In the York Roll No.4 and some of the other old manuscripts, we find the direction to the Apprentice that he shall not so act as to bring harm or shame, during his apprenticeship, "either to his Master or Dame." It is absurd to suppose that this gives any color to the theory that in the ancient Masonic gilds women were admitted. The word was used in the same sense as it still is in the public schools of England, where the old lady who keeps the house at which the pupils board and lodge, is called the dame. The Companions de la Tour in France called her la mre, or the mother. it must, however, be acknowledged, that women, under the title of sisters were admitted as members. and given the freedom of the company, in the old Livery Companies of London -a custom which Herbert ( History of the Livery Companies i, 83) thinks was borrowed, on the reconstitution of the companies by Edward III, from the religious gilds (see this subject discussed under the tittle Sisters of the Gild).
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Brother Mohamed, Fredrick, MD