|Article # 221|
|The Principles of Masonic Law-Book-1|
Author: Bro. Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey Posted on: Friday, September 1, 2006
New Page 1
[Bro.Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey,
the distinguished Masonic Scholar and writer, wrote this treatise in the year
1856 on the various aspects of the rules and the usages on the Constitutional
aspects of Grand Lodges and the daughter lodges as well as The Landmarks of
Freemasonry. This book has been and still continues to be treated as an
authority on Masonic Jurisprudence and has guided the Fraternity. The learned
author has provided reasons for his views on the numerous questions relating to
the Constitution and the Administration of Freemasonry. This Book was
according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by Jno. W.
Leonard & Co., in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the
District of New York and was published in 1856 by J.W.Leonard & Co.
The book, which is in
Public Domain is being posted in convenient parts. Foot Notes have been
incorporated in the relevant portions of the main text in a distinct font. A
careful reading will be very beneficial to all]
PRINCIPLES OF MASONIC LAW --(
(A Treatise on the
Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry, 1856)
Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey
Brother J.J.J. Gourgas,
(Sovereign Grand Inspector General in the Supreme Council for the Northern
Jurisdiction of the United States,
I Dedicate This Work,
As a Slight Testimonial of My Friendship and Esteem for Him,
As a Man,
And of My Profound Veneration for His Character,
As a Mason;
Whose Long and Useful Life Has Been Well Spent in the
Laborious Prosecution of the Science,
And the Unremitting Conservation of the Principles of Our
In presenting to
the fraternity a work on the Principles of Masonic Law, it is due to
those for whom it is intended, that something should be said of the
design with which it has been written and of the plan on which it has
been composed. It is not pretended to present to the craft an
encyclopedia of jurisprudence, in which every question that can
possibly arise, in the transactions of a Lodge, is decided with an
especial reference to its particular circumstances. Were the
accomplishment of such an Herculean task possible, except after years
of intense and unremitting labor, the unwieldy size of the book
produced and the heterogeneous nature of its contents, so far from
inviting, would rather tend to distract attention and the object of
communicating a knowledge of the Principles of Masonic Law, would be
lost in the tedious collation of precedents, arranged without
scientific system and enunciated without explanation.
When I first
contemplated the composition of a work on this subject, a
distinguished friend and Brother, whose opinion I much respect and
with whose advice I am always anxious to comply, unless for the most
satisfactory reasons, suggested the expediency of collecting the
decisions of all Grand Masters, Grand Lodges and other Masonic
authorities upon every subject of Masonic Law and of presenting them,
without commentary, to the fraternity.
But a brief
examination of this method, led me to perceive that I would be thus
constructing simply a digest of decrees, many of which would probably
be the results of inexperience, of prejudice, or of erroneous views of
the Masonic system and from which the authors themselves have, in
repeated instances, subsequently receded (for Grand Masters and Grand
Lodges, although entitled to great respect, are not infallible) and I
could not, conscientiously, have consented to assist, without any
qualifying remark, in the extension and perpetuation of edicts and
opinions, which, however high the authority from which they emanated,
I did not believe to be in accordance with the principles of Masonic
inconvenience which would have attended the adoption of such a method
is, that the decisions of different Grand Lodges and Grand Masters are
sometimes entirely contradictory on the same points of Masonic Law.
The decree of one jurisdiction, on any particular question, will often
be found at variance with that of another, while a third will differ
from both. The consultor of a work, embracing within its pages such
distracting judgments, unexplained by commentary, would be in doubt as
to which decision he should adopt, so that coming to the inspection
with the desire of solving a legal question, he would be constrained
to close the volume, in utter despair of extracting truth or
information from so confused a mass of contradictions.
This plan I
therefore at once abandoned. But knowing that the jurisprudence of
Masonry is founded, like all legal science, on abstract principles,
which govern and control its entire system, I deemed it to be a better
course to present these principles to my readers in an elementary and
methodical treatise and to develop from them those necessary
deductions which reason and common sense would justify.
Hence it is that
I have presumed to call this work "The Principles of Masonic
Law." It is not a code of enactments, nor a collection of
statutes, nor yet a digest of opinions; but simply an elementary
treatise, intended to enable every one who consults it, with competent
judgment and ordinary intelligence, to trace for himself the bearings
of the law upon any question which he seeks to investigate and to
form, for himself, a correct opinion upon the merits of any particular
whose method of teaching I have endeavored, although I confess "ab
longo inter-vallo," to pursue, in speaking of what an academical
expounder of the law should do, says, "He
should consider his course as a general map of the law, marking out
the shape of the country, its connections and boundaries, its greater
divisions and principal cities; it is not his business to describe
minutely the subordinate limits, or to fix the longitude and latitude
of every inconsiderable hamlet."
Such has been
the rule that has governed me in the compilation of this work. But in
delineating this "general map" of the Masonic Law, I have
sought, if I may continue the metaphor, so to define boundaries and to
describe countries, as to give the inspector no difficulty in
"locating" (to use an Americanism) any subordinate point. I
have treated, it is true, of principles, but I have not altogether
lost sight of cases.
certain fundamental laws of the Institution, concerning which there
never has been any dispute and which have come down to us with all the
sanctions of antiquity and universal acceptation. In announcing these,
I have not always thought it necessary to defend their justice, or to
assign a reason for their enactment.
The weight of
unanimous authority has, in these instances, been deemed sufficient to
entitle them to respect and to obedience.
But on all other
questions, where authority is divided, or where doubts of the
correctness of my decision might arise, I have endeavored, by a course
of argument as satisfactory as I could command, to assign a reason for
my opinions and to defend and enforce my views, by a reference to the
general principles of jurisprudence and the peculiar character of the
Masonic system. I ask and should receive no deference to my own
unsupported theories (as a man, I am, of course, fallible) and may
often have decided erroneously. But I do claim for my arguments all
the weight and influence of which they may be deemed worthy, after an
attentive and unprejudiced examination. To those who may at first be
ready (because I do not agree with all their preconceived opinions)
to doubt or deny my conclusions, I would say, in the language of
Themistocles, "Strike, but hear me."
Whatever may be
the verdict passed upon my labors by my Brethren, I trust that some
clemency will be extended to the errors into which I may have fallen,
for the sake of the object which I have had in view: that, namely, of
presenting to the Craft an elementary work, that might enable every
Mason to know his rights and to learn his duties.
was, undoubtedly, a good one. How it has been executed, it is not for
me, but for the Masonic public to determine.
Albert G. Mackey.
Charleston, S.C., January 1, 1856.
Authorities for Masonic Law.
The laws which
govern the institution of Freemasonry are of two kinds, unwritten
and written and may in a manner be compared with the "lex non
scripta," or common law and the "lex seripta," or
Statute Law of English and American jurists.
non scripta," or unwritten law of Freemasonry is derived
from the traditions, usages and customs of the fraternity as they have
existed from the remotest antiquity and as they are universally
admitted by the general consent of the members of the Order. In
fact, we may apply to these unwritten laws of Masonry the definition
given by Blackstone of the "leges non scriptæ" of the
English Constitution, that, "their original institution and
authority are not set down in writing, as acts of parliament are, but
they receive their binding power and the force of laws, by long and
immemorial usage and by their universal reception throughout the
kingdom." When, in the course of this work, I refer to these
unwritten laws as authority upon any point, I shall do so under the
appropriate designation of "ancient usage."
scripta," or written law of Masonry, is derived from a
variety of sources and was framed at different periods. The following
documents I deem of sufficient authority to substantiate any
principle, or to determine any disputed question in Masonic law.
The "Ancient Masonic charges, from a manuscript of the Lodge of
Antiquity," and said to have been written in the reign of James
will be found in Oliver's edition of Preston, p. 71, note, (U.M.L.,
vol. iii., p. 58), or in the American edition by Richards, Appendix i.,
The regulations adopted at the General Assembly held in 1663, of which
the Earl of St. Albans was Grand Master.
in Ol. Preston, n. 3 (p. 162. U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 134]
interrogatories propounded to the Master of a lodge at the time of his
installation and which, from their universal adoption, without
alteration, by the whole fraternity, are undoubtedly to be considered
as a part of the fundamental law of Masonry.
