims to represent the working of a Scottish operative lodge about 1727. It was reprinted in Misc. Lat., iii (1915-16). It has also been reprinted from a version in the James MSS., in Nocalore, x [Trans. of the Research Lodge of N. Carolina, U.S.A.] Our reprint is from a copy of The Scots Magazine in the Bodleian [Hope Adds. 854].

To the author of the Scots Magazine.


Some time ago a mason living at a considerable distance from me, whom I knew to have the character of a sensible and religious man, sent me a long paper, all of his own hand-writing, and subscribed by him; in which he makes a confession of the oath, word, and other secrets of his craft. When he wrote that paper, and for a good time before, he was confined by bodily distress: and he represents his having been brought under a conviction of that whole affair, as a mystery of iniquity. His narrative is intermixed with reasonings from many texts of scripture, and otherwise, about the iniquity of the matter. He considers the oath as profane and abominable, what was sinful for him to take, and sinful to keep; he treats of all the secrets which are therein sworn to, as a compound of superstitious ceremonies, lyes, and idle nonsense; and he renounces the whole, as a horrid wickedness. At the same time, he urges me to publish the paper, for the conviction of persons engaged in that oath, and for warning others to beware of the snare; allowing me to discover his name, his place of abode, and the lodge he belonged to. However, I have only drawn out his narrative, which I here offer you, in his own words, for a place in your Magazine; leaving the world to judge of the matter as they please.

He informs me, that the account he gives is only of what he himself was taught, according to the usage of the lodge in which he entered; without regard to some circumstantial variations which may take place in other lodges, while they agree in the substance. And indeed an absolute uniformity among them cannot be supposed, if, according to what follows, the whole affair must be committed only to their memories, and share in the common fate of oral traditions.

A mason’s confession of the oath, word, and other secrets of his craft.

These are to testify, concerning that oath, word, and other secrets, held among the corporation of masons; wherein I was taken under the same, by sundry of them gathered together and met at D—, about the year 1727.

Concerning the oath

After one comes in at the door, he that keeps the door, called the warden, looses the garter of his right-leg stocking, rolls down the stocking, folds up the knee of the breeches, and requires him to deliver up any metal thing he has upon him. He is made to kneel on the right knee, bare; then the square is put three times round his body and applied to his breast, the open compasses pointed to his breast, and his bare elbow on the Bible with his hand lifted up; and he swears, "As I shall answer before God at the great day, and this company, I shall heal and conceal, or not divulge or make known the secrets of the mason-word, [Here one is taken bound, not to write them on paper, parchment, timber, stone, sand, snow, &c.], under the pain of having my tongue taken out from beneath my chowks, and my heart out from beneath my left oxter, and my body buried within the sea-mark, where it ebbs and flows twice in the twenty-four hours."

Immediately after that oath, the administrator of it says, "You sat down a cowan, I take you up a mason.”—When I was taken under that oath, I knew not what these secrets were which I was not to divulge, having had no information before. One person in the lodge instructed me a little about their secrets the same day that I entered, and was called my author; and another person in the lodge, whom I then chused to be my instructor till that time twelve-month, was called my intender.—There is a yearly imposing of that oath in admissions among the said craft through the land on St John’s day, as it is termed, being the 27th of December.

Concerning the word

After the oath, a word in the scriptures was shewed me, which, said one, is the mason-word. The word is in 1 Kings vii. 21. They say that Boaz is the mason-word, and Jachin a fellow-craft-word. The former is shewn to an entered prentice after he has sworn the oath; and the latter is shewn to one that has been a prentice at least for a year, when he is admitted a degree higher in their lodge, after he has sworn the oath again, or declared his approbation of it.

Concerning the other secrets I shall next shew a cluster of different sorts of their secrets.

First, then, three chalk-lines being drawn on the floor, about an equal distance, as at A, B, and C; the master of the lodge stands at M, and the fellow-crafts, with the wardens and entered prentices, on the master-mason’s left hand, at ff, and the last entered prentice at p.

Floor Plan

Says the master, “Come forward”. Says the prentice, “I wot not gin I may.” Says the master, “Come forward; I warrant you.” So coming over the first line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at a, he lays the right hand near the left shoulder, and says, Good day, Gentlemen.” Coming over the second line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at b, he lays the right hand on the left side, and says, “God be here.” Coming over the third line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at c, he lays the right hand on the right knee, and says, “God bless all the honourable brethren.”—N.B. As the square was put thrice about his body when on the bare knee, so he comes over these lines setting his feet thrice in the form of a square.

Question. What say you? Answer. Here stand I, [with his feet in the form of a square], younger and last entered prentice; ready to serve my master from the Monday morning to the Saturday night, in all lawful employments.

Q. Who made you a mason? A. God almighty’s holy will made me a mason; the square, under God, made me a mason; nineteen fellow-crafts and thirteen entered prentices made me a mason.—N.B. To the best of my remembrance, the whole lodge present did not exceed twenty persons; but so I was taught to answer, which I can give no reason for.

Q. Where’s your master? A. He’s not so far off but he may be found.—Then if the square be at hand, it is offered on the stone at which they are working; and if not, the feet are set in the form of a square, as before shewed, being the posture he stands in while he repeats his secrets. And so the square is acknowledged to be master, both by tongue and feet.

Q. How set you the square? A. I ca’ two irons in the wall; if two will not, three will; and that makes both square and level.—N.B. If they ca’ in two irons above and one below, it makes a kind of both square and level; though ordinarily they ca’ in but one. And the reason why it is said to set the square, and not hang it, is, They’re not to hang their master.

Q. What’s a mason? A. He’s a mason that’s a mason born, a mason sworn, and a mason by trade.

Q. Where keep you the key of your lodge? A. Between my tongue and my teeth, and under a lap of my liver, where all the secrets of my heart lie: for if I tell any thing in the lodge, my tongue is to be taken out from beneath my chowks, and my heart out from beneath my left oxter, and my body to be buried within the sea-mark, where it ebbs and flows twice in the twenty-four hours.

Q. What’s the key of your lodge? A. A well-hung tongue.

Q. Are you a mason? A. Yes. Q. How shall I know that? A. By signs, tokens, and points, of my entry. Master. Shew me one of these. Prentice. Shew you me the first, and I’ll shew you the second.—So the master gives him the sign, with the right hand up the left side.—P. More clear.—Then the master gives it uppermore, or moves his right hand a little farther up the left side.—P. Heal and conceal.—N.B. The token or grip is, by laying the ball of the thumb of the right hand upon the first or uppermost knuckle of the second finger from the thumb of the other’s right hand.

Q. How many points are there in the word? A. Five. Q. What are these five? A. The word is one, the sign is two, the grip is three, the penalty is four, and Heal and conceal is five.

Q. Where was you entered? A. In a just and perfect lodge. Q. What makes a just and perfect lodge? A. Five fellow-crafts, and seven entered prentices.—N.B. They do not restrict themselves to this number, though they mention it in their form of questions, but will do the thing with fewer.

Q. Where should the mason-word be given? A. On the top of a mountain, from the crow of a cock, the bark of a dog, or the turtle of a dove.

Q. How many points are there in the square? A. Five. Q. What are these five? A. The square, our master under God, is one; the level’s two, the plumb-rule’s three, the hand-rule’s four, and the gage is five.

The day that a prentice comes under the oath, he gets his choice of a mark to be put upon his tools, by which to discern them. So I did chuse this, [The figure is in the MS.], which cost one mark Scots. Hereby one is taught to say to such as ask the question, Where got you this mark? A. I laid down one, and took up another.

If one should come to a mason working at a stone, and say, “That stone lies boss,” the prentice is taught to answer, “It is not so boss but it may be filled up again;” or, “It is not so boss as your head would be if your harns were out.”

Q. When doth a mason wear his flowers? A. Between Martinmas and Yule. Q. What’s a mason’s livery? A. A yellow cap and blue breeches;—meaning the compasses.

Q. How many jewels are there in your lodge? A. Three. Q. What are these three? A. A square pavement, a dinted ashler, and a broached dornal. Q. What’s the square pavement for? A. For the master-mason to draw his ground-draughts on. Q. What’s the dinted ashler for? A. To adjust the square, and make the gages by. Q. What’s the broached dornal for? A. For me, younger and last-entered prentice, to learn to broach upon.

Q. How high should a mason’s siege be? A. Two steeples, a back, and a cover, knee-high all together.—N.B. One is taught, that the cowan’s siege is built up of whin stones, that it may soon tumble down again; and it stands half out half in the lodge, that his neck may be under the drop in rainy weather, to come in at his shoulders, and run out at his shoes.

Q. Where lies the cappel-tow? A. Eighteen or nineteen foot and an half from the lodge-door; and at the end of it lies the cavel-mell, to dress the stones with.—N.B. There is no such thing among them as a cappel-tow.

Q. Where place ye your lodge? A. On the sunny side of a hill, that the sun may ascend on’t when it rises.—N.B. A lodge is a place where masons assemble and work. Hence that assembly or society of masons is called a lodge.

Q. How stands your lodge? A. East and west, as kirks and chapels did of old. Q. Why so? A. Because they were holy; and so we ought to be. Q. How many lights are there in your lodge? A. Three. Q. What are these three? The south-east, south, and south­west. Q. How many levels are there in your lodge? A. Three. Q. What are these three? A. The sun, and the sea, and the level.—N.B. I can give no reason why the sun and the sea are called two of their levels, but so they will have it.—To be particular in shewing how the master-mason stands at the south-east corner of the lodge, and the fellow-crafts next to him, and next to them the wardens, and next the entered prentices, and how their sieges stand distant one from another, and the tools they work with, is not worth while.

Q. Where lay you the key of your lodge? A. Two foot and an half from the lodge-door, beneath a green divot.—N.B. This is meant of their oath, under which the secrets of the lodge are hid from the drop; that is, from the unentered prentice, or any others not of their society, whom they call drops.

Q. How long should a prentice wear his shirt? A. Till there be nine knots on it; three up the back, and three down each arm.

There are likewise various other signs, which they distinguish or discern themselves by. As, if one were in a company, and to send for another mason, he does it by sending a piece of paper, with a square point folded in at the corner, and suppose he squeeze it all in his hand, when it is opened out, the mark where the square point was folded in, is the thing that’s noticed. Or, if he send his glove, then the square is put on the first knuckle of the second finger, with the thumb-nail, or some other thing.

To find another by drinking, one says, “Drink.” The other answers, “No.” He saith the second time, “Drink”. The other answers, “After you is good manners.” Again he saith, “Drink; I warrant you.” And then he takes it.

Coming to an house where masons may be, he is to knock three knocks on the door; a lesser, a more, and a more. One gives the sign with the right hand up the left side; or if riding, he is to strike the horse over the left shoulder. If in a land where their language is not known, he is to kneel with one knee, holding up his hand before the masons.

If one coming into a company, wants to know whether there be a mason in the same; as he comes in, he makes himself to stumble, and says, “The day’s for seeing, and the night’s for hearing; God be thanked we have all our formal mercies. There is no difference between a dun cow and a dun hummle cow.” Then, if a mason be in that company, he says, “What says the fellow?” He answers, “I say nothing but what I may say again: There is no difference between a dun cow and a dun hummle cow.”

A mason’s horse is found out among others by the left-foot stirrup being laid up.

To know if one or more masons be in a company which one meets on the way, he says, “Who walks?” Then, if one be there, he says, “A man walks:” if more be there, the answer is, “Men walk.” Then says he, “Good men and masters met you be; God bless all your company.” Or he gives the sign, by the right hand above the breath, which is called the fellow-crafts due guard; and the grip, by clasping his fingers at the wrist, next at the elbow: or placing himself hand to hand, foot to foot, knee to knee, heart to heart, ear to ear, says, “Great you, great you, God greateth you, and make you a good master-mason: I’m a young man, going to push my fortune; if you can furnish me, you will do well.”

I shall now give an account of what they call the Monday’s lesson.—When the prentice comes to his master’s kitchen door, he is to knock three knocks; a lesser, a more, and a more. If none answers, he is to lift the sneck, and go in, and wash the dishes, and sweep the house. Q. How far is the prentice to carry off the ashes? A. As far off until he see the smoke come out at the chimney head. After that he goes to his master’s chamber-door, and knocks three knocks; a lesser, and a more, and a more; and says, “Master, are you waking?” If he answer, “Not so sound but I may be wakened,” then he goes in. His master asks him, “What’n a morning is it?” He answers, “It’s a fair morning; the wind’s in the west and the sun’s in the east; past five, going to six.” His master says, “Who told you that?” The prentice answers, he “met with a hather-man.” “Ay, (says his master), sorrow is ay soon up at morn.”

Q. How doth the prentice give his master his shirt? A. He gives it with the left sleeve foremost, and the neck of it next him, with the breast of it upmost, in readiness to put on. In like manner he gives him the rest of his cloaths. After that, he gives him water to wash himself; then he offers him a cloth to dry himself; he will not have that; he offers him his shirt-tail; he will not have that; then he bids him do his next best. After that, he follows his master up street, down street, with his right foot at his master’s left, sword point, within stroke of a nine inch gage, till he come within sixteen feet and a half of the lodge door; there the prentice leaves him. Then he goes to sort up the lodge, and put the things in order; after which, he calls in the men to work.

And this is the amount of that invented matter; or all I can remember that is material in it.

P.S. There was printed, in the year 1747, (ix. 404), A protestation and declinature from the society of operative masons in the lodge at Torphichen, to meet at Livingston kirk, Dec. 27, 1739; subscribed, of that date, at Kirknewton, by James Chrystie; with a subscribed adherence, at the same place and of the same date, by James Aikman, Andrew Purdie, and John Chrystie; and with another subscribed adherence, at Dalkeith, July 27. 1747, by John Miller.

In that paper, they renounce the mason-oath, as finding the same I “sinful and unlawful, both as to its matter and form, and therefore not binding upon their consciences.” They declare, that it is imposed and administered “with such rites, ceremonies, and circumstances, as are in themselves sinful and unwarrantable, and a symbolising with idolaters; such as, kneeling upon their bare knee, and the naked arm upon the Bible:—That “it is and must to every intrant be sworn rashly; without allowing a copy of the said oath, and time duly and I deliberately to consider the lawfulness of it; the matter thereof, or things sworn to therein, never being under their serious consideration previous to the swearing of that oath; seeing the person swearing knows not what he is swearing to:”—That they “do look upon it as an unlawful obligation, to conceal the dreadful wickedness, superstition, idolatry, blasphemy, and profanation of the name and ordinance of God, which is contained in and annexed to that oath, altogether unbecoming the name and profession of Christians; by the which unlawful means of secrecy, many are rashly and inconsiderately precipitated and slily drawn into that sinful confederacy and wickedness above said, ere ever they can be aware of it:”—That “it is an appending the seal of a solemn oath, containing horrid, dreadful, and uncommon imprecations, to a blank, yea to worse, to ridiculous nonsense and superstition; nonsense, (and that with this aggravation, of profaning the sacred scriptures, by intermixing them therewith), only fit for the amusement of children in a winter-evening; most of these secrets being idle stuff or lyes, and other parts of it superstitious, only becoming Heathens and idolaters.”—Moreover they declare, that the secrecy is broke and disclosed, by “what is already published to the world in print; concerning which (say they) there have been many lyes and equivocations, in denying the same, though they contain the substance of the mystery.”—I am, &c.

D. B.

[N.B. With his letter, above inserted, Mr D. B. sent us the paper he mentions, which is dated Nov. 13. 1751, and another, of the same handwriting and subscription, dated Feb. 20. 1752, also a paper containing several queries which he sent to the mason, for explaining some things in his papers, and the mason’s answers. Having compared the preceding narrative with these papers, we find that it is faithfully taken from them: so that whatever shall be thought of the mason’s conduct, which it does not become us either to justify or condemn, the authenticity of the narrative may be depended on.]



This anonymous catechism is appended to a letter, signed ‘F.G.’, commencing “The Grand Whimsy of Masonry has long been the subject of amusement . . .” printed in the Daily Journal, No. 2998, 15 August 1730. It was also issued under the above title as a broadside, probably previous to its insertion in the newspaper [see Introduction above], and also as The Mystery and Motions of Free-Masonry Discovered, and as The Puerile Signs and Wonders of a Free-Mason. This last printed broadside, of which there is a copy in the London Guildhall Library, was reprinted in Misc. Lat., iii. According to W. J. Hughan (A.Q.C., xvii, 92) and to Bro. Poole (A.Q.C., xxxvii, 5) this catechism was also issued under the title The Mystery of Free­masons, a document not recorded in Dring’s “Tentative List”, or in Vibert’s Rare Books, though Thorp (p. 15) records The Mystery of Free-Masons, and F. W. Levander (Misc. Lat., iii, 125) states that there is an engraved sheet with the title The Mystery of Free-Masons in the British Museum. Thorp lists this catechism as Grand Whimsy of Masonry, and Poole as The Grand Whitnsey. Our reprint is from a copy of the newspaper in the Bodleian [MS. Rawl. C. 136].

To the Author of the Daily Journal.


The Grand Whimsy of Masonry has been long the Subject of Amusement to diverse Persons, who have wonder’d, that among so many idle People as have been admitted into that Society, many of whom are not noted for eminent Virtues, or the Gift of Taciturnity, the boasted Secret has never been, thro' Inadvertence, or the Power of Liquor, divulg’d. Some have imputed this to one Cause, some to another, while others have judged, (with too much Appearance of Reason) that it must be of a very unaccountable Nature, that they are afraid or ashamed to divulge it; since, say they, if there were any thing Praise-worthy or Excellent in it, what should hinder their publishing of it for the Imitation of others?

For my own Part, I must needs say, that I am not of their Opinion, who think there is any thing criminal, or greatly indecent or shameful in it, because of the many Gentlemen of Honour and Character, who have condescended (no doubt in a merry and ludicrous Vein) to countenance those already in, by becoming Members of the Fraternity; tho' it must be confessed, they could not easily know what it was, till they had been cloathed and initiated, and of consequence first found themselves Brethren from Head to Foot, and so obliged (Se Defend- endo) to propagate the Jest with as solemn a Face as the rest. But yet I have been tempted to believe, that if there were any thing in it, either useful or worthy of Imitation, the Secret had not been so tenaciously kept till now: And we may challenge the warmest Advocate for the Whim, to look round on all his Acquaintance of the Fraternity, and make it appear, that any of ’em have come out either wiser or better Men for their Admission, and if such decline to be Judges in their own Cause, we will leave the Decision of this Point to the good Wives of the Brethren, to inform the World, what superadded Portion of Wisdom, or Improvement of Morals, or Sobriety, in their dear Spouses, they have found to be the Consequences of their Entrance; always supposing, that Orators, Raree-Show-Men, and Publicans, who are so much wiser in their Generation than the Children of Light, that they can reap Advantage and Subsistence from the Follies of others, together with their respective Wives, Daughters, Box and Bar-keepers, be out of the Question, as too much concerned in Interest.

At last, the Death of a Brother, who for his own Remembrance and Observation, had seem’d to have committed to Writing, the Form and Manner of his Admission, which he kept among his choicest and most private Papers, and in the most secret Part of his Cabinet, has given us a Light into the mysterious Part of Entrance, and into their puerile Signs and Wonders. I shall not pretend to use many Words to bespeak your Readers Belief of the Genuineness of this MS. only referring him to the Observation of the Conduct of the Fraternity on this Occasion, who will be sure to be either very angry, or very silent, or very zealous to decry it, if it be really what I in myself have abundant Reason to be satisfied it is.—I have taken up too much of your Room, supposing you will be so kind to insert this as well as the Piece; and pray reserve 200 of the Papers, which a Servant in Blue Livery faced with Yellow, and Brass Buttons, shall call and satisfy you for, as well as for the Demand you shall think fit to make for thus obliging

Your Constant Reader,

F. G.


Q. Are you a Mason? A. I am.

Q. How shall I know you are a Mason? A. By Signs, Tokens, and Points of my Enterance.

Q. How was you made? A. Neither naked nor cloathed, standing or lying, but in due Form.

Q. Give me a Sign. A. Every Square is a Sign; but the most Solemn is the Right-hand upon the Left-breast, the Arm hanging down, a little extended from the Body.

Q. Give me a Letter. A. B. O. A. Z.

When this Question is ask’d you are to give the Letter B. The Querist will say O. you A. he Z.

Q. Give me another. A. J. A. C. H. I. N.

Alternately as Boaz. N.B. Boaz and Jachin were two Pillars in Solomon’s Porch, i Kings, vii. 21.

Q. To what Lodge do you belong? A. The Holy Lodge of St. John.

Q. How is it seated? A. East and West, as all other Temples are.

Q. Where was you enter’d? A. In a Just and Perfect Lodge.

Q. What makes a Just and Perfect Lodge? A. A Master, two Wardens, and four Fellows, with Square, Compass, and Common Gudge.

N.B. One of them must be a Working Mason.

Q. Where was you made? A. In the Valley of Jehosaphat, behind a Rush Bush, where a Dog was never heard to bark, nor a Cock to crow, or elsewhere.

Q. Where was the first Lodge kept? A. In Solomon’s Porch, the Pillars were call’d Jachin and Boaz.

Q. How many Orders be there in Architecture? A. There be five, Tuscan, Dorick, Ionick, Corinthian, and Composite or Roman.

Q. How many Points be there in the Fellowship? A. There be five, 1st Foot to Foot, 2d Knee to Knee, 3d Hand to Hand, 4th Heart to Heart, and 5th Ear to Ear.

Q. How do Masons take their Place in Work? A. The Master’s Place East, the Warden’s East, and the Fellows the Eastern Passage.

Q. How many precious Jewels be there in Masonry? A. Three, the Master, Wardens, and Fellows.

Q. Whence comes the Pattern of an Arch? A. From the Rainbow.

Q. Is there a Key for your Lodge? A. Yes, there is.

Q. Where is it kept? A. In an Ivory Box, between my Tongue and my Teeth, or under the Lap of my Liver, where the Secrets of my Heart are.

Q. Is there a Chain to your Key? A. Yes, there is.

Q. How long is it? A. As long as from my Tongue to my Heart.

Q. Where does the Key of the Working-Lodge lie? A. It lies upon the Right-hand, from the Door two Feet and a half, under a Green Turf, or under a Square Ashler.

Q. Where does the Master Mason set his Mark upon the Work.

A. Upon the South-East Corner.

Q. Have you been in the Kitchen?

N.B. You shall know an Enter’d Apprentice by this Question.

A. Yes, I have.

Q. Did you ever dine in the Hall?

N.B. A Brother Mason by this Question.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. How old are you? A. Under 5, or under 7, which you will.

N.B. When you are first made a Mason, you are only entered Apprentice; and till you are made a Master, or, as they call it, pass’d the Master’s Part, you are only an enter’d Apprentice, and consequently must answer under 7; for if you say above, they will expect the Master’s Word and Signs.

Note, There is not one Mason in an hundred that will be at the Expence to pass the Master’s Part, except it be for Interest.

