THE SCHAW STATUTES
1598 & 1599
IT MAY WELL be thought that before the Grand Lodge of Scotland was founded in 1736 the lodges in Scotland were free of any central rules and regulations, but that is not the case. The operative lodges in Scotland were of course subject to such bylaws as may have been enacted by the city or burgh within which the ‘Mason Lodge’ operated as one of the guilds. In addition however they were subject to the rules and regulations laid down in the Schaw Statutes of 1598.
On 28 December 1598 William Schaw, of Schawpark near Alloa, issued a series of enactments known as the ‘Schaw Statutes’. This he did by virtue of his office as Warden-General. The Warden-General was an administrative official appointed by the Crown with the titles of ‘King’s Master of Works and Warden-General’ or, alternatively, ‘Chief Master of Masons’ under which last title he presided, when present in any lodge, to the temporary exclusion of its own Warden. The functions of the Warden-General were entirely administrative being those, so it is said, of a Guild
Officer for the Craft of masons in Scotland regarded as a body of lodges and quite separate from the control exercised in the cities and burghs by the Trade Incorporations.
His title of ‘Chief Master of Masons’ is to be distinguished from the ‘King’s Master Mason’ or the ‘Principal Master Mason’ of Edinburgh Castle and other royal castles. The ‘King’s Master Mason’ was a technical appointment held by one who would nowadays be called an architect; the ‘Principal Master Mason’ would be more or less equivalent to the present-day Clerk of Works or to a superior foreman in charge of the actual building operations.
There is evidence that there were periodical meetings of representatives from the various operative lodges in Scotland in order to discuss matters of common interest. These meetings were usually held in Edinburgh as being the business centre of the country and the seat of the Court. From these meetings the Lodge of Edinburgh gained a sort of pre-eminence amongst the lodges and one of its officers was frequently appointed Warden-General — possibly on account of his propinquity to the Court as the fountain of honour and to the common Meeting-place.
The principal copy of the Statutes, signed by Schaw, is preserved in the Minute-Book of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No. 1. A second copy, which for many years lay in the muniment chest of the Earls of Eglinton in Ayrshire, was presented in 1952 to Grand Lodge by the Earl of Eglinton (Grand Master Mason of Scotland 1957—61). (A transcript of these Statutes is given by Bro. Murray Lyon in the Tercentenary edition of his History of the Lodge of Edinburgh.) The manuscript is in a plain hand and carries Schaw’s signature. (Murray Lyon’s transcript is in the
original language and spelling but this I have ‘translated’ into modern English with explanations where these are thought to be necessary.)
The manuscript begins on page three of the Minute Book and takes up some five pages. In translated form it runs thus:
At Edinburgh the 28th day of December, The year of God One Thousand five hundred and ninety-eight. The statutes and ordinances to be observed by all the master masons within this realm, set down by William Schaw, Master of Work to His Majesty [this would be King James VI]and general warden of the said craft, with the consent of the masters [here] afterspecified.
Item First that they observe and keep all the good ordinances set down previously concerning the privileges of their Craft by their predecessors of good memory and especially that they be true one to another and live charitably together as becomes sworn brothers and companions of [the] craft.
Item That they be obedient to their wardens, deacons and masters in all things concerning their craft.
Item That they be honest, faithful and diligent in their calling and deal uprightly with the masters or owners of the works that they shall take in hand, be it in task, meat and fee, or weekly wage.
That none [shall] take in hand any work, great or small, which he is not able to perform in a qualified manner under the pain of forty pounds or else the fourth part of the worth and value of the said work, and that by and through any adequate amends and satisfaction to be made to the owners of the work at the sight and discretion of the Warden-General, or in his absence at the sight of the wardens, deacons and masters of the Sheriffdom where the said work is being constructed or worked.
That no master shall take any other master’s work over his head, after the first master has agreed with the owner of the work either by contract, aries or verbal condition, under the pain of forty pounds.
[Aries A Scottish word, still used in farming circles, meaning ‘earnest money given in
confirmation of a bargain’.]
That no master shall take the working of any work that other masters have worked at before, unto the time that the first workers be satisfied [i.e. paid] for the work which they have done under the pain previously mentioned.
That there be one warden chosen and elected every year to have charge over every lodge, as they are divided, and that by the votes of the masters of the said lodges, and the consent of their Warden-General if he happens to be present. And otherwise that he be advised that such a warden has been chosen for such a year to the end that the Warden-General may send directions to the elected warden.
