The Old Charges contain a set of regulations by which Freemasons were governed when at work, and when outside the Lodge. Although the oldest existing copy was written about 1390 A.D. to 1400 A.D. it is certain that the regulations had been in force long before; at least regulations of a similar kind. It is also certain that though these regulations belonged to the Craft, they were accepted by non-Masonic, civil authorities as having a legal status.
Thus, in a Fabric Roll of St. Peter's at York, dated 1355, a written contract between the Freemasons and the building administration agrees that the latter shall respect "the ancient customs [regulations] which the Masons use," etc.; a similar entry is found in a Roll dated in 1370. The regulations as now in use by the Speculative Fraternity are altered out of recognition, many of them, in form and language; but in substance and principle are the same as those in use according to the ancient "customs." (On York regulations see: History of the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, Yor.tc, by John Browne; Longuans & Co.; London; 1847.)
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