It is not generally known, but researchers have shown that records do exist which confirm that women were in fact operative masons, and even presided over Lodges of Operative Masons.
The Regius Manuscript, dating from about 1390 is the oldest manuscript yet discovered relating to Masonry. Two extracts are of particular interest:
Yn that onest craft to be parfytte; And so uchon schulle techyn othur, And love togeder as syster and brothur
In that honest craft to be perfect; And so each one shall teach the other, And love together as sister and brother.
Articulus decimus. The thenthe artycul ys for to knowe, Amonge the craft, to hye and lowe, There schal no mayster supplante other, But be togeder as systur and brother, Yn that curyus craft, alle and som, That longuth to a maystur mason.
Tenth article. The tenth article is for to know, Among the craft, to high and low, There shall no master supplant another, But be together as sister and brother, In this curious craft, all and some, that belongeth to a master mason.
If you need proof, see the printed version of the Regius Manuscript, article 10, on the Web page of the Grand Lodge of New York
However we do have to point out that not everyone agrees with these interpretations of the Regius Manuscript
The following examples were recorded by Enid Scott in her pamphlet, “Women and Freemasonry”
It should be remembered that all these instances occurred before the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. In 1723 the Rev. James Anderson was given the task of issuing a set of Constitutions, which were revised in 1738, when he introduced the idea that women were prohibited from becoming masons
For a more balanced view of women and freemasonry, take a look at Ed King’s page
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