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Squaremen History

It was originally formed as an Operative Lodge in Ayr, and according the legends and rituals of the order it formed one of the number which constituted the Grand Lodge of Antient and Accepted Freemasons of Scotland in 1736.
It has since evolved into a fun or side degree which raises money for local charities.

The legends of the order also state that minutes were kept but have since been lost and that the Banner used by the Corporation is still preserved by an Ayrshire Freemason and that there are other relics in existence.

20th Century Formation

In 1903 the organization was reformed in Edinburgh by Brothers Philip and William Murray. It spread across Scotland and England, but became less popular after World War II. Although not recognised or in amity with the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the candidate must be a regular mason, and many eminent masons are Square Men.
There is a degree ceremony and secrets are imparted, but the main purpose is to raise funds for local good causes and charities.

Initially the Squaremen only admitted Mark Master Masons who hold or have held office in a Craft Lodge, or who are Royal Arch Companions. Candidates must have been Master Masons for at least five years and be thirty years of age or over.

The first Squaremen meetings were held in Edinburgh on the first day of each of the five winter months, November to April, and at the January meeting office bearers were elected. A meeting of Squaremen is called a SHED, as opposed to a Masonic Lodge, and a Grand Shed was formed to oversee the Order. At its prime there were 12 daughter Sheds in existence and these Sheds met fairly regularly and in masonic halls, usually varying their venue each time. The joining fee was originally 60 Scottish merks (£3/5/0 or about £15.75), today the fee is in the region of £30 - £50 depending on the Shed.

The Order today.

In the early 21st Century, the order consists of 9 working Sheds in Scotland and 1 in England, each responsible for raising money for local charities selected by the Squaremen of each shed.

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Extract from the "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No.1.
Embracing an account of the rise and progress of freemasonry in Scotland"

"The Mason Word" was the principal point in dispute between Mary's Chapel and the Journeymen Lodge, which was settled by "decreet arbitral" in 1715. But that this talisman consisted of something more than a word is evident from "the secrets of the Mason Word" being referred to in the minute-book of the Lodge of Dunblane, and from the further information drawn from that of Haughfoot - viz., that in 1707 the Word was accompanied by a Grip.

In Brother J. G. Findel's admirable History of Freemasonry, grip, word, and sign are shown to have been used as forms of recognition among the German Masons in the twelfth century. Secret modes of recognition among other than Masonic craftsmen are traceable through several generations.

Squaremen were represented in the St Clair Charter of 1628.

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The formation o’ the Craft Guilds o’ Edinburgh.

“The earliest record o’ the formation o’ the Craft Guilds, is 1403, fur, on October thurd, o’ that year:
‘The furst Head Guild, held after the Feast of St Michael in the Tolbooth, of the Burgh of Edinburgh. the Brethren being called and compearing, the Offices of the Guild were elected’.
The furst reference tae the appointment o’ a "Deacon” or “Masterman’ in an enactment dated 1424, whan each Craft had tae ha’e wan tae "Assay” an’ govern a’ wark dune by his Craft.

On Mairch furst, 1427, a Cooncil General o’ the Realm, directit the Toon Cooncil o’ each burgh tae elect a Warden o’ every Craft, wha, wi’ the assistance o’ ither discreet men, should examine an’ fix the price o’ wark o’ their respective Craft.

The purpose o’ the Craft Guild wis:—
a. Terms o’ labour.
b. The upkeep o’ the Altar o’ the Patron Saint o’ the Guild, in the local Kirk.
c. Care o’ seek an’ destitute Brithers, or their dependants.
d. Funeral expenses o’ a depairted Brither.
e. Social activities.

Money wis obtained by fines an’ subscriptions.
Fines were demandit frae Craftsmen, fur:—
a. Faulty warkmanship.
b. Absence frae wark, withoot permeesion.
c. Apprentice on bein’ made a Fellow o’ the Craft.

Fines were demandit frae Maisters, fur:
a. Whan settin’ on a new Apprentice.
b. Dismissin’ a Craftsman, witboot guid cause.
c. Chairgin’ ower muckle fur goods”.

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The Companies of wrights, slaters, etc, in Scotland, in the seventeenth century, were called "Squaremen."
They had ceremonies of initiation, and a word sign, and grip like the Masons.

