Chapter 22

The Chetwode Crawley Manuscript (1700)


There is little to say, let alone to write, about this document, of unknown origin, acquired in the early years of the twentieth century by the United Grand Lodge of England, which still holds it. 

It was named after William John Chetwode Crawley, the Irish Masonic historian and Mason.

The context - We are in 1700, the last year of the seventeenth century, a time that has seen a proliferation of acceptance of non-operatives in the existing Masonic lodges of Scotland and England. 

On a profane point of view, let us remember that in 1700, Russia declared war on Sweden, and the King of Spain, Charles II, made a will to assign his kingdom to the Duke of Anjou, son of Louis XIV.

In seven years, the ​​complete union of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland will be established, making from several countries the most powerful economic state in the world.

The document - The interest of this is high, in terms of Masonic history, because it shows how to communicate the Mason Word, and presents in detail the course of the reception ceremony. 

As in the Edinburgh Manuscript (1696), and the Sloane No. 3329 Manuscript (about 1700), it has a long Catechism made of questions and answers.

Editor’s note - Presented below in its original writing the Chetwode Crawley Manuscript is fully understandable by any reader; so we have decided not to adapt it nor correct its spelling (see page 234, for abbreviations).

The Original Text

The Great Secret or the Forme of giving the Mason Word.

Impr yow are to put the person, who is to get the word, upon his knees: And after a great many Ceremonies, to frighten him, yow make him take up the Bible; and, laying his right hand upon it, yow are to Conjure him to Secrecy, by threatning, that, if he shall break his Oath; The Sun in the ffirmament & all the Company there present, will be witnesses against him, which will be an occasion of his damnation; And, that likewise they will be sure to Murder him. Then after he hes promosed Secrecy, the[y] give him the Oath as ffollowes.

The words are Jachin and Boaz

By God himself, As yow Shall answer to God, when yow shall stand before him naked at the great day, yow Shall not reveal any part of what yow hear or see at this time, Neither by word nor write, nor put it into write at any time, Nor draw with the point of a Sword or any Instrument, upon the Snow or Sand, Nor shall yow Speak of it, but with an entered Mason, So help, God.

After he hes taken that Oath, he is removed out of the Company, with the youngest Mason; where, after he is, Sufficiently frightened with a Thousand rediculous postures & Gramaces (1), he is to learn from the Said Mason, the manner of making Guard, which is the Sign, Word & Postures of his Entry. and are as followes.

Here am I the youngest & last entered Aprentice, As I am sworn by God and st John, by the Square & Compass, and Common Judge, to attend my Masters Service, at the Honourable Lodge, from Munday in the Morning, to Saturday at Night, and to keep the Kyes thereof, under no less pain, Then to have my Tongue cutt out under my Chin, and of being buried, within the flood-Mark, where no man shall know. 

Then he makes the Sign again, which is by drawing his hand under his Chin, alongst his throat; which denotes that it is to be cutt out, in case he shall break his word.

Then all the Masons present, whisper amongst themselves the word, beginning at the youngest till it come to the Master-Mason, who gives the word to the entered prentice. Now it is to be remarked, that all the Signs & words, as yet Spoken off, are only what belongs to the entered prentice: But to be a Master-Mason, or ffellow-Craft, there is more to be done, as after followes.

Ffirst, All the Apprentices are to be removed out of the Company, and non Suffered to Stay, but only Mason Masters. Then, he who is to be admitted a member of ffellowship, is put again to his knees, and gets the Oath administrated to him a-new. Afterwards, he must go out of the Company with the youngest Master to learn the words & Signs of ffellowship Then Comming in again, he makes the Master-Sign, and Says the Same words of Entry as the prentice did, only leaving out the Common Judge. Then the Masons whisper the word among themselves, beginning at the yowngest, as formerly.

Afterwards, the yowng Master must advance & put himself in the posture wherein he is to receive the word, And says to the Honourable Company, whispering,

The Worthy Masons & Honourable Company that I came from, Greet yow well, Greet yow well.

