The tradition of the Scotch Freemasons is that Freemasonry was introduced into Scotland by the architects who built the Abbey of Kilwinning; and the village of that name bears, therefore, the same relation to Scotch Freemasonry that the city of York does to English. "That Freemasonry was introduced into Scotland," says Laurie ( History, page 89) "by those architects who built the Abbey of Kilwinning, is manifest not only from those authentic documents by which the Kilwinning Lodge has been traced back as far as the end of the fifteenth century, but by other collateral arguments which amount almost to a demonstration."
In Sir John Sinclair's Satistical Account of Scotland, the same statement is made in the following words: "A number of Freemasons came from the Continent to build a monastery there, and with them an architect or Masier Mason to superintend and carry on the work. This architect resided at Kilwinning, and being a good and true Mason, intimately acquainted with all the arts and parts of Masonry known on the continent, was chosen Master of the meetings of the Brethren all over Scotland. He gave rules for the conduct of the Brethren at these meetings and decided finally in appeals from all the other meetings or Lodges in Scotland." His statement amounts to about this: that the Brethren assembled at Kilwinning elected a Grand Master, as we should now call him, for Scotland, and that the Lodge of Kilwinning be came the Mother Lodge, a title which it has always assumed. Manuscripts preserved in the Advocates Library of Edinburgh, which were first published by Laurie, furnish further records of the early progress of Freemasonry in Scotland.
It is said that in the reign of James II, the office of Grand Patron of Scotland was granted to William Saint Clair, Earl of Orkney and Caithness and Baroll of Roslin, "his heirs and Successors," by the King's Charter. But, in 1736, the Saint Clair who then exercised the Grand Mastership, "taking into consideration that his holding or claiming any such jurisdictions right, or privilege might be prejudicial to the Craft and vocation of Masonry," renounced his claims, and empowered the Freemasons to choose their Grand Master. The consequence of this act of resignation was the immediate organization of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, over whom, for ol)vious reasons, the hereditary Grand Master or Patron was unanimously called to preside.
Brother A. M. Mackey, Past Master and Historian, Lodge Saint David sends us this information of old customs. In the early days of "Canongate Kilwing from Leith," now Lodge Saint David, Edinburg, number 36, it was the usual custom to confer Degrees at Special or Emergency Meetings, and to reserve the Monthly Meetings for the transaction of ordinary business and—more especially—for the reception and entertainment of Deputations from the Sister Lodges in and about the town. On these occasions the evening was devoted to "Harmony." The following Minute of the Monthly Meeting held in April 1740 is not only typical of others of the period, but is also of more than usual interest in the references it contains to matters Masonic and Military:
Canongate Killlvinning from Leith 9th Aprile 1740.
Year of Masonry 5740.
The Right Worshipfull being necessarly absent, The Senior Warden Brother Collin Mitchell assumed the Chair. Brother Calender appointed Senior Warden, Brother Aitkine Junior Warden, Then the Lodge being mett and duly formed conform to adjournment Wee were upon this occassion Visited from the following Lodges, from Leith Killwinning by Brother Dickson, from Canongate Leith, Leith and Canongate by Br Hall and Brother Smith. It was moved by Brother Aitkine, Junior Warden pro tempore that Brother David Buchanan his health should be drunk, whom wee had in the last Mundays news to have been the man who first gott in at the Iron port of Portobello when taken, and did place the British Collours there, which was unanimously agreed to by the Lodge, and his health drunk with three Claps and three Hussa's. Thereafter the Right Worshipfull toasted and drunk the useswall healths upon this occasion, and the Lodge was clossed by their proper officers, and adjourned till the fourteen day of May One thousand Sevven hundred and fourty years. ARCH SMART. Master
COLLIN MITCHELL S:W:
The episode referred to in the Minute is obviously an ineident in the war declared in Oetober 1739, between the forces of George II, and of Philip V of Spain. In those days news necessarily traveled slowly, and it was only on March 13, 1740, that word reached England of a victory achieved in the previous November.
Additional interest attaches to the Minute quoted in respect that it acquaints us with the form in toast drinking which obtained in the Lodge. The "three Claps and three Hussa's" constitute the earliest known record in Scottish Freemasonry of a custom which bears a curious resemblance to a form of "Masonic Firing" not unknown to the Fratemity at the present time (see also Squaremen, Corporation of).