Reprinted 27th August, 2004 – CANMAS
The development of the “accepted” mason within the Worshipful Company of Freemasons in the City of London is a curious stage in the progression from artisan guild toward voluntary philosophical society. While the paucity of historical records covering this transitional period has encouraged wild conjecture from certain writers, in fact there is sufficient archival information pertaining to Masonic evolution to accurately discuss and assess the significance of the “Accepteds” within the London Company.[i]
The roots of modern Speculative Freemasonry began with the 17th century acception of non-artisan members into the London trade guild, and tracing and assessing this development offers insights into Masonic history.
Although very few contemporary English associations and organizations of the late Reformation period maintained and preserved written archives for posterity, and Masonic records pertaining to the introduction of “accepted masons” is limited, we are fortunate the introduction, or “acception,” of non-operatives into English and Scottish Masonic circles was contemporaneous. We can therefore draw upon Scottish records for certain perspectives into the evolution of Masonry.[ii]