Concord Lodge No. 625, F.&A.M.

Concordville, PA

Gregory K. Harding, Worshipful Master


Tyler, Doorkeeper, Guarder, Or Outer Guard
Naresh Sharma, 32, K.C.C.H.
10023 Florida Boulevard
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70815

Historically, the Tyler had many duties in addition to guarding the Lodge.

The Tyler is the only office holder in a Masonic Lodge who not only may be paid for his services but also does not have to be a member of the Lodge or even a member of the Craft to hold that office! Yet, the Tyler's duties have always been very important to the Lodge's meetings and activities. References to the Tyler in a Masonic Lodge and the many duties he performs enjoy a prominent place in the Masonic ritual. Today's organized Freemasonry is descended directly from the first or premier Grand Lodge formed in London on June 24, 1717. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the "Doorkeeper" or "Guarder," as the Tyler was then called, not only tiled the Lodge but also served summons of meetings to each member, drew the Lodge on the floor, with chalk, at every meeting, kept updated Lodge lists to screen visitors, and kept the keys to the apron box.

Lodge records of the early 18th century also make references to the "Doorkeeper" or "Guarder," and these descriptions continued to be used long after the term "Tyler" first appeared in 1732 and became commonplace. Regulation No. XIII in Anderson's Book of Constitutions, 1723, refers to the duties of guarding the outer door: "Another Brother (who must be a Fellow-Craft) should be appointed to look after the door of Grand Lodge; but shall be no member of it."

The minutes of Swan & Runner Lodge No. 39 (extinct 1751) dated March 10, 1731, state: "Br. Johnson be desired to attend to guard the Lodge every Lodge night, and that he be allowed eighteen pence and one pint of wine for his attendance." Generally speaking, Doorkeepers and Guarders were "serving brethren," and quite often were landlords of the premises where meetings were held. In many cases, they did not rise above the Entered Apprentice Degree, and very few were members of a Lodge. With the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge in London, Lodge procedures developed, and an Entered Apprentice was considered insufficiently qualified to be Tyler, so thereafter the Tyler had to be a Master Mason. Indefatigable Lodge No. 237 "was convened for the purpose of Raising Bro. Joshua Evans, Tyler to the Lodge, and it was agreed that he is to receive no payment for this night's attendance."

In 1738, Rev. Anderson published the New Book of Constitutions, and the old Regulation No. XIII dealing with the appointment of "a fellow-craft" to look after the door was altered to "another Brother and Master Mason should be appointed the Tyler, to look after the Door." Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, records in the minutes of July 3, 1744: "Ordered that the Tyler for the future do deliver out the Summons for the meeting of this Lodge, and be paid for the same One Shilling exclusively of his money for the Tyling."

The most comprehensive outline of duties required of the Tyler is contained in the 1737 by-laws of Lodge of Friendship No. 6: "The Doorkeeper is to have Twelvepence ev'ry time of his Attendance. He is never to be off Duty in Lodge Hours, nor be anyhow negligent or remiss in it. He is to take care of the Clothing of the Members, and Utensils of ye Lodge. He is to offer a List to be subscri'd by the Members as Visitors shall call for, to cause them (being vouch'd for) to enter their names in his List, with ye particular Lodge to which they belong, & set down who the persons are that recommend them. He is also before their admission to receive Twelve-Pence apiece from such Visitors, and to produce ye said List and receipts to the Master or Wardens before the Lodge is closed; He is to keep the Keys of the Apron Box etc. and be ready with it always in good time; or failing in any of these, he shall lose his pay for the Night."

Thirty years later, in 1767, the by-laws of Lodge of Probity No. 61, Halifax, also lay out the duties of the Tyler: "There is also to be Tyler appointed out of the Brotherhood to stand at the door of the Lodge, with a naked sword in his hand, for the security of the same, and to give notice to the Lodge when any visiting brother shall desire admittance, he is also to refuse admittance.... He is also to attend the Master, or in his absence the Deputy Master, twice a week to receive his orders and he is to have one shilling every Lodge night for his trouble. He is to refuse admission to any member of the Lodge who is not clean and decently clad with a white cloth."

It was part of the Tyler's duties to set out, on the floor of the Lodge room, designs and symbols appropriate to the Degree to be conferred. In the early 18th century, they were drawn with chalk and charcoal, and clay models were used with great effect. Many Tylers possessed outstanding talent and ability to perform this duty, but in some Lodges these illustrations were made by another member skilled in the art of drawing.

It can be fully appreciated that in the various perambulations in Lodge, Brethren would not be permitted to walk across the floor-drawing. Thus we have a logical reason for "Squaring the Lodge." As the following minutes of Jerusalem Lodge No. 197 show, the Tyler was paid separately for this duty: "The Tyler's remuneration was fixed at one shilling and sixpence each lodge night for tyling the Lodge, and two shillings and sixpence for forming a Fellow Craft Lodge."

Section 23 of the by-laws of St. James Lodge No. 47, Baton Rouge, adopted in December 1844, exempts the Tyler from paying Lodge dues and enjoins him to keep the Lodge room in good order. The same by-laws set the Tyler's wages as one dollar for each meeting. In 1845, the Lodge resolved to pay the Tyler one dollar and 50 cents for every meeting he attended. The Tyler was also responsible for collecting dues and pro-rata assessments from members, and for this his remuneration was 10 percent of dues he collected.

The duties of the Tyler have certainly lessened now that everyone has telephones, fax machines, e-mail, and television. Tracing boards have eliminated the chalk paintings on the floor. However, the Tyler still remains an important and traditional officer in the Masonic Lodge.

The above article is reprinted with permission from the new statewide The Louisiana Scottish Rite Trestle board (May 1999).

Naresh Sharma
is the founding editor of the statewide Louisiana Scottish Rite Trestle board launched in January 1999 and has edited the Valley of Baton Rouge Trestle board since 1990. Bro. Sharma has the unique distinction of being raised a Master Mason twice, once in Samyukta Lodge No. 126, New Delhi, India, under the Grand Lodge of India in 1969, and then in Alexandria Lodge No. 398, Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1984. Now a member of St. James Lodge No. 47, Baton Rouge (Master 1989), he wrote the Lodge's sesquicentennial history in 1994. A member of the Valley of Baton Rouge, he served as Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection in 1994 and was invested with the Rank and Decoration of K.C.C.H. in 1991.

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Last updated 27 December 1999