Q. How was you admitted?

N.B. Some will ask what was that Form after the third Question and Answer above.

A. When I came to the first Door, a Man with a drawn Sword asked me, If I had any Weapons? I answer’d, No. Upon which he let me pass by him into a dark Entry; there two Wardens took me under each Arm, and conducted me from Darkness into Light, passing thro’ two Rows of the Brotherhood, who stood mute, to the upper End of the Room, from whence the Master went down the Outside of one of the Rows, and touching a young Brother on the Shoulder, said, Who have we here? To which he answer’d, A Gentleman who desires to be admitted a Member of the Society. Upon which he came up again, and asked me, If I came there thro’ my own Desire, or at the Request or Desire of another? I said, My own. He then told me, If I would become a Brother of their Society, I must take the Oath administered on that Occasion. To which assenting, a Square was laid on the Ground, in which they made me kneel bare-knee’d, and giving a Compass into my Right-Hand, I set the Point to my Left-Breast, and my Left-Arm hanging down. The Words of the Oath I can’t remember, but the Purport was as follows:

I Solemnly protest and swear, in the Presence of Almighty God, and this Society, that I will not, by Word of Mouth or Signs, discover any Secrets which shall be communicated to me this Night, or at any time hereafter: That I will not write, carve, engrave, or cause to be written, carved, or engraven the same, either upon Paper, Copper, Brass, Wood, or Stone, or any Moveable or Immoveable, or any other way discover the same, to any but a Brother or Fellow Craft, under no less Penalty than having my Heart pluck’d thro' the Pap of my Left-Breast, my Tongue by the Roots from the Roof of my Mouth, my Body to be burnt, and my Ashes to be scatter’d abroad in the Wind, whereby I may be lost to the Remembrance of a Brother.

After which I was cloathed.

N.B. The Cloathing is putting on the Apron and Gloves.

Q. How was the Master cloathed? A. In a Yellow Jacket and Blue Pair of Breeches*

Q. What was you doing while the Oath was tendering? A. I was kneeling bare-knee’d betwixt the Bible and the Square, taking the solemn Oath of a Mason.

* N.B. Ths Master is not otherwise cloathed than common; the Question and Answer are only emblematical, the Yellow Jacket, the Compasses, and the Blue Breeches, the Steel Points.

N.B. There’s a Bible put in the Right-Hand, and the Square under the Right-Elbow.



The first edition of this 32 pp. 8vo pamphlet (about 7" X 4¾") was advertised for sale in the Daily Journal on Tuesday, 20th October 1730: “This day is published . . . Masonry Dissected . . . by Samuel Prichard . . . Printed for J. Wilford . . .” The second edition, also printed for Wilford, was advertised the very next day, 21st October, and again on 23rd October. The third edition (also printed for Wilford) was advertised on Saturday, 31st October 1730. The pamphlet had been reprinted in Read’s Weekly Journal on 24th October. An undated and pirated edition (printed by Thomas Nichols), with the title misspelt Masonry Disected, had also probably made its appearance by the end of October 1730. Until quite recently it was believed that this Nichols pirated reprint was the first edition (see Vibert, Rare Books; Dring, A.Q.C., xxv, 366; Thorp, 15), but in 1940 Bro. S. N. Smith (A.Q.C., li, 138) drew attention to the existence of a copy of the genuine first edition in Grand Lodge Library, and of another in the Wallace Heaton collection. There is a copy of the Nichols edition in the Library of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,24 which originally belonged to E. T. Carson of Cincinnati, who reprinted it in 1867. The second edition, of which there is a copy in the Leicester Masonic Library, was reprinted in 1929 in Leics. Reprints, xii, with Introduction and Notes by J. T. Thorp. The third edition, the earliest in the British Museum, is the first to contain “A List of Regular Lodges according to their Seniority and Constitution”, though the fact that this list is appended is not indicated on the title page, as is the case with at least some subsequent editions (e.g., 7th and 21st). To make room for this list, the “Fellow-Craft’s Degree” in the 3rd edition begins half way down p. 19 (which was left half blank in the 2nd edition), thereby enabling the “Master’s Part” to finish on p. 28, instead of on p. 29. In each edition the following two pages (29 and 30 in the 3rd; 30 and 31 in the 2nd) contain the “Author’s Vindication”; in the 3rd edition pp. 31 and 32 are occupied by the List of Lodges, printed in double column, whereas in the 2nd edition p. 32 is blank. Some thirty numbered editions of the pamphlet printed in England, and eight printed in Scotland, have been traced. In addition to these 8vo or 12mo numbered editions, which mostly contain from 24 to 32 pages, there is an old unnumbered and undated (? pirated) foolscap 4to edition, (8 3/8" X 6½"), consisting of 8 pages, mostly printed in double column, with no indication where, or by whom, it was printed. The only known copy of this edition is in the Lahore Masonic Library; a photographic reproduction, reduced to 5½" X 4", was issued in 1941. Our reprint is from the copy of the 3rd edition in the British Museum.

Masonry Dissected: Being A Universal and Genuine Description Of all its Branches from the Original to this Present Time. As it is deliver’d in the Constituted Regular Lodges Both in City and Country, According to the Several Degrees of Admission. Giving an Impartial Account of their Regular Proceeding in Initiating their New Members in the whole Three Degrees of Masonry, viz. I. Enter’d ’Prentice, II. FellowCraft, III. Master. To which is added, The Author’s Vindication of himself. The Third Edition. By Samuel Prichard, late Member of a Constituted Lodge. London: Printed for J. Wilford, at the Three Flower-de-Luces behind the Chapter-house near St. Paul’s. 1730. (Price 6d.)


Samuel Prichard maketh Oath, That the Copy hereunto annexed is a True and Genuine Copy in every Particular.

Jur’ 13. Die Oct. 1730. coram me, R. Hopkins.

Sam. Prichard.


To the Rt. Worshipful and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.

Brethren and Fellows,

If the following Sheets, done without Partiality, gains the universal Applause of so worthy a Society, I doubt not but its general Character will be diffused and esteemed among the remaining Polite Part of Mankind: Which, I hope, will give intire Satisfaction to all Lovers of Truth, and I shall remain, with all humble Submission, the Fraternity’s Most Obedient Humble Servant,

Sam. Prichard.


The original Institution of Masonry consisteth on the Foundation of the Liberal Arts and Sciences; but more especially on the Fifth, viz, Geometry. For at the Building of the Tower of Babel, the Art and Mystery of Masonry was first introduc’d, and from thence handed down by Euclid, a worthy and excellent Mathematician of the Egyptians, and he communicated it to Hiram, the Master-Mason concern’d in the Building of Solomon s Temple in Jerusalem, where was an excellent and curious Mason that was the chief under their Grand­Master Hiram, whose Name was Mannon Grecus, who taught the Art of Masonry to one Carolos Marcil in France, who was afterwards elected King of France, and from thence was brought into England in the Time of King Athelstone, who order’d an Assembly to be held once every Year at York, which was the first Introduction of it into England, and Masons were made in the Manner following.

Tunc unus ex Senioribus teneat Librum, ut Uli vel ille ponant vel ponat Manus supra Librum; turn Praecepta debeant legi. i.e. Whilst one of the Seniors holdeth the Book, that he or they put their Hands upon the Book, whilst the Master ought to read the Laws or Charges.

Which Charges were, That they should be true to one another without Exception, and should be obliged to relieve their Brothers and Fellows Necessities, or put them to labour and reward them accordingly.

But in these latter Days Masonry is not composed of Artificers, as it was in its primaeval State, when some few Catechetical Questions were necessary to declare a Man sufficiently qualified for an Operative Mason.

The Terms of Free and Accepted Masonry (as it now is) has not been heard of till within these few Years; no Constituted Lodges or Quarterly Communications were heard of till 1691, when Lords and Dukes, Lawyers and Shopkeepers, and other inferior Tradesmen, Porters not excepted, were admitted into this Mystery or no Mystery; the first sort being introduc’d at a very great Expence, the second sort at a moderate Rate, and the latter for the Expence of six or seven Shillings, for which they receive that Badge of Honour, which (as they term it) is more ancient and more honourable than is the Star and Garter, which Antiquity is accounted, according to the Rules of Masonry, as delivered by their Tradition, ever since Adam, which I shall leave the candid Reader to determine.

From the Accepted Masons sprang the Real Masons, from both sprang the Gormogons, whose Grand-Master the Volgi deduces his Original from the Chinese, whose Writings, if to be credited, maintains the Hypotheses of the Pre-Adamites, and consequently must be more antique than Masonry.

The most free and open Society is that of the Grand Kaihebar, which consists of a select Company of Responsible People, whose chief Discourse is concerning Trade and Business, and promoting mutual Friendship without Compulsion or Restriction.

But if after the Admission into the Secrets of Masonry, any new Brother should dislike their Proceedings, and reflect upon himself for being so easily cajoled out of his Money, declines the Fraternity or secludes himself upon the Account of the Quarterly Expences of the Lodge and Quarterly Communications, notwithstanding he has been legally admitted into a Constituted and Regular Lodge, shall be denied the Privilege (as a Visiting Brother) of knowing the Mystery for which he has already paid, which is a manifest Contradiction according to the Institution of Masonry itself, as will evidently appear by the following Treatise.


Q. From whence came you? A. From the Holy Lodge of St. John’s.

Q. What Recommendations brought you from thence? A. The Recommendations which I brought from the Right Worshipful Brothers and Fellows of the Right Worshipful and Holy Lodge of St. John’s, from whence I came, and Greet you thrice heartily well.

Q. What do you come here to do?

A. Not to do my own proper Will,
 But to subdue my Passion still;
 The Rules of Masonry in hand to take,
 And daily Progress therein make.

Q. Are you a Mason? A. I am so taken and Accepted to be among Brothers and Fellows.

Q. How shall I know that you are a Mason? A. By Signs and Tokens and perfect Points of my Entrance.

Q. What are Signs? A. All Squares, Angles and Perpendiculars.

Q. What are Tokens? A. Certain Regular and Brotherly Gripes.

Exam. Give me the Points of your Entrance. Resp. Give me the first and I’ll give you the second.

Exam. I Hail it. Resp. I Conceal it.

Exam. What do you Conceal? Resp. All Secrets and Secrecy of Masons and Masonry, unless to a True and Lawful Brother after due Examination, or in a just and worshipful Lodge of Brothers and Fellows well met.

Q. Where was you made a Mason? A. In a just and Perfect Lodge.

Q. What makes a just and Perfect Lodge? A. Seven or more.

Q. What do they consist of? A. One Master, two Wardens, two Fellow-Crafts and two Enter’d ’Prentices.

Q. What makes a Lodge? A. Five.

Q. What do they consist of? A. One Master, two Wardens, one Fellow-Craft, one Enter’d ’Prentice.

Q. Who brought you to the Lodge? A. An Enter’d ’Prentice.

Q. How did he bring you? A. Neither naked nor cloathed, bare-foot nor shod, deprived of all Metal and in a right moving Posture.

Q. How got you Admittance? A. By three great Knocks.

Q. Who receiv’d you? A. A Junior Warden.

Q. How did he dispose of you? A. He carried me up to the North-East Part of the Lodge, and brought me back again to the West and deliver’d me to the Senior Warden.

Q. What did the Senior Warden do with you? A. He presented me, and shew’d me how to walk up (by three Steps) to the Master.

Q. What did the Master do with you? A. He made me a Mason.

Q. How did he make you a Mason? A. With my bare-bended Knee and Body within the Square, the Compass extended to my naked Left Breast, my naked Right Hand on the Holy Bible; there I took the Obligation (or Oath) of a Mason.

Q. Can you repeat that Obligation. A. I’ll do my Endeavour. (Which is as follows.)

I Hereby solemnly Vow and Swear in the Presence of Almighty God and this Right Worshipful Assembly, that I will Hail and Conceal, and never Reveal the Secrets or Secrecy of Masons or Masonry, that shall be Revealed unto me; unless to a True and Lawful Brother, after due Examination, or in a Just and Worshipful Lodge of Brothers and Fellows well met.

I furthermore Promise and Vow, that I will not Write them, Print them, Mark them, Carve them or Engrave them, or cause them to be Written, Printed, Marked, Carved or Engraved on Wood or Stone, so as the Visible Character or Impression of a Letter may appear, whereby it may be unlawfully obtain’d.

All this under no less Penalty than to have my throat cut, my Tongue taken from the Roof of my Mouth, my Heart pluck’d from under my Left Breast, them to be buried in the Sands of the Sea, the Length of a Cable-rope from Shore, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 Hours, my Body to be burnt to ashes, my Ashes to be scatter’d upon the Face of the Earth, so that there shall be no more Remembrance of me among Masons.

So help me God.

Q. What Form is the Lodge? A. A long Square.

Q. How long? A. From East to West.

Q. How broad? A. From North to South.

Q. How high? A. Inches, Feet and Yards innumerable, as high as the Heavens.

Q. How deep? A. To the Centre of the Earth.

Q. Where does the Lodge stand? A. Upon Holy Ground, or the highest Hill or lowest Vale, or in the Vale of Jehosaphat, or any other secret Place.

Q. How is it situated? A. Due East and West.

Q. Why so? A. Because all Churches and Chapels are or ought to be so.

Q. What supports a Lodge? A. Three great Pillars.

Q. What are they called? A. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.

Q. Why so? A. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn.

Q. What Covering have you to the Lodge? A. A clouded Canopy of divers Colours (or the Clouds.)

Q. Have you any Furniture in your Lodge? A. Yes.

Q. What is it? A. Mosaick Pavement, Blazing Star and Indented Tarsel.

Q. What are they? A. Mosaick Pavement, the Ground Floor of the Lodge, Blazing Star the Centre, and Indented Tarsel the Border round about it.

Q. What is the other Furniture of a Lodge? A. Bible, Compass and Square.

Q. Who do they properly belong to? A. Bible to God, Compass to the Master, and Square to the Fellow-Craft.

Q. Have you any jewels in the Lodge? A. Yes.

Q. How many? A. Six. Three Moveable, and three Immoveable.

Q. What are the Moveable Jewels? A. Square, Level and Plumb-Rule.

Q. What are their Uses? A. Square to lay down True and Right Lines, Level to try all Horizontals, and the Plumb-Rule to try all Uprights.

Q. What are the Immoveable Jewels? A. Trasel Board, Rough Ashler, and Broach’d Thurnel.

Q. What are their Uses? A. Trasel Board for the Master to draw his Designs upon, Rough Ashler for the Fellow Craft to try their jewels upon, and the Broach’d Thurnel for the Enter’d ’Prentice to learn to work upon.

Q. Have you any Lights in your Lodge? A. Yes, Three.

Q. What do they represent? A. Sun, Moon and Master-Mason.

N.B. These Lights are three large Candles placed on high Candlesticks.

Q. Why so? A. Sun to rule the Day, Moon the Night, and Master-Mason his Lodge.

Q. Have you any fix’d Lights in your Lodge? A. Yes.

Q. How many? A. Three.

N.B. These fix’d Lights are three Windows, suppos’d (tho’ vainly) to be in every Room where a Lodge is held, but more properly, the four Cardinal Points according to the antique Rules of Masonry.

Q. How are they situated? A. East, South and West.

Q. What are their Uses? A. To light the Men to, at and from their Work.

Q. Why are there no Lights in the North? A. Because the Sun darts no Rays from thence.

Q. Where stands your Master? A. In the East.

Q. Why so? A. As the Sun rises in the East and opens the Day, so the Master stands in the East [with his Right Hand upon his Left Breast being a Sign, and the Square about his Neck] to open the Lodge and to set his Men at Work.

Q. Where stands your Wardens? A. In the West.

Q. What’s their Business? A. As the Sun sets in the West to close the Day, so the Wardens stand in the West [with their Right Hands upon their Left Breasts being a Sign, and the Level and Plumb-Rule about their Necks] to close the Lodge and dismiss the Men from Labour, paying their Wages.

Q. Where stands the Senior Enter’d ’Prentice? A. In the South.

Q. What is his Business? A. To hear and receive Instructions and welcome strange Brothers.

Q. Where stands the Junior Enter’d ’Prentice? A. In the North.

Q. What is his Business? A. To keep off all Cowans and Eves-droppers.

Q. If a Cowan (or Listner) is catch’d, how is he to be punished? A. To be plac’d under the Eves of the Houses (in rainy Weather) till the Water runs in at his Shoulders and out at his Shoos.

Q. What are the Secrets of a Mason? A. Signs, Tokens and many Words.

Q. Where do you keep those Secrets? A. Under my Left Breast.

Q. Have you any Key to those Secrets? A. Yes.

Q. Where do you keep it? A. In a Bone Bone Box that neither opens nor shuts but with Ivory Keys.

Q. Does it hang or does it lie? A. It hangs.

Q. What does it hang by? A. A Tow-Line 9 Inches or a Span.

Q. What Metal is it of? A. No manner of Metal at all; but a Tongue of good Report is as good behind a Brother’s Back as before his Face.

N.B. The Key is the Tongue, the Bone Bone Box the Teeth, the Tow-Line the Roof of the Mouth.

Q. How many Principles are there in Masonry? A. Four.

Q. What are they? A. Point, Line, Superficies and Solid.

Q. Explain them. A. Point the Centre (round which the Master cannot err) Line Length without Breadth, Superficies Length and Breadth, Solid comprehends the whole.

Q. How many Principle-Signs? A. Four.

Q. What are they? A. Guttural, Pectoral, Manual and Pedestal

Q. Explain them. A. Guttural the Throat, Pectoral the Breast, Manual the Hand, Pedestal the Feet.

Q. What do you learn by being a Gentleman-Mason? A. Secrecy, Morality and Goodfellowship.

Q. What do you learn by being an Operative Mason? A. Hue, Square, Mould-stone, lay a Level and raise a Perpendicular.

Q. Have you seen your Master to-day? A. Yes.

Q. How was he Cloathed? A. In a Yellow Jacket and Blue Pair of Breeches.

N.B. The Yellow Jacket is the Compasses, and the Blue Breeches the Steel Points.

Q. How long do you serve your Master? A. From Monday Morning to Saturday Night.

Q. How do you serve him? A. With Chalk, Charcoal and Earthen Pan.

Q. What do they denote? A. Freedom, Fervency and Zeal.

Ex. Give me the Enter’d ’Prentice’s Sign. Resp. Extending the Four Fingers of the Right Hand and drawing of them cross his Throat, is the Sign, and demands a Token.

N.B. A Token is by joining the Ball of the Thumb of the Right Hand upon the first Knuckle of the Fore-finger of the Brother’s Right Hand that demands a Word.

Q. Give me the Word. A. I’ll letter it with You.

Exam. BOAZ. [N.B. The Exam. says B, Resp. O, Exam. A, Resp. Z, i.e. Boaz] Give me another.

Resp. JACHIN. [N.B. Boaz and Jachin were two Pillars in Solomon’s Porch. 1 Kings, chap. vii. ver. 21]

Q. How old are you? A. Under Seven. [Denoting be has not pass’d Master.]

Q. What’s the Day for? A. To See in.

Q. What’s the Night for? A. To Hear.

Q. How blows the Wind? A. Due East and West.

Q. What’s a Clock? A. High Twelve.

The End of the Enter’d ’Prentice’s Part


Q. Are you a Fellow-Craft? A. I am.

Q. Why was you made a Fellow-Craft? A. For the sake of the Letter G.

Q. What does that G denote? A. Geometry, or the fifth Science.

Q. Did you ever travel? A. Yes, East and West.

Q. Did you ever work? A. Yes, in the Building of the Temple.

Q. Where did you receive your Wages? A. In the middle Chamber.

Q. How came you to the middle Chamber? A. Through the Porch.

Q. When you came through the Porch, what did you see? A. Two great Pillars.

Q. What are they called? A. J. B. i.e. Jachin and Boaz. (Vide 1 Kings, Chap. 7)

Q. How high are they? A. Eighteen Cubits.

Q. How much in Circumference? A. Twelve Cubits.

Q. What were they adorn’d with? A. Two Chapiters.

Q. How high were the Chapiters? (Vide 1 Kings, Chap. 7) A. Five Cubits.

Q. What were they adorn’d with? A. Net-Work and Pomegranates.

Q. How came you to the middle Chamber? A. By a winding Pair of Stairs.

Q. How many? A. Seven or more.

Q. Why Seven or more? A. Because Seven or more makes a just and Perfect Lodge.

Q. When you came to the Door of the middle Chamber, who did you see? A. A Warden.

Q. What did he demand of you? A. Three Things.

Q. What were they? A. Sign, Token, and a Word.

N.B. The Sign is placing the Right Hand on the Left Breast, the Token is by joining your Right Hand to the Person that demands it, and squeezing him with the Ball of your thumb on the first Knuckle of the middle Finger, and the Word is Jachin.

Q. How high was the Door of the middle Chamber? A. So high that a Cowan could not reach to stick a Pin in.

Q. When you came into the middle, what did you see? A. The Resemblance of the Letter G.

Q. Who doth that G denote? A. One that’s greater than you.

Q. Who’s greater than I, that am a Free and Accepted Mason, the Master of a Lodge. A. The Grand Architect and Contriver of the Universe, or He that was taken up to the top of the Pinnacle of the Holy Temple.

Q. Can you repeat the Letter G? A. I’ll do my Endeavour.

The Repeating of the Letter G.

Resp. In the midst of Solomon’s Temple there hands a G,
 A Letter fair for all to read and see,
 But few there be that understands.
 What means that Letter G.

Ex. My Friend, if you pretend to be
 Of this Fraternity,
 You can forthwith and rightly tell
 What means that Letter G.

Resp. By Sciences are brought to Light
 Bodies of various Kinds,
 Which do appear to perfect Sight;
 But none but Males shall know my Mind.

Ex. The Right shall. Resp. If Worshipful.

Ex. Both Right and Worshipful I am,
 To Hail you I have Command,
 That you do forthwith let me know,
 As I you may understand.

Resp. By Letters Four and Science Five
 This G aright doth stand,
 In a due Art and Proportion,
 You have your Answer, Friend.

N.B. Four Letters are Boaz, Fifth Science Geometry.

Ex. My Friend, you answer well,
 If Right and Free Principles you discover,
 I’ll change your Name from Friend,
 And henceforth call you Brother.

Resp. The Sciences are well compos’d
 Of noble Structure’s Verse,
 A Point, a Line, and an Outside;
 But a Solid is the last.

Ex. God’s good Greeting be to this our happy Meeting.

Resp. And all the Right Worshipful Brothers and Fellows.

Ex. Of the Right Worshipful and Holy Lodge of St. John’s.

Resp. From whence I came.

Ex. Greet you, greet you, greet you thrice, heartily well, craving your Name.

Resp. Timothy Ridicule.

Exam. Welcome, Brother, by the Grace of God.

N.B. The Reason why they Denominate themselves of the Holy Lodge of St. John’s, is, because he was the Fore-runner of our Saviour, and laid the first Parallel Line to the Gospel (others do alert, that our Saviour himself was accepted a Free Mason while he was in the Flesh) but how ridiculous and profane it seems, I leave to judicious Readers to consider.

