According to Brother Preston, the sheriff of a County possessed, before the Revival of 1717, a power later confined to Grand Masters. He says (Illustrations, page 182) that "A sufficient number of Masons met together within a certain district, with the consent of the Sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, were empowered, at this time, to make Masons, and practise the rites of Masonry without a warrant of Constitution."
This is confirmed by the following passage in the Cooke Manuscript (lines 901-12): "When the masters and fellows be forewarned and are come to such congregations, if need be, the Sheriff of the Country, or the Mayor of the City, or Aldermen of the Town in which such Congregation is holden, shall be fellow and soeiate to the master of the congregation in help of him against rebels and (for the) upbearing the right of the realm."
See Insect Shermah
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