Although Scotland possesses the oldest authentic Masonic Records that are known to exist, great misconception prevails as to the condition of the Fraternity prior to the institution of the first Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. This may be ascribed to the fact that the minutes of the more ancient of the Scotch Lodges have been almost totally neglected, and to a tendency on the part of early Masonic authors to represent the traditions of the Craft as historical facts, or so to embellish facts as to distort if not altogether to obliterate them. Historical sketches of several Scotch Lodges have appeared of late years in the pages of Masonic periodicals, but with the exception of my own 'Notes on Mother Kilwinning,' none of them are based on documents dating farther back than the beginning of last century.
Writers who have preceded me in the examination of the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) state that they extend as far back as 1598, but contain no particular information respecting the customs and condition of the Fraternity. This is not in accordance with fact, for no other Lodge records are of equal importance in such respects. It is chiefly upon these, the oldest Lodge records in existence, that the History of Freemasonry now submitted to the Brethren is based.