The End of the Fellow-Craft Part


Q. Are you a Master-Mason? A. I am; try me, prove me, disprove me if you can.

Q. Where was you pass’d Master? A. In a Perfect Lodge of Masters.

Q. What makes a Perfect Lodge of Masters? A. Three.

Q. How came you to be pass’d Master? A. By the Help of God, the Square and my own Industry.

Q. How was you pass’d Master? A. From the Square to the Compass.

Ex. An Enter’d ’Prentice I presume you have been.

R. Jachin and Boaz I have seen;
A Master-Mason I was made most rare,
With Diamond, Ashler and the Square.

Ex. If a Master-Mason you would be,
You must rightly understand the Rule of Three.
And M. B. [Macbenah] shall make you free:
And what you want in Masonry,
Shall in this Lodge be shewn to thee.

R. Good Masonry I understand;
The Keys of all Lodges are all at my Command.

Ex. You’re an heroick Fellow; from whence came you? R. From the East.

Ex. Where are you a going? R. To the West.

Ex. What are you a going to do there? R. To look for that which was lost and is now found.

Ex. What was that which was lost and is now found? R. The Master-Mason’s Word.

Ex. How was it lost? R. By Three Great Knocks, or the Death of our Master Hiram.

Ex. How came he by his Death? R. In the Building of Solomon’s Temple he was Master-Mason, and at high 12 at Noon, when the Men was gone to refresh themselves, as was his usual Custom, he came to survey the Works, and when he was enter’d into the Temple, there were Three Ruffians, suppos’d to be Three Fellow-Crafts, planted themselves at the Three Entrances of the Temple, and when he came out, one demanded the Master’s Word of him, and he reply’d he did not receive it in such a manner, but Time and a little Patience would bring him to it: He, not satisfied with that Answer, gave him a Blow, which made him reel; he went to the other Gate, where being accosted in the same manner, and making the same Reply, he received a greater Blow, and at the third his Quietus.

Ex. What did the Ruffians kill him with? R. A Setting Maul, Setting Tool and Setting Beadle.

Ex. How did they dispose of him? R. Carried him out at the West Door of the Temple, and hid him under some Rubbish till High 12 again.

Ex. What Time was that? R. High 12 at Night, whilst the Men were at Rest.

Ex. How did they dispose of him afterwards? R. They carried him up to the Brow of the Hill, where they made a decent Grave and buried him.

Ex. When was he miss’d? R. The same Day.

Ex. When was he found? R. Fifteen Days afterwards.

Ex. Who found him? R. Fifteen Loving Brothers, by Order of King Solomon, went out of the Well Door of the Temple, and divided themselves from Right to Left within Call of each other; and they agreed that if they did not find the Word in him or about him, the first Word should be the Master’s Word; one of the Brothers being more weary than the rest sat down to rest himself, and taking hold of a Shrub, which came easily up, and perceiving the Ground to have been broken, he Hail’d his Brethren, and pursuing their Search found him decently buried in a handsome Grave 6 Foot East, 6 West, and 6 Foot perpendicular, and his Covering was green Moss and Turf, which surprized them; whereupon they replied, Muscus Domus Dei Gratia, which, according to Masonry, is, Thanks be to God, our Master has got a Mossy House: So they cover’d him closely, and as a farther Ornament placed a Sprig of Cassia at the Head of his Grave, and went and acquainted King Solomon.

Ex. What did King Solomon say to all this?

R. He order’d him to be taken up and decently buried, and that 15 Fellow-Crafts with white Gloves and Aprons should attend his Funeral [which ought amongst Masons to be perform’d to this Day.]

Ex. How was Hiram rais’d?

R. As all other Masons are, when they receive the Master’s Word.

Ex. How is that? R. By the Five Points of Fellowship.

Ex. What are they? Hand to Hand, Foot to Foot, Cheek to Cheek, Knee to Knee, and Hand in Back.

N.B. When Hiram was taken up, they took him by the Fore-fingers, and the Skin came off, which is called the Slip; the spreading the Right Hand and placing the middle Finger to the Wrist, clasping the Fore-finger and the Fourth to the side of the Wrist; is called the Gripe, and the Sign is placing the Thumb of the Right Hand to the Left Breast, extending the Fingers.

Ex. What’s a Master-Mason nam’d? R. Cassia is my Name, and from a Just and Perfect Lodge I came.

Ex. Where was Hiram inter’d? R. In the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Ex. How was he brought in? R. At the West-Door of the Temple.

Q. What are the Master-Jewels? A. The Porch, Dormer and Square Pavement.

Q. Explain them. A. The Porch the Entering into the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Dormer the Windows or Lights within, the Square Pavement the Ground Flooring.

Ex. Give me the Master’s Word.

R. Whispers him in the Ear, and supported by the Five Points of Fellowship before-mentioned, says Machbenah, which signifies The Builder is smitten.

N.B. If any Working Masons are at work, and you have a desire to distinguish accepted Masons from the rest, take a Piece of Stone, and ask him what it smells of, he immediately replies, neither Brass, Iron, nor Steel but of a Mason; then by asking him, how old he is, he replies above Seven, which denotes he has pass’d Master.

The End of the Master’s Part

The Author’s Vindication of himself from the prejudiced Part of Mankind

Of all the Impositions that have appear’d amongst Mankind, none are so ridiculous as the Mystery of Masonry, which has amus’d the World, and caused various Constructions and these pretenses of Secrecy, invalid, has (tho’ not perfectly) been revealed, and the grand Article, viz. the Obligation, has several Times been printed in the publick Papers, but is entirely genuine in the Daily Journal of Saturday, Aug. 22. 1730. which agrees in its Veracity with that deliver’d in this pamphlet; and consequently when the Obligation of Secrecy is abrogated, the aforesaid Secret becomes of no Effect and must be quite extinct; for some Operative Masons (but according to the polite Way of Expression, Accepted Masons) made a Visitation from the first and oldest constituted Lodge (according to the Lodge Book in London) to a noted Lodge in this City, and was denied Admittance, because their old Lodge was removed to another house, which, tho’ contradictory to this great Mystery, requires another Constitution, at no less Expence than two Guineas, with an elegant Entertainment, under the Denomination of being put to charitable Uses, which if justly applied, will give great Encomiums to so worthy an Undertaking, but it is very much doubted, and most reasonable to think it will be expended towards the forming another System of Masonry, the old Fabrick being so ruinous, that, unless repair’d by some occult Mystery, will soon be Annihilated.

I was induced to publish this mighty Secret for the publick Good, at, the Request of several Masons, and it will, I hope, give entire Satisfaction, and have its desired effect in preventing so many credulous Persons being drawn into so pernicious a Society.



1. King’s Arms in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1st and 3d Monday in every Month. Constituted 1691.

2. Rose and Buffer against Furnival’s Inn in Holborn, 1st Wednesday. 1712.

3. Horn-Tavern at Westminster, 3d Friday.

4. Swan at Hamstead, 1st and 3d Saturday. Jan. 17. 1722.

5. Three Swans in the Poultry, 2d Wednesday. July 11. 1721.

6. Tom’s Coffee-house in Clare-street near Clare-market, 2d and 4th Tuesday. Jan. 19. 1722.

7. Rummer in Queen-street Cheapside, 2d and 4th Thursday. Jan. 28. 1722.

8. Devil-Tavern at Temple-bar, 2d Tuesday. April 25. 1722.

9. One Tun in Noble-street, 1st and 3d Wednesday. May 1722.

10. Lion and Shield in Brewer-street, last Thursday. Nov. 25. 1722.

11. Queen’s-head in Knaves-acre, 1st and 3d Wednesday. Feb. 27. 1722-3.

12. Three Tuns in Swithin’s-alley, 1st Tuesday. Mar. 27. 1723.

13. Anchor in Dutchy-lane, 2d Friday and last Monday. Mar. 28. 1723.

14. Queen’s-head in Great Queen-street, 1st and 3d Monday. Mar. 30. 1723.

15. Bull-head in Southwark, 2d Monday. April 1. 1723.

16. Red-Lion in Tottenham-court Road, 3d Monday. April 3. 1723.

17. Buffer and Garter in Bloomsbury, 1st and 3d Thursday. 1723.

18. Crown and Cushion on Ludgate-hill, 1st Wednesday. May 5. 1723.

19. Green Dragon on Snow-hill, 1st and 3d Monday, 1723.

20. Dolphin in Tower-street, 3d Wednesday. June 12. 1723.

21. Nag’s-head in Prince’s-street, Drury-lane, 2d and last Thursday. Aug. 4. 1723.

22. Ship on Fish-street hill, 1st Friday. Sept. 11. 1724.

23. Half-Moon in Cheapside, 1st and 3d Tuesday. Sept. 11. 1723.

24. Crown without Cripplegate, 2d and 4th Friday.

25. Mitre at Greenwich, last Saturday. Dec. 24. 1723.

26. King’s Arms in the Strand, 4th Tuesday. Mar. 25. 1724.

27. Crown and Scepter in St. Martin’s-lane, 2d and last Monday. Mar. 27. 1724.

28. Queen’s-head in the City of Bath, last Thursday.

29. Queen’s-head in the City of Norwich.

30. Swan in the City of Chichester, 3d Friday.

31 Py’d Bull in Northgate-street in the City of Chester.

32. Castle and Falcon in Watergate-street in the City of Chester, 1st Tuesday.

33. Nag’s-head in Carmarthen in South-Wales.

34. East-India Arms at Gosport in Hampshire, 2d Thursday at 3 a Clock.

35. Angel at Congleton in Cheshire.

36. Three Tuns in Wood-street, 1st and 3d Thursday. July 1724.

37. Swan at Tottenham High cross, 2d and 4th Saturday. Jan. 22. 1725.

38. Swan and Rummer in Finch-lane, 2d and last Wednesday. Feb. 1725.

39. Paul’s-head in Ludgate-street, 2d and 4th Monday. April 1725.

40. Vine in Holborn, 1st Monday. May 10. 1725.

41. Henry VIIIth’s Head, in St. Andrew’s-street near the Seven Dials, 4th Monday.

42. Rose at Mary-la-Bone, 1st Monday in Winter, and 1st and 3d Monday in the Summer. May 25. 1725.

43. Swan in Grafton-street St. Ann’s Soho, 1st and last Wednesday. Sept. 1725.

44. White Hart withot Bishopsgate, 1st Tuesday. Jan. 19. 1726.

45. Mount’s Coffee-house in Grosvenor-street near Hanover­square, 1st Wednesday. Jan. 12. 1727.

46. Three Crowns at Stoke Newington, 1st Saturday. Aug. 9. 1727-

47. King’s-head at Salford near Manchester, 1st Monday.

48. Castle in Holborn, 2d and last Wednesday. Jan. 31. 1727-8.

49. Three Flower-de-luces in St. Bernard-street in Madrid, 1st Sunday.

50. Woolpack in Warwick, 1st and 3d Friday. April 22. 1728.

51. Bishopsgate Coffee-house, 1st and 3d Wednesday. 1728.

52. Rose and Crown in Greek-street Soho, 1st and 3d Friday. 1728.

53. White-Lion at Richmond, 1st and 3d Saturday at 12 at Noon.

54. Crown and Anchor in Shorts-gardens, 1st and 3d Thursday.

55. Queen Elizabeth’s Head in Pitfield-street in Hoxton, 1st and 3d Monday.

56. Crown in the Corn-market in Oxford, every Thursday. Aug. 8. 1729.

57. Three Tuns in Scarsborough, 1st Wednesday. Aug. 27. 1729.

58. Three Tuns at Billingsgate, 2d and 4th Thursday. Jan. 22. 1730.

59. King’s Arms in Cateton-street, 1st and 3d Friday. Jan. 24. 1730.

60. George in Northampton, 1st Saturday. Jan. 16. 1730.

61. Prince William at Charing-cross, 2d and 4th Monday. Feb. 26. 1730.

62. Bear in Butcher-row, 1st and 3d Friday. Mar. 6. 1730.

63. St. Rook’s-hill, near Chichester in Sussex, once a Year, viz. Tuesday in Easter Week. In the Reign of Julius Caesar.

64. Red Lion in the City of Canterbury, 1st and 3d Tuesday. April 3. 1730.

65. Dick’s Coffee-house in Gravel-street in Hatton-garden, last Thursday. April 16. 1730.

66. Golden Spikes at Hamstead, 2d and 4th Saturday. April 28. 1730.

67. King’s-head in Fleetstreet, 2d and 4th Friday. May 22. 1730.


THE CHESHAM MS., c. 1740

This parchment roll, composed of six strips fastened together, is some 10¾ feet long and 9 inches wide. By the courtesy of Grand Lodge, to whom it belongs, Dr. Schofield of the British Museum MSS. Department was permitted to examine it, and we were allowed to have it photographed, before it was put away in a place of relative safety. This note is based on Dr. Schofield’s report and on the photographs. The document is written in an eighteenth-century legal hand, and cannot be accurately dated; it may well have been written about 1740. Its early history is unknown; it was found by a workman at Chesham, Bucks, in 1929, and presented to Grand Lodge that year by Bro. J. H. Grafton.

The Roll is headed “The Mystery of Free-Masonry”; in addition there are three cross-headings, also in large script: “Enter’d ’Prentice’s Degree”, “Fellow Crafts Degree” and “The Master’s Degree”, The questions and answers which immediately follow the general heading are, with very slight verbal differences (mostly affecting spelling and the use of capitals) identical, with one exception, with the catechism The Mystery of Free-Masonry printed in the Daily Journal of 15 August 1730. The exception is that whereas the latter states that the length of the chain to the key of the Lodge is “As long as from my Tongue to my Heart”, the corresponding answer in the Chesham MS. is “As long as from my Tongue to my Teeth.”

Immediately after the last words of this catechism is the cross-heading “Enter’d ‘Prentice’s Degree”, followed by the set of questions and answers printed in Prichard’s Masonry Dissected under this identical heading. The main differences are (i) that the note appended to the question and answer “How old are you? Under seven”, reads “Denoting he has not pass’d Master” in Prichard, and “Denoting he has pass’d Master” in the Chesham MS.; (ii) that the final words of this section in Prichard, “The End of the Enter’d Prentices Part”, are omitted from the Chesham MS. The next section, headed “Fellow Crafts Degree” is identical in wording with the corresponding section in Prichard, except for the omission of the last words, “The End of the Fellow-Craft Part”. The last section, “The Master’s Degree”, is identical in wording with the corresponding section in Prichard except (i) that two questions and the corresponding answers are run into one, and (ii) that the final words, “The End of the Master’s Part”, are omitted.

In view of the practical identity of the Chesham MS. with (i) The Mystery of Free-Masonry and (ii) the questions and answers of Prichard’s Masonry Dissected both of which we print in full, we omit the text of this document.



This catechism is contained in the same MS. as The Whole Institution of Masonry, 1724 (see above). The document is stated to bear an almost illegible name and address: “ Mr John Page . . . N° 5 . . . Bristol”, and was recently in the possession of the late Bro. Salisbury (see above). On receiving the typescript copy from Bro. Cramphorn, after this book had gone to press, we had to decide forthwith whether to print the Dialogue in this volume, whilst there was still a chance of doing so, or to omit it and endeavour instead to locate the MS. and investigate its history and authenticity, with a view to subsequent publication. The Dialogue is in several points similar to the other early masonic catechisms, although it resembles no particular one very closely, and there is no prima facie reason for thinking that it is a hoax or forgery. We accordingly decided to print it here for the information of the reader. As soon as possible, we hope to follow this preliminary publication by a more detailed study in A.Q.C.

As the Dialogue is undated and the original is not at present available for examination, we have to rely entirely on internal evidence for dating the document. It consists of two parts; the first is a series of questions and answers, which falls into three sections. The second part consists of a number of notes or comments on certain answers. Apart from the oath, the answers are all short and such as a mason might be expected to know by heart. The first part apparently, therefore, consists of test questions and answers, rather than a ceremony of admission. In this respect it resembles the earlier pre-1731 catechisms. Certain of the questions and answers have more affinity with Prichard’s Masonry Dissected of 1730 than with any other known catechism. This raises the problem as to whether the Dialogue is partly based on Prichard, in which case it is necessarily post-1730, or whether it is descended from an older working, which in part served as a model for Prichard. In view of the vagueness of the resemblances and the many striking differences, we are disposed to think that neither catechism was based on the other, and that the questions and answers of the Dialogue may quite well be older than 173O. In character they certainly belong to the early group of catechisms printed in this volume.

The probable date of the notes or comments, which constitute the second part of the document, is a different matter. “Dr Desaguliers Regulation”, Mentioned in the first note, presumably refers to the action taken in Grand Lodge on 28 August 1730 (see above) at the suggestion of Dr. Desaguliers. This would make the autumn of 1730 the earliest date at which the comments could have been written. On the other hand, the use of the terms ‘Old Masons’ and ‘New Masons’, with the same meaning as the more usual expressions ‘Ancient Masons’ and ‘Modern Masons’, suggests that the comments were written before the terms ‘Ancient’ and ‘Modern’ were well established. That would certainly be prior to 1764, in which year the second edition of Ahiman Rezon (the Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of the Ancients) was published, containing the well-known attack on the ‘ Modems ‘, and not improbably prior to 1756, when the first edition of Ahiman Rezon was issued, the Grand Lodge of the ‘Ancients’ having been established in 1751. Thus we are disposed to think that the comments were composed, and the Dialogue set down in writing, at some date between 1730 and 1750, though the catechism proper may very well have been copied from one used prior to 1730. Provisionally, therefore, we suggest as the date of the document circa 1740, a date which may call for revision in the light of an examination of the original manuscript, if and when that is found.

The transcript we print is prepared from Bro. Cramphorn’s typescript copy. So far as we know, the catechism has not previously been printed.


Sim. Sr. I have just now received inclosed in a letter a pieece of Paper in this form pray what do you mean by it. Phil. I am a Stranger, Want company, And hearing you was a Brother Mason made bold to summons you.

Sim. And are you a Mason. Phil. (a) I am (so taken to be by all Fellows and Brothers)

Sim. And how shall I know you to be a Mason. Phil. (b). By Words, Signs, Tokens and Points of my Entrance.

Sim. And whats the Word of a Mason? Phil. (c). The word is Right.

Sim. If it be Right give it me Right. Phil. I’le Letter with you, if you please.

Sim. Give me the first Letter and I’le give you the second. Phil. B. Sim. O. Phil. A. Sim. Z.

Phil. The Word (d) then is Boaz, but as you are a Stranger to me, as I am to you, And we in good Policy are not to answer above Three questions proposed least we should be imposed on by a Pretender, I ask you, What are Signs. Sim. Signs (e) are all Squares, Angles and Perpendiculars.

Phil. And what are Tokens. Sim. (f) All Brotherly gripes on the hand by which Brothers distinguish one another.

Phil. And what are points of your Entrance? Sim. To Heal and Conceal the Secrets (g) of a Mason.

Phil. How was you admitted a Mason. Sim. By (h) Three knocks on the Door the last at a double distance of time from the former and much larger.

Phil. What was the first question that the Master ask’d you when you was admitted. Sim. Whither it was of my own free will that I came thither to be made a Mason. I answered Yes.

Phil. What did you see before you was made a Mason. Sim. Nothing that I understood.

Phil. What did you see afterwards. Sim. Three grand Lights

Phil. What do you call them. Sim. The Sun, The Moon and the Master (i)

Phil. How do they Rule and Govern? Sim. The Sun the Day, the Moon the Night, the Master the Lodge.

Phil. Where stood your Master Sim. In the East

Phil. Why in the East Sim. To wait the rising of the Sun to sett the Men to their Work.

Phil. Where stood the wardens? Sim. In the West.

Phil. Why in the West. Sim. To wait the Setting of the Sun and to discharge the Men from Their Labour.

Phil. Where stood the Fellow Crafts? Sim. In the South.

Phil. Why in the South? Sim. To receive and Instruct all strange Brothers.

Phil. Where stood the entred Prentices Sim. In the North to Heal and Conceal and wait of the Master.

Phil. You say you see three great Lights, did you see no other Light?

Sim. Yes one far surpassing Sun or Moon.

Phil. What was that? Sim. The Light of the Gospel.

Phil. Why was you made a Mason? Sim. For sake of the Letter G. (k).

Phil. What does it signifye Sim. Geomitry Phil. Why Geomitry? Sim. Because it is the Root and foundation of all Arts and Sciences.

Phil. And pray how much mony had you in your packet when you was made a Free Mason? Sim. None att all (l) Phil. And how was you made a Mason Sim. Neither Naked nor Cloathed, Standing nor Lying, Kneeling nor Standing, Barfoot nor Shod, but in due form.

Phil. How is that Form? Sim. Upon my barebended knee with a pair of Compasses extended square in my Breast. And then and there I took the sacred and solemn Oaths of a Mason.

Phil. Repeat your Oaths.

Sim. I do Solemnly Vow and Protest before God and this Worshipful Company that I will Heal or Hear, Conceal and never Reveal the Secrets or Secrecy of a Mason or Masonry that has been heretofore or shall be here or hereafter disclosed unto me, to neither Man, Woman nor Child, neither print them, stamp them or Engrave them or cause them to be written stampt or Engraved upon anything Moveable or Immoveable or any other ways. Whereby the Secrets of a Mason or Masonry may be discovered. Upon the Penalty of my Heart plucked from my Left breast, my Tongue pluck’d from the roof of my mouth, my Throat cutt, my Body to be torn to pieces by Wild Horses, to be bury’d in the Sands of the Sea where the Tide flowes in 24 Hours, taken up and burn’t to Ashes and Sifted where the four winds blow that there may be no more Remembrances of me. So help me God. then the Senior Warden put me on a White apron with these words. I put you on the Badge of a Mason, more Ancient and Honorable than the Knights of the Garter.

Phil. I am satisfied you are a Mason by the Repeating of your Oath. If you please you may ask me what Questions you think proper.

Sim. I ask you where your Lodge was kept Phil. In the Vale of Jehosophat out of the Cackling of a Hen, the Crowing of a Cock, the barking of a Dog.

Sim. How high was your Lodge. Phil. As high as the Heavens and as low as the Earth (m)

Sim. How many Pillars had your Lodge Phil. Three

Sim. What did you call them Phil. Beauty (n) Strength and Wisdom.

Sim. What do they represent. Phil. Beauty to Adorn, Strength to Support, And Wisdom to Contrive.

Sim. What Lodge are you of Phil. Of the Right Worshipful Lodge of St. John’s

Sim. How many Signs has a Free Mason. Phil. Five

Sim. What do you call them Phil. Pedestal—Manual—Pectoral—Gutteral—Oral.

(a) I am so taken to be by all Fellows and Brothers. This is the way that Old Masons answer this question. But the New Masons under J. T. Desaguliers Regulation answer only I am.

(b) By Words, Signs, Tokens and Points of my Entrance. How the Old Masons and New differ. The New Masons answer By Signs, Tokens and Points of my Admittance.

