The Principles of Masonic Law/Chapter XIII

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In ancient times there were undoubtedly many rights attached to the second degree which have now become obsolete or been repealed; for formerly the great body of the fraternity were Fellow Crafts, and according to the old charges, even the Grand Master might be elected from among them. The Master and Wardens of Subordinate Lodges always were. Thus we are told that no Brother can be Grand Master, "unless he has been a Fellow Craft before his election," and in the ancient manner of constituting a lodge, contained in the Book of Constitutions,[1] it is said that "the candidates, or the new Master and Wardens, being yet among the Fellow Crafts, the Grand Master shall ask his Deputy if he has examined them," etc. But now that the great body of the Fraternity consists of Master Masons, the prerogatives of Fellow Crafts are circumscribed within limits nearly as narrow as those of Entered Apprentices. While, however, Apprentices are not permitted to speak or vote, in ancient times, and up, indeed, to a very late date. Fellow Crafts were entitled to take a part in any discussion in which the lodge, while open in the first or second degree, might engage, but not to vote. This privilege is expressly stated by Preston, as appertaining to a Fellow Craft, in his charge to a candidate, receiving that degree.

"As a Craftsman, in our private assemblies you may offer your sentiments and opinions on such subjects as are regularly introduced in the Lecture, under the superintendence of an experienced Master, who will guard the landmark against encroachment."[2]

This privilege is not now, however, granted in this country to Fellow Crafts. All, therefore, that has been said in the preceding chapter, of the rights of Entered Apprentices, will equally apply, mutatis mutandis, to the rights of Fellow Crafts.


  1. Edition of 1723, page 71 (U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p. 71).
  2. Preston, p. 48 (U.M.L., vol, iii., p. 40).