Enciclopédia Mackey – GILDS ~ GLEASON

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The word gild, guild, or geld, from the Saxon gildan, to pay, originally meant a tax or tribute, and hence those fraternities which, in the early ages, contributed sums to a common stock, were called Gilds. Cowell, the old English jurist, defines a Gild to be “a fraternity or commonalty of men gathered together into one combination, supporting their common charge by mutual contributions. ” Societies of this kind, but not under the same name, were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and their artificers and traders were formed into distinct companies which occupied particular streets named after them. But according to Dr. Lujo Brentano, who published, in 1870, an essay on The History and Development of Gilds, England is the birthplace of the Medieval Gilds from whom he says that the modern Freemasons emerged. They existed, however, in every country of Europe, and we identify them in the Compagnons de la Tour of France, and the Baucorporationen of Germany.

The difference, however, was that while they were patronized by the municipal authorities in England, they were discouraged by both the Church and State on the Continent.

The Gilds in England were of three kinds, Religious Gilds, Merchant Gilds, and Craft Gilds, specimens of all of which still exist, although greatly modified in their laws and usages. The Religious or Ecclesiastical Gilds are principally found in Roman Catholic countries, where, under the patronage of the Church, they often accomplish much good by the direction of their benevolence to particular purposes. Merchant Gilds are exemplified in the twelve great Livery Companies of London. And the modern Trades Unions are nothing else but Craft Gilds under another name. But the most interesting point in the history of the Craft Gilds is the fact that from them arose the Brotherhoods of the Freemasons.

Brentano gives the following almost exhaustive account of the organization and customs of the Craft Gilds: The Craft Gilds themselves first sprang up amongst the free craftsmen, when they were excluded from the fraternities which had taken the place of the family unions, and later among the bondmen, when they ceased to belong to the Namibia of their lord. Like those Frith Gilds, the object of the early Craft Gilds was to create relations as if among brothers; and above all things, to grant to their members that assistance which the member of a family might expect from that family. As men’s wants had become different, this assistance no longer concerned the protection of life, limbs, and property, for this was provided for by the Frith Gilds now recognized as the legitimate authority; but the principal object of the Craft Gilds was to secure their members in the independent, unimpaired, and regular earning of their daily bread by means of their craft.

The very soul of the Craft Gild was its meetings, which brought all the Gild brothers together every week or quarter. These meetings were always held with certain ceremonies, for the sake of greater solemnity. The box having several locks like that of the Trade Unions, and containing the charters of the Gild, the statutes, the money, and other valuable articles, was opened on such occasions, and all present had to uncover their heads. These meetings possessed all the rights which they themselves had not chosen to delegate. They elected the presidents, originally called Aldermen, afterwards Masters and Wardens, and other officials, except in those eases already mentioned in which the Master was appointed by the King, the Bishop, or the authorities of the town.

As a rule, the Gilds were free to choose their Masters, either from their own members, or from men of higher rank though they were sometimes limited in their choice to the former.

The Wardens summoned and presided at the meetings, with their consent enacted ordinances for the regulation of the trade, saw these ordinances properly executed, and watched over the maintenance of the customs of the Craft. They had the right to examine all manufactures and a right of search for all unlawful tools and products. They formed, with the assistance of a quorum of Gild brothers, the highest authority in all the concerns of the Gild. No Gild member could be arraigned about trade matters before any other judge. We have still numerous documentary proofs of the severity and justice with which the Wardens exercised their judicial duties. Whenever they held a court, it was under special forms and solemnities; thus, for instance, in 1275 the chief Warden of the masons building Strasburg cathedral held a court sitting under a canopy.

Besides being brotherhoods for the care of the temporal welfare of their members, the Craft Gilds were, like the rest of the Gilds, at the same time religious fraternities. In the account of the origin of the Company of Grocers, it is mentioned that at the very first meeting they fixed a stipend for the priest, who had to conduct their religious services and pray for their dead. In this respect the Craft Gilds of all countries are alike; and in reading their statutes, one might fancy sometimes that the old craftsmen eared only for the well-being of their souls. All had particular saints for patrons, after whom the society was frequently called- and, where it was possible, they chose one who had some relation to their trade. They founded masses, altars, and painted windows in cathedrals; and even at the present day their coats of arms and their gifts range proudly by the side of those of kings and barons. Sometimes individual Craft Gilds appear to have stood in special relation to a particular church, by virtue of which they had to perform special services, and received in return a special share in all the prayers of the clergy of that church. In later times, the Craft Gilds frequently went in solemn procession to their churches.

