Old Olavians Lodge No. 5758


The Schaw Statutes


  1. Introduction
  2. The First Schaw Statute of 1598
  3. Second Schaw Statute of 1599


In 1583 in Scotland, William Schaw was appointed by King James VI of Scotland (then an independent Kingdom from England) as Master of the Work and Warden General(Note: King James VI did not become King of England until 1603)

In 1598, he issued the first of the now famous Schaw Statutes which set out the duties of all members to the Lodge and to the public. It also imposed penalties for unsatisfactory work and inadequate safety during work. His statute required all Lodges to keep written records and meet on certain dates:  this laid the foundations for future fixed permanent Lodges as they are today.

The second Schaw Statute bears the date of December 28th, 1599.   They were written particularly for the Lodge of Kilwinning - now known as the Mother Kilwinning Lodge No. 0 (Scottish Constitution).

 It would appear from the tenor and the contents of this document that the Lodge of Kilwinning had pleaded certain privileges and "ancient liberties" which the Statutes of 1598 had not taken into account.   Archibald Barclay was delegated to lay the matter before the King, at Holyrood House, in Edinburgh. The King being absent from town, the Warden General (William Schaw) heard the delegate's presentation of the matter and issued thirteen additional ordinances for the particular benefit of the Kilwinning craft.   In a postscript he explained that the settlement of other claims (not mentioned) would be referred to the King "when occasion may be offered".

The most interesting aspects of the second statute are:  that the memory of brethren should be tested, that gloves need to be purchased, and that there is a banquet (ie. "Festive Board" or "Harmony") to be paid for.

These two statues only ever applied in Scotland, and the requirement to keep written records is why there is so much more early information about Masonry in the pre Grand Lodge era in Scotland than there is in England.

Note:    The source of these copies statutes was found on a web page which now no longer exists.
 The excerpts of original wording (in dark red) seem to have been scanned in and optical scanning errors were not corrected.  Where possible, it has been corrected here in this copy, and where not a "
..." has been substituted.  However, there may be other scanning errors which are not obvious and remain uncorrected.

The First Schaw Statute of 1598

Edinburgh, the 28th day of December AD1598.
[Edinburgh the xxiij day of December. The zeir of God
... four scoir awchtene zeiris.]

The Statutes and Ordinances to be observed by all the Master Masons within this realm. Set down by William Schaw, Master of Work to His Majesty and Warden General of the said Craft, with consent of the Masters specified hereafter.
The statutis and ordinanceis to be obseruit be all the maister mdissounis within this redline, Sett down be Williame Schaw, Maister of Wark to his maiestie find generall Wardene of the said Craft, with the consent of the maisteris efter specifeit.]

(1)    First, they shall observe and keep all the good ordinances established before, concerning the privileges of their craft, by their predecessors of good memory; and especially.  They shall be true to one another and live charitably together as becometh sworn brethren and companions of the Craft.

(2)    They shall be obedient to their wardens, deacons, and masters in all things concerning their craft.

(3)    They shall be honest, faithful, and diligent in their calling, and deal uprightly with their masters, or the employers, on the work which they shall take in hand, whether it be piece-work with meals and pay [task, melt, & fie], or for wages by the week.

(4)     None shall undertake any work great or small, which he is not capable to perform adequately, under penalty of forty pounds lawful money or else the fourth part of the worth and value of the work, besides making satisfactory amends to the employers, according as the Warden General may direct or, in the absence of the latter, as may be ordered by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the work is undertaken and carried on.

(5)    No master shall take away another master's work after the latter has entered into an agreement with the employer by contract or otherwise, under penalty of forty pounds.

(6)    No master shall take over any work at which other masters have been engaged previously, until the latter shall have been paid in full for the work they did, under penalty of forty pounds.

(7)     A warden shall be elected annually to have charge of every lodge in the district for which he is chosen by the votes of the masters of the lodges of such district and the consent of the Warden General if he happens to be present; otherwise the Warden General shall be notified of the election that he may send to the warden-elect necessary directions.

(8)     No master shall take more than three 'prentices in his lifetime, without the special consent of all the wardens, deacons, and masters of the sheriffdom in which the to-be-received 'prentice resides.

