Oldest Masonic Minutes
The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) enjoys an enviable position, not only within Scottish Freemasonry, but in the Craft throughout the world. Owing to the diligence of the Brethren who have served the Lodge in the capacity of Secretary and of the foresight of those Brethren who saw fit to safeguard our records, the Lodge has minutes reaching back to July 1599.
This is the oldest minute of a still-extant Lodge anywhere in the world and its contents reflect the wholly operative nature of the Lodge at that time. It was only with the introduction of the non-operative, or speculative masons in the seventeenth century that the Craft began to adopt the form we recognize today. In this respect the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) can also claim precedence with a minute of 1634 which records the admission of Lord Alexander, Sir Anthony Alexander and Sir Alexander Strachan into the Lodge, and another of 1641 when Robert Moray was initiated into the Lodge which had convened at Newcastle; the first non-operative to be admitted on English soil.
The admission of Speculative Freemasons
With the admission of Speculative masons came a change of focus for the Order, and by the eighteenth century, the Grand Lodges began to be erected to guide and govern the Craft. The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) sent their representatives to the foundation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh in 1736.
With over 400 years of history behind us, the Lodge is not inclined to reflect only on past glories, but is always looking forward, adapting to new circumstances, initiating and embracing change. Thus with the technologies of the twenty-first century we continue to record our present, sharing it with a world-wide audience, and preserving it as the history of the future.