Be find innumerable ordinances also as to the support of the sick and poor- and to afford a settled asylum for distress, the London Companies early built dwellings near their halls. The chief care, however, of the Golden was always directed to the welfare of the souls of the dead. Every year a requiem was sung for all departed Gild brothers, when they were all mentioned by name; and on the death of any member, special services were held for his soul, and distribution of alms was made to the poor, who, in return, had to offer up prayers for the dead, as is still the custom in Roman Catholic countries.

In a History of the English Guilds, edited by Toulon Smith from old documents in the Record Office at London, and published by the Early English Text Society, we find many facts confirmatory of those given by Brentano, as to the organization of these Gilds.

The testimony of these old records shows that a religious element pervaded the Gilds, and exercised a very powerful influence over them. Women were admitted to all of them, which Herbert (Livery Companies v, 83), thinks was borrowed from the Ecclesiastical Gilds of Southern Europe; and the Brethren and Sisters were on terms of complete equality There were fees on entrance, yearly and special payments, and fines for wax for lights to burn at the altar or in funeral rites. The Gilds had set days of meeting, known as morning speeches, or days of spekynggess totiedare for here commune profit, and a grand festival on the patron saint’s day, when the members assembled for worship, almsgiving, feasting, and for nourishing of brotherly love. Mystery plays were often performed.

They had a treasure-chest, the opening of which was a sign that business had begun. While it remained open all stood with uncovered heads, when cursing and swearing and all loose conduct were severely punished. The Gild property consisted of land, cattle, money, etc. The expenditure was on the sick, poor and aged, in making good losses by robbery, etc. Loans were advanced, pilgrims assisted, and, in one city, “any good girl of the Gild” was to have a dowry on marriage, if her father could not provide it.

Poor travelers were lodged and fed. Roads were kept in repair, and churches were Unstained and beautified. They wore a particular costume, which was enforced by their statutes, whence come the liveries of the London Companies of the present day and the clothing of the Freemasons.
An investigation of the usage’s of these Medieval Gilds, and a comparison of their regulations with the old Masonic Constitutions, will furnish a fertile source of interest to the Masonic archeologist, and will throw much light on the early history of Freemasonry (see Gilds, Encyclopedia Britannic, also the Hole Craft and Fellowship of Masonry, Edward Conder Jr.. and the Liber Albus, the White Book of the City of London, compiled in 1419 A.D., and reprinted in 1861).

As showing the spirit of the old Brethren we give here the pledge or oath of the Masters and Wardens of the Crafts or Mysteries, as then they were called, from page 451 of the Liber Albus, presumably the one ape proved by law in the reign of Henry IV of England but probably in use even before that time, 1367-1413: You shall swear, that well and lawfully you shall over look the Art or Mystery of which you are Masters, or Wardens, for the year elected. And the good rules and ordinances of the same Mystery, approved here by the Court, you shall keep and shall cause to be kept.

And all the defaults that you shall find therein, done contrary thereto, you shall present unto the Chamberlain of the City, from time to time, sparing no one for favor, and aggrieving no one for hate. Extortion or wrong unto no one, by color of your office, you shall do- nor unto anything that shall be against the estate and peace of the King, or of the City, you shall consent. But for the time that you shall be in office, in all things pertaining unto the said Mystery, according to the good laws and franchises of the said city, well and lawfully you shall behave yourself. So God you help, and the Saints.


