Overview of the Mark Master Degree

The following entry appears on p. 469 of the 1912 edition of “An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences” by Albert G. Mackey.

The Fourth Degree of the American Rite. The traditions of the Degree make it of great historical importance, since by them we are informed that by its influence each Operative Mason at the building of the Temple was known and distinguished, and the disorder and confusion which might otherwise have attended so immense an undertaking was completely prevented. Not less useful is it in its symbolic signification. As illustrative of the Fellow Craft, the Fourth Degree is particularly directed to the inculcation of order, regularity, and discipline. It teaches us that we should discharge all the duties of our several stations with precision and punctuality; that the work of our hands and the thoughts of our hearts should be good and true not unfinished and imperfect, not sinful and defective but such as the Great Overseer and Judge of heaven and earth will see fit to approve as a worthy oblation from his creatures.

If the Fellow Craft’s Degree is devoted to the inculcation of learning, that of the Mark Master is intended to instruct us how that learning can most usefully and judiciously be employed for our own honor and the profit of others. And it holds forth to the desponding the encouraging thought that although our motives may sometimes be misinterpreted by our erring fellow mortals, our attainments be underrated, and our reputations be traduced by the envious and malicious, there is one, at least, who sees not with the eyes of man, but may yet make that stone which the builders rejected, the head of the corner. The intimate connection then, between the Second and Fourth Degrees of Freemasonry, is this, that while one inculcates the necessary exercise of all the duties of life, the other teaches the importance of performing them with systematic regularity. The true Mark Master is a type of that man mentioned in the sacred parable, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew xxv, 21).

In America, the Mark Master’s is the first Degree given in a Royal Arch Chapter. Its officers are a Right Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens, Secretary, Treasurer, Senior and Junior Deacons, Master, Senior and Junior Overseers The Degree cannot be conferred when less than six are present, who, in that case, must be the first and last three officers above named. The working tools are the Mallet and Indenting Chisel, which see. The symbolic color is purple. The Mark Master’s Degree is now given in England under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Mark Masters, which was established in June, 1856 and is a Jurisdiction independent of the Grand Lodge. The officers are the same as in America, with the addition of a Chaplain, Director of Ceremonies, Assistant Director, Registrar of Marks, Inner Guard or Time Keeper, and two Stewards. Master Masons are eligible for initiation. Brother Hughan says that the Degree is virtually the same in England, Scotland, and Ireland. It differs, however, in some respects from the American Degree.

The full text of the 1912 edition of Mackey’s “An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences” may be found at:

Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry: Volume I

Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry: Volume II