(c) The Word is Right. This answer is Subtle enough. The Word of a Mason is Boaz. But they answer the word is Right and they’l Letter the Word with you &c. Is to guard against Pretenders imposing on them. Besides Free Masons make use of the Word Right as often as they can with Some introduce it into conversation because everything they do is right as their Right bended knee, their Right hand upon the Bible &c.

(d) The word then is Boaz, this is the word of a Mason which is taken from the 7th Chap. 1 Kings 21st. verse And he set up the Pillars in the Porch of the Temple And he set up the right Pillar and called the name thereof Jachin and he set up the left Pillar and called the name thereof Boaz. Which verse is read to you after you are sworn. And very often the whole Chapter.

(e) Here the New Masons have the Word. All. and answer only, Squares, Angles and Perpendiculars.

(f) All Brotherly gripes on the hand &c. Which is when they shake you by the hand they press the first Finger’s Knuckle on your Right hand which they call Boaz the pillar. If he has passed Fellow Craft or Warden he presses with his Thumb the next long finger’s knuckle which is called Jachin. the right Pillar—for Jachin is the word of a Warden.

(g) To Heal and Conceal this part of the Old Oath, but the New Mason’s [? do] it By pointing to their left Breast with their Finger.

(h) By three solemn Knocks at the Door the last a double distance of Time and much larger. At the door before you are admitted stands an Entred Prentice with a drawn sword to guard against droppers, as they call them, from Hearkening. For in this they are very Cautious and the Question is frequently ask’d Is the House Tiled? If safe from hearing the Answer is T’is Tiled. If not or any Person in Company not a Mason. Untiled. And the Junior Prentice takes you by the hand and knocks three times at the Door. The Master asks who’s there. And the Prentice answers. One that has a desire to be made a Mason. The Master reply’s Bring him in. N.B. The reason of those three Knocks is not known to Prentices but to the Master which is from Hiram the Grand Master in Solomon’s Temple. Being murdered by his three Prentices and was dispatched by the third Blow the last Prentice gave him and this because he would not discover the Secrets to them.

(i) The Sun, The Moon and the Master Is three large candles in large wooden Candlesticks carv’d in all the Orders and plac’d in a Triangular form upon the Lodge. The Lodge’s as Contra [see over] is commonly made, with white tape nail’d to the Floor round as you see the letters E for East and S for South &c. are made of thin Silver or Tin very thin, And likewise the letter G at the top in the now constituted Lodge’s is a Quadrant, a Square, a pair of Compasses and Plum line placed at the top of the Lodge. The Officers of the Lodge stand upright in their proper places with their Right foot makeing a Square upon their Left their left hand hanging down in a perpendicular line their right hand upon their left Breast makeing a Square with their Fingers and Thumb, with their white Aprons on, And Gloves stich’t on their right side. This is the Posture and great sign that will fetch any Mason from the top of a House, and is calld the Posture of a Mason.

(k) You may Observe why G is placed in the midle of the Lodge.

(l) None at all. This is a very cunning Question to discover a Pretender because they dismiss you of all Mettle about you as your mony And your Buckles from your Shoes &c. and give this reason for it. That at the building of the Temple nothing of Mettle was heard. According to the 6 Chap i Kings 7 verse: And the House when it was in building was built of Stone made ready before it was brought thither. So that there was neither hammer nor Ax nor any tool of Iron heard in the House while it was in Building.

(m) As low as the Earth as high as the Heavens because all Lodge’s were kept formerly in the open Fields.

(n) Beauty Strength and Wisdom. These three things are necessary to all great Buildings.

Old Layout New Layout Curlicue

THE ESSEX MS., c. 1750

James Essex, (1722-84), builder, architect and antiquary of Cambridge, bequeathed his MSS. to Thos. Kerrich (1748-1828), Librarian of the University of Cambridge, who in turn bequeathed them to the British Museum, together with his own collection of MSS. In a volume originally belonging to Essex [B.M. Add. MSS. 6760] are, amongst other items written by or for him, two catechisms (as well as a copy of the Leland Locke MS.) which apparently are not in Essex’s own handwriting, comparison with which can be made as many of his architectural papers are in the British Museum (W. B. H[extall], Misc. Lat., ii, 122). Both, however, are written in the samee hand, as can be clearly seen in the facsimile reproduction of p. 45 of the volume in A.Q.C. li, facing p. 232, which contains the end of the first catechism and the beginning of the second. The first is a fairly correct version of The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, 1724, (Poole, A.Q.C., li, 232). According to Hextall (loc. cit.) it is most noticeable for the question and answer, “Q. Give me the Universal Word. A. Maughbin”. According to Bro. Poole (loc. cit.) it has no independent critical value, and is not worth reproducing. At present it is inaccessible; so far as we are aware, it has never been printed.

The second catechism is a version of The Whole Institutions of Free-Masons Opened, 1725, and of the masonic examination in the Graham MS., 1726, with both of which it has been compared in detail by Bro. Poole in A.Q.C., li, where a photographic facsimile of the catechism is printed. Bro. Poole (A.Q.C., xxxvii, 10) suggests that it belongs to the second half of the eighteenth century; we have ventured to describe it as c. 1750. The transcript we print is prepared from the A.Q.C. facsimile.

The whole Instruction opened and proved by Scripture Ist observe that as you make Imitation of a squeire is according to every Subject in hand proved by ye 7th verse of the 6th Chapr of the Ist of Kings

The Salutation as follows—From whence came you

A I came from a right worshipfull lodge of Masters & fellows belonging to holy St John who doth greet all true & holy Brothers of our holy Secret so do I if Q If you be one

Q I greet you well Brothers what is your name A I & the other to say B & C the examination Followeth

Q How shall I know you are a free mason A By true words & tokens from my Entrie

Q How were you made a Mason A By a true & perfect Lodge

Q What are a perfect Lodge A The centre of a true Heart

Q And how many Masons was so called A any odd number from 3 to 13

Q What was your first step towards your entring A a willing desire to know the Scret

Q How came you in to the Lodge A In ignorance & came out in knowledge

Q What did you see thire A I saw truth the World & Justice

Q What was behind you A Perjury & exclamation of our fraternity

Q how was your Lodge set at your entering A South East & West

Q Why so A Becaus Churches stand east & West & Prechers to the South

Q Why does Churches stand East & West A Because the East wind dryed up the Sea before the Children of Israel

Q What posture did you pass your oath in A I was neither setting going standing lying hinging nor properly Kneeling cloathed nor naked shod no barefoot but as a Brother knows how

Q What were you sworn to A To heal & conceal

Q What other tenners belong to your Oath A To Obey God in all true Squares made or sent to me from a Brother never to put out my hand to steal nor commit adultery with a Brothers Wife nor design any unjust revenge on him but love & releive him as far as you can not hurting your self two far

Q What reason can you give or any Man render why Masons should have a screet more than any trade A Because the building ye House of the Lord pleased his devine Majesty therefore in some part by merret yet much more by free grace the obtaining a name & a new command the name signifying strength & the answer beauty & the command Love, For it is to be understood & also belived that every tipe of Gods House had some reference to the insuring will of God which he would have the Children of Men to practice and his 12 Apostles for proof of this read the 6th & 7th of the 1st of Kings Keep well the Key that lyeth in a bone Box under a hairy Sod



The Free-Masons Vindication, 1725

This anonymous and undated broadside, about 10½" X 6¾", printed on both sides, claims to be an answer to the catechism, The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons Discover’d, which is the title of the second, or 1725, edition of The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, 1724. A copy is bound with other broadsheets in a volume in the British Museum [B.M. 8145, h.1] bearing Dublin imprints dated 1725; the likelihood is that it is of Irish origin and that it was published in 1725. It was reprinted in Misc. Lat., iv, and reproduced by photo-lithography in Lepper and Crossle (pp. 49-50). Our reprint is from a photostat of the copy in the British Museum.

The Free-Masons Vindication, Being An Answer To a Scandalous Libel, entituled the Grand Mistery of the Free Masons, discover’d, &c. Wherein is plainly prov’d the falsity of that Discovery, and how great an imposition it is on the Publick.

[Latin & Greek quotations omitted]

Having read a Paper lately publish’d, which has strove to deceive the World by a pretended Discovery of the Manners, and Customes of the Free Masons at their Assemblies, Meetings, &c, We of that Society thought it incumbent upon us to say something in Answer to it, not so much on account of the Paper it self, which deserves nothing but Ridicule (as we shall sufficiently show) to any understanding Man’s Consideration; but to undeceive those who have suffer’d themselves to be impos’d on by such an intolerable Abuse. Not that we by this reflect on those Gentlemen’s Iudgements, for they not knowing are the more liable to the Imposture; tho’ one wou’d hardly suppose a secret that has never been divulg’d since this Order first commenc’d, shou’d now be expos’d on such groundless, and I may say hardly credible Reasons. Our Antagonist tell’s you it was found in the Custody of a Free Mason who died suddenly; now we think that Excuse the most ridiculous in the World; for if We were so indiscreet as to commit our Orders to the Care of each Person of our Society, We cou’d not expect but it wou’d have been discover’d by many Mischances before this Time; but We are much more carefull in things of such Importance, and never leave it in the Power of the wisest Observer to discover the least hint of our Designs. Your Author’s Fable We don’t think it worth while to answer, since it so much reflects upon himself; for he has made his Discovery scarce equal to the Solution of his Ænigma. If we shou’d attempt to answer him Paragraph by Paragraph, it wou’d spend more Time than We can at present allow, since it is from first to last one continu’d Peice of Nonsence; and cou’d with more Reason (as did [tho’ upon a different Occasion] an eminent Divine) put a Mentiris to the End of all his Affirmatives; for it appears at first View more like a jargon of Contradictions, than a premeditated Composition.

The Free Masons having been allow’d to be the most ancient and honourable Society in the World, and both is and has been compos’d chiefly of the principal Nobility; but ’tis the same thing with our Author; the more excellent the subject, the Jest will pass the better; and nothing can please so well as a Fool that has lost his Manners; but what cou’d be his design is hard to be understood, or what exalted Ideas he has conceiv’d of us to make him bestow such uncommon Terms of Art on us, we can’t immagine. In our Health that he has taken such extraordinary Pains to anatomize, he owns we are a very noble, and ancient Fraternity, and makes our selves allow it to be a wonderfull Mystery; altho’ his Fable gave him the Lie no less than a Page before: whither this be Ignorance, or Impudence I leave the World to Determine.

The Author has taken a deal of Pains to very little purpose; and has been at a greater deal of Trouble to make himself Intelligeble, than an antiquated Apothecary; for the utmost of his Discovery leaves his Reader in a greater Dilemma than ever, and sufficiently shews how much it wants an Interpreter. What could induce him to be so ridiculous as to Write, or so impudent to publish, is perhaps hard to be determin’d, if Hunger or Envy were not the chief Motives: Be that as it will, we believe that those who have got Mr. Informer’s Instructions, will be as much at a loss to discover a Free Mason, as if he had still conceal’d his Directions, and will like himself, for ever remain in Ignorance.

What we intend by this Discourse, is not to honour our Author so far as to think him worth Contradiction; but to put his Readers in mind to consider their infallible Receipt a little more narrowly, and not be too confident in their belief of a Fable. Having therefore perform’d what we intended, we think it now time to bid our Author adieu, and to take this Advice, either never to Write, or to write something nearer Sense than his last. But as he in the beginning of his Information introduces himself with a very handsome apropo Fable, we shall condescend so far in imitation of him, to conclude with another, and to tell him, “That a Fox once having observ’d a large Bunch of excellent Grapes hanging in a very tempting Posture, over his Head, strove with the hazard of his Neck by a great many Leaps, Springs, and other Stratagems, to lead away Captive this Bunch, that by its alluring Colour and Magnitude, had dar’d to provoke his Appetite; but after many dangers escap’d, difficulties overcome, a few Limbs disjointed, and other chances of War, having found it impossible to compass his desires, he began by the instigation of his longing Stomach to Curse, and abuse what he had spent so many Hours, and receiv’d so many Bruises in attempting to recover.”




The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected, 1730

This anonymous 32 pp. pamphlet, about 7¾” x 4¾”, ‘by a Free Mason’, published in London in 1730, is a rejoinder to Prichard’s Masonry Dissected. In Dring’s opinion (A.Q.C., xxv, 366) it is possibly “the Discourse concerning Prichard by Bro. Clare” mentioned in the minutes of the Old Lodge at Lincoln, 2m> October 1733. cf. our introductory note to A Defence of Masonry, p. 160 below. To our knowledge, it has never been reprinted. Our reprint is from a photostat of the pamphlet in the British Museum.

The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected; And yet The Honour and Antiquity of the Society of Free Masons Preserv’d and Defended. By a Free Mason.

For Perjury’s a Blast upon the Mind,
The last Degeneracy of human Kind:
The utmost Prostitution of the Soul,
That poisons every Part, and damns the whole.

London: Printed for T. Warner at the Black-Boy in Pater-noster-Row. MDCCXXX. (Price 6d.)


The Antiquity of Free Masonry, as an Art and Science, is unquestion’d: And the Honour of it, as preserved in a Society of worthy Members and Masters, and handed down from Age to Age to this Day, as it is admirable in itself, is also as certain and unquestion’d.

This Part is historical, and may be inquired into and made publick without any Breach of Oaths and Engagements, and without Injury to the Persons or Memory of any of the Originals: But the Manner and Management of this Society, and by what Steps it has been thus wonderfully preserv’d, is a Secret hid in the Breasts of the faithful Few among whom it has been kept sacred to this Day; nor it yet discover’d, notwithstanding the Endeavours of a few Traitors in these unhappy Times to betray it.

A short Abridgment of its History take as follows.

Ham or Cham, the second Son of NOAH, having a Genius to Architecture, is said to have practised it in the Ante-diluvaean World, before the Deluge, for he was 90 Years of Age when the Flood came upon the Earth.

Fame tells us, that after the Flood he communicated the Knowledge of it to the Great Council or Meeting upon the Plains of Shinaar where it was proposed to build a Tower up to Heaven: Nothing but a complete Master of the Science of Masonry could have con­ceiv’d so immense an Undertaking: His Proposal being accepted it seems he undertook the Work, and became the Master-Builder; But the History imports, that his Workmen growing weary of mounting that stupendious Stair-case, and at last being divided in Speech, mutined and left him, and so the Work was broken off; but the mighty Ruins of that Fabrick shews to this Day the Skill of the Master-Mason; the immense Arches, the vast Pilasters, the strong Basis, which are still to be seen, are a lasting Testimony as well to the Greatness of the Work as to the Genius of the Workman.

His Grandson by his Son Canaan was called Sidon, whose Tribes travelling from Babel West, came to the Sea-shore of Phoenicia, and there (being instructed in the Art of Masonry by his great Ancestor) he built the City of Sidon, which remains to this Day the most ancient City in the World.

Another of his Grandsons was call’d Mizraim, and he travell’d into Egypt, where he (being long before accepted a Mason by his great Ancestor) erected a powerful Nation on the Banks of the Nilus. And some hundred Years after that, he built those inimitable Fabricks call’d the Pyramids.

Under these great Masters of Masonry, many others in succeeding Ages were found, who being received as accepted Masons, scattered themselves abroad, and spread the noble Science into several Parts of the World.

Hence Cadmus a Phoenician Prince, and one of the immediate Successors of Sidon, carried the Art of Building from Tyre (a City built by the Zidonians) into Boetia or Greece, and taught the Grecians the first Order of Buildings, by whose Skill the said Greeks were instructed and daily improving, built all those glorious Fabricks which History gives us such large Accounts of, and in particular the great Temple of Apollo at Delphos.

Hence Hiram, that great and famous Master of Art, being also a Phenician, became a Master Mason, and acted the Part of a Founder in the erecting Solomon’s Temple; where he perform’d such surprising Things, and so inimitable that he is said to have been buried there; the Meaning of which we shall explain by and by.

From these glorious Originals, the Art of Masonry spread it self in the World, being supposed to be in its Meridian Glory in the Time of the Roman Empire, and in the Reign of Trajan, in whose Times those famous Columns, Amphitheatres, Aqueducts, and other magnificent Buildings were rais’d, whose Ruins are at this Day the Wonder of the World, and shew the exquisite Skill and mighty Genius of the Free Masons of those Times.

With the Fall of the Roman Empire, this glorious Art (as many others also did) suffered a fatal Blow; and as barbarous Nations over-ran the Empire, so the Art of Masonry sunk into Gothicisms and all manner of Irregularities, and the Buildings of the following Ages, became for a long Time rude and impolite; the Rules of Art being sunk, and as it were forgotten in the World.

But under these Discouragements there were always found A Few, Fate so directing, who associating together, with the utmost Secresy and Fidelity constantly instructed one another in the Rules of Art, and preserved their Councils from the Eyes of all Men; binding themselves to one another by an inviolable Oath of Secresy, and a Word or Token of Amity and Fellowship; by which Means they have preserv’d the Knowledge of Masonry in all its most exquisite and accomplish’d Parts, and handed it down to us even to this Day.

This we call the brief History of this Matter, and however, the Pryings, Searchings, Guessings, and Inquiries of busy Men, have laboured to dive into the Mystery of this Society, and into the Manner how the same has been carried on and preserved, and have in spite of Oaths solemnly taken, attempted to betray and expose it; yet the Secret remains untouch’d and the Traytors have only exposed themselves in those Attempts.

Having thus brought down the Account of the Society of Free Masons historically to the present Age; and mentioned also some Attempts to find out and expose the well deposited Secret: It brings me of Course to fix upon one or two of those particular Attempts which are just now broke out among us, and which contrary to the Expectation of the Traitors, have issued no less to the Honour of Free Masonry itself, and of the Society which has lately flourish’d in this City, than to the Infamy and Reproach of the scandalous Authors, who have been able to do no more than just to expose themselves, shew their Contempt of all the Obligations as well of Conscience as of Honour; and let the World see in short that they have not been able to come at the Secret itself, and really know nothing of the Matter.

One of these has taken some Pains to tell us his Name, and has himself branded it with a Mark of Infamy, as inimitably ridiculous as it is wicked; telling us at the same time, that he is a received and accepted Free Mason, and from thence would infer that he knows the whole Secret, and so goes on to betray (ignorant Wretch) All he knows, in spite of all the Oaths and Engagements he had entered into to the contrary, tho’, to his great Disappointment, all he knows amounts to just nothing.

The others, having been not quite so shameless, have concealed their Names, under the weak Pretences of having receiv’d their Informations from other Hands, but must know at the same time, that those other Hands must then have been guilty of the same Perjury and Prevarication, and must have been equally Traytors to their Trust, to their Masters, and to their Country; so that let it come which Way it will, it is much the same.

They have copied from one another, and all their Informations intimate a kind of Dialogue between the Person of a Free Mason and some imaginary Inquirer at the Time of that Person being admitted into the Society; which Dialogues, and especially the Answers are full of such nonsensical inconsistent Things, that they are not able to give the Reader the least Diversion or Information, if he had Patience to go thro’ them.

The following is a short Entertainment of like kind between one of the Masters of the Society, and a junior Member lately admitted, and who, as appears, is one of the weak Bretheren mention’d above.

Mast. Come hither, young Man, pray what do you wear that Apron, and these white Gloves for? are you a Free Mason?

Jun. N.B. [Here instead of an Answer he pronounces (as he thinks) the Secret Word, by which he supposes he should pass for a Member.]

Mast. N.B. Here the Master pronounces another Word which the Junior does not at all understand.]

Jun. What’s that pray?

Mast. A Token by which I understand that you are only admitted to the first Steps of a Free Mason, but are not yet taken into the full Confidence of the Society.

Jun. Ay, have they serv’d me so I can’t believe that; I tell you I am an accepted Free Mason?

Mast. But I tell you, that you are not; but do not be angry; after having approv’d your self honest, and given the Society some Year’s Experience of your Fidelity, as well as of your Improvement in Knowledge, and the Science of a Mason, you may at length attain to the full Degree of an Accepted Mason, but not yet I assure you.

Jun. I tell you, I am all that already.

Mast. I know better, Friend; if you were, you would have understood what just now I said: However, are you willing to be farther examin’d?

Jun. Ay, ay; I can answer all the Questions which you put at our Admission.

Mast. I doubt you can’t; pray, who was the first Master Mason in the World?

Jun. He that built the Tower of Babel.

Mast. Well, but who was he?

Jun. We were not told his Name.

Mast. I knew that well enough; they would not trust you with that Secret at first.

Jun. Pray what was his Name?

Mast. No, hold there; do you think I have so little Regard to my Oath?

Jun. I thought when I was accepted a Free Mason I had a Right to be told every Thing.

Mast. No, you are mistaken there; after one and forty Years Tryal of your Fidelity, perhaps you may, but not before.

Jun. I believe I know every Thing as well as you do.

Mast. Come then, let’s put you to the Tryal again; who was the Head Master Mason in the Building of Solomon’s Temple.

Jun. Hiram the great Master Mason of Tyre, of the Tribe of Naphtali?

Mast. There you are wrong again; Hiram was a Caster of Brass, or, if you please, a Founder; the greatest and best that ever was in the World.

Jun. I say he was a Free Mason. Mast. Yes, alegorically; as a Man of one Employment may be a Member of a Society that is of another; so a Handicraft in London may be by Profession a Smith, and by his Freedom or Company a Tallow Chandler; and so Hiram was a free Accepted Mason, and no doubt he understood Masonry perfectly well too; yet his principal Work in Solomon’s Temple, was Casting of Brass, and it was he that cast the two vast Brazen Pillars call’d Boaz and Jachin, such as never were seen before or since.

Jun. Well, but who was the Head Mason then; who was the Master Builder of the Temple?

Mast. Nay, that’s not a Secret for you to understand yet; I tell you it must be Matter of Time.

Jun. But I say Hiram (say what you will) was the Man, and he built Solomon’s Porch too?

Mast. Yes; and don’t they tell you Hiram was buried in the Sanctum Sanctorum?

Jun. Yes, and he was buried there too to be sure.

Mast. Yes, allegorically; but not really; the Meaning of the Figure is this: That his Art sunk with him, was buried in the exquisite Workmanship which he perform’d for the Temple, and was never recover’d since, for that no such Things were ever done after it, in or for any Building in the World.

Jun. Was that the Meaning of it?

Mast. Yes; for you might easily know, a dead Body to have been buried in the Temple, would have polluted the Place, and the Jews would never have come into it again.

Jun. There may be something in that indeed; but why was not I told all that before?

Mast. I tell you why, because you had not been long enough enter’d to be a fully Accepted Free Mason.

Jun. And was the Art of Masonry buried then in Solomon’s Temple?

Mast. I don’t say so; but Hiram’s Art of Foundry was so buried to be sure; for all the World never made two such massive Pillars of Brass as BOAZ and JACHIN, nor was there ever any such heard of in the World.

Jun. And what became of Masonry in Egypt at the same time?

Mast. Why that died with old Mizraim, for there was never any Free Mason in the World that could build such Pyramids, and therefore the old Royal Architect is said to be buried under his own pyramids, that is to say, his Knowledge and the Perfection of the Science died with him.