(9)     No master shall take on any 'prentice except by binding him to serve him as such for at least seven years, and it shall not be lawful to make such 'prentice a brother or fellow of the craft until he shall have served other seven years after the completion of his 'prenticeship, without a special license granted by the wardens, deacons, and masters, assembled for that purpose, after sufficient trial shall have been made by them of the worthiness, qualifications and skill of the person desiring to be made a fellowcraft. A fine of forty pounds shall be collected as a pecuniary penalty from the person who is made a fellow of the craft in violation of this order, besides the penalties to be levied against his person by order of the lodge of the place where he resides.

(10)   It shall not be lawful for any master to sell his 'prentice to another master, nor to curtail the years of his 'prenticeship by selling these off to the 'prentice himself, under the penalty of forty pounds.
[Item, it sall be no lesum to an maister to sell his prenteiss to ony ether maister not zit to dispense wt the zeiris of his prenteischip be selling yrof to the prenteisses self,
ynder th pane of fourtie pounds.]

(11)   No master shall take on a 'Prentice without notice to the warden of the lodge where he resides, so that the 'Prentice and the day of his reception may be duly booked.

(12)    No 'Prentice shall be entered except according to the aforesaid regulations in order that the day of entry may be duly booked.

(13)    No master or fellow of craft shall be received or admitted without there being present six masters and two entered 'prentices, the warden of the lodge being one of the six, when the day of receiving the new fellow of craft or master shall be duly booked and his mark inserted in the same book, with the names of the six admitters and entered 'prentices, as also the names of the intenders [intendaris-instructors] which shall be chosen for every person so entered in the book of the lodge. Providing always that no man be admitted without an essay and sufficient trial of his skill and worthiness in his vocation and craft.

(14)   No master shall engage in any mason work under the charge or command of any other craftsman who has undertaken the doing of any mason work.

(15)   No master or fellow of craft shall accept any cowan to work in his society or company, nor send any of his servants to work with cowans, under the penalty of twenty pounds as often as any person offends in this matter.

(16)   It shall not be lawful for any entered 'Prentice to undertake any greater task or work for an employer, which amounts to as much as ten pounds, under the penalty just mentioned, to wit twenty pounds, and that task being done he shall not undertake any other work without license of the masters or warden where he dwells.

(17)   If any question, strife, or variance shall arise among any of the masters, servants, or entered 'prentices, the parties involved in such questions or debate shall make known the causes of their quarrel to the particular warden and deacon of their lodge, within the space of twenty-four hours, under penalty of ten pounds, to the end that they may be reconciled and agreed and their variances removed by their said warden, deacon, and masters; and if any of the said parties shall remain wilful or obstinate, they shall be deprived f the privilege of their lodge and not permitted to work thereat unto the time that they shall submit themselves to reason according to the view of the said wardens, deacons, and masters.

(18)   All masters, undertakers of works, shall be very careful to see that the scaffolds and gangways are set and placed securely in order that by reason of their negligence and sloth no injury or damage [hurt or skaith] may come to any persons employed in the said work, under penalty of their being excluded thereafter from working as masters having charge of any work, and shall ever be subject all the rest of their days to work under or with an other principal master in charge of the work.

(19)    No master shall receive or house [resset] a 'Prentice or servant of any other master, who shall have run away from his master's service, nor entertain him in his company after he has received knowledge thereof, under penalty of forty pounds.

(20)   All persons of the mason craft shall convene at the time and place lawfully made known to them [being lawchfullie warnit], under penalty of ten pounds.

(21)   All the masters who shall happen to be sent to any assembly or meeting, shall be sworn by their great oath that they will neither hide nor conceal any faults or wrongs done to the employers on the work they have in hand, so far as they know, and that under penalty of ten pounds to be collected from the concealers of the said faults.

(22)   It is ordained that all the aforesaid penalties shall be lifted and taken up from the offenders and breakers of their ordinances by the wardens, deacons, and masters of the lodges where the offenders dwell, the moneys to be expended ad pios usus (for charitable purposes) according to good conscience and by the advice of such wardens, deacons, and masters.