See Galahad


We learn from Brother Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie’s Royal Masonic Cyclopoedia that Certain of the learned Jews have believed, for man centuries, in the doctrine of Gilgul, according to which the bodies of Jews deposited in foreign tombs contain within them a principle of soul which cannot rest until by a process called by them “the whirling of the soul.’ the immortal particle reaches once more the sacred soil of the Promised Land. This whirling of souls was supposed to be accomplished by a process somewhat similar to that of the metempsychoses of the Hindus, the psychical spark being conveyed through bird, beast, or fish, and sometimes, the most minute insect. The famous Rabbi Akiba, followed by the Rabbis Judah and Meir, declared that none could come to the resurrection save those of the Jews who were buried in the Holy Land, or whose remains were, in the process of ages, gradually brought thither. In Picart’s wonderful and laborious work there are many references to this doctrine. The learned may consult further authorities on this curious subject in the Cabana Denudata (or Uncovered), of Heinrich Khunrath, 1677.


Surname spelled in some old Masonic records as Jilks and so pronounced. An English Freemason who devoted practically his entire life to the dissemination of knowledge retarding the ceremonies of the Craft and the teaching of the ritual of the Grand Lodge of England, acknowledged by all as an authority on Masonic regulations. Born in London, May 1, 1765, and died on December 11, 1833. Initiated at the age of twenty-one in British Lodge, No. 4, now No. 8, in 1786 This record is not in accord with the Grand Lodge Register which gives the year as 1794 but the general choice is for 1786 (see Peter Gilkes, by Brother A. F. Calvert, 1916, pare 4). Little is known of the early history of Brother Gilkes except that he carried on, after the death of his father, a small retail establishment near Carnaby Market and Great Marlborough Street, London. In Dixon’s History of Freemasonry in Lincolnshire we note that in August, 1820, in recognition of the “very polite manner in which he has always shown himself towards this Lodge in giving to the Brethren the instruction in Masonry as laid down by the United Lodge of Promulgation,” a vote of thanks was passed to “Brother P. Jilks, Greengrozer, Carnaby Market, London.” It is certain that Brother Gilkes did not pursue this long after the death of his mother but, “Finding himself independent and being of an unambitious nature, he determined to retire from business and devote himself to pursuits more genial to his disposition.

His accounts were soon closed, he engaged a single room which he furnished plainly, and arranged with Hannah, an old faithful servant of his late mother to attend to his apartment and prepare the frugal meals,” he remaining a bachelor his entire life.

Brother Gilkes maintained and taught daily a class of Freemasons without making any charge for his service. The Freemasons Quarterly Renew, of 1834, said: “Although universally held in esteem amongst Masons his conduct was always characterized by good sense; he never aspired beyond his station in life, and declined the honor of an office in the Grand Lodge because he considered that his circumstances in life were not equal to the appointment.” An entertaining old book by Dr. George Oliver is entitled The Discrepancies of Freemasonry examined during a week’s gossip with the late celebrated Brother Gilkes and other eminent Masons. Page 32 tells of questions of Masonic importance discussed by Brothers Oliver and Gilkes in 1825 and the book shows clearly the high esteem in which the latter was held for his thorough knowledge of the Craft. Peter Gilkes attended and was prominent from the first meeting when the Emulation Lodge of Improvement for Master Masons was founded on October 2, 1823. This group believed in the regulation of all ceremonial by Grand Lodge and also desired that United Grand Lodge should extend its control to the three Lectures explaining the ceremonies.

The form of government they adopted was to enable Emulation Lodge “to hand down the Ceremonies and Lectures unaltered and unchanged from generation to generation.” After frequent visits to this Lodge, Peter Gilkes became a joining member and leader of its Committee in May, 1825. This Lodge “differed from all other Lodges of Instruction in being designed for Master Masons only and therefore gave as much attention to the Third and Second as it gave to the First Ceremony, preference being given to the Third.

” An account of Brother Giles activities in various Masonic Lodges would fill many paged Briefly, he was a member of British Lodge, where he was initiated, Royal York Lodge of Perseverance, Lodge of Hope, Globe Lodge, Lodge of Unity, Cadogan Lodge, Old Concord Lodge, Saint James’ Union Lodge, Lodge of Good Intent, Saint Michael’s Lodge, Hope and Unity Lodge, and Lodge of Unions. Of ten Lodges he is said to have occupied the chairs. His visits to other Lodges were frequent.