Jun. So we have no fully and completely finish’d Artist in Masonry left in the World, have we?

Mast. Not in those particular Branches of Art, but in some others we have Men that have excell’d to a Wonder.

Jun. Who are they?

Mast. Nay, it is not your Business to examine me; I thought I was examining you; but you may go back to the History of Masonry abridg’d as above, and answer yourself.

Jun. Well then, I know nothing belike of Free Masonry.

Mast. Not much indeed; and not enough to do the Free Masons any Harm, that I can assure you, tho’ you break your Oath tomorrow, and tell all you know.

Jun. I may try that perhaps; it seems they have cheated me, why shou’d not I be even with them? If they have deluded me, my Oath is void.

Mast. I don’t see how you will make out that; but if you think so, you may do your worst, there is no body in fear of your Resentment.

Jun. If they were not afraid, they would not make us take such horrid Oaths for Secrecy; but I don’t value their Oaths of a Farthing, not I.

Mast. Not value the Oaths! Mr. Free Mason, say you so! What, are you arriv’d to such a Pitch that you value neither God nor Devil!

Jun. I don’t think either God or Devil is any thing concern’d in this Case, ‘tis an Oath and no Oath to me; and I tell you, if they don’t use me very handsomly, I’ll expose the whole Craft, I know how to do it very well.

Mast. All you know of it, you mean.

Jun. Yes, all I know of it.

Mast. And that is just nothing at all, I tell you; why you did not so much as know what Trade old Hiram was; or who was the Master Builder of Babel: You expose us! you can expose no body but your self.

Jun. Well, well, I will let the World see what Cheats you are, and how you have impos’d upon me and all the World: If I an’t better us’d, I’ll make my self amends upon some of you, I warrant you.

Mast. What do you mean by being better us’d? Explain yourself, pray.

Jun. Explain my self; ay, so I will; I want Money, and I must have Money, and by G—d I will have Money, or it shall be worse for them.

Mast. Well, now you talk like your self; want Money! must have Money! and will have Money! What’s the Difference, pray, between that and D—mn you, Sir, Deliver, or I’ll . . . &c. Pray, where is your Pistol?

Jun. No, no; I am no high-way-man, and yet I tell you, if your damn’d Society do not take care of me, I’ll take care of them, I’ll lay it all open by G—d.

Here the Dialogue broke off, as well it might; for what could be said further to such a Pretender to Free Masonry, as this? He might have laid a Man flat without Square or Level, and cut a Perpendicular thro’ his Head without Rule or Plumb-Line.

Upon this very Foundation the Enemies of the Free Masons have proceeded, and these are the Men we have to do with in this Tract: They have taken the Oath of a Free Mason, and have with an audacious Front broke thro’ that Oath, and they would come off of it by objecting against the Manner of the Oath and the Obligations of it, insisting that it is not binding upon them, because not administer’d in the ordinary Form of Law or before a Magistrate, and the like.

Part II

Thus far we have seen the Fools of the Society discovering themselves; Fools we may call them without any Injustice, that could believe, a Society, claiming to have been establish’d so many Ages, and whose secret Deposit had been preserv’d so inviolable under so many sacred Bonds and Ties of Secresy, could be so weak at last as to discover the Arcana of Free Masonry to every Corner that did but think fit at the Expence of a Trifle to offer themselves, and to take a Modern Oath, for these Men affirm the Oath that they have taken to be all Modern, and, as they say, form’d of yesterday; and so it is indeed, compar’d to the ancient Engagements of Free Masons, which were founded upon Principles of Honour, and in Times when a solemn Parole was of equal, if not superior Force with the Consciences of Men as the warmest Imprecations of these swearing Days: This has appeared in the Consequences, seeing we find the firmly combin’d Force of the Honourable Society of Free Masons remaining untouch’d, nay unattempted, notwithstanding the Difference of the Bonds: Till these wicked Times, when, as we see in the present Example, Men are not to be bound by the most awful and solemn Oaths, Promises and Asseverations in the World.

Now, tho’ the Sense of this Degeneracy of Mankind may have led the Society to draw up some new and additional Forms of Oaths, by which they might hope to secure the Fidelity of their Junior Members, yet wisely also foreseeing what might happen, and that Men would be found who would perhaps break through all those Obligations, and make light of Faith and Honour; they took care likewise to communicate no more of the Secrets of the Society to those young Members than they thought fit, till they had in their first Station given ample Proofs of their Fidelity; and yet the little which they knew being opened to them under the most horrid Imprecations and the most solemn Oaths, they could not break thro’ that little without branding themselves with the grossest Marks of Infamy, as well as Folly; the first, in the evident Perjury; and the last, in their ignorantly supposing they were Masters of the happy Secret, when indeed they knew little of the Matter.

We have had the inside of the latter sort turn’d outmost in the former Discourse with a Junior admitted in Form as above: We shall now entertain you a little with a more flagrant piece of Treachery, and Perjury committed, avowed and openly boasted of in the Teeth of Shame, and in Contempt of all that can be call’d Honourable among Men. This is fully describ’d in another Dialogue between a True Mason and one Mr. Samuel Prichard; for he has given up his Name to the D—— under the Sanction of a Counter-Oath, even in Print; swearing himself perjur’d, which any Man would have believ’d without a second Oath, and no Man the more for the Addition, the Dialogue is as follows.

Q. Pray, Sir, is your Name Samuel Prichard? A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Are you the same Man who has publish’d that wonderful Book call’d the Free Mason dissected? A. Yes, I am Sir, what have you to say to it?

Q. Nothing at all Sir, only I wonder you did not give it a better Title. A. What Title cou’d have been more to the Purpose, and to the Design of the Book?

Q. O, a great many; but one in particular. A. What is that pray, what wou’d you have had it call’d?

Q. Why, I wou’d have had you call’d it Mr. Samuel Prichard dissected, or Mr. Samuel Prichard, who calls himself a Free Mason, dissected. A. And why so pray?

Q. Because the Book would then have answer’d the Title exactly, for it has the very Inside of a R—— laid open in it from the very Title Page to the Word Finis, and the Name set to it at full length thus, (I am the Man) Samuel Prichard. A. You are very rude, is this all your Business with me?

Q. No, no; I have several Things of Moment to talk with you about; pray why do you call your self a Free Mason? A. Because I am so.

Q. How do you make it out? A. I am an Accepted Free Mason, a Member of the Free Masons, and I wear the Leather Apron and white Gloves.

Q. How was you accepted, and by whom? A. By a Constituted Lodge of Accepted Free Masons.

Q. Well, but you should change your Stile a little. A. How shou’d I change it, and why?

Q. Why, you shou’d say, I was a Free Mason, not I am. A. Why am I not so now, pray? once a Free Mason, and always a Free Mason.

Q. Ay, but once a Renegade, and always a Turk; once a Traytor, and always a R——; those Things you know are Maxims in all Affairs of this kind, you know it well enough. A. You are very abusive, you talk as if you had an Authority to rail.

Q. I say nothing of Mr. Prichard, but what I have Mr. Prichard’s Authority for, under his Oath before a Justice of Peace. A. What have I given under my Hand?

Q. Nothing but that you are perjur’d, and have divulged what you had sworn to conceal; is not that Writing your self a . . . . under your own Hand, and have I not a good Authority to call you any thing or every thing that you call your self? A. I say no such Thing.

Q. Come let us see how Jesuit-like you will work your self out: Pray, who presented you to the Society to be receiv’d a Free Mason? A. I went of my own accord, it was my own Desire to be amongst them.

Q. Pray for what Purpose did you desire it? A. That I might see into the Mystery that was talked so much of.

Q. Then it was not to attain to any of the Perfections and Improvements of a Society so ancient and honourable, but meerly to satisfy your own Curiosity. A. Perhaps there might be something else in it too, I wanted to know what they were a doing as a Society, and to be let into the grand Secret, which the World talked so much of.

Q. What did you propose to your self? A. That I might get Money by it.

Q. How cou’d you suppose you should get Money by it, you did not design to discover it, did you? A. It may be I did.

Q. A very honest Design indeed, Mr. Prichard, very honest. A. As honest on my Side as on theirs it may be.

Q. Well, but when you were receiv’d or admitted, you took an Oath, did not you? A. Yes, yes; I took all the Oaths they offer’d to me.

Q. And would have taken forty more, I suppose, if they had offered them; for he that breaks an Oath is perjur’d you know, and is no more you’ll say, if he takes a Bag full: So here was a pre­meditated Perjury, and an Oath taken with an Intent to break it. A. Well, and what d’ye make of all that?

Q. Nothing Mr. Prichard, nothing at all only forsworn a little, that’s all, Mr. Prichard; pray, is that a true Copy of the Oath you took, which you have printed in your Book? A. Yes, don’t you see I have sworn to it in the first Page.

Q. You must pardon me, Mr. Prichard, I can’t believe it a jot the more for your new fashion’d Oath: He that will forswear once, will forswear twice; but I think I know the Oath, and if you please i’ll set it down again for you, that you may have a Voucher; the Oath you took, if you were admitted a Free Mason, was this.

The Free Mason’s Oath

I Hereby solemnly Vow and Swear in the Presence of Almighty God and this Right Worshipful Assembly, that I will Hail and Conceal, and never Reveal the Secrets or Secresy of Masons or Masonry, that shall be revealed unto me; unless to a True and Lawful Brother, after due Examination, or in a Just and Worshipful Lodge of Brothers and Fellows well met.

I furthermore Promise and Vow, that I will not Write them, Print them, Mark them, Carve them, or Engrave them, or cause them to be Written, Printed, Marked, Carved or Engraved on Wood or Stone, so as the Visible Character or Impression of a Letter may appear, whereby it may be unlawfully obtain’d.

All this under no less Penalty than to have my Throat cut, my Tongue taken from the Roof of my Mouth, my Heart pluck’d from under my Left Breast, them to be buried in the Sands of the Sea, the length of a Cable-rope from Shore, where the Tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 Hours, my Body to be burnt to Ashes, my Ashes to be scatter’d upon the Face of the Earth, so that there shall be no more Remembrance of me among Masons.

So help me God.

Q. Is this a true Draft of the Oath? A. Yes, yes; ’tis the same I published, and the same that I took.

Q. On purpose to break, I perceive. A. Well, and what then? I tell you, I am not guilty of Perjury for all that.

Q. Nay, have you not sworn that you are forsworn? A. Don’t tell me of Perjury, and being foresworn; why did they not answer my just Demands then? I tell you they are all Cheats and R—s, I did not cheat them.

Q. What Demands? Did they owe you any Thing? A. Why Money, why did they not give me some Money?

Q. Did they promise you any when you entered, or before it? A. It’s no matter whether they did or no, I expected it, and I wanted it, and more than that, I was told I might get Money of them, if I was but once admitted.

Q. Who told you so, was he a Free Mason, or one that had any Commission from them to promise in their Names? A. No, no; but it was one that understood Things.

Q. What’s that to them? Did they make any Bargain with you? A. What tho’ they did not, I told them I wanted Money.

Q. When did you tell them so, before you took the Oath or since? A. No, not before you may be sure, but often enough since.

Q. And did you threaten to discover and break the Oath if they would not give you Money? A. Yes, I did.

Q. And what did they say to that, did they promise you any then? A. They abused me, like a Knot of R—s as they are, set me at Defiance, and bade me do my worst.

Q. And so you have done your worst, han’t you? A. I have done what I told them I would do, I have exposed them.

Q. What, in your printed Book? A. Ay, in the Book called the Free Mason Dissected.

Q. Pray, how then comes the World to have such a different Opinion of that extraordinary Piece from what you think of it? A. What different Opinion have they?

Q. Why, I can’t meet with one Man that has read it, but what like my Title much better than they do yours, and think it should have been call’d not the Free Mason Dissected, but Mr. Samuel Prichard Dissected. A. I don’t believe a Word of it.

Q. But I can bring you good Witness of it, there is not one Page in it but what they say, calls you both Knave and Fool. A. But how can they make it out?

Q. Why first they say, you own yourself perjur’d, nay you have sworn to it; that calls you K . . . . . and something worse: And as for the F . . . . certainly he that publishes his own Shame may pass for a F . . . . in any Part of the World. A. I own no such thing.

Q. Well, we will talk farther of that by and by, but in the mean time what does all the Discovery you have made amount to? A. Nay, you say I have discovered nothing.

Q. Nothing that (as you expected) can do the Free Masons the Injury you intended. A. Then what is all this Noise for?

Q. Nay nothing, but to shew how blind a piece of Work you have made of it, and what a Trifle you have perjur’d yourself for? A. What is it you call a Trifle? Han’t I laid open all the Bottom of the Mystery, that they have cheated the World with so long.

Q. Truly, thou hast laid open neither Bottom or Top, nor is there either Head or Tail in all the Book; you have only told the World that when People come first to be admitted into the Society of Free Masons, they take an Oath of Secresy, a solemn Oath in the Terms as above recited, and as it seems you have taken it. A. Yes, I have so.

Q. Ay, and have broken it too, as bare fac’d as you took it. A. So I have, make your best of it.

Q. And that after the Oath, they used a formal Office of Admission to serve for a Tryal of the Fidelity of the Junior Members, for that the Society not being able to know the Characters and Principles of every new Member, did not think fit to commit the whole Trust of their Secret deposit to Novices and ’Prentices, as you see they are call’d, till after a sufficient Probation; so that if they prov’d treacherous, they could discover no more than they knew, which was nothing significant to the main Affair, and nothing by which the grand Secret could be expos’d. A. A fine Story truly; how do you make it out?

Q. The Thing makes out itself; let any body that has had so much Patience as to read your Libel, tell themselves what they can learn from it of the Society’s Affairs. A. Yes, they may learn the whole Secret.

Q. How can that be, when ’tis plain you don’t know it yourself? They can only learn that the Society have been too wise to trust you, and that you are too ignorant to hurt them. A. If this was true, then what do you make all this Stir about Perjury for?

Q. Why you are not a jot less perjur’d for that: A House-breaker is no less a Thief when a House is so well secur’d that he can’t get into it, than he would be if he had got in and rob’d it of all that was in it. A. You make very homely Comparisons.

Q. But they are very just. A. I tell you the Oath itself is void in its own Nature. It is an illegal Oath.

Q. But you allow it is an Oath, and that you swore it. A. Well, and what can you make now of such an Oath as this?

Q. I make of it; nay, what do you make of it? A. I make nothing at all of it, nor is the thing sworn to worth a Farthing.

Q. I make so much of it, that I would not break it, tho’ it were of less Importance than it is, for a thousand Guineas. A. And I would break an hundred such for half the Money.

Q. If you have such a case-harden’d Conscience as that, you have so far got the start of me, Mr. Prichard, I can’t help that. A. There’s nothing in it, you can’t call it an Oath.

Q. Not an Oath! Was it not intended to be an Oath by those that impos’d it? A. Ay, ay; but they had no Power to give me an Oath at all, much less to impose the Form of it.

Q. Very well, and will that bring you off, think you? Pray, had they Power to stand still and hear you swear it? And, I hope, you remember you did not swear to them, tho’ you swore it before them, but to Almighty God, and his sacred Name you invok’d in the Conclusion to help, or not to help you, as you perform’d or did not perform what you had sworn. A. I tell you, I swore nothing; the Form of the Oath being illegal, the Matter is illegal also, and of no Import, I do not lay the least Stress upon it.

Q. Unhappy shuffling perjur’d Creature! that won’t do, that Jesuitical Shift will not stand thee in any stead against the solid part of an Oath; hear the Words again: I, that is, I Samuel Prichard, solemnly swear in the Presence of Almighty God, &c. is not that swearing? A. Not such swearing as to make the Breach of the Oath Perjury.

Q. Not Perjury! A. No, not Perjury; and if any Man says I am perjur’d, I’ll bring my Action against him.

Q. Begin with me then, Sam, for I tell thee to thy Face thou art forsworn in the Sight of God and Man. A. I don’t care for that, so long as it is not so in the Sight of the Law.

Q. Thou hast a hard-mouth’d Soul, Prichard, that’s true. But that will carry thee but a little way in Defence of the Fact. Let us go back to the Oath: Did you repeat the Words when you took the Oath, or did you only hear them read, and, having your Hand upon the Book, say the usual Amen to them at the End, that is, So help me God. A. I need not have repeated them, but being officiously forward I did repeat them aloud, being all the while upon my Knees; but all that’s nothing, I tell you.

Q. That is to say still, that you don’t call this Swearing, or call the Words, which are the Form of it, an Oath, when so read to you, and acknowledg’d by you in the Presence of Almighty God. Pray, what do you call Swearing—and what is an Oath in your Account? A. You may call it what you will, I tell you, I value it not.

Q. I believe you don’t indeed; and you may depend upon it, no body will value any thing you shall say or swear for the future, you shall enjoy one Part of the Curse attending your swearing Part (viz.) that tho’ your Ashes may not be scatter’d, as you say in the Oath, upon the Face of the Earth; yet that there shall be no more Remembrance of you among Masons, and so avoid Mr. Free Mason Prichard, avoid for ever. A. Well, but you say I swore to nothing, what then do you make all this a-noise about; if I swore to nothing, I have forsworn nothing, and so all is well again.

Q. No, Mr. Prichard, no, no; I do not say you swore to nothing, only I say you have been trusted with nothing, that is to say, nothing of Importance; nothing but what you may carry away, and make no body much the wiser; but you are not a Jot the less dipt in the Perjury, for that: He that does all the Mischief he can, is guilty of all the Mischief he would do, if it was in his power; and ’tis plain by your Confession, if you have not been guilty of all the Treachery to the Society that you design’d to be, it has not been for want of Will, but for want of Power; you would have murther’d them all upon the same Foot, if it had been in your Power. A. But what is this to the Purpose still, if as you say, I have discovered nothing.

Q. Hold there, tho’ what you have discover’d, or indeed, all you know, was not able to do the Free Masons any harm; yet you are foresworn as much as if you had discovered ten times as much. A. How will you make out that?

Q. Because you did not swear not to discover Things detrimental to the Company, for that might be to swear to conceal that which you did not know, but you swore not to discover what you knew, be the Importance of it more or less. A. You take a great deal of Pains to make it Perjury, if you could; I tell you I don’t value it, if it is Perjury, as long as you can’t prosecute me at Law.

Q. I have nothing to do with the brasen Side of your Conscience, look you to that; I prove it to be Perjury, and that’s enough to the present Case. A. You and I differ about the Word Purjury, perhaps, that’s all.

Q. I don’t think we differ about it at all; pray what say you of a Man that solemnly promises with a profess’d Design to break his Word, and not perform? A. Say, we say he breaks his Word.

Q. Don’t we say he is guilty of premeditated Perjury? A. We may say so, but that is not Perjury.

Q. Indeed, I think it is, for there is very little Difference (if any) between them: a solemn Promise before Witness, and mentioning the Presence of God, is no less than calling God to witness; and an Oath, I am sure, does no more, so that they are the same in the Intent and Meaning of them. A. That’s carrying Things on to Extremes and Niceties.

Q. But what’s all this to you? yours was a plain Oath, as plain and as strong as Words and horrid Imprecations could make it. A. An Oath to do what?

Q. To conceal and keep secret, and neither directly or indirectly to divulge. A. Divulge what?

Q. It is really no Matter what, whatever it was except it was criminal to conceal it; the divulging it was downright Perjury. A. I don’t value a hundred such Oaths as that.

Thus far the unhappy Mr. Prichard has carry’d on his Defence, with a Stock of Brass, perfectly agreeable to the Nature of the Thing call’d Perjury; and holds it out that he is not forsworn, only because he did not swear before a lawful Magistrate, and that the Breach of his Oath cannot be prosecuted as a meer Perjury in the Sense of the Law, or in a Court of Justice; let him shelter his Conscience under such a Skreen, it may indeed save his Ears, but will never solve his Character.

Nor will it go down with any honest Man, that a solemn Oath, or an Oath solemnly taken between Man and Man, or by a Man to a Society of Men shall not be binding, because the Breach of it is not cognisable in Form of Law.

Justice and Honesty will remain unchang’d and the same, and will have the same Influence upon all honest and upright Minds; tho’ the Penalty were entirely taken off from the Breach of the Bond; for the Obligation is not fix’d upon the Form, but ’tis fix’d in the Soul, and an honest Man will do what is honest, from an inherent Principle of Justice, tho’ there were no Laws to bind him, no Power to punish him, and no Shame or Reproach to attend him.

Mr. Prichard has taken pains to guild his own Character with all the flaming Lustre that the D——l can assist him with, and has not only avowedly broken the Oath of a Free Mason, which he acknowledges he had taken as above, but has with a Strain above all that ever went before him, and in a Manner very particular, gone before a Magistrate to unswear what he had sworn to before, and take an Oath that he is forsworn; the merriest and most fantastick Piece of Forehead-Work that ever I met with in the World, that a Man (fearing like the Wizard at New England) that his Word should not be taken against himself, has, I say, made Oath that he has broken his Oath, and swore that he is foresworn; and I doubt by the Way is perjur’d in that Oath too, as well as in the other.

What Occasion there was for such an unprecedented Oath as this, I cannot imagine, except to eternize his Memory, which, as above, Was doomed by the Imprecations of his former Oaths eternally to be forgotten. Perhaps indeed he might apprehend that a single Affirmation would not go down with Mankind in a Case so flagrant, and therefore he sets a Bill upon the Door, intimating that here was some strange and wonderful Novelty to be seen, such as was never seen or heard of before, viz. a Monster swearing himself to be a Monster, a Man swearing himself to be a D——l. Whether indeed he ought to be depended upon for this last Oath any more than he might for the first, I shall not determine. Perhaps he might act like the Wizard at New England, who swore he dealt with the Devil and had done so for several Years, yet could not gain Credit enough with the Jury to get himself hang’d, tho’ every body believ’d he deserv’d it.

And what shall we call this double Swearing now, but a Testimony even in favour of Free Masonry it self, viz. that not one Word of this Author’s Work ought to be depended upon or even believ’d; and indeed, as I have advanced already, there is so little Consistency in the Relation, and such confounded Falsehood in the Relator, that whoever would hang a Beast upon his Affidavit, should never pass with me for a just Judge or a good Juryman.

When a Man has once made himself infamous in the Sense of the Law, his Evidence is no more accepted in a Court of Justice. If a Man shall upon Oath declare himself to have perjur’d a most solemn Oath, and own’d that he regards neither God or the Devil, so that he can but be free from that one Evil call’d Punishment; he may pass with other Men for what they please, but with me shall always pass for what the Law calls by a hard Name, and cannot deserve a soft one.

But I am still mightily inclin’d to believe one Thing in favour of this unhappy Author, and that is, that he did not really take the Masons Oath, and if so, then he is guilty but of one Perjury; but then to what purpose was his second Oath! and he must be brought in committing that Sin for the meer sake of sinning, which is what wise Men say outsins the Devil; if the Devil does Mischief, ’tis with some View, and Design of still farther Mischief: But if he did not take the first Oath, then he forswore himself in the second without any View at all, and for no manner of purpose; and on the other hand, if he did take the first Oath and break it, his second Oath might well be said to stand for nothing, for owning himself forsworn already, who would believe any thing he should say or swear after it?

