Ancient Duties


Extracts from the ancient documents of overseas lodges, and those of England, Scotland and Ireland,

for the use of the London Lodges: to be read when making new Brothers or when the Master orders it.



I. Of God and Religion.

II. Of the supreme and subordinate civil magistrate.

III. Of the Lodges.

IV. Of the Masters, Overseers, Companions and Apprentices.

V. Of the conduct of art in work.

YOU. Of behavior, that is

1. In the Lodge when established.

2. After the Lodge is closed and the Brothers have not gone out.

3. When the Brothers meet without strangers, but not in a Lodge.

4. In the presence of strangers who are not Masons.

5. At home and nearby.

6. Towards a foreign Brother.

I. Concerning God and religion

A bricklayer is bound by his condition to obey the moral law; and if he means rightly

Art will never be a stupid atheist or an irreligious libertine. But although in ancient times i

Masons were obliged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, which one

it was, however, today it is considered more convenient to oblige them only to that Religion in which

all men agree, leaving them their particular opinions; that is to be good men and

sincere or men of honor and honesty, whatever their denominations or persuasions

they can distinguish; whereby the Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the means to reconcile

sincere friendship between people who would have remained perpetually distant.

II. Of the supreme and subordinate civil magistrate

A Mason is a peaceful subject of the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works and does not have to be

never involved in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation, nor conducting oneself

unduly towards the lower magistrates; since the Masonry was always damaged by

wars, massacres and riots, so the ancient kings and princes were very willing to encourage

men of art, because of their tranquility and loyalty; so they practically answered the

the quibbles of their opponents and promoted the honor of the brotherhood that always ­ourished in times

of peace.

So that if a Kindred becomes a rebel against the state, he is not to be favored in his

rebellion but rather mourned as an unhappy man; and, if not convinced of another crime, though

the loyal Brotherhood can and should disavow its rebellion and give no shade or basis for the

political jealousy of the current government, he cannot be expelled from the lodge and his bond

remains irrevocable.

III. Of the Lodges

A loggia is a place where the Masons gather and work; whereby such assembly, or

duly organized society of Masons, it is called a Lodge, and each brother must

belong to one and be subject to its general rules and regulations. It is

particular or general and this will be better understood by attending it and by means of regulations

inherent in the General Lodge or Grand Lodge. In ancient times, neither Master nor Companion could

be absent, especially when summoned to appear, without incurring severe censorship,

unless it appeared to the Master and the Overseers that force majeure had prevented him. The

people admitted as members of a lodge must be good and sincere men, born free and

of mature and discreet age, not slaves, not women, not immoral or scandalous men, but good


IV. Of teachers, overseers, companions and apprentices

All preferences among the Masons are based only on real value and personal merit: that

so that the clients are well served, that the Brothers do not have to be ashamed nor that the Royal Art

be despised: Therefore no Master or Overseer should be chosen for seniority but for his

merit. It is impossible to describe such things in writing and each Brother must stand in his place and

to train in a way peculiar to this Fraternity: the candidates can only know that

no Master can hire an Apprentice if he doesn't have enough occupation for him, if he isn't

a perfect young man, having no mutilations or defects in his body that could make him

unable to learn the Art, to serve the Master's client and to be created Brother e

then in due course Fellow of Art, when he has served a term of years as it entails

the custom of the country; and that he is descended from honest parents; that so, if otherwise quali‑ed, he

can access the honor of being the Overseer and then the Master of the Lodge, the Grand

Overseer and also the Grand Master of all Lodges, according to his merit. No Brother

he can be Overseer if he has not played the role of Art Companion, nor Master if he has not

functioned as an Overseer, nor a Grand Overseer if he was not a Master of a Lodge, nor

Grand Master if he was not a Fellow of Art before his election, being also a nobleman

birth or gentleman of the highest manners or eminent scholar or original architect or other

artist, descended from honest parents and who is of singularly great merit in the opinion of

Lodges. And for the best, easiest and most honorable ful‑llment of this oce, the Grand Master

he has the power to choose his own Deputy Grand Master who must be, or have been

formerly, the Master of a particular Lodge, and has the privilege of acting as the

Grand Master, his principal, unless the principal saying is present or interposing his

authority with a letter. These Ordiners or Governors, supreme and subordinates, of the ancient Lodge,

they must be obeyed in their respective areas by all the Brothers, according to the old duties and

regulations, with all humility, reverence, love and alacrity.

V. Of the conduct of art in work

All Masons must work honestly on their working days so that they can live

decorously on feast days; and the time established by the law of the country, or con‑rmed by the

custom, must be observed. The most experienced of the Fellows of Art must be chosen or

appointed Master, or superintendent of the work of the client; he must be called Master

by those who work under him. Men of art must avoid all bad language and not

calling each other by any despicable name but Brother or Companion; and be courteous to each other

both inside and outside the Lodge. The Master, aware of his skill, will lead the work of the

Principal in the most reasonable and fair manner will use the substances of these as if

were his own; nor will he give any Brother or Apprentice a wage higher than that

really deserves it. Both the Master and the Masons receiving their fair wages must be faithful

to the client and honestly carry out his work, both to measure and to the day; they must not

work to measure when it is still customary to work by the day. Nobody should show envy

for the prosperity of a Brother, nor supplant him or make him take away his job if he is capable of

do it; no one can ‑nish another's work for the client's pro‑t, if it is not full

awareness of the projects and designs of the person who started it. When a Companion of Art is

chosen as the Work Overseer under the Master, he is to be loyal to both the Master and the others

