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I hope this is of some help.
It is difficult to be precise about masonic history due to the lack of
documentation that has survived.
Additionally, those manuscripts that did survive such as the Cook MS and
others apply only to the particular lodge that recorded its minutes and
meetings. So we are unable to ascertain what was held to be generally the
case at any particular time, from district to district, or across Scotland
I believ the early Scottish lodges were particularly independant, so that
there was never any need for a 'Grand Lodge' until the English Grand Lodge
There are references to working masons or operatives as well as speculative
masons but its all very piece-meal and it does not provide adequate
information to 'really know'. And that is probably the point; as there was
a phase of deliberate document destruction, which so as to preserve its
secrets, did so with such efficiency, that even we masons that inherit the
customs and usages; are unable to 'discover' the actuality of our heritage.
At best we can draw conclusions form the rare pieces of evidence and present
a range of hypotheiticals; which as you are aware stand upon circumstantial
evidence; due to the lack of surviving proofs.
So the mingling of the guilds, stone-masons, speculative masons,...even
possible Templar influences, are jumbled and incomplete. It is a very
demnding task that each of us eventually draws our own conclusions about.
I believe William was Hereditary Master of a number of Guilds including
stone-masons, additionally, there is enough to suspect that he inherited the
family speculative stream. Remember he was known as 'the prodigous' and
deal with the speculative sciences, esoteric disciplines, and then you add
all the motiffs that will become freemasonry.
The question that arises with these threads of discussion is; 'How long is a
piece of string'?
And do you want to follow that white rabbit. I recommend that its not
suitable for everyone to pursue, because it is taxing on the mind (probably
meant to be), and requires a lot of time (a life-time).
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