In short, ’tis all a piece of Nonsense and Confusion, and we shall say no more to it, but see a little into the Design and Event of it all.

I. What his Design was in this double Prevarication.

II. How far the Event has answer’d the Malice of the Design, or whether it has answer’d it at all or no? These two Enquiries have afforded us another short Entertainment upon the Subject by way of Dialogue, and which may serve to dismiss this worthy Subject and its Author also from the Stage and Scene of Action, and indeed from all Conversation among Free Masons in the World. The Discourse is as follows.

Q. Pray, Mr. Free Mason Prichard, let me ask you another short Question or two upon the Subject of our last Conference, and (if that be possible) answer me sincerely. A. I won’t promise you that.

Q. No indeed, I doubt you can’t; and if you did, it would be of no great Weight; but I shall judge a little by the Manner of your Answers, whether they are sincere or no. A. Well, what is it you would ask me?

Q. Why, in the first place, what did you propose to yourself in your late extraordinary Pamphlet called Masonry Dissected? A. Propose to my self, what do you mean by that?

Q. The Question is plain; no Action is done by any rational Creature, but it is done for some End, something is proposed, as an End in the Work: Now in that Part, either you proposed some thing to your self, or you prosed nothing. A. I told you before I proposed to get Money.

Q. Money; of whom, pray? A. Why, of the Free Masons.

Q. What, after you had spit your Venom at them; after you had done all the Mischief you could? you could not expect they would give you any thing then, especially seeing, as it seems, they would give you none before. A. But I did expect it for all that.

Q. What, Did you think they would give you Money for railing, when they would give you none to hold your Tongue? A. Well, it were better for them that they had.

Q. Had what? given you Money, after you had done your worst: I am indeed of Opinion now, that your Answer is sincere, it is so silly. A. But perhaps I had another End in it, that may have been answer’d effectually, and that I shan’t let you into the Secret of.

Q. I believe I can tell it you, if you won’t tell it me, and I believe so, because there is no room for any thing else, and that is Revenge. A. Well, if that is the Case, han’t I good Cause? Han’t I Provocation enough?

Q. No indeed, I see no Provocation at all: Pray, wherein have the Free Masons affronted you, that it should raise your Spleen so much? A. Why, they would give me no Money; is not that sufficient Provocation?

Q. I am perswaded they gave you as much as they promis’d you, A. Why they gave me nothing at all.

Q. Did they give Money to any body else? A. I don’t inquire into that.

Q. But why should you expect it, if no body else did? A. It’s no matter for that, I will be reveng’d of them, they had better have done it.

Q. That’s not worth notice: But this brings me to ask you another Question, and that is, are not all the Ends you propos’d to your self disappointed; or to put it another Way, has any one of your Expectations been answer’d? A. Perhaps they have.

Q. I doubt not; I believe you cannot pretend to it. A. Yes, yes, I have got Money by my Book.

Q. Poor Scribbler! What little you have got by the Copy of your Book is hardly worth being call’d getting, and you have bought that Gold (if there was any) much too dear. A. Well, you have nothing to do with that; I have not done with them yet.

Q. Well, now you are sincere again, for that’s a free and full Confession. A. Confession of what?

Q. Why, that you have been disappointed in what you have done already. A. How disappointed?

Q. Why, that it has not answer’d your End or Design. A. You don’t know what my End or Design was.

Q. Why, did not you tell me just now, that it was Revenge, because you could get no Money of them? A. Well, it may be it was that, among other Things.

Q. And are you not disappointed now, as effectually as you were before? I tell you, you have taken wrong Measures in both: I think you should go to School, to learn the A B C of a R—— you have enough of the Rage, but no Method. A. By your Way of talking, I suppose you are able to teach me.

Q. You are witty upon me, it seems, for my Advice: No, I shan’t pretend to teach you, but I may direct you to them that can. A. Who may that be, pray?

Q. Why, I think, you may learn of some of those lesser R——s at Bristol. When you wanted Money of the Free Masons, I wonder you did not threaten to burn their Houses, if they did not send it you. A. What, do you take me for an Incendiary then?

Q. Yes, indeed, I do; for there are other People call’d Incendiaries, besides those that burn Houses, and I think the Crimes bear a strong Analogy. A. How can you make that out?

Q. Why Revenge, ’tis apparent, is the grand Apparatus of both; Want of Money is the Spring which moves them both; and if you attack by Slander, and they by Fire, god and the Gallows has only prevented it, or else the Method had been the same in both. A. What d’ye mean by that?

Q. Mean! my Meaning is direct, not equivocal like yours: Providence has been the Safety of the Innocent, and the Gallows has been the Terror of the Guilty. A. You are raving sure, pray what have I done to you?

Q. Nay nothing, Mr. Prichard, nothing at all, nor to any body else; only shew’d your Teeth, shew’d us what you would have done, had it not been for the Gallows. A. Why the Gallows, pray?

Q. Because you are something of a Coward, it seems, and afraid of being hang’d; your Brethren of Bristol had more Courage by half than you. A. I never intended to burn any body’s House.

Q. I don’t think you did. A. Why do you talk thus then?

Q. Because I tell you, I can never believe that he who, to extort Money unjustly and where none is due, will attack innocent Men, endeavour to blast them with Slander and Calumny, and in mere Revenge perjure himself to fasten the Dirt of his Reproaches upon them, would ever stick at robbing, ay or burning their Houses to bring it to pass, if it was not for mere Cowardice and Fear of the Gallows; and now I think I have explained my self. A. Explain’d your self in what?

Q. Why, in stating the Affinity between the Bristol Men and you, and saying you were Brethren? A. Very well; and is there no Difference between us then?

Q. Yes, yes; there’s a great deal of Difference between you too. A. It’s well you’ll allow me that.

Q. Nay, nay, don’t boast of it; there’s none in the Crime, tho’ there’s some in the Manner. A. None in the Crime! monstrous! Why I han’t burnt Houses, nor sent Letters to threaten any of the Free Masons, have I?

Q. Perhaps not; I tell you, Fear of the Gallows has prevented that, but no Thanks to your Intention, which, like theirs, was Revenge; a Crime in its very Nature, and fruitful of all the other Crimes we talk of, as the Boldness and Spirit of the Criminal guides it, so that (as I said) there is no Difference in the Principle at all. A. Well, where is the Difference then? For you own we differ.

Q. Why the Difference is plain. They have done all the Mischief they threaten’d, and you have been able to do no Mischief at all. They have shewn their Villany in Fire, and you only in Smoke. They have hurt the Man they pointed at, you have only grinn’d and shew’d your Teeth, and been able to hurt no body. A. Well then, you say I have done no Hurt.

Q. No, none at all, Mr. Prichard, none at all; that is to say, not to a Free Mason. A. What then do you exclaim against? what do you make such a Noise for?

Q. Your wicked Design has not been the Loss, and you have done hurt too. A. But what is my Design to you?

Q. Yes, yes, as I said before, if a Man attempt to robb my House, but can’t get in, or to fire my House, but can’t fasten his Combustibles, he does me wrong, tho’ he does me no hurt, he injures me and assaults me, tho’ he can’t do the Mischief he would do. A. Well, well, if I have been disappointed, as you pretend, I may let you know you are not invulnerable.

Q. I believe we are, as to any Thing you can do, and I am sure we are, as to all you have done yet; so as the Free-Mason told you before, you may do your worst.


Thus the Free-Mason, and Mr. Prichard parted; and indeed he had so little to say, that it was not worth while to talk any more with him. They had indeed some other Disputes about the ancient Masons in the first Ages of the World; but this poor Fellow was so ignorant, so unread, and so unteachable, which was worse in matter of History and Antiquity, that it was to no purpose to go back to former Times with him, or to say any thing of what had been.

The Free Mason ask’d him how many free Masons were employ’d in the building of Solomon’s Temple, but he knew nothing of it: Then he ask’d him how many Master Masons there were employ’d; and he answer’d, none but old Hiram, mentioned above, who, as is observ’d, was a Brasier or Founder, and no Mason at all: Upon this he shewed him one of Sr. Walter Raleigh’s History of the World, that there were 80000 Masons and 30000 Carpenters and Joyners employed in that Work, and and 35000 Master Masons or Directors to oversee and direct the Work and asked him if he thought the Antiquity of Free Masonry was not sufficiently defended by the learned Author.

To all this the ignorant Creature had nothing to say, but to complain that he was not informed of all these Things when he was admitted, to which it was answered, That if he had continued an Honest Free-Mason, these Things, and all the other Arcana of the Society, which has been communicated and committed to him, but that he lost all that by turning R—— too soon; and upon this he went swearing away and vowing farther Revenge, but utterly unable to do the Free-Masons the least hurt.



A Defence of Masonry, 1730-1

This anonymous 4to pamphlet, 10¼" X 8", is a reply to Prichard’s Masonry Dissected. It was advertised for sale in the Daily Post on 15 December 1730 as “This day is publish’d”, but bears the date 1731 on its title page (see reproduction in A.Q.C., xxvi, following p. 240, and in Misc. Lat., i, 45). Until 1913, when a copy was secured for Grand Lodge Library, this work was known only from reprints which appeared in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738 (where it is stated to have been published in 1730) and in the second edition of Smith’s Pocket Companion for Free-Masons, 1738. Anderson’s reprint omits the original Latin quotations and gives the English translations only; Smith’s reprint gives both. It was attributed by Oliver to Anderson, and by Gould first, tentatively, to Dr. Wm. Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester, and later, more definitely, to Martin Clare, who undoubtedly prepared a reply to Prichard, the reading of “Bro. Clare’s Discourse Concerning Prichard” being referred to in the minutes of Lodge No. 73, Lincoln, on 2 October 1733. Wonnacott has discussed the evidence in A.Q.C., xxviii, 80-86, and shown that the identification of the ‘Discourse’ with A Defence of Masonry is very doubtful. cf. our introductory note to The Perjur’d Free Mason Detected, above. It is reproduced from Smith in Q.C.A., i, and in Leics. Reprints, i; and from Anderson in Q.C.A., vii. Our reprint is from the photo-lithographic reproduction in Leics. Reprints, i.

A Defence of Masonry, Occasion’d by a Pamphlet called Masonry Dissected.

Rarus Sermo illis, & magna Libido Tascendi. Juv. Sat. 2.

[London: Printed for J. Roberts, near the Oxford-Arms, inWarwick-Lane. MDCCXXXI]


Among the extraordinary Discoveries of the present Age, nothing has been received with more Delight and Exultation, than a few Sheets, written, it seems, without Partiality, called Masonry Dissected. The Grand Secret that has long withstood the Batteries of Temptation, that neither Money, the Master-key of the Heart, nor Good Liquor, that unlocks the very Soul, nor Hunger, that breaks thro’ Stone-walls, nor Thirst, a sore Evil to a Working-Mason, could bring to Light; has at last been disgorg’d upon Oath, to the great Easement of a tender Stomach, the eternal Scandal of the Fraternity, and the Good of the Publick, never to be forgotten! The Design was no less than to disburden a loaded Conscience, to acquaint the World, That never did so ridiculous an Imposition appear among Mankind; and to prevent so many innocent Persons being drawn into so pernicious a Society!

What could induce the Dissector to take that Oath, or the Magistrate to admit it, shall not at this time be decided.

However, I must give the World Joy of so notable a Discovery, so honourable, so circumstantiated! A mighty Expectation was raised, and without doubt is wonderfully gratified by this Course of Anatomy. It must be this; it can be nothing else. It is, as we always supposed, a whimsical Cheat supported by great Names to seduce Fools; who, once gulled out of their Money, keep the Fraud secret, to draw in others!

I confess I cannot come into this Method of Arguing; nor is it, in my Opinion, a fair Way of treating a Society, to run implicitely with the Cry, without examining whether these Reproaches are founded upon any thing in the Mystery (as now represented) either wicked, or ridiculous. For that stupid Imputation of drawing in Fools, for the sake of their Money, can have no weight in the present Case, since the Fraternity, as it now stands, consists principally of Members of great Honour and Distinction, much superior to Views so sordid and ungenerous.

For once then, let this Dissection contain all the Secrets of Free-Masonry; admit that every Word of it is genuine and literally true, and that the whole Scheme consists of no more nor no less: yet under all these Concessions, under all the Disadvantages and Prejudices whatever, I cannot but still believe, there have been Impositions upon Mankind more ridiculous; and that many have been drawn into a Society more pernicious. I would not be thought agitated upon this Occasion, as if I were any way concerned whether this Dissection be true or false; or, whether the Credit of Free-Masonry be affected by it, or not: These Considerations can give me no trouble. My Design is to address to the sensible and serious Part of Mankind, by making a few impartial Remarks upon this Dissection, without contending for the Reputation of Masonry on the one hand, or reflecting upon the Dissector on the other.


THE formidable Objection, which has given Offence to the better part of Men, is the Copy of the Oath, as it lies in the Dissection. It has been a Matter of Admiration, that so many Persons of great Piety, strict Conscience, and unspotted Character, should lay themselves under so solemn an Obligation, under Penalties so terrible and astonishing, upon a Subject so very trifling and insignificant.

To obviate this Objection, I observe; That the End, the Moral, and Purport of Masonry, as it is described in the Dissection, seems not so idle, and of that very small Importance as may at first be imagined. The real Design of Masonry, as confessed by the Dissector, is to subdue our Passions, not to do our own Will; to make a daily progress in a laudable Art; to promote Morality, Charity, Good-fellowship, Good-nature and Humanity. This appears to be the Substance, let the Form or Vehicle be ever so unaccountable. As for the Terms relating to Architecture, Geometry, and Mathematicks, that are dispersed throughout the Dissection; it would be strange if a Society of such a Denomination could subsist wholly without them, though they seem (to me at least) to be rather Technical and Formal (yet delivered, perhaps, by long Tradition) than essentially attach’d to the grand Design. Now where is the Impiety, where the Immorality, or Folly for a number of Men to form themselves into a Society, whose main End is to improve in commendable Skill and Knowledge, and to promote universal Beneficence, and the social Virtues of Human Life, under the solemn Obligation of an Oath? and this, in what Form, under what secret Restrictions, and with what innocent Ceremonies they think proper? This Liberty all Incorporate Societies enjoy without Impeachment or Reflection. An Apprentice is bound to keep the Secrets of his Master. A Freeman is obliged to consult the Interest of his Company, and not to prostitute in common the Mysteries of his Trade. Secret Committees and Privy-Councils are solemnly enjoined not to publish abroad their Debates and Resolutions. There appears to be something like Masonry, as the Dissector describes it, in all regular Societies of whatever Denomination. They are all held together by a sort of Cement; by Bonds and Laws that are peculiar to each of them, from the highest, to the little Clubs and nightly Meetings of a private Neighbourhood. There are Oaths administer’d, and sometimes solemn Obligations to Secrecy. There are a Master, two Wardens, and a number of Assistants, to make what the Dissector may call (if he pleases) a perfect Lodge, in the City Companies. There is the Degree of enter’d Prentice, Master of his Trade, or Fellow-Craft, and Master, or Master of the Company. There are Constitutions and Orders, and a successive and gradual Enjoyment of Offices, according to the several Rules and Limitations of Admission.

But it is replied, That the general Design of Masonry may be commendable, or at least innocent, and yet be carried on to the same Advantage without the Solemnity of an Oath, especially pressed under such dreadful Penalties. In answer I observe, That the Question is not whether the Purpose of Masonry may as well be served without an Oath, but whether an Oath in the present Case be lawful, and may be taken with a good Conscience? And to solve this Difficulty, I shall introduce the Opinion of Bishop Sanderson, the most judicious Casuist that ever treated upon the Subject of Oaths Cum res nullo aut præcepto, aut interdicto di vino vel humano legitime ita determinata est, quin ut possit quisque pro suo arbitrio facere vel non facere, prout ipsi visum fuerit expedire, quod vult faciat, non peccat, 1 Cor. 7. 36. Ut si Caius juret se Titio fundum venditurum aut daturum mutuo centum, respondendum breviter, juramentum in hoc casu & licitum esse & obligare.

When a thing is not by any Precept or Interdict, Divine or Human, so determined, but every Man, pro hic & nunc, may at his Choice do or not do, as he sees expedient, Let him do what he will, he sinneth not, 1. Cor. 7. 36. As if Caius should swear to sell his Land to Titius, or to lend him an hundred Crowns: The Answer is brief, an Oath in this Case is both lawful and binding.

Now, I would know what Precept, Divine or Human, has any way determined upon the Contents of the Dissection; and whether the general Design of Masonry, as there laid down, is not at least of equal Benefit and Importance to the Publick, with the lending of a private Man a hundred Crowns? The Answers to these Questions are obvious, and the Consequence is equally plain, that an Oath upon the Subject of Masonry is at least justifiable and lawful.

As for the Terror of the Penalty, the World upon that Occasion is commonly mistaken; for the Solemnity of the Oath does not in the least add to the Obligation; or, in other Words, the Oath is equally binding without any Penalty at all. The same Casuist has this Expression; Non magis obligat solenne Juramentum ex se natura sua, quam simplex, quia obligatio Juramenti exurgit præcise ex eo quod Deus Testis & Vindex invocatur. Invocatur autem Deus Testis & Vindex non minus in simplici Juramento quam in solenni & corporali; nam illa invocatio fit præcise per prolationem verborum quæ eadem est in simplici & solenni, & non per aliquem motum corporalem aut signum concomitans, in quibus consistit Juramenti solennitas.

A solemn Oath of itself, and in its own Nature, is not more obligatory than a simple one; because the Obligation of an Oath ariseth precisely from this, that God is invoked as a Witness and Revenger no less in a simple Oath than in the solemn and corporal (for the Invocation is made precisely by the Pronunciation of the Words, which is the same both in the simple and solemn, and not by any corporal Motion, or concomitant Sign, in which the Solemnity of the Oath consists.

I write to intelligent Readers, and therefore this Citation wants not to be explained.

But further: If the Oath in the Dissection be taken by all Masons upon their Admission, no Member of the Fraternity upon any Pretence whatsoever dares violate the Obligation of it, without incurring the Guilt of Perjury; supposing that Masonry were more trifling and indifferent, than in the Dissection it may appear to be. And therefore if the Conduct of the Dissector has stagger’d the Conscience of any one of the Brotherhood, concerning the Observation of that Oath, and has induced him to trifle and play with the Force of it, I hope he will desist betimes, lest he becomes actually forsworn. This Case is thus determined; Juramentum ultra præstitum vel maxime obligat cum nullum vinculum arctius obliget quam quod sponte susceptum est.

A voluntary Oath is the more binding for being voluntary, because there is no straighter Obligation than that which we take willingly upon ourselves. And in another place the Casuist is more particular: Cum res aut ob sui levitatem indigna est viri prudentis deliberatione, nec cassa nuce interest feceritne an non fecerit, ut levare festucam de terra, fricare barbam, &c. aut ob parvitatem materiæ non est multum æstimabilis, ut dare pomum puero, aciculam commodore, &c. obligate Juramentum in re vel levissimi momenti constat, quia in re gravi & levi eadem est veritatis & falsitatis ratio; & quia omnis jurans tenetur facere totum quod promisit, quatenus potest & licet; sed dare puero pomum & possibile est & licitum, ergo tenetur præstare, ubi uratum est debet impleri.

Where a Matter is so trivial, that it is not worth the Deliberation of a wise Man, nor matters a Straw whether it be done or not done, as to reach up a Chip, or to rub one’s Beard, or for the slightness of the Matter is not much to be esteemed, as to give a Boy an Apple, or to lend a Pin, an Oath is binding in a Matter of the least Moment, because weighty and trivial things have a like respect unto Truth and Falshood; and further, because every Party swearing is bound to perform all he promised, as far as he is able and it is lawful: But to give an Apple to a Boy is both possible and lawful; he is bound therefore to perform it, he ought to fulfil his Oath.


Having taken off the Weight of the great Objection, the Design of this Chapter is to remove an Imputation, which has been often urged with great Confidence, that the Principles and the whole Frame of Free-Masonry is so very weak and ridiculous, that it reflects upon Men of the least Understanding to be concerned in it. And now, say the merry Gentlemen, it appears evidently to be so by the Dissection, which discovers nothing but an unintelligible Heap of Stuff and Jargon, without common Sense or Connection.

I confess I am of another Opinion; though the Scheme of Masonry, as revealed by the Dissector, seems liable to Exceptions; nor is it so clear to me as to be fully understood at first View, by attending only to the literal Construction of the Words: And, for aught I know, the System, as taught in the Regular Lodges, may have some Redundancies or Defects, occasioned by the Indolence or Ignorance of the old Members. And indeed, considering through what Obscurity and Darkness the Mystery has been delivered down; the many Centuries it has survived; the many Countries, and Languages, and Sects, and Parties it has run thro', we are rather to wonder it ever arrived to the present Age without more Imperfections. In short I am apt to think that Masonry, as it is now explained, has in some Circumstances declined from its original Purity: It has run long in muddy Streams, and as it were, under Ground; but not withstanding the great Rust it may have contracted, and the forbidding Light it is placed in by the Dissector, there is (if I judge right) much of the old Fabrick still remaining; the Foundation is still intire, the essential Pillars of the Building may be discovered through the Rubbish, though the Superstructure may be overrun with Moss and Ivy, and the Stones by Length of Time disjointed. And therefore, as the Busto of an old Hero is of great value among the Curious, though it has lost an Eye, the Nose, or the Right-hand, so Masonry with all its Blemishes and Misfortunes, instead of appearing ridiculous, ought (in my humble Opinion) to be received with some Candour and Esteem from a Veneration to its Antiquity.

I was exceedingly pleased to find the Dissector lay the original Scene of Masonry in the East, a Country always famous for symbolical Learning supported by Secrecy; I could not avoid immediately thinking of the old Egyptians, who concealed the chief Mysteries of their Religion under Signs and Symbols, called Hieroglyphicks. And so great was their Regard for Silence and Secrecy, that they had a Deity called Harpocrates, whom they respected with peculiar Honour and Veneration. A learned Author has given a Description of this Idol; Harpocrates silentii Deus effingebatur, Dextra prope cor admota pelle anteriiis indutus, quæ oculis atque auribus pluribus erat distincta, ut eo intelligeremus multa videnda atque audienda, sed loquendum parum. Harpocrates, the God of Silence, was formed with his Right-hand placed near the Heart, cover’d with a Skin before, full of Eyes and Ears, to signify by this, that many things are to be seen and heard, but little to be spoken. And among the same People, their great Goddess Isis (the same as Minerva the Goddess of Strength and Wisdom among the Greeks) had always the Image of a Sphinx placed in the Entrance of her Temples, quia Arcana sub sacris Integumentis tegi debent, ut a promiscuo vulgo non secus atque Ænigmata a Sphinge proposita ignorentur: That their Secrets should be preserved under sacred Coverings, that they might be kept from the Knowledge of the Vulgar as much as the Riddles of Sphinx.

