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York Constitutions

This document, which is also called the Krause Manuscript, purports to be the Constitutions adopted by the General Assembly of Freemasons that was held at York in 926 (see York Legend). No original manuscript copy of it can be found, but a German translation from a Latin version was published, for the first time, by Krause in the drei attested Kunsturkunden der Freimaurer bruderschaft, the Three Oldest Craft Records of the Masonic Brotherhood. It will be found in the third edition of that work (volume ui, pages 58-101). Krause's account of it is, that it was translated from the original, which is said, in a certificate dated January 4, 1806, and signed Stonehouse, to have been written on parchment in the ancient language of the country and preserved at the City of York, "apud Rev. summam societatem architectonicam," which Woodford translates "an Architectural Society," but which is evidently meant for the "Grand Lodge." From this Latin translation a German version was made in 1808 by Brother Schneider of Altenberg, the correctness of which, having been examined by three linguists, is certified by Carl Erdmann Weller, Secretary of the Government Tribunal of Saxony.

And it is this certified German translation that has been published by Krause in his Kunsturkunden. An English version was inserted by Brother Hughan in his Old Charges of British Freemasons.

The document consists, like all the old manuscripts, of an introductory invocation, a history of architecture or the Legend of the Craft, and the General Statutes or Charges; but several of the Charges differ from those in the other Constitutions. There is, however, a general resemblance sufficient to indicate a common origin. The appearance of this document gave rise in Germany to discussions as to its authenticity. Krause, Schneider, Fessler, and many other distinguished Freemasons, believed it to be genuine; while Kloss denied it, and contended that the Latin translation which was certified by Stonehouse had been prepared before 1806, and that in preparing it, an ancient manuscript had been remodeled on the basis of the 1738 edition of Anderson's Constitutions, because the term Noachida is employed in both, but is found nowhere else.

At length, in 1864, Brother Findel was sent by the "Society of German Masons" to England to discover the original. His report of his journey was that it was negative in its results; no such document was to be found in the archives of the old Lodge at York, and no such person as Stonehouse was known in that city. These two facts, to which may be added the further arguments that no mention i9 made of it in the Fabric Rolls of York Minster, published by the Surtees Society, nor in the inventory of the Grand Lodge of York which was extant in 1777, nor by Drake in his speech delivered before the Grand Lodge in 1726, and a few other reasons, have led Findel to agree with Kloss that the document is not a genuine York Charter. Such, too, is the general opinion of English Masonic scholars (see Gould's History of Freemasonry, volume I, pages 499-6). There can be little doubt that the General Assembly at York, In 926, did frame a body of laws or Constitutions ut there is almost as little doubt that they are not represented by the Stonehouse or Krause document (see York Masons and York Legend).

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