Y Enciclopédia Mackey
The twenty-fifth letter of the English alphabet derived from the Greek T. One of the symbols of Pythagoras was the Greek letter Upsilon, T. for which, on account of the similarity of shape, the Romans adopted the letter Y of their own alphabet. Pythagoras said that the two horns of the letter symbolized the two different paths of virtue and vice, the right branch leading to the former and the left to the latter. It was therefore called Litera Pythagorae, the Letter of Pythagoras.
Thus the Roman poet Martial says, in one of his epigrams: Litera Pythagorae, discrimine secta bicorni, Humanae vitae speciem pracferre videtur.
The letter of Pythagoras, parted by its two-branched division, appears to exhibit the image of human life
The name of a class of demigods in Hindu mythology, whose care is to attend on Kuvera, the god of riches, and see to his garden and treasures.
A word said to have been used by the Templars in the adoration of the Baphomet, and derived from the Saracens.
The Sanskrit, Yama, meaning a twin. According to the Hindu mythology, the judge and ruler of the departed; the Hindu Pluto, or king of the infernal regions; originally conceived of as one of the first pair from whom the human race is descended, and the beneficent sovereign of his descendants in the abodes of the blest; later, a terrible deity, the tormentor of the wicked. He is represented of a green color, with red garments, having a crown on his head, his eyes inflamed, and sitting on a buffalo, with a club in his hand.
Born in Westmorland, England, April 17, 1833, died March 20, 1913, and was long identified actively with Freemasonry in Manchaster but connected with Masonic Bodies in all parts of the world. He was initiated on October 25, 1854, in Integrity Lodge No. 189, later No. 163, at twenty-one years of age. He contributed an article on Military Masons in 1858 to the Freemason’s Magazine and Masonic Mirror. Thereafter he was a frequent writer on Masonic matters to the publications of the Craft. His book, The Arcane Schools, a Review of Their Origin and Antiquity, with a general history of Freemasonry and its relation to the theosophic, scientific and philosophic matters, was published in 1909 after some ten years’ labor, as the preface tells us, and is a book of 566 pages dealing with the traces of a speculative system from the ancient days.
YATES, GILES FONDA
“The task of writing a sketch of the life of Giles Fonda Yates is accompanied with a feeling of melancholy,” says Doctor Mackey, ” because it brings to my mind the recollections of years, now passed forever, in which I enjoyed the intimate friendship of that amiable man and zealous Freemason and scholar. His gentle mien won the love, his virtuous life the esteem, and his profound but unobtrusive scholarship the respect of all who knew him.”
Giles Fonda Yates was born in 1796, in what was then the village of Schenectady, in the State of New York. After acquiring at the ordinary schools of the period a preliminary liberal education, he entered Union College, and graduated with distinction, receiving in due time the Degree of Master of Arts. He subsequently commenced the study of the law, and, having been admitted to the bar, was, while yet young, appointed Judge of Probate in Schenectady, the duties of which office he discharged with great ability and fidelity.
Being blessed with a sufficient competency of the World’s goods (although in the latter years of his life he became poor), Brother Yates did not find it necessary to pursue the practice of the legal profession as a source of livelihood. At an early period he was attracted, by the bent of his mind, to the study not only of general literature, but especially to that of archeology, philosophy, and the occult sciences, of all of which he became an ardent investigator.
These studies led him naturally to the Masonic Institution, into which he was initiated in the year 1817, receiving the Degrees of Symbolic Freemasonry in Saint George’s Lodge, No. 6, at Schenectady, New York.
In 1821 he affiliated with Morton Lodge, No. 87, of the same place, and was shortly afterward elected its Senior Warden. Returning subsequently to the Lodge of his adoption, he was chosen as its Master in 1844. He had in the meantime been admitted into a Chapter of the Royal Arch and an Encampment of Knights Templar; but his predilections being for Scottish Freemasonry, he paid little attention to these high Degrees of the American Rite.
He held several important positions in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, being elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council in 1851, but soon resigned. He died December 13, 1859. A fine address by Brother Yates, an exposition of the laws, objects, and the history of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, is in Doctor Mackey’s revised History of Freemasonry (volume vi, pages 1888-1905).
A significant word in the advanced Degrees. The French rituals explain it as meanings the passage of the River, and refer it to the crossing of the River Euphrates by the liberated Jewish captives on their return from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. It is, in its present form, a corruption of the Hebrew sentence, yavaru hamaim, which signifies they drill cross, or pass over, the avers,” alluding to the streams lying between Babylon and Jerusalem, of which the Euphrates was the most important.
The same as the Year of the World, which see.
YEAR OF FREEMASONRY
Sometimes used as synonymous with Year of Light. In the eighteenth century, it was, in fact, the more frequent expression.
YEAR OF LIGHT
Anno Lewis, in the Year of Light, is the epoch used in Masonic documents of the Symbolic Degrees. This era is calculated from the creation of the world, and is obtained by adding four thousand to the current year, on the supposition that Christ was born four thousand years after the creation of the world. But the chronology of Archbishop Ussher, which has been adopted as the Bible chronology in the authorized version, places the birth of Christ in the year 4004 after the creation.
According to this calculation, the Masonic date for the “year of light” is four years short of the true date, and the year of the Lord 1874, which in Masonic documents is 5874, should correctly be 5878. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Freemasons in the beginning of the nineteenth century used this Ussherian era, and the Supreme Council at Charleston dated its first circular, issued in 1802, as 5806. Dalcho (Ahiman Rezom, second edition, page 37) says: “If Masons are determined to fix the origin of their Order at the Xirrie of the erection, they should agree among themselves at what time before Christ to place that epoch.” At that agreement they have now arrived. Whatever differences may have once existed, there is now a general consent to adopt the theory that the world was created 4000 B.C. The error is too unimportant, and the practice too universal, to expect that it will ever be corrected.
H. P. Smith (Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible), we may here point out in a paragraph to support Doctor Mackey, says that our appreciation of the Bible does not depend upon the accuracy of its dates. This authority considers that in general, the picture it provides of the sequence of events from the time of Judges down to the Fall of Jerusalem is correct. More recently there has been welcome light on the dates of certain biblical events from the inscriptions in Assyria and Babylonia.