That no master shall take any more apprentices than three during his lifetime without the special consent of all the wardens, deacons and masters of the Sheriffdom where the said apprentice that is to be received dwells.
1 That no master shall take and bind any apprentice for fewer than seven years and likewise it shall not be allowed to make the said apprentice brother and fellow in the craft until the time that he shall have another seven years after the end of his apprenticeship without a special licence granted by the wardens, deacons and masters assembled for that purpose, and that sufficient trial be made of the worthiness, qualification and skill of the person that desires to be made [a] fellow in [the] craft, and that under the pain of forty pounds to be regarded as a pecuniary penalty from the person that is made [a] fellow in [the] craft against this ordinance, besides the penalties awarded against him by the lodge where he remains.
That it shall not be lawful for any master to sell his apprentice to any other master, nor to dispense with the years of his apprenticeship by selling the apprentice to himself, under the pain of forty pounds.
That no master shall receive any apprentice without signifying the same to the wardens of the lodge where he lives, to the end that the said apprentice’s name and the day of his reception may be orderly entered in the books.
That no master or fellow of craft be received or admitted without there being six masters and two apprentices present, the warden of the lodge being one of the said six, and that the day of the receiving of the said fellow of craft or master be properly booked and his name and mark inserted in the said book with the names of his six admitters and entered apprentices, and the names of the intenders that shall be chosen for every person shall also be entered in their book. Provided always that no man shall be admitted without an assay and sufficient trial of
his skill and worthiness in his vocation and craft.
a That no master [shall] work [at] any mason work under [the]charge or command of any other craftsman that takes in hand or upon himself the working of any mason work. n That no master or fellow of craft receive any cowans to work in his presence or company, or send any of his servants to work with cowans under the pain of twenty pounds as often as any one shall offend against this [rule].
n It shall not be lawful for any apprentice to undertake any greater task or work in hand from an owner that will extend to the sum often pounds under the pain aforesaid, to wit twenty pounds, and that task being finished they shall not enterprise further without licence of the masters or warden where they live.
n If there be any question, strife or variance among any of the masters, servants or entered apprentices, the parties that are in debate shall signify the cause of their quarrel to the particular wardens or deacons of their lodge within the space of twenty-four hours under the pain of ten pounds, to the end that they may be reconciled and agreed and their variance removed by the said wardens, deacons and masters; and if any of the parties shall remain
wilful or obstinate they shall be deprived of the privileges of their lodge and not permitted to work thereat until such time as they submit themselves to reason in the sight of their wardens, deacons and masters.
Item That all masters undertaking any work be very careful to see that their scaffolding and footways be surely set and placed, to the end that through their negligence and sloth no hurt or injury may come to any person working on the work, under the pain of prohibiting them thereafter from working as masters in charge of any work, but ever to be subject all the rest of their days to work under another principal master having charge of the work.
Item That no master is to receive or resett any other master’s apprentice or servant that shall happen to run away from his master’s service, or entertain him in his company after he has got information of the position, under the pain of forty pounds.
Item That all persons of the mason craft convene at the time and place after being lawfully warned, under the penalty of ten pounds.
Item That all the masters that may be summoned to any assembly or meeting shall be sworn by their great oath that they not hide or conceal faults nor wrongs done by any to another, nor the faults or wrongs that any man has done to the owners of the works that they have in hand as far as they are aware, and that under the pain of ten pounds to be recovered from these who concealed the faults.
Item It is ordained that all the aforesaid penalties shall be taken from the offenders and breakers of these ordinances by the wardens, deacons and masters of the lodges where the offenders live and be distributed ad pios usus according to good conscience by the advice of the aforesaid.
Item And for the fulfilling and observing of these ordinances as set down the whole masters convened on the aforesaid day bind and oblige themselves to faithfully hereto. And therefor has requested their said Warden General to subscribe these presents with his own hand to the end that an authentic copy hereof may be sent to every particular lodge within this realm.
Master of Work
In the following year, 1599, what may be termed a supplementary set of rules was issued under the same authority. Oddly enough there is no record in the Minute Books of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) of this secondary code. To quote Murray Lyon. ‘The MS. embraces both codes of the Schaw Ordinances and must have been
in possession of the Lodge at Kilwinning in 1734, in which year it constituted the Lodge of Kilmarnock under a Charter containing the major part of the Statutes of1598’.
