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Fellow

The Saxon word for fellow is felaw. Spelman derives it from two words be and toy, which signifies bound in mutual trust a plausible derivation, and not unsuited to the meaning of the world. But Hicks gives a better etymology when he derives it from the Anglo-Saxon folgian, meaning to follow and thus a fellow would be a follower, a companion, an associate. In the Middle Ages, therefore, the Operative Masons were divided into Masters and Fellows. Thus in the Harleian Manuscript, No. 2054, it is said: "Now I will rehearse other charges in singular for Masters & fellows." Those who were of greater skill held a higher position and were designated as Masters, while the masses of the Fraternity, the commonalty, as we might say, were called Fellows. In the Matthew Cooke Manuscript this principle is very plainly laid down. There it is written that Euclid "ordained that they who were passing of cunning should be passing honored, and commanded to call the cunninger Master .... and commanded that they that were less of wit should not be called servant nor subject, but Fellow, for nobility of their gentle blood" (see lines 675-88). From this custom has originated the modern title of Fellow Craft, given to the Second Degree of Speculative Freemasonry; although not long after the revival of 1717 the Fellows ceased to constitute the main Body of the Fraternity, the Masters having taken and still holding that position.

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