These Empires had made great advances in astronomy and consequently in the regulation of the calendar. They had a reckoning of time which secured accuracy for their records of history. Lists have come down to us in fragments, but by them scholars have corrected some of the dates in Hebrew history. The reference already made to the work of Archbishop Ussher has been checked by these later studies and most of the figures, it is now accepted, are too high for the early period. Probably some of the early writers were influenced by a theory which they had formed or which had come to them through tradition and those tendencies show certain repetitions in the records which are, in these modern days, not so convincing as formerly.
Noowhouek (Constitutions 1784, page 5), speaking of the necessity of adding the four years to make a correct date, says: “But this being a Degree of accuracy that Masons in general do not attend to, we must, after this intimation, still follow the vulgar mode of computation to be intelligible.” As to the meaning of the expression, it is by no means to be supposed that Freemasons, now, intend by such a date to assume that their Order is as old as the creation. It is simply used as expressive of reverence for that physical light which was created by the fiat of the Grand Architect, and which is adopted as the type of the intellectual light of Freemasonry. The phrase is altogether symbolic.
YEAR OF THE DEPOSITED
An era adopted by Royal and Select Masters, and refers to the time when certain important secrets were deposited in the first Temple (see Anl to Depositionis).
YEAR OF THE DISCOVERY
An era adopted by Royal Arch Masons, and refers to the time when certain secrets were made known to the Craft at the building of the second Temple (see Anno Inventionis).
YEAR OF THE ORDER
The date used in documents connected with Masonic Templarism. It refers to the establishment of the Order of Knights Templar in the year 1118 (see Anno Ordinis).
YEAR OF THE WORLD
This is the era adopted by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and is borrowed from the Jewish computation. The Jews formerly used the era of contracts, dated from the first conquests of Seleucus Nicator in Syria. But since the fifteenth century they have counted from the creation, which they suppose to have taken place in September, 3760, before Christ (see Anno Mundi).
YEAS AND NAYS
The rule existing in all parliamentary Bodies that a vote may be called for by fleas and nays, so that the vote of each member may be known and recorded, does not apply to Masonic Lodges. Indeed, any such proceeding ought to be unnecessary.
The vote by yeas and nays is so taken in a representative Body that the members may be held responsible to their constituents. But in a Lodge, each member is wholly independent of any responsibility, except to his own conscience. To call for the yeas and nays being then repugnant to the principles which govern Lodges, to call for them would be out of order, and such a call could not be entertained by the presiding officer. But in a Grand Lodge the responsibility of the members to a constituency does exist, and there it is very usual to call for a vote by Lodges, when the vote of every member is recorded. Although the mode of calling for the vote is different, the vote by Lodges is actually the same as a vote by yeas and nays, and may be demanded by any member.
An old Hermetic Degree, which Thory says was given in some secret societies in Germany.
Of all the colors, yellow seems to be the least important and the least general in Masonic symbolism. In other institutions it would have the same insignificance, were it not that it has been adopted as the representative of the sun, and of the noble metal gold. Thus, in colored blazonry, the small dots by which the gold in an engraved coat of arms is designated, are replaced by the yellow color. La Colombiere, a French heraldic writer, says (Science Heroique, page 30) in remarking on the connection between gold and yellow, that as yellow, which is derived from the sun, is the most exalted of colors, so gold is the most noble of metals.
Portal (Des Couleurs Symboliques, page 64) says that the sun, gold, and yellow are not synonymous, but mark different Degrees which it is difficult to define. The natural sun was the symbol of the spiritual sun, gold represented the natural sun,.and yellow was the emblem of gold. But it is evident that yellow derives all its significance as a symbolic color from its connection with the hue of the rays of the sun and the metal gold. Among the ancients, the Divine Light or Wisdom was represented by yellow, as the Divine Heat or Power was by red. And this appears to be about the whole of the ancient symbolism of this color.
In the old instructions of the Scottish and Hermetic Degree of Knight of the Sun, yellow was the symbol of Wisdom darting its rays, like the yellow beams of the morning, to enlighten a waking world. In the Prince of Jerusalem, it was also formerly the characteristic color, perhaps with the same meaning, in reference to the elevated position that Degree occupied in the Rite of Perfection, and afterward in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Years ago, yellow was the characteristic color of the Mark Master’s Degree, derived, perhaps, from the color of the Princes of Jerusalem, who originally issued charters for Mark Lodges; for it does not seem to have possessed any symbolic meaning. In fact, as has been already intimated, all the symbolism of yellow must be referred to and explained by the symbolism of gold 2th of the sun, of which it is simply the representative.
YELLOW CAPS SOCIETY
The name of a society said to have been founded by Ling-Ti, in China, in the eleventh century.
Prichard says that in the early part of the eighteenth century the following formed a part of the Catechism:
Have you seen your Master to-day?
How was he Clothed?
In a yellow jacket and a blue pair of breeches.
And he explains it by saying that “the yellow jacket is the compasses, and the blue breeches the steel points.”
Krause (Kunsturkunden ii, page 78) remarks on this subject that this sportive comparison given by Prichard is altogether in the puerile spirit of the peculiar interrogatories which are found among many other crafts, and is without doubt genuine as originating in the working Lodges. Prichard’s explanation is natural, and Krause’s remark correct. But it is vain to attempt to elevate the idea by attaching to it a symbolism of gold and azure—the blue sky and the meridian sun. No such thought, in Doctor Mackey’s opinion, entered into the minds of the illiterate Operatives with whom the question and answer originated.
He was one of the Magistri Operis, or Masters of the Work, in the reign of Edward III, for whom he constructed several public edifices. Doctor Anderson says that he is called, “in the Old Records, the King’s Freemason,” (Constitution, 1735, page 70); but his name does not occur in any of the old manuscript Constitutions that are now extant.
Pertaining to the era of Yezdegerd, the last Sassanian monarch of Persia, who was overthrown by the Mohammedans. The era is still used by the Parsees, and began 16th of June, 632 A. D.