In 1861 Archibald, 13th Earl of Eglinton and Winton, presented to the Grand Lodge of Scotland a copy of Memorials of the Montgomeries, Earls ofEglinton compiled from documents, etc., in the muniment chest at Eglinton Castle. In that publication will be found the supplementary Code of 28 December 1599. It contains little that varies
from the Statutes of 1598 but the third clause, laying down the vexed question of precedency, has caused much heart-burning among the older Scottish lodges for many years. That clause is in the following terms:
Item It is thought needful and expedient by my lord Warden-General that Edinburgh shall be in all time coming as before, the first and principal lodge in Scotland and that Kilwinning be the second lodge as before [as] is notoriously manifest in our old ancient writs and that Stirling shall be the third lodge, conform to the old privileges thereof.
Oldest Masonic Lodge Minutes
Oldest Masonic Lodge Minutes - July 31, 1599: Lodge of Edinburgh No. 1 has records to prove its long time existence as the Oldest Masonic Lodge. Most impressively, its first 5 pages of minutes incorporate the Schaw Statutes which are dated December 28, 1598. Six months later, on July 31, 1599, are to be found the minutes which confirm the lodge's claim as having the oldest existing Masonic minutes. It must be noted, however, that from these minutes there exists no conclusive evidence that the lodge was actually constituted on this date.
Schaw Statutes: The Schaw Statutes (part of the Old Charges) are named for William Schaw, who was Master of Work to His Majesty and General Warden of the Masonic craft. In these Statutes, he declared that theses ordinances issued by him for the regulation of lodges considered the lodge at Edinburgh to be for all time, the first and principal lodge in Scotland.
Lodge of Edinburgh No. 1 was first called "The Lodge of Edinburgh" and retained this name until 1688, when the Grand Lodge of Scotland confirmed its charter, designating it as "The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1"
FIRST SCHAW STATUTES FOR THE MASON LODGES IN SCOTLAND
Edinburgh, December 28th, 1598. [Edinburgh the xxviii day of December.]
The zeir of God 1'" Y° four scoir awchtene zeiris.]
The Statutes and Ordinances to be observed by all the Master Masons within this realm. Set down by William Schaw, Master of Work to His Majesty and Warden General of the said Craft, with consent of the Masters specified hereafter.
[The statutis and ordinanceis to be obseruit be all the maister mdissounis within this redline, Sett down be Williame Schaw, Moister of 1Gark to his maiestie find generall Wardene of the said Craft, with the consent of the maisteris efter specifeit.]
(1) First, they shall observe and keep all the good ordinances established before, concerning the privileges of their craft, by their predecessors of good memory; and especially
They shall be true to one another and live charitably together as becometh sworn brethren and companions of the Craft.
(2) They shall be obedient to their wardens, deacons, and masters in all things concerning their craft.
(3) They shall be honest, faithful, and diligent in their calling, and deal uprightly with their masters, or the employers, on the work which they shall take in hand, whether it be piece-work with meals and pay [task, melt, & fie], or for wages by the week.
(4) None shall undertake any work great or small, which he is not capable to perform adequately, under penalty of forty pounds lawful money or else the fourth part of the worth and value of the work, besides making satisfactory amends to the employers, according as the
Warden General may direct or, in the absence of the latter, as may be ordered by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the work is undertaken and carried on.
(5) No master shall take away another master's work after the latter has entered into an agreement with the employer by contract or otherwise, under penalty of forty pounds.
(6) No master shall take over any work at which other masters have been engaged previously, until the latter shall have been paid in full for the work they did, under penalty of forty pounds.
(7) A warden shall be elected annually to have charge of every lodge in the district for which he is chosen by the votes of the masters of the lodges of such district and the consent of the Warden General if he happens to be present; otherwise the Warden General shall be notified of
the election that he may send to the warden-elect necessary directions.
(8) No master shall take more than three 'prentices in his lifetime, without the special consent of all the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the to-be-received 'prentice resides.