"The Squaremen Word' was given in conclaves of journeymen and apprentices wrights slaters, etc.,
in a ceremony in which the aspirant was blindfolded and otherwise prepared;' he was sworn to secrecy,
had word, grip and sign communicated to him, and was afterwards invested with a leather apron.
The entrance to the apartment, usually a public house, in which the brithering was performed,
was guarded, and all who passed had to give the grip. The fees were spent in the entertaining
of the brethren present. Like the Masons the Squaremen admitted non-operatives.

In the St. Clair charter of 1628 among the representatives of the Masonic Lodges,
we find the signatures of, "Hew Douok deikon of the Measounes and Vrichtis off Ayre and George
Lid(ell) deacan of quarimen and nov quartermaster."

This would show that there must have been an intimate connection between the two societies of Crafts.

Quarter-maister, -master, n. Also: quharter-, quartar(e)- and -maester, -mester.
[Late ME and e.m.E. quarter-maister, -master, in sense 4 b (1442), 5 a (1600), 3 (north., 1646): cf.
Du. kwartier-meester (15th c.) in senses 1, 4 b, 5 a, MLG quartêrmêster, Germ. quartier-meister,
MF (after e.m.Du.) quartier-maistre in sense 5 a (1577 Reg. Privy C. II 642).]

1. a. Orig., A person appointed to have charge of a ‘quarter’ (Quarter n. 5 c) or other territorial subdivision of a burgh.
b. One of a group of (? often four) minor burgh officials, appointed for some particular administrative function.

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Beit kend till all men be thir present letters ws the Deacones Masteris friemen of the Maissones and Hammermen
within the kingdome of Scotland That forsameikill as from aidge to aidge it has been observet amangis us and
our predecessors that the Lairdis of Rosling has ever been patrons and protectors of us and our priviledgis
Likeas our predecessors has obeyit reverencet and acknowledget them as patrons and protectors qrof they had
letters of protection and vtheris richtis grantit be his Maties most noble progenitors of worthy memorie qIkis
with sindrie vtheris of the Lairdis of Rosling his writtis being consumet and brunt in ane flame of fire
within the Castle of Rosling in an ..... The consumation and burning qrof being clearly knawin to us and
our predecessors deacons maisteris and freemen of the saidis vocations, and our protection of the samyn
and priviledgis thereof (be negligence) and slouthfulness being likely to pass furth of us where throw
not only wald the Lairdis of Rosling lyne out of their just richt but also our hail craftis wald haifbene
destitute of ane patrone protector and oversear quhilk wald engenner monyfald imperfectionis and corruptionis
baith amangis ourselves and in our craft and give occasione to mony persones to conceive evill opinioun
of us and our craft and to leave af many and grit enterpryces ofpolicie whilk wald be vndertaken if our
grit misbehaviour were suffered to goe on without correctioun For remeid qrof and for keeping of good
ordour amangis us in all time coming and for advancement of our craft and vocation within his Hienes
kingdom of Scotland and furdering of policie yaireintill the maist pairt of our predecessors for
themselves and in name and behalfe of our bretherene and craftsmen with express advice and consent
of William Schaw Maister of Wark to Hienes umqle darrest father of worthy memorie all in ane voce
agreit consentit and subseryvet that William Sinclar of Rosling father to Sir William Sinclar now
of Rosling for himself and his airis should purches and obtain at the hands of his Majestie libertie
freedome and jurisdictioun upon us and our predecessors deacons maisteris and freemen of the saidis
vocation, as patrones and judges to us and the haill professors thereof within the said kingdom qrof
they had power and commission sua that they and we micht yairafter acknowledge him and his airis as
patrone and judge under our Soverane Lord without any kind of appellation or declinatour from thair
judgement forever, as the said agreement subscryvet be the said Mr of Wark and our predecessors at
mare length proportis In the whilk office priviledge and jurisdictioun over us and our said
(voca)tioun the said William Sinclar of Rosling ever continuit to his going to Ireland qr he
presently reamanes sen the quhilk (time) of his departure furth ofthis realme there are very
many corruptiounes and imperfectiounes risen and ingennerit baith amangis ourselfis and in
our saidis vocatiounes in defect of ane patrone and oversear over us and the samyn Sua that
our saidis vocatiounes are altogether likely to decay And now for safety thereofwe having
full experience of the efauld good skill and judgement whilk the said Sr William Sinclar
now of Rosling has in our said craft and vocatioun and for reparation of the ruines and
manifold corruptiounes and enormities done be unskilfull persones thereintill WE all in
ane voce have ratified and approven and be thir presentis ratifies and approves the foresaid
former letter ofjurisdictioun and libertie made and subr be our brethrene and his Hienes
umqle Mr of Wark for the time to the said Williame Sinclar of Rosling father to the said
Sr William whereby he and his airis are acknowledget as our patrone and judge under our
Soverane Lord over us and the haill professors of our said vocatioun within this his Hienes
kingdom of Scotlande without any appelation or declinator from their judgements in ony
(time hereafter) forever And further we all in ane voce as said is of new have made
constitute and ordainit and be thir presentis makis constitutes and ordanes the said
Sir William Sinclar now of Rosling and his airis maill our only patrones protectors
and overseers under our Soverane Lord to us and our successors deacons maisteris and
freemen of our saidis vocatiounes of Masons hammermen within the haile kingdome of
Scotland and of our haille priviledges and jurisdictiounes belonging thereto wherein
he his father and their predecessors Lairdis of Rosling have been in use of possessioun
thir many aidges bygain with full power to him and them be themselves thair wardens
and deputis to be constitute be them to affix and appoint places of meeting for
keeping of good ordour in the said craft als oft and sua oft as need shall require
all and sundry persones that may be knawin to be subject to the said vocatioun to
be called absentis to amerciat transgressuris to punish unlawes casualities and
vtheris duties whatsomever pertaining and belonging or that may fall to be pait
be whatsomever persone or persones subject to the said craft to aske crave receive
intromet with and uplift and the samyn to their own proper use to apply deputtis
under them in the said office with clerkis seruandis assisteris and all other
officers and memberis of court needfull to make create substitute and ordain
for whom they shall be holden to answer all and sundry plentis actions and causes
pertaining to the said craft and vocation and against whatsomever person or
persones professors thereof to hear discuss decerne and decyde acts duties and
sentences thereupon to pronunce And the samyn to due execution to cause be
put and generallie all and sundrie other priviledges liberties and immunities
whatsomever concerning the said craft to doe use and exerce and cause to be
done and exercet and keipit siklyke and als freely in all respects as any
vyeris thair predecessors has done or might have done themselves in anytime
bygane freely quietly well and in peace but any revocatioun obstacle impediment
or again calling quhtsomevir.

