Freemasonry - The Halliwell Manuscript
 

Regius Poem

The Halliwell Manuscript - also known as the Regius Poem, is the first known Masonic text. It consists of 64 written pages in poetic form. The poem begins by evoking Euclid and his invention of geometry in ancient Egypt and then the spreading of the art of geometry in “divers lands.” This is followed by fifteen points for the master concerning both moral behavior (do not harbor thieves, do not take bribes, attend church regularly, etc.) and the operation of work on a building site (do not make your masons labor at night, teach apprentices properly, do not take on jobs that you cannot do etc.). There are then fifteen points for craftsmen which follow a similar pattern.

The general consensus on the age of the document dates its writing to between the late 1300s and the middle of the 15th century, and from internal evidence its author appears to have been a West of England clergyman. The manuscript was recorded in various personal inventories as it changed hands until it came into possession of the Royal Library, which was donated to the British Museum in 1757 by King George II to form the nucleus of the present British Museum.