(9) No master shall take on any 'prentice except by binding him to serve him as such for at least seven years, and it shall not be lawful to make such 'prentice a brother or fellow of the craft until he shall have served other seven years after the completion of his 'prenticeship,
without a special license granted by the wardens, deacons, and masters, assembled for that purpose, after sufficient trial shall have been made by them of the worthiness, qualifications and skill of the person desiring to be made a fellowcraft. A fine of forty pounds shall be
collected as a pecuniary penalty from the person who is made a fellow of the craft in violation of this order, besides the penalties to be levied against his person by order of the lodge of the place where he resides.
(10) It shall not be lawful for any master to sell his 'prentice to another master, nor to curtail the years of his 'prenticeship by selling these off to the 'prentice himself, under the penalty of forty pounds. [Item, it sall be no lesum to an maister to sell his prenteiss to ony
ether maister not zit to dispense wt the zeiris of his prenteischip be selling yrof to the prenteisses self, vnder th pane of fourtie pounds.]
(11) No master shall take on a 'Prentice without notice to the warden of the lodge where he resides, so that the 'Prentice and the day of his reception may be duly booked.
(12) No 'Prentice shall be entered except according to the aforesaid regulations in order that the day of entry may be duly booked.
(13) No master or fellow of craft shall be received or admitted without there being present six masters and two entered 'prentices, the warden of the lodge being one of the six, when the day of receiving the new fellow of craft or master shall be duly booked and his mark inserted in
the same book, with the names of the six admitters and entered 'prentices, as also the names of the intenders [intendaris-instructors] which shall be chosen for every person so entered in the book of the lodge. Providing always that no man be admitted without an essay and
sufficient trial of his skill and worthiness in his vocation and craft.
(14) No master shall engage in any mason work under the charge or command of any other craftsman who has undertaken the doing of any mason work.
(15) No master or fellow of craft shall accept any cowan to work in his society or company, nor send any of his servants (10) to work with cowans, under the penalty of twenty pounds as often as any person offends in this matter.
(16) It shall not be lawful for any entered 'Prentice to undertake any greater task or work for an employer, which amounts to as much as ten pounds, under the penalty just mentioned, to wit twenty pounds, and that task being done he shall not undertake any other work without license of the masters or warden where he dwells.
(17) If any question, strife, or variance shall arise among any of the masters, servants, or entered 'prentices, the parties involved in such questions or debate shall make known the causes of their quarrel to the particular warden and deacon of their lodge, within the space of
twenty-four hours, under penalty of ten pounds, to the end that they may be reconciled and agreed and their variances removed by their said warden, deacon, and masters; and if any of the said parties shall remain wilful or obstinate, they shall be deprived f the privilege of their
lodge and not permitted to work thereat unto the time that they shall submit themselves to reason according to the view of the said wardens, deacons, and masters.
(18) All masters, undertakers of works, shall be very careful to see that the scaffolds and gangways are set and placed securely in order that by reason of their negligence and sloth no injury or damage [hurt or skaith] may come to any persons employed in the said work, under
penalty of their being excluded thereafter from working as masters having charge of any work, and shall ever be subject all the rest of their days to work under or with an other principal master in charge of the work.
(19) No master shall receive or house [resset] a 'Prentice or servant of any other master, who shall have run away from his master's service, nor entertain him in his company after he has received knowledge thereof, under penalty of forty pounds.
(20) All persons of the mason craft shall convene at the time and place lawfully made known to them [being lawchfullie warnit], under penalty of ten pounds.
(21) All the masters who shall happen to be sent to any assembly or meeting, shall be sworn by their great oath that they will neither hide nor conceal any faults or wrongs done to the employers on the work they have in hand, so far as they know, and that under penalty of ten pounds to be collected from the concealers of the said faults.
(22) It is ordained that all the aforesaid penalties shall be lifted and taken up from the offenders and breakers of their ordinances by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the lodges where the offenders dwell, the moneys to be expended ad pios usus (for charitable purposes)
according to good conscience and by the advice of such wardens, deacons, and masters.
For the fulfilling and observing of these ordinances, as set down above, the master convened on the aforesaid day bind and obligate themselves faithfully. Therefore they have requested their said Warden General to sign these ordinances by his own hand in order that an authentic copy hereof may be sent to every particular lodge within this realm.
(Signed) WILLIAM SCHAW,
Maistir o/ Wark.
