THE EARLY ENGLISH MASONIC GUILDS
O Brother William James Hughan are we indebt-ed, more than to any other person, for the collec-tion and publication of all the Masonic Guildordinances that have been preserved in the Brit-ish Museum, in the archives of old Lodges, orin private hands.
In the beginning of his work on
The Old Charges of the British Freemasons
(a book so valuable and so nec-essary that it should be in the library of every Masonic archaeol-ogist), Brother Hughan says:
"Believing as we do that the present Association of Freemasonsis an outgrowth of the Building Corporations and Guilds of theMiddle Ages, as also a lineal descendant and sole representative of the early, secret Masonic sodalities, it appears to us that their an-cient Laws and Charges are specially worthy of preservation, studyand reproduction. No collection of these having hitherto beenpublished we have undertaken to introduce several of the most im-portant to the notice of the Fraternity."
As Brother Hughan is distinguished for the accuracy and fidel-ity with which he has himself made, or caused to be made by com-petent scribes, copies of these Constitutions from the originals, Ishall select from one of the earliest of them the ordinances or reg-ulations, which shall be collated with those of the early SaxonGuilds, specimens of which have been given in the precedingchapter.
An account of these Old Records, as they are sometimes called,will be found in the first part of this work, where the subject of the
Legend of the Craft,
which they all contain, is treated. It will beunnecessary therefore to repeat here that account.
I might have selected for collation the statutes contained in thepoem published by Halliwell, or those in the Cooke manuscript, as