Never a subscribing member of the Percy Lodge “he often conducted the ceremonies,” says the history of the Lodge, and is recorded as present on eighty-five occasions from 1817 to 1833. While attending Lodges in this way he frequently instructed the Brethren and in one case Brother Calvert in his biography (page 13) records “Giles, while only attending the meetings as a visitor, occupied the chair on every occasion for three years running.” Then he joined the Lodge and was elected Worshipful Master for the ensuing year.

Brother Giles’ London pupils presented him in 1822 with a Past Master’s jewel, profusely embellished with diamonds, handsomely designed by Brother John Harris and costing one hundred guineas, over $500. This was only one of a number of tokens of respect and admiration received by Brother Giles during his life. This jewel is possessed by the Percy Lodge.

A year after his death plans were made for the erection of a monument to his memory. His friend and pupil, Stephen Barton Wilson, one of the three instructors responsible for carrying on the work of their preceptor, was commissioned to execute the tablet. This beautiful memorial erected in 1834, is in Saint James Church, Piccalilli, London.

The activities of Brother Giles are intimately bound up with the story of Emulation Lodge of Improvement which should be read in Some Account of the Ritual, by Brother G. J. V. Rankin, 1925, and the Illustrated History of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, by Brother Henry Sadler.


A wealthy Freemason, widely known for his philanthropies. Born in France, May 20, 1750. Visited New York in 1774, in the meantime a sea captain, and began a trade to and from New Orleans and Port au Prince. Settled in Philadelphia in 1776, married, and established himself as a merchant. Ahiman Rezon, Pennsylvania, shows Stephen Girard was initiated September 7, 1778 in Lodge No. 3, Philadelphia; crafted October 1, 1778; raised November 23, 1778. An old copy of the by-laws of Lodge No. 3, 1844, gives these dates. In 1810 Brother Girard lent the Government of the United States much assistance in establishing and maintaining their credit with foreign countries, placing at the disposal of the Government, by the purchase of stock in the Bank of the United States, one million dollars. In 1812 he opened the Bank of Stephen Girard and in 1814 he personally subscribed for about 95 per cent of the Government’s entire war loan. Brother Girard was appointed in 1809 to the Board of Trustees of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, this Grand Lodge having just completed the building of a large and expensive Masonic Hall. He subscribed the final five thousand dollars necessary to relieve this Institution of debt for the Hall. Stephen Girard was active in many public benefits, personally contributed his services and resources of the public hospital in 1793 when Philadelphia was suffering from an epidemic of yellow fever. Again in the yellow fever epidemic of 1797 to 1798 he gave generously of his time and money.

At his death, February 26, 1831, due to an accident when he was injured in the street by a truck, he had amassed a larger fortune than had ever been known in the United States up to that time. His will included numerous and generous contributions to various charitable and civic enterprises. Practically his entire fortune, amounting to some thirty-five million in 1908, was devoted to charitable purposes, and he founded one school in particular and provided funds for the continued maintenance of it.

His will reads that this is to be used “to provide for such a number of poor male white orphan children . . . a better education as well as a more comfortable maintenance than they usually receive from the application of public funds.” Another indication of the eccentricities of Brother Girard is the fact that he also states in the will above quoted that “I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary or minister of any sect whatsoever, shall ever hold or exercise any duty whatsoever in the said college; nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of said college…. I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans …. free from the excitements which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce.” Girard’s heirs-at-law hotly contested this will, and, although Daniel Webster made a famous plea for the Christian religion in the effort to set aside the will, it was sustained by the Court.

The Masonic fund, known as the Stephen Girard Charity Fund, amounting to $90,000.00 in 191S, is handled by the Fraternity and has done much to alleviate poverty and hardship among the poor.

Two days after the death of Brother Girard a general invitation to his funeral appeared in the public newspapers and this invitation requested the attendance of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and of the subordinate Lodges and listed as well a number of other benevolent associations in which he had been interested. Almost four hundred members of the Fraternity assembled at the Masonic Hall and attended the funeral, which was held in the German Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity and the body being interred in a vault adjoining the Church. There was some difficulty when the Brethren entered the Church, which they did without their aprons in order to avoid any criticism, and it is recorded that the Roman Catholic clergy Left the Church in a body and therefore the funeral services were not performed. The Brethren waited some time and then removed the body from the Church and placed it in the vault as had been desired by Brother Girard.