For the fulfilling and observing of these ordinances, as set down above, the master convened on the aforesaid day bind and obligate themselves faithfully. Therefore they have requested their said Warden General to sign these ordinances by his own hand in order that an authentic copy hereof may be sent to every particular lodge within this realm.


Master of the Work
[Maistir o/ Wark.]


The Second Schaw Statute of 1599

As the document is rather long, the several items have been somewhat condensed and placed in an ordered sequence.   The numbering of the paragraphs is done for purposes of convenient reference:

(1)    Edinburgh shall be, in the future as in the past, the first and principal lodge in Scotland; Kilwinning, the second "as is established in our ancient writings;" and Stirling shall be the third lodge, "conformably to the old privileges thereof."

(2)    The warden within the bounds of Kilwinning and other places subject to their lodge, shall be elected annually by a majority [be monyest] of the masters of the lodge, on the twentieth day of December, in the Kirk of Kilwinning.   Immediately after election, the Warden General must be notified who was chosen warden.

(3)    Agreeably to "former ancient liberties," the warden of Kilwinning shall be present at the election of wardens within the limits of the lower ward of Cliddisdale, Glasgow, Ayr, and the district of Carrik.   Furthermore, the warden and deacon of Kilwinning shall have authority to convene the wardens within the indicated jurisdiction, when anything of importance is to be done, such meetings to be held at Kilwinning or any other place in the western part of Scotland included in the described bounds, as the warden and deacon of Kilwinning may appoint.

(4)    The warden of each and every lodge shall he answerable to the presbyters of the sheriffdom for all offences committed by masons subject to these lodges.   One third of all fines imposed for offences shall be applied to charitable [godlie] uses.

(5)    The wardens together with the oldest masters, up to the number of six, of every lodge shall hold an annual investigation of offences committed and try all offenders to the end that proper punishment may be meted out conformably to equity and justice and good conscience, according to traditional procedure.

(6)    The warden of Kilwinning shall appoint six worthy and perfect masons, well known to the craft as such, to inquire into the qualifications of all the masons within the district, as regards their skill and knowledge of the trade and their familiarity with the old traditions, to the end that the warden [and] deacon may be answerable thereafter for all such persons within his district and jurisdiction.

(7)    Authority is given to the warden [and] deacon of Kilwinning to exclude from the lodges of the district all persons who wilfully fail to live up to "all the acts and ancient statutes set down from time immemorial," also all who are ."disobedient to their church, craft, council and other statutes and acts to be promulgated hereafter for good order."

(8)    The warden and deacon, together with the masters of the district [quarter maisteries] shall elect a well known notary [constitut ane famous notar] as clerk and secretary [scryb] who shall make out and sign all indentures, discharges, and other writings whatsoever, pertaining to the craft, and no writ, title or other evidence shall be admitted by the warden and deacon, except it shall have been executed by this clerk and signed by him.

(9)    All the acts and statutes made by the predecessors of the masons of Kilwinning shall be observed faithfully and kept by the craft in all time coming; 'prentices and craftsmen shall be admitted and entered hereafter only in the Kirk of Kilwinning, as their parish and second lodge, and all entry-banquets of 'prentices and fellows of craft shall be held in the lodge of Kilwinning.

(10)    Every fellow of craft, at his entry, shall pay to his lodge ten pounds to go for the banquet, and ten shillings for gloves; before admission he shall be examined by the warden [and] deacon and the district masters in the lodge as to his knowledge [memorie] and skill, and he also shall perform an assigned task to demonstrate his mastery of the art.

(11)    Every 'prentice, before he is admitted, shall pay six pounds to be applied to the common banquet.

(12)    The warden and deacon of the second lodge of Scotland, to wit Kilwinning, shall obligate by oath all masters and fellows of craft within the district not to associate with cowans nor work with them, neither to permit this to be done by their servants or 'prentices.

(13)    The warden of the lodge of Kilwinning, being the second lodge of Scotland, once in each year, shall examine every fellow craft and 'prentice, according to the vocation of each, as to his skill and knowledge; those who have forgotten any points they have been taught shall pay fines.

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