"The Charges of a Freemason, extracted from the Ancient Records
of Lodges beyond sea and of those in England, Scotland and Ireland,
for the use of the Lodges in London," printed in the first
edition of the Book of Constitutions and to be found from p. 49 to 56
of that work.
all references to, or citations from Anderson's Constitutions, I have
used, unless otherwise stated, the first edition printed at London in
1723 (a facsimile of which has recently been published by Bro. John W.
Leonard, of New York). I have, however, in my possession the
subsequent editions of 1738, 1755and 1767and have sometimes collated
The thirty-nine "General Regulations," adopted "at the
annual assembly and feast held at Stationers' Hall on
John the Baptist's day, 1721," and which were published in the
first edition of the Book of Constitutions,
subsequent regulations adopted at various annual communications by the
Grand Lodge of England, up to the year 1769 and published in different
editions of the Book of Constitutions. These, although not of such
paramount importance and universal acceptation as the Old Charges and
the Thirty-nine Regulations, are, nevertheless, of great value as the
means of settling many disputed questions, by showing what was the law
and usage of the fraternity at the times in which they were adopted.
the publication of the edition of 1769 of the Book of Constitutions,
the Grand Lodges of America began to separate from their English
parent and to organize independent jurisdictions. From that period,
the regulations adopted by the Grand Lodge of England ceased to have
any binding efficacy over the craft in this country, while the laws
passed by the American Grand Lodges lost the character of general
regulations and were invested only with local authority in their
concluding this introductory section, it may be deemed necessary that
something should be said of the "Ancient Landmarks of the
Order," to which reference is so often made.
definitions have been given of the landmarks. Some suppose them to be
constituted of all the rules and regulations, which were in existence
anterior to the revival of Masonry in 1717and which were
confirmed and adopted by the Grand Lodge of England at that time.
Others, more stringent in their definition, restrict them to the modes
of recognition in use among the fraternity. I am disposed to adopt a
middle course and to define the Landmarks of Masonry to be, all those
usages and customs of the craft, whether ritual or legislative,
whether they relate to forms and ceremonies, or to the organization of
the society, which have existed from time immemorial and the
alteration or abolition of which would materially affect the
distinctive character of the institution or destroy its identity.
Thus, for example, among the legislative landmarks, I would enumerate
the office of Grand Master as the presiding officer over the craft and
among the ritual landmarks, the legend of the third degree. But the
laws, enacted from time to time by Grand Lodges for their local
government, no matter how old they may be, do not constitute landmarks
and may, at any time, be altered or expunged, since the 39th
regulation declares expressly that "every annual Grand Lodge
has an inherent power and authority to make new regulations or to
alter these (viz., the thirty-nine articles) for the real benefit of
this ancient fraternity, provided always that the old landmarks be
Law of Grand Lodges
1. Historical Sketch
II. Of the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges
III. Of the Members of a Grand Lodge.
IV. Of The Officers of Grand Lodge.
I. Of The Grand Master.
Section II. The Deputy Grand Master.
III. Of The Grand Wardens.
Section IV. Of The Grand Treasurer.
Section V. Of The Grand Secretary
VI. Of the Grand Chaplain.
VII. Of The Grand Deacons.
VIII. Of The Grand Marshal.
IX. Of The Grand Stewards.
X. Of The Grand Sword Bearer.
XI. Of The Grand Tiler.
V. Of The Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge.
Section I. General View
II. Of The Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge.
III. Of The Judicial Power of Grand Lodge
IV. Of The Executive Power of a Grand Lodge.
is proposed in this Book, first to present the reader with a brief
historical sketch of the rise and progress of the system of Grand
Lodges and then to explain, in the subsequent sections, the mode in
which such bodies are originally organized, who constitute their
officers and members and what are their acknowledged prerogatives.
under their present organization, are, in respect to the antiquity
of the Order, of a comparatively modern date. We hear of no such
bodies in the earlier ages of the institution. Tradition informs us,
that originally it was governed by the despotic authority of a few
chiefs. At the building of the temple, we have reason to believe
that King Solomon exercised an unlimited and irresponsible control
over the craft, although a tradition (not, however, of undoubted
authority) says that he was assisted in his government by the
counsel of twelve superintendents, selected from the twelve tribes
of Israel. But we know too little, from authentic materials, of the
precise system adopted at that remote period, to enable us to make
any historical deductions on the subject.
historical notice that we have of the formation of a supreme
controlling body of the fraternity, is in the "Gothic
Gothic Constitutions are that code of laws which was adopted by the
General Assembly at York, in the year 926. They are no longer
extant, but portions of them have been preserved by Anderson,
Preston and other writers.] which
assert that, in the year 287, St. Alban, the protomartyr of England,
who was a zealous patron of the craft, obtained from Carausius, the
British Emperor, "a charter for the Masons to hold a general
council and gave it the name of assembly." The record further
states, that St. Alban attended the meeting and assisted in making
Masons, giving them "good charges and regulations." We
know not, however, whether this assembly ever met again; and if it
did, for how many years it continued to exist. The subsequent
history of Freemasonry is entirely silent on the subject.
general assemblage of the craft, of which the records of Freemasonry
inform us, was that convened in 926, at the city of York, in
England, by Prince Edwin, the brother of King Athelstane and the
grandson of Alfred the Great. This, we say, was the next general
assemblage, because the Ashmole manuscript, which was destroyed at
the revival of Freemasonry in 1717, is said to have stated that, at
that time, the Prince obtained from his brother, the King, a
permission for the craft "to hold a yearly communication and a
general assembly." The fact that such a power of meeting was
then granted, is conclusive that it did not before exist and would
seem to prove that the assemblies of the craft, authorised by the
charter of Carausius, had long since ceased to be held. This yearly
communication did not, however, constitute, at least in the sense we
now understand it, a Grand Lodge. The name given to it was that of
the "General Assembly of Masons." It was not restricted,
as now, to the Masters and Wardens of the subordinate lodges, acting
in the capacity of delegates or representatives but was composed, as
Preston has observed, of as many of the fraternity at large as,
being within a convenient distance, could attend once or twice a
year, under the auspices of one general head, who was elected and
installed at one of these meetings and who, for the time being,
received homage as the governor of the whole body. Any Brethren who
were competent to discharge the duty, were allowed, by the
regulations of the Order, to open and hold lodges at their
discretion, at such times and places as were most convenient to them
and without the necessity of what we now call a Warrant of
Constitution and then and there to initiate members into the Order.
book iv., sec, 2., p. 132, n. (U.M.L.,vol. iii., p. 109)]
To the General Assembly,
however, all the craft, without distinction, were permitted to
repair; each Mason present was entitled to take part in the
deliberations and the rules and regulations enacted were the result
of the votes of the whole body. The General Assembly was, in fact,
precisely similar to those political congregations which, in our
modern phraseology, we term "mass meetings."
mass meetings or General Assemblies continued to be held, for many
centuries after their first establishment, at the city of York and
were, during all that period, the supreme judicatory of the
fraternity. There are frequent references to the annual assemblies
of Freemasons in public documents. The preamble to an act passed in
1425, during the reign of Henry VI., just five centuries after the
meeting at York, states that, "by the yearly congregations and
confederacies made by the Masons in their general assemblies,
the good course and effect of the statute of laborers were
openly violated and broken." This act which forbade such
meetings, was, however, never put in force; for an old record,
quoted in the Book of Constitutions, speaks of the Brotherhood
having frequented this "mutual assembly," in 1434, in the
reign of the same king. We have another record of the General
Assembly, which was held in York on the 27th December, 1561, when
Queen Elizabeth, who was suspicious of their secrecy, sent an armed
force to dissolve the meeting. A copy is still preserved of the
regulations which were adopted by a similar assembly held in 1663,
on the festival of St. John the Evangelist; and in these regulations
it is declared that the private lodges shall give an account of all
their acceptations made during the year to the General Assembly. Another
regulation, however, adopted at the same time, still more explicitly
acknowledges the existence of a General Assembly as the governing
body of the fraternity. It is there provided, "that for the
future, the said fraternity of Freemasons shall be regulated and
governed by one Grand Master and as many Wardens as the said society
shall think fit to appoint at every Annual General Assembly."
And thus the
interests of the institution continued, until the beginning of
the eighteenth century, or for nearly eight hundred years, to be
entrusted to those General Assemblies of the fraternity, who,
without distinction of rank or office, annually met at York to
legislate for the government of the craft.
But in 1717, a
new organization of the governing head was adopted, which gave birth
to the establishment of a Grand Lodge, in the form in which these
bodies now exist. So important a period in the history of Masonry
demands our special attention.
death, in 1702, of King William, who was himself a Mason and a great
patron of the craft, the institution began to languish, the lodges
decreased in number and the General Assembly was entirely neglected
for many years. A few old lodges continued, it is true, to meet
regularly, but they consisted of only a few members.
At length, on
the accession of George I., the Masons of London and its vicinity
determined to revive the annual communications of the society. There
were at that time only four lodges in the south of England and the
members of these, with several old Brethren, met in February, 1717,
at the Apple Tree Tavern, in Charles street, Covent Garden and
organized by putting the oldest Master Mason, who was the Master of
a lodge, in the chair; they then constituted themselves into what
Anderson calls, "a Grand Lodge pro tempore;"
resolved to hold the annual assembly and feast and then to choose a
on the 24th of June, 1717, the assembly and feast were held; and the
oldest Master of a lodge being in the chair, a list of
candidates was presented, out of which Mr. Anthony Sayer was
elected Grand Master and Capt. Joseph Elliott and Mr. Jacob Lamball,
Master then commanded the Masters and Wardens of lodges to meet the
Grand Officers every quarter, in communication, at the place he
should appoint in his summons sent by the Tiler.
then, undoubtedly, the commencement of that organization of the
Masters and Wardens of lodges into a Grand Lodge, which has ever
since continued to exist.
at large, however, still continued to claim the right of being
present at the annual assembly; and, in fact, at that meeting, their
punctual attendance at the next annual assembly and feast was
At the same
meeting, it was resolved "that the privilege of assembling as
Masons, which had been hitherto unlimited, should be vested in
certain lodges or assemblies of Masons convened in certain places;
and that every lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old
lodges at this time existing, should be legally authorized to act by
a warrant from the Grand Master for the time being, granted to
certain individuals by petition, with the consent and approbation of
the Grand Lodge in communication; and that, without such warrant, no
lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or constitutional."
of this regulation, several new lodges received Warrants of
Constitution and their Masters and Wardens were ordered to attend
the communications of the Grand Lodge. The Brethren at large vested
all their privileges in the four old lodges, in trust that they
would never suffer the old charges and landmarks to be infringed;
and the old lodges, in return, agreed that the Masters and Wardens
of every new lodge that might be constituted, should be permitted to
share with them all the privileges of the Grand Lodge, except
precedence of rank. The Brethren, says Preston, considered their
further attendance at the meetings of the society unnecessary after
these regulations were adopted; and therefore trusted implicitly to
their Masters and Wardens for the government of the craft; and
thenceforward the Grand Lodge has been composed of all the Masters
and Wardens of the subordinate lodges which constitute the
right of the craft, however, to take a part in the proceedings of
the Grand Lodge or Annual Assembly, was fully acknowledged by a new
regulation, adopted about the same time, in which it is declared
that all alterations of the Constitutions must be proposed and
agreed to, at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual
feast and be offered also to the perusal of all the Brethren
before dinner, even of the youngest Entered Apprentice
[General Regulations. Art.xxxix]
regulation has, however, (I know not by what right,) become obsolete
and the Annual Assembly of Masons has long ceased to be held; the
Grand Lodges having, since the beginning of the eighteenth century,
assumed the form and organization which they still preserve, as
strictly representative bodies.
the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges.
The topic to
be discussed in this section is, the answer to the question, How
shall a Grand Lodge be established in any state or country where
such a body has not previously existed, but where there are
subordinate lodges working under Warrants derived from Grand Lodges
in other states? In answering this question, it seems proper that I
should advert to the course pursued by the original Grand Lodge of
England, at its establishment in 1717, as from that body nearly all
the Grand Lodges of the York rite now in existence derive their
authority, either directly or indirectly and the mode of its
organization has, therefore, universally been admitted to have been
regular and legitimate.
In the first
place, it is essentially requisite that the active existence of
subordinate lodges in a state should precede the formation of a
Grand Lodge, for the former are the only legitimate sources of the
latter. A mass meeting of Masons cannot assemble and organize a
Grand Lodge. A certain number of lodges, holding legal warrants from
a Grand Lodge or from different Grand Lodges, must meet by their
representatives and proceed to the formation of a Grand Lodge. When
that process has been accomplished, the subordinate lodges return
the warrants, under which they had theretofore worked, to the Grand
Lodges from which they had originally received them and take new
ones from the body which they have formed.
That a mass
meeting of the fraternity of any state is incompetent to organize a
Grand Lodge has been definitively settled, not only by general
usage, but by the express action of the Grand Lodges of the United
States which refused to recognize, in 1842, the Grand Lodge of
Michigan which had been thus irregularly established in the
preceding year. That unrecognized body was then dissolved by the
Brethren of Michigan, who proceeded to establish four subordinate
lodges under Warrants granted by the Grand Lodge of New York. These
four lodges subsequently met in convention and organized the present
Grand Lodge of Michigan in a regular manner.
however, to have been settled in the case of Vermont, that where a
Grand Lodge has been dormant for many years and all of its
subordinates extinct, yet if any of the Grand Officers, last
elected, survive and are present, they may revive the Grand Lodge
and proceed constitutionally to the exercise of its prerogatives.
inquiry is, as to the number of lodges required to organize a new
Grand Lodge. Dalcho says that five lodges are necessary; and in this
opinion he is supported by the Ahiman Rezon of Pennsylvania,
published in 1783 by William Smith, D.D., at that time the Grand
Secretary of that jurisdiction and also by some other authorities.
But no such regulation is to be found in the Book of Constitutions,
which is now admitted to contain the fundamental law of the
institution. Indeed, its adoption would have been a condemnation of
the legality of the Mother Grand Lodge of England, which was formed
in 1717 by the union of only four lodges. The rule, however, is to
be found in the Ahiman Rezon of Laurence Dermott, which was adopted
by the "Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons," that seceded
from the lawful Grand Lodge in 1738. But as that body was
undoubtedly, under our present views of masonic law, schismatic and
illegal, its regulations have never been considered by masonic
writers as being possessed of any authority.
In the absence
of any written law upon the subject, we are compelled to look to
precedent for authority and although the Grand Lodges in the United
States have seldom been established with a representation of less
than four lodges, the fact that that of Texas was organized in 1837
by the representatives of only three lodges and that the Grand
Lodge thus instituted was at once recognized as legal and regular by
all its sister Grand Lodges, seems to settle the question that three
subordinates are sufficient to institute a Grand Lodge.
lodges, therefore, in any territory where a Grand Lodge does not
already exist, may unite in convention and organize a Grand Lodge.
It will then be necessary, that these lodges should surrender the
warrants under which they had been previously working and take out
new warrants from the Grand Lodge which they have constituted; and,
from that time forth, all Masonic authority is vested in the Grand
Lodge thus formed.
Lodge having been thus constituted, the next inquiries that suggest
themselves are as to its members and its officers, each of which
questions will occupy a distinct discussion.
the Members of a Grand Lodge.
is an indisputable fact that the "General Assembly" which
met at York in 926 was composed of all the members of the
fraternity, who chose to repair to it and it is equally certain
that, at the first Grand Lodge, held in 1717, after the revival of
Masonry, all the craft who were present exercised the right of
membership in voting for Grand Officers and must, therefore, have
been considered members of the Grand Lodge.