One of a sect bordering on the Euphrates, whose religious worship mixes up the Devil with some of the doctrines of the Magi, Mohammedans, and Christians.
The name given in Seandinavian mythology to the greatest and most sacred of all trees, which was conceived as binding together heavens earth, and hell. It is an ash, whose branches spread over all the world, and reach above the heavens. It sends out three roots in as many different directions: one to the Asa-gods in heaven, another to the Frostgiants, the third to the under-world. Under each root springs a wonderful fountain, endowed with marvelous virtues. From the tree itself springs a honey-dew. The serpent, Nithhoggr, lies at the under-world fountain and gnaws the root of Ygdrasil; the squirrel, Ratatoskr, runs up and down, and tries to breed strife between the serpent and the eagle, which sits aloft. Doctor Oliver (Signs and Symbols, page 155) considers it to have been the Theological Ladder of the Gothic Mysteries.
Godfrey Higgins (Anacalypsis ii, page 17) cites the Abbé Bazin as saying that this was the name esteemed most sacred among the ancient Egyptians. Clement of Alexandria asserts, in his Stromata, that all those who entered into the Temple of Serapis were obliged to wear conspicuously on their persons the name I-ha-ho, which he says signifies the Eternal God. The resemblance to the Tetragrammaton is apparent.
The Hebrew letter Is, equivalent in sound to I or Y. It is the initial letter of the word Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton, and hence was peculiarly sacred among the Talmudists. Basnage (book iii, chapter 13), while treating of the mysteries of the name Jehovah among the Jews, says of this letter: The yod in Jehovah is one of those things which eye hath not seen, but which has been concealed from all mankind. Its essence and matter are incomprehensible ; it is not lawful so much as to meditate upon it.
Man may lawfully revolve his thoughts from one end of the heavens to the other, but he cannot approach that inaccessible light, that primitive existence, contained in the letter yod and indeed the masters call the letter thought or idea, and prescribe no bounds to its efficacy. It was this letter which, flowing from the primitive light, gave being to emanations. It wearied itself by the way, but assumed a new vigor by the sense of the letter t which makes the second letter of the Ineffable Name.
In Symbolic Freemasonry, the god has been replaced by the letter G. But in the advanced Degrees it is retained, and within a triangle, as in the illustration, constitutes the symbol of the Deity.
Among the Orientalists, the yoni was the female symbol corresponding to the lingam, or male principle. The lingam and yoni of the East assumed the names of Phallus and Cteis among the Greeks.
This document, which is also called the Krause Manuscript, purports to be the Constitutions adopted by the General Assembly of Freemasons that was held at York in 926 (see York Legend). No original manuscript copy of it can be found, but a German translation from a Latin version was published, for the first time, by Krause in the drei attested Kunsturkunden der Freimaurer bruderschaft, the Three Oldest Craft Records of the Masonic Brotherhood.
It will be found in the third edition of that work (volume ui, pages 58-101). Krause’s account of it is, that it was translated from the original, which is said, in a certificate dated January 4, 1806, and signed Stonehouse, to have been written on parchment in the ancient language of the country and preserved at the City of York, “apud Rev. summam societatem architectonicam,” which Woodford translates “an Architectural Society,” but which is evidently meant for the “Grand Lodge.” From this Latin translation a German version was made in 1808 by Brother Schneider of Altenberg, the correctness of which, having been examined by three linguists, is certified by Carl Erdmann Weller, Secretary of the Government Tribunal of Saxony.
And it is this certified German translation that has been published by Krause in his Kunsturkunden. An English version was inserted by Brother Hughan in his Old Charges of British Freemasons.
The document consists, like all the old manuscripts, of an introductory invocation, a history of architecture or the Legend of the Craft, and the General Statutes or Charges; but several of the Charges differ from those in the other Constitutions. There is, however, a general resemblance sufficient to indicate a common origin. The appearance of this document gave rise in Germany to discussions as to its authenticity. Krause, Schneider, Fessler, and many other distinguished Freemasons, believed it to be genuine; while Kloss denied it, and contended that the Latin translation which was certified by Stonehouse had been prepared before 1806, and that in preparing it, an ancient manuscript had been remodeled on the basis of the 1738 edition of Anderson’s Constitutions, because the term Noachida is employed in both, but is found nowhere else.
At length, in 1864, Brother Findel was sent by the “Society of German Masons” to England to discover the original. His report of his journey was that it was negative in its results; no such document was to be found in the archives of the old Lodge at York, and no such person as Stonehouse was known in that city. These two facts, to which may be added the further arguments that no mention i9 made of it in the Fabric Rolls of York Minster, published by the Surtees Society, nor in the inventory of the Grand Lodge of York which was extant in 1777, nor by Drake in his speech delivered before the Grand Lodge in 1726, and a few other reasons, have led Findel to agree with Kloss that the document is not a genuine York Charter. Such, too, is the general opinion of English Masonic scholars (see Gould’s History of Freemasonry, volume I, pages 499-6). There can be little doubt that the General Assembly at York, In 926, did frame a body of laws or Constitutions ut there is almost as little doubt that they are not represented by the Stonehouse or Krause document (see York Masons and York Legend).
YORK, EDWARD AUGUSTUS, DUKE OF
Initiated Freemason in 1766
YORK, FREDERICK, DUKE OF
Initiated a Freemason in Britannia Lodge, London, November 21, 1787. A commemorative Masonic token was issued in 1795; the Duke of York having been installed Worshipful Master of the Prince of Wales Lodge, March 22, 1793.
YORK GRAND LODGE
Brother Woodford says this is a short title for “The Grand Lodge of all England,” held at York, which was formed from an old Lodge, in 1725, at work evidently during the seventeenth century and probably much earls. The annual assembly was held in the City of York by the Freemasons for centuries, and is so acknowledged virtually by all the manuscripts from the fourteenth century. A list of Master Masons of the York Minster, during its erection, is preserved, of the fourteenth century; and legend and actual history agree in the fact that York was the home of the Mason-Craft until modern times—the Charter of Prince Edwin Deing one of the earliest traditions
The Grand Lodge press served its position in the north of England until 1792, when it finally died out, it having constituted other Lodges, and a “Grand Lodge, south of the Trent” at London. All of the York Lodges Succumbed on the decease of their Mother Grand Lodge. There has not been a representative of the Ancient York strand Lodge anywhere whatever throughout the nineteenth century.