Comrades, you must carefully supervise the work in the absence of the Master for the bene‑t of

client; and the Brothers must obey him. All the Masons employed will receive their wages

meekly, without murmuring and without rebellion, and don't leave the Master until the work is done

accomplished. A younger Kindred must be trained in the work to prevent material waste

through inexperience and because it grows and is maintained in brotherly love. All tools used

in work they must be approved by the Grand Lodge. No worker must be assigned to

Masonry's own jobs, nor Freemasons will ever be able to work with those who are not

free, without an urgent need; nor can they teach workers and non-Masons

accepted, as they must teach a Brother or Companion.

YOU. Of Behavior, that is


You do not have to form particular committees or separate conversations without the consent of the Master,


deal with anything inappropriate or inconvenient, do not interrupt the Master or the Overseers, or

any Brother talking to the Master: Don't deal with ridiculous or joking things while the Lodge

is engaged in other serious and solemn; do not use any inappropriate language under any pretext;

but give due reverence to your Master, Overseers, Companions, and inducing

these to respect. If any charges are brought, the Kindred found guilty must accept

the judgment and decision of the Lodge, which is a suitable and competent judge of all these

disputes (unless you appeal to the Grand Lodge) and before which they must

be carried, unless a client's work has to be interrupted, in which case there

it will have to be adjusted appropriately; but you don't have to go to trial as to the

Masonry, without absolute necessity recognized by the Lodge.


You can have fun with innocent glee, treating each other as you wish, but avoiding any

excess, or to urge any Kindred to eat or drink beyond his inclination or to prevent him from

to go when circumstances call it, or to do or say things that are oensive and may prevent

easy and free conversation; since this would disturb our harmony and frustrate the

our laudable purposes. Therefore neither spite or personal matters can be introduced within the

door of the Lodge, still less any question concerning Religion or Nations or politics

of the State, we being only, as Masons, of the aforementioned Universal Religion; we

we are also of all Nations, Languages, Descendants and Idioms and we are averse to all policies,

as to what it never brought to the welfare of the Lodge nor could it ever bring it. This

duty has always been strictly possessed and observed; but especially from the time of

Reform in Britain, or the dissent and secession of such nations from the Communion of Rome.


You must greet each other in a courteous way, as you have been instructed, calling each other Brother

the other, freely providing you with mutual instructions that may be useful, without being seen or

heard, and without prevailing one over the other or failing to respect due to each Brother, as if

was not a Mason. Although all the Masons are, as Brothers, on the same level, there too

Masonry does not take away from a man that honor he enjoyed before; rather it increases that honor,

especially if he will have merited of the Brotherhood it is due honor to him to whom it is due, and

avoid bad manners.


You will be cautious in your words and your bearing so that the most astute stranger cannot

discover or ‑nd what is not convenient for him to learn; and sometimes you will have to divert a conversation and

manipulate it prudently for the honor of the respectable Brotherhood.


You must act as be‑ts a moral and wise man; especially don't let yours

family, friends and neighbors know about the Lodge, etc. but wisely protect honor

yours and that of the ancient Brotherhood, for reasons not to mention here. You must also

protect your health by not entertaining yourself too long or too far from home after the

hours of the Loggia have passed; and avoiding gluttony and drunkenness, so that your families

are not neglected or oended, nor are you unable to work.


You will examine it cautiously, conducting yourself according to a method of prudence so that you are not

deceived by an ignorant false Pretender, whom you will have to reject with contempt and derision)

guarding against giving him any sign of recognition.

But if you ascertain that he is a true and genuine Brother, you must respect him accordingly; and if he

he is in need, you must help him if you can, or direct him where he can be helped: You must

occupy it for a few days of work or recommend it to be busy. But not

you are obliged to do beyond your ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, who is a

good and sincere man, before any other poor person in the same circumstances.

Finally, all these duties you must observe and also those that will be communicated to you for

other way; cultivating brotherly love, the foundation stone and the vault, the cement and the glory of

this ancient Brotherhood, avoiding all disputes and issues, all slander and slander, not

allowing others to slander any honest Brother, but defending his character and

dedicating to him the best oces to the extent permitted by your honor and safety and not beyond. What if

someone insults you, you must turn to your lodge or his and, afterwards, appeal to the Great

Loggia in the quarterly assemblies and then to the annual Grand Lodge, as was the old one

laudable custom of our ancestors in every nation; you don't have to go through a legal process

unless the case can not be resolved in another way and patiently rely on honest e

friendly advice from the Master and the Companions, when they want to avoid you

appear in court against strangers and exhort you to excel the course of justice, that so

you will do better the interest of the Masons with better alacrity and success; but, with respect to Compagni

o Brothers in judgment, the Master and the Brothers must kindly oer their mediation, which a

they must be gratefully entrusted by the contending Brothers; and if such submission is

impracticable, they will be able to conduct their trial or cause, without animosity and without anger

(not in the common way), doing, or omitting what may compromise brotherly love, e

good oces must be renewed and continued; that everyone can see the bene‑cial in­uence

of the Masons, as all true Masons have done from the beginning of the world and will do until the end

in time.

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