Pythagoras by travelling into Egypt became instructed in the Mysteries of that Nation, and here he laid the Foundation of all his symbolical Learning. The several Writers that have mentioned this Philosopher, and given an Account of his Sect and Institutions, have convinced me fully, that Free-Masonry, as published by the Dissector, is very nearly allied to the old Pythagorean Discipline; from whence I am persuaded it may in some Circumstances very justly claim its Descent. To mention a few.

Upon the Admission of a Disciple, he was bound by a solemn Oath to conceal the Mysteries from the Vulgar and Un-initiated.

The principal and most efficacious of their Doctrines were (says Jamblichus) ever kept secret among themselves; they were continued unwritten, and preserved only by Memory to their Successors, to whom they delivered them as Mysteries of the Gods.

They conversed with one another by Signs, and they had particular Words which they received upon their Admission, and which were preserved with great Reverence as the Distinction of their Sect: For (it is the judicious Remark of Laertius) as Generals use Watch-Words to distinguish their own Soldiers from others, so it is proper to communicate to the Initiated peculiar Signs and Words as distinctive Marks of a Society.

The Pythagoreans professed a great Regard for what the Dissector calls the four Principles of Masonry, a Point, a Line, a Superficies, and a Solid; and particularly held that a Square was a very proper Emblem of the Divine Essence. The Gods, they say, who are the Authors of every thing established in Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, are not improperly represented by the Figure of a Square.

Many more Instances might be produced, would the Limits of my Design admit; I shall only observe, that there was a false Brother, one Hipparchus, of this Sect, who, out of Spleen and Disappointment, broke through the Bond of his Oath, and committed the Secrets of the Society to Writing, in order to bring the Doctrine into contempt. He was immediately expelled the School as a Person most infamous and abandoned, as one dead to all Sense of Virtue and Goodness; and the Pythagoreans, according to their Custom, made a Tomb for him as if he had been actually dead. The Shame and Disgrace that justly attended this Violation of his Oath threw the poor Wretch into a Fit of Madness and Despair, so that he cut his Throat, and perished by his own Hands; and (which surprized me to find) his Memory was so abhorred after Death, that his Body lay upon the Shore of the Island of Samos, and had no other Burial than in the Sands of the Sea.

The Essenes among the Jews were a sort of Pythagoreans, and corresponded in many Particulars with the Practice of the Fraternity, as deliver’d in the Dissection. For Example: When a Person desired to be admitted into their Society, he was to pass through two Degrees of Probation before he could be perfect Master of their Mysteries. When he was received into the Class of Novices, he was presented with a white Garment; and when he had been long enough to give some competent Proofs of his Secrecy and Virtue, he was admitted to further Knowledge; but he still went on with the Trial of his Integrity and Good Manners, and then was fully taken into the Society. But before he was receiv’d as an establish’d Member, he was first to bind himself by solemn Obligations and Professions, to do Justice, to do no Wrong, to keep Faith with all Men, to embrace the Truth, to keep his Hands clear from Theft and fraudulent Dealing, not to conceal from his Fellow-Professors any of the Mysteries, nor communicate any of them to the Profane, though it should be to save his Life; to deliver nothing but what he received, and endeavour to preserve the Principle that he professes. They eat and drink at the same common Table, and the Fraternity that come from any other Place are sure to be received there; they meet together in an Assembly, the Right-hand is laid upon the Part between the Chin and the Breast, and the Left-hand let down streight by their Side

The Cabalists, another Sect, dealt in hidden and mysterious Ceremonies. The Jews had a great Regard for this Science, and thought they made uncommon Discoveries by means of it. They divided their Knowledge into Speculative and Operative. David and Solomon, they say, were exquisitely skilled in it, and no body at first presumed to commit it to Writing; but, what seems most to the present Purpose, the Perfection of their Skill consisted in what the Dissector calls Lettering of it, or by ordering the Letters of a Word in a particular manner.

The last Instance I shall mention, is that of the Druids in our own Nation. They were the only Priests among the ancient Britons. In their Solemnities they were clothed in White, and their Ceremonies always ended with a good Feast. Pomponius Mela relates of them, that their Science was only an Effort of Memory, for they wrote down nothing, and they never fail’d to repeat many Verses which they received by Tradition. Cæsar observes, that they had a Head, who had sovereign Power: This President exercised a sort of Excommunication, attended with dreadful Penalties upon such as either divulged or profaned their Mysteries.

Let the sensible Reader (if he pleases) peruse the Dissection with Care, and compare it (with reasonable Allowance for Distance of Time, Place, and other intermediate Accidents) with the Particulars of the preceding Collections, and if he does not discover something at least like Masonry (if the Dissection contains any such thing) I think he must be exceedingly blind or prejudiced.


Whatever Reflections may attend the few Remarks that follow in this Chapter, arising either from an Overflow of Wit or Ill-nature, I shall be unconcerned, and leave them wholly to the Mercy of the serious Reader; only desiring him to remember, that no more ought in any Case to be expected, than what the Nature of it will reasonably admit. I own freely, I received a great Pleasure in collecting, and was frequently surprized at the Discoveries that must evidently occur to an observing Eye. The Conformity between the Rites and Principles of Masonry (if the Dissection be true) to the many Customs and Ceremonies of the Ancients, must give Delight to a Person of any Taste and Curiosity, to find any Remains of Antique Usage and Learning preserved by a Society for many Ages, without Books or Writing, by oral Tradition only. pp I. The Number Three is frequently mentioned in the Dissection, and I find that the Ancients, both Greeks and Latins, professed a great Veneration for the same Number. Theocritus introduces Person who dealt in Secret Arts:

ἐς τρὶς ἀποσπένδω καὶ τρὶς τάδε πότνια φωνέω

Thrice, thrice I pour, and thrice repeat my Charms.

Verbaque ter dixit.

Thrice he repeats the Words.

Necte tribus Nodis ternos, Amarylli, colores.

Three Colours in three Knots unite.

Whether this Fancy owes its Original to the Number Three, because containing a Beginning, Middle, and End, it seems to signify all Things in the World; or whether to the Esteem the Pythagoreans and other Philosophers had for it on account of their Triad or Trinity; or lastly, (to mention no more Opinions) to its Aptness to signify the Power of all the Gods, who were divided into three Classes, Celestial, Terrestrial, and Infernal; I shall leave to be determined by others. The Gods, as Virgil asserts, had a particular Esteem for this Number.

Numero Deus impare gaudet.

Unequal Numbers please the Gods.

We find Three Fatal Sisters, Three Furies, Three Names and Appearances of Diana:

Tria Virginis ora Dianæ.

Three different Forms does chaste Diana bear.

The Sons of Saturn, among whom the Empire of the World was divided, were Three; and for the same Reason we read of Jupiter’s Fulmen trifidum, or Three-forked Thunderbolt, Neptune’s Trident, with several other Tokens of the Veneration they bore to this particular Number.

II. A particular Ceremony belonging to the Oath, as declared by the Dissector, bears a near Relation to a Form of Swearing mentioned by a learned Author; the Person, who took the Oath, was to be upon his bare Knees with a naked Sword pointed to his Throat, invoking the Sun, Moon, and Stars to be Witnesses to the Truth of what he swore.

III. A Part of the Mason’s Catechism in this Page has given Occasion to a great deal of idle Mirth and Ridicule, as the most trifling and despicable sort of Jargon, that Men of common Sense ever, submitted to. The Bone-Box, and the Tow-Line has given wonderful Diversion. I think there are some Verses in the last Chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes which in some manner resemble this Form of Expression. I shall transcribe them, with the Opinion of the Learned upon them, without making any particular Application.

In the Day when the Keepers of the House shall tremble, and the Grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out at the Windows be darkned; and the Doors shall be shut in the Streets when the Sound of the Grinding is low; and he shall rise up at the Voice of the Bird, and all the Daughters of Musick shall be brought low. Or ever the Silver Cord be loosed, or the Golden Bowl be broken, or the Pitcher be broken at the Fountain, or the Wheel broken at the Cistern.

The Expositors upon these Verses are almost unanimous in their Opinion, that they ought to be thus explained. The Keepers of the House are the Shoulders, Arms, and Hands of a Human Body; the Grinders are the Teeth; those that look out at the Windows are the two Eyes; the Doors are the Lips, the Streets are the Mouth, the Sound of the Grinding is the Noise of the Voice, the Voice of the Bird is the Crowing of the Cock; the Daughters of Musick are the two Ears; the Silver Cord is the String of the Tongue; the Golden Bowl is the Pia Mater; the Pitcher at the Fountain is the Heart, the Fountain of Life; the Wheel is the great Artery, and the Cistern is the left Ventricle of the Heart.

IV. There could not possibly have been devised a more significant Token of Love, Friendship, Integrity, and Honesty, than the joining of the Right-Hands, a Ceremony made use of by all Civilized Nations as a Token of a faithful and true Heart. Fides, or Fidelity was a Deity among the Ancients, of which a learned Writer has given this Description: Fidei propria sedes in dextera manu credebatur, idea interdum duabus junctis manibus fingebatur, interdum duabus Imagunculis dexteram dexterce jungentibus, quamobrem apud veteres dextera tanquam res sacra credebatur. The proper Residence of Faith, or Fidelity, was thought to be in the Right-Hand; and therefore this Deity was sometimes represented by two Right-Hands joined together; sometimes by two little Images shaking each the other’s Right-Hand; so that the Right-Hand was by the Ancients esteemed as a thing sacred. And agreeable to this are those Expressions in Virgil:

En Dextra Fidesque!

as if shaking by the Right-Hand was an inseparable Token of an honest Heart.

——Cur dextræ jungere Dextram
Non datur, & veras audire & reddere voces?

In all Compacts and Agreements (says Bishop Potter, in his Antiquities of Greece) it was usual to take each other by the Right-Hand, that being the manner of plighting Faith; and this was done either out of Respect to the Number of Ten, as some say, there being ten Fingers on the two Hands; or because such a Conjunction was a Token of Amity and Concord, whence at all Friendly Meetings they joined Hands as a Sign of the Union of their Souls.

It was one of the Cautions of Pythagoras to his Disciples, Take heed to whom you offer your Right-Hand; which is thus explained by Jamblichus: Take no one by the Right-Hand but the Initiated, that is, in the Mystical Form; for the Vulgar and the Profane are altogether unworthy of the Mystery.

V. The Dissector frequently taking notice of the Number Seven, I instantly recurred to the old Egyptians, who held the Number of Seven to be Sacred; more especially they believed that whilst their Feast of Seven Days lasted, the Crocodiles lost their inbred Cruelty; and Leo Afer, in his Description of Africa, says that even in his Time the Custom of Feasting so many Days and Nights was still used for the happy Overflowing of the Nile. The Greeks and Latins professed the same Regard for that Number, which might be proved by many Examples.

VI. The Accident, by which the Body of Master Hiram was found after his Death, seems to allude in some Circumstances to a beautiful Passage in the sixth Book of Virgil. Anchises had been dead for some Time, and Æneas his Son professed so much Duty to his departed Father, that he consulted with the Cumæan Sybil, whether it were possible for him to descend into the Shades below, in order to speak with him. The Prophetess encouraged him to go, but told him he could not succeed unless he went into a certain Place and pluck’d a golden Bough or Shrub, which he should carry in his Hand, and by that means obtain Directions where he should find his Father.

These are the Words:

——Latet arbore opaca
Aureus & foliis & lento vimine
Junoni infernæ dictus sacer: hunc tegit omnis
Lucus, & obscuris claudunt convallibus umbræ.
Sed non ante datur telluris operta subire,
Auricomos quam quis decerpserit arbore fœtus.
Hoc fibi pulchra suum ferri Proserpina munus
Instituit. Primo avulso, non deficit alter
Aureus, & simili frondescit virga metallo.
——ipse volens facilisque sequetur.

——In the neighbouring Grove
There stands a Tree, the Queen of
Stygian Jove
Claims it her own; thick Woods and gloomy Night
Conceal the
happy Plant from mortal Sight.
One Bough it bears, but wond’rous to behold,
The ductile Rind and Leaves of radiant Gold;
This from the vulgar Branches must be torn,
And to fair
Proserpine the Present born,
E’re Leave be given to tempt the nether Skies;
The first thus rent, a second will arise,
And the same Metal the same Room supplies.
The willing Metal will obey thy Hand,
Following with Ease——


Anchises, the great Preserver of the Trojan Name, could not have been discovered but by the help of a Bough which was pluck’d with great Ease from the Tree; nor it seems could Hiram, the Grand-Master of Masonry, have been found but by the Direction of a Shrub, which (says the Dissector) came easily up. The principal Cause of Æneas’s Descent into the Shades was to enquire of his Father the Secrets of the Fates, which should some time be fulfilled among his Posterity: The Occasion of the Brethren’s searching so diligently for their Master was, it seems, to receive from him the secret Word of Masonry, which should be deliver’d down as a Test to their Fraternity to After-Ages. This remarkable Verse follows:

Præterea jacet exanimum tibi corpus amici,
Heu nescis!

The Body of your Friend lies near you dead,
Alas, you know not how!

This Person was Misenus that was murdered and buried Monte sub aerio, under a high Hill, as (says the Dissector) Master Hiram was.

But there is another Story in Virgil, that stands in a nearer Relation to the Case of Hiram, and the Accident by which he is said to have been discovered; which is this: Priamus King of Troy, in the Beginning of the Trojan War, committed his Son Polydorus to the Care of Polyni-nestor King of Thrace, and sent with him a great Sum of Money; but after Troy was taken, the Thracian, for the sake of the Money, killed the young Prince, and privately buried him. Æneas coming into that Country, and accidentally plucking up a Shrub that was near him on the Side of a Hill, discovered the murdered Body of Polydorus.

Forte fuit juxta tumulus quo cornea summo
Virgulta, & densis hastilibus horrida Myrtus
Accessi, viridemque ab humo convellere sylvam
Conatus, ramis tegerem ut frondentibus aras;
Horrendum, & dictu video mirabile monstrum.
Eloquar an sileam? gemitus lacrymabilis Imo
Auditur tumulo, & vox reddita fertur ad autres:
Quid miserum,
Ænea, laceras? jam parce sepulto.

Not far a rising Hillock stood in View,
Sharp Myrtles on the Sides and Cornels grew,
There while I went to crop the sylvan Scenes,
And shade our Altar with the leafy Greens,
pull’d a Plant, with Horror I relate
A Prodigy so strange and full of Fate.
Scarce dare I tell the Sequel; from the Womb
Of wounded Earth, and Caverns of the Tomb,
A Groan as of a troubled Ghost renew’d
My Fright, and then these dreadful Wounds ensu’d,
Why dost thou thus my bury’d Body rend?
O spare the Corps of thy unhappy Friend.


The Agreement between these two Relations is so exact, that there wants no further Illustration.

VII. We are told that a Sprig of Cassia was placed by the Brethren at the Head of Hiram’s Grave, which refers to an old Custom in those Eastern Countries of Embalming the Dead, in which Operation Cassia was always used, especially in preparing the Head, and drying up the Brain, as Herodotus more particularly explains. The Sweet-wood, Perfumes, and Flowers used about the Graves of the Dead, occur so frequently in the old Poets, that it would be tedious to mention them. Ovid thus describes the Death of the Phoenix:

Ilicis in ramis tremulæve cacumina palmæ
Unguibus & pando nidum sibi construit ore.
Quo simul ac
Casias, & Nardi lenis aristas,
Quassaque cum fulva substravit Cinnama Myrrha
Se super imponit, finitque in odoribus ævum.

Upon a shady Tree she takes her Rest,
And on the highest Bough, her Funeral Nest
Her Beak and Talons build; then strews thereon
Cassia, Spikenard, Myrrh and Cinamon:
Last on the fragrant Pile herself she lays,
And in consuming Odours ends her Days.


Possible Rejoinders

The Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses, 1724

This mock parallel between the Brotherhood of Freemasons and the Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses was published in the form of an anonymous letter in Read’s Weekly Journal, 25 January 1723/4. Very possibly it was occasioned by the appearance of the catechism, The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, which was advertised for sale on 10 January 1723/4, though in our opinion (see Introduction above) it can hardly be regarded as a rejoinder; it is rather a skit on freemasonry and women. To our knowledge, it has never been reprinted. Our reprint is from a copy of Read’s Weekly Journal in the British Museum.

SIR, There has been a mighty Pother, of late, concerning an ancient Fraternity of Men, who stile themselves Free Masons; and the World is in Dispute what is the Cement that binds them so fast and true to one another, and what are the grand Secrets they pretend to keep in their Possession, exclusive of the rest of Mankind.

I wonder no Body has hitherto taken some Notice of a certain notable Sisterhood, as famous throughout all Ages, and whose ways are as much past finding out; I mean that of Free Semptresses.

If I may have the Liberty of reserving to myself the meaning of the Words, and they may not be wrested by every Wag to what Sense he pleases, I will here undertake to give you a short Account of that powerful and numerous Society, which I think may as properly be called by the Name of Legion Sisterhood

Sempstring was not, when Grandame Eve first invented the Needle to sew Fig Leaves together, to hide her own and her Husband’s Nakedness. In process of Time, her She Descendants by the Sempstring Art made that which was only design’d as a covering from Nudity to become a real Ornament. Then, not only the Needle, but the Pin, the Bodkin, the Wire, the Thimble, and many other Implements were used, whereby great Gain as well as Reputation, was acquired by the thrifty and industrious Sisterhood. But as, in all lawful Callings and Professions, there are some so greedy and rapacious among the Craft, that they will join Earth and Heaven to satisfy their vicious and voracious Appetite, it fared so with this honest and reputable Corporation of Sempstresses. Not content with getting a handsome Livelihood by their skill in Needlework, some amongst them were for adding a new Branch to their Trade, a certain Occupation to turn a Penny, which gave great Umbrage to such who detested all destructive Practices, tho’ they might bring some present Profit and Emolument to such as used them. Hereupon Jars and Disputes arose, which ended at length in dividing the Sisterhood; and those who were for the new occupation, and joining it to the Sempstress Art, from that time separated themselves, and ever since went by the Denomination of the Free Sempstresses.

Their Antiquity. The Sisterhood of Free Sempstresses make this Schism to be of very ancient Date, and say that Dalilah was one of the first who gave a Reputation to their Society then in its Infancy. As they brag they have always kept up a fair corespondence with the Free Masons, their Traditions relate many pleasant Rencounters between this same Dalilah and Sampson, who was accounted Grand Master of that Fraternity; and they boast that in those Days the new occupation was in its Achmee, or highest Pitch of Glory.

Their Worthies. They preserve a whole Bead-roll of their Worthies, as they call them, Susannah they will have to be of that Number, and they make her the Author of a certain Apothegm, which being received as a first Principle by the Sisterhood, has since passed into a common Proverb, viz. Like to Like. They have their stories of the Amazons, Sappho, Lais, Pope Joan, Queen Christina, all accepted Free Sempstresses; and they avow, that a great Number of the cloister’d Nuns abroad are secretly admitted into their Sisterhood.

Their Religion. As for their Religion, they are at present to a Womanhood Catholicks, and highly esteem the See of Rome, because that Religion leaves people in a State of Nature; because one of their Sisterhood had once the honour to fill the Papal Chair, and because his Holiness protects and encourages their Profession. They say they are well spoken of by the whole College of Cardinals; and that both the Regular and Secular Clergy receive their Confessions, and distribute plenary Indulgences gratis, and that for the sake of their Ingenuity and Tractibility.

Their Politicks. In Politicks they run entirely into the Doctrine of Passive Obedience and Non Resistance tho’ they hate and abominate the very Name, as well as the person of a Pretender.

Their Learning. They may well deserve to be call’d Philo-Math, being great Lovers of, as well as Well-wishers to, the Mathematicks. They are chiefly vers’d in Tacticks. Even Phidias could not out-do many of the Sisterhood in Imagery, for they work to the Life. They have a profound attachment to the Free Masons, and all such as labour in Stones; and some amongst them make their Brags, that let the Fraternity of Free Masons erect never so many Edifices, the Sisterhood of Sempstresses shall undertake to Stock and People them.

Their Tenets. They hold that each Sister is to keep only her own Secrets; that their Lodge is wherever ’tis found convenient; that meum and tuum is destructive to the Society of Free Sempstresses; that a Community of all Things is their primum mobile, in like manner as salus populi is the lex suprema in the State; that those who win Gold may wear it; that Women were made for Men; and lastly, that their dernier resort, their greatest Strength and Stress should be in their Tails.

Their Policy. As the Needle is long since become a most insignificant Tool to the Free Sempstress the Sisterhood have abundantly supply’d its place by their Ogles and Wheedles, and a thousand other Politick Inventions and Intrigues; so that they may be said to out-do even Farrar himself at Ways and Means.

Their Admission. They admit all into the Sisterhood who acknowledge the Prevelancy of those two Words, which they hold to be a Cabala or Charm, Importunity and Opportunity.

Their Sports. They are Passionate Lovers of a Play call’d *Laugh and lie down, which being a laborious Pastime, and attended with great Expence of Spirits, makes them generally a short-lived Race; and except here and there one, they are no sooner dead than rotten.


A Letter from the Grand Mistress, 1724

The present text is reproduced from the photographic facsimile in Lepper and Crossle, History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, I, 449, itself reproduced from the only exemplar known: Tract 12, Box 171, Halliday Collection, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. The editors state that a second edition was printed in Dublin in 1730. Although published anonymously, it was included in Faulkner’s Dublin editions of Swift’s Works, 1746 edn. Vol. XI, and 1762 edn. Vol. X, but has not since been included in any English or American edition of Swift. It was, however, included in a German edition, published in Hamburg, 1760 [Kloss, Bibliographie der Freimaurerei, noted by Chetwode Crawley].

John Harding printed in Dublin 1721-24. In the latter year he was prosecuted for the printing of Swift’s Drapier’s Letters, to which allusion is made in the postscript, and died in gaol. Harding was succeeded as a printer by his widow, Sarah, who printed from 1725-28. The edition of the Letter from the Grand Mistress, published in 1730, which we have not seen, must therefore have been printed by Faulkner, who printed in Dublin 1724-75. He printed much by Swift, and presumably thought that the Letter from the Grand Mistress was of Swift’s writing.

The Letter was first reprinted in modem times, from the 1762 version, by Henry Sadler, to whose volume of Masonic Reprints (1898) W. J. Chetwode Crawley contributed an introductory chapter. In this Chetwode Crawley argued for Swift’s authorship on grounds which are too slight for detailed mention. Bros. Lepper and Crossle accepted this view and tried to extend the claim for Swift’s authorship by suggesting that the “Mr. John Swift” whose name appears in the 1730 list of members of the Lodge held at the Goat at the foot of the Haymarket [Q.C.A., x, 156] was Dr. Jonathan Swift, overlooking the fact that Swift had by then visited England for the last time, and was consequently not very likely to be a subscribing member of a London lodge. Neither Chetwode Crawley, nor Lepper and Crossle, discuss the problem of authorship from the point of view of style: the style of this pamphlet, loose and ill-phrased, is definitely not that of Swift, who was a master of prose. About one hundred anonymous pamphlets, poems, etc., have at one time or another been attributed to Swift, other than the works he is known to have written: the real authorship of some is known, but not that of A Letter from the Grand Mistress.