It was long believed that the word “yeomen” was the contraction of two Anglo-Saxon words meaning “young men”; it is now agreed that the word is more likely to have been derived from a term in the early Teutonic languages which meant “the district,” “the local country.” There are references to yeomen gilds in a large number of Medieval records and polychronicons, but in no instance does the context make clear what they were.
A number of Masonic writers have proposed the theory that they were gilds of Apprentices, or of new Fellows of the Craft before Setting up as Masters, or of Fellows while spending one or two years traveling abroad after having graduated from apprenticeship, but there is nowhere evidence for the theory, and it does not harmonize with other uses of the word.
In the typical Medieval manor the lord lived in a house, set in grounds of its own, on a hill or other high ground if any was available; his cotters, serfs, villeins with their families lived in a village of huts and cottages at its foot, each with its garden patch. If one of these later became a free man and was able to own his own place, he was called a yeoman—an independent small farmer.
When in the reign of Henry VII a national militia of volunteers was formed it was so largely recruited from among these small freemen that the soldiers were called yeomen. In the course of time they came to form a class between merchants and lords on the one side, and farm laborers and craftsmen on the other.
York, the county seat of Yorkshire, lying 88 miles north of London, with a population in 1930 of about 85,000, is one of the oldest cities in England, and one of the most famous cities in the world. Next after London itself, Speculative Freemasonry’s mother city, it is also the great Masonic city. (See Vol. II, p. 1129). The Britons had a town on its site before the Roman occupation; the Romans themselves established a barracks there, and later organized the town and its environs as a colonial or municipality. It was for years the home of King Athelstan. When its Paulinus was made Archbishop in 627 A.D., it became the seat of an Archbishopric which ever since has ranked second in importance only after Canterbury.
Alcuin of York was selected by Charlemagne as the teacher of himself and his sons (about 800 A.D.) because the cloister school of which Alcuin was head was so renowned, and because York itself was the Oxford of that day, and scarcely less known on the Continent than in England itself. The War of the Roses, “England’ a most terrible war,” was fought between Yorkists and Lancastrians. It also had for some two centuries a primacy in the fine arts, and more Gothic architecture was crowded into its limits than in any other center; its Minster is one of the sublimest structures ever built anywhere, or for any purpose. Its fame as a Masonic city rests on many foundations:
1. A Bishop of York attended the Council of Arles in 314 A.D., and the Council Records indicate that he was given precedence over the Bishop of London; such a Bishop must have had a Bishop’s church, or cathedral, and it is likely therefore that York began to be a center of architecture and of its sister arts and attendant skilled crafts as early as the Fourth Century.
2. Had Athelstan’s name never been mentioned in the Old Charges he would have a large place in Masonic history because he was a King of Operative Freemasonry as well as King of England (see page 1172). York was Athelstan’s home. He built or rebuilt many structures there, and it is probable that the city already had its guildhall, and very probably what later would be caned a City Company of Masons. Also, he built and rebuilt much in London, and was so interested in the work per60nally that rules and regulations for craftsmen bulked large in his laws and edicts. Also, he was a city builder, a role to which even kings are seldom admitted, for while Exeter had been a Welsh City before him, he moved the Welsh out and in their place built a new city according to a plan of his own. When the Old Charoes attribute to Athelstan a great interest in Freemasonry and a great love for Freemasons they do not exaggerate- indeed, they fall short of the whole truth because apparently the author of the Old Charges knew nothing of Athelstan’s work outside of York.
3. In one version of the Old Charges it is stated that at an Assembly of Freemasons in York in 926 A.D., Athelstan gave the Craft a Royal Charter, a document which carried in itself a higher authority than one issued by either the Church or any lord of lesser degree or any city; the other versions of the Old Charges say that Athelstan had been titular head of the Fraternity of Freemasons, but had made over his title and prerogatives to a son, Prince Edwin. Historians question this tradition bed cause, first, it is unsupported by contemporary records; second, because no trace of a son of Athelstan named Prince Edwin has ever been found; third, no trace of the Charter itself, either in a copy or in quotation, has been discovered, although it is reasonable to think that the Freemasons would have preserved many copies of a document so important to themselves.
Gould questioned the tradition because he did not believe that General Assemblies of the Craft had ever been held, but his argument is dubious because if the Craft had not held assemblies a number of kings would not have issued edicts to prohibit them (see in this Volume, under Wycliff it is dubious in the case of Athelstan also because Gould apparently did not know what was insane by an ‘assembly.”
It is possible to reinterpret the whole problem of the Assembly at York and o! the Royal Charter said to have been granted there, and to do so without stretching the evidence. Athelstan himself (and not through an agent) was a direct employer of Freemasons at York, at London, at Exeter, and doubtless elsewhere; that which was a written contract at the time may have come to be thought of as a charter afterwards.
Also, as stated above, Athelstan himself drew up rules and regulations for the Freemasons, and incorporated them in h s written laws- in so doing, and also while acting as an employer, both his own laws and contracts would specifically approve, at least by implication, the Freemasons’ own rules and regulations. If these reasonings be sound, the tradition of a Charter granted by Athelstan becomes true in substance if not true in form and for the Freemasons had the same point.
4. As explained in a number of articles in this Volume. the first permanent Lodges were established about 1350 A.D. According to both civil and ecclesiastical law at the time such a body had to have a charter; it also had “to make returns,” that is, to report their rules and regulations and their membership to the civil authorities. It is reasonable to believe that the Old Charges were written partly for each of these purposes.
If it be objected that the Old Charges are not a charter, but only the claim that Athelstan had already granted them a Royal Charter long before, the fact only proves that the Freemasons themselves in 1350 A.D. relieved literally in the “York tradition” but what id in th s connection far more important (Gould and Mackey both overlooked that importance), the chit authorities themselves believed it, and permitted the permanent Lodges to continue to work under the Old Charges. Had those civil authorities disbelieved it, they would have rejected the Old Charges and compelled the Lodges to seek civil charters.