In witness of the qlke thing to thir presenttis wtin be Alexander
Aikinheid servitor to Andrew Hay wrytter we have subt thir nts with our handis at . .
The Ludge of Edinburgh. - William Wallace decon John Watt Thomas Patersone
The Ludge of Glasgow. - John Boyd deakin. Robert Boyd ane of the mestres.
Hew Douok deikon of the Measounes and Vrichtis off Ayre and George Lid(ell) deacan of quarimen and nov quartermaster.
The Ludge of Stirlinge. - John Thompsone James Rind
The Ludge of Dunfermlinge. - (Robert Alisone one of the masters of Dunfermling)
The Ludge of Dundee. - Robert Strachoune master Robert Johnstone Mr of (-) David Mesone Mr of (-)
Thomas Fleming wardane in Edinburgh and Hugh Forrest with our hands att the pen led be the notar
under subd for us at our command because we cannot wryt. A. Hay notarius asseruit.
Robert Caldwell in Glasgow with my hand at the pen led be the notar under subscrywand
for me because I cannot writt myself.
J. Henrysone notarius asseruit.
I John Serveite Mr of ye Craftis in Stirling with my hand att ye pen
led be the notar under subscryvand for me because I cannot writt J.
Henrysone notarius asseruit.
I John Burne ane of the mris. of Dumfermling with my hand att the
pen led be the notar under subscrywand for me at my command because
I cannot writ myself.
J. Henrysone notarius asseruit.
David Robertson ane of ye mesteris Andrew Welsone master and Thomas
(W)elsone varden of the sed Ludg of Sant Androis Andrew Wast and
David Quhyit maisteris in Dundee with our hands att the pen led be
the notar under subscryvand att our commands because we cannot
Thomas Robertson notarius asseruit.

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