It has been said that when Brother Girard was found to be near death he consented, at the request of his sister, to see a Catholic priest and this has been construed to mean that this intention had been to become reconciled to the Church in which he had been baptized, although by the time the priest arrived Brother Girard was dead. Under the circumstances, however, the Bishop of the Catholic Church consented to the body being admitted into the Church. The following is taken from Bishop Francis Patrick Henrick’s diary written at the time:

The body of Stephen Girard was brought with much funeral pomp, attended by many Free Masons marching in procession in scarfs and ornaments, as a tribute of respect to their deceased companion, to the church of the Holy Trinity. When, therefore, I saw these enter the Church to have the funeral rites gone through, no priest assisting, I ordered the body taken away for burial I allowed it to have Christian burial for the potent reason that the deceased was baptized in the church and never left it, and when death came his illness was such that he did not perceive its approach. In January, 1851, when the buildings of the College for orphans had reached sufficient completion to receive it, the body of Brother Girard was removed by the City Councils and the Board of Commissioners of the Girard Estate from the Church and the body was finally reentered in the marble tomb which had been prepared for it within the grounds of the College in September, 1851, and this ceremony was participated in by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania at the express request of the Commissioners of the Girard Estates, the coffin being borne by eight Past Masters of the Order. A very impressive ceremony was held, about three hundred of the small orphans being present and the Masonic dirge having been expressly composed for the occasion. The heirs of Brother Girard objected to the removal of the remains from the Church by the city officials but the Courts ruled against them.


In ancient symbology the girdle was always considered as typical of chastity and purity. In the Brahmanical initiations, the candidate was presented with the Zennar, or sacred cord, as a part of the holy garments; and Gibbon says that “at the age of puberty, or maturity, the faithful Persian was invested with a mysterious girdle; fifteen genuflections, or kneelings, were required after he put on the sacred girdle.” The old Templars assumed the obligations of poverty, obedience, and chastity; and a girdle was given them, at their initiation, as a symbol of the last of the three vows. As a symbol of purity, the girdle is still used in many chivalric initiations, and may be properly considered as similar to the Masonic apron in its message.


A distinguished Freemason, who was born in Switzerland in 1743, and died in 1819. In 1764, he went to Poland, and became the intimate friend of King Stanislaus Poniatowski, who confided to him many important diplomatic missions. During his residence in Poland, Glaire, greatly patronized the Freemasons of that kingdom and established there a Rite of seven Degrees. He returned to Switzerland in 178S, where he continued to exercise an interest in Freemasonry, and in 1810 was elected Grand Master for three years, and in 1813 for life, of the Grand Orient of Helvetia, which Body adopted his Rite.


There is an ancient market town in Somersetshire, England, which owes its origin to a celebrated abbey, founded, according to tradition, in 60 A.D. We are further told that Joseph of Arimathea was the founder, and the “miraculous thorn” which flowered on Christmas day as believed by the common people to be the veritable staff with which Joseph aided his steps from the Holy Land. The tree was destroyed during the civil wars, but grafts flourish in neighboring gardens. Glastonbury has the honor of ranking Saint Patrick, 415 A.D., and Saint Dunstan, 940 A. D, among its abbots. In 1539 Henry VIII summoned Abbot Whiting to surrender the town and all its treasures, and on his refusal condemned him to be hanged and quartered, and the monastery confiscated to the king’s use, which sentence was immediately carried into execution. King Arthur is said to be buried in this place.


Masonic ritualist. Graduated at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, in 1802, and was a public lecturer on geography and astronomy. About 1801 received the Preston Lectures from Thomas Smith Webb and in 1805 was appointed Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which office he held until 1842. A member of Mount Lebanon Lodge in Massachusetts in 1807. Visited England and exemplified the Lectures before the Grand Lodge there. He died in Concord, Massachusetts, 1847, at seventy years of age (see Notes on the Ritual, Silas H. Shepherd, Research Pamphlet No. 19, 1924).

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