Belief in the York tradition, and for whatever it may be worth, rests not on a modern theory about a supposed event a thousand years ago, but on a belief held by both Freemasons and civil authorities in the Fourteenth Century. The latter were four centuries removed from Athelstan, but that was not then as wide a gap in time as it would be now (when change is at least fifty times as rapid) because in the Middle Ages written official documents were preserved with great care; and th s is especially true of York, as readers of Sir Francis Drake have discovered.
5. There was a Lodge in York, no doubt of a predominantly Speculative membership, before the Grand Lodge was erected in London in 1717; how old it was there is no way of discovering, but it is on record as early as 1713 A.D. According to its own Minutes it was sometimes called a Local Lodge, and sometimes a General Lodge —by this later term it was probably meant that it had set up daughter Lodges. In 1725 A.D. this Lodge turned itself into a Grand Lodge, elected a Grand Master, and took the title “Grand Lodge of All England.”
In the following year its Junior Grand Warden, Sir Francis Drake, delivered an address to his Grand Lodge which ever since has belonged among the great Masonic orations. In that address he makes it clear that though their Grand Lodge was new, Freemasonry in York was very old. It was to this Grand Lodge that William Preston turned when he set up his “Grand Lodge of England south of the River Trent.” Lodges under both these authorities were absorbed by the Grand Lodge at London- nothing is heard of the Grand Lodge of All England after the 1790’8.
6. When a group of London Lodges set up in 1751 A.D. that Grand Lodge which everywhere was to become famous as the Ancient Grand Lodge, its appeal to English Masons who already had two Grand Lodges was based on its claim to recover and to preserve “the Ancient Customs;” these customs it attributed to York, and therefore it often cared itself, or was caned by others, the York Grand Lodge.
The appellation was both unhistorical and unofficial; it was popular, however, and from it the name “York” passed into general use. Canadians of the Ancient Craft Lodges caned themselves York Masons, and from them the Phrase spread to the United States, where in popular usage the three degrees and the Mark and Royal Arch Degrees are caned “The York Rite” (including also, at times, Knight Templarism). The usage is incorrect but since it serves the purpose of roughly indicating the ladder of Degrees from Apprentice to Knight Templar, and the distinguishes that hemisphere of the Fraternity from the Scottish Rite, it will doubtless continue in use through an indefinite future, and thus help to preserve the fame of the name of York.
NOTE. Both R. F. Gould and Wm. J. Hughan stigmatized this use of “York” as an “Americanism. ” How could it have been when it originated in York itself, in the London Grand Lodge of 1751, A.D., and came to the American Colonies via Canada? Moreover it is only in popular and uncritical usage that “York Rite” is employed here; the doctrine that Freemasonry originated in York has not been officially adopted. Even if it were, the usage would be still less an “Americanism” because it would be based on the Old Charges. Chapters on the York and on the Grand Lodge of All England will be found in the Ketones by Gould and by Mackey.
The great work on York is the one entitled Eboracum, a thick tome of amazing erudition, written by the above-mentioned Bro. and Dr. Sir Francis Drake (not the explorer). It is a huge volume in fine print, al-most suffocatingly packed with facts. Any beginning Masonic researcher could look far for a better specialty it is a mine for Masonic essayists: in it countless old customs and symbols preserved in Freemasonry appear in the form of records or minutes made at the time of their use—there are at least fifty such records of the usages of Maundy Thursday. (The writer of these lines belongs to what possibly may be America’s smallest club, its members consist of those who have read Eboracum! Any Master Mason who reads that volume is qualified.)
The City of York, in the North of England, is celebrated for its traditional connection with Freemasonry in that kingdom. No topic in the history of Freemasonry has so much engaged the attention of modern Masonic Scholars, or given occasion to more discussion, than the alleged facts of the existence of Freemasonry in the tenth century at the City of York as a prominent point, of the calling of a Congregation of the Craft there in the year 926, of the organization of a General Assembly and the adoption of a Constitution.
During the whole of the eighteenth and the greater part of the nineteenth century, the Fraternity in general have accepted all of these statements as genuine portions of authentic history; and the adversaries of the Order have, with the same want of discrimination, rejected them all as myths; while a few earnest seekers for truth have been at a loss to determine what part was historical and what part legendary.
More recently, the discovery of many old manuscripts directed the labors of such Scholars as Hughan, Woodford, Lyon, and others, to the critical examination of the early history of Freemasonry, and that of York has particularly engaged their attention. For a thorough comprehension of the true merits of this question, it will be necessary that the student should first acquaint himself with what was, until recently, the recognized theory as to the origin of Freemasonry at York, and then that he should examine the newer hypotheses advanced by the writers of the present day.
In other words, he must read both the tradition and the history. In pursuance of this plan, we propose to commence with the legends of York Freemasonry, as found in the old manuscript Constitutions, and then proceed to a review of what has been the result of recent investigations. It may be premised that, of all those who have Subjected these legends to the crucible of historical criticism, Brother William James Hughan of Cornwall, in England, must unhesitatingly be acknowledged as Facile Pr7nceps, the ablest, the most laborious, and the most trustworthy investigator. He was the first and the most successful remover of the cloud of tradition which so long had obscured the sunlight of history.
The legend which connects the origin of English Freemasonry at York in 926 is sometimes called the York Legend, sometimes the Athelstane Legend, because the General Assembly, said to have been held there, occurred during the reign of that king; and sometimes the Edunn Legend, because that Prince is supposed to have been at the head of the Craft, and to have convoked them together to form a Constitution. The earliest extant of the old manuscript Constitution’s is the ancient poem commonly known as the Halliwell or Regius Manuscript and the date of which is conjectured, on good grounds, to be about the year 1390. In that work we find the following version of the legend:
Thys craft com ynto Englond as y yow say
Yn tyme of good kynge Adelstonus’ day
He made tho bothe halle and eke bowre
And hye templus of gret honowre
To sportyn him yn bothe day and nygth,
An to worsehepe hys God with alle hys mygth.
