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The word Free, in connection with Mason, originally signified that the person so called was free, entrusted with certain rights, of the Company or Gild of Incorporated Masons. For those Operative Masons who were not thus made free of the gild, were not permitted to work with those who were. A similar regulation still exists in many parts of Europe, although it is not known to the United States. The term appears to have been first thus used in the tenth century, when the traveling Freemasons we are told were incorporated by the Roman Pontiff (see Traveling Freemasons).

In reference to the other sense of free as meaning not bound, not in captivity, it is a rule of Freemasonry that no one can be initiated who is at the time restrained of his liberty. The Grand Lodge of England extends this doctrine, that Freemasons should be free in all their thoughts and actions, so far, that it will not permit the initiation of a candidate who is only temporarily in a place of confinement. In the year 1783, the Master of the Royal Military Lodge at Woolwich, No. 371, being confined, most probably for debt, in the King's Bench prison, at London, the Lodge, which was itinerant in its character and allowed to move from place to place with its regiment, adjourned, with its Warrant of Constitution, to the Master in prison, where several Freemasons were made.

The Grand Lodge, being informed of the circumstances, immediately summoned the Master and Wardens of the Lodge "to answer for their conduct in making Masons in the King's Bench prison," and, at the same time, adopted a resolution, affirming that "it is inconsistent with the principles of Masonry for any Freemasons' Lodge to be held, for the purposes of making, passing or raising Masons, in any prison or place of confinement" (see Constitutions, 1784, page 349).



The title Free and Accepted first occurs in the Roberts Print of 172 , which is headed The Old Constitutions belonging to the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, and was adopted by Doctor Anderson in the second edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1738, the title of which is The New Book of Constitutions of the Antient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. In the first edition of 1723 the title was, The Constitutions of the Freemasons. The newer title continued to be used by the Grand Lodge of England, in which it was followed by those of Scotland and Ireland; and a majority of the Grand Lodges in the United States have adopted the same style, and call themselves Grand Lodges of Free and accepted Masons (see also Accepted). The old lectures formerly used in England give the following account of the origin of the term:

The Masons who were selected to build the Temple of Solomon mere declared Free and were exempted, together with their descendants from imposts duties, and taxes. They had also the privilege to bear arms. .At the destruction of the Temple by Nebuckadnezzar, the posterity of these Masons were carried into captivity with the ancient Jews. But the good-will of Cyrus gave them permission to erect a second Temple having set them at liberty for that purpose. It is from this epoch that we bear the name of Free and Accepted Masons.

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