The oldest Lodge Minute – 9 January 1599

The oldest Lodge Minute – 9 January 1599

Source: The Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

On Saturday last we posted an image, transcription and translation of the oldest Lodge Minute in the world being that of Lodge Aitcheson’s Haven. We also provided a contemporary map (1610) in order that you could see the exact location of the Lodge and also use that to locate it on a modern map – an interesting exercise on it own.

We also promised that today we would discuss the importance of this Minute and attempt to ‘tease out’ information from this brief entry in a Minute Book from 417 years ago.

Before doing so there is some background information would be helpful for the discussion to follow.

This Lodge Minute is the oldest in the world but the Lodge became dormant in 1852. The oldest Minute of a Lodge which still exists in that of The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No.1 and which is dated 31 July 1599.

Although the Lodge Minute of Aitcheson’s Haven is dated 9 January 1599 it is obvious that this was not the date the Lodge was founded because the meeting was held to make Robert Widderspone a Fellow of Craft – meaning that he was already an Entered Apprentice. How no Minute of him being admitted as such exists thereby showing that earlier meetings had been held but were not recorded.

The Minute also records the presence of eight men who were Fellows of Craft but likewise there is no Minute that records their admission to the Lodge. In short then the Lodge was in existence before January 1599 but no Minutes were kept of these earlier meetings. What caused the Lodge (an others) to start to keep written records is due to the First Schaw Statutes issued on 28 December 1598 which, among other things, required Lodges to start to keep written records.

That is Minute records a ceremony is not in doubt: ‘Robert Widderspone was maid fellow of Craft’ but frustratingly there are no details of the ceremony recorded in the Minute – most likely for reasons of secrecy. However, the ceremony of being made a Fellow of Craft appears to have been the beginning of the process because Robert Widderspone had to choose two ‘intenders and instructouris’ strongly suggesting that further education was to follow.

These early Minutes have much to tell us and we hope to return to this subject once more in the near future.