When Faulkner took over the printing of this pamphlet he altered the name of the printer to whom the Letter is supposed to be addressed from that of Harding to his own. The 1762 edition contains other minor alterations and some errors of copying. The final date, in reverse, given in the 1724 edition as Tsrif eht Lirpa Nilbud [Dublin April the First], was also altered to Tsrif eht Tsugua Nilbud [Dublin August the First], for no apparent reason, and, of course, obliterating the confession that this was but an April Fools’ Day joke.

We think that the letter was just an eighteenth-century ‘tease’, and that, though in part an ‘exposure’, it is in no way connected with, or a caricature of, The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, (London, 1724). The setting is Irish: the sad events one evening in the Lodge at Omagh, Ulster, when the brethren got so drunk that they could not proceed with their initiation ceremony, might appeal especially to Irish readers. We do not accept the tentative suggestion of Lepper and Crossle that the letter which they reprint on p. 450, published in Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 25 July 1724, alludes to the present pamphlet. Whether the pamphlet on the Free­mason’s Oath, with the remarks upon it of a Young Clergyman, mentioned at the conclusion of the Letter, was ever published, we have not been able to discover.


Ixion the Impious, Lewd, Profane,
Bright Juno Woo’d, but Woo’d in Vain.
Long had he sigh’d for th’ Heavenly Dame,
’Till Jove at length to quench his Flame;
Some say for Fear, some say for Pity,
Sent him a Cloud like Juno Pretty.
As like as if ’twere drawn by Painters,
On which he got a Race of Centaurs,
A bite quoth VENUS ——

a. b. c. Lib. 6th

Dublin: Printed by John Harding in Molesworth’s-Court in Fishamble-Street, 1724.


Mr. Harding,

Seeing it is of Late become a Fashion in Town, in Writing to all the World, to Address to YOU, our Society of Female Free-Masons has also Chosen you for our Printer; and so without Preface, Art, or Embelishment, (for Truth and a short Paper needs none of ’em) our Female Lodge has the whole Mistery as well as any Lodge in Europe, with proper Instructions in Writing; and what will seem more strange to you, without the least Taint of Perjury. By this Time any Reader who is a Mason, will, I know, laugh, and not without Indignation. But that matters not much, our Sex has long ow’d yours this good Turn: You refused to admit Queen Elizabeth, and even Semiramis Queen of Babilon, tho’ each of ‘em (without Punning) had a great Deal of Male Flesh upon their Bodies; but at last you will be forc’d to own we have it; and thus it was we came by it.

A Gentleman who is a great Friend to all our Members, who has since instructed and form’d us into a Lodge, and whom we therefore call our Guardian, fell in lately with a Lodge of Free-Masons at O——h in U——r. They press’d him hard to come into their Society, and at length prevailed. They wanted an Old Testament to Swear him by. The Inn-keeper’s Bible having both Old and New bound up together, wou’d not do: For the Free-Masons Oath being of much older Date than the New Testament, that is from the Building of Salomon’s Temple, (for ’till then it was but a Protestation well Larded over with Curses and Execrations) they are always Sworn on the Old Testament only. They offer to buy the Fellow’s Bible, he Consents; but finding they were to Cut away the New Testament from the Old concluded them at once a Pack of Profane Wretches, and very Piously Rescu’d his Bible. This Custom of Swearing on the Old Testament only, is what has given Birth to the Vulgar Error, That Free-Masons Renounce the New Testament. So they proceed on the Rest of the Ceremony, Deferring the Oath till next Morning, One of ’em having an Old Testament for the Purpose at his House hard by. This ’tis true was a heinous Blunder against the Canons of Free-Masonry: But the Gentlemen were far gone in Punch and Whisky. In short our Friend and present Guardian is made a Free but Unsworn Mason, and was Three Hours gone on his Journey next Morning before the Merry Free-Masons awoke to send for their Old Testament; and what was worse, they had taught him the Form of the Oath against he was to Swear in the Morning.

Now as to the Secret Words and Signals used among Free-Masons, ’tis to be observ’d that in the Hebrew Alphabet (as our Guardian has inform’d our Lodge in Writing there are Four Pair of Letters, of which each Pair is so like, that at first View they seem to be the same, Beth and Caph, Gimel and Nun, Cheth and Thau, Daleth and Resch, and on these Depend all their Signals and Grips.

Cheth and Thau are shap’d like Two standing Gallowses (of Two Legs each) when Two Masons accost each other, one Cries Cheth, the other answers Thau, signifying that they wou’d sooner be Hang’d on the Gallows than Divulge the Secret.

Then again Beth and Caph are each like a Gallows lying on one of the Side-Posts, and when used as above, imply this Pious Prayer: May all who Reveal the Secret hang upon the Gallows till it falls down. This is their Master Secret, generally call’d the Great Word.

Daleth and Resch are like Two Half Gallowses, or a Gallows cut in Two at the Cross Stick on Top, by which, when pronounced, they Intimate to each other, that they wou’d rather be half hang’d than Name either Word or Signal before any but a Brother so as to be understood.

When one says Gimel, the other answers Nun; then the first again joyning both Letters together repeats Three Times, Gimel-Nun, Gimel-Nun, Gimel-Nun, by which they mean that they are united as one in Interests, Secresy, and Affection. This Last Word has in Time been depraved in the Pronunciation from Gimel-Nun to Gimelun, and at last into Giblun; and sometimes Giblin, which Word being by some Accident discover’d, they now adays pretend its but a Mock Word.

Another of their Words has been maim’d in the Pronunciation by the Illiterate, that is the Letter Lamech, which was the Hush-Word, for when spoke by any Brother in a Lodge it was a Warning to the Rest to have a Care of Lisseners. ’Tis now corruptly pronounced Lam, but the Masons pretend this also is a Mock-Word for the same Reason as Giblin: This Play with the Hebrew Alphabet is very antiently call’d the MANABOLETH.

When one Brother orders another to walk like a Mason, he must walk Four Steps backwards; Four, because of the four Pair of Letters already mentioned, and backwards because the Hebrew is Writ and Read Backwards.

As to their Misterious Grips, they are as follows: If they be in Company where they cannot with Safety Speak the above Words, they take each other by the Hand, one Draws one of the Letters of the Manaboleth with his finger on the other’s Hand, which he returns as in Speaking.

It is worth observing, that a certain Lodge in Town Publish’d sometime ago a Sheet full of Mock-Masonry, purely to puzzel and banter the Town, with several false Signs and Words as Mada or Adam, Writ backwards, Boas, Nimrod, Jakins, Pectoral, Guttural, &c. But not one Word of the Real ones, as you see by what has been said of the MANABOLETH.

After King James the Sixth’s Accession to the Throne of England, he reviv’d Masonry, of which he was Grand-Master. Both in Scotland and England it had been entirely suppress’d by Queen Elizabeth, because she cou’d not get into the Secret, all Persons of Quality after the Example of the King got themselves admitted Free-Masons; but they made a Kind of MANABOLETH in English, in Imitation of the True and Ancient One; as I. O. U H. a Gold Key, that is, I owe you each a Gold Key; H CCCC his Ruin. Each foresees his Ruin. I. C. U. B. YY for me. I see you be too wise for me. And a great Deal more of the same foolish Stuff, which took its Rise from a Silly Pun upon the Word Bee; for you must know, that —

— A Bee has in all Ages and Nations been the Grand Hiero- gliphick of Masonary, because it excells all other living Creatures in the Contrivance and Commodiousness of its Habitation or Combe; as among many other Authors Doctor Mc. Gregor now Professor of Mathematicks in Cambridge (as our Guardian informs us) has Learnedly demonstrated; nay Masonry or Building seems to be of the very Essence or Nature of the Bee, for her Building not the ordinary Way of all other living Creatures, is the Generative Cause which produces the Young ones (you know I suppose that Bees are of Neither Sex.)

For this Reason the Kings of France both Pagans and Christians, always Eminent Free-Masons, carried three Bees for their Arms, but to avoid the Imputation of the Egyptian Idolatry of Worshipping a Bee, Clodevaus their first Christian King call’d ’em Lillies or Flower de Luces, in which notwithstanding the small Change made for Disguise Sake, there’s still the Exact Figure of a Bee. You have perhaps Read of a great Number of Golden Bees found in the Coffin of a Pagan King of France near Brussels, many Ages after CHRIST, which he had ordered should be Bury’d with him, in Token of his having been a Mason.

The Egyptians, always Excellent and Antient Free-Masons, paid Divine Worship to a Bee under the outward shape of a Bull, the better to conceal the Mistery, which Bull they call’d Apis, is the Latin Word for a Bee, the Enigma of Representing the Bee by a Bull consists in this; that according to the Doctrine of the Pythagorean Lodge of Free-Masons, the Souls of all the Cow-kind transmigrate into Bees, as one Virgil a Poet, much in Favour with the Emperor Augustus, because of his profound Skill in Masonry, has describ’d; and Mr. Dryden has thus English’d.

— — — Aristeus
Four Altars raises, from his Herd he Culls
For Slaughter, Four the Fairest of his Bulls,
Four Heifers from his Female Store he took,
All Fair, and all unknowing to the Yolk;
Nine Mornings thence with Sacrifice and Prayers,
The Gods invok’d he to the Grove repairs:
Behold a Prodigy! for from within
The Broken Bowels and the Bloated Skin
A buzzing Noise of Bees his Ears alarms,
Straight issue thro’ the Sides assembling Swarms, &c.

What Modern Masons call a Lodge was for the above Reasons by Antiquity call’d a HIVE of Free-Masons, and for the same Reasons when a Dissention happens in a Lodge the going off and forming another Lodge is to this Day call’d SWARMING.

Our Guardian is of Opinion, that the present Masonry is so tarnish’d by the Ignorance of the working, and some other illiterate Masons, that very many, even whole Lodges fall under the Censure of the venerable Chinese Brachman, whose History of the Rise, Progress, and Decay of Free-Masonry, writ in the Chinese Tongue, is lately Translated into a Certain Europenan Language. This Chinese Sage says, the greatest Part of Current Masons Judge of the Misteries and Use of that Sacred Art, just as a Man perfectly Illiterate judges of an Excellent Book, in which when open’d to him he finds no other Beauties than the regular Uniformity in every Page, the Exactness of the Lines in Length, and Equidistance, the Blackness of the Ink and Whiteness of the Paper, or as the Famous British Free Mason MERLIN says of the Stars in the Firmament, when view’d by a Child, &c. But I shall not trouble you with the Length of the Quotation at present, because Merlin and Fryar Bacon on Free-Masonry are soon to be dress’d up in Modern English, and sold by our Printer Mr. Harding, if duly encourag’d by Subscribers; and also a Key to Raymundus Lullius, without whose Help our Guardian says it’s impossible to came at the Quintessence of Free-Masonry.

But some will perhaps Object, how come your unsworn Guardian by this refin’d and uncommon Knowledge in the great Art? to which I answer that,

The Branch of the Lodge of Soloman’s Temple, afterwards call’d the Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem on which our Guardian fortunately hit, is as I can easily prove, the Antientest and Purest now on Earth: The famous old Scotish Lodge of Killwinin of which all the Kings of Scotland have been from Time to Time Grand Masters without Interruption, down from the Days of Fergus, who Reign’d there more than 2000 Years ago, long before the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or the Knights of Maltha, to which two Lodges I must nevertheless allow the Honour of having adorn’d the Antient Jewish and Pagan Masonry with many Religious and Christian Rules.

Fergus being eldest Son to the chief King of Ireland, was carefully instructed in all the Arts and Sciences, especially in the natural Magick, and the Caballistical Philosophy (afterwards call’d the Rosecrution) by the Pagan Druids of Ireland and Mona, the only true Cabalists then Extant in the Western World. (For they had it immediately from the Phenecians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians (which tho’ but a Woman can prove). The Egyptians probably had it immediately from Abraham as the Scripture Plainly hints in the Life of that Patriarch; and ’tis allow’d, I am told by Men of Learning, that the Occult as well as Moral Philosophy of all the Pagans was well be­sprinkl’d and enrich’d from the Caballistical School of the Patriarchs, and afterwards by the Talmudists and other Inferior Rabbins, tho’ the prevailing Idolatry of those Days much depraved and vitiated it.

Fergus before his Descent upon the Picts in Scotland rais’d that famous Structure, call’d to this Day Carrick-Fergus after his Name, the most misterious Piece of Architecture now on Earth, (not excepting the Pyramids of the Egyptian Masons, and their Hierogliphicks or Free Masons Signs) as any Skillful Free-Mason may easily perceive by examining it according to the Rules of the Art; he built it as a Lodge for his College of Free Masons in those Days call’d Druids, which Word our Guardian assures us signifies an Oak in the Greek Language, because Oak is one of the best Timber-Trees for Building, of which especially the Marine Architecture, the Druids were the only Masters, tho’ your Modern Term of Mason implys no more than a Worker in Stone, erroneously enough indeed, or at least far short of the true and antient Term of Druid, since the Marine Architecture the most useful Branch of the Sacred Art, corresponds naturally and perfectly with the Word Druid or Worker in Oak, and had nothing at all to do with Stones of any Kind, ’till Jason a famous Druid or Free-Mason used the Load-stone when he went in Quest of the Golden Fleece as it is call’d in the Enigmatical! Terms of Free-Masonry, or more properly Speaking of the Cabala, as Masonry was call’d in those Days. The use of the Load Stone was then and long after kept as Secret as any of the other Misteries of the Art, till by the unanimous Consent of all the Great Lodges, the use of it was made publick for the Common Benefit of Mankind. Jason’s artificial Frog had it fixt in his Mouth, and having a free Swing in an oaken Bowl half fill’d with Water, always faced the North Pole, which gave rise to the Poetical Fable; That Jason’s Frog was a Little Familiar or Sea Demon presiding over the Navigation like any other Angel Guardian. For Free-Masons in all Ages, as well as now, have been look’d upon to deal with Sprites or Demons, and hence came that Imputation which they have in many Nations lain under, of being Conjurors or Magitians; Witness Merlin and Fryar Bacon.

’Tis perhaps further worth Remarking, that Jason took one of the Two Sacred Vocal Oaks of the Grove of Dodona to make the Keel of the Argus, for so his Ship was call’d, misteriously Joyning together Architecture or Masonry, and the Druidical Priesthood or Power of Explaining the Oracles. For our Guardian will have it so, that the Pagan Priesthood was always in the Druids or Masons, and that there was a perceivable Glimering of the Jewish Rites in it, tho’ much corrupted, as I said, that the Pagan Worship was chiefly in Groves of Oak that they always lookt upon the Oak as Sacred to Jupiter, which Notion is countenanced (making Allowance for the Paganism) by the Patriarchs, for you see in Genesis, that Abraham Sacrificed under the Oaks of Mamre. Joshua indeed took a great Stone and put it up under the Oak, Emblematically joyning the Two great Elements of Masonry to raise an Altar for the LORD.

Our Guardian also says, that Cæsar’s Description of the Druids of Gaul is as Exact a Picture of a Lodge of Free Masons as can possibly be Drawn.

His Reasons for the Manaboleth are the better worth discovering, that I believe there are even some Masons who know nothing of it, viz. that it has been an Antient Practice among the Cabalistick Philosophers to make every Hebrew Letter a Heirogliphick Misterious in its Figure above all other Letters, as being thus Shap’d and Form’d by the immediate Directions of the Almighty, whereas all other LETTERS are of Humane Invention.

Secondly, that the Manaboleth has a very close and unconstrain’d Analogy with Masonry or Architecture, for that every Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, as also of the Syriac, Chaldaic, Runic, and Irish Alphabets, derived from it, have their Names from Timber-Trees, except some few who have their Names from Stones; and I think its pretty plain, that Timber and Stone are as much the Elements of Masonry as the Alphabet is of Books, which is a near Relation enough between Architecture and Learning of all Kinds, and naturally shews why the Druids, who also took their Title from a Tree, kept Learning and Architecture joyntly within themselves.

Next Week shall be Publish’d the Free Mason’s Oath, with the Remarks upon it of a Young Clergyman who has Petition’d to be admitted Chaplain to our Lodge, which is to be kept at Mr. Painter’s Female Coffee-House every Tuesday from Nine in the Morning to Twelve, and the Tenth Day of every Month in the Year; where all Ladies of true Hearts and sound Morals shall be admitted without Swearing.

I think it Proper to Incert the Free-Mason’s SONG commonly Sung at their Meetings, tho’ by the By, it is of as little Signification as the Rest of their Secrets. It was Writ by one Anderson as our Guardian informs me, just to put a Good Gloss on the Mistery, as you may See by the Words.



Come let us prepare
  We Brothers that are
Assembled on merry Occasion,
  Let’s Drink, Laugh and Sing,
  Our Wine has a Spring;
Here’s a Health to an accepted MASON.


The World is in Pain
  Our Secrets to gain,
And still let them wonder and gaze on,
  They ne’er can Divine
  The Word or the Sign
Of a Free and an Accepted MASON.


’Tis this and ’tis that,
  They cannot tell what;
Why so many Great Men of the Nation,
  Shou’d Aprons put on,
  To make themselves one,
With a Free and an Accepted MASON.


Great Kings, Dukes and Lords,
  Have laid by their Swords,
Our Mistery to put a Good Grace on,
  And ne’er been Asham’d,
  To hear themselves Nam’d
With a Free and an Accepted MASON.


Antiquity’s Pride
  We have on our Side,
And it maketh Men Just in their Station,
  There’s nought but what’s good,
  To be understood
By a Free and an Accepted MASON.


Then Joyn Hand in Hand,
  To each other firm stand;
Let’s be merry and put a Bright Face on,
  What Mortal can boast,
  So noble a Toast,
As a Free and an Accepted MASON.


Mr. Harding,

Our Lodge unanimously desire you’ll give their Sincere Respects to your Ingenious DRAPIER, to whose Pen we, as well as the Rest of the Nation, own our selves oblig’d. If he be not already a Free-Mason, he shall be welcom to be our Deputy- Guardian.

Your Humble Servant,


Tsrif che Lirpa Nilbud



Asher, astler, esler, ester, ashlar, i.e., a dressed, hewn block of stone used on outer surface of wall (Wyld), square hewn stone(s) (O.E.D.).

Broach’d dornal, broached ornel. Broached: worked with a chisel (O.E.D.) or broaching axe. The terms broachaxes and brochyngaxes occur in the York Minster Fabric Rolls, 1399, and in the Durham Account Rolls, 1456-57, respectively. Ornel, urnall, urnell: a kind of soft white building stone (O.E.D.). The term urnel occurs in the Rochester Castle Building Account, 1368.

Broached thurnel, a corruption of broached ornel or urnel (Dring, A.Q.C., xxix, 261).

Broad ovall, ? a corruption of broached ornel. See broached dornal.

Brohed-mall, Dring’s reading of a word in the Chetwode Crawley MS. which we read as broked-mall, q.v.

Broked-mall, ? a heavy mallet or maul for striking the chisel or broach with which the surface of a stone is broached, i.e., pricked, indented or furrowed. Dring suggests that it is a corruption of broached ornel or urnel.

Common Gudge or judge, a gauge or templet of thin board or metal plate used as a guide in cutting stones, fedge is defined in Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary as a gauge or standard. A templet, described as ajadge, is pictured among the tools in the Mark Book of the Lodge of Aberdeen (Miller, The Lodge, Aberdeen, facing p. 42). ?= Bible (Underwood, A.Q.C., liv, III).

Cowan, primary meaning: one who builds dry walls, otherwise denominated a drydiker (Jamieson, op. cit.); one who builds drystone walls (O.E.D.); secondary meaning (given by both Jamieson and O.E.D.): a man who does the work of a mason, but has not been regularly apprenticed or bred to the trade.

Danty Tassley, ? a corruption of ‘perpentashler’ (Dring), q.v.

Diadem, ? a variant of ‘diamond’, q.v.

Diamond, ? a corruption of ‘dinted ashlar’ (Poole, Misc. Lat., xi, 11), q.v.

Dinted ashler, ? a corruption of ‘perpendashler’ (Dring), q.v.

Dornal, see broached dornal.

Esler, ester, see Asher.

Gudge, see Common Gudge.

Heal, heill, hele, to hide, to conceal, to keep secret (O.E.D.).

Indented Tarsel, the expression occurs in Prichard where it is described as “the border round about the Lodge”. Dring suggests that it is a corruption of ‘perpentashlar’, (q.v.); if so, not only the expression, but its meaning, has undergone great modification.

Judge, see Common gudge or judge.

Mall, see broked-mall.

Ovall, see broad ovall.

Parpen, perpen, perpend, a stone which passes through a wall from side to side, having two smooth vertical faces (O.E.D.).

Parpendashler, parpentashler, a compound word formed from ‘parpen’ (q.v.) and ‘ashler.’ A dressed or hewn block of stone that extends through a wall from one side to another and serves as a binding stone.

Square, (i) a board having the shape of a square, i.e., a drawing board or primitive tracing board; (ii) an instrument for measuring or determining right angles.

Thurnel, see broached thurnel.

Trasel board, ? trestle board (Dring). Trassel: obsolete form of trestle (O.E.D.).


  1. The portion X . . . . X is written between the lines. The first X indicates the place where the insertion begins.↩︎
  2. Lane reads leathier.↩︎
  3. Illegible word written above the line.↩︎
  4. Lane reads uncultivat.↩︎
  5. Word omitted in MS.↩︎
  6. So in MS.? carving.↩︎
  7. Word omitted in MS.↩︎
  8. Word omitted in MS.↩︎
  9. Word omitted in MS.↩︎
  10. In MS. on two lines witho owt.↩︎
  11. Lane reads refused [Psalm cxviii, 22].↩︎
  12. Lane reads glory.↩︎
  13. Lane reads principal.↩︎
  14. Lane reads A by him.↩︎
  15. A figure somewhat resembling the capital D used in the MS., and probably intended to represent a skull in profile.↩︎
  16. Possibly Jackquin↩︎
  17. Possibly Jackquin↩︎
  18. The middle of the word Iachin is scratched out; the word Boaz is smudged out with modern ink, but is still legible.↩︎
  19. Mainly scratched out with a knife; first word probably Giblen.↩︎
  20. Scratched out with a knife.↩︎
  21. Faintly written in a different hand. Perhaps the date on which a later owner took the oath.↩︎
  22. These and subsequent ellipses scratched out with a knife.↩︎
  23. In a different hand from that of the catechism and in a fainter ink.↩︎
  24. The British Museum does not possess a copy of the Nichols edition, as Oring seems to imply. The pressmark he quotes refers to the 7th edition of 1737. printed by Cooper.↩︎