Then the Master Mason gives him the word & grips his hand, and afterwards, all the Masons, which is all to be done to make a perfect Mason.

Some Questions that Masons use to put  to these who profess to have the Mason Word, 

befor they will acknowledge them.

Question. - Are yow a Mason? 

Answer. - Yes indeed that I am.

Q. - How shall I know it? 

A. - Yow shall know it in time & place Convenient.

Nota. The foresaid Ansr is only to be made where there is a Company present who are not Masons: But if there be no such Company by yow, yow should ansr by Signs & other Tokens of Entry.

Q. - What is the first point? 

A. - Tell me the first point Ile tell yow the Second. 

The first is, Hear & Conceal; The 2d, Under no less pain then the Cutting of the throat: But yow must make that Sign when yow Say this.

Q. - Where was yow entered? 

A. - At the Honble Lodge.

Q. - What makes a true and perfect Lodge? 

A. - Seven Masters, ffive Apprentices, a days Journey from a Burrows-Towne, without bark of a Dog, or Crow of a Cock.

Q. - Does no less make a true and perfect Lodge? 

A. - 4 Masters, 3 Entred prentices, & the rest as formerly. 

Q. - Does no less? 

A. - The moe the Mirrier, and the fewer the better cheer.

Q. - Whats the name of your Lodge? 

A. - The Lodge of Killwinning.

Q. - How stands your Lodge. 

A. - East and West, as the Temple of Jerusalem. 

Q. - Where was the first Lodge? 

A. - In the porch of Solomons Temple.

Q. - Are there Lights in your Lodge? 

A. - Three, The Northeast, the Southwest, & the Eastern passage. The one Denotes the Master Mason, the other the Words (2) and The Third the ffellow-Craft.

Q. - Are there any Jewells in yor Lodge? 

A. - Three, Perpendester, a Square pavement and a Broked-mall (3). 

Q. - Where I shall find the kye of your Lodge? 

A. - Three and a half foots from the Lodge under a perpendester & a Green divot.

Q. - What mean yow a Perpendester and a Green-Divott? 

A. - I mean not only under a perpendester and green divott, but under the lap of my Liver, where all the secrets of my heart ly hid.

Q. - Which is the Kye of yowr Lodge?

A. - A well hung tongue.

Q. - Where lyes the Kye of yor Lodge? 

An. - In the Bone Box.

After the Masons have Examined yow by all or Some of these Questions, and that yow have answered the Same exactly & made the Sign, they will acknowledge yow, Not as a Master-Mason or ffellow-Craft, but only as a prentice. So they will furder say.

Q. - I see yow have been in the Kitchin, but I know not if yow have been in the Hall? 

A. - I have been in the Hall as well as in the Kitchin (4).

Q. - Are yow a ffellow-Craft? 

A. - Yes.

Q. - How many Points of the ffellowship are there? 

A. - Ffive, vizt. 1st ffoot to ffoot. 2ly Knee to Knee. 3ly. Heart to Heart. 4ly. Hand to Hand. 5ly. Ear to Ear. These make the Signs of ffellow-ship; and Shaking hands, yow will be acknowledge a very Mason.

Q. - Where are the words to be found? 

A. - In I King. Chap. 7th verse 21. And in 2 Chron: 3 Chapter Last verse.


1. - Ridiculous postures and Gramaces - Already present in the Edinburgh Register House Manuscript (see our chapter 21), postures and grimaces do belong, it is clear, to the Masonic ritual; and do not reflect a text-writer’s opinion or comment.

2. - Misunderstanding of the writer or transcriber of the Manuscript: he wrote Words for Warden.

3. - It is by reading this response that one can include the words Broked maland to complete the Edinburgh Manuscript (see previous chapter).

4. - See note 9 of the previous chapter.

© Guy Chassagnard 2016