Thys goode lorde loved thys craft ful wel
And purposud to strengthyn hyt every del,
For dyvers defawtys that yn the erayft he fonde
He sende aboute ynto the londe
After alle the masonus of the crafte
To come to hym ful evene strayfte
For to amende these defautys alle
By good eonsel gef hyt mytgth fallen
A semblé thenne he cowthe let make
Of dyvers lordis yn here state
Dukys, erlys, and barnes also,
Knygthys, sqwyers and mony mo
And the grete burges of that syté,
They were ther alle yn here degré
These were there uehon algate
To ordeyne for these masonus astate
Ther they sowgton bv here wytte
How they myghthyn governe hytte:
Fyftene artyeulus they there sowgton,
And fyftene poylltys there they wrogton.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this archaic style, the passage is translated into modern English.
This craft came into England, as I tell you, in the time of good king Athelstan’s reign; he made then both hall, and also bower and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night and to worship his God with all his might. This good lord loved this craft full well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he discovered in the craft. He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen. He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their rank, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires, and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the estate of these masons. There they sought by their wisdom how they might govern it; there they found out fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points.
The next document in which we find this legend recited is that known as the Cooke Manuscript, whose date is placed at 1490. The details are here much more full than those contained in the Halliwell Manuscript. The passage referring to the legend is as follows:
And after that was a worthy kynge in Englond, that was callyd Athelstone, and his yongest son lovyd well the seiens of Gemetry, and he wyst well that hand craft had the praetyke of the seiens of Gemetry so well as masons; wherefore he drew him to eonsell and lernyd [the] practyke of that scions to his speculatyf. For of speculatyfe he was a master, and he lovyd well masonry and masons. And he bicome a mason hymselfe. And he gaf hem [gave theml charges and names as it is now usyd in Englond and in other countries. And he ordevned that they sehulde have resonabull pay. And purehesed [obtained] a fre patent of the kyng that they sehulde make a sembly when thei sawe resonably tvme a [to] eum togedir to her [their] eounsell of the whiehe charges, manors & semble as is write and taught in the boke of our charges wherefor I leve hit at this tyme.
This much is contained in the manuscript from lines 611 to 642. Subsequently, in lines 688-719, which appear to hasc been taken from what is above called the Boke of Charges, the legend is repeated in these words: In this manner was the forsayde art begunne in the land of Egypt bi the forsayd maister Euglat (Euelid), & so, it went fro lond to londe and fro kyngdome to kyngdome. After that, many yeris, in the tyme of Kyng Atdhelstone, whiche was sum tyme kynge of Englande, bi his counsell and other gret lordys of the land bi comin (common) assent for grete defaut y-fennde (found) among masons thei ordeyned a certayne reule amongys hem (them). on (one) tyme of the yere or in iii yere, as nede were to the kyng and gret lordys of the londe and all the eomente (community), fro provynce to provynce and fro countre to countre congregations scholde be made by maisters, of all maimers masons and felaus in the forsayd art. And so at such congregations they that be made masters schold be examined of the articulls after written, & be ransacked (thoroughly examined) whether thei be abull and kunnyng (able and skilful) to the profyte of the lordys hem to serve (to serve theru), and to the honor of the forsayd art.
Seventy years later, in 1560, the Lansdowne Manuscript was written, and in it we find the legend still further developed, and Prince Edwin for the first time introduced by name. That manuscript reads thus: Soon after the Decease of St. Albones, there came Diverse Wars into England out of Diverse Nations, so that the good rule of Masons was dishired (disturbed) and put down lentil the tonne of King Adilston. In his time there was a worthy King in England, that brought this Land into good rest, and he built many great works and buildings therefore he loved well Masons, for he had a sone called Edwin, the which Loved Masons much more than his Father did, and he was so practiced in Geometry, that he delighted much to come and talk with Masons and to learn of them the Craft. And after, for the love he had to Masons and to the Craft, he was made Mason at Windsor, and he got of the King, his Fathers a Charter and commission once every year to have Assembly, within the Realm where they would within England, and to correct within themselves Faults it Trespasses that were done ads touching the Craft, and he held them an Assembly, and there he made Masons and gave them Charges, and taught them the Manners and Commands the same to be kept ever afterwards. And tootle them the Charter and commission to keep their Assembly. and Ordained that it should he renewed from King to King, and when the Assembly were gathered together he made a cry, that 311 old Masons or Young, that had any Writings or Understanding of the charges and manners that were made before their Kings, wheresoever they were made Masons, that they should shew them forth, there were found some in French, some in Greek, some in Hebrew, and some in English, and some in other Languages, and when they were read and over seen well the intent of them was understood to be alone, and then he caused a Book to he made thereof how this worthy Craft of Masonic was first founded, and he himself commanded, and also then caused. that it should be read at any time when it should happen any Mason or Masons to be made to give him or them their Charges, and from that, until this Day, Manners of Masons have been kept in this manner and found, as well as Men might Govern it, and Furthermore at diverse Assemblies have been put and Ordained diverse Charges by the best advice of Masters and Fellows.
All the subsequent manuscripts contain the legend substantially as it is in the Lansdowne; and most of them appear to be mere copies of it, or, most probably of some original one of which both they and it are copies.
In 1793 Doctor Anderson published the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, in which the history of the Fraternity of Freemasons is, he Save, “collected from their general records and their faithful traditions of many ages.” He gives the legend taken, as he says, from “a certain record of freemasons written in the reign of King Edward IV,” which manuscript, Preston asserts, “is said to have been in the possession or the famous Elias Ashmole.”
As the old manuscripts were generally inaccessible to the Fraternity, and, indeed, until comparatively recently but few of them have been discovered, it is to the publication of the legend by Anderson, and subsequently by Preston, that we are to attribute its general adoption by the Craft for more than a century and a half.
Tile form of the legend, as given by Anderson in his first edition, varies slightly from that in his second. In the former, he places the date of the occurrence at 930; in his second, at 926: in the forth, he styles the Congregation at York a General Lodge; in his second, a Grand Lodge. Now, as the modern and universally accepted form of the legend agrees in both respects with the latter statement, and not with the former, it must be concluded that the second edition, and the subsequent ones by Entick and Noorthouck, who only repeat Anderson, furnished the form of the legend as now popular.