SECOND SCHAW STATUTES: THE KILWINNING RULES
The second Schaw Statutes bear the date of December 28th, 1599. They were written particularly for the Lodge of Kilwinning. It would appear from the tenor and the contents of this document that the Lodge of Kilwinning had pleaded certain privileges and "ancient liberties" which the Statutes of 1598 had not taken into account. Archibald Barclay was delegated to lay the matter before the King, at Holyrood House, in Edinburgh. The King being absent from town, the Warden General heard the delegate's presentation of the matter and issued thirteen additional ordinances for the particular benefit of the Kilwinning craft. In a postscript he explained that the settlement of other claims (not mentioned) would be referred to the King "when occasion may be offered."
As the document is rather long, the several items will be somewhat condensed and given in an order best suited to our purpose. The numbering of the paragraphs is done for purposes of convenient reference:
(1) Edinburgh shall be, in the future as in the past, the first and principal lodge in Scotland; Kilwinning, the second "as is established in our ancient writings;" and Stirling shall be the third lodge, "conformably to the old privileges thereof."
(2) The warden within the bounds of Kilwinning and other places subject to their lodge, shall be elected annually by a majority (be monyest) of the masters of the lodge, on the twentieth day of December, in the Kirk of Kilwinning. Immediately after election, the Warden General must be
notified who was chosen warden.
(3) Agreeably to "former ancient liberties," the warden of Kilwinning shall be present at the election of wardens within the limits of the lower ward of Cliddisdale, Glasgow, Ayr, and the district of Carrik.
Furthermore, the warden and deacon (11) of Kilwinning shall have authority to convene the wardens within the indicated jurisdiction, when anything of importance is to be done, such meetings to be held at Kilwinning or any other place in the western part of Scotland included
in the described bounds, as the warden and deacon of Kilwinning may appoint.
(4) The warden of each and every lodge shall he answerable to the presbyters of the sheriffdom for all offences committed by masons subject to these lodges. One-third of all fines imposed for offences shall be applied to charitable (godlie) uses.
(5) The wardens-together with the oldest masters, up to the number of six, of every lodge hall hold an annual investigation of offences committed and try all offenders to the end that proper punishment may be meted out conformably to equity and justice and good conscience,
according to tradi. tional procedure.
(6) The warden of Kilwinning shall appoint six worthy and perfect masons, well known to the craft as such, to inquire into the qualifications of all the masons within the district, as regards their skill and knowledge of the trade and their familiarity with the old traditions, to the end that the warden-deacon may be answerable thereafter for all such persons within his district and jurisdiction.
(7) Authority is given to the warden-deacon of Kilwinning to exclude from the lodges of the district all persons who wilfully fail to live up to "all the acts and ancient statutes set down from time immemorial," also all who are ."disobedient to their church, craft, council and other
statutes and acts to be promulgated hereafter for good order."
(8) The warden and deacon, together with the masters of the district (quarter maisteries) (12) shall elect a well known notary (constitut ane famous notar) as clerk and secretary (scryb) who shall make out and sign all indentures, discharges, and other writings whatsoever, pertaining to
the craft, and no writ, title or other evidence shall be admitted by the warden and deacon, except it shall have been executed by this clerk and signed by him.
(9) All the acts and statutes made by the predecessors of the masons of Kilwinning shall be observed faithfully and kept by the craft in all time coming; 'prentices and craftsmen shall be admitted and entered hereafter only in the Kirk of Kilwinning, as their parish and second
lodge, and all entry-banquets of 'prentices and fellows of craft shall be held in the lodge of Kilwinning.
(10) Every fellow of craft, at his entry, shall pay to his lodge ten pounds to go for the banquet, and ten shillings for gloves; before admission he shall be examined by the warden-deacon and the district masters in the lodge as to his knowledge (memorie) and skill, and he also shall perform an assigned task to demonstrate his mastery of the art.
(11) Every 'prentice, before he is admitted, shall pay six pounds to be applied to the common banquet.
(12) The warden and deacon of the second lodge of Scotland, to wit Kilwinning, shall obligate by oath all masters and fellows of craft within the district not to associate with cowans nor work with them, neither to permit this to be done by their servants or 'prentices.
(13) The warden of the lodge of Kilwinning, being the second lodge of Scotland, once in each year, shall examine every fellow craft and 'prentice, according to the vocation of each, as to his skill and knowledge; those who have forgotten any points they have been taught
shall pay fines.
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© Masonic High Council 2005