Chancellor Walworth, in his
profound argument on the New York difficulties, asserted that this
fact "does not distinctly appear, although it is, pretty
evident that all voted."—p. 33. The language of Anderson does
not, however, admit of a shadow of a doubt. "The
Brethren," he says, "by a majority of hands,
right does not, however, appear to have been afterwards claimed. At
this very assembly, the Grand Master who had been elected, summoned
only the Master and Wardens of the lodges to meet him in the
quarterly communications; and Preston distinctly states, that soon
after, the Brethren of the four old lodges, which had constituted
the Grand Lodge, considered their attendance on the future
communications of the society unnecessary and therefore concurred
with the lodges which had been subsequently warranted in delegating
the power of representation to their Masters and Wardens,
"resting satisfied that no measure of importance would be
adopted without their approbation."
upon the subject were, however, soon put at rest by the enactment of
a positive law. In 1721, thirty-nine articles for the future
government of the craft were approved and confirmed, the twelfth of
which was in the following words: "The Grand Lodge consists
of and is formed by, the Masters and Wardens of all the regular
particular lodges upon record, with the Grand Master at their head
and his Deputy on his left hand and the Grand Wardens in their
From time to
time, the number of these constituents of a Grand Lodge were
increased by the extension of the qualifications for membership.
Thus, in 1724, Past Grand Masters and in 1725, Past Deputy Grand
Masters, were admitted as members of the Grand Lodge. Finally it
was decreed that the Grand Lodge should consist of the four present
and all Past Grand Officers; the Grand Treasurer, Secretary and
Sword-Bearer; the Master, Wardens and nine assistants of the Grand
Stewards' lodge and the Masters and Wardens of all the regular
Masters were not at first admitted as members of the Grand Lodge.
There is no recognition of them in the old Constitutions. Walworth
thinks it must have been after 1772 that they were introduced. [ Opinion
of Chancellor Walworth upon the questions connected with the late
masonic difficulties in the State of New York, p. 37. There is much
historical learning displayed in this little pamphlet.]
have extended my researches to some years beyond that period,
without any success in finding their recognition as members under
the Constitution of England. It is true that, in 1772, Dermott
prefixed a note to his edition of the Ahiman Rezon, in which he
asserts that "Past Masters of warranted lodges on record are
allowed this privilege (of membership) whilst they continue to be
members of any regular lodge." And it is, doubtless, on
this imperfect authority, that the Grand Lodges of America began at
so early a period to admit their Past Masters to seats in the Grand
Lodge. In the authorized Book of Constitutions, we find no such
provision. Indeed, Preston records that in 1808, at the laying of
the foundation-stone of the Covent Garden Theatre, by the Prince of
Wales, as Grand Master, "the Grand Lodge was opened by Charles
Marsh, Esq., attended by the Masters and Wardens of all the
regular lodges;" and, throughout the description of the
ceremonies, no notice is taken of Past Masters as forming any part
of the Grand Lodge. The first notice that we have been enabled to
obtain of Past Masters, as forming any part of the Grand Lodge of
England, is in the "Articles of Union between the two Grand
Lodges of England," adopted in 1813, which declare that the
Grand Lodge shall consist of the Grand and Past Grand Officers, of
the actual Masters and Wardens of all the warranted lodges and of
the "Past Masters of Lodges who have regularly served and
passed the chair before the day of Union and who continued, without
secession, regular contributing members of a warranted lodge."
But it is provided, that after the decease of all these ancient Past
Masters, the representation of every lodge shall consist of its
Master and Wardens and one Past Master only. There is, I presume, no
doubt that, from 1772, Past Masters had held a seat in the Athol
Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons and that they did not in the original
Grand Lodge, is, I believe, a fact equally indisputable. By the
present constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England, Past
Masters are members of the Grand Lodge, while they continue
subscribing members of a private lodge. In some of the Grand Lodges
of the United States, Past Masters have been permitted to retain
their membership, while in others, they have been disfranchised.
On the whole,
the result of this inquiry seems to be, that Past Masters have no
inherent right, derived from the ancient landmarks, to a seat in the
Grand Lodge, but as every Grand Lodge has the power, within certain
limits, to make regulations for its own government, it may or may
not admit them to membership, according to its own notion of
Some of the
Grand Lodges have not only disfranchised Past Masters, but Wardens
also and restricted membership only to acting Masters. This
innovation has arisen from the fact that the payment of mileage and
expenses to three representative would entail a heavy burden on the
revenue of the Grand Lodge. The reason may have been imperative; but
in the practice, pecuniary expediency has been made to override an
determining, then, who are the constitutional members of a Grand
Lodge, deriving their membership from inherent right, I should say
that they are the Masters and Wardens of all regular lodges in the
jurisdiction, with the Grand Officers chosen by them. All others,
who by local regulations are made members, are so only by courtesy
and not by prescription or ancient law.
the Officers of a Grand Lodge.
of a Grand Lodge may be divided into two classes, essential and
accidental, or, as they are more usually called, Grand and
Subordinate. The former of these classes are, as the name imports,
essential to the composition of a Grand Lodge and are to be found in
every jurisdiction, having existed from the earliest times. They are
the Grand and Deputy Grand Masters, the Grand Wardens, Grand
Treasurer and Grand Secretary. The Grand Chaplain is also enumerated
among the Grand Officers, but the office is of comparatively modern
date. The subordinate officers of a Grand Lodge consist of the
Deacons, Marshal, Pursuivant, or Sword-Bearer, Stewards and others,
whose titles and duties vary in different jurisdictions. I shall
devote a separate section to the consideration of the duties of each
and prerogatives of these officers.
the Grand Master.
office of Grand Master of Masons has existed from the very origin
of the institution; for it has always been necessary that the
fraternity should have a presiding head. There have been periods
in the history of the institution when neither Deputies nor Grand
Wardens are mentioned, but there is no time in its existence, when
it was without a Grand Master and hence Preston, while speaking of
that remote era in which the fraternity was governed by a General
Assembly, says that this General Assembly or Grand Lodge "was
not then restricted, as it is now understood to be, to the Masters
and Wardens of private lodges, with the Grand Master and his
Wardens at their head. It consisted of as many of the Fraternity
at large as, being within a convenient distance, could attend,
once or twice in a year, under the auspices of one general head,
who was elected and installed at one of these meetings; and who
for the time being received homage as the sole governor of the
whole body" .[Preston,
p. 131, n., Oliver's Edit. (U.M.L., vol. iii.,p. 109)]
office is one of great honour as well as power and has generally
been conferred upon some individual distinguished by an
influential position in society; so that his rank and character
might reflect credit upon the craft.
the thirty-six Grand Masters who have presided over the craft in
England since the revival of Masonry in 1717, thirty have been
noblemen and three princes of the reigning family]
Grand Mastership is an elective office, the election being annual
and accompanied with impressive ceremonies of proclamation and
homage made to him by the whole craft. Uniform usage, as well as
the explicit declaration of the General Regulations, [Article
to require that he should be installed by the last Grand Master.
But in his absence the Deputy or some Past Grand Master may
exercise the functions of installation or investiture. In the
organization of a new Grand Lodge, ancient precedent and the
necessity of the thing will authorize the performance of the
installation by the Master of the oldest lodge present, who,
however, exercises, pro hac vice, the prerogatives and
assumes the place of a Grand Master.
Master possesses a great variety of prerogatives, some of which
are derived from the "lex non scripta," or ancient
usage; and others from the written or statute law of Masonry [His
most important prerogatives are inherent or derived from ancient
He has the right to convene the Grand Lodge whenever he pleases
and to preside over its deliberation. In the decision of all
questions by the Grand Lodge he is entitled to two votes. This is
a privilege secured to him by Article XII. of the General
seems now to be settled, by ancient usage as well as the expressed
opinion of the generality of Grand Lodges and of Masonic writers,
that there is no appeal from his decision. In June, 1849, the
Grand Master of New York, Bro. Williard, declared an appeal to be
out of order and refused to submit it to the Grand Lodge. The
proceedings on that eventful occasion have been freely discussed
by the Grand Lodges of the United States and none of them have
condemned the act of the Grand Master, while several have
sustained it in express terms. "An appeal," say the
Committee of Correspondence of Maryland, "from the decision
of the Grand Master is an anomaly at war with every principle of
Freemasonry and as such, not for a moment to be tolerated or
G.L. Maryland, 1849, p. 25.]
opinion is also sustained by the Committee of the Grand Lodge of
Florida in the year 1851and at various times by other Grand
Lodges. On the other hand, several Grand Lodges have made
decisions adverse to this prerogative and the present regulations
of the Grand Lodge of England seem, by a fair interpretation of
their phraseology, to admit of an appeal from the Grand Master.