In the second edition of the Constitutions (page 63), published in 1738, Anderson gives the legend in the following words:
In all the Old Constitutions it is written to this purpose, viz.:
That though the Ancient records of the Brotherhood in England were most of them destroyed or lost in the war with the Danes, who burnt the Monasteries where the Records were kept- yet King Athelstan (the Grandson of King Alfred), the first anointed King of England who translated the Holy Bible into the Saxon language when he had brought the land into rest and peace, built many great works, and encouraged many Masons from France and elsewhere, whom he appointed overseers thereof: they brought with them the Charges and Regulations of the foreign Lodges, and prevailed with the King to increase the wages.
That Prince Edwin, the King’s Brother, being taught Geometry and Masonry, for the love he had to the said Craft, and to the honorable principles whereon it is grounded, purchased a Free Charter of King Athelstan his Brother, for the Free Masons having among themselves a Connection or a power and freedom to regulate themselves to amend what might happen amiss and to hold an yearly Communication in a General Assembly.
That accordingly Prince Edwin summoned all the Free and Accepted Masons in the Realm, to meet him in the Congregation at York, who came and formed the Grand Lodge under him as their Grand Master, AD. 926.
That they brought with them many old Writings and Records of the Craft, some in Greek, some in Latin some in French, and other languages; and from the contents thereof, they framed the Constitutions of the English Lodges, and made a Law for themselves, to preserve and observe the same in all Time coming, etc., etc., etc.
Preston accepted the legend, and gave it in his second edition (page 198) in the following words:
Edward died in 924, and was succeeded by Athelstane his son, who appointed his brother Edwin patron of the Masons. This prince procured a Charter from Athelstane empowering them to meet annually in communication at York. In this city, the first Grand Lodge of England was formed in 926 at which Edwin presided as Grand Master. Here many did writings were produced in Greek, Latin, and other languages, from which it is said the Constitutions of the English Lodge have been extracted.
Such is the York Legend, as it has been accepted by the Craft, contained in all the old manuscripts from at least the end of the fourteenth century to the present day; officially sanctioned by Anderson, the historiographer of the Grand Lodge in 1723, and repeated by Preston, by Oliver, and by almost all succeeding Masonic writers. Only recently has anyone thought of doubting its authenticity; and now the important question in Masonic literature is whether X it is a myth or a history—whether it is all or in any part fiction or truth—and if so, what portion belongs to the former and what to the latter category. In coming to a conclusion on this subject, the question necessarily divides itself into three forms:
1. Was there an Assembly of Freemasons held in or about the year 926, at York, under the patronage or by the permission of King Athelstan? There is nothing in the personal character or the political conduct of Athelstan that forbids such a possibility or even probability. He was liberal in his ideal, like his grandfather the great Alfred; he was a promoter of civilization; he patronized learning, built many churches and monasteries, encouraged the translation of the Scriptures, and gave charters to many operative companies. In his reign, the faith-giklan, free gilds or sodalities, were incorporated by law. There is, therefore, nothing improbable in supposing that he extended his protection to the Operative Masons.
The uninterrupted existence for several centuries of a tradition that such an Assembly was held, requires that those who deny it should furnish some more Satisfactory reason for their opinion than has yet been produced. Incredulity,” says Voltaire, “is the foundation of history.” But it must be confessed that, while an excess of credulity often mistakes fable for reality, an obstinacy of incredulity as frequently leads to the rejection of truth as fiction.
The Reverend Brother Moodford, in an essay on ache connection of forts with, the History of Freemasonry in England, inserted in Brother Hughan’s Unpublished Records of the Craft, has critically discussed this subject, and comes to this conclusion: “I see no reason, therefore, to reject so old a tradition, that under Athelstan the Operative Masons obtained his patronage, and met in General Assembly.” To that verdict Doctor Mackey subscribed.
2. Was Edwin, the brother of Athelstan, the person who convoked that Assembly? This question has already been discussed in the article Edwin, where the suggestion is made that the Edwin alluded to in the legend was not the son or brother of Athelstan, but Edwin, King of Northumbria Francis Drake, in his speech before the Grand Lodge of York in 1726, was, Doctor Mackey believed, the first who publicly aadvanced this opinion; but he does so in a way that shows that the view must have been generally accepted by his auditors, and not advanced by him as something new. He says: “You know we can boast that the first Grand Lodge ever held in England was held in this city, where Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria, about the six hundredth year after Christ, and who laid the foundation of our Cathedral, sat as Grand Master.”
Edwin, who was born in 586, ascended the throne in 617, and died in 633. He was pre-eminent, among the Anglo-Saxon Kings who were his contemporaries, for military genius and statesmanship. So inflexible was his administration of justice, that it was said that in his reign a woman or child might carry everywhere a purse of gold without danger of robbery—high commendation in those days of almost unbridled rapine.
The chief event of the reign of Edwin was the introduction of Christianity into the kingdom of Northumbria. Previous to his reign, the northern metropolis of the Church had been placed at York, and the King patronized Paulinus the Bishop, giving him a house and other possessions in that city. The only objection to this theory is its date, which is three hundred years before the reign of Athelstan and the supposed meeting at York in 926.
3. Are the Constitutions which were adopted by that General Assembly now extant? It is not to be doubted, that if a General Assembly was held, it must have adopted Constitutions or regulations for the government of the Craft. Such would mainly be the object of the meeting. But there is no sufficient evidence that the Regulations now called the York Constitutions or the Gothic Constitutions, are those that were adopted in 926. It is more probable that the original document and all genuine copies of it are lost, and that it formed the type from which all the more modern manuscript Constitutions have been formed. There is the strongest internal evidence that all the manuscripts, from the Hallfwell to the PapltJorth, have a common original, from which they were copied with more or less accuracy, or on which they were framed with more or less modification. And this original Doctor Mackey supposed to be the Constitutions which must have been adopted at the General Assembly at York.
