This manuscript is written on twelve quarto pages as a preface to the Minute Book of the Company and Fellowship of Freemasons of a Lodge held at Alnwick, where it appears under the heading of The Masons' Constitutions. The document tells us of the "Orders to be observed by the Company and Fellowship of Freemasons at a Lodge held at Alnwick, September 29, 1701, being the General Head Meeting Day."
Among the items are the fifth and ninth which are of especial interest to us:
"No mason shall take any Apprentice (but he must) enter him and give him his charge within one whole year after.''
"There shall no apprentice after he have served seven years be admitted or accepted but upon the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. "
But, the festival was in 1704 changed to that of Saint John the Evangelist and later entries of'" made Free December 27th" indicate clearly that. those, who had served their time were admitted or accepted on that date according to the purpose of the ninth "Order."
This record was first published in 1871 in Hughan's Masonic Sketches and Reprints, American edition, and again in 1872 by, the same author in his Old Charges of the British Freemasons. In this latter work, Brother Hughan says of the records of this old Lodge that, "ranging from 1703 to 1757 they mostly, refer to indentures, fines, and initiations, the Lodge from first to last remaining true to its operative origin.
The members were required annually to 'appear at the Parish Church of Alnwicke with their aprons on and common squares as aforesaid on Saint John's Day in Christmas, when a sermon was provided and preached by some clergyman at their appointment.' A. D. 1708." The manuscript was reproduced in facsimile by the Newcastle College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in 1895.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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