Still the general opinion of the craft in this country appears to
sustain the doctrine, that no appeal can be made from the decision
of that officer. And this doctrine has derived much support in
the way of analogy from the report adopted by the General Grand
Chapter of the United States, declaring that no appeal could lie
from the decision of the presiding officer of any Royal Arch body.
have enunciated this doctrine as Masonic law, the question next
arises, in what manner shall the Grand Master be punished, should
he abuse his great prerogative? The answer to this question admits
of no doubt. It is to be found in a regulation, adopted in
1721, by the Grand Lodge of England and is in these words:—"If
the Grand Master should abuse his great power and render himself
unworthy of the obedience and submission of the Lodges, he shall
be treated in a way and manner to be agreed upon in a new
regulation." But the same series of regulations very
explicitly prescribe, how this new regulation is to be made;
namely, it is to be "proposed and agreed to at the third
quarterly communication preceding the annual Grand Feast and
offered to the perusal of all the Brethren before dinner, in
writing, even of the youngest entered apprentice; the approbation
and consent of the majority of all the Brethren present being
absolutely necessary, to make the same binding and
xxxix.] This mode of making a new regulation is
explicitly and positively prescribed—it can be done in no other
way—and those who accept the old regulations as the law of
Masonry, must accept this provision with them. This will, in the
present organization of many Grand Lodges, render it almost
impracticable to make such a new regulation, in which case the
Grand Master must remain exempt from other punishment for his
misdeeds, than that which arises from his own conscience and the
loss of his Brethren's regard and esteem.
power of granting dispensations is one of the most important
prerogatives of the Grand Master. A dispensation may be defined
to be an exemption from the observance of some law or the
performance of some duty. In Masonry, no one has the authority to
grant this exemption, except the Grand Master; and, although
the exercise of it is limited within the observance of the ancient
landmarks, the operation of the prerogative is still very
extensive. The dispensing power may be exercised under the
fourth old Regulation prescribes that "no lodge shall make
more than five new Brothers at one and the same time without an
urgent necessity." [The
word "time" has been interpreted to mean communication.
] But of
this necessity the Grand Master may judge and, on good and
sufficient reason being shown, he may grant a dispensation
enabling any lodge to suspend this regulation and make more than
five new Brothers.
2. The next
regulation prescribes "that no one can be accepted a member
of a particular lodge without previous notice, one month before
given to the lodge, in order to make due inquiry into the
reputation and capacity of the candidate." But here, also, it
is held that, in a suitable case of emergency, the Grand Master
may exercise his prerogative and dispense with this probation of
one month, permitting the candidate to be made on the night of his
3. If a
lodge should have omitted for any causes to elect its officers or
any of them on the constitutional night of election, or if any
officer so elected shall have died, been deposed or removed from
the jurisdiction subsequent to his election, the Grand Master may
issue a dispensation empowering the lodge to proceed to an
election or to fill the vacancy at any other specified
communication; but he cannot grant a dispensation to elect a new
master in consequence of the death or removal of the old one,
while the two Wardens or either of them remain—because the
Wardens succeed by inherent right and in order of seniority to the
vacant mastership. And, indeed, it is held that while one of the
three officers remains, no election can be held, even by
dispensation, to fill the other two places, though vacancies in
them may have occurred by death or removal.
4. The Grand
Master may grant a dispensation empowering a lodge to elect a
Master from among the members on the floor; but this must be done
only when every Past Master, Warden and Past Warden of the lodge
has refused to serve, [And this
is not because such past officer has an inherent right to the
mastership, but because as long as such an one is present and
willing to serve, there does not exist such an emergency as would
authorize a dispensation of the law.
] because ordinarily a requisite qualification for the
Mastership is, that the candidate shall, previously, have served
in the office of Warden.
5. In the
year 1723 a regulation was adopted, prescribing "that no
Brother should belong to more than one lodge within the bills of
mortality." Interpreting the last expression to mean three
miles—which is now supposed to be the geographical limit of a
lodge's jurisdiction, this regulation may still be considered as a
part of the law of Masonry; but in some Grand Lodges, as that of
South Carolina, for instance, the Grand Master will sometimes
exercise his prerogative and, dispensing with this regulation,
permit a Brother to belong to two lodges, although they may be
within three miles of each other.
6. But the
most important power of the Grand Master connected with his
dispensing prerogative is, that of constituting new lodges. It has
already been remarked that, anciently, a warrant was not required
for the formation of a lodge, but that a sufficient number of
Masons, met together within a certain limit, were empowered, with
the consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, to
make Masons and practice the rites of Masonry, without such
warrant of Constitution. But, in the year 1717, it was adopted
as a regulation, that every lodge, to be thereafter convened,
should be authorised to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for
the time being, granted to certain persons by petition, with the
consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication. Ever
since that time, no lodge has been considered as legally
established, unless it has been constituted by the authority of
the Grand Master. In the English Constitutions, the instrument
thus empowering a lodge to meet, is called, when granted by the
Grand Master, a Warrant of Constitution. It is granted by the
Grand Master and not by the Grand Lodge. It appears to be a final
instrument, notwithstanding the provision enacted in 1717,
requiring the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge; for in
the Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England, there is no
allusion whatever to this consent and approbation.
But in this
country, the process is somewhat different and the Grand Master is
deprived of a portion of his prerogative. Here, the instrument
granted by the Grand Master is called a Dispensation. The lodge
receiving it is not admitted into the register of lodges, nor is
it considered as possessing any of the rights and privileges of a
lodge, except that of making Masons, until a Warrant of
Constitution is granted by the Grand Lodge. The ancient
prerogative of the Grand Master is, however, preserved in the
fact, that after a lodge has been thus warranted by the Grand
Lodge, the ceremony of constituting it, which embraces its
consecration and the installation of its officers, can only be
performed by the Grand Master in person, or by his special Deputy
appointed for that purpose. [And
this is not because such past officer has an inherent right to the
mastership, but because as long as such an one is present and
willing to serve, there does not exist such an emergency as would
authorize a dispensation of the law.
third prerogative of the Grand Master is that of visitation. He
has a right to visit any lodge within his jurisdiction at such
times as he pleases and when there to preside; and it is the duty
of the Master to offer him the chair and his gavel, which the
Grand Master may decline or accept at his pleasure. This
prerogative admits of no question, as it is distinctly declared in
the first of Thirty-nine Regulations, adopted in 1721,
in the following words:—"The Grand Master or Deputy has
full authority and right, not only to be present, but to preside
in every lodge, with the Master of the lodge on his left hand and
to order his Grand Wardens to attend him, who are not to act as
Wardens of particular lodges, but in his presence and at his
command; for the Grand Master, while in a particular lodge, may
command the Wardens of that lodge, or any other Master Masons, to
act as his Wardens, pro tempore."
But in a
subsequent regulation it was provided, that as the Grand Master
cannot deprive the Grand Wardens of that office without the
consent of the Grand Lodge, he should appoint no other persons to
act as Wardens in his visitation to a private lodge, unless the
Grand Wardens were absent. This whole regulation is still in
has been lately mooted, whether, if the Grand Master declines to
preside, he does not thereby place himself in the position of a
private Brother and become subject, as all the others present, to
the control of the Worshipful Master. I answer, that of course he
becomes subject to and must of necessity respect those rules of
order and decorum which are obligatory on all good men and Masons;
but that he cannot, by the exercise of an act of courtesy in
declining to preside, divest himself of his prerogative, which,
moreover, he may at any time during the evening assume and demand
the gavel. The Grand Master of Masons can, under no circumstances,
become subject to the decrees and orders of the Master of a
prerogative of the Grand Master is that of appointment; which,
however, in this country, has been much diminished. According
to the old regulations and the custom is still continued in the
Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Master has
the right of appointing his Deputy and Wardens. In the United
States, the office has been shorn of this high prerogative and
these Officers are elected by the Grand Lodge. The Deputy,
however, is still appointed by the Grand Master, in some of the
States, as Massachusetts, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas. The
appointment of the principal subordinate officers, is also given
to the Grand Master by the American Grand Lodges.
The last and most extraordinary power of the Grand Master, is
that of making Masons at sight.
power to "make Masons at sight" is a technical term,
which may be defined to be the power to initiate, pass and raise
candidates by the Grand Master, in a lodge of emergency, or as it
is called in the Book of Constitutions, "an occasional
lodge," especially convened by him and consisting of such
Master Masons as he may call together for that purpose only—the
lodge ceasing to exist as soon as the initiation, passing, or
raising, has been accomplished and the Brethren have been
dismissed by the Grand Master.
a power is vested in the Grand Master, is a question that, within
the last few years, has been agitated with much warmth, by some of
the Grand Lodges of this country; but I am not aware that, until
very lately, the prerogative was ever disputed [It
is well known, although it cannot be quoted as authority, that the
Athol Constitutions expressly acknowledged the existence of this
prerogative. See Dermott's Ahiman Rezon.
In the Book
of Constitutions, however, several instances are furnished of the
exercise of this right by various Grand Masters.
Lord Lovel being Grand Master, he "formed an occasional lodge
at Houghton Hall, Sir Robert Walpole's House in Norfolk," and
there made the Duke of Lorraine, afterwards Emperor of Germany and
the Duke of Newcastle, Master Masons. [Book
of Constitutions, edit. 1767, p. 222.
I do not
quote the case of the initiation, passing and raising of
Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1737, which was done in "an
occasional lodge," over which Dr. Desaguliers presided,
[Book of Const., p. 233.
] because as Desaguliers was not the Grand
Master, nor even, as has been incorrectly stated by the New York
Committee of Correspondence, Deputy Grand Master, but only a Past
Grand Master, it cannot be called a
making at sight.
He most probably acted under the dispensation of the Grand Master,
who at that time was the Earl of Darnley.
But in 1766,
Lord Blaney, who was then Grand Master, convened "an
occasional lodge" and initiated, passed and raised the Duke
of Gloucester.[Book of Const.,
1767, John Salter, the Deputy, then acting as Grand Master,
convened "an occasional lodge," and conferred the three
degrees on the Duke of Cumberland. [Book
of Constitutions, p. 319.
In 1787, the
Prince of Wales was made a Mason "at an occasional lodge,
convened," says Preston, "for the purpose, at the Star
and Garter, Pall Mall, over which the Duke of Cumberland, (Grand
Master) presided in person." [Preston,
p. 237, ed. 1802, (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 223)]
But it is
unnecessary to multiply instances of the right, exercised by
former Grand Masters, of congregating occasional lodges and making
Masons at sight. It has been said, however, by the oppugners of
this prerogative, that these "occasional lodges" were
only special communications of the Grand Lodge and the
"makings" are thus supposed to have taken place under
the authority of that body and not of the Grand Master. The facts,
however, do not sustain this position. Throughout the Book of
Constitutions, other meetings, whether regular or special, are
distinctly recorded as meetings of the Grand Lodge, while these
"occasional lodges" appear only to have been convened by
the Grand Master, for the purpose of making Masons. Besides, in
many instances, the lodge was held at a different place from that
of the Grand Lodge and the officers were not, with the exception
of the Grand Master, the officers of the Grand Lodge. Thus the
occasional lodge, which initiated the Duke of Lorraine, was held
at the residence of Sir Robert Walpole, in Norfolk, while the
Grand Lodge always met in London. In 1766, the Grand Lodge held
its communications at the Crown and Anchor; but the occasional
lodge, which, in the same year, conferred the degrees on the Duke
of Gloucester, was convened at the Horn Tavern. In the following
year, the lodge which initiated the Duke of Cumberland was
convened at the Thatched House Tavern, the Grand Lodge continuing
to meet at the Crown and Anchor.
This may be
considered very conclusive evidence of the existence of the
prerogative of the Grand Master, which we are now discussing, but
the argument à fortiori, drawn from his dispensing power,
will tend to confirm the doctrine.
doubts or denies the power of the Grand Master to constitute new
lodges by dispensation. In 1741, the Grand Lodge of England forgot
it for a moment and adopted a new regulation, that no new lodge
should be constituted until the consent of the Grand Lodge had
been first obtained, "But this order, afterwards
appearing," says the Book of Constitutions, [.
Book of Constitutions, p. 247
] "to be an infringement on the
prerogative of the Grand Master and to be attended with many
inconveniences and with damage to the craft, was repealed."
then, an undoubted prerogative of the Grand Master to constitute
lodges by dispensation and in these lodges, so constituted,
Masons may be legally entered, passed and raised. This is done
every day. Seven Master Masons, applying to the Grand Master, he
grants them a dispensation, under authority of which they proceed
to open and hold a lodge and to make Masons. This lodge is,
however, admitted to be the mere creature of the Grand Master, for
it is in his power, at any time, to revoke the dispensation he had
granted and thus to dissolve the lodge.
But, if the
Grand Master has the power thus to enable others to confer the
degrees and make Masons by his individual authority out of his
presence, are we not permitted to argue à fortiori , that
he has also the right of congregating seven Brethren and causing a
Mason, to be made in his sight? Can he delegate a power to others
which he does not himself possess? And is his calling together
"an occasional lodge," and making, with the assistance
of the Brethren thus assembled, a Mason "at sight," that
is to say, in his presence, anything more or less than the
exercise of his dispensing power, for the establishment of a lodge
under dispensation, for a temporary period and for a special
purpose. The purpose having been effected and the Mason having
been made, he revokes his dispensation and the lodge is dismissed.
If we assumed any other ground than this, we should be compelled
to say, that though the Grand Master might authorise others to
make Masons, when he was absent, as in the usual case of lodges
under dispensation yet the instant that he attempted to convey the
same powers to be exercised in his presence and under his personal
supervision, his authority would cease. This course of reasoning
would necessarily lead to a contradiction in terms, if not to an
It is proper
to state, in conclusion, that the views here set forth are not
entertained by the very able Committee of Foreign Correspondence
of the Grand Lodge of Florida, who only admit the power of the
Grand Master to make Masons in the Grand Lodge. On the other hand,
the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, at its last communication, adopted a
report, asserting "that the Grand Master has the right to
make Masons at sight, in cases which he may deem
proper"—and the Committee of Correspondence of New York
declares, that "since the time when the memory of man runneth
not to the contrary, Grand Masters have enjoyed the privilege of
making Masons at sight, without any preliminaries and at any
suitable time or place."
of the two last quoted Grand Lodges embody the general sentiment
of the Craft on this subject.[The
existence of this prerogative is denied by the Grand Lodges of
Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Massachusetts, while it is
admitted by those of New York, Kentucky, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Wisconsin, Vermont, Mississippi, Ohio, New Hampshire,
Maryland, Indiana, Texas and Florida; in the last two, however,
subject to limitation.
although the prerogative is thus almost universally ceded to Grand
Masters, there are many very reasonable doubts as to the
expediency of its exercise, except under extraordinary
circumstances of emergency.
England, the practice has generally been confined to the making of
Princes of the Royal Family, who, for reasons of state, were
unwilling to reduce themselves to the level of ordinary candidates
and receive their initiation publicly in a subordinate lodge.
But in the
exercise of this prerogative, the Grand Master cannot dispense
with any of the requisite forms of initiation, prescribed by the
oral laws of the Order. He cannot communicate the degrees, but
must adhere to all the established ceremonies—the conferring of
degrees by "communication" being a form unknown to the
York rite. He must be assisted by the number of Brethren necessary
to open and hold a lodge. Due inquiry must be made into the
candidate's character, (though the Grand Master may, as in a case
of emergency, dispense with the usual probation of a month). He
cannot interfere with the business of a regular lodge, by making
one whom it had rejected, nor finishing one which it had
commenced. Nor can he confer the three degrees, at one and the
same communication. In short, he must, in making Masons at sight,
conform to the ancient usages and landmarks of the Order.
Deputy Grand Master.
of Deputy Grand Master is one of great dignity, but not of much
practical importance, except in case of the absence of the Grand
Master, when he assumes all the prerogatives of that officer.