The theory, then, which Doctor Mackey in preparing this article concluded may safely be advanced on this subject, and which in his judgment must be maintained until there are better reasons than we now have to reject it, is, that about the year 926 a General Assembly of Freemasons was held at York, under the patronage of Edwin, brother of Athelstan, at which Assembly a code of laws was adopted, which became the basis on which all subsequent Masonic Constitutions were framed.
Originally there were six manuscripts elf the Old Constitutions bearing this title, because they were deposited in the Archives of the now extinct Grand Lodge of All England, whose seat was at the City of York. But the manuscript No. 3 became missing, although it is mentioned in the inventory made at York in 1779. Nos. 2, 4, and 5 came into possession of the York Lodge. Brother Hughan discovered Nos. 2 and 6 in the Archives of the Grand Lodge of England, at London. The dates of these manuscripts, which do not correspond with the number of their titles, are as follows: No. l has the date of 1600; No. 2, 1704; No.3, 1630; No. 4,1693; No. 5, is undated, but is supposed to be about 1670, and No. 6 also is undated, but is considered to be about 1680.
Of these manuscripts all but No. 3 have been published by the late Brother W. J. Hughan in his Ancient York Masonic Rolls, 1894. Brother Hughan deems No. 4 of some importance because it contains the following sentence:
“The one of the elders taking the Booke, and that See or shee that is to be made mason shall lay their hands thereon, and the charge shall bee given.” This, he thought, affords some presumption that women were admitted as members of the old Masonic Gilds, although he admits that we possess no other evidence confirmatory or this theory.
The truth is, that the sentence was a translation of the same clause written in other Old constitutions in Latin. In the York Manuscript, No. 1, the sentence is thus: “Tunc unus ex senioribus teneat librum et ille vel illi,” etc., that is, “he or they.” The writer of No. 4 copied, most probably, from No. 1, and his translation of “hee or sheen from “ille vel illi,” instead of “he or they,” was either the result of ignorance in mistaking illi, they, for illa, she, or of carelessness in writing shee for they.
It is evident that the charges thus to be sworn to, and which immediately follow, were of such a nature as made most of them physically impossible for women to perform; nor are females alluded to in any other of the manuscripts. All Freemasons there are Fellows, and are so to be addressed. There are two other York Manuscripts of the Operative Masons, which have been published in the Fabric Rolls of York Minster, an invaluable work, edited by the Rev. James Raine, and issued under the patronage and at the expense of the Surtees Society.
The reference to these words by Laurence Dermott, Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley has pointed out, is really to Prince Edwin at York and those associated with him in the meeting said to have been there. In Caementaria Hibernica (Fasciculus ii) Brother Crawley goes on to say: In these passages Laurence Dermott, whose accuracy might well be imitated by his crities, makes a point of employing the compound word, York-Masons, thus indieating that the expression was to be taken in its ethical not in its geographical sense.
This distinctive meaning was clearly understood by the Antients, and studiously maintained after Dermott’s death. In the circular March 2 1802, here mentioned, we find “York-Masons” distinguished by inverted commas; a typographical expedient of similar import.
See Ahiman Rezon, London, 1807 (page 127) and Ahiman Rezon, 1764 (page 87).
This is the oldest of all the Rites, and consisted originally of only three Degrees:
1. Entered Apprentice
2. Fellow Craft
3. Master Mason
The last included a part which contained the True Word, but which in Brother Mackey’s opinion was disrupted from it by Dunckerley in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and has never been restored. The Rite in its purity does not now exist Id anywhere. The nearest approach to it is the Saint w John’s Freemasonry of Scotland, but the Master’s Degree of the Grand Lodge of Scotland is not the Master’s Degree of the York Rite.
When Dunckerley dismembered the Third Degree, as Brother Mackey believed, he destroyed the identity of the Rite. In 1813, it was apparently recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England, when it defined the “pure Ancient Masonry to consist of three degrees, and no more: namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch” Had Grand Lodge abolished the Royal Arch Degree, which was then practiced as an independent Order in England, and reincorporated its secrets in the Degree of Master Mason, the York Rite would have been revived. But by recognizing the Royal Arch as a separate Degree, and retaining the Master’s Degree in its mutilated form, they to that extent repudiated the York Rite.
In the United States it has been the almost universal usage to call the Freemasonry there practiced the York Rite. But Brother Mackey believed it has no better claim to this designation than it has to be called the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, or the French Rite, or the Rite of Schröder. It has no pretensions to the York Rite. Of its first three Degrees, the Master’s is the mutilated one which took the Freemasonry of England out of the York Rite, and it has added to these three Degrees six others which were never known to the Ancient York Rite, or that which was practiced in England, in the earlier half of the eighteenth century, by the legitimate Grand Lodge.
“In all my writings,” asserts Doctor Mackey, “for years past, I have ventured to distinguish the Masonry practiced in the United States, consisting of nine Degrees, as the American Rite, a title to which it is clearly and justly entitled, as the system is peculiar to America, and is practiced in no other country.” Brother Hughan, speaking of the York Rite (Unpublished Records of the Craft, page 148) says “there is no such Rite, and what it was no one now knows.” Doctor Mackey thought that this declaration was too sweeping in its language. Brother Hughan was correct, as Doctor Mackey frankly admits, in saying that there is at this time no such Rite. Doctor Mackey proceeds, I have just described its decadence; but he is wrong in asserting that we are now ignorant of its character. In using the title, there is no reference to the Grand Lodge of all England, which met for some years during the last century, but rather to the York legend, and to the hypothesis that York was the cradle of English Freemasonry.
The York Rite was that Rite which was most probably organized or modified at the Revival in 1717, and practiced for fifty years by the Constitutional Grand Lodge of England. It consisted of only the three Symbolic Degrees, the last one, or the Master’s, containing within itself the secrets now transferred to the Royal Arch. This Rite was carried in its purity to France in 1725, and into America at a later period. About the middle of the eighteenth century the Continental Freemasons, and about the end of it the Americans, began to superimpose upon it those high Degrees which, with the necessary mutilation of the Third, have given rise to numerous other Rites. But the Ancient York Rite though no longer cultivated, must remain on the records of history as the oldest and purest of all the Rites.
or YUGA. One of the ages, according to Hindu mythology, into which the Hindus divide the duration or existence of the world.