Time Line of “Recorded” British Freemasonry

as compiled by:
W.Bro. Gary Kerkin, PM Lodge Piako No 160,
PM Waikato Lodge of Research No 445, New Zealand Constitution.

1390: The Regius Poem, often referred to as the Halliwell Manuscript, believed to date from this year, is considered to be the basis of the “Ancient Charges”, although Haywood (Editor of The Builder) asserts it is probably a book about Masonry rather than a document of Masonry. It contains 15 “articles” and 15 ” points”.

1425: The Cooke Manuscript, believed to have been written by a Mason, is in two parts-the first being an attempt at a history of the craft, the second being a version of the charges. It mentions 9 articles that appear to have been legally enforceable and 9 points that were not enforceable.

1429: “Masters of the Lodge” were mentioned at Canterbury Cathedral.1444: Statute of Henry VI limited the wages of a “frank mason”.

1463: The Worshipful Company of Masons of the City of London erected its first hall.

1479: The title Master Mason appeared after the name of William Orchard at Magdalen College (Oxford).

1487: The words Free Mason appeared in Statutes for the first time.

1491: Municipal law was passed at St Giles, Edinburgh, establishing the condition of employment of Master Masons and co-workers

1495: Statute of Henry VII regulated the wages of “free masons, master carpenter and rough mason.”

1514: Statute of Henry VIII limited the wages of a “freem mason”.

1548: Statute of Edward VI prevented restriction of work of any free mason, rough mason, etc.

1549: Statute of Edward VI repealing the statute of 1548.

1562: Statue of Elizabeth codified the statutes of labourers. The term “rough mason” appears but not “free mason”.

1581: The Masons Company incorporated at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and given certain powers and duties.

1598: William Schaw promulgated two sets of rules, the first regulating the Masons of Scotland, the second giving the Lodge of Kilwinning supervisory powers over the lodges of West Scotland. The term “fellow of the craft” was used.

1599: The first known record of a Masonic Lodge, Aitchinson’s Haven Lodge, Mussleburgh, January 9 (Scotland). The oldest known existing lodge, Edinburgh Lodge Number 1 is recorded on July 3.

1600: John Boswell, Laird of Auchinlech, became a member of the Lodge of Edinburgh and is the first recorded admission of a non- operative Mason in a lodge of Scotland. In England the word “Freemason” appeared in the York Roll.

1619/20: The Account book of the London Mason’s Company used the term “Accepted” to describe some members.

1621: Records of the Worshipful Company of Freemasons of London indicate “accepted” and “operative” members.

1633: John Stow’s Survey of London mentioned the “Company of Masons being otherwise termed Free Masons.”

1634: Lord Alexander, Sir Anthony Alexander and Sir Alexander Strachan were made Masons at the Lodge of Edinburgh.

1641: The earliest recorded initiation was that of Sir Robert Moray, by a group of Masons in a Scots regiment at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 20 May.

1642: First minutes of Mother Kilwinning Lodge.

1646: Elias Ashmole recorded in his diary `1646: Oct: 16 4H 30pm, I was made a Freemason at Warrington.”

1655: The Company of Freemasons of the City of London changed its name to “The Company of Masons.”

1656: John Aubrey commenced “A Natural History of Wiltshire” in which he stated “that the Fraternity of Free Masons are known to each other by certain signes and Watch words.”

1668: The hall of the Worshipful Company of Masons of London was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London (1666).

1670: The records of the Lodge of Aberdeen commenced. They indicate some members were operative and others were speculative.

1682: Elias Ashmole recorded that he had attended a lodge meeting at Mason’s Hall, London.

1686: John Aubrey wrote his “National History of Wiltshire” and spoke of “Fraternity of Free-Masons” and described them as ” adopted” and “accepted” masons.

1688: A lodge of accepted Masons met at Trinity College, Dublin, and the Society of Freemason is mentioned in a satirical speech at the commencement exercises of the University of Dublin in July. In England Randle Holme (Deputy Garter King of Arms) described an association with members of the “Society called Free-Masons.” His son became a member of a Masonic Lodge in Chester in the 1670′s.

1690: Records of the Lodge of Melrose (Scotland) used the term “fellowcraft.”

1696: The Edinburgh Register House Manuscript suggests that Masons had words, a grip, signs and “five points”.

1697: (Scotland) Mention on a letter of the “mason’s word,” used for the purpose of recognition.

1698: An anti-masonic leaflet warned people against “the Mischiefs and Evils practised in the sight of God by those called Freed Masons..”

1717: First Grand Lodge formed in London on 24 June.

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