Neither is the office, comparatively speaking, of a very ancient
date. At the first reorganization of the Grand Lodge in 1717and
for two or three years afterwards, no Deputy was appointed and
it was not until 1721 that the Duke of Montagu conferred the
dignity on Dr. Beal. Originally the Deputy was intended to relieve
the Grand Master of all the burden and pressure of business and
the 36th of the Regulations, adopted in 1721, states that "a
Deputy is said to have been always needful when the Grand Master
was nobly born," because it was considered as a derogation
from the dignity of a nobleman to enter upon the ordinary business
of the craft. Hence we find, among the General Regulations, one
which sets forth this principle in the following words: "The
Grand Master should not receive any private intimations of
business, concerning Masons and Masonry, but from his Deputy
first, except in such cases as his worship can easily judge of;
and if the application to the Grand Master be irregular, his
worship can order the Grand Wardens, or any other so applying, to
wait upon the Deputy, who is immediately to prepare the business
and to lay it orderly before his worship."
Grand Master exercises, in the absence of the Grand Master, all
the prerogatives and performs all the duties of that officer. But
he does so, not by virtue of any new office that he has acquired
by such absence, but simply in the name of and as the
representative of the Grand Master, from whom alone he derives all
his authority. Such is the doctrine sustained in all the
precedents recorded in the Book of Constitutions.
presence of the Grand Master, the office of Deputy is merely one
of honour, without the necessity of performing any duties
and without the power of exercising any prerogatives.
be more than one Deputy Grand Master in a jurisdiction; so that
the appointment of a greater number, as is the case in some of the
States, is a manifest innovation on the ancient usages. District
Deputy Grand Masters, which officers are also a modern invention
of this country, seem to take the place in some degree of the
Provincial Grand Masters of England, but they are not invested
with the same prerogatives. The office is one of local origin and
its powers and duties are prescribed by the local regulations of
the Grand Lodge which may have established it.
the Grand Wardens.
Senior and Junior Grand Wardens were originally appointed, like
the Deputy, by the Grand Master and are still so appointed in
England; but in this country they are universally elected by the
Grand Lodge. Their duties do not materially differ from those
performed by the corresponding officers in a subordinate lodge.
They accompany the Grand Master in his visitations and assume the
stations of the Wardens of the lodge visited.
the regulations of 1721, the Master of the oldest lodge present
was directed to take the chair of the Grand Lodge in the absence
of both the Grand Master and Deputy; but this was found to be an
interference with the rights of the Grand Wardens and it was
therefore subsequently declared that, in the absence of the Grand
Master and Deputy, the last former Grand Master or Deputy should
preside. But if no Past Grand or Past Deputy Grand Master should
be present, then the Senior Grand Warden was to fill the chair
and, in his absence, the Junior Grand Warden and lastly, in
absence of both these, then the oldest Freemason, [That
is, the one who has longest been a Freemason.
] who is the present Master of a lodge. In this
country, however, most of the Grand Lodges have altered this
regulation and the Wardens succeed according to seniority to the
chair of the absent Grand Master and Deputy, in preference to any
Past Grand Officer.
the Grand Treasurer.
office of Grand Treasurer was first established in 1724, in
consequence of a report of the Committee of Charity of the Grand
Lodge of England. But no one was found to hold the trust until
the 24th of June, 1727, when, at the request of the Grand Master,
the appointment was accepted by Nathaniel Blackerby, Deputy Grand
Master. The duties of the office do not at all differ from those
of a corresponding one in every other society; but as the trust is
an important one in a pecuniary view, it has generally been deemed
prudent that it should only be committed to "a brother of
good worldly substance," whose ample means would place him
beyond the chances of temptation.
of Grand Treasurer has this peculiarity, that while all the other
officers below the Grand Master were originally and still are in
England, appointed, that alone was always elective.
the Grand Secretary.
This is one
of the most important offices in the Grand Lodge and should always
be occupied by a Brother of intelligence and education, whose
abilities may reflect honor on the institution of which he is the
accredited public organ. The office was established in the year
1723, during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Wharton, previous
to which time the duties appear to have been discharged by the
Secretary not only records the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, but
conducts its correspondence and is the medium through whom all
applications on Masonic subjects are to be made to the Grand
Master, or the Grand Lodge.
the regulations of the Grand Lodges of England, New York and South
Carolina, the Grand Secretary may appoint an assistant, who is
not, however, by virtue of such appointment, a member of the Grand
Lodge. The same privilege is also extended in South Carolina to
the Grand Treasurer.
the Grand Chaplain.
This is the
last of the Grand Offices that was established, having been
instituted on the 1st of May, in the year 1775. The duties are
confined to the reading of prayers and other sacred portions of
the ritual, in consecrations, dedications, funeral services, etc.
The office confers no Masonic authority at all, except that of a
seat and a vote in the Grand Lodge.
the Grand Deacons.
need be said of the Grand Deacons. Their duties correspond to
those of the same officers in subordinate lodges. The office of
the Deacons, even in a subordinate lodge, is of comparatively
modern institution. Dr. Oliver remarks that they are not mentioned
in any of the early Constitutions of Masonry, nor even so late as
1797, when Stephen Jones wrote his "Masonic
Miscellanies," and he thinks it "satisfactorily proved
that Deacons were not considered necessary, in working the
business of a lodge, before the very latter end of the eighteenth
century" [Book of the Lodge,
p. 115 (U.M.L., vol. i., book 2, p. 78).
the Deacons are not mentioned in the various works published
previous to that period, which are quoted by Dr. Oliver, it is
nevertheless certain that the office existed at a time much
earlier than that which he supposes. In a work in my possession
and which is now lying before me, entitled "Every Young Man's
Companion, etc., by W. Gordon, Teacher of the Mathematics,"
sixth edition printed at London, in 1777, there is a section,
extending from page 413 to page 426, which is dedicated to the
subject of Freemasonry and to a description of the working of a
subordinate lodge. Here the Senior and Junior Deacons are
enumerated among the officers, their exact positions described and
their duties detailed, differing in no respect from the
explanations of our own ritual at the present day. The positive
testimony of this book must of course outweigh the negative
testimony of the authorities quoted by Oliver and shows the
existence in England of Deacons in the year 1777 at least.
It is also
certain that the office of Deacon claims an earlier origin in
America than the "very latter end of the eighteenth
century;" and, as an evidence of this, it may be stated that,
in the "Ahiman Rezon" of Pennsylvania, published in
1783, the Grand Deacons are named among the officers of the Grand
Lodge, "as particular assistants to the Grand Master and
Senior Warden, in conducting the business of the Lodge." They
are to be found in all Grand Lodges of the York Rite and are
usually appointed, the Senior by the Grand Master and the Junior
by the Senior Grand Warden.
the Grand Marshal.
Marshal, as an officer of convenience, existed from an early
period. We find him mentioned in the procession of the Grand
Lodge, made in 1731, where he is described as carrying "a
truncheon, blue, tipped with gold," insignia which he still
retains. He takes no part in the usual work of the Lodge; but his
duties are confined to the proclamation of the Grand Officers at
their installation and to the arrangement and superintendence of
Marshal is usually appointed by the Grand Master.
the Grand Stewards.
mention that is made of Stewards is in the Old Regulations,
adopted in 1721. Previous to that time, the arrangements of the
Grand Feast were placed in the hands of the Grand Wardens; and it
was to relieve them of this labor that the regulation was adopted,
authorizing the Grand Master, or his Deputy, to appoint a certain
number of Stewards, who were to act in concert with the Grand
Wardens. In 1728, it was ordered that the number of Stewards
to be appointed should be twelve. In 1731, a regulation was
adopted, permitting the Grand Stewards to appoint their
successors. And, in 1735, the Grand Lodge ordered, that, "in
consideration of their past service and future usefulness,"
they should be constituted a Lodge of Masters, to be called the
Stewards' Lodge, which should have a registry in the Grand Lodge
list and exercise the privilege of sending twelve
representatives. This was the origin of that body now known in the
Constitutions of the Grand Lodges of England and New York, [
It was abolished in New York in 1854.] as the
Grand Stewards' Lodge, although it has been very extensively
modified in its organization. In New York, it is now no more than
a Standing Committee of the Grand Lodge; and in England, although
it is regularly constituted, as a Lodge of Master Masons, it is by
a special regulation deprived of all power of entering, passing,
or raising Masons. In other jurisdictions, the office of Grand
Stewards is still preserved, but their functions are confined to
their original purpose of preparing and superintending the Grand
appointment of the Grand Stewards should be most appropriately
vested in the Junior Grand Warden.
the Grand Sword-Bearer.
Sword-Bearer.—It was an ancient feudal custom, that all great
dignitaries should have a sword of state borne before them, as the
insignia of their dignity. This usage has to this day been
preserved in the Masonic Institution and the Grand Master's sword
of state is still borne in all public processions by an officer
specially appointed for that purpose. Some years after the
reorganization of the Grand Lodge of England, the sword was borne
by the Master of the Lodge to which it belonged; but, in 1730,
the Duke of Norfolk, being then Grand Master, presented to the
Grand Lodge the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, which
had afterwards been used in war by Bernard, Duke of Saxe Weimar
and which the Grand Master directed should thereafter be adopted
as his sword of state. In consequence of this donation, the office
of Grand Sword-Bearer was instituted in the following year. The
office is still retained; but some Grand Lodges have changed the
name to that of Grand Pursuivant.
the Grand Tiler.
evident from the Constitutions of Masonry, as well as from the
peculiar character of the institution, that the office of Grand
Tiler must have existed from the very first organization of a
Grand Lodge. As, from the nature of the duties that he has to
perform, the Grand Tiler is necessarily excluded from partaking of
the discussions, or witnessing the proceedings of the Grand Lodge,
it has very generally been determined, from a principle of
expediency, that he shall not be a member of the Grand Lodge
during the term of his office.
Tiler is sometimes elected by the Grand Lodge and sometimes
appointed by the Grand Master.
the Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge.
I. General View.
necessary and usual officers of a Grand Lodge having been
described, the rights, powers and prerogatives of such a body is
the next subject of our inquiry.
foundation-stone, upon which the whole superstructure of masonic
authority in the Grand Lodge is built, is to be found in that
conditional clause annexed to the thirty-eight articles, adopted
in 1721 by the Masons of England and which is in these words: "Every
annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new
regulations, or to alter these for the real benefit of this
ancient fraternity; PROVIDED ALWAYS THAT THE OLD LANDMARKS BE
CAREFULLY PRESERVED; and that such alterations and new regulations
be proposed and agreed to at the third quarterly communication
preceding the annual Grand Feast; and that they be offered also to
the perusal of all the Brethren before dinner, in writing, even of
the youngest Entered Apprentice: the approbation and consent of
the majority of all the Brethren present being absolutely
necessary, to make the same binding and obligatory."
expression which is put in capitals—"provided always that
the old landmarks be carefully preserved"—is the limiting
clause which must be steadily borne in mind, whenever we attempt
to enumerate the powers of a Grand Lodge. It must never be
forgotten (in the words of another regulation, adopted in 1723 and
incorporated in the ritual of installation), that "it is not
in the power of any man, or body of men, to make any alteration or
innovation in the body of Masonry."
these views to limit us, the powers of a Grand Lodge may be
enumerated in the language which has been adopted in the modern
constitutions of England and which seem to us, after a careful
comparison, to be as comprehensive and correct as any that we have
been able to examine. This enumeration is in the following
Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of enacting laws and
regulations for the permanent government of the craft and of
altering, repealing and abrogating them, always taking care that
the ancient landmarks of the order are preserved. The Grand Lodge
has also the inherent power of investigating, regulating and
deciding all matters relative to the craft, or to particular
lodges, or to individual Brothers, which it may exercise either of
itself, or by such delegated authority, as in its wisdom and
discretion it may appoint; but in the Grand Lodge alone resides
the power of erasing lodges and expelling Brethren from the craft,
a power which it ought not to delegate to any subordinate
authority in England."
enumeration we discover the existence of three distinct classes of
powers:—1, a legislative power; 2, a judicial power; and 3, an
executive power. Each of these will occupy a separate section.
the Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge.
passage already quoted from the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge
of England it is said, "in the Grand Lodge, alone, resides
the power of enacting laws and regulations for the government of
the craft and of altering, repealing and abrogating them."
General regulations for the government of the whole craft
throughout the world can no longer be enacted by a Grand Lodge.
The multiplication of these bodies, since the year 1717, has so
divided the supremacy that no regulation now enacted can have the
force and authority of those adopted by the Grand Lodge of England
in 1721 and which now constitute a part of the fundamental law of
Masonry and as such are unchangeable by any modern Grand Lodge.
Lodge may, however, enact local laws for the direction of its own
special affairs and has also the prerogative of enacting the
regulations which are to govern all its subordinates and the craft
generally in its own jurisdiction. From this legislative power,
which belongs exclusively to the Grand Lodge, it follows that no
subordinate lodge can make any new bye-laws, nor alter its old
ones, without the approval and confirmation of the Grand Lodge.
Hence, the rules and regulations of every lodge are inoperative
until they are submitted to and approved by the Grand Lodge. The
confirmation of that body is the enacting clause; and, therefore,
strictly speaking, it may be said that the subordinates only
propose the bye-laws and the Grand Lodge enacts them.
the Judicial Power of a Grand Lodge.
already quoted from the English Constitutions continues to say,
that "the Grand Lodge has the inherent power of
investigating, regulating and deciding all matters relative to the
craft, or to particular lodges, or to individual Brothers, which
it may exercise, either of itself, or by such delegated authority
as in its wisdom and discretion it may appoint." Under the
first clause of this section, the Grand Lodge is constituted as
the Supreme Masonic Tribunal of its jurisdiction. But as it would
be impossible for that body to investigate every masonic offense
that occurs within its territorial limits, with that full and
considerate attention that the principles of justice require, it
has, under the latter clause of the section, delegated this duty,
in general, to the subordinate lodges, who are to act as its
committees and to report the results of their inquiry for its
final disposition. From this course of action has risen the
erroneous opinion of some persons, that the jurisdiction of the
Grand Lodge is only appellate in its character. Such is not the
case. The Grand Lodge possesses an original jurisdiction over all
causes occurring within its limits. It is only for expediency that
it remits the examination of the merits of any case to a
subordinate lodge as a quasi committee. It may, if it
thinks proper, commence the investigation of any matter concerning
either a lodge, or an individual brother within its own bosom and
whenever an appeal from the decision of a lodge is made, which, in
reality, is only a dissent from the report of the lodge, the Grand
Lodge does actually recommence the investigation de novo and,
taking the matter out of the lodge, to whom by its general usage
it had been primarily referred, it places it in the hands of
another committee of its own body for a new report. The course of
action is, it is true, similar to that in law, of an appeal from
an inferior to a superior tribunal. But the principle is
different. The Grand Lodge simply confirms or rejects the report
that has been made to it and it may do that without any appeal
having been entered. It may, in fact, dispense with the necessity
of an investigation by and report from a subordinate lodge
altogether and undertake the trial itself from the very inception.
But this, though a constitutional, is an unusual course. The
subordinate lodge is the instrument which the Grand Lodge employs
in considering the investigation. It may or it may not make use of
the instrument, as it pleases.
|[Bro.Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey. M.D., the distinguished Author, graduated from the Medical College in Charleston in South Carolina and took the M.D, degree. He was initiated in St.Andrews Lodge (No.10), which later affiliated with Solomon’s Lodge (No.1), of which he was installed as the W.M in 1842. The same year he joined the South Carolina Encampment (No.1) of which he was installed as the Commander in 1844.On joining the Scottish Rite, he was crowned as the Sovereign Grand Inspector General and later he assumed the post of Secretary General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottisn Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction and functioned as such till he died in 1881. Bro.A.G.Mackey
was an eminent scholar. He had held many senior posts in the Grand Lodge, including the posts of the Grand Lecturer. He was the Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina, from 1844 to 1867.
His famous publications include, "The Lexicon of Freemasonry," "The Mystic Tie," "Legends and Traditions of Freemasonry" ,“The History of Freemasonry” and
“The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry”, about which the eminent Masonic writer and Historian Bro.R.F.Gould has observed that, “ Dr.Mackey, whose admirable Encyclopedia seems to contain the substance of everything of a Masonic character that had yet been published”, then. The remaining parts of the Principles of Masonic Law and